Def Comedy Jam was the shit!”

A simple yet powerful statement from one of the all-time great comedians, Dave Chappelle. Even in saying that,  it still doesn’t do the show that revolutionized urban comedy enough justice. Twenty-five years ago, the comedy game was changed forever. To the point where all roads of comedy as we know it today, run through Def Comedy Jam. The doors in comedy that were opened due to Def Comedy Jam led to so many people becoming household names, and that’s continued to be the case a quarter century later.

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The 1950s and 1960s was a monumental time for rock-n-roll. Stunning guitar riffs, powerful vocals, and magical piano notes became the basis for all kinds of different rock music, like alternative rock, soft and hard rock. In the 1960s, Sir Raymond Douglas “Ray” Davies, also known as Ray Davies, emerged as one of England’s alternative rock stars. Davies can play the guitar, piano, and harmonica, and he sings. He was the lead singer for his band, The Kinks, and has done solo work on the side. The musician is well into his seventies but he keeps on rockin and rollin.

Davies started his music journey and career in the 1960s after discovering his love for music while attending art school in England. In 1964, Ray Davies and his brother, Dave, started The Kinks and gained their first record label the same year. They quickly became known for their psychedelic, alternative rock music with guitar riffs and cool chords. The brother’s interest in England’s sociopolitical issues heavily influenced their word choice, and they became known for making struggles into music.

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Atlanta and its surrounding suburbs are home to some of the most amazing talents in the world. Visual artist and illustrator, Jurell Cayetano, is just another name to add to the ever-growing list up talented artist in Atlanta.

Hailing from Lithonia, Georgia by way of Brooklyn, New York, Jurell study illustration at The School for Visual Arts in NYC. What has the art industry talking about him now is his post- impressionist portraits. He has taken his love of black culture and drawing skills and has made masterpieces.

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Serendipity.

Serendipity is defined as an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident or good fortune and luck. It is can be a chance meeting of love, wealth or opportunity. 21-year old model Slick Woods had a serendipitous meeting of her own at a Los Angeles bus stop in 2016 when she was discovered by British male model Ash Stymest. The meeting was completely random but it changed her life. “It was literally the luck of the Universe. My energy, my positive energy pulling things towards me. I’m on Law of Attraction. I just feel like I definitely did that for myself. When I was hungry, nobody fed me. I definitely just lucked up. I just do this to show people that luck is a real thing. It really is,” Woods said in an Urban Outfitters blog interview.

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The limelight is intense. It is all-encompassing and blinding for the celebrities that live within its confines. Although, their children live extremely privileged lives, they face a unique set of growing pains in comparison to others. Their lives are documented and watched by the entire world. They often have to grapple with identity issues, public criticism and invasions of privacy. While Jasmine Jordan, daughter of basketball player Michael Jordan, faced some of these difficult circumstances while growing up in the public sphere, she has conquered them all. Jordan has created an identity alongside her father’s brand without losing herself by creating her own identity. She told lifestyle blog BeGeorgeous, “The fame, fortune, legacy and list of accomplishments are my father’s. Those accolades don’t define me nor are they mine to claim. My father is Michael Jordan. I am simply Jasmine Jordan.”

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I really did not expect a sixteen year old girl to pop up when I googled #BreakingTheSterotype. She is a professional dancer, actress and an advocate for body positivity for all kinds of people. Amanda LaCount started dancing at the age of two, and acting locally at the age of five. Her upbeat spirit and dance moves have landed her in pop-star Katy Perry’s “Swish Swish” music video, on reality television shows like “Dancing With the Stars,” and “The Voice.” The young fiery girl is trained in a variety of dance styles like hip-hop, contemporary, ballet and even tap.

#BreakingTheSterotype is Amanda’s trending hashtag on social media. It was created due to the negativity the passionate dancer has received due to her body size. The hashtag encourages people to break the stereotype imposed on dancers by society. Just like models, most believe dancers should be thin and have a “cookie cutter” body type. Stereotypes take many forms, and mostly negative, but the teen’s hashtag is meant to break this concept in the dancing world. In an interview with Amy Poehler, creator of Amy’s Smart Girls, a platform for young women to live up to their true self, Amanda daringly replied when asked about her hashtag:

“Anyone can be a dancer if they are passionate about it and work hard. It doesn’t matter if you are tall or short, what color you are, what sexual orientation you are, male or female, age, height, thick or thin body type, hair color, how much money you have, if you are blind or deaf, paralyzed, or even if you can walk or not. Anyone can dance if they want to.”

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What is a dream? The dictionary defines the five-letter word as a succession of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that usually occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep.

Well, this isn’t the case for Derrick Carter, because he is definitely dreaming with his eyes wide open. The 29-year- old artist and Indianapolis-native has one of the most compelling stories of triumph and faith that I’ve ever heard. After a traumatic accident as a teen, Derrick was left with multiple broken bones all over his body, except for his right hand and arm. Ironically, Derrick is right-handed. This was no accident, everything happens for a reason, and God had a much greater plan for him.

I had the pleasure of speaking with the artist about his journey and his latest opportunity in his hometown. Derrick’s two-dimensional sand artwork, “Dreams,” is currently on display in the Indianapolis International Airport until March 2018. “Dreams” has art critics and viewers amazed at the details and precision Derrick used to capture the essence of fearless African-American leaders and celebrities. Derrick speaks with  confidence in regards to his artistic talents and community involvement.

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JayDon “JD” McCrary was sharing  his vocal chords with the world long before he was dubbed the “New King of Pop” on Steve Harvey’s Little Big Shots back in May 2017. In fact, the 10-year-old-triple-threat entertainer was the high pitched voice featured on Childish Gambino’s “Terrified.” But even before that, he was singing his favorite Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder songs. “I’ve been singing since I was about two-years-old and dancing since I was three,” McCrary told Justin Davis of Complex Magazine. Today, he’s not only singing and dancing, but he is known for his acting skills as well. Regardless of whether McCrary is dancing across a stage, reciting lines behind a camera or bellowing notes from behind a microphone, it’s clear to see he represents a new generation of talent.

Born and raised in Granada Hills, a Los Angeles California suburb known as “The Valley’s Most Neighborly Town,” to a family full of singers (including Josh McCrary, his young brother who also sings). It’s almost as if McCrary was destined to entertain. He’s talented, friendly, loves to socialize and is not afraid to shine. In fact, despite only being 10-years old, he’s quick to admit that he’s not shy about being in the spotlight. “I don’t think I ever get nervous,” he explained to J’Na Jefferson of Vibe. “…I always feel like I’m just performing for people,” he continued, admitting that “we’re all [just] human.” He’s just as easy-going when it comes to his acting as well. Whether he’s being featured in a commercial or working alongside Zendaya in KC Undercover, McCrary is smiling big all while remaining cool, calm and collected. In fact, he was filming a scene as Kenny on Tyler Perry’sThe Paynes,” when his mother informed him of what would become his biggest gig yet – young Simba in Disney’s The Lion King Live Action remake. 

Inspiration is found everywhere and differs from artist to artist. For some, staying confined within the walls of a studio helps with focus and the creative process, but for Robert Harris, the process is a bit different. it .

“I didn’t want to share my artwork with anyone,” Harris said on VIMBY. He said his art felt too personal to share with anyone. However, after talking with another artist, he changed his mind and now wants to share what he feels through his art. Harris paints LIVE. Sometimes he’s in a gallery painting with others, and at other times he’s on the sidewalk painting by himself. No matter where he is, he loves painting for the world to see.

New York has returned to it’s rightful place, at the forefront of hip-hop lately. The resurgence, is a much needed one. In the era of hot beats, repetitive hooks, and mumble rap, lyricism tends to get lost in the shuffle. Subject matter still exists, but they are usually pretty basic. I don’t want to sound like a hip-hop purist, and I know that party and “turn up” music has its place in the culture. It just seems like it’s taken over, and due to this some of the best artist and their work gets overlooked. Even in the somewhat absence of New York rap artists, a few “Kings of New York,” have remained relevant in their own right. From Hov, to Cam and even Ma$e, it’s been a real blast from the past. Not to mention Dave East bringing the heat for the new school.

Recently, a pair of kings decided to join forces for an album. Fabolous and Jadakiss, finally got it done after a year and a half of anticipation. The microwave era is responsible for the nullification of the phrase “highly anticipated” when it comes to music. They expect artists to put out new material way more frequently than the generations prior. This puts so much pressure on artists to put out albums, EP’s, and mixtapes sooner than they would like, when they should really let the pot simmer for a bit. Well Jadakiss and Fabolous have had this joint project boiling for quite a while. I know the microwave generation expected it to happen as quick as the Future and Drake collab, but trust, the wait was worth every minute!

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