Flagrant City Spotlight: Who is Rashaad Holley? What is Vingt-Cinq Rashaad? [Fashion]

Recently a long-time friend of mine from my hometown of Buffalo, NY, Rashaad Holley, sat down with fashion blogger Moesha Reid and the student publication I used to write for in college, the UB Spectrum, sharing his thoughts, his vision, his past and his future passions for his current fashion line,  Vingt Cinq Rashaad.  Take a look & read more below!

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Rashaad Holley working on a custom design.  Photo Credit: UB Spectrum

UB alumnus Rashaad Holley discusses his inspiration for his clothing line, Vingt Cinq Rashaad.

Rashaad Holley wants the number 25 to symbolize a rebirth of black males.

Holley’s brand, Vingt Cinq, means 25 in French and represents an important age for black men in the U.S., due to inner-city violence.

“There’s a popular Kanye lyric, ‘I wasn’t supposed to make it past 25, guess what, I’m still alive’ and that stuck with me,” Holley, a Buffalo State student and UB alumnus, said. “There are no fashion designers coming from the part of Buffalo where I grew up. Me aspiring to be one is different, it’s not something that kids think about being.”

SHADDY

Holley graduated from UB in 2016 with a degree in business focused in marketing. Instead of entering the workforce, he decided to pursue a second degree in apparel design within the Fashion and Textile Technology department at Buffalo State.

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Rashaad Holley rocking the Flagrant City Federal Agents Tee in Buffalo, NY.

Holley’s goal is to “bring luxury to the urban look.” He’s taken the roughness of the eastside of Buffalo and uses it as inspiration for his clothing line. His great aunt’s death and his distance from his birth father showed him the importance of familial bonds and guided him through his work.

“People always say my garments are clean and I like that a lot because that’s not something you generally think comes out of the ghetto and that’s exactly where they’re from and where I’m from,” Holley said.

For the FULL link on UB Spectrum and to read more click the following link: Buffalo Born Designer Stays True To His Roots

[UPDATE] Since originally posting this piece 9 days ago, Rashaad has recently embarked on an unforeseen journey, and taking a leap of faith to pursue his career in the fashion industry, as he has been offered an opportunity of a lifetime to study at Regent’s University in London, England for the summer of 2017.  As you can imagine, this is an amazing opportunity for him to grow as a designer and as a man.   “I thank you for the time you have given me to hear about my opportunity, and I would be forever grateful if you could contribute to my growth in any way.  Thank you!” – Rashaad
DONATE HERE:  https://www.gofundme.com/summer-study-at-regents-university
http://www.ubspectrum.com/article/2017/04/buffalo-born-designer-stays-true-to-his-roots
https://www.theodysseyonline.com/college-student-inspires-others-with-clothing-line

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Issa Interview: The Othrz

Last month I had the pleasure of interviewing the musical duo Reginald (Sir Michael Prince) and Stephon (K- Swift) that are known as The Othrz about their recently released self-titled EP. We talked about their creative processes, inspirations and motivations. Enjoy their insights!

Here’s a quick key so y’all can follow:

Q: Question

K: K-Swift

R: Reggie

Q: How did you to meet and begin working together ?

K: We met when we were both 15 years old, have known each other for over ten years and have been working together three years.

R: We wanted to work with more people and were planning on collaborating with other artist but it didn’t work out- that’s how we came up with the name ‘The Othrz’.

Q: what is your creative process?

K: (Our) Creative process to make music is to make people feel good. I pick sounds that sound new and just living in that moment of creating what comes to us.

R: It all depends for me and the feel. I listened to the beat for ‘Don’t let me fall” for four months before writing the lyrics and freestyled “Ride”

K: yea, depends on the vibe.. Quick back story on “Can We” the first song on the Ep:

I went on a date to the Albright Art museum, myself and my date were walking around not feeling anything we were seeing. Then we stopped and looked at this picture I called it “love and cautious” just from feel of its wild colors. When I got home I began working on the beat inspired from it from 8pm to 2am and from 2 am on I wrote the lyrics then called Reggie. It turns out the name of the piece was conversions, which means a place where two places meet and that’s what this was: The correlation of art and music. The beauty of creating something out of no where and having someone years later relate to it. When you creative inspiration in you it comes out randomly.

R: For me it’s speaking your truth. In my life I put people ahead of me but now I need to look out for me. Because if you are not cool with yourself, if you are not right within you not going to be able to relate or be with anyone.“In my arms” was inspired by that beginning phase of a relationship, just when it starts up and being true in that.

Q: What keeps you motivated and going musically ?

K: My passion for music. I like so many different artist of all genres, languages – if it feels good and sounds good. It doesn’t matter to me if people like it, but how I felt making it keeps me going that feeling I have making it and I’m open with doing it. Don’t put yourself in a box. Timberland and Pharrell inspire me, watching them and how they’ve changed, its fun.

R: growing up around the way you see everyone doing the same thing. I didn’t want to grow up and be average. I was surrounded by artists – my brothers, uncles, they all were in it. I looked up to Usher, Michael Jackson, Miguel, I knew and saw that words had such an impact. I cant move or function without music. I just kept pushing, moving and hanging around the right people, like minded individuals.

Q: Any last remarks ..?

K: If Anyone is ready or looking for work, we’re here!

If you haven’t check out there latest EP, check it out Here !

‘All the Stars’ Visuals are the embodiment of Black Pride & Majesty

Last night Kendrick, Sza, Dave Meyers and the homies dropped the visuals for ‘All the Stars’ and I’m still in amazement.

It was announced that Kendrick Lamar will be composing the soundtrack for Black Panther, and earlier this week the playlist was released inspired by what we have yet to see on the silver-screen. ‘All the Stars’ was the first single from the soundtrack we were blessed with and the now these beautiful visuals to accompany it.

It opens with Kendrick standing majestically looking out beyond the sea of black folks he is being carried over to a scene with a patron black Woman overlooking black children dressed is African Regalia.

I got emotional watching Sza dance among the stars embodying verses I have written in my own poetry of black women becoming one with other Dimensions .

Each scene ranges of dominate bold colors like red, blue and gold while incorporating vibrant African Prints. Black Pride is felt throughout this with the representation of dances from African Countries and overall Continental images.

The imagery of black women being exalted into their full lengths standing fully in their power as Kendrick is left in awe of it, I can only imagine what the Dora Milaje representation will be in the Black Panther Movie.

Click this All the Stars link to view this black magical experience. 🖤✨🙌🏽

Dive in with Tiffany Gouchè

California based R&B singer Tiffany Gouchè captures the art of musical storytelling in her latest single ‘Dive’. Tiffany opens singing about wanting a woman that is apprehensive. Not wanting to rush her, but making intentions clear by the chorus Tiffany’s sultry voice sings away any remaining fears. Her lyrical word play captures the essence of those new found emotions: The trying feeling within the beginning stages of not wanting to be too much, battling feels of lust, building until that moment of shared acknowledgment and passion.

I’m in love with this song because of its raw emotion, for it’s unapologetic expression of black woman sexuality. Tiffany’s embrace of her sexuality as a queer black women while simultaneously encouraging vulnerability for the sake of connecting intimately is a vibe I have been channeling in 2018. Give this Song a listen , Tiffany’s yearning voice over the smooth nostalgic r&b beat creates a vibe that can be left on repeat!

Black Girl in Om: Healing the woman I am within

I wanted to create space to speak a mini testimony of what has been a successful practice for me to manifest greatness and appreciate the greatness in my life : listening and being inspired by black women/ femmes.

Last January I was struggling to find my voice as writer, how to become an active part of the change I wanted to see in my City, and finding, loving me. For each challenge that I stumbled through somewhat blindly there was a black woman there to help guide me back on to my path.

My Writing

My dear friend and talented poet, Eve routinely sent me invites to poetry events, readings, her featured shows until I began to show. Listening to her truth spoken boldly and feeling that connection to her spiritual left me in tears many of time and inspired to honor my own truth through my voice. As our relationship grows she challenges me to improve my writing in ways I didn’t know were possible. Im so grateful of having that experience of someone in my same medium. Some months into 2017, one of my closest friends, Taylor suggested me to a mutual friend that owns a site called FlagrantCity that was looking for bloggers, which led me to Rhonda. Rhonda has provided me the creative freedom to express on a platform while also giving me advise on how to build my own brand,and I deeply grateful for this. From this experience had led me to my most recent accomplishment of being hired as a freelance writer for Vocally!

Organizing & Self Awareness

I was in awe of Shaketa’s leadership and Natasha’s strategy: their combined efforts is black girl magic to me. As I continued working with them and growing closer to them; the experience of their patience, their love, their ability to see me in my fullness in a way I had yet to see in myself was affirming for me which led me to BOLD Praxis .BOLD was an experience that shifted my inner narrative of my life. This past Friendsgiving I shared the experience of how BOLD affirmed my worth, dignity, abilities. How, in the future, I wanted to carry healing our traumas and self care through words/ art into my organizing when Linda asked if I had listened to Black Girls in Om, it was a Chicago based podcast run by black women, that centered self care – she strongly suggested that I listen to it.

Black Girls In Om

From their first episode Lauren’s soft voice over subtle instrumentals speaking BGIO’s mission: “To promote holistic wellness and inner beauty for women of color, encouraging self care, self love, and self empowerment for communities of color” was an affirmation of the exact mission I have been envisioning. To the present with the episode number 30: “Intentional living with Roe of Brown Kids” .

There were several things that Roe said that resonated deeply with me. On creating a capsule wardrobe, a wardrobe that can be carried throughout the year and importance of buying quality clothing . Coming home from my experience at both Bold and Just Resisting retreat, I have come to terms within myself that I did not feel up until then worth period – Let alone luxuries of expensive clothing . After twenty four years of living in Buffalo, NY I did not own a down coat or bought good winter boots in at least five years, because I did not think I was worthy of those new things. I realized that stemmed from conditioning: my parents treated shopping as a reward and growing up in generational poverty. As an adult when I did splurge on anything self indulgent it was lingerie, something super sexy, maybe a casual thing – but never my essentials that would actually care for my body.

What Roe and Lauren spoke to about living in a limbo state is something I have been struggling within my own space. Since my breakup a year ago with my daughter’s father, I struggled financially that constantly left me questioning where my family will be each month. Now as I gain stability I’m adjusting to how to have a functional and comfortable space for a toddler and school aged child. This episode like the previous connect with me on levels that I am actively trying to unlock within myself that leaves me amazed each time. Lauren’s work with partynoire as a yoga instructor grounded in spiritual awareness and Deun’s creative works rooted deeply in spiritual gratitude strengthens me daily to continue on with my current collaborative projects with H.E.A.L and Black Magnolias.

If you have not listened to Black Girls in Om, I very much suggest that you give them a listen!

*The top two that I have on repeat currently are episode #29 and #18 (Five Challenges in Creative Entrepreneurship) and strongly advise all black women and femmes listen to #1, #13, #27 and of course the latest #30 .

SevenSixteen’s Truey V: ‘Trap Rage’ review

Trap Rage is the perfect EP for this moment in 2018- with its Authentic Buffalo pride as the Bills make the Playoffs for the first time in 17 years and we are amidst our first Blizzard of the winter solace.

I remember the first time I heard about Trap Rage, it was at a kick back after Curtis Lovell’s show. It was a crew of us black creatives chilling, talking about our different projects we were working on . Truey was sharing with Rhys some of what was completed from his new project, Trap Rage over his Beats as the rest of us vibed out. I remember Rhys said aloud ‘this was about to be a hit. ‘

Fast forward to the first time I heard ‘No Snaps’ and ‘Hussle’ was during Truey’s set at Beau Fleuve Music and Arts Event during the silent disco. Each song created a vibe of pride of this city when it dropped that everyone danced out to. Trap Rage has accumulated its own success over the past few months since its October release. With some of the most popular songs ‘Hussle’ , ‘No Snaps’, ‘Fuck Five’ that highlight the experiences and weaves narratives that all black folk can relate to with flows that interchange from smooth vocals to Truey’s hype is fueled by the frustration and joy of millennial existence.

I couldn’t help but feel the connection not only to the music but the Collective experience of being Buffalo Natives, being black , being millennials, affirming that this will be our year – and how Trap Rage is the personification of all that. I enjoyed all elements of this from the beats, Truey’s lyrical flows, to the catchy hooks( especially in ‘No Snaps’ & ‘Inuyasha’).

Give this EP a listen if you haven’t already, it’s filled with hits that are perfect for your 2018 playlist!

Trap Rage EP

On and On an’ On and On: Afro Spiritualism and black millennials

In the January Vogue Erykah Badu will be unleashing a spread that has been long fermenting among black millennials – return to Afro Spiritualism.

In the article released before the hard print, Erykah is photographed kneeling in front of her altar that is covered in crystals, gems, and idols. Her face is serene as her eyes are focused on the crystal she is holding in her hands- looking at this I can feel the connection between the two and her Goddess presence.

There is a meme of this picture sparking a conversation among Afro spiritualist Practicers, that after this January release there will be a wave of crystal toting black magic girls dabbling in spiritual practices making it 2018’s first pop culture trend. The cynical tones about this are concerning since as we all know that have a spiritual practice- that there is enough space for all who want to explore and experience new ways of connecting and spiritual awareness.

There is enough crystals, sage, palo santo, candles and rituals for every black person that’s ready to begin their spiritual practice with it. This is not an erasure of those of us who have been on this journey for a bit longer, more so highlighting that we here and are growing in numbers.

I see this more as an introduction to those who have maybe not been exposed to it or seen it presented in this way, a way that they now feel is something they can actually participate in.

It wasn’t until this past year that I began learning and incorporating more practices that center my ancestry, heightening my own appreciation of myself and my own journey. Learning more about spirituality outside of religion opened worlds of consciousness and connections that I had no idea I had been blind to.

There is a mythology in the black community about African Spiritualism – mostly stemming from Christian religions- that it is “demonic” or carries negative/ dangerous powers. I know this to be true because from my religious upbringing I was taught to never experiment with any of this. For a long time I had harbored feelings of fear and curiosity towards it, until I began to find out Afro Spiritualism truth. It journeyed over the Atlantic in Slave Ships practiced, taught, and preserved by generation to generation to find me here- the power, love, and connection felt from that can’t be compared.

Afro-Spiritualism has always been around, ready to reveal itself to those who are ready to experience it. I hope this spread does inspire people to not only talk about spiritualism but, also experience it in a beneficial way.

Cover art :Erykah Badu at home in Dallas, Texas

Photographed by Mark Borthwick, Vogue, January 2018

Dedicated to the Life of Our Freedom Fighter : Erica Garner

This morning as I washed the tub to bath my son, Zaire sat on the toilet rambling his usual morning rants. He paused and said ‘Mom, we must listen to each other and support each other’

I stopped for a moment, and looked at him ‘ yes, that’s right.’

‘That’s what Papa says and that’s what you say about freedom..? ‘we have to lose our chains’

I remember now, I know what he’s saying to me ‘Oh! The Assta chant: it is our duty to fight for our freedom.’

‘Yes! That’s is – It’s is our duty to fight for our freedom! ‘

I nod, smiling now ‘it is our duty to win ..’

He repeats after me loudly

‘We must love each other and support each other ‘

He repeats bobbing up and down with each word

‘We have nothing to lose but our chains.’

‘You always say that Mom, I knew it was you when I hear that and Always holding signs.. ‘

I had intended this morning to write about the pride and discord I felt in that moment. How my heart both swelled up in his acknowledgment of the Work and broke in two because how far we have yet to go to achieve our freedoms, until I saw the news about Erica Garner . She passed this morning, after suffering from a heart attack a week ago and had been in a coma since.

Her father, Eric Garner was killed by the police in 2014, in a case that would be one of the most publicly know and associated with the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Erica was 24 years old when she began organizing and advocating vehemently on her father’s behalf. She staged die ins where her father was killed, held political figures and politicians accountable, and never gave up on her fight for justice.

I’ve looked to her many times over this past year and now especially reflecting on being in this work at the same age as her when she lost her father in such a violent way. I’ve looked at her in admiration that despite being in the most pain this country can put on us she never gave in to it’s insidious attacks against her – until her body could simply not take anymore.

I know the stress this work can wear on the body. The pain can manifest physically beyond the mental and emotional point of enduring. I felt it recently when the Attorney General visited Buffalo to announce that there was no way No criminal charges found in the case of Wardel ‘Meech’ Davis, the 20 year old black man killed by the BPD in February of this year. The day of the news broke I joined in on the protests with Zaire by my side . I closed the protest with the above Chant with tears streaming from my eyes both from the cold of the cruel wind whipping against my face and the pure emotion of knowing how little black lives amount to in this country. Angered that we still fight for its sacredness that our lives are constantly denied.

My imagination can only go so far as too empathize with what Erica internalized in her three years of this fight for the man that loved her first in her life.

Erica carried that pain every day of being erased, of her father’s life never receiving any justice but instead slander by media outlets-yet she carried on. She was still a person beyond this Work, she brought life into this world and the pain of her father not being able to witness it is what I can imagine was a contributing factor to her first heart attack.

Erica’s heart was broken the day life departed from her father and broke a little more each time he was disrespected, repressed and denied justice after death. It broke a little more with each reported police killing of unarmed black men and women. It broke a little more each time joy crept into her life with the knowing she did not have her father to share it with until her untimely death at the age of 27.

We highlight too often the strength of freedom fighters and not their humanity- their need to be cared for and loved properly. Today her family, loved ones, and folks that been apart of this movement that recognize her contributions mourn Erica Garner. I hope her soul has finally found solace as she joins her father in rest.

I also hope this will help bring awareness of our needs of healing and love within the fight for justice, within the generations of suffering pain that is denied reconciliation.

It Is our duty to love each other and support each, to listen and care gently when there is a pause in all our fighting. It is our duty to find resilience in this from the peace we still have within us.

Sending prayers and healing vibes on this day.

cover photo:Erica Garner has turned personal tragedy into a platform for activism (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)