Intern Media goes to the 2017 Sports Emmy Awards

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

The 2017 Sports Emmy Awards, which was held at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City Tuesday night, featured some of the best talent in sports television today, including ESPN, NBC, FOX, and Turner Sports.

Some of this year’s big winners included the late Craig Sager, Charles Barkley, the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and Bob Costas.

The red carpet was star studded, to say the least. Ex-Yankee Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez, NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall, HBO’s Andrea Kremer, and figure skater Tara Lipinski were just some of those who made an appearance on the red carpet that night.

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At the ceremony, I had the opportunity to catch up with some of the biggest names in sports and media, including former New England Patriots linebacker and three-time Super Bowl champion Willie McGinest, five-time MLB All-Star Frank Thomas, and civil rights activist Dr. Harry Edwards, who’s worked as a staff consultant for the San Francisco 49ers and Golden State Warriors.

Checkout snippets from our interviews below.

The Interviews 

Dr. Harry Edwards 

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Q. What are your thoughts on the state of the NFL and NBA when it comes to the diversity in management?

A. Well, I think this is always an evolving situation and one of the things that we’ve learned dating back to Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, and much less Jackie Robinson, is that there are no final victories.

It’s always an issue of adjusting to the latest set of circumstances and reactions to those circumstances.

I think both leagues are going to have to get smarter. They’re going to have to learn to manage and deal with the impact of social media, which is the greatest driving force in social change in history. And unless we do that, it’s going to turn into chaos.

Both leagues are poised to get out in front of this thing. Whether or not they’ll actually have the intellectual dexterity and the mental facility to get out and do it the way it’s supposed to be done in this age of instant communication to millions of people simultaneously is another question.

Willie McGinest 

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Q. What’s your million-dollar advice for athletes coming out of college getting ready to embark on their NFL journey’s?

A. Be professional. Take pride in your work. It’s a huge business and it will go on with or without you. So, make your decisions and understand that you’re in a unique position.

There are certain things you need to do while you’re in position. You need to go out and be the best football player you can be for the organization. Also, you have to understand that there are a lot of kids and young people that look up to you and admire what you’re doing.

You’re under a microscope, so everything that you do is going to be watched, scrutinized and criticized. So, be professional, make good decisions and work harder than anybody around you.

Q. How soon do they need to start thinking about what their lives are going to be like after the NFL?

A. Soon because it’s not promised. You’re one injury away and the average career for an NFL player is 3 and a half years. So, things come and go pretty quickly and if you’re not consistently taking care of yourself or playing at a certain level, that can be it for you.

Guys go through things. It happens. Guys retire after a couple of years. So, you have a choice everyday to make sure you’re doing something positive that’s giving you the power to keep you going. So, if it doesn’t work out, you have another plan in place.

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Q. What can we do to make sure that more young kids of color grow up playing the game of baseball? How do we make sure the diversity in the sport continues to improve?

A. I really think that we should get our kids to go to more camps because the camps right now are craving for kids 7-12. We have to get our kids involved early because if they start at 13 or 14, it’s not going to happen.

You have to learn to love baseball early in life.

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If New York Is ‘The Place Where Stars Are Born,’ Then Consider Pop Artist Renita Cotton Reborn

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

BROOKLYN — It’s one thing for an artist to have work ethic, but when you couple that with an “It” factor, that artist is destined for greatness.

Pop singer and songwriter, Renita Cotton, has both the work ethic and the God-given talent to take her career to great heights, and she’s already off to an impressive start.

Her singing career might have only started a little over a year ago, but there’s something about her stage presence, confidence and pizzazz that leads me to believe she might have told a ‘little white lie’ when I asked her how long she’s been pursuing a singing and songwriting career professionally, in which she responded so modestly, “So, I’d say, professionally, probably about a year and a half I started doing some background work for people.”

I interviewed the young entertainer this past spring, and after spending some time with her on that beautiful day in Brooklyn, I now understand why she’s climbing up the ladder so quickly.

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Renita has that trait most people would kill to have.  Her mix between discipline and the assurance that she has in her ability is immediately evident when you interact with her.

Renita was the perfect featured talent for an interview that was set in one of the busiest and most attractive sites in Brooklyn, NY; Brooklyn Bridge Park.

She came prepared with her exuberance and her stylist, showing me just how seriously she takes the idea of being a walking brand.

She’s a young New Yorker who has figured it out, so to speak, making “the city that never sleeps” work in her favor.  As many of you already know, New York is the place for stars to form and chase their dreams and aspirations from the ground up.  If it wasn’t, then I most certainly wouldn’t be here myself.

Renita’s ability to not only write her own music, but to also do a masterful job of performing it in front of audiences of all sizes, is proof that she’s built for this. And if she ever slips up and let’s that left arm hang too much while on that stage, I’m sure her mother will correct her, maybe saying something like “You know you have that one arm that’s a little dead there.” A comment that Renita would likely respond to by saying, “Well, haha. Thanks mom,” with a slight bit of innocent sarcasm.

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Renita understands the concept of “journey,” but that hasn’t stopped her from carrying herself as if she’s already reached her destination.

It might be hard for some of us to admit it at times, but I think it’s safe to say that in whatever we do, we have to have at least a small chip on our shoulder. That way we’re able to keep our eyes on the prize, understanding that mediocrity is never an option.

Renita’s coming off of a few very successful performances — performances that brought more music lovers along for her journey as an artist with two sides to the story; singing and songwriting.

In hip-hop, there’s a much bigger focus placed on writing your own lyrics, despite the 2015 “beef” between rap stars Drake and Meek Mill, a beef that started over Meek’s disbelief that Drake authors his own lyrics. However, it’s not really considered a big deal if singers elect not to write their own music.

Even the great Beyoncé has ghost writers.  That being said, it’s very rare and absorbing when we come across a Pop artist who is able to both write and perform their own music while also exemplifying a strong stage presence.

That description has Renita written all over it, and her journey has now been added to the Intern Media wall — a wall that includes many other journeys, even some that are still being written.

Checkout my interview with Renita and support her journey as an independent artist in the beloved Big Apple.

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Renita,

It was great hearing your story and being able to share it with my audience.  You have a lot of talent and you’re just at the beginning of your career, but more importantly you have great character.  That’s why there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll do great musically and that you’ll inspire tons of people along the way.  Stay true to yourself and continue to walk around with that exuberance and confidence that you so greatly possess.  I know we joked about the day when reporters will be knocking on your door begging for an interview, but just remember that every joke has a little bit of truth to it! Welcome to the Intern Media family Renita!

Karl Nelson II, Founder of Intern Media

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There are mascots and then there is the “Hopster”

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

LONG ISLAND CITY — July 17th marked the first ever Homebrew Festival presented by the Hopster Beer Company.

The man you see in the video above is none other than the Hopster himself, the one who made all of this possible.  The Hopster’s love for beer, the joy he gets from bringing people together and the focus he places on the beer consumer is exactly why the first ever Homebrew Festival was a major success.

I just mentioned “the beer consumer.”  The beer consumer is who the Hopster had in mind when he decided to start the Hopster Beer Company, becoming one of the first beer companies to create a mascot that represents the beer drinker, not the beer itself.  And if you haven’t figured it out by now, “the Hopster” doesn’t just refer to the man you see featured in this story, but it’s also the name of the actual mascot for beer drinkers all over the world.

Think about that for a second.

Can you recall a time when you found yourself watching a beer commercial and saw a mascot that was created for the average beer drinker?

I know I’m a young guy, but still, in my 25 years on this earth, I can’t recall one time turning on the television or opening my internet browser to watch a sporting event, sitcom, movie, TV series, or any other type of television or online program, and seeing a commercial or advertisement that catered to those who drink beer. Instead, what I’ve seen during these advertisements are beer brands, time and time again, showing off their mascot in an effort to persuade us beer drinkers to taste their product.

Their alluring tactic is quite simple; a clever mascot to represent their brand of beer.

During our interview, the Hopster gave me examples of beer brands like Coors Light, also known as “the Silver Bullet.”  He also mentioned Samuel Adams beer and how their mascot is a brewer and patriot holding up a mug filled to the brim with beer.  

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While beer brands like Coors Light and Sam Adams have been extremely successful over the years, the Hopster is content with taking a different route. What route might that be?  He decided to create a mascot for the beer consumer.  

That being said, while the idea was his, it was his wife who added her much needed two cents to the equation, becoming an intricate factor in why the mascot was eventually named “the Hopster.”

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Prior to our interview, the Hopster told me about the months leading up to the Homebrew Festival and about the immense amount of preparation that went into making the grand opening for this festival a huge success as he and his team worked alongside the owners of the Beer Closet to bring this festival to the Long Island City community. 

During our interview, the Hopster said giving people opportunities to market their brands was a major focus for this festival.  He might have been mainly referring to his fellow homebrewers, but little does he know that by putting on this event, a journalist, a podcast out of Queens, NY, an emerging New York-based clothing brand, and many members of the community, all left the festival with potential opportunities and future opened doors in our respective lives and careers.

That’s right.  A New York-based construction worker by day and an artistic homebrewer by night is who paved the way for tons of cross-promotion to be handled on a beautiful Sunday afternoon just weeks ago.

Not only did people enjoy the festival and have an opportunity to taste some amazing craft beers, but they were able to connect with one another from a life and business standpoint, which didn’t really take much effort given the atmosphere and the high-character individuals who were involved.

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Me with Ann Marie Vasquez, the lovely wife of the Hopster.  She’s been very instrumental in assisting her husband with the operations of the Hopster Beer Company, basically operating as second in command to her husband since day one.  During our interview, she told me about how the company started, how far they’ve come and how dedicated they are to creating an unforgettable experience for the “beer consumer.”

Even though I was at the festival as a member of the press, there was no way I was going to let the day go by without tasting the vast selection of crafted beers that debuted at the festival.  After all, they do say “When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do.” So, when at a homebrew festival… I think you guys can take it from there.

Out of all the crafted beers I tasted that day, I found it to be quite ironic that my favorite selection was the Hopster Beer Company’s special; the mango double IPA.

As someone who drinks in social settings, I won’t lie to you all.  I’m not the biggest fan of IPA’s.  However, I also won’t lie to you and say that I did not enjoy every sip of that mango double IPA.  And to think that it was created by accident, to say the least.

During the interview, the Hopster filled me in on just how much of a coincidence the mango double IPA was, telling me that, at the time, he wasn’t necessarily trying to create this fan favorite.  However, once he tasted the final product and allowed others to, it immediately became one of his signature crafted beers.

That’s not a surprise to me at all considering all the positive feedback it received from so many people at the festival.

The Hopster’s genuine personality, his love for people, his interest in beer, and his desire to bring people together with future events and new signature beers, speaks to his success in the beer industry and it’s proof as to how he continues to elevate his company.

I appreciate this guy for setting the stage for what was a great turnout and an impactful event for the Long Island City community.  This is only the beginning.

Hopster,

I can’t thank you enough for putting the Homebrew Festival together and for having me there as one of the leading sources for media coverage.  It was truly a pleasure and I will carry those memories with me as my journey in journalism continues.  I appreciate you taking the interview and I’m sure this won’t be the last time people see our names side by side bringing great experiences and unique content to the public.  Continue to create opportunities for your fellow homebrewers.  On behalf of the beer drinkers out there, thanks for providing us with our own mascot!  From here on out, like you said, we’re all Hopsters when we put beer to our lips!  See you soon and welcome to the Intern Media family!

Karl Nelson II, Founder of Intern Media

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Charlamagne Tha God takes on Tomi Lahren following her Beyoncé remarks

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

In the clip above, you’ll see American television and video host, Tomi Lahren, commenting on Beyoncé’s (Singer-songwriter) performance at this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show.  Outraged by the “stand” that she believed the 20-time Grammy Award-winner took during one of the most-watched sporting events of the year, Lahren took to the issue during the “Final Thoughts” segment of her show.

“There are much better leaders out there to advance your message than the Black Panthers,” Lahren told TMZ.  “[Beyoncé] wasn’t saluting someone like Martin Luther King, [Jr.].  She was saluting a group that is known for violence and intimidation.”

In addition to Lahren’s remarks about Beyoncé, she also mentions the singer’s husband, Jay-Z (Rapper), during her rant.  Lahren brought up his past as a drug dealer — a past that she actually attached a time frame to (14 years to be exact).

If you didn’t catch the performance or some of the dialogue following it, allow me to bring you up to speed.  Beyoncé performed alongside fellow entertainers, Coldplay (Rock band) and Bruno Mars (Singer-songwriter).

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During the Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.

While it was a very entertaining performance, it wasn’t the quality of the performance that captured viewers the most.  Instead, it was the stand that many people believed Beyoncé and her dancers took during the performance that raised many brows.

The outfits worn by Beyoncé’s backup dancers appeared to pay tribute to a group widely known as the Black Panther Party or the BPP (a group seen throughout the Civil Rights Movement).

The Black Panthers were founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale.  They founded the BPP in the midst of the injustices that were taking place against black Americans and other oppressed groups, at the time.

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Bobby Seale (left) and Huey Newton (right)

The Black Panthers had a belief that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s peaceful methods had failed the black community.  They also felt that a lot of the things that they wanted to see implemented would be ignored.  So, they decided to take matters into their own hands.

However, their focus was not senseless violence as Lahren eluded to.  Their focus was to protect the members of their community, even if that meant policing the police back in those grueling times in our American history.  Obviously, for those who know the history, you’d understand why the BPP sometimes had to result to violence.

Tomi Lahren’s comments weren’t the only controversial remarks made after Beyoncé’s performance.  However, a lot of the backlash from others did echo the points that she made.

Lahren’s remarks earned her the “Donkey of the Day” on one of the most listened to hip-hop radio shows in the nation; Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club.

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DJ Envy (left), Angela Yee (middle) and Charlamagne Tha God (right)

One of the co-hosts of the show, Charlamagne Tha God, runs a segment called “Donkey of the Day.”  In that segment, he usually puts someone on the hot seat.

You could probably guess where I’m going with this next.  Charlamagne made sure that he put Lahren on the hot seat immediately following what she said about the music industries power couple, Jay-Z and Beyoncé.  He argued that Lahren misinterpreted Beyoncé’s performance, which I agree with.

He made it clear that Beyoncé wasn’t taking a stand against all of police across America.  Instead, the “Girls Run The World” singer was simply using her platform as an entertainer to take a stand against “police brutality.”

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Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s fair to say that police brutality is a relevant subject today, considering the horrific events that have plagued our society in the last couple of years, involving black men.

Many would even take it a step further to say that police brutality has been a problem in our society for years now.  For a lot of us, the Trayvon Martin incident and the media coverage that surrounded it is what got us talking about this subject on networks across the nation all over again.

That being said, I found absolutely nothing wrong with Beyoncé’s decision to use her tremendously large platform and influence to express her feelings on the recent tragic and unfortunate events that we’ve had to encounter as a nation.  And just like Charlamagne, I too thought Lahren’s comments mirrored the fact that she’s simply misinformed, if not also insensitive to the facts.

However, one thing I have to respect Lahren for is the fact that she faced the music, so to speak, and had Charlamagne as a guest on her show to debate this topic even further.

This is where things got even more interesting and there has been a lot more dialogue surrounding this matter since Charlamagne’s appearance on her show.

In the video below, you can take a look for yourself and see what all went down.

I was happy to see Charlamagne come right out of the gate strong, providing Lahren with the story behind the Black Panther Party — a story that I hope she saw for herself as a documentary on the group aired on PBS last week.

Lahren had the audacity to draw a comparison between the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and the BPP.

Let’s just be clear on something.  The BPP was not the KKK in any way, shape or form.  The KKK is known as one of the oldest hate groups in America (developed in the 1860’s).

Black Americans were their target from the beginning, but they also have a history of attacking Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians, and Catholics.

One of the aims of this group was to prevent blacks in the South and any whites that supported the black community from “enjoying simple civil rights.”

Violent attacks, such as lynchings, tar-and-featherings and rapes became a hallmark for the KKK.

Now, does that sound like the Black Panther movement to you?

I’m not saying that I condone violence over promoting peace.  I’m simply saying that I don’t believe Lahren approached this topic with the understanding that life in the 1960’s (when the BPP was heavily present) was completely different than it is today.

Black Americans, other minority groups and white Americans that supported the Civil Rights Movement, were denied their basic rights and not only that, but they were targeted through vicious violent attacks.

They weren’t targeted in retaliation, but simply because of the color of their skin and their involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.  And must we remind ourselves that the Civil Rights Movement was geared towards ending racial segregation and discrimination against African Americans.

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I believe that the facts above speak volumes to Lahren’s lack of knowledge of what the BPP movement was and why it’s a point of acknowledgement in the black community today.

There’s one more thing that I’d like to touch on though, in regard to the debate between Lahren and Charlamagne.  Charlamagne also made sure that he called Lahren out for bringing Jay-Z’s past into the conversation.

Now, I agree with her premise that the black community needs to be concerned with addressing and fixing all issues impacting the community negatively.  There’s no question that things like drugs, alcohol abuse and senseless violence plague the black community.  Statistics will show that.

Those things definitely need to continue to be addressed and I want to see improvements in my community.  However, when Lahren brought Jay-Z into the picture, I couldn’t help but think about when I was younger and my dad would reprimand me about something that I did wrong.

As a kid, I didn’t always know any better, and I would try to deflect the attention off of my wrongdoings by bringing up issues that I believed my dad had within himself.

I’ll never forget how he would always say to me, “We’re talking about you and this particular matter right now and that’s all that matters son.”

The difference between Lahren and I is that she’s a grown woman and I was a mere child when trying to take the focus off of the issue at hand.

Instead of Lahren focusing on the topic at hand (police brutality), she saw it fit to remind the public of Jay-Z’s past.

And based on the fact that she followed that up with no real facts to support her claim, all that did was make matters worse, in my opinion.

Bringing up Jay-Z’s history as a drug dealer was almost like making a contrast between police brutality and the dealing of drugs.

As a young black male, I view that as very disrespectful and all it does is take the focus off of one of the biggest issues in America today — an issue that affects all Americans.

I applaud Charlamagne for rising to the challenge and backing up his bold statements in regard to Lahren’s remarks.  And quite frankly, to bring things full circle, I respect Lahren standing by her statements and I’m not advocating for the idea that she’s somehow a racist.

I simply believe that her comments were a bigger representation that there are still a lot of individuals that are misinformed and insensitive to the history and the present day racism that, unfortunately, still exists in parts of the world.

As a Journalist, one thing I’m adamant about is using my platform and my passion to speak out on certain issues that I feel affect not only my community, but the world at large.

I believe that I was able to do that here and I respect anyone who might have an opinion on this matter that differs from mine.KarlHeadShot

K Rokk: Professional Drummer out of Queens, NY

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

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Video work by my videographer Austin Dancy (Brooklyn, NY)

I recently took my platform Intern Media on the road, just a borough over from Brooklyn, NY to Queens, NY, to sit down with longtime musician (Drummer), K Rokk. It was humbling to sit down with a guy who has dedicated himself to his artistry for over two decades, demonstrating an even stronger love for music today compared to 21 years ago when he first started.

Our interview took me back to a year ago when I was coaching alongside one of my mentors at the Park School of Baltimore. On the first day of tryouts, my mentor expressed to our players that there was “a huge difference between doing something for the fun of it and actually loving what you do.”

My mentor brought this up to the kids because at the time we had some guys playing because they simply found fun in playing the sport. While that’s fine, that mentality can cause a problem for the guys on the team who are playing competitively out of a true love for the game.

Well, what my mentor said must have really sunk in because that had to be one of my most memorable seasons as a coach given not only our success that year, but the passion that the guys played with day in and day out.

What he said that day resonated with me and it’s a statement that has stuck with me to this day. K Rokk is a perfect example of someone who is in the music industry for the true love of it.

Don’t get me wrong. He’s all about having fun with his craft, but for something to be considered your craft, one must work at it too, right? That’s something that K Rokk understands, which is why he’s performing several times week in and week out, always looking to add a staple to his resume.

K Rokk has been doing this for years, and if anything, his work ethic has only grown since the day that he first picked up those drum sticks, introducing the world to his unique sound.

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K Rokk is able to literally wake up and do what he loves daily, and his journey has paid dividends for him as he’s been able to perform across the country, surrounding himself with what he would refer to as “seasoned” musicians, and he’s now working on a couple new projects that will reinvent him as an artist in an industry that is constantly evolving. 

K Rokk is blessed to be still having fun performing on the drums, expressing his serious love for the stage and drawing a crowd based off of his talent.

Speaking from the perspective as someone who was able to watch him perform, I’m telling you that his talent is what triggered my approaching him shortly after the show. And thank God that I did because I might not have learned of how great of a guy he is outside of his talent. Here’s a guy that has made his artistry his life and you can see how much ‘life’ the art of music gives him when he’s out there on that stage.

K Rokk stressed the importance of networking and connecting with others in your respective industry when we set down for the interview. Well, it’s those relationships that he’s developed over the years which keeps him constantly at venues performing week after week. It’s also those relationships that have enabled him to travel outside of New York to showcase his talents as a musician, impacting the lives of many.

And how ironic that it was my relationship with my good friend and artist L. Green which made this story possible.

K Rokk’s emphasis on this is what reminds us that we cannot make it out here on our own. You need people. You need that one person to say, “Look. I support what you’re doing. Keep inspiring.”

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Me, K Rokk and my videographer Austin Dancy

You need that person who’s going to invest their time and even sometimes their money into your passion. I know that I haven’t made it to where I am all by myself. I’ve had a core group of supporters and quite frankly, it’s their encouraging words and God’s love that keeps me going as a journalist in New York City, one of the hardest cities to make it in.

K Rokk has had the opportunity to perform with some of those he considers gurus in the music industry — individuals he’s learned a ton from. Little does he know though that it’s his two decades of dedication to his craft and his upcoming work that has a guy like myself looking at him as a guru in the realm of music.

These stories are meant to inspire those who come into contact with them, but what should also be highlighted is the fact that it’s me who’s inspired by those that I cover stories on. They make what I do that much sweeter and worthwhile.

Take a look at the interview below (in video form) and hear directly from K Rokk as he talks about how he got to where he is today as a musician, where his love for music comes from, what projects are on the horizon for him, and more.

Also, here’s a chance for you to grow with me as I take my gifts as a writer and translate them into my aim to develop as a reporter while putting my vision on camera, making journalism just what I’ve promised it can be; a production.

K Rokk,

Thanks for growing with me my man and becoming apart of the Intern Media family, stamping your spot in this movement. Continue to inspire and educate, not only the up-and-coming musicians out there, but the media outlets that you cross paths with. More media professionals need to learn about these artists beyond the surface, not simply latching onto their talent, but more so showing appreciation for their journey’s. That was part of my aim for this interview and I pray that my approach as a Digital Journalist made you feel like family bro.

Karl Nelson II, Founder of Intern Media

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Marshall “DJ Mars” Thomas: The man behind the art

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

As an artist, Marshall “DJ Mars” Thomas redefines the phrase “triple threat,” impelling the culture from three separate angles; DJ, designer, and author.

As a DJ, Mars has dedicated himself to his craft over the years, having the opportunity to travel internationally performing in one country after the next.

Mars bridges the gap between the musician and the audio engineer. He’s mixed it up on the turntables on the Steve Harvey Morning Show, the Essence Music Festival, on the stage with his good friend and well-known artist Keri Hilson; to name a few.

Mars has completely changed the game as a designer with New Balance, showing his peers that when you dedicate yourself to your craft, the sky is the limit in terms of the doors that can and will open for you. And while he might not have kids walking around with his signature sneakers on like the great Kanye West, one can’t purchase a dope pair of New Balances without respecting the urban culture represented by it. We can thank music moguls like DJ Mars for that.

Mars recently expressed his admiration for the history of the ‘mixtape’ by working with a small team of other invested individuals to publish his first book, The Art Behind The Tape.

In this text, Mars places a focus on the artwork behind mixtape culture and he brings the perspective of top level DJ’s, who paved the way for him, to the forefront of the conversation.

Now, taking a step away from his success as an artist, Mars has been able to remain humble throughout a journey that can leave many people’s head in the clouds.

One might ask, ‘How has he been able to pull that off?’ For him, it’s quite simple; by remaining loyal to his family and friends, by living like an everyday person, by finding inspiration in the people and things around him, and by taking pride in fatherhood.

If you were to ask Mars yourself, he’ll tell you that it’s those things that truly make him successful because if the fame was to ever leave, it’s those things that will define him, when it’s all said and done.

Prepare yourselves to get a full introduction and more into the life and career of Marshall “DJ Mars” Thomas. You’ll walk away from this article feeling like you were a fly on the wall for the behind-the-scenes life of ‘Marshall’ while gaining more insight into ‘Mars.’

Q. How have you been able to remain so humble throughout your journey?

A. I think that’s just apart of my character. It’s not a front, haha. You can see through someone’s humility if they were lying. That’s just who I am. In the music industry, that can work for you and work against you at the same time. For me, that’s just who I am naturally.

Q. Is this something that you would say has worked for you or has it worked against you in the music industry?

A. It has worked for me because part of why I get work is due to the fact that people genuinely like me. I’m a likable person. So, it works for me in that sense. I’m easy to get along with. I’m easy to hire. There’s no BS. If I’m supposed to be at the gig at 9:00, I’m there by 8:30. It’s no stress. It’s like what you were able to witness yourself. I don’t roll with an entourage. I may roll with my crew, but I don’t have an entourage. I don’t come in with 20 people. So, like I said, it works for me in that sense. The people I work for really like my personality and I’m easy to get along with. They know what they’re getting when they hire me.

Now, here’s how my humility sometimes works against me. In the industry, arrogance and attitude is like a shiny jacket. People say they don’t like the shiny suits, but part of what they buy into is arrogance and attitude. People might say that they hate it, but they actually like it because it’s something that they can’t be.

As much as people say they hate Kanye, they love him. I don’t give off that vibe though. That’s just not who I am even though I know that it works in my field and people, to some extent, may like me more if I was on some ‘Yo I’m the s***’ — if I wore my resume on my chest. I don’t do that. If I did that maybe it would get me other gigs; who knows. There’s other DJ’s who’s whole brand is arrogance. That’s their brand and it works for them, but that’s not who I am, so I don’t think that would work for me.

Q. Now, we touched on this a little earlier. You don’t travel with an entourage per say, but you do keep close friends around you. The first night we linked up in New York, I was able to hangout with your homies at the Starter Party. They were telling me some things about you and the upbringing you guys had. They told me about what it was like coming up in those times in your community. How important would you say it is to keep those kind of people around you throughout your journey?

A. It’s super important because at the end of the day, when all this shiny s*** is gone, you still want to be able to go back to your people. I have people I can always go back to regardless of anything. I can DJ in a stadium of 100,000 people or in a room of five people and my boys are still going to support me and treat me the same.

And on another note, my level of success as a DJ inspires the friends that I surround myself with. It’s like their level of success in their lives inspires me. One of my homeboys that you met is a cop and his thing is he wants to be apart of the police force because he doesn’t want it to be like all of them against us. He doesn’t want it to feel that way. He’s mentoring kids and giving kids karate lessons.

My other homeboy that was there helps him out with the mentoring. They’re working together to help the kids out here. So, they’re successful in another realm. They are making sure our kids have immediate ground level mentors to follow. So, I’m looking at that like ‘Damn, that is great.’ They are directly effecting kids on a street level. That’s ultra important. I look at their lives and they look at my life and we’re both able to see what we all bring to the global community. It’s dope. So, you never want to lose those people because those are the people that will have my back no matter if I was DJ Mars on stage or DJ Mars in the hood somewhere. They got my back.

Q. On that Thursday night before NBA All-Star Weekend, I watched you do two sets. You set the tone for the rest of the night during your first set and closed the night out in your second set. How does it feel to know that when you’re on stage behind the turntables, you’re the soundtrack in that particular environment for however long your set lasts?

A. To me, one of the attributes of a good DJ is programming. Programming is like being a good orator — someone who can put on great speeches. It’s like Malcolm X. He put word after word after word for great impact. It’s the same thing with records. You have to understand the value of every record that you play. Every record is meant to take you to another place, so depending on where you’re trying to go with the night…like I know chronologically certain parts of the night I gotta go in a certain direction. So, I have to drive those records. I have to pick those records and play them in either a passive way or in an aggressive way to get a type of reaction.

The first party that night, I came on at midnight. It’s party time. I knew I had to play records quick and fast…get in and get out for maximum impact. For the end of the night, it’s the end of the night. For me to try to replicate what I did at the beginning of the night wouldn’t make sense. It’s the end of the night, the night is winding down and it’s time for people to go; literally. The club is ready to shutdown, so you play records that wind people down because you have to take people’s mind to a different place.

It’s problematic when the club ends and everybody is still crunk to death at 4 a.m. You know? That’s how stuff happens. So, you have to just calm people down. You have to remind them that they have responsibilities in the morning. Sometimes you want people to leave out thinking, ‘You know what? It is kind of late and I need to get up for work in the morning.’ So, you play records that fit the mood for the direction you want people to go in and that’s basically what I do as a DJ. I design a set and it’s always on the fly. I design a set that directs the mood that I want people to go in. My midnight set is different than my late night set because I have different objectives.

Q. I witnessed that at Stage 48 as well. It was fun watching you. Your set was a little over two hours. You seemed to enjoy being one of the first guys in there. I watched your patience as people walked in, hesitated to the dance floor and then eventually made their way to the dance floor and had a great time. People were loving the records you were playing. It was cool watching all of that unfold.

A. Yeah, man. You just gotta play your position. Not every night, am I the headliner and I’m cool with that because some nights that’s just the position that you have to play. That Saturday night, my job was to warm up the crowd. It was to get you in the mood knowing that the party was going to elevate as the night continued. It wasn’t my job to get people all the way there. It wasn’t my job to play all the bangers. My job was to get you out of your jacket, get you to the bar, get you one or two drinks and then get the guys talking to the girls, so that they could get the courage to drag them to the dance floor. So, when the next DJ comes in, all he’s got to do is hit the home run. I just have to get the party to first base. I pretty much set the next DJ up.

You saw how the night went. Every DJ was hitting it out the park, but imagine if I was whack and nobody was on the dance floor, then it would have made everybody’s job harder.

Q. Let’s talk about the importance of building relationships. It seems like you’ve built a lot of relationships over the years with people in the industry and those outside of the industry. The Friday I met up with you at Sony was a cool time because those were people in the music industry in some form or fashion and you pretty much met with them off the strength of relationship. How important would you say it is to build relationships in business and in life in general?

A. I wouldn’t be where I am if relationships hadn’t occurred. I get the gigs I get because I have access to people. I can call and say ‘Hey, what do you guys have going on out there this weekend?’ There’s information I can get because I have relationships with people. Nobody does this alone. I don’t care who you are. There’s nobody out here winning by themselves. They just don’t do it. For me, it’s paramount that we maintain those relationships. That’s all we have. If I can’t walk through a door that’s closed, then what am I? You know what I mean? It’s the relationships that keep things going and keep the doors opening that allows me to continue to work.

Q. We were talking about this after the Beats By Dre Party, which was really dope by the way. We had just left there and as we were walking to the subway, you were talking about how you leave those types of events and those types of weekends very inspired. What is it about those types of weekends, events, and encounters that leave you inspired and able to take something new back to ATL with you?

A. I try to find success in everything. We’ll start with the DJ’s. I look at the other DJ’s and I’m like ‘Damn, this DJ is from where?’ I’ll give you a real life example. There’s a DJ that I spun with that Thursday before All-Star Weekend. He was from Cleveland. That means he impressed somebody so much that they flew him from Cleveland to New York to do this party. So, I’m like ‘Damn, I need to pay attention to his movement because his movement is working.’ Someone saw it fit for him to be spinning at the same party where I was, so let me study him because there’s a grain of success in his movement that has put him here. I’m saying to myself, ‘Let me pay attention to the grain of this guy.’

Now, let’s talk about the Beats By Dre situation. I’m looking at that brand and what they’re doing and how they’re positioning themselves in the market. That weekend, they had the super tough brownstone that was super sweet, the headphones displayed were super sweet, and the atmosphere was super sweet. So, I’m like ‘Okay. The brand is positioning themselves in a certain way. Let me just study what’s going on at this event.’

I take bits and pieces of everybody’s success that I encountered over the weekend and I say ‘Okay. Now, what can I pull from them that will make my situation better?’ Whether it’s a brand, a DJ or a party; whatever the case may be. I look at everything and look at what won and think about how I can include that specific thing into my movement. So, that’s what inspires me, viewing the success of all of these different things because all of them play a role and if you do it right, then you can learn something from everything that you involve yourself in.

For me, it’s not just about DJing. It’s about how I’m perceived out here. You look at the Beats By Dre Party, which was basically a showcase of what they have coming in the future. Maybe I can do something like that to highlight what I have going on. So, I look at everybody’s movement and think about what I can do to have my movement moving in a good direction.

Q. That’s funny to me because you were lounging and just having a great time, but you were also paying close attention to the details of that party. You were working.

A. Yeah and the ill thing is…I’m not sure if you knew this, but the two dudes that we were talking to, for the most part, went to school with me. So, I’m looking at these guys like ‘Man, these are dudes I went to college with and they are the head of this big movement and inspiration during NBA All-Star Weekend.’ I’m sitting there galvanized by their success. I just pay attention. You have to.

Q. What position do those guys hold with Beats By Dre? I was paying attention to the fact that one of your boys was giving us the tour of the brownstone showing us around and showing us some of the new products.

A. He was the one who deals with professional athletes. If you see Richard Sherman walk into the Seahawks’ stadium with a pair of Beats on, my boy gave those to him. So, when you look at ESPN and you see athletes walking into their arena, my homeboys job is to make sure that those highly visible athletes have headphones. Now, my other boy Omar Johnson oversees everything.

Q. Let’s transition man. Let’s talk about your son. You appear to be a great father. You were talking about him a lot, which is expected of a father who cares for his child, obviously. How has him coming into this world impacted your life and how important do you feel it is as a father to care for your child? Especially, in a world where we don’t see a father and son together a lot of the time.

A. I mean, for one it’s my job, haha. I can’t even say it any other way man. I brought him here, so I gotta take care of him. I don’t even have a longer answer to that other than it’s my job. That’s what I’m supposed to do.

Q. Sometimes I feel like men, especially black men, don’t get the credit they deserve when they’re actually being great fathers. Contrary to what’s put online and on television, there’s actually a lot of great fathers out here too.

A. Exactly. You know what’s funny man? I know more good fathers than ‘dead beat’ dads. I may know one or two bad fathers out of all the fathers I know. Obviously, there’s some bad fathers out there, but I happen to know a whole lot of good ones and I’m happy about that.

Q. When we were at the Starters Party, you mentioned the irony of being at that party and the fact that you consider you and your crew to be the original Starters. What do you mean by that?

A. In junior high, between ‘85 and ’89, is when Starter jackets were real hot in the streets between Public Enemy and N.W.A rocking them real heavy at the time. Starter jackets were the jacket of choice in the winter time. Me and my crew…that was our thing. We rocked more Starter jackets than anybody around us in our junior high school. That’s what we rocked. So, the irony was that two of my boys from those times I’m referring to were with me at that party. It kind of meant something to us because that’s what we rocked as kids. Yo, we used to get two or three different Starter jackets per winter. You couldn’t mess with our crew because we had all of them. All the flavors, we had them. That was us, haha.

Q. Yeah, you guys were talking about all the different Starter jackets — some of which people weren’t even rocking at the time. You guys had the exclusive stuff.

A. Yeah, man. Notre Dame, LSU…we had it all. That was our thing…to rock different jackets. Most people had the staples. They had the Raiders or the New York Giants or the Chicago Bulls. We made sure we got the teams that weren’t necessarily the most popular teams, but were tough at the same time. We were on Starter jackets heavy in those times.

Q. What’s interesting is my generation gets a lot of inspiration from the fashion back in your days. That speaks to how important your generation was to fashion and to hip-hop. That’s pretty cool man.

I’m going to switch gears now. I wanted to focus on DJ Mars the person first. That was crucial given the time I spent with you. Now, I want to ask you some questions about you as an artist.

Before I get to that though, I want to say something. I feel like there’s a lot of ‘Karl Nelsons’ out there, meaning there are a lot of people out here grinding like I am right now. My cousin put us in contact. I hopped on the bus that Thursday after work. It’s a no brainer because I knew that this would be a great opportunity to be around greatness and to be around something out of the ordinary. There’s a lot of young people out here doing the same thing because they’re trying to establish themselves and accomplish their goals.

Two things: if you feel like you have a responsibility to those people, what does that responsibility look like? The second question is what’s your million dollar piece of advice to a person, such as myself, when it comes to this?

A. Let me kind of reframe the question for you. Let’s say you said to me, ‘Why did you let me hang around you?’ It’s because I felt like I didn’t get to where I’m at by myself. What I got from you when you first reached out was like you were trying to take this opportunity to put yourself in a different position later on. So, I’m like ‘Even though this is a different field, he sounds like me 20 years ago. Like ‘Yo, let me do this party because I need to show my skills.’ It was the same energy.

I looked at it like someone helped me, so I want to return the favor. You weren’t on the BS. You were like ‘This is what I’m doing yo. Let me rock with you.’ It was no BS. It was straight up. I felt like I was you several years ago. Someone helped me, so why not return the favor? I didn’t get here just because I’m DJ Mars. I got here because someone believed I was DJ Mars.

Q. Exactly. It’s like Shelley. She saw something in me enough to put herself on the line and be that point of contact. That takes me to the second part of my question. You said that I reminded you of yourself 20 years. What’s something that you felt like you had to do to get from where you were 20 years ago to a place where you were established and found your next step?

A. One thing I did was perfected…well, not perfected. I’m still in the process of perfecting my craft, but I’m a student of the game. I’m always down to learn. There was stuff early on that I didn’t know, but I was like ‘I’m going to know it.’ I didn’t stop.

Some people stop and they give up. I didn’t do that. I kept going. Even when people stop believing in me, I believe in myself. I can’t say it any other way. You have to believe in yourself even when people don’t, because they will not believe in you at some point. Not everybody, but some won’t and the ones who don’t believe are going to be loud and proud about not believing in you, so what I did was work on protecting my craft. I kept the belief that whoever the greatest is, I can be on that level with them. Greater than or not, I believe that I can at least be on the level of whoever the greatest is.

Q. I focused on you as a person because I believe that people out there and those who will read this interview need to know about DJ Mars the guy — your everyday kind of person. I feel like people love someone who they can relate to. Let’s talk about your artistry though.

There’s three parts to it. You’re the established DJ. You’re the author of your own book and on top of that you’re a designer. You’ve been working with New Balance and collaborating with them on some cool kicks for sometime now. First, let’s talk about you as an author. You’re the author of The Art Behind the Tape. When did you sit down and say, ‘I want to be the author of my own book?’

A. Well, I knew that there were a few stories in hip-hop that a lot of people weren’t paying attention to. I kind of knew that there weren’t too many books written on the history of mixtape culture. I was like well ‘I can write it. It’s a need for it in the market, so let me do that.’ As an insider in the culture, I knew I had a leg up on most people because I could call Kid Capri and say here’s what I’m doing; let’s schedule an interview. My database allotted me a ton of access.

I had already knew a lot of the research because I had lived the culture. When Capri made his early tapes, I was buying them. I was apart of the culture from an inside perspective, which helped me write the book and then, like I said, I just knew that it needed to be done, so I just did it.

Q. Can you tell me about your fellow authors and the role they played in making the book a success?

A. It was three of them; Maurice Garland, Tai Saint-Louis, and DJibril Ndiaye. That’s who helped tie up all the loose ends. We set down and were like ‘Okay. Here are the interviews that we have and need to get done. Let’s go do them.’ Once the interviews were done, some of them edited. Some of them did the press releases. So, it was a collective effort.

The book is an historical piece. It’s history because it’s one of the first ones told from an inside perspective. The accuracy is impeccable. If one comes after this, it was inspired by mine.

Q. How long have you been collaborating with well-known sneaker groups to design New Balances?

A. For the past 5 years now. I’ve designed two pairs of sneakers with them and have been working on a web-based campaign with them as well.

Q. Tell me about your last major sneaker collab?

A. We released a new shoe at the same time that my book was published. The sneaker was sold at the New Balance store in New York. We also sent a copy of the book to top level DJ’s who were featured in the book as a thank you to them for being apart of our project.

Q. I watched a video where you named your top five pairs of New Balances. I love the fact that your #1 pair was purchased in Baltimore, by the way, haha. You have a huge collection of New Balances. You weren’t rocking with the New Balances like that when we were in New York, which wasn’t a surprise given the ‘hawk’ was out, haha. If the weather would have been better, what three pairs of New Balances would have made the cut?

A. Haha. Yeah, man that was a different type of cold. Let’s see…I would have had to go with the 990’s, a pair of 550‘s, and a pair of 710’s.

Q. I’ve seen footage of your mixes on the Morning Show for one of the best comedians to ever do it — Steve Harvey. Tell me about that. What brought you to the Steve Harvey Morning Show?

A. Steve saw me on stage at the Essence Music Festival about five years ago. I was performing with Keri Hilson. I had a break and he actually approached me and was like ‘Man, I want to hire you for some of my events.’ When I DJed at one of his events, I rocked it. After the event, I told him that I wanted to DJ on his morning show and the rest has been history man.

Q. You’ve traveled the world as a DJ. This is shown in your video — “Around the World in 60 seconds.” What city that you’ve DJed in has had the biggest affect on your outlook on life and why?

A. Every city and every country offers something different, but I would have to say that Africa and Japan have had the biggest affect on me. Africa is so different than how most people in the states perceive it and the evolution of technology in Japan is just crazy to me.

Q. In basketball, a coach that I have a lot of respect for always tells our players that there’s a difference between loving to play and having a love for the game. Which one do you identify with as a DJ and why? Do you love doing it or have you found that you have a love for it?

A. I love doing it. It’s such a rush that you get controlling the crowd. I love it man. Music is powerful man and I’ve been able to play more of it than some people have listened to in their lifetime. I grew up on hip-hop. If it wasn’t for hip-hop music, I probably wouldn’t be a DJ.

Q. You mentioned earlier that you’re still working to master your art, but you’re obviously a successful DJ by this point. You’re an iconic audio engineer, you’ve been designing sneakers for years now and you’ve even explored other parts of yourself as an author. With that being said, if you were doing none of those three things I just named, given your other interests, what would your career path be?

A. I would be involved with the entertainment industry. I’d most likely be working with content creation in developing TV shows. In college, I studied Communications with a focus in Radio, TV and Films at Clark Atlanta University.

http://theartbehindthetape.com/
http://www.djmars404.com/

Kenton Dunson: Full Interview in ‘Limbo.’ I call it the ‘Tease.’

by Karl Nelson II, InternMedia

“People relate to honesty and my music has become more and more honest. I can’t help it. It was a song that needed to happen for me. It re-established a tone for me so now there is nowhere but up! So it was a fresh springboard for me in terms of the upcoming music and message!”

This is what Kenton Dunson had to say during our interview in regard to his biggest single, “Broke Ass Dope Ass Rapper,” which dropped last summer.

That single took Dunson to new heights as an artist. Why? Well, sounds like a relatable title to me. How many of you would agree?

Think about it for a second. “Broke Ass Dope Ass Rapper.”

If you think, for one second, that the only dope artists are the ones we hear about on the radio or see on television, you can think again because that is so far from true that it’s not even funny. Contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of dope rappers out there right now, but following that passion has demanded a lot of sacrifice. We must, at times, remember that for every one artist who makes it to mainstream, there are hundreds of good artists who don’t – they are usually referred to as ‘Underground Artists.’

When Dunson made that single that’s exactly where he was at the time. He was truly starting from the bottom, “from poverty, to college, to the corporate world and back to the struggle for the sake of my passion.”

It’s that journey that makes Dunson’s music so compelling and relatable to the average listener.

You might be one of the dopest artists out there, but people don’t see the two or three hustles you have on the side to stay afloat while you do your music. You might be one of the most talented basketball players in the area, but no one is watching the countless hours you’re putting in outside of games and practices in order to be in a position to make that big check.

We have teachers out here who are responsible for some of the most important parts of our educational makeup, but they’re not taking home six-figure salaries.

Even right now, I’m writing to you guys after hours of entertaining other work which allows me to do what I love right here and now without stress. However, at the same time, I’m far from rich or well known.

I know it’s someone who is going to read this and be able to relate right away.

I think that’s what makes Dunson and his music such a good fit for the people. He has a real story that a lot of us can grab onto and feel the correlation.

What makes him special is he’s willing to, as he would put it, “struggle” for the sake of his passion, which is making great music.

“I have seen so many walks of life and my music reflects a broad experience,” Dunson said during our recent interview.

If you are a fan of music — not mainstream. I’m talking about soulful and honest music then Kenton Dunson is your guy.

In the limbo of a blog feature that is going to provide you with our full interview, check out the link below and hear for yourself — that feel good music that so many of us long for.

http://dunsonmusic.com/

Aubree Brown: Professional Dancer with Ailey II. Dance Instructor. Model. Looking back on my Unsung blog features from 2014.

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

I was able to cover a story on my lady and best friend back in mid-November. At the time, the stunning Ms. Brown was just returning home to New York City after a month long tour with Ailey II. During the tour, she had the opportunity to grace the stage with her fellow Ailey II dancers in places like Canada, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Jamaica and a slew of other great places.

In Aubree’s brief bio on her social media account, she typed in that 2014 was going to be her year and that it was. Aubree traveled the world doing what she loves, met some influential people, connected with new professional dancers, and she touched even more lives with the stories that she tells when performing under the bright lights in her leotard with her eye-catching fashionable natural look.

Before the countdown to the New Year, I asked Aubree what she was hoping to accomplish in 2015. Her response included goals for her dance career of course, new doors that her dance career will open and something huge that she says she can feel is in her path for the near future.

I’ll withhold the details for your sake. Instead of spoiling the surprise, I’ll let Aubree’s success and inspirational journey speak for itself in 2015.

What’s next for the Ailey II dancer you might ask? She’ll be leaving the country on Monday to travel once again performing throughout Germany and France. When she returns to the states in February, she’ll be hitting different stages throughout New York and preparing for Ailey II’s New York season that will take place at the Joyce Theater in March.

Aubree is a special breed as both an extremely talented dancer and a kind-hearted human being. I believe it’s that combination that is going to continue to propel her to new heights not only in 2015, but for years to come.

Rich Westerlund: Men’s Basketball Head Coach at Crossroads College in Minnesota. Looking back on my Unsung blog features from 2014.

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

Back in early November, I had the great opportunity to do a story on my friend and basketball coach at Crossroads College, Coach Rich Westerlund. This came as a blessing because I hadn’t known Rich for that long. I met Rich while working Five Star Baltimore’s basketball camp for two summers.

Not only is Rich a very talented young basketball coach and basketball minded individual, but he’s also a great guy and I respect the character that he has exemplified in my time knowing him, which made this story even more of an honor.

When I interviewed Rich, he shared with me the ups and downs of his coaching career. It just so happens that the ups carry a lot of weight in Rich’s case. He’s found himself in the history books on a couple different occasions. The first came in the beginning of his coaching career when he became the youngest high school basketball coach in the country. The second came when he took the job as head coach at Crossroads College. It was there that he found himself in the history books again as the youngest college basketball coach in the country.

Both of those great moments share a common denominator. They both started off with their share of stresses and adversities. However, the great thing about Rich’s story is that he and his team prevailed in the end in both cases.

How ironic is it that Rich and his team find themselves in another tough circumstance in his second season as head coach? I won’t “sugar coat” the fact that both Rich and his team aren’t having the success this season that they had in the second half of last season as they went on to win a championship after an 0-13 start.

They are experiencing some of the same rough times that they did in the beginning of last season, but that won’t stop them from fighting. If it’s one thing that Rich has instilled in his guys, it’s a mentality of fighting – fighting through the hard workouts, the tough losses, the post-game speeches and the naysayers.

This is why I have all of the confidence in the world in Coach Rich and the Crossroads Men’s Basketball squad that they will leave this season better than they entered it. After all, greatness is not defined by those who respond well during the “ups,” but it’s defined by those who respond well during the “downs.” I have confidence that Rich and the Crossroads College Basketball Program are the kind of individuals that take pride in their attitude and mentality in the midst of the “downs.”

I’m pushing for them to prevail and I encourage those who read this article to do the same. 2014 is no longer here, but a sketch of 2015 is only in the making.

Chiésa Mason: Professional Dancer. Guest Artist with Eisenhower Dance. Dance Instructor in Maryland. Looking back on my Unsung blog features from 2014.

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

“Without uttering a word, we tell a story or send a message through our bodies. To pull emotions from someone just by moving your body is beautiful to me.”

These were Chiésa’s exact words some months ago when she touched on the beauty of telling a story through the art of dance in an interview with me. We are often accustomed to witnessing the best stories being told through words. That’s technically what I do as a writer, but if there is one thing that I find even more impressive than that, it’s watching a flawless dancer tell their story without having to utter a single word.

Chiésa finds excitement in this aspect of her career. While some dancers might not jump at the opportunity to get on a stage in front of large audiences, Chiésa enjoys performing. “The thrill I get before going on stage and sharing my talent is one of the most amazing feelings in the world!”

Chiésa will have the opportunity to experience such a thrill once again come February, as she’ll be performing on a southern tour with Eisenhower Dance – the same company she was under contract with last season.

While she’s in training for her guest appearance with Eisenhower Dance, Chiésa is also teaching dance to aspiring professional dancers at a charter school in Baltimore as well as at two local dance studios.

Going into a new year, Chiésa knows what she wants and is moving without hesitation to go get it. In a society where strong men are glorified, women like Chiésa serve as a reminder to everyone that there are tons of strong and talented women out there impacting those around them as well as the world at large.

When asked about her 2014 experience, she simply said “I am very happy with my accomplishments and success this past year!” Stay tuned for what Chiésa has up her sleeve for 2015 as she looks to walk into this new year with some momentum of her own.