Summer Is Near – Step It Up!

I gained a new friend at the end of January – a workout buddy – and the alliance has been a blessing for both of us. Several weeks of early morning, hour-plus long walks, changes in our diet, and a partner to share the load has helped boosts is into high gear for our preparation for summer. And we’re not alone – we are surrounded by others, whether we are walking the hills of View Park or the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook.

But with a shift in weather conditions, our workouts have slowed down to halt. The rain made us want to sleep in later, but the rise in temperature reminded us that summer is drawing near and we need to be summer body ready. Here are some tricks we employed to stay in the groove towards our fitness goals:

Workout tapes: This is an old school solution, but there’s a reason why fitness tapes are a million-dollar industry. No need to dust off an old Jane Fonda or Richard Simmons tape. Check out videos by Jillian Michaels, or the new Insanity and P90X programs for something high-impact and effective.

Exercise TV: If you are a Time Warner subscriber, this station is gym (no pun intended) within your living room. Yoga, pilates, cardio, and dance are all as close as your remote control. Feel free to try a different workout every day.

Michael Jackson The Experience: It might sounds ludicrous to use a video game to get a good workout, but leave it to MJ to provide us with a legacy that’s not only fun, but makes you sweat. This game is especially fun when done with a partner so recruit your significant other or kids to dance with you.

Change your diet: The warmer weather makes it easier to give up those comforting fall favorites for lighter fare. Replace heavy sandwiches, stews, and soups for salads, wraps, and fresh fruit. Also, drink plenty of water instead of juice and lemonade to stay hydrated especially in the heat.

Don’t give up: Sometimes the scale doesn’t move as quickly as we want and working out seems pointless. However, being consistent has it rewards. Not only will it give you better cardiovascular health, it helps you build a life-long habit that will aid you in maintaining good health.

Stay focused. Summer is almost here!

Full Figured and Fabulous: Tennille White Chicago

This weekend I caught an episode of BET’s Rip The Runway and was blown away by the creations of a designer named Tennille White. While there were awesome looks coming down the runway throughout the entire show, what caught my eye with Tennille was that he fashions were for the full figured woman. Vibrant colors, flattering material, and eye-catching patterns all graced her line, and showcased a variety of looks for spring and summer.

Born and raised in Chicago, Tennille discovered her talent for fashion in a high school fashion design class. She attended the International Academy of Design and Technology, and after college anticipated moving to New York to begin her professional career. Unfortunately, she suffered an injury that required eight months of physical therapy and rehabilitation. However, this setback didn’t stop Tennille. She decided to stay in Chicago and set the fashion industry ablaze in her hometown.

In 2004 she launched her clothing label, Tennille White Chicago, and has not looked back. Tennille is not only a gifted designer but has a knack for sewing, and found her niche for creating clothing for women size 12 and up. Her designs are dest described as luxurious, comfortable, and bold, and exude confidence in the women that wear them.

Click here to see and learn more about Tennille White Chicago.

What Happened to the Summer Jam?

Sitting in front of my computer, downloading and listening to all the new cuts, and I had a revelation: I  might remember one of every 15 songs I play today. There comes a time when I’m flooded with so much random music that I’d rather have my nuts laid on a fucking dresser, and bang them shits with a spiked fucking bat (credit to WU) than have to listen to the latest single from MC PimpDemHoez and DJ YellAlotAndAintSayinShit! Which further makes me think, where is that essential summer song that you hear at every picnic, party, bbq, club, and car that drives by? What happened to the Summer Jam?

Maybe that time, unfortunately, has been lost in the last five to ten years with the rise of the Internet and it’s high-speed mannerisms, where a song that’s been out for about 12 hours is already considered “old.” To tell the truth, I couldn’t tell you exactly what’s been released over the past four days that has caught my eye, save for Pusha T’s Fear Of God single and Rick Ross/Raekwon collabo. This new era of music distribution and promotion has inspired a nation of millions to think they can and should rap for a living (or allegedly “out of the love,” as so many will say), without realizing that they’ve not taken the time to work on and try to perfect their craft. Everybody’s so caught up in either trying to be the “first” to drop something new that nobody seems to care about making or promoting a song that will be everlasting.

All of that results in an ADHD-style mishmash of remedial songs that end up overshadowing actual good music, making them that much harder to find (believe me, I try every day), and we – the music listener/fan/critic – end up without songs we can remember years down the line or attach to specific periods in our lives. Case in point: Jay-Z’s summer cut of 2001, The Takeover*, will always be remembered as the song that simultaneously dismantled Prodigy’s career and, put a battery in Nas’ back. Taking it back even further, being stationed in Norfolk, VA, everyone on the base was bangin’ Noreaga’s Banned From TV.  Now, I can’t even tell you what my favorite song was two years ago without having to go to Wikipedia to remember what happened in 2008.  (Damn, was Webbie really the jam that year?)

The summer cut was meant to be the song you would take with you into the following summers. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s Summertime is still an instant vintage banger despite being almost as old as some of the readers of this site. In comparison, the summer jam this year seems to be Drake’s Over. I may enjoy the hardness of Over like the next man, but I doubt that song will have the same longevity as Will and Jeff’s ubiquitous classic. While the single has been able to last for longer than a day by Internet standards, it’s not going to be known for anything other than a song by fresh new face.

With that said, let’s take a little trip back with the help of  Mick Boogie and DJ Jazzy Jeff  Summertime Mixtape.

download here

*I know “H.O.V.A.” was the more successful single, but “The Takeover” was the unofficial summer jam. Plus, he premiered it at Summer Jam.


Summer Must-Have Music

Music is my first love. I’m a writer, but a songwriter first, and always go to music when I need an outlet to express emotion, tell a story, or whenever the mood strikes me to create. I also LOVE musicians (I married a trumpeter) and I keep an ear to the ground for the latest good music. Luckily my hubby is a collector of good music and a serious hip-hop head, and one of our very best friends, and Black Is author, Mr. CEO is cut from the same cloth. The three of us put our heads together to compile a list of music you all MUST have in your collections. We tend to shy away from what plays on the radio – you’ll hear those songs repeatedly this summer – but these are albums that are worth downloading or buying from your local record store. So without further ado:


(click on each artist to see/hear more)

Actress – Splazsh

Dam-Funk – Toeachizown

Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part Two

Flying Lotus – Cosmograma

Janelle Monae -The ArchAndroid

Jose James – Blackmagic

Method Man, Ghostface Killah & Raekwon – Wu Massacre

Nas & Damien Marley – Distant Relatives

Reflection Eternal – Revolutions Per Minute

The Roots – Dilla Joints

The Roots – How I Got Over

Yahzarah – The Ballad Of Purple St. James