Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Artwork of Master Ceramicist Homer Brown: An Exquisite Tribute to Black Women

I am in awe of the artistry of master ceramicist Homer Brown. This talented native of Jamaica is a humble and pleasant soul who creates the most stunning pieces that evoke not only the beauty of Black women, but the most detailed and loving depictions of the African spirit.

Art is not my area of expertise, yet I have been fixated on the images and emotions that just looking at the Homer Brown Collection evokes. While I can appreciate talent in many genres, and recognize the blessing that individuals have when it comes to building and crafting unique items...I do believe that Homer Brown has something special.

His signature sculptures are affectionately known as "Bumpy Heads," as distributed and celebrated in his hometown of Ocho Rios on the island of Jamaica where the works were originally inspired over ten years ago. A self-trained artist who has worked for various establishments in Jamaica and mentored with some of the best potters and visionaries, Homer has now taken his message of self-love and the celebration of black beauty internationally.

Last month at Toronto's DW Alexander, the Homer Brown Collection had a special showcase where the public was able to view the pieces that make up his latest collection, along with celebrate the launch of his website HomerBrown.com. Since then, the unique vases, paintings, and sculptures have been available for purchase and the impact thus far has been positive, and some might say long overdue.

Like many talented artists--confined by geography or oftentimes opportunity--Homer Brown has already established himself as an innovator in his field. His artwork leaves an impression. His structures are memorable. Anyone who has seen the fruits of his passion and years of skills training can see that he has something extraordinary. Something spiritual. Something praiseworthy.

Central to the collection of items is an evident love and admiration for African-Diasporic woman. From the hair texture, to the facial features, the carefully painted skin tones, and other culturally stimulating details, these pieces are an obvious token of respect and tribute to the Black woman, her strength, power, and beauty.

The BGroup of Jamaican Pottery noted that: "Homer is a sensitive and romantic individual. He has an exceptional insight into life. This is reflected in the wide spectrum of his subjects which range from classic African figures, to vivid flora and fauna, to large intense sculptural pieces with man and nature entwined. Homer's love of his work and personal high standards shows through in his art. The amount of detail that is presented makes his images lift from the surface of their clay canvas."

I applaud and revere this artist, not only because of his Jamaican heritage and obvious talent, but because his pieces are consistent with his persona; his observations and translations of nature, humans, and their breathtaking 3D textures are uplifting and exquisite.

Whenever someone as special as Homer Brown crosses our paths, I believe it is our duty to not only celebrate his artistry, but also to help communicate his powerful messages of self-love, African appreciation, and natural beauty. I wish him continued success as his website gains viewership and momentum internationally, and will continue to encourage the consumption of his creations, so art lovers and cultural connoisseurs can continue to take home a piece of this legacy.

All of Homer's current pieces are available through the newly launched website: HOMERBROWN.COM. His artwork is also on display on the Homer Brown Collection Instagram page, as well as his Facebook page Homer Arts.

View video of the Homer Brown Collection (please note that some of these one-of-a-kind pieces are no longer available). For an updated view of available items, visit the artist's website:


It will be a joy to see what comes next for this genuine talented, as he continues to expand his market and inspire his audiences with a small piece of this inspiring Collection. Wishing him all the best!

CONNECT WITH HOMER'S TORONTO-BASED TEAM:

EMAIL:
BrownHomer2@yahoo.com

PHONE:
647-528-8000

FACEBOOK:
Homer Arts (https://www.facebook.com/Homer-arts-1548592935457123/)

INSTAGRAM:
Homer Brown Collection (www.instagram.com/HomerBrownCollection)



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Toronto @CarnivalSpotlight: SALDENAH CARNIVAL

FOR THE LOVE OF TORONTO CARNIVAL AND THE PRESERVATION OF CARIBBEAN CULTURE IN CANADA!

We love Carnival, we love Toronto, and we love to celebrate the beautiful elements of this Caribbean tradition! This year we’ll be featuring the details of ALL masquerade band’s presentation/costume details, to encourage carnival enthusiasts from within the GTA and internationally to take part in our city’s beautiful tribute to Caribbean culture: the Toronto Caribbean Carnival!

(*Unofficial reporting, based on our independent compilation)





BAND: Saldenah Carnival
2018 THEME: Wonders of Spring
BAND LAUNCH DATE: Saturday, April 21, 2018

BAND LEADER(S): Louis Saldenah

MAS CAMP LOCATION: 1510 Birchmount Road, Unit D

EMAIL: info.saldenah@gmail.com
TWITTER: www.twitter.com/louissaldenah

For photos, pricing, and additional details, please connect with the bands and section leaders directly:

COSTUME SECTION 01: Majestic Bloom
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Karen Jones (karen-saldenahmas@rogers.com)
COLOURS: Purple, pink, teal

COSTUME SECTION 02: Venus Fly Trap 
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Dr. Jay and Myana (drjaymas@gmail.com)
COLOURS: Red, blue, yellow

COSTUME SECTION 03: Breaking Dawn
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Ariel Saldenah (arielsaldenah@gmail.com)
COLOURS: Peach, pink, blue

COSTUME SECTION 04: The Awakening
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Melinda Rickson (iplaysavage@gmail.com)
COLOURS: Pink, purple

COSTUME SECTION 05: Love Birds
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Aaron and Shireen (teamsaldenah@gmail.com)
COLOURS: Purple, yellow

COSTUME SECTION 06: Perennial Glory
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Hayden, Karen, and Ian (hflharbin@hotmail.com)
COLOURS: Pink, orange

COSTUME SECTION 07: Butterfly Rose
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Anton Saldenah (teamsaldenah@gmail.com)
COLOURS: Peach, tan

COSTUME SECTION 08: Morning Glory
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Ronnie and Samantha (fevermas@gmail.com)
COLOURS: Teal, blue, tan

COSTUME SECTION 09: Exotic Wonders
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Kolin and Heather (socavibes@hotmail.com)
COLOURS: Pink, teal, orange

COSTUME SECTION 10: Glacial Thaw
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Curtis and Christina (christina1619@hotmail.com)
COLOURS: White, blue

COSTUME SECTION 11: Spring Bling
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Kris Robinson (exotictray@yahoo.com)
COLOURS: Blue, orange, pink

COSTUME SECTION 12: Sun Blast
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Tamara and Louis (tgooch789@gmail.com)
COLOURS: Yellow, gold

COSTUME SECTION 13: Cherry Blossom
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Pete and Amanda (masfuhso@gmail.com)
COLOURS: Pink, teal

COSTUME SECTION 14: Rebelle
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Ronny Saldenah (iamsaldenah@gmail.com)
COLOURS: Teal, purple, tan

COSTUME SECTION 15: Ixora
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Rodney Minguel (nrmass@ymail.com)
COLOURS: Red, yellow, orange

COSTUME SECTION 16: Twilight Romance
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: Curtis Aitchison (curtispeter@rogers.com)
COLOURS: Blue, purple

_____________________________________________________
We are here to support Toronto Carnival and promote Caribbean culture in Canada! We may not catch all details...but we're striving to be thorough! Please contact us at services@kyapublishing.com if we've missed anything or anyone!

SPONSORED BY @CARNIVALSPOTLIGHT

CARNIVAL SPOTLIGHT // Toronto’s former reggae dancehall princess Delia Chinn is drawn back into a seductive party lifestyle when she meets Jessica and Victor, members of the Groovy Massive soca dance group. Although Delia’s self-esteem is on the rise, it’s at the expense of her relationship with Ryan and their five-year marriage...a marriage that may not survive her first carnival season. // KYA PUBLISHING (2014)

ORDER PAPERBACK BOOKCLICK HERE

ORDER EBOOKCLICK HERE

LISTEN TO THE @CARNIVALSPOTLIGHT SOCA SOUNDTRACK MIXED BY TORONTO'S @DJMAJESTY101CLICK HERE

Monday, April 16, 2018

Toronto @CarnivalSpotlight: CARNIVAL NATIONZ

FOR THE LOVE OF TORONTO CARNIVAL AND THE PRESERVATION OF CARIBBEAN CULTURE IN CANADA!

We love Carnival, we love Toronto, and we love to celebrate the beautiful elements of this Caribbean tradition! This year we’ll be featuring the details of ALL masquerade band’s presentation/costume details, to encourage carnival enthusiasts from within the GTA and internationally to take part in our city’s beautiful tribute to Caribbean culture: the Toronto Caribbean Carnival!

(*Unofficial reporting, based on our independent compilation)

BAND: Carnival Nationz
2018 THEME: LOVE
BAND LAUNCH DATE: Saturday, April 14, 2018

BAND LEADER(S):  Marcus Eustace, Bryce Aguiton

MAS CAMP LOCATION: 1220 Markham Road, Unit #2 & #3

EMAIL: info@carnival-nationz.com
TWITTERwww.twitter.com/cnzinc

For photos, pricing, and additional details, please connect with the bands and section leaders directly:

COSTUME SECTION 01: Fight The Power
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): Keyauna & Nikole @Danza_MasProductions
COLOURS: Black, pink, teal

COSTUME SECTION 02: Come Together
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): Lena and Natasha @HouseOfBeauty 
COLOURS: Pink, purple, gold

COSTUME SECTION 03: Zen
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): Amandalyn @AmandaLynFindlay @VIPClubMaster
COLOURS: Teal, silver, white

COSTUME SECTION 04: Gaia
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): Bryce and Jeannine @cnz_islandpplz
COLOURS: Orange, blue, yellow

COSTUME SECTION 05: Justice
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): Nicholas @MasParade868
COLOURS: Yellow, fuschia

COSTUME SECTION 06: Ocean Bliss
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): @FarmP @FarmPCarnival
COLOURS: Teal, blue, yellow

COSTUME SECTION 07: Freedom
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): Denise @dchangkit
COLOURS: Red, blue

COSTUME SECTION 08: Nirvana
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): Tamara @_CarnivalDynasty 
COLOURS: Purple, lime

COSTUME SECTION 09: Paradise
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): Stacey and Anne @CNZ_StaceyAnne
COLOURS: Green, lime

COSTUME SECTION 10: Empower
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): Bryce and Jeannine @cnz_islandpplz
COLOURS: Tan, pink, gold

COSTUME SECTION 10: Life
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): Marcus @EustaceMarcus
COLOURS: Blue, tan, brown

COSTUME SECTION 11: Soul
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): joannchase@hotmail.com
COLOURS: Red, orange, blue

COSTUME SECTION 12: Hero
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): Marcus @EustaceMarcus
COLOURS: Gold, pink, teal

COSTUME SECTION 13: Imagine
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): Bri & Manny @mygoldconcept @goldsubstance @_djmanny
COLOURS: Red, peach, gold

_________________________
We are here to support Toronto Carnival and promote Caribbean culture in Canada! We may not catch all details...but we're striving to be thorough! Please contact us at services@kyapublishing.com if we've missed anything or anyone!

SPONSORED BY @CARNIVALSPOTLIGHT

CARNIVAL SPOTLIGHT // Toronto’s former reggae dancehall princess Delia Chinn is drawn back into a seductive party lifestyle when she meets Jessica and Victor, members of the Groovy Massive soca dance group. Although Delia’s self-esteem is on the rise, it’s at the expense of her relationship with Ryan and their five-year marriage...a marriage that may not survive her first carnival season. // KYA PUBLISHING (2014)

ORDER PAPERBACK BOOKCLICK HERE

ORDER EBOOKCLICK HERE

LISTEN TO THE @CARNIVALSPOTLIGHT SOCA SOUNDTRACK MIXED BY TORONTO'S @DJMAJESTY101CLICK HERE

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Another Spectacular Road March for BACCHANAL JAMAICA at Jamaica Carnival 2018

Carnival festivities in Jamaica reached a peak for 2018 last weekend during the official road march in downtown Kingston, however, the images and energy keep circulating as visitors return to their homelands, online buzz increases, and more and more bacchanalists declare that 2019 in Kingston for the next edition of Jamaica Carnival is the place to be! Jamaica's Carnival has existed for about thirty years, yet the international excitement and name-brand endorsements are helping this event quickly rise to the top of the list for must-attend carnivals on the annual schedule.

It goes in waves, at times, and there are often unavoidable trends in Carnival participation. True carnivalists always know how to follow the pace and the vibes of the hottest fetes, bands, and destinations. Details like events, overall hospitality, the intricacies of costume design and costume section customer service, as well as featured performing artists and DJs all help to build a carnival's reputation. Needless to say, Jamaica Carnival has already stamped its name as a certified feteland, and Caribbean cultural enthusiasts continue to rave about the island, the experience, the costumes, the beautiful people, and the overall vibration that this particular island's carnival possesses.

The injection of reggae music brought a distinct electricity that only Jamaica itself could authentically manifest. Artists performing the latest dancehall hits live, hundreds of masqueraders doing the "Genna Bounce" or "Flairy" dances en masse during the road march and fetes were one-of-a-kind additions to Jamaica's carnival that no other location could duplicate. And of course, the sounds of sweet soca music still rang from one side of the island to the next in the days leading up to the Kingston finale.

Here's an event recap from leading Jamaica Carnival masquerade band BACCHANAL JAMAICA, as they outline the season's participants and details:

(VIA BACCHANAL JAMAICA, APRIL 2018) -- Liguanea was a hive of excitement on Sunday morning as costumed groups, individuals, music trucks and all parties involved in the Bacchanal Jamaica road march descended on the area. The vibes increased as friends linked up, the music revved up and the trucks rolled down Hope Road blasting the soca beat.


Vibes masters Narity, Sanjay, Richie D, Kevin Crown, Miami Dream Team, Barrie Hype, Smoke, Back2basic, Private Ryan, Patrick the Hype Man, Tyler and King Taj kept the hyped reveler’s chipping, wining and jumping, going nonstop for the duration of the route, with an hour’s rest at the lunch stop at The Lime Golf Academy.  The costumes with their intricate designs and fabulous feathered plumes created a spectacular array of colour as the band wended its way on the parade route.

All the elements combined to make the day an excellent one. The weather allowed the parade to proceed in relative comfort. The rest stop at the Golf Academy was well executed complete with makeup station, foot spa, and shoulder massages, allowing revellers to truly refresh themselves and get ready for the next stage of the parade.

All service providers outdid themselves in ensuring hospitality of the highest quality. The Frenchmen delivered on their promise of a premium experience. From the premium drinks and snacks on the road, to an enhanced experience at the lunch stop, complete with a choice of cruising and an upgraded bathroom set up.


Costumed revellers were well and truly pampered. New fan, Jilliwerx, endorsed this view of Bacchanal Jamaica, "I was a Bacchanal newbie, however a carnival feteran in Trinidad, NY, and Bermuda and I must say standards remained high throughout the experience. Thank you for your attention to your patrons! You have fostered more loyal fans! See you in 2019."

The glitz and glamour of the costumes, the energy of the revellers and the vibes of the music made the Bacchanal Jamaica Band unparalleled in the road parade on carnival Sunday and provided the perfect climax to an outstanding 2018 season. According to one fan “the experience was awesome. The high-energy, upbeat music kept us going. It was a truly fantastic, all-day fete. Everything was right – music, food and drink. This year Bacchanal was better than ever”.

“We are ready for next year”, commented Charmaine Franklin, Bacchanal director, and we urge everyone to save the date, April 28, 2019, when we create another fantastic experience”.

Bacchanal Jamaica recap via Kamau Janai, for Bacchanal Jamaica; photos via JamRockOne.

Needless to say, we've already secured our accommodations and have started the countdown to ensure we return to the island again in April 2019 to jump up with the band that first brought us our first Jamaica Carnival experience last year. We don't want to miss a thing!

For additional photos and videos, please visit our Carnival outlet @CarnivalSpotlight on Instagram.





Posted for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Toronto @CarnivalSpotlight: TORONTO REVELLERS

FOR THE LOVE OF TORONTO CARNIVAL AND THE PRESERVATION OF CARIBBEAN CULTURE IN CANADA!

We love Carnival, we love Toronto, and we love to celebrate the beautiful elements of this Caribbean tradition! This year we’ll be featuring the details of ALL masquerade band’s presentation/costume details, to encourage carnival enthusiasts from within the GTA and internationally to take part in our city’s beautiful tribute to Caribbean culture: the Toronto Caribbean Carnival!

(*Unofficial reporting, based on our independent compilation)













BAND: Toronto Revellers
2018 THEME: Extinction
BAND LAUNCH DATE: Saturday, April 7, 2018 & Sunday, April 22, 2018

BAND LEADER(S): Jamaal Magloire

MAS CAMP LOCATION: 80 Midwest Road, Unit #10 Scarborough
PHONE

EMAIL: questions@torontorevellers.com
TWITTERwww.twitter.com/torontorevellers

For photos, pricing, and additional details, please connect with the bands and section leaders directly:

COSTUME SECTION 01: Glacier
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): @VIPCarnival
COLOURS: Blue, white

COSTUME SECTION 02: Coral Reign
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): @KillaCamCam_ (labellacarnival@gmail.com)
COLOURS: Pink, blue, lime

COSTUME SECTION 03: Wild Fire
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): @House_Of_A_ (tatigee2@gmail.com)
COLOURS: Red, orange, yellow

COSTUME SECTION 04: Abella
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG):
COLOURS: Orange, pink

COSTUME SECTION 05: Cosmic Fusion
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): @ExtacyMas (extacymasto@gmail.com)
COLOURS: Green, orange

COSTUME SECTION 06: Enchanted Waters
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG): info@valhallaswim.com
COLOURS: Lavender, green, blue

COSTUME SECTION 07: Lost Tribe
SECTION LEADER CONTACT (IG):
COLOURS: Purple, orange

COSTUME SECTION 08: Mother Earth
SECTION LEADER CONTACT: 
COLOURS: Green, blue, yellow

_________________________
We are here to support Toronto Carnival and promote Caribbean culture in Canada! We may not catch all details...but we're striving to be thorough! Please contact us at services@kyapublishing.com if we've missed anything or anyone!

SPONSORED BY @CARNIVALSPOTLIGHT

CARNIVAL SPOTLIGHT // Toronto’s former reggae dancehall princess Delia Chinn is drawn back into a seductive party lifestyle when she meets Jessica and Victor, members of the Groovy Massive soca dance group. Although Delia’s self-esteem is on the rise, it’s at the expense of her relationship with Ryan and their five-year marriage...a marriage that may not survive her first carnival season. // KYA PUBLISHING (2014)

ORDER PAPERBACK BOOKCLICK HERE

ORDER EBOOKCLICK HERE

LISTEN TO THE @CARNIVALSPOTLIGHT SOCA SOUNDTRACK MIXED BY TORONTO'S @DJMAJESTY101CLICK HERE

Sunday, April 8, 2018

RAPTURE // Netflix Hip Hop Docu-Series (Review)

I love a good story, and I particularly love a good come-up story. Amplify that when it comes to the come-up story of an artist, and it's always a tale worth taking in. Netflix is on fire these days, and one of their latest releases is an eight-part docu-series called "Rapture" that takes a deep look into the creative journey of some hip hop legends...and hip hop newbies.

I don't discriminate. Of course I was pleased to see that my favourite rapper of all time was featured, and it was great to learn more about Nas, even this far into his career. I appreciated every minute of it. From a legend like Nas, to a new kid on the block called A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie (that I had never heard of until I watched his episode), the storytelling was excellent and even before I had the chance to take in the music of the artists, I was happy to first find out what inspired their artistry.

There were eight episodes in total:

1) LOGIC: Gray Matters
2) NAS & DAVE EAST: The Bridge
3) TI: Taking a Stand
4) G-EASY: Worldwide Amplified
5) 2 CHAINZ: Sleep When U Die
6) RAPSODY: Raising the Bars
7) JUST BLAZE: It's Lit
8) A BOOGIE WIT DA HOODIE: Uptown Baby

They all captured me equally, regardless of my personal perspectives on the main character in question. While my musical ear was developed listening to the hip hop of Nas...it still didn't take away from the story of A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. On a personal level, they are all passionate about their message. On a musical level, well...needless to say, not everyone is created equally.

Watching them all within the span of two days, I felt my appreciation for hip hop grow upon the conclusion of my binge. A serious reggae lover and true soca head by default, I admittedly haven't been "keeping up" with hip hop in my late 30s the way I did when I was a teenager and the years shortly after. I'd still rather listen to the Nas "Illmatic" album for the hundredth time than go out of my way to download G-Easy.

This is most likely the case for many in my generation who believe that "hip hop is dead" (see previous post on Toronto hip hop artist SepTo's departure from the rap game, for that very reason). I often hear people poke fun at the "mumble rappers" and declare that no one will ever replace the legends of the 70s, 80s and 90s. The foundation. No one will ever be as wise, as real, or as lyrical at the original hip hop creators. It's a common sentiment...and for valid reasons.

While I can appreciate that I grew up in an era of AMAZING hip hop and R&B, I can also appreciate that there's a 17-year-old kid right now who also believes that TI is as good as it gets. And there's someone else who is 2Chainz' biggest fan. I get it. I understand the generational change, and try my best not to knock the music and tastes of the young ones coming up after us.

What this docu-series reminded me of is that everyone has a story. From your favourite original beat boxing rapper, to a completely strange mumble rapper...everyone has a story. The difference between hip hop and other genres of music is that the totality of the artist is always so closely linked to their lyrical content, and musical credibility. The words are key. The messages are crucial. For this reason, I haven't had the time to fully take in so many hip hop artists...because I don't have the time to study the lyrics, or get up to speed on their story, origins, etc.

Thanks to Netflix (and also thanks to The Breakfast Club interviews), I have been able to obtain vague familiarity with many artists just based on their media coverage alone. Funnily enough...by listening to their spoken words before their recorded music, I feel like I give many of them a pass: even when their music isn't that great. I connect with them before I even hear the music, and appreciate what they create as a result.

The rapper Logic's story was great, for example. And I can't remember what his music sounded like throughout his episode, but I definitely remember the way his story made me feel. It was a story of victory, and joy. Personal triumph, and the beauty of art and expression as tools of healing. I can't say that I'll download his album any time soon, but I definitely placed a call in to see if my college-aged nephew was listening to him. Logic seems like a kid with positive and inspirational messages to share, and I can't be mad at that. Actually, I applaud it.

The Nas and Dave East episode were fantastic--just to hear the personal conversations, the anecdotes, and to see the locations where many of the familiar stories of his life took place. Nothing can shake Nas from the throne I have him on, and watching him in his grown-man essence, listening to him speak, and learning more about his mind makes me realize that his place very high in the ranks of hip hop history is well deserved. Legendary.

TI has my heart as well, ever since I saw him perform live at Young Jeezy's Inauguration Ball in Washington, D.C. two nights before Barack Obama was sworn into office. TI performed "Live Your Life" and other hits at the time, and it was musical heaven. The who's-who of hip hop were present in the room and TI was the star of the show. It was a beautiful moment, and I love to see that his career has transcended many ups...and many downs, to find this current place he's at as a family man and community leader.

In TI's episode, he spent a lot of time with his family, and also met with various civil rights leaders about how he could use his influence as an artist to help the black community. Lyrically evolved, he realizes that it's in everyone's best interest that he spread words of wisdom, and include more socially conscious lyrics to his repertoire. TI's genuine interest in helping the community, his obvious charm, and love for his children were endearing to watch. I believe that TI will continue to be a great community leader...he has a special something.

G-Easy was interesting, and introspective. Do I particularly remember his music...no. But that's not to say that I don't respect his story, and hope that his career continues to soar. His episode followed him on a trip to South America, and was interesting for biographical reasons, as well as cultural reasons as he interacted with folks there. He equated his writing to therapy, and was grateful for the position he found himself in career-wise. Not only was the story interesting, but it was interesting to me how so many hip hop artists exist right now that I have NO clue about. Like, zero. Not a Grammy nomination or Billboard chart-topper have brought some of these folks to my attention.

It's interesting because when I looked deeper into some of these artists, I was amazed at just how much they had accomplished already. I'm someone who is usually in tune with pop culture, music, and entertainment in general, so it actually made me question my attention to hip hop...and also my age.

True music sees no colour/time or boundaries...but I definitely am a few steps behind when it comes to the music that's driving today's youth. The Just Blaze episode was right up my alley, because I was there in the Jay-Z era, and the Swizz Beats era, and while the various producers met and chatted with Just Blaze, I knew--and felt--that they represented a generation and a sound that I am intrinsically familiar with. Many of these producers have evolved into so much more than beats and albums. While their musical aptitude continues to amaze me, it's the humility and work ethic that were awesome to witness.

To some extent, I can say the same about 2Chainz, as he's now falling on the older end of the "new era" of hip hop spectrum. It's been about seven or so years since I fell in love with this artist and his song "Spend It" and I'm pleased to see that not only is he still talented and likeable, but that the brother is also intelligent and a family man. His story featured him on tour...with a broken leg, and so dedicated to his fans that he performed through his injury. Now that's love.

Hip hop artist Rapsody was a joy to watch. An absolute joy. She was authentic, and humble, yet ridiculously talented. What I loved and respected the most was that she wasn't out to "get" anyone, or out to prove anything as a "female" MC. Her character and musicianship just continue to grow, build, and dominate...naturally. She was inspirational. Talented, and beautiful. Again, I haven't been too familiar with her...but am definitely motivated to take in her music and really hear all of what she has to say. I like her already, even with just a surface-level familiarity.

I hadn't heard of Boogie before this special, and chances are I may not encounter him again. That's not to take away from his artistry and career longevity, but I do realize that there may be a disconnect between me...and whatever he has to say. I absolutely loved how he took care of his community, however. I could see that his personal integrity, and responsibility to look out for those around him, are an amazing natural characteristic to have.

I can appreciate that Netflix and producers Mass Appeal (Sacha Jenkins and Ben Selkow) chose this range of artists to be featured, because it did exactly what it was most likely intended to do: educate me on some new rappers/producers, and dig deeper into the lives of some of the ones I already rate.

Hip hop continues to amaze me. The power it yields and the brilliance that it inspires is something that is beautiful to see grow, mature, and even change over the years. I will always gravitate more towards a Nas-type than I will an A Boogie Wid Da Hoodie-type, but that is not to say that I will disregard what is going on in pop culture. Today.

It continues to be the dominant musical force out there, and even into my forties and fifties, I hope that I can still tune in to see wha gwan, and be able to connect with the hip hop performers of the day and their messages. Or at least with their intent.

Artists are all storytellers, at the end of the day. Rappers. Dancers. Musicians. Authors. All artists are simply taking something from within, and transforming that energy into something tangible. .Something we can see, and feel, and something that moves us. Something that moves others.

It's only been a few days since the release of Rapture (March 30, 2018) but I'm pretty sure I'm going to circle back and watch some of it again. I've already told a few people to make sure they add it to their playlist. The feeling of inspiration is priceless, from all of the episodes. It's more than just the music...and I guess it always has been. Hip hop is, and will always continue to be a reflection of real life. The good...and the bad. And especially that which has the power to transform individuals, and society at large. It's more than just music, and this series is a reminder of that.



Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.

Friday, April 6, 2018

New Hip Hop Documentary "Another Decaying Crown" features Toronto Artist SepTo


SepTo is an artist's artist. A creative mind. An introspective soul. A brilliant wordsmith. A reflection of others. A voice for many. Because he is a true and authentic artist, it makes the mere development and presentation of his documentary "Another Decaying Crown" (aka ACD) even more poignant. The very reason why his artistry is being reflected on...is in itself art. And that's why SepTo is so dope.

Created by SepTo and Alex Huard, the documentary debuted at Carlton Cinemas for a private screening on the evening of April 5, 2018. A full theatre of friends, family, supporters, media, and industry-folk were engaged for the hour-long film that reminded anyone within view why his musical journey should in fact, never decline.

Yes, never. (See album: Almost Nevr)

The film featured Toronto-based hip hop artist SepTo in his natural environments: the home, the studio, with his wife and kids, and among his peers, as they discuss the state of hip hop in confessional segments and intimate conversation. While each individual contributor had their own perspectives on the music industry and their personal role in it, it is the presence of SepTo in the Canadian hip hop landscape that is the point of attention. And rightfully so.

For over a decade, he has become a name of true artistry to those that know real hip hop in Toronto. He has become a voice of reason and an expert lyricist to those that appreciate lyricism. He has rocked many festival stages, and released albums of his thoughts and perspectives over the years. His demeanour has remained consistent. His quiet strength, still powerful. SepTo's talent has only amplified as time has passed, and his voice (both written and spoken) has become a source of intellectual banter.

The music has only highlighted a portion of his writing talent. There have been blogs, newsletters, podcasts, and various other forms of communication to amplify his reasonings. But the reason why SepTo is SepTo, and why that crowd of theatre attendees showed up to witness "Another Decaying Crown" on an unexpectedly cold and odd snowy April day in Toronto...was to see what was next.

ADC chronicles the time after his 2015 album "God Mind" release, and the processes, thoughts, and decisions that he was faced with. His most acclaimed body of work to date, "God Mind" also marked what may (or may not) be the "end" of his public rap career. More than one contributor to the film vocalized the collective hope that this actually wasn't the case.

The film shows his loss of inspiration to promote the 2015 album, as well as "greater themes of artist struggle and internal conflict" while facing the realities of the current state of the music industry. The film's creators also noted that ADC "examines the decaying usefulness and impact of today's true artist within a newly-evolved and over-saturated market."

It's a struggle that most artists are familiar with. The infinite battle between traditional activities and the creative pursuit of happiness. Any real artist knows that battle. The one that exists between doing what you love because you love to do it...and having to justify what you love to do, in the greater context of the world around you. The people. The expectations. The standards. The criticism. The praise. The ambiguity.

And the ambiguous life of an artist is just that: an unknown journey. It is this adventurous journey that drives many artists to fulfill their passions...and it is also this journey that discourages those same artists to realign their objectives and acknowledge that pursuing a life of art and creativity is a path seldom travelled. Because it's hard.

It's frustrating to watch! Someone with the talent of SepTo, placed in a time and place and city and spirit of Toronto right now. Toronto five years from now. Toronto five years ago. A city that is so beautiful and filled with life and culture...yet such a difficult place to navigate as a professional artist. Despite the size and world-class appeal of our beloved Toronto, it has never been an easy town to master. Particularly in the field of hip hop.

It doesn't make sense! Someone like SepTo deserves all of the acclaim and recognition he receives...and then some. He deserves to have his voice heard around the globe, and to tour internationally, and share his knowledge with the hungry minds of young hip hop fans. He deserves it because his messages are authentic, and come from an authentic place. A good place. A place of progress and understanding. And yet all the understanding and rationalization of this predicament still can't explain why someone as talented as SepTo finds himself in a position where it's almost not worth it to continue to pursue this particular expression of his dream.

Watching the documentary evoked thoughts of disappointment in my surroundings: knowing that lesser men have achieved greater things, and weaker messages have travelled more miles. The old familiar feeling of Toronto resentment almost set in because it seems as though doors get opened for the undeserving at times, while the humble and inspired remain unexpectedly conflicted.

These feelings of resentment are not to discredit the city of Toronto (that I love and will never, ever leave) or the amazing work and progress that SepTo HAS made over the years...but rather, it's a frustration that the artistry of SepTo is now discouraged from continuing the journey. What is it about our city that fails to nurture the great, and yet somehow still acknowledge the wack? It doesn't make any sense.

I loved this expression of frustration. The film was introspective and entertaining...it was funny at times, and also endearing. Listening to nostalgic reflections of SepTo were particularly heart-warming, and the sentiments expressed by his father (who vows to eternally harass his son for new albums every 6 months) was beyond beautiful.

The film was necessary for so many reasons, and the main reason was to shout out to anyone listening that we can not continue to live in a musical society that accepts bullshit, and suppresses actual talent and passion. We can't continue to endorse fools and elevate the culturally destructive front-men of our culture. We should not allow the hip hop culture to become a mockery of music, and an embarrassment to those who take the craft (and its heritage) seriously.

"Another Decaying Crown" was a strong message, in an artistic package, that art is indeed a reflection of the world around us. And even the most humble, the most talented, the most lyrically adept, and intellectually conscious members of our surroundings can get discouraged by the sad state of our collective values.

We're living through a transition: from analog to digital, and the replacement of actual human interaction with cyber-relationships and device dependency. The absolute beauty of this documentary is that it will stand as an artifact of this moment. The statements made, the music played, the opinions and the intentions will now be cemented in our culture as a public declaration that something needs to change in order to help our culture thrive.

Fortunately, creative types can never really stop being creative, so even if we don't get any new music from SepTo right now, I'm certain that the creativity will manifest in another form, as a means of still communicating his thoughts.

I will continue to enjoy SepTo's previous recordings, read his published writings, and know that whenever he DOES return to the industry, that he will be wise enough to know that the audience will finally be ready to hear what he has to say.

It's worth waiting for.



Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Toronto @CarnivalSpotlight: TRIBAL CARNIVAL

FOR THE LOVE OF TORONTO CARNIVAL AND THE PRESERVATION OF CARIBBEAN CULTURE IN CANADA!

We love Carnival, we love Toronto, and we love to celebrate the beautiful elements of this Caribbean tradition! This year we’ll be featuring the details of ALL masquerade band’s presentation/costume details, to encourage carnival enthusiasts from within the GTA and internationally to take part in our city’s beautiful tribute to Caribbean culture: the Toronto Caribbean Carnival!

(*Unofficial reporting, based on our independent compilation)










BAND: Tribal Carnival
2018 THEME: Wonderland
BAND LAUNCH DATE: Saturday, March 31, 2018

BAND LEADER(S): Dexter Seusahai

MAS CAMP LOCATION: 3401 McNicoll Avenue, Unit #8, Scarborough
PHONE: 416-825-0563 / 647-997-1867

EMAIL: tribal.carnivalcsr@gmail.com
TWITTERhttps://twitter.com/TribalCarnival_

For photos, pricing, and additional details, please connect with the bands and section leaders directly:

COSTUME SECTION 01: Cheshire
COLOURS: Pink, teal


COSTUME SECTION 02: Mad Tea
COLOURS: Peach, yellow, purple

COSTUME SECTION 03: Labyrinth
COLOURS: Peach, olive, fuschia

COSTUME SECTION 04: Through the Looking Glass
COLOURS: Teal, maroon

COSTUME SECTION 05: Red Queen
COLOURS: Red, gold

COSTUME SECTION 06: White Rabbit
COLOURS: White, teal

COSTUME SECTION 07: Jabawaki
COLOURS: Black, orange

COSTUME SECTION 08: Absolum
COLOURS: Purple, lime

COSTUME SECTION 09: Alice
COLOURS: Blue, yellow




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We are here to support Toronto Carnival and promote Caribbean culture in Canada! We may not catch all details...but we're striving to be thorough! Please contact us at services@kyapublishing.com if we've missed anything or anyone!

SPONSORED BY @CARNIVALSPOTLIGHT

CARNIVAL SPOTLIGHT // Toronto’s former reggae dancehall princess Delia Chinn is drawn back into a seductive party lifestyle when she meets Jessica and Victor, members of the Groovy Massive soca dance group. Although Delia’s self-esteem is on the rise, it’s at the expense of her relationship with Ryan and their five-year marriage...a marriage that may not survive her first carnival season. // KYA PUBLISHING (2014)

ORDER PAPERBACK BOOKCLICK HERE

ORDER EBOOKCLICK HERE

LISTEN TO THE @CARNIVALSPOTLIGHT SOCA SOUNDTRACK MIXED BY TORONTO'S @DJMAJESTY101CLICK HERE