Lord, please make my path straight!

 

This journey had been the most tear jerking, terrifying, confusing journey I have ever taken. It has made me question things I was sure of like destiny, purpose of faith, identity, and whether I had the capacity to make a wise decision.

It is in the middle of this chaos that I say, Thank God for allowing me to stumble upon this path. I have had to use my faith daily, ask for help, seek guidance, study my surroundings, and trust that there is no thing on earth that could seperate me from His love.

The result of all of this has been a clearer view of how God takes a flawed man and works miracles through their life. My faith has been strengthed through Him showing me impossible situations, and the working the impossible before my very eyes. I am coming to the conclusion that God has been taking care of me in spite of some seriously flawed tendencies. That gives me more joy than I can express. I am so happy to be on this journey. O how amazing God is

Posted in #ivy2ivy, Spiritual | Leave a comment

iLL Brief: One semester in…

www.illholiday.com- So, what does iLL do when he goes back to school? Last year, I left my safety zone! I left home, quit my job, gave up Facebook, left friends and my old neighborhood. I had no idea what lied ahead. I had no idea that I would end up moving 3 times in 6 months, become the mentee of a top exec at the largest software company in the world,  experience the pressure that led 2 classmates to commit suicide this year, rock my first college house show, drop way below a 4.0 gpa, visit the Council on Foreign Relations, meet an US Ambassador for a briefing at United Nations, and deliver my first TED talk.

Ups…Downs…And all around…All the highs and lows gave my psyche whiplash from the sharp turns of this ride. However, I am on this ride to get the prize! I needs that degree! This new year has given me a new outlook. I don’t have it all figured out, but I do have one thing figured out… This will be the making of me!

 

Check out a few things that made this year special for me.

This selection of shots and photo’s don’t tell the whole story of ‘When iLL went to school.” To keep up on what I am seeing and how I am doing, stay tuned to the following social media sites:
www.illholiday.com (HERE)
www.illholiday.tumblr.com
Instagram: @illholiday
Twitter: @classofrap

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Going Away Party: You’re Invited!!

www.illholiday.com #ivy2ivy

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Order tickets via Eventbrite:
Eventbrite - Casey's Going Away Party
http://ivy2ivy-efbevent.eventbrite.com

Come Party With Casey One Last Time!
Free Admission + Free Food

For more information on Casey’s big move, visit www.gofundme/com/ivy-tech-to-ivy-league.

iLL Holiday Going Away Party

Also, check out this short blog article about how I got from community college to the Ivy League: http://www.illholiday.com/2013/06/14/ivy2ivy-5-things-i-did-to-get-into-the-ivy-league/

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#ivy2ivy: 5 things I did to get into the Ivy League

 Tried and true techniques for breezing through community college
written by: Casey Bridgeford

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Casey Bridgeford Smile

1) Start fresh: My high school years were over a long time ago. Even though I wasn’t the best student in high school, I had another chance to do things right. Community college was my fresh start and it could be yours if you let it.

2) Study: In high school my grade point average was 2.8. No elite school is actively recruiting students with a below B average. If you want to increase your gpa, study 3hours for every class session you have. (if a class meets more than once, then allot 3 hours for each session)

3) Grab a friend: If you are struggling in a class, people say to talk to the instructor. This works. But if you grab a classmate, you may get more help on your schedule. I always made friends with peers to get through material with people who were learning material at the same pace I was. My grades are proof that this worked

4) Don’t give up: Nobody sails through community college unscathed by personal drama or academic fatigue. When your crisis comes, don’t give up! Pressing on makes you a better student. I faced fatigue, boredom, and a declining work ethic all at the same time. Even though I earned the first D of my college career during that semester, I finished my community college career with a cumulative grade point average of 3.6.

5) Take a break: I don’t mean an academic break. I’ve seen many peers take a semester off that eventually turns into a year and on some occasions, a decade, off. To stay refreshed, skip a study session every now and then to take a long walk, enjoy a movie, or go to a live show. If you never do what you want to do, you’ll begin to despise the schooling process. I always felt refreshed after

taking time to write a blog post.

Casey Bridgeford is covered by Ivy Tech Magazine

Casey Bridgeford is featured by Ivy Tech Magazine

Casey Bridgeford has launched a fundraising campaign to help defray some of the costs of his move during his studies at UPenn. To learn more, visit http://www.gofundme.com/Ivy-Tech-to-Ivy-League.

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iLL Eats: Iron Skillet [Indianapolis]

http://www.illholiday.com-

Contributed by MalinaSimone

Last Sunday, Steve said one of my favorite lines, “Wanna get something to eat?” I love it when we get to go out to dinner after church. So we tossed around ideas but I’d remembered that I wanted to try Iron Skillet, the large house looking restaurant on the hill at 30th street. Very close to Ritter High School. We pull up in the parking lot and Steve suggests I go in and look at the menu. Translation: make sure we can afford it and there’s something on the menu for the girls. I hop out of the truck and walk under the awning and into the mansion turned restaurant. It had a funny smell, gorgeous Christmas decorations and I only saw older white people. They were eating mashed potatoes and all kind of turned to look at me as I stood in the doorway not knowing what to do. There was no one to greet me and the smell was getting to me so I turned around and got back into the truck. “What’s the verdict?” Steve asked. “It smells funny, I didn’t see a menu and I only saw white people.” Steve does what he does best; got on his ipod touch and looked up reviews for the restaurant. “Yelp gave it good reviews, lets try it.”

We carry the girls into the restaurant and enter the doors again, this time waiting to be greeted and seated. Two men approached us. One was much older, very small and I think he may have had a breathing tube in his nose, he walked by and sat down to rest. The other was gray haired with glasses and welcomed us with a huge smile. He talked to us, talked to the girls and was very, very friendly. He showed us to a table and promised we’d enjoy our stay. As we sat down we did see another black family and for whatever reason, it made us feel better. The menu appeared pricey, with meals between $18 and $26. However, all kids meals under 7 years old are $3 and with every adult meal you get an appetizer, soup, 3 sides, salad, drink and dessert. Our waitress came to the table and had on their standard uniform- a red prairie looking dress. They were all very conservative. I ordered fried chicken and Steve ordered the trio- shrimp, steak and fried chicken. You really only order your meat, the rest is standard.

Once we ordered they brought us apple butter, cottage cheese, pickled beats, biscuits and salad. The girls got apple cider and loved it. I didn’t try the beats but Steve said they were good. I love cottage cheese and the salad was decent. Right after that we got our soup- it was a creamy onion soup with croutons, very good. Sydney loved this soup. Soon after, we received our meals. My fried chicken was perfectly cooked. I’ve been shying away from fried foods, with bones, but this chicken was soooo good. You get it with a GIANT pile of mashed potatoes, corn and green beans. The corn was amazing. It’s hard to mess up corn but it was perfectly buttered and salted. It was so good. The green beans were good. We seriously had no complaints. Steve’s meal was good and we were all stuffed. Once you finish the meal everyone gets an ice cream buffet. You’re served homemade ice cream with strawberry topping, chocolate, butterscotch and peppermint. Even the girls couldn’t finish their ice cream. Everything was very, very good. This is like the soul food restaurant that’s not soul food. Nothing was greasy but everything was really good and I have to note that all of the staff was extremely nice. They were patient and welcoming and just plain nice. We will go back there. I may have a group dinner there or something. Check out the image- its the heap of leftovers we got to take home. I fed myself and the girls dinner the next day with the LEFTOVERS from our meal.

Check it out here, http://www.ironskillet.net/index.html.

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Day 2 in Africa: So this is where I’m staying…


 

www.illholiday.com-

Anytime you beg friends, family, and co-workers to give you thousands of dollars to go meet your estranged family members in a foreign country over 7,000 miles away, things are bound to get interesting. As interesting as things were at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, they didn’t prepare me for where I would be staying.

My driver safely navigated through the streets of Lagos to deliver me to Lekki (Lekki Lagos Nigeria Peninsula is a developing suburb considered a prime real estate location). This trip was a 4-hour feat. That’s right it took four hours to travel to where I would be staying. Along the way we experienced a great cross-section of the diversity that is Lagos.

A man selling watches caught my driver’s eye.  His time pieces were stored away in pockets that had pockets. The street vendor walked alongside us displaying his watches while we crawled through traffic. His best pieces must have been tucked deep because he always had a better watch to show for each one that was rejected. About a half a mile and a dozen watches later we hit a wall [not literally]. My driver needed to make a decision and couldn’t chose between three different pieces. So, the plan was to get off  the exit that was about a half mile up the road. The only thing that seemed like a catch was- traffic picked up and that meant we would leave the vendor in our dust. Much to my surprise he ran all the way to where we parked off of the exit, and was there as soon as we looked around for him. I knew that if my driver wasn’t going to buy a watch, I had to give something to the hardest working watch salesman I had ever seen.

After the excitement over the newly purchased timepiece calmed down, we were now getting hungry. That was not a problem either. Along with mattresses, tires, cabinet sets, magazines, dresses, travel kits, and windshield wipers, there were several food items to be bought while in motion on Lagos roadways. Given my apprehension to eat any of the sliced fruit or unpackaged food, we settled on plantain chips. The chips did exactly what they were designed to do. The kept me from taking a bite out of my driver’s right arm.

Soon, we were in the area where I would be staying. Some of the houses were huge, while others were literally shacks. It was interesting to see such wealth and poverty cohabiting literally feet from each other. One thing was sure, security was a major consideration. Each major estate was only visible above the 8-10 foot wall that guarded it from the outer world. I remembered seeing houses that were guarded like this, once before. The only houses that I had witness using this much security were the ones in Beverly Hills.

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We pulled up to the house about 7 or 8 and I yelled to the driver, “Yo Holmes! Smell ya Later”.

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No, seriously, it was like I had pulled right into a Bel-Air Estate. The one thing that would divert from that comparison, that I noticed right off the bat, was a distinct smell. It wasn’t ganja or anything crazy. It was actually something pretty good. I am at a loss of words for what fragrance it was but it was definitely African. I had smelled this smell at the poetry spots in the US. It was like a black soap/Nag Chompa/shea butter/non-european smell. I wish I could explain it better. Whatever the ingredients, it was both welcoming and fresh!

The maid opened the door and ushered me upstairs to greet the owners of the home, the Desalu Family. I quickly learned that I had family in Nigeria that I didn’t even know about. The owners of the home are not related to me by blood, and yet they treated me as their long lost son. Therefore, they literally turned me into the Fresh Prince from our first conversation. This was the home that they toiled hard to build and I was enjoying the fruits of their labor with maids, drivers, cooks and all!

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When entering the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Desalu, the maid did a curtsey gesture. I first thought that this was done because she was a domestic servant and that it was expected of her. I later saw all people who were younger than the Desalu’s greeted them the same way, no matter their position or profession.  That’s when it became evident to me that Africans have a very deliberate way that they pay respect to their elders. The respect that the maids showed to the Desalu family was indicative of their way of life. I liked that.

Another thing that I liked, was the fact that I had my own wing of the house. The suite where I was staying was fully equipped with a frig, microwave, sitting room, bedroom, and bathroom. The walls were adorned with beautiful art and I had they key to the suite. This was dope!

Every morning breakfast was delivered to me on a tray with linen’s and freshly squeezed orange juice. The only time it didn’t arrive, were days when we had to leave the house early.

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[And yes, they do have Aunt Jemima in Nigeria]

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Outside of my suite was the rest of the beautiful estate, which included: a living room, two sitting rooms, dining area, several bathrooms and bedrooms, an Olympic sized swimming pool, and a back yard with a view of the ocean. You could tell that ‘living’ had gone on in this home, good living.

After the initial shock of the thought of staying with Affluent Africans, I began to see the real value that their home represented. It was a home that entertained guests, raised children into adulthood, housed relatives, and covered this family. It was anything but the empty mausoleums that we often see celebrities use to shield themselves from society. It was a real home of a real family that is doing really good in Africa.

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As you can see, I was involved in a lot of maxing and relaxing during my trip to Nigeria. Check back to hear more about the places I went, people I saw, and the things I did during my time in the Motherland!   


 

Click HERE to learn about my first day in Lagos, Nigeria.

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Back from the MothaLand: The play by play of my journey to seek acceptance on the African Continent///Day 1:The Airport


 

www.illholiday.com

Many Americans go to 3rd world countries with a singular mission, service. For many, this includes building schools, providing drinking water, medical support or even spreading the gospel… While service is always in season, I was not one of those with that mindset. My mission was very specific and I wouldn’t even need my cape for it. Two weeks ago, I was headed to Africa to meet my family.

With financial backing of donors from around the globe, I embarked on a trip that would be full of triumphant success and tragic heartbreak. 10 days in Africa’s most populous city was an unbelievable experience for a person who wondered if he would ever experience life outside of public housing.

I stepped off the plane into a hectic airport that was crawling with what America would call “minorities”. Almost everyone in the whole place was black. The flight attendants rushing to catch outbound flights were black. The concession stands were black-owned and operated.  Black pilots strolled past pulling small small black bags. I was anticipating seeing alot of black, and that’s what I got…all except the line I was in- passing through customs. This line was filled with all the world’s nationalities that weren’t black. If there were “US” and “Them” surveys to complete, I would have clearly had to complete the “Them” survey. to  I seemed to to be part of the small group of people entering Nigeria that day that was black, but wasn’t African.  

While trying to make this a Kodak moment, I quickly learned a lesson. Taking pictures at the wrong time could get me into some big trouble. Immediately after snapping a shot of my first sight in Nigeria, I was approached by two angry guards that wore a look that spoke very clearly. Their facial expression said, “Don’t you know we have back rooms we can take you to and practice interrogation techniques! Keep taking pictures if you want to disappear!” I don’t really know what was coming out of their mouth; but angry is universal, and they were angry!

I began to wonder what lied beyond the airport doors. What would happen once I officially set foot on African dirt? Would I stand out? Would I blend in? Could I shed the “minority” title that strangled my psyche for 30 years? Or, would everyone just snicker and make jokes about the American who was wearing three hats? I pretty much made sure that the depth of Africa’s first impression of me would be “Is wearing three hats a style that is celebrated in America?” Seeing that I am a hat man, I had to give Africa the same first impression that people in cities across the US have of me… I have no problem looking silly to keep my hats from getting smashed.

Once in the car, I began snapping photos again. The only problem, I forgot to ask if it was a good time to resume. One could begin to think that I was intent on ‘not’ being welcomed into Africa. In just a half an hour I had managed to piss off airport security, stick out like a sore thumb wearing several ‘funny looking’ hats at once, and now…Now, I clearly offended a gentleman who was minding his own business until… I began shooting pictures of his airport business.

After this picture, he came and tapped on the car window demanding to be paid for the pictures I took. That’s when I began to wonder if it was safer to take photos of the scenery instead of the people. I’m glad I had a good driver, and he got us out of there with the quickness. That was my first episode of “when being a dumb tourist gets real.”


As we made our way from the airport to where I would be staying, I began to think, “I hope it doesn’t get any worse than this”. Would it get worse? Would I make a better impression on the people related to me? And most importantly, where will I be staying for the next week and a half?

Check back to hear about “So this is where I’m staying“… To be continued!

 

 

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Esperanza’s Story [Show review]


 

www.illholiday.com-

Submitted by Brandon Jackson.



Sometimes a story is only as good as the storyteller, and last Saturday Esperanza Spalding told a story of love, hope, and life during her second visit to the city of Indianapolis. Spalding performed at the Old National Theatre with her 10-piece Radio Music Society Band.  Spalding introduced each member of the band throughout the 2 hour long show as they each brought their own unique flavor to songs like “Black Gold” which backup singer Chris Turner sang out during the interlude. This song also consisted of a dialogue with Spalding as he sang “Was Travon Martin’s life so dispensable?”

Spalding allowed her feelings to take center stage as she played her bass and spoke to the audience while introducing songs like “Smile” in which she stated that, “If you’re not his queen, then he’s not your king,” making reference to how couples should treat each other in their relationships. Spalding also took out time to talk about the Innocence Project which was founded in 1992 to help prisoners prove their innocence through DNA testing. To date over 300 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing because of the vigilance of lawyers who volunteer their service to the Innocence Project. Spalding signed posters, CDs, and t-shirts after her performance from which she donated all proceeds to the organization located in New York.

Spalding is not only a musician who uses her music to bring change, but she is also a musician who doesn’t mind getting to know you if only for a few moments, as she proved during her signing after the concert. To be in the presence of Esperanza Spalding and the Radio Music Society made you feel right as she spoke to the audience as if they were friends that she knew for years. One funny moment during the show was when someone’s phone rang as she started to introduce the next song, and she reached out her hand and stated “Is that for me?” During her rendition of Michael Jackson’s “I Can’t Help It,” she wasted no time upping the energy level as she played her bass with ease and captivated the audience as she danced as if she was the only one in the room. Something else that stood out during her set was the life size boom box that sat on stage as Spalding actually used the prop throughout the show and made reference to as she introduced her last piece entitled “Radio Song.” Spalding had the audience laughing as she talked about how a bad day could go by being stuck in traffic on your way to an interview, but somehow that day would turn out good because you found your favorite song on the radio. Aside from the feeling that Spalding seemed like your best friend or your fun-loving sister, you still could not ignore the fact that she is a musical genius and a true musical icon in the making.

Read more of Brandon’s writing on Esperanza, HERE. Get a FREE TEE for you and a Friend by guessing this Esperanza Spalding SONG.

 

Posted in New Music, Reviews, Shows | Leave a comment

Send Me Home to Nigeria!


 

www.illholiday.com-


When I was six years old, my mother revealed my father’s identity to me. Even though she had raised me without and help from him,  she spoke of him as one of the most genuine and noble men she had ever met. For the next 20 years, I was obsessed with connecting to the man whom I admired, but didn’t know. The truth is that, my father didn’t even know I existed until I was 27 years old. Thousands of prayers, Google searches and Nigerian news articles later, I found a living person with my father’s last name.

It showed up in the strangest of places. I found the last name, IGBOYI, on Facebook. The first Igboyi I found was my cousin. Afterwards, I met my little sister. Then I met the rest of my family. This marked a new era of my life. Now, I would be forever be connected to Africa, directly through my family.

It has been 3 years since I first connected with my sister on Facebook. She has graduated from college, started a career, and found love. She is now preparing to marry the man of her dreams and I want to be there! Help me make it to Nigeria for my sisters wedding on October 15, 2012. This will be my chance to meet my father face to face as well as the Nigerian family that I have never known.

You can help me by visiting this link: http://www.gofundme.com/get-me-to-nigeria

 

—————–

Bio

Casey Bridgeford is an award-winning American hip hop artist and community activist. Professionally known as “iLL Holiday”; his music drives listeners to live healthy lifestyles. He runs a blog that is quickly becoming a medium for sharing new music, fashion and culture from around the globe.

 

Casey’s community work has allowed him to develop his city’s first and only city-wide peace tour. He currently works to develop young professionals who have an interest in working in the non-profit sector.

 

Learn more about Casey “iLL Holiday” Bridgeford at the following links:

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/caseybridgeford

Facebook: www.facebook.com/illigans

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A Deep Introspection Into My Last Show [Video] + Blue Moon Sunday


 

http://www.illholiday.com

Today I witnessed something kinda puzzling. As I walked through the parking lot to work, a woman was driving behind me trying to leave the parking lot. I first noticed that I needed to pick up the pace so she could get out. That’s when she unintentionally caught my attention. And no, she didn’t catch my attention in that way! She caught my attention by the serious bass-line in her music. She was an African American female who was about 50 years old and she was listening to some hardcore rap music.

As she got closer, I could make out a rhyme pattern that affirmed my initial suspicion. Yep, that was definitely rap. The next thing that I heard was a familiar voice. RICK ROSS!!! Yep, Mr. Rozay was getting some major airtime in her 2008 Chrysler Jeep. But why? Why would any 50 year old woman with good sense be listening to Rick Ross on her way to work? Was there someone behind the driver’s seat with a gun pointed into her back forcing her to pretend she was down with the original Maybach prison guard?

I thought she would be into some smooth jazz or something. I guess I was wrong…

Even though this woman defied all of my stereotypes, I had an experience at my last set that reaffirmed many positive stereotypes about doing church events.

Last Friday [August 17] I participated in an event that was completely refreshing for me.  It was my first experience sharing rhymes within a church (besides my home church) in over 5 years. This event caused more anxiety than most of my shows because I knew that people would be coming with their cups turned up. I knew that faking wasn’t an option and that empty lyrics would only mean missed opportunity. I knew that- just  superdope beats- or Rick Rozay flossing, wouldn’t cut the mustard. People would attend this event looking for hope, inspiration, and a spiritual connection. They would be looking for GOD.

I Give Myself Away

Any artist that is faced with a crowd like this must first acknowledge that they will not, and can not measure up to the need of the crowd. They must call for backup. They must call on the giver of the gift. So that’s just what I did.

It was T minus 30 minutes till showtime and I took a walk. I took a walk to ask God to give me something to say to his people. I completely believe in the gift and talent that he gave me. However, I lacked a belief in my ability to deliver. I didn’t believe that I was ready to stand in front of his people again and deliver a performance that was worthy of their attention. My mind was clouded with thoughts of: the argument I had with my wife, the upcoming school semester, the piles of work that I left on my desk earlier that day, and all the people I forgot to invite to this event.

Hopefully, this paints a picture of what shape I was in as I smiled at the event organizer and told them I would forgo using any music on this set. Wait, what did I just say? Did I just say I was going to forgo the one thing that could mask my complete unpreparedness for this show? Did I just dive off the cliff of stability into the sea of uncertainty? Did I just take a shaky show format and remove any resemblance of structure?

Yes I did…And here is how it went:

May A&B selection went over well with the people who were there because they heard a good word in my performance. The event went well for me because God proved to me that He could even use me when I was most distracted and felt the farthest from Him.

Liberation A.M.E. Zion is not my church. However, I was liberated last Friday. I believe the people were liberated also.

If you would like to experience my music in a non-religious setting please check out my YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/ill95.

If you would like to see me LIVE, come on out to the Madame Walker Theatre on Sunday at 7pm to experience the amazing Jazz/Poetry/Open Mic Experience called Blue Moon Sunday.

The cover charge is $5 and the entertainment is top notch. The Rob Dixon Trio is the feature and the open mic list will be waiting for your name. Even if you don’t get on the list…This is an event you don’t want to miss!!!

 

Posted in iLL EXXXCLUSIVES, New Music, Reviews, Shows, Spiritual, Videos | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Black Radio- Yasiin Bey Lyric Video


 

http://www.illholiday.com

Pure hot jazz-hiphop-fusion-experimentation-mix…

YaWelcome!

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Yasiin Bey’s New Muhammed Ali Ad + Louis Vuitton

http://www.illholiday.com-

Round 1: DREAM

Stuart A. McIntyre is represented exclusively by Steam Films.

See more of his work here: http://vimeopro.com/steamfilms/stuart-a-mcintyre

Production House: Steam Films Executive Producers: Krista Marshall Director: Stuart A. McIntyre Producer: Paul Matthews Cinematographer: Kris Belchevski Camera Operators: Stuart Cameron, Claudio Manni, Luis Moreira Editing: Posterboy Edit Executive Producer: Michelle Lee Editor: Stephan Sora Colour: Alter Ego Executive Producer: Greg Edgar Colourist: Wade Odlum Online: Motor VFX Flame Artist: Daniel Kelly Music House: Apollo Studios Executive Producers: Benedicte Luneau, Koo Abuali, Phillipe-Auburt Messier, Yan Dal Santo Music: Mathieu Brault, Daenen Bramberger, Mike Wise Sound Design: Yan Dal Santo

Full Campaign Here: http://www.louisvuittonjourneys.com/thegreatest/ www.steamfilms.ca www.steamygoss.tumblr.com Facebook.com/Steamfilms Twitter.com/SteamFilms

Round 2: WORD

Full Campaign Here: http://www.louisvuittonjourneys.com/thegreatest/ www.steamfilms.ca www.steamygoss.tumblr.com
Facebook.com/Steamfilms
Twitter.com/SteamFilms

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Africa is Worldwide!!!

www.illholiday.com-

 

If you thought African culture has been more visible in the last 5 years, you are right! I bet you never thought Mexico and Australia were two strong promoters of the Motherland.

This Afro Pop mix sounds like something that you would hear on the dance floors of the UK! Nope its our Amigos from Mexico!

Check out Australia’s Most Infamous dj, DJ IZ, as he drops an Afrobeat behind Bruno Mars’ ‘Just the Way You Are’

Dj IZ allows you vibe out South African style to a Deep House Mix

Let’s take it to China!

 

 

 

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Sean Grant turns business success into a win for his country!


 

www.illholiday.com-

Written by iLL Holiday

Success is a word often used to describe the process of achieving one’s goals. Even though it can be very specific, it also can be universally vague. For Sean Grant, success has been an ongoing journey as well as a present reality. In conversation with him, I learned that I need to re-examine my definition of success. Sean’s journey, from a South American village to becoming the ‘it-man’ for major brands looking to break into the Midwest market, has been riddled with setbacks, upsetting moments, and tremendously inspiring experiences.

Life in Guyana was not easy for Sean. He grew up in a small house with a host of siblings and relatives. Everything that he owned was also owned by family and sometimes friends, too. His upbringing planted seeds for his future philanthropic endeavors. It seems, by being forced by circumstance to share, he developed a willingness to make sure that those around him profited when he did. At the age of ten his mother and father split. As a result, Sean’s mother decided to move him and his siblings to America.

Coming to America was supposed to be a great opportunity to experience everything he was missing in Guyana. Much to Sean’s surprise, it was just the opposite. Even though he never had much in growing up in Guyana, bullying was something he had never experienced. He was teased for the off-brand clothing that he wore and the accent that made it evident that he wasn’t from New York. This made going to school very challenging for Sean. His boisterous persona turned into an introverted shell of what it was in his homeland. Withdrawing from others made him determine to himself that he would never be poor once he had to opportunity to make his own decisions.

One of the first decisions that Sean made as a young man was to leave college and enlist in the United States Army. He ended up serving and fighting in Kuwait and served one tour of duty. It was upon his return to the US that he met his wife and early business partner, Tanja. Tanja was stationed in the Southwest when they met and was ending her tour at the same time as Sean. They decide to move to New York and start their family.

While in New York, and expecting their first child, Sean decided entrepreneurship was for him. His first business ventures were a mixture of manual labor start-ups. He tried everything from a courier service to selling auto parts. Each business gave him a minimal return and even created more problems than they solved. The family then decided to move to the Midwest.

With their new change of scenery, they both settled into jobs in Indianapolis. This was a very trying time for Sean. He knew that his calling was in business ownership; not working for an hourly wage. After months of conversations, arguments, and a final resolution; Sean and Tanja cashed in their family savings to invest in inventory for the newest business venture, R&S Menswear.

One scripture that Sean often quotes is “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” Zachariah 4:10. Just as his life has been, R&S Menswear has also been a real life illustration of this. Before there ever was a storefront, there was a car trunk. Sean went into barber shops candy stores and beauty salons to sell men’s and women’s clothing right from his trunk. Eventually, he grew to rent a kiosk in the middle of the mall. Within a year, R&S signed its first lease as a tenant of Washington Square Mall. This was a point of celebration and validation. Sean and Tanja had grown a small peddling business into a full fledged shop. Even though they were the only two employees; that was just fine by them. They were now in business for themselves.

Today, the business has 2 locations in prominent malls that are managed by Sean and Tanja. But that growth does not begin to explain the business’ success. The success of the business can be seen in the faces of the employees. As a volunteer at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, Sean mentors men who are within a year of release. Many call him at home or at one of the stores as soon as they are released. Looking for work, residence, and clothing, they rely on Sean to assist them in getting settled back into society. Sometimes, this turns into long term employment opportunities for those who have a strong work ethic and desire to be in the retail business. Each employee that works at R&S Menswear has a story to tell of how the store and its owner were there for them just when they needed it.
He has also helped his family back in Guyana. A recent trip to his homeland was not to enjoy his American riches in the sun, but to commission a fresh water installation in a remote village in Guyana. Through his leadership in collaboration with an Indianapolis based church organization S.W.I.G. (Safe Water in Guyana), Sean gave the gift of fresh water to local Guyanese residents who desperately needed it. This gift has made local and international news.

Sean’s success has been all about helping people. He has helped himself and family by building and enterprise from the ground up. He helped his community by providing jobs and opportunities to Indianapolis residents for over 12 years. He helped his homeland by building a water purification system that allows villagers to enjoy one of life’s necessities. Even though Sean’s life begins within the context of a struggle to survive, it is now and will continue to be successful.

 

 

Read more about the water treatment plant here: http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2011/09/09/new-water-treatment-plant-commissioned-at-highbury/

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iLLIGAN EXXXCLUSIVE: Young Africa brings its best to the US


 

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President Obama is the first US president to assemble a group of young African leaders in Washington DC to celebrate their work and match them with mentors in the United States. Since taking office, the Obama has met with 2 cohorts of young African leaders and First Lady Obama has met with one cohort of African women leaders.

Recently, iLL Holiday Dot Com had the opportunity to sit and chat with a young leader who has been included in both initiatives.

Refiloe Seseane is known throughout South Africa for her work on the soap opera Generations, her co-hosting role on the African game show Out of The Box, as well as her CNBC experience as a financial analyst. With all of her accomplishments, she allows nothing to overshadow her passion for young high school girls. She mentors and provides financial support to young ladies that aspire to attend college but are prevented by the high price of local universities.

Seseane started a small non profit in 2008 at the height of the global recession. Since then she has grown 18Twenty8 to become an award-winning NGO with international recognition. Twice she has been recognized by the White House as an emerging African Leader that should not be ignored. Her work has even caught the attention of Oprah Winfrey.

In our conversation with Seseane, we dove into her experience of  “Coming to America”.  “Americans are very condescending when speaking to Africans,” she shares. “Young African leaders were invited by President because we are the crème de la crème of our respective fields,” Seseane adds.

Although, some Americans did quite know what to make of Seseane and the other 61 young African leaders, she also speaks about how the experience has been one she is deeply grateful for.

Overall, Seseane is not wasting time worrying about the staggering number of stereotypes that Americans hold against, nor the challenges that kill most NGO’s before they get started. She is focused on expanding her programming to far reaches of South Africa and maybe even internationally, while writing history in the process!

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Tomorrow on iLL Holiday Dot Com


 

www.illholiday.com-

She was brought to America by President Obama. She returned to South Africa today.

Find out what she was doing here and what she wants you to know about her recent trip to America, tomorrow on iLL Holiday Dot Com!

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iLL Show ALERT: Dope Music [plus] Good Food [plus] Wierd People [minus] Anything played on the Radio = IMAF 2012


 

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The Independent Music and Arts Festival 2012 [IMAF] Presents iLL Holiday and Luke Austin Daugherty!

Come out to get another dose of the dopeness! The Independent Music and Arts Festival [IMAF] is coming to the home of the iLLiGANS! Indy will host a day of independent music, eclectic art, food, and fun at The Harrison Center of Arts. The show is free and the atmosphere will be explosive. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Independent-Music-and-Art-Festival-IMAF/61877476079

IMAF is a FREE festival that takes place on the second Saturday of June, from 12:00 noon until 8:00pm. Twelve acts perform on two stages in the exterior courtyard of the Harrison Center while 100+ vendors from the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange display and sell their contemporary crafts and handmade goods on the grounds of the Harrison Center and throughout the building. The Lord of the Yum Yum returns this year as emcee.

The 2012 IMAF lineup:

12:00-12:35 The Goodnight Fields
12:40-1:15 Luke Austin Daugherty & iLL Holiday
1:20-1:55 Shelby County Sinners
2:00-2:35 Rusty Redenbacher
2:40-3:15 Lord of the Yum Yum
3:20-3:55 Bashiri Asad
4:00-4:35 Five Year Mission
4:40-5:15 Hero Jr.
5:20-5:55 Native Sun
6:00-6:35 Cabin
6:40-7:15 Goliathon
7:20-8:00 Ranger

This year’s food and beverage vendors are Judge’s Barbeque, Duos slow food fast, Sun King Brewing Company and New Day Meadery. VSA returns with “Here’s the Scoop!” Buy the ice cream, keep the ceramic dish!

In the Harrison Gallery – Lobyn Hamilton. In the City Gallery – paintings by Emma Converse

With support from: Apparatus, Inc., Sun King Brewing Company, Kuhl & Grant, Whitsett Group, NUVO, the Arts Council of Indianapolis, Christel DeHaan Family Foundation, the Indiana Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, PRN Graphics, IMC Indy’s Music Channel and Amy McAdams Design.

Oh, and don’t forget to grab a CD and an Official ‘THE ILLEST’ TEE at the show! [cash or credit accepted]

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Super Sandwiches at Goose the Market!


 

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The Super Bowl is Over, but it’s not too late to enjoy a Super Sandwich at Goose the Market!

Goose the Market, located at the northeast corner of 25th and Delaware, is a delicatessen, meat market, enoteca (Italian for wine repository–trust me, I googled it), local food market, and dining and shopping experience that harkens back to the customer service experience of days gone bye. This unique neighborhood establishment is the brainchild of Chris Eley, an Indianapolis native and Purdue graduate.
Okay, okay, now to the food: My colleagues and I ventured to Goose the Market on a warm, sunny Friday afternoon. (Please note the beautiful outdoor picture of the building’s façade). This was not my first time at the Goose, and it definitely would not be my last. We were there that day for one reason: to eat the famous Batatali sandwich named after Armandino Batali, father of world-renowned chef Mario Batali. The Batali and a sandwich known as “the Goose” are the two constants on the Goose’s daily changing sandwich menu (which generally features about six options). The other four sandwiches are creative food masterpieces designed by the Goose staff, who have a talent for blending fresh, local, savory, sweet, and spicy ingredients to create an explosion for your taste buds. But, I digress.
The Batali is a beautiful eight-inch gourmet sandwich on a French baguette. This is not a hoagie that has been thrown together; this is a sandwich that marries spicy coppa, soppressata, capocolla , provolone cheese, tomato preserves, hot giardinara, marinated red onion, mayo and romaine. If you have certain dietary needs, you can substitute as needed on the sandwich. This sandwich is a taste of heaven, and for me that heavenly experience lasts about ten minutes, since I devour it so quickly.
Goose the Market has outdoor tables, counter-style seating on the main floor, and community dinning in the enoteca. I especially recommend sitting in the enoteca because there, you’ll almost always meet fun, interesting, cool people from all walks of life. The only negative about Goose the Market is it’s a little pricey, but the quality food, knowledgeable staff, service and ambience make it well worth the price. DID I MENTION that the Goose serves Italian gelato that you can sample before you buy? I suggest the oatmeal stout gelato or any of the fruit flavors. Heck–try them all!
Please don’t walk, but run to Goose the Market for an excellent local food experience. The Goose receives 10 out of 10 on my scale. www.goosethemarket.com; open Monday thru Friday 10-8pm and Saturday 10-6. Tell them Hatch sent you when you stop by.

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iLLIGAN EXXXCLUSIVE: One woman dares to change culture of skateboarding


For the past 10 years skateboarding has become a multi-billion dollar industry that has gained a lot of attention due to skate legends like Tony Hawk, actor Jason Lee, Paul Rodriguez, and Rob Dyrdek. The skateboarding culture sprang up in the late 40′s and early 50′s when surfers were trying to find something to do when the waves were down. Skateboarding has even caught the attention of rap artist Lil Wayne who has been spotted in Brooklyn skateboarding and hanging out at local skate shops. Skateboarding has continued to grow to make southern California the hot spot for enthusiasts from all over the world.
One person who has dedicated her life to skateboarding is Traci Johnson, founder of Culture Skateboards based in Brooklyn, New York. Traci Johnson, along with her husband Jay, started the company in 2007 based on their passion for making a difference in the lives of young people. Johnson, who is a former science teacher, spent many years in southern California in the late 80′s and in the early 90′s when the sport was at its peak. She is an avid skater who first saw the need to do more for young people after seeing how much they wanted a skate park. Johnson has been recognized as the first African-American woman to bring awareness to the sport. ILLHOLIDAY Dot Com caught up with Johnson to speak about Culture Skateboards and the importance of building a skate park in Brower Park in Brooklyn.

Culture Skateboard Interview/Traci Johnson:

IH: Can you discuss why the culture of skateboarding is relevant today to so many young people?
TJ: I think what’s interesting about skateboarding is that it has evolved a great deal over the years. If you dressed like a skater back in the day, people didn’t really embrace the sport and what skaters were doing. Today, you have so many rap artists and well-known people who dress like skaters. I remember having over 100 skaters show up to a meeting I had with Senator Eric Adams who I was trying to get to assist me with building a skate park in Brower Park. He was expecting the huge turnout of kids for the meeting. I think this shows why it’s so relevant to kids today.

IH: I know that you’re a New York native, but lived in California for many years. How did your background influence you and your husband’s decision to start Culture Skateboards in New York?

TJ: It was a great experience living out in California. I attended classes on some of those same College campuses where some of those early classic skateboarding videos were filmed. It was very different in California vs. New York in terms of skateboarding. In California there was a great connection among the skaters; in New York-not as much. This influenced me a great deal when we moved back to New York and started our company.

IH: After reaching out to Senator Eric Seats for assistance , what was the response like from the community when you were trying to pull all of this together?

TJ: We received a good response from the community. I actually reached out to professional skater Rob Dyrdek for advice on how to start. One of the main things he stressed in a letter he sent to me was gaining the support of the community. I took that advice and gained support from different business owners around the Brower Park, I gained the trust of some of the basketball players who played at the park, and I also reached out to the senator who was very supportive in what we were trying to do. At the time I was carrying my first child, so it was a very meaningful place in my life when all of that was going on. It took over 2 years to get everything worked out. The skate park was built in 2011.

IH: I understand that you were a teacher for 15 years. What do you tell young people today who want to make skateboarding a career?

TJ: I always tell the kids on our team that injuries happen. You have to make sure that you’re doing what you need to do in the classroom in case skateboarding doesn’t become a career. I remember one of our best skaters got injured. A lot of our kids saw him struggling and realized injuries are real. The kids on our team have to maintain a certain G.P.A. if they want to continue riding for Culture Skateboards.

IH: What are your future plans for Culture Skateboards?

TJ: I would like to expand the company internationally. I would also like to build another skate park and expand on things that we learned from building the first one. Lastly, I think I would like to continue build diversity within my company . I think diversity is important when it comes to the sport of skateboarding.

To find out more about Culture Skateboards visit www.cultureskateboards.com .

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iLLIGAN EXXXCLUSIVE: Nasimiyu Talks with iLL Holiday Dot Com

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Nasimiyu Interview: By Brandon Jackson

Nasimiyu (na-sim-ee-yoo) is singer who has broken the rules of what a new artist should be. Her style which has been defined as the “Nola” sound is a mixture of Esperanza Spalding and Nina Simone. She is a singer, songwriter, and a performer who has allowed her passion for music and her love for writing poetry to define what she does well: Creating music for the world to hear and making people feel special by her heartfelt lyrics. Nasimiyu shared some of her thoughts with Illholiday.com about her growth as an artist and what music means to her.

iH: How have you evolved as an artist throughout the years in an industry that looks more at image than talent?

N: I don’t worry about what the industry wants. I follow artists that put music first. I feel lucky to be a part of a community that does the same.

iH: Can you explain the Nola sound and what the world should expect from a new artist such as yourself?
Nola has a lot of different sounds, but I think the one thing they all have in common is grit. That has definitely rubbed off on me in my time here.

iH: Who were your musical influences growing up?

N: When I was a little kid I was obsessed with classical music, theatrical soundtracks, and top-40 radio. I loved Beethoven, Singing in the Rain, and young Mariah Carey.
In my early teenage years, when I had started writing songs myself, I was all about Fiona Apple, film scores, and underground hip hop.

iH:iH: Can you talk about the process for creating your album “Rules Aren’t Real”? What should listeners expect from this album?

N: You can expect a very colorful palette of sounds, styles, and moods. The eclecticness of my personality has been allowed to shine through in every way on this album, with literally no limits.

The process of producing this album has been a huge undertaking. At times it seemed like it wouldn’t ever be brought to fruition due to lack of resources, funding, and support. It’s really been an uphill battle to bring this thing into the world, but the music and the messages are so deeply important to me. I had no choice but to fight it out to the finish. I put everything on the table to make it happen.

I really have to thank the engineer Ben Lorio for saving this project when it looked like all hope was lost. He took on the project based on what seemed like sheer faith alone, and he helped make it the incredible album that it is.

iH: JuJu Association has done a lot as far as helping you launch your career. Can you talk about how you started working with them and what their vision is as an organization (Are they a label or just a company)?

N:JuJu Association was the first group of people to ever take a chance on me as a new artist. I believe in what they do because they are the only music media resource in New Orleans that actually has their ear to the street rather than in the press. JuJu isn’t a label, more so just a group of writers, musicians, filmmakers, and photographers, do-ers working to build a grassroots artist’s community and make cool things happen.

I started working with them after they came to one of my live shows. They were interested in my work, and wanted to shoot a take-away video with me, and that’s how our working relationship took off. It’s been growing ever since, and now JuJu is responsible for my management, as well. I couldn’t have asked for a better team. I wouldn’t be here without them.

iH: I had the pleasure of interviewing Stokley from Mint Condition last year. He talked about the Minneapolis sound and how it influenced a number of artists past, present, and future. What are your thoughts on playing there this month knowing that there is such a rich history there?

N: I actually grew up in the Twin Cities so it’s really exciting for me to be able to bring my sound back home to its roots, where it all began. I love how open-minded and art-oriented people are in Minneapolis. I’m really excited to find out what the response to my music will be like.

iH: What other projects are you working on this year?

N: I’m in an Indie band called Saint Bell, in which I sing back-up vocals and play drums. I’m currently producing that band’s EP.
In addition to that, I have been working on collaboration between an emcee, a guitarist/producer, and myself under the collective identity of The Almighty Open Mind. I’ve also been recording some stuff with Colorado-based producer, Paper Diamond, which has been a ton of fun! In my other time, I run a performing arts program for people with disabilities and we are producing a musical that I wrote based on their lives and experiences. All of these projects enrich me in completely different and amazing ways. I am super grateful to be able to spend all the hours of my day being creative.

You can learn more about Nasimiyu at http://www.nasimiyu.com/bio/.

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