From Gordon Parks to Donald Glover: The New Appreciation of the Renaissance Man 























             I know this sounds corny, but the first time I heard the name Gordon Parks was when Larenz Tate uttered it in Love Jones (1997).  I was immediately drawn to the name.  Maybe it was the slick coolness in which Darius Lovehall name dropped him to impress Nina Mosley or maybe his name was just that powerful to make me want to learn more.  Either way; he was officially on my radar.   That fall, his book “Half Past Autumn: A…

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Gonorrhea, Pretty Nurses, and Embarrassing Moments 















     At 18 she told me over the phone what no 18 year-old boy wants to hear; “Kahn, I have gonorrhea and you should go get checked out.”  Now you have to understand where I was at 18; I mean I wasn’t a very experienced or even knowledgeable about sex or STDs.  I was really just starting to have experiences and figuring things out.  Most of my early sex education came from The 2 Live Crew and my grandfather’s “safe sex” lectures that dealt more with his fear of me…

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Emotional Crutches, Security Blankets, and Why I’ve Only had 2 Addresses 



















     I’ve always been enamored with individuals who’ve moved regularly throughout their entire lives.  There are those that grew up in households where a parent was in the military, those who grew up in families where quick shifts in income meant multiple moves and others who just don’t like being stationary in one spot for too long.  For years when clients and friends have confided in me about their lack of family pictures, it’s followed by, “We‘ve…

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My Effort, Resentment, & Guilt and My Grandfather's Judgement. 























     I had just wrapped up a pretty decent first date with a young lady; nothing major - just food and conversation. She invited me into her home to meet her mother so I took a seat on the couch, but by the time her mother came downstairs to greet me; I had kicked off my shoes and fell asleep. It was 1995, I was 19 years-old, I was trying to work 2 jobs and go to school but exhaustion had caught up with me. 

     Now let me give you this…

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Jay-Z, Chris Cornell and Being Aged out in Hip-Hop 


    In a lot of ways being a hip-hop artist is like being a professional athlete.  You have a short window to make a lot money and you’re going to have to come up with creative ways grow your income after your 20s are over.  But many emcees stick to the music no matter how hard the struggle becomes.  A lot of us paid top dollar to see our favorite emcees sell out venues like Joe Louis arena in the 90s but then paid barely anything to see those same artists at St. Andrews ten years later (and in some…

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My Grandfather and Real Friendships 

    It seems almost anywhere that serves reasonable priced coffee or cheap beer; there will be a quartet of men, late in their years; congregating. They’ll meet weekly and even daily. If you’re a fly on the wall for any of the conversations, you’ll hear the usual talk of politics, sports, and personal stories from yesteryear. Bartenders and baristas will know them  and their beverage preferences by name. This is the actual “country for old men.” It’s where they go when they’re not with the grand kids…

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Drake, Curry, The 90s, and Displaced Urban Masculinity 
















    The barbershop discussion sounded the same as others I’ve heard. 

“Isiah Thomas would have D’ed Curry up and dropped 40 on him. “ 

“Steph too soft to play in the 90s.” 

A few weeks later I walked into a similar conversation at a social gathering. 

“I just don’t see why people fuck with Drake, soft ass niggah.” 

“I don’t see it either” 

“A niggah like that wouldn’t have survived the 90s.” 

    And there you have it. Add this to the list of…

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Meeting Redman and Method Man And The Day My Rap Career Officially Died.  

        It was late November 1994 and Redman and Method Man had just busted into BuyRite music on Detroit’s West 7 Mile to promote their separate Def Jam releases (Redman’s Dare Iz a Darkside dropped on 11/22 and Method Man’s Tical dropped on 11/15).  They were doing what was called an “In Store” where music artists would go to different record shops around the country and promote their albums any time they had performances. 
         Red and Meth were cool as hell.  There was no big entourage, Red played a…

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Why Love Jones Was the Most Important and Unique Black Movie of the 90s 

      Many African American movies of the early 90s gave us insightful looks into the culture of violence that resided within the black community.  Sometimes the movies really hit close to realty and other times they were just entertaining.  None were bad movies but all them took used their creative approach in different ways.   
       New Jack City (1991) was mostly entertaining and the portrayals of drug dealers, crack heads were exaggerated.    Boyz in the hood (1991) hit home in a way that made you…

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#FaSho90sBox “My Personal Journey Through Urban Fashion” 

#FaShow90sBox is my story and my journey through urban fashion.  I went from being a kid that just wanted to dress like his grandfather to being a kid what wanted to dress like his favorite rapper.  Because my grandparents were so rigid with money; the allure of the clothes the cool kids wore only intensified. The memory of what you “wanted” can be just as vivid as the memories of the stuff you had. 
So I decided to add my collection of vintage and retro clothes with me and my wife’s childhood photos to…

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Why Kayne West Is Not Hard to Understand 

Writer and blogger Jessica Ann Mitchell says Kayne has a “Frantz Fannon complex,” and his social and racial rants have more to do with him not getting a “seat at the table” rather than him actually caring about social and racial issues.  Another blogger attributes Kayne’s blond hair and recent political affiliations to his mental health crisis. 

Well; that all could be true but there is another layer. 

Kayne has shown he’s the kind of cat that feels he can remake, redefine, and reevaluate any damn thing he…

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The N.W.A. Complex, Why Many of us have it 

   I know it feels kind of awkward.  The N.W.A. movie is coming out and you have mixed guilt and feelings about wanting to see it.  Let me guess; you’re my age (39).  You grew in the prime of the gangsta’ rap era.  “Boyz in da Hood” made you feel rebellious and “Bitches and shit but hoes and tricks” was a mainstay on your Sony Walkman.  You bought your Raiders cap from the gas station for 5 bucks, yo’ mamma cussed you out for answering the phone by saying, “Who dis?” and every chance you got- you answered a…Read more

“Beauty & The Box” (Revisited) The Reason for the Madness 

It usually starts like this- an early morning drive, 24 ounces of coffee, and a random text to my assistant Paula Styer about the wackiest photo idea ever.  I’ll give her credit, she never responds by saying, “Kahn, you’re crazy,” or” Kahn, it’s too fucking early for this nonsense.”  No; she says, “Sounds groovy, when do we shoot?!”  

That’s how 90 percent of my creative projects are born and that’s how last year’s “Beauty & The Box” was spawned.  From the outset; it does sound irrational – “Let’s get some…Read more

Detroit: City of God (Reprise) 

    The series of photos known as “Detroit: City of God” actually started one day in 2003 while I was visiting a friend’s church.  It was a rainy day and there were several leaks, the carpet had a bad stench to it, and the fabric on the pews was peeling.  But you know what?  Nobody cared.  The church was small, quaint, and quiet.  People were there to pray thanks, understand, and asked for forgiveness (like any other church I guess)

I left that day with allllllll kinds of thoughts.  Like; does God care how…Read more

Writing Poems about My Grand Parents and Why  


    When I chose to write the poems Gardenias (for my grandfather) and Impatiens (for my grandmother); there were many intentional thought processes at work.  I grew up adoring the way my grandmother loved flowers.   I mean this woman LOVED flowers!  She nursed them daily and effortlessly.  She was capable of growing anything she desired.  Trips to Eastern Market and Franks Nursery were routine and flowers were watered in the morning and night.
     In those poems; the Impatiens and Gardenias…

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