Interview: Up Close With Leela James

Singer Leela James has proven herself to be a force to be reckoned with over the years. The woman has raw talent and is constantly evolving. Her newest album My Soul proves that her music is truly a reflection of who she is. Brownsista sat down with Leela to discuss her new album and what inspires her and a few other things you did not know about the singer.

Brownsista: How did you become involved with music?

Leela James: I fell into it on the serious note. I was always singing. When I got out of high school it just took a life of its own and I developed a real passion for it. I continued to sing while I was in college and doing showcases where I could. I got a band together and performed wherever I could until someone finally discovered me.

Brownsista: Do you have a creative process?

Leela James: Not really. It definitely helps to have peace of mind when you go into the studio but sometimes that is not always the case. I don’t go through any rituals or anything. Whatever comes out comes. Whatever is on you at the time you should just let it come out.

Brownsista: A lot of female R and B singers or Soul singers use their bodies to sell records. You have never gone in that direction. Was that a conscious decision?

Leela James: I always felt comfortable in my skin. In terms of not feeling like I need to be butt naked. A lot of times when you show everything that you have then you leave nothing to the imagination.

Brownsista: Do you think that part of the reason why talented artists like yourself aren’t as popular as some others is because you don’t take it all off and let it roll or pop it? You know what I’m talking about.

Leela James: (laughs) Definitely that plays a role. You don’t fit into the mold of commercialism and what sells. If you not shooting for that format then you are not going to be popular. The best metaphor that I can come up with is that if you are in high school and you are not on the cheerleading squad but you are a regular chick. You may not be as popular. You may be dope but people might not be feeling you.

Brownsista: You have your own personal style. Where did you develop that from?

Leela James: Thank you. It’s just me. Being comfortable with how I look. To be honest it’s not something that I put a lot of effort or energy into. I like something then I will wear. Everything that I wear may not be for everybody. If it is comfortable for me and I like it then that’s what I do.

Brownsista: This particular album has more of a hip-hop infused sound. Is there a reason why you went in that direction?

Leela James: No, it is a part of me. Even when my first album came out Kanye produced a couple of records on that album. That was always a part of me I just didn’t give a lot of that before.

Brownsista: Any songs on the new album that particularly touched you?

Leela James: Yeah, “Tell Me You Love Me” and “The Fact Is”. I showed a vulnerable side on those songs. You don’t have to be 100 percent strong all of the time.

Brownsista: Who inspires you?

Leela: I love old school music. Chaka Kahn, Al Green, Outkast. That’s where the hip-hop comes from.

Brownsista: Tell me something about yourself that your biggest fan wouldn’t know.

Leela James: I like to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with Doritos. (laughs)

Brownsista: Are you squishing the Doritos on the sandwich or do you mean on the side?

Leela James: Yeah I put the Doritos on the sandwich.

Brownsista: Awwwwww!

Leela James: (laughs)

Brownsista: What do you drink with that? Do you drink milk with it?

Leela James: Yeah. (laughs)

Brownsista: The regular Doritos?

Leela James: Yeah the old school one in the red bag.

Brownsista: You are some kind of special.

Leela James: (laughs)

By LJ Knight Of YeahSheSaidIt

La’Juanda “LJ” Knight

T.I., Tiny And The “Black Love” Nonsense

I have never seen the word Black love being used so much on urban blogs as I have this past weekend. In case you have been under a rock, this weekend rapper T.I. and his long time woman/baby moma Tiny were married. Ghetto love was celebrated all around the world as ghetto girls everywhere wished they could find themselves their own personal T.I. to swoop them off their feet. Me? I’m still confused as to what there is to celebrate?

T.I. and Tiny have dated for several years and have several children together. She stood by him through cheating, while he was in jail, and every single public shenanigan he was involved in with other women. When people around her called her stupid, she stayed. She is championed as the ultimate ride or die chick. Who in the hell wants to be that? Who in the hell wants to be that old lump of coal that will hold on to a man even when he is constantly cheating on you? Who in the hell wants to be that flat used pillow that he comes home to when he feels like it because he KNOWS it will never leave? Who in the hell wants to be the woman that stays with the man that publicly embarrasses her by being caught with another woman who is known to be a whore? Is this what a ride or die chick is? If it is then I will pass on the title.

I always thought a ride or die chick was a woman that raised you up when you were feeling down. A woman that stood by your side when others were against you. A woman that was there to pick up half of the weight of life when it became too much for the man to carry alone. I never knew that included in the definition of a ride or die chick were the words: doormat, gullible, tolerable, and the most impressionable word of them all…. Suffering. Yes, that word suffering must be included. Because for every new car, piece of jewelry, trip around the world, I’m sure there was a disappointment, another woman, or some sort of slap in the face, literally or figuratively to match. Are there no longer any limits to being a ride or die?

Yes we often see couples like T.I. and Tiny and think that this is Black love and how beautiful it is. We see them holding hands, cuddling at public events and him throwing lavish parties for her and think that she is so lucky to have found real black love. She is so lucky to have found real love.

What about respect? What about him respecting her so much so that he would never want to hurt her? What about him respecting her so much that the idea of him ever cheating on her is an impossibility? What about him respecting her so much that he would never cheat on her with any woman much less someone with less virtue than her such as a Flavor Of Love contestant like Hoopz? What about him respecting her enough to never even be seen in public with a woman like Hoopz? What about him respecting her enough that he laughs in groupie’s faces when they approach him?

While we celebrate them for having achieved the supposed enchanted Black love, that we all have been conditioned to think is so hard to attain we need to be praying that they will have Black respect. Do you think that T.I. would have stayed with Tiny if she cheated on him? Do you think that if she is ever publicly seen in an intimate situation with a sexy male celeb whore that he would say “aww its okay babe. You know I’m your ride or die. I will be there with you through all of your rendezvous” and simply “get over it”. Do you think if she was in jail for a year that he would have been faithful and never touched another woman the entire time? The correct answer to all of these questions are “Hell No”. If you had any other responses to those questions then you are a fool. It is clear that the lines of the double standard have been drawn in their relationship. This is what makes it difficult for a sista like me to see them and eww and aww at their “Black Love”. A “Black love” without respect. I am not impressed by their version of “Black Love”.

For More LJ Knight Visit YeahSheSaidIt

Are You Thick Or Just Fat?

Too often the term “thick” is being misused and abused by women of color around the world. They may be at least 70-100 pounds overweight but still consider themselves thick. They can barely make it up the stairs without clutching their heart but see no need in a healthy diet. This form of denial is not helpful in the strive for being as healthy as you can be. You can spend all of your life defending your body and screaming that you are thick and then one day your heart might give up on you because you are making it work too hard. Despite your self concept of being “thick”. The body doesn’t lie.

This is not an attack on curvaceous women or a way to encourage sista’s to conform to look like the “other”. I love the fact that we have hips, thighs and a round derriere. This is a reality check. Being overweight does not always equate to being thick. Too often the word is used as an excuse to cover up a bad diet, and an unhealthy lifestyle… To Read The Rest Please Visit YeahSheSaidIt

Vivian Green Interview: Still Beautiful

Singer Songwriter Vivian Green is back with her third album release Beautiful. Check out Brown Sista’s interview with her. We certainly missed this sistah…

BrownSista: You have been away for a while. What did you do on your break?

Vivian Green: I focused on being a mother mostly. My son’s health wasn’t so good when he was born so I took time to be with him. Which was the best because I took the time to solely tend to that and he is doing amazingly well now. Praise God.

Brownsista: I read somewhere that you said in an interview that your fans did not enjoy your second album. Why do you feel that way and what did you do differently to prevent that from happening with this album?

Vivian Green: I loved the second album. I have said that, but it only pertains to “some” fans. Fans who were upset my hair was straight and weaved and expected me to have an earthy image of some sort….I guess. Think they wanted me to have more of an organic sound when “Vivian” was more R&B than anything else. Many fans loved it and I was happy with it. I cant say I was thinking about that when making “Beautiful”….(laughs)….I love soul r&b and pop so that’s what I did with this album. As far as my image I love to change my hair from very short then grow it back(may weave it while it’s growing! lol) I love fitting clothing ALWAYS have….(laughs)…..I dont know. People get so upset when you’re just being yourself. On the cover of “Beautiful” my hair is asymmetrical…..and it’s all mine…l (laughs)…..but then 3 months later I cut it all off! again! (laughs)

Brownsista: What was the inspiration behind the single “Beautiful”?

Vivian Green: I wanted to say something positive to the guys since I’ve known for making more male-bashing songs…(laughs)….it was a nice and pleasant way to say goodbye and wish someone well without all of the anger.

Brownsista:com What mental place were you in for the creation of the album Beautiful?

Vivian Green: Very Very happy. My outlook on life now is to see the positive that I’ve been blessed with, because lots of people in the world don’t have two changes of clothing or fresh water… son’s experience in this world was just so inspiring and life is indeed, Beautiful.

Brownsista: I listened to the interlude with you and your son on this album. How much does your son influence your music and in what way?

Vivian Green: He inspired that song yes, but I cant say he has inspired others specifically. Being his mother has put such a positive outlook on my life….so the happiness in the record in general is definitely related to being his mother. How do you balance being a mommy and an artist?

Vivian Green: I am so blessed I have SO MUCH HELP. It’s so amazing….and not nanny’s and what not! lol just family and friends who love him and help me TREMENDOUSLY.

Brownsista: Do you ever find it difficult to write for other artists?

Vivian Green: Not really. I actually enjoy it and look forward to doing more of that in the future. When writing for another person I’ll say something that I would perhaps NEVER say in my own song. My alter ego gets to play and it’s fun. (laughs)

Brownsista: Is there anyone that you have never worked with that you would love to write a single for?

Vivian Green: Celine Dion LOVE HER!

Brownsista: What will be single number 2?

Vivian Green: “Too Intense”…..I think

Brownsista:com Are there any other projects we can expect from you?

Vivian Green: Just trying to promote Beautiful right now but after this dies down I’m sure I’ll find something to get into to. One of my BIGGEST dreams is to write songs for a Broadway Musical!

For More LJ Knight Visit: YeahSheSaidIt

Are You The Real Reason Why You Can’t Keep A Man/Woman?

Attraction: A characteristic or quality that provides pleasure.

This definition has been taken from It basically defines attraction as being a quality that one enjoys in something or more importantly someone. What makes a person attractive? The answer to this varies by individuals. What one person finds attractive another might find revolting. In fact, people become so subconsciously attached to their own definition of what is attractive that they find themselves dating the same person over and over. They date different individuals but they are all the same type of people with either similar personality traits or a similar look.

Which leads me to ask the question: Can you control what you are attracted to? For instance if you are a person who is attracted to people who are emotionally unavailable, even though you crave a connection with your partner. Can you curve that attraction? I would think that if one tried they could curve what they found to be attractive if they truly thought it was self destructive to themselves. Then again, not everyone is that self aware. Unfortunately.

In my opinion you can curve what you are attracted to if you make a conscious effort to do so. For instance when I was much younger, I would go for the “bad boy” type. The type that was a trouble maker and needed guidance and to be told his life was worthwhile instead of having that quality within himself to begin with. In other words, I liked dating thugs. After many failed relationships I soon learned that this type of male was not a good fit for my personality. Sure I was an urban teenager as they were, but I was also book smart, clean cut, had a solid family upbringing, sweet and over all, a good girl. Luckily, I forced myself to get over this attraction. In other words, I grew out of the dumb s**t. I will admit that my attraction to this type of guy also had a lot to do with my upbringing. I grew up on the west side of Chicago and in my neighborhood, much of my male peers were thugs who had one thing on their mind. I guarantee it wasn’t reading a book with me. However, this was all I had readily available to me so this was all I thought existed. It wasn’t until I attended college and had the opportunity to branch out further than my neighborhood and immediate surroundings that I met other types of guys. Guys who did not come with a wrap sheet or a chronic marijuana habit.

Broadening my horizons felt good. It was an… To Read The Rest Go To YeahSheSaidIt

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Five Reasons Why Successful Women Are Attractive To Men

The question “what do men really like about women” has been tossed around for ages with little to no concrete answers. Instead of trying to corral that titan-sized question, I’ve decided to get specific and detail what men like about successful women. Read on to see how many of these qualities you possess.

1. They’re Mechanics

Women who have tasted success understand the kind of lifestyle they want to lead and have no qualms about saying so because she knows that she can get it herself. When I say “mechanic”, I mean she KNOWS she’s high maintenance and has taken all the necessary steps to facilitate that. From a man’s perspective, a woman who can satiate her own needs and wants without always looking for Daddy Warbux to help her out is worth her weight in gold and most definitely wifey material of the highest order. She doesn’t need me to buy her a new purse because she can buy her own without any worries. Here’s the secret ladies, when you know you better than anyone else, that builds a confidence level that is simply unmatched and indescribably sexy. That clues us in that you don’t “need” us, you “want” us and once the monetary equation is out of the window, that’s when true “love” can come into play. Otherwise we might see you a financial burden before we see you as a soulmate.

2. Their priorities are correct

A woman who has her priorities correct knows that while money isn’t everything, not having it is and it is the root of the kind of upscale existence that both you and your man should want to enjoy. Whether that means you need to sharpen your entrepreneurial skills or put your career first for a while, in the end, it is a far better thing to have yourself in line than focus primarily on the relationship itself. Even when things are splendid, you shouldn’t put the relationship before your hustle because you can guarantee that he sure isn’t. To him, kids and love will always come second to that house on the hill. A woman absolutely has to be as voracious on her grind as her counterpart. Absolutely. Remember that ambition is sexy.

3. She has more to offer

Not monetarily mind you, but a woman who is successful has more of herself to offer. Think about it, does Will need Jada’s money at all? No. She’s paid, he’s paid and the family will more than likely never want for nothing. What keeps them together is what will keep you with your guy; a true admiration of your partner and giving of oneself that includes no need to include money. Money gets in the way, ladies, and it transforms your loving experience into a business deal. When you’re not worried about bills you can give of yourself to the other and really test out what love is. He can focus on nurturing a stable environment that his seeds may prosper from…. To Read The Rest Visit YeahSheSaidIt

Written BY: CZA The CEO

Regina King Tells Sistas To Try Something New

“Of all groups of people, Black women are the least likely group of women that will date outside of their race. When you have everyone else who is willing to explore but a Black woman is like, “I want me a brother,” well, if the brothers are out and they’re open to date everybody and the majority of Black women aren’t willing to look twice when a man outside of their race is sending them messages, then that makes our percentage rate lower and the chances of finding love, because we’re only looking in one specific place for finding love—with Black men.

Every single one of my girlfriends won’t date men that aren’t Black. I have maybe about five and these are people that I’m really considering my friends, not people that are associates or that you talk to or deal with at work. I have about five Black friends who date outside of their race. But all the other friends of mine, it’s either they vocally say that they won’t or every time an opportunity comes up for them to date outside of their race, there’s some excuse why it’s not going to work. They never really say it’s because he’s White, or because he’s Spanish or something like that. It’ll be more like, well, you know he works at such and such, and our schedules don’t match.’ But we’ll know really what it is. It’s ’cause he’s White…..”

This excerpt was taken from an interview that actress Regina King gave at Essence. Although I agree with her overall point of Black women expanding their dating horizons, I also understand the fear and thought process that many Black women go through when trying to find that “one”. Let’s examine some of the points she made.

King makes the point that Black women are either unwilling or uninterested in dating outside of their race. As a Black woman who dates, I understand the thought process behind this. I too would prefer to only date Black men. I would also prefer to marry a Black man. I also would prefer to have children with a Black man. I think that the average Black woman may be more comfortable with a Black man. She feels that he understands her more. For instance they may come from similar cultural and familial backgrounds which allows there to be a certain level of comfort between the two. The special thing about this familiarity is that it helps you to understand and bond with your partner. I myself have heard many reasons why my friends are unwilling to date outside of their race. “You don’t have to explain to him why you hate to get your hair wet.” “He may be intimidated by your strength and not feel comfortable with your sass.” “What if we don’t like the same music?”, “White men only like super skinny women who look like they don’t eat.” There are an array of reason that I have heard Black women use as the rationalization as to why they will not date out of their race. We automatically assume that a Black man will be able to love us the best. This may not always be the case.

Also there is this unspoken loyalty that Black women are expected to have to Black men. The Black man has always been under attack by America, the media, other races etc. It is only natural that the Black woman feels empathy the most for him. As a Black woman, she too has had her own strife to face and feelings of being ostracized by society. She “gets” him.

However, this fear of stepping out of the norm is what holds some Black women back from finding happiness in their love life. Some women spend their lives waiting on their chocolate prince charming that sadly does not always come.
Then there is the reality of King’s statement. I would love for every Black woman who wanted to be in a relationship with a Black man see her dream comes to fruition. Oh what a wonderful fairytale that would be. Unfortunately in today’s world the numbers may not allow it. For one there are more women than men. Two, Black men seem to be more open to dating women of other races than Black women. The loyalties that lie within some Black women for Black men are not always reciprocated. However, that is an entirely different topic for another piece. Then there is the gay Black male population that must be taken into consideration. Odds like these make it more difficult for a Black woman to find the Black man of her dreams versus the man of her dreams.

What is my point? Open your horizons! Throw fear to the side. Let your goal be searching for the man of your dreams versus the Black man of your dreams. I am not advising Black women not to date Black man. I am stating you should not be afraid to open your heart to something different. It is as simple as that. The reality is that you may be a part of the reason why you are unable to find the man of your dreams. Secondly, don’t allow the lack of cultural familiarity be the rationalism behind your apprehension on dating outside of your race. This unlikely candidate might be the guy who is digging you and willing to treat you like a Queen. Sistah, do not fear dating a man outside of your race. Take the time get to know his personality and judge him by that alone.

La’Juanda “LJ” Knight