Category Archives: culture

Trap House to White House


Former President Barack Obama with Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter and, wife, Beyonce Knowles-Carter. [Photo Courtesy:]

As the anticipation for the 2020 election festers. Peoples’ bid for presidential nominees has gone afar from Oprah to Harambe. I trust Oprah with my life yet I would rather see her act in the White House than live in the WH. Entertainers are meant to entertain; not be involved in politics Yet, the Carters may have a different approach into the White House.

From selling dime-bags to the rights of his Rocawear company. Shawn Corey Carter has grown as a businessman. The rap mogul negotiated a deal with Samsung in 2013. The tech company purchased 1 million downloads of Magna Carta Holy Grail. Jigga released his 12th album for free to Galaxy smartphone users. The record was platinum 72 hours before its release date. Two months after its public release, Recording Industry Association of America announced the album was certified double platinum.


[Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter, 2016 Photo Courtesy:]

Jay-Z guaranteed 4:44 would go platinum. Sprint (a significant shareholder in Tidal) purchased 1 million albums, which were given away for free to their customers. This deal also qualified the record to be recognized as platinum on the release date. RIAA changed the rules to allow digital albums to be certified platinum on their release date, rather than the previous 30-day waiting period.

In 2008, Forbes reported that Shawn Carter was estimated to have a net worth of $150 million. Ten years later the retired drug dealer is expected to have a net worth of $810 million. As the father of three continues to reign in the entertainment and business worlds, whats next, politics? I think so.

In 1978 when Bill Clinton ran for Governor of Arkansas, his opponent caused a stir of his wife’s name. According to The New York Times, it noted that he “is married to an ardent feminist, Hillary Rodham, who will be the first First Lady of Arkansas to keep her maiden name.” After he lost the election, Hillary Rodham Clinton emerged. Bill won the reelection and served for three consecutive terms before being elected President in 1992. To avoid this mayhem, the Carters concocted a plan.

Beyonce Giselle Knowles. A powerful name. Even after marriage, many women entertainment keep their maiden name. It’s apart of their brand. Queen B chose differently. Instead of dropping her last name, or moving it to her middle name, she hyphenated her names, Knowles-Carter. Once Beyonce established her new name on paper, the royal-themed Mrs. Carter World Tour began. Bey was showing us the future.



Beyonce promotion for Mrs. Carter World Tour [Photo Courtesy:]

California has a knack for electing entertainers into office. Arnold Schwarzenegger served two terms as Governor of Cali. Ronald Reagan served two times in the same state. Eventually becoming the 40th President. As the Carters settle down into their $135 Bel Air Mansion. Blue, Sir, and Rumi have created entertainers Bey and Jay into the perfect nuclear family.

It’s no secret the Carters are friends with the Obamas. Is it possible to ship couples? Is that a thing? Either way, Michelle Obama mentioned how Jay-Z would be an excellent presidential candidate. And everyone trusts Michelle Obama. She could tell me to jump off a bridge, and I would do a backflip off with a smile on my face (not really but you get the gist, right?).

If you can release an album and it goes #1 on all the international charts without any marketing, by all means, you run the world. If you can go on tour before releasing your album and your fans still bop to these unknown songs at your sold-out concerts, you have public support. Beyonce did that. The Beyhive would storm into the voting polls to see her as the first lady. I would cry as I cast my vote. I’m crying now because I know it’s going to happen. First Lady Carter. Or better yet, Madame President Carter as Jay wrote in his latest music video, Family Feud.

Blue Ivy Carter may aspire to get into politics herself one day but not before mom and dad show their daughter how it is done correctly.

Chazmen, The Dreamcatcher. 

The Nine Animal Totems are said to be spirit animals that guide each dreamcatcher through their journeys. This process is unique to each dreamcatcher. The spirit animals reveal themselves through the cards (cards were shuffled by Chazmen and dealt by Christian beforehand). What you will hear is the disclosure of those animals, the magic of friendship, and the wisdom of Earth.



I grew up in my mind.
It was where I was safe.
It was where I was free.
Not bound by the burden
of multiple Mothers.
Not bound by the burden
of stray bullets.
Not bound by the burden
of being myself.

In my mind,
I am a king.
A queen.
A jester.
A thorned rose.

in my heart,
i am picturesque,
free of norms,
a dream,
a thornless rose,
in my heart,
i am infinite,

Lizzo gets CHAZZED!

Photo Courtesy: Atlantic Records

“I always dreamt of not giving a fuck and just wearing whatever I want. I just never knew how scary that actually is,” I said to Cliff on the phone. It was an hour I had to meet him. “What’s so scary?” he responded. “Being myself,” I answered. Twirling around in front of the mirror, I admired myself. Beard buzzed. Heels strapped. Eyebrows snatched. I looked in the mirror and almost felt complete. With a last thought, I switched the gold choker to a chunky jewel neck piece. Who knows? Maybe Lizzo might notice me.





Chas a Goyescas!

The company of Goyescas at In Series (Photo: Angelisa Gillyard)

Goyescas is nothing short of a magical production. The beautiful cast depicts a genuine scope in the early 20th-century Spanish lifestyle. Enrique Granados would be thrilled if he was alive to see this mesmerizing production. 

Costume designer, Donna Breslin displays her expertise in Spanish fashion. Clad in red, black, and white chiffon corsets; the women presented an authentic Spanish style. All of which came together to transport the audience to the height of the Spanish Renaissance. Within the first few piano strokes, I could guarantee you that Enrique Granados was doing high-kicks in his grave; rejoicing over director Jaime Coronado’s artistic perspective on Goyescas.

Maestro Rodriguez was an absolute thrill on the piano. Instantly, he became a crowd favorite. The opera was a magical experience that still cannot be described except through one Spanish phrase I learned that night, Chas! – not Chaz as in myself, but Chas, a Spanish idiom, such as “cheers” when drinking beer friends. Chas! Chas! Chas a Goyescas!

Set designer Jonathan Dahm Robertson and lighting designer Stefan Johnson used the minimal set to such various degrees. On stage right: two-top tables along with Maestro Rodriguez at the piano. Stage left: a wooden door, one of three major entrances. Dividing the set in half was another entrance; where the beautiful Granados couple makes their grand appearance.

The opening act composed of Manuel de Falla’s Seven Spanish Folk Songs and Granados’ Three Sorrowful Maja Songs. Entitled, The Songs, it was a medley of romantic love songs. Couples sang in harmony as the audience watched as relationships grew. The cast kept the audience mesmerized as we experienced the various degrees of love.

Rodriguez continued his masterful piano skills as the dancers swayed their hips in rhythm. A speech-language pathologist by day in Bethesda, MD; Bernstein displays her ten-year-dance-journey that started in Washington, DC. Like a butterfly, Bernstein floats on-stage with such ease. Her elegant movements coupled gracefully with the piano. The choreography by Jaime Coronado shows the wonderful relationship between Coronado and the dancers.  

Act II: The Opera, Goyescas or Los Majos Enamorados was written by Enrique Granados in the early 1900s. After being canceled in Paris because of World War I, Goyescas made its North American debut at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. In 1916, Goyescas was the first Spanish-language Opera at the MET. Overnight, the opera was a success.

Originally performed with a forty-person orchestra, Maestro Rodriguez had no problem delivering an equal powerhouse performance. The cast’s vibrato and harmonies left me in awe. The audience and I were entranced by the excellent voices of Rosario (Fairiuz Foty), Fernando (Peter Burroughs), Paquiro (Alex Alburqueque) and Pepa (Patricia Portillo). The rhythmic choreography performed by the Majas was mesmerizing.

Full of love and drama, the audience watched spellbound as the couple: Rosario and Fernando fell in love. With butterflies in my stomach, they kissed and harmonized. Unbeknownst to them, Paquiro, Rosario’s husband gazed from off-stage. Angrily departing from Rosario, Fernando exits the stage through a floral wooden gate, which served as the wooden door in Act One.

Pop, pop!!! Gunshots are heard off stage and a wounded Fernando comes stumbling through the fence. In classic Spanish-style, four verses and a French-kiss later, Fernando takes his long last breath. Rosario’s stunning acting performance left me teary-eyed. I cried along as the ensemble entered the stage, witnessing the brokenhearted lover mourn. 

While the cast slowly exited the stage and returned for bows, the audience and I stood, tear-stained cheeks and cheerfully clapping. The man sitting next to me asked, “Are you doing a review?” The audience was still applauding, as he spoke. He noticed I had taken notes during the show. Introducing himself as Leonard Wiles, he had bought tickets for Goyescas for his wife and himself. “Excellent, excellent and excellent!” He exclaimed. You could see the joy on his wife’s face as she nodded along. They were recent DC transplants just like myself.

The audience was greeted by the cast and board member as we made our way into the Gala Hispanic Theatre’s Bar Room. Board members chatted with audience members. Since less than half of ticket sales make up half their budget the In-Series relies heavily on member donations and volunteer work.

“I hope you enjoyed the show,” Fairous E. Foty said to me. She played Rosario during the show. “Bravo to you. You were absolutely stunning!” I said, “As my first D.C. opera this was a remarkable experience,” I told her. Walking out the door smile first, I knew I had more than enough material for my review.

Condragulations, Rupaul Makes History!

Finger-snaps. Tongue-pops.  Beer glasses clink together. Loud Yas and whistles:  another queen has sashayed down the runway. Every Thursday, the Old Soul Brewery (Cleveland St., Fort Myers) screens the newest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-stars. The fiercest queens from the previous eight seasons return to compete for the All-Star title and a chance to win  $100,000.

Most nights at Old Soul Brewery feature live music, family events or even business networking events. Thursday nights are Drag Night. This is our sport. The brewery becomes our safe-haven for the night. Gathered together are long-term couples. First dates. Friends. Drag queens and people who stop by Old Soul for a drink and a wonderful surprise. As the episode draws to a close, the crowd hushes. It’s time now for the top two queens to lip-sync and woo the judges—chiefly, Mama Ru. The winner of the lip-sync will pick the queen who must leave the competition.

Since its 2009 premiere, RuPaul’s Drag Race has grown bigger than Katy Perry. Speaking to Vulture, RuPaul conceded that drag will never be mainstream. “It’s the antithesis of mainstream…completely opposed to fitting in.”

Would Ru want to be mainstream?  Not on your life:  “Anytime I’ve had yearnings to go, Aw, gee, I wish I could be invited to the Emmys, I say, Ru Ru, remember the pact you made. You never wanted to be a part of that bullshit. … I’d rather have an enema than have an Emmy.”  Seven months after that Vulture interview, Drag Race captured its first Emmy. Celebrities, Queens from the show, and his global fandom sent RuPaul their love and praise:  I’m happy that he was given an Emmy instead of Plan A.

Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, RuPaul after receiving the award said, “I think about all the kids who watch this show all over the world who finally have an emotional navigation system… The hundreds of girls who have come through our show have told their stories so graciously and have really helped young people….”

RuPaul inspires me. One of these days, I may sashay into Sally’s Beauty Supply and buy myself a new lace-front wig for Thursday night at Old Soul Brewery. Who knows? I may even audition for Drag Race someday.