Monthly Archives: February 2013

30 Under 30. Forbes counts F2FA founders among the brightest.

Isaac Boateng and Sandra Appiah are two to watch.

Isaac Boateng and Sandra Appiah are two to watch.

Damn, I’m good.

Why, you ask?

Well this week two young cats I mentor were honored with a remarkable distinction.

They were cited in an article in Forbes magazine.

You know Forbes?

The financial publication for business scions, industry titans and world leaders.

Yeah. That Forbes.

The article, titled, 30 Under 30: Africa’s Best Young Entrepreneurs, featured 30 of Africa’s most enterprising young entrepreneurs under the age of 30.

If you know Forbes, then you know that this is a pretty big accomplishment.

So you can imagine how my chest swelled with pride as I read the article.

Sandra Appiah, 23 and Isaac Boateng, 28, both Ghanaian nationals are the founders of Face2Face Africa (F2FA), a New York city-based new media company with a mandate to restore Africa’s image within the global community.

Sandra Appiah and Isaac Boateng are my mentees.

Mind you, they didn’t even tell me they were being cited.

Amazing and modest? I love these kids!

It just popped up Monday morning in one of my Google Reader feeds.

Now I’m not one to brag…

Yes I am.

But I have a knack for molding young talent.

Stop laughing.

I’m serious.

I’ve worked with and mentored two other young entrepreneurs, who have achieved similar distinctions.

So this was not a fluke.

It started with Corey Llewellyn.

“CL” as he’s know among his friends, was one of my first clients back in the day.

He walked into my office and asked me to help him start a company.

At the time, he couldn’t afford me, but I took him on anyway.

He was a smart kid, with great ideas and hella contacts.

And I could see that spark in him that told me he was going places.

Fast forward to 2008 and The Network Journal listed CL as a member of the 40 Under 40 class of 2008.

And the company, Digiwaxx, is a household name in the music industry.

He was 30 at the time.

Then there was Chris Anokute.

He too, had the spark of greatness.

Chris told me he was going to be a record executive the moment I met him.

When everyone was saying he should finish college, I told him to follow his dream.

I got him his first internship at a record label, and the rest is history.

In 2007, Billboard saw what I saw and listed Chris in their 30 Under 30 class.

He was just 24.

And the kid who started off as my intern, is now the Senior Vice President of A&R at Universal Records.

So it’s not without precedent that my current underlings are getting their props.

Forbes is just the tip of the iceberg.

Now, I can’t really take credit for the success that these cats have achieved.

Their vision for Face2Face Africa crystalized long before they encounter the entrepreneur whisperer.

That’s me.

All I did was help them cut to the chase and fast track the success (that they’ve already started to achieve).

In fact, my best work comes from working with cats who know what it is that they want to do.

Folks like this just need a reassuring word or objective advice to keep them on the right path.

And I’m quite adept at helping people see their untapped potential.

There I go bragging again.

Anywho, the point of this meandering post, is that Sandra Appiah and Isaac Boateng, are two young cats who’s names you’d better remember.

If, for no other reason, than I told you so…

Because I just did.

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Philly Loves J Dilla. Rich Medina, Mike Nice and Questlove pay tribute

Philly Love J Dilla

So a few weeks ago, my people wanted to throw a little party in Philly.

They were putting together a charity event to raise money for the Lupus Foundation.

The event was going to be a tribute to J Dilla, the legendary rapper and collaborator who succumbed to Lupus at 32.

What started off as a simple idea, quickly mushroomed into an over-capacity event.

In two short weeks we got Questlove, Mike Nyce and Rich Medina to play – together – at Johnny Brenda’s and pay homage to Dilla.

With those three sharing duties on the turntables, it’s not hard to understand why it was standing room only.

Literally.

Yameen Allworld played host, as Mike Nyce set the night off with classic headbangers.

Guru.

Tribe Called Quest.

Busta Rhymes.

Rich took over from there, digging deep in the crates.

Michael Jackson.

Common.

De La Soul.

And then it was Questlove’s turn.

Pure fire.

300+ people packed into Johnny Brenda’s in Philly on a Monday night.

Wall to wall bodies, floor to (second story) ceiling.

Accompanied by a steady stream of beats blasting through the speakers, Mark Hines of Visualeyz handled the visuals.

Straight eye candy for anyone gazing up at the two-story projections flanking the stage.

All night long, Visualeyz flipped images up on the screen, drawing partygoers deeper.

In addition to the digital audio and visual play, there were also fine artists on hand getting busy.

Ameerah K and Chuck Styles each created portraits of the night’s posthumous honoree.

Ameerah K paints a portrait of J Dilla live.

Ameerah K paints a portrait of J Dilla live.

Despite the short window to put everything together, the event went off without a hitch.

The night would not have been possible, without the generosity of a few sponsors.

Okay Player, The Couch Sessions, M3 Printing, i-g creative and Two.One.Five Mag were all (partly) to thank for the successful night.

So were the night’s hosts, GLProductions and FlyGirrl.

gl productions

Fly Girrl

And what would a J Dilla tribute been without Yameen Allworld emceeing?

yameen_allworld

I just happened to be in Philly and was able to get a fix.

Before I had to boogie and catch a train back to Montcleezy.

But I was able to capture a few snippets for your viewing (and listening) pleasure.

Questlove gets set to take control of the turntables from Rich Medina.

Questlove gets set to take control of the turntables from Rich Medina.

Anyway, if you want to see more snippets, you can check out the Visualeyz YouTube channel.

And if you want to see all the chatter from last night’s event, visit Twitter and search the hashtag #phillylovesdilla or #phillylovesjdilla.

Peace!

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Give it up. What brands can learn from Porn.

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I’ll admit it.

I’m a perv.

I possess prurient interests.

But that point notwithstanding, the following examination of the porn industry on mobile is purely from an analytic perspective.

You see, when I first got into apps and mobile, the porn industry was well established online.

The content was there, but it existed behind numerous barriers.

The most you would get was a snippet.

If you wanted the full experience, you had to pay for it.

The filters the porn industry employed online ensured that if you wanted more content, beyond snippets, you had to pay to play.

But that was back in the day.

Today, its a whole new ballgame.

On mobile, porn is practically given away.

Whole movies are capable of being streamed for hours, sans payment.

Sure there are a few mobile websites which still require that you pay, in order to access their content.

If you want premium content, like movies streaming in HD, then you’ve got to ante up.

But aside from that, you can watch oodles of pronographic content.

All for free.

And without having to sign up, log in with Facebook, or otherwise provide any information prior to getting your freak on.

So where’s the lesson for brands?

That IS the lesson.

Give your stuff away for free.

Give it away without any annoying pop ups asking for information.

And with no hard sell or (obvious) expectation that the user will buy anything.

What the porn industry did (and does) well, was create an appetite for what they offer.

And a seamless way to get it, once they’ve got you hooked.

They don’t bother highlighting price, features, sign up – anything beyond base utilitarian information – until you’ve gone deep enough inside the experience.

By that point, you’re hooked.

Want to see more MILFs? Sign up for free!

Women on women action more your speed? Enter your phone number for instant access!

Once you’re in their ecosystem, they then tailor their messaging to ensure that they convert.

And conversion isn’t measure purely by dollars and cents.

It’s often measured by the information they collect.

Or the cookies they leave in your browser.

Sure, they didn’t get you this visit.

But you’ll be back.

A perfect case study for brands truly interested in the level of engagement possible on mobile, is Pornhub.com

For porn aficionados, Pornhub is the gold standard.

The site loads quickly on mobile devices, whether you’re on wifi or 3G.

It automatically detects what device you’re using and renders content appropriately.

And Boom!

Without having to do anything else, they deliver you smack dab into content.

No sign up required.

No payment required.

No pop ups asking you to register to watch videos.

Just videos.

Click an image and you’re presented with a ‘play’ screen.

Tap the ‘play’ icon and viola!

Video playback.

And that’s it.

Watch your fill and move on.

And that’s what the porn industry gets that most brands don’t.

If your content is compelling enough, even if you give it away, they’ll be back.

The likelihood is greater that they’ll return if they initially got something free, than if they had to pay for it on the first go round.

Now the Pornhub model doesn’t necessarily apply to every brand.

If you’re not a ‘content’ brand in the media or entertainment space, this model may not be completely apropos.

But that doesn’t make it any less valid.

You’ve got to entice people to your brand, give them a reason to check you out and come back once they have.

Removing any barriers to access is the first order of business.

Full sites on a mobile device is a no-no.

So make sure that you’ve got a mobile site.

Making people register before they can explore your brand is equally distasteful (and results in high bounce rates).

Avoid making folks fill out any forms or provide you with any information until they decide that they want to.

Save the hard sell.

They’re already on your site, so it stands to reason that there is something about your brand they’re interested in.

Don’t blow it by coming on all hard and heavy.

When they’re ready to buy whatever it is you’re trying to sell, they will.

Finally, make it easy to get around.

Menus should be easy to find and functional.

Icons should be universal and intuitive.

Navigation buttons should be easily depressed, even by fat fingers.

Remember, you want users to engage your brand.

Not be turned away at first blush.

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Filed under branding, digital advocacy, technology

Free Angela hits theaters April 5!

I’ve been talking Free Angela for a little over a year now.

Like an annoying gnat, I’ve been buzzing in your ears about this great documentary by Shola Lynch.

Well it’s officially official.

Free Angela will be in theaters April 5th.

And now the fun begins!

I’ve been trying to convince Shola to do a soundtrack and mixtape for over a year.

And CodeBlack is on board.

I’m thinking Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Jill Scott, Pharoahe Monch, Sharon & The Dap Kings.

Here’s a teaser of what we’ve been brewing up in the lab.

Free Angela Soundtrack Rough from Stephen Chukumba on Vimeo.

Tell me what you think.

Are you feeling it?

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Filed under branding, movies, music

Morgan for Harlem. Third time’s a charm.

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The politico bug has bitten me again.

This time its a local race.

But the candidate is the same.

Vince Morgan.

If you’re not in the know, then you’re unaware that I’ve been the Digital Czar for Vince Morgan’s previous congressional campaigns.

Vince Morgan is a former banker turned political aspirant, who has staked his claim on the revitalization of Harlem.

Although unsuccessful in his two previous bids to dethrone Charlie Rangel, he remains committed to building a better Harlem.

In fact, his campaign slogan “Building Harlem Together” speaks to this commitment.

For over a year, he has been waging a one-man campaign to force Columbia University to live up to it’s obligation to confer over $2 billion in jobs, money and benefits to residents of Harlem.

This obligation stems from a Community Benefits Agreement Columbia (CBA) signed in 2009.

In exchange for the right to build on 17 acres of land acquired through (a questionable) imminent domain process, Columbia agreed to a number of commitments.

These commitments were meant to redress the grievances of the community to Columbia’s expansion in Harlem.

And while the current city council member, Inez Dickens, is effectively sitting on her hands, and
Columbia reneges on these commitments, Vince Morgan is going to bat for Harlem.

Since he began his crusade, there has been an investigation into allegations of self-dealing and conflict of interest with the West Harlem Development Corporation (the organization charged with oversight of the CBA).

Recently, his efforts have forced Columbia to turn over records to demonstrate that they’ve met MWBE hiring goals, after he exposed the fact that Columbia shut out minority architects from participating in the redevelopment project.

While current elected officials sit idly by, during one of the worst recessions most of us have ever witnessed, Vince Morgan has been activitely pushing to make Columbia make good on it’s contractual obligations.

No longer content to let the powers that be further shirk their responsibilities, he’s (once again) throwing his hat into the ring.

On Monday, he launched his campaign for City Council, with a video highlighting this issue.

Quietly, he has relaunched his website and revamped all his social media profiles.

On February 28, 2013, he is hosting his first fundraiser at the Les Ambassades on Lenox Avenue.

Slowly but surely, he’s building a groundswell.

His campaign team, Team Morgan, is staffed by a bunch of veterans, who know what it takes to get him elected.

And as everyone knows, its a numbers game.

The strategy is simple: by election day, make sure that folks who enter the voting booth are more familiar with Vince Morgan’s name, than that of any other candidate (incumbent and newcomer alike).

And while the goal is the same: get Vince elected, this time, it feels different.

My desires are not altogether altruistic.

I would (selfishly) like the bragging rights of getting someone elected.

But, this time it just feels right.

Anyway, come election day, we’ll see whether my intuition served me well.

Or whether it was just wishful thinking.

But as they say, the third times a charm!

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Ghostface Killa? No. Action Bronson. White boys can rap.

Action_Bronson_Strictly_4_My_Jeeps

A few months ago, I heard this banging song.

It was called Strictly 4 My Jeeps.

And I knew, I just knew it was a song by Ghostface Killah of Wu Tang.

The voice was so distinctive, that I took for granted that it was him.

Then I heard the name Action Bronson.

And I thought, “Danm, Ghost got another alias?”

Ghostface Killah. Tony Starks. Pretty Toney. Wallabee Kingpin.

Now Action Bronson.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that Action Bronson wasn’t Ghostface.

Imagine my even greater surprise when I actually saw Action Bronson.

And he was white!

Now, I’m not saying that white boys can’t rap.

Yes. I am.

But that’s besides the point.

Because there are a few white boys that really can rap.

The Beastie Boys.

Eminem.

Mac Miller.

But they are so few and far in between that they’re almost non-existent.

Or extremely rare.

Like the dodo.

I’m just saying.

For the most part, you know when you’ve got a white boy rapper.

There is a twang in their voice.

That’s so…un-urban.

Or their lyrics are so disturbing.

That you definitely know that it’s not a bruh-man on the mike.

Think Stan.

But Action Bronson had me completely twisted.

Because he was spitting pure fire.

And sounded like authentic Wu.

Straight from Shaolin.

All I know is this cat is one to watch.

If you’re not up on Action Bronson, I suggest you get yourself acclimated.

Here is Strictly 4 My Jeeps for your listening pleasure:

And this is for your eyeballs:

You can thank me later.

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Filed under music

Get money the 419 way!

419 my money went to nigeria and all I got was this lousy t-shirt

Every so often, I get an email that genuinely makes me laugh.

Sometimes, they’re the “I just saw an embarrassing picture of you on Twitter! You should check it out” type.

Or the “Easy opportunity! Work from home and earn lots of money!” kind.

Maybe even the “The secret to get any woman to love you!” style.

You know to never open them up.

If you do, you run the risk of infecting your computer with some virus.

That steals all your contacts and republishes the foolishness to your network.

Generally, my spam filters catch them.

But every once in a while one of these wretched emails bypass my spam folder and find their way into gen pop.

Today, one such evader was in my inbox.

It was sent by a “David Ellis”.

I know a “Danny Ellis” and countless Davids.

But no David Ellis.

Still, nothing about the email initially threw me off.

Then, I noted the subject of the email.

“OPEN ATTACH FILE AND FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS FOR YOUR PAYMENT”

In all caps, just like that.

Open attach file, huh?

And then, this most impassioned and persuasive letter:

OPEN ATTACH FILE AND FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS FOR YOUR PAYMENT$4 million?

Just waiting in a trunk for me?

Well hop to it!

If the Head of Inspections Unit United Nations Inspection Agency tells me that, in his estimation, a box with the dimensions W61xH156xD73 (cm) and an effective capacity of 680L contains $4 million, who am I to quibble?

So what if there’s no actual salutation.

I’m often referred to as “Dear”.

Who cares if the email is rife with improper capitalization, punctuation and misspellings.

We can’t all be Rhodes scholars.

It’s immaterial that the Head of Inspections is seeking a bribe in the performance of his duties.

Who couldn’t use a little help in these trying times?

Needless to say, I’ve sent the information he’s requested.

I can’t keep my package waiting in unclaimed consignments at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, now can I?

The reason emails like this make me laugh, is that they are patently unbelievable.

But somehow (lots of greedy) folks have been duped into parting with their cash.

I first heard about scams like this on a flight back from Nigeria in 1997.

I was reading an in-flight mag about folks falling victim to 419 scams.

419 is the police code for confidence scams in Nigeria.

Apparently, some (rich) dude fell victim to a 419-er (one who practices 419ing), who convinced him that if he helped him to clean and transfer a large sum of money from Nigeria to Texas, he would pay a handsome commission.

The money (about $3 million USD) was covered in black oil and needed to be cleaned in order to be released.

All he had to do was to wire $150,000 to an escrow account, which would be held temporarily as collateral.

Another sum, approximately $20,000 would be used to clean the oil from the stash o’ cash.

Once cleaned, $300,000 would be wired into the Texan’s account, along with his $150,000 deposit, and $20,000 cleaning fee.

He sent the money as requested.

And dude ended up losing that $170,000.

Can you believe there was never any dirty money?

Needless to say, a fool and his money are soon parted.

The story went on to describe the countless gullible fools who had been taken in by similar shenanigans.

And I laugh out loud (literally), thinking about that poor ole Texan, whenever I see one of these emails.

What gets me is that it’s 2013, and these emails are still circulating.

Are folks still falling for the okey-doke?

I really hope not.

But if they are, I’ve got a stash of cash which needs cleaning…

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Jailbreak is here! Jailbreak is here!

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After several long months of waiting, there is finally a Jailbreak for iOS 6.

I know most of you are like “so effing what?”

But for the geek technorati, this Jailbreak is a godsend.

In the past, I went through all kinds of conniptions to get my iOS devices jailbroken.

When word of a new jailbreak hit, it was on!

I’d head uptown, snaking my way through side streets and back alleys.

Special knock.

Password.

Think Neo getting a knock on his door in The Matrix.

A few hours of tinkering, backing up, installing and configuring and…Viola!

Jailbroken devices.

And free apps as far as the eye can see.

But that was before Hackulous and the Installous store were unceremoniously shuttered.

What?!

You didn’t know that Installous, the infamous pirate app store, shut down earlier this year?

Well it did.

Leaving many Jailbreak aficionados, like myself, in the dark about the future.

And with no way of getting our grubby hands on cracked and app store rejects.

For months we’ve been wandering an iOS wasteland, waiting for a Jailbreak messiah.

And we’ve been rewarded for our faith and patience.

Enter Evasion.

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The Evasion jailbreak tool picks up where Installous left off.

For one, it makes jail breaking your phone a cinch.

I’ve never personally jailbroken my own phone.

Moreover, I never dreamed that I’d be able to jailbreak my own device in a matter of minutes.

It was so simple, that I found myself shell shocked.

I haven’t even visited Cydia to cop any new apps.

Now that’s not to say that I won’t.

I just haven’t yet.

I think the ease with which I was able to bypass Apple’s draconian efforts to bar third party app developers, dulled it’s appeal.

What good is being bad if everyone can do it?

A jailbroken device was a sign of anarchy.

But you’re not an anarchist if your actions are….ordinary.

In any instance, I’m just happy I’ve (once again) wrested control of my device from Apple.

And can trick my iPhone 5 out the way I want.

If you’re interested in joining the 7 million of us who have already tasted freedom, check out Redmondpie.com’s simple instructions for getting your jailbreak on.

Disclaimerm: Jailbreaking allows you to access apps and tools which have not been expressly blessed by Apple (=passed Apple’s vigorous muster). So whenever you install apps onto a jailbroken device, know that you run the risk of fucking some shit up.

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Filed under apps, iPad, iPhone, mobile

i-Blason Part II: Booooo!

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A week or so ago, I wrote a not so glowing review of the i-Blason Power Slider Rechargeable Battery Case for the iPhone 5.

I basically said that it was a piece of crap.

I’ve blasted other brands before and never heard a peep.

So you can imagine my surprise when someone from i-Blason responded.

Not only did they hit me up, but they were genuinely helpful.

Colin, from i-Blason, offered to exchange my case with another.

Based on his assessment of my situation, he surmised that I had a bum motherboard.

After a few back and forth emails, I received my new case.

Kudos to i-Blason for superb customer service.

I promptly switched out my case, hooked it up to my 8 pin connector and was set to go.

With my new case, I felt confident that I would be able to rock all day with a full charge and my backup.

Needless to say, I was perturbed to see my iPhone at 50% less than an hour later.

I hadn’t thought I had used the phone to that extent.

In fact, I was confident I hadn’t used it at all.

But hey, I had my new handy dandy charging case, so no worries.

At 10% battery, I turned on the i-Blason case hoping to get right.

But nooooooooo!

Once again, I was sorely disappointed.

Before I had anything close to a full charge, there was no more juice.

And the case was hot.

I couldn’t accept that this replacement case was worse than the original.

So I gave it another shot.

Charged my phone (separately).

Charged my case (separately).

Plopped my fully charged phone into my fully charged case.

An hour later, I’ve got a hot case in my pocket.

Why is this stupid thing hot?

Why is my battery on my phone at 50%?

Is this stupid case draining my battery?

I promptly decoupled my precious iPhone from this obviously defective piece of crap.

I turned to the interweb to see if I was alone.

Alas, I was not.

Review after review on sites like Amazon gave the i-Blason poor marks.

Wish I read them sooner.

At this juncture, I can only say, unequivocally, that the i-Blason iPhone 5 charger case is not to be trusted.

If you’re in the market, avoid these overpriced i-Blason products like the plague.

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Filed under iPhone, opinion, technology