Headphones On: J. Cole tops charts, here’s why…

J. Cole was that high school kid that kept saying “Ms. Bell, imma be a rapper one day.” I would respond by nodding and saying “OK well let’s just work on getting your project done for now.” Then I’d think “J is a great kid. He just needs to apply himself. ” Forest Hills Drive is J. Cole giving his personal stories by applying himself lyrically in a manner we have yet to see from him. The result is the number one album in the country and the best selling Hip-Hop album of the year. Forest Hills Drive has a coming of age theme with topics ranging from Cole’s first sexual encounter to the numbness of growing up without a father. He channels his inner Mos Def with raspy slow singing over a melancholy beat in “Apparently.”

Cole is great at giving the listener a story they can identify with. Being accessible is the key to remaining relevant at a time where it’s easy for the average music listener to get lost in the quantity vs. quality of Hip-Hop. Lately, listeners who haven’t given up on Hip-Hop have been flooded with subpar lyrical content and catch phrases over hype beats.  J. Cole balances the status quo by offering you a selection of anthems to compliment your perception of day-to-day life.

Cool facts about the album…

  • The album is titled after his address in North Carolina.
  • There aren’t any featured artists on this album.
  • The album was released without any supporting singles.
  • I did not see ONE commercial promoting this album. His promo team took a different approach.

Find the album, buy it, listen to it, or all of the above. It’s worth it.


The Mike Brown Case: Eye-Witnesses vs. The Police Narrative

As the Mike Brown case develops, eye-witnesses have come forward and the police have finally released the name of the officer involved. In consuming and analyzing as much video footage as I can, it seems there are three eye-witnesses in particular playing a huge part in the narrative the police are publicizing. In this post I will analyze the accounts of the incident given by an anonymous YouTube user (AYT), Dorian Johnson, and Tiffany Mitchell as related to the narrative the police appear to be assembling. The following predictions are purely based on my analysis of the information given thus far.

Video from AYT

  • AYT’s description matches the surveillance video.
  • Brown is not at Quick Trip in the video.
  • AYT says that Brown was at Ferguson Market not Quick Trip.
  • Brown is wearing shorts and slides in the video as AYT describes.
  • Brown did grab cigarillos and walk out of the store in the surveillance video as AYT describes.
  • The police will use the surveillance to say that Brown was a suspect in a robbery case.
  • The police will use Brown being a suspect as reason for the forceful beginning interaction with the officer.
  • The surveillance video shows Brown as being a intimidating and aggressive toward the store clerk.

Should the surveillance video matter? NO! “Strong-arm robbery” does not warrant excessive force or murder. This is the beginning of the police creating a narrative that attempts to take race out of the picture, peg Mike Brown as aggressive, and justify the officer as acting in defense. If Brown is viewed as a suspect rather than just an unarmed black man the police believe race can be removed as a factor. If Brown is considered aggressive the police can use Dorian’s testimony to say that the officer acted in defense. If I have been able to access AYT’s video it’s possible that the police have been able to access it as well. They may not use it, but it does confirm the surveillance video. Confirming the surveillance video is about all it does.

Video of Dorian Johnson’s account

  • Johnson says Brown’s hands were filled with cigarillos.
  • Johnson says at one point Brown turned to him as said “hold these” referring to the cigarillos.
  • Johnson says there was a moment when they stared down the barrel of the officer’s gun.
  • Johnson says the officer yelled “I’m gonna shoot!”
  • The officer will say Brown got aggressive at the car, he warned him that he would shoot him, Brown didn’t stop assaulting him, so he fired.
  • The officer will attempt to use the aggressiveness shown in the surveillance video as Mike Brown being aggressive toward him at the car.
  • Johnson says that the officer looked like he didn’t mean to shoot Brown by the look on his face.
  • Johnson says the officer was in shock because he didn’t see Johnson, he was solely focused on Brown.
  • The police are likely to agree with the witness in saying that he was in a state of shock and not acting with his full mental capacity.
  • The police could try to plead the case that he was not of sound mind when he was doing the shooting which would agree with Johnson’s account.
  • The surveillance video has Brown wearing one outfit while other witnesses say the video of him laying on the ground appears to have him in a different outfit.
  • The St. Louis county police chief and Johnson agree that the police asked them to get out of the street.
  • The police did not mentioned a robbery to Brown and Johnson.
  • The police chief says the officer did not know Brown and Johnson as suspects in a robbery.
  • The surveillance video is likely to be used to show that Brown was intimidating and aggressive.

The police are likely to build a narrative where the loopholes in their story are overshadowed by the eye-witness accounts. The longer the officer stayed hidden or stays quiet allows them more time to observe and creatively craft the narrative they want the jurors to believe. After typing this entire post, taking a nap and waking up I find that the police chief says he was not trying to peg Brown as a suspect. The police chief says that the officer didn’t know that Brown was a suspect. I don’t think this will stop the lawyer representing the police from using the information the way I am laying it out. The police is strategic and full of shit.

Video of Tiffany Mitchell and Piaget Crenshaw’s account

  • Regardless of what happened prior to the shooting or what happened at the vehicle, the eye-witness accounts of what happened after Mike Brown pulled away from the truck are all very similar.
  • There could be some discrepancies in how many times Brown was shot.
  • There could be some discrepancies in whether or not he was shot while laying down.
  • It has not been disputed and appears to be continuously true that he was running away, turned around to face the officer, put his hands up, and dropped to his knees all while continuously being shot by the officer.
  • Mitchell and Crenshaw are the two eye-witnesses that cannot be easily discredited.
  • Mitchell has no relation to Brown or the neighborhood and can’t be considered compromised by emotion.
  • Mitchell in particular is very focused, straightforward, sure, and consistent during each interview I’ve seen her in.
  • The police and their representatives recognize that Mitchell’s testimony will not be easy to beat.
  • The police are likely to try and use Dorian Johnson’s testimony of the police being “in shock” as a way to describe that the officer was not in his “right mind.”

In conclusion, we must keep in mind that the officer will go on trial in front of a jury. The jury selection is going to be extremely important in this case. The instructions given to the jury are extremely important in this case. The police are strategically publicizing this narrative in hopes to spin the instructions given to the jury just as in the Trayvon Martin case. The jury can only try the defendant based on the charges being brought forth. This is where things can get very gray. To most this seems like an open and shut case. It sounds reasonable and easy to say “the officer shot Mike Brown while his hands were up. He executed him, plain and simple.” Our justice system is not so reasonable and easy for black men.

It took them 4 days to release the name of the officer and there still hasn’t been an arrest made. This is an indication that something is happening behind the scenes. I am not sure if I believe that Darren Wilson is the officer’s actual name. Dorian Johnson should be able to identify the police officer, yet he hasn’t even been interviewed by local police. Was he asked to identify the officer? I believe they are prolonging the release of Darren Wilson’s photo hoping that it will be less easy for Johnson and others to identify him. The police are making lots of really stupid moves. I also believe the police are attempting to make a few calculated moves. Will they be able to pull the okie doke on America? The Federal Government is involved which takes this case to a different level than the Trayvon Martin case or Oscar Grant case or others. I can’t imagine that a group of racist small town police officers will be able to bullshit their way through a case being investigated by not only local authorities but the Federal Government. This could be the case of the century.

Dear Missouri and the Federal Government, the world is watching.


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

B.L.A.H. = “Beyond Lost And Hopeless”

I have determined that BLAH is an acronym for “Beyond Lost And Hopeless.” This feeling can sneak up on you at any minute. It arises from the depths of confusion, fatigue, and sex deprivation. In 2012, I predict that people of all shapes, colors, sizes and ages will be affected by this momentary feeling of “WHAT THE F***!” B.L.A.H. is a moment not to be confused with sadness or loneliness. This moment usually passes within a day. If symptoms persist past 3 days try a glass of wine and/or other method of psychological escape. If this does not help consult a doctor of your choice immediately. Doctors include, but are not limited to a gynecologist, physical therapist, oncologist, orthodontist, psychiatrist and any other word ending in “ist” that works for you.

Moments you may feel B.L.A.H.:

When you’re bored

When you lose a job

When you feel stupid

When you look stupid

When you act stupid

During emo movie moments

When you end a relationship

When you want to be in love

When you’re on your cycle (men)

When you’re on your cycle (women)

When you conclude you’re not in love

When you realize you don’t know your purpose

When you feel like the word purpose is stupid

When you feel like you’re not serving any purpose

When you’re hungry and unable to get to food

When you feel like you’re having a bad day/week/month/year

When you spend your last few dollars on some form of transportation

When you realize you’re an hour into the dumbest conversation you’ve ever had

When you misspell words in an important message to friends, family, or co-workers

When you realize you’re pregnant and your religion has convinced you that you are pro-life

When you call on your significant other and find that they are not as significant as you thought.

The B.L.A.H. moment will walk up and pound you over the head if you don’t keep some G.O.O.D. in your life. G.O.O.D. stands for “Gracious Overly Optimistic Deeds.” Stay tuned for the blog on G.O.O.D.

Thank you for reading! Don’t be B.L.A.H. follow this blog!

Pura Vida,


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