YZ was New Jersey’s rap ambassador years before anyone else came on the scene. He’s influenced everything in rap from business to its sound. He deserves his flowers.

Rap unlike other genres puts a premium on youth, discarding anything and anyone who doesn’t fit into what’s booming then. There are a few older rap figures who’ve felt slighted by the culture, taking to various platforms and sites to air their grievances. There are others though who instead take every chance they can to give props to the sound of the youth, choosing not to bring attention to their accomplishments despite all they’ve done. YZ would be in the latter group.

By the age of twenty-five, YZ, born Anthony Hill, accomplished everything a musician could, launching a successful…

The influx of movies being made on famous revolutionaries is feeling like a way for Hollywood to dilute their impact.

Like many people, I was too excited when I saw that Ryan Coogler was producing a film on Fred Hampton and the FBI spy William O Neal, who helped Cointel Pro assassinate him in December 1969. The trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah had me amped, and the soundtrack had me excited too, especially when I saw that Nipsey Hussle and Jay-Z had a song together. But when I actually got to the movie and heard the song, I realized that something was off. It felt good to see Fred acknowledged, but the victory felt hollow. Like we won…

Kevin Samuels is getting a lot of heat for his comments, but his thoughts on male and female dynamics are insightful.

Image consultant Kevin Samuels has gotten a lot of smoke for his relationship advice ever since his You’re Average at Best video hit social media a while back. Almost overnight, men and women responded to the display with mixed feelings as women on social condemned him for telling black women they needed to change themselves. Normally, I’d put on my best Derrick Jaxn impression and condemn him too, but I can’t. Samuel’s criticism doesn’t take away from the valuable advice that he gives to both sexes. On the other side of his delivery is truth and honesty, like the kind…

I Believe in Pan Africanism, But I Can Admit I Struggle With Seeing Non Black Americans Telling Our Stories

Photo by Josh Hild from Pexels

If he has a Pan-Africanist spirit, I have no problem.But if he’s just a black British coming over here making some money, playing black heroes, I have a problem.” Dr. Umar Johnson

Normally, I’d avoid opening with a quote by someone as universally problematic as Dr. Umar Johnson, but his video triggered this entire article. During one of his streams of consciousness, Dr Umar spoke about his thoughts on the new film, Judas and the Black Messiah, and offered mainly praise for the cinematography and acting ability of the cast. …

In 1997, Michael Lewis was convicted of murder and sentenced to life. Decades later, the impact of his imprisonment still exists.

Wise people have made powerful statements about how we reflect on our mistakes only after we have committed them. We take for granted how caught up we can be in the times. In the 1990s, violence was rising due to crack, and many politicians saw this as a chance to advance. President Bill Clinton’s 1994 Crime Bill fought crime with mass incarceration. Although we give him grief for it, black people too conformed to the ideas of our kids being super-predators. Politicians and authors alike embraced the idea of black males being inherently violent. Names like Robert “Yummy” Sandifer became…

The Gym Class Heroes broke the sound years before and haven’t received enough credit for it.

Rap has memorable years like 1994 and 1998. But what came out of that time period from 2005 to 2009 was a rise in rap and rock-infused music. B.O.B., Kid Cudi, and groups like the Gym Class Heroes popularized the sound. Gym Class Heroes’ music drew from the sounds of groups like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Blink-182. Drawing on the rock influence, they fused it with the sound of groups like Fall Out Boy to help the culture advance. Travie McCoy spoke about the group’s impact in a 2011 interview with the Chicago Tribune, saying, “I feel Gym…

What do you do when you find yourself unable to fit into a set box academically and socially?

Photo by Collis from Pexels

In a time where what you believe determines your career, it becomes important to know how to think or how to hide what you think. Sociologists and academics from Jonathan Haidt and Jordan Peterson to social critics like Thomas Chatterton Williams and Coleman Hughes have described the intellectual chasm we are. Some of us struggle collectively to justify our existences and inherent privileges. No longer can we ignore concepts like intersectionality because it’s no longer safe to. Where do you go when you are seeking haven? What do you do when you insist on having a black nationalist mindset and…

The visionary who created the blueprint for educating black children remains one of its loudest and sharpest voices.

Since America’s inception, black people have fought for the fundamental rights afforded to all its citizens, including the right to be educated, and were not afraid to do it on their own terms. Black teachers initially created schools for their people after the Civil War. They worked to increase the capacity of other teachers to better serve the race. Then the Supreme Court desegregated schools with the historic 1954 Brown v Board of Education case. Black teachers like Horace Tate helped integrate the school system, undoubtedly seeing this as an opportunity for equity.

Today, we still see the achievement gap’s…

I’m not mad at black men being pardoned. I would have loved for Mumia to get out though.

Photo Courtesy of Philadelphia Inquirer

Today is a joyous day in the eyes of most Americans. Notice I said most, not all. For most, today is the first day of America’s new relationship with a seemingly stable and efficient leader. I can see how most are happy.

To others who aren’t followers of white nationalist gangs and who aren’t crumping in front of police though, today is yet another day in the saga of being black in America. Nothing to raise hell over or shout praises for.

But I admit seeing 45 pardoning a slew of famous black celebrities like Kwame Kilpatrick, Lil Wayne, Kodak…

I’m old enough now to see them and me for who we really are.

Photo by Gordon Cowie on Unsplash

All influence is immoral — immoral from the scientific point of view.’


‘Because to influence a person is to give him one’s own soul.” Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

If this year has shown us anything, it has shown us two things which are we spend entirely too much time focusing on the affairs of people with money and status, and also that we give them too much credit for being spokespeople for their audience. From Desi Banks to Kevin Hart, we see over and over the danger of viewing people as more than what they are…

Solomon Hillfleet

Avid reader, writer. Man of Alpha. Educator. Coach. Wisdom of Solomon. Follow me @samuelhwright.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store