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

Friday, November 14, 2008

Where The Hell I've Been...

Geez, I hadn't planned to be gone this long and I feel horrible about it! Something is certainly in the works though, I can assure you that. In regards to where I've been, I'll say this--I'm a huge worrier, which turns into major stress, which ultimately suppresses my inspiration. Professionally, personally and spiritually things have been on the rough side and I'd rather not come off as the angry, aggressive black chick-blogger. I'll always keep it real, but angry and aggressive isn't me in real life. So I'm kind of riding things out and waiting on the stress to subside and for my inspiration to return. I don't want to promise and not deliver, so I won't give some bogus date, but I really, REALLY appreciate everyone who's stopped by and anticipated Miss Concrete Jungle's return. I've been working on something new to share that may end up taking this blog in a totally different direction, but I promise--I'll be back. Peace & Love yall!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

If It's Not One Thing--It's Another!

First off that is not a picture of me, lol, but boy, let me tell ya!
So after my little hiatus where my daily life just kept taking me by storm day after day, I've finally gotten the inspiration to write again. However now, I've got writer's block!!! As Spanish Harlem would say when he gets frustrated: This is blowin mine! Lately I've had plenty topics I want to write about, but the posts have been coming together in little bits and pieces yet not enough to pull it all together the way I'd like. I don't write just to write, I take this blog and my writing in general very seriously. So if I can't do it right--I'm a firm believer in not doing it at all. I owe you that much for taking the time to read (hehe =D )! So once again, please bear with me yall, let's pray that MiSS Concrete Jungle gets it together once and for all!

BTW--If it's the last thing I do, I will be writing my post on the Jazmine Sullivan performance I hit up last night..I HEART Jazmine!!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Minority Report 1st Volume 4th Edition

During my brief break from writing, one of the headlines that caught my attention was Detroit Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick’s conviction of perjury and charges for felonious assault, who left office September 18th and is heading to jail. If ya don’t know, the verdict stems from the affair he shared with former chief of staff, Christine Beatty, and the downward spiral of events that occurred once the affair was made public. So that’s right—no ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card, no need to pay off any more city officials to keep quiet about your love affair, no more lying to Detroit residents in an attempt to remain a Golden Boy of contemporary politics—Ahh the story goes on and on--just go to jail. For more info, my post on the 18th has a link to the Detroit Free Press' Website, where you can nearly everything short of Kilpatrick's SSN#, so check it out.

This scandal wouldn't be right if Kilpatrick’s supporters and even some of his critics didnt' throw race somewhere in the debate on whether his fate or the outcome is justified, but Kwame Kilpatrick’s being a black man is the least of why this straight-up debauchery upsets me. He cheated on his wife, and if anything, he played the scenario out like so many politicians of the past and present have done, only his diplomatic façade faded real quick once he realized he was found out. I guess he forgot that A) You don’t carry out a love affair with another goverment official on GOVERNMENT devices, and B) You can’t go around shoving an officer trying to issue yet another government employee a subpoena in public…

Anyway, I’ll get to the heart of this post: I have a real big problem with infidelity. I don't care if you're a regular Joe or Jane, or the greatest thing since sliced bread, I can't stand it--but it bothers me tenfold when it's a chosen leader. Even worse I can’t stand hearing the argument that a leader’s commitment, or lack thereof, to their spouse has nothing to do with their ability to be a good leader. To me, it's the ability to be a good, charismatic liar because seriously, do we live in a society where the test of one's true ability to be a great leader is measured by their ability to hide lies and deceit from the public eye? After all, had Kilpatrick and Beatty used personal cell phones, even if they would’ve gotten caught, they wouldn’t have been committing a crime, they would've been chalked up to two powerful Detroit figures who decided to forget their marital vows and get it on—and they’d probably both still be in office.

Infidelity is nothing new, in fact it's one of those issues that will never ever go away, no matter how much I complain. And I know there are countless prominent political figures throughout the times who were unfaithful to their spouses, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, John Edwards are a few that come to mind, but it's either swept under the rug or glorified like it's the thing to do. Lord knows I take nothing away from these men's accomplishments, so don't jump on me, but their infidelity is at the heart of exactly how I feel.

In my mind, infidelity puts a political figure's character in question. If you're careless (or heartless) enough to cheat and deceive your spouse in your personal life, what are you lying about to the public? What hidden agendas are we kept in the dark about? Do you all of sudden find your morals when you step into the office, while lying to the ones you're truly supposed to love and care about? Athletes and entertainers are one thing, but when it comes to politicians and even worse clergymen (Lord, I will not go there today), my well-being is on the line and that bothers me.

This is a deep issue not really justified in this post, but I'm still trying to wrap my mind around my position on infidelity. I'd like your thoughts--what do you think? Should a politician's handling of their personal life have no bearing on how we view them as leaders? Also what's to be said of the spouses who deal with the infidelity? I just got inspired to write a whole 'other post on that.....


Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Minority Report 1st Volume 3rd Edition

I have a full blog post that I've been working on about Kwame Kilpatrick, now the former Mayor of Detroit, waiting at home on my laptop. But in case I get caught up cooking dinner for Spanish Harlem and I, then fall into a coma after eating, which has happened every night this week--hence no new posts, I wanted to at least write or post something about the fact that Kilpatrick left office today and is headed to jail. If you've been under a rock lately and don't know about this drama, hit up the Detroit Free Press that has more than enough info to keep you occupied until I share my take on the issue.

So at the very least for now, below is a video of Kilpatrick giving his resignation speech with his wife giving her man moral support (ha!). I think the video works but if not, check the link , because most videos are restricted at the computers at my job lol.

By the way, Mrs. Kilpatrick has darn good taste, because I own that same suit (I betcha didn't know I get that fly every now and then, lol). Until later, Peace and a Bottle 'a Hair Grease!


Monday, September 15, 2008

MiSS Concrete Jungle Is Under Construction..Not the Blog--ME!

Hmm...what shall I say, 'Bear with me?' Yeah I guess that works for now. As much as I love writing posts about music and current events, I realize I'm still kinda dealing with some things in my personal life that I'd probably find therapy for through writing about it. One small problem--I need to write about it. When I first started this blog, I really had no clear-cut definition of what I wanted it to be. For the most part I figured I would rant and rave about my life in NYC and in general, and that you my readers would tune in and be interested! However I kinda suffer from a complex where I'm afraid to just put myself out there about a lot of things, even though I thought I was ready. I wasn't. So I started writing about music, and current events, more music, one personal post, music again. Basically I'm staying in my comfort zone, and not fully utilizing the outlet that I really feel this blog could provide. So ya know? It's time out for that, I just need to go for it--right? If you read a post, and realize you know exactly what I'm talking about--probably because you're a personal friend of mine--oh well, recommend the blog to a friend who doesn't know me. I'm certainly not on a quest to offend anyone I know, and hopefully I won't, but I'm definitely on a quest to become a better woman, and I'm damn determined (hehe). Writing will be my solace. Who knows, maybe I'll help some folks along the way.

Stay tuned..................

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

'Da Truth--L.U.P.End? Haha, You're Jokin Right? No..Really?

When listening to the tail-end Gotta Eat on Lupe Fiasco's latest album, The Cool, you'll hear him say, "will he give up his life of crime, or will he stayy? This and other adventures on Lupe Fiasco's next album L.U.P.Enndd..." as if he was announcing the next episode of the old-school Batman TV series, 50's announcer voice and all. Okk. So I just knew that this was end of the album banter just to get me excited for his next album (which worked), and kinda ignored the Enndd part. But according to Rap-Up Magazine's website --the album title confirms my greatest fear!

Following Lupe's recent performance at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, he reportedly told Rap-Up, "I just dont really feel like rapping anymore." Whaaaattt? I mean with that ridiculous waste of air time MTV considers an awards show, I'd be a little turned off by the recording industry too, but c'mon Lupe, you don't get back like that!! He went on to say that L.U.P.End, slated to drop by the end of '09, will indeed be the end of his recording career. And no Jigga/Jordan antics here--so he says--Lupe plans to write a book and support the releases of other up-and-coming lyricists.

I'm getting pissed just writing this.

Learning this news, I couldn't help but think on Lauryn Hill's, eh departure? from the industry and all the craziness we've heard about her since, so I just pray to the good Lord that Lupe Fiasco doesn't go off on some wild, crazy tangent (He's been known to get a little of the wall here and there). By no means do I declare myself a hip-hop head, but there are a few selective rappers out there I'm really into with Lupe Fiasco being really high on that list. Just ask Spanish Harlem, you cannot debate with me about rap music without me throwing my two cents in about Lupe Fiasco. Sleep on him if you want, he gave me hope about mainstream Hip-Hop, so I'm really discouraged that he's stepping out of the game so soon.

However, I must admit this doesn't really surprise me. As jacked up as the mainstream hip-hop game is these days Lupe Fiasco barely fits in with the slew of artists who've come out over the past two-three years under the guise of Hip-Hop "artist". After all when Lupe spits about 'stack that cheese' and gold and ice and women, are you really listening to the subject matter?? He's a cut above. And by the way did you catch Lupe on the Nov. '07 cover of XXL Magazine with the title "Leaders of the New School"? Lupe--Leader--Check. The rest? Umm. No. I about bugged out when I saw that magazine with Spanish Harlem in the grocery store last year. Take one look and you'll understand what I think is a dire future for hip-hop if this is all we can look forward to, hence the reason I'm so upset. Hmmm on second thought, maybe he took a look at that cover for himself and decided he rather NOT be associated with such coonery. Oops, did I say that?

Normally, I'd include one or two of my favorite videos by Lupe, but I don't think I can bring myself to do it. I'm too upset. Peace.

HARD WORK, SECOND EFFORT, DEDICATION, LOYALTY & LOVE--Sometimes you can sacrifice it all just to realize what you worked for isn't what it's cracked up to be..

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sistah Souljah is BACK!!!

Have you heard?? As I was flipping through the 15th Anniversary issue of Vibe the other week, I discovered that after nearly 10 long, long, long, long years—Sistah Souljah is finally preparing to release the sequel to The Coldest Winter Ever this October with the title Midnight. Mmm hmm that’s right Winter Santiago aficionados, come next month, the new novel is focused centrally around that beautiful, blue-black specimen of a man I know I wish truly existed--MIDNIGHT!

We’ve been waiting for the film version of Coldest Winter for so long that Jada Pinkett-Smith, who has long been rumored to play lead, might as well play Winter’s mama by the time the movie ever decides to drop—but hey—I’ll take a sequel any day. I’m an admitted Facebook junkie, addicted for over three years now, and I swear to ya that The Coldest Winter Ever has probably been listed under more folks’ favorite books than the Good Book itself!! Oh yeah, Midnight is going to fly off shelves.

News on the release has been circulating for a few months now, and according to Publisher’s Weekly, Sistah Souljah says part of the reason for such a long wait between titles is that she conducted extensive research to get the plot just right, traveling three continents to get the job done. If you remember somewhere in the middle of Coldest Winter, after ‘befriending’ Sistah Souljah, Winter discovers through old letters that Souljah and Midnight had a tight connection. And how could we forget how in luv Winter was with Midnight, so needless to say she wasn’t too happy learning Souljah had a bond with Midnight she’d kill to have. We also learn that Midnight, who is actually Sudanese, went through some deep ish escaping the turmoil in his homeland to arrive in the U.S. We begin to understand how he became such a ruthless, yet indescribably mysterious and wise, hustler. Deep. Oh my gosh, I’m getting excited just explaining that little piece of the plot!!

I’ve upgraded my reading game a lot since first reading Coldest Winter in high school, but it is a quality title that I hardly like putting in the Urban Fiction category, because the genre has become sooo glamorized and overdone over the years. I know a lot of yall out there are into those True to the Game, Triple Crown Publications, and that’s cool, but please pay homage to the author who in my opinion truly started the Urban Fiction ‘trend’—Sistah Souljah. No other urban fiction author I’ve read can really kick it on her narrative level in terms of depth, style and plot, and I challenge someone to give me a book that proves otherwise.

So yeah, keep an eye out for the long overdue sequel that I’m betting will be just as memorable as its predecessor. If she has a book signing in NYC, I swear I’m calling off of work!! Oops, did I write that?

Just Let Ya Souuulll Glowww 1st Edition Vol. III

Mmm...there are few things I enjoy doing to pass the time than listening to early 90s R & B I swear!! Today, it's all about Lo-Key--Where Dey At? That was the name of their first album, but nah for real, where are they?? Unfortunately their stint in the limelight lasted as long as it takes to listen to that record. Well actually they had two albums, with Where Dey At? debuting in 1992 and a second, Back 2 Da House, which dropped in 1994.

If you read my post on Cece Peniston from a few weeks back, you'll know that my mother used to belong to the Columbia House music club, so we had both Lo-Key records right along with all the other great R & B music of those days. I remember listening to Back 2 Da House a few times, but Lo-Key's debut is where it's at!

So, as I was reading the latest post on 90's R&B Junkie (all 90's r&b lovers, check out that blog!), which is written on another early 90's guy group, Portrait (I'll hit them up one day too), Lo-Key just popped into my head out of nowhere. Their jam 'I Got A Thang For Ya' is a 90's slow-jam that I'm sure no night at the club was complete without. I was all of 7-years-old when this song came out, so it's not like I really know, but I'm just sayin!! You know the words, "Here's a lil somethin that you should know, it's that I L-O-V-E"--Classic!

Here's the video below, and following that is another single from their debut I really appreciate as well, 'Hey There Pretty Lady'


Monday, September 8, 2008

The Minority Report 1st Edition Vol. II

I thank God that Hurricane Gustav wasn't as severe as initially expected, and I'm equally thankful that evacuation efforts went a lot smoother than they did just three years ago. I don't think we'll ever forget the tragedy that went down in the U.S.A. (remember the rest of the world is dying to be like us! right.) following the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina--nor do I think we should. Even today it makes me cringe to think of how embarassed I was as an American citizen as I watched New Orleans' residents struggle to hold on to their lives and their livelihood--it's something I'll never forget. In a country that boasts so much about being so great at this and that, one that claims race and class relations have made a comeup (HA!), I couldn't believe what I saw. I was working at a local Louisville news station, of all places, when the storm hit, and though coverage was extensive--folks got to see what the media wanted them to see. I was angry at the President, I was angry at Mother Nature, I was even a little angry at the people who got caught looting for items they shouldn't have been the least bit concerned in the face of such danger--I was angered and sympathetic on many levels.

In the second volume of The Minority Report, I'm posting a recent article by a good friend of mine, Phillip M. Bailey (who happens to be a phenomenal writer) who hails from Louisville, Kentucky and writes for The Leo Weekly. In this piece, he chronicled the arrival of evacuees who left New Orleans for Louisville before Gustav hit. I'm proud that in the face of Hurricane Gustav, the city of Louisville and the Louisville chapter of The Red Cross, which is actually a regional chapter, were ready this time around.

Check the link to the article:
Also hit up Mr. Bailey's blog The SOULution--under MESSAGE!
**Photos are courtesy of Phillip M. Bailey**

HARD WORK, SECOND EFFORT, DEDICATION, LOYALTY & LOVE--It will take each element to recover from the effects of Hurricane Katrina--so much more than a devastating tropical storm. Much love to the family members and friends of my homies from Louisiana!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Soapbox Diaries 1st Edition Vol. III

First of All: It wasn’t my intention to take a hiatus from blogging so quick into the game, but life has a way of doing that to ya sometimes. And boy, did I pick the wrong time to stop writing! Between the Democratic National Convention, the three-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and scare of Gustav, and the announcement that former Detroit Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, would be leaving office and heading to jail, among a few other happenings—I had some posts I was really looking forward to writing, and just never got the chance. The journalist in me is a stickler for timely news, but I may still post them anyway, we’ll see.
But over the past few weeks, my decision to relocate to NYC has begun to stress me out more and more with each passing day. Seriously—NYC and I are in a love/hate relationship at this point in time. Some days I remember why we fell in love…its beauty, its ambition and drive, diverse and well-traveled, not afraid of being different…Other days NYC rears its ugly head and I remember its lack of patience, unforgiving disposition, expensive taste, et cetera. To all of my native New Yorkers, please don’t take offense, I’m just talking from a NYC transplant’s perspective.
Exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time, even a year after making the biggest decision of my life to move here permanently, it’s still a huge adjustment. It’s a decision that I’m sometimes proud of, but more often than not, I beat myself up about it. Over the past two weeks or so, the weather here has been gorgeous, and today as Spanish Harlem and I were driving toward Brooklyn on the FDR alongside the water, it dawned on me how beautiful this Concrete Jungle can sometimes be. I never realized how on a nice day the mere mass of architecture that seemingly capacitates each possible inch of landscape—has an attractive quality to it.
But then I remember that as I’m on my way to work tomorrow during the tail-end of morning rush hour, I’ll more than likely get annoyed by the folks who get on the train at 86th St. “Why in the world do you care,” you might ask, so let me explain myself. I grew up in the Midwest and attended college in Kentucky, and while I don’t consider myself as being incredibly well-traveled, I’ve also been to several of nation’s larger metropolitan areas. But Never in my life have I noticed such a blatant display of the difference in social class than I have since living here (It’s a subject that bothers me a great deal, and I’ll probably blog about a lot, so brace yourself), and for me the difference truly manifests itself through NYC’s public transportation system. It doesn’t make sense to drive in this city; and with the public transportation system being so advanced compared to other areas, many people commute by train or bus. I guess it’s a daily opportunity for people from all different walks of life to collide in a way that you won’t see in many other places.
So some mornings when I’m riding the 5, a lil stressed out about rent, food, yada yada yada, I find myself getting super irked when the train gets to 86th and in comes the folks dressed in their Corporate America best with their Blackberries and Starbucks fix with a copy of the Wall Street Journal in tow, looking as if they haven’t a care in the world (More than anything they might look a lil annoyed that the 'rest of us' who've been on the train 1/2 an hour already took all the seats HA!). Flat out pisses me off some days. I know I shouldn’t judge people this way, but how about you get on the train in the south Bronx (or even some stops in Harlem) and ride to say….Grand Central Station…and just try and tell me you won’t notice the same thing. Sometimes I feel as if I’m being taunted, as if I’m not good enough to live on the Upper East Side--or hell anywhere other than the Bronx, which is the cheapest borough. Or even though I work just as hard as someone pulling in an upwards of six figures or much more, my little salary is somehow classified as ‘low-income’—wtf? Hmmph, everyone always tells me “Well you’re young, so you’re going to struggle,” UMMMM—who wants to hear that? I’m ready for this phase in life to pass. I work hard, I deserve better, and can't wait until it comes. Until then, bear with me folks!

HARD WORK, SECOND EFFORT, DEDICATION, LOYALTY & LOVE--The only way I'll ever be proud of the days I spent in the Concrete Jungle!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Maxwell UPDATE

I THOUGHT this was included in my original post on Maxwell, but I notice now that it was not...But to all my NYC Maxwell fans--sure you've already heard by now--but Maxwell will be performing at Radio City Music Hall on Oct. 9th. YAYYYY!!! Finally Finally FINALLY...Tickets just went on sale, and start around $50 a pop..Yeah, he's worth it!! By the way--I'm pretty pumped for someone who won't have the cash for tix, HA! Oh well, I'll have my day..until then, maybe it's time for me to step up my dial game, and maybe I'll get thru to Mr. DJ!
For those going, I hate you so much right now! =D
Good day folks, I'm going home to sulk now...

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Soapbox Diaries 1st Edition, Volume II..My Beautiful Struggle

Since it'll be a long time before I can afford a therapist, I started a blog. LOL, that's not the only reason...I also love to write and have gotten away from it professionally, only to realize something is missing...Blogging helps. But there are a few issues in my life I rarely share because of the hurt behind it--we all know that feeling. So I've discovered transparency (while keeping a few secrets to myself) is therapeutic as well, so today is my first deep deep down post. I hope you can appreciate my BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE.

I was 15 before I had my first real boyfriend. Nowadays, I’d say 15 is an age most parents will allow their daughters to start dabbling with dating, but at the time I felt I was light-years behind my peers. After all by that time, many of my girlfriends had had at least 2 or 3 steady boyfriends, several guys I knew were sexually active, and there were plenty of foul, but sadly true rumors going around to make up for everyone else in between.

As for me, I was never the “pretty friend”—I was the shy, laid-back, dark-skinned, athletic chic with the tomboy body to match—so even after I grew out of my tomboy phase during my sophomore year of high school, it seemed my ‘role’ had been cast. I just began to accept it. I’m forever grateful that many of my pretty friends are more than just a cute face. Several are still close to me today and are both beautiful inside and out, but unluckily for me, I began to harbor some crazy, silly opinions of myself during my teenage years. What I felt I lacked in physical beauty, I tried to make up for with my talents in sports and music and wearing nice clothes, but the real reason behind my shortcomings is another blog for another day. Needless to say I had a hard time being comfortable in my own skin.

And then there was Dante*. I admit there was never real chemistry between us or even a strong attraction—well actually that’s me speaking for myself in hindsight—but at the time all I knew was there was someone who actually liked me and thought I was the pretty friend. He was cute. Chocolate complexion, about 6”1’, lanky build, three years older than me. One thing that was attractive about Dante* was his eyes—the color of dark brown sugar, so clear and innocent—and the prettiest, long eyelashes I’d ever noticed on a guy.

Dante* and I met one summer during a week-long religious meeting I attended with my grandparents. I honestly don’t remember exactly how we met, but he was the friend of a friend of a friend. He was from Cleveland about an hour from me, which meant long distance calls, but we exchanged numbers anyway to keep in touch. The first night he called, we talked for hours about our likes and dislikes and after we decided we had enough in common to warrant liking one another, he asked me to be his girlfriend and I said yes. There were no frills or thrills about this ‘relationship,’ no real drama, miraculously lasted about six months. Long story short, after running up his parents’ phone bill to $200+ a few months in a row with no job to pay them back, after the time he embarrassed me by hitching a ride to da ‘Yo with $20 talkin about dinner and a movie (plus gas $$ to get back!), after pissing me off a few times by pressuring me into a couple cheap feels, after I found out he dropped out of high school and didn’t seem to have plans to go back—we broke up. He realized he really was in no position to be someone’s boyfriend, and I realized I wasn’t that desperate for a boyfriend. I’m a crybaby, so I cried a lil bit the day after we broke it off, and I was cool. More importantly I learned a lesson about how wanting a guy to find me attractive and like me for who I was, put me in a position to date a guy I felt no sparks for whatsoever.

Looking back, I can finally realize that I was never as bad looking as I thought. It was how I felt and perceived myself. For a very long time my self-esteem and level of self-confidence was only as high as how I saw myself through others’ eyes.
Cockiness is never a good look in my book (unintentional rhyme), but being confident in what you bring to the table is always attractive and sexy. It’s taken 23 years of living for me to realize this, now I’m working to implement it into my life.

I spent a lot of time hurting inside, because I lacked confidence and didn’t know how to get it. I refuse to pass this type of hurt on to my children, especially if I give birth to a daughter. It will be my most important mission to make sure she never experiences the disappointments I faced in robbing myself of personal joy. The joy that comes in embracing who you are and yes, what you look like. Ladies, I don’t care where you are in the dating game; please don’t ever settle for less.


HARD WORK, SECOND EFFORT, DEDICATION, LOYALTY & LOVE...I am the epitome of them all.

Just Let Ya Souuulll Glowww...1st Edition Vol. II

Today's 90's throwback artist is CeCe Peniston. Gosh, whatever happened to CeCe Peniston! You remember her singing, 'Finally, it has happened to me, right in front of my face'...Homegirl could blow!
Both of her CD's that I remember Finally & I Thought Ya Knew contained both love ballads as well as a fusion of New Jack Swing/Dance music, which in videos the girls had real choreographed dance routines and danced so hard they had to wear knee pads. Oh boy I had fun trying to keep up with those videos...Since several of her singles were dance hits, there are probably hundreds of mixes of her songs out there, so I'm liable to relive my enjoyment for her music whenever I'm shopping in Express or NY & Co. When I was younger my mom subscribed to that Columbia House club that had the 'Buy 12 CD's for a Penny' gimmick, so you know we had alllll the latest R&B jams. To this day my mother still owns all of those CD's, and when I'm at home and in a nostalgic mood, I go down into the basement and play all the music I used to dance myself into a frenzy as a kid. CeCe Peniston's albums are at the top of that list.
Peniston's career was kind of up and down after her second album, I Thought Ya Knew, released in '94 failed to be properly marketed by her record label (a la Wikipedia), but her talent is undeniable to this day. Why do the good folks I want to hear always get screwed!!
The last I remember of CeCe Peniston was around 1997, when I got to see the stage version of "The Wiz," with Peniston as Glinda The Good Witch. The movie version gives me the CREEPS, and I've also seen the stage version of "The Wiz" when Stephanie Mills played Dorothy, but the version and cast which included CeCe Peniston is by far a great and the only good memory of "The Wiz" for me. She looked beautiful!
So, on to the music. The first video, "Keep On Walkin'" is my favorite of hers from her debut album, Finally, and the second, "I've Been Hit by Love," is from I Thought Ya Knew.

And I'm out this mutha!!!!!!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Maxwell, Where Art Thou?

This past Christmas '07, Spanish Harlem and I were walking through the Queens Mall one night on our way to Macy's, (which is open for 24 hrs. right before Christmas..geez that would never go down where I'm from!) when I noticed a face that looked wildly familiar on a Gap ad. Double take, stop dead in my tracks and all---wait..Is that Maxwell?? Sure enough, it was in all of his suave, sexy glory rockin a fly pair of retro shades and even flier haircut--And I must say, I LOVE his new look. Preppy yet rugged, masculine--mos def a good look for Maxwell. I've never been a fan of men with big hair or braids as it is, but that's JUST ME.
So with the ad, I asked the question I know many of us want the answer to--Where the hell is the music Maxwell??!! We need you!!
Fast forward to Summer '08 and I get my answer: Just when I thought the Al Green tribute during the BET Awards couldn't get any better (Anthony Hamilton & Jill Scott Hel-looo), this man walks out on stage..I bout passed out..he sounded great and looked delicious.
And now, e'rybody and they momma are swooning over his latest performance during an event for the HollyRod Foundation out in Cali, that went down a couple of weeks ago. He performed "This Woman's Work" (of course), and lil miss hostess Holly Robinson-Peete was mos def feelin' herself, but I would've been too! Still no new music, but once again, he sounded great and looked delicious. Check the flick out below.
And Maxwell, if you're reading: please, please PUH-LEAZE tell me you're working on a new album! Because as much as I 'heart' "This Woman's Work," I need more! I welcome you with open arms!!!
Also check out my personal favorite Maxwell song from the Love Jones Soundtrack (oh yes!), 'Sumthin Sumthin Mellosmoothe Mix'...gosh even after a decade I could listen to it on repeat for a good two hours and not complain.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Like I said in my previous post, I had some free time on my hands this weekend and welllll...I got a lil blog happy...can you tell? hehehe..I'm just excited to be writing again quite honestly, so I hope you all enjoy..I've already gotten some positive feedback from fellow writers/homies, so I feel real good about that. Just be sure to spread the word ya hear?! Cuz when I start gettin personal, I'd rather have some folks reading who don't already know my biz, or know me well enough to put the pieces of my biz together....Ha!

ANYWAYZ--earlier this evening I was talkin to my Southern Homieskillet, PictureMane, who is doin his thing with his photography hustle. This weekend he shot his first wedding (that means he officially OFFICIAL!), big ups to ya homie! I was all excited to hear about how the weekend went, but one particular event of the weekend really struck me as er--interesting.

So we all know that when a man (and a lot of women too) is celebrating his last night of Single-dom with his boys, strippers are almost always apart of the action. But what I hadn't anticipated was the fellas bringing their girls..ladies..girlfriends..along for the ride at the female's request! Apparently the bachelor party didn't discriminate on the bachelorette's, which is cool, but I'm sorry--you will not find me kickin it with Spanish Harlem at the strip club. period. And apparently when they all arrived, PictureMane said there were quite a few male/female couples already up in there like they were ready to catch a live jazz set or somethin, chillin all comfortable-like.

I haven't been under a rock, I've heard about females going to the strip club with their boos before, but I guess this is just a lil too freaky for my liking, especially kickin it with my man the night before his boy's wedding. I'm sure some guys get their rocks off on this kinda thing, but I want to hear from from the females--has going to the strip club with ya man become an acceptable date-night activity???

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Let My Hop On My Soapbox Right Quik (My Weekend)...

I might have to either start a personal music blog or dedicate the weekends of Miss Concrete Jungle to music, because all weekend I've been sitting on my computer reading music blogs and reliving my love for 80's/90's R&B (and some Hip-Hop)--and just music I love in general. For the first time in awhile I haven't had any major plans for the weekend and spent a lot of time at home alone while Spanish Harlem (my bf) was at work, so I took full advantage. I found two great music blogs: & 90's R&B Junkie, which I've added under 'MESSAGE!', and between those blogs, YouTube and, I rocked the weekend away in pure content mode.

Music has always been a huge part of my life, mostly manifested through growing up in the church. Singing, playing the piano, being in a youth choir, choir directing, writing poetry/lyrics has always made me a happy camper, so much so, that people who've known me for a long time wonder why I never pursued music professionally. I guess for me, musical talent just came naturally to me and was something I could always call my own, so I never felt the need to become a 'professional'.

My lazy weekend activity reminded me of how I used to spend HOURS alone in my room listening to CD's, learning to play Gospel and R&B joints by ear, singing in the mirror, pretending I was directing a choir..I miss that..Now that I'm out in the real world, I've become too 'busy' to do what used to make me happy or calm me down when I was upset.

Music has such power, and I've become so disheartened by the industry which no longer seems to cultivate or even encourage true artistry--it's pathetic. So many musical acts (they don't even deserve the title artist) are out here selling their souls just to get on the radio, oversexualizing and blatantly disrespecting a craft that has the power to truly touch people's lives. There are alot of great artists out there truly doing their thing, but too often you have dig and search just to hear them. School districts are taking away music programs as if they're really spending our tax dollars on something more beneficial, I'm just through. I fear that our lil brothers, sisters and cousins will not have a real appreciation for what music is all about at the rate things are going.

Maybe subconsciously this is part of the reason why I never pursued music professionally; because I much as I love it, I didn't have the patience for people who would only try and tell me what to sing, how to sing it, what to wear, what to do, etc. etc. OR try and tell me to pick another career becuz making it big in music is like making it to the NBA or hitting the lottery.

But sadly instead of dealing with it in the music industry, I chose to chase after Corporate America, which is a whole 'nother beast, only to discover--not for me. So now I'm on a journey that I'm sure will include music one day, I'm just not sure in what capacity. I just hope I figure it out soon, because NYC is not a place for folks in limbo. So, We'll see what happens.

For now check out this joint from Monie Love (I forgot about this one!) that I found on 90's R&B junkie..Remember when this was the female hip-hop game??


'Belly 2'...Get Outta Here!!

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the TV trailer for this earlier this week..Whose idea was this?? Did they think putting the 'Belly' stamp on it would make people want to see this straight-to-DVD crap?? Since when was 'Belly' a Cali movie about the Bloods and Crips?? I'm from the Midwest and even I'm offended by this, so I know East Coast lovers of the original 'Belly' are beside themselves..Any fan of the movie for that matter..It doesn't even make sense..I was watching a couple of the trailers on YouTube, and it's always referred to as a film entitled "Millionaire Boyz Club," not 'Belly 2' so once again I beg the question, WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS?? It's almost like right before it was advertised, somebody was like 'Oooh let's name it Belly 2!' as an afterthought. There was no need for a sequel, especially for this nonsense. Maybe, MAYBE I could see if the original characters were killed off in the movie--or even better yet, real life, but the ones who make the film what it is are all still living!! Maybe if it was Boyz In Da Hood 2 maybe just because it's a gang film based on the west coast---no wait, I even take that back, please forgive me---this just should've never happened! I mean for real, am I the only person upset about this?? In case you forgot here's the opening scene (U know u love it) from the ORIGINAL, one and ONLY 'Belly.'

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Just Let Ya Souuulll Glowww...

I am SO glad I'm an '80's baby and grew up in the '90's, because luckily I benefitted from the tail end of when R&B was poppin'--consistently. Growing up in church singing gospel solos and whatnot, I never paid much attention to Hip-Hop unless I liked the beat (sad, I know), so naturally I gravitated more toward R&B where I could relate better to vocal ability than I could lyrical flow. And before industry execs and VIACOM made the image more lucrative than talent and art, R&B and I had a real love affair goin on..I don't think R&B really exists anymore, but boy do I miss it..To me the true test of how music can move you is how acurately a particular song can take you right back to a certain point in your life, and the last time music did that for me was during the 90's. Play me any 90's R&B hit and I can tell you what grade I was in, who I was crushin on, what the styles and trends were, you name it! But now, music just isn't as powerful or memorable as it once was, and I hate it! So I digress, lest I get all pissy..Let me start this series off with the two songs from the 90's, which are tied for my favorite songs of all time. #1 is 'Lady' by D'Angelo, and #2 is 'Diamonds & Pearls' by Prince...

HARD WORK, SECOND EFFORT, DEDICATION, LOYALTY & LOVE (of the late 80's & early 90's!)

'Da Truth!

Early this week (when I still had cable..long story..Bronx residents beware: the folks at Cablevision are some perps..) I caught Eric Benet's new single, "You're The Only One" on my FAV music channel VH1 Soul and liked it instantly. The single has a real ol' school, 'they don't make music like this anymore,' 'make u wanna be in luv' feel to it, so I hope folks will take notice when his new album drops this fall. But the joint also got me to reminiscing about how much I've always loved his voice and enjoyed his music from day 1. Like any true music aficionado, I can't stand it when artists with bonafide talent spend the better part of their careers on the underrated radar, and Eric Benet is unfortunately one of those artists in my book. Let's forget for a moment the whole tragic end to his relationship with Halle Berry, and remember that before his 'he's gotta have it' days, Benet was and still is 'da Truth!! Luckily enough, in my opinion I will say some of his early limelight was squashed by the likes of D'Angelo, Maxwell, etc., so at least he wasn't overshadowed by some wack wannabes (which happens WAYYY to often nowadays). So 'Da Truth is my tribute to the true artists out there..Below check out "You're The Only One" & "Femininity" which I'm sure you remember from his debut album...

HARD WORK, SECOND EFFORT (always worth it), DEDICATION (never give up on your craft), LOYALTY & LOVE...

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Minority Report

I'm not referring to the blog, though you should check it out ----->

But I've come up with a title for my posts that will highlight news the masses should know, yet it's only reported to the minority--the minority unfortunately being folks who actually pick up a newspaper (or read it online) and read past the front page every now and then..Don't get me wrong, it's not all your fault if you're in the majority, because mainstream media only shows us what they want us to see or read. But just remember the rest is up to you and I...So check out this story I found on a blog a few weeks back, which was reported by the New York Times about a rising tragic crime being committed against Albinos in Tanzania. Deep stuff....

HARD WORK, SECOND EFFORT, DEDICATION, LOYALTY & LOVE (for your people)...We gotta speak for those who can't speak for themselves!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"I'm an Artist...So I'm Sensitive About My Sh&t..."

I got the title of this post from Erykah Badu when I had the pleasure of seeing her in concert at Wingate Park in Brooklyn a few weeks back..a BOMB free show if there ever was one..but as she was preluding the next single off of her latest album 'New Amerykah Pt. 1 4th World War,' she showed a bit of vulnerability about the crowd feelin the new joint (as if she really has a reason). There was no need to worry tho, becuz it was hot!! I'm so glad there are three more parts, becuz Part 1 is a well-planned tease..ANYWAYZ So now as I decide to share my own work, I'm borrowing Erykah's quote and this will be the title of each such post. Check out a piece I just wrote called WANNABE vs. JIGGABOO...Peace and a Bottle 'a Hair Grease!


OK, so after a few years of contemplating going natural with my hairstyle, I have finally done the do! I think after I got tired of my comb getting stuck in my hair as I grew it out, I said to hell with it, cut it to the roots!! And now, I love it on so many levels, and wonder why it took me so long to finally whack it all off. Initially my fear was how I would look, or rather would I have the confidence to pull the look off, and I must say having my perm chopped off to a length comparable to my man’s when he hasn’t had a fresh cut in a couple weeks, has added a swag to my step…As cliché as it may sound, I feel free…I feel bold…I feel kinda hot…

I feel like I’ve taken a huge step in the direction of living my life by my own terms, irregardless of what others have to say about the life I choose—and for me—that is a certified victory. I know there are many theories in existence surrounding black women and their hair, it’s our crowning glory, there’s a deep-rooted history. All that kept running through my mind was the scene from School Daze between the Jiggaboos and Wannabes.

Would Curtis still find me attractive with short hair? Will my family and friends look at me sideways, I was hoping my mother wouldn’t say Tara don’t you dare… Am I now out of the running for a whole slew of careers? Does natural hair make me more ‘black’, or more pretty, or less pretty, or more socially aware? Is it really just hair? It’s funny how such a simple change can affect personalities and attitudes and opinions and career opportunities…All I know is I’m still me. I will always be Tara Charisse.
No more $$ on a wash and set, just wash it myself and I’m out the door, I’d rather put that $30 toward my student debt…I don’t have to fold my pillow to keep from smashing my curls, only to wake up with a crick in my neck…No more spritz, or black gel, or the sound of my hair sizzling like some bacon, or running when it rains so my hair won’t get wet…Once had bangs and my face broke out—tryin to look cute, and this is the thanks I get?

I didn’t cut my hair because I moved to New York and became a different person, or because I have some big point to prove to the world. If anything I cut my hair because deep inside I was always scared to go against the grain of everything everyone else said I should be or look, and I can’t be that girl. This is about building self-assurance and esteem. So if going back to nappy roots isn’t it…if being naturally me isn’t it, I guess I don’t know what it means. It’s time to start from scratch and begin letting the complete me come out, so I’ll start by pulling my self-esteem off the shelf…Now I just gotta hold my head higher and look folks dead in the eye…Wow maybe I am changing a little…so allow me to reintroduce myself…


Hi! My Name Is...

I feel like I'm introducing myself at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting for the 1st time...I'm nervous as hell about this! Hi, My Name Is Miss Concrete Jungle, and as I usher myself into the world of blogging, I'm kinda bugged out--but ready nonetheless--the time is now!

So welcome to the Concrete Jungle, I'll be your tour guide..Allow me explain what you're getting into, because this is the Concrete Jungle for two reasons...
#1: I hail from the Midwest by way of Ohio and attended college in Louisville, Kentucky, so when I moved to NYC in summer '07, I'd never seen so much concrete and so little grass in my life! I kinda wish concrete was a natural resource on it way to depletion so that the city could truly be organic rather than some man-created look-alike, but OH WELL.

#2: With probably the most diverse melting pot culture on earth, NYC is a jungle (in a good way) compared to the landscapes I'm used to where everyone looks the same and real individuality is taken for a joke.

The blog is my take on the city and the world around me, as I journey through putting my stamp on American history (hehe, hey I gotta dream big) and epitomize my favorite quote: Hard Work, Second Effort, Dedication, Loyalty & Love (a quote I got from my older cousin/big brother when I was young and I never forgot it). The quote says a lot about me as a person and ALOT about what I've found it takes to make it in the Concrete Jungle, so it will apply to all my posts. This is a huge step and personal journey for me, so as I grow and develop, the direction of the blog may change. Until the growth process is complete, just bear with me, because at times the subject matter will be random and all over the place. Just always keep in mind Hard Work, Second Effort, Dedication, Loyalty & Love. That's enough for now, or else I won't have anything to write about!

Welcome to the Concrete Jungle...I hope you enjoy your stay!