The Get Down Celebrates Hip Hop Origins

the get down brothers 2

In my opinion, The Get Down has become one of my most favorite series to watch online.  It really captured the origins of hip hop culture in the South Bronx during the 1970s, specifically in 1977.  Despite the social, economic, and political climate that occurred during that era, it was responsible for ushering the multi-billion dollar industry that we know today as hip hop.  The Get Down showcased archival footage during that year and it added greater depth to the storyline.  Historical events were an important factor in keeping the series in its proper perspective.  As a result, it connected the struggles of each character to our own.  I think the series connects with many people because they can relate to similar issues that these characters faced on a daily basis.

Many people would look at this series and think that the South Bronx is a roach-infested jungle with nothing but burnt-out buildings littered with graffiti.  Hip hop reflected the freedom and hope that many young people were craving in their lives at that particular time.  This series revolves around young people that have goals and ambitions in life.  Unfortunately, many people are still led to believe that their circumstances define them and should settle for mediocrity.  Overcoming challenges and remaining persistent in the face of adversity are the two major themes that resonated with me throughout the series.

The two main characters, Milene Cruz and Ezekiel Figuero, provided us proof that we can accomplish anything we set our mind to through hard work, dedication, passion, and sacrifice.  On one hand, you have Milene Cruz aspiring to become a popular singer during the disco era and willing to do whatever it takes to make her dream happen.  During the series, she started off singing in her father’s church and branched off into singing popular disco songs during that time.  One step that Milene took in making her dream a reality is  by sneaking out of her parent’s house and going to the club Les Inferno to get her music heard by DJ Malibu.  One friend even convinced Milene to make Cadillac her dance partner.  Eventually, she connects with a record producer through her uncle Papa Fuerte in promoting her music to the world.  

Herizen Guardiola as Mylene, Justice Smith as Ezekiel.

On the other hand, we have Ezekiel Figuero: a rising poet and wordsmith.  The scene that captured the most attention for me was when his teacher encouraged him to express his talent through poetry.  Ezekiel’s poetry hit a nerve with me because it expressed anger and frustration that he observed in his community.  It shaped the way he views the world and who he wants to be.  Expressing oneself without apology should be awarded, not conformity.  His attraction to Milene becomes apparent throughout the series.  Ezekiel went so far to get Misty Holloway’s record Far, Far Away played in the same club Milene was.  He teams up with Shaolin Fantastic in forming the Get Down Brothers and competes against other DJs to become the best not only in the South Bronx, but in the universe.  Both characters were able to overcome obstacles and make their dreams come true.  It goes to show that all things are possible through persistence, hard work, and sacrifice.

The similarity that can be drawn among Milene and Ezekiel is that teenagers struggle to find their voice and tend to rebel as a way of gaining attention.  Everyone was a teenager at some point and it is just another phase that they have to endure.  The youth saw hip hop as a creative force motivating them to rise above their situation just like a phoenix rising above the ashes.  Their ability to create something out of nothing provided them with a greater sense of purpose in improving the quality of their lives.  Nobody expected hip hop to last this long.  However, young people had a vision and strongly believed that it will come to pass one day and it did.  I am excited to see how the series will evolve throughout season 2.

Watch this scene from the first season of The Get Down:

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Plus Size Love in J-POP

 

Michiko Ohashi (C), wearing a costume decorated with snacks, performs with other members of pop group Pottya at a fan meeting celebrating her birthday in Tokyo, Japan, October 16, 2016. (Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)
Michiko Ohashi (C), wearing a costume decorated with snacks, performs with other members of pop group Pottya at a fan meeting celebrating her birthday in Tokyo, Japan, October 16, 2016. (Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Recently, I came across an online article about a Japanese pop girl group that challenges the concept of obesity prejudice.  Whenever people think about the typical Japanese person, they would automatically assume everyone is skinny, healthy, and possesses a strong work ethic making Japan one of the most respected and beloved countries in the world.  Let’s think about it: Japan remains one of the leading countries in technological innovation responsible for producing some of the best automobiles, video games, and electronic devices known to mankind.  However in the pop idol world, image is crucial to an artist’s success.

In the music business today, artists are expected to project a certain image that will appeal to the masses.  This is wrong because everyone is unique and has their own sense of identity.  Forcing young people globally to accept a one-size-fits-all mentality can influence them to become followers instead of leaders.  Young people have too much pressure put on them by society to attend school, work hard, get a job, and provide for their family.  In Japanese culture, it becomes the blueprint that they should follow to acquire success, but it may lead to unhappiness in the end.  We need to start becoming leaders and taking control of our own destiny.

The name of the Japanese pop girl group brave enough to confront the issue of obesity prejudice is Pottya.  They were named after a slang word for chubby about four young girls promoting a plus-size image in the music industry.  I acknowledge them for staying true to themselves.  People that think outside the box are ostracized, but became pioneers later on in their respective fields.  The way a person looks does not determine their success or how they can go in life.  In America, some of the most successful people in the entertainment industry that do not fit a particular image include hip-hop artist/actress Queen Latifah, singers Kelly Price and Jill Scott, and comedian/actress Mo’Nique.

Even though Pottya does not fit the stereotypical image of every other girl group in Japan, it shows young girls that they are beautiful and have the capability to make their dreams come true no matter what they look like on the outside.  It provides them with hope and courage to navigate through the negative forces that many of us struggle with every day.  No culture is perfect, but someone has to step up and make the sacrifice if people want to see changes.  Even though Japan is still considered a homogeneous society, you will have Japanese people that are considered obese.  There might not be a large percentage of them, but they still exist.  I think people need to stop associating overweight people with being lazy.  This is a huge misconception because people can be lazy regardless of their physical attributes.  It is a person’s choice to become lazy.

Beauty is viewed differently across the world and people should learn to love themselves and stop letting society tell them what to think.  The greatest gift that any person on Earth can give themselves is their ability to love themselves openly and unapologetically.  No one will love you like you love yourself!!!!

Click on the link below to read the article in finding out more about obesity prejudice and check out Youtube video about J-pop girl group Pottya’s influence in breaking stereotypes for plus size girls in the music industry:

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/japans-pudgy-pop-stars-take-aim-at-obesity-prejudice

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Luke Cage Represents The Quintessential Superhero For Today’s Younger Generation of Black Men Across the World


I have a question for all the die-hard comic book fans out there:  What is the most popular TV series on Netflix based off a popular comic book character created in the early 1970s?  If you guessed Luke Cage, then you are correct.

Luke Cage has become one of the few comic book characters that serves as a great role model for black people.   One thing that I enjoy about the series is that the Luke Cage character inspires black people to continue seeking truth and justice in an unjust, racist society.  It touches on racial, social, and political issues that continue to affect the plight of black people in this country.  I view him as a strong black man that stands on his morals during times of conflict.  He represents the epitome of manhood in the 21st century during a time when the black man continues to become emasculated on television.  As a young black man, he is a great model for my generation because we need to see more positive images of black men that are hardworking and care about protecting their community.

Luke Cage

For example, one scene that resonated with me the most was when Luke Cage got held up during the night by another ignorant young black man while standing behind the Crispus Attucks Memorial.  Crispus Attucks was the first black man to die in the Revolutionary War.  This is important to me because black people are quick to identify each other as niggas and bitches instead of gods and goddesses.  If black people took the necessary time to learn about their true history, then we would become a force to be reckoned with.  Luke Cage acknowledged to the younger guy that he does not like to be called that word.  Our ancestors fought and died for us to gain certain rights in this country that we continue to take for granted.  Watch the Youtube video from a scene during Season 1, Episode 2 below:

Some of these rights include learning how to read, write, and attending school to receive a good quality education.  Unfortunately, we do not understand that our words and thoughts reflect our reality.  Having a positive outlook on life and strong determination can help us overcome any obstacle that stands in our way.  I strongly feel that Luke Cage has knowledge of self and refuses to let anyone stop him from accomplishing his goal.  As a people, we need to study our own history and pass it on to our children.  This is the only way that we will prosper and take back control of our destiny.

Harlem plays a significant role in this series due to its historical significance.  It gave birth to the Harlem Renaissance and world-famous Apollo Theater allowing black performers to express themselves through various forms of the arts such as music, dance, and poetry.  Another example is when Alfre Woodard’s character Mariah Dillard, which is loosely based on the Black Mariah character in the comic book, plans to create the Crispus Attucks Complex through her own political power by any means necessary with hopes of revitalizing the city for future generations.  In the series, she believes that Harlem was and still is the black mecca of America if black people are willing to preserve their history.  It is true that people make up the backbone of any community.  Without the people, no community would exist.

Therefore, Luke Cage has good intentions of making Harlem a safer place for people to live and thrive in.  Watch the Youtube video below for more information about Harlem’s influence on Luke Cage and his ability to make a difference on the lives of others:

Black people are the great creators of civilization and have the willpower to accomplish anything that they set their mind to.  Also, Luke Cage’s character shows the younger generation that they can be smart while remaining cool among their peers inside and outside of school.

Hopefully, this series will motivate future writers to continue thinking outside the box and create original ideas that black people can relate to in their daily lives.

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2016: The Year That Music Lost Its Soul

Image result for george michael

On Christmas Day, the music world has lost yet another talented artist.  I heard that singer George Michael passed away at only 53 years old.  Even though he is no longer on this Earth, George Michael left behind a body of great music that will live on forever in the hearts and minds of people that loved him.  The year 2016 saw the passing of some of the most talented artists to ever grace the stage such as David Bowie, Maurice White from the popular ’70s R&B/funk group Earth, Wind and Fire, and Prince.  It has been a very bittersweet year for me and ironically it is not over yet.  One pattern I noticed is that many popular artists from the 1980s are slowly dying off.  As a passionate music aficionado, I become shocked when one of my favorite artists passes away.  Most of my favorite artists that I grew up listening to are now gone.  However, I came to realize that they blessed the world through their music and made it a happier place for me to live in.

George Michael was one of those influential artists that left an enormous impact on the history of pop music and brave enough to talk about topics that many people considered taboo during his heyday.  Despite the controversy that he encountered during his career over his sexual orientation, he kept doing what he did best: making great music and giving the people what they want.  Some of my favorite songs of his include Freedom 90, Faith, Everything She Wants, I Want Your Sex, and Careless Whisper.  At the end of the day, his talent speaks for itself.  He has certainly gained my respect and the respect of many fans around the world for remaining true to himself.  It is an important attribute missing in today’s music.  He might be gone, but will be never forgotten.

Listen to one of my most favorite songs by George Michael called Freedom 90 below:

 

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Eliminating Pressure for Chinese Athletes to Win Gold at 2016 Rio Olympic Games

China’s Shi Tingmao and Wu Minxia, right, pose with their gold medals after the women’s synchronized 3-meter springboard diving final in the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

During the recent Olympic Games this past summer, Chinese athletes were successful in winning twenty-six gold medals throughout various sports.  One specific event that the Chinese thrived was in the sport of diving.  In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with competing among others as long as it is done in a healthy way.  I think that all athletes regardless of ethnicity should enjoy the process of preparing and competing in the Olympics.  It is an event that takes place every four years and they should be grateful for receiving an opportunity to represent their country on the global stage.  Check out the link for more stats below:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_at_the_2016_Summer_Olympics

 With the emergence of China as a global superpower, there is still the belief that winning is everything.  The Chinese culture indoctrinates their children to become number one through hard work and persistence.  However, there is an advantage and disadvantage to this statement.  One advantage is that Chinese athletes get embraced whenever they win and are treated like rock stars in their own country.  It feels great to be a winner because that is a part of human nature.

Sun Yang of China celebrates during the awarding ceremony of men’s 200m freestyle swimming final at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 8, 2016. Sun Yang won the gold medal with 1 minute 44.65 seconds.(Xinhua/Ding Xu)

On the other hand, losing does not gain them any respect.  If they lose, their culture sees them as an outcast and nobody wants to be associated with a loser.  When an athlete becomes obsessed only about winning to gain the approval of others, then it can become dangerous.  The process is no longer fulfilling and can cause athletes to cope with their struggles in unhealthy ways.  This is a reason that a majority of athletes tend to use performance-enhancing drugs in gaining an edge over their competitors not knowing the amount of harm they are creating to their body.

 I think that being number one is great and all athletes should strive for this goal, but winning should not overshadow their ability to do their best no matter what the outcome may be.  The most important thing is that athletes should strive to represent their country in a positive image throughout the world.  Chinese athletes deserve the right to have fun and compete without the necessary pressure placed on them by their culture.  They would perform better and not fear what others in their culture might think of them.  People are entitled to have their own opinion as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others.  Nobody can win all the time, but as long as an athlete can compete to the best of your abilities, then they should be awarded!

Watch YouTube video below for further information about changing attitudes among Chinese athletes winning gold medals at the Olympics:

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Colin Kaepernick Takes Bold Stand Against Standing for National Anthem

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick walks off the field after warm ups before an NFL preseason football game against the San Diego ChargersThursday, Sept. 1, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been causing controversy in the media recently.  However, he is doing it for a good reason.  One thing that people might not understand about Colin Kaepernick is that he has the right to speak his mind especially when it comes to race relations in this country.  Black professional athletes should not be afraid to speak up when they see something wrong.  As an individual, I respect Colin Kaepernick for standing up for what he believes in similar to the way Muhammad Ali spoke out against his will to fight in the Vietnam War.  Even though Colin Kaepernick did not suffer the same consequences that Muhammad Ali did for speaking out against the injustices occurring during the 1960s, I think he still did a good job of opening up dialogue among the public.  Getting the public to think critically about racial issues in America continues to become an ongoing struggle, but these conversations are necessary if we ever want to reach the root cause of this problem.  Having the ability to speak one’s mind intellectually is a skill that should be embraced.  Just like the saying goes “Leaders are made, not born.”

Unfortunately, many black athletes that speak out against racial discrimination are looked down upon in our society.  It is easy for an athlete to ignore the issues that affect black people on a daily basis.  Colin Kaepernick was brave enough in identifying an issue that many other athletes are afraid to speak out about because they do not want to lose endorsements or their ability to ever play again.  In my opinion, one similar characteristic that exist between Colin Kaepernick and Muhammad Ali is that their willingness to go against the status quo and suffer the consequences.  He knew that the issue of race was bigger than football and made a conscious decision to sit during the national anthem.  Also, Colin Kaepernick understood what the American flag truly represents.  Therefore, he was not going to salute a flag that represents oppression and racial hatred black people continue to face in this country on a daily basis.

Colin Kaepernick sets a very clear example of an individual that symbolizes integrity, truth, and justice.  He should be acknowledged for speaking truth to power when it is needed the most.  Black people should take the time to understand his views on racism and police brutality before judging him.  The issue that I have is that black people are misinformed about certain issues that happen in this country through the media and do not take the time to do their own research.  At least, Colin Kaepernick is making an effort to educate the public about the untold history behind the National Anthem and how detrimental it continues to become for black and brown people in America.  I am not surprised that many people took it the wrong way, but I support him for standing up and telling it like it is.  People could learn a lot from this man if we took more time to pay attention to what he has to say.

Check out the Youtube video below from a recent interview that expresses his feelings about the ongoing struggles of racial injustice in America:

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Japanese Culture Continues to Flourish in Brazil After Their Arrival Over A Century Ago

 

The torii, Japanese arch, that marks the entrance to Liberdade, Sao Paulo.

The torii, Japanese arch, that marks the entrance to Liberdade, Sao Paulo

Brazil Flag Olympics

This past Sunday marked the closing ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.  Many people might not know that Brazil has had a strong relationship with Japan for over a century.  The Japanese migrated to Brazil back in 1908.  It is similar to the way other immigrants came to America from other parts of the globe in creating a better life for themselves and their families.  Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan.  They live in the Sao Paulo district of Liberdade, which means “freedom” in English.

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I think that Japanese-Brazilians have the best of both worlds.  The ability to claim both cultures is empowering despite cultural differences that may exist.  Therefore, they do not have to abandon one culture to feel accepted by the other.  Having the ability to become multicultural allows them the opportunity to embrace both cultures equally and view the world from a broader perspective.  Another interesting fact about Liberdade is also home to many diverse cultures including Chinese, Korean, Lebanese, and Italians.

Here is a Youtube video featuring the enormous impact of Japanese culture in Liberdade and it effects on other cultures around the globe.  Check it out and I hope you will love it:

The 2016 Olympic Games featured Brazilian athletes with Japanese roots.  Some of these athletes are Charles Koshiro Chibana(judo-men’s 66kg), Mahau Camargo Suguimati(athletics-400 meter hurdles), and Paula Harumi Ishibashi(women’s rugby sevens).  Overall, Japanese athletes Mashu Baker and Haruka Tachimoto won gold in the sport of judo.  For more information about these accomplishments, click on the articles below:

http://www.sportstarlive.com/rio-2016-olympics/tachimoto-baker-make-it-a-double-for-japan/article8970532.ece

Celebrating Japan’s multicultural Olympians

See you in the next four years when Japan hosts the 2020 Olympic Games from Tokyo, one of the most exciting and dynamic cities in the world!!!!!!

Image result for tokyo 2020 olympic games

 

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