Why You Should Be At Dirty Harvard Sessions at UNPLUGDLA This Wednesday

I’ve contributed to many media outlets over the years, including some of the leading outlets that cover hip-hop culture and rap music. For many writers, interviewing and being associating with name-brand artist matters. I never looked  it that way. Even interviewing Nas – my favorite musician of all genres, for very personal reasons – was a rather straight-forward deal (Write questions, ask them, get answers, publish, move on to the next story).

My specific mission and purpose has and always will be to champion undiscovered and deserving talent. Pac Div in 2006. Skeme a few years later (Pistols and Palm Trees, funded by Baron Davis, is comparable to Illmatic). The premise to build a genuine fanbase around a consistent stream of dope music over a period of time is rather simple. To get commercialized? That’s another story. The Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am broke that down to me when we chopped it up at the Record Plant in 2007 for what became a Critical Beatdown in The Source. Diddy turned down a chance to be a secondary quote for that piece, but I passed him in the hallway.

For what it’s worth, the latest artist I’m really championing is South Central LA-based Biz and his band, simply called Dirty Harvard Biz.  I’ve heard some of the music from their forthcoming Heart Break Hotel LP and feel its a matter of time before their art ascends to new heights.

For what it’s worth, my contribution to the band’s success is at the grassroots level. After kicking it with Biz in person a few times after mostly interacting on the phone or social media, I drafted up a new band bio and helped DHB submit an application to American Voices. I really hope they get a shot because Biz and his bandmates feel like the authentic hip-hop and urban culture ambassadors in the vein of the prototype, my Brooklyn-via-Bay Area pal Toni Blackman, and her protege, Detroit-based Mahogany Jonz, whom I’ve had a chance to see live in concert in Lusaka, Zambia.

While we wait and see what happens with American Voices, Dirty Harvard Biz is doing what bands do: play shows. If you’re near Hollywood on Wednesday, do yourself a favor and dip by UNPLUGDLA for the next one. You will enjoy yourself. Trust.

 

 

Forget about #MuslimBan inside a Caribbean club in Hollywood

I am not sure what to post about that I didn’t express on social media earlier. 

Tonight, I am inside a Caribbean club in Hollywood at the moment, and it reminds me of a club or two in Dar es Salaam. Festive and care free is how Africa and African diaspora do. Yee, as the brodie Shaadie up in the Bay would say. Yah, mang.

Three things:

Russell Simmons is the man. I am glad Uncle Rush has found political social media groove.

Thank you WordPress. Did not make it to the Jewish Graduate Student Initiative event today. Slept through it, generally how Israeli Jews do on Arab Israelis trying to get a seat at the Knesset. Yeah, my memory is long.

To switch to PR, go Golin? Three, I hope Golin finds it a mutual fit. I can see myself working there when not working on TheAmericanOpportunist.com or contributing to All Def Digital or other platforms. If nothing pans out, I am off to Dar es Salaam for three months and freelancing. After renewing my passport, of course.

Shout out to Fayah Sundays for inspiring this post. No #FakeNews when music is involved.

Donald Trump is to hip-hop like Russell Simmons is to yoga?

That’s my theory. At least, having sat five feet away from Russell last Sunday and geekin’ at his patience in signing books after a hot yoga class. Now, with that plug out of the way, here’s one of the most rational pieces of media depicting that ‘Trump is actually the epitome of hip-hop and capitalism.’ It came via a WhatsApp from my brother Camilo Smith, a Columbia j-school grad based down in Houston, Texas, these days.

I have been saying that Trump’s the quintessential American opportunist, ladies and gentlemen. Now, someone with a larger platform than myself is saying it, too.

Remind me to quote from Mr. Simmons’  Nelson George-penned 2002 biography when you see me. Or ask Russell yourself if you catch him over at Tantris studio in West Hollywood (not from his Beverly Hills residence, I presume). It’s aight that Russ is about that yoga life and while I feel it may be perceived as a cult, I don’t think of that as a bad thing.

Although at $23 per class, it sure sounds a whole lot better than $200 per month.

More on this story later, I’m sure. Hey, The Source, you still do journalism?

On the ground at #TechFairLA today

Well, since Russell Simmons’ yoga activism dynamic is not quite a freelanced story that I can pitch to a media platform such as, say, TRONC, think I’m going to just go and chop it up with All Def Digital at the Tech Fair LA Today. And Amazon’s Audible, if its reps are around. A marketing cross-partnership between ADD and Audible is something I discussed over dinner last night with my friend SJ who is working towards building out Russ’ yoga kingdom. I actually feel a strong appreciation for Russ’ work ethic and dedication to yoga, and sitting five feet away from him was inspiring. I am glad I was able to at least offer something back in the form of the reminder that this Tupac Shakur letter is arguably the most interesting item in Pac’s estate, considering he wrote the letter to a Death Row Records publicist (who a source I met just yesterday told me has moved to England after living in Calabasas for years; I guess one does that after seeing a $150,000+ payday, and here’s to hoping that letter ended up in the hands of an individual who would loan it to places such as the Museum of the African Diaspora up there near where my friend Fatimah lives and create a forum in which Leila Steinberg and I can finally reconcile). But that’s neither here nor there.

Back to All Def Digital. Most of the niggafied stuff they do is not for a business journalist such as myself. However, as a University of Maryland University College graduate student with Harvard Kennedy aspirations, I love to see dope collaborations such as the Spotify-ADD #TrafficJams. I had the opportunity to attend a taping of one, and met Amir Abbassy, b/k/a @blamethelabel, Freeway’s former manager and someone I have the utmost respect for in the entertainment industry.

I haven’t seen the content materialize on Spotify, which I actually do not use as much as Google Play Music these days. Truth be told I have never even tried TIDAL and it will stay that way until Shawn Carter decides to send someone to Ukraine to negotiate signing Neyba to a Roc Nation contract (Yeah I believe in transparency to this level). It would just be better if that person spoke Russian fluently because I am assuming that’s Neyba’s first language.

Now, before you think I’m a fool to handing out ideas out like rappers give out CDs on Venice Beach – hand out USB drives, breh –  keep in mind that the move to Dar es Salaam and/or Dallas is all but done deal, as far as I am concerned. I have nothing against L.A. but to work as a foreign correspondent and create other business opportunities, one has to get on planes and actually stay abroad. I did promise my Tanzanian fam bam that I would return if Donald Trump ascended to the office of POTUS, and I like to keep my word. While it would be nice to visit Kiev again and see my father, I’m not quite sure what stories are there to be told or employment to be had outside the CIA, which I’m going to pass because incompetence has been the Agency’s benchmark since they last touched base with me when I was in DSM in June 2007.

Generally speaking, I’m very interested to hear what the L.A. tech community hiring managers will have to say one-on-one. I’m going to the Tech Fair as a somewhat disenchanted job seeker, although participating in Mark S. Luckie’s #Journo2Tech webinar the other day definitely planted a seed in my mind.

The most important take away from that session?

To be liked. 

I’m still grappling with that one. Considering working for someone else would inherently lease away time I could dedicate to writing The American Opportunist book in Dar es Salaam.

We’ll see what the day holds at Tech Fair LA. As a fan of Mayor Eric Garcetti, I genuinely look forward to it.

What I Learned From Harvard Kennedy School PolicyCast While Eating Lunch at Sweety Pie’s In North Hollywood

First and foremost, here are facts on the ground. John Coltrane’s “How Deep Is The Ocean” tune is playing on Pandora. I am plopped down here at a chain eatery at the corner of Lankershim and Chandler boulevards in North Hollywood’s spiritually rejuvenated Arts District. Next, I’d like to quote from Travels, a manuscript published in 1988 by my favorite Harvard-educated-doctor-turned-novelist. This quote sums up my outlook and worldview moving forward in this existence pretty well. Before upcoming travel to Tanzania via Ukraine, or U.S. politics, African politics, religion politics, business and death, I offer you this:

“It is my intention to write about the interstices of my life, about the events that occurred while what I imagined to be the real business of my life was taking place.”

-Michael Crichton, Travels, p. xi

Fact is, while I pay attention to HKS podcast to gauge where Harvard’s bright minds are today because I am interested in being accepted to HKS for 2018-19 to become one, I come from a media background and will never been able to ween away from it. Fact is, I am one phone call-in away from having 2009 national champion North Carolina Tar Heels player and four-year NBA veteran Rashad McCants on the line. Rashad’s my guy, even though our business relationship has yet to truly take shape. He needs to reconcile with UNC board of trustees to be able to win over Michael Jordan and introduce us into East Africa.

Which brings me to the topic of trust. Today and for the foreseeable future – through at least Jan. 20, 2021, when POTUS Donald J. Trump will either enter a second term or a new president will rise – facts remain that the U.S is still the most diverse, embittered, conflicted and awesomely powerful nation on the planet known as Earth. But, let me defer to HKS’ roundtable participant, Roger Porter, who should not to be confused with Harvard Business School’s Michael Porter, the genius whose Five Forces concept is the paradigm underneath the mindset of global business.

When RP says that the U.S. is  “a nation that’s roughly 50/50,” he’s talking about half of the people wanting democracy and the other half wanting a republic. It’s the that finely-aged realism versus liberalism dilemma. For the uninitiated and uneducated, these  different sets of governments can govern a democracy.

“Democracy takes the preferences and priorities of all sorts of people and tries to meld them together.”

Elsewhere in the podcast, the fellas and a lady – named Barbara – bring up the good ol’ D.C. slang I’ve heard many times from R.M.D. in Northwest DC: low-hanging fruit. Even further down, I heard them bring up “the importance of strategic ambiguity,” which is a key phrase POTUS candidate Hillary Clinton has given in speeches to Goldman Sachs investment bankers.

I love how the entire roundtable laughed at the mambo jambo that Mama Chelsea uses to fundraise for her nonprofit organization Clinton Global Initiative, which I think should employ my good friend and family member Cecilia Membe in Tanzania to actually do some private sector that benefits that East African republic.

As far as POTUS Donald J. Trump’s concerned, I am actually a fan of the guy. I understand his professed appreciation of Russian leader Vladimir Putin (we share in that), sarcasm, his sexual innuendos, his vilification. He is a typical albeit oddly Scottish and niggafied New York City raised real estate developer, through and through.

Trump and I have a few things in common in that we play a villain to some and are grandiose to others. I was an Inland Empire commercial real estate reporter at the California Real Estate Journal from March to May 2007, hired and unceremoniously fired by Michael Gottlieb because he needed to churn through yet another reporter after burning a bridge with my predecessor. That’s my only basis for comparing myself to Trump, since I have yet to develop an inch of commercial real estate.

This post’s getting too long but let’s just say that blogging is a lot like hedge fund target practice when you have family in Tanzania and Ukraine. Furthermore, I have aspirations to give rise to the first POTUS born to a Ukrainian-American father and a Tanzanian national in the state of Ohio. Galion, Ohio, to be exact.

Now, if you will excuse me, let me go figure out the last quip I learned from Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s last PolicyCast, used by a participant as a reference to the 45th President of the United States of America:

“I think he’s strategically ambiguous to his benefit.”

 

 

Michael Eric Dyson is race war mongering again?

One of my bdays. Hass. Detroits own TWHEEL. Dr. Mike Eric Dyson

A photo posted by Nasir Jones (@nas) on Dec 22, 2016 at 5:27pm PST

 

It must be #OscarsSeason but it isn’t #OscarsSoWhite because … Ruth Negga? Ayo, I can’t with this preacher/author/clown. MED: niggality is a state of mind. Keep running in those circles all you want. I’m good. Moving to Dallas or Dar es Salaam and working on The American Opportunist is my scholarship and no man or woman alive is going to stop it.

I could care less about how race is perceived or not perceived in America by theatrical preachers who are also sociology professors and run their mouths to enrich their own people.

You do that, dude. I’m good.

One more thing: Tell Nas to tell Ben Horowitz to call me and contribute to a real estate capital fund to build a House of Blues in Dar es Salaam so Russians and other non-race-war-monger mobile global citizens can come down and see Distant Relatives and/or Antonique Smith and/or Dirty Harvard Biz band from South Central perform.

Skolar-We Ain’t Unluckin

Remind me to write out these lyrics and record in better studios when I’m back in Dar (sup Dunga!). Most don’t know I was an a poetic emcee before diving journalism, but here are. It is all the same expression. You gonna learn today! But I name-drop too many people. Context, intestinal fortitude and the ability to disrupt rap while reppin’ Ukraine. Yeah, that’s my trajectory while my favorite emcee’s protege is selling pillows to Ricans.

Good luck/bwana bahati/*Russian flag* to DJT! LMAO.

#TheAmericanOpportunist