About three months into my tenure at Madamenoire, I received an email that instructed me to submit all pitches to their newest editor, Kweli Wright. I didn’t know anything about her. She was just a name in an email I couldn’t put a face to. It slowly changed.
In 2014, I was broke and writing was all I had. I constantly dug deep to write any and everything for my “Chad gets paid a little more than other freelancers as the dad-writer.” If Kweli Wright pitched a story out to all of the writers, I responded within seconds; was determined to be her go-to-guy because I needed the money and the platform.
Months into working under Kweli Wright’s tutelage, she sent me a text message and asked if I had any previous editorial experience. I told her I hadn’t and she replied “Just asking. I wanted to pick your brain,” and that was it. She dropped in to plant a seed. Every few months, she would check in and check out just as quickly.
Kweli Wright was the first person to give me direction in the writing world. She saw something in me and nudged me towards the potential she saw. A lot of my success was because of Ms. Kweli Wright. I told her “You’re my mentor by default, now.”
When it comes to writing, I was-and still to some extent-my own worst enemy. I psyched myself out of applying for editorial positions, shied away from being too transparent, and at other times, just wanted to walk away from it all. Kweli Wright would say the right thing at the right time, knowing I needed the nudge. If I was worried about grammar, she’d say “You have editors for that.” Whenever I thought about full-time editor positions, “It’s much easier to edit others’ work than your own,” she’d retort. As far as walking away and needing a break; that’s another post in itself.
My trust in Kweli Wright developed into a genuine friendship. She too is a Sagittarius that understood-and encouraged-my need to explore the world all while being a voice of reason. I love to make fun of her for being a huge Beyondsay fan just because it’s one of the few things she breaks out of her calm demeanor and gets passionate about.
When Kweli Wright left Madamenoire, I left, too. That same week, she called to inform me that she was focusing on her own site. Knowing what she was capable of, I anticipated the day it went live. The dates kept changing; but she wanted to make everything perfect and Monday was supposed to be the day.
“Where’s the site at, b” I texted her at 6:48 am on Tuesday. Kweli Wright told me she needed a little more time because she noticed a few things she wanted to change. I thought she was bullshitting and got preoccupied in Beyondsay dropping a new song…and I told her that.
Years of journalism (Everywhere), editing (Juicy Magazine), site launching (Global Grind and Madamenoire), digital content production (BET), and subliminal harassment (Singledadventures) have lead up to this moment: KweliWright.com is now live.
Delving into a wide array of topics such as interior design, wellness, family, and entrepreneurship, the site is stylishly lifestyle…and I think it’s something hopefully you all will read it because she wrote it.
Every Monday I will share an anecdote and/or existential life lesson based on teachings from your favorite rapper’s favorite pastor, Ma$e.
“Stay humble, stay low, blow like Hootie.”
Prosperity preachers often get a bad rap. The public perceive them as pompous and pious people who pillage Peter to pay themselves. Most miss the undercurrent of humility and thankfulness in their message. Ma$e is an expert propagator of this narrative.
Rev. Betha grew tired of speaking as a gun-toting product of his environment. His contribution to 112’s ode to showing one’s woman love the way God loves us all, “Only You (Bad Boy Remix),” aka “Songs of Solomon, 1996,” garnered the young man a clear path to success.
Spending time with a different crowd, M-A-Dollar Sign-E felt compelled to explain the entrapment of success with the world on a song called “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.” The newcomer felt obligated to expound on modesty and servant leadership.
Had Cuda not schooled Mase to the game, he would not have known his duty. At 19 years old, the good reverend was “mostly Dolce down to the tube socks” because God sent Cuda Love to guide him.
The most salient advice Mr. Love had for his protégé was given in one incomplete sentence: Stay humble, stay low, blow like Hootie. The seven-word parable was layered with information. There was a fictional tale about a black man who made country and rock music named Darius Rucker from South Carolina.
In this tall tale, Rucker was the lead singer of a band called the Blowfish. They toured the southern states of America playing to audiences that loved his music; but wasn’t too fond of the pigment of his skin. The racist crowds disliked Darius but loved his music so much. To get under his skin, these audiences referred to him as “Hootie,” a derogatory term for disgraceful music that originated with Bell BivDeVoe’s second album, Hootie Mack.
Rucker took the high road by “staying low.” He already stood out like a sore thumb as the one black guy everywhere he went; but the music was most important. Instead of making a fuss, he quietly changed the name of the quartet to Hootie and the Blowfish. They sold millions of records and whenever they asked if Darius was Hootie, he’d say “That’s just a name for the band.” Once again, this is all folklore…Charlie Pride and Nelly were the only two black people that made country music.
Ma$e told the world he never would have made it without mentorship and humility. Yes, he danced in tunnels, threw his Rolex in the sky and waived it side to side; but he was still the same ol’ pimp with a changed limp. Scholars have argued the Harlemite’s limp was because he too wrestled with God like Jacob in the book of Genesis; but that’s for another devotional.
We all need and have Cuda’s in our lives. They are the proverbial villages that raise us, tell us right from wrong, and give us guidance we often miss when directly displayed from the divine. Nelly too listened to Cuda’s fable of Hootie and the Blowfish; it worked out very well for him.
December 8, 2006 was the day Timile Denise Brown and I officially began our relationship and December 9, 2011 was the day she passed away. I have spent as many years without Cydney’s mother as we did together.
How did I feel? A way I hadn’t in years: I wanted a cigarette.
I always knew December 9 was coming. A few days after Timile and I decided to give us a shot, we sat on my couch and watched The Godfather Trilogy. I began to sob out of nowhere. Timile asked why was I crying. “One day I’m going to lose you,” I replied.
Looking back, I grieved her loss before we even started.
I went for a drive Thursday night. I parked on the shoulder of Ocean Parkway, rolled down the passenger seat window, stood outside of my jeep, listened to Jeezy’s “Seen It All,” and looking at New York City’s famous skyline from 40 miles away. Approximately 200 steps from the Atlantic Ocean, the fierce winds hitting my face was the closest I had come to shedding tears in nearly two years.
I began to reflect and relive parts of the past five years. When I first reunited with my daughter after our five-month separation flashed across my mind first. I then snickered at a thought about December 9, 2012; passionately kissing someone else’s girlfriend and my then-toddler as a witness.
I stared off at Manhattan and reminisced about when I fell in love a couple of years ago. I first saw, kissed, and how afraid I was the first time I said “I love you” to her on that small island. Those moments freed me of the past and they became context for my future.
Life had to continue. The peace that overcame me as I consoled family and friends five Decembers ago was because I made a choice to no longer be afraid of anything.
My father called me while I was in a contemplative state December 10th. We conversed about life and love since 2011. I told my dad that for me, December 9th has had very little to do with the passing of Timile; but life after.
“The older people get, the less they give a shit. Everyone has gone through crazy shit, so they aren’t phased by it. We all go through crazy shit,” my father said. I told him my mindset resembled his words. I felt that way often. He continued “People don’t always know what to say; but they mean well. Sometimes the best thing that people can do for you is just show up.”
Trav Murdah was right. I spent all of December 9th with a friend who in spite of giving me constant grief, always shows up. I told my old man and he replied “There you have it.”
“See, the thing is, I loved Timile with everything I had. But I can have that again and improve on it,” I assured my dad. He repeated my statement to confirm its validity.
My father’s next affirmation began with the infamous “Check this out…” Since a child, I have known that when my dad starts a sentence with those three words, he was about to say some shit.
Speaking from a wealth of experience, Pops said “Check this out. Everyone is fucking crazy. Men are crazy. Women are crazy. The one whose “crazy” you think is cute, that’s the one you go with.” That summed up the past five years perfectly.
30 began and ended the same way: my day-job cutting my contract short days before I began a new year. While disheartening, it is a blessing in disguise.
I was feeling a down during my final lunch break. In spite of my hesitance, I went with my gut reaction and called my place of solace. I asked if they had a moment to listen, and told them in a nonchalant tone “This is my emotional voice,” before began to vent.
“I get tired of being treated as if I’m not human,” I lamented over the phone. My frustration wasn’t primarily with being let go or its timing; it was with constantly being treated as if I don’t have feelings.
I vented “People often feel as if they can say any and everything to me because things don’t ruffle my feathers. Because I don’t get mad, they tend to back off, thinking that every time they do something [that could hurt my feelings], they react a certain way, thinking that this will be the time I finally get mad.” After being heard, we prayed for 15 minutes before I went back into the office.
The next morning, I prayed to God to open me up in a manner that I take a step towards my future. After a conversation with my cousin, Brian, a seed was planted. “Cuz” explained God throws things up in the air and it is up to us to carry them out. If we do not, God will leave it there and someone else will complete His task. “This is why we have million-dollar ideas and another person comes up with what we were thinking,” he said. An internal light bulb went off in my head.
Two hours later, a friend of mine texted to ask if I would like to come by their place and write. I immediately replied “On my way.” I drove from my Long Island to to Manhattan. En route, I passed by my former place of employment around 1:30 PM. I looked at the building and thought to myself “Yesterday, I was in this same area, articulating how I felt. Right now, I would be on break, aimlessly driving around this area, waiting to clock out. But today, I have an idea and God has a plan much bigger than that office.”
The past two weeks have been filled with uneasy thoughts, feelings, and anxiety. I prayed for an open heart as a means to process emotions and that’s what happened. For the first time in a very long time, I felt sadness, anger, loneliness and didn’t shrug them off. I needed this in order to grow, even if it felt-and still feels-uncomfortable.
When their shell gets too small, lobsters hide under a rock until they have generated a larger exoskeleton. More or less, this is why I have hardly written anything on this site. In spite of being an uncharacteristic ball of emotions, I am quite happy. There is a lot to be thankful for.
There was a brief moment in which allowing myself to feel caused a brief moment of anxiety. I apologized to the person and explained that I was not excusing my actions; nonetheless, processing emotions past “Chad, don’t take things personally. People do shit based on their own experiences,” is a relatively foreign to me. Friday will mark five years since I shut off said process.
I would personally and publicly like to thank a certain friend for being my happy place and their patience while I come out of my shell.
Brian “Birdman” Williams was just given all of the leverage-and then some-to tell Lil Wayne “You need me more than I need you, playboi.”
In 1998, Cash Money Records’s flagship artist Juvenile released the music video for his breakout smash, “Ha.” While Juve was, is, and will forever be the hottest of the Hot Boyz, one couldn’t help but zero in on the kid with the cornrows who in stuck out amongst all of these grown men in New Orleans’ Magnolia Projects. Months later, that teenager with the Cash Money pendant engendered the greatest onomatopoeia of all time: bling bling. The Neo-Negro Spiritual, “Back That Azz Up” concludes with an exhortation in simile form that the world could relate to: wobbledy wobbledy wop, drop it like it’s hot.
Last night (November 1), ABC’s Nightline broadcasted an interview in which three years of interviews with the rapper born Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. were truncated into a six minute and change segment. Weezy F. Baby candidly pontificated “Yeah, if they callin’ her a b**** or a h**, I’d have a huge problem with that. But I’d never call a certain kind of female outside her name, unless I got a real big problem with a h**, yeah…,” referring how he would feel if his daughter was called words he has used frequently in his music. He expounded on his relationship with Mary, a woman he is often linked to (There’s God, my family, there’s my kids, there’s music, and weed…in that order). Man, does he have a way with words.
However, most of what the emcee formerly known as Shrimp Daddy had to say was eclipsed by none other than Lil Wayne, himself. When asked if he regretted his communiqué that there is no “such thing as racism,” Lil Weezyanna stuck to his caricature of being unapologetic by replying that he didn’t.
Reporter Linsey Davis followed this question up by inquiring how the New Orleans spitter felt about the Black Lives Matter Movement. And that’s where things got interesting:
So here’s the thing….
While I don’t share any of the same sentiments that this man expressed, I am not surprised. The 60 second portion that has gone viral and is currently inspiring as many think pieces as Tha Carter 3 sold in its first week is missing some context.
Lil Wayne is a rapper and mostly a damn good one. While this is a skill in which many think they could do cannot, studies have shown that the average rapper’s verbal dexterity is around a third grade reading level. So if the person that is the subject matter had made a nearly 25 year career communicating on an elementary level, why are so many people up in arms? Poet Laureate Clifford “T.I.” Harris eloquently stated what most of the world something that pretty much sums up the mindset of a plurality of rappers: Man these n****s is all hype/Not even rappin’ on real mics/They just get high and say whatever the f*** they feel like.
The music industry-especially the business of hip hop-is a façade. The players that we see and hear are caricatures doing nothing more than playing a role as if it were real. While it is rooted in music and a culture, hip hop music is a competitive sport with rivalries and relationships between one another that are being nothing portrayed as real. Each personality must evolve aspects of their persona because a shtick can get stale very quickly, especially in the days of the internet.
Throughout his career, Mr. Carter has evolved from baby gangsta, to wunderkind, the Uptown Hot Boy in Gibraud jeans, heartthrob, the “rapper eater,” Martian, “Best Rapper Alive,” pop culture fixture, phenome, rock star, and skater. Now, he is the drugged-up shell of himself that still doesn’t give a fuck. To renege on his September statements regarding race would require Lil Wayne to break kayfabe.
Anywho…I’ll pretend this isn’t an act. Lil Wayne has been rapping professionally for over 25 years and has been a millionaire for at least 18 of them. If 80% of hip hop sales (music, concerts, merchandise, etc.) come from white audiences, his outlook is going to be skewed. While he has tattoos on his face and blonde locs, his naiveté is probably closer to Carlton Banks’ when he thought that he and Will Smith were arrested for driving too slow over by white policemen on that episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Wanye is rich and as he stated on the Fox show that started this whole cluster-fuck at his shows he sees all races. Even if it is dumb and inaccurate, who are we to judge him on his reality?
I found what Birdman J.R. said about prison to be more compelling and the portion on how prison changed his outlook on the world. In jail, the Best Rapper Alive mentioned that his stint in the bing (that’s not a “bling” typo) as most honest portion of the interview. With his eyebrows raised and eyes dilated to draw in light, the former Riker’s Island inmate says “I learned a lot about people. You’re all on the same level. You’re all going through the same thing. Everybody wants to go home.”
If you-the public-watch this portion again, he looks as if in his mind he is internally flashing back to being incarcerated and reliving moments within a flash. If you ask anyone who has ever done a bid, they will tell you that it changes who you are, how you see the world as well as those around you; and you can’t un-see it. Many leave and are institutionalized that they commit crimes to stay inside because they can’t function on the other side of prison walls. From those that I know who have been in the system will echo a similar sentiment as the Heart of Hollygrove, with regards to the only life that matters is their own.
The rest of the interview is then shot to shit; but the Young Money founder has to stay in character. He seems caught off-guard and gives his answer. He begins to bounce up and down, shifts around in his chair, and then ends the interview back in full Lil Wayne-mode, not giving a fuck, flaunting his gang flag, and storming out, proclaiming “I’m a gangsta.” I could be wrong; however, most of what I learned in my college psychology courses about discourse analysis suggests that the veil was pulled back and he had to regroup himself.
Flawless marketing for the book Lil Wayne is promoting. Clearly in other aspects of his career this guy has used his mouthpiece and platform to talk about the plight of Black America at the hands of law enforcement, federal and local government, and other blacks.
A little over a year ago I came up with the idea of starting a blog about Cydney and myself. Ever since Timile had Cydney and was diagnosed with cancer there have been many people who have been touched by our story and circumstances. Family, friends, acquaintances, doctors, nurses, and co-workers as well have given encouraging words and said prayers. Since we lived in a few cities and the aforementioned people are located some of everywhere I thought that blogging Cydney and my day-to-day adventures would be a great way to keep everyone abreast on how we have been doing since Timile passed away. I didn’t quite have the words at first, so I sat on the idea until it felt right to begin. I waited until Cydney was eighteen months and that’s when I began doing research, formulating ideas, and creating a logo. A year ago today is when I wrote my first post.
At first, I wrote about things that all parents went through such as feelings about daycare, how expensive baby formula is, and some of the other things that almost everyone who is a parent could relate to. I only mentioned parts of my story in the “About Me” section and maybe referred to it in a couple of posts, but that was it. I think the first time I wrote an in depth piece on Cydney and I was in early October when it had become six months since Cydney and I were reunited. A few weeks later I went to Timile and my colleges’ homecoming and not only did I see that there were people who gave encouraging words about the blog, but a couple of people who recognized Cydney before me. That was when I began to open up and share some of my thoughts, personal experiences, and tell parts of Timile and my story.
You never know how much what you do can or will affect others. I would have never guessed that in 267 posts would lead to over 25,000 views in 60 countries and 6 continents, and 400+ followers, as well as other casual readers. What was just an extended love letter showing gratitude to those who have been there for my family has opened up a few doors: guest writing/blogging for other websites and publications, articles written about Cydney and I, radio interviews, speaking engagements, and hopefully a published book of my own (PR people, publicists, and literary agents: let’s talk!) sooner than later. I say this to demonstrate that we have no idea what our purpose is. For all I know, Timile’s time on earth and giving me Cydney could be to help someone somewhere I’ve never met. I appreciate all of the support, comments, continued prayers, and well wishes. You all inspire me.
PS: For the next week I will be reposting some of my favorite stories, videos and such… For those who haven’t read them or would like to enjoy them again.