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‘The Midnight Gospel’ puts a psychedelic twist on in-depth interviews

We’ve seen storytelling with animation. We’ve watched those “The world according to” YouTube videos. And now we’ve been blessed with The Midnight Gospel on Netflix.

The Midnight Gospel marries interview podcasts with psychedelic animation. But it’s not just that, the interviews are conducted by Duncan Trussell and on the animation side of things we’ve got Pendleton Ward known for the legendary Adventure Time.

This combination is a match made in heaven with great visuals along with philosophical rants making you feel like you’re high long after you’ve run out of bud during this pandemic. The show really couldn’t come at a better time.

So what’s the context?

The show follows Clancy, a character who goes around different galaxies to interview select characters in each galaxy. And you guessed it each character is an actual real person talking about something existential, as the world around them seems to crumble, in some way.

In the first episode, we interview Glasses Man who is actually Dr. Drew Pinsky who tells us about the wonders of meditation on psychedelics, as a zombie-apocalypse rages on. Other episodes include Anne LaMott, Damien Echols and Caitlin Doughty, and many more.


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The way the show is structured makes it feel like you’re watching something both intimate and innovative as well as extremely artistic at all times. One can only hope that a sort of director’s cut narrative might be released with Trussell and Ward’s commentary.

In the meantime what are some of the things that make the show what it is?

The Chromatic Ribbon

In an interview with, Duncan Trussell explains that the show’s reality was fully developed, with storylines, explanations of the science of each world, along with its economies. You name it they thought of it. But here’s the catch, you don’t get it all explained to you.

“I spent a long time building the world of The Chromatic Ribbon knowing that many aspects of that world, the lore of the world, the certain history of the world, the way the simulators work, the way the economy in that world works, the way it’s connected to our world…”

Trussel continued:

“I know everything about The Chromatic Ribbon, and, intentionally, we decided not to go through what that world is or its history, but to let that kind of evolve through the series.”

Like many great worlds, think Westeros and Middle Earth, Azeroth, and the Star Wars Galaxies, The Chromatic Ribbon is introduced and built slowly from a linear perspective where we must uncover things as Clancy moves around and enters each world.

Keeping things vague helps future worlds and storylines stay both relevant and logical. We all hate plot holes. Some of the best ways to keep things vague are by dropping you mid-world with no official guidance.

No Narrator

That official guide is usually a narrator. Trussell explained that having a narrator in a complex world such as the Chromatic Ribbon might provide clarity for the audience but it can also feel cheap and almost insulting to audiences who otherwise would’ve liked to discover the meanings and structures of the world on their own.

Or even make up their own meanings.

Portal The Midnight Gospel GIF - Portal TheMidnightGospel ...

Duncan Trussell said they toyed with the idea of including a narrator for quite some time.

“If done correctly, it can give it this legendary, mythical feel, but by now it’s a trope, and at the very worst it can seem just lazy. Or even worse than that, it can seem almost condescending, like you don’t believe that the audience will be able to assemble what’s happening in a way that makes sense to them.”

He continued:

“So we decided. We’ve thought about David Lynch a lot and how some of his shows. It’s just like suddenly you’re just dropped into the deep end of a world that feels completely alien to our world with very little exposition, and you have to make your own decisions about what that world is. It’s an empowering feeling, somewhat frustrating sometimes, but that mystery is really powerful.”

Multi-level Entertainment

Some of the best content ever created has multiple layers of entertainment. In the TV industry, this is often called complex narratives. On the internet its often called millennial or Gen Z humor.

You know when multiple memes are stacked on each other, where part of it is referencing a vine and somehow we get this full circle joke that now lives on Twitter?


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what’s harder? getting over pain or getting sliced in the ass?

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Anyway, with the show’s audio having deep philosophical conversations that often discuss quite painful and existential topics, the juxtaposition of an absurd reality with great colorful animation can be truly welcome.

“When we were thinking about this show, we were thinking about how it would be nice to make a show where if on one level, you just want to enjoy bright colors and psychedelic madness and cartoony cute violence, you could. You don’t have to listen to the podcast conversation.”

Trussell continued:

“But then on another level, if you want to tune in to what Anne LaMott was talking about, which is a pretty powerful and for some people a very painful topic, which is just the reality of our mortality, and just coming to terms with that in a way that isn’t turning our backs on that truth through booze or drugs or numbing ourselves just with our own ignorance. You could tune into that, too.”

The beauty of the Midnight Gospel is that you can either hone in on the deep thoughts of the podcast, or you can instead mindlessly tune in and out of what feels like a rant while you watch the beauty of the Chromatic Ribbon. Or perhaps you can do both, seeing the connection of the visual with the concepts of the auditory.

Whatever you decide to do, you’ll definitely have plenty to appreciate.

Meet Jean-Paul Builes: Frontman for Reposado the TequilaFunk Band

Jean-Paul Builes is the frontman and lead vocalist for the band Reposado. The band takes sounds from the Latin afro and Carribbean heritage and authentic American Jazz to create their own genre: Tequila Funk.

Reposado’s latest release “Poquito” debuts here on Kulture Hub. We’re hype for the release as their last track “Water for the Soul” was hot.

I got a chance to talk to JP about his spiritual and artistic journey from photography to music and how it all fell into place.

The Beginning of Discovery


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Jean-Paul went back in time and told me the story of how it all began. He begins with his high school days. “In the very beginning, I guess it started with buying the best camera phone so I could make my MySpace look legit.”

With his Nokia N95, he understood the importance of a social media presence even back then. Looking back he recognizes his artistic nature. “I never thought that I was gonna be a photographer.[…] I never even thought I was an artist.”

After high school, JP faced the question of what he would do professionally. The answer eluded him despite his interest in style and overall natural ability for photography and editing.

“Nothing really sat well. I was really depressed. I was smoking too much weed. I was soul searching, but I was really anxious and super uncertain of everything”

One day while he was taking a photo of someone with his cellphone and directing and modifying settings to get the right shot a stranger noticed.

That stranger pointed out that JP should look into making that his career.“For some reason, that right there, brought me back to when I was three-years-old and my mother telling me she wanted to be an artist but there was no money in it.”

This recollection had a huge impact on the way Jean-Paul viewed himself. Being an artist was never really an option because he internalized his mother’s lost dreams.

“That idea blocked my whole life, even though I was already an artist my whole life.”

Making a Game Plan

After realizing that the first obstacle in his journey into the career of an artist was himself and his mindset, Jean-Paul decided to commit to figuring out what kind of artist he wanted to be. College was one of the options and JP explored to find his artistic focus.

He took every class available from painting to design to music. With this new hunger and hyper-awareness of art being everywhere, JP was primed to notice all the unseen opportunities around him.

While in NYC he was at a club where he saw a photographer with a huge camera and having been into film at the time he noticed that the photographer was missing out on great shots that JP could clearly see.

“I thought, ‘Oh hell, no!’ He’s whack. I don’t know why I’m saying this or I feel this way, but it made me feel like, all I need is a camera, a real camera and I could get gigs.”

JP knew his strengths socially as an outgoing and extroverted person during gatherings and parties. He knew that he could navigate the gig photography world well. But the next obstacle was to get that good camera.

“I stressed hard, I couldn’t get any sleep because my money was just not enough to get that camera. Just $100 off”

Divine Intervention Through Friendship

But luck would strike. JP got a call from a friend he hadn’t spoken to in a year. That friend told him that she had an extra camera and offered to lend it to him for a while. This all occurred within the week that JP decided to take up photography.

“It was so divine. It was unreal.”

Equipped with his new camera and some friends, JP went around taking photos of everything that caught his eye. When comparing photos with his friend, an actor with a photography degree, his friend recognized JP’s talent immediately.

That friend went on to recommend JP as a photographer to a woman he worked for. Because he didn’t have a portfolio ready yet, the woman gave him a task. He was to take photos of iconic NYC locations that only a New Yorker would recognize to prove his talent.

Photo Cred: Jean-Paul Builes

She hired him right after. He had a steady gig once or twice a month. Then she hired JP for her five businesses. For about two years, JP built his photography career.

“I just wanted to shoot. I found something that I can do being an artist and I’m getting paid.”

But his career as an artist would not stay there. There were other callings that JP would soon discover.

The Universe Provides

After the rush of making it as a photographer ended, at 21, JP felt that there was more for him to do.

“I felt like I had to prove myself as a man”

Films like The Doors and Into the Wild inspired JP to go on a self-seeking journey. He quit his pro-photography job and left his romantic troubles behind.

“I said fuck it, I’m going to San Diego.”

He bought a one-way ticket, packed a bag, and brought his camera. His lack of planning would later put a damper on the start of the experience. “I went to San Diego, showed up at the beach, looked around. I made it. And I realized I do not want to sleep on this beach.”

His fears of misfortune were cleared up pretty quickly, his original mindset paying off.  “It made no sense but I trusted my gut and I went away from this system that doesn’t really exist. It’s just an idea that everybody is doing so I decided to do my own. ”

He found a place to stay almost immediately after arriving. A fan of his art and photography offered him a room.

“I went there open arms, freefalling, not knowing where I was going to fall. And life just made room for me.”

Road Trips for the Soul

Shortly after another friend who just came back from the military asked him to take a cross country road trip back to New York. Even though he’d just arrived, the vet convinced him and they set out on his first road trip.

Photo Cred: Jean-Paul Builes

This sparked the rush JP was looking for and going on road trips became a drug. After returning from his road trips, JP would show his father his photographs. His father was for the first time, deeply intrigued by the vastness of other places.

“I took phenomenal photos of the country and I had a ton of stories.”

JP noticed that his father “did what he was supposed to do his whole life” but that his need for discovery was hereditary.

JP began to plant seeds in his father’s mind, convincing him to get an RV, work from home and take a road trip with him. “We were living on the road and we almost killed each other.”

Seattle City Living

Originally JP and his father planned to be on the road for two years, but they only made it to eight months. JP tired of being in the middle of nowhere, craved a city environment. So he posted up in Seattle.

“It was fresh. It was weird and it was open.”

His love for music resurfaced. He remembered loving jamming with friends while growing up in NYC.  JP decided to use his work as a photographer to meet musicians.

After a living situation fell through due to the homeowners’ rejection of his Pitbull, JP found himself homeless without any ongoing jobs.

Photo Cred: Jean-Paul Builes

JP expressed that he’s thankful for this turn of events because he felt that until now he had been spoiled, without fear and without a sense of worry.

At the time, however, JP was at his lowest. He felt like a failure and began to have suicidal thoughts. Those thoughts were short-lived as he picked up his guitar at the back of his car and freestyled a song talking to what he calls his real self, his higher self.

“Once your options are none, all of a sudden if you flip your mindset, you have all the options now. You’re not tied to anything.”

He decided to get a job he didn’t like because he didn’t want to be that lower-self anymore. A month later he saved enough to get a place with roommates.

Music is the Answer

The first night he pulled out his guitar and everyone in the place gathered and sang and drank. One of his roommates, a rapper, invited JP to his show. At the afterparty, he felt good for the first time in a long time and treated it as a celebration for his achievements.

The party had a live grunge band, who later left the setup, and JP walked up, picked up the mic, and asked the bass player and the drummer to drop something.

“I closed my eyes, didn’t open them, and I just let my heart out completely.”

JP doesn’t remember what he said but remembers the crowd going silent, and him creating a hook that the crowd learned quickly. The experience was so powerful that it rebooted the party and spurred others to start freestyling. JP decided that this was the feeling he would chase from now on.


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Just a lil taste of our show at Lupolo in Old San Juan. This show got HOT n STICKY! 🔥💦 #tequilafunk @heldluke 🎥

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“I made a decision that I will never pass up an opportunity to get on the microphone”

For a few months, the music scene was ripe and JP was full of energy. As winter rolled around everything went cold too.

Things Pick Up Again

During his photography work, JP met Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio a soul-jazz group. He discovered them at a bar playing and knew that they were good despite the empty place. He came to hear them play every Tuesday. Later they would be on Billboard and are now touring the world.

“They changed my life, and I’m sure I changed theirs.”

JP took their photos and created the groups’ first album cover, Close, But No Cigar.

Photo Cred: Jean-Paul Builes

He had asked the trio if he could jam with them sometime and freestyled well enough for them to agree. But at the session, his spirits were down, he was feeling depressed and it showed. He bombed.“It was so bad, and these are my idols.”

That’s when he realized that he couldn’t rely on freestyle, JP needed to hone his art.

“You need to prepare yourself so that even your bad moments are really good.”

Reposado is Born

While at the afterparty for his roommate’s show, one of the attendees invited him to another party, an after-after party. There he met Torin Frost, a fellow photographer and local rapper who excels at freestyle. JP’s musical chops impressed Frost, and JP knew he’d be working with him one way or another.

Later Frost and JP would be joined by JP’s friend, a drummer from NYC and they’d jam together. They’d end up drinking a lot of Reposado tequila and adopted the name focusing on its real meaning, ‘rested.’

“I also like where it stands in Tequila, where it’s in between too young and too mature.”

The name started catching on with JP as the band’s frontman and leader. JP decided it would be best to play where he lived and slowly take over that part of Seattle.

“I like to play where I live and get to know my community.”

They played on the street, in front of stores and later in stores and jump-started a music scene in Columbus City. Reposado wouldn’t just play for others, they would encourage others to come to join and jam with them. The music scene in Columbus City still carries on today.

Rested and Ready for the Future

As Reposado has gained and lost members, it’s grown to an eight-piece band including a three-piece brass section. JP met many of the players while playing basketball.

Builes still leads on vocals and his journey since the creation of the band has evolved. The band is willing to trust and follow his vision and have spent time in Puerto Rico for a tour, JP’s first-ever tour. There JP recognized that this is what he wants to be doing, touring the world.


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Music Video for “Un Poquito” will be released soon! Stay tuned! #TequilaFunk

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After an East Coast tour back in the states, Builes found out he was going to be a father and went back out west and later back to Seattle, to be closer to his child.

Reposado is currently recording, mixing, and mastering and successfully opening for larger bands.

Make sure to tap in and check out our favorite Tequila Funk Band, Reposado. They’re destined for greatness.


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Get proactive with these 5 creative apps that’ll help elevate your craft

So, you’re in a rut or feeling unchallenged or even overwhelmed by starting a creative project. It can be tough to move forward, but there are resources available to help OG creatives up their game and young ones hit the ground running.

At Kulture Hub, we’ve compiled some of those tried and true new resources to help get your creative engines running. Here are our top five affordable platforms and apps to help elevate your craft.


Procreate is a powerful digital illustration app that’s also intuitive. If you’ve been intimidated by Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, then try Procreate. Not only is it great for graphic design and art, but its also good for infographics and even animation.


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🕺🏻🕺🏻 @getanimatic #dance #animation #loop #framebyframe #nose #animatic #garageband

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It’s known to be a favorite amongst tattoo artists and fashion designers. If you want to be a do it all yourself type of creative, like making a logo for your podcast or adding original art overlays to your photos, you have it all at your fingertips.

The App is available only for iPad at a $9.99 one time payment, no subscription, you buy it you own it old school. If you’re looking for something smaller for your phone, Procreate Pocket is also available for $4.99.

Adobe Fresco

If you’re looking for something similar to Procreate, check out Adobe Fresco. It’s designed for professional artists and beginners. Use the set of more than 1800 “brushes” to create realistic paintings or make full-fledged graphic novel art.

It’s available on Windows tablets as well as iPad and is free to download. The best way to take advantage of all the features is to have a stylus, or apple pencil to go with your device.


This is that app that comes preloaded onto all your Apple Devices and for good reason, it’s both versatile and simple to use. GarageBand is software made for music creation. Think of it as your own studio with a full sound library or instruments.

GarageBand is available for free on Macs, iPad, and iPhone. But it’s on iOS devices that it has a reputation. Steve Lacey produced the beat for the new Kendrick Lamar song “Pride” using GarageBand on his iPhone.

You can keep things simple by using the software to create an intro beat for your YouTube videos or you can go all out to create a full-length album or EP. There’s a bunch of tutorials available online to help you explore the app, as well as learn to replicate your favorite songs.

Think of it as a simpler version of Logic Pro X. You can also record your voice and edit it within GarageBand too opening up a slew of possibilities from singing and rapping to podcasting.

Become your own Gene Belcher.


iMovie is one of the most user-friendly editing software, easier than Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro. With simple intuitive tools and pre-made templates, all you need is to load up footage and start editing.

For many, it was the introductory software for their editing skills. It’s no surprise that many YouTubers began their channels using iMovie and many still use it as their primary editing software because it’s free on Apple devices.


Our final resource is a platform that can be used to learn all of the previous apps and software.

Skillshare is an online learning community for those who want to learn from educational videos. It’s curated to help you focus on what you want to learn, but otherwise available for literally learning anything.

There are courses for creating, courses on business management, being a freelancer, and even budgeting. There are thousands of free courses, but with our link, you’ll get a free 2-month trial and access to all the courses your creative spirit desires.

Are you with the #CancelRent movement? Then call your Representative

As Covid-19’s effects on the economy continue to spread, many have unfortunately lost income and whole industries have had to pull back operations.

Many of us have felt the repercussions. We discussed some ways to financially adjust to the pandemic, but for so many economic stability has become unattainable. And the most expensive thing that many of us pay for is rent.

Since the beginning of April, the #CancelRent Movement has been advocating for the legal suspension of rent payments effectively executed by state and federal governments.

The role of rent in our budgets

We’ve been told time and again that you should only be spending 30 percent or less of your income on rent. But with rent prices soaring while income stays the same in the US, that math no longer adds up.

The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University reports that 10.9 million renters spent more than 50 percent of their income on housing in 2018.

The term rent-burdened is used to refer to renters who spend more than that good old 30 percent of their income on housing. And according to that, most of you reading this are more than likely rent-burdened even outside of the Coronavirus pandemic.

While the need for renting assistance has grown, the amount of housing assistance has stayed flat. There are also constrained vacancies for affordable housing because the industry has focused construction on higher more expensive housing.

This all leads to higher and higher rent, while income levels stay the same growing rent-burdened populations. But within the COVID-19 devastating economic situation, the severity of being rent-burdened has increased.

What cancel rent advocates are asking for

Advocacy groups like Housing Justice for All NY have been fighting for renter’s rights for years. Universal Rent Control has been legislation that many have been asking for. You’ve probably heard of rent-controlled apartments.

They’re mythical, impossible to find, because no new apartments are being added to the rent-controlled roster. Plus, many old ones from decades ago are being eliminated and returned to “current value” rent.

Lately, those advocacy groups have started to demand the cancelation of rent. And as time passes and people’s economic situations deteriorate, the #CancelRent movement is growing.

There have been many crazy stories about landlords illegally attempting to punish or push out renters who are late on payments or on rent strike.

Some share stories of landlords telling them that they must vacate the unit if they are sick with COVID-19. Others are receiving threats from landlords who have illegally accessed IRS information using tenant’s social security numbers stating that they know the renter has received their stimulus check.

Still more are stating landlords are cutting power and running water to renters who are late on payments. The pandemic’s effect on our ability to pay also reminds us of just how close we are to financial ruin.

We are far more likely to become homeless than rich.

Spare Change GIF - SpareChange Change Beg - Discover & Share GIFs

Housing advocates are also asking for thousands of vacant hotel rooms to be open to the homeless who cannot shelter in place. Shelters are full and unable to handle the requirements of healthy social distancing.

Our  Government’s response

So far, several states have already enacted moratoriums on rent. This means that you cannot be taken to court for not paying rent during this time. You also cannot be evicted. Governor Cuomo of NY still believes this is enough to deal with the current rent issue.

But as AOC explained during a virtual town hall hosted by NY Housing Justice for All, that is not enough.

NY Mayor de Blasio has called for Freezing Rent as well as state approval to pay rent with the security deposit.

He also explained that the City will step in and stop any evictions. He also added that rooms are available for those who cannot shelter in place.

Government representatives like Ilhan Omar and AOC have called for canceling rent during the COVID pandemic.

Rep. Omar introduced a bill that would offer total forgiveness on rent and mortgage payments, starting April 1 until 30 days after the end of the federal state of emergency.

Some of the big takeaways from the bill:

The bill would suspend rent and mortgage payments retroactively to March 13, 2020 and it would last for one year. Renters and mortgage borrowers who have paid for the month of April would be reimbursed.
The Bill also protects landlords and lenders by allowing them to recoup losses by accessing a relief fund created by the federal government via the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The bill also goes beyond that by establishing an affordable housing fund to purchase rental properties to increase housing for low-income applicants.

So are you with #CancelRent? Call your representative to voice your feelings on legislation surrounding rent and mortgage suspensions. If you’re in NY call Cuomo to ask for a more comprehensive response to rent issues.

Saweetie is setting a new standard for women in the music industry

The atmosphere for female emcees is growing more and more positive each day. We now have talented artists who seek to be authentically themselves as well as organic role models for younger women and girls. One of those artists is Saweetie.

Born Diamanté Quiea Valentin Harper, Saweetie got her stage name from her grandmother’s term of endearment for her. You may know her from her first hit track “ICY GRL,” or some of her latest work “My Type,” but there’s more to Saweetie than bops and bangers.

She landed on the scene to dominate and change the game.

Promoting Education and Financial Independence

Saweetie is a University of Southern California graduate. She completed her communications degree with a concentration in business and a 3.6 GPA.

During interviews, she’s emphasized the importance of education. She’s always been open and has touched on her journey in seeking financial stability.

After reaching for a profession within the medical field, she quickly recognized that she wasn’t really dedicated to that lifestyle. From there she would decide to take a chance and pursue her music full time.

“You know what? Money make you cute.”

According to a conversation with her Grandma on Fuse’s Made From Scratch, Saweetie promised herself that she would put her all into music for a year, and if it didn’t work out she’d return home and figure out a new plan.

She reiterates during interviews that when she made “ICY GRL” she was broke, and several friends helped her make it look like she wasn’t. She made the song more as an inspiration for success and it paid off.

Diversifying your portfolio early

The ICY GRL, put that business knowledge to the test when she quickly began diversifying her projects.

Saweetie is a huge style influencer. She’s popped out for several fashion shows including Pretty Little Thing and Moschino at Milan’s Fashion Week.


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which mood r u?

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She also made a big splash while working with FENTY beauty and had her own makeup collab with Mophe.

“I’m trying to get my foot in the beauty door because that beauty money is something different.”

Saweetie is also keen on landing acting roles. Thus far she’s landed a role on the Black-ish spin-off Grown-ish.


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it doesn’t get “saweeter” than this. 😂 @saweetie will make an appearance on season 3 of #grownish.

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Saweetie also created her own record label: ICY records. She plans to solidify herself as an artist so that she can help and support other artists on the come-up.

The importance of mental health

When artists get a hit single, it’s an amazing feeling. But when the pressure to produce another begins, it can be difficult. Saweetie emphasizes that when it comes to making music she’s competitive.

“I don’t get intimidated… I get inspired”


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😼 from da bay going dumb on da 🍆

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As a former student-athlete, she uses that competitive nature in all areas of her craft. But she does warn creatives about the dangers of burn out. During a recent interview with E!’s Just the Sip, Saweetie opened up about having a breakdown after taking on so many projects at once.

“When you spread yourself too thin… You’re not able to give your all so that defeats the purpose.”

Her perspective on the grind changed after that experience. She began to say ‘no’ to projects. She wanted to protect her mental health and her quality of work.

“Although, I’ve passed up this bag, a bigger bag is coming, because I’m giving quality over quantity.”

Always supporting women and girls

“It’s dope today because not only are we able to flourish with no co-sign but we’re running into other dope girls ”

The landscape for women in rap has opened up tremendously in recent years. Female MCs are far more frequent and celebrated far more often.

“At first it was only one female, then only two females can be poppin’ but now we have all these poppin’ girls.”

But Saweetie is aware of the important work that needs to be done to make that space even more inviting and lucrative for women. When asked about Kash Doll and the role colorism has on the hip hop industry, Saweetie explained that darker-skinned women can indeed face obstacles.

“If that’s a limitation, it’s our duty to get rid of those things and break past the barrier. ”

She also spoke on the obsession of media and social media on women’s bodies especially when it comes to plastic surgery. She’s often questioned about plastic surgery herself and believes it’s something personal that should not be asked of women.

“I know a lot of women who’ve had a lot of work done and I feel like that’s a personal decision.  I feel like it’s only a problem if you’re doing it for somebody else. I’m an advocate of women feeling good about themselves”

Saweetie sees herself as an advocate for women and hopes to be a role model for younger women as well as peers. Her focus on building herself up is echoed in her music as a strong female and independent message. As an aspiring mogul she also believes in sharing her success with others so that they might also find success.

“When you’re given these blessings you gotta spread ‘em”

Nuvocargo founder shows us actions in good-faith are crucial to success

Navigating with limited guidance is one of the hardest things to experience as a young entrepreneur. For many of us, we are the first in our families to venture out and do our own thing.

Without connections in any given field, it can be an uphill battle. The founder of NuvoCargo, Deepak Chhugani is no stranger to this.

I got a chance to chat with Chhugani about his business endeavors and ask about advice he has for up and coming creators and entrepreneurs.

Aspirational Beginnings

Chhugani was born in Kenya to Indian Parents and grew up in Ecuador. He went to an international school in Ecuador, which afforded him the ability to seek out higher education in the States. But even with this advantage, he was advised not to apply for Ivy League schools because it was “unrealistic.”

“So, I was really lucky that I was able to study in the States and that I was able to go to Bentley, which was a really good school in the Boston area with these really other amazing institutions, like Harvard and MIT, and all these people who end up going into Wall Street and really competitive jobs.”

Bentley University would focus on securing accounting jobs for its students and graduates. Chhugani explained that because big investment banks weren’t recruiting at his school, like many other students he had to plan several steps ahead to make it in that field.

“If you really wanted to get into Wall Street or other investment jobs, it was really tricky because you really needed to be preparing for that since freshman year.”

Chhugani added:

“You needed to know someone who would help you get the sophomore internship, which recruits like the year before, and in sophomore year, when you don’t even know what major you are going to pick. You need to know that in a year, you are going to be doing investment banking.”

Without help from a school organization like a fraternity or knowing someone directly in the industry, it can seem nearly impossible to get the ball rolling. Chhugani emphasizes his fortune of having been able to secure mentorship and further success within the investment banking field via robust networking.

But he also thought about how difficult it was and continues to be for grads like himself.

The Lobby

Because of his experience with minimal access to resources such as internships, mentorships, and useful networking, Deepak Chhugani started “The Lobby.” The company’s objective was to connect grads and students, and really anybody to mentors in their industry of choice for a fee.

“You are spending $300,000 or $200,000 to go to a good school and to get a good job. But why is there a taboo to spend a few hundred dollars to speak to those who can give you all these insights and help you get these six-figure jobs? ”

The idea remained controversial, some felt it was too much like a ‘pay-your-way into the company’ model. Chhugani points to this misconception as one of the main reasons why it didn’t reach its full potential.

“We luckily sold hundreds and hundreds of phone calls, but it never got to the point where it was recurring as a good enough business model that we can make it a viable business.”

A Turning Point

Despite the early end for The Lobby, Deepak would not be discouraged from bringing more of his ideas to life.  His next endeavor would prove to be stronger and more successful.

Deepak points to his Latin American upbringing when referring to his hunger towards building companies.

“Entrepreneurship is in the blood of a lot of people who grew up in Latin America or in emerging markets because that is one of the only ways in which you could find independence and success. So, I always knew that I wanted to start a business. But what I think happened with the lobby was that I was following a lot of advice online.”

The general pieces of advice that entrepreneurs get about creating their own start-up is to solve problems they themselves are having because others must be having the same problems as well. According to that logic, Chhugani did exactly that with The Lobby, he saw a problem he was having and sought to address it.

But after recognizing that this view can be limiting, Deepak’s perspective on start-ups changed.

“But you are ignoring really big problems in the world because you are following that methodology of “solve your own problems” and there are only so many specific types of problems that a twenty-five, a twenty-six-year-old has had.”

After more time and contacts in the industry, Chhugani recognized that the success of those around him relied on “interesting, unfair advantages into what they were doing.” The success was skill-based and not necessarily just good-idea based.

Even as a young entrepreneur Chhugani was willing to recognize that The Lobby just wasn’t working and that his skills and efforts could be put into something better.

“When the Lobby wasn’t working, it was a blessing in disguise because it gave me the confidence to say, ‘Ok, this isn’t just kind of working, this isn’t really working at all from a revenue and business standpoint.’ And I can actually shut it off and make a big decision to switch before I burn my investors’ money and burn my own energy, trying to make something work that doesn’t work.”

How to switch gears

When figuring out what to do next, Deepak Chhugani asked himself a set of important questions based on his new perspective on business.

“What are the things I am uniquely passionate about? What are the things I am uniquely suited to do, even if I am not necessarily an expert today?”

The answer for Chhugani was logistics in the space between Latin America and the U.S. His father had originally started a logistics business in Ecuador, and Deepak knew his ability to move between Latin American spaces and U.S. spaces was important.

“Doing business with Latin America, I have always been at the intersection of the two regions, even as an investment banker — my Spanish is better than my English. So, I knew I could do something there that was unique, so that was the impetus for launching that business and it’s thankfully doing well today.”

shipment tracking nuvocargo
via Nuvocargo

Chhugani moved passed the conventional start-up wisdom, into a more practical birds-eye view. He emphasizes this discovery to up and coming entrepreneurs.

“If you are going to be building an interesting business, you have to solve bigger and more complex problems”

Logistics is the commercial activity of transporting goods from producers to consumers. Logistics has a hand in basically anything that needs to get from point A to point B. Any conceivable product needs logistics. It has a huge impact on making world economies work.

Nuvocargo is Born

nuvocargo latin america shipment tracking
via Nuvocargo

Before getting into the Logistics game and launching NuvoCargo, Deepak Chhugani did something unheard of in the investment world. He offered his investors in The Lobby the option to take the remainder of the money back or to back him on his next venture.

The response he received was equally surprising.

“I said, ‘Listen, there’s X percent of money left in the bank, which is the overwhelming majority. I am changing the idea radically, but these are the reasons why, in one or two years, it’s going to do better… ‘ I gave them that offer, and most of them stayed, thankfully. Some of them even tripled their investment.”

Chhugani made the decision alongside trusted advisors. They knew that The Lobby was not performing the way they’d hoped. Chhugani knew that by offering to return investors’ money that he would be able to sleep better at night.

Beyond that Chhugani knew that what mattered most was his reputation of being trustworthy.

“Investors may want to tell you that they don’t think what you did was right but they also want to be supportive. So, my advisors told me that if you do this, it’s going to be a benefit to you for decades because people are going to trust you with capital.”

Chhugani added:

“And if you want to do ambitious things in the world, you have to be a good steward of capital. And I didn’t want to burn any bridges at an early stage.”

Valuable Advice for the young entrepreneur

So Nuvocargo gained investment capital and was on the trajectory for success. To date, they have raised $5.3M in seed funding. Still, Chhugani has stayed humble.

“I am no expert at startups or business. I’ve often felt that most people giving startup advice publicly consider themselves a ‘guru,’ or an expert – I very much see myself as an amateur sharing just a few learnings from the past years. I am still learning every day.”

Some food for thought: Deepak Chhugani took what he learned from his previous venture and implemented them into the new business. One of the most notable things he learned was the importance of speed for start-ups.

As a self-described intense person, speed was not an outlandish thing to fathom. Everything Deepak does was with intention and with the goal of cultivating success and healthy business.

“But speed, like choosing the three or four things that are important for your business and moving as fast as you possibly can in the first year is incredibly important. And making sure that it’s doing well so that you can recruit the right people, raise the capital, and just create a story that excites the people.”

Deepak Chhugani understands the importance of people. His actions take into account what others want to achieve and come from a place of respect and appreciation of another’s goals.

He reiterates the importance of having trusted advisors as a young entrepreneur and actually listening to those experts.

“If you are already pursuing an idea and you are a young founder, I would just say, just acknowledge that you are inexperienced and maybe you have to tactfully make that part of your identity, so that others who have more experience can help you.”

He added:

“Really getting good at cultivating mentors on the specific things that matter for your business is crucial.”

His advice for immigrant entrepreneurs is more practical than conceptual. He emphasizes the importance of a good immigration lawyer to secure all your options.

“It might cost you a few hundred dollars, which feels like a lot when you are a young student, but it can save you a lot in the future. And get your immigration status straight, especially if you want to start a business here.”

And for those who have a great idea and skillset but not quite the network of investors and developers, Chhugani says work for another start-up. “You are going to get a network there, and knowledge, that it might even change the ideas that you want to pursue.”

Chhugani’s most valuable advice to young creators and founder is valuing people. Empathy and business are not mutually exclusive but deeply connected. Success is cultivated through successful and healthy relationships.

“At the end of the day, it all comes down to people… Especially because a lot of good founders become investors themselves. So, there just needs to be more empathy. And thinking ethically and long-term is important.”

Spice up Zoom chats with these tips to keep your squad entertained AF

While many of us are settling into some sort of quarantine routine, as social creatures we can begin to feel emotionally empty without any meaningful interaction.

You may have already started to explore options on how to stay in touch with the squad and maybe you’ve even exhausted a few– you can only play iMessage cup pong so many times before it gets stale.

For sure, your social distancing squad activity needs an update. So here’s a list of some other things you can do to keep your social distancing video chats entertaining.

Do your daily morning check-ins

Group chats are a big way to stay in touch while social distancing. But of course, it’s important to make crucial decisions when creating them. You need people who will actually interact or someone to keep the vibes going.

That person could be you, just make sure to post up every morning and ask how people are doing.

Get weird with apps like HouseParty

You may have already heard of this one, but use video chatting apps that allow you to play games with others.

These apps provide a perfect space for your entertaining Zoom chats to turn into something really awesome. There you can pick teams, convene collectively to choose the perfect game for your squad to play, or even set up some savage rules.

With apps like HouseParty you can play trivia with a bunch of decks, a version of Pictionary, and other interactive group games. Like many group activities, the more participants the better, because it can get old if you play with the same person just a few times.

Start doing private vlogs

Don’t forget to comment like and subscribe!

You’ve probably heard that phrase a billion times and you probably know exactly how to do your classic skincare routine or apartment tour. So, why not use that knowledge for a low-stakes vlog with the homies?

You can even use TikTok in a private setting and try your hand at content with a built-in little audience, who knows maybe you’ll discover you all might be a new squad of YouTubers.

IG Live with a friend

This one you can do with just one friend if you’re okay with limited control. Many Lives are just hangout sessions others can be entertaining AF. And a Zoom chat is a perfect place to brainstorm topics to discuss before taking your conversation to the world.

Plan an activity for you and your friend to keep it interesting, like a mini cooking show or a tarot card reading, or discussion of the latest binge-able TV show. It really can go anywhere based on your mutual interests.

You can even go the extra step and brand yourselves and have a daily or weekly “show.”

Play the linger game

This is another very low stakes activity.

The point of the game is to always be last to end a video call. Sounds simple but sometimes that’s all you need to get some hilarious experiences. And if you have competitive friends it works way better.

Get a Netflix Party going

Think Movie/TV night while social distancing and don’t be afraid to leave the comfort of your Zoom chat. Or stay connected and chat it up over video while watching some epic shit.

Netflix Party existed before ‘Rona but never before has it meant this much. The set up is easy to follow and you send out links to your “party” to get people to join the viewing. There’s a live text option as well so you can all “quietly” discuss crazy theories and react to plot twists in real-time.

Use your imagination and travel the world

Many might not know this but there is a share screen option on every Zoom session. This allows us to go beyond a movie night, to visit a different country or city each week. This obviously doesn’t include any travel, except the imaginary kind.

You can keep it simple by picking a movie related to your destination or you can go all out and create meals, a playlist, and even virtual museum tours for you all to experience in tandem.

Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t create positive memories with the people you love.

Here’s why Covid isn’t hitting the same for communities of color

The Coronavirus might be affecting us all in one way or another, but it seems to be extra dangerous for people of color.

This might not come as a surprise for those of us who are aware of the societal structures that are unable or unwilling to protect those most vulnerable.

But there’s more to consider than just how the virus seems to magically inflict more proportional damage on Black and Latino populations.

Disproportionate deaths

In NYC, Blacks and Latinos are twice as likely than whites to die from the virus. According to the NYC department of health as of April 6, Hispanic/Latino populations are experiencing a 34% death rate while only being 29% of the population. Black people have 28% of the death rate but are only 22% of the population.

According to the NYTimes, racial disparities in other states and cities are even worse. When asked about racial disparities and data collection, the White House stated it had not yet begun collecting racial data. The Human Rights Campaign reported that Black communities account for 35% of confirmed cases, 40% of deaths with only 14% of the state population.

The Associated Press also reported that Native American communities have also been hard hit. New Mexico has a Native American population of 11% but Native Americans account for about 37% of the state’s Coronavirus cases.

Mayor De Blasio responded to these numbers with the clear understanding that the underlying issues have long existed. “There are clear inequalities, clear disparities in how this disease is affecting the people of our city,” Mr. De Blasio said.

“The truth is that in so many ways the negative effects of coronavirus — the pain it’s causing, the death it’s causing — tracks with other profound health care disparities that we have seen for years and decades.”

The “Underlying Medical Conditions” argument

The underlying medical conditions argument is a half-truth created to brush over the bigger question of why the Black community suffers from more medical issues. Some may point to food and lifestyle, an argument that essentially blames POC for being responsible for their own health.

This argument conveniently ignores the fact that POCs are more likely to have to live in areas with high pollution, for example, the Bronx, and more likely to live in areas labeled “food deserts” where affordable healthy food is scarce or non-existent.

Healthcare GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

These contextual facts make it clear that diabetes, asthma, and heart disease can be easily linked to access to healthy environments. The attempt to make a “genetic” argument is laughable when considering also that POCs simply do not have access to health care.

Time and again we hear of new data on how people of color are disproportionately affected by diseases in large part due to human bias and lack of access. Black mothers continue to die disproportionally in comparison to white mothers during childbirth.

Black patients and other patients of color are often not believed when they report pain, and actual medical material has been taught stating that people of color can handle higher levels of pain and exaggerate pain levels as well.


This is backed up by the countless stories of people of color being sent home with or without a coronavirus test after experiencing symptoms only to be back at the hospital on a ventilator or dying at home days later.

Access to Treatment

We knew that COVID was on its way to the US, months before it actually started affecting our side of the world. Besides the fact that it was ignored and belittled for months by the Trump administration, our healthcare system is devastatingly difficult to navigate.

And for those with limited economic and financial opportunities, dealing with the healthcare system in any way, especially in the most important ways is just another shackle of debt and poverty.

Health care is expensive; we know this. But also, adequate and affordable healthcare is rarely offered by employers of the working class. A large portion of minority populations are working-class therefore healthcare is out of reach for many people of color.

POC Essential Workers’ lives are just valued less

Furthermore, while employment loss is at devastating levels, many of the essential jobs that still are in effect are held in large part by minority populations.

Bus drivers, transit and delivery workers, supermarket workers, and sanitation workers are all exposed to potentially contracting the virus every day.

Essential Worker GIFs | Tenor

Even cleaning service employees in literal hospitals have been reporting discrimination in the workplace. Where Black and Latino employees are instructed to clean Coronavirus exposed rooms and their white coworkers are allowed to reject the task.

Essential workers are consistently told to work without any protection from the virus. And they’re paid so little to keep our society functioning.

What’s more, is that people of color often live in multi-generational homes. This means that there are far more people living in one space making it hard to self-isolate.

How are you going to isolate yourself after a dangerous essential worker shift, when you live in a one or two-bedroom with five or six other family members?

Inmates are at higher risk for Coronavirus

Another facet of this is the underserved prison population.

Jail GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

With known and documented racial disparities under the US Criminal Justice System, inmates are at a dangerously high risk of contracting the Coronavirus.

According to an NPR report, 73% of inmates at an Ohio Prison tested positive for COVID-19. Outbreaks are sweeping across prisons in America despite some efforts at compassionate or early-release for non-violent offenders.

Prison workers are also subsequently at higher risk. And of course, workers at correctional facilities are also essential workers. Infrastructure, the health care system, and the economic system and justice system along with local and federal governments, in general, continue to fail people of color again and again.

We saw it with Hurricane Katrina, and we’re seeing it again now. The question is when will it finally be acknowledged and more importantly changed.

Is $25,000 enough? Why essential workers deserve more than hazard pay

Those of us who’ve worked so-called “unskilled-labor” understand the physical and emotional toll those jobs can have on our well-being.

Foodservice workers, transportation workers, postal workers, cleaning service employees and all the essential workers that have ALWAYS kept our society running, have for far too long heard that their work is not valued enough for higher wages.

The Coronavirus has proven that society cannot function without these workers, hence the “essential” label. So while we applaud the healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses, it’s important to recognize and applaud the employees deemed to perform “unskilled-labor.”

It’s time we back them up when it comes to advocating for livable wages and conditions for them.

Minimum Wage is a Joke

The federal minimum wage, which was originally legislated to be a livable wage (for a family of four on one salary) has not been raised in decades. In fact, while considering inflation, it has stayed the same since the 80s, and we all know that living expenses are far higher now than back then.

And now when those who are struggling with unsustainable wages are on the front lines of a deadly pandemic we can truly recognize who keeps our lives and our society functioning.

From the front lines

Jobs so many looked down on like cashiers and bus drivers are now some of the only jobs keeping our lives functioning properly. And they’re not only paid so little, but they’re also dying for it.

Transit workers have been hard hit with nearly 100 and more deaths due to a lack of proper protection against the life taking virus. And many more have gotten dangerously ill.

One of the most famous videos circulating on the internet is the one of Detroit bus driver Jason Hargrove who frustratingly expressed how commuters continued to go out while visibly sick and coughing all around him. He died 11 days after posting the video from COVID-19.

Amazon workers also staged a walk-out due to a lack of protective gear amid pandemic concerns. Amazon later fired several employees critical of warehouse conditions.

Amid our boredom and complaints of pandemic struggles (which are still valid), we should consider the struggles of those that are making our precious comfort possible. And that’s not enough we need to fight for them the way they constantly fight for our own way of life.

There are two main ways you can do this.

The Every Day

Making their jobs easier now and in the future

This should be true now when it matters most but also in the future. Don’t go outside unless absolutely necessary. You’re keeping everyone safe by limiting contact, especially those who have no other choice but to go outside.

Don’t leave messes for service workers to clean. Don’t blow up at the cashier for long lines. Don’t yell at the bus driver for being late. Don’t insult a food service worker, ever really.

If you’re yelling or giving an essential worker a hard time, try doing their job yourself or shut the fuck up honestly.

The Big Picture

Support politicians who actually support the working class

Support policy and politicians who have a record and a plan to improve working-class lives. This doesn’t mean you have to wait for every presidential election to pick the lesser of two evils.

Go out and vote in local elections, for your council members, assembly members, judges, state legislators, federal representatives.

And if you did and you haven’t seen enough action, call your representatives. Tell them you care about the wellbeing, financial health, and safety net of working-class people. Better yet, if you don’t see the change you want, become the leader you want to look to.

Just like so many countless new representatives have done.

We don’t need to live in a society that treats its most essential workers as lesser deserving citizens. There is a better system for us all if we dare to try. Keep your fingers crossed in hopes that Congress approves the $25,000 hazard pay proposal.

Bigbbyspree drops an anthem for go-getters making “Bands On The Low”

While creatives are forced to stay home, working on their craft is all some of us can do right now. Bigbbyspree is doing just that.

With his latest Release “Bands On Low” following “Changed on Me,” Jariel Massa is steadily building up his repertoire of original tracks.

The Origins

“Bigbbyspree comes from my nickname growing up (Spree) and pays homage to ODB who I’m a huge fan of and inspired me to say whatever I’m feeling regardless as to who will understand or how they’d feel afterward.”

Born in Flatbush Brooklyn, Bigbbyspree grew up in a musical household and was originally inclined to produce rather than rap because of his shy nature. Like many creatives, his producing chops began in High School.

“A friend mistakenly introduced me to FL studio when I was in high school and I made beats for a few kids who rapped in school.”

The Inspiration Behind the Tracks

Struggling to find the right rappers to go over his beats he decided to push through his initial shyness and rap over them himself. BigbbsSpree’s biggest influences include Pharrell and Lil Uzi Vert, especially while songwriting. His production influences are largely Southside and Kanye.

“My production style is a cross between trap drums and sample flipping.”

He draws inspiration from several music genres including old school hip-hop, R&B, and Jazz to 2000s Pop Rock and Emo Rock.

“One day I’ll be sampling old Bobby Brown records and a few hours later I’ll end up sampling My Chemical Romance so I try to be as versatile as possible.”

His production is notable on Millie X Wong’s “These Days.”

Bigbbyspree has had features with fellow artists like savage28g on the track “Scenery.” He also has several new features coming out in the next few weeks.

Bigbbyspree just released “Bands On Low” on all platforms. The BK artist made the beat at 7 am on his way to work. The song is relatable for so many of us working jobs to make our art and creative works, grinding and hoping to make it.

“The record touches on all the relationships I had with people when I was in a certain space in life that I was trying to leave. It’s really about reaching a certain level in life, all the things that hold you back, and overcoming them while staying out of the way.”