The Reminders are a remarkable hip-hop duo that is steadily rising to the top of the independent music scene. The team, consisting of Brussels-born emcee Big Samir, and Queens-born emcee/vocalist Aja Black, are definitely a creative force to be reckoned with. Big Samir, weaves intricate rhythmic patterns with a bilingual French/English flow, displaying his street-smart credibility in both his lyrics and cool demeanor. This is beautifully complimented by Aja Black's confident delivery, diverse cadences, and unique vocal stylings. The two have undeniably magical chemistry, as well they should. Sharing more than lyrical ability and stages, the couple is partners in both music and life, and have been married for almost a decade.
Releasing their debut album 'Recollect' in 2008, The Reminders have been launched into the spotlight. Recognized and applauded for their ability seamlessly blend magnetic rhymes and soaring vocals, the group pulls from a combination of musical genres, creating an array of sounds that resonate in the ears and hearts of many. Oft compared to the Fugees, Blackstar, and Digable Planets, The Reminders can definitely carry their own weight, and are more than able to standout amongst their contemporaries. Their stage presence wows crowds the world over, allowing the the duo to uplift and entertain all at once.
Their unique mashup of razor sharp rhymes, raw, soulful vocals, and reggae-infused hip hop beats form the perfect backdrop for their relevant and inspiring themes, leaving a lasting impression on listeners, with audiences always wanting more.
Having shared the stage with artists such as Snoop Dogg, Fishbone, Barrington Levy, Black Star, Big Boi, KRS-One, Rakim, K'Naan, and others, the Reminders have established a firm place in today's changing scene, garnering international acclaim while paving a path al their own.
More than a shade of the same color that we have seen time and time again, this group transcends the bounds of what is expected. More than a breath of fresh air, The Reminders deepen the roots of hip-hop's Golden Era, raising its soul up high, propelling it forward into the future. With the release of their new album, 'Born Champions' these two are truly headed for something incredibly special.
Big Samir (MC/Vocals - Microphone)
Aja Black (MC/vocals - Microphone)
DJ(tba - Turntables)
The Reminders - Putting in Work mixtape (The Reminders Music)
1. Been A Long Time
2. Stay True
3. If only i could fly(Stic.man mix)
6. Stay Strong
7. Fight Back(Zaire mix)
8. Liberation(Andiwrexit mix)
9. Nobody Knows
The Reminders - ReCollect (The Reminders Music)
3. Outside My Window
4. The Way It Is
5. Rock This Funky Joint
6. Ill 4 Life
7. Hands Up
8. Stick Up
9. Black Roses
10. Change the World
12. Fight Back
14. If Only I Could Fly
The Reminders - Born Champions (The Reminders Music)
1. Intro Born Champions by Kalonji Jama Changa
3. We Are
4. No Matter
5. Things Ain't The Same Feat. Rebel Diaz
6. Shooting For The Stars
7. Planes, Trains
8. Africa On My Mind
9. If You Didn't Know
10. I Remember
11. Bang Bang
12. Sail You To Saturn
13. You Can Count On Me
14. Shining Through
It's a family affair
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Married Hip-Hop duo the ReMINDers bring meaning back to music By Quibian Salazar-Moreno photo b...Married Hip-Hop duo the ReMINDers bring meaning back to music
By Quibian Salazar-Moreno
photo by Savera Iftikhar
One thing lacking in the world of hip-hop is the promotion of family. Hip-hop doesn’t endorse the traditional husband-wife-child model taking on the world as a unit. Sure, we get hip-hop condemning the ills of society and government, along with hip-hop that promotes promiscuity and glorifies street life, but the love of family is almost non-existent.
Rappers Big Samir and Aja Black, a married couple known as Colorado hip-hop group The ReMINDers, are looking to change that. On their debut album, ReCollect, the duo addresses the worldly assaults on the family with songs like “Outside My Window,” deals with the growth and sustainability of family on “Black Roses,” and offers encouragement and support on “If I Only Could Fly.” It’s a much-needed voice in a world that seems to be moving away from the family dynamic.
“We just strive to be good examples for people in general,” Samir, 29, says. “It’s not every day you see good couples. It’s not every day you see fathers taking care of their children. So we try to promote a lot of that stuff, just to remind people that’s how it used to be. Back in the day, men stayed with their wives and raised their children and worked. So we try to promote all that, especially in hip-hop music, where it’s definitely lacking in promotion.”
The duo met in 1998 through, of course, family. Both of their families moved to Colorado Springs because of relatives in the military. Big Samir spent a major part of his childhood growing up in Belgium, with stops in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Texas before ending up in Colorado, while Aja Black spent a lot of her early years traversing Europe before finishing high school in Colorado Springs. Although the duo was worlds apart early in life, their upbringing and musical influence aren’t much different.
“Music always had a big influence in my household,” Aja, 27, says. “I think we were always musical. My parents listened to all types of different music, so we were exposed to a lot of different things. Hiphop was always played in our house amongst other things, like The Police, Steely Dan, The Eagles, James Brown and all kinds of different stuff. In my house, there was no shame in singing or dancing. It doesn’t really matter how good you are or how bad you are, everybody does it, so there was always a comfort with those kinds of things.”
“Growing up in Europe, most of the guys in my neighborhood were break dancers, so I used to follow them and try to do the steps they did, the graffiti art,” Samir adds. “My mom would rock some hip-hop; of course, I was into the heavier stuff like NWA and Eric B. and Rakim. So I’ve been into to it since I was 11 years old. As far as really being active, by the time I was 16 or 17, I started writing my own stuff.”
When Samir arrived in the Springs, just finishing up high school, he founded hip-hop group Accumen with his brother-in-law and DJ Skip Ripken. The group had a strong buzz during the early 2000s after releasing their debut album, doing shows around the state, trying to break through. And while Samir was trying to make his mark on Colorado hiphop, Aja was working on a degree at Florida A&M, where she dove into the spoken word and hip-hop scene. The duo, strictly platonic at the time, kept in touch throughout the years and started making music together once Aja graduated and moved back to the Springs.
“We were friends first,” Aja says. “He’d be all up in my house with my brother and my dad. Our interest in each other at the beginning was never really romantic. We were just on the same vibe and one day he was like, ‘I heard you do music,’ and said we should do something together. We started spending more time together, building on music. I was going to his shows, I was helping him promote, and then from there it led to a romantic relationship. People are always like; ‘It’s interesting, how do you do the music as husband and wife?’ Well, we did the music before we were husband and wife. The music is what led us to becoming husband and wife.”
“We’d only kick it during the summer break or winter break,” Samir says. “So we were real good friends for over the course of three or four years, just off and on. We’d keep in touch whenever she was away at college, but when she moved back in 2004, that’s when we’d really rock it all the time. After a while we just hit it off and boom, pow, surprise!”
Samir and Aja married in January 2005. And between living the married life and having babies (they have two daughters, ages 4 and 2), they capitalized on their musical chemistry, recording ReCollect and releasing it in the fall of 2008. The production ranged from hardcore hip-hop boom-bap beats to reggae-influenced rhythms, and the album continues to gain a new audience even almost two years after its release. Earlier this year, Samir and Aja performed at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, N.Y., with hip-hop stalwart Mos Def and just recently returned from a two-week tour in Morocco. While in Morocco, Aja and Samir performed at various youth camps across the country and led workshops dealing with the elements of hip-hop culture. The tour ended with them performing for 6,000 people. But even with Samir and Aja’s veteran performance status, they’re still in awe of the doors that have opened — so much so that in Harlem, Samir admitted to a bit of stage fright.
“When it was time to go on, I’m not even gonna lie, they handed me the mic and I got nervous!” Samir says about performing at the Apollo. “I looked out there, and the lights were so bright, and I saw that there were three levels high and there were a lot people. It was sold out. So I kind of freaked out, I kind of froze up! Then the beat dropped, and I was looking at Aja like I almost forgot when I came in; I was looking at her like ‘Help me out!’ but I wasn’t saying anything. It was the craziest feeling. But once we hit the stage, it was a wrap, it was all gone.”
The duo is slowly but surely working on new music, hoping to drop something early next year, and is continually doing enough shows and collaborations to make a living. This also gives them plenty of free time to spend with their children, which is their No. 1 priority.
“Having children is what makes us more private people, so we kind of keep our persona with the ReMINDers and our family life … there’s a line between those. Sometimes we cross that line and bring the kids to shows, but you have to try to find a balance,” Aja says. “It’s funny, because we’ll be with the children and we’ll say, OK, we have a show, and they’ll say, ‘Are you gonna go do the ReMINDers? Are you gonna go be Aja Black and Big Samir?’ Even they notice that when we’re performing it’s something different.”
The ReMINDers at the Apollo
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the ReMINDers @ the Apollo (Articles) http:?/?/?www.?indypendent.?org/?2010/?01/?28/?faith-?driven-...the ReMINDers @ the Apollo (Articles)
Saturday’s sold-out event, which also marked the opening of an IMAN branch in New York City, encapsulated this philosophy. From Progress Theater’s biting performance piece on the experience of a Black Muslim woman being photographed in her hijab by tourists to the exacting call from hip-hop duo “The ReMINDers” to “feel the transition from denial to acceptance,” the artists linked the delicate process of healing and self-awareness with the ability to act for change.
Perhaps second to the performances themselves, the most impressive aspect of the show was the global diversity represented on stage. The Reminders, a husband and wife duo (Big Samir and Aja Black) fusing reggae and soul with socially conscious lyrics spoken in French and English, said it was important for them to be part of the event because they’d never seen a collection of Muslim artists come together like this before. “Most of the time we see Muslims portrayed in a negative way,” said Big Samir, who was born in Brussels and raised in Zaire. “Tonight we get to experience the artistic contributions of Muslims on an international scale, which we don’t see often.”
The Apollo Theater in Harlem is historic both for the legendary performers who have graced its stage, and for the theater itself as a symbolic figure in the growth and evolution of black music in American history. On January 23rd, another landmark performance proved just how far music, cross-cultural understanding and action work towards bringing a community together.
Hosted by the Inner-city Muslim Action Network (IMAN), IMAN at the Apollo: A Special Edition of Community Café, treated a sold-out audience to the musical styles of a people bound together through their beliefs in promoting peace, social action and community support. Along with partner organization Islamic Relief, the event managed to raise over $13,000 towards Haiti earthquake relief funding.
American and international Muslim performers graced the stage with musical styles that ranged from hip-hop to opera. Yes, opera. And when the house lights came on, audience members got the chance to see how the ethnic and cultural diversity on stage poured into all of the seats around them. People of all races and religions rocked out together to good music for a good cause.
Now, for your listening pleasure, tune in and check out one of the many acts to grace the Apollo stage that night:
WHO: The ReMINDers
WHAT: A hip-hop team that represents everything positive about music, life and love. This husband-?and-?wife duo began performing together five years ago, and after spending a few years putting family first, they’re back on the music scene.
WHEN: Catch them and other acts from IMAN at the Apollo at Takin’ it to the Streets: an Urban International Festival in Chicago on Saturday, June 19th.
WHY: because I said so.
Comfortably partnered with IMAN and regularly enlisted as Community Café performers, husband-wife team The ReMinders made the evening officially official. Aja Black can be likened to Lauryn Hill and the convenience of being married to another artistically inclined MC makes them a package deal. Big Samir laid thick lyrics in both English and French whose verses were a common language for audience members. Everywhere I looked people were either singing along or nodding their heads in complete rhythmic compliance. This duo complimented a Haitian benefit concert because they represent the larger African Diasporan community but one firmly planted right here in America, Colorado to be exact. Samir was born in Belgium, raised for a time in Zaire and finally found a new home on North American soil. His wife, on the other hand, is a beautiful blend of the Diaspora with strong Caribbean roots who grew up in New York. That would explain the harmonies she graciously shares with fans in person or on their CD, ReCollect, that Samir describes as “neo-soulish, underground hip hop”.
Pikes Peak Arts Council Award
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Reverb by Adam Leech "The ReMINDers will get to celebrate their victory at the Boulder Theater ...Reverb
by Adam Leech
"The ReMINDers will get to celebrate their victory at the Boulder Theater this Friday."
Before I get started on one of my invariably contentious weekly rants, I first want to send irrefutable congratulations to the winners of the 2010 Pikes Peak Arts Council Awards. Firstly, the ReMINDers, quite possibly the most positive force to blip the national hip-hop radar in more than a decade, are taking home the award for "Popular Music: Outstanding Solo or Duo," beating out the exceptional elder bluesmen Big Jim Adam and John Stilwagen, as well as that young hellhound nipping at their heels, Grant Sabin.
The ReMINDers, aka MCs Big Samir and Aja Black, two of the kindest and most intelligent people you could ever hope to hear make music, will be enlightening the Boulder Theater this Friday, Oct. 1, with Nu Revolution, Les Nubians and Soulaju. You can find more info on the show, and on the duo, at myspace.com/theremindersfam.
ReMINDers in Morocco
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Throughout the month of July, I had an amazing opportunity to travel as a Cultural Envoy to perform,...Throughout the month of July, I had an amazing opportunity to travel as a Cultural Envoy to perform, teach, and connect with artists in Morocco and Algeria. The U.S. State Department and U.S. Consulates and Embassies in Casablanca, Rabat, and Algiers sponsored the trip. The entire trip was a profound experience that allowed me to connect IMAN’s work with Hip Hop, the arts, and youth to thousands of people across the globe. In Morocco, husband and wife Hip Hop duo – The ReMINDers, B-Boy Super Inlight, and I travelled to six cities in two weeks. Our activities ranged from workshops and performances for over a thousand youth in summer camp to collaborative music sessions with recording artists. One thing was clear from our very first workshop; music, and the arts in general, really are universal in their ability to bring people together.
A couple of memories of the experience in Morocco stand out in particular. On our third day there, we traveled to a camp full of thousands of youth in tents in the desert. The entire camp embraced us warmly and, even with the little they had, made us feel at home and shared food with us. The young people as well as camp facilitators were extremely excited to meet Muslims from the U.S. and felt the need to recite Surah Fatihah with us or refer to artists such as Sami Yusuf. By the end of our performance, hundreds of youth were so energized that they started their own b-boy battle based on what they saw from Super Inlight. Although it was a long day, we left with smiles on our faces, touched by the young people that inspired our work that night.
The other experience was in the town of Safi, a port town known for its pottery and phosphate. There, we met with the group Tiraline and immediately bonded with this group of 5 young Moroccans who were deeply spiritual and easily blended traditional and modern styles of music. The group was extremely hospitable, taking us out to eat, giving us a tour of the medina (city), and making sure we had some homemade couscous before we left. We also spent hours with them in the studio working on a song that stresses our commonalities in faith and fuses the traditional Gnawa sound of Morocco with Hip Hop beats.
Going to Algeria had us a bit nervous. We had heard rumors that made us wonder what we were walking into, but the minute we landed, all the apprehensions were gone. On this part of the trip, FEW Collective members and IMAN regulars, B-Boy Bravemonk and MC D-Nick accompanied Super Inlight and me. It helped that our first night included a Tinariwen concert with a very young and energetic crowd. Having just presented Tinariwen at Takin’ It to the Streets less than a month prior made IMAN’s global connections even stronger. D-Nick also helped us out due to his hairstyle and Rasta colors… everyone wanted to take pictures with him and thought he had a spiritual connection to Bob Marley.
In Algeria, we spent ten days between two cities, working with the same group in both cities. This allowed us to deepen our relationships with them and really create a genuine friendship. After spending five days in Algiers, and five in Oran, we collaborated with our Algerian counterparts and performed in both cities for hundreds of people. In Oran, we met Hip Hop heads who reminded us of people back home. They were deeply into Hip Hop culture as a whole, and had learned most of their English from it. They were true b-boys, with Public Enemy shirts and all found in the thrift stores of Algeria. I think our bond is best expressed by the day of our performance when one of the b-boys took off his PE shirt, full of sweat, and handed it to me as a gift. I never thought I’d be that happy to receive another man’s sweaty shirt!
A Husband and Wife Duo
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«Previous Article Email this article to a friend » The ReMINDers: A Husband and Wife Duo by Na...
«Previous Article Email this article to a friend »
The ReMINDers: A Husband and Wife Duo
by Nadia S. Mohammad
1/5/11 - 10:04 PM
Great music can only come from great love and, Masha’Allah, with Aja and Samir of The ReMINDers it is evident. Promoting spirituality and positivity the husband and wife duo have reigned supreme on the Muslim hip-hop scene with their album, ReCollect. After taking time off to spend with their budding family, fans will be happy to know that they are starting to record and perform again. Elan sat down with the couple to talk about their life, love and music.
How did you get your start in music?
Samir: We’ve both been artists for years now. We started out in Colorado doing smaller events and opening gigs for most of the artists coming through Colorado. After we released the album, ReCollect, we sent a copy to IMAN. Rami [Director of IMAN] happened to be the one who opened up the package and listened to it. He invited us to a retreat and community cafe. Our relationship grew from there. It really helped us to get more gigs out of state, different universities, different MSA events. That’s really when things started moving.
What were you doing prior to getting the album together?
Samir: Prior to that I was in a group with my brother-in-law, my sister’s husband. We put out two albums. After we put out the record we started to perform with a five piece band. That became really complicated so I started to work on a solo project. But then Aja and I just started working on more and more songs and it just came together.
Aja: We were both artists separately before we started working together. So of course, once we were married it became natural for us to record a project together. We would just record songs here and there. The album came together as just us living our life and coming up with songs that were reflective of our lives at the time. We put it all together, something that we were, Masha’Allah, proud of, and sent it out to different places.
How did you both meet?
Aja: We kind of had overlapping social circles. My father actually introduced me to him for the first time.
Samir: Not thinking this was going to come out of it.
Aja: No. He knew you were a good dude, though. So he introduced us to each other. And eventually our relationship just took a turn for romance.
Samir and Aja: We were just friends for years.
Aja: It’s kind of one of those things that Allah just plans it. You know? We didn’t have any forethought into anything that’s happening right now.
Samir: That’s why once we got married everything else just fell into place right away. Cause we knew each other so well.
Everywhere you go now you’re known as the husband-and-wife duo, how has that influenced your music, if at all?
Aja: No one even knew we were married until [later]. Like Rami and IMAN were so proud of the fact that we’re married. They wanted to tell everyone, “and they’re married.”
Samir: Yeah, to set an example. They put that on the event pamphlets even. It said…
Aja: “husband and wife duo”
Samir: It doesn’t say what kind of music it is. It doesn’t say where we’re from. It just says husband and wife duo. Which at the time, it was never something I had never even thought about. But we are a husband and wife duo. To me it’s like we’re a hip-hop group.
Aja: Yeah, it’s just like an after-after-after thought that we’re married. Cause we don’t sit around thinking like…
Samir and Aja: “we’re married.”
Do you think this will become a family thing?
Aja: Our daughters are like—stage monsters.
Samir: I think when people see us and know that we’re married [with a family] they appreciate it. I think they appreciate us more.
Aja: A lot of times in the music industry people feel like it’s better to present yourself independently than as a person that’s married with a family. A lot of artists now are forthcoming with their families or their wives. They don’t feel like it’s something that should be closeted anymore. Granted there are a lot of things you have to protect yourself from, you know, when it comes to being in the spotlight. So it’s important to us that we make du’a whenever we’re going to be in front of a large. Any kind of celebrity or fame can be a compromising position. So we don’t bring our children around too much. If we do they’re very protected doing other activities. But we’re very family orientated.
As a parent what do you see as a challenge for Muslim kids in America that was different from you growing up?
Aja: One thing that I see now is that kids have the world at their fingertips with the Internet but their experience is lacking. And they don’t really want to do much that’s not technological. Like growing up, Saturday at my house, we weren’t allowed to do anything or have anyone sleep over on Friday night, because at 9 o’clock my dad would say, “We’re leaving for the whole day.” I remember when I first met Samir, I was like “I have email” and he’s like “whatever I don’t even have internet.” (Samir: “I had no idea what that was...") My daughter goes on the Internet now, she’s 4 years old, she knows what icons to click on for Sesame Street. I just wake up and she’s on there. I think that’s kind of creating a gap between parents and children. Kids are able to create a separate identity—whether it’s valid or not is up for debate. The fantasy for children is in creating something of themselves to other people, like when we were younger we would play dress up but you never tried to convince someone that you were really a princess. Now it’s like the kids, they create an identity and they really try and convince you that’s really what they’re like. So that’s the difference.
How does your faith play into your music?
Aja: I just feel we live what we believe, so that’s reflected in our music. We don’t have any target idea to do anything to anyone. We just want to increase the positivity around us with our voices. We don’t want to preach to anybody or recruit anybody. But if we can be a positive example for people and say something positive to enlighten or uplift somebody then that’s our journey. That’s what we should be doing. That’s what everyone should do.
Love and Lyrics
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Love and Lyrics Issue 78 March 2011 Husband and wife duo, Aja and Samir from Hip-Hop group The...
Love and Lyrics
Issue 78 March 2011
Husband and wife duo, Aja and Samir from Hip-Hop group The ReMINDers, talk about how their love and passion for music synched them together in perfect harmony.
Aja and I first met in 1998 when I moved to Colorado. I was born in Belgium originally but my father was in the military, so we travelled around a lot. Our families became good friends and thus our friendship blossomed.
Aja’s family is full of so many wonderful people, so my first impressions were definitely positive. Her brother was roommates with my friend and her father would shop at the store I worked at. Both are incredibly genuine, loving people so it came as no surprise that Aja was just the same. She has a wonderful sense of humour and that’s the first thing that attracted me towards her. We also shared similar interests; both of us were paving our own individual paths in the entertainment industry, and had a great interest in history. I also identified a deep-set spirituality in Aja; she had a lot of faith in God and that was another attribute of hers that I admired. I had already converted and had been practicing Islam for some years before I met Aja. Though she wasn’t following any particular religion, I recognised her spirituality as being a strong component in building and developing our relationship.
Sometime later, Aja moved away for college.Upon her return, we began to interact a lot more. We moved in the same social circles and had the same hobbies; music was and remains a tremendous part of both our lives. We were still relatively young when we decided to get married – I was 24 and Aja was 22. The process was, of course, a little different for us as both our families aren’t Muslim but they were very understanding.
The actual ceremony itself was really intimate and private. It wasn’t particularly large or lavish, but it was stress-free and the focus was on our union. A lot of the times, people have big, glamorous weddings but unfortunately, their marriages don’t last very long. I’ve seen that when the union between two people is the focus of the ceremony, then the marriage itself is blessed and healthy.
Marriage is a process of discovery; about yourself and your partner. Having to share your living space, your schedule, your day-to-day routine – it takes a while to adjust. Having said that, the patience and consideration you invest during that process definitely pays off once you’ve found your rhythm and are in sync with one another. Aja and I worked really hard individually too, so it felt good to see each other when we returned home!
Married life is definitely a lot better than what I had expected. We’re both from a background where we’ve seen a lot of divorce; I was raised by a single mother, so we were determined to build a marriage with a strong foundation. Having children is also a life-changing experience; watching our children grow is a wonderful thing and has definitely strengthened our relationship. I have so much respect for Aja; her strength never ceases to amaze me, especially after having three children.
The first thing I noticed about Samir was his genuine smile. He was studying Philosophy and Religion at the time and had a great air of certainty and decisiveness about him. I had always said to myself that if I ever found someone who looked genuine and was happy with what they were doing, that was the person I needed in my life.
As our families were good friends, I had the opportunity of really getting to know Samir well. I had moved away for college but when I returned to Colorado, I really began to think about marriage. I knew Samir was Muslim and that his faith meant a lot to him. Having observed him for years, I learnt a lot about Islam. I became Muslim because of the example he set; he always spoke so respectfully to everyone, listened intently and smiled constantly.
The wedding day was stress-free? As if! Samir had gone to work on a music project in Virginia and was flying in on the actual day of our wedding. He was supposed to arrive at 11.15am and the ceremony was arranged for 4.30pm. He arrived that day at 11.30pm! As we had kept the entire thing quite intimate, I only had to make a few calls to let everyone know that we needed to postpone until later in the day, so it wasn’t too hard to facilitate. But I went to the airport in my wedding outfit to pick him up!
Being married has given me a great insight on gender relations and the wisdom behind some of the roles assigned to us by God. There is great strength to be found in acknowledging that someone can be stronger than you. That realisation doesn’t take anything away from you but is actually a mark of strength in itself. Similarly, knowing where to apply your strength is equally important as well as learning when it’s applicable, which for me is my children and my family. I have learnt how to harness my strength and not waste and exert my energies on trivial matters. That’s not to say the process has been easy; I am naturally a proactive individual but I’ve had to learn to take a step back sometimes, which has made happier and so much more balanced as a person.
One thing that always gets neglected when talking about marriage, is sharing every inch of your personal space with someone. For me, having left something on the floor and then to have someone come long and say, ‘Are you going to pick that up?’ was a huge adjustment! And once your mind gets going, there’s no stopping it: does he think I’m showering too long? Does he think I use too much milk? It’s endless! But with time and patience, things slowly start to fit into place and you develop a new routine in tandem with your partner.
I love Samir’s sincerity; not only are his words sincere but his actions too. He’s also a great dad. He’s become somewhat of an example to our friends and family. When we had our first daughter, he’d take her to the barbershop with him. Everyone would laugh because it didn’t make much sense but he didn’t care. Then we had our second daughter, and he began taking them both! He’s very caring and always concerned about the kids’ feelings. These were qualities I recognised in him a long time ago but I guess they’ve magnified since our children were born.
Aja and Samir make up the Hip-Hop duo, The ReMINDers. Both cite their strong spirituality and love for music as being key factors in strengthening their relationship.
The ReMINDers stood out
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"Africa is the Future!" The annual Black August Hip Hop Project benefit concert has a history of ..."Africa is the Future!"
The annual Black August Hip Hop Project benefit concert has a history of hosting extraordinary artists from Dave Chapelle to Erykah Badu, and 2011 was no different. This year’s event, dedicated to the cause of freeing American political prisoners, incarcerated Black Panthers in particular, was headlined by Afropean sister duo Les Nubians. The benefit, held at SOB’s in Manhattan’s SoHo, was a solemn occasion marked by chants of “f*** the police” and not a few talented openers.
Les Nubians at SOB's
The ReMINDers stood out for their reggae-inflected and bilingual rap. Emcee Big Samir hails from Belgium and DR Congo, so he throws down in French now and again. The duo, completed by Queens-born vocalist and emcee Aja Black, is married and only narrowly avoided being way too adorable. Though they wore matching Afrocentric T-shirts, they managed to stay on the awesome side of super cute musical coupledom. Raw talent helped a lot.
Those wishing to see the legendary Les Nubians had to wait until the wee hours, but it was worth it. The Paris-based artists have returned triumphantly to the music scene following an eight-year break in recording, releasing the seasoned and sassy Nü Revolution. They wisely kicked off their Black August appearance with “Afrodance,” the boldest, crunchiest track on the self-released album.
In the “Afrodance” video the sisters Hélène and Célia Faussart are styled to look roughly like African space goddesses from the future. They carry the look well and, more importantly, it subtly echoes the new album’s message of optimism for the people of Africa and the African diaspora. For this performance Les Nubians appeared in a street-friendly version of the look with tasteful tribal face paint, loads of chunky jewelery, and, of course, big, fluffy Afros.
The Afros were integral to the performance.”Afrodance” begins with the question “have you ever danced with your hair?” It might seem like a strange idea, dancing with your hair — especially on those days when you’re not on speaking terms with it — but the Faussart sisters do it all the time. And they gave a thorough demonstration, shaking their locks like festive pom poms or silent percussion instruments.
Even when they weren’t Afrodancing, they were moving — shimmying and vamping with dazzling assurance and professional ease. They danced in harmony with each other, as if connected by invisible strings, becoming a living embodiment of unity and sisterhood. They flipped the heavy mood and turned the night into a consciousness raising pep rally. But the pep did not preclude strong words linking the struggles of black Americans with those of black Africans. The most pithy quote, simply: “Africa is not for sale.” But the ladies spoke most eloquently though the sublime and effervescent melody of “Africa for the Future” — their Africa repping jam that makes Shakira’s “Waka Waka” sound like the advertising jingle that it is.
The headliners performed only three songs, which was disappointing, that is, until Blitz the Ambassador walked on stage wearing a “Make Fufu Not War” tee. A “surprise” guest had been mentioned on the bill, but, in retrospect, this guest really wasn’t such a shocker. The Ghana-born, Brooklyn-based rapper guested on Les Nubians’s album and they guested on his recently released sophomore album Native Sun. They’re tight.
And Blitz had done this before. “We have to understand this is a global struggle,” said the Ambassador recalling that a Black August event many years ago was one of the first times he rocked. As if to show how far he’d come, he brought intense energy and presence to his short set — diffusing the intensity only slightly with moves like cheekily dropping into a vintage 1980s-style flow. The rapper’s music combines the uniquely African sounds of highlife and soukous with American-style hip hop, reflecting his own complex back story. It made him the perfect act to close the continent-bridging night, when context took his churning and emotional song “Dear Africa,” addressed to the land of his birth, to another level entirely.
The ReMinders get an assist from Snoop Dogg
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While the ReMINDers have appeared in this blog a fair amount lately, we've got to make a quick men...
While the ReMINDers have appeared in this blog a fair amount lately, we've got to make a quick mention of this one.
This past weekend, the Colorado Springs hip-hop duo hooked up with the one and only Snoop Dogg, opening for him Saturday night during the sold-out Aspen stop of his current Doggumentary tour.
As it turned out, Snoop doggumented the backstage moment and posted it on his home page the next morning. Snoop also sent the pic out to all of his four million, two hundred sixty nine thousand, nine hundred sixty two Twitter followers, which is never a bad thing.
And now we can all say we knew them back when.
Outside my window
The Way its is
Ill 4 Life
If only i could fly