Seven Thoughts After Listening to Soul Singer Bilal’s latest, In Another Life

Seven Thoughts after listening to Bilal’s In Another Life, produced by Adrian Younge

In Another Life, a welcomed return for the well-known soul singer

Hip Hop artists have been showing out in 2015. R&B flexed a little bit too. But other than heavy hitters like Miguel and of course D’Angelo and popular newbies The Internet and Sam Cooke musical progeny, Leon Bridges, we haven’t seen a huge resurgence in soul artists at all. And then at the end of June here comes along well-known soul singer Bilal. Bilal’s been around for quite some time releasing his first studio album, 1st Born Second, in 2001. But even before that, he had already been associated with Erykah Badu, Common, The Roots and Jill Scott being featured on many of their projects and shows. Similar to many artists release in that era, his style has remained the same and his sound remained loyal to that original vibe. And for that reason, this newest project was consistently good from beginning to end. In Another Life is a much-needed album in a time of constant threats on black culture from all fronts. Albeit short with just 12 tracks, this album is a cool, mellow valley among peaks of disturbing and problematic events that have shaped the first six months of 2015. I took a listen to a seasoned artist with fresh ears. Here are my gut reactions.

Check out his performance from this year’s Essence Festival In New Orleans.

1) In Another Life, gives a nod to the similarly titled track on D’Angelo’s Black Messiah. The Album had a similar vibe but with much more intelligible lyrics. No shade to D’angelo. That’s bae. A majority of those lyrics were incomprehensible, but  it still jammed. Each song on In Another Life bleeds into the next (a la Common’s Be or Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun). Producer Adrian Younge uses the same hi-hat,kick drum combo for many of the tracks to retain consistency and flow. He uses the Picasso Baby beat and variations of it generously throughout.

2) Brought back into the mainstream on Kendrick Lamar’s latest, To Pimp a Butterfly released in March of this year,  Bilal returns the favor with a Kendrick feature on the track Money Over Love, a song rooted in tough decisions: between the love of money or the guilt of selling out. Kendrick’s verse is flawless as usual.

3) Now as a black 20-something raised below the Mason Dixie, I can assure you I was brought up on some Al Green and Marvin Gaye. And reminiscing back on Saturday Morning chores, I’m pretty sure track seven Pleasure Toy feat. Big K.R.I.T. is what Marvin Gaye meant by Sexual Healing. This not so subtle callback to the 70s is modernized by Big K.R.I.T., a rather predictable feature but offers a solid verse nonetheless

4) The album is not devoid of the ever-present social justice issues; police brutality, mental illness and poverty.  Bilal has never shied away from these issues in the past and the debut single, Satellites describes living on the outside looking in at the things we desire and either cannot afford or cannot enjoy due to circumstance. It illustrates daily life while living in those moments of despair.The Satellite video depicts the singer being accosted by the police at the end of the video. He somehow managed to translate these heavy issues into a light-hearted, airy song

Watch as Bilal discusses his inspiration

5) Track ten Holding You Back has that exact effect on the listener. At first you try to resist the notes and lyrics so obviously about sexual desire. You eventually give in, blessedly, to melodies of Bilal and Kimbra, to whom he donated his voice for the sultry Everlovin’ Ya.

6) Similar to Pleasure Toy, and flowing effortlessly from track Holding You Back, Spiraling sounds like the footsteps Ron Isley must’ve heard in the dark so long ago. It reminds me of that one song from the 70s I can’t quite put my finger on. Either way, it’s very sexytimeyesplease.

7) After listening to it 50leven times, I can say that In Another life is not the groundbreaking album many were looking for from him, but at the very least, he matches the fervor for a return of R&B and soul music. 2015 will continue to be a great year for music. I invite new listeners and old head hip hop snobs to join me.

In Another Life track list:

“Sirens II”
“Star Now”
“Open Up the Door”
“I Really Don’t Care”
“Pleasure Toy,” featuring Big K.R.I.T.
“Satellites”
“Lunatic”
“Money Over Love,” featuring Kendrick Lamar
“Love Child”
“Holding Back,” featuring Kimbra
“Spiraling”
“Bury Me Next to You”

Author-Christine Edwards @yea_me2

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Charlotte Primary Races

Your guide to Charlotte’s 2017 Primary Races

Charlotte primaries are heating up and I’m here to help you navigate the election news in a time of distrust, disruption and general apathy. At least that’s been the Charlotte trend in recent years. Some can be attributed to the intentional voter suppression tactics like reduced voting locations, purging voter rolls and dramatically reducing early voting windows. But with #45 in office, there’s no time to rest. So here’s your guide to an early local primary season.

According to Ballotpedia, The city of Charlotte will hold elections for mayor and city council on November 7, 2017. A primary will be held in September. All 11 seats on the city council are up for election. The filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election is July 21, 2017 which means there’s still time for candidates to enter.

Who’s running for Mayor in 2017?

Incumbent Mayor Jennifer Roberts finishes up her first 2- year term this November. She faces two democratic competitors in the upcoming primary:

And one Republican candidate:

Who’s running for City Council in 2017?

All 7 district seats and 4 at large seats, each with 2-year terms, are up for election. The following have announced their intent to run:

Who’s running for School Board in 2017?

Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board has 6 seats up for election; each with 4-year terms.

Christine Edwards

MissEdwardsCLT

Internet+Social Change

Internet + Social Change: Building Culturally, Politically and Technologically Connected Communities

 

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On a gloomy Saturday morning, I entered the Behailu Academy on 36th street, tucked neatly beside North Davidson storefronts. I walked  into an open space with chart paper plastered across the walls and smiling faces greeting me with markers. I was instructed to create a name tag and record a message on their Technology Timeline. The theme of the day was connected communities.

The room, small and unassuming, filled with construction paper drawings and musical instruments shared by students of the Behailu Academy,  would only take about ten seconds to cross front to back. But first, I’d have to stop and talk to all the familiar faces in there. Instead I took the first seat I spotted around the circle. Change agents in the room represented environmental sustainability, social justice and labor rights groups to name a few.

Throughout the day, I was pushed to think about my role in technology as it represents social and economic equality in Charlotte. At the end of the day, I would be able to offer my skills to drive the technology movement, connect with people at the forefront of social justice and be driven to action. Not your typical saturday workshop event.

 

Key Takeaways:

 

I enjoyed the spectrum mapping exercise, during which a participant on Twitter describes the group as “Wonderfully intergenerational”

 

A panel discussion followed, featuring Brandi Collins or ColorofChange.org, Steven Renderos of the Center for Media Justice, Coworker.org’s Michelle Miller and Bryan Mercer of the Media Mobilizing Project.

 

The panel was followed by lunch in small group conversations. I dined with a group centered on economic justice. Issues around the wage gap dominated our conversation and how technology could more efficiently address those issues with more forward-thinking solutions. We were then asked to create a vision for our 2026 connected community

 

Why does this matter? Why are you reading about this when you clearly have an internet connection?

 

“the internet is not a replacement for offline organizing”- Brandi Collins

 

This group is intentionally taking back control of their message and driving the community to action to harness technology to level the playing field for the unheard. The group’s next course of action, led by Amalia Deloney, of the Media Democracy Fund, will be to present the Tree of Community Knowledge created at Saturday’s event, to City leadership at the February City Council Meeting public forum. Charlotte, are you ready to move forward? You can get involved by emailing Amalia Deloney at amalia [at] mediademocracyfund.org.

 

The Internet and Social Change event was sponsored by the Media Democracy Fund, Arts & Democracy, Behailu Academy, PowerUp NC, QC Family Tree and The Tribe

 

By Christine Edwards

Why all Millennials need a YES Year

Full disclaimer, I did not quit my job and move to TimBuktu this year. I said yes to achieving attainable goals and challenging myself to be a better person. My biggest takeaway from calling this year my YES year is that even small things can be done in a big way. I am not a special case and I encourage you all to say yes to one terrifyingly exciting goal for 2016.

Second disclaimer, yes I know Shonda Rhimes wrote a book about her yes year. It’s on my reading list. And it should be on yours too. She had an awesome year!

year of yes

As I reflect on 2015, My Yes Year, I can think of so many lessons. In order to keep this short, I’ll pull out some of the most prominent ones.

But first, you’re probably thinking, what is a yes year? a Yes Year is a 12 month period in which you simply say yes to each opportunity coming your way. For some yes means, traveling more, starting a new business venture or starting a family. Trust me, I know saying yes to an intimidating goal is much easier said than done. For me, a yes year meant saying yes to what was readily available and using my resources and support system to help along the way. Again, I am not a special case. many young women out there are doing their thing. They may be out of college for a couple of years and have gotten into a groove and maybe have gotten bored….or on autopilot. Having a Yes Year recharges your passion. I’ve learned to forget about writing for a reaction or even worrying about what others will think. I just need to get the words on the page [figuratively]. 

What I said said yes to this year: Visiting a new country, going to New Orleans with women I didn’t know (huge leap out of my comfort zone), writing for Blavity, submitting my work to the Charlotte Five (a real life newspaper publication), volunteering on a nonprofit board (www.E-Corps.org), volunteering for the United Way, taking coffee meetings, being confident in my work and vision, picking up new part time work, strengthening my relationship, said yes to not being around people who do not make me happy, Saying yes to my friends and seeing them even when it’s inconvenient, saying yes to trusting in God,  said yes to reading 50 books in 2015 (I ended up reading 15). Starting a new degree program (Master in Communication). Started a podcast–best idea all year, realized that some opportunities were just distractions, agreed to be a mentor to a 9th grader!, listened to my mentors more, called my mom more on the phone, made concrete travel plans, bought four new tires, agreed to an attainable 2016 NY resolution which is to make my credit score “jump like jordan!!”.

Here are the lessons from my year of Yes. I hope they fit into the puzzle of your life some way too.

  1. yes means being fearless but it also means having a plan
  2. yes gets you out of your comfort zone
  3. yes allows for more self reflection. you will often ask yourself “why am I doing this?”
  4. yes makes it easier to say no
  5. yes makes you appreciate your own success and not compare to others
  6. yes builds lasting relationships
  7. yes reveals your personal and mental limits (being real about what you will and will not tolerate in your relationships)
  8. yes is an investment in yourself
  9. yes is about quality, not quantity
  10. yes years makes the no years easier because you’ll have mental resolve stashed away
  11. yes can mean more Instagram followers, more customers, more respect from your family. you get to define the goal
  12. yes can determine how you allow yourself to be validated and defined
  13. yes means results. It makes you want to take those one of a kind experiences and grind harder (Thanks Blavity and NOLA)
  14. yes means self control. If you make a commitment, you stick to it 
  15. yes means if you’re living in dirt, don’t be embarrassed to let others see you dig yourself out. 
  16. yes means valuing your reputation and being cautious about what you get involved in.
  17. yes means becoming better at taking criticism; constructive or otherwise.  
  18. yes means being ok with only reading 15 books when you said you would read 50
  19. yes means understanding that letting go is ok…and sometimes necessary
  20. yes means God has a plan for your life and a blessing in the works. You just have to be ready to say yes to it.

 

TL;DR: Millennials need a yes year because autopilot is not the end of the story. Say yes to recharge your passion and challenge your personal will.

Follow me @MissEdwardsClt

Things to Do: Charlotte Neighborhood Bus Tour

The Community Building Initiative hosts a Bus tour multiple times a year. I first participated on this tour the 2nd year I moved back home to Charlotte as I was interning with my first real job. Growing up here, I never thought I was missing out on so much and didn’t realize the rich history the city has to offer. I encourage you all to sign up for this month’s tour(s).

bus tour

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