Entertainment // January 13, 2014

The veteran songstress and songwriter was well into her 90-minute set at Yoshi’s Jazz Club last night when she unexpectedly announced to the crowd that she was considering a career change. “I’ve been reading about music as a healing modality and I’m hoping that that is the next step that I can take a foray into and make part of my profession.”

The announcement was quite appropriate.  Last October, Amel Larrieux released “Ice Cream Everyday,” the long-awaited and oft-delayed studio LP.  It had been six years since her last studio album, Lovely Standards (jazz), and seven years since she’d released an album comprised of her own original material.  Her fans were long overdue for some of her “music therapy” and rushed to the iTunes store on the release day to download Larrieux’s latest installment.  So far, the album’s first single, “Afraid,” reached number 16 on the Adult R&B Songs chart.

Throughout her set on Sunday night, Larrieux seamlessly weaved through material from all six of her albums.  She eased into the performance with one of her new songs from Ice Cream, “A Million Sapphires,” establishing a deep and focused tone, followed by “Magic” and “We Can Be New.”  

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But the energy of the show ascended to new heights with the song “You Don’t See Me,”  as the music seemed to transform Larrieux from R&B crooner into a Hip-Hop lyricist.  While even throwing in a couple freestyle lyrics about her ‘drink and her two-step,’ Larrieux prowled and sashayed across the stage with a swag that would’ve made Biggie pass her the mic.

And in classic Larrieux fashion, she showed her range and repertoire by performing a cover of Madonna’s “What it Feels Like For a Girl.”  With only her daughter, Sky Larrieux, accompanying her on keyboards, the deconstructed version of “Girl” became exceedingly thoughtful and introspective.

She followed with two favorites from the Morning album, “Unanswered Questions,” and “Gills and Tails.”  But the show elevated once again as she performed the hypnotic new song, “Danger,” a lesson in unlearning the culturally-driven ideas that create fear, hate, and devaluing of self.  Larrieux fans have always enjoyed Larrieux’s ability to infuse refreshing social commentary in her disarming music.  “Danger” is the latest of such works and does not disappoint.

For the final stretch, Amel brought back a couple of her classics, “Infinite Possibilities” and “INI.”  But the crowd came alive with the ballad, “I Do Take,” which will undoubtedly become the new wedding song for 2014.  

She followed that with the cherished “For Real,” and the show was rounded out with the iconic Groove Theory hit “Tell Me,” with the entire audience singing and dancing along.  

The show was perfectly imperfect, with minor hiccups here and there.  But members of the Amel faithful who have been patiently waiting for her return to the stage felt like it was well worth the wait.  One concert-goer told me, “It’s amazing and I don’t know what it is about her, but now I feel totally inspired and ready to tackle my own challenges and goals.  I have a big interview this week and this is just what I needed.”

We also got a chance to catch up with the singer after the show for an exclusive Made Woman Mag interview, so make sure to check out Part Two of this article later this week.  But in the meantime,  to get your own dose of music therapy, pick up Ice Cream Everyday.  And if you’re in the Seattle or Washington D.C. area, make sure to check out one of her upcoming shows this month

Published in Entertainment

Dating // December 30, 2013

In many ways, I'm quite the typical guy.  I like football, fast cars, and I love a good home-cooked meal. I quote Coming to America whenever I get the chance.  And I love to turn things into a competition, just for the fun of it.  Like I said - typical.

But because of my unique journey, I'm also very different.  Growing up in Oakland makes you develop a little faster.  As a young entrepreneur, swimming in an ocean full of sharks will teach you some cold, hard lessons about business.  Searching for meaning in a world full of chaos tests your resolve.  And getting your heart broken time and time again will challenge what you really believe about love.

Because of culture, media, and our experiences, we can fall into the trap of believing in myths instead of seeking the truth.  If the truth has the power to set you free, myths can keep you stuck in patterns of dysfunction.  This is especially true when applied to relationships between men and women.  While men could stand to learn a thing or two about women, that’s not what I’m here to talk about right now.  I’m here to help squash some of the long-standing beefs women have with men in the dating scene, and it starts with killing some of these myths that keep us at odds. I know it’s hard out there, but I hope these insights help you navigate your relationships with the men you meet.


Myth #1: All Males Are “Men.”

A Made Man operates under a different code than other men.  He’s a leader that lives his life according to clear principles and values.  Men like this stand out and you notice one when you meet him, not because he’s flashy, but because he commands your respect.  And a Made Woman won’t be satisfied in a relationship if she’s not with this type of man.

Myth #2: If He’s Single, Either He’s Gay, Crazy, Or He’s Lying.

If I had a dollar for every time a woman asked me why I was single, I’d be waking up in that new Bugatti that Ace Hood raps about.  I often talk to women who are puzzled by the single man that isn’t actively looking for a wife.  They assume there’s something wrong with him or that he’s afraid of commitment. To me Phonte from the rap group Little Brother said it best: “A woman’s life is love. A man’s love is life.”  For a Made Man, to find a good woman is one of the best gifts he could receive.  But the ultimate pursuit and prize lies in that man finding his purpose and passion, establishing himself in his work, and leaving his mark on the world. The great Steve Jobs talked about “making a dent in the universe.” All Made Men have this inherent desire to make an impact.  It’s how we’re programmed.  We don’t view women as less important than our passions.  They are to be our companions and partners as we go on our journey towards meaning and significance.

Myth #3: There’s No Such Thing As A “Guy Friend,” And If He Says He Wants To Be Your Friend, He’s Lying.

This is a tricky one because there are a few ways guys can act when it comes to friendship with women. Many women can remember a time where they thought they had built a solid friendship with a guy who just genuinely seemed interested in being their friend.  But in the end, it turned out that he was trying to figure out how to use his charm to get past her defenses and make his move.  This cunning scheme has broken the trust of women around the world, and it has ruined it for men that value platonic female friendships.  Some men are mature enough to enjoy the company and energy of a woman, and some men aren’t.  It’s too bad that the wolves in sheep’s clothing ruin it for the good guys that just want female companionship.

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But there are, in fact, some men that want to establish a solid friendship with a woman before taking it to the next level.  These men need to get know the real woman before they consider them as a potential suitable life partner.  They need to see the woman as she really is, and without the veneer that’s often put up during courtship. There is nothing conniving about this.  In fact, with the divorce rate what it is, it's probably smart for him to do his homework in this way. Women need to be able to identify this man, and appreciate the fact that he cares about his future and his family enough to choose his mate wisely. The difference between this guy and the wolf in sheep’s clothing is that instead of just saying he wants to be friends he proves it over time by showing he cares about you.

Myth #4: Men Are Intimidated By Strong Women.

Men can be just as insecure as some women are, and strong women can scare them.  But a Made Man is never intimidated by a strong woman.  He’s excited about her.  Because he’s secure in his identity, he isn’t threatened.  Instead, he’s excited to see her grow and thrive.  If you find yourself scaring off all the men you encounter, you could possibly be around a bunch of fragile boys in men’s clothing.  Steer clear of them for now.  But a word of caution: don’t confuse the word “strong” as a license for you to be disrespectful or insensitive.  It can be easy slip into cynicism, but don’t give in to it.  You might miss a Made Man when he appears.

Myth #5: Age Equals Maturity.

Just because a guy is older doesn’t mean he has his life together.  I know some 40 year-old guys who look for a  girlfriend that will take on the role of  their mother.  And I know some 20 year-olds that are ready to be the head of their household. From an emotional and psychological standpoint, some guys never leave the nest. They expect their woman to be compliant and always able to fix whatever mess he gets himself into.  Every man wants a woman who will be his biggest supporter and cheerleader.  But any guy who would rather have an enabler more than a co-pilot is not a Made Man.  A Made Man knows that every power couple is made up of two strong individuals.  He’s not looking for his mom.  He’s looking for his match.

These are just a few of the myths that women believe about men, and we’ll explore a few more in the next column.  But I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you think these are myths?  Or are these realities that men will never be able to escape from?


Next Issue:  10 Myths Women Believe about Men (Part 2)


Published in Dating
Thursday, 05 December 2013 18:28

MW Behind the Scenes | John Reid


Name: John Reid
Occupation: Founder & Creative Director of Tummler!, Brand Experience Designer
Locations: Los Angeles, San Francisco
Twitter handle: @iAmJohnReid
What is your favorite breakfast food?: Chocolate Chip Pancakes

I believe in creation, and I believe in evolution.  I’m not talking about religion (at the moment).  I’m talking about the power of innovation and how our ability to harness this power will determine how well we spend our brief moment in history.

In my early days as a designer, I quickly learned that everything has been designed.  Everything we interact with was designed by someone who saw a problem and discovered a way to solve it.   The chair you’re sitting in: would you want to stand up all day?  The fork you ate lunch with: ever tried eating pasta with your fingers?  The car you drive: the walk from my house to my studio would literally take 8 hours.

When you think about it, our current reality is shaped by the ideas of men and women like you and me (many of which have passed on).  This means that our future will literally be what we make it.  The question then arises: “what will we make?”  And as Jony Ive of Apple would ask, “why does this deserve to exist?”

Our current world has plenty of need for some better ideas.  Many things remind us how broken our society can seem.  But even when problems seem too big, there is just as much potential to create a brilliant solution.


Whether it’s an interface, a product, a marketing campaign or a new song, there are countless opportunities to use our creativity to make life better. This is why I created Tummler!   We combine design, marketing and an understanding of people to create things that shake up the status quo.  And we strive to use our powers for good on every project we touch because we have the responsibility to do so.

We recently partnered with a company called Innertainment, and together our companies aim to create products, programs and movements that enrich and empower - and not just entertain and amuse.  Although traditional advertising and entertainment are great when we need a diversion, we currently live in a time when stress, distraction and competition have become prevalent. People are desperately looking for information, inspiration and ways to stay on the leading edge.  We have released products in a few test markets and were excited to see that our programs have already begun transforming a few individuals into the thinkers and innovators we’ll need in the future.

No matter what you do, know that your work matters.  Whether you’re designing the next killer mobile app, blockbuster screenplay, a new family or even just your day– if we all did our part to shape the world we all dream of, it would become reality.  It’s just the way things work.

“Design creates culture.  Culture shapes values.  Values determine the future.”

–Robert L. Peters

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Published in Current

Dating // November 18, 2013

For many, surviving the holidays involves the daunting task of giving a gift to everybody on the friends and family list. And because of the stress of holiday shopping, many of us give uninspired and underwhelming gifts. Within a few weeks, this gift usually finds itself on the shelves of the nearby Goodwill store or making an appearance at next year’s white elephant gift exchange.

But this year can be different. The key to choosing the perfect present is simple: give him something that enhances his life.  It’s not the expensive gift that always wins (though that can communicate how much you appreciate him).  Its all about choosing the right gift for the right guy.

Here are some of this year’s top picks to make his holidays a little happier.

Braven 850 Speaker System

Does he like music?  The Braven 850 is an excellent alternative to the Beats Pill.  Its 20 hours of battery life make it uber portable, you can stream music wirelessly, you can make calls with it, and even charge your other devices.  It may be the smartest portable speaker system in stores this year.

PlayStation 4

When he needs a little down time, the PS4 delivers the slickest entertainment experience.  Not only are the graphics stunning, but the new PS4 has the ability to learn his preferences and recommend content including new games, TV shows and movies.

Randy Watson Tee

This tee is sure to bring a smile to anyone who remembers the greatest singer to ever come out of Jackson Heights.  And he’ll love wearing it and being the talk of the dinner party.


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Pokket Mixer

Ever been to a house party that was in desperate need of better music?  This nifty contraption allows you to connect and mix between two devices (a phone, mp3 player, or tablet), making you the rescue DJ.

Improv Classes

Want to give him the gift of creativity?  A series of improv classes are the perfect gift for the guy that appreciates the arts or wants to increase his fast-thinking skills.

Find a theater company near you.

 

Cooking Class

For the seasoned gentleman who knows how to get around the kitchen (or wants to learn), a couples cooking class is a great way to learn a new dish and spend some quality time.  Get instruction from a top chef like Hipcooks, learn a new recipe, and then enjoy eating your new creation together.



Game Tickets

Is he a sports fan?  You can find deals on seats for his favorite teams on an online secondary-ticket marketplace.  Be savvy when scouring the available tickets and get him courtside - (or close to it).

StubHub is a great place to find tickets.

A Good Book

To many Made Men, a great book is priceless.  Help him “sharpen the tools in the shed” with a classic book like Robert Greene’s Mastery, or a new title like Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath.


Premium Mens Grooming Package

Many men know the value of a good haircut, but many men have never experienced premium men’s grooming.  Treat him to a premium haircut, shave, and nail care.  They’ll love the soothing pampering that’s usually only reserved for A-listers, and others will notice their enhanced look.  They may never look at a regular barber the same again.

Find a master barber near your like Julian Payne of the Original Mobile Barber Shop


Personal Styling Consultation


If his appearance is important in his line of work, give him the gift of an updated image.  Buy him a day with a stylist like Melynda Choothesa of Couture Zen in LA to reinvent his closet or create a new wardrobe.  And don't worry about how expensive a personal stylist might be; you don't have to be Akon, Aisha Tyler or Chad Coleman to look like an A-lister.  In the end, he’ll appreciate a newly refined personal brand - just in time for the new year.


PhotoShoot

Could your Made Man use a little boost for his personal brand?  New headshots or studio photography is the perfect tool to help any young entrepreneur make a good first impression.

Look for a professional photographer near you.  If you’re in LA, Kimberly Yatsko Photography is a great place to start.

Weekend Staycation or Getaway

For the guy who’s too focused to play video games or go to a basketball game, a simple weekend getaway is the perfect escape.  He’ll appreciate being acknowledged for his hard work and being treated like a king for the weekend.  Get him a gift certificate to a nice hotel just outside of town so he can recharge and refocus on his goals for the new year.

Published in Dating
Monday, 21 October 2013 01:29

Fashion | Men's Fall Fashion Guide

Fashion // October 21, 2013

Fall is here, and fashionable guys know that the cooler temperatures of autumn give them the opportunity to add on the layers and textures that show off their sense of style. We wanted to put together a small preview of what’s hot in men’s fashion right now. Here are the items that every made man should have in his closet this fall.


The Fall Suit

The tailored navy blue suit is a staple item for fall fashion. Black, navy blue and charcoal gray are the tried-and-true fall suit colors. But as many guys are embracing more color in their look, expect to see this classic professional look in new hues - like this suit by Moods of Norway in violet blue.



Colored Cords

Just because it’s fall doesn’t mean you can’t wear color. Colored cords like these from The West is Dead are a great way to shake things up a bit.


Statement Scarf

This year, the bigger the scarf the better.  Oversized scarves like the one above from Theory are gracing the pages of men’s fashion catalogues everywhere.

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Shoes: Brown Wingtip Boots

For shoes, brown is the color of choice.  Brown Oxfords or wingtip boots have a better chance of complimenting the color in your fall wardrobe than the traditional black.

Brown is replacing black as the color of choice to complete the authentic fall look.  Wingtip boots, like these Andrew 2 Boot by J Shoes, are a fresh new combination of the classic winter work boot and the traditional low-heeled brogue.


Baseball Jackets

Baseball jackets are a nice comfortable choice when it’s time to dress down a bit. This casual yet versatile look has been a preferred choice in retail this year. The one pictured above is by Olivia Spencer.


Heavy Wool Sweater

For warmth on a brisk evening, a wool sweater like this one by Superdry never disappoints.  This wool sweater with a shawl collar is a stylish alternative to a bulky winter coat.


The Wool Knit Tie

The retro inspired knit wool tie is reemerging as a men’s favorite.  Not only for hipsters, this is the perfect tie for the not-so-corporate guy who means business. This one is by Hugo B.


Designer Black Sneakers

For the men who want to combine style and comfort, designer athletics like Yves Saint Laurent Court Classic High Top are the perfect choice.  These sporty kicks will be hitting the streets in new fall colors.


Slouch Hat

The “slouchy” can be spotted at late breakfast meetings on Melrose in LA and in Soho in New York.  This skypiece is the hat of choice for low-profile outings.


Tailored Winter Coat

There’s nothing better than tailored clothes that fit you well.  To create a more polished, well put together look, many men are exchanging the traditional peacoat for a sharper, more form-fitted look.


Mr. Nice Watch

Wristwear is an accessory that fashionable men use to experiment. Though puzzling on the surface, watches like these turn timepieces to instant conversation pieces.



Leather Weekender

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a great bag is worth a weekend vacation.  Well traveled gentleman can be identified by a handsome weekender duffle like this one from Ugg.







Published in Fashion

Dating // October 7, 2013

Whoever coined the quote, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” was wrong.  For many men, the way into his heart is through big hits, touchdowns and highlights.  Women may hate how obsessed guys are about football.  And they may hate that they have to work even harder during football season to pull guys away from the sports bar TV screen; but that’s the wrong approach. The savvy women that find love during football season are the ones who have figured out how to use guys’ love for football to their advantage.  

So here are a few strategies for turning happy hour into a love connection. Master them and you’ll have guys inviting you out every Monday night.
Know the Teams that are Playing

So, you’ve decided to go to hang out with the guys while they watch the game. That’s a great first step! But not knowing which teams are playing is a sure way to get ignored for the rest of the night. Show him that you’re a genuine girl by displaying a genuine interest in what’s going on in the football world. Check game day listings on ESPN, FOX Sports or any other sports outlet.
Know the Rules and Understand the Situations

While many guys don’t expect you to know the difference between defensive holding and pass interference, they will expect you to know that there are no “home runs” in football.  So re-read this article on understanding the basics of football before you embarrass yourself by cheering Adrian Peterson for pitching a slam dunk.

Wear His/Your Favorite Team’s Jersey

If you have a favorite team, a great way to make an impression on him would be to wear a football jersey during the big game. It shows where your allegiance lies, but it also shows off your fun sense of style.  Feel free to channel your inner fashion designer and create your own look. Tie or cut your shirt in the right places to make your look feminine, while still honoring the gridiron. You’ll get compliments that will make all of the other girls jealous.

Give High Fives

When your (or his) favorite team scores, join the celebration by giving the guys a couple of high fives.  It may seem trivial, but it shows that you’re a team player and that you share excitement in something he’s excited about. No need to do too much, but if he’s doing a touchdown celebration dance in the middle of the bar, give him a high five to show him that you’re right there with him.

Feed the Beast

You may feel a little out of your league by being in a loud bar full of guys.  But a good way to win over the crowd is by chipping in for a pitcher of beer or a basket of wings. This simple gesture shows that you’re selfless, generous, and down to earth.

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Know a Few Stats

You don’t have to know who had the most rushing yards in last year’s Super Bowl, but knowing that the team you’re watching is in first place in the division will earn you some cool points.  Knowing a few relevant stats shows that you’re good with numbers...and possibly money and credit…

And if you really want to wow the guys...

Talk Fantasy Football

For the advanced-level ladies who understand football enough to be a part of their office’s fantasy football league, letting the bar know that you’re, “10 points away from winning your matchup this week,” will show that you’re really smart and you know your stuff.  This is a surefire way to become the coolest girl in the room.

Be There From Kickoff to the Final Whistle

A guy wants nothing more than a girl that will support him and stick it out ‘til the end.  One way to show your commitment is to stay for the whole game. You may think hanging out at a loud restaurant for three hours is a big waste of time -- and you might be right. But coming late and leaving early communicates that you honestly didn’t want to be there.  Show him that you’re into the game (and into him) for the long haul.

Give Him a Hug after a Loss

In the event that his team comes out on the losing end of the game and he’s taking it hard, console him with a big hug.  A loss is a great opportunity to show him that you’re nurturing and can take care of his broken heart. That’s the type of woman he wants to bring home to mom.

In short, football may seem like a bunch of dumb guys running around bashing their heads together, but the game is very close to our hearts.  As a kid, every guy had dreams of being a great player.  Today, we might not have those same dreams anymore, but we’re still looking for our #1 fan.  With the tips mentioned earlier, show him that you want to be on his team.  If you do a good job, you might walk away with a win and a man.

Published in Dating

Business // July 15, 2013

We are surrounded by managers. Managers are responsible for organizing and maintaining our organizations, teams, families and more. Managers are great, but there are important differences between managers and leaders -- and they should not be confused. The biggest difference lies in the fact that managers will never change the world.

Every once in awhile, you run into a leader. You can spot them because leaders always see the silver lining.  They’re the people who always see the glass as “half full,” not because they’re delusional, but because of how they seem to know where the water is. They don’t just see problems. They also see the opportunities and then they seize them. Instead of waiting for a big break, they create their own luck. Leaders are the ones with the power to change the world, and they are in high demand in every segment of our society.  

On the inside, many of us hear an inner voice telling us that it’s time to start making an impact -- to move to the front and lead. But how do you become a leader? Below are some principles of authentic leadership. Transforming yourself into a leader takes work. But if you start to take on the mindset of a leader, you will see your families, workplaces, and communities change.

Managers focus on systems and structure. Leaders focus on people.

Both managers and leaders can be identified by what they focus on. Managers obsess over protocol and rules, while leaders are more concerned with the individuals that make up the team. Leaders know that the potential of any organization lies within the individual.

The manager relies on control. The leader inspires action.

Some people try to “lead” by using manipulation or guilt to get things done. This type of control is not true leadership. It may be effective for a time, but soon burnout or resentment will set in. On the other hand, leaders inspire others to find motivation within themselves. The result is a person who has become a self-starter and no longer has to rely on the overbearing superior to spur them into productivity.

The manager always has his or her eye on the bottom line. The leader’s eye is on the horizon.

Managers are always focused on, and, in many cases, worried about money. This is not necessarily a bad thing. But if you are always focused on the bills or the overhead, you cannot look forward to new ideas and opportunities.  I believe that money should never be the goal of your efforts. The goal should be to contribute your best. Money is the result and product of your work.  

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The manager asks how and when. The leader asks what and why.

Managers are interested in fulfilling their duties and completing their objectives, and oftentimes they do this mindlessly. But leaders are interested in the purpose of their work and what they can bring to the table.  They’re after significance, and they want their work to matter.

Managers accept the status quo. Leaders challenge it.

Some people are afraid of change, and they get uncomfortable with anything that looks or feels different than the norm. These people can be good managers, but at this stage they are not leaders. Leaders embrace change, especially when change is needed. They push the boundaries of status quo, and because of their slightly rebellious nature, they are often the ones that find the new ideas first. These are the type of people who are sought after by companies like Apple and Google, because companies like that know that this mindset is the difference between stagnation and innovation.

As a word of warning, while you will find much success from following these principles, you may also experience criticism, obstacles, and all kinds of “player hating.”  It’s lonely at the top, and some people will take pleasure in sabotaging your progress. But you are too important to let them discourage you. We need leaders, and you might be the one destined to bring new life to your family, company, or the world.




Published in Business

Entertainment // July 1, 2013

It’s officially “Yeezy Season,” and two weeks after the album dropped, the internet is still buzzing about Yeezus, Kanye’s sixth studio album.  It debuted at number 1 on the Billboard charts, selling 327,000 in the first week -- without any marketing.

With so much buzz around the record, I was eager to give it a listen.  In a June interview with the New York Times, while discussing his legacy, Kanye said, "I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means. I am undoubtedly, you know, Steve of Internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period. By a long jump. I honestly feel that because Steve has passed, you know, it’s like when Biggie passed and Jay-Z was allowed to become Jay-Z."

As a product designer who dabbles in music production, I’ve always respected Ye’s work as a producer and an artist.  And with Kanye putting himself on the same level of cultural significance as Steve Jobs and Jay-Z, I was excited to see what he’s been working on this year in his Paris loft.

Upon first listen, I was immediately drawn in by the album’s sonic quality.  As a combination of hip-hop, punk, rock, new wave, and soul, the production is minimal and deconstructed, yet driving and powerful.  Filled with heavy industrial-sounding drums, the entire album sounds like you’re watching Kanye work in a dark European steel factory.  It’s as if Kanye is trying to position himself as the Dieter Rams of Hip-Hop.  Sonically, as always, Kanye excels behind the boards.

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But almost just as immediately, the listener gets assaulted by Kanye’s aggressive delivery and boorish lyrics.  Kanye has always carried a chip on his shoulder, and now that chip feels like a boulder that he’s looking to throw at anyone who’s ever gotten in his way.  Knowing his history, one might expect this type of bravado from such a highly-anticipated Kanye album.  But on Yeezus, Kanye doesn’t just lyrically push the envelope.  He unapologetically tears it in half.

The album is raw and indecorous, and there are many uncomfortable moments throughout.  Songs like “I Am A God” reminds us of Kanye’s overarching confidence that dances on the borders of extreme arrogance and narcissism.  And I’ll spare you many of the details, but on songs like “I’m In It,” lyrics like “I put my fist in her like a civil rights sign,” are sure to make many think twice about playing this record at their next dinner party.

There are a few highlights on Yeezus.  As mentioned earlier, the musical backdrop is so vivid, the album sounds like you’re watching a piece directed by Ridley Scott. “New Slaves” offers an interesting perspective on how materialism and consumerism is the new form of slavery that has afflicted our current culture.  And through Kanye’s masterful sampling work, “Blood on the Leaves” references the historically important work of Nina Simone’s cover of Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit - a chilling song about lynchings and racial tension in Jim Crow America.

But in the same song, Kanye successfully sabotages the significance of Strange Fruit by comparing the civil rights struggle of 20th century America to the challenge of attending a NBA basketball game with both your wife and your mistress: “Now you sittin' courtside, wifey on the other side. Gotta keep 'em separated, I call that apartheid.”  One could argue that such a juxtaposition is artistic.  But considering the context of all of the historical references, the comparison feels brash and distastefully insensitive.

In the June New York Times article, Kanye said that from hanging out with conscious hip-hop artists like Dead Prez earlier in his career and learning how to make “raps with a message” that he has “a responsibility at all times.”  He then said, “I am in the lineage of Gil Scott-Heron, great activist-type artists.”

If Kanye thinks he’s in step with the lineage of Heron, and if he is really working to fill the shoes of Steve Jobs, he has some serious soul searching to do. Before his death, in reflecting on the success of Apple, Jobs gave us some of the keys to Apple’s success. He said, “The reason Apple resonates with people is that there is a deep current of humanity in our innovation,” and how you “really make a contribution and add to the legacy of those who went before...(is by building) a company that will stand for something a generation or two from now.”

However, there’s not much humanity in Yeezus.  Yes, Kanye continues to make artistic strides as a producer, and his skills to make great musical compositions are obvious.  But because he tries to differentiate himself so starkly, he seems to be becoming dangerously out of touch with his audience and the legacy that he so greatly desires to be a part of.  The misogynistic lyrics don’t sound like they come from a man who loves women like his late mother, Donda.  And they don’t sound like they come from a man who protects women, or one who vowed just days before the birth of his daughter that he “would do anything to protect (his) child or (his) child’s mother.”

Some might say that his frustration is directed at the corporate executives that he seems to be battling with behind closed office doors, and that the tone of Yeezus is him expressing his anger towards the system.  What Kanye may not realize is that the real casualties of this war are his fans, his album sales, and his brand.

In the same New York Times interview, in typical Kanye fashion, he compared himself to Michael Jordan.  Kanye has never shied away from comparing himself to the greats.  But he’s getting in his own way.  I’m afraid that he’s not becoming the Michael Jordan of Hip-Hop; he looks to be turning into the Dennis Rodman.  And at this point, Yeezus appears to more resemble a grotesque painting from Goya than a Jean-Léon Gérôme masterpiece.

Published in Entertainment

Dating // June 3, 2013

Many movies and books have attempted to explain the confusing world of dating.  You would think that men and women would understand each other by now.  But despite all of the commentaries, many of us are just as confused now as we’ve ever been.

But this conversation is different, because it doesn’t come from some out-of-touch TV personality.  This information comes straight from the source.  If you ever wanted to know how a Made Man thinks, I’m giving you the real unfiltered inside scoop. You can thank me later.

So, to set the record straight, here are five more myths that women often believe about men (catch up on the first five here).

Myth #6: Nice Equals Soft.

I’ve heard some women say, “I like him, but he’s too nice for me,” as if being nice is some fatal flaw.   I understand why very few women like the spineless pushover.  Lacking strong beliefs and character is unattractive in anyone -- male or female.  But it’s a mistake to equate “nice” with “soft”.  Behavior that may come off as “too nice” might actually be a telling sign of a man so secure with himself that he doesn’t feel the need to defend who he is. And when a girl thinks she’s walking all over her man, his compliance may be him displaying patience as he waits for her to mature and grow out of her bad habits.  Mr. Nice Guy might actually be humble and strong.  Is that somebody you want to write off? 

Myth #7: Money Equals Security.

Many of my female friends have expressed to me that it is important that they feel “secure” in their relationship, and that their man needs to provide that feeling of security.  With that, many women equate money with security. Financial security is comforting, and something that everyone should aim to achieve, but even the most fiscally stable people aren’t protected from money-draining personal disasters and a fluctuating economy. Many of us are one unexpected accident away from a major financial setback.  Stability comes from a lot more than money.

True stability lies within the mind and heart of a man. It’s in the man that is quick on his feet when life throws him a curveball.  It’s in the man that’s calm when the storm comes, and can lead you when it’s hard for you to see.  Security is found in the man that has solid plans, sticks to those plans because of his discipline, and sees his plans to completion.  Stability is found in the man that makes wise decisions, and has earned your trust because of his consistency.  True riches are often invisible, and you’re going to need to use your X-Ray vision if you want to be with a guy that can provide peace of mind for the long haul.

Myth #8: It’s Harder for a Woman to Find a Man than it is for a Man to Find a Woman.

Actually, this is partially true.  We all know about the woman/man ratio.  And to many women, it doesn’t seem like there’s enough good men to choose from.  But in reality, as difficult as it may seem for a woman to find a good man, it’s just as difficult for a man to find the woman that’s best for him. Almost every man is scared of choosing a woman who is wrong for him.  No man wants to be miserable for the rest of his life.  The stakes are just too high to settle, no matter how beautiful a woman is on the outside. Which is why it’s important for women to know that...

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All Men are not Only Into a Woman Because of Her Looks (Myth #9).

Most men are, indeed, visually driven.  But Made Men are not blinded by beauty.  They appreciate beauty and and value it, but they know that in the end, what’s most important is the character of their woman.  Made Men know that a woman can either be a “ride or die chick” or a “bust the windows out your car” kinda girl (or somewhere in between).  Most men prefer the loyal companion over having to replace a windshield after every disagreement.  There’s a fine line between the anchor that keeps you grounded and the dead weight that prevents you from flying, and Made Men want to make sure they get this right.

What men really want is to be continually attracted to, captivated by, and stimulated by their girl.  And this is not only achieved visually. Physical beauty may attract a guy, but it won’t keep him.  He’ll become bored because the relationship lacks depth and growth, which creates the much needed sense of adventure.  Men are drawn to women that keep them on their toes, can connect with them intellectually, and have a great sense of humor.  If you already have those qualities, you’re in good shape.  If that’s not you, don’t worry. You can get there.  Just listen to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill a couple more times and lighten up a bit.

Myth #10: He’s Sending Mixed Signals Because He’s Indecisive.

So, you can’t tell if he’s really into you or not, and you’re frustrated.  Don’t be annoyed.  Real men go after the things they want.  Other guys are so unsure of themselves that they seem to change their minds with the wind.  You probably want to steer away from guys like this and let the really desperate girls fight over them.  But if a real man is sending mixed signals, it means that he sees enough to keep him intrigued, but not enough for him to seal the deal.  In this scenario, he’s holding out until he gets more information. Tread lightly and figure out what you can do to address any doubts or hesitations he might have.  If he’s mature enough, he’ll be in touch with his concerns and will tell you directly.  Remember this: the cure for this type of indecision is not him becoming “more decisive.” It’s about you both locking in on what you want, being able to communicate your needs, and being able to change and grow.  If it works out, great!  If it doesn’t, you’ll become a better woman in the process.

On the flipside, many men have a hard time committing to a woman, not because they’re unsure about the woman, but because they’re unsure about their own identity.  It’s hard for him to know if a woman’s right for him if he doesn’t know who HE is and what HE needs.  If you’re a woman who has been blessed with the gift of patience, you can wait for him.  If not, it’s probably best to let him figure this out on his own.

These myths are just some of the misconceptions women can have about men and how they think.  Are there others?  If you know of any other myths that didn’t make the cut, share them with us by commenting below.  And are there myths that men believe about women that need to be cleared up? Feel free to add those too.  Bridging the gap between the sexes is going to be a team effort and we can’t rely on Steve Harvey’s Think Like a Man to fix it for us.  We need real dialogue, and it starts here.

Be sure to check out Part One of 10 Myths Women Believe about Men!


Published in Dating

Dating // May 20, 2013

In many ways, I'm quite the typical guy.  I like football, fast cars, and I love a good home-cooked meal. I quote Coming to America whenever I get the chance.  And I love to turn things into a competition, just for the fun of it.  Like I said - typical.

But because of my unique journey, I'm also very different.  Growing up in Oakland makes you develop a little faster.  As a young entrepreneur, swimming in an ocean full of sharks will teach you some cold, hard lessons about business.  Searching for meaning in a world full of chaos tests your resolve.  And getting your heart broken time and time again will challenge what you really believe about love.

Because of culture, media, and our experiences, we can fall into the trap of believing in myths instead of seeking the truth.  If the truth has the power to set you free, myths can keep you stuck in patterns of dysfunction.  This is especially true when applied to relationships between men and women.  While men could stand to learn a thing or two about women, that’s not what I’m here to talk about right now.  I’m here to help squash some of the long-standing beefs women have with men in the dating scene, and it starts with killing some of these myths that keep us at odds. I know it’s hard out there, but I hope these insights help you navigate your relationships with the men you meet.


Myth #1: All Males Are “Men.”

A Made Man operates under a different code than other men.  He’s a leader that lives his life according to clear principles and values.  Men like this stand out and you notice one when you meet him, not because he’s flashy, but because he commands your respect.  And a Made Woman won’t be satisfied in a relationship if she’s not with this type of man.

Myth #2: If He’s Single, Either He’s Gay, Crazy, Or He’s Lying.

If I had a dollar for every time a woman asked me why I was single, I’d be waking up in that new Bugatti that Ace Hood raps about.  I often talk to women who are puzzled by the single man that isn’t actively looking for a wife.  They assume there’s something wrong with him or that he’s afraid of commitment. To me Phonte from the rap group Little Brother said it best: “A woman’s life is love. A man’s love is life.”  For a Made Man, to find a good woman is one of the best gifts he could receive.  But the ultimate pursuit and prize lies in that man finding his purpose and passion, establishing himself in his work, and leaving his mark on the world. The great Steve Jobs talked about “making a dent in the universe.” All Made Men have this inherent desire to make an impact.  It’s how we’re programmed.  We don’t view women as less important than our passions.  They are to be our companions and partners as we go on our journey towards meaning and significance.

Myth #3: There’s No Such Thing As A “Guy Friend,” And If He Says He Wants To Be Your Friend, He’s Lying.

This is a tricky one because there are a few ways guys can act when it comes to friendship with women. Many women can remember a time where they thought they had built a solid friendship with a guy who just genuinely seemed interested in being their friend.  But in the end, it turned out that he was trying to figure out how to use his charm to get past her defenses and make his move.  This cunning scheme has broken the trust of women around the world, and it has ruined it for men that value platonic female friendships.  Some men are mature enough to enjoy the company and energy of a woman, and some men aren’t.  It’s too bad that the wolves in sheep’s clothing ruin it for the good guys that just want female companionship.

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But there are, in fact, some men that want to establish a solid friendship with a woman before taking it to the next level.  These men need to get know the real woman before they consider them as a potential suitable life partner.  They need to see the woman as she really is, and without the veneer that’s often put up during courtship. There is nothing conniving about this.  In fact, with the divorce rate what it is, it's probably smart for him to do his homework in this way. Women need to be able to identify this man, and appreciate the fact that he cares about his future and his family enough to choose his mate wisely. The difference between this guy and the wolf in sheep’s clothing is that instead of just saying he wants to be friends he proves it over time by showing he cares about you.

Myth #4: Men Are Intimidated By Strong Women.

Men can be just as insecure as some women are, and strong women can scare them.  But a Made Man is never intimidated by a strong woman.  He’s excited about her.  Because he’s secure in his identity, he isn’t threatened.  Instead, he’s excited to see her grow and thrive.  If you find yourself scaring off all the men you encounter, you could possibly be around a bunch of fragile boys in men’s clothing.  Steer clear of them for now.  But a word of caution: don’t confuse the word “strong” as a license for you to be disrespectful or insensitive.  It can be easy slip into cynicism, but don’t give in to it.  You might miss a Made Man when he appears.

Myth #5: Age Equals Maturity.

Just because a guy is older doesn’t mean he has his life together.  I know some 40 year-old guys who look for a  girlfriend that will take on the role of  their mother.  And I know some 20 year-olds that are ready to be the head of their household. From an emotional and psychological standpoint, some guys never leave the nest. They expect their woman to be compliant and always able to fix whatever mess he gets himself into.  Every man wants a woman who will be his biggest supporter and cheerleader.  But any guy who would rather have an enabler more than a co-pilot is not a Made Man.  A Made Man knows that every power couple is made up of two strong individuals.  He’s not looking for his mom.  He’s looking for his match.

These are just a few of the myths that women believe about men, and we’ll explore a few more in the next column.  But I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you think these are myths?  Or are these realities that men will never be able to escape from?


Next Issue:  10 Myths Women Believe about Men (Part 2)


Published in Dating