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Join me in celebrating the most beautiful girl in the world’s birthday. My niece, Alexis, turns seven today. I hate always missing her birthday due to school, especially after she reminds me that I miss her birthday each year. Though I miss out on every birthday party, I’m still one proud uncle.

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That pretty much describes my mood for the week. The following is a perspective I contributed to our paper, the Hilltop.

When I left for college, a friend of mine sat me down, looked deep into my eyes, and gave me some heartfelt advice: “Don’t you come back here broker than you already are!” Four years later, I’m knee deep in student loans and have credit cards out the wazoo. While there was no way to avoid taking out additional educational loans, I certainly could have learned to spend my money wiser.

I won’t say credit cards are the enemy per se. That simply is not realistic. One must establish credit somehow, and when choosing your spending habits wisely, what better way to build your credit than with credit cards? On the other hand, credit cards aren’t exactly like your best friend. Think of them more as a trifling relative. Sure, you love them (mainly because you have to), but that does not mean you have to see them frequently. Try that approach with credit cards.

Soon you will be bombarded with brochures, emails, and maybe the occasional phone call from credit card companies hoping to lure you into the fold. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Should you enter the world of credit, try doing a little research. Compare interest rates. Avoid store issued credit cards, as they don’t help you build your credit in the least. Try applying for credit cards specifically geared towards students.

Don’t spend your money on frivolous items. Don’t buy that third iPod. You can watch Boomerang on HBO – it comes on almost daily. Do you really need that shirt in that many colors? Let them pay their own bond. The last one was a joke, but you get the idea. The bare essentials: Books (for my friends without book vouchers), food (Chinese food isn’t going to pay for itself), and the occasional trip to the mall (you can’t look busted at the club). Just try not to splurge and ask yourself the tough questions, for instance, “Do you really need that McFlurry?” It’s just going to melt by the time you hike back to your dorm anyway.

When I told my mother I got a credit card, she asked, “What job do you have?” I quickly answered “None”, and she replied, “I hope you know my job isn’t paying your bill.” She then assured me that if I ever reached into her purse to find some monthly minimum payment money, I would pull back a nub. Right about now, I wish I did have that nub: It would make pulling those credit cards from my wallet all the more difficult.

As I enter my senior year at Howard University, I look back on all of my purchases and ask myself what in the world was I thinking and why didn’t anyone warn me? Let me make it plan for you: Credit card debt can make you sob at night – rebuke it. Consider yourself warned.

For anyone interested in throwing in a dollar or a thousand of them, get at me. Paypal gets it done.

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It’s always good to see the women of Destiny’s Child together. Am I the only one who can pinpoint which one is Kelly, Beyonce, and Michelle?

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Why does Jada Pinkett Smith look like, “What if Bow Wow lifted weights?” If not Bow Wow, at least tell me you have a sudden urge to sing “Fire & Desire?” These are recent pics of Jada performing at Ozzfest. I feel for anyone who has to listen to her perform. I’ve heard her band, Wicked Wisdom before. Let’s just say one part of their band name is dead-on.

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I have to give it to LeToya Luckett – the chick does not give up. We’re from the same hood (Hiram Clarke, where you at?), so I will support her when the album drops (now scheduled to be released two minutes before the Rapture), though I still hold some reservations about her. Hopefully her album won’t meet the same fate as her boyfriend/fiance/whatever it is this week, Slim Thug’s Already Platinum, which should have been called, Maybe I’ll Go Gold. Then again, at this stage of her career, an album in the stores is an accomplishment in itself. Anyhoo, I’m a lot busier this week than I expected, but I couldn’t resist poking fun at this picture. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go make sure Rhythm Nation is on my iPod.

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“All y’all bitches that wouldn’t suck my dick when I was Mason Betha, fuck y’all bitches.”

Granted, that’s old audio featured in Pastor Murder Mase’s recent interview with G-Unit Radio, but with likely appearances from his new G-Unit label mates and Mase reassuring jocks that he’s going with the “Murder Mase angle” for future recordings, there’s no telling what the lyrical content of the new material will entail.

Fret not, God-fearing fans. Mason hasn’t forgotten about you: “All I need is just two inspirational records to satisfy [them] people, other than that the other 16 will be Mase.”

I see he’s learned a great deal since leaving the seminary. I can’t say that I’m surprised at how things have turned out. Last year a friend of mine wrote an article on Mase and how old habits die hard. In the article, entitled “Students Question Mase’s Credibility As A Minister,” the good reverend gave his cell phone number with the words “don’t talk” scribbled below to a then new freshman. Maybe he was merely seeking new parishioners for his church, S.A.N.E. International. Or perhaps he saw a young woman in need and wanted to offer her one-on-one counseling. Who knows? I’m sure the God he dedicated his life to does.

Also, who can forget his appearance on BET’s Access Granted where he boasted that “The Lord Loves The Bling” while giving the audience his classic “grin like an idiot” smile?

I’m sure some are saying, “For someone not particularly religious, you sure do take a great deal of offense to Mase’s flipping.” Well, a hypocrite is a hypocrite and in the end, that’s what bothers me the most. He misled people with this elaborate tale of realizing the error of his ways, prompting him to turn his life over to God. He soon went on national television to criticize the very industry that gave him his wealth, going as far to mock the prospects of Puffy releasing a gospel album on Bad Boy, because in his eyes, Puff served two masters. Decided to retire, only to change his mind. He gets a pass for that, though. What rapper doesn’t change their mind about retirement? Last year when we came back, he promised to keep it clean. Welcome Back would breath, stretch, and shake right off of the Billboard charts quicker than you can say Double Up, which suggests the real reason he’s no longer as reluctant to reach back for the sound that made Ma$e a household name as he appeared to be this time last year.

In his bio published on the website of his church, Pastor Betha’s preaching methods are described as:

In the life-changing messages he delivers, Pastor Betha utilizes real-life examples to illustrate biblical principles.”

What better way to utilize those real-life examples than contributing to the soundtrack of the 50 Cent inspired film, Get Rich or Die Trying. I’m all ears on how you’ll connect the dots, Pastor.

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When I left New York, my gut was telling me to expect the worst. For the first time in my life I can say I was genuinely happy, but I just knew the moment I stepped onto the plane, everything would head south. No pun intended. Surprisingly, that’s not how things turned out. Barring a few psychotic relatives and old high school friends who aren’t doing anything, don’t plan on doing anything, and could care less about their futures, I actually enjoyed Houston.

Yes, you read that correctly. I enjoyed Houston. It’s never been the city per se; the people around me were the ones who always ruined it for me. Not this time, though. The fun I had in New York trickled down with me to Houston. I was only there for a week, but I can honestly say that week was one of my best in the city. Ever. A few instances of the same old, same old bullshit here and there, but nothing strong enough to deter me from having a good time.

Then word came that I needed to head back to D.C. earlier than I expected. Uh oh…initially anyway. To make a long story short, my first night back in D.C. wasn’t the best. I was beginning to think I was going to slip right back into that same old funk. Two days later, I’m still cool and I’m still bopping around to whatever is blasting from my iPod…or so I’ve been described.

A year from now, whether I finish in May or in the summer, I will be done with Howard. As of now the plan is to take on a 21 credit course load each semester, in addition to being a staff writer for our paper and serving as President of the student chapter of NABJ. Super student? Hardly. I’m almost certain I may buck under pressure. So certain of it that at one point mid-summer I decided that maybe taking on such a heavy load wasn’t such a great idea, going with 16/18 during the school year, and finish the remaining credits in the first summer school session instead. By doing so I would have prolonged my actual graduation ceremony a year; but who cares when walking is more so for your mom anyway, right?

I have maybe a week or two left to rule on my course load. I really want to be out of school. So much I no longer worry about the toll it may all take on me. Let me repeat that: I. Want. Out.

While I do want to get out ASAP, ASAP, I’m petrified of graduating without a job. To go back to the rut I spent years trying to get out of is my biggest fear. Back home w/ the drunk (Pops). Back home w/ the idiots on the corner who kick it with him. Back to the bullshit that goes on in the home. Back to feeling like what’s the point of it all? Just back to not being happy.

My mom once told me I would have a miserable life. Though she’s since apologized for making the comment, the thought still lingers in the back of my mind.

“You will be lucky if you can do for a living what you love to do anyway.”

That, in a nutshell, describes my career goal. I want to write professionally. I want to grow as a writer. I want to be recognized for my work. *Cliché alert* I have things to say I want them to be heard. I want to tell a story, my story, in an effort to help people going through similar struggles. I want to write about things I’m interested in. I want to be compensated for it all.

Easier said than done. I look at my resume and think, “Sure, they’re a lot of names on there, but will this help me get a job?” Everyone tells me not to worry…or at least not worry too much. I can’t help it. Worrying is my thing – especially if I’ve always had a reason to worry, feel me?

I feel like I’m so close, yet so far away.

Where will I be a year from now? I have no idea, but I’m hoping I’m not worrying as much about 2007 as I am about 2006.

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Nothing like listening to your one of many drunk uncles mumble a bunch of gibberish in your ear to kill your thoughts of enjoying Henny and coke later in the evening.

I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen Ray…and I would never try to. Out of all of the uncles on my dad’s side, he’s one of the least tolerable. That my friends is no easy feat to achieve when you have uncles that have tried to set their own wives on fire. I have nothing against him; I just don’t expect to converse with him anytime soon unless a gun is behind my head. I hadn’t realize how irritating he really was until today.

This is pretty much how our conversation went. What’s not in quotations is what I really wanted to say.

“Yes, Uncle Ray, you do look like Tony Parker.”

Too bad the only thing you’re shooting up doesn’t resemble a basketball.

“Haha @ him giving you a loan.”

Now get your broke ass on somewhere – your bad luck with money may trickle down to me…and I don’t need anymore pressure.

“Ha. Those young girls think I’m like 25/26, not ole 33.”

Stay.The.Fuck.Away.From.Young.Girls.You.Nasty.Bastard. You were this close to catching a case the last time.

“Yeah, man, it is a tragedy how they treat the women in Iraq.”

It will be an even greater tragedy for you if you don’t get the fuck from behind me.

“That’s cool you do the journalism thang, man. Gotta keep up with the news.”

N—–no I stopped using that word— if you don’t get the hell away from me.

“If I hadn’t gotten into those Bud’s and Bull’s, I would have been better off.”

True. I have something to admit, too: I would have been better off if I kept my ass in my room.

“The boy will do better, though.”

God willing. Now please go back to South Park.

After he leaves, my dad slithers his way near me to say, “Boy he damn sholl do talk fast. I was looking at you like, ‘Mike just saying uh huh, he don’t understand that n…..'”

I’m thinking, “You’re one to talk. Whenever I talk to you, I feel as if I’m holding a conversation with Hurricane Andrew.” Neither can help it: That’s just how many a folk with kin in Lousiania speak. Myself included at times.

Ray is gone. Thank God and all ‘nem above. Now I just have to deal with my pops, who I think is selling weed…again (I’ve learned that he did it when my older sister was a child). Deep sigh. More on that later, though. I have to get out of this bitch, pronto.

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In an interview with Dorrie Wheeler for the internet e-zine,, multi-platinum artist, producer, songwriter, and infamous babysitter R.Kelly, or Pissy as I like to refer to him, discusses his new album TP-3: Reloaded. I personally would have preferred the title, TP-3: Fix Urinary Track Dysfunction, but I digress.

At one point during the interview, the functioning illiterate also referred to as a “genius” by many of his fans, became confused after Ms. Wheeler inquired about his thoughts on including a set list that includes songs with both religious and sexual connotations.

Dorrie Wheeler: Hello. As a writer, I can understand how you can write songs like You Save Me as well as Sex In The Kitchen. But when it comes to your live show, are you concerned with how the more gospel influenced songs and the sex-inspired song are arranged on the set list?

R. Kelly: Say it one more time? I’m sorry.

Dorrie Wheeler:I’ll say it slower.

Speed isn’t the problem, Dorrie. I’m certain that had you posed this question on the slide at the nearest elementary school playground, Pissy would have understood your question easily.

Once Ms. Wheeler posed the question Noggin style, the singer was quick to rebuff any suggestion that he should feel guilty for how he performs his mixed catalogue on stage.

R. Kelly: No, I’m never concerned about stuff like that. That’s – most of the times, people will get too caught up into R. Kelly singing a sexual song or singing a gospel song. I come to bring reality to people, and sometimes reality hurts. Because of sex, we’re here. Because somebody made love, that’s the reason we’re here. However they made love or whatever they did, however, we’re here, and it’s like the reality of that is what it is. So, I don’t have a problem with singing a sexual song and then turning around, showing people where I would really rather be.

So Pissy is saying he would much rather be singing about heaven and hugs, than playing splish-splash with the face of a young girl he scooped up from the Playland inside of McDonalds. Is this negro for real?

It’s a lot of people that go to church, and they come out of church and light up a cigarette. It’s a lot of people that go to church, and they come out and they go to their lover’s house. But the fact that they go to church and the fact they even are trying to better themselves – there’s a lot of fat people in the health club, you know. I’m just being real. And I would rather be going to the health club than to not be going to the health club, because at least I’m getting some kind of balance in my life. It’s like eating meat and no vegetables. You’re just sort of fat, and you’re not full of vegetables or proteins or anything like that.

I guess he is. This retort reminds me of all of the people back in high school who use to say, “So what if my grades are bad? At least I come.” Surprise, surprise: You can find most of them posted up on the corner melting under the Houston sun.

The difference between Pissy and the conflicted church folk he mentions is that these people are actually trying to better themselves. Over time, they’ll find a Nicotine patch and a new love. If they don’t, they’ll join Pissy as sometime church goers, full time heathens.

I no longer consider myself to be a religious person; but, even I can see the contradiction in Pissy’s response to Ms. Wheeler. I’m not that far off the wagon that I can’t recall Christian doctrine. Thou shalt not covet or feel on the booty of your neighbor’s wife.

Pissy has a song called “Steppin Into Heaven” on his last album. I wonder if St. Peter is bumping that or “Slow Wind.” I have an inkling that down in the hell Kells is so afraid of entering they are asking the DJ to blast, “Burn It Up,” one of the new tracks featured on TP.3. One guess on which one I’d rather hear Pissy saaaang.

As for his analogy that sex and gospel are like meat and vegetables, pass me a turkey leg and a sack of potatoes — I’ll be more than willing to knock some sense into him.

I will give R-aah one thing: He’s moved me to pray.


If you remove this Darkwing Duck envying idiot from the public sphere, I will be an altar boy for a year…barring a priest decides to play touchy-feely, of course.


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First Peter Jennings and now John H. Johnson. The journalism world is losing all of its greats. May they both rest in peace.

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