Wednesday, May 23, 2012

nia nadii and her clay beads

bracelets too.
-pretty nia nadii and her bead necklace
goddesses are few and far between. because i am a self proclaimed one i tend to be able to identify them on sight. they come in many shapes, forms, sizes and from near and far. there are african goddesses, european goddesses, harlem goddesses, brooklyn goddesses and philadelphian goddesses too. for me goddess culture is a way of life and thinking . the goddess reference point is the self. not in the individualistic context but a wholisitc one. goddess culture says ; in cultivating an independent self  outside of restrictive thought.... gives you freedom . it removes or displaces you from the burden and or barriers that are applied when one lives and applies to thier life limited thought and thinking. the goddess has a value system and ethics. she is busy with evolution thus,her children, her family and most importantly her community evolve along side her. so you'll find that some goddesses will be mothers in non-traditional family settings, thier diet and eating habits will consist of foods in the pyramid or not at all...goddesses and their life styles vary but there is one thing that they have in common and that  is they are  free.this particular goddess i met in philadlelphia while vending costume jewelry in university city. she was a regular and a favorite. she  would  always buy  really interesting pieces of my jewelry that she explained, she would use to make her own. the following year i ran into nia and she had began her own jewelry line but instead of using pieces and beads, she decided to make her own beads out of clay. brilliant. here is a brief interview with nia nadii and her hand crafted jewelry from  her hand crafted clay beads. karimu abena hamilton

1.where are you from?I'm from a small town Michigan,

2. how did you get involved in jewelry making? I got involved in jewelry because I couldn't find anything I wanted to wear so I started making things

3.who is your market ? My jewelry is wearable art so I market to artists or those who need to tap into their inner artists
4. how did you come up with the idea to make your own beads? My initial idea was to buy beads but I thought of that being unoriginal and lazy so I thought of doing wood but felt it would take long to learn to use the wood carving tools, so I heard someone talking about clay bowls and a light went off. is business? Business is good, im just so busy with work that i need to transition from employee to jewelry designer for business to go great.6. What advice do you have for emerging independent business owners such as your self ? I would say be organized (which im not), network (which i don't do), and be consistent with working on designs and perfecting the craft (which i do), and always remain optimistic because you never know what your ideas will turn into if you stick with them.

7.i understand that you are vegan can you explain to me how that has impacted your life? Prior to me becoming a vegan i was experiencing a lot of uncertainty in life. there was a lack of awareness. now that iam a raw vegan i have so much more clarity and tons of energy .. vegan means awareness for me.

8.explain to me your creative process in making clay beads? Essentially i just take clay pick colors, bake and shape. If I am inspired by a concept then i will plan.




Monday, May 21, 2012

da drummer

growing up in harlem; i had african dance class,african sprituality class,african history class, african heritage afterschool class. african rites of passage class.. .soo as you can imagine the drum was a familiar object for me. however,not until i hit the jazz scene and met and socialized with live musicians did i begin to cultivate an understanding of the power of the drum. i understood later on that a drum beat was only as powerful as its drummer and that was only after i dated one. master drummers are the care takers of the beat, the drummer contains the rhythm and keeps all other notes and musical functions aligned. it is the base and foundation of the melody. this particular drum circle gathered at clark park in philadelphia. there are two different types of drums featured here conga and djembe both deriving from africa and influencing world music of the caribbean and latino cultures. come join me for a brief moment with the drummers k.abena
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drummers in clark park

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

tonight i had an ice cream party. i served vanilla ice cream and with the option to top with whipcream, blackberries, rasberries, chocolate syrup and the delicious peanut butter cups that i brought from reading terminal. i decided to serve dessert on my mother's antique cut crystal glass, with silver spoons and white linen napkins.  my grandfather spencer lee gettys looved dessert  and loved vanilla ice cream so i added a picture of him for a special touch. karimu abena hamilton

dessert in mommies pretty cut glass

pretty white linen napkins
fresh berries


STYLE: The way in which something is said,done expressed or performed or a combination of artisitic expression or performance characterizing a particular person,group,school or era., distinctive features.

my mother at times would suck her teeth at me when i would dress as a teenager and complain go to school in the village...where is your sense of styyyyle karimu...?! Style is not about matching is about taking risk my mother would advise.. step outside of the box try not to look so common.... i saw orunduns daughter djassi and she had style  she had her hair out and i can't remember what she had on but it was stylish.... she would snap and then go back to reading the new york times....i would sigh and go back to my room and rummage through my closet then dig up an african print head wrap or change my shoes to boots or put on a straw hat and then walk back into the living room...better. my mother would praise. today as i skim through  childhood pictures of myself, i really do appreciate the way my mother dressed me. i see peter pan collars, ruffle dresses, up do hair styles, opaque stockings and thick black shoes. as a child i thought that it was very mean for my mother to dress me that way ..i always wanted a bang and shiny mary janes but( would have to rely on mama my grandmother to buy me those) in the end i was cute.among many things mommy had an excellent fashion sense.

Today riding on the train I ran into two women that i thought were stylin and i just haad to stop them and take pics and find what some of there secrets were. as you will see in the pictures both topics are two very different people of race, socio and economic backgrounds but their intepretation of cool and comfortable are similar. meet Loretta Kurlich and Charday Bullock.  take a look and tell me what you think. karimu abena hamilton

  Loretta Kurlich

loretta looking very cool.


shoe game

love the costume jewelry and beads


shes cute right,
strike a pose

pretty earrings
i like the hair tooo.
shoe game

Monday, May 14, 2012

Indian Food One Of My Favorites

i indulged in a delicious lunch today at Tandoor

Tandoor Oven
 Today for lunch I had a delicious meal at Tandoor a local Indian Restaurant located in the heart of Philadelphia's University City. The name Tandoor refers to the ancient traditional clay ovens that are used in India and other eastern parts of the world. It is Cylindrical in form and heat is generated from the Tandoor oven by charcoal or wood. Because clay is a conductor of heat the oven remains hot for long periods of time and allows you to cook larger amounts of food longer.  I enjoy Indian food, it is very similar to dishes prepared in Africa, The Caribbean and even southern regions of the United States.  When eating Indian food your taste buds are going to experience flavors like; cumin,cloves,curry,fennel,bay leaves and paprika to name a few. Today I indulged at the Tandoor buffet and filled my plate with basmati rice, lentils, curry chicken, lamb,  vegetable samosa and a fresh green salad...karimu abena hamilton
Tandoor Oven

Saturday, May 12, 2012

cool natural hair style

pretty simple cornrowed and twist up do

being and raised in harlem by a collective of conservative afrocentrists, i was not aloud to wear a perm or process my hair. we were taugth to love our hair in its natural state and to be proud of its wolly texture as my mother would suggest. now of course as i matured , i began to explore wearing my hair in weaves and wigs, i enjoy the versatility. but there is nothing like finding joy in managing your own natural hair.

i was on my way to Reading Terminal of Philadelphia and ran into Deirdra Church. Dierdra Church works with an organization called Food Trusts as a Projects Assistant. As a Project Assistant she is responsible for bringing nutrtional awareness to food providers or grocery stores in low income communites. Dierdra enjoys her job and wearing her hair natural in simple styles which she says should last for about three weeks.......karimu abena hamilton

ms. mary and her awesome vintage jewelry collection

pretty butterfly pins
my late mother barbara gettys hamilton would be defined by some people as a hoarder and others as a Collecter. she was born in the thirties which would mean that she survived segregation, the civil rights movement,the black cultural movement, black and white television,lace tablecloths, depression glass , milk glass, bakelite typewritters and a black president too name a few. i think that people of her generation have experienced soo many cultural transitions that they begin to collect items of thier past. items that bring them back to Sunday dinners as a child, a certain type of pocketbook worn to a formal, a song with lyrics that made them smile. i believe my mother began purchasing her items as a collection of memories. three years later today i am still going through her items and i have found that she loved pretty things...lace , sparkly jewelry, shiny pocket books and colored dishes. i recently ran into a woman in west Philadelphia named ms. mary. never in my life had i met some one whom had such an extensive costume jewelry collection as. no one had my mother beat but i think she comes very close. i walked by her table and had to take a seat. because i could not believe it what a collection!!!!! meet ms. mary she migrated to Philadelphia during the depression from the Carolina's. she is a mother of 6 children and attends church every sunday. she has been collecting for 35 years . she enjoys wearing jewelry and use to go to flea markets to shop. then her friends would call her as they moved out their homes and into assisted living dwellings and offer her some of their collection. she decided then she had tooo much stuff and transformed her collection into a business. she shares a small piece of her legacy with the world 0n 48th and baltimore avenue in west philadelphia  twice a  month on the weekends. karimu abena hamilton

Friday, May 11, 2012

In a recent interview with rolling out, Rae discussed the inspiration for the series and what it means to be an awkward black girl. –karimu abena hamilton

Monday, May 7, 2012

jazz and the musical gods and pub

musical goddess TreZure empire


this woman here is one of the first artists to assist me in cultivating the term musical goddess. my extended journey into the musical realm began for me late in life. pause... rewind. i believe myself to be extremely well acculturated in various genres of african american art forms. i was been born and raised in harlem by parents  who were serious afrocentrists, artist and civil rights activists.  i was working at a book store cafe named hue man and was extremely bored and felt completely exploited. i was an excellent saleswoman.thus, i was pretty much earning the salary of myself and co-workers every day and was tremendously bored and disappointed,,, with my life.... the gentrification process of harlem and black culture. with hip-hop being completely materialized and exploited, i felt like there was no hope and was pretty much done with harlem, done with black culture.... done with america and essentially ready to leave the country. ready to  experience something new, fresh and spiritual. it was actually a consistent prayer of mine that i be removed from this culture of america. i could no longer stand it. one day, a man by the name of Vincent Lampkin walked through the door.  I knew him from the streets of harlem, he was always promoting his venue st.nicks pub...a jazz club and he had invited me on several occasions to work for him. " no" i would respond "i am hip-hop"..."i am hip-hop not jazz."  i would say defiantly..... and he would shake his head and just walk away. well one day he came into hue-man book store and i urged him over to the cafe counter." please," i begged him "please get me out here," " i need a job." i am miserable and this place sucks," i whispered and giggled.  "okay it’s not much’s a jazz club and you will be serving drinks and if your good'll get good tips...see you on Thursday at 8p.m.." he informed me  "okay” i replied relieved.

that night i put on a dress and went to work. when i walked through the door i was traumatized and frightened. i had been around and experienced street culture but THIS environment and its participants were unfamiliar and i was afraid. vincent disappeared and a man named floyd appeared he told me he was security. it was dark, dim there were a lot of men and there was a woman walking around in a cat suit, a mask and a whip in her hand. the crowd was old school and there was heavy smell of liquor. i saw white men , black men and toothless women. it was a matrix that i had never entered before.... i had been set up and i knew it. "what’s ur name?" Floyd inquired. my mouth was glued shut.... i was speechless, my heart was racing and i was looking for a way out. i heard music but could not hear. my third eye was focused on the density of the souls that i had encountered. he proceeded to show me around... i needed space... he opened the door to the backyard , the heavy metal door opened with a slarge squeak attached to it and closed with a giant slam..."this is karimu" he yelled to the patrons "our new cocktail waitress." every one kind of looked up in syncopation with out saying a word and in that same rhythm went back to what they were doing.  "is this the bathroom i whispered." choking back tears. "yes go ahead." he answered. "I’ll be right here."he consoled. i went into the bathroom and wept. mommy is going to be soo upset with me i cried big tears, i was not raised to be in this type of environment." i cried, i believed that i had been set up. i got off my knees done with my prayer for help and protection and opened the door. "why are you crying?" floyd exclaimed. "this is a safe place we are not going to let anything happen to you." he said to me as i hung my head down in shame. he grabbed my chin and said "look nothing is going to happen to u hear i promise." he said to me earnestly. and then i began to hear the music. i looked up on the stage and there were three woman ,treZure Empire, courtney bryan a brilliant pianist and lakecia benjamin a female saxophonist and to top it off they were younger than me, brilliant and fearless... courtney bryan was tearing the keys up on the key board, treZure was singing a blues esque song  and lakecia benjamin had captured the spirit of miles davis it made me laugh and i thought to myself she thinks she is miles davis.  and she was. that night . it tickled me. everytime i looked on stage i cracked up . joy.  i straightened up pretty quickly seeing them on stage gave me courage. if they can be there.... i for surely can work here. it was great night and my world had become expanded, it was a rites of passage for me to be a part of the Jazz scene where black soul and spirit reside and thrive, untamed and untapped by commercialism. for me jazz is one of the most authentic preserved african american art forms and being inducted into this world was an honor and a privilege to share air with what i believe were the anointed, the beautiful ones that could hear, see, and present gods interpretation of joy and share it with the world...the musical goddess...the musical gods....karimu abena hamilton

Friday, May 4, 2012

an awesome piece by stacey flygirrl

The artists of Philadelphia are a patchwork quilt of eclectic treasures from the descriptive murals on the West to the North to Zagar’s magical mosaic garden. The Philadelphian artist is well rounded, multifaceted and tends to explore and perfect on more than one genre of art. Stacey Flygirrl Wilson reflects this artistic Philadelphian nature.An entrepreneur, graphic designer, artist and a promoter of progressive hip-hop music; Stacey Flygirrl Wilson has carved a named for herself that will remain prominent on the Philadelphia scene. k.abena

a graphic piece by stacey flygirrl

Discuss your evolution as an entrepreneur in the music business?

I started out working at a jazz restaurant called Zanzibar Blue then managing a nightclub called Brave New World. So, before I even began to plan and promote my own music events, I was always in the midst of music and its creators. I am friends and acquaintances of many of the music artists in the city, so at the time, I was nurturing those relationships. From there, I began my venture with Squarebiz (myself, ?uestlove + yameen allworld). We created Tastytreats. Which now, is our weekly dance party that now is in its 9th year? Over the years I have produced many concerts, art exhibits and dance parties, all while bringing local and national talent that you weren't getting anywhere else in the city like Q-Tip, Dj Jazzy Jeff, Little Brother, KRS 1, Prince and more. Within the last few years, I expanded to my own company, "Flygirrl". Doing more on my own and venturing into other areas of the culture and to pursue more personal artistic and event based avenues.

Describe some of the qualities that are unique to Philadelphian artist?

i think Philly artists have such soul. Whether it is music, art, dance, we all come from this soulful city it is bound to be felt through our craft. On a negative note, i think most artists in Philly struggle with support. Sometimes, it seems hard to get Philly to care. The arts community doesn't seem as connected or as strong as it seems to be in other cities. And because of that, the struggle gets even harder.

What is your favorite genre of art and why?

I would say Graffiti. It has so many elements in it that encompass different art in one art form. Aside from the various styles that are to be admired, there is also a design element if you look at the bold lines and the balance of how those lines fit within each other. There is always an Illustration feeling to it with great images and characters. It's so expressive you can't help but look as some when you pass it by.

I read that your art -work was featured in Real World MTV-Philadelphia how did that happen?

When we heard that the Real World was going to be in Philly, a friend of mine was pushing me to contact them to get my work on the show. I put if off but eventually had them come view my work at a local gallery and got the gig. I had 6 pieces showcased on the show. Most of which were bought by the producers and crew when the show ended.

What direction do you intend to take your company Flygirrl?

Right now, I’m not sure. I'm at a turning point in my life and making some decisions about what is next. I enjoy doing so many things, it makes it hard to choose. I do know, that whatever i path i choose to take with Flygirrl, it will always be authentic. It will always be fresh. You just have to stay tuned!

The artist that you produce shows for are they your friends and who do you like to work with the most?

Well, I have a broad network. So, although they may not be "friends" most are acquaintances of mine. I’m happy to extend the spotlight to all artists, I just happen to know a lot of them. Building and maintaining relationships are key.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ms.Tootsie's South Street Hang Out k.abena

keven parker stand prouds at ms.tootsies

place to engage and socialize
written by: karimu abena hamilton
 interview with:keven parker

Keven Parker at best could be defined as a community developer. He was able to transform the stalemated South Street of Philadelphia into a social hot spot where you can engage in great all forms of live entertainment, shop and relax for an overnight visit. Keven Parker is not only a successful businessman but also is committed to giving back to his community. His outreach [programs include training and employment along with having distributed over 30 scholarships to fund the education endeavors of young adults.  He began his entrepreneurial endeavors as a catering company with the intentions of sharing the flavorful Soul food of his child hood. The company has five distinctive components; Simply Delicious Catering, Cafe 3801, Ms. Tootsies Restaurant Bar and Lounge and KDP Lifestyles and Lifestyles and Luxury suites. Keven Parker formed a partnership with his mother whose role ranged from Head Chef to executive counsel. Her guidance and contributions reflect in the southern comfort palate that is served there today. Adjacent to the restaurant he has added to the 2 block radius the KDP Lifestyle and Luxury Suites. This includes Lifestyle and Luxury hotel and a specialty boutique that represents the KDP brand. Philadelphia’s South Street has now been secured as a destination spot which will give tourists and the locals the arts, culture, food and a place to stay……..karimu abena hamilton

delicious okra corn and tomatoes

 1.How do you inspire your staff?

 I lead by example and provide recognition where there is an opportunity.  I also create an environment of ownership where we are all in this together.

 2.When do you know that it's time for change?

 I know it's time for change when things no longer work.

 3.What is one thing that you wish you knew before starting your company?

 I wish I would have known that running the business would be easier than managing the people.  Each person comes with their own unique qualities and opportunities and the key has been learning to adjust and work with both.

 4.How do address conflict in the workplace?

 I address it immediately so that things don't have a chance to fester. I, also, meet with each person individually to give them a chance to get everything out honestly. I, then, bring them back together and work on a resolution.

5.What is your philosophy on making mistakes?

Learn from them and if you're able to do that you are able to find the true value in them.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Beautiful Issa Rae Awkward Black Girl k.abena

Awkward Black Girl 

beautiful issa rae
written by: karimu abena hamilton
interview with: issa rae

Awkward Black Girl is a successful web series produced by Issa Rae that explores a day in the shoes of a young African American Woman. In ABG the web series main character “Jay” humorously goes through the daily challenges of everyday life; from the complexities of dating a white man, managing difficult co-workers and supervisor (which resulted in anger management classes), to finding her rhythm at a friend’s birthday party. This production and its colorful casts put Issa Rae in the category of visionary, producer, entertainer, comedienne and entrepreneur. The internet has become a platform of visibility for authentic progressive African American artists. The entertainment industry has limited the portrayal of black women in the three primary contexts; jezebel, sapphire and or mammy. Issa Rae’s brilliant production of Awkward Black Girl is an act of resistance towards these negative portrayals and provides viewers with an alternative. The ABG production challenges the notion of what is marketable with almost 9 million online viewers; ABG suggests that there is a strong interest in seeing the authenticity and lifestyle of progressive African American Women. With the Twitter best web series award under her belt and an upcoming season to launch; the Awkward Black Girl brand is here to stay. i experienced so much transcendental joy when watching this production i wanted to share it with the world. i had an opportunity to interview her briefly and here are some pressing answers to questions that i hope would answer some of your questions as well.   karimu abena hamilton

1).What is your ethnic background? Where are you from?  How were you raised? Describe your childhood, your parents….what was your immediate childhood setting like? 
I am Senegalese American. My dad is Senegalese and my mom is from Louisiana. I was born in L.A., lived in Senegal, Maryland and L.A -- the middle of five kids. Three boys, two girls (including me).

2).I think that the web is a wonderful medium for entrepreneurs such as you… the web to me clearly exemplifies what  has been titled the “free market”  would you discuss with me how you got your start in this business?
I was feeling pressured by my father to go to grad school and kept watching my friends pursue their careers and I refused to go the same route. I had been sitting on the idea for two years, making excuses about why I couldn't do it, and then I read an article in Clutch Magazine where the writer was asking, "Where's the Black Liz Lemon?" After reading her article I panicked that someone else would read it and create my idea before me. I stopped making excuses as to why I couldn't do it and just called up my friends and shot it guerilla style.

3).White Jay…That speaks to me on so many different levels…the title is humorous …but there is more to it. It  sort of taps into the collective unconsciousness…tell me more about White Jay..
White Jay, or "Jay" as he was written in the script, was initially supposed to be a one episode character. We inserted him because Tracy (our producer) thought that having a white character would attract a white audience AND we wanted to include some temporary competition for Fred. However, after we aired the fifth episode, the comments were full of "#TeamWhiteJay" supporters. Thus, a fan-created love triangle was formed as we continued to develop this character. For the record, viewers named him "White Jay" not us.

4).I stumbled upon your web-series by accident ….and it was one of the most pleasurable experiences that I have had in the context of visual entertainment in a very long time… It was a transcendental moment and I was able to experience free joy and entertainment without anger or judgment. What forms oentertainment did you indulge in during your child hood and later as an adult? What are your influences?
Thank you! As a child, I pretty much watched everything. I remember vividly watching SNICK on Nickelodeon and TGIF on Fridays and thinking that I wanted to be a part of those shows in some way. Then 90s television came along, in all of its black glory and I loved seeing people who looked like me on television. But then when those shows started disappearing, I started related to shows like Seinfeld, The Office, Arrested Development and 30 Rock, but those shows didn't really have many characters of color, if any at all, so I sought to change that.

5). I believe that I am an awkward black girl…talk to me about her, who is she?  How much of her is in you?   How did you come up with that concept?
"Awkward Black Girl" is an extension of me. She's just insecure in her environment and doesn't really know how to handle what most people would deem simple social situations. She's also awkward in the sense that she's not "typically" black. She's not mainstream media's depiction of black women by any means.

6).Awkward Black Girl …I love the branding concept where are you going with this  from  a marketing perspective …I see the t-shirts and other paraphernalia ….Outside of you’re a new season which we are all waiting for what is next for ABG?
I actually came up with the brand, "I'm Awkward. And Black" before I came up with the series. I believed strongly in the identity as a brand and hope to expand it enough so that it can sustain itself, without the series. Also, I'd love to do an "Awkward Black Girl" film. That would be awesome.

7). Discuss with me your production team and what is your role ?
Everybody who works on ABG has like 10 roles. I direct, produce, write, act and edit. Tracy acts, produces and writes. Shea is our cinematographer, director, editor, cameraman. Benoni & Madison handle our sales, marketing and social media strategy. For season 2, we're looking to divvy some of those roles to others.

8).What advice do you have for producers of all genres in terms of getting there work out there  for the world to see and the spirit of constancy ?
Work with like-minded, dedicated individuals to produce content. Be extremely patient. Release it online!