Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mini Transformation Part I: My Journey Into Locdom...

It's been done a million times, but it's hard for me not to discuss the subject of locs without including Lauryn Hill circa the 90's. As a young black woman who was a preteen/teenager during the years she was last popular (I say that because I hold out hope that she'll one day be fiercely popular again!), she was as awesome a role model as a celebrity could be. She was conscious; brilliant; she held her own in the infamously male-dominated hip-hop world (if not better than many of her male counterparts); she was fierce yet feminine; and of course she is dark-skinned and gorgeous. I must stop with the posthumous references because she is certainly still with us, although just in a much different capacity than what her fans desire. However I must digress as this post isn't solely about Lauryn, it's Part One of my Mini-Transformation. MiSS Concrete Jungle is locking her hair! I just happened to come across this pic of her and realized it epitomizes the type of woman I'd like become, yet it makes me miss the Lauryn Hill we once had. Sort of bittersweet...But anywho, yes I've decided it was time for me to loc my hair.

I've been wearing my hair 100% natural for a little over a year now, but locs were a style I always admired. I actually thought about wanting to loc my hair in high school, but at the time I cared about what others thought of my appearance. All it took was my mother giving me a look of disgust when I put "What if" and "loc my hair" in the same sentence, and the mission failed.

Then I'd decided I wanted to pursue a career as either a news anchor or news reporter, and being natural--let alone wearing locs (gosh that's a whole 'nother subject) was instantly and totally out of the question. I’m sure I could’ve pursued my wishes if I wanted, but I really didn’t have the effort in me and decided that really wasn’t the career I wanted anyway. So here I am now with a much different outlook and attitude that doesn’t care what others think of how I choose to live my life (huge victory for me by the way)! I twisted my hair two weeks ago this Saturday to start my locs, and already I’m so excited about doing something that is 100% for Miss. Concrete. Jungle. and no one else.

Check out my photo albums here:
This is where I’ll be documenting my journey through pics. Peace!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself...'s been exactly 7 months--yes SEVEN whole months since my last blog post! I wasn't sure I would want to write or blog again, but I want to give it another go. So here goes =)

As far as where I've been--to be honest, it's been a rough year for me and writing or updating a blog was the last thing on my mind. I tend to distance myself from friends and loved ones when things are going on in my life partly because I don't like for people to worry about me and partly because the pride I inherited from my Daddy keeps me from wanting others to pity me, so I needed some time--or long time haha--to deal as well as evaluate why I started a blog in the first place.

When I started this blog last summer, I was pretty late into the game. So many people had been blogging about any and everything for a few years, and though I wanted to write and share what I wrote, I wasn't sure where I actually fit in. I needed to find my voice but didn't know where to start. Luckily taking a break to go through what I was dealing with sparked me to make some lifestyle changes, which has helped me find that voice!! I plan to document those changes right here, and even if no one reads this I trust getting out it somehow will help me remain motivated. I invite you along on my journey, I'm so excited about the possibilities! Stayed tuned as day by day I'll go into each aspect of my mini-transformation!

P.S. Thanks to Javacia over at GeorgiaMae for encouraging me to continue writing here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Minority Report 1st Vol. 5th Ed.

Normally this story isn't what I'd consider a Minority Report since it was on and also involves one of the teenagers from the highly publicized 'Jena 6' controversy, but reading the story broke my heart and brings attention to a rarely discussed topic that affects young, black males.

Just two years after Mychal Bell was charged as an adult for attempted murder and conspiracy in connection with 5 other black teenagers for the beating of a white classmate, Bell, now 18, attempted to commit suicide a few weeks ago.

Please read the entire story here, and below I've also included an interview snippet of Bell speaking about the incident that I believe appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 tonight. That is, unless coverage of the bizarre United Airways emergency landing (I wish mainstream media would call it what it is instead of a plane crash!) on the Hudson River took over. In the new apartment I'm back to no TV until we get the cable cut on, so I'm not sure what's going on over the airwaves at the moment--but I digress.

Luckily Bell survived the attempt with only a punctured lung, but the scariest part is he first aimed the gun--which wasn't fully loaded--at his head.

I'd like to expound on the topic of young black male suicide, because while it certainly isn't the leading cause of death among them, the rates have risen in years past. Therefore this issue is anything but an illusion. Yet before I go any further on tackling such a complex issue, I'll be a good little journalist and do some research first. I just couldn't go to bed without at least sharing this.

My heart goes out to Mychal Bell and the rest of the Jena 6, and also any other of my black brothas out there for whom the rainbow just isn't enuf.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

MiSS Concrete Jungle Moved!

Whewwww, two weeks into 2009 already?? WOW!

No drawn out explanations this time, here's the deal: Miss Concrete Jungle moved--literally!

::Thank Ya!!:: <--excuse me, I had to take it to church for a sec.

But long story short, on New Year's Eve I left my apartment in the Bronx and moved to New Jersey, and I'm so excited! If you've ever had at least a 15-minute conversation with me, it's likely you know pretty much the whole rundown of why I could not stand my old apartment and so the move was a big deal for a few different, and kind of corny, reasons. You know, bringing in the new year in a new place, etcetera, etcetera.

So I move into the new place with a bunch of posts related to the holidays, but up until three days ago I had no internet access (I guess my Dell decided it needed to familiarize itself with the new environment)! And then of course Blogger is blocked at work, so this break was forced and not planned. But the good news is, the writer's block is gone, and may 2009 be the year you get to know Miss Concrete Jungle on a more...hmm, shall we say consistent (?) basis!

Stay Tuned!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Never Know Who You're Gonna Meet...

It sucks that I can no longer post while I'm work, so I'll have to try a little harder to be proactive since I'll sort of be a day behind. But anyway...

As much as I gripe about living in NYC there are great benefits to living here that just cannot be ignored; and considering my love for music, few places can do it better than the good ole Concrete Jungle. I must admit that growing up in Youngstown, Ohio, you could count on traveling to Cleveland, Pittsburgh or some other faraway metropolitan area to catch your favorite recording artist while they're on tour. And don't even think about catching one of them at a local club or lounge (translation = bar) because they were just passing through the city. Or what about finding the latest Foreign Exchange album I politely asked Spanish Harlem to get me for Christmas? Doubt it. I'm not knocking my hometown per se, but it is what it is. Living in NYC, I get to experience its great musical cultural without searching long and wide. I can easily find good music everywhere I go (and most nights right in my living room). But perhaps the best part for me is that as mainstream music becomes less tolerable with each passing day, the phenomenal underground music scene that exists here in the city is like finding a new diamond in the rough every week.

Thanks to the PR internship I had over the past several months with a very cool music, art & fashion collective in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, I constantly met those diamonds--interesting folks who I would later discover were very talented. And what was really refreshing to me was instead of coming off as annoying and "Look at me, look what I do," I met and networked with down-to-earth people, who may have had something to prove but didn't shove it in my face. I DIG it.

So, when I recently shook hands with MeLo-X at the gallery opening for the extremely gifted artist, Lichiban, it was a few days later before I found out MeLo-X was a really dope hip-hop artist (I'm late, I know). In fact just last week I was into my daily routine of reading, when I came across a posting reviewing his latest mix-tape, Mustafa's Renaissance. I had no idea! Not only did the review give the release much praise for

"not only repping hard for Brooklyn, but for bringing the realness back to music in general,"

but I also listened to the two tracks tagged in the post and liked them—immediately. For me this is saying a lot, because I rarely like new music on the first listen, even sometimes when it's my favorite artists. And not just on SoulBounce, but numerous blogs have been showing Mustafa's Renaissance much love, so take this post as further confirmation that it's worth checking out. Featuring Print, Theophilus London, Jesse Boykins III, Mickey Factz (who are all dope and have been creating quite a buzz in their own respect) amongst others, this is talent well worth your funds—BUT—Merry Christmas, the mix-tape can be downloaded online for free. And where I come from, diamonds are never free, so jump on it!

The night MeLo-X and I met, it was a brief encounter, but should we meet again I'll be happy to give him props for sharing the kind of hip-hop that I wouldn't have minded spending my few dollars during this doggone recession to cop. Today's lesson: Always put your best foot forward, you never know who you're going to meet. So go ahead and follow me to the link to download Mustafa's Renaissance, and check out the promo video below!

Shout out to the folks at YUME!

Forgive The Pitiful Blogger In Me...

Hello Hello All!!

I know I must be some kind of pitiful blogger to take two hiatuses shortly after introducing myself to blog-world, but what can I say? Miss Concrete Jungle is a human being, 'so take I ammm..or have no-thing at alllll...' Haha...but truthfully for anyone who has taken an inkling of interest in my writing, I appreciate you, and it is because of you (and folks who haven't seen the blog yet) that I'm doing this.

The short story I posted earlier gives you an idea of what I've been doing lately, and I hope you enjoy it and future stories as well. I've been working on a few stories that have been sort of therapeutic and I decided to share them, because maybe they'll somehow shed insight for someone else. There are many aspects of this life that require our attention, but it seems that nothing hits home quite as universally as love and relationships. I felt I could use a different perspective to discuss the facets of love and relationships in a way that comes naturally to me, so once again--I hope you enjoy.

On another note as you can see, the blog has a new look, but I doubt it will remain for long because I kind of detest pink (smile), so I'm trying out a bunch of new templates to see what look I like the best. Spanish Harlem had found one that hit my Concrete Jungle theme on the head, but the stupid thing wouldn't work ::grrrr::

So if anyone out there knows where I can find some decent templates, I can offer a very gracious thank you!!

I also have an e-mail address that doesn't put Government on blast, lol, so I encourage you to hit me up with any questions, comments or suggestions. Simply drop me a line at, I love getting e-mails!!

Until next time check out a song I've been singing non-stop for the past 48 hours from Foreign Exchange. One of my favorite blogs put me on to them, and I trust you'll enjoy them too!

Now let me head to bed before I call out sick tomorrow!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"I'm an Artist, So I'm Sensitive About My Shyt..." Vol.1 2nd Ed.

DISCLAIMER: I have no idea how this will be received, but a sistah is trying something new. It's a long post, but it is actually a short story (lol, makes sense right?) I've been working on that is not finished. Please let me know what ya think!

“Babe we’re sinking, and I’m scared,” she said weakly, nearly whispering. To voice her fear out loud was much too unnerving to speak at any higher volume. She then pulled away from their embrace and brushed past him toward the corner of the room to sit in the oversized peapod chair by the window. The big, brick-colored cushion was her favorite spot in the apartment as most days she loved to either look on as neighborhood children played at the park across the street without a care in the world, or snuggle up with a good novel. But today it was dreary and raining. And as she watched droplets of water roll down like angry tears, she could feel the cold of winter approaching through the window. From what she could see, the park was empty and for once reading a book couldn’t transport her to a life outside her own. I’m so not in the mood for poetic justice right now.

So she instead turned from the window to look back at him, but his back was still to her. She almost hoped he would ignore her. Or maybe he’d regard her statement as if she’d said she were hungry because at least that was a problem with an easy solution.

“I know babe, I’m scared too.” As much as she respected his honesty, she had to admit her heart dropped just a few notches.

“So what are we going to do?” And as soon as the words left her mouth she hated herself for knowing the answer.

“I don’t know.” He’d said it with such finality, with no thought or consideration that the look in her eyes hardened though she silently willed her expression to not follow suit.

He was so beautiful inside and out with a heart of gold, inviting, innocent eyes and a naturally strong build, yet his honey-brown skin was smoother than should be allowed on any grown man. The first time they’d been intimate, she ran her hands back and forth across his shoulder muscles in wonderment of the silkiness she felt beneath her fingertips. A year and a half later his skin was still her favorite feature and she loved him so hard it ached to face him now. Still, she searched his eyes for another answer; preferably one that was black and white, because ‘I don’t know’ was much too gray. She could look to her left to the outside to get all the gray she needed but right now she needed words that were going to help her hold on a little longer.

“Babe, I know you’re tired of having this conversation, because Lord knows, so am I. But this time I said I was scared. I feel like I’m trying to be Superwoman, and it ain’t hardly workin’.”

“Well, what else do you expect me to say? I told you I’m trying as hard as I can to get us out of this situation, and I also told you it would take time!”

He did ignore her scared statement and she was well aware that the conversation was plenty old, but she couldn’t help but bring it up. Things had gotten to the point where the anxiety built up in her chest so heavy that at times it felt like a ball of fire was rolling back and forth with no way out. The worrying thoughts running through her mind made her head pound more forcefully with each passing moment.
This can’t be healthy. Who has time for a heart attack at 23?

She thought maybe she’d feel better by expressing her feelings as her friend Adrienne had suggested, but she couldn’t see how all this ‘expression’ was leading to any progress.

He noticed her pinching at the bridge of her nose with her thumb and index finger and realized a headache was on the horizon.
Damn, I hate seeing her like this. She tries so hard to hold me down, but how do you admit to your woman that you’re having a hard time pulling your own weight?

With his long strides, in two steps he was across the room and at her feet where she sat holding out his hands for her to grab. She didn’t look up but did take hold of his hands, so he counted that as a good sign.

“Babe,” he started softly and then stopped to collect his thoughts. He figured as long she still touched him and referred to him as Babe, the simple yet affectionate nickname they both shared with each other, he’d do the same as if they were still on safe ground with one another. However, deep down he knew their days of civil discourse about their financial woes were numbered, and that he’d better step up—fast.

Have you or a friend ever been in a relationship where money issues got in the way of love? How did you handle it? What advice did or would you give to someone going through it?

"Money is a sad reason to be together, or not be together..." Angela Bassett in How Stella Got Her Groove Back