Changing Times

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol

The actual time on a clock is constantly changing, but really it’s all the same. We, as humans, are the ones who have to make each hour, minute, and second different and distinguishable from the rest.

Deep Pool

“Once the water is deep enough that you must swim to stay afloat, does it really matter how deep the pool is?” – Seth Godin

After you commit to something, no matter how difficult it gets, you can’t pull back, otherwise you’ll find yourself sinking to the bottom of the pool… unless you’re handed a life vest.

Album Review: Pink Friday, Roman Reloaded by Nicki Minaj

1. Roman Holiday, 2. Come On A Cone, 3. I Am Your Leader, 4. Beez In The Trap, 5. HOV Lane, 6. Roman Reloaded, 7. Champion, 8. Right By My Side, 9. Sex In The Lounge, 10. Starships, 11. Pound The Alarm, 12. Whip It, 13. Automatic, 14. Beautiful Sinner, 15. Marilyn Monroe, 16. Young Forever, 17. Fire Burns, 18. Gun Shot, 19. Stupid Hoe, 20. Turn Me On, 21. Va Va Voom, 22. Masquerade

It’s no surprise to me that I’m finally enjoying Nicki Minaj’s music, ever since being featured in David Guetta’s Turn Me On, it’s gone dance-y, just the way I like it! Then again I never listened to her whole first album, so I wouldn’t know what her music sounded like before, but as far as I’m concerned she’s known strictly as a rap artist. Now, she manages to still give rap, but also R&B and pop, all in one album.

The album starts off with the pure rap songs (the first seven), most of which deal with being the bad-bitch-boss-lady who’s made it big. That’s the album’s first theme: success. It’s apparent in Come On A Cone, I Am Your Leader, Beez In The Trap, HOV Lane, and Champion. Humbled much? Not Nicki Minaj.

We briefly hit a couple of R&B tunes, Right By My Side and Sex In The Lounge, with the former being the better of the two and also featuring Chris Brown. Then, kind of unexpectedly and out of nowhere, we arrive at pop-dance tracks, and the second main theme of the album: just having fun and dancing the night away. Starships, the current single, is addicting (to me at least). Pound The Alarm, has a little rap and a little Pitbull (I think), whether it’s him or not, this song needs a remix with him pronto. Whip It and Automatic are enjoyable, but the previous two songs are just slightly better. Nicki explains that Roman, one of her alter egos, comes out when she’s angry (I did my research), so it’s fitting that one of the lines in the first song, Roman Holiday, is “Take your medication, Roman/Take a short vacation, Roman” considering that the album heads towards a much happier, dance driven place.

Back to R&B. Beautiful Sinner is a song that should feature Rihanna singing the non-rap sections, as the lyrics sound like her kind of content. Marilyn Monroe is Nicki at her most vulnerable spot, I think, as she recognizes that even the great can fall. Young Forever shows more vulnerability as she remembers an old flame, whom she still holds in the same light as the last time she saw him. A few lack luster songs follow, before finishing on a good note with Va Va Voom and Masquerade.

Some music fans will not be happy with the reduced focus on the rap genre, but others will be happy to see some more mainstream songs. Even Nicki Minaj admits this as she says “I guess I went commercial” on the track Roman Reloaded, yet she also says that “Bang, my shit bang, it bang bang/B-b-bang, my shit bang it bang bang.” You can’t please everyone unfortunately. I have to point out that even in the R&B inspired and pop inclined songs, there’s still some rap in them; that remains an integral part of the album throughout. Overall, I enjoyed most of the songs on this album, which surprised me. Album rating: 4/5.

Favorite Song: Beautiful Sinner

“And maybe I’m naive for loving you
You’re a cheat and a liar
But tonight you’re everything I desire
You beautiful sinner
I love your wicked heart
Beautiful sinner
It’s such a work of art”

Least Favorite Song: Champion [ft. Nas, Drake, & Young Jeezy]

Other Songs I Enjoyed: Roman Reloaded, Right By My Side, Starships, Pound The Alarm, Marilyn Monroe, Va Va Voom, Masquerade

How To Motivate Yourself To Workout

Photo taken from Flickr user: Steve-h

Lately I have been slacking on my workouts, and have also been eating out more than usual. As a result I have gained 5 pounds in the last two weeks or so. Uh oh! Then again, my body naturally gains weight going into Spring/Summer, and then losses it going into Fall/Winter (makes me feel better if I state this). You would think it should be the opposite (lose pounds in warm weather and gain pounds in cold weather), but apparently my body doesn’t work that way.

While I’m no personal trainer, I do have a few tricks that I find helpful in order to get myself in the working out spirit, and it seems like I need to review those at the moment. So here they are, one trick for every pound I have gained in the last couple of weeks:

  1. Pick a time of day
    For me, if I don’t do my work out in the late morning time (9-11am), then I’m less likely to do it at all. For others working out either really early in the morning (5-7am) or really late at night works better. The trick is: determine the workout time (early morning, morning, noon, afternoon, night) that you prefer or best benefits you.
  2. Choose between cardio and strength training
    Most people, I would assume, either prefer running or weight lifting, but not both. I personally am more of a runner and focus on setting new goals/records in that; anything I do with weights, I see as a bonus. The trick is: instead of doing a half-ass job in both cardio and strength training, go all out in one and treat the other one as supplementary to your overall workout.
  3. Set up the environment
    Honestly, I think this is half of the battle, or at least it is for me. Once I get myself dressed and out the door (to go running), I feel much more motivated and in the zone. The trick is: don’t think about the workout too much, just get yourself where you have to be (outdoors, gym, garage, wherever).
  4. Listen to your pump up music
    Certain songs have the necessary elements to pump us up, whether it’s upbeat music or not. The trick is: find the music that best gets you energized to work out.
  5. Develop a routine/schedule/consistency
    This is the glue that holds it all together. If you know exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, then you’re probably more likely to do it. The trick is: determine what works best for you and keep at it.

These five tricks will need to be tweaked every few months, as they don’t usually stay effective throughout the whole year. For example, as it starts to get hotter, I like to go running earlier in the morning to avoid the heat and sun. Or if it’s raining season, I’ll skip my runs and do more weight lifting instead. Also, you’ll likely update your playlist constantly as you start to get tired of certain songs and new ones come out.

Just like every penny adds up to a dollar, so does every movement and workout to your overall progress. It’s not about doing a lot, but just doing something to move you forward.

Jumping Right Up To The 1%

Photo taken from Flickr user: Robert S. Donovan

One individual may find themselves becoming one of the richest individuals in the country, and part of the 1% over night thanks to the Mega Millions lottery.

There’s so much craze due to the grand prize being so high, which has now gone up from 540 to 640 million dollars, making it the biggest US (and possibly world) lottery prize ever. Does that mean another 100 million dollars worth of tickets have been bought/sold within the last few days?

According to the information presented in this article, about $1.46 billion dollars worth of tickets have been bought/sold that has led to the $640 million sum. So, in other words, this whole lotto thing is a rip off, since everyone collectively has spent almost three times the amount of the prize and could have just given that money to each other. I don’t know how this whole lottery stuff works (i.e. how the money is divided, where it all goes, etc.) and I don’t care enough to research it. But I think it says a lot that people are willing to spend so much money on something so unlikely to pay out, instead of donating that same money elsewhere, where the money is very much needed (e.g.  their home, immediate communities, organizations, charities, etc.). I’m not judging, really I’m not.

I would never say it’s bad to buy one or as many lottery tickets as you may like, because it’s practically harmless, unless you break your own wallet trying to win. But I feel that if someone is meant to win, they’ll win whether they spend $1 or $100 or $1,000. Yes, theoretically your odds of winning increase with the more tickets you buy, but realistically your odds are so bad in the first place that it really makes little difference. Not to mention, there’s really no strategy of determining which numbers are more likely to be pulled out; if you win, it’s due to pure luck and faith and not because you’re smarter than everyone else in cracking the code.

One big concern of mine, because I’m such a thoughtful person (sarcasm), is what the winner will do with the money. At first I thought a much better idea would be to split the one $640 million prize to six-hundred-and-forty $1 million prizes. However, after further consideration, $1 million nowadays seems like pocket change, especially after taxes, and I think people are more likely to spend that little amount of money (sarcasm) purely on themselves, and not really consider helping and donating to those in need. This is purely my negative assumption of people, I’m sorry for that. Hopefully the winner will do great deeds with that large sum of money.

Anyways, I didn’t buy any lottery tickets. But, had I considered buying at least one ticket, these would have been my numbers: 2, 16, 24, 42, 56; 10 (FML if those turn out to be the numbers). Good luck to all!

Album Review: MDNA by Madonna

1. Girl Gone Wild, 2. Gang Bang, 3. I’m Addicted, 4. Turn Up The Radio, 5. Give Me All Your Luvin’, 6. Some Girls, 7. Superstar, 8. I Don’t Give A, 9. I’m A Sinner, 10. Love Spent, 11. Masterpiece, 12. Falling Free, 13. Beautiful Killer, 14. I F***** Up, 15. B-Day Song, 16. Best Friend

Right off the bat we get started with an addicting dance song in Girl Gone Wild, unfortunately though, I feel it’s the only real dance song of the album, as most other songs would require a remix to play in a club. Moving on to the second song we have Gang Bang, which is a very-dark-in-content-fast-paced-techno-inspired track about beating someone to the punch (she kills her lover, who was gunning to kill her). These two first tracks are easily my favorite ones from this album.

As for the themes in this album, there appears to be two of them. The first is one of idolization (of a man), and can be found in the songs I’m Addicted (her man’s love is her drug), Superstar (her man having all the right qualities), Masterpiece (a perfect man, who’s hard to love), and Beautiful Killer (a man who is a beautiful killer?). The other reoccurring theme is of referencing her ex-husband, or so I think it is, as she touches on a former love in I Don’t Give A (moving on, holding her head high, and not caring what people say), Love Spent (wishing someone had loved her as much as they did her/his money), Falling Free (coming together just to go their separate ways), I F***** Up (taking the blame for a failed relationship), and Best Friend (having lost a best friend and no one being able to fill that void). The remaining songs are mainly happy and fun sounding, two of which have a retro 80’s and 60’s feel (Turn Up The Music and B-Day Song, respectively).

At first listen, I thought this album had a strong start, but was lack luster overall. On a second listen, I felt it sounded better and more cohesive. For the most part, I feel it’s a mellow pop album despite having some upbeat background sounds. Album rating: 3/5.

Favorite Song: Gang Bang (and also Girl Gone Wild)

“I thought you were good
But you painted me bad
Compared to the others
You’re the best thing I had

Bang Bang, shot you dead
Bang Bang, shot you dead”

Least Favorite Song: I F***** Up

Other Songs I Enjoyed: I’m Addicted, Give Me All Your Luvin’, I’m A Sinner, Beautiful Killer

The Hoodie Argument

Photo taken from Flickr user: Harlequeen

Geraldo Rivera made the following statements on the show Fox & Friends:

  • “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.”
  • “You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a gangsta – you’re going to be a gangsta wannabe? Well, people are going to perceive you as a menace.”

After his segment on Fox & Friends, he tweeted two other statements:

  • “My own son just wrote to say he’s ashamed of my position re hoodies-still I feel parents must do whatever they can to keep their kids safe”
  • “Its not blaming the victim Its common sense-look like a gangsta&some armed schmuck will take you at your word”

I never knew that wearing a hoodie and looking like a gangsta were synonymous. Herein lies part of the problem with Geraldo Rivera’s argument. For some reason, Rivera is fixated on the hoodie being a dangerous article of clothing. A hoodie alone, I don’t believe, can be considered responsible for endangering someone’s life. And looking like a gangsta shouldn’t be responsible either, though, it probably would sway someone to look at a person with a much more vigilant eye.

What we wear, that is, our entire attire, and not just one article of clothing, certainly does influence people to form a particular judgment of us. Society as a whole simply does not hold the same opinion of an individual wearing baggy street clothes and of one wearing more formal attire, especially if the former is of a minority group and the latter is white. Sometimes even the same clothes on individuals of different races will formulate different judgments. Whether we like it or not, someone’s outside appearance and race will determine the type of attention, reaction, and treatment they will receive.

What’s important to remember is that clothing should not fabricate, whether positively or negatively, an individual’s character, and, consequently, cannot adequately determine their threat to society. Wearing gangsta-looking clothes does not automatically mean that someone is dangerous, just like wearing a suit, let’s say, does not mean that someone cannot be dangerous; it works both ways. Ultimately, even if someone looks like a gangsta no one should want to shoot them if they’re not being harmed by them.

Having grown up in a community that is primarily made up of African American, Asian, and Latino populations, I have seen and have been one of those stereotypical hoodie-wearing, young, and dark-skinned males. There was a time when I choose to wear clothes far bigger than my actual size because I was influenced by what I saw around me, but not because I was part of that crowd. Eventually I grew out of that phase and started wearing clothes that actually fit. Part of the reason was because I didn’t want to be associated with negative social circles; deep down I knew that outside of my community people would associate me and my clothing choices with being a gangsta. At no point in time, however, did I stop wearing hoodies.

While I do believe that individuals, especially those from minority groups, should choose what they wear carefully in order to not be seen as a threat, at the end of the day clothing choices is not what kills people. Weapons in the hands of ignorant and racist individuals who make lethal and rash decisions based on someone’s appearance, is what kills people.

Do I look like a gangsta?