Creativity Off the Grid

Written by Neha Seenarine

Location: Fairfield, Connecticut

Chris Carbone, 21, is an aspiring filmmaker and screenwriter from Fairfield, Connecticut whose path to becoming a filmmaker is almost exclusively behind closed doors. His phone does not buzz with dozens of notifications throughout his day. “I could care less about attracting attention through social media,” said Carbone. “I want my material to be seen and for people to take away something.”

During the past three years, he spent countless hours improving this craft. He said, “I always look at where I am in the present, and I look where I was a year before, then I look at how far I’ve come. Then I think about where I can be in a year from now. That’s what keeps me going.”

Carbone has his script-writing routine down to a tee. He starts his day at 6 a.m. with his morning workout. Then he drives to the local library, sits down, and gets to work. His drafts are created using a typewriter. When asked about this choice he replied, “It’s not a vanity thing, it really helps writing first drafts because you can’t go back and erase things as you would do on a laptop. The first draft is the vomit draft. You vomit all these despairing ideas.”

Once his first draft is finished, he ghosts it. He lets his drafts marinate for two weeks before doing a readthrough and making edits.  Carbone’s reasoning is, “You need some time away from it. There is no perspective when a draft is created for the time. It makes a shift in those two perceptions and it is mentally jarring.”

Carbone is very critical of his own work. If the final draft does not satisfy him, he will re-write scripts doing 10 to 20 drafts. “I will be okay with it for a while,” said Carbone. “Then, I’ll say it’s not a final draft. I’ll go back and I’ll work on it some more. Whether that helps or harms it, I don’t know however I believe every creative effort I make is an improvement. I look at drafts I’ve written a year ago. They seem hollow and flat, not something I would want to see on a screen. I have returned to those scripts and re-worked them. I can’t throw an entire script in drawer and not look at them. I am very selective with the kinds of the stories I want to tell and spend many hours creating.”

When the creative process ends, Carbone goes on a film agent hunt reaching out to them over email and the waiting game to hear feedback begins. “I generally feel excited,” said Carbone. “It’s very difficult to get a response. When interest is generated, hope rises inside of me. I know it is a cutthroat business, so I don’t let that hope soar too high.”

Carbone has produced three short films. He works with micro-budget using the resources he has available to him. For instance, local locations, friends for actors, and his iPhone to shoot scenes and every film he makes comes with a learning curve.

“When I look at the first two, I cringe at it,” said Carbone. “The redeeming qualities are the storylines. I feel better about my third film because I learned more about editing, sound, and music. I did the score myself, however I did not write it. I put it together later through GarageBand, a digital audio workstation, I’m not a musician.”

Carbone’s films are inspired by his personal environment. His knowledge of the film industry did not come from classes taught by professors. He learned by watching films, reading books and screenplays. His perspective became more diverse by watching films from different cultures.

“I look in all places for stories,” said Carbone. “It helps develop characters in aspects of where they come from for my stories.”

Although Carbone is in the beginning stages of creating art, promotion through social media is not an obstacle he faces. “I don’t know yet that I feel like I’ve made something good enough of promoting,” said Carbone. “When I do, I plan on submitting films to festivals and see what kind attention it would attract. I would consider making a social media page strictly for my films.”

You can check out Carbone’s short films found here.

Burn Down the Mic Showcase: March 2021

Written by: Jimmysodope

 

Burn it Down  

There are a few things you can expect at Burn Down The Mic Showcases (BDTM), New York’s freshest DJs (DJ 3 Stacks, DJ Cassius Clay & DJ Fortune) playing Hip Hop classics & today’s hottest records, dope performances by emerging artists from coast to coast and some of the best marijuana that Earth has to offer. You’ll find Capo Lou making his rounds throughout the venue while the legendary DJ Don Demarco makes being a host look effortless. With Jamilah Rose & special guest Cooler Ruler Divine handling judging duties, Burn Down the Mic Showcase is here to make a real impact on the culture. 

I spoke to the winner of the latest installment of Burn Down the Mic, Tye Milano, and was surprised by his response to taking home the crown. “I didn’t know it was a competition till I got there. I wasn’t expecting to win or nothing. I just wanted the experience.” What shocked me most about this response was his demeanor on stage. He had poise, presence and two dancers on stage that brought enough excitement to potentially win the showcase on their own. “I was nervous, but I have great friends. Those are my brothers. They gave me energy and I fed off of it.” Two things that I must mention is that Mr. Milano is 18 years old and that was his first performance. The sky is far from the limit!

My personal favorite part of the night was when the reigning champion Luciano Baby stepped on stage and addressed the audience. He spoke positively and gave advice on simply being great. “We had a 17-year-old artist in there so hopefully my words could keep somebody in the studio and out of the streets.” With artists like Luciano Baby on the rise, East Coast Hip Hop will be in good hands. In a brief conversation with the 17-year-old artist/entrepreneur VBandzz, she expressed gratitude for all the love she received. “I was really nervous because I had never performed, and I didn’t know what to really expect. But being there and feeling everybody’s energy made me feel like damn, I could really do this for a living, as a lifestyle. Even though I didn’t win, the experience was just amazing” said the self-proclaimed “Princess of New York”. 

As the marijuana culture normalizes in New York and elsewhere, I expect BDTM to expand beyond being an underground experience to a worldwide movement. According to The Wall Street Journal, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed legalizing marijuana as part of the new state budget due out next week.

Lots of showcases will promise record deals or marketing packages but often fall short when delivering actual benefits to the winners. Luchiano Baby is proof that BDTM keeps their word as he earned a management deal since his win in January. I’m eager to see how Tye Milano will capitalize off of his newfound success. 

Follow Burn Down the Mic Showcase on IG for information on the next event and check out the winner Tye Milano’s newest release “Find Me”. Links below. 

Burn Down the Mic Showcase

https://www.instagram.com/burndownthemicshowcase/

Tye Milano – Find Me

https://unitedmasters.com/m/603b3145833326126836504f

 

Meyers Leonard and the Gaming Community: A Shared Responsibility

Written By: William Morales

Location: New Jersey


(Via Getty Images)

The impact of a simple word over someone’s life is astonishing, but is it always deserved? Meyers Leonard, a 29-year-old former player for the Miami Heat, is now sitting on a scalding hot seat. Not only is he a basketball player, he is an avid gamer and was also a member of the notable Faze Clan, the famous gaming team. On March 9th, both of his passions were taken away from him in a split second.

 

During a livestream of  Call of Duty Leonard became very frustrated and uttered a very derogatory, anti-sematic remark. In seconds, his foul language had flooded social media, and in the following days he was removed both from the Miami Heat and Faze Clan. He was recently traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the team stated, “Leonard will not be reporting to Oklahoma City and will not be an active member of the organization.” (The Washington Post) As we speak, Leonard is attending events with members of the Jewish community, Rabbis and Holocaust survivors, to gain a stronger understanding of the Jewish culture.

 

You may think: “He simply made a mistake and was just being stupid, all gamers do this!” This statement is very popular within the gaming community who, by the way, does a poor job of monitoring gamers’ use of language and terminology. 

 

Video games have been gaining momentum for more than 30 years, and wireless communication in gaming has been around since 2000! The threats on video game communications have been happening for as long as the former has. Companies such as Microsoft and Sony, the respective owners of Xbox and PlayStation, have made comments on monitoring the community, but no true action has taken place. According to Gamerant.com, “Voice chats can now be recorded by other users and are subject to moderation. Not only that, anyone who uses the PS4 Party Chat System has to agree to their voice being recorded.” This change had great intentions however it led to many complaints from the community. Gamerant.com also mentioned that “PS4 players now have to agree to their voices being recorded in order to use voice chat features, even if they just plan on using the party chat feature with friends.”  

 

It’s difficult to ignore this matter but honestly this is much bigger than just one gamer no matter how famous he is. The world of gaming is swamped with racial, anti-sematic, and prejudiced language that is being heard by younger gamers. These video game lobbies allow players of any age to interact together, with very little limitation on what could or should be said. Offensive words/language used will only be addressed by company support teams if the player is reported multiple times. 

Online gaming has brought much joy to the lives of its participants; however, it has also become a place where people are tearing apart their own futures, and the lives of others. In this community and this world, the last time might be one time too many.

 

Sony and Microsoft have found difficulties making changes due to interferences with the first amendment. Although these are difficult issues to resolve, these top two gaming companies have a responsibility to address it; this isn’t impossible.

(Via Getty Images)

While Leonard should be held to a different standard from others, it’s important to understand he was simply “just being dumb”. In a recent statement, Leonard said, “I acknowledge and own my mistake and there’s no running from something like this that is so hurtful to someone else. This is not a proper representation of who I am.” In a comment to The New York Times, his teammate Udonis Haslem, a member of the Heat for TWO DECADES, said the following in an interview, “We can’t tolerate that here. Right is right and wrong is wrong,” and follows up by saying, “I’ve never heard him use any language that made me uncomfortable at all.” Other players and coaches who have commented on the matter, mentioned similar statements. 

 

Censorship is a very sensitive issue regardless of the subject or method used. We must be aware of how we express ourselves while enjoying the freedom to do so, and those of us who are in the public eye need to be more aware of that fact.

Arts Freshest Faces: Ritt Momney

 

Written by: Samantha Stemmer

 


(Daniel Prakopcyk)

The University of North Carolina Wilmington’s association for entertainment welcomed a special guest on March 17, Jack Rutter who is more commonly known by his stage name, Ritt Momney. The 21-year-old, Salt Lake City local recently signed with Columbia Records, and is the newest feature for “Arts Freshest Faces.” Originally, Ritt Momney started out as a band, but because his bandmates prioritized their Mormon lifestyle, the band became a solo act. Momney pointed out that the stage name started out as a spoof of well-known politician, Mitt Romney, and explained that “If I could go back and change it, I probably would.” Like many other artists on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic, Ritt Momney’s journey to success is a story of being a TikTok sensation.

 

Momney released a cover of Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On” which quickly went viral. The song now has over two million videos on TikTok and was used as the theme song, somewhat, to a trending make-up challenge on the app. Within two-days of the song doing well Momney said, “I was on a bunch of label calls, and luckily since I had a career before this with a great manager, that I love, it is not a solo effort.” The young singer, songwriter, and producer is currently averaging about eight million monthly listeners on Spotify.

While in seventh/eighth grade Momney really delved into his passion for music. He jokingly remarked that it was his older brother that inspired him to get into music because “all the girls thought he [Momney’s older brother] was cute because he sang.” As Momney started learning to play the piano and guitar, he listened to James Blake’s first album and STRFKR over and over, which he said shaped who he is as an artist. He is “striving for that and I want to make music like them.” Excitingly, Momney hinted that he has been in communication with the lead member of STRFKR, Josh Hodges, and his dream collaboration just may be realized.

(James Kowalski)

While Ritt Momney is more than grateful for his career path, the young adult explained that it is not always all fun and games. Momney noted that distinguishing between “the balance of the fun side and the work side of [music] has been really hard.” When making his first album “Her and All of My Friends” he explained that the album took him two and a half years because he did not work when it was not fun for him. As a result, the album took longer than desired and he had to force himself to work towards the end, putting a strain on Momney’s relationship with music. Lesson learned and moving forward, the artist is now thinking of music as a commitment to his future and striving to set aside time every day to write, sing, and produce songs.

As more and more people receive the vaccine for COVID-19 and life slowly starts to return to normal, Momney hopes to be able to do a national tour in the beginning of 2022. Although the artist is appreciative of the time he has had at home to work on music, he is ready to get on stage. Keep your eyes and ears open so you don’t miss Ritt Momney’s next big hit.

 

 

 

 

WOMEN ARE FUNNY TOO

Written by Samantha Stemmer

Location: TV Utopia

 

After a long and stressful day one of the best ways to wind down includes grabbing a warm cup of tea, glass of wine, or maybe the pint of Ben and Jerry’s sitting in the freezer and tuning in to your favorite television show. Now if that television show happens to be a comedy, a man either most likely stars in it, wrote it, or perhaps both. One would assume that considering the fact that, according to Nielson, women spend forty more minutes than men watching TV and, according to Statista, women are 9% more likely to watch and stream television shows, then female representation would be a priority. However, most television comedies that feature a female lead or are written by a woman tend to be cancelled before the creator’s intent.  The first focal point is Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s Comedy Central sitcom “Broad City.”  It starred two female leads, had a writer’s room full of women, with all these positives, wrapped upon the creator’s request. These women have been the exception to the mainstream success.  Why? What about all the other remarkably funny women led and written comedies? Let’s explore just how many there are. 

New Girl:

(Jennifer Clasen/Fox)

The next focal point is “New Girl” which premiered in 2011, a quirky sitcom set in Los Angeles following the lives of four roommates in their 30s created by Elizabeth Meriwether and starring Zooey Deschanel. The show, despite being cancelled in 2018, still has a large following of fans. Co-star Jake Johnson revealed that “We didn’t quit, they [Fox] fired us, that was a job that we all had and liked having. We got a call that we were fired at the end of season six and Zooey [Deschanel] and I wrote the president of Fox explaining that ‘just because the fan base isn’t tuning in at 8 p.m. doesn’t mean they’re not watching.’” As a result, the series was granted an eight-episode final seventh season. In its final season of “New Girl,” according to the Nielsen Live+7 ratings, the show received a 1.4 rating in adults from 18-49 and 2.96 million viewers. In the same year “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” received a rating of 0.7 in adults from 18-49 and 2.24 million viewers. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” has since been greenlighted for an additional three seasons. So while “New Girl” had a long and successful television run, towards the later seasons the success was still prevalent compared to their competitors, and according to the showrunners, could have produced a few more seasons ending the series on Elizabeth Meriwether’s terms. 

The Mick:

(Patrick Mcelhenny/Fox)

Another focal point is the comedy series “The Mick,” that featured a female lead, a gritty comedy about a woman who becomes stuck raising her sister’s children. It was cancelled by Fox after two seasons. The show was created by Dave Chernin and John Chernin starring Kaitlyn Olsen as the lead. The three are famously attached to raunchy sitcom “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” which was recently renewed for up to 18 seasons, proving their talent for producing comedic content together. Around the same time Glenn Howerton, one of Olsen’s co-stars from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” began starring in comedy “A.P. Bio.” During its second and final season, “The Mick” received an average Nielsen rating of .73 in adults 18-49 and 2.1 million viewers which deemed low enough for cancellation, yet in season two of “A.P. Bio” they received an average Nielsen rating of .47 in adults 18-49 and 1.88 million viewers and are currently working on the fourth season. Both Olsen and Howerton are notable comedy actors yet when they ventured out to lead their own comedy shows one clearly did better. The one that produced better ratings with a female lead was cancelled and the show that yielded lower ratings with a male lead, even at its peak, compared to the other, continues to air. 

Suburgatory:

      (Adam Taylor/ABC)

The last focal point was created by Emily Kapnek, “Suburgatory” starred Jane Levy as the female lead in the comedy series that followed the life of a teenage daughter and her single father moving to live in the suburbs. The show was cancelled by ABC after the third season and creator Kapnek explained that “Ultimately, it’s a decision that Warner Bros. is in control of [and] is still a very, very sore spot.” In the third and last season, the show averaged a Nielsen rating of 1.6 in adults 18-49 which was lower than previous seasons, yet still higher than other ABC sitcom “Last Man Standing” that received an average Nielsen rating of 1.3 in adults 18-49 in the same year. “Last Man Standing,” stars Tim Allen, requiring a larger salary, and has continued to go on for nine seasons. 

Reasoning?

The list continues with shows like “The Mindy Project,” “Glow,” “I’m Sorry,” “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23,” and “Veep.” These shows have fan bases of all genders grieving their cancellations. And while many shows barely make it out of pilot season in Hollywood, women-run shows are getting slighted.  The ratings and viewership of these female led, and written sitcoms are on par if not higher than their rival comedies that have men as the lead character. These shows have large fanbases, receive adequate ratings, so there is no reason why they should be getting the short end of the stick. What is the reasoning behind the cancellation of these shows? Three words: Women in charge. As we are in full swing of Women’s History Month, I encourage you to check out some of these shows for a great laugh and form your own opinion. It’s 2021 and the impression that women are not funny is outdated, Hollywood, you must do better. 

What’s Up Next: Bubbl

 

Written by William Morales 

Location: New Jersey

 

During the last year, COVID-19 has put a damper on millions of lives in one form or another. Some people’s heads dropped, some people had trouble motivating themselves, some people set their standards too low. However, we have a group of young people who have defied all odds. They took the negative and made a wonderfully creative and very necessary positive: Bubbl

 

With thousands of small companies in dire need of a boost, Bubbl showed up with one purpose in mind, to make a difference, one small business at a time. They are bringing in customers and appreciation to small businesses when all hope was lost. Now, I’m sure you are thinking: What is Bubbl? Who is Bubbl, and why should I care about Bubbl? All of these questions were answered in an interview with one of the Bubbl founders, Shrey Pri.

“Don’t let the Bubbl pop”, says Pri, “Letting the Bubbl pop is the same as giving up hope, and here, we don’t let that happen.” When the Coronavirus first took the world by storm, Shrey lifted his head up, instead of hanging it down. He, with six others took the opportunity to make a difference and began to help the average person by designing an app/company called Bubbl. This single, small red app with a “b” in the middle would allow users to socially distance themselves at qualifying businesses. It would monitor the number of people, and the current    Covid-19 status in certain places. A great idea that eventually snowballed into something even greater: a company that will bring sales to these small businesses. Day-by-day Bubbl is changing the world of e-Commerce and making it more small business friendly.

 

The Bubbl evolved into something bigger than even the founders could have imagined and the name of the game was e-Commerce. Bubbl is somewhat similar to the likes of Amazon but instead of bringing products to consumers from larger suppliers, Bubbl allows them to purchase products from small businesses in the surrounding area. instead of purchasing Dunkin’ coffee beans from Amazon, why not purchase them from the corner store coffee shop down the street? 

“When we finally caught some traction, we decided to bring some creativity to the table,” says Pri. He and his team of seven decided to start promoting small businesses by creating small videos for them. These beautifully, sculpted cinematic pieces have taken both Tiktok and Instagram by storm, and have gained a huge following for Bubbl. Small businesses from New Jersey, all the way to California, are inquiring about having their own videos made. Upon joining the video call, Pri actually mentions, “I actually have to be up at 8:00 AM tomorrow. Bubbl is traveling to Los Angeles in the morning.” This collaborative group is making a name for themselves with their jaw-dropping cinematic work, as the bigger e-Commerce side continues to grow behind the scenes. 

 

And still, after all of this, we have yet to reach the most inspirational detail about the team. Shrey Pri and the rest of the Bubbl team are college students. This is reminiscent of the Facebook team. Such an amazing idea, yet they still attend classes each week. Such a prolific idea, yet they enjoyed the beautiful weather today literally having a football catch, instead of sitting in an office. So early in development, yet so developed, and still the gears keep spinning. These students have created an idea that’s already gaining interest nationwide, all during the pandemic, yet they are also working on their degrees. 

 

With the attention this is grabbing, Bubbl’s team is very proud of their work. As you read this, the team is literally in Los Angeles gaining the attention of even more small businesses. On both Tiktok and Instagram @joinbubbl is grabbing more and more views each day.  Bubbl has truly defied the odds. While the rest of the world is playing chess in 3D, they are playing chess in 4D. They are seeing the future before it happens. 

“DON’T LET THE BUBBL POP.”

Arts Freshest Faces: Stow Kelly

Written by: Samantha Stemmer

Location: Wilmington, NC

Via Instagram @stowkelly

In March of 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic and life as we knew it would never be the same. The world received orders to stay at home, isolate ourselves, wear masks, and anything an individual could do to slow the spread was prioritized. Most Americans moved work to inside their homes (virtually), frontline and essential workers risked their lives daily, and thousands struggled with job loss. Yet from this tragedy, something beautiful emerged like a phoenix from the ashes: connection. 

Being unable to experience touch and physical connection, people began to connect with one another in other ways. Social media provided the most common way to relate and communicate with others. The widespread dependency on social media offered a huge opportunity for growth. Throughout quarantine many artists have not only been discovered but gone viral, such as singer and songwriter Mxmtoon with the hit song “Prom Dress.” Tatiana Bruening, who by organizing photo-ops with well-known TikTok stars, earned over 1.5 million followers and the story doesn’t stop there. 

Via Instagram @stowkelly

 In Wilmington, North Carolina, local photographer Stow Kelly, the first featured guest of “Arts Freshest Faces,” decided that the pandemic was going to work for him, not against. Stow Kelly has around five thousand followers on Instagram (@stowkelly) and describes himself as a “career centered person.” The young artist decided that, as a result of being in a pandemic, he was going to push past his normal comfort zone to discover what he was truly capable of. 

Born in Nassau, Bahamas the 21-year-old photographer moved to Charlotte, North Carolina when he was around 8 years old. Six years later, Stow Kelly found himself behind his grandmother’s old camera taking photos of all his friends. After high school, Kelly chose to attend University of North Carolina Wilmington because of their Film Studies program.  He is currently taking a gap year and looking to potentially transfer to The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising or The Fashion Institute of Technology. Kelly wants to expand his artistic abilities and his current method for connecting with possible clients is direct messaging through Instagram setting up photo shoots with them. “I’m not really a people person, which comes as a shock for most people, but through photography I’ve really come out of my shell. I just started [direct messaging] people saying, ‘Yo I’m a photographer, and I would love to take pictures of you, would you allow me to do that?’” said Kelly, and direct messaging potential clients has proven to be successful for him. 

Via Instagram @stowkelly

Kelly landed a shoot with TikTok and Instagram influencer, Riley Hubatka, who has over 8 million followers between the two platforms. A shoot with Polina Sladkova, a Russian YouTuber with half a million subscribers, produced some of Kelly’s most liked content. While these photo-ops generated lots of traffic to the photographer’s page, he explained that his favorite shoots “are the ones where the models are also invested and our creative energies meld together, creating a weird harmony that makes the pictures turn out ten times better.”

Via Instagram @stowkelly

During the pandemic Kelly started doing studio work and he finds that complying to COVID-19 guidelines is easy because of the intimate setting. He is working on building his portfolio and forming his team which currently consists of his stylist, Julia Wettreich, who has gained a following of her own with half a million followers on TikTok, and his lighting specialist, Ahmad Jackson, who is also an aspiring rapper and Kelly’s best friend. 

Moving forward Kelly aims to transition into the film industry. Although Kelly has a love for photography, he does not see it as his lifelong passion. He plans to move to West Hollywood within the next five years and work toward being a director of photography for films. Ultimately Kelly said he would love to be a producer, mentioning that he aspires to a career similar to Bob Iger. 

Via Instagram @stowkelly

As for now, Kelly is staying busy taking photographs, building connections, and developing his brand. For those just starting out Kelly explained that “my best advice is consistency and communication. Connections are everything however, the more people you get to know the harder it is to stay connected, but as long as you keep track of them, your network will grow.” Stow Kelly is truly a force to be reckoned with and we look forward to seeing everything this promising individual will accomplish.

NBA All-star Game and All Stars Riddled with Discrepancy

Written By: William Morales

Location: All Star Weekend;  Atlanta, GA

 

Every year since 1951, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has selected the top 24 individuals in the league to participate in the All-Star Game. For the first time in history, some of the all-stars do not want to play. Some of the biggest names in basketball, including Lebron James, Kawhi Leonard, De’Aaron Fox, have publicly stated their discrepancies with the upcoming event in Atlanta.

 

The biggest name in the league and one of the All-Star Game captains, Lebron James, had a word or two for the NBA:

“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” James said after recording a triple-double in the Lakers’ 114-93 win over the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on Thursday. “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star Game.” (The Guardian) 

(Via Getty Images)

 

Lebron later expressed his concerns are due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the league’s problem with having an All-Star Game throughout the first two months of the season. The front-runner for MVP also called the event “a slap in the face” and mentions he will miss his 5-day break that was going to be in place without the game. 

 

Chris Paul, an All-Star Game reserve, also had his own two cents to put in. Paul agrees with Lebron, however he has also taken into consideration the opinions throughout the league: 

“I’m sure I’m not the only guy in the league that lives without their family. So, guys look at that break as an opportunity to see their families. It’s a lot of different things going on right now. But you just hope that guys understand that decisions that are being made – especially as far as, the union has always got the full body of players in mind. But emotions happen. Guys have feelings. And you’ve got to be able to express them. And I respect that.” (ClutchPoints)

Chris Paul is the President of the National Basketball Players Association, so he works diligently to oversee approximately 450 players. He has worked with the NBA to explain these views, but at the end of the day, the All-Star Game has been viewed as the best option at this time. Chris Paul discussed the ins-and-outs of these ideas to Lebron, Steph Curry, and other all-stars. 

These concerns are of high priority for the NBA; when the literal face of the NBA, Lebron James, states his problems with a decision, it will cause upheaval through the basketball community. One day after Lebron showed a lack of compliance, De’Aaron Fox, star point guard for the Sacramento Kings, did the same:

“If I’m going to be brutally honest, I think it’s stupid… Obviously, money makes the world go round, so it is what it is.” (NBCSports)

(Via Getty Images)

Fox also complained about the idea of having an All-Star Game if the league clearly wants the players to continuously stay healthy. He says, “We have to wear a mask and do all this for a regular game”, and questions why even host the event. He makes valid points, although they may have been somewhat abrasive. 

 

The largest mumbling around the league was mentioned by De’Aaron Fox and is also pretty obvious to the NBA fanbase: The All-Star Game revolves around entertainment and enjoyment, as it truly doesn’t mean much, but it does bring in boatloads of money. In the most recent All-Star Game, 8 million viewers tuned in and with advertisements, the NBA and TNT each received a share of $24 million earned. The apprehension with the All-Star game includes both the health and the money being made. The players will be participating, but the real question is: How many of the players will have their head in the game?

BURN DOWN THE MIC

Date: January  22, 2020

Location: Unknown

As Told by JimmySoDope

Imagine doing five years in prison, then coming home to win the Burn Down The Mic showcase hosted by the legendary DJ Don Demarco. That’s the reality Brooklyn Hip-Hop artist Luciano Baby. I asked him how did he manage to get so much support during a pandemic? He simply replied, “That’s not me. That’s God.” 

 

“Supportive” is possibly the best word to describe the vibe of the showcase presented by Tornado Gang and NYC Express. DJ 3 Stacks, DJ Don Demarco & Capo Louie-Lou created a 420 friendly environment that had artists showing love to artists. The secret location, somewhere in NY, was the perfect space for rappers to connect with their peers. Judging the showcase was Jamilah Rose who said it perfectly, “Continue to NETWORK to increase your net worth. Collaboration creates synergy, synergy brings positive energy. Remember, One man can’t move a mountain. You can be super duper dope but if only your five friends know it, nothing will happen.”

 

 

Although Luchiano walked away with the crown, Burn Down the Mic was filled with talented artists. The very 1st act was King Ishtah. The lyricist effortlessly swam through an array of flows while keeping the similes and metaphors at a high level. Later on Eastside Zha Zha commanded the crowd with vivid storytelling and top shelf crowd engagement. One of the records Zha Zha performed was written while she was in labor. That’s dedication! The night also included the high energy duo BB GUNNZ that may have been the winner depending on who you asked.

 

One thing I couldn’t overlook was the fact that DJ Don Demarco was locked in for the entire show, front and center absorbing the performances. “That’s why we do the show. We’re here to see and hear the new talent.” The Burn Down Mic Showcase has all of the ingredients of an event that’ll be around for a while. Great DJs, honest judges, dope performers and good bud. See you next month.

Raw Bunch Presents: SPOKEN WORD

Date: December 20th , 2020

Location:  Above Art Studio New Brunswick, NJ

As Told by JimmySoDope

Newark, NJ has a historic relationship with poetry. After all, our mayor is a poet himself and the son of critically acclaimed author & poet Amiri Baraka.  When I heard that the Brick City battle rapper/entrepreneur Tsu Surf was hosting the “SPOKEN WORD” event presented by his Raw Bunch record label & the non for profit Detox The Hood, I wasn’t shocked whatsoever. I was even more excited when I got wind of the secret location, the world famous Above Art Studios in New Brunswick.

IG: @Tsu_Surf

A statement that Surf said his first time on stage pretty much set the tone for this article and the evening as a whole, “You can lie in rap, but you can’t lie in poetry.” Every poet mirrored this truth with superhuman displays of honesty and vulnerability. I caught up with Tsu Surf’s manager and the event’s coordinator Qua to ask him how they arrived at the decision to enter the battle rapper into the spoken word space. He replied, “I love Surf. I work with Surf, manage Surf but this isn’t about him. It’s about the other poets. I’m using Surf as a platform to shed light on the people. I’m setting the stage for these poets and then with the proceeds we are helping out the less fortunate.”

I inquired about Ashley The Poet’s creative process and she shared with me, “I cry when I write. That’s how I get my poems to be the way I need them to be. I write so I can change somebody in the crowd. I need somebody in the crowd to feel me. I get in tuned to the exact feeling I had the moment I went through what ever in writing about.” When I asked if she’s still healing from her experiences that have been catalysts for her art, she replied, “The healing process never ends!”

The socially distant event delivered on every level. The paintings on the walls and easels of the Above Art Studios space were top notch as they are notoriously known for. The complimentary Pinot Grigio didn’t disappoint. The poets really performed from a place of love, gratitude and vulnerability. On stage they were full of audacity and wisdom, off stage they were dropping jewels as well. JaNai Aka Ki’Nu said “Everything I do is to support our people. I feel like the Black Man does not get enough recognition and praise so when I get on a stage that’s the first thing I address.” When I asked Poetree about her performance approach she told me, “I speak from experience. From who I am. I could get on stage and just start spitting but speaking to the audience allows me to FEEL first.”

IG: @Poeism

XVIIDUKE said, “It feels good to be free. When you’re free you are real.” I asked him what was his underlying message he wanted to get across with his poems, he responded, “Question everything and remain in love because we are love!” And love was the energy that everyone felt! The audience was thoroughly engaged. They laughed, clapped and snapped their fingers when poets pulled on their heart strings.

A conversation with the author of “Tripping Over Canvases” and co-owner of Above Art Studios, Donte T Muse had a different tone. We spoke of how they were able to keep the art gallery thriving while so many businesses crumbled during the economic downfall caused by the pandemic. He explained how entrepreneurs could have taken preemptive measures to make their businesses recession proof! Donte did however have a message for those of us who are now learning that entrepreneurship and group economics are not trends but an absolute necessities if we are to rise as a community. “Love what you do. Pursue your talents and passions. Your passions are directly tied to your purpose. If you follow those things, everybody wins because you’re a piece of the puzzle.”

Qua confirmed SPOKEN WORD was initially scheduled for the 1st quarter of 2020. Obviously Covid-19 had other plans. All in all, I couldn’t think of more powerful and purposeful way to end the year. Before the night was over, Surf assured that SPOKEN WORD is indeed a series and for the next event we can expect him step aside as the host and step in as a featured act. Stay tuned….

 

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