Audiobook: 9 hrs 7 mins; Release Date: January 31, 2017

Keke Palmer’s I Don’t Belong to You is both the title of her autobiography and her first released song. Palmer explores her life as an actress and singer and ultimately how her career led her to many revelations in her personal life.

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I am one of many who is most familiar with Keke Palmer from her role in the 2006 movie Akeelah and the Bee and some of her media stunts. As with many books written by celebrities this was a recollection of Palmers upbringing, career successes and failures. The storytelling in this book, although based on her truth, to me sounded unauthentic. Even in parts where it seemed she tried to “dig deep” I wasn’t convinced that the information shared was nothing more than lackluster surface information. I was bored and turned off by the formatting. Overall it was a disappointing listen.

 

 

 

Recently, I deleted all of my social media apps. It’s something that I do every so often just to get away from being attached to my phone for long periods of time and to declutter my brain from all of the filth that I typically see on my timelines.

I’m pretty old fashioned when it comes to a lot of things but I’m not immune from getting sucked into spending lots of time scrolling on different sites. I’m sure by this time we’ve all heard the warnings of what being connected all the time or too often can do to us and how it is important to disconnect from time to time.

In this fall season here are a few things you can do as opposed to being on your phone:

Go Outside. Yup. Outside. Away from your cozy couch and from behind your computer screen. Even though the temperatures are starting to drop there are so many cool outdoor activities such as going to the cider mill or apple orchard, a local fall festival or football game.

Stay Inside. Ok, so maybe you aren’t the outdoorsy type. This time of the year there are usually a lot of Halloween movie marathons. You can also bake! Tsk the season for pumpkin spices and cinnamon. Use those ingredients to make homemade baked goods and drinks.

And when all else fails, engage in my personal favorite of reading a book. Find a cool series so that you can stay occupied.

The point is to stay off of your phone for a while and give yourself a break. Too much screen time can cause restlessness and for you to miss out on some pretty awesome opportunities.

 

 

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On July 25 Chris Brown was joined by Jacquees, 6lack, Rich The Kid and H.E.R. on the DTE Energy Music Theatre stage in Clarkston, MI. For us Detroiters we were forced to share the tour performances with the annual Summer Jams event. If you’ve ever been to Summer Jams, it’s needless to say that the crowd was almost as entertaining as the artists.

The main event though was great. I enjoyed all the performers but I was especially impressed by Chris Brown’s performance. There is a reason that Brown has remained one of the top rated performers. There was not one dull moment and not a minute to seat down. He gave us songs off of the 45 track album the tour is named after and some of his most popular songs from when he first started. I’ve never been a Chris Brown groupie but I was thoroughly entertained and would definitely see him in concert again. The show was worth every penny spent.

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Relationships can be trying but fulfilling if you are with the right person. Recently, while catching up on my shows This Is Us and Love Is I thought to myself shouldn’t everyone experience love like this?

If you aren’t familiar with either show, watch them. This Is Us follows the lives of three siblings as they try to find their way through life beyond the death of their father and Love Is is about a young couple that is learning to love in a way they never loved before.

Before you say it, yes, I know that these are tv shows, but is it so crazy to think that people should experience true love as it is depicted on these shows? In This Is Us, Jack, the father in the show, is far from perfect but when it came to his wife and children he was always willing to bend and sacrifice for the greater good of his family. He made tough decisions look easy because at the end of the day he had to do what was best for his family.

He loved his wife and treated her like his bestfriend from the day that they met until the day he died. And his son Randall followed in his footsteps. He and his wife is what most folks would hashtag as relationship goals. They are like any other couple with problems and they argue but no matter what happens they lean on each other. There’s communication between them that leaves no room for assumptions or doubt.

IMG_3299 Which leads me to think of the relationship between Nuri and Yasir in the show Love Is. I was automatically hooked on this show just based on the fact that it was set in the 90’s. But to have a show set in the 90’s with a young black couple falling in love in the most whimsical way I couldn’t help but be glued to my tv. In a world where everything is a reality show that lacks reality, Love Is is refreshing.

The show focusing on two people taking a leap of faith and free falling into a situation that outsiders saw in black and white but they saw color. Both characters openly trusted the other and decided to be vulnerable and love hard no matter how difficult it seemed to do so.

Trust. Vulnerability. Communication. Sacrifices and compromising. I believe these things are key factors in any relationship. It’s the things that is on display in these shows. No matter who you are and who you are with love is not always enough. There have to be and should be more. You have to work to achieve being in a successful relationship but it shouldn’t deplete you of who you are. So when you see these whirlwind romances on tv I don’t think it’s outlandish to have a relationship that resembles that. You don’t have to mirror it completely but there’s nothing wrong with feeling like you’re falling in love every day with the person that you are with.

Audiobook: 7 hrs 27 mins; released October 2016

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Around the Way Girl: A Memoir is Taraji P. Henson’s story of how she went from living in the projects with her mother to being well off as an actress. Taraji’s recollection of the paths that she had to take to become the actress we all know and enjoy seeing on screen is raw. She holds nothing back and it is obvious that she is true to herself. I enjoyed the directness of her words and how she seemingly never let anything hold her back. Around the Way Girl is definitely a story that is authentic and inspiring. I believe that this is a must read.

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Nicki Minaj returns to the music scene four years after her last album with the August 10 release of Queen. Frankly, this album was better than I expected. Nicki had gone on a media run that made her out to be a whiny brat who was pointing fingers at everyone but herself as to why she’d been somewhat forgotten. I was for sure that she wouldn’t deliver a decent album, especially since the release of her singles “Rich Sex” feat. Lil Wayne, “Chun-Li” and “Bed” received mixed reviews.

Now, I could be nitpicking, but, there’s no solid theme for this Nicki album. On the cover for Queen, Nicki looks like an African princess. Songs, like Chun-Li, in which she performed at many award shows had a Chinese vibe.

The album itself can be played from front to back. I don’t agree with the placement of the first song “Ganja Burns” because it just doesn’t feel like a track that would introduce an album. But everything else flows well. She has songs that will make you dance, songs you want to just sing along to and of course a couple tracks you can play if you’re going through relationship issues.

Her song “Barbie Dreams”, where she raps over a Biggie sample, was pumped up as a diss track, but it was definitely overhyped. I was entertained. I chuckled. But it was the furtherest thing from a diss track. My favs are “Run & Hide” and “Good Form”. And if you couldn’t get enough of the original release, on Tuesday (Aug. 14), Nicki added the track featuring Tekashi69 called “FEFE”. I’ve only heard it a few times but I think it’s safe to say it was an unnecessary addition.

Nicki Minaj and Future will be doing their NICKIHNDRXX tour starting late September. Stream her album to kick off the show at home or wherever you like to listen to music.

There’s plenty of new music being released but lets take a look back at some that may have been overlooked.

(Eric Bellinger Eazy Call album cover, released April 2018)

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Eric Bellinger is in my top 10 of favorite song writers. His release of Eazy Call had the single of “Goat 2.0” featuring Wale. The project in its totality is a good listen. It was released on April 6, 2018. The first song “Legs” is not a favorite of mine but I enjoyed everything else. The songs “Role Play”, “Silent Treatment” and “Ain’t Ya Ex” are for sure jams. If you haven’t heard this album I’d say give it a try.

(Ro James album cover for Smoke, released March 2018)

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Ro James released the EP Smoke on March 23, 2018. (I’m sure someone would disagree here but…) I can’t exactly say I was disappointed because over time I realized the R&B, Soul artist is mostly good for releasing one or two dope tracks as opposed to coming through with a solid album / project. There was not anything on Smoke that sparked my interest like “Devil’s Kiss” from his Coke EP (2017) or “Permission”, “A.D.I.D.A.S” and the title song “Eldorado” from his Eldorado album (2016). Smoke may be hit or miss depending on who’s listening. It was a miss for me.

 

(Wale album cover Its Complicated, released March 2018)

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At times, as someone who probably watches one too many interviews, it is hard to separate my feelings from the interview and the body of work that an artist may release. But here goes! Wale dropped his EP It’s Complicated on March 13, 2018. For a while it seemed the D.C. rapper was moving backwards with albums coming and going without a peep from his label or his fans. This EP is not his greatest work but it’s certainly redeeming him. Although, the opening song dragged (for me, anyway!) the remaining three tracks were smooth. It’s 13 minutes in duration and overall I think it’s worth the listen. This EP may be better enjoyed if you hit shuffle. Seriously.

 

Audiobook: 11 hrs 14 mins, released June 2017

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I won’t lie. Seeing that Kevin Hart’s I Can’t Make This Up was 100 chapters and 11 h 4m of audio time I almost selected a different book! What could he possibly talk about for so many chapters!? I thought. Well, turns out Kevin Hart is actually pretty interesting. I was intrigued as he recounted his childhood and as he acknowledged all of the hard work it took for him to make it in comedy. He was nothing short of appreciative for the structure that his mom created for him as he was growing up because he feels it contributed to his being able to handle his success. There are parts of the book where he speaks on infidelity in his first marriage so the (now old) news of him cheating on his current wife just months after the release of this book is not shocking. He spoke in depth of his cheating ways and his problem with drinking. Despite his flawed personal life overall I enjoyed the book. Even through all of Hart’s corny humor the message of doing your best and never giving up was clearly conveyed. I would even go as far as saying I was inspired by the end of the book. He spoke heavily on how your perception of things can affect how your life can turn out. I only had an issue with a few of the things involving the different addictions that he had but I don’t want to give too much away. Kevin Hart’s I Can’t Make This Up was a good listen.

Length: 336 Pages

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Shonda Rhimes. Most may know her for her TGIT (Thank God It’s Thursday) line up on ABC but for this project Ms. Rhimes took to paper to share another kind of story and this one didn’t involve any medical staff or scandals.

In her book The Year of Yes Shonda Rhimes details her childhood (to the best of her recollection) and as the book progresses, often with her reminding the reader that she likes  to make up stories, she explains how saying one 3-letter word to any opportunity that came her way changed her life. I believe that no matter what your goals are in life this book will push you one step further. You don’t have to be any one particular person to feel like you can relate to what’s being said. By the end of this book you’ll be jumping off of your couch, pumping your fist and maybe even the book in the air, ready to say yes! to any challenge that comes your way. Seriously! I mean, that was my reaction. If you’re feeling stuck in life or even if you’re successful and you just need a pick me up read Shonda Rhimes book it’s worth it.