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Finessin' Comfort: A Guide To Jumping Ship

A comfort zone is described as a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress. We find ourselves in comfort zones because they’re familiar, not because they’re necessarily pleasant. One can only do what they know to do. If a person has limited exposure their behavior towards anything different will mimic that. We all live on the same planet, breath the same air, and yet we all have different experiences in life. That is why it is important to expose yourself to unknown parts. Jump hun, it's liberating!

When you jump, you have to let go of your inhibitions. The sky becomes the limit because when going at your passion with purpose, pain becomes numb and rest becomes a luxury. It becomes innate to survive. Once you have decided what you’re going to do and what you want, nothing will stop you. Unless you’ve already reached that point, I'd suggest you keep searching for happiness. There are a few tools needed to get to that point mentally.

1. Self-dependency, Yes, you will need some sort of support at the end of the day but you must remember that at the end of the day, all you have is yourself. No one is going to protect your neck like you, in the words of my girl Tierra Marie. If you don’t have any kids and if you don’t have a spouse you have to make decisions for you and you alone. If you do have kids you make that decision for you and your kids. Now, when it comes to a spouse you have to discuss with them because you both agreed to be a unit. You have to also remember that those kids grow up at some point. They’re going to have their own lives so the best thing that you can do is set yourself up with your kid in mind. You have to work for two. That comes with making smart moves.

So, the infamous random move to LA. Dawg, I honestly cannot tell you what I was thinking at the time that the decision was festering. All I knew was that it was time to get out of Austin. I took a serving job at the beginning of the year knowing that I’d be able to transfer to a new city. This particular restaurant was a new franchise in Austin and not many people had heard of it there. It was also in the middle of a construction zone so we weren’t visible to the naked eye. As a result, I wasn’t making much money because we weren’t getting any foot traffic. We were pretty nonexistent but I knew that this job was my ticket out. I eventually started to fall behind on my car notes little by little. Eventually, we started making the money and I started to get caught up and at the same time, this thing inside of me would not let the thought of moving to LA go. The signs were everywhere that it was time to finish what I started and to take the next step. One day my uncle who’d help me get the vehicle for me basically said that "you need to go ahead and return that car because you can't afford it" I was tripped out because I had JUST started getting repairs done and caught up on the payments. So I said fuck it If I gotta be in a city without a car that city will be in LA. I put in my transfer request and got the hell on within a week. I left my apartment and dog to a friend that needed a new place. He needed a spot and I needed a dog sitter. Everything basically lined up in terms of having a smooth transition out.

***********

My car wasn’t in the best shape to drive across the country but it was

' do or die' and I'm going to always do before I die. I had bought this vacuum cleaner from Walmart that I needed to use and return. Don’t front, we’ve all been there. Problem was that I lost the receipt and could only get store credit on a gift card. That gift card became my gas card because I used that son of a gun at every Walmart on my way there to keep my fuel cost down.

work smart, not hard

2. Faith, Listen, at the end of the day if you don’t believe in yourself then you’re already not ready for whatever it is that you think you’re ready for. No one and I repeat no one will believe in you if you don’t show them that you believe in you. but the thing about believing is that you have to believe in something that is bigger than you. Dale C. Bronner once said that " if your dreams do not intimidate you then you are not dreaming big enough. Believe in something that you have to grow into." Take the next step even when you can’t see the ground. That is faith. Regardless of your religious beliefs, you must have that belief system that is called faith.

After my first time moving to LA in 2011, I started working for the Los Angeles Conservation Corps. As a requirement, we had to do a team-building exercise with Fulcrum Adventures over at Kenneth Hahn Park. These were not ordinary exercises. These were obstacle courses that involved risks, helmets, and liability! One of them, in particular, involved climbing to the top of a telephone pole and jumping off. I’m sure the question in your head is "now what in the hell does that have to do with team building." Well, your team is in control of a harness that is attached to you. So, unless they all collectively decided to let go, you aren't in any real danger. It was indeed more of a mind over matter type of thing. I watched every one of my colleagues nervously climb to the top with most hesitating mid-way. Eventually, my turn came and I found it to be pretty easy to get up top. it wasn’t until I got up there that I realized that I was out of my rabbit ass mind. I took a look down and there was the instructor trying to coach me off of the ledge. I was stuck, frozen! Everyone's all "you can do iiit", "just relaaax" and I'm up there like *hand over heart* "yall got me effed up, tell ya mama to relax". The coach had placed a ring in front of the jumping point. He kept asking “do you want the ring, do you want the ring, Keenan?”. He told me that he wanted me to visualize that ring and what it represented for me. Eventually, I kept saying “I want the ring, I want the ring” and before I knew it I had jumped off of that pole, touched the ring, and was harnessed in mid-air on my way down. That experience changed my life because it taught me the importance of identifying what you want.

3. Intuition, Trust your gut, cis! You ultimately know what you need to do. It is your survival instinct. We all have it. Animals have it. It is your first gift. You have to exercise it. You know right from wrong and you know what’s best for you. You have to truly get in tune with your inner self. You have to be centered and be self-aware. There will never be anyone that can do you like you, boo boo.

I did my second year of college at Columbia College Chicago. I'd never been there and I'd never heard of it so one would probably wonder why I would do something so dramatic. Well, first of all, my name is Keenan Maxson, I do what I want. Secondly, the behind-the-scenes answer is that the ambassador at the college fair was hot and I was trying to see what that life be like! Most importantly, however, it was the first time that I saw a group of myself. These weird ass kids from all over had a mutual love for the arts and weren't down with that traditional formal bs. We were about getting shit done. #teamaintnobodygottimeforthat The education was in your face and hands on. I was interested in singing, dancing, and acting at the same time. I didn’t even consider what I was doing which was leaving everything that I knew. No friends, no college visit, I just jumped in and did what I felt to do. I spent a lot of time alone getting to know Chicago. I met friends. I met one of my best friends, actually.

4. Guide, Know your surroundings. Know the ins and outs. There is always more information and additional resources out there. You have to seek it. Nothing worth having just comes and lands on your doorstep. First of all, you're not that special. You have to get out there. It's like the old saying goes "Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor". Know the who’s whos and what’s whats. For example, if you’re moving to a new city be familiar with reading maps. Research the things that you’re interested in to know where to find them. That’s how you will be able to surround yourself with people like yourself.

So this is legit one of the funniest things that I’ve ever done. So when people move to LA to pursue dreams one thing they don’t realize is how close to homelessness you can become. A friend of mine who worked in social services found this amazing program that assists with recovery from addictions. I wasn’t addicted to anything. I said, which is true, that I lacked organization and that I needed help adulting. I ended up randomly going on this one day that they were giving out vouchers for 2 weeks of free housing in exchange for attending a group counseling session. I decided to attend Recovery International, a program based on self-control, self-confidence, and increasing one's determination to act. I moved into this lovely home where I had my own bed/bath and quiet. I was training for a new job at the time and I couldn’t get back to the house one night because the job was 2 hours away with traffic and everything and I had to be back the next morning. I didn’t think it’d be a big deal because the next day was the last day that we were able to be at the house anyway. Well, I was wrong because as it turned out that the night that I stayed away was actually the last night and we were to be out in the morning. I didn’t realize that until I got there the next night and noticed that it was pitch black and no sign of anyone being there. I managed to get in through a window that hadn’t been locked. My intent was to go to a hotel but I figured why not save some money, right. So I just got in bed and went to sleep! That morning I heard the staff come in. I am not one to be bothered with anything within at least the first 30 minutes of me getting up so I just went back to sleep waiting to be caught. Never happened. I snuck back out of the window, walked around a bit to get the sleep out of my eyes then proceeded to knock on the front door to ask for my things back!

5. Detachment, You have to bravely let go of what you knew when stepping into something new. What you knew beforehand simply become tools that’ll help you in the next chapter. The keyword is help! Things will not be the same and you must understand that. It may become difficult and uncomfortable at times but if it is something that you want to do then it is vital that you stick with it. You will have to go at it alone. The friends that you knew and the family that you love cannot join you on this new journey. You have to detach and own the detachment. That doesn’t mean to dead the relations that you had before. It just means that you’re on to a new path.

When I lived in Los Angeles briefly in 2011 I found myself unprepared and not taking advantage of any of these tools that I have told you to take advantage of thus far. I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t stay here. I had to return back to Beaumont. Not even necessarily return back to Beaumont because I wasn’t living there at before I moved to California. I was still based in Atlanta. My mother had just left Atlanta and decided to live in Beaumont permanently. My home was no more, I ended up living back in Beaumont. My mother and were not meshing well in my adulthood and I decided that I was going to leave her umbrella and do my own thug dizzle. This meant that nobody was buying my clothes or buying my food. I was officially responsible for myself even though I lived with my grandmother. It was for me to arrange my own transportation versus using my mother’s luxury car. and I have to and just staying what life was like without having luxuries of a big city. Beaumont is not a big place and it’s definitely not a modern place. Walking wasn’t the same because there are no sidewalks. I definitely wasn’t riding the bus. I still to this day refuse to use Beaumont’s public transportation, too much pride. I had to start serving tables. The silver lining is that going back there was a blessing because it gave me tools of maturity and taught me things that I wouldn’t have learned on my own if I had stayed in Los Angeles. I bought my first car on my own and decided that I was going to take my life into on my own hands and make the moves that I felt were necessary. I wasn’t going to get stuck and become a statistic. After 2 years, I drove up out that bitch on my own and never looked back!

There are of course clusters of lessons and life hacks that I could share but these are the basics. Use them wisely and take heed of your surroundings. If you find yourself complacent and loving life then this was just a good read. If you are complacent and stuck, well, now you know what you need to do. Get out and change your life because life itself is full of alternates. Change isn't easy but change is amazing. The key to finessing is smart moves, not many moves. Those smart moves eventually become money moves!

-KR

Look At She, Cardi B: A Force in 21st-Century Feminism

Look At She, Cardi B: A Force in 21st-Century Feminism


We are gathered today to partially celebrate the lituation that is my girl Belcalis Almanzar, aka Cardi B. Sis is indeed the definition of a lituation. Her swag is impeccable, her transparency makes her relatable, and her wit makes her the ideal candidate to be the next “It girl”. Cardi started her career in the strip club as a result of an alleged abusive relationship. She followed suit by making hilarious videos on the gram. She cultivated her own following that eventually caught the eye of music and entertainment mogul Mona Scott-Young, creator and executive producer of VH1’s Love and Hip Hop franchise. Cardi B was an instant hit on the program. She immediately showed off who she was; just a regular degular schmegular girl from The Bronx. Proudly flaunting her less than perfect teeth, Cardi took viewers on a wild ride of humor for an hour once a week. She was able to captivate a nation full of street chicks. Gangsta bitches, as she’d call them. She loved her dramatic nails, her boyfriend in jail, and her oral fixation. Her bluntness was unapologetic and it sat well across demographics. She was still a stripper, still a nobody, and still persistent. To everyone’s surprise, Cardi turned out to be beastie on the rap mic. She took one of her most famous one-liners from the show and turned it into a hood hit. “If a bitch beef with me, we gone beef forever.” This spawned Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 1 and Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 2, a collection of songs for the girl that was raised in rough environments, the dirty streets if you will. Bardi, as she calls herself, utilized her innate talent of gab to secure a huge following across the nation as well as across the pond.


Lookin' like I caught a (Look at me)

Cardi (Look at me)

Cardi (Look at me)


While over all I’m sure that we can all agree that we’re here for Cardi’s glow up, there’s just this one thing that gets me. I get hot and bothered because while she’s hustled her ass off to become one of hip hop's fastest rising stars at only 25, she is consistently dismissed as a ratchet talentless bimbo who's only getting her 15 seconds of fame. In the words of Brother Smokey, “what kinda shit is that? ” I’ll tell you what type, patriarchy. The only people who get played like this at mass numbers are women. A hood nigga can sling dope while gaining and retaining respect off of his trapitude alone. If he makes it out of the game and any further in terms of success than his drug pushing background becomes a medal of honor because he overcame adversity to live a clean life. Women aren’t privileged enough to receive that same respect. Women are constantly overlooked simply for the fact that they carry a vagina, or dare I see the “P word”. This is why slut walks are happening all over. Women are grabbing their “P words” back and I’m here for it, Sis.

"Yeah, I Momma, Miss Ivana

Usually rock the Prada, sometimes Gabbana

Stick you for your cream and your riches

Zsa Zsa Gabor, Demi Moore, Prince Diane, and all them rich bitches" - Lil’ Kim

Sometimes I wonder if God is a woman and men one day decided that they were going to use their muscle to implement laws and doctrines to keep women in line. From the experience that I’ve lived women are smarter and more organized with the way that they think. They’re able to mentally compact in ways that would make the average man go running home to his mother crying about how tough life is. We’re in the midst of a female revolution. As a society, we have reached an all-time high in terms of feminism. Women are demanding to be heard and respected in the same way that men are. One would think that that is only fair, right?

"In the beginning, people prayed to the Creatress of Life, 
the Mistress of Heaven. 
At the very dawn of religion, God was a woman. 
Do you remember?"

-Merlin Stone

The pill of equality apparently is a tough one to swallow, especially in today’s climate. Women, African-Americans, gays, trans people, and pretty much any other minority in this country have started to demand respect in a way that hasn’t been seen. Before, these groups were knocking on the doors of a system that statistically only benefited heterosexual cisgendered white men. Today, everyone has a “Nah, brah” approach and they’re kicking those doors down with enough force to knock pictures off the wall. Statistically, men, white men, in particular, have always had the power to say no or yes. You can take that into the economic pay gap where on average, a woman earns 79 cents for every dollar a man earns for doing the same job. There has been a decrease in young women like my girl Bardi however. In the 80’s, they earned an average 67% of their male counterparts, compared with 90% in 2015.

“I’m not pressed for you to hold the door

I’m not stressed for you to marry me

I’m independent

I want equal, or perhaps, even a larger salary

Women earn 78 cents for every dollar of their male counterparts

It’s crazy my bank account is determined by my body parts" - Remy Ma

Remember the infamous 2016 presidential election. Hillary Clinton was one of the most qualified individuals to hold the most powerful position in the world based on her education and experience. She competed against a male who had a huge following of white men. a large number of that demographic believed in a system of supremacy & patriarchy amongst society. Not to insinuate that Clinton lost because she's a woman. The suggestion is that because she's a woman many of her talents and strengths were overlooked. Being a strong opinionated woman isn’t necessarily an acceptable thing to be. She’d be quick to be labeled as bitchy, butch, or sex deprived. Hillary Clinton should have won that presidency if it was based on ability alone, but unfortunately, it was not. It was based on who was the more popular celebrity. Who could make the most headlines and who’d look out for the poor white man that feels like he’s losing their power.

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. “ - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Male fragility is a thing. Ego is something that we wear as a crown, and we like it shiny. That's one of the reasons why it's hard for women to accomplish their true potential. We make it harder because we feel threatened. It's a battle of respect and pride. We know that we’re to treat women with respect. But even the most gentle man can have an issue with feeling as though he's coming second to a woman. A lot has to do with the traditional and religious doctrines that of course says that man is the head of the household. Men are known to be the muscle, while women are to be subservient and silent. I have a hard time dissecting that logic even though it's been rule of thumb for centuries. That thought ties back to biblical times with Queen Esther, who was picked like a flower because her husband’s previous wife wouldn’t flaunt her beauty for his homeboys. My question to that ideology is are we supposed to not get all perspectives for a better life? We’re going to silence a voice simply because it comes with a vulva? "That don’t make no sense to me". These women get out there and hustle their asses off while dealing with daily things that I as a male will never know. I spoke to a few of my homegirls who told me that I as a male can walk down a street at night without a worry. While that may not necessarily be true for me as a BLACK man, it is a solid argument based on being male alone. There’s also, of course, that flower that they receive every 4 weeks or so. I was literally typing that I don’t see how that matters. I was about to brush past that part as if it were irrelevant to my argument. It isn’t. That flower isn’t a pleasant one and they deal with it for around 4 decades once a month. That’s strength. However, what matters more than anything is that they are respected for their hustles and not just their bodies! She has a mind too, nigga, and it’s as brilliant as yours!

"Lil bitch, you can't fuck with me if you wanted to"

These expensive, these is red bottoms, these is bloody shoes

Hit the store, I can get 'em both, I don't wanna choose

And I'm quick, cut a nigga off, so don't get comfortable, look

I don't dance now, I make money moves

Say I don't gotta dance, I make money move

If I see you and I don't speak, that means I don't fuck with you

I'm a boss, you a worker, bitch, I make bloody moves" - Cardi

REAL        LIES


I say what I want,

I do what I feel,

My intention is to always keep it real.

They’ll say that the stars align to show truth but in reality, it’s to be amongst you.

There’s truth in a lie and time and time again love can lie.

How can one love if one hides?

Protect yourself as you would your neck but if you show them your belt the love is undenied. Admiration, glorification, and state of separation between them and the love that is craved.

It’s manipulated, saturated, fat if you will.

I told you once before that love can seem real.

You’ll float instead of flow, you’ll lie before you deny, you’ll believe that your wait is over as you plan the seating arrangements.

You’ll choose the canary diamond to add a hint a sunshine.

You’ll choose the red velvet on the third tier and still won’t remember why you’re here.

It won’t be until the document is signed that you’ll realize that what you saw wasn’t with your own eyes.

It was simply a disguise of the prize that you desired.

One that you didn’t earn but one that was learned.

Isn’t it funny the mind can be a liar?

Listen to your heart before you set your world on fire.

4:44: Appreciation Of Masculine Vulnerability


4:44….. First off, let’s talk about how much of a marketing genius Uncle Jay is. This man had the ad circulating a month ahead of time. No one knew what it was, he just dropped the digits all around New York. Everyone knew that it had something to do with the Carter's because 4 is their number. Seeing that Bey was pregnant, more than likely it was Jay. I mean it was on subways, it was on buses, it was on billboards, it was everywhere! There weren't even any photos of him affiliated with the ad. Which is brilliant on its own because NOW, you have an eagerness to know what it is. There's almost an innateness to find out what's the hype and he immediately takes you in with "Kill Jay-Z". He reveals things that he's had to see for himself. Such as shooting his brother, stabbing rapper Lance Un, and selling crack to those that loved him during his come up. He addresses public rumors and scandals that he's been involved in like the infamous elevator fight with Solange, which he admits fault by agitating the situation causing it to escalate. He's trying to overcome guilt, his own ego, and his addiction to fame. Interestingly enough on the first track of this highly anticipated album, he went in and checked Kanye West. Which for me says that he still loves his brother, but he doesn't appreciate who he's turned into.

"The Story of O.J." offers an illustration of how we as black people feel that because of our success or how we’re able to infiltrate mainstream America that we’re somehow excluded from the experience of being black in some way. It’s mind-boggling to think about because regardless of what your experience is in this country you’re still what you look like. At the end of the day, you’re still nothing but a nigga in some eyes. Hell, especially in Trump’s America. He also called black people on our shit for how we frivolously spend money that we don't have. Even when we do have it, we typically don't use it in ways that we should, such as purchasing real estate and investing into things that will appreciate in value and raise our net worth instead of depreciating it. It's a fucked up cycle. We have to pay attention to building our wealth and learn from other cultures. We must leave a legacy for our children. It's also imperative that we teach each other and be our brother's keeper. So many look down at others once they come up. Instead of keeping the gate open, you close it just to say that you're the only one that made it in. It's like the opposite of the 'crab in a bucket' mentality. Muhfuggas get to the top and feel like because they made it out, they're now a lobster or some shit! Regardless of how rich, light skinned, or educated you are, Black Person, the truth is, Nigga, you're always going to be a nigga. So at least get your wealth right and break the cycle, Nigga.

My uncle gives so much game on this record that you just have to sit back pay attention to what's happening. He said in his book 'Decoded' that you have to listen to his lyrics a few times before you can fully gather what he's saying. One thing I really appreciate is a play off of words with Tidal. "I'm trying to give you $1 million worth of game for $9.99."

Reminding you that in these streets you have to be careful and you have to know your surroundings. Like he's talking about in 'Caught Their Eyes', he's basically saying 'nigga game recognizes game and the only way that you can make sure that you don't get played when playing the game is to pay attention to the other players' game.

See mainly he's owning up to who he's been in the past. Basically saying that yeah I've made a lot of mistakes. I've learned and I've grown, which is definitely cliché but he's owning his fuck ups. He's also embracing who he is now. He's happy with his current life. He's happy with his wife, very happy with his children, and even bravely acknowledges that he almost lost it all due to his own selfish ways and infidelity. Which, is a response to his wife's critically-acclaimed album 'Lemonade', an art piece about a queen not being respected by the one whom she expects to love and respect her the most.

He's gracefully catching every shot that has ever been thrown at him. Whether he himself threw it, or someone else threw it at him. He talks about his looks and how people say he's ugly but shit, the way he looks at with his bank account he's really cute. Beyonce subtly agrees with him on the track "4:44". He mentions how much he loves being in the company of other black successful hip-hop artists like Diddy and Dre. All 3 are in the running to become hip-hop's first billionaire with an average $850 million net worth. All are also self-made without a college degree.

Jay is really good at telling his cradle to grave. He does a fine job of telling the same story over and over again but I appreciate it because each time it gives you a sharper look into the genius that he is. In the song ‘Family Feud’ he expresses how he feels that he makes more money now that he doesn't sell crack, obvious. Now he's starting to relish in a spiritual world that he actually enjoys.

We all know Jay is good for covers. Most of his classic hits are samples of other known hits from earlier decades. "Ha Ya" by The Clark Sisters is featured on a song that questions his religion and spirituality. This is a big deal because Jay has been known as the devil himself in many church circuits. I personally remember attending a service at Elizabeth Baptist Church in ATL. Where he was targeted. This was a gospel and hip-hop event that basically tried to fuse the two together. The message was by Pastor G. Craig Lewis. He alluded to a lot of big hip-hop names were worshipping the devil. His finale was Mr. Carter himself. He even went so far as to find some clip that had been manipulated and told us that this was on his track “Lucifer”. It was supposed to be the track played backward. It had Jay saying “666, murder murder, Jesus”. I played that track backward and frontwards and such thing did not exist.

Another thing that I love about this album is that he calls out the older for how much shit they give the younger generation such as Bill Cosby who he refers to as Pill Cosby, Al Sharpton. and hip-hop connoisseurs so to speak. You know, the hip-hop community gives a lot of shit to Young Thug, Uzi and Yachty because it's different styles. We’re in a new age generation where boys are a little bit more feminine and don't really care about it. He uses Tupac’s nose ring, for example, asking how do you do you come at these kids like that. I respect him on a whole new level for that alone.

I, for one, feel inspired because Jay-Z shows the world that we black urban people can be historical artists. We can appreciate classical art forms. We can make it to the top of the world. We as men can be vulnerable. We will just do it in the way that we want to. We don't have to compromise. We can do what we want to do based on our standard. We can stand atop of our own buildings. Because on those urban streets are black priorities, stories of our mothers and fathers. We are enough and we will always be enough. The fact that we are enough is what is going to get us to where we want to be, but we have to work together. Nobody can win alone.

Thank You, Uncle Jay!

Pieces of Me


I come in many shapes and forms.

I come to mourn the one once adorned.

Love me, beat me, kick me, until it all makes sense.

Thrive on my power with love you can devour.

Pick me up off the floor. There's another piece there.

Play me songs about heartache I promise I can sing it sweetly.

Play me a song about love found and you may not even get a sound from me.

Tell me my name.

Where does it fit? In the corner there above the flowers?

Or in the middle, above the towers.

I wanna fly like you, stay high like you.

Be the one that you need to take it over. Flip it under.

Tear us away til the thunder rumbles.

Bundles, bundles, bundles, bundles, bundles, whipping with Remi, Malaysia, and Repunzal.

Contour the velocity of your sight. Get it?

Think right. Make it right.

Fit these puzzle pieces in me.

Whisper softly and gently to me.

Tell me what is it you wanna be.

Gray sun shines so brightly but still can't compare.

How could you dare deny me the love of The Father, Father?

-Keenan