I’m living in a time, a period, a WORLD where I’ve been provided several opportunities that were all aimed towards one goal: doing what I love. Whether it was taking hip hop dance classes at the age of nine, photography courses in high school and college, completing my bachelor of arts degree, or simply taking internships instead of “jobs for pay”, I’ve been blessed and privileged with many wonderful opportunities. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve put in the hard work and time–although I still have many ways to go–to get even a fraction of what I “have” today, and I’ve worked more than one job at a time since graduating college. However, being able to physically see the fruits of my labor has to be the sweetest feeling, taste and reward of all time. Being able to receive a pat on the back or, “hey you’re doing good,” every so often (because none of that is owed to me) is incredible. Having one of my favorite artists share one of my articles from my website on his account this past week was an eye opener: I’m doing okay. I’m not as “lost” as I thought I was, and I don’t “need” to conform to EVERY guideline that’s thrown my way. While, I’ve been rounding up some of my “favorites” in lists and artists that I think deserve some shine, I couldn’t help but think of one thing: my friends are absolutely crushing 2015 and they don’t even know it–or at least admit it to themselves.
Minor setbacks, unexpected crises and financial hardships have always been a constant nag in not only my life, but also my circle.
It’s common, it’s EXPECTED at our age. The one thing, I think, my circle tends to forget is how much they actually do for their community, peers and people that actually follow them (in more ways than one). I could go on and write a novel about why they’re my friends, how much I value them, and how incredibly crucial they are to the stability of my growth and progression; instead, I’ve curated another list of SOME of my inner circle that most definitely triumphed throughout 2015. This one is obviously more personal, but completely factual none the less. Guys, you’re doing amazing, and I just hope you know your hustle will never go unnoticed on my watch.
Climbing the success ladder from intern to account coordinator to, now, assistant account executive Ms. Kelly (better known as “sea_kelly” on twitter) has taught me a thing or two about working in the corporate world all in the year 2015. After graduating with her bachelor of arts in public relations and finding her true love, me (duh), Chelsea has sacrificed her wants for her needs: leaving NYC to go back to Boston. While working with Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s leading global public relations firms, is no small accomplishment, she’s not settling for a “grow up in Massachusetts, die in Massachusetts” motto or attitude. Moving out on her own from her smaller town into the heart of Boston, she mastered the whole “adult” thing until she realized she didn’t have to grow up so quickly. She taught me the most important lesson of them all: do what makes the most sense for your life and your means. I’ve watched her work seven days a week, two jobs, and still find time to enjoy herself like we’re still in college. Her public relations knowledge keeps me on my p’s and q’s (is that right, Chels?), as she often helps me with my own PR work that I handle. I hardly make any moves without consulting with her first, and there’s never a day she doesn’t give me insight on the professional side of things. Her work ethic and dedication to success are both reasons I am honored to be her friend, and my tree would not have flourished without her branch. (P.S. so proud of you for ending your year by signing up for an Equinox membership – THAT is a huge accomplishment for all of us lazy people out here.)
“Life with JRDN”
My favorite blogger and hip hop connoisseur comes with more history than most would think. While Jourdan and I met in “junior high school” at the age of 11, we did not really connect until about three years back and it all started with one Big K.R.I.T. show at the Apple store on 14th street. In the past year, I’ve witnessed this immensely creative woman brand herself with “Life with JRDN“, go to more rap shows/concerts (as a freelancer) than anybody else I know–by herself at that–and work on her other interests/skills like photography and videography. She’s interned for Complex, Va$htie, and has even worked with HBO (even though she downplays it since it’s retail) all in the same year, gaining valuable knowledge about the industry and what does/doesn’t work for her. In fact, I owe my entire website revamp to her: if it weren’t for her blog and her honesty/openness, I would have never branched off into more of a lifestyle blog. She’s taught me the importance of “putting myself out there” and being the boss ass bitch that I am, while also keeping me on my toes when it comes to the latest music and budget gifts to get. Even when her lows were low, she’s never lost sight of the most important thing: her talent. Keep your chakras in check girl, 2016 is yours–remember, LESSONS not losses.
It’s almost unfair to write about this dude, considering who he is and what he means to my life, but his hustle can NEVER…EVER go unnoticed. Twenty15 seemed to be his year, but I know it’s just an appetizer for what he has coming to him in the next course. From working on the weekends or random weekdays at Scratch Academy to working damn near every day (trust me, I hardly see him), this man has taken on more private lessons and picked up/covered more shifts than anybody else I know at the academy. He’s always on call, and when he’s not, he’s working on Required Mondays, his weekly online radio show he allowed me to join, and the monthly #HOTACTiON party he rejuvenated back in 2014. In this past year alone, he’s brought out incredible acts from all over the “club zones” including Philly, Baltimore, and Jersey. He’s worked with amazing guests from so many different worlds and collided them all into one melting pot of “wavy-ness and flava”, as he puts it. He’s smashed the basement at Webster Hall’s “House Party” time and time again this past year and even teamed up with Hercules for several events and some other things you’ll find out about in 2016. While everyone knows him as a DJ and even a “scratch god”, he’s even began focusing more on the production side of things this year. He’s a creator, a cultivator and a culture booster–without him, I don’t think NYC would be as fun for me as it was this last year.
I think this lovely lady came out of the womb with an internship and pen/paper in hand. As soon as I met her in college at the ripe age of 18 years old, she had mentioned to me that she already had two jobs (like legit, tax paying jobs). She immediately snagged an on-campus job within the first semester of college, which she later hooked me up with (thank you, that was my saving grace all four years). Even with a “work study job” she managed to climb the ladder earning a promotion… A PROMOTION! She has more amazing internships on her undergraduate belt than anyone else I know–Khols and Jimmy Choo–and one of them landed her a high-salary job before even graduating. It’s no surprise that, this year, she’s climbed her way up to her, now, title of account specialist in fashion, footwear and accessories at NPD: a market research company that operates in 20 countries, interviews 12 million consumers a year, and monitors consumer purchase data from over 165,000 stores. If that’s not a success story, she also moved from her Albany hometown into her very own apartment in Queens, NY where HER name is on the lease. When she’s not putting in over time at work, she’s putting in over time with her studies at St. John’s University where she’s getting her masters degree in data mining and predictive analytics (like…what?). If there’s anything she has taught me in the year 2015, it’s that anybody can get what they want with A LOT of dedication, over time, and sleepless nights. When you’re not working on your job, you should be working on yourself; she proves to me that the work is never finished and I cannot wait to see what she accomplishes next year.
My shooter, my activist, my artist, and my best friend. Xavier Webber, better known as “Wheres X”, needs to understand how much he’s actually done in the past year. While everyone knows he’s a beast when he gets behind the camera, not many know the hard work and sacrifices he has made on behalf of his art/talent. He’s thee most giving person, being a camera man for free, even when it’s not deserved, and supporting other people’s dreams, even when they’re empty. If he’s not shooting the gritty, true life of New York City, he’s enhancing the STAMP Project–an international non-profit media program that aims to teach techniques of storytelling and documentation through photography. He’s putting himself through college, which he’s dedicated a ridiculous amount of time to this past year, with his own money and has even held a full time job on top of it all. He’s held exhibits this past year, worked with other talents, and even picked up a new trait of mastering/mixing music. If there’s ever an interesting documentary screening, museum exhibit, or photography event, I can count on him to keep me in the loop. He’s an inspiration to many from simply going to Baltimore after the riots to supporting the people in his Jamaican community to even sharing the relevant political topics on his booming social accounts. There’s nobody else out there that deserves to FEEL like they”re doing something good for the world more than him, and I honestly can’t wait to show you all what we’re cooking for 2016.