We’d like to welcome back guest blogger Ivan from Hectic But Eclectic! He’s one of the most passionate and knowledgeable people we know when it comes to music.
If you’ve been wondering what Missy Elliott has been up to these past few years (aside from completely slaying at the Super Bowl), you’ll be glad to know that her protegé, Sharaya J, has picked up where she left off musically. One can see why Elliott has given Sharaya the cosign: both make music designed to make you sweat on the dance floor, have personality to spare for days and a distinct fashion sense that pays homage to old school hip hop. What ultimately separates the two (beyond Sharaya’s signature blue slanted high top) is that she started out as a choreographer in the industry, which gives her music videos a unique flavor. For me, they’re honestly some of the most exciting that’s going on in hip hop right now because of the focus on dancing and the bounty of vibrant colors. In her latest video, “Takin’ It No More,” you can spot traces of Missy’s influence and high energy, but with her background as a dancer, Sharaya J is still able to come up with something that’s as visually stimulating as what her mentor might have done, but with only a fraction of the budget.
My favorite video of hers so far, “Smash Up The Place,” was directed by Missy and has a similar flair. It’s a stylish take on the 1995 film Dead Presidents filled with plenty of eye-popping visuals and limber B-boy-influenced dance moves. The pacing and the sense of humor is reminiscent of that period during the late ’90s and early ’00s where Elliott’s videos were in constant rotation on BET and MTV, but the aggressive edge that Sharaya J brings to the formula is a new twist. Make sure to watch till the end for the Bell Biv Devoe sampling, footwork-worthy “Snatch Yo Wigs.”
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You know you want to look FLY for the New Year!
Welcome back guest blogger Ivan Mitchell from Hectic But Eclectic for his annual Curly Deviants playlist! He’s always sharing awesome tunes with us and this year looks to be no different. Read on for some of the hottest music of 2014 and give all the songs a listen at the bottom.
1. JUCE – Burning Up: Apologies if you’re catching this one after summer, but it was the perfect season to soak up such a glowing, infectious pop-disco anthem like this one.
2. Vic Mensa – Down On My Luck: The Chicago MC and XXL Freshman croons over a blasting house beat and no one raises an eyebrow.
3. Azealia Banks – Soda: Controversy aside, her latest album, Broke With Expensive Taste proves that she’s got charisma and star power. This highlight features the catchiest chorus of the bunch.
4. Jerome LOL featuring Sara Z – Always: This gliding track adds a touch of jazz to the dance floor with the thump of house music.
5. TiRon & Ayomari featuring Anderson.Paak – My Supernova: The Los Angeles hip hop duo go to cloud nine and beyond as they detail a love of the galactic variety.
6. Damani Nkosi – Through Me: Things get lush and soulful on this introspective cut from the former Dogg Pound affiliate. The maturity on display here is something worth noting.
7. Mara Hruby – In The Wee Small Hours: Her latest EP, Archaic Rapture, dealt with the dissolution of a long-term relationship. That heartache can be felt the most on this stunning cover of a Frank Sinatra classic.
8. Nick Hakim – Cold: The huskiness of his voice gives an extra layer of woe to another track dealing with a broken heart.
9. JoJo – Take Me Home: She once again proves she’s one of the most daring R&B singers outside of the mainstream radar by giving a fresh and contemporary update to a nearly 30-year old Phil Collins song.
10. Kehlani – As I Am: The production here is so creamy and melodic that you could practically slide on it. Even with such a slick bass-driven track, Kehlani’s vocals are more than up to the challenge of keeping things smooth.
11. Redinho – Playing With Fire: The influence of Ginuwine, Usher and many other late-’90s male R&B stars can be spotted here, but the focus is on how heavy this track is, which draws a lot from modern-day trap.
12. Denitia and Sene – Runnin’ (pictured above): Sparse and haunting are the main words that come to mind on this vocoder-heavy, slow burn of a track.
13. KING – Mister Chameleon: Another year, another appearance on the Curly Deviants playlist by this R&B trio. If you haven’t gotten on board yet, “Mister Chameleon” is their most accessible single yet.
14. Mapei – Don’t Wait: A colorful mix of R&B, pop, and rap with a chorus that bursts so brightly you just might get mad at America for failing to make it a huge it.
15. Kaytranada featuring Shay Lia – Leave Me Alone: You’d be forgiven if those timpani drums made you think this was the soundtrack to an all-night party in the jungle.
16. Lone – 2 Is 8: This British electronic producer draws upon J Dilla for some inspiration on a track that melds ambient music and hip hop.
17. Rapsody – Hard To Choose: “I’m still that rapper that your favorite rapper scared to rap after.” That boast from the North Carolina native is one of the most fitting statements for her and why she took the road to artistic integrity she describes on this song.
18. Mick Jenkins featuring NoName Gypsy – Comfortable: The Water[s] was more than just one of the best mixtapes to come from Chicago this year, but one of the best hip hop releases in general for 2014. This eclectic standout gives a good impression of his fierce delivery and the mixtape’s colorful production.
For more on music and other pop culture musings from Ivan, you can go to his blog, Hectic But Eclectic and starting Jan. 5, you can listen to his radio show, Noteworthy, every Monday from 6PM-8PM CST at http://uicradio.org.
Soulful & Gritty artist, Grace Weber is exactly what I needed this Autumn!
I absolutely love RDIO, an app that never lets me fall behind on the latest music; for a small monthly fee I can take my large collection of music anywhere in the world with me (right now I’m in Romania) jamming away to all my favorite tunes, even without wi-fi. Two weeks ago, I stumbled across Grace Weber, this gritty and soulful midwest girl who can SANG hunny!
(Photo Credit: Grace Weber)
At first listen, Perfect Stranger, whipped me to the 60’s, where artist like Dinah Washington and girl groups like the Supremes slayed EVERYTHING. The keyboard and drums give a retro vibe that will having you clapping the entire 3:09. Her new album has a bit of everything for music lovers; from string filled ballads like Til I hurt you; to the bold brass record, Oil & Gold. Not to mention her Gospel roots sprinkled all over this second effort.
Have a listen below!
“You’ve got to find people who love like you do”I am AFFIRMED. I am FREE. Living by my own standards. Making my own decisions and loving through all of life’s adages. For the last 6 years I have been doing one of the many things that has made me not only happy, but something that has concretely developed some of the most delicate inner linings of my spirit. Being an athlete goes far beyond what many of you see on tv. Being an athlete at the professional level can challenge every ounce of your mental and emotional core. In the midst of cultivating the person you see before you, I’ve been able to tap into parts of my existence that has allowed me to reach for more, BE more and achieve more. In the midst of loving on my self more and more everyday; My heart took me to a place that I never imagined I would end up…
Warm winters. Creative freedom. Art. Live Music. It’s what draws the masses to the west coast on every occasion. These perks are amazing, especially for a midwest girl. My push to California, Los Angeles in particular, came from a deep pull within; and my- am I glad I came!I’ve taken the summer to adjust and take in Los Angeles as much as I can, Only to be heading abroad in a few days ( which I promise to be more telling with my journeys abroad, via hair, lifestyle and culture in future post.) I’m also excited to blog from Romania regarding my natural hair, life and cultural experiences. Brown girl in Romania this should be quite interesting! :-)
So I humbly ask YOU, our amazing readers, to keep me in your prayers, send me love and light as I embark on this current love affair with California and follow me as I attempt to put my mark on the country of Romania!
Wish me luck!
There’s something wondrous in creating.
For the past couple of months I’ve felt like I’ve been slowly rising back up from a deep dive into watery currents. Sometimes reality is more…. real….. than you anticipate. Family, bills and work became my one solitary focus and everything else blurred. But today, right now, my heart feels more full, more light, more bright then it has in quite some time. Like any other 20 something, I’ve had my share of stupid moments, life lessons, and jumping into the unknown. And to be honest, I pray they continue.
I wouldn’t be the woman I am without them.
I like to think that by living my own life with character, abandon and hope, I’m providing value to those around me. A big part of that, I’ve recently realized, is expressing myself via creative projects. For anyone that would listen, I’d gladly tell them I’m a frequent reader of A Beautiful Mess. Everyday I’m inspired by accounts I follow on my Instagram. There isn’t a street drive that I don’t wish I had a camera to capture a moment that should be seen, shared and felt.
Everyday I want to create. But I haven’t been. Until recently.
I’d like to think that I can attribute my re-awakened fire to myself, but I know that’s not entirely true.
What I didn’t realize was how empowering it would be to have someone invested in your interests as much as you are. Someone who’s just as excited about new DIY projects, ideas for creative pictures, about exploring forest preserves or making chia seed jam. No matter how silly, how impossible, or how impractical – someone to share the moments with.
Someone who craves adventure as much as I do.
What more could a magical black girl ask for?
— Till next time —
I’m excited to share with you Elle’s new single, “Downtown” produced by Sammy Nichs.
Elle Winston is a Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter, who spent most of her life growing up in the southwest sun of Arizona. Her music draws its influences from American jazz, funk, blues, r&b, folk, alternative music and world music. Elle studied classical music at Arizona State University where she earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. After college, she went on to become deeply involved in the live music scene in Phoenix, Arizona. Throughout her time in both Arizona and New York, Elle has opened shows for a wide range of artists such as Gil-Scott Heron, Joan Jett, Groupo Fantasma, Orgone, Bridget Kelly, RaVaughn, Carl Thomas and many others. She has played Phoenix’s Pride Festival, the McDowell Mountain Music Festival, Hot97′s Who’s Next Showcase and headlined the 2014 Harlem Arts Festival. Her music has been featured by SoulBounce, The Couch Sessions, This Is Real Music,Oh So Fresh!, Put Me On It (UK), Kurofone Crew (Japan), The Wild Magazine and many more. Elle has also performed at some New York’s most beloved venues including Rockwood Music Hall, Pianos and SOB’s.
There’s something freeing about cutting it all off.
So there I was. Pulling at the back of my head, trying to detangle the mess it had become in the last two weeks that I’d not done anything to it. I mean, it was my fault. I have 4C hair yo – there IS no “Well, I’m not going to detangle my hair for two weeks and its going to be roses and rainbows.” Especially not when while its in a fro and not a protective style, living its own life carelessly. It was as horribly tangled as I thought it would be, and not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.
At this point in the game, my emotions about my hair were nothing short of nonchalant. I equally loved it, didn’t care a bit about it and cared about it to a point of obsession. Confused much?
By the time I got to the worst of the tangles, I just started cutting. And the more I started cutting, the more I started thinking. I. Should. Just. Cut. It. ALL. Off. Because….why not??? I’ve spent the better part of 4 years struggling and winning and crying and smiling over my hair. Its grown, broken, grown and thrived. But I really started considering, in those brief moments of decision making – why did I care so much about growing my hair out?
What did getting to long hair really matter to ME?
Obviously, not much. Within the next two hours I had my roomate cut it down, my friend with clippers make it even and a bottle of Dark N Lovely’s Golden Bronze slathered all over my head. I figured, a Tuesday was as good as any other day to cut your hair. Right? Right???
When it was finally done, and I stared at myself in the mirror, all I could do was smile. It was new. It was different. It was living, on my own terms at my own time.
And dammit….I felt good.
My mouth is watering just thinking about this chicken.
Never mind that I literally just had an amazing breakfast of fresh, homemade coffee, eggs and sauteed kale. Mmmm. No – I’m thinking about this spicy, sweet sauce, and how absolutely amazing it was. I’m super excited to share this post, because after I ate this I literally felt like I could lift a car and save the world. Or a the very least – seriously consider lifting said car.
Over the past few months I’ve seen an abundance of these bowl recipes scattered across my favorite blogs – so of course, I wondered what the big deal was. MAN. I’ve found out, and I’m never going back. I think the amazing thing about these bowls, filled with fresh veggies, is that you feel GOOD after eating it. Its light, flavorful, filling, and healthy.
Without further ado, lets get into this recipe!!
Honey Chipotle Chicken
1 pound organic chicken strips
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 tablespoons adobo sauce, from a can of chipotles in adobo (depending on how spicy you might like it)
4 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 garlic cloves, minced
Lime, Cilantro Brown Rice
1 cup whole wheat rice
2 cups water
1 /2 lemon
3 tablespoons cilantro
Sauteed Brussels Sprouts
1 cup Brussels Sprouts (cut in halves)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pan Seared Sweet Potatoes
1 cup sweet potato
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoon olive oil
Honey Chipotle Chicken
- Add the chicken breasts to a baking dish and season with salt. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, adobo, honey, mustard, cilantro and garlic. Pour the marinade over the chicken, covering it evenly. Place it in the fridge and marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- To cook the chicken, add to skillet on medium heat. Cover the chicken and cook until golden brown.
Lime, Cilantro Brown Rice
- Bring the water to boil in a small sauce pan. Add the rice. Lower fire, cover rice and cook for 20-30 minutes, until fluffy. Add only the juice from the lime and lemon. Stir in cilantro.
Sauteed Brussels Sprouts
- Clean the Brussels sprouts and cut each one vertically in half.
- In a large flat-bottomed frying pan, heat oil to cover the base of the pan. Place the Brussels sprouts in the pan, cut side down, in a single layer. Sprinkle the sea salt and pepper over the Brussels sprouts.
- When the sprouts are just starting to caramelize (you will smell them), turn them over and cook for another 5 minutes or so.
- Cover for an additional 4-5 minutes until desired tenderness.
Pan Seared Sweet Potatoes
- Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet. Add the sliced sweet potatoes. Cover and lower heat. After about 5 minutes, uncover and turn the sweet potatoes with a spatula. Cover and continue to cook until tender, another 5 minutes. Check frequently to make sure the potatoes don’t burn.
Assemble your bowl, and top with fresh tomato!
- Clean the Brussels sprouts and cut each one vertically in half. Finely chop the shallots and crush the garlic.
- In a large flat-bottomed frying pan, heat enough oil to cover the base of the pan. Place the Brussels sprouts in the pan, cut side down, in a single layer. Scatter the chopped shallots and garlic over the sprouts.
- When the sprouts are just starting to caramelise (you will smell them), turn them over and cook for another 5 minutes or so.
I found the original honey chipotle chicken recipe over at How Sweet It Is, and catered it to my taste. Jessica, the amazing owner of that blog, has no idea how much I admire her recipes!