Why Ethnic Studies Matters

Northern Arizona University defines ethnic studies as “the interdisciplinary study of race and ethnicity, as understood through the perspectives of major underrepresented racial groups in the United States.” Most universities across the nation (including UIC) have ethnic studies programs. These programs provide a more comprehensive understanding of  our history, by including the parts deemed unimportant by mainstream textbooks.

This past week, I gave a presentation in my Racialization of Latinos course about ethnic studies. My main points were: 1. to explain why these programs are important and 2. the backlash these programs have endured since they were created. To make these points, I used a class reading and video clips.

Save Ethnic Studies by Julio Salgado 

The article “A Social Justice Approach to Achievement” by Julio Cammarota describes the implementation of an experimental social science curriculum at Cerro High School in Tucson, Arizona. This curriculum, called the Social Justice Education Project (SJEP), was created to demonstrate that “at-risk” youth should be motivated and challenged in order to improve.

He uses theories by Foucault, Sanchez and other social scientists to condemn standardized testing, and explain how pressure on students and schools to perform well impacts curriculums. The students chosen for the SJEP were Latino, working-class and considered to be at risk. Instead of rote learning, these students were given college level assignments and completed research projects.

By the end of the program, all of the students involved graduated or were on track to graduate. Students reported new feelings of empowerment, knowledge and confidence to graduate and apply for college. Considering that many of them were considering dropping out, this is an amazing turnaround. Cammarota explains that since the program focused on issues pertinent to the Latino community, students were more motivated to learn and perform well.

These same sentiments were expressed by Ron Espiritu, a high school ethnic studies teacher in South Los Angeles. In a Tedx Talks video, Espiritu shares his personal experiences with a lack of minority-focused education, and how his teaching has impacted  black and Latino students.

Even though teachers and students support ethnic studies, these programs have faced opposition since their inception. Some have even been banned because of the negative response from school boards, parents and the general public. Many reasons are given for why ethnic studies should not be permitted, the most common and notable being that it is un-American, divisive and fosters resentment of whites.

An episode of the Daily Show touches on this by covering the Mexican-American studies ban in Tucson. It perfectly highlights the mindset of people against ethnic studies: they don’t know or care about these programs, but that doesn’t stop them from discontinuing a program that has such positive effects on white and minority students. The school board member has never attended a Mexican-American studies class, and yet he dislikes it enough to vote against it.

Teaching Strategies for Ethnic Studies. Boston: Pearson, Allyn & Bacon, 1975. Second Edition, 1979; Third Edition, 1984; Fourth Edition, 1987, Fifth Edition, 1991, Sixth Edition, 1997. Seventh Edition, 2003. Eighth Edition, 2009. 

Personally, I believe that ethnic studies should be not only in colleges, but in high schools and grammar schools, as well. As of right now, ethnic studies are presented as a choice: as a college student, I can choose to take (or not take) an African American studies course. Which means, I can potentially go through my entire college career without learning any black history beyond MLK and Harriet Tubman. This doesn’t seem right to me.

History, especially U.S. history, should not be optional for U.S. students. Any educated citizen should have a complete understanding of our history, the good and the bad. Learning history from a Native American or Asian American perspective is not “un-American” or “divisive”, it is honest. Hopefully, we as a nation will reach a point when ethnic studies is given the importance that it deserves at all levels of the educational system.

Wave of 2016: Hip-Hop’s Anticipated

Another year is ahead of us as we set high expectations for albums to come and artists to make it big. In 2015, there were some artists kept us on our toes in anticipation for them to release projects they never did while there were other artists such as Yung Thug, Torey Lanez, Bryson Tiller and Post Malone that seemed to make their way into the industry and gain popularity overnight. There is never a way to predict what the year will bring, but in a way, that’s the best part. While there are sure to be some great releases again in 2016, there are a few that you should look out for.


Frank Ocean


Where you at Frank?

He has been MIA for a while now and many of us are waiting patiently for his return. “Channel Orange” was his latest album which was released all the way back in 2012. A lot of us were hoping to see something by last summer, but our high hopes saw no results. This year is going to be his year, and we expect to see great things.


Kanye West – Swish


Kanye was another delayed album that we expected to see last year. This year is sure to bring another Yeezy season, not just for his shoes, but for some legendary tracks. It’s going to be hard to top a masterpiece like “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” which could have arguably been one of the top hip-hop albums of all time. Can he live up to the hype?

He’s also reviving GOOD Fridays where he releases new songs at the end of each week in anticipation for SWISH.



Chance the Rapper


Chance already had one of the best albums of the year with his collaboration with Donny Trumpet and the Social Experiment on “Surf”. This wasn’t solely his album though; it was more of a collaboration album than anything. He’s been extremely busy this year and has already stated that he’s making his follow-up mixtape to “Acid Rap” that was released in 2013. He always collaborates with great artists that are sometimes unexpected, but he never disappoints. His left-field approach is what makes him so great in a lot of ways.


Drake – Views from the 6


Rarely does Drake ever disappoint. In 2015, he had a great mixtape and released some other music that later made him a king of memes. He also “bodied” Meek Mill in a freestyle after Meek accused him of not writing his own material. Drake hasn’t given a release date for his ode to Toronto, but it’s safe to say it’s coming soon.


Pusha T


Pusha T was recently deemed GOOD Music’s president and at the end of 2015, he released one of the hardest albums of the year. This album was just the first part of a full album that is to be released later in 2016. Pusha remains to be one of the best rappers in the game right now, and is sure to showcase more of it with his upcoming album.

Artists to Watch

Isaiah Rashad

Isaiah is one of the youngest artists signed with TDE. He might not be a big name artist yet, but he’s on a come up and is supposed to release another project to follow up his “Cilvia Demo” from 2014. TDE is no place for scrubs, so it’s likely that this album is going to hit.

As a whole, we should be seeing some other releases from TDE with artists including Schoolboy Q and SZA potentially.

Nelly is his newest release


Mick Jenkins

 Mick Jenkins, another Chicago native, has been popping up more and more now. He dropped an album in 2014, another in 2015, and just released a couple new songs a couple days ago so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new project coming up soon.


Allan Kingdom

Allan caught a taste of mainstream recognition when he was featured on Kanye’s single “All Day”. He’s still pretty underground but he has a unique vocal approach and style to his music that I think people will catch on to.


Anderson Paak

Anderson is a drummer boy turned singer, with his early career starting in the church choir. He gains a lot of influence from soulful and R&B music, but he’s also incorporates rhythmic lyrics which in some ways makes people think of him as a rapper. There is no genre he specifically falls under, he’s just kind of doing what he wants.


Majid Jordan

One of the newest additions to the OVO crew is Majid Jordan, a producing and performing duo from Canada. We have yet to receive an official album, but have gotten blessed with some songs here and there. With an album in the works, we’re waiting to see what they come up with.

Mid-Day Cruise: 2015 Top 10 Albums

2015 has been an amazing year for music across all genres. Whether you’re into rock, pop, R&B, or hip-hop, there had to be an album that met or exceeded your expectations. With the slew of great music this year, it was extremely difficult to choose albums that I wanted to put in my top 10 list. There have been a few albums that I left out only because I made this list based on albums that I found myself listening to more so than the other releases this year.

10. The Weeknd – “Beaty Behind the Madness”


Beauty Behind the Madness marks the Weeknd’s entrance into mainstream stardom with singles like “Can’t Feel my Face”, “The Hills”, and “Often”. When he released “Can’t Feel my Face”, he was delivering a new Weeknd ‘pop’ sound that gave a Michael Jackson feel, but still a sound that many of his fans weren’t used to hearing. This song, as well as many others off of the album, quickly topped the charts. Although this was mostly a solo album like many other Weeknd albums, he brought in other great artists such as Ed Sheeran, Lana Del Rey, and Labrinth. This album proved that the Weeknd has come a long way from his first album, “House of Balloons”, and is going to continue to be a major player in the game.


9. Goldlink – “After That We Didn’t Talk”


This is Goldlink’s debut album, and although not a lot of people know who Goldlink is, it was an album that I was able to listen to again and again. He’s not your average hip-hip artist, as he rhymes over up-tempo house music with hip-hop influence, as he calls it “future bounce”. He’s been on tour with artists such as Mac Miller, SBTRKT, and Kaytranada. When legendary music visionary Rick Rubin heard Goldlink was working on this album, he decided to help guide him through the release of his first album in an attempt to mentor him. This isn’t a radio album, and Goldlink didn’t have any hit singles, but all in all, I liked the vibe on this album as a whole and am eager to see what else Goldlink comes up with in the future.


8. Jamie xx – “In Colour”


Jamie Smith, aka. Jamie xx released “In Colour” earlier this year. This album consists of a lot of catchy and up-tempo house music. There are a lot of DJ’s out there and a lot of house music to choose from. What sets Jamie xx apart from the rest is his unique use of vocal samples from the past decades, the choppiness within songs that change the mood and direction, and interesting instrumentals. Unlike a lot of other DJ’s, not all of his music sounds the same. This album didn’t have too many features, but had Yung Thug on his track “I Know There’s Gonna be (Good Times)”, which was a risky move, but a great choice. Jamie is not a hip-hop producer and even with this rap feature, this was not a rap-sounding song. He seems to have a vision for his sound, and doesn’t let anything get in the way of it. It’s worth a listen if you haven’t heard it already.


7. Vince Staples – “Summertime ’06”


If your favorite rapper had a favorite rapper, it’d probably be Vince Staples. This Long Beach, California native has a good sense of humor and knows his sports, which he expresses immensely on his Twitter page and various interviews. You could ask him his opinion on any subject, and he will give you his very blunt and straightforward opinion. Vince gives his listeners a look at the world through his own eyes. This debut album talks about Long Beach’s gang violence, police brutality, and drug presence. Vince has a lot to say, which is probably why “Summertime ‘06” was a 2-part album that consisted a total of 20 songs. With Vince’s powerful use of words and untouchable flow, I would easily consider him one of my top rappers. Because of Vince’s lack of sugar-coating anything, he’s also an artist that may not be for everybody.


6. Earl Sweatshirt – “I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside”


I actually discovered Vince Staples through an interview with Earl Sweatshirt, as he claimed that Vince was the best rapper out there (in his opinion). Vince has been featured in a few of Earl’s songs including “Hive” off of Earl’s first album, “Doris”. Earl has been known for being somewhat of a dark and murky artist, and this album stays pretty consistent with that description. This album is a snapshot of Earl’s state of mind after a serious breakup in his life. Through his seclusion and depression, he made “I don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside”. The production on the album was done entirely by Earl, and all of the features were done in house and by close friends. What puts Earl at the top is his intricacy and poetic delivery. As dark as this album is, if you can understand where he’s coming from and actually listen to what he’s saying, it’s hard not to appreciate his skill.


5. Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment – “Surf”


Chance the Rapper, Donnie Trumpet, and the Social Experiment come together to make the music they love. They are all friends from Chicago that play the music that they enjoy playing without trying to copy anyone else’s sound or conform to what’s popular in the industry. The best way that I can describe the overall sound of this album is that it reminds me of the background music to a Broadway play or musical. It’s heavy in brass and raw instrumentals but also carries the weight of some huge features such as J. Cole, Busta Rhymes, Eryka Badu, Big Sean, Janelle Monae, and a ton of others. If you love music and want to listen to some upbeat music that’s easy on the ears, I would definitely recommend this album.


4. Tame Impala – “Currents”


I admit that before this album, I had no idea who Tame Impala was, but after listening to this album, I was immediately a fan. Kevin Parker delivers his version of psychedelic pop with a heavy use of synths. “The Less I Know the Better”, one of my favorite songs off of the album offers a disco vibe, which is cool since it’s not a sound that a lot of people have. The album itself is an array of different sounds and moods, making it fun to listen to.


3. A$AP Rocky – “At.Long.Last.A$AP.”


This is probably some of his best work to date. A$AP started off as a Tumblr rapper and has come a long way since. He is very open and proud of the lifestyle that he lives whether it be expressed through his good fashion sense, or his drug use. He’s very open and doesn’t really care what people think. He’s become a major artist in the hip-hop world with his consistency of dropping good music to suit various moods for a variety of listeners. He recently went on tour with Tyler, the Creator, which has shown his evolution in his performance and style. Hopefully his next projects continue to progress.


2. Drake – “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late”


Drake has stated that this project was a mixtape and not an actual album release, but the general public continues to think otherwise. Drake insists that his fourth album is still on its’ way. Either way, he continues to kill the rap game with songs that you can’t help but sing along to. I personally wouldn’t consider this project an album simply because there is no real theme and each song seems to have its’ own purpose. Theme or not, this album has received a bunch of positive reviews and reached number 1 on the Billboard 200 list, selling over 495,000 copies in the first 3 days.


1. Kendrick Lamar – “To Pimp a Butterfly”


“To Pimp a Butterfly” is an album that’s going to force you to think. Kendrick doesn’t rap over beats; he raps over carefully constructed instrumentals whether they be sampled from old jazz songs or curated right in the studio. On top of these instrumentals, he delivers his message that inspires civil rights, or expresses the struggles of fame and depression. Kendrick draws a lot of his inspiration from 2Pac and the album itself is actually addressing 2Pac directly as all of these stories seem to be told to 2Pac himself. Kendrick is critical to hip-hop as not only having respectable and powerful music, but also having such a diverse use of musical choice that helps the listener live through and experience each song as he addresses a lot of relevant issues in America and the world as a whole. This is a legendary album.

That concludes this post from Mid-day cruise and maybe the last on for the year. Thank you for reading, and if you want to stay updated on more posts from me, like my page on.

Introduction To Johnny Fan

Hey Everyone,

My name is Johnny Fan. I wanted to introduce myself to the UIC Radio audience and community as I’ll be a new writer to UIC Radio. My post days are on Sundays so why not start your Sunday right by relaxing and reading a blog post! =)

Photo of me by my friend Thomas.

To tell you a little bit about myself –  I am 19 year old sophomore studying and majoring in Business Marketing. I love coffee, dancing, traveling, writing, photography, and filmmaking. I think these 6 things pretty much sum up my life because they are all extremely time consuming – yes, even coffee.

I don’t have a lot of images of myself mainly because I am more used to being behind the camera rather than in front of it. With that being said, I have been spending a lot of time behind the camera recently. I’ve been taking photos on my phone for fun as soon as I got my first iPhone which was about 2 or 3 years ago. It was a hand me down iPhone 4, the one without Siri sadly. Nonetheless, I would just take random pictures wherever I could snap a photo and just keep tapping away at the capture button. You miss the 100% of the shots you never take, haha – am I right? Safe to say, I took 100 photos and still missed the shot…

It was not until a year and a half later where I really dived into taking photos for a purpose – to tell a story and share my vision with the world on my iPhone. This year, near the end of June/early July I wanted to take it more seriously so I picked up my first DSLR camera and started teaching myself and sharing my work on Instagram.

Here’s a few photos that I have taken since then. Continue reading “Introduction To Johnny Fan”

Spike Lee’s Chiraq: Interview with Actor L’Dorado Jones


A city plagued with violent headlines.

Shootings of innocent people seems to be the norm in the rough areas of the city. In the midst of all of the previous documentaries that have been done to show the violence and the interaction of gangs in certain neighborhoods there was a movie due to start filming this past summer. The movie was presented by the famous film director Spike Lee. With his knowledge of film how was he going to come into the city and present it on the big screen.


Well as most films go there were auditions and then the cast was set and the title of the movie was released………..”Chiraq”. This was a term that was born in this city due to the number of murders in the year of 2012, which was more than the rate of that in Iraq.  So again the people of the city wanted to know how was Spike Lee going to show this in cinema and make it work. Well the story is based on the Greek play, which happened to be a satire called “Lysistrata”. The basis of this play was that the women would withhold physical affection from their husbands as punishment for fighting in war.


Now to the movie. First of this was a very star studded cast which includes Nick Cannon,  Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, Steve Harris, Harry Lennix, Angela Bassett, John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Dave Chappelle, La La Anthony and a host of local Chicago actors including Jay Washington and the brother I had the pleasure of interviewing today L’Dorado Jones. He plays Ajani who is Nick Cannons Lieutenant so basically his right hand man. We talked about his acting career and his role in the movie and what is was like to be around such a great cast so check out the interview.


Sitting here with the talented L’Dorado Jones what’s going on man?


What’s up man it a pleasure to finally get a chance to sit down and chop it up with you ‘The Living Legend” (he really said that AWESOME!!!!!). Appreciate the opportunity. It’s an exciting time right now. Chiraq will be in theatres this Thursday. The city is on fire for it even though it’s been controversial, don’t believe the hype or as Spike Lee said don’t get it twisted. Come out and see it and enjoy it. It’s our city and our time. I think it’s going to be a great debate starter or a great conversation piece to further some dialogue.


Knowing the controversy surrounding the title and the movie what were your thoughts going into the audition?


When my agent told me that Spike Lee was shooting a film here in Chicago I was like okay that’s good I would like to be a part of that. Didn’t know how big it was going to be and like everyone else didn’t know what the movie was going to be about. Of course when you are doing reads the names are never with what your character is going to be. You just see the dummy names and then you are only getting a fraction of the dialogue. You don’t even know what the scene is about you are just going for it. When I get there we were auditioning at the Black Ensemble Theatre on North Clark Street and I figured it would just be another audition with the casting director. I spent all night going over the script so I can get off paper as my agent told me you know commit it to memory.  So I get there and I am a MC so I am used to performing but I go in and see Spike Lee sitting there and my entire cool goes out the window. So I go in and Spike is just sitting there smiling at me and I am like hey this is unexpected.  As a bit of an icebreaker his first words to me where “What Are Those” looking at my shoes, but not in the way the kids say it now but he actually wanted to know what kind of shoes I had on and I had on some Supra Zebra Print 4’s.  I really dig Supra’s I am into skate shoes. I don’t skate but shout out to all my skaters.  So I told him about the shoes and they are from the West Coast. I mean this is Mars Blackmon, Mr. Air Jordan so for him to even slide that in there I felt like we had a connection. After that I just went into and from that moment it was a great icebreaker for me. When you are in that arena and you get to meet someone on the level of Spike Lee it can be intimidating, especially when you are still young in this acting game and attempting to be a part of such a big project I was like let me collect myself but, it also speaks to his character the fact that he is who he is but would be there at casting calls. I believe that showed how serious he was and how hands on he wanted to be from conception to preproduction to production and so on.


Since this was such a big role for you as a budding actor what were some of the roles you have done prior to this?


I actually cut my teeth or got my chops in voice over work. So doing radio spots for various companies. Did a little work on Empire, looking to get back on there hopefully. Also being an MC performing on stage but its different when you are trying to remember someone else’s lines because it isn’t what you were at home writing. It’s different because it not your emotions but you have to channel emotions that might not be in you at that moment but can be convincing. I have done a little but of TV work, a little bit of extra and background work. I some people have different opinions about actors starting doing background work but I feel it a good opportunity if you are trying to be in that world or in that field. If nothing else you are around it and that’s a good place to start. So to all my aspiring actors out there do not be afraid to take as many background jobs, extra jobs as you can until you get those speaking roles even if its small cherish it until the union says no more. You have to get with the union and start making that scale.


What was it like when you got that call to say that you were selected to be in the movie as an actor?


It felt like forever and it might have only been 3 weeks but when you are waiting you kind of have to tell yourself if its meant for me its for me. That’s the philosophy I have if it’s meant to be and if God purposed it for me it will be mine. I don’t have to worry about it I can set it down and walk away. So it might have been about a month and in that months time my agent was telling me we got another call from them, they like you, they haven’t finalized but they want make sure your are ready for these dates. Absolutely I will be available I mean what am I going to say “You know Spike June is not really looking good for me I was expecting to go to Florida” what am I going to tell him. So I let my agent know to tell them my schedule is super open. Not only are my dates available but also I will create a new calendar and get some more dates if I have to. So there was a process to wait and when they finally did call it was a feeling like I am here, this is what I have been working towards and working for. It was a great feeling of acceptance.


How was it being an actor on set but being from this city and having the experience of the violence firsthand due to living here?


First of all great question. Let me back and say even before filming there was a moment where at one of our preproduction table reads I don’t know if it was planned to be this way or it just happened but it was all the male main actors. We met at one of the rooms at St. Sabina and we are having a round table and Spike is giving a pep talk about us starting filming in a few days, be ready and on time, don’t bring anyone to the set. At one point Spike said take the movie out of the equation and he asked, “What do we need to do to stop the killing in Chicago?” He went on to say, “If all we do is put the movie out and we don’t save lives we failed, we just made another movie and anybody can do that”. From there we ended up having a 2 hour round table with myself and other actors who are from Chicago sharing our experiences about what we have seen and what think the root of the problem is and the solutions. It was powerful at that moment because here in this room to my immediate right is Nick Cannon, I look across the table and there’s Wesley Snipes,  George Wilborn is to my left, Spike is at the head of the table and so many others in the room. We were having this open forum discussion on what we need to do as black men to take these streets back and that night really set the tone for the entire production. Now when I am on set there was no room to be star struck because we were all on the same mission from the most seasoned veteran actor to the most green actor, we were all working towards the same goal. So even when there was a humorous moment it was still under the premise that this was something special and from that moment everyday I knew this could be big. This movie could be this generations “Do The Right Thing” or “School Daze” so the gravity wasn’t lost.


Lets talk about your role in the movie and how did you prepare to get into character?


My character is Ajani in the film and I play Nick Cannons right hand man. Being he is the main person of interest I play his lieutenant within our gang. I get the opportunity to be the mouthpiece for the rest of the guys in the gang. So when things are happening I get to just let him know that hey we feel like this or this is what is going on. Getting ready for the role I pull from my experiences of growing up here in Chicago. I from Harvey World so I had some experience to pull from.  It was a great experience for me to get into the mind frame of this is who I am for the moment and when I am acting I try to get into the mind frame of what is this moment about what is the emotion in this moment what’s the mentality so even if a line is stumbled on in my gut I know what that character should have said. The conversation is flowing like how we are talking so even if words are replaced we still flow with it because I am in the rhythm of that character. I had some great people to watch during this process. I got a chance to watch Nick Cannons process he was kind of quiet mumbling to himself and I was wondering is there something wrong, what’s going on and I figured out he was going over lines. I was watching Wesley like oh so that’s how you do that. It was a great experience.


You previously said that there wasn’t any room to be star-struck because of the seriousness on set but there had to be a moment to yourself where you had a moment of I cant believe I am here tell me about that…


I will say my first moment of not even being star-struck but just that moment like I am here. We were doing the table read and you are following along the script and you don’t want to get lost so you cant watch what everyone else is doing because if your line comes up and you are the reason for the crickets in the room that’s not going to be good. So you are looking down and waiting on your line and you hear Angela Bassett from across the room deliver her lines and you are like that’s why she is who she is. You hear her delivery and you are just like THAT’S ANGELA BASSETT!!!! Another crazy moment was with Wesley Snipes. I don’t know if people know this but he is hilarious. There was a moment where we were supposed to be standing there quiet and he is cracking jokes and I was like you cant be fired but I am replaceable they might go find someone my height and reshoot the scenes. I want to laugh but who do I listen to Wes or Spike???? You still want to soak it up because you don’t know when this is going to happen again. I mean with the collective of actors that were in this movie it doesn’t happen like that too often.  Even with the budget of Hollywood films you rarely get that many A-List actors in one film. For me it was like let me soak this up and do a video log in my trailer and debrief everyday. It was like I just saw Sam Jackson and when I spoke he said hey in his Sam Jackson voice. Even as I sit here and try to be humble it was like can I get you to say one of your famous lines. You don’t want to fan out and freak out too much but you have those moments where you feel like I have arrived. I will also say this that I have had a lot of day jobs and I hated all of them but I was on set like you know what I actually like my co-workers.


So what’s next on the plate for you as actor?


I am going to ride with the movie and see what comes after this. It’s an exciting time to be an actor in Chicago. It’s a lot of production going on in Chicago right now. With that being said once those winter months roll in the production slows up once the hawk rolls in. I am going to see what I can get into in the next couple of months. LA is definitely on the table. I want out make that trip out there. I am looking for more scripts to come across the desk and see what comes out of it and pushing more music. In 2016 I want to top 2015 but it’s going to be a hard job to beat. This is just a great time to be alive and an actor in this city at this time.


You can meet with L’Dorado Jones this Friday December 4th at Icon Theaters 1011 S Delano Court, which is located on Roosevelt behind the Target on Clark for the 7:10PM showing. Come out and support this city and its actors. Hope to see you there and be on the look out for great things from him in the future.





Mid-day Cruise: Study Playlist

I hope you guys had an awesome thanksgiving. It’s good to take a break from school and go back home to visit family and friends. Our first day back to class is in the books and now it’s time to get back on the grind. These next couple of weeks are going to be crazy, especially with finals coming up.

If you’re not studying already, you probably should be. I know for me, it’s impossible to sit down and study with so many distractions. I’ll spend 10 minutes studying, 20 minutes on YouTube, and 20 minutes on my phone; just to start the process again.

To help you guys stay focused, I put together a playlist to help “the struggle” feel less real. I’m giving you guys gold, so if you’ve liked any of my other blogs, I’m sure you’ll like this list.

Good grades for days.

Hope you dig it.

Like my page if you want to stay updated on future posts.

Why It’s Crazy That You’ve Never Heard Of Jon Bellion

I discovered Jon Bellion last year during my freshman year of college. I was hanging out with some friends listening to music when my friend played a song by Bellion. I was hooked right away, and it didn’t take long for him to become my favorite artist. His style is very difficult to define to a genre, but if I did my best it would be a mixture of pop and hip hop. Bellion does have a cult following of fans that adore him and his work but compared to many artists Bellion is very low-key, and with the level of his talent that amazes me.

One of my favorite things about Jon Bellion is that he creates his own beats, and even posts videos about him making the songs to media outlets. I love watching the beautifully created songs, because it helps me appreciate his music that much more. Plus I think he makes some really sick beats.

Bellion’s three most recent mixtapes are Translations Through Speaker, The Separation, and The Definition. This year he released three singles as well which are Woodstock, All Time Low, and Woke the F**k Up. He also has featured in Zedd’s song Beautiful Now, which was played on the radio throughout the summer. If I’m being perfectly honest, I can’t even find a song that Bellion has worked on that I have not loved.

Now I’m going to tell you about my favorite song. Bellion’s Jungle, released on his mixtape The Definition, is a song that I absolutely love. Right from the lion’s roar in the beginning of the song, the beat grabs you by the ear drum and doesn’t let go. One listen and you might even be hooked on the Jon Bellion train that got me my freshman year.

Blue Man Group Show Review

Blue Man Group National Tour | Credit photo: ©Paul Kolnik paul@paulkolnik.com nyc 212-362-7778

Blue Man Group National Tour | Credit photo: ©Paul Kolnik paul@paulkolnik.com   nyc 212-362-7778

On Thursday, October 8th 2015 I attended a Blue Man Group performance at Briar Street Theatre. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Blue Man Group, they are a trio of male mimes that are completely covered in blue paint and wear a uniform of black clothing. They are famous for performing entertaining acts that require making noise such as drumming with paint, and also playing active games with each other and their audience.

The Briar Street Theatre is located at 3133 North Halsted, which is in the Lincoln Park (Northside) area of Chicago. The Briar Street Theatre is the home and hub of the Blue Man Group’s performances.

I walked in the theatre at 7:48pm which gave me enough time to chat with the Blue Man Group staff while getting my tickets for the show, proceeding to get my ticket scanned and finding my seat in the theatre’s auditorium. The staff was helpful by informing me of the press kit I was provided with for the show. The staff was also very kind by thanking me for supporting the show.

As I continued to walk in the theatre, I was surprised that I was actually there. I have been a fan of the Blue Man Group since I was a child and have always wanted to attend one of their shows but never had the opportunity until recently. I definitely was excited to be there before the show even began! The ticket-scanners advised me and other audience members to turn off all electronic devices once the show starts. After getting my ticket scanned and finding my seat (which was right in the middle of the theatre’s auditorium), I sat down and turned off my cellphone. After turning off my cellphone, I slowly glanced around the theatre to observe the stage, the abundant amount of stage lights, and the enormous decorative balls hanging above the audience seats. I also noticed many pairs of 2 long plastic, funnel tubes that were also hanging intertwined from the ceiling like chandeliers. Continue reading “Blue Man Group Show Review”

Summer 2015 Mix

Hello Readers!


I’m back with new songs that I have been wanting to share with you!

Hopefully your summer is going great so far. Maybe you’re soaking up a little sun and enjoying the city with your friends; maybe cruising down Lake Shore Drive…and what could possibly make that a little better than some great music to vibe to?

This is the playlist of the summer to keep it “lit”.

Besides featuring new summer jams on this diversified playlist I created below, I would like to introduce you to an underrated and very talented artist. Her name is Leslie Grace.

Leslie Grace - the "Princess" of bachata
Leslie Grace – the “Princess” of bachata

Leslie Grace is a bachata singer of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent.  According to Wikipedia, she has been performing as a singer since she was a toddler. Within the past years, she has been nominated for various awards as a solo artist. Additionally, she has released multiple singles that stay true to her classy demeanor. She should be well acknowledged for “gracefully” making covers of old-fashioned songs such as:

  • “Will you still love me tomorrow?” (Her breakout hit with a hint of Spanglish)

  • “Be my Baby” (another bachata song with a 60s vibe…and Spanglish)

Leslie Grace has kept her genre at heart while creating her new [modernized] music video and song: “Cómo duele el Silencio”.

Be sure to check out the rest of Leslie Grace’s music! Continue reading “Summer 2015 Mix”

Summer 2015 Mix

Hello Readers!


I’m back with new songs that I have been wanting to share with you!

Hopefully your summer is going great so far. Maybe you’re soaking up a little sun and enjoying the city with your friends; maybe cruising down Lake Shore Drive…and what could possibly make that a little better than some great music to vibe to?

This is the playlist of the summer to keep it “lit”.

Besides featuring new summer jams on this diversified playlist I created below, I would like to introduce you to an underrated and very talented artist. Her name is Leslie Grace.

Leslie Grace - the "Princess" of bachata
Leslie Grace – the “Princess” of bachata

Leslie Grace is a bachata singer of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent.  According to Wikipedia, she has been performing as a singer since she was a toddler. Within the past years, she has been nominated for various awards as a solo artist. Additionally, she has released multiple singles that stay true to her classy demeanor. She should be well acknowledged for “gracefully” making covers of old-fashioned songs such as:

  • “Will you still love me tomorrow?” (Her breakout hit with a hint of Spanglish)

  • “Be my Baby” (another bachata song with a 60s vibe…and Spanglish)

Leslie Grace has kept her genre at heart while creating her new [modernized] music video and song: “Cómo duele el Silencio”.

Be sure to check out the rest of Leslie Grace’s music! Continue reading “Summer 2015 Mix”