Do it Right. Heart over Hype.

This past weekend, I attended the Ladies on The Mic Showcase in Dallas, Texas. It's always refreshing to be in a spot where dope female lyricists can rock the stage and have the men and women rockin with them, being inspired by them, and digging their LYRICS AND SKILLS and not just the outer shell of their beauty and sexuality. It takes me back to the first time I saw MC Lyte on stage, I looked around at all the men vibing with her and having true RESPECT for her, which was such a huge difference from the responses I noticed society had with newer female artists. Below is a cell phone video I recorded of Rah Digga dropping gems for the women in the game. It's important to learn from and study the OGz in the game. What Digga expressed was the same message that has been brewing inside me for so long and what Diva Demeanor is about.

This happened in a Dallas bar on the bottom floor (hence: underground) and the only ones in attendance were those who were curious or those who knew of these artists and had a deep and undying love for the true hip hop culture. Such a pure crowd. Meanwhile, others danced, drank and partied upstairs unaware of the history and substance going on right underneath their noses. I love the underground and grassroots feel of things. If we are being real with this, we would treat it as such. We wouldn't care so much about a huge production and paying big names for press and media coverage. We wouldn't spend so much time chasing fads, trying to look famous and glossing up our image for the masses. Is our shit even for the masses? No. It's for us. It's for the culture. If we are real about this, we would promote and share these simple cell phone captures of the beauty and power going on in the underground that can radically shift our culture to the place we desire. I see so many movements that claim to be grassroots or underground but operate like the mainstream. I don't believe its intentional. I believe we are trying to get our messages out and trying to be as big and visible and impressive as possible. But let's not forget that our power forever lies with the people, with the community, with the heart and with the message. Digga says it beautifully. In everything that you do, make sure you keepin it as gutta as you can. Stop allowing what the "mass corporations" (*cough* instagram models, gurus, people selling dreams in virtual courses, people telling you to pay for views, people telling you how to finesse the system) sway you. Stand firm in your truth. Be as grassroots and untouched by those greedy, slimy ideals as possible. Do it for the people. Do it from the heart. Hip hop needs to remain heart over hype. Real over manufactured. In whatever it is that you do, whatever unique contribution you bring to the culture, stay true.

Your Culture is Rich but you are Broke.

The same braids, door knocker earrings, extravagant acrylic nails, and styles of dress that are deemed “ghetto” or “hood” on our people in our communities is deemed “trendy” when it is in mainstream and on runways, not only that but it is making these designers RICH or should I say RICHER. The problem isn’t that our culture is going mainstream and is making money…..the problem is WHO is taking it mainstream, WHO is making money off of it and WHAT are they turning it into.

This is so reminiscent to the Mother Land….Africa, rich in all things. Do you hear me? That land is RICH!!!! It is naturally rich. Rich in diamonds, gold, oil, iron ore and so many other NATURAL resources but the people do not benefit from their own riches. Because of colonialism, other countries come in and make money off of THEIR natural resources. Yes, they take them and get rich off of them. Doesn’t it sound like what’s happening to our culture? They are taking what we created, how we express and uplift ourselves naturally, who we are naturally and they take it and turn it into a machine that makes millions for them.

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It’s not about a salary it’s all about reality
And Hip Hop is the reality that creates all these salaries
HIP HOP, HIP HOP, HIP HOP
It’s in the academies
Hauled from the streets of the hood & every family
— Grandmaster Flash ft. KRS ONE "What If" (2009)

Our culture is rich. If you truly research hip hop as a culture, its origins and its purpose, you will immediately feel the richness of the culture. But do you see richness in material terms in the communities that started it? Even hip hop in terms of music has been taken over and exploited for profits, “Hip Hop is currently being used by large corporations to be exploited for profits, reinforce capitalistic ideals as well as a tool to adversely affect Black and Latino Youth. Once corporations began to see the earning potential of rap music, the exploitation began.” (https://itzarap.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/corporate-exploitation-of-hip-hop/)

I used to say, “With a land as rich as Africa, they can take care of themselves, use their riches to bring more money to their people, they can take over, they can be the source, they can get rich off their own supply. Do they know who they are? They are great!” Yea okay but instead of trying to fix someone else’s mess, look at your own. Look at our culture. Do you see what you possess? Don’t you see that everything you create and everything you are is GOLD? They see it. They see it and they are tapping into it. They are taking who you are and what you created and using it to make them rich. They are taking (see: Swagga Jacking) your gold and capitalizing off of it.

In what ways can we use who we are and what we created to bring riches back into our own communities? How can we use our culture to uplift our communities to combat how they use it to poison and destroy our communities? How can we use our culture for its intended purpose to combat how they use it for their own agendas? How can we begin to embrace the richness of our culture and turn it into richness in our communities and for our people? Don’t just think about it…do it.

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Let me get this clear, today you have a real choice
Because of Hip Hop’s existence you have a real voice
— Grandmaster Flash ft. KRS ONE "What If" (2009)

Hip Hop was created because we were marginalized. They kicked us out and pushed us to the side. We created our own style and our own sound, with hip hop, we could finally be ourselves. Hip Hop gave us a platform and a voice. Hip Hop was never created to be this multi-million dollar industry that pumps violence, misogyny and materialism into our communities. It was created to be our voice, to give us a space, to make room for us and to uplift us. They can try and commercialize and exploit it but they can never jack the true essence of it. That is something that we must hold onto and that we must nurture, cultivate and use for our own betterment. Our movement will most likely be underground, untouched by their greedy hands, and it will be the change that we all want to see.

Sade in the 90s.

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See I used to give a fuck, now I’m jaded
I’m allergic to the bullshit

What things in your life can you say this about? Maybe, you used to care what everyone said or thought about you but you've grown to the point that you're completely jaded and could care less now. Maybe, you used to find yourself devastated that something didn't work out or that people were trying to take advantage of you.....maybe you still do. Can you begin to be extremely allergic to the BS and just live YOUR best life?

You can clearly see my vibe is tremendous
But you won’t see through the tints in my Tesla
I be blocking out the world, it’s a mess, yeah
I’m allergic to the bullshit

Yes! Your vibe is tremendous! You are dazzling, magical, full, whole, powerful and exactly what this world needs! But you HAVE to block out the world's garbage to keep your magic and your vibes high. Be so f*cking fly that the haters, users, manipulators, nay-sayers and enemies of your soul can't even see into your life clear enough to sabotage anything. This world is a mess sis, but like we acknowledged earlier, you're allergic to the BS, achoo, so stay in your own clear space and avoid the mess like the plague.

No trouble ever stayed long enough
Thank God every day for my come-up
Somebody tryna slight me, it’s all love

Blessings! Your struggles & your troubles are only there to mold you and shape you into the diva you were meant to be. Worship God every single day for bringing you to this place and for creating you to be great. When the enemy comes in and tries to rock you and when those haters try and slight you.....continue to show nothing but LOVE. That's the high road, that's counter cultural, they don't know what to do with it, its makes them hate you (love in disguise) even more and that's what divas do.

When I do it like it’s roulette, roll it, burn it, lose it
Hit that black and red, keeping spending decks, I keep it moving
Put that shit behind me, keep my diamonds blinding
Gotta keep it suave like I’m Sade in the 90s

Nuff said! This life is a gamble, you win some you lose some but don't allow those things you see as losses stop or deter you! Keep it moving, keep YOUR SOUL, above anything, shining so bright that its BLINDING...this is what sets you apart and this is what truly makes you glow. Cultivate your soul, detox it, nurture it! Keep it suave, keep it smooth, keep it sexy, keep it original, keep it soulful, keep it classy, keep it timeless and keep it tasteful just like Sade in the 90s!

Front Row Seats.

BIG MOOD when they treated you like a Soundcloud artist, not knowing you about to make MAJOR moves:

They treatin you like you're regular
They reject your resume
They don't respond to your posts or messages
They won't check out your work
They disrespect you
They trample on your ideas
Its because they don't know
They don't see the greatness inside of you
But maybe God didn't create your greatness to be seen so soon
& maybe you needed to be rejected to gain your strength
Maybe you don't need their acceptance
Maybe you need to stop begging for their help
& tap into the magic you have WITHIN YOURSELF.

Diva, go out and kill it.
Show them better than your mouth can say.
Rise up on your own and pave your own way.
You're far from regular, baby.
Tap into your inner Diva right now
live like that forever.
You're about to level up
put on your best show
all your naysayers are sitting in the front row.

Cultivating Conviction

 

This is an excerpt from a youversion devotional I am completing now called Favor with Kings. I felt that I needed to add no words nor did I need to re write this piece, this is perfect for us #WorldChangingWomen. 


Sometimes one intentional action leads to a variety of positive outcomes. You might have been stuck at every turn yesterday. But one simple tweak today might throw open multiple doors that were previously barricaded.

As a result of my meditating on Nehemiah, I decided to fast and pray. I walked the streets and beaches of Huntington, inviting God to increase my conviction for the people in the community. I made introductions, asked questions, listened, and learned. In a short amount of time, I knew this was my path.

And I found that after I committed to the path, new passion filled my heart.

Feelings follow actions. Even if you don’t feel it first, when you believe it and decide it, feelings will follow.

It’s similar to being in love. If you live only by what you feel, you’ll get married in a month and divorced in a year. If you learn that you can make choices that cultivate emotions, you’ll have the best marriage around.

Here are a few things that I’ve discovered cultivate strong convictions:

1. Hang around people with strong convictions. Conviction, like energy, is contagious. The more you’re around deep convictions, the stronger your own certainty and clarity will become.

2. Deepen your understanding of the realities for real people living actual lives. The more you know, the more you need to do something about it. When the people have faces (and are not just statistics), it triggers genuine compassion. When cities have personalities, you care. When organizations embody a bigger story of teamwork and collective compassion, you’ll be moved to make a difference.

3. Develop a morning ritual. Your day will go better if you begin with intention, clarity, and purpose. Focus every morning on what matters most. You can print a free PDF of my daily scheduling tool and personal daily rituals at FavorWithKings.com/resources.

4. Pray. Fall on your face somewhere private and don’t get up until your heart breaks. Leverage points 1 and 2 in this list and let the God of creativity and compassion break your heart into an outpouring of love in action.

As Nehemiah prayed and fasted, his feelings and convictions intensified.

First find your why, then find your way.

(Power) less.

Powerless.
Have you ever had such a heart for the people, such a desire to bring about needed change in a certain area but lack so much to make it happen? You need money, you need a building, you need books, you need connections, you need a sound system, you need donors, you need a lot that you do not have. Its easy to do wrong but it is so much harder to do right. It is extremely difficult to bring about positive change in lives and communities because of the deep depravity that exists within them teamed with the system that is designed to keep them oppressed holding them captive. You will be fighting a physical and a spiritual battle if you want to do this. 

"I want scholarships for all low income students that I mentor." Where will I get hundreds of thousands of dollars?

"I want to build a school with educators that actually care and will teach our kids in unique ways that they actually learn and grow. I'm tired of our kids being in the worst schools because of their neighborhood." Where will I get the team and money for that?

"I want to reform the criminal justice system in America, people are being treated like cattle and not like human beings and no judgement is truly fair." But how?

I've heard people say all these powerful ideas but lack the actual power to bring them about. You may feel the same way. Yes, it seems impossible and yes it will be extremely difficult. The road to that reality will be full of opposition, set backs, disappointments and obstacles. Something this great will never come easy. But it will come. We can tap into our true power within, our true power that comes from God. With a direct connection to him, we will make it.

We have to start somewhere. I always feel that I am running out of time. Your 20's is your most trendsetting and inspirational time period, yet we spend our 20's broke and full of ideas. Our 20's could be truly powerful if we match our trendiness and "cool points" with the youth with a million dollar budget to be able to live out those dreams we have for them. What if we are past that point? Do we give up?

It's time to just give IN, and go all in. There has to be a way to get the resources we need to do the good that we know is needed. We all have to do the research and the foot work. We all have to network, we all have to pray for doors to be opened, we all have to sacrifice and put our own money up, we all have to set up meetings, and we all have to use our power on social media platforms for good.

We feel so powerless.
But I don't think we are truly powerless.
I don't think we need to create power out of thin air.
I believe the power is already there.
We have to use it.
Even when we don't feel it.

Royalty in the Local Afterschool Program.

I had ran out of patience and ideas. These kids aren't learning. This community doesn't care. These kids are being raised by the radio stations and images of gangstas and strippers. They can tell you all the celebrity gossip but can't even spell celebrity....or gossip. I'm done. I'm sure every teacher or social worker has felt this way but we always find a way to regroup and cook up something new to try again. As much as people like to talk down on this current generation, somebody better give a damn about them because they are the future of this world, the future of this culture. They will soon be the decision makers and world shakers. You may not understand or like their language but you better learn and adapt real quick to be able to reach them in a way that they can understand.

I think that we would all like to see the youth do right, and fishin’ is the mission but you keep missin’ cus you only fish with food that you like
— Bizzle

I know these kids are diamonds in the rough and can be taught and can be reached but we have to find a way that connects with them. Hip hop has always been my medium. I love hip hop and so do they, so let's use it as a tool. I played the Kendrick Lamar album in the background and handed them all slips of paper that said "I got royalty inside my DNA." as they took their seats (well, most of em...the normal busy bodies were digging in the toy boxes, running around, trying to dance on top of the tables, hitting each other or just yelling). I asked them what does it say? Most of them couldn't read it all, but the ones who could, yelled in unison, "I GOT ROYALTY IN MY DNA!!!!!" I love affirmations, they don't know, but they just spoke that confidently over themselves. I asked, "What does that mean?". Silence mixed with shuffling and a few "I don't know"'s filled the room. We talked briefly....meaning like 30 seconds (attention spans are a MF) about what that truly means to them...They get it. I asked them to draw out who they truly are and who they will become on their paper. I also had them color images of royal men and women.

This was therapeutic. There was a stillness and calmness in the community center that I usually never feel, as they quietly concentrated on coloring, releasing their creativity, imagining themselves as royalty and calmly rapping and dancing in their seats along to every single word of "Humble", "DNA", "Loyalty" and "Love". It was almost as if the images they were focused on gave them a glimpse into reality, a break from what they are bombarded with on a daily basis. It was almost like Kendrick's words and the beats sent them into a trance of knowing that they could be exactly who they are, right where they are and still be ROYAL. It was like their drawings of their future of having a lot of money, having a big house and no longer living in low-income housing projects, becoming a teacher, a mother or a rapper took over their thoughts for just a moment and they felt confident and free.

This world is always quick to write these kids off as if they are lower class, unintelligent, out of control or unreachable. They aren't. You have to look closely and see the royal blood coursing through their veins and remind them of it daily. They need these reminders because all they see are images and reminders of everything that they aren't and shouldn't be. This world is also quick to write off hip hop as ignorant, useless, violent or degrading. It isn't. Whether you love it or hate it, these kids are impacted by it and understand it. Use it for its original purpose, to impact these communities and be the voice for the silenced and overlooked, to reject the status quo and just be authentic and raw and confident in that.

Teachers, social workers, volunteers or anyone else who does the hard and thankless work in these communities....don't give up. Never fall into the belief that someone is unreachable or less than human, choose to see the royalty in everyone and use the tools that you have to build those bridges to reach them. Check out the media tab for dope, world changing and life altering female rappers that you could use! Affirm the royalty in you, affirm the royalty in others and be hip hop wherever you are....don't let anyone tell you that it has no place in the office or classroom, its not just an art form, it's a lifestyle and it has the power to mend, heal and transform even the darkest hearts and places.

I'm The Spark.

I can't be the voice and the fight behind every social justice issue, no matter how badly I would love to. I can't wholeheartedly dedicate my life to every issue that grips my heart because most of these fights, require your entire life. I can't reform the criminal justice system, fight to abolish human trafficking, create a world where generational poverty doesn't exist, help inner city kids to read, fight for free or affordable health care for all, march for policy changes, research and fight for higher wages, attack gang violence at its root and fight for the rights of single mothers all at the same time with the intensity these issues need to be resolved. I know that it is impossible to make all these things right with just my one life, but there is something that I can do. I can inspire the life that WILL step up to be the voice for that particular issue. I can inspire tens or hundreds or thousands of lives to step up in their own particular area and dedicate their entire life to that fight. I understand that not everyone is like me, feeling deeply and wanting to fight for every social justice issue they see. But maybe that person is passionate enough about one issue. That one life and one issue is all it takes.

I was watching a documentary on Angela Davis and in one scene she was standing outside with a microphone speaking her truth to a crowd of young, radical world changers. Those people, in turn, left there and fought for justice in their community. In our day and age, we can write one blog, or shoot one youtube video or make one post that will reach that same type of crowd of world changers who can log off and go make changes where they are. I do not aim to play a part in every single revolution, but I do aim to inspire the lives that will. I may be the woman who is in charge of rallying the troops while others are in charge of their own sectors: literacy, juvenile delinquency, human trafficking, education, art, dance, health and the likes. Together, we all can play our part and bring about the change that we are so eager to see.

I’m not saying I’m gonna rule the world or I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee you that I will spark the brain that will change the world. And that’s our job, It’s to spark somebody else watching us. We might not be the one’s, but let’s not be selfish and because we not gonna change the world let’s not talk about how we should change it. I don’t know how to change it, but I know if I keep talking about how dirty it is out here, somebody’s gonna clean it up.
— Tupac Shakur

Hip Hop Affirmations: Sa-Roc "Forever"

"I ain’t get here overnight
I was in that mirror like 4-5 times a week, with my mala beads reciting affirmations like holy rites" - Sa-Roc "Forever"

When this bar exited her mouth, I felt her truth. Self love, acceptance, empowerment, confidence, and walking in your true purpose does not happen overnight. All of a sudden self love is becoming some sort of trend and most women are still not getting it. They will post empowering quotes and then not truly understand how to live them out daily. This music video is a beautiful illustration of who we truly are as women in this hip hop culture. I have quoted her lyrics from this song below for you to use as your own daily affirmations. Affirmations don't have to be lovey-dovey, basic or sound like the ones you hear from your favorite mediation gurus...they can be raw, gritty and drip with your own inner style and voice. So yes, allowing this goddess emcee to rap your affirmations over your life may work better than what you've been doing! Check it...

When I wake up, no makeup, half naked, I feel like I’m the shit
Pardon my language, but hang ups do not define the kid
No, I’m not flawless, I’m scarred up and I’m fine with it
My body art a laundry list of all of life’s unkindnesses.

In your natural state, you are whole, complete and beautiful. Your past mistakes do not define you nor take away from your value. Accept your scars and the wrongs done to you, but use them to grow even more beautifully.

Still got the scars from cutting my wrists when I thought that life was finished
Now they remind me what my lows look like now I know the sky’s the limit

Every scar, whether physical or emotional was meant by the enemy of your soul to break you forever, but you can use those scars to remind you of your lowest point and how you survived it.

When Roc go in, she too aggressive, that’s too masculine
And her content lil too obsessive, just relax a bit
She say she god, that’s narcissistic, just the facts of it
Nah, I Don’t really eff with female rappers, that shit sacrilege
Glad I learned early not to internalize every ink up
Daddy told me with every opinion there comes a sphincter
And they would rather see dem thots than popularize a thinker

People will critique, pull, push, slander and talk down on you and what you do, but realize that even though you are not who they want you to be, you are purposed, you have to keep pushing and doing you, never changing for the masses, and then you will reach your point of inner peace and true power.

Marrow composed of warriors so every verse became a vengeance
Went thru too much hell to not be fire, but they still feigning ignorance

There is a fighter in your blood, you, your ancestors and your GOD have been through way too much for you to consider yourself weak. You are a warrior, you are straight fire.

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"That’s right, we’ll call it self love. Discovered I was dope, and indulged like upscale drugs
And u could call me arrogant if that’s gon help love, but if you trying to knock me down, your demolitions failed, bruv" - Sa-Roc

  

The Wonder in all Women.

There is an underlying narrative sketched and weaved into this world's system. It's a story that proclaims that men are the strong and powerful ones and even the strongest and most powerful woman gets her true power and purpose from a man and his interest/love for her. Weak.

I loved in the 2017 Wonder Woman movie, how she was adamant in being the one to save the people and fight even when no one else thought to fight for them. I loved how she walked around like the hands and feet of Jesus, noticing, with deep compassion, every hurt and injustice in the world and being moved instantly to do something about it. I loved that image of a woman, because that is who we are all called to be. What I hated, was how her love interest took all her shine and purpose at the end. I thought she would power up and gain all her strength and drive from her love for the people and seeing the oppressed finally be set free......but no, they wrote the story so that she gained her power from the love she had for a man. The entire plot shifted and now it was no longer about a powerful woman saving the world and following her beliefs but it was now about a powerful woman who gained her power and purpose from a relationship and is driven by her love for one man.

In music, movies, books, poetry and any other form of story writing, the narrative is clear. Women, your power comes from being with the love of your life, having men find you attractive and your ability to please them. I believe that love is a beautiful aspect of life, and being with the love of your life is thrilling and fulfilling. However, I do not believe that it is the true source of your wonder or your power. Your true source comes from the love that God put in your heart for his people and the unique calling that he placed on your life. Operating from THAT is where your true power lies. That power is inside every woman if she would just tap into it.

We can gain a sense of wonder and power by pouring out our love onto our children and our boyfriends, love interests or husbands. But that is only a part of our power and wonder in love. We would be cheating ourselves and robbing this world if we do not tap into the deeper layer. Re-write the narrative. Do not allow this world, that hates God's plan and that hates God's purpose for the sexes, rob you of your superhero story. This world doesn't want to see men walking in their true strength and women walking beside them in their true strength. They want to see men terrified, confused, manipulative, power hungry and weak. They want to see women dependent, beat down, oppressed, silenced and exploited. They want men and women alike, to believe that their true source of power and strength comes from so many different external sources when it doesn't. It comes from within. It comes from the hand of God that placed it there before you were even formed and shaped fully in your mother's womb.

If you want to understand the true power and wonder that lies inside of you....don't look anywhere on the outside for the source. Tap into your true power and watch the whole world change. We can complain about the state of this world until we can no longer breathe....but it will never change until we do. There is wonder inside all of you. I hope you find it.