#MP6 – Keep Smiling

Press play, and read along.

Today, we need each other more than ever.

We need reassurance because we’ve become incredibly vulnerable and self-conscious as a generation. Social media, art and culture seem to be the threads of a superficial, narcissistic veil which hides true insecurities. Our value and self-worth comes down to how receptive our images, posts, and general opinions are on social networks.

We need strength because mentally we don’t have the energy to be strong twenty-four seven. Problems are problems, regardless of size. At one point in your life, it will take up the majority of your mental capacity. It’s all you think about – before, during and after. We worry about pretty much everything there is to worry about. Being in the city doesn’t help either, with overheads soaring whilst your income remains stagnant; you’re taxed on virtually everything; unemployment is at a high, with the younger generation losing more hope on ever finding anything. And being in the UK, the weather is fucking depressing.

Everyone’s growing up whilst you’re under more pressure to find a path to stick to. Just a lane, just some security to let society know that you’re like them – that you have foundations. And with those foundations, you build routine, and create a schedule that you spend the next few years of your monotonous life, adhering to – because everyone else does the same. Life suddenly stops being fun.

That’s why we need to smile more, and start thinking about each other as opposed to ourselves. Yes, we have our troubles –  but subconsciously we wish people could acknowledge, relate and help us. So why should we not be the same for others? Always help someone when you have the ability to – be it skills related, financially, emotionally, anything – even if there is nothing to gain on your end.

I wish we smiled more, because the domino effect is phenomenal, and you’d be surprised at how such a little action can leave a massive impact on someone. It’s difficult when everything feels like it’s falling apart, of course, but that should make us appreciate the good all the more. Focus on positivity because the stronger that energy gets, the closer WE become. There’s always a light somewhere, sometimes we just need to help each other find it.

Vulnerability and self-consciousness stem from way too many issues we face in this day and age, so in this day and age, we need to help, support, appreciate and love each other for this day and age to be more of a positive day and age to a future generation of dreamers, believers and optimists. Smile more. Look for silver linings, appreciate the little gestures, and crooked moments that make your life a little bit different to everyone else’s.


SF: Black Radio 2

The following is an extract of my latest review for Sampleface:

“Considering how much of a fanboy I was of the first instalment of Black Radio, it was only fair that I reviewed the second offering from the awe-inspiring Robert Glasper Experiment. When it comes to album releases, I initially look at two things: the cover art, and the track list. Both of which had me more excited than when my cat gets food. Or when he casually chases a terrified pigeon around my conservatory, destroying everything possible in the process. Seriously. This actually happened.

Any fans of R&B would have shrieked in excitement when seeing the features on BR2: Norah Jones, Jill Scott, Brandy, Dwele, Anthony Hamilton and Faith Evans to name a few; with Hip-Hop stalwarts Snoop (Dogg, this time ’round), Common and the returning Lupe Fiasco, added for good measure. The expectations for this album were, frankly, high as fuck which is probably why BR2 seemed quite underwhelming for me – and dare I say it – for jazz. There were undoubted sprinkles of genius from Robert Glasper but he plays a considerably quieter role in this overall body of work, allowing vocals to control and breathe. You’d think I would prefer this, but the collaborations – again – didn’t quite live up to how I expected them to sound. Jill Scott (“Calls”), Brandy (“Who We Are”) and Marsha (“Trust”) who were perfectly fine vocally, never really had me clamouring to repeat the records unlike, for instance, the Musiq/Chrisette Michele record did from BR1.”

Read the article in full, here:

SF: Some Say I…

The following is an extract of my latest review for Sampleface:

“I sat with the CD for an entire week before listening to it in one fell swoop. It wouldn’t be right to dedicate broken segments of time to a body of work that demands our very-much dwindling attention. After being obsessed with the Ghostpoet records of old (“Cash & Carry Me Home”, “Island” – okay, so the latter isn’t that old), I wanted to see how this album would fair on the monotonous and bluesy London Underground journeys…you know, those post-9pm ones. Think Lost In Translation, but in London (and, you’re probably never going to be as cool as Bill Murray).

The one thing I’ve always wondered about Ghostpoet is the level of layers underneath his mellow delivery and lyrical content. With ‘poet (I’ve officially allowed myself to call him ‘poet, FYI) you can’t help but ask yourself if there’s hidden metaphorical gold behind the obscure lyrics, or if he’s really just that random. I believe it’s the former; for instance, in “Dial Tones”, his lazy baritone mumbles out the lyric, “bitter like old tea, and unloved Grandmas, and opened up a jam jar, of past pain narratives.” See what I mean? It’s metophors galore. That being said, I also believe Shakespeare probably didn’t mean half of the sh*t teachers claimed he meant (or maybe that’s just my inner child still despising GSCE English Literature). The spritely journey turns into one of those ones you can’t recollect having once you step out, off of the carriage – particularly due to Lucy Rose’s haunting voice. ‘Poet states: “her speaking voice is almost identical to her singing voice!”. Imagine the pillow talk.”

Read the article in full, here:

CALM: Jiah Khan, Depression & Suicide

The following is an extract of my latest article for CALM:

“We need to understand that depression is an extremely serious issue that should be dealt with through understanding, and being there for someone. The terms ‘selfish’ and ‘cowardly’ are thrown around way too freely when it comes to discussions about suicide. Some people believe that suicide is taking the easy way out. I cannot begin to explain how wide of the mark that is. Imagine what mental torture you must be going through to believe entirely that your existence being cut is the only way to stop the pain, for both you and those around you. That stress, which often manifests in the physical, is unfathomable.

It is such a personal emotion that it makes you believe no one else could possibly feel the same. Being suicidal can often leave your mental state askew of reality in rushes of adrenaline, and life becomes increasingly claustrophobic – a nightmare you can’t wake up from. I was taken aback by certain ignorance following Jiah Khan’s death, and the alarming lack of empathy towards such a serious issue, which claims so many lives worldwide..”

Read the article in full, here: http://www.thecalmzone.net/2013/06/first-person-jiah-khan-depression-suicide/

About CALM

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) exists to prevent male suicide in the UK.  Suicide accounted for the deaths of more young men in England & Wales in 2011 than road death, murder and HIV/AIDs combined.

We believe that if men felt able to ask for, and find, timely and appropriate help when they need it then hundreds of male suicides could be prevented in the UK.  We believe that there is a cultural barrier preventing men from seeking help as they are expected to be in control at all times, and failure to be seen as such equates to weakness and a loss of masculinity.  We believe that suicide is neither inevitable nor an indication that the individual was a failure in any respect.

We’re a campaign for all men, not just ‘service users’ – we avoid mental health terms and start with the belief that all of us, at one time or another regardless of gender, will hit a crisis. We could all do with specialist support when things go wrong. For more information: http://thecalmzone.net

CALM are a registered charity, no. 1110621.