Finding Your Flow: 21 Day Meditation with Deepak and Oprah


I was recently discharged from an abusive employer (happy about that), I am about four months pregnant with my third child at 33 years old, my children are happy, I am in a very loving relationship with the man of my dreams, I have progressed as an artists/writer, and life seems to be flowing perfectly. However, I am in a very transitional space. I still have no clue what I want to do with my life. I want to be a life coach, I want to travel, I want to be a stay at home mom, I want to write books, I want to turn my books into plays, I want to start social media management again, and I want to start a movement! I decided to partake in Oprah and Deepak’s newest 21 day meditation “Finding Your Flow.”

This is 21 Days of guided meditation geared toward shaping life energies toward a free-flowing space of productivity and peace. I plan to document the experience by engaging in the meditation each morning then blogging my vibe/reflections after the meditation. Each blog post will be labeled with the title of overall meditation, the day and title of the meditation focus for that day. I don’t want to go on this journey expecting an answer or trying to shape the end result. I am going to relax, stay open, and submit to the meditation practice.

What better place to blog this journey than REGRET NOTHING WRITE EVERYTHING!

Here we go! Let the journey begin!


K-Ci & Jo Jo at the Howard Theatre (Photostory)

The following is a photostory of my experience at the K-Ci & Jo Jo show at The Howard Theatre last weekend. Special thanks to Keith Estep Photography (who had no clue I was going to do this) for the pics!


Two baptist preachers walk on stage disguised as K-Ci & Jo Jo. Wait! Whaduya know?! It is K-Ci & Jo Jo. I wonder if they’re sober. You were thinking it too! We all are. What will they do? Will K-Ci strip down to bare chest and boxers? Will Jo Jo be able to carry a note? Who cares?! Just sing my song! My song = Tell Me It’s Real, Get On Up, All My Life, any Jodeci song, and their rendition of If You Think You’re Lonely Now.


Surprisingly K-Ci can still hold a note. He is not the sexy 90’s R&B brother from Jodeci anymore….wait! He was never that guy. It was Mr. Dalvin I was after. K-Ci was the voice of the group no one can deny that. The vest and tie are light years away from long black leather coats, shorts, and boots.


Jo Jo….can’t hold a note anymore. The sound folks kept placing annoying echo affect on the mics to help them carry the notes a little further. This didn’t help Jo Jo much. He sounded like a drunk uncle at Karaoke after bible study. He’s somewhat spiritual, somewhat hopeless, and you find yourself somewhat cheering for him to “sing it Jo Jo, SING IT!”


Please tell me that the above picture is does not look like Sunday night service at your local mega church just as they are about to ask for the offering. It sounded this way too. I swear that I was waiting for them to start talking about the building fund and how they were about to open a new church in the year 2017. Then claim it as God’s year because it ends with a 7.

To sum it all up the show was disastrous, but being the 80’s baby and 90’s R&B fan that I am I can’t help but love K-Ci & Jo Jo no matter what they do. The most realistic expectation of their shows is that you will be entertained and they will sing your favorite song of theirs. I am not sure if this song will sound like the song you call your favorite but it will be something like it.

Here’s a new joint from K-Ci & Jo Jo – Knock It Off

I did write a more serious review of this show. As soon as it’s up I will tweet the link @iamshellybell. Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for more photostory coverage of your favorite artists!


Regret Nothing Write Everything

LIVE DC: K. Michelle at the Howard Theatre

ORIGINALLY PRESSED BY: Brightest Young Things (BYT)
February 25, 2013

All photos courtesy K. Michelle

K. Michelle – An artist most comfortable in her own skin as evidenced by her getting completely nude during my backstage interview following a phenomenal performance at the Howard Theatre, DC. She has been noted by media as dramatic, ratchet, and nonsensical even. However, she is a classically trained pianist, a guitarist and walks in an honesty that most are afraid of. She’s Tennessee’s finest crazy, sexy, cool star most known for her appearance on VH1‘s “Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta.”

Fans were onboard and ready to ride the “K. Wave” from the first note of opening song “You Gonna Learn Today.” She was the same sincere authentic character from the reality show cracking jokes with catchphrases like “F*ck the haters, they make ya roots itch.” With a salute to R&B singers she performed her rendition of her favorite songs by Monica, Mary J. Blidge, and Brandy. Her way of showing love for Go-Go music was an unsuccessful attempt at Jill Scott’s “Love.” Without congas a cowbell or some instrument to give a Go-Go sound – It’s not a Go-Go song! DC appreciated the attempt.

The highlights of the show included a bold yet entertaining serenade of “Can’t Raise a Man,” to pictures of her ex-lover and NY Knicks player J.R. Smith on the LCD screens. The show took an emotional turn with her teary-eyed heartfelt somber performance of “I Don’t Like Me” while sitting in front of a vanity mirror. “No matter how many wigs I put on, or how cute I think I am there are always those days where I don’t feel so pretty” she uttered. The crowd cheered in agreement. The “K. Wave” climaxed at an operatic performance of “The Coochie Symphony.” Even though this was a satiric ditty about “her coochie being broke” her vocal range was impeccable. The most awkward moment in the show was a beautiful tribute to God with gospel song “Yesterday” by Mary Mary which was followed by a song that repeated the lyrics “f*ck love, I want the sex and the money.”

Nonetheless, K. Michelle’s vocals are a force to be reckoned with. Her vocal ability is far too advanced to minimize her to being just the next “R&B queen.” Her personality coupled with extraordinary talent place her in a category yet to be created by the media. Before the singing the last song she announced that she would no longer be a cast member of Love & Hip-Hop after the coming season. Fans were disappointed but at this point it doesn’t matter. At the beginning of the show the audience may have been divided between fans of her music and fans of her personality on the show. However, at the end of her charismatic performance the audience left as fans of K. Michelle specifically. Aside from blowing me away with her performance interviewing her erased all skepticism of her as “just another ratchet fad.”

What do you want people who have not been exposed to the reality show nor your music to know about you?

I am a musician. I started playing the piano when I was 9 years old. I am a very outspoken person and a mother. They have to get to know me not what they hear. I think media plays a big part in it. Media is going to create you to be who they want you to be and not who you are.

I’ve noticed that you don’t talk about your family much. What does your mother think of all of this?

I keep them out of it. People always question “where’s her son? you don’t have your son.” I don’t bring him up. I have help. That’s not their business. If it wasn’t for my mom I don’t know what the heck I would do. I flew my mom out for the first time (BB Kings in NY 2/19/20). We have been very private because you have to maintain something.

What advice would you give a young singer starting out and is wondering where to go?

Fight hard for what you want. If you know that’s what you want, fight for it. It’s not going to come easy. Everybody that it came easy for is not around anymore.

How do you think leaving the cast of Love & Hip-Hop will affect your career?

The fans know now (that I am talented) and that will keep them. The show introduced me to people, but the fans got me the deal (Atlantic). As a writer, you never know, I may change my mind. It has been very difficult as a mother. It’s been very difficult to speak positivity upon black women and then go pop one in their face. We all as people contradict ourselves. We’re human. I’m just at the point where I don’t want to fight. I just want to be happy.

What’s next for K. Michelle?

The album (Rebellious Soul), a single, some movie stuff. I am opening up my first store. I am executive producing my first show “Minnie Mona.”

When asked if there was anything she would like to say she replied humbly “I just want to say thank you.” All ratchetness aside I predict that K. Michelle is in a transformation that has the potential to render her undeniable.


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Slam Alexandria – hosted by Shelly Bell

with a special performance by The Noctonals

Friday, January 18, 2013 / 7 pm / Free


Admission to event is free
Enter the Poetry Slam for just $10


Join us for a night of live music, open mic, and slam poetry! Sign up for the open mic and share your original work as part of the poetry slam or simply sit back and enjoy. Sign up for the poetry slam for only $10 and you could win a cash prize! Slam Alexandria is hosted by Shelly Bell and co-sponsored by the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association and Shelly B. Arts.


The evening kicks off at 7:00 pm with a performance by The Noctonals, an all a capella group with a contemporary repertoire of songs, including hits by Adele, Mumford & Sons, Carrie Underwood, and more.

Spoken Word Poetry events begin at 8:00 pm. Attendees are invited to sign up for the open mic to share original work, participate in the poetry slam, or simply sit back and enjoy.

Spoken word poetry is the art of bringing written works to life through performance. Spoken word artists create a poetic theatrical experience that engages audiences of non-poetry and poetry lovers alike. The works are valued for their brutal honesty; non-traditional use of poetic conventions, words, and sounds; and fresh creativity. HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and Brave New Voices have increased the mainstream popularity of spoken word.

 Shelly Bell

Shelly Bell, Director of Shelly B. Arts

Formerly titled WRITE. SPEAK. LIVE., SLAM ALEXANDRIA is a quarterly event hosted by Ms. Bell at the Athenaeum incorporating spoken word poetry recital, slam competition, and music.  The audience and participants have included well-known regional artists and first-time slammers alike. The program joins the NVFAA’s core arts programs of visual arts exhibitions and Second Thursday Concerts in the gallery. SLAM ALEXANDRIA is designed to present an exciting new art form with high artistic merit to the community, as well as to attract new audiences to the Athenaeum.

Visit Shelly Bell on Facebook


For more on the Noctonals click here

The next two scheduled SLAM ALEXANDRIA events will be held:

Friday, April 19, 2013 7:00 p.m. (FREE)
Friday, July 19, 2013 7:00 p.m. (FREE)

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201 Prince Street, Alexandria, Va 22314
703.548.0035 /

We invite you to join us Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 12 to 4 pm, and Saturdays from 1 to 4 pm. The Athenaeum is closed on holidays. Admission is free.

The NVFAA is partially supported by funding from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Alexandria Commission for the Arts.The NVFAA is committed to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. To request a reasonable accommodation or materials in an alternative format contact us or call 703.548.0035.

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On Wale’s totally average best year ever, and being the best worst emcee of 2012

Shelly Bell, Writer

In being 2012′s most ordinary success tale, Wale is the best worst rapper of  2012.

In a year where hip-hop culture was an amalgamation of platitudes and  denouements, Wale’s success fit the most typical of rap standards. At no point  in the last 12 months did he do any of the following:

  • Unlike Jay-Z, he did not re-set the standard for hip-hop culture’s business  aspirations.
  • Unlike Nicki Minaj, he did not learn the cold realities of maintaining a  high artistic standard while being a rising pop superstar at the focal point of  a “360″ deal.
  • Unlike Kanye West, he didn’t date a woman best known for her body or whose  she’s had sex with.
  • Unlike Drake, Wale is not getting into physical fights with other artists  over relations with beautiful pop stars.
  • Unlike Lil Wayne, he isn’t a pop CEO by 30 who drinks lean, and is almost  perpetually seen shirtless, wearing skinny jeans and dancing around in  videos.
  • Unlike 2 Chainz, Wale is not a massively tall emcee with the ability to  simplify everything about their style and with a stream of incredibly puerile  adlibs, drive a stake through the heart of mainstream popular culture.
  • Wale is not Kendrick Lamar. How so? “Lotus Flower Bomb” and “Diced  Pineapples” feature the kind of immature poetics that never fail on school buses  and at senior proms, plus “Bag of Money” and “Actin’ Up” feature hooks that do  no favors for the sanctity of the rights of women, so, while making statements  that please part of the population, he does not gain a whole lot of  support.

However, in a year where rap bodied the mainstream, Wale did something so  incredibly basic yet so incredibly important. He finally put himself, and by  extension, his hometown of Washington, DC, on the map. Rap success has always  been a case of smoke and mirrors, but in the age of the internet, it’s literally  everything. Ask your favorite blog hot emcee about what happens when people stop  being likes and follows and start becoming real. From Kreayshawn to Big Sean,  the progression of new school emcees has been difficult for all, but seemingly  finally easier for Wale, arguably one the godfathers of hypebeast generation  rap. Whereas others saturate the atmosphere with videos, publicity stunts and  collaborations, it would appear that Wale is merely putting in work that’s  finally paying off.

Here are Wale’s three major success stories of 2012.

  1. Wale is making money! In the last 12 months he grossed over $20,000 a night  while performing more than 75 concerts. He is worth $6 million and barely missed  the Forbes Hip-Hop Cash Kings 2012 list. There are artist who are popular fan  favorites, but worth much less than Wale.
  2. Wale is still selling albums! Ambition, his sophomore album, went  certified gold in July selling over 500,000 copies. This is extremely notable  being that this album was released in 2011 and Wale has not produced a third  album nor an abundance of mixtapes in 2012.
  3. Wale is all over the Billboard Charts! In January and February, “Lotus  Flower Bomb” featuring Miguel oscillated between the #1 and #2 on the R&B  Hip-Hop chart. In April, “Sabotage” featuring Lloyd was in the top 20 on the  R&B/HipHop Airplay chart. By September, ‘Bag of Money” featuring Rick Ross,  Meek Mill, and T-Pain was #2 on Billboard’s R&B/HipHop Song chart.

Judging by Wale’s success he should be in the running for rapper of the year,  but by setting a standard that is great when rap is either extraordinary or  terrible, he’s not exactly the world’s most eye-catching choice.  The most  notable ideal that makes him worth mentioning is that instead of becoming an “instant superstar,” Wale appears more savvy about the game, and is willing to  become a consistent rap presence. When  interviewed by Forbes Magazine this year, he expressed his need for he and  his team to have more than “y’all.” In joining Rick Ross and Maybach Music, Wale  now has a solid platform upon which to grow and develop a top-tier standard for  himself to use to reach greater heights, and by extension finally give DC  artists a measure of excellence by which to gauge their success. I am not a Wale  fan in particular, but I am in awe of the underdog story here.

If you are glancing back at 2012 and looking for great lyricists you will  instead find bubble-wrapped nostalgia waiting to be delivered to the future.  Ultimately rap, and hip-hop culture as well, have become akin to a game of  Pac-Man – hands, joysticks and various levels of little monsters.  In being  one of the few rising emcees able to maintain a level of humanity in this game,  he may be rap’s best emcee of 2012. Instead of winning with a series of cheat  codes, he’s taking his time, playing every level and as Wale  told Forbes, he’s “aiming for the highest score.”

On Nicki Minaj, hissy fits, perfectly poor planning and perfectly poor execution.


Shelly Bell, writer

Every time Mattel creates a new Barbie identity they promote it heavily, animate her in commercials and make her as life like as possible. When the music industry re-creates Lil Kim they call her a Nicki Minaj, promote her heavily, animate her commercially and make her as life like as humanly possible. Barbies become outdated quickly. Nobody actually wants to keep one Barbie identity for life. Which part of Barbie play time is Nicki Minaj acting out now? She went from Hip-Hop Nicki Barb to Pop Barb on acid now what? In a recent, tantrum-filled interview with NYC radio station Power 105.1 morning show The Breakfast Club she was shocked at the hosts’ lack of awareness of her latest re-re-release, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, The Re-Up. However, her angst may have revealed much more about her current situation. In a sad case of truly being the empress in new clothes, Minaj’s mix of music and marketing may be leaving her woefully exposed as an underdeveloped musical entity. Times are hard in the industry these days. Tupac’s “dollar out of 15 cents is real, and labels are scrambling to monetize artists. But, the question of “at what cost” may best be asked when contemplating the present condition of Nicki Minaj.

Minaj believes that the album was set up to fail because major stores did not want to carry it.According to Minaj, Target nor Walmart carried the album and Best Buy carried a limited  amount. According to the stores the last few re-releases do not sell well and they didn’t want to take the chance. Nicki passionately spoke about this as if it was unrealistic for them to think this way. Target and Walmart have been selling albums longer than Nicki Minaj as been posing as a Barbie doll; they may actually have some insight on the risks that are worth taking. It may be a stretch to say that the album was set up to fail. It was convenient to re-release the album in terms of an attempt to keep Hip-Hop Barbie relevant, but not a good move in terms of album sales.

On top of being busy as “Public Smiley Face” Barbie with a three-part series on E, judging this season’s American Idol competition, still constantly touring, developing her own perfume and clothing line, Nicki told The Breakfast Club that she signed two artists. Will this possible overexposure fast forward her potential burn out? She answers her naysayers in recent single “Up in Flames”: “They be like what you doing Nicki? Branding…..I’m branding….” “got the clothing line popping, wigs are next” Comparatively to Minaj, rising  female rappers like Azealia Banks, Iggy Azalea, and Angel Haze have yet to reach their prime and are solely focused on music. Whatever happened to music, and more specifically, rapping as the centerpiece of Minaj’s “Barbie” branding?

Of course,The Breakfast Club could not let the entire interview go on without asking about her controversy with Mariah Carey! DJ Envy asks if she made the alleged statements about pulling out a gun. With a crazed stare and calm voice she sarcastically answered “I’m not a violent person Envy, I don’t believe in violence, I don’t promote violence, I’m selling perfume, I’m about to sell clothes….” Charlamagne laughs  “that’s a ‘the white man has a plan for you answer.’” She laughs back and hi-fives him. This reveals a not-so-shocking yet entirely sad “Jigaboo Barbie” for the media to play with. This moment is a clear portrait of an artist in a strange stage of development. Your homegirl from Queens, NY is now a “more-than-rapper,” morphing into a marketing machine selling perfume and clothes.

Amazingly enough, Nicki Minaj may still be underdeveloped as an artist. The timing and execution of her initial music and marketing plan that produced her career success clearly has stunted her potential as a musical artist. She is signing artists and starting clothing lines and doesn’t even have three successful albums. Relevancy is the key to selling product lines. Consistently solid and mainstream marketable production is the key to an artist staying relevant. According to it’s poor retail placement, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded The Re-Up is not a marketable production. It is important that Nicki prioritize in order to stay afloat. There’s no need to cherish Barbies they are generic and can be made over and over. Nicki Minaj may be rapping about being a queen now, but while she sits on a throne there’s other female rappers in training for her seat. The fate of Hip-Hop Barbie rests in the question did Nicki Minaj really want to be a rapper or has she unsuccessfully become something else?

Kane Mayfield on sparring, poetry, and a “beautiful drug”

I had the chance to catch up with Mania Music Group artist, Kane Mayfield outside of the Emergence Community Arts Collective after his feature at Washington DC’s longest running poetry open mic “Spit Dat.” A rapper featuring at a poetry venue means being heard with high lyrical expectations less the rowdy bar, dj, and crowd heckling. Kane surpassed all expectations by orchestrating an acapella performance with rhyming over a soul clap from the crowd, and flowing with a beat streaming live from his head to his lips. Kane is no stranger to poetry venues, but does not write poems. He owns his art as rap, however, developing the relationships between various arts diversify a rapper into an appeal stretching from the educated mind, to ratchet acts, to street life and back.

Explaining the difference between the experience of a rapper and the experience of a poet, he stated:

“rap is like sparring. You compete until you get to the top then people just want to be entertained. Poetry is the exact opposite. Being a poet is entertainment until you get to a certain level then it’s competition.” 

Rappers aren’t always welcomed into poetry spaces. Even though rap is a form of poetry, poetry is not a form of rap therefore, they are often considered to be two very different animals. When asked how does it feel to be a rapper performing at a poetry event. He replied:

“It’s like the story of The Golden Fleece, where a character on a journey reached a comfortable place. The comfortable place was a welcoming atmosphere but was not the golden fleece. Poetry venues are comfortable for rappers because you don’t have to be somebody to be a poet. You can just be you. In rap, you have to be somebody. Like I said, poetry is from hugs to gloves, rap is from gloves to hugs. This is why sometimes you will see rappers hiding out as poets in poetry venues. I’ve come to own who I am. I am a rapper.” 

Kane has an awesome story of being a rapper who decided maybe rap wouldn’t work out so he went on a traditional life path. This included becoming a financial advisor, working on Wall Street, and becoming engaged to be married. This was never his initial plan. Kane Mayfield is and always will be a rapper. With his slick talk, personable yet street life backed mentality and knowledge of finances I can imagine he gives industry execs a run for their own money!

My interpretation of the first video off of his latest project Rhymes by Kane: Thievery Corporation Edition called “Beautiful Drug” begins with the impeccable emotional story told between images of beauty, the struggle addiction, and savior complex nature of friendship. My honest initial thought was “WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED?!” The story seemed typical; dead guy in opening scene coupled with the song title “beautiful drug” means guy must have been killed by drug dealer. The woman with pink hair and glass of wine represents a drunken out of mind beauty which is the result of gaining a certain level of high. The black and white images appear to be a back story related to the progression of the story. The images of Kane rapping in color appear to be the present day conversation between Kane and himself in the mirror about what happened to his friend. As the story forms toward how/who killed the guy previously shown dead in the opening scene I expected to see him avenge his friend by hunting down a potential killer. However, I was totally off! At the conclusion of the video it is actually Kane whose the drug dealer that killed his friend who was a drug dealing drug addict. I immediately wanted to know/see more. I watched the video two and three times over listening to the lyrics and watching the story unfold backwards and forwards in front of me. In an attempt to save his friend from being killed by the drugs they both dealed he took his life in a savior/hero fashion. The video and lyrics of “Beautiful Drug portray the realism behind the misery of addiction combined with the misery of those affected by the addicted.

After just meeting Kane and interviewing him about poetry I wanted to call him up and ask him “are you sure you’re not a poet!” If not a poet, I would say he is ultimately a creative mastermind and storyteller to which much attention deserves to be paid.

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When too much goes too far – On Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire,” R & B vs. Electro and creative diversity


Shelly Bell, Writer
Brooklyn Bodega

When celebrities start accomplishing goals and completing tasks that are unrelated to their musical careers, they often delude themselves into believing that their various forms of artistic creativity should co-mingle. According to Billboard Magazine, since the last time we’ve heard from soul-pop superstar Alicia Keys, she has begun co-managing her career, produced her first Broadway play, directed her first short film, executive-produced a made-for-TV movie and an upcoming theatrical film, designed her own Reebok shoe line and recently launched an animated storytelling app for children. She explains in the article that now she feels more open and more free. However, after accomplishing many goals what she likely means is that she feels more in control of her career(s). When her new album Girl on Fire drops on November 27th fans will be able to judge whether this new level of control is musically a good thing or a bad thing.  The album’s eponymous lead single – an arguably lightweight anthem of women’s empowerment –  sadly falls short by comparison to the more lively #1 hits from artists like Rihanna and Katy Perry. Possibly, her gargantuan schedule and numerous accomplishments show an artist who, in straying from what made her initially successful, has gone too far.

Thus far her image has been filled with typical music industry transformations. Emerging as a “cool curvy B-Girl from the block,” morphing into the “thin edgy haircut/color barbie” look. Professionally, the cute, piano-playing female sensation lacking dance moves with the heartfelt Songs in A Minor morphed in many ways. She lost weight, changed her hair, became a mother and a wife and released Unthinkable, plus a career-redefining feature on Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind.” Her career transformation complete, “Girl On Fire” (The Inferno Version) is not fiery at all when compared to a David Guetta track or any Rihanna song. The definition of “fire” in the music industry has changed from tight long winded melody to fist pump repetitive catchy lyrical structure. Even the rapid fire spitting Nicki Minaj sounds like a suffocating caged monster on this one. She had no choice! How do you blaze a track that sounds more like water than anything remotely related to inferno?

The type of “fire” Keys may have been trying to portray should be closely mirrored to Rihanna’s “Diamond” or Katy Perry’s “Firework” or one of the hit pop singles burning up Billboard charts with topics like living young, living free, or succeeding at life’s challenges. The words to “Girl On Fire” are not inspirational enough to survive in the age where electronic dance/pop music with raging vocals, hard beats, and dancing bodies are turning crowds from adoring on-looking, lighter waving fans to roaring, fist pumping, body flailing followers. If the single “Girl on Fire” is a representation of her new album or her new found freedom then I also predict that the week of November 27th will be a disappointment for our girl on fire who doesn’t appear to be on fire in this single at all.

The hottest things about Alicia Keys right now is not purely her musical talent in the realm of mainstream R&B but more in exactly what she started off as….A WRITER! I look forward to the blazing mother, wife, and vocalist simply returning to the idea of who she already was instead of indulging in what she’s been told she could become. I can imagine that producing Broadway plays and theatrical films makes Alicia Keys feel more free because these are avenues that allow a writer an extreme amount of creative freedom. Her accomplishments are a sign of transition from what she has been doing to what she will realize is what she has always wanted to do. It is very likely that movie goers and Broadway play fanatics will have an appreciation for her art that she won’t see in the music industry alone. This appreciation will be one she can’t ignore. I predict that in the coming year we will see a less Hip-Hop/R&B Alicia Keys and a more of a playwright/songwriting Alicia Keys. It makes no sense to battle the music industry beast when you can ride the beautiful movie industry stallion.

Alicia Keys has fallen short in basking in the largess of soul’s life in the fervor of electro house. Possibly staying the course as a writer and waiting for her artistic lane as one of the most bankable stars in 21st century pop to clear is a better idea. The girl’s on fire, alright. But the timeless soft glow of warm embers against the neon extremes of the moment? There’s no comparison, leaving November 27th’s album a great idea in theory, but flawed in execution. Keys, though, is clearly still a brightly burning and impassioned creative artist worthy of success. The lesson here? Too much can go too far.

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Four Reasons why Miguel is better than your favorite Male R&B Artist

When a male artists goes from the close-cut popped collar R Kelly/Chris Brown R&B thug look to the puffy haired tight black leather jacket Prince/Bruno Mars look it’s a sign that their management is strategically grooming them to be the number one artist of their time. Usher and Chris Brown have survived over a decade of musical evolution keeping R&B alive by acting as extension cords between the powerful fist-pump movement and a dying melodic breed of Hip-Hop/R&B mixed hits. Singer/Songwriter Miguel broke from the shadows with single “All I Want is You” featuring J. Cole.

Putting two newcomers on a track with a huge push for a video and radio airplay is just a trick up the sleeves of music execs. The industry likes to toy with audiences by dangling new artists in front of us to see what we’ll bite. Miguel’s second single “Sure Thing” pushed his debut album up the charts and fired up the goodyear blimp reading “LONG LOVE R&B!” The tale of “How R&B was saved” is not done yet. Miguel has figured a formula that I imagine will become the mechanism by which artists that follow him will adapt into their unwritten “indie to mainstream” bylaws. How did Miguel go mainstream and end up #1 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop Airplay chart in 2 years?

  1. Androgynous Music and Appearance: Great musicians know to let your eye and your ear define their work for you. Miguel’s initial look was clearly heterosexual urban male and his genre was clearly R&B. He has now evolved into a look where his sexuality can only be defined by your perception. While Frank Ocean proclaims his sexuality in blog posts then leaves the world to judge his music, Miguel leaves the world to judge his look and makes the music he wants. Smart man.
  2. Patience and Production: In a microwave society patience is not just a virtue it’s a magic trick wherein the magicians know that the more magic they produce the more fancy the magic looks. Miguel released 3 EPs early this year including Art Dealer Chic Vol. 1 in February, Art Dealer Chic Vol. 2 in March, Art Dealer Chic Vol. 3 and in April. He then proceeded to release his CD in 2 EP parts including Kaleidoscope Dream: The Water Preview, Kaleidoscope Dream: The Air Preview. His sophomore album Kaleidoscope Dream was released in October and is a combination of both Kaleidoscope Dream EPs plus five new songs. Most artists want to own the Summer while Miguel just focuses on owning the year!
  3. Videos: The formula for success in the music industry has always included music videos. Miguel’s videos have a underlying themed use of shadows, blank space and him. While the videos he has created thus far have not been particularly story oriented they make you feel like they fit the song. This is evidence that as artistic as Miguel may be he recognizes that the imagery necessary to grab an audience has to be complimented with a touch of the song’s reality. For example, in the video for “Adorn” he only actually shows signs of adornment for the one woman in the black veil. He realizes that as much as he would love to go crazy with concepts he has to ease fans into it. I imagine that the videos will be a lot more weird/cool in the future.
  4. Cloning: Pablo Picasso said it best “good artists copy, great artists steal.” Stealing in this case is an intentional deed meant to develop a creation that spreads to a crowd that the original artist didn’t reach. Miguel’s hair, tight clothing, black leather jacket, video woman in a black veil, video color schemes, rhythms and topics are all stolen from Prince, namely his video for 1986 hit song, “Kiss.” The great thing about this is that he does it right in front of you without reservation and does it well! He is the epitome of what Picasso meant in the sense that no one will complain about a great artist stealing from a great artist all in the name of greatness. The fans of the R&B thug Miguel can’t help but transition into the puffy haired tight clothing Miguel because either they or their parents are most likely fans of Prince. Prince is undeniable therefore, being high above average and looking “Prince-like” is a win!

Basically you would be silly to publicly call Miguel gay, whack, or corny without acknowledging those things as totally cool and acceptable. R&B is not dead yet. In fact it will take a conscious yet imaginative grind life artist like Miguel to help keep it alive. His recent hit “Adorn” has been released 3 times, once on his EP Art Dealer Chic Vol. 1, once on his EP Kaleidoscope Dream: The Water Preview, and finally on his sophomore album Kaleidoscope Dream. Now Adorn has placed him at number one on the Billboard Charts for Hip Hop/R&B Airplay. This is only the beginning. Watch his method work the madness. If you’re not a fan of Miguel now, soon you won’t really have a choice.

By Shelly Bell

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