DRAKE MADE ME NERVOUS…
Sunday started something like this: ‘Drake tonight?’ We’re in a heavy fourth-quarter tour season. Cole & Wale, Yeezus and Hov, and while I have love for all those guys, my inevitable answer to Would You Like A Tour? was, ‘yes please.’
It’s no secret I’ve been a Drake fan since Comeback Season, enjoyably watching him grow into the artist he’s become. He’s built a career off a vulnerability that I alternatively identify with and envy. But as he evolved, so did I. I left Hollywood, started my blog, moved to New York, ended my blog, began to write and produce for other people, got numerous interviews under my belt, joined a web series, left a web series, worked with and for artists and shot a TV show. Hard to describe experiences have sort of become common, not in a boastful way but in a this is just how it is way. I was explaining a few months ago how I barely recall the days of celebrity crushes, before I knew the truth about OZ. Rarely is there anything dreamy about the men behind the mask. I’m an eternal optimist that still appreciates realism, who’s slightly jaded.
My homegirl Tina Farris, a legend in her own right, had passes to the show. We chilled in the backstage lounge, catching Future and Miguel on the monitor before going to the front of the house for the main event.
I’ve seen Drake before. Quite a few times actually. We’ve met. Spoken. I’ve seen him perform, twice. We even had a couple run-ins prior to the show in the hallway in and around the OVO Room. I’m 14 years into Entertainment. Little surprises me anymore. I carry myself professionally and remain mindful not to do anything that might make me ‘that’ girl. So as we caught each other’s eyes passing in the hallway, I politely said, ‘hey, how are you?’ and kept it moving.
I found myself in the circle during his pre-show prayer. He asked for covering over his performance, his voice, Jhene Aiko’s voice, safety for the entire arena, he wanted us all to make it home safe. It was sweet. Sincere.
Drake’s show is awesome. He’s growing leaps and bounds with every tour. His energy is high. He raps like he means every word. He didn’t sing as much, but when he did, he sounded good. The stage is art, complete with the giant circular terrace that allows him to round the arena for one on one time with even the nosebleed sections. There’s a bit of camp and high drama to him. He makes a production of taking a sip of water and takes his time removing his jacket. The girls love it. He knows his audience. Tina likened him to the new Sinatra of Hip Hop. While I still give that title to Jay, Drake’s a shoe in for Dean Martin.
When the concert ended, we went backstage to say our goodbyes. After a shower and a brief moment of solitude, Drake graciously allowed us in. Save for his manager Oliver, and a few other loyal OVO players, the room was empty. He hugged Tina right away. They go way back. The love and respect is clear. She quickly reintroduced us. He hugged me. And then, well…nothing.
I was speechless. Me. Speechless. I can’t tell you the last time that happened. I’m a serial conversationalist, able to have the most meaningful exchanges with strangers, politicians, children, homeless subway dwellers and movie stars alike. This summer, I had a wonderful conversation with Oprah without hesitation. But here I was, face to face with Aubrey Drake Graham and I said nothing. We just sort of…looked at one another.
Sure, Drake is every bit as cute and charming in person as you’d expect Drake to be. He’s got natural warmth that cocktails well with his awkwardness, forming the perfect recipe for charisma. And in a sea of entitled, standoffish and lazy artists, it’s refreshing.
There was even plenty to talk about. He’d just shown all 7 of us the rough cut of the ‘Worst Behavior’ video. I’ve had the same three questions regarding Nothing Was The Same since its September release. And while I enjoyed his recent interview with Jihan Ghomeshi, I strongly disagreed with some of his thoughts on social media. Yet, I didn’t want to ask any of it. I just stood there and allowed myself to be a fan.
Blogs and social media have created a legion of pundits. We’ve become a league of under informed armchair quarterbacks all too ready to rate and second-guess instead of listening, digesting and simply saying thank you for the art that’s been shared with us. We’re entitled; as if we’re owed the art we’ve stopped really paying for. I too, am guilty of hyper-critiquing even the things I enjoy. But this year was eye opening for me. There’s a perspective and newfound objectivity that comes with being on television. Suddenly you’re privy to so many things that influence so many other things that the average person will never have to think about, much less understand. It gives you a better understanding of a world that by most standards makes no sense at all. It becomes harder to criticize when you’ve been unfairly criticized. I thought about this a lot this summer as I decided who this experience would teach me to become.
Most noticeably, I couldn’t ignore that we’ve devolved into an army unwilling to relax our cool long enough to just geek out and remember why any of this is so important to us in the first place. Forty-five minutes prior, this guy had me on my feet, eyes closed, palms in the air singing my heart out to ‘Too Much’. And it felt great. It reminded me of being in high school, getting concert tickets in exchange for grades, of waiting all month for the show to come and then talking about it with my friends for months after. Suddenly, Jaden’s hilarious VMA pose didn’t seem so ridiculous.
In hindsight, I probably looked hilariously crazy. My home girl had never seen me so quiet. But even at my most awkward, Drake handled my silence graciously, eventually asking if we could take a picture – which honestly hadn’t even occurred to me.
I believe firmly in the roundness of life, cycles that signal the end of current lessons and the beginning of new ones. I’ve had an amazing last eighteen months. But I’d become bored, with even the privileges. And then along came an artist I dug who actually delivered. Such a simple thing that has become so rare.
You made me nervous Drizzy. Thank you. I needed that.
A LETTER FROM 33…
I’ve never claimed to be a perfect. Years ago, when I used to try, I failed miserably. Turns out perfection doesn’t suit me. All my charm is in my flaws. I look at this past year (as I try to look at every year) like an exercise in balance.
Professionally, the year was good. I get asked about reality television all the time. What was it like? Was it real? Do you regret doing it? And my answers are always the same. It felt like hard work. I am always real. And I regret nothing. I was given a golden opportunity to share who I am and what I’m about to the world. And that’s all television really is: commercials. I could never regret that.
Others doors opened for me as well. Someone mentioned the other day that it was time for me to write something new. They missed my work. I appreciated the thought. It’s the logic I disagreed with. Believe it or not, I wrote more this year than I have my entire life. The world is bigger and far deeper than what your eyes can see. I realize more than ever we live in a microwave. We cook and consume at such a fast rate that we often rob ourselves of time to savor the flavors. Some of us truly believe if we can’t see it, it’s not happening. And some of us don’t know what we believe. The only luxury is time. That was a hard-learned lesson for me. Now I rush nothing.
I never write for anyone else. I never do anything for anyone else. If I did, I’d fail. I’m blessed to find inspiration. All I do is share it. Most of the time my ideas, my thoughts, my content is just physical evidence of a girl from Chicago just trying to figure this world out. On my best days, I hit my mark. On my worst, I lick my wounds and promise to try again tomorrow…or the next day. Or the next day.
More than ever this year, I’ve learned the power of confidence. It takes courage to be exactly who you are amidst a sea of people who want to tell you who you’re not. Last month I was told I’m not a writer. Instantly I flashed back to that August day in 1996 when my cousin Teresa placed a light blue journal in my hands. The gold pad lock secured nothing but symbolism. Suddenly I was freed – allowed to share myself unedited, untouched, without judgment – within its pages. I’d been writing scripts since I was nine. But those were the lives of others; make believe narratives where resolution was always swift and just. This was different. My journal married me to my words. I could commit to being me page after page. I began each entry with Dear You. Writing wasn’t what I did. It is who I am.
And now suddenly, because I’ve done a show, because someone knows my name, because, because, because…there are people out there who don’t even know who they are, who feel entitled enough to put parameters on how I should identify myself. As if what I see in myself, says anything about them. Good luck with that.
I clicked unsubscribe on all the lists we make that determine what I should value, what I should praise and who and what I should aspire to be. I took the power out of ‘should’ and gave it back to myself. Fuck your boxes. Someone else built them. Let them confine you if you want to.
My focus these days is on being a good person. I want to be kind. It feels better. I want to do work that I believe in. My proudest moments are when I’m in that pocket where I’m doing exactly what I was put here to do. That is my high – an addiction I don’t care to kick. I laugh when things are truly funny. I invest in people and not opportunity. And I don’t wait for the crowd to validate my thoughts. My lane is the one I’m walking. I’m creating my path as I go. My goal is not to leave a blueprint for anyone to follow, but to show anyone willing to listen that anything is possible.
If you get what I’ve said here: beautiful. If you don’t: beautiful. Either way, thank you to the Universe for another year to be myself.
Jas Fly is a New York based Writer, Journalist and Multi-Media Personality whose humanizing yet straight to the point style has earned her the reputation as the ‘The Rapper Whisperer.’ She has interviewed such noteworthy names as Jay-Z, Warren Buffett, Common, Joan Rivers, Spike Lee, DMX, Melanie Fiona, Laz Alonso and many more.
A Chicago native, Jas attended the legendary Columbia College Film Program which led to a nine-year career in Film Production and Television Development where she worked on dozens of blockbuster classics including Spiderman 1 & 2, Hardball, Save The Last Dance, MTV’s Real World, Barbershop 1 & 2 and the NBC’s ER. Her music video production credits include R. Kelly, Jermaine Dupri, Bow Wow, Jagged Edge and Common.
In 2007, Jas created FlyStyleLife.com, which quickly became a leading Urban Entertainment News website. A year later she was tapped to host Urban News Radio, a well received Internet radio show where she interviewed such guests as Ludacris and T.I. JasFly moved to New York two years later to tackle her true passion, Entertainment Journalism. Meanwhile, Jas continued to produce several Music Videos and web content projects including a music video for Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs and Everybody’s Haitian – a PSA supporting Haiti earthquake relief sponsored by Rocawear staring Wale and J. Cole – which she also wrote and directed.
In 2011 Jas joined the cast of JumpOff TV’s Debate Lounge to rave reviews, helping it become one of the fastest growing Hip Hop Editorial Web Series. In less than a year, Jas and her cast mates received over 2.2 million views, 200,000 subscribers and critical acclaim from such artists as Young Jeezy and J. Cole.
Jas’ breakout performance led to her being cast in the Vh1 reality series, The Gossip Game, which chronicled the lives of seven women in Hip Hop media. Jas quickly became known as ‘the sensible one,’ often offering her cast mates relatable perspectives on tough issues.
2012 also saw Jas’ return to the internet radio market with the iTunes podcast #RealityCheck alongside co-host NY delight and featuring Grammy winning producer, Just Blaze. Jas has also worked with such artists as Ne-Yo to strategize their brands in the digital space.
Taking on a new challenge, Jas Executive Produced The #DREAMmix, an inspirational mixtape featuring Kendrick Lamar, Common, Swizz Beatz and Mona Scott-Young. In addition, Jas is the official Ambassador to Pop Culture for ooVoo a video chat platform with 80 million users worldwide.
JasFly is currently at work on her fist book, Dear 20’s, a collection of essays to written to her younger self. Her philosophy is simple, “The best reward for a job well done, is the opportunity to do more work.”
WHAT’S GOSSIP?: ABOUT EPISODE THREE…
Ms. Drama is an asshole. It really is that simple.
Only an asshole would listen to four different people tell them virtually the same thing, and take away that it’s every one else.
I wish Candice nothing but the best. But Ms Drama? Nah. Life’s too short. Let’s move on to next week.
WHAT’S GOSSIP: I’M TIRED OF BLACK WOMEN FIGHTING ON TV…
I’m tired of watching Black women fight on TV.
We’re two episodes into The Gossip Game and last night we witnessed our second fight. Sigh.
When I accepted Mona Scott-Young’s invitation to sit down for a casting meeting, I was more than skeptical. This was three weeks into Love & Hip Hop ATL and all that kept running through my mind was ‘she’s not gonna do me like she does these other women.’ And as soon as I sat down – in front of Vh1 execs, show creator Tone Boots and his team and the network casting department – I told her as much.
Mona heard me out and then informed me that she never set out to abuse Black women. And that she didn’t prompt Stevie J to keep both a mistress and a wife. All she does is give a look inside their lives.
I gave her a chance.
Within the first two weeks of filming the first ‘argument’ happened. I wasn’t there (we had an event for Ne-Yo that night). I didn’t know Viv – at that point I’d only met her once at a cast lunch. But I’d known Ms. Drama for a few years and although we’d never spent an extended period of time alone, I’d never known her to get into it with anyone. I was surprised. And immediately I blamed Mona. Here we go. So now we’re going to be out here looking crazy.
I listened to Drama’s side of the story and became a little apprehensive of Viv. And completely distrustful of Mona (we’ll talk later about how this played out).
Full disclosure: I’ve been in New York for 4 years and I’ve been blessed to make some great friends but I’ve also picked up a handful of…detractors. That’s normal. We’re adults playing in a high-stakes/high-stress industry. But what I realized is 70% of these detractors were women of color. And 50% of those began as friends and or associates.
We all know the drill: you’re cool with another woman at first and then something happens, or nothing happens and one person feels a way and somehow (often over something minute) there’s now a ‘thing’ between you. But instead of addressing it and moving on, (usually) one woman has to try to turn everybody else against you – because she’s not secure enough to be alone with her feelings. And before you know it an entire clique has formed – bonded over the dislike of one woman.
So I was dealing with this, while watching the saga between Ms. Drama verses Viv unfold. At the time I didn’t see the connection but it was coming.
The second fight happened at Bottles & Strikes. By then I had heard everyone’s accounts of the first incident and realized there was so much Ms. Drama left out. But I let it rock. I was getting to know Viv and was happy to see her at the party. The fight between them happened in another room but afterwards I was able to speak to Viv (who was very emotional) and she – along with several witnesses – all maintained that Ms. Drama was the agitator.
As they escorted the camera crew out, Mike Kyser – someone I’ve respected professionally for years – came over and said ‘what kind of show are you making?’ It was embarrassing. I’m trying to do something I could be proud of, and this wasn’t it.
I asked to talk Drama. Scratch that, I asked to talk to Candace. As someone who appreciated her as a woman and a collegue, I needed to let her know that she was playing a role in the what was happening. That was important because unless she owned her part, it wouldn’t stop. I expected a very different conversation than the one I got. That was the first time I ever walked out of a scene. I was upset, frustrated, annoyed and a little hurt that she didn’t understand what I was trying to say. Let’s keep it funky: We’re about to be on national television and here she was acting a fool.
Ms. Drama saw that as an attack. You’ll see in the coming weeks how that played out.
It wasn’t until days later that I saw the similarities.
Sometimes, we as Black women don’t treat one another very well. Societal factors have made us defensive and (often times) insecure about who we are and afraid of who we are not. We’ve been told that we’re all in competition over men, jobs, friends, adoration, etc. And because we are such an insular culture – Black woman are known for watching/dating/buying/talking/living in our Blackness – we turn a great deal of frustration back on one another. We’re so hyper-sensitive to criticism (because we’re SO over criticized) that in the moment we often can’t discern between someone attacking us and someone trying to help us. It’s hard to see kinship in someone you’re determined to make your enemy. So (often times) we fight.
I couldn’t get mad at Mona for the fights that happened between Drama and Viv. Not when I was dealing with the very same things (via toxic email threads, vicious sub-tweets, subversive moves against me etc) in my own life. Mona didn’t make those two women fight. In that moment, instead of risking being hurt or hearing something they didn’t want to, they chose to antagonize one another. This choice is made every single day. And I couldn’t expect Mona to create a television show about us and ask her not to show all of it, including the parts we’re not proud of.
So we can continue to complain about how we’re portrayed on television. Or we can candidly address how we treat each other in real life.
See you next week for episode three.
WHAT’S GOSSIP?: AM I REALLY DOING REALITY TV?
In the middle of the night, late in December of 2011, I called my good friend LowKey to tell him one thing: In 2012 I’m getting a television show. I’d made this same call to my father and my best friend Angel. All three – knowing me well – simply said, ‘ok,’ hung up and went back to sleep. I went to work.
In the fall of 2011, along with different configurations of my JumpOff TV cast mates, I shot several test pilots with BET. I’d met with FUSE and taken meetings with another network. And although none of those opportunities panned out, each one taught me a little more about myself, being on camera, the talent process and (most importantly) what I wanted for this next phase in my career. I knew it was my time.
By the time I got the call from Mona Scott-Young to meet with her I was ready to tell my story. Only I had no idea just what that would mean for me. Two months would pass between that meeting – which included Co-Creator Tone Boots, his District Media team and several Vh1 Execs – and our first official day of shooting.
I’d just come back from Made In America where I was doing a backstage diary for VIBE Vixen. Those two days in Philly had given me an unforgettable vantage point about the difference between those that dream and those that make their dreams come true: Vision.
Now here’s a quick back-story on the Power Vs. Hot story. It all came about at Nas’ official album release concert for Life Is Good. I was in VIP at Tammany Hall when I spotted Ebro, Hot 97’s Program Director. Ebro and I had seen each other around, but there was no real familiarity. So I did what I’d do in any similar situation, I introduced myself and asked him wtf was all this beef about. What followed was a great 45 minute conversation – in the middle of the party – where he candidly spoke about his thoughts on the rivalry, the industry and where he saw things going for certain artists. At the end of it, I asked him if I could write about it. He told me sure. The next morning I emailed Datwon Thomas & Mikey Yi over at VIBE and pitched them the story. This was before there was a show. This was before I knew Mona. There was nothing for cameras. I was doing my job as a writer trying to tell a story.
Don’t get it twisted this is a business. I’d known Datwon for a while. I’ve worked hard at cultivating a relationship based on respect and honesty. He keeps it real and tells me if it’s great and if it’s not. So there was a good deal of read tape to cut through in getting this story done. And in the meantime I began working on my deal for what would become The Gossip Game. It just so happened that – unbeknownst to us – Angela Yee and K. Foxx were also being vetted for the show.
I believe that if you are clear about what you want and are willing to work with The Universe to collaborate on your life and the lessons you’re willing to let it teach you, you will be rewarded.
And I was.
Over the next 8 weeks, anyone who is willing to watch will be given glimpses into my life and the lives of my cast mates. But these glimpses – while all based in reality – are being told by a collection of television professionals. So in the spirit of keeping it 100 (my truest self) here is where I will share with you a little more in depth look at what you’re watching.
The day I had lunch with K. Foxx and Angela Yee was my very first scene with either one of them. Inside I was nervous. I couldn’t get out of my head. I kept thinking of all the things the editors could do with this scene. I didn’t trust Mona yet (I’ll tell you about that later). Finally, as I looked across at K, something clicked. There was something in how she just sat there, taking it all in, that made me realize we were all nervous. We’re used to telling the story. And now we’d become the story.
Knowing it wasn’t just me made me relax. This was another day at work. So, I did what I do well: I interviewed my subjects.
#DREAMmix VOLUME ONE
Everything great begins with a desire for something more…
The #DREAMmix Vol. One is a mixtape like no other. This compilation tape is comprised of some of the best and brightest from the world of entertainment, hand picked not just for their accomplishments, but also for their journeys. Executive Producer JasFly enlisted the help from Artists/Producers COMMON, Kendrick Lamar, Ne-Yo, Swizz Beatz, Adrienne Bailon, DJ Khaled, Joe Budden and Pusha T as well as Writers/Blogger & Executives Elliott Wilson, Mona Scott-Young, Kim Osorio, Ariel Cherie and LowKey.
Each guest thought long and hard about the song that best inspires them, at different points in their life…and you’d be surprised by their choices. From Walter Hawkins to DMX, The #DREAMmix variation will surprise you, but you just might also relate.
Media powered by VIBE.com, The #DREAMmix Vol. One is the first of its kind, designed to use the power of music and sincere words to inspire its listeners.
DEAR 20’s: Twenty-Two To LA
You’re scared. Actually more like terrified. It’s the last week of February, icy grey snow blankets the ground and it’s time to either shit or get off the pot. All of your belongings (or what you haven’t sold or given away) are finally out of the apartment you can no longer afford and you’ve taken up temporary residence in Ma’s living room. You say you’re leaving.
It was just the previous October that you sat outside the Clark Avenue Starbucks and listened as your boyfriend declared your misery had become palpable. Jas, you’re stuck. Chicago isn’t for you. You want more than your blue-collar hometown can offer and quietly, you’ve been thinking about LA. The feast or famine life of production is wearing. Besides you know deep down if you really want to give Film & Television Producing a shot, Los Angeles is where you need to be. But on that unusually warm morning last fall this all seemed like a daydream – something you talk about but never actually planned to do.
Then autumn turned to winter and the bottom fell out. All of the production jobs dried up, seems you couldn’t buy a temp gig and you got your first real taste of just how hard adulthood can get. Funny how that happened, right? You don’t realize it now Jas, but that was The Universe stripping away all of your excuses. And it’s led you here, to the living room.
Dad has just left – angrily – as you sit surrounded by your entire life reduced to three bags, in tears. Everyone supports your move except him. And his support is what you think you need the most. Your father wants you to stay, find a ‘real job’, ‘grow up’ and handle your business like everyone else. He says you’re being unrealistic, stupid even and stormed out after calling you ‘trash.’
I know. We’re Daddy’s girl. Who is this man? And why all the sudden does he hate us? It’s devastating when someone you’ve relied on your entire life is suddenly no longer on your side. It makes you doubt…well, everything. Like you’re doing right now. Maybe this is a dumb idea. You barely know the cousins in Compton you’ve arranged to stay with, you only have a few thin leads for work and including the insurance bond Ma helped you cash out, you’re moving across the country with less than $1000 to your name. He doesn’t get it. But do you? Your gut says this will work. And that Jas is the point. And then the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk to blossom*.
Almost a decade later, I sit here thinking about you on that morning in February and what I want to tell you is this: You’re doing the right thing. You can’t see it now but one day you’ll look back on this moment and realize by disapproving, Daddy has unknowingly given you the greatest gift he possibly could. The most important decisions in our lives are ours to make alone. This is your life, your approval matters more than anyone else. What you’re feeling – that overwhelming need for change – is real. It matters none that you’re the only one that can see it, because that really is enough.
The unshakable feeling in your gut is the voice that comes from the purest place and it trumps everyone: your friends, your partner, even your father. Learn to look for it, learn to expect it and understand that when that voice says move, you move. When it says stay, you hold. Trust it because when no one around you sees the vision, that voice is all the assurance you’ll need.
Trust me, Dad doesn’t hate you. He’s scared. His baby is moving 2000 miles away and there is nothing he can do about it. He knows he can’t stop you and believe it or not, this makes him just as proud as it does fearful. But sometimes the people that love us hurt us when they can’t think of anything else to do. Remember that love and forgiveness are one and the same. It’ll be ok. By summer he’ll be out to visit and you’ll get to know him not as your father, but as Joe. Though that’s a story for another time.
I wish I could tell you LA is going to be easy. It won’t be. I wish I could tell you, you’ll soon find your groove but honestly, that will be many years to come. Oh and that boyfriend who supported your move, even rode with you to the train and shed real tears as he watched you pull away? We’ll talk another time about how that all played out. But often what we think is the end of the world is really the start of a better one. Take my word for it, everything works out in the end.
On that cold morning in February 2003 you don’t know any of this yet, but you will.
Now get back to packing. You’ve got a train to catch.
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#JasNJovisBookClub: THE ALCHEMIST PT. 2
In part two we wrap up the conversation. I encourage everyone to read the book. And by all means, share your story with us. You can reach us on twitter: @JasFly @Jovizi
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#JasNJovisBookClub: THE ALCHEMIST PT. 1
For anyone who’s ever asked to know MY story, this video is for you.
Last night @Jovizi and I finally united to discuss one of my favorite books, The Alchemist. What was supposed to be a simple one hour ustream about the book, became…Well honestly it became so much more.
By Paulo Coelho