Walking among us are the people who began a journey, chased a dream, came from a small town, or lived in their cars until one day? Their stories encourage others, their struggles remind us all, we can achieve by believing in something within. Those people speak out, and when they do? I try to be there for it. And I try harder to share it with you.
There is no better day to take stock of all your yearly accomplishments than on your birthday. For the average person like myself, this doesn’t take long. I spend a good part of the year taking care of other people, places, and things. Yes, I am a verb in a noun world. Imagine what it would be like to live in a world full of adjectives and adverbs. Just endless facets of the accomplished tasks completed in just one year. One thing is for certain; QT Jazz has no shortage of particulars for her achievements in the past, present or future.
One year ago I wrote a post about Jasmine “QT Jazz” Robinson. And today, I have another opportunity to once again recognize her personal and professional milestones. For someone like QT Jazz turning “21,” today is something unique, as will be her way of celebrating. This young lady has accomplished more at this age than some people do in their entire lives. Am I bragging on this girl? No, I am just speaking the truth. And you do not have to take my word for it. You can come to that assumption all on your own.
I know what you are thinking, “She’s 21-years-old? I’ll believe that when I see it.” Well, how about when you read it? Take a look back at the article on my blog from last year. Then, follow-up with the year forward. You will draw the conclusion for yourself of this lady’s inspiration to treat life’s milestones as if they were stepping-stones which have encouraged her to take every step forward, regardless of the positive or negative outcome. Still not convinced, then perhaps you should do some more research of your own. You can find @QTJazz on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. So, you do not have to take my word for it. You can make your inference.
For those of you who just happen to be in the Warren, Youngstown, Akron, Newton Falls, Cleveland, and as far as Columbus, Ohio, a picture may be worth a thousand words, but why not just celebrate with the lady. Join “QT Jazz while she celebrates her ’21st’ birthday at the “Youth Empowerment Faded Royalty Rally.” Another of life’s milestones realized she claims on her terms. “Proclaim Your Royalty” and “Your Right to be Great” are the convictions she will share at the Rally. For the young adults, the teens, the children and all who come, “Unite and Empowerment” are the messages she will share in Northeast Ohio to help others realize the potential created by their milestones, as she has, as stepping-stones.
We all learned early in our grade school grammar classes; a verb performs an action. By interpreting life and its purpose through the eyes of a young visionary, one step at a time, QT Jazz has taken action and her world by storm. She lives her life with no expectation of failure. Her dreams of a future in music entertainment, she expects to become a reality. She’s smart and determined, and she’s walked recently, in the shoes of America’s youth. She’s not done yet, though. She has much more to do.
Birthday wishes are being sent to QT Jazz today, as a reminder of her year-to-year birth milestones. Feel free to post this budding young entrepreneur some of your own, or if you are in the Northeast Ohio area, go by, feel the energy she creates. There’s so much more to learn about QT Jazz, who she is, what she’s accomplished, and the stepping-stones that lay ahead of her. Start today, her birthday, wish her well, and introduce yourself to the energy of this talented, young person. Just do yourself a favor and don’t get in her way. She’s stepping on stones, hard and fast, and she’s going places.
When people heard the word “rap” in the community where I grew up, they developed a mental picture in their head of a group of young, adult men, heavy breathing into microphones, with little to no comprehension of the words they were saying. I can remember the first time I brought a “rap” tape into the house. “Yes,” I said “tape.” I turned it down as low as I could get it, and hit play. I tried to dance and keep time, but I could barely hear it. I had to wait until my parents were gone, and then I blasted it; Not only was I able to dance to it; I could ‘feel’ the music.
MUSIC BEHIND THE MEMORIES
I picked up some R&B, and then some Hip Hop; and I kept a steady supply of various genres. This collection sculpted the future of bittersweet moments of pain, joy, tears, laughter, and perpetual memories that would be part of the era of growing from a girl, into the woman I am today. And now, when I hear one of those songs, I remember a date, a time, or a moment; it’s so much more
than just a song. It is the feeling, which reveals the change within; a change each of us valued, throughout the serenading of the chorus, until the harmonious, fruition.
Having the pleasure to speak with the two gentlemen of Urban Republic, I was able to see the same appreciation was there for both the artist and the listener. A connection in the music, the memory, and an event, that you can’t get back. One thing remains the same though. Whether you are the listener, the artist, the performer, or just someone who hears the melody playing in the distance; You may forget something, but that song remembers.
THE SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS, WILL KNOCK BACK
Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, James Harris, (aka Dewey Da Don, Dewey) grew up with the odds against him. He didn’t have it easy, and he didn’t make it easy on himself. He learned from the “School of Hard Knocks” where you grow up, learning after a few unnecessary knocks, the ones you could have and should have, avoided.
James Harris grew up the typical way teens do, just doing his thing, “his way,” and that doesn’t make for an easy path when working with others. By the year 2006, he was on a path of no return, and labeled in the group that held, “Within the next year you will be standing before a judge, and what you have to say and hear, will not be easy.” He could see the pain he was causing others, and as he looked at the man in front of him, he didn’t like who was looking back at him.
By the summer of 2007, the hard knocks, finally knocked back in a positive way. And this time, he had someone who believed he could do it. He was presented with the opportunity to attend Usher Raymond’s Camp New Look. This camp enables their students to complete their graduation, and encourages them to seek a college degree, or get started on a path towards something else. This is the camp that helped James Harris, realized “Dewey Da Don,” the musician could be more than a dream. This was only the beginning for a man like him. His enlightenment came from seeing others empower themselves, and he found he was looking at himself and in his ideas for the future. He had a plan. He wanted to spread his message to others.
James Harris joined the movement, and he excelled in voice. Using his voice, became more than a passion that day. He became a voice that placed him on NBC, and in Washington DC in front of Congress sharing a message that has changed many lives to date.
James tells about his experiences growing up, and how this path changes his life, with Brian Mitchell of NBC Productions program of NBC Nightly. Some people don’t think people care; some people keep taking those knocks, but James tells you his story, and how it can change for him and how it can change for you.
Leaving night shifts and long hours working at the Waffle House behind, Dewey took advantage of everything he learned, and he went to work as a businessman. He became an Executive Board Member, and Digital Program Director for “Usher’s New Look Foundation”. He didn’t stop there, as he reveled in creativity, and as an “inspiration entrepreneur”, he founded LoudPack Productions. As CEO of LoudPack Productions, he would have to seek out a partner, and he didn’t have to look far. For, he and his CCO shared, first, an aspiration, “The greatest ability in a leader is to inspire someone else to be great!” – the two of them together, with what would become the first collective “Truth”, created a statement, “Everything we do, YOU are Going to Hear About,” and it rang out loud and clear, as the second “Truth”, was collectively formed, Urban Republic.
Dewey Da Don and Casanova “Novacain”, (aka Nova) Butler, have been hustlin’ up Atlanta, Georgia, and have been continuously working on their music, since 2012. They have tracks separately, and together, but their latest success has been a long-awaited, joint effort. They are both excited and ready to hit the streets with this one. Dewey and Nova attribute this labor of love to their hometown of Kansas City, also called “Killa’ City” by those from the area. As proud as both men are today about how far they have come, they also haven’t forgotten ‘where’ they came from, and they respect the self-made state of mind they have, and that without it, they would have never gotten out of there. When people hear them talk about this place, they want them to realize the bigger meaning out of it.
IN ATLANTA, WITH LOVE AND “YOU GONNA HEAR IT”
Tracks from their 2016 release, Atlanta with Love, vents their lyrical and creative talents. Every exchange of their distinct style, complements each other so well, it gives a natural feeling of chemistry to their soundtrack. And it’s not just their music where this effortless articulation of friendship is found. Even when talking business, it seemed each one was spot on with their goals and strategic suggestions. Both are driven, musically, graphically, and philanthropically.
It is important for them to get the message out. Their brand of greatness and excellence, and spoken, “It doesn’t matter if you are working at the Sonic, for a company, or for LoudPack.” “Your dreams and passions are bigger than that.” “You are bigger than that!” “You are who ‘YOU’ see yourself as, and you can do all you see.”
“CAUSE EVERYTHING WE DO, YOU’RE GOING TO HEAR ABOUT IT!”
Anytime you are speaking with someone, you get a genuine feel about them. Call it a vibe, if you will. When listening to these two men speak about themselves or the company, I could tell there was so much love in what they were doing. They truly love music. If you want to stay in music for the duration, you have to love it. You have to make it your world. You have to take a stance. LoudPack is their stance. It’s more than just a company, it’s who they are. I recall the statements, “Whatever facet we are doing, you are going to hear about it; and we do it all.” “I believe in you at LoudPack!” “Music is powerful.” Those statements are so positive. It was very admirable to hear two young men, so early in their career, laying roots down like this. It sets forth hope for music’s future.
The most impressive response for me though, was when Dewey mentioned how they want to have songs that have a different nostalgic moment in your life, whether good, bad or indifferent. This really resonated with me, as I mentioned before. Music really mattered in my life for this same reason. It does with my daughters today. I think it still does with many people. I think this generation especially, is looking for something to relate to. They need somebody, something, even if it is a song, to throwback to and say, “This is me.”
People may look up and see these two guys and say, “That’s those two guys from Urban Republic.” They may think they are just two rappers who do nothing all day but maybe sleep late, write a song based on whatever happens, but really have nothing to
do. The average person would not realize when looking up and visualizing two rappers, these two people in front of them, are actually two businessmen. Both of whom are writing their own story, and they are doing so by overcoming obstacles every day. They are working on getting their business venture set with communication, strategic goals, networking, and education materials all together for the future of other people. Their ambition is to live a life, dedicated to the service of others. They want to elevate people in communities, and to lift others above their circumstances. They understand when others see them people being active and positive, then other people do the same; youth in general, mimic other people and their behavior. It is through their artistry and entertainment, which they intend to empower our youth, because they are our future, and we need to invest in them, and let them know they can achieve their dreams.
THE PASSION AND CONTAGIOUS PLEASURE, OF MUSIC
The passion exuded from both artists is unbelievably contagious. “Dewey’s” passion is leadership, and he revealed, “I think I have learned a great leader wears many different hats.” “I have to push, grind until it makes sense to everybody, not just me.” “So I keep pushing until it makes sense.” “Nova’s”, wish is strictly to be an artist. For him, “Music is like a drug,” he mused, “Music takes me away from everything; I had just got a notification I was being evicted from my house.” “I had something that night, and as soon as the music started, I forgot about everything.” “Music takes me away from trials and tribulations in my life.” “Music is where I run to.” “Performing is everything.” They both talked about before they perform, they remember why they are there, and they pray, they give their blessings; it’s everything.
I had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Dewey Da Don and Novacain of Urban Republic, and of the questions asked, both gentlemen reflected on their lives, as a duo and as people. They discussed their history as teenagers growing into musicians and the responsibility to you have to “Never forget where you came from, yet never to be content where you are!” – Reflecting on their own edification through growth and development. “Positive reinforcement for one, is the hardest thing, so you have to own who you are; believe who you are, not who you think!” This is a deliberation, which I feel most musicians share as performers and as writers. To contemplate an escape in their music, for whatever it gives back to them, whether it be an emotion, an inspiration, or a recollection. I remember reading in an article, another musician by the name of Hunter Hayes, wrote ~
“I’m very shy and awkward. I think the best thing is to embrace it. It’s about accepting who you are and what you want to become and knowing all that you’ve got to work with, whether it’s good or bad. My music was the only place I could be me for the longest time.”
This is what speaks to me about my own thoughts earlier with my kids, and when I was growing up. For musicians have the same thoughts and feelings towards songs they record. They find one that is special to them because of a certain meaning in their life. Both of these men are fathers, so they understand how hard it is to be away from their children when on the road and they want their children to learn from them to be inspired and to be empowered, and for them the greatest gift you can give a child, is to be present in their life. This was the inspiration for one of Dewey’s favorite songs, Daddy’s Little Girl; lyrics written about his daughter, communicating his love to her while separated. He also mentioned Distorted Portraits. This track about the “crown of our life”, was a collaborative effort about creating your own vision, and how it takes every one in their own unique image for the world to see. Nova’s favorite, What You Know About It, he reminisced on how the pain of watching his brother growing into a leader, was reflected in the lyrics of this song. “I can channel the music and it just really means so much,” he shared.
For Urban Republic, it allows them shelter from the rainy days when they are far from home and they compose their music. It also provides them a feeling of accomplishment within the bittersweet memories of the past, allowing them to chase their future aggressively. In essence they too, receive as much from the music, as they give, and at the end of the day, they remain as they want, as they need to stay, humble, but hungry.
Have you ever thought about inventing something? Maybe you wanted to create the next best television show, or maybe you wanted to take part in a game show as a contestant? What would you do with your winnings? There are people and places that make these things happen. They aren’t your “rainy day” people. These people have an idea, and they will do everything they can to make it happen. These are people like Sequoia Blodgett, aka Sequoia B of Draper University Sequoia B of “7AM”- Sequoia B of the ABC Family production of Startup-U. Haven’t heard of Sequoia B? Well, let me introduce you, because this is one young lady, whom you definitely want to recognize. After you make this written introduction, you will definitely not forget her.
Sequoia Blodgett was a photographer in 2014. She was a success in her current career, as she had worked as senior video producer for Clear Channel’s ad agency, Creative Services Group. In addition, she signed to several production companies where she worked with multiple mainstream artists, directed commercials and shot fashion photography. Yet, in March of 2014, from a hospital bed, a certain silence had descended upon her, and she realized, a second chance lay outside for her. It was when she became ill in that early Spring, she realized her goals no longer stood, behind the camera.
Sequoia had always dreamed of starting her own business, but re-evaluating where she was, and where she could be, just never presented itself, until now. Fascinated by life coaching and the psychology of human relationships, she called a friend who was a life coach and the two of them discussed her idea of starting over, creating something bigger, and a little more unsafe, and it awaited her. From that hospital room, to the Bay Area, California streets, the serendipity interrupted Sequoia B and chimed with the hands of her “7AM” business and internet community, and the road to entrepreneurial success.
It was in July of 2014, when Sequoia began teaching photography with her Bachelor of Arts in Film/Television Production from Loyola Marymount University. Across the street from Stanford University, she would see many venture capitalists and business CEO’s who were parents of her students, but what had Sequoia spellbound, was Draper University. She remembered her hospital bed; she remembered her dream of starting a business, and she knew this could be her start, if she applied and was accepted. Dreams do come true, and she became on her way to seeing other dreams, gain momentum.
Draper University sits in Silicon Valley in California. It is a learning and growing facility where opportunity is found in creating a diverse investment system. Sequoia B became part of this system with her internet community, http://7AM.life. She started her vision with action, and a partial scholarship from Tim Draper of Draper University. She followed it with $5,000 in crowd-funding from a radio station called the Beat, where she had worked as an intern, once before. She used her head for business and her growing knowledge from Draper University to aid in growing Startup U. The reality show brainchild of Tim Draper, which includes the enrolled students at Draper University, aired on the ABC Family Express which began production of Startup U, Season 1 on August 11, 2015. The season ran through October 15, 2015. Faculty and Residence Staff members, such as Sequoia B, and outside visitors such as Tony Robbins and Jane Buckingham were onsite to advise.
Since entrepreneur dreams opened Sequoia B’s eyes to the horizons of Draper University, it was only natural she become involved in this endeavor. What began as a dream for Sequoia, has broadened her horizons and she has become more than dreamer; she is now an entrepreneur-in-residence, helping others, realize their potential, as “dream-maker.”
Draper University and the inventions that take place there have always been about innovation and venture capital. Students come there wanting to “walk on the moon.” And Tim Draper is glad to show the world, one of his students is walking on the moon, and to fund the thing, as long as they can 1) Tell him how to get there; 2) Tell him how they will survive while there; 3) Develop the necessary equipment, proper clothing, with a DU in the center; and 4) Tell him how to get back.
Draper University is well renowned for having a method to this madness starting with creativity and innovation as the model. Popularity is grown through building user acquisition. Without customers and repeat customers, you have nothing. People see something they like, and it becomes popular. Retention is gained and the purchasing of that model turned product begins to gain money towards the investment. You product becomes your investment and you build your business. This is your community. This community becomes popular throughout social media, and branding grows, and sales grows.
Venture Capital (VC) is returned to those who loaned the startup for this venture and fronted your business. therefore the ROI (Return on Investment) is the amount of return less your VC and Community (builds your business) – Branding & Social Media (grows your brand, grows popularity and sales) – Venture Capital (end stage return on company after investing front end start-up)– Return on Investment (ROI) (amount of return less the VC) and if prospering, you are another product of Draper University.
After all, every investment must have marketable opportunity. Without it, you are giving money away. Even if you have, an Angel Investor, or crowd-funding through equity, you could consider matching that commitment, with a balanced ROI (return on investment) which was presented with the idea at in the beginning of the process. I recall hearing many times, when evaluating marketing and metrics, “Engagement is the most important metric for evaluating social media success,” and Sequoia B summed up that evaluation and more by elaborating on how important accountability is when evaluating the success of your product or idea.
It was exhilarating for me to watch the Season Finale tonight. If you didn’t see Season 1, well, there’s still a chance before Season 2 comes along. You can watch on ABCFamilyTV, or Hulu has #StartupU, so make use of those back-to-back opportunities. I will be going back and catching each episode, just to see the Pivots I missed. What’s a pivot you say? That’s for a rainy day me on Hulu. For you, maybe you are a rainy day person too, or maybe not. Take some notes, think about the tomorrows, and remember the “Draper University motto”, Failure doesn’t mean something bad; failure means your seasoned. Therefore, if you are a seasoned ideologist that you know will “bring in the dough”, head out to Silicon Valley, and see the “dream makers.” Ask for Sequoia B; you know who she is. And be sure to reach out and tell her what you thought of the show, on Twitter, or on Instagram if you prefer. She will be happy you chimed in.
Some people know Rhythm and Blues (RnB), and some people know Pop. Some people know both. However, these genres have grown over more than just a period of years. They have grown over people, over communities, and through culture. These each and together have experienced international fusions over social policies, over radical plights and political movements in history, and together they have survived and evolved. They are a mixture of music, vocals, writing songs, and dance- all kinds of dance, and it is, some of one and all of another of a young lady referred to as “QTJAZZ.”
Pop and RnB, these aren’t just a label where you find a musical genre, they come from a history, and Jasmine “QTJAZZ” Robinson has history, which would begin from the cradle, to participating as a dancer and vocalizing at the age of three. Where most of us hear music as we grow up, and once we reach a certain age, we start downloading it or hit some streaming site to fill our devices with what we want; it is years before we know anything about the evolution of it. For this lady, she would soon go from school to auditions with her manager-mother, who was helping others record and fulfill their dreams. It wasn’t too long, before she realized, Jasmine was not who she was born to be. She had watched others fulfill their dreams in the studio, and she knew she had a place there too. She finished grammar school and made it to high school, occupying her time with extracurricular activities and skills in the areas of dance, piano, gymnastics, fashion, makeup, song and voice. She then approached her mother, and introduced her future, as “QTJAZZ.”
Learning through her younger years, and following others in their endeavors, “QTJAZZ” had realized there was a history in the music. She learned how to incorporate the music and the dance, and how to creatively include rhythm and culture. She valued all she had learned through the years, and she never forgot those she had learned from along the way. She took full advantage of paying homage to CSP recording artists, Xscape with her tribute to the group at the inception of her recording career with a remix of Understanding.
All during this blossoming of her professional life, this young lady was still transitioning through her personal life. QTJAZZ was not just a pretty face, she had substance and she struggled; she struggled the most personally, to understand giving and receiving self-love. She recalled having a hard time associating being loved with being good. Everyone goes through a personal struggle in their life, and for her, she was in the business so early, that she felt would look for positive reassurance and feedback from others as a solid affirmation of love, and when she didn’t hear it, she would take it very personally. She felt blessed to have someone to help her transition through this period, and not feel lost – her manager – or should I say, her mother. For most, there’s no way the two could be one, but for QTJAZZ, she is content with it, as she muses how other than an occasional disagreement over her style of clothes, her mom and her discuss everything. They also agree on everything, and they have a remarkable relationship, personally and professionally.
This charismatic and spirited, personality with a contagious laugh, leaves no question unanswered about yesterday or tomorrow. Most people have dreams and aspirations, but QTJAZZ has a plan. Although she admits to being notorious for throwing kickbacks in her teenage years, she claims it was just an outlet. She still loves to go bowling, she loves horseback riding, and dancing, singing and writing is part of who she is. For some people, she thinks it may be something they do, but for her, it is more than that. Procrastination is her biggest adversary. She feels more normal, when she stacks her cards; and the more she does, the better she feels. She doesn’t neglect anyone having a learning experience, and she has continued to value her education. She is currently enrolled in college classes, majoring in Integrative Studies and a Focus in Business, with hopes of further her education through Fullsail University in Winter Park, Florida.
This carefree young lady, who turned 20 on October 9th, is not just a pretty face. She has taken the entertainment world in leaps of voice, and bounds of projects. With top music on Soundcloud she is performing and writing her own music. She also has a track, At Your Best, remembering recording artist Aaliyah, taken from us in 2001. QTJAZZ has traveled all over the world, and she admits she doesn’t mind missing sleep to meet her goals. Two of those goals are 1) To record with Justin Timberlake and/or Timbaland; and 2) To continue growing and expanding her cosmetic collection. She says, “Sometimes, you got to do something different, and then you have to brush it off your shoulders off when it doesn’t go off your way.” Therefore, she said she doesn’t mind pushing the envelope to get results. And results, is what she is getting.
Her song, Heels, Bags is just one of the many to come. This lady has so many things coming and going, but she is in line with all of them. She wears her heels every chance she gets, and one of those places in to Coke Awards Shows and Sprite Pour Fashion, Art and Music Programs, as QTJAZZ is a Social Influence for Obey Your Thirst. This is not the only time you will see her. Celphie’s Cosmetics has picked up QT’s collection of Lip Gloss, and hopefully, she will have more colors and products to come. Performing and music is her passion, and more of that is definitely on the way, as this lady is full of so much fizz and shine, it’s going to take some serious power to keep this girl down. She may wear heels, but she dresses to dance. All you have to do is turn on the music, and those heels can’t stay on those feet. I, personally would love to see a bags collection. I just love bags.
Occasionally, even a notable singer such as Tyrese Gibson, will deliver a music album so revolutionary, it is difficult not to consider any other being more, well-crafted. The release of the double album, Black Rose, a derivative of a documentary, a book and a testament to the laughter, the tears, the pain, and the sacrifice of twenty years from the bus to the studio, mimics just that. Black Rose became number One on July 10, 2015, in twelve countries within three days. Treasured genres with SnoopDogg’s rapping softly, with Brandy, Chrisette Michele, Jennifer Hudson, and Tank kissing the neck of R&B; this sensual album intertwined with introspective lyrics, introduces a subtle seduction, coupled with remorse and revelation, and drowned in faith.
Tyrese’s sultry voice explored the feelings of a broken man yearning for physical and spiritual peace. From track to track, his voice lured you with a smooth intimacy, somewhat reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s seductive and addictive sound. This was quite ironic to me, as the first track, Addict began the subtle, seduction and commission to each track that followed on the first four on this album. Shamefeat. Jennifer Hudson, the first release, reaches to the depths of the vocalist, and confronts the listener with questionable submission, followed by a diverse set of emotions ranging from remorse, pain, loss, and resonation. The realization you are about to experience the best of Tyrese Gibson, awakens a sense of presence within, and you feel the steady sense of sensuality, and reminiscent of the addiction. And if you heard Marvin Gaye in Tyrese’s voice, then you can expect some “sexual healing”, which the “Babyboy” delivers in one my most personally played tracks, Body Language.
This album is a true enlightenment, and a statement to the honest and transparent man Tyrese Gibson is today. Black Rose represents the presence of mind and where the music and this journey has taken Tyrese. The most intimate details of his wavering relationships in love expressed in each track on this album, signify growth, and a renewed positivity. Tyrese has endured two years of emotional reverberation and has emerged victorious- a black rose growing through concrete.