What do I do with this revolution…?

What do I do with this revolution that’s flowing through my veins?
Biko didn’t die for this
King didn’t cry for this
Parks didn’t defy for this
Shabazz wouldn’t comply with this
Not for this. Not for this. Not for This!

Mandela took the throne for times like these
Obama made a home in times like these
Mugabi & Gadafi made could probably
be the most Godly in the lobby
philosophically are dethroned
in times like these
Whenever the pulpit bears politicians
dressed up as Godly visions
I must nod my head, so they think
that I be listenin
When what I’m really thinking
is what I’m always thinking

What do I do with this revolution that’s racing through my veins?

Do I bottle it up & try to turn the page?
Do I write a rap & burn the stage?
How much does it cost to earn my cage?
They call me beast, cause they can’t discern my rage!

Does it have something to do with my age?
Will it go away? Is it a phase?
Can I be delivert,
if I prays?
Can I overcome it
with my praise?
Can I set it down
and hope it lays?

Why Pres silent on this
but speak up for Gays?
Does he identify with them more
than he do our race?
Does he know we suffer
Whether Gay or Straight?
Does he know our mothers
wanna change our names?
So we can get jobs
as high paid slaves?
Does he see us slain
on streets we paved..
So that their goods
can get home safe?

What do I do with this revolution that’s pumping through my veins?

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Casey Bridgeford

Ten years in, and a very windy road to look back on…I made the decision to return to school. It felt like a big gamble at the time. What if I wasn’t able to succeed in the class? How was I gonna pay for it? Where would I find the time between working full time and raising a family? How would others perceive me once it was obvious that I didn’t have a degree?

These questions plagued my mind, but didn’t deter me. Without answers, I looked for answers to more important questions, like: What if I made some life-changing contacts? What if I got a job making a livable wage? What if I could use a degree plus experience to do work I was really interested in? What if I could get my family off of food stamps? What if we finally had money to buy nice things outside of tax refund season? What if I became an expert at something? What if new doors of opportunity are opened up? What if…

Out of all the questions I had, I never wondered about “what if I get straight As?” What if community college landed me on the local news? What if I apply and get accepted to an Ivy League school? What if my whole family is featured on the from page of the Philadelphia newspaper and I get to do my first TED talk? I never wondered, what if I get a job at Wharton and a contract with Microsoft?

I never wondered about being scheduled to travel to Africa’s biggest music festival with a class full of some of the world’s smartest people. I never wondered how my future identity would be shaped by the things I learned about South African, Japanese, Nigerian, Zimbabwean, Ghanaian, Central American, and American history.

I never realized that I needed this experience to really see the world. Not like the television portrays the world, but really see it. I now am seeing the pressure that the “model minority” mindset places on Asian Americans. I understand the pressure of the Nigerian young adult that has to have the painful conversation with their parents that they wont be enrolling into med school, but would rather study sociology. I now understand that the gnawing feeling that I was missing out on something; was real. I have been missing out on the real world, and school is introducing me to it.

My turning started with a big decision and continues with an even bigger journey. This upcoming trip to Grahamstown is just one of the many milestones of of my life’s journey, but learning about the country, history, and context of one of Africa’s youngest democracies; is bound to make this milestone one of the most important of my life’s story.

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Open Letter to Africans: Africa must claim its lost children



Last week, I sent a letter to many of my African friends, family, mentors and classmates. This email was inspired by many of the things I have heard African Americans say about Africans and vice versa. Not only is there a growing rift between the two groups, neither has effectively addressed the misinformation that drives this rift deep and wide. The purpose of this email is to implore Africans to welcome Blacks from around the world back to their rightful home.

[Originally drafted 7:00 am – August 2, 2014]
African Family (African friends, family, mentors, and classmates)!

Hopefully, you all are enjoying your summer. Please excuse this lengthy email. I have had the pleasure of speaking with each of you over the last year about many things close to my heart. (If I blind copied you, some things in this message may not be directly applicable to you) One of the things that is very important to me is the state of blacks in America.

I never realized the difference of experience/perspective between being African American and Africans-in-America before meeting all of you. The more I learn, the more I feel compelled to explain what it means to have the African-American consciousness; not so you can share this consciousness but, so that you understand that this is the perspective of your brothers and sisters who were born into captivity in a foreign land.

[To get a better understanding of what I mean by implying that African-Americans are still being held in captivity in America, please take a few moments to check out this video that MIT professor and world-renowned scholar Noam Chomsky had to say about Blacks in America. It challenges the belief that America has transformed into a place where the opportunity to excel is offered equitably to all who are considered American citizens.]

The biggest temptation is to look at African Americans with pity. They/We are the most lazy, immoral, unmotivated, oversexed, ratchet, dishonest, uneducated, and backwards people on the planet. That is the exact same lens by which many African Americans see their distant relatives in Africa. This lens is very powerful and further creates an unbelievable amount of psychological division. It lures the seer into believing the most absurd things about their brothers and sisters. It is what has kept generations of African Americans from seeking freedom at home instead of this foreign land. “If Africans are really all of those things that the Master says they are, it makes no sense to fight to go back there; we’re better off doing our best to make a life right here.”

On the other hand, you all have helped me understand that the smear campaign works both ways. Every year, the richest and most prominent Africans send thousands of their babies oversees to US [and UK] schools. Why do they do this? Is it so they can learn more about the diaspora, spread their African heritage to distant lands, learn about how their brothers and sisters have been fairing for the last 400 years? No! My father, like many of your relatives [and some of you] came to the US to learn the white man’s English, mathematics, and economics, in order to seal your own economic fate and the economic fate of your familiesAfricans come to America to learn the European way of ruling the world, period. Having this mindset is predicated on the belief that African Americans have neither anything to offer many Africans, and also are in no position to get anything from them. There is, however, a folly in this pursuit. One must have a tremendous amount of ignorance to pay a fortune, travel thousands of miles, be surrounded by people who look just like them, and never wonder if that people had something essential to offer. Rather than look to this people for any insight into resilience, self-determination, and perseverance; to rather, focus on the worst examples of this people and write them off as a lost cause, is indeed foolish.

I am writing this to you in hopes of enlightening each of that your fate is pretty much sealed. You are studying in the epicenter of global capitalism, you come from a rich heritage, and have excellent connections. You are rubbing shoulders with future billionaires and possibly the world’s first trillionaires. Bottom line- you may not know how your life will unfold, however, its very possible that poverty and despair will not be what characterizes your legacy. However, that does not ensure that you or your generation will do anything to repair the ancient rift that continues to separate your people.

Many people think that African Americans being re-united with Africa is a preposterous idea. Critics say things like: There is just too much complexity! Where would they go? Who’s gonna pay for it? What about mixed races? Do African-Americans even want to come here?  It just doesn’t make sense! Besides, its been nearly 400 years since the Africans were first stolen and taken to America. However, what many people fail to understand is that the Israelites have shown that a mass exodus is both possible and plausible. The Israelite people were held in captivity in Egypt for 430 years. Many Israelites had no desire to leave Egypt even though they were being oppressed. The Israalites were a racial minority. The Israelites are thought of as being one nation, however, they originated from 12 different nations (tribes). The Israelites were slaves and held little wealth of their own. Though forbidden to by Biblical law, many Israelites willingly or unwillingly mixed with Egyptians while in captivity, making any kind of extrication even more complicated.

Somehow, through Moses’ leadership, a decision was made to depart from the land of captivity. Not only was this decision made, a plan was crafted, and action was taken. The Egyptians were in Egypt longer that Blacks have been held captive here in America. Their situation was complex. They, literally built Egypt just like blacks have built America. Not everyone agreed that it was a good idea to leave. Not everyone felt like they were being ‘held in captivity.’ That didn’t change the fact that it was impossible to have a mighty nation while remaining in captivity.

I am not suggesting that there will be an African exodus in my lifetime (though I would wholeheartedly support one). However, I am implying that each of us has a duty to understand the real trauma that our people are facing because of the tremendous brain drain that our continent is facing. We have Africans around the world building great nations, but afraid to come home. Beyond becoming educated in economics, finance, engineering, and medicine, Africans are being educated in the science of ‘fear of home’ and in the art of ‘hatred of self.’

 You and I are on the fast track to become one of these ‘extremely educated, extremely successful’ Africans who worked hard, got ahead, and left no legacy of unification. I encourage you not to be that. Instead, embrace your brothers and sisters in America, in Europe, in South America, and all over. Learn from them, teach them, and hang out the welcome mat. Welcome African brilliance back to the continent, wherever it is. Become a leader of the mental exodus back home. We have the power to bring the knowledge from the west back home, but do we have the conviction to bring the integrity of home to the world? Do we have the moral compass to defy capitalism when it means personal gain at collective expense? Do our hearts possess the the character that says, “I will eat when my people can eat?” Do we have the clarity to understand that united we stand and divided we fall?

People keep saying that the face of African leadership can change when the youth stand up. I, personally, fear this! If young people are learning how backwards their people are and how silly their values are, there is no way they can lead their people forward. However, they can become the most dangerous enemies that their people have ever seen. I encourage you, don’t let this system turn you into that.

Revisiting the Jewish example, there is much to be learned about taking care of our own. Present day Israelites are born with a right to a Jewish passport and a birth right to visit Israel, no matter where in the world they are born. No matter how many generations have passed, they are always welcome home. They don’t have to live in Israel to feel like they are Jewish. Even poor Jews in foreign countries have a 10-day free trip to Israel to use sometime in their lifetime. If I were Jewish, I’d feel a connection to Israel that many African Americans don’t feel to Africa. We have the power to learn from this example of how to treat the diaspora.

A great start is the refusal to believe the hype that African Americans are just lazy, whiners, who are to be completely blamed for their own condition. I/they are kidnapped children who are struggling to make sense of our captors ways and our parents’ rejection. I/they are told by America that we should let go of everything that is African about us (skin color, hair texture, rhythm, love of music, love of our people, etc.) so that we can better fit into American society. I/they are also told by Africa that any dying connection to the continent is no longer relevant.

It is your duty and my duty to counter these messages with our work, lives, and legacy. We must show the world that the Nigerian, Ghanaian, South African way way is neither worst, nor substandard to the British, American, or German way. We must also, and more importantly, prove that time and distance can separate us, but when we really listen to each other and learn from each other, we are stronger than ever!

Therefore I say… Go! Become successful! Secure your own destiny! But, whatever you do, remember that the doors of opportunity are not open to your brother or sister unless you are the one holding it open. Don’t expect your enemy to hold the door open for your family. That’s your job! If you aren’t doing it, don’t allow anyone to lead you to believe that they are doing it.

Thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts with you.

I pray you are doing well and hope to connect soon.

Best regards,

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Poverty Island: The vacation of a lifetime…or not!


I remember what it was like to be poor
I remember eating ramen noodles and wondering how they got so much flavor and so little food in a 29 cent package.
I remember combing my afro with a fork and rubbing cooking grease on my face and legs.
I remember seeing my toes through my shoes.
I remember asking to go over friend’s houses just to see what they had to eat.
I remember selling things I need to get money for things I needed more, like food or gas.
I remember stealing tissue from McDonalds.

I remember taking a shower over my friend’s house when the water turned off.
I remember eating those chicken rings off the pavement at White Castle.
I remember heating the house with the oven when the heat was disconnected.
I remember being frost bitten as a 5 year old boy when walking to the grocery store in sub zero temperature.
I remember the extension cord that ran from my neighbor’s house to ours when our electricity was disconnected.
I remember the night I spent in jail because I broke the law by driving without car insurance.
I remember all the parties I missed because I didn’t have money to bring a gift…and the one’s I showed up to ashamed to be empty handed.
I remember making up my mind that I would sneak into the refrigerator when no one was awake, only to be reminded how poor we were while staring at the dingy white frig interior walls.
I remember how I ate at school and how people looked at me with disgust.
I remember wondering if I was ugly because I was poor or was I poor because I was ugly. I remember deciding that it didn’t matter because I was gonna be both for the foreseeable future.
I remember smelling my feet through my shoes. I remember every room I was ashamed to enter because of this.
I remember the anomaly of having clean clothes along with a hair cut. I remember it happened once.Slide11

I remember working overtime, getting my check on Friday, paying overdraft fees, and being broke by noon on Saturday.
I remember going to the car dealership and being sold the oldest used car on the lot because it was the only one they could approve me for, while my peers had lower car payments on new cars.
I remember paying for a car I co-signed for for my parent at the age of 17. I remember having my paycheck garnished for that same car at the age of 27.
What I don’t remember is ever hearing anyone longing to have any one of these experiences.
So many people think it’s a good idea to play “poor”. Those who grew up like I did, know that it’s not a game. Anyone who has escaped poverty, understands that taking an all-expense paid trip to poor neighborhoods to do ‘service’ or living on minimum wage for a year, is nothing like living it without the option of just getting up and going back to life in
the mainstream. Therefore, if you really want to experience poverty, don’t forget about the embarrassment, depression, lost friendships, debt, and despair that go along with it.Slide12

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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)
Instagram: @illholiday
Twitter: @classofrap

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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

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Going Away Party: You’re Invited!!

www.illholiday.com #ivy2ivy

[twitter_follow username=”illholiday” language=”en”]

Order tickets via Eventbrite:
Eventbrite - Casey's Going Away Party

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

[twitter_follow username=”illholiday” language=”en”]

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



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”.

2012-10-17 14.06.06

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



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]



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.


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Send Me Home to Nigeria!



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




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



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!!!


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Black Radio- Yasiin Bey Lyric Video



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


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Yasiin Bey’s New Muhammed Ali Ad + Louis Vuitton


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

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Africa is Worldwide!!!



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!



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



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



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



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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