XXL Freshman Class of 2012 Revealed

For all of you that voted late last year for your favorite newbie(s) in the hip-hop/rap game, the results are here.  According to several voter comments and other blogs, many are not very satisfied with the new class, however, it is what it is: 

Danny Brown | Don Trip | French Montana| Future | Hopsin | Iggy Azalea
Kid Ink | Machine Gun Kelly | Macklemore | Roscoe Dash

Unfortunately, none of the candidates I voted for made the list.  To be honest, I am quite disappointed with the class, seeing as how A$AP RockyCasey Veggies, XV, Schoolboy Q, Rockie Fresh, Dom Kennedy, Stalley, Laws and a plethora of other viable candidates were not selected, but this is the reflection of the voice of the people. 


Amy Winehouse inspired collection by Jean Paul Gaultier -- controversial?

Jean Paul Gaultier's Spring/Summer 2012 couture collection has been revealed to the public and his inspiration was the late British songstress Amy Winehouse.  Due to her unique and sometimes over the top fashion, Gaultier incorporated a countless amount of elements in this collection; leather, lace, bold colors, black, veils, corsets, long lines, layering, and much more. All of the models sported beehive hairstyles and heavy black eyeliner -- two elements that Amy was most known for. Some of the models were even sent down the runway smoking cigarettes. However, many did not find the collection nor the show appealing. Gaultier had never met Amy and controversy arose because he did not consult the Winehouse family before using pictures of her and having other people sing her music. According to Twitter, Amy's dad felt that the show and collection were "in bad taste". Kelly Osbourne along with a few others tweeted about the lack of class that the show and collection implied and felt as though Gaultier was just using her image and influence selfishly just to make money. However, you be the judge...


Visuals in the Sunshine State

Over the winter holiday break, two of my friends and I took a trip to Tampa, Florida. Being a fashion major and knowing what all goes into creating window displays and other forms of visual merchandising from scratch, I was awed by some of the creativity expressed in the International Plaza mall.

Louis Vuitton

Although simple, this display was quite clever. The circus theme and analogous color scheme are quite the attention grabbers and I love how the bags are perceived to weigh more than the elephant.

J. Crew

In my visual merchandising class, with us being college students on a budget, we always had to be creative in the most financially conscious way possible -- that included recycling. Therefore, this window display containing pinwheels constructed of magazine pages really spoke to me. Big ups to J. Crew for this go green display.

Neiman Marcus

When ascending and descending the escalators, customers are presented with a beautiful visage hanging from the ceiling. This display consisted of white plastic butterflies, adorned with silver glitter and small crystals, which hung on thin, clear wire. 


[MY] Top 10 Mixtapes of 2011

I could not do a post crediting my favorite albums of 2011 without giving props to my favorite mixtapes and free EPs as well.  There were so many projects released in 2011 that I had to do two separate lists because it would have been much too difficult to combine them. Anyhow, enjoy.

10. Thursday | The Weeknd

The Toronto artist followed up House of Balloons with another tape that was pleasing and wonderfully put together.

9. Music Money Magnums | Travis Porter

This was another project that put me in party mode upon listening. The Atlanta natives definitely know how to make songs that are catchy.

8.  B---- I'm The S--- | Tyga

This entire mixtape is a party in and of itself. I had so much fun upon the first listen that I automatically knew it'd become a favorite of mine.

7. Under The Influence | Domo Genesis

I'll admit that this project exceeded my expectations. However, with him being an Odd Future affiliate, I was not surprised at all. Great beats and subject matter that takes you into another realm of hip-hop.

6. Live Love A$AP | A$AP Rocky 

This tape definitely took some getting used to, but I love it now. The production is wonderful and A$AP's flow is one that shouldn't go unnoticed.

5. Ghost Lady EP | Cocaine 80s

The second project from this collective including No I.D., James Fauntleroy, Common, and many more is truly amazing. To me, it surpassed their previous project and I'm anxious to hear more from them.

4. The Sex EP 2.0 | Terrace Martin

The L.A. native really did a number with this one. The subject matter is excessively erotic, however most enjoyable. This is definitely something to help one wind down after a long day or to share the listening experience with a special someone.

3. Afraid Of Heights | Omen

Hailing from Chicago, this new artist most certainly caught my attention. He tells an interesting story in each and every self-produced track that he lays making this tape more than just a pleasurable listening experience, but one that will make you think.

2. Nostalgia, Ultra | Frank Ocean

This Odd Future affiliate also hit the ground running with this tape. He wowed listeners with unique subject matter and a different approach to R&B in general. 

1. House Of Balloons | The Weeknd

It is ironic how his first project, in my opinion, surpassed all of his more recent work. His soothing voice and entrancing production made this mixtape more than music, but also a work of art. From beginning to end this 9-track tape draws listeners in leaving them wanting more.


Return of 4Eva | Big K.R.I.T. -- As with my top album list, I surely hated to leave him off of this list, but it was only because I had 10 other mixtapes I like a tad more. However, I will acknowledge his talent as a rapper and producer and am anxious to see him grow as an artist.

Other listen-worthy mixtapes of 2011:

Love Love vs. Hate Love | Diddy Dirty Money

The Original Dom Kennedy | Dom Kennedy

Royal Flush II | CyHi Da Prynce

Pursuit EP | Cocaine 80s

Anticipation II | Trey Songz


[MY] Top 10 Albums of 2011

Here is a personal list of the top 10 albums that I found most desirable in 2011.  I based my choices and the order on elements such as how many songs I skip when listening to the album, sales, hype, lyrics, production and creativity. I also included runner-ups and why I chose not to make them a part of my list. 

10. Ambition | Wale

This DC emcee comes last on my list because I feel as though he has better work, such as 'More About Nothing' amongst other things. However, this album still has many radio-worthy hits and his heavily poetic lyricism prominent throughout.

9. Goblin | Tyler, the creator

Although undoubtedly one of the most lyrically controversial albums put out this year, you cannot deny this guy's talent. Tyler's overly-prominent individuality, tell-it-like-it-is lyricism, and his skills as a producer landed him on my list.

8. F.A.M.E. | Chris Brown

This fourth studio album from the Virginia native was strategically put together as something that would appeal to everyone.  The variety of the subject matter, levels of energy, and variety of featured artists kept me on my toes as I listened.

7. Take Care | Drake

The Toronto actor turned rapper/singer caught me a little off guard with this one. It was much more laid back and emotional than I expected, yet in a good way. Drake is developing a multi-faceted persona as an artist and this album proves so undoubtedly. I also love how much he decides to reveal about his life via this project.

6. Lioness: Hidden Treasures | Amy Winehouse

This amazing posthumous compilation of unreleased tracks was put together by the London songbird's record label and family members and sums up her talent wonderfully.  With features from Nas to Tony Bennett and remakes of many old classics, the soulfulness of this album took me to another place.

5. Finally Famous | Big Sean

This album made my list mainly for exceeding my expectations.  Between Sean's signature witty punchlines, wonderfully executed production primarily from No I.D., and featured artistry from Lupe, Pharrell, Kanye, Wiz, and more, this album was filled with pleasant surprises.  Many of the tracks are fun and energetic, while others are more serious and give the listener a better sense of who Sean is as an artist and as a person.

4. Camp | Childish Gambino

The multi-talented Donald Glover hit the ground running with this entirely self-produced first commercial release of his. He tells stories of his childhood and uses endless amounts of analogies and pop culture references allowing the listener to get to know him. His vivacious personality, spunky flow, and realness factor work together to make this multi-faceted album a masterpiece and left me wanting more.

3. 21 | Adele

Another soulful English songstress graces my countdown and for obvious reasons. Her lyrics tell the listener of her highest highs and lowest lows while simultaneously entrancing us with her her strong, immaculate voice. Adele harnesses her post-breakup emotion in a most remarkable way and delivers a wonderfully put together production.

2. Watch The Throne | Jay-Z & Kanye West

I will not ramble on too much about this masterpiece due to the lengthy review I previously posted upon its release, however, I will be concise and simply reiterate that this album encompasses everything that a great album should. It was well thought out in every aspect -- impeccable lyricism, an impressive array of featured artists and producers, and even beautifully executed album art.

1. Section.80 | Kendrick Lamar

Six months later and I am still truly speechless as far as this little piece of heaven is concerned. Its success was displayed by how well it surfaced despite having absolutely no radio or television coverage. Kendrick is not only a lyricist, but a thinker and activist. The way he managed to relay his point of view regarding issues that plague modern day society is astonishing.


Locke High 2 | Terrace Martin -- Although one of my favorite artists, there were many other albums I liked this year. However, if I did a top 11, this definitely would have made the cut.

Nothing But The Beat | David Guetta -- I honestly enjoy every single track on this album and absolutely live for the energy, however, a good album, for me, needs to be one that I can listen to over and over again.

Cole World: Sideline Story | J. Cole -- I hate to leave him with the short end of the stick but I feel he has much better work, as proven by 'The Warm Up' and 'Friday Night Lights'.

Other good albums this year:

Born This Way | Lady Gaga

BlackenedWhite | MellowHype

From The Westside With Love II | Dom Kennedy

The Div | Pac Div

Love After War | Robin Thicke

Mac & Devin Go To High School | Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa


Vote For Your XXL 2012 Class Freshman

The polls have opened for you to cast your vote for your favorite XXL 2012 class freshman.  Amongst the 50 candidates, there is definitely some tough competition with Chip the Ripper, Casey Veggies, A$AP Rocky, Earl Sweatshirt, Kreayshawn, Laws, Smoke DZA and Stalley just to name a few.  So follow this link to cast your vote!! You can only vote once! However, I've cheated and voted from multiple computers.  Check out last year's class below.


Zac Posen | Pre-Fall 2012 Collection

Although Manhattan-born Zac Posen has only been designing for about ten years, nowhere near as long as some of your other well-known designers, his work says otherwise.  His pre-fall 2012 collection is comparable to a classic, timeless work of art.  Rather than using tons of patterns and excessive colors to add complexity to his pieces, he instead uses minute details, emphatic lines, and exaggerated silhouettes.  It is the epitome of sophistication.