What I love about Erykah, Street Art, Naked Ape and Stitch & Steel

 

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What I love about Erykah Badu

I’ve always been drawn to the music of Ms. Erykah Badu. The imagery coupled with her music intensified this level of attraction for me. What she represented was different, somewhat spiritual yet at the same time very real. She seemed grounded and true to her unique self. Listening to the lyrics makes her music even more enchanting.
Her artistry in music was coined as neo-soul, along with the work produced such as D’angelo’s Brown Sugar; the miseducation of Lauryn Hill, a mix of hip hop and soul music that is characterised by the honesty that is apparent in their music. The album that I’ve listened to most, titled “Baduizm” is a term she came up with, which means “the way I see things”. What a lovely way to see things, a way that highlights her reality and aligns with the realities of many women globally.

The songs I grew up listening to like Tyrone, Bag lady and one of my all-time favourites On & On all had such beautiful messages of realism and spoke to the experience of womanhood in a way that only a woman can understand, even if you have not experienced it yourself, you would probably have seen it play out in the lives of women of your family, friends and community. These songs makes one think of the consequences of negative behaviours that are seldom talked about amongst friends, e.g. calling out your man for always expecting you to pay the bills in Tyrone, letting go of emotional baggage if you want to move forward in life in the song Bag lady.

I also am drawn to her rebellious nature, and this is probably more personal for me. I love the example of a woman at her age living life – still travelling, still owning her individuality and not allowing age to amalgamate her life into society. Her Instagram page is testament to this. A great example of this is when she recently travelled to Japan and posed in this sick pair of red boots on a leather couch.

Interviews with Ms. Badu reveal that for Erykah, creativity is defined as the absence of fear and her thoughts on fear is that it exists only in the mind. This is truly how she understands fear as demonstrated in her answer to a question posed by Vulture journalist on how she manages to appear so fearless, she commented that “…Whenever I’m afraid, I…take a minute to breathe. No matter how scary something is, doing that helps it go away. So it’s not that I don’t have fear, but I manage fear pretty fucking well…” I love this perspective on fear. Her creative process involves experiencing joy in finding the art piece (i.e. the song/lyrics/etc), and compared it to how a sculptor reveals the masterpiece that’s stuck inside a block of concrete.

I’ll end-off this love rant by sharing one of the philosophies she lives by, which I view as a lesson. In her earlier days whilst travelling to Cuba with Common for a reading by one of the religious sects (add name) the priest, unbeknownst to her, was wearing “the dirtiest Puma sneakers she’s ever seen in her life”. This inspired the thought and way of life that she tends to live by which is “you don’t have to meet anyone else’s expectations…you don’t have to conform to anything other than who you are”.

 

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What I love about Street Art

Street art emulates quotes such as:

“If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.” Edward Hopper
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picasso
“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” Twyla Tharp
“Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.” Stella Adler
“Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.” Pablo Picasso

Street art is a form of expression that words will never be able to portray. It adds another dimension to the mundane day-to-day routine of life by enhancing a simple piece of stone that is erected in the form of a wall, a pavement, a building and all fixtures connected in between. I think street artists have the power to brighten up the day without the need for the sun to come out and play. Music, film and photography are magical because, amongst other attributes, it serves as a marker of time. Street art, on the other hand, serves as a geographical marker. It’s like the Wall of China or the Eiffel Tower but on a smaller scale yet somehow I believe it can be in a more elegant way as well, as it displays the creativity, wit and beauty of the mind; it’s so cool because no two minds will create the same art piece – what a lovely fingerprint or “mindprint” this represents.

Not only does it add beauty to the mundane but also opens up the mind of onlookers. It could even spark creative ideas in the minds of those looking at it. It sparks conversation about concepts other than the norm and would therefore give rise to the practice of adding dimension to perception, thinking and consequently coming up with ideas in different spheres of life – I’d like to think.

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What I love about this outfit
The South African Fashion Brand, Stitch and Steel create garments making use of African wax print. I particularly like the use of fractal art in the print.

I love the cut, print and style of the sleeves and the crop-top design that can be worn in a casual setting out shopping or to the beach with jeans and/or shorts. It can also be worn as part of a semi-formal or formal look – which I opted to wear to the Luminance charity show last year.

Designer label, Naked Ape, has created clothing for the likes of Barack Obama and Samuel L. Jackson and aims to design menswear infused with love and respect. Founder, Sheldon Kopman, notes that paying attention to structure of the garments and incorporating design creates unique-looking outfits, allowing the wearer to express their inner personality through style. Creations from Naked Ape are finely tailored in Africa by Africans, for both the suit-and street-savvy gentleman. I’d add to that target market, the street-savvy woman who loves experimenting, like myself opting to pair my Stitch and Steel top with this beautifully tailored Naked Ape three-quarter pants. Made from natural materials, it feels super comfortable and looks even more stylish with the one-sided blue stripe.

What do you love ?

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Photography: @IamkellyJade on Instagram

 

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