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  • God's Plan (Official Music Video)

    I don't know about you, but my allergies were certainly acting up in the midst of watching Drake's music video for his latest record breaking single, "God's Plan."

    Directed by Director X's protégé Karena Evans, the clip finds the 6 God in The Sunshine State blessing families, deserving students and strangers alike with a wad of cold cash or splendid shopping sprees.  Furthermore, NFL megastar Antonio Brown joins Aubrey (around the 2:21 mark) to splurge at Saks Fith Avenue with a housekeeper!

    Check out the visual below:

    P.S  If you didn't read my Original Story on my buddy and AB's personal health consultant Ed Choppo, click here.

  • Kareem's Pick: Kali Uchis

    Kali Uchis is a 23-year-old songstress from the beautiful country of Colombia.  Her single “After the Storm,” featuring Tyler, The Creator and Bootsy Collins is a funky jam with a positive message. 

    The song talks about the choice to stay strong during tough times. Reminding the listener to persist through stormy situations in order to reap the lessons learned. Its insane visual is directed by Nadia Lee Cohen, while Kali herself serves as creative director.

    Check out the colorful clip below!

    Written by: Kareem Hilaire

  • Raf Simons x Adidas Adilettes

    I just f#cked yo chick in some Raf flip flops!”  Aw man, it feels so good to be back.  I deeply apologize for the lack of posts, but your boy had to level up and handle some business.  Just know that everything I do is made with love and your enjoyment in mind.  In any case, let’s get back to the topic at hand: celebrated fashion designer Raf Simons and Adidas have teamed up to present a brand new rendition of the design company’s Adilette slides.

     The sandals, known as the "checkerboard pack," are offered in three distinct colorways: "Granite", "Super Lemon" and "Dark Brown."  Priced at $130, every pair feature a seemingly comfy rubber branded footbed and an asymmetrical checkerboard pattern on the midfoot strap.  I can totally see DJ Khaled riding a Jet Ski with these joints on if he ever decides to take a break from wearing his very own chancletas.

    Cop your pair here.

  • Ed Choppo

    It’s truly a blessing to meet someone who instantly comprehends your vibe.  This was precisely the case for Eddie Omari-Rivers and I.  Our distinguished mutual friend, Amir Almaimani, introduced us to each other and ever since our very first encounter, we’ve been communicating like long lost brothers.

    Eddie, better known as “Ed Choppo,” is a humble yet passionate soul with many talents.  Not only is he an excellent cook—thanks to his grandmother who opened up the very first African cuisine in New York—and athlete, Choppo is also a New York City-based Health Consultant whose clientele consists of some of the wealthiest people on the planet!

    Despite his stellar success, the self-made 29-year-old remains hungry and focused on inspiring whomever he comes across.   I recently sat down with the South Bronx native to discuss his humble beginnings in the concrete jungle, adoration for cooking, fitness regimen, and motivation behind his unremitting work ethic.  Check out our in-depth conversation below:

    FRENDY: Ed, thanks for having me over so we could chop it up for a bit.  I know you’re an extremely busy guy.

    ED: F#ck all that busy sh*t! You make time for whatever you want to make time for.

    FRENDY: Exactly!  The very first time we caught up you whipped up an exceptional meal.  I know your beloved grandmother taught you how to cook and all, but how long did it actually take to get this good?

    ED:  I can’t really put a time period on it.  I could just tell you that I cook, cook, cook—everyday I try to spice it up. It’s trial and error.

    FRENDY: Do you remember the first dish you prepared?

    ED: Yeah, I’m actually known for this, all my college mates know me for it.  It’s baked barbeque chicken with potatoes and carrots—the chicken falls off the f#ckin’ bone.  That’s what we survived on in college ‘cause in Vermont every f#ckin’ restaurant closes at around 8pm. You have a bunch of inner city kids who are trying to eat good, the only thing we had were tater tots and Denny’s…

    FRENDY: You weren’t messing with that…

    ED: Nah.  Sh*t ain’t no food man *Laughs*.

    FRENDY: So you were kind of forced to cook? I mean, you love doing it, I’m sure it wasn’t a burden.

    ED: I love cooking, but I had no choice. When you have no choice, you learn to adapt quick.

    FRENDY: Would you say that was the moment you took cooking seriously? 

    ED: I started taking it seriously while in college, but not when I was cooking in my dorm room. I really took it up a notch during my sophomore year when I started taking a nutrition course where I learned about food groups and its effect on the body.  Once I implemented that in my cooking, that was when I was mind blown.  I guess that’s when I was addicted to it.

    FRENDY: From then on, it just took over your life…

    ED: I used to cook like three times a week at school.  It was also a hustle—I was just cooking for my basketball homies.  I would bake the chicken for like six hours at 275 degrees; the aroma would just spread throughout the whole building I was staying in. So one day, one of my homies suggested that I should charge $5 a plate.  I started doing it and made a killing!

    FRENDY: That’s awesome. It’s all about cultivating good energy, which is one of the main reasons you started cooking right?

    ED: I always found that food and sports are two mechanisms that bring people together—you never see people argue or fuss while they’re having a great meal.  You do see the joy that people get.  If you’re the person that cooks the food, you see it in a person after they eat. That’s a priceless feeling.

    FRENDY: I noticed that you didn’t make yourself a plate after you served me that bomb meal.  Do you normally not eat with your guests?

    ED: Yeah, I don’t. Some people hate me for it, but it’s my grandmother’s tradition.  I’ve cooked for the masses and they would all want me to eat with them. I tell ‘em go to hell * Laughs *.

    FRENDY:  We’ll get back to the food in a minute—let’s talk about your origin. I’ve lived in New York for about 20 some odd years and only have been to the Bronx at most 2 times. It seems so distant to me *Laughs *. How’d you like living there?

    ED: I love it man—I’m Southside certified. I was born in the Bronx…you see the grin on my face…I love the Bronx.  I’m from the Southside—I’m from the heart of it.  The Bronx is a city in itself with all different races interacting with each other.

    FRENDY: What was your childhood like? Were you running around with the “hood” kids, or were you disciplined enough not to?

    ED: I was always disciplined in the way I was raised, but as my grandmother always said, I was always a little fearless and stubborn-hearted.  So, I know what is right from wrong, but I’m going to do whatever I need to do at a particular moment.  As a kid I was always into sports, my dad was never around that much.  He left when I was two and I didn’t meet him until I was 26 or so.

    I spent most of my childhood with my grandmother.  My mom was always going to nursing school, so I grew up thinking my granny was my mom. When I was sent to Africa at the age of six she came along with me. I always called her “momma.”

    FRENDY: Why were you sent to Africa at the age of six?

    ED: It’s a cultural thing, you know. My mom side of the family wanted to see me—I had to go back there to do some ritual sh*t.  That’s a story for another day.  My mom sent me to Ghana for like four years. Then, my daddy side of the family wanted to see me so I went to Ethiopia for another four years. I came back to the states for 8th grade, high school and college.

    FRENDY: Oh, so most of your childhood was spent in Africa?

    ED: Yeah, that’s why I see the world the way that I do.  As much as living in Africa impacted me, the Bronx did that same thing but in a different magnitude.

    FRENDY: I think that’s why you’re so balanced as an individual. If someone met you for the very first time he/she would think you’re an absolute menace appearance wise, when in reality you’re extremely grounded and introspective.

    ED: That’s my whole approach. Growing up in the Bronx made me like that.  I lost a lot of people I loved at a young age to nonsense violence.  When I came back to the Bronx, all my homies were grown. I remember my friend “Fresh,” he went from being a skinny bull who always kept getting picked on to a person who never left his house without a gun.

    FRENDY: Do you think that would have been you as well if you stayed in the BX?

    ED: Nah.  My uncle was the head of a gang and I always told him as a kid that the gangbanging sh*t is stupid.  He asked me why and I said if I have a problem with someone it’s because I have a problem with them, not because so and so I know that is in the same set as me have a problem with them.  He later explained to me that being in a gang isn’t really like that—people that do that are really f#cking up the game.  He said it’s all about representing your set, taking care of the community.

    FRENDY: It’s like a family…

    ED: Yeah. Back then the police used to come in the neighborhoods and f#ck up the community and do whatever they wanted. So the gang members were like the gatekeepers, you dig?  But now it turned to some other dumb sh*t.  I’m always going to do what I want to do. 

    See there’s one thing I learned about the hood—when you respect yourself and stand up for what you believe in, even the OGs salute you.  I tell them you do that gangbanging sh*t, that ain’t me.  I ain’t about that life. 

    FRENDY: As long as you remain true to yourself, it doesn’t matter if you’re a gangster or not…

    ED: Even the gangsters are going to salute you.

    FRENDY: Right.

    ED: See, I love the Bronx because I met all types of people.  If I was to go to the South Bronx with you right now, you’ll be shocked on how many people I know. I learned so much from them. The biggest trappers etc. would tell me “yo youngin’ keep hoopin’, f#ck this sh*t.  This is no way of life.” 

    Every real drug dealer I’ve ever met, never tried to tell a n*gga from the hood to do what they do. I’m sure if you go to a couple of hoods in America you’ll find some kids that will tell you the same sh*t.   Hearing all of this at such a young age made me move a bit different.  I was raised and schooled by some real OGs, you know?

    FRENDY: So when you returned to the Bronx, which school did you attend?

    ED: I went to Paul Robeson middle school, I.S 183.  Initially I wanted to go to 162, but they wouldn’t put me there because all my homies went to the school. We were all known for being troublemakers at that time.   Just a bunch of wasted youth man, we didn’t know any better.

    FRENDY: Although you were a rowdy kid, you still knew what was right from wrong obviously…

    ED: Yeah, I always stood up for what I believed in.  I wasn’t the type to condone dumb shit, like If I wasn’t going to do it I won’t influence my n*gga to do it.  I think that’s part of the reason why I was so protected growing up, even when my uncle when to Jail.  He actually just came home after a 20-year bid. 

    FRENDY: How were you doing in school? What were your grades looking like?

    ED: The American school system is funny to me.  I don’t know if it’s because of the time I spent in Africa or not.  When I was in Ghana under the British education system, it was better. When I came back to the states, I was put in grade six because of my age.  I was there for about a month. Then the school placed me in grade eight.

    FRENDY: Why did that happen?

    ED: Because I was too advanced for that sh*t—the American education system is easy in a way because they test us on memory and less on wisdom and intelligence.  I’m a visual person so it’s really easy for me to memorize something. I never really took school serious, but I did have the second highest SAT score in my HS.

    FRENDY: Which HS was that?

    ED:   This is Life Science Secondary High School on the Upper East Side.  I think they changed it to a charter school now.  My grandmother taught me a lot back in Africa.  I was actually homeschooled by her—she was teaching me about Selassie, Malcolm and Marcus Garvey.

    FRENDY: It was beyond food with her…

    ED: Yeah—my grandmother is a G, man.

    FRENDY: When you were living in Ghana, your mother wasn’t around?

    ED:  Nah, she was back in New York City going to nursing school.

    FRENDY: How about your dad?

    ED: Nah, he left when I was real young. We never really kept in touch until I was around 26.  I have my mother’s heart, but the majority of my personality is my dad—he’s an arrogant piece of shit. I’m not proud of it...I have his blood in me.  I’m trying to balance everything out. I’ll figure it out one day.

    FRENDY: What was the reason behind your mom’s move to America?

    ED: She came here for school. My grandmother had a store on 225th and White Plains road called “African Queen.” It might still be there, who knows.  She was importing traditional African goods to the states that people needed. Stuff like fufu, peanuts and all the other traditional essentials of North African cuisine.

    Ghana is known for two things: gold and cocoa.  Cocoa you can make chocolate out of it—my family own plenty farms of it. When it turns yellow, you cut it and eat it fresh.  It’s one of the best fruits you can ever f#cking eat.  She noticed in the neighborhood that there was a bunch of Jamaicans, and they loved bleaching their skin.  Skin bleaching is very big in the West Indian islands—look at Vybz Kartel.  So there’s a huge market for that. My grandmother would take one of the key supplements in bleaching, which is cocoa.  The dried shell of the cocoa is smashed up to produce an essential oil to help the skin bleach naturally.  She would mix that with other chemicals, and that would be the moneymaker.   She used all of the money to open a restaurant.  She had an apartment right above the CBS studios on 50 something street for years before she passed.

    FRENDY: When we spoke for the first time, you mentioned that you became homeless for a while.  How did that end up happening?

    ED: It’s because granny died when I was 15. My granny was the head of the household. She had a will so she shared all of her wealth amongst her many kids and sisters’ kids. Although wealth was spread out, family members were still fighting to get a piece of the pie. The restaurant and the apartment in the Bronx was supposed to go to my mom, but someone in the family, who’s known for using witchcraft (most people in the Western world call it voodoo) wanted it. So my mom gave that sh*t up. My mom avoids confrontation at all cost. She’s a God-fearing woman.

    FRENDY: So I guess when that happened your mom didn’t have anything?

    ED: She was counting on the love of her life, which is my dad.   My dad had this two-bedroom condo on 455 Jackson Ave. in the Bronx. That was when it was dirt poor over there. We stayed there for a bit until we got kicked out.  That was when my mom had a year or two left in nursing school.  My mom and dad were beefing during that time so he sold the apartment. We didn’t have anywhere else to go.

    FRENDY: How long were you guys homeless?

    ED: For two years.

    FRENDY: Where were y’all staying?

    ED: Churches, restaurants, bathrooms, buses, trains.  I hated shelters. During those times I never lost faith, but I was always questioning it.

    FRENDY: Were you able to go to schools during that time?

    ED: Yeah, I went to school everyday with a smile on my f#ckin’ face.  I used to take showers with restaurant soup bowls and napkins and sh*t. So I used to go to school and stay after school to shoot hoops. 

    FRENDY: Wow, so even during all of your trials and tribulations, you still kept a smile in your face…

    ED:   I had to—I didn’t have a choice. My momma assured me that the good Lord was putting us through this for greater things. Sometimes I believed it and sometimes I questioned it.  It’s hard to believe that sh*t when you haven’t eating in 3 days and only been drinking Tropical Fantasy sodas—I used to drink four of those sh*ts a day. I was charged up!

    FRENDY: Were you playing sports while in school?

    ED: Yeah, yeah I was playing HS basketball and soccer.

    FRENDY: Would you say that playing sports was an escape for you?

    ED: Yeah, basketball is definitely an escape for me. I love basketball because it allowed me to get rid of some pain. Shooting hoops gave me a relieving feeling.

    FRENDY: There wasn’t any sort of tuition to pay for school?

    ED: Nah.

    FRENDY: Oh, that’s really good. Do you consider the homeless stage of of your life as fuel that made you focus on things like sports etc.?

    ED: Nah, if I said that I would be lying. Because even when I was playing sports I was never focused.  While I’m at practice, I would wonder where I would sleep at night.  Although playing sports was an outlet for me, I was never fully able to concentrate or focus as much as I wanted to.  I gave up soccer after my freshman year.

    FRENDY: Why did you give it up?

    ED: Because there was too many f#ckin’ rules.   The rules weren’t matching up, or the demands of the coach.

    FRENDY: What’s one rule that you truly detested?

    ED: Showing up to practice an hour early.

    FRENDY: So, in basketball you didn’t have to do that?

    ED: No.  As long as you were on time for practice, there was no problem.

    FRENDY: So soccer was too structured for you?

    ED: I wouldn’t say that. It was the winter months and I didn’t feel like staying in the cold an hour early when the coaches would show up for 10 minutes.  So why the f#ck would I be there an hour early…

    FRENDY: * Laughs * so you straight up stopped going…

    ED: Yeah—I also stopped playing because I was often compared to my dad a lot.  He was a big soccer player back home.  My approach to sports was way different from my dad’s.

    FRENDY: That’s pretty funny. I remember you telling me that you played college sports.  Which college did you attend?

    ED: I went to the University of Vermont.

    FRENDY: Did you get a scholarship to play ball there or what?

    ED: Yeah, it was soccer first then I started fucking around…

    FRENDY: Wait a minute, even when you quit playing soccer during your freshman yeah in HS you still got a scholarship?

    ED: Yeah…I would go to like camps in this place called Sports Science at Delaware State University. To this day I love soccer.

    FRENDY: What was so different between playing soccer in HS and camp?

    ED: I learned discipline in sports at camp and how to really approach it. 

    FRENDY: What made it more enjoyable than playing soccer at school?

    ED: It was challenging. The camp was called called “Sports Challenge.”  The sports part is what really gets the kids involved, but the challenge part, most of us weren’t prepared for it.   If you stuck with it, you’ll come out a little different.

    FRENDY:  Was UVM your first college of choice to attend?

    ED: Nah.  I had Norfolk State, Virginia Commonwealth, and NYU.

    FRENDY: They all wanted to recruit you for specifically for basketball or soccer?

    ED: Both.  I originally wanted to go to NYU because of their academics, but as a youth I used to party there a lot.   So I know if I went to school there I wouldn’t be able to focus—I also needed a break from the city.

    FRENDY:   What was your first impression of Vermont?

    ED:  It was good!  It was the first time I saw people leave their apartment doors wide open to drop their garbage out. It was a breath of fresh air and it changed my perspective—I would say Vermont made me a better person.

    FRENDY: What compelled you to go to the University of Vermont and not any of those other schools you named?

    ED: I knew some of the coaches from there; I met them at a camp up in Syracuse when I was 16.

    FRENDY: Did you play sports during all four years of college?

    ED: I played one year of soccer and basketball and then took a break. 

    FRENDY: Why did you take a break?

    ED: It was too political. Playing sports on a collegiate level is too political, that’s when I knew it was more for business than anything else.   Also, at the time I was going through a lot of sh*t—I lost my grandmother, I broke my left ankle. They wanted me to have surgery on it, but lucky for me I formed this very beautiful bond with UVM’s head athletic trainer and former Olympian Mike Kampler.  Mike is definitely the reason why I train now.  He helped me understand what training is all about.

    FRENDY: Did Mike prevent you from having the surgery?

    ED:   I was told by the doctors at UVM that surgery was my only option, but I said f#ck that, they’re just trying to get a n*gga back in the field as soon as possible—we were having a great year at the time.  They wanted to drill and put screws in my leg, I didn’t want to do that.  Mike told me that I didn’t need surgery.   He told me that it’s not good at all to have screws in your ankle.  You remember Grant Hill?

    FRENDY: Of course, he was one of my favorite players back in the day.  He was a very explosive player in the beginning of his NBA career…

    ED: Well, he lost about six to seven years of his prime because he elected to have an ankle surgery. Not just a regular ankle surgery, but also the same sh*t I was about to have where they put two screws to hold it together.   It’s a quick process and allows you to get back on the playing field.  However, the nerves at the bottom of your feet where the screws are not meant to be tampered with—at any given point they can get infected. When it gets infected, a three-month process becomes a nine months to a year recovery time.

    FRENDY: Ah, ok. It makes more sense now because Grant really wasn’t the same after he came back to the court after his surgery.

    ED: He tried coming back, but the ankle issue was always there.   There’s a documentary out there on him.  You should watch it. It f*cked him up…he couldn’t move, he almost died ‘cause of that sh*t, bro.  Because the ankle got infected, which caused other complications.

    So yeah, Mike told me all that sh*t and said that he could help me recover. 

    FRENDY: Throughout your recovery process with Mike, your love of training was birthed.  That’s remarkable.

    ED: Yeah, I remember he told me that I was going to end up doing this sh*t!  And I’m like “Mike, what would make you that?”   At the time, I told him “f#ck no, you see all the sh*t you got to deal with?”.  He just laughed and replied “Ed, if there’s only one thing I know about you its that you like helping people.  Just remember I told you this.”  So every time Mike and I speak, I always bring that memory up.  He’s my guru.

    FRENDY: What’s divine about your life is that you always came across a figure that guided you down the right path…

    ED: True.  But there’s certain types of people that try to play that “figure” role and I don’t even vibe or f#ck with them because it seems forced.

    FRENDY: During your healing process, were you still attending class?

    ED: Nah, I wasn’t going to class anymore. I never really went to class. I was only interested in Law, Philosophy and Marketing because I figured I could apply those three things in my everyday life. College is made to really form new friendships.

    FRENDY: Wait, weren’t you there with a scholarship?

    ED: Well, I knew the GPA that I had to get in order to maintain that scholarship.  I would get that GPA.

    FRENDY: What were you doing instead of going to class?

    ED: I was traveling around, probably in New York or LA somewhere.

    FRENDY: * Laughs * But you would still take your finals right?

    ED: Yeah. So, I’ll have the syllabus and I would turn in the most important work –all you had to do was email the sh*t.

    FRENDY: Beating the system I see * Laughs *. Speaking of which, how did you and your mom escape homelessness?

    ED: Well, eventually my mom graduated from nursing school and right off the bat she got a gig to be a UNICEF nurse in Honduras.  They gave her a huge check for that.

    FRENDY: How old were you when this happened?

    ED:  I was around 18…

    FRENDY: Man, I’m glad you guys got out of that situation.  When did you actually decide to get into the fitness field?

    ED: I would say two or three years after college when I started at Equinox.  Once one of my clients told me how much money I would be able to make on my own rather than working for a company.

    FRENDY: I heard about you through Amir and he always told me about you being a phenomenal basketball coach. How’d you get into that?

    ED: Well, I always had a passion for the youth.  I was coaching while I was in college and after.  My HS coach also coached camps at NYC’s Columbia University (all of these Ivy League schools would have these basketball camps). My coach always took me with him so I could stay out of trouble.  He would have me run a few drills and from then on I connected with the kids.

    After that, I started doing some AAU stuff also, but once I found out the business side of it, I said “f#ck this sh*t!”  I stopped doing it and just did my own thing. 

    FRENDY: You basically learned the fundamentals of being a coach and left the circuit…

    ED: I wouldn’t even call myself a coach. I think part of the reason why the kids that I worked with f#cked with me the way they did was ‘cause I didn’t take that approach.  I didn’t take the coach approach—I was one of them.  They can relate to me. I always tell people that if you can keep it real with the young ones, they’ll forever keep it 100 with you.

    To be honest you with you, my HS basketball coach Michael Murphy played a really intricate part in my life.  He always kept me out of trouble.

    FRENDY: Were you only coaching basketball or other sports as well?

    ED: One thing I wish most people would understand is that no matter what your field of occupation is, what your job description is it is never just that.  You know?   I would be with these kids from the basketball court to the weight room for hours on end. After that, I would watch them eat sh*t! They were destroying what we were trying to build.  That inspired me to cook for them.  When you spend that much time with people, especially kids, you form a golden bond with them. So to me, no matter what you do as a job, it’s never just that.  It’s the little intangibles that make it that way.

    FRENDY: It’s the “smallest” things that actually count.  Just like how it’s one’s invisible world that conducts his/her reality, form wise. The form is just the effect of imagination…

    ED: I used to have one of my homies (he was far from a saint, I ain’t one either) who used to tell me to not curse around the 13-14 year old kids.  They already knew all the curse words in the book so I kept it real with them. I remained on their level.

    FRENDY: So right after college, you went into personal training at Equinox…

    ED: Yeah, but even during that time I was doing more basketball related trainings right after college.

    FRENDY: What degree did you graduate with?

    ED: Economics and Pre-Law.

    FRENDY: Oh wow, that’s totally different from sports.

    ED: Yeah, but then I went back for my Exercise Science degree.  So in reality, I have three degrees.

    FRENDY: Did you attempt to get a job in your field of study right after school?

    ED:  Nah.  I’m not Jewish—at that time the market was f#cked up—I’m black; I’m African… you know?  Your college degrees do not define your calling.

    FRENDY: I’m pretty sure you knew that you weren’t going to have a career in economics or pre law while you were studying them in college.

    ED: Of course, I always knew that.

    FRENDY: How did you end up working with arguably the best receiver in the NFL, Antonio Brown?

    ED: It’s been in the works for a very long time.  My artist buddy Corey Pane would tell me about him and he’ll often tell Antonio about me.

    FRENDY: How did you even get to know Corey?

    ED: I met him through a very great friend of mine while I was in the University of Vermont—I call him Sleven. He’s that white mothaf#cka, he’s cold man * Laughs *. All my white boys are cold though. That’s a fact. Sleven would give a sweater to a stranger, but would kill a mothaf#cka in a second for anything he stands for or loves.

    FRENDY: Oh ok.  How did Corey know Antonio?

    ED: They’ve known each other for quite some time. I think they became good friends after Corey shared his art with him.

    FRENDY: When did you initially meet him?

    ED: It’s basically how me met. Amir kept telling you about me and vice versa, Corey did the same thing with Antonio and I.   He was in the city last year, around March I believe, to do some Madden NFL cover sh*t.  While Antonio was handling that, he also wanted to work out. The gym he wanted to work out at was closed. He wanted someone to train with so Corey called me like six times.  Corey has never done that.  I really didn’t want to answer the phone because I had a long day, but my girlfriend insisted that I should.  I finally answered and he said that he was with Antonio and he was trying to get a work out in. All of a sudden, Antonio gets on the phone and tells me that he heard great things about me from Corey and that he’s trying to get a work out in.

    I told my lady about the situation and she said to stop being a b*tch and just go.

    FRENDY: So you were reluctant to go and work out with him because you were extremely tired that day?

    ED:   It didn’t matter to me who the f#ck the name was—what mattered was what my connection with Corey and what my lady told me.  I was basically doing Corey a favor. That’s how I viewed it, that’s my brother. 

    My relationship with Antonio flourished after that workout.  We were supposed to work out for only 30 minutes but we ended up in the gym for almost three hours. 

    FRENDY: Just straight vibin’…

    ED: Yeah…

    FRENDY: Were you showing him maneuvers that he wasn’t doing before?

    ED: Yeah.  I watched a 10-minute video of Antonio before I went to train him so I was able to point out what he wasn’t doing etc.  I never really focus on what a person is really good at because that’s what everyone else focuses on.  I always pay attention to the slightest details—I’m very, very over analytical, which helps me in a lot of regards, but at the same time hinders me as well.

    Mike, the athletic trainer I told you about earlier, taught me everything I know about the importance of core strength—unilateral training.  I believe without a strong core, you don’t have a strong body. You could train as much as you want, but if you eat like a truck driver mothaf#cka you’re going to look like a truck driver.  Nutrition far outweighs your training. 

    FRENDY:   After that first epic workout, what happened next?

    ED:  I’ll never forget this.  He came out with a bundle of money and said, “Thanks man, I really appreciate this.” I didn’t go there expecting to get paid. Antonio then called his agent and told him how much he loved the workout with me. He then invited me over to have dinner with his family.

    FRENDY: Earlier you mentioned that you almost didn’t go to workout with Antonio because you were extremely tired. What was your schedule like?

    ED: I usually wake up at 6am to train as many people as I can. I have a problem with saying “no” to people.

    FRENDY: What’s the motivation behind your relentless work ethic?

    ED:   Well, first of all I love helping people.  Secondly, it’s therapeutic for me.  I need it…fitness is an addiction.

    FRENDY: Would you say that it saved your life?

    ED:  Yeah, it has always been one of my coping mechanisms.  No matter what I was going through, I always found the time to workout.

  • Kareem's Pick: Raveena

    Raveena Aurora, better known as Raveena, is a 25-year-old singer/songwriter based in New York.  The Indian-American goddess' voice is sweet and light like the smell of honey suckle.

    "If Only," found on Raveena's Shanti EP, is a song that explores the mind of someone who has clocked out physically, mentally and emotionally from a relationship.  Furthermore, it also discusses the perspective of the counterpart in the failed union.  The one that ran away is now making an effort to be available for the partner who's already moved on.

    Check out the single below:

    Written by: Kareem Hilaire

  • Young M.A Gets The Bag

    Young M.A is back with a new, fiery freestyle that'll make you say "Oooouuu" after each and every bar.

    Titled, "I Get The Bag," the Brooklyn emcee's 4-minute lyrical display utilizes the beat (produced by Southside and Metro Boomin) of Gucci Mane and Quavo's banger which bears the same name.  Before M.A even goes in on the track, she tells listeners that her "bocky" (cocky) levels will be at an all time high. "You get the bag and tumble it, I get the bag and flip it and tumble it/ Car came with a slut in it, then I made a b#tch cum in it/ Double cuppin it, no lean just the red punch with the rum in it," says the 5'5 hard-hitting spitter.

    Enough of me talking, check out the visual of M.A looking healthier than ever as she delivers lyrical venom below:

  • Bruce Weber: Sex, Lies and Nightmares

    Sometime around the year 2000, when I was still in elementary school, I remember walking through my older cousin’s bedroom which was, as is the case with many teenagers, adorned with posters. There was one fixed with pseudo discretion right next to the entryway so that it became partially obscured when the door swung open. It had a vertical orientation with the ephemeral, grainy resolution of film that made its date difficult to pinpoint. In it, a young naked woman with flaxen hair, made luminous by the sun, strolled through a field of wild vegetation in relaxed bliss, a smile spreading across her face. It was Abercrombie & Fitch’s heyday, and I’d grown accustomed to this kind of imagery streaked across shopping bags toted around the mall. I recognized instantly this photograph was related though by what means I didn’t know. It was only later that I learned what connected them was Bruce Weber.

     Weber, 71, is one of the world’s leading photographers who has garnered particular acclaim for his work in glossy publications. He has lensed so many iconic ad campaigns, editorials and personal book projects I doubt even he keeps track. Weber has long been the subject of rumors about what has or has not happened on his exclusive sets, but being the power player that he is, nothing has seemed to stick with any serious consequences. Until now.  A bevy of current and former models, numbering no fewer than 15, who at one time worked with Weber have come forward—first in individual Instagram posts, and now in a damning New York Times exposé that accuses both Weber and fellow fashion titan Mario Testino of gross abuses of authority. I could most definitely make this piece an examination of them both, but, for now, my focus lies squarely on Weber. Though the accusations that have come to light are truly horrific, Weber has always been a problematic figure and whatever the outcome may be, it is long past time for fashion to move on without him. 

    A couple of months ago, the men’s fashion magazine VMan promoted a 2018 calendar on social media which featured a different male model for each respective month, all with the chiseled bone structure and sinewy abdominal wall found throughout Weber’s portfolio. The images were indeed beautiful and I instantly messaged one to a good friend who also happens to be a photographer. I mentioned to her how incredible all the men looked, but qualified that I was conflicted having never decided definitively if I thought Weber was exploitative. “I think he is creepy, but talented,” she replied. “Creepy only because he seems like a dirty old man.” She also mentioned apprehension at his glass closet image. I couldn’t help but agree with both points. Despite being married to his agent and studio manager Nan Bush, his homoerotic imagery and apparent intimate detachment from Bush have always led most observers to conclude that their union was one strictly of business. The stories now trickling forth seem to bear that out.

    Among other things, Weber is accused of forcibly touching male models using his infamous ‘breathing technique’ whereby he leads a subject through exercises in a supposed attempt to relax them enough to take an astonishing picture. However, from what has been reported in the Times and confirmed by several models independently, this procedure often involved Weber guiding a model’s hands to their genitals as he stood uncomfortably close, sometimes with his fingers in their mouths, and even resulted in forced masturbation in some instances. Those who didn’t comply or were visibly uncomfortable were never contacted for work again, usually killing their career just as it began.

    To learn that Weber had a ‘casting couch’ process of sorts didn’t surprise me as the public has become only too aware of these sinister methods as employed by the likes of Harvey Weinstein. These disturbing accounts of Weber using his position to force nudity and unwanted sex acts on those who posed for him both angered me as a human and as a person in the same field. I’ve spent time on sets as a stylist’s assistant helping dress models for shoots, but I always made doubly sure to keep my gaze where it belonged, worked as quickly as possible, touched only when and where absolutely necessary to do the work and maintained conversation to gauge their level of comfort. From what was reported by numerous men, Weber often asked his subjects to strip for ‘test shoots’ in small quarters and made advances while no one else was present. The truth is, that kind of excessive nudity is totally unnecessary even for assignments that require someone to disrobe. As model Jason Fedele astutely said in the Times article, “...If you do get the job, the majority of the time you’re not naked and you’re not in a swimsuit. So what’s really happening is that these guys are gauging whether you’re open or shy or close-minded or, quite frankly, whether you’re gay or hetero and willing either to flirt with them or to submit to an advance.” The youth and inexperience of his alleged victims only made them more susceptible to this manipulative behavior.

    For generations of people, Weber’s work has come to embody sex. He took the carefree lightness of 20th century Health Photography, which depicted active people relishing the outdoors and imbued it with an eroticism that shaped how people engaged with everything from Calvin Klein to Ralph Lauren to Banana Republic. As a gay man, I always had an appreciation for these kinds of photographs. They were unabashed in their sexuality and dared you to look with unblinking eyes. I found the featured men adonis-like, and Weber’s eye captured intangible details specific to the gay point of view that appealed to the voyeur lurking in everyone. But even before I heard the rumors, they gave me pause. There was something too invasive and undue about much of what he produced. He wasn’t like George Platt Lynes exploring his own sexuality and giving a face to gay men or even Picasso distorting women in an attempt to physicalize his tumultuous romances with lovers while eradicating traditional form. No matter how wonderfully composed his nude photographs were, elements were amiss and the patterns of predation described with striking similarity by so many buttress my worst assumptions. 

    That same VMan calendar that kicked off my renewed processing of Weber’s oeuvre highlighted another issue the fashion industry has seemed content to ignore. It caused more than a little internet chatter when viewers quickly recognized that of the 12 models featured, all were white or, at the very least, so fairly complected that no one who didn’t know them personally would be able to tell otherwise. One Instagram commenter quipped, “Even the dogs are white,” in reference to the Golden Retriever puppies that populated a group shot.  This project—like the poster I remember from years ago, nearly all of his fashion editorials, monographs and advertising—featured people sharply limited in demographics. Yes, Weber has included people of varying backgrounds in the past, but often only when the subject matter or location absolutely demanded it. His vision has become synonymous with the fantasy of America and Americana yet the danger lies in his unwillingness to showcase the people of color who contribute to its social fabric. Other legendary photographers of the past with sexually charged styles, such as Herb Ritts and Robert Mapplethorpe, regularly used models of color and appreciated their beauty along with the different compositions those models allowed them to craft. When fashion claims a need to diversify its ranks, why continue working with someone who so stubbornly refuses to be a part of the solution? 

    Many have come to Weber’s defense in recent days citing phenomenal experiences and trusting relationships. I’m sure those people have nothing but good memories. But those statements of support do not and cannot invalidate the stories already amassed, the count of which I’m positive will grow in the coming weeks. Bruce Weber may appear like everyone’s imagined hippy grandfather swathed in billowing scarves and gauzy bandanas that cover his Santa-like white hair, but that doesn’t mean he’s incapable of being the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. I believe the men who have come forward and it’s time for a business that casually doles out abuse with a wink and a that’s-just-the-way-we-do-things attitude to do the same.

    Written by: Martin Lerma

  • Frendy's Flashback Friday

    On January 12th, 1966 the television series Batman debuted on ABC with the episode, "Hi Diddle Riddle."  Each half hour episode contained either part one or part two of Batman and Robin's fight against the criminal of the week.

  • NIGO x G-Shock 35th Anniversary Watch

    Those of you who are old enough should remember the legendary watches that NIGO and G-Schock have made back when he was the General of the Apes. Well, now I’m happy to announce that the creator of the celebrated watch company Kikuo Ibe has teamed up once more with Human Made’s head honcho.

    In honor of G-shock’s 35th anniversary, the Japanese pop culture icons decided to revamp the brand’s DW-6935-4 and DW-5635-9 model.  I would of loved to see the name of the style mogul’s new clothing line somewhere on the watches, but instead both renditions display the text “35th Anniversary Model. Thank You from NIGO & K.IBE.”

    Only 35 of these bad boys were made, so make sure you enter the raffle to buy one here.

  • Jordan Brand x Levi's® Collection

    Jordan Brand and Levi’s® have joined forces to make the ultimate everyday wear collection, which consists of the Air Jordan IV and Levi Strauss & Co. denim trucker jacket.

    I first saw these joints on Travis Scott via his Instagram story and initially thought that it was yet another sneaker collaboration he had in the works.  I’m not too fond of being dipped in denim, but I wouldn’t mind rocking the pieces on separate occasions.

    The Jordan Reversible Trucker Jacket features worn wash denim, red flight suit material (located at the underarm panels) and a lightly ditressed flight logo on the back. When reversed, a black flight suit with a denim accent is revealed with a Jumpman flight logo on the back.

    The Jordan Brand x Levi's® Air Jordan IV and Jordan Reversible Trucker Jacket is scheduled to release on January 17th.  Check out the participating retailers below:

    Both the Air Jordan IV and Trucker Jacket release at:

    • BOTTEGA BACK DOOR- Bologna

    • CONCEPTS- Boston and New York City

    • DOE- Shanghai

    • END CLOTHING- Newcastle

    • INVINCIBLE- Taiwan

    • JORDAN BASTILLE- Paris

    • KICKZ- Berlin

    • KINETICS (TOKYO 23)- Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

    • LEVI’S STORE HARAJUKU- Tokyo

    • LEVI’S- San Francisco (Market St.) and New York City Soho

    • LEVI’S BERLIN KURFUERSTENDAMM- Berlin

    • LEVI’S LONDON REGENT STREET 174- London

    • LEVI’S OSAKA FLAGSHIP- Osaka

    • LEVI’S PARIS CHAMPS ELYSEES- Paris

    • LEVI’S SH Nanjing WEST RD- Shanghai

    • LIVESTOCK- Toronto

    • OPIUM- Paris

    • OQUIM- Amsterdam

    • SHINZO- Paris

    • SHOE GALLERY- Miami

    • SI VAS DESCALZO- Barcelona

    • SNEAKRS N STUFF- London

    • SOLE FLY- Miami

    • SPORTS LAB- Osaka

    • SPORTS LAB- Shinjuku, Tokyo

    • UBIQ- Philadelphia

    • UNDEFEATED- Los Angeles

    The following retailers will carry only the Air Jordan IV: 

    • 8 WELLINGTON- Hong Kong

    • 21 Lab- New York City

    • 32 SO STATE ST- Chicago

    • 290 SQM- Turkey

    • A MA MANIERE- Atlanta

    • BODEGA- Boston

    • CAPSULE- Toronto

    • CONCEPTS INTERNATIONAL - Dubai

    • CRÈME- Norfolk (VA)

    • DEAL- Beijing

    • FEATURE- Las Vegas

    • FOOT PATROL- London

    • JORDAN L1 HONGXING- Chengdu, Hongxing

    • JORDAN 16 SONGGAO- Taipei

    • JORDAN 139 NAN DONG- Shanghai

    • JORDAN BEIJING THE PLACE- Beijing

    • JORDAN GUANGZHOU 218 TIANHE- Guangzhou

    • JORDAN HONGDAE - Seoul

    • JORDAN NANJING- Tinajing

    • JORDAN TAIPEI XIMENTING- Taipei

    • JORDAN TIANJIN - Tianjing

    • KITH- New York City (SoHo)

    • LMTD EDITIONS- Barcelona

    • LUST- MEXICO CITY

    • ONENESS- Lexington

    • OVERKILL- Berlin

    • PATTA- Amsterdam

    • POLITICS- Lafayette (LA)

    • RSVP GALLERY- Chicago

    • SI VAS DESCALZO- Barcelona

    • SOCIAL STATUS- Charlotte, Houston, Pittsburgh

    • ST ALFREDS- Chicago

    • SUPPLY- SYDNEY

    • THE DARKSIDE INITIATIVE- San Francisco

    • TITAN- Fort, Manila

    • TITOLO- Zurich

    • TROPHY ROOM- Disney Springs

    • WISH- Atlanta

    • WZK- Shanghai

    • XH55- Guangzhou

    • XHIBITION- Cleveland

    • YAXIN- Beijing

  • Money In The Bank (Video)

    OVO Sound signee Baka Not Nice is back on the music scene with a money anthem aptly titled, “Money In The Bank.”

    Drake’s longtime affiliate’s latest tune is a follow-up to his first single “Live Up To My Name,” which peaked at number 77 on the Canadian Singles Top 100 chart. This time around, Baka spits about, well having money in the bank.  The song’s hook is ironically playful and melodic despite its grimey lyrics: “this ain’t old money, this that new new/imma catch you n*ggas when I choose to/sliding down your block just to shoot you/ like do doo do do do do,” sings the Toronto Rapper.

    The single’s visual, directed by Edison Sigua, shows the story of a hustler getting it by any means, while Baka, himself, is seen enjoying the fruits of all his dirty work.

    Check out the clip below:

  • When Fashion Sells Feminism

    A funny thing has happened in fashion over the past several years. Where once the industry proved itself as a leader willing to embrace new ideas while tackling weathered barriers, it now seems to be a consistent grasper of straws. Slumping sales, changing markets, shifting demographics and digital innovation have all played a part in fashion’s consistent fumbling. In the hope that it will strike a financial motherload, the fashion industry often looks to movements outside its own walls that it can appropriate in the most superficial way possible in order to gain positive coverage and join the media fray as it struggles to maintain relevancy. Sadly, the renewed interest in feminist ideals is the latest target of luxury’s vampiric feeding. As a man, I would never claim to fully comprehend the countless nuances surrounding womanhood, but the glaring inconsistencies promoted by the fashion machine are simply too disturbing not to notice.

    Though there are many brands churning out what they can to feign interest in a genuinely important cultural conversation, the most egregious example of jumping on the feminist bandwagon is undoubtedly Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Dior. Chiuri has a long history of making questionable choices when it comes to representation in her work. Remember that Africa-inspired Spring/Summer 2016 Valentino collection shown in 2015 that had nearly 90 looks yet only a handful of black models? True, it was designed with Pierpaolo Piccioli, who remains Valentino’s creative director, but that brand has become noticeably more international in look and feel since Chiuri’s departure while Dior’s catwalk lineup will include, at best, a light spattering of models of color. It also doesn’t help that her casting skews incredibly young and frighteningly thin, even by fashion standards. Yes, these criticisms could be leveled at countless labels, and while they should most definitely be held to account by the public, those brands don’t claim feminism as a banner cause as Chiuri has.

    In a move that I’m sure both Chiuri and her publicity team hoped would be an Instagrammable moment, her debut runway show for the house of Dior in September of 2016 featured a t-shirt emblazoned with the statement, “We Should All Be Feminists,” in black type against a simple white background. With the U.S. presidential campaign reaching a boiling point and issues specific to women at the fore, Chiuri’s appointment seemed like a much-needed antidote as the start of her tenure marked the first time any woman has ever headed the venerable French couture house of Christian Dior. She made feminist themes a pillar of her debut, drawing much of her inspiration from official fencing attire, one of, if not the only, sport where men and women don identical uniforms. Many of the same problems that emerged at Valentino were still evident: people of color were reduced to tokenism, the age cutoff couldn’t have been far past typical high school graduation, and there were practically no variations in body type whatsoever.

    But let’s set those issues aside for a moment to consider the clothes alone. That first collection, with its heavily worked fencing inspiration, resulted in a host of heavily padded, awkwardly fitted jackets and vests that skewed a bit more asylum than Olympic arena. Add to those sheer silk blouses and equally transparent skirts layered over shorts that ended just past the gluteal fold and you have a collection filled with deeply impractical, unflattering clothes that are particularly unkind to anyone over 30--something that makes even less sense when considering the age of the average, moneyed Dior shopper.

    Chiuri was clearly aware of the weight of her new role as one of the few women in a leadership position in the industry, but has not done anything since to make her clothes friendly to the wearer. It goes to show that the old platitude insisting female designers create clothes while male designers create costumes is an untrue and lazy criticism. As Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion journalist Robin Givhan noted in her review of Dior’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection (which was partially inspired by art historian Linda Nochlin’s scholarship), “Perhaps a more ambitious or daring designer would have found a way [to address important feminist issues]. Fashion, after all, has been used to express a range of emotions from sorrow and anger to giddy delight. Instead, Chiuri uses feminism as an overlay or a gloss. That isn’t to say that she doesn’t believe deeply in the issues...But she has reduced them to slogans and backdrop. Their meaning is not carried through in the garments themselves.”

    Greats of the past have shown an enormous aptitude for physicalizing a specific response to their times. There’s good reason that someone like Coco Chanel is so revered. The legendary French fashion designer definitely did her best to canonize herself in life, but it is the poetic practicality of her clothes that has survived her in death. Discussion of any kind of diversity when speaking of her era is almost moot as there was practically none in fashion, but the philosophy behind her garments continues to resonate despite her more than problematic (and opportunistic) affiliations, like those with officers of the Third Reich.

    Chanel wanted women to have the female equivalent of a man’s suit—something that could take you from a social function to church to work to dinner, and everywhere in between. The Chanel suit is something that can be thrown on without thought and still result in a polished ensemble. A jacket, a skirt, maybe a silk blouse and the right accessory. Done. It was chic by numbers and it worked because sometimes there’s nothing more liberating than a uniform. There was an athleticism, a briskness to the composition that let any onlooker know the Chanel women was on the move. It was a rare ideology during couture’s golden age and remains shockingly absent in the present day, but there are most definitely other creatives in recent memory who did not rely on catchphrases to connote their intentions. 

    Martin Margiela is recognized as a Belgian radical whose oeuvre continues to find new life as people inspired by his work, such as Raf Simons, become ever larger, more important cultural figures. His signature aesthetic is resolutely avant-garde, but not only in the sense that might first spring to mind. Margiela’s work can seem whacky on the surface—dresses made from flea market-sourced wedding gowns, tops crafted from a patchwork of vintage leather gloves—and much of it certainly can be, however, his work for Hermès revealed his deeper, and ingenious, sensitivities.

    In a recent exhibition held in his native country which was documented in a book entitled Margiela, The Hermès Years, it was disclosed that he often asked the women working in his atelier and close friends to try on works in progress and hear their feedback.  He would conduct six fittings for each ready-to-wear piece, an extensive amount, and often built in specific features he knew his customers would appreciate.  One of Margiela’s signatures while designing for the house was a cozy tunic that could be layered in a host of different ways—giving the wearer agency over her look—and be easily pulled down off the shoulders and stepped out of so as not to disturb hair or makeup. From the start of Margiela’s time there, it wasn’t at all unusual to witness Asian women, shorter women, 50+ women walk his runway. It seemed so natural, so authentic because it was. It was an exercise in making women, many women, visible and comfortable above all else. It doesn’t get more modern than that.

    One got a similar feeling watching presentations held by the late, great Azzedine Alaïa. There were the midriff-baring, short-skirted dresses for the young, hot yoga devotees; longer dresses with skirts that floated just below the knee and slender sleeves for those approaching or beyond middle age who no longer wished to show their upper arms; the razor-sharp tailoring, crisp shirting and immaculate trousers for the women who didn’t prefer the traditional trappings of femininity at all.  For a couture-themed photo shoot and accompanying behind-the-scenes video for W magazine in 2011, Carine Roitfeld had ensembles made for her at just about every significant couture house showing in Paris, Alaïa included. Alaïa painstakingly conducted the entire fitting from start to finish. Roitfeld noted how much extra work he was taking on by attending to his clients so closely and he responded, “Listen, when you look after clients, that’s how you learn. Because if you don’t see how a design is worn or what women want or how they want to wear it, you’re just designing in a void and that isn’t good.”

    And that is just one of many reasons why the Tunisian-born couturier is so missed.  Alaïa's garments were so remarkable because he respected women so deeply and honored their opinions. Lauded fashion journalist Cathy Horyn may have put it better than anyone else, “I didn’t know that he had designed garments for the girls at the Crazy Horse,” she said referencing the famed Parisian cabaret (known for its largely nude stage spectacles) during an interview in a short film on Alaïa directed by stylist Joe McKenna. “And I thought, God if you have to get in there and really measure those women, you’re really not worried about women. You’re not intimidated by them. You don’t have any fantasies about them. And that, we all know, is a problem with many designers, male or female. They have a fantasy about women that doesn’t jive with reality.”

    Fashion, as a business, collectively asks for women’s money yet makes sure they are not involved in formulating the strategies or making the decisions that affect what gets produced for their consumption.  Women make up a large portion of the garment trade, both at the luxury and mass levels, making them particularly subject to its injustices whether it is workplace harassment, lack of upward career mobility, unsafe--even deadly--working conditions or low pay. If fashion wants to address inequality, it needs to make robust, actionable plans that start from within where the problems it proclaims to be against are taking place in plain view.

    Written by: Martin Lerma