Loading...
 

The blended family hustle

With T.I. at the helm, Hustle Gang captures a familial vibe with 'We Want Smoke'

Hustle Gang Album Cover.59e5106470a03
Photo credit: Courtesy Hustle Gang
'We Want Smoke'

On a rainy, Monday afternoon, the Gathering Spot is swarming. A production crew scrambles to move an outdoor show featuring 12 separate acts to an indoor space half the size. A PR team juggles a fully booked press day with final preparations for the aforementioned concert, an album release celebration for the Hustle Gang debut We Want Smoke (out now via Grand Hustle/Roc Nation). A handful of the artists in question 5ive Mics, Brandon Rossi, RaRa, Tokyo Jetz, Translee, Young Booke, and Young Dro are gathered in a conference room and acting on their best behavior ??_ except during the moments when the genuine camaraderie between this band of rap siblings overpowers everything else. It is Hustle Gang over everythang, after all.

At the center of it all sits a poised T.I., pulling double duty as featured artist and calculating executive. Since first introducing the idea of Hustle Gang in 2013 as a rebirth for his Grand Hustle imprint, T.I. has been working towards this very day: finding the right artists, nurturing existing movements, even redefining his own voice in the process. Through 17 tracks, a handful of features and a very low profile list of producers, We Want Smoke offers a surprising cohesiveness, one that few artists are able to sustain on their own with a project that long; let alone with nine co-stars. And despite the absence of a single solo track on the album, all 10 members of Hustle Gang shine, including B.o.B, GFMBRYYCE, Trae The Truth, and Tip himself.

Perhaps it's because, rather than creating an environment where his acts vie for the label head's attention, T.I.'s signees have fully bought into the concept of Hustle Gang as a family. Each member fiercely defends and supports each other, all while reveling in their turn in the sun. Together.

How different was is to bring this group of artists together, who have different sounds and personalities, versus doing it the first time with Pimp $quad Click?

T.I.: With P$C, we all knew each other before music. And sometimes that could be positive and sometimes it can have its disadvantages, because in a professional setting, you need everybody with their game faces on at all times. It was easy to fall back into trap conversations and get on real homeboy time and forget that we're working. Everybody here, of course we are a family and we do have very strong ties personally as well as professionally, but everybody's at this table for the same reason: we wanna win; we wanna kill shit for real. And everybody had their own ideas, before they met me, of how they were gonna kill shit. So this is a huge moment for the entire gang.

There are more artists on the roster now than there were a year ago. How long of a process has it been for you to get everybody to this point?

T.I.: We've been rebuilding and recovering ever since Doe B died. So we've been slowly acquiring pieces and welcoming people who are worthy into the fold whenever they displayed a significant readiness. And that process is never ending. We're always doing that. We're an institutional culture.

What makes this work well for you guys, in terms of the sound?

Room: Comradery. Diversity.

Brandon Rossi: I don't think it's all about a sound, I think we're going for a vibe. It's not like we going for a sound, we all have good taste in music, we know what a good record is. It's not a long thought process.

Tokyo: We go into the situation differently. Somebody else might go into the studio like, "Oh, we need to do this song, we need to make a pop record so it can do this on the charts.' We actually go into the situation together and listen to music and just vibe. And it comes out dope.

So everyone is involved in the structuring of the project?

T.I.: And different people bring different things to the table. For instance, GFMBRYYCE started "Do No Wrong.' He presented it and said "We should do this.' Rossi and RaRa, they started "Friends,' and we did it and it was dope. Each of us has a record that we started and presented to the rest of the gang. And once everyone else contributed to the record, it became something totally different and much better than we had expected. Having the ability to do that sets us apart.

Tokyo, have you found it difficult to find your voice in this gang of guys?

Tokyo Jetz: I'm dope within myself. No matter who was around, I'm still gonna be dope. I just add to what everybody else brings. In this situation, I don't have a reason to hold back. I can speak on whatever I wanna speak on, I can say whatever I wanna say.

Individually, what do you think are your strengths?

Rossi: I like Booke's younger perspective. I like Dro because I know what he's gonna do every time he steps in the booth. I ain't even gotta talk about Tip. Tokyo, first of all, is the best female rapper around; anybody want problems with that, we can start the debate. I really respect Translee's mind, how he approaches his subject matter. 5ive is just one of them niggas who can do anything with the raps. Me and London are similar because we like to do melodies and we can rap, and I make beats and engineer just like him. Ain't no telling what you can get out of us. And RaRa is like Dr. Dre and Kanye and Pimp C in one. He can do anything.

RaRa: We all kinda come from the bottom with it and I admire everybody being able to deal with the process. It's like LeBron going to play with Dwyane Wade: sometimes you gotta take a pay cut in the beginning because you wanna play amongst great people or on a certain team. A lot of people can't do that. Rap is built off of ego and pride and to me everybody put they pride to the side to be able to come together. That's big for me.

Tip, someone said on Facebook the other day that they're not sure if they can trust your opinion anymore when it comes to female rappers, which was an Iggy Azalea reference. Do you worry that people have lost confidence in the artists you back?

T.I.: First of all, let me say this: I don't give a fuck about what nobody say. I don't need nobody's validation, I don't need anybody to reassure me that I am what I've always known I was. I knew who I was before they found out I was. So, I don't care about any of that. Secondly, at that time, it took for me to go through a journey, just like others, so that I could get to a point of understanding and seeing exactly what I was dealing with. I'm not, by any means, anything less than loyal. Once I commit myself to someone, I'm gonna uphold that to the fullest. And I don't think that that situation is in any way a reflection of me. I think people make their own decisions as humans. I don't think people really understand: I'm not a "do it my way or else' type of executive, leader or whatever you would call me. The people I have around me, it's because I trust their vision for themselves and how it applies to the overall big picture. So, she had her journey, so far be it for me to tell her how to be a little white girl from Australia and come and apply herself to American culture. So all the insecurities and all the stuff she had to process, I couldn't really understand it. So I had to let her go on her journey, and her journey led her to where she's at right now.

Is there a meaning behind the term "We Want Smoke"

Tokyo: If you're saying you want smoke, it's like saying you're looking for problems. If anybody has a problem, you want them to bring that problem to you.

T.I.: For example, if you got a problem on social media, like how y'all kids handle your business nowadays. If there's one person who made a statement, and then the other person makes a statement and they say, "Man, you don't want no smoke man. Pull up.' That means you not about that life.



More By This Writer

array(82) {
  ["title"]=>
  string(28) "Milk+Cookies’ sweet treats"
  ["modification_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-04-12T17:10:06+00:00"
  ["creation_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-03-29T20:30:52+00:00"
  ["contributors"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(32) "chad.radford@creativeloafing.com"
  }
  ["date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-03-29T20:25:53+00:00"
  ["tracker_status"]=>
  string(1) "o"
  ["tracker_id"]=>
  string(2) "11"
  ["view_permission"]=>
  string(13) "view_trackers"
  ["tracker_field_contentTitle"]=>
  string(28) "Milk+Cookies’ sweet treats"
  ["tracker_field_contentCreator"]=>
  string(32) "chad.radford@creativeloafing.com"
  ["tracker_field_contentCreator_text"]=>
  string(12) "Chad Radford"
  ["tracker_field_contentByline"]=>
  string(24) "Tai Saint-Louis/CL Staff"
  ["tracker_field_contentByline_exact"]=>
  string(24) "Tai Saint-Louis/CL Staff"
  ["tracker_field_contentBylinePerson"]=>
  string(1) "0"
  ["tracker_field_description"]=>
  string(82) "Tory Lanez, BOSCO, and more head up the bill for this year's emerging R&B fest"
  ["tracker_field_description_raw"]=>
  string(78) "Tory Lanez, BOSCO, and more head up the bill for this year's emerging R&B fest"
  ["tracker_field_contentDate"]=>
  string(25) "2018-03-29T20:25:53+00:00"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage"]=>
  string(38) "Content:_:Milk Cookies’ sweet treats"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_text"]=>
  string(2) " "
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(1550) "{HTML()}

The concept behind Milk+Cookies is simple: Introduce food and music lovers to emerging, underground R&B acts in a festival setting with food trucks and vendors. Milk+Cookies returns April 7, with a lineup filled out by nationally touring acts and local favorites. This year’s headliner, Tory Lanez, is perhaps the first vocalist out of Toronto who stands a chance of reaching the same international recognition as that other guy from Toronto who also straddles rap, R&B, and West Indian roots. Lanez is supporting his second album, Memories Don’t Die. Cleveland, OH, singer/songwriter Alina Baraz debuted with the 2015 EP Urban Flora, a collaboration with electronic producer Galimatias. The attention garnered by the project led to an appearance at Coachella and a collab with bittersweet rapper Khalid on 2017’s single, “Electric.” Xavier Omär made a splash alongside Soulection DJ/producer Sango, back when the soulful crooner was still known as SPZRKT. Their collaborative EP, Hours Spent Loving You, proved the San Antonio-based singer an adept songwriter with a powerful voice. Omär kicked off 2018 alongside Sango on “Sweet Holy Honey.” Local favorites on the bill include the ever-evolving BOSCO, and newish rapper SahBabii. And DJs Xavier BLK, Bae Worldwide, and Florista keep the music flowing all day.

$40-$90. 2 p.m. Sat., April 7. 787 Windsor St. www.milkandcookiesfest.com.

{HTML} " ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_creation_date"]=> string(25) "2018-03-29T20:30:52+00:00" ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_modification_date"]=> string(25) "2018-03-29T20:32:08+00:00" ["tracker_field_photos"]=> string(4) "4096" ["tracker_field_contentPhotoCredit"]=> string(21) "Courtesy Milk+Cookies" ["tracker_field_contentPhotoTitle"]=> string(28) "EAT ‘N’ RUN: Alina Baraz" ["tracker_field_contentCategory"]=> array(2) { [0]=> string(3) "536" [1]=> string(3) "243" } ["tracker_field_contentCategory_text"]=> string(7) "536 243" ["tracker_field_contentControlCategory"]=> array(0) { } ["tracker_field_scene"]=> array(0) { } ["tracker_field_contentNeighborhood"]=> array(0) { } ["tracker_field_contentRelations_multi"]=> array(1) { [0]=> string(0) "" } ["tracker_field_contentRelatedContent_multi"]=> array(1) { [0]=> string(0) "" } ["tracker_field_contentRelatedWikiPages_multi"]=> array(1) { [0]=> string(0) "" } ["tracker_field_contentBASEAuthorID"]=> int(0) ["tracker_field_section"]=> array(0) { } ["language"]=> string(7) "unknown" ["attachments"]=> array(1) { [0]=> string(4) "4096" } ["comment_count"]=> int(0) ["categories"]=> array(2) { [0]=> int(243) [1]=> int(536) } ["deep_categories"]=> array(3) { [0]=> int(242) [1]=> int(243) [2]=> int(536) } ["categories_under_28"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_28"]=> array(0) { } ["categories_under_1"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_1"]=> array(0) { } ["categories_under_177"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_177"]=> array(0) { } ["categories_under_209"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_209"]=> array(0) { } ["categories_under_163"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_163"]=> array(0) { } ["categories_under_171"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_171"]=> array(0) { } ["categories_under_153"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_153"]=> array(0) { } ["categories_under_242"]=> array(2) { [0]=> int(243) [1]=> int(536) } ["deep_categories_under_242"]=> array(2) { [0]=> int(243) [1]=> int(536) } ["categories_under_564"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_564"]=> array(0) { } ["categories_under_1182"]=> array(0) { } ["deep_categories_under_1182"]=> array(0) { } ["freetags"]=> array(0) { } ["geo_located"]=> string(1) "n" ["allowed_groups"]=> array(2) { [0]=> string(6) "Admins" [1]=> string(9) "Anonymous" } ["allowed_users"]=> array(1) { [0]=> string(32) "chad.radford@creativeloafing.com" } ["relations"]=> array(2) { [0]=> string(26) "tiki.file.attach:file:4096" [1]=> string(76) "tiki.wiki.linkeditem.invert:wiki page:Content:_:Milk Cookies’ sweet treats" } ["relation_objects"]=> array(0) { } ["relation_types"]=> array(2) { [0]=> string(16) "tiki.file.attach" [1]=> string(27) "tiki.wiki.linkeditem.invert" } ["relation_count"]=> array(2) { [0]=> string(18) "tiki.file.attach:1" [1]=> string(29) "tiki.wiki.linkeditem.invert:1" } ["title_initial"]=> string(1) "M" ["title_firstword"]=> string(15) "Milk+Cookies’" ["searchable"]=> string(1) "y" ["url"]=> string(10) "item405266" ["object_type"]=> string(11) "trackeritem" ["object_id"]=> string(6) "405266" ["contents"]=> string(450) " Music Milk+Cookies9 1 09 2018-03-29T20:26:14+00:00 Music_Milk+Cookies9_1_09.jpeg Tory Lanez, BOSCO, and more head up the bill for this year's emerging R&B fest 4096 2018-03-29T20:25:53+00:00 Milk+Cookies’ sweet treats chad.radford@creativeloafing.com Chad Radford Tai Saint-Louis/CL Staff 2018-03-29T20:25:53+00:00   Courtesy Milk+Cookies EAT ‘N’ RUN: Alina Baraz Milk+Cookies’ sweet treats " ["score"]=> float(0) ["_index"]=> string(21) "atlantawiki_tiki_main" ["objectlink"]=> string(210) "Milk+Cookies’ sweet treats" ["photos"]=> string(145) "Music Milk+Cookies9 1 09 " ["desc"]=> string(95) "Tory Lanez, BOSCO, and more head up the bill for this year's emerging R&B fest" ["eventDate"]=> string(95) "Tory Lanez, BOSCO, and more head up the bill for this year's emerging R&B fest" ["noads"]=> string(10) "y" }

Article

Thursday March 29, 2018 04:25 pm EDT
Tory Lanez, BOSCO, and more head up the bill for this year's emerging R&B fest | more...
array(80) {
  ["title"]=>
  string(33) "Gil Robertson talks making movies"
  ["modification_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-06-13T01:00:53+00:00"
  ["creation_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-01-30T13:58:32+00:00"
  ["contributors"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(29) "ben.eason@creativeloafing.com"
  }
  ["date"]=>
  string(25) "2017-07-18T21:16:00+00:00"
  ["tracker_status"]=>
  string(1) "o"
  ["tracker_id"]=>
  string(2) "11"
  ["view_permission"]=>
  string(13) "view_trackers"
  ["tracker_field_contentTitle"]=>
  string(33) "Gil Robertson talks making movies"
  ["tracker_field_contentCreator"]=>
  string(28) "clint@thenetworkedplanet.com"
  ["tracker_field_contentCreator_text"]=>
  string(12) "Clint Bergst"
  ["tracker_field_contentByline"]=>
  string(15) "Tai Saint-Louis"
  ["tracker_field_contentByline_exact"]=>
  string(15) "Tai Saint-Louis"
  ["tracker_field_contentBylinePerson"]=>
  string(8) "13088083"
  ["tracker_field_description"]=>
  string(107) "The veteran critic opens up about our city's growing industry and the upcoming celebration of film, Synergy"
  ["tracker_field_description_raw"]=>
  string(107) "The veteran critic opens up about our city's growing industry and the upcoming celebration of film, Synergy"
  ["tracker_field_contentDate"]=>
  string(25) "2017-07-18T21:16:00+00:00"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage"]=>
  string(33) "Gil Robertson talks making movies"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_text"]=>
  string(3122) "For all of the advances and accolades thrown Atlanta's way in the film space over the last few years, there is a noticeably missing trickle down effect. Somehow, the local professionals you would expect to be the driving force behind the now No. 2 market in film and television production have yet to fully be accepted by their peers outside of the city.

"Hollywood and New York have yet to fully embrace Atlanta and show Atlanta the type of respect it deserves," says veteran film critic and author Gil Roberston. "Especially when you consider the amount of projects that have been made here for about a decade now. "Up until recently, for a number of projects, the majority of those people working in production would be shipped in for the duration of the project, then head back to New York or LA. Atlanta has been slow to grow the infrastructure that's necessary to grow the industry here. You're starting to see that change now, with institutions like the Georgia Academy taking disciplines and professions that are part of the production workspace seriously. So I think with the next generation of professionals emerging out of Atlanta you're gonna have to see that change."

While the idea of creating a professional community that supports future professionals in film may have been slow to grow in Georgia, it has been the driving force behind Robertson's Atlanta-based organization, the African-American Film Critics Association, for nearly 15 years.

Alongside fellow journalist Shawn Edwards, Robertson crafted the AAFCA to spark constructive dialogue and create opportunities that would provide their peers and future film journalists the kind of access they needed to grow their careers. "We wanted to make sure that if we could serve as door openers for them, we provided that type of support," Robertson says. "And the same for filmmakers, because of course very often Black filmmakers aren't given the same type of support as their counterparts receive. So we wanted to be able to provide them with an extra level of support as well."

Through partnerships with schools and studios across the country, and support from Hollywood's behind-the-scenes elite like Academy Awards winners Ava DuVernay and Barry Jenkins (whose film Moonlight received early critical support thanks in part to AAFCA), the organization currently boasts a reach beyond just filmmakers of color, with the AAFCA Awards now considered part of the film industry's awards circuit.

AAFCA's other tentpole program, Synergy, brings that vibe back to Atlanta. "Synergy provides an opportunity for mostly below-the-line professionals, journalists very much included, to come together under one roof in hopes of sparking the seed of collaboration," says Robertson."We added the award component because we felt there was a need to recognize people who go above and beyond with regards to bringing work to the city and creating opportunities for those who live in Atlanta." The award's sixth recipient Rob Hardy, whose credits range from Shameless to Power to pop culture neo-classic Stomp The Yard  will be honored Thurs., July 20."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(3164) "For all of the advances and accolades thrown Atlanta's way in the film space over the last few years, there is a noticeably missing trickle down effect. Somehow, the local professionals you would expect to be the driving force behind the now No. 2 market in film and television production have yet to fully be accepted by their peers outside of the city.

"Hollywood and New York have yet to fully embrace Atlanta and show Atlanta the type of respect it deserves," says veteran film critic and author Gil Roberston. "Especially when you consider the amount of projects that have been made here for about a decade now. "Up until recently, for a number of projects, the majority of those people [working in production] would be shipped in for the duration of the project, then head back to New York or LA. Atlanta has been slow to grow the infrastructure that's necessary to grow the industry here. You're starting to see that change now, with institutions like the Georgia Academy taking disciplines and professions that are part of the production workspace seriously. So I think with the next generation of professionals emerging out of Atlanta you're gonna have to see that change."

While the idea of creating a professional community that supports future professionals in film may have been slow to grow in Georgia, it has been the driving force behind Robertson's Atlanta-based organization, the [http://www.aafca.com/|African-American Film Critics Association], for nearly 15 years.

Alongside fellow journalist Shawn Edwards, Robertson crafted the AAFCA to spark constructive dialogue and create opportunities that would provide their peers and future film journalists the kind of access they needed to grow their careers. "We wanted to make sure that if we could serve as door openers for them, we provided that type of support," Robertson says. "And the same for filmmakers, because of course very often Black filmmakers aren't given the same type of support as their counterparts receive. So we wanted to be able to provide them with an extra level of support as well."

Through partnerships with schools and studios across the country, and support from Hollywood's behind-the-scenes elite like Academy Awards winners Ava DuVernay and Barry Jenkins (whose film ''Moonlight'' received early critical support thanks in part to AAFCA), the organization currently boasts a reach beyond just filmmakers of color, with the AAFCA Awards now considered part of the film industry's awards circuit.

AAFCA's other tentpole program, Synergy, brings that vibe back to Atlanta. "Synergy provides an opportunity for mostly below-the-line professionals, journalists very much included, to come together under one roof in hopes of sparking the seed of collaboration," says Robertson."We added the award component because we felt there was a need to recognize people who go above and beyond with regards to bringing work to the city and creating opportunities for those who live in Atlanta." The award's sixth recipient Rob Hardy, whose credits range from ''Shameless'' to ''Power'' to pop culture neo-classic ''Stomp The Yard '' will be honored Thurs., July 20."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_creation_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-02-17T22:15:28+00:00"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_modification_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-05-27T20:36:49+00:00"
  ["tracker_field_contentCategory"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(3) "612"
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentCategory_text"]=>
  string(3) "612"
  ["tracker_field_contentControlCategory"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["tracker_field_scene"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentNeighborhood"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentRelations_multi"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(0) ""
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentRelatedContent_multi"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(0) ""
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentRelatedWikiPages_multi"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(0) ""
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentBASEContentID"]=>
  string(8) "20867947"
  ["tracker_field_contentBASEAuthorID"]=>
  int(0)
  ["tracker_field_section"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["language"]=>
  string(7) "unknown"
  ["attachments"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["comment_count"]=>
  int(0)
  ["categories"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    int(612)
  }
  ["deep_categories"]=>
  array(3) {
    [0]=>
    int(242)
    [1]=>
    int(244)
    [2]=>
    int(612)
  }
  ["categories_under_28"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_28"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_1"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_1"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_177"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_177"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_209"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_209"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_163"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_163"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_171"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_171"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_153"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_153"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_242"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_242"]=>
  array(2) {
    [0]=>
    int(244)
    [1]=>
    int(612)
  }
  ["categories_under_564"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_564"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_1182"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_1182"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["freetags"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["geo_located"]=>
  string(1) "n"
  ["allowed_groups"]=>
  array(2) {
    [0]=>
    string(6) "Admins"
    [1]=>
    string(9) "Anonymous"
  }
  ["allowed_users"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(28) "clint@thenetworkedplanet.com"
  }
  ["relations"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["relation_objects"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["relation_types"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["relation_count"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["title_initial"]=>
  string(1) "G"
  ["title_firstword"]=>
  string(3) "Gil"
  ["searchable"]=>
  string(1) "y"
  ["url"]=>
  string(10) "item266122"
  ["object_type"]=>
  string(11) "trackeritem"
  ["object_id"]=>
  string(6) "266122"
  ["contents"]=>
  string(3464) "    The veteran critic opens up about our city's growing industry and the upcoming celebration of film, Synergy   2017-07-18T21:16:00+00:00 Gil Robertson talks making movies clint@thenetworkedplanet.com Clint Bergst Tai Saint-Louis  2017-07-18T21:16:00+00:00  For all of the advances and accolades thrown Atlanta's way in the film space over the last few years, there is a noticeably missing trickle down effect. Somehow, the local professionals you would expect to be the driving force behind the now No. 2 market in film and television production have yet to fully be accepted by their peers outside of the city.

"Hollywood and New York have yet to fully embrace Atlanta and show Atlanta the type of respect it deserves," says veteran film critic and author Gil Roberston. "Especially when you consider the amount of projects that have been made here for about a decade now. "Up until recently, for a number of projects, the majority of those people working in production would be shipped in for the duration of the project, then head back to New York or LA. Atlanta has been slow to grow the infrastructure that's necessary to grow the industry here. You're starting to see that change now, with institutions like the Georgia Academy taking disciplines and professions that are part of the production workspace seriously. So I think with the next generation of professionals emerging out of Atlanta you're gonna have to see that change."

While the idea of creating a professional community that supports future professionals in film may have been slow to grow in Georgia, it has been the driving force behind Robertson's Atlanta-based organization, the African-American Film Critics Association, for nearly 15 years.

Alongside fellow journalist Shawn Edwards, Robertson crafted the AAFCA to spark constructive dialogue and create opportunities that would provide their peers and future film journalists the kind of access they needed to grow their careers. "We wanted to make sure that if we could serve as door openers for them, we provided that type of support," Robertson says. "And the same for filmmakers, because of course very often Black filmmakers aren't given the same type of support as their counterparts receive. So we wanted to be able to provide them with an extra level of support as well."

Through partnerships with schools and studios across the country, and support from Hollywood's behind-the-scenes elite like Academy Awards winners Ava DuVernay and Barry Jenkins (whose film Moonlight received early critical support thanks in part to AAFCA), the organization currently boasts a reach beyond just filmmakers of color, with the AAFCA Awards now considered part of the film industry's awards circuit.

AAFCA's other tentpole program, Synergy, brings that vibe back to Atlanta. "Synergy provides an opportunity for mostly below-the-line professionals, journalists very much included, to come together under one roof in hopes of sparking the seed of collaboration," says Robertson."We added the award component because we felt there was a need to recognize people who go above and beyond with regards to bringing work to the city and creating opportunities for those who live in Atlanta." The award's sixth recipient Rob Hardy, whose credits range from Shameless to Power to pop culture neo-classic Stomp The Yard  will be honored Thurs., July 20.             20867947                           Gil Robertson talks making movies "
  ["score"]=>
  float(0)
  ["_index"]=>
  string(21) "atlantawiki_tiki_main"
  ["objectlink"]=>
  string(215) "Gil Robertson talks making movies"
  ["photos"]=>
  string(130) "Coming Soon

"
  ["desc"]=>
  string(116) "The veteran critic opens up about our city's growing industry and the upcoming celebration of film, Synergy"
  ["eventDate"]=>
  string(116) "The veteran critic opens up about our city's growing industry and the upcoming celebration of film, Synergy"
  ["noads"]=>
  string(10) "y"
}

Article

Tuesday July 18, 2017 05:16 pm EDT
The veteran critic opens up about our city's growing industry and the upcoming celebration of film, Synergy | more...
array(78) {
  ["title"]=>
  string(15) "Redefining RaRa"
  ["modification_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-06-16T01:47:24+00:00"
  ["creation_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-01-31T07:07:11+00:00"
  ["contributors"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(29) "ben.eason@creativeloafing.com"
  }
  ["date"]=>
  string(25) "2017-03-13T18:55:00+00:00"
  ["tracker_status"]=>
  string(1) "o"
  ["tracker_id"]=>
  string(2) "11"
  ["view_permission"]=>
  string(13) "view_trackers"
  ["tracker_field_contentTitle"]=>
  string(15) "Redefining RaRa"
  ["tracker_field_contentByline"]=>
  string(15) "Tai Saint-Louis"
  ["tracker_field_contentByline_exact"]=>
  string(15) "Tai Saint-Louis"
  ["tracker_field_contentBylinePerson"]=>
  string(8) "13088083"
  ["tracker_field_description"]=>
  string(83) "The East Atlanta-bred rapper defines success on his own terms with 'I Am What I Am'"
  ["tracker_field_description_raw"]=>
  string(83) "The East Atlanta-bred rapper defines success on his own terms with 'I Am What I Am'"
  ["tracker_field_contentDate"]=>
  string(25) "2017-03-13T18:55:00+00:00"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage"]=>
  string(25) "Content:_:Redefining RaRa"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_text"]=>
  string(3330) "

No value assigned

If the seven-bedroom mansion he now calls home is any indication, RaRa has packed a lot of living into the three years that have passed since he appeared in 2014, poised to take the hip-hop world by storm with his HighEndLowLife mixtape.

And while the East Atlanta-bred rapper, born Rodriguez Smith, proudly admits that everything has changed he’s still the same person he was three years ago, when CL caught up with him on his grandmother’s porch in Decatur.

Self-awareness is the driving force behind his latest mixtape, I Am What I Am, released March 10 via Street Dreams/Hustle Gang/Empire. “I’ve had to do a lot of things over the last 10 years getting back to where I am today,” says the former So So Def-signed artist. “Different people caught me at different times, so different people know me in different ways,” he says. “I can be anything depending on who’s telling the story. I’m OK with that.”

It’s a different attitude than one might expect from an artist whom many counted out when HighEndLowLife wasn’t met with the overwhelming success that many expected. From RaRa’s perspective the situation is much different. “Great shit did happen; we won,” he says. “I get pissed off every day when people on my team think that we just didn’t win. That shit fucks me up. People just don’t know how to recognize a win. I was just at Jay-Z’s house. I saw Blue Ivy running around in pajamas. I definitely won. I just don’t know what people want to happen.”

     The time between projects was filled with the type of soul searching and creative expression that led him to launch a second career as a producer. For I Am What I Am, Rara produced the songs “For the Money” feautring T.I. and “Notice It.” He also produced Meek Mill’s “On the Regular” and T.I.’s “Black Man” featuring Meek Mill and Quavo.
       

He also took the opportunity to learn the game from the perfect mentor in T.I., whose ability to marry street culture with mainstream glam opened a new lane in Southern hip-hop; a lane which has remained vacant since. T.I. also makes a guest appearance on I Am What I Am, delivering verses such as “Should be long gone, get you gone/In the all chrome, my new whip/Goin’ real fast, get slowed down” in the song “For the Money.”
        

        RaRa believes with confidence that he’s the man to take over the lane T.I. created. “There isn’t anybody else that’s got what I got,” he says. “Street niggas don’t put the effort into being lyrical. And niggas who rap a lot are boring as hell. They’re so busy trying to prove this ‘I’m a good rapper’ point that the music gets lost. So to have the lyrics, be respected in the streets, have girls like them, know how to make radio records and still have some business sense is very rare.”


        

I Am What I Am effortlessly covers those bases. The seven-track EP plays like a confessional, not of mistakes made, but of truths discovered. The project also showcases RaRa’s ability to speak for his audience on songs such as “Lawd,” a musical prayer spoken on behalf of those whose struggles outweigh his. “Dear Summer” is told from the perspective of someone whose turn has finally come — something that RaRa understands all too well."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(3871) "

%{[ data-embed-type="image" data-embed-id="58c6a9b139ab46873a53d658" data-embed-element="span" data-embed-size="320w" data-embed-align="right" contenteditable="false" ]}%

If the seven-bedroom mansion he now calls home is any indication, RaRa has packed a lot of living into the three years that have passed since he appeared in 2014, poised to take the hip-hop world by storm with his ''[http://indy.livemixtapes.com/mixtapes/27940/rara-high-end-low-life.html|HighEndLowLife]'' mixtape.

And while the East Atlanta-bred rapper, born Rodriguez Smith, proudly admits that everything ''has'' changed he’s still the same person he was three years ago, when[http://www.clatl.com/news/article/13078713/the-chronicles-of-rara| ]''[http://www.clatl.com/news/article/13078713/the-chronicles-of-rara|CL]''[http://www.clatl.com/news/article/13078713/the-chronicles-of-rara| caught up with him on his grandmother’s porch in Decatur.]

Self-awareness is the driving force behind his latest mixtape, ''[http://www.hotnewhiphop.com/rara-i-am-what-i-am-new-mixtape.116947.html|I Am What I Am]'', released March 10 via Street Dreams/Hustle Gang/Empire. “I’ve had to do a lot of things over the last 10 years getting back to where I am today,” says the former So So Def-signed artist. “Different people caught me at different times, so different people know me in different ways,” he says. “I can be anything depending on who’s telling the story. I’m OK with that.”

It’s a different attitude than one might expect from an artist whom many counted out when ''HighEndLowLife'' wasn’t met with the overwhelming success that many expected. From RaRa’s perspective the situation is much different. “Great shit ''did'' happen; we won,” he says. “I get pissed off every day when people on my team think that we just didn’t win. That shit fucks me up. People just don’t know how to recognize a win. I was just at Jay-Z’s house. I saw Blue Ivy running around in pajamas. I definitely won. I just don’t know what people want to happen.”

     The time between projects was filled with the type of soul searching and creative expression that led him to launch a second career as a producer. For ''I Am What I Am'', Rara produced the songs “For the Money” feautring T.I. and “Notice It.” He also produced Meek Mill’s “On the Regular” and T.I.’s “Black Man” featuring Meek Mill and Quavo.
       

He also took the opportunity to learn the game from the perfect mentor in T.I., whose ability to marry street culture with mainstream glam opened a new lane in Southern hip-hop; a lane which has remained vacant since. T.I. also makes a guest appearance on ''I Am What I Am'', delivering verses such as “Should be long gone, get you gone/In the all chrome, my new whip/Goin’ real fast, get slowed down” in the song “For the Money.”
        

        RaRa believes with confidence that he’s the man to take over the lane T.I. created. “There isn’t anybody else that’s got what I got,” he says. “Street niggas don’t put the effort into being lyrical. And niggas who rap a lot are boring as hell. They’re so busy trying to prove this ‘I’m a good rapper’ point that the music gets lost. So to have the lyrics, be respected in the streets, have girls like them, know how to make radio records and still have some business sense is very rare.”


        

''I Am What I Am'' effortlessly covers those bases. The seven-track EP plays like a confessional, not of mistakes made, but of truths discovered. The project also showcases RaRa’s ability to speak for his audience on songs such as “Lawd,” a musical prayer spoken on behalf of those whose struggles outweigh his. “Dear Summer” is told from the perspective of someone whose turn has finally come — something that RaRa understands all too well."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_creation_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-02-01T03:09:47+00:00"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_modification_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-02-02T00:34:56+00:00"
  ["tracker_field_contentCategory"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentControlCategory"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["tracker_field_scene"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentNeighborhood"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentRelations_multi"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(0) ""
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentRelatedContent_multi"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(0) ""
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentRelatedWikiPages_multi"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(0) ""
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentBASEContentID"]=>
  string(8) "20854653"
  ["tracker_field_contentBASEAuthorID"]=>
  int(0)
  ["tracker_field_contentLegacyURL1"]=>
  string(71) "http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/03/IMG_4741.58c6a9e71c724.png"
  ["tracker_field_section"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["language"]=>
  string(7) "unknown"
  ["attachments"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["comment_count"]=>
  int(0)
  ["categories"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(6) "orphan"
  }
  ["deep_categories"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(6) "orphan"
  }
  ["categories_under_28"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_28"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_1"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_1"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_177"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_177"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_209"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_209"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_163"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_163"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_171"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_171"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_153"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_153"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_242"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_242"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_564"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_564"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_1182"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_1182"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["freetags"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["geo_located"]=>
  string(1) "n"
  ["allowed_groups"]=>
  array(2) {
    [0]=>
    string(6) "Admins"
    [1]=>
    string(9) "Anonymous"
  }
  ["allowed_users"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["relations"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["relation_objects"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["relation_types"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["relation_count"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["title_initial"]=>
  string(1) "R"
  ["title_firstword"]=>
  string(10) "Redefining"
  ["searchable"]=>
  string(1) "y"
  ["url"]=>
  string(10) "item268122"
  ["object_type"]=>
  string(11) "trackeritem"
  ["object_id"]=>
  string(6) "268122"
  ["contents"]=>
  string(3643) "    The East Atlanta-bred rapper defines success on his own terms with 'I Am What I Am'   2017-03-13T18:55:00+00:00 Redefining RaRa   Tai Saint-Louis  2017-03-13T18:55:00+00:00  

No value assigned

If the seven-bedroom mansion he now calls home is any indication, RaRa has packed a lot of living into the three years that have passed since he appeared in 2014, poised to take the hip-hop world by storm with his HighEndLowLife mixtape.

And while the East Atlanta-bred rapper, born Rodriguez Smith, proudly admits that everything has changed he’s still the same person he was three years ago, when CL caught up with him on his grandmother’s porch in Decatur.

Self-awareness is the driving force behind his latest mixtape, I Am What I Am, released March 10 via Street Dreams/Hustle Gang/Empire. “I’ve had to do a lot of things over the last 10 years getting back to where I am today,” says the former So So Def-signed artist. “Different people caught me at different times, so different people know me in different ways,” he says. “I can be anything depending on who’s telling the story. I’m OK with that.”

It’s a different attitude than one might expect from an artist whom many counted out when HighEndLowLife wasn’t met with the overwhelming success that many expected. From RaRa’s perspective the situation is much different. “Great shit did happen; we won,” he says. “I get pissed off every day when people on my team think that we just didn’t win. That shit fucks me up. People just don’t know how to recognize a win. I was just at Jay-Z’s house. I saw Blue Ivy running around in pajamas. I definitely won. I just don’t know what people want to happen.”

     The time between projects was filled with the type of soul searching and creative expression that led him to launch a second career as a producer. For I Am What I Am, Rara produced the songs “For the Money” feautring T.I. and “Notice It.” He also produced Meek Mill’s “On the Regular” and T.I.’s “Black Man” featuring Meek Mill and Quavo.
       

He also took the opportunity to learn the game from the perfect mentor in T.I., whose ability to marry street culture with mainstream glam opened a new lane in Southern hip-hop; a lane which has remained vacant since. T.I. also makes a guest appearance on I Am What I Am, delivering verses such as “Should be long gone, get you gone/In the all chrome, my new whip/Goin’ real fast, get slowed down” in the song “For the Money.”
        

        RaRa believes with confidence that he’s the man to take over the lane T.I. created. “There isn’t anybody else that’s got what I got,” he says. “Street niggas don’t put the effort into being lyrical. And niggas who rap a lot are boring as hell. They’re so busy trying to prove this ‘I’m a good rapper’ point that the music gets lost. So to have the lyrics, be respected in the streets, have girls like them, know how to make radio records and still have some business sense is very rare.”


        

I Am What I Am effortlessly covers those bases. The seven-track EP plays like a confessional, not of mistakes made, but of truths discovered. The project also showcases RaRa’s ability to speak for his audience on songs such as “Lawd,” a musical prayer spoken on behalf of those whose struggles outweigh his. “Dear Summer” is told from the perspective of someone whose turn has finally come — something that RaRa understands all too well.             20854653         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/03/IMG_4741.58c6a9e71c724.png                  Redefining RaRa "
  ["score"]=>
  float(0)
  ["_index"]=>
  string(21) "atlantawiki_tiki_main"
  ["objectlink"]=>
  string(197) "Redefining RaRa"
  ["photos"]=>
  string(130) "Coming Soon

"
  ["desc"]=>
  string(92) "The East Atlanta-bred rapper defines success on his own terms with 'I Am What I Am'"
  ["eventDate"]=>
  string(92) "The East Atlanta-bred rapper defines success on his own terms with 'I Am What I Am'"
  ["noads"]=>
  string(10) "y"
}

Article

Monday March 13, 2017 02:55 pm EDT
The East Atlanta-bred rapper defines success on his own terms with 'I Am What I Am' | more...
array(78) {
  ["title"]=>
  string(22) "Haiti rises in the ATL"
  ["modification_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-06-16T01:50:07+00:00"
  ["creation_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-01-31T07:07:11+00:00"
  ["contributors"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(29) "ben.eason@creativeloafing.com"
  }
  ["date"]=>
  string(25) "2017-03-08T01:44:00+00:00"
  ["tracker_status"]=>
  string(1) "o"
  ["tracker_id"]=>
  string(2) "11"
  ["view_permission"]=>
  string(13) "view_trackers"
  ["tracker_field_contentTitle"]=>
  string(22) "Haiti rises in the ATL"
  ["tracker_field_contentByline"]=>
  string(15) "Tai Saint-Louis"
  ["tracker_field_contentByline_exact"]=>
  string(15) "Tai Saint-Louis"
  ["tracker_field_contentBylinePerson"]=>
  string(8) "13088083"
  ["tracker_field_description"]=>
  string(60) "The metro area finds its place in the Haitian-American atlas"
  ["tracker_field_description_raw"]=>
  string(60) "The metro area finds its place in the Haitian-American atlas"
  ["tracker_field_contentDate"]=>
  string(25) "2017-03-08T01:44:00+00:00"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage"]=>
  string(32) "Content:_:Haiti rises in the ATL"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_text"]=>
  string(4912) "%{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2258bf1b3139ab461e4e0a6999%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22320w%22 data-embed-align=%22right%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}%Ask any Haitian or Haitian-American you know, and it’s almost a guarantee they have relatives living in at least three of the following American cities: New York, Miami, Boston or Chicago. Of course, that’s not unique to Haitians living abroad: As long as foreigners have emigrated to the U.S. (i.e., forever), they’ve tended to move to cities where a community of their own had gathered before them.But over the past five to 10 years, Atlanta has quietly found its place in the Haitian-American atlas. The Consulate General of Haiti in Atlanta, in fact, counts its local constituency at approximately 50,000. The fact that a Haitian Consulate even exists in Buckhead is a testament to the way that community has galvanized here, particularly since the 2010 earthquake which devastated Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.This community consists of churches like Good Samaritan Haitian Alliance Church in Lawrenceville; restaurants like C’est Si Bon in Smyrna and Olé in Stone Mountain; and promoters like the Catch Me If You Can Social Club, which brings popular Haitian acts to the metro area on a fairly regularly basis. There is the well-established Haitian American Nurses Association, which partners with the Foundation for Haitian Development to organize an annual health fair with French and Haitian Kreyol-speaking volunteers. Yet, by and large, this community remains a secret society of sorts: those who are in know all the major players, the Haitian barbershops and grocery stores, the online radio stations and upcoming events featuring Haitian music, the gossip and the beefs. But then there are hundreds of people like Chenere Dieudonne, better known on Atlanta’s hip-hop airwaves and club scene as DJ Kash. Over the past two years, Kash has proclaimed himself “that fly Haitian kid” on both V-103 and Hot 107.9’s airwaves and become a fixture within the local West Indian community. “When I moved here, I didn’t really know where the Haitian community was,” says the Brooklyn native. “So I figured by making it known that I was Haitian and proud, that would bring the people to me.”What keeps first- and second-generation Haitians and Haitian-Americans like Kash — and Fulton County Youth Commission Director Reginald Crossley — from fully finding their place within the larger local community boils down to a lifestyle-driven generational gap.“A lot of people within the Haitian community here are content with going to work, coming home and interacting with the people at church,” Crossley says. “They’re not interested in meeting new people or even coming downtown. On the flip side are … young professionals who are proud of their heritage and promote it, but whose social lives are tied to our work in a lot of ways. So we socialize downtown and kinda fall into place within the larger Caribbean community.”The Haitian community is definitely here in the Atlanta area, though. And from the centrally placed vantage point of Saurel Quettan, president of the Georgia Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce, that community is thriving and more visible than ever. Quettan credits the earthquake as the final catalyst that brought some cohesiveness to the many smaller local Haitian groups that had been functioning prior to. “I would say going back 10 years before that, the community had been working to come together,” Quettan says. “In trying to work together after the earthquake, people started to pay attention to what was happening beyond their immediate circle, discovering new businesses and others with shared interests.”Within a year of the earthquake, the Haitian presence in Atlanta seemed solidified with the arrival of the Consulate and Delta’s announcement of a direct flight from Hartsfield-Jackson to Port-au-Prince. But still, that secret-society feel remains. To that end, Crossley believes the Consulate’s decision to work toward promoting Haitian culture in Atlanta over bringing Atlanta’s Haitian community together is a misstep. It’s one Quettan is eager to see if he can correct. The Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce lists a directory of Haitian-owned businesses and profiles of its members on its website (www.gahcci.org). Its “Buy Local and Buy Haitian” initiative is also supported by networking and social events that not only promote the businesses within the organization, but also encourage members of the local community to come together.That generational gap also seems to be closing: Last month, community organization Haitian-American Youth Reaching Out partnered with State Rep. Erica Thomas to celebrate the Haitian community and its contributions to the state of Georgia. Among the honorees: DJ Kash."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(4894) "%{[ data-embed-type="image" data-embed-id="58bf1b3139ab461e4e0a6999" data-embed-element="span" data-embed-size="320w" data-embed-align="right" contenteditable="false" ]}%Ask any Haitian or Haitian-American you know, and it’s almost a guarantee they have relatives living in at least three of the following American cities: New York, Miami, Boston or Chicago. Of course, that’s not unique to Haitians living abroad: As long as foreigners have emigrated to the U.S. (i.e., forever), they’ve tended to move to cities where a community of their own had gathered before them.But over the past five to 10 years, Atlanta has quietly found its place in the Haitian-American atlas. The Consulate General of Haiti in Atlanta, in fact, counts its local constituency at approximately 50,000. The fact that a Haitian Consulate even exists in Buckhead is a testament to the way that community has galvanized here, particularly since the 2010 earthquake which devastated Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.This community consists of churches like Good Samaritan Haitian Alliance Church in Lawrenceville; restaurants like C’est Si Bon in Smyrna and Olé in Stone Mountain; and promoters like the Catch Me If You Can Social Club, which brings popular Haitian acts to the metro area on a fairly regularly basis. There is the well-established Haitian American Nurses Association, which partners with the Foundation for Haitian Development to organize an annual health fair with French and Haitian Kreyol-speaking volunteers. Yet, by and large, this community remains a secret society of sorts: those who are in know all the major players, the Haitian barbershops and grocery stores, the online radio stations and upcoming events featuring Haitian music, the gossip and the beefs. But then there are hundreds of people like Chenere Dieudonne, better known on Atlanta’s hip-hop airwaves and club scene as DJ Kash. Over the past two years, Kash has proclaimed himself “that fly Haitian kid” on both V-103 and Hot 107.9’s airwaves and become a fixture within the local West Indian community. “When I moved here, I didn’t really know where the Haitian community was,” says the Brooklyn native. “So I figured by making it known that I was Haitian and proud, that would bring the people to me.”What keeps first- and second-generation Haitians and Haitian-Americans like Kash — and Fulton County Youth Commission Director Reginald Crossley — from fully finding their place within the larger local community boils down to a lifestyle-driven generational gap.“A lot of people within the Haitian community here are content with going to work, coming home and interacting with the people at church,” Crossley says. “They’re not interested in meeting new people or even coming downtown. On the flip side are … young professionals who are proud of their heritage and promote it, but whose social lives are tied to our work in a lot of ways. So we socialize downtown and kinda fall into place within the larger Caribbean community.”The Haitian community is definitely here in the Atlanta area, though. And from the centrally placed vantage point of Saurel Quettan, president of the Georgia Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce, that community is thriving and more visible than ever. Quettan credits the earthquake as the final catalyst that brought some cohesiveness to the many smaller local Haitian groups that had been functioning prior to. “I would say going back 10 years before that, the community had been working to come together,” Quettan says. “In trying to work together after the earthquake, people started to pay attention to what was happening beyond their immediate circle, discovering new businesses and others with shared interests.”Within a year of the earthquake, the Haitian presence in Atlanta seemed solidified with the arrival of the Consulate and Delta’s announcement of a direct flight from Hartsfield-Jackson to Port-au-Prince. But still, that secret-society feel remains. To that end, Crossley believes the Consulate’s decision to work toward promoting Haitian culture in Atlanta over bringing Atlanta’s Haitian community together is a misstep. It’s one Quettan is eager to see if he can correct. The Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce lists a directory of Haitian-owned businesses and profiles of its members on its website ([www.gahcci.org]). Its “Buy Local and Buy Haitian” initiative is also supported by networking and social events that not only promote the businesses within the organization, but also encourage members of the local community to come together.That generational gap also seems to be closing: Last month, community organization Haitian-American Youth Reaching Out partnered with State Rep. Erica Thomas to celebrate the Haitian community and its contributions to the state of Georgia. Among the honorees: DJ Kash."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_creation_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-02-01T03:09:47+00:00"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_modification_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-02-02T00:34:56+00:00"
  ["tracker_field_contentCategory"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentControlCategory"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["tracker_field_scene"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentNeighborhood"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentRelations_multi"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(0) ""
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentRelatedContent_multi"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(0) ""
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentRelatedWikiPages_multi"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(0) ""
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentBASEContentID"]=>
  string(8) "20854236"
  ["tracker_field_contentBASEAuthorID"]=>
  int(0)
  ["tracker_field_contentLegacyURL1"]=>
  string(81) "http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/03/news_haitian1_1_46.58bf1b6ee7f89.png"
  ["tracker_field_section"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["language"]=>
  string(7) "unknown"
  ["attachments"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["comment_count"]=>
  int(0)
  ["categories"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(6) "orphan"
  }
  ["deep_categories"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(6) "orphan"
  }
  ["categories_under_28"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_28"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_1"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_1"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_177"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_177"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_209"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_209"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_163"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_163"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_171"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_171"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_153"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_153"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_242"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_242"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_564"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_564"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_1182"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_1182"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["freetags"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["geo_located"]=>
  string(1) "n"
  ["allowed_groups"]=>
  array(2) {
    [0]=>
    string(6) "Admins"
    [1]=>
    string(9) "Anonymous"
  }
  ["allowed_users"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["relations"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["relation_objects"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["relation_types"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["relation_count"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["title_initial"]=>
  string(1) "H"
  ["title_firstword"]=>
  string(5) "Haiti"
  ["searchable"]=>
  string(1) "y"
  ["url"]=>
  string(10) "item268096"
  ["object_type"]=>
  string(11) "trackeritem"
  ["object_id"]=>
  string(6) "268096"
  ["contents"]=>
  string(5226) "    The metro area finds its place in the Haitian-American atlas   2017-03-08T01:44:00+00:00 Haiti rises in the ATL   Tai Saint-Louis  2017-03-08T01:44:00+00:00  %{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2258bf1b3139ab461e4e0a6999%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22320w%22 data-embed-align=%22right%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}%Ask any Haitian or Haitian-American you know, and it’s almost a guarantee they have relatives living in at least three of the following American cities: New York, Miami, Boston or Chicago. Of course, that’s not unique to Haitians living abroad: As long as foreigners have emigrated to the U.S. (i.e., forever), they’ve tended to move to cities where a community of their own had gathered before them.But over the past five to 10 years, Atlanta has quietly found its place in the Haitian-American atlas. The Consulate General of Haiti in Atlanta, in fact, counts its local constituency at approximately 50,000. The fact that a Haitian Consulate even exists in Buckhead is a testament to the way that community has galvanized here, particularly since the 2010 earthquake which devastated Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.This community consists of churches like Good Samaritan Haitian Alliance Church in Lawrenceville; restaurants like C’est Si Bon in Smyrna and Olé in Stone Mountain; and promoters like the Catch Me If You Can Social Club, which brings popular Haitian acts to the metro area on a fairly regularly basis. There is the well-established Haitian American Nurses Association, which partners with the Foundation for Haitian Development to organize an annual health fair with French and Haitian Kreyol-speaking volunteers. Yet, by and large, this community remains a secret society of sorts: those who are in know all the major players, the Haitian barbershops and grocery stores, the online radio stations and upcoming events featuring Haitian music, the gossip and the beefs. But then there are hundreds of people like Chenere Dieudonne, better known on Atlanta’s hip-hop airwaves and club scene as DJ Kash. Over the past two years, Kash has proclaimed himself “that fly Haitian kid” on both V-103 and Hot 107.9’s airwaves and become a fixture within the local West Indian community. “When I moved here, I didn’t really know where the Haitian community was,” says the Brooklyn native. “So I figured by making it known that I was Haitian and proud, that would bring the people to me.”What keeps first- and second-generation Haitians and Haitian-Americans like Kash — and Fulton County Youth Commission Director Reginald Crossley — from fully finding their place within the larger local community boils down to a lifestyle-driven generational gap.“A lot of people within the Haitian community here are content with going to work, coming home and interacting with the people at church,” Crossley says. “They’re not interested in meeting new people or even coming downtown. On the flip side are … young professionals who are proud of their heritage and promote it, but whose social lives are tied to our work in a lot of ways. So we socialize downtown and kinda fall into place within the larger Caribbean community.”The Haitian community is definitely here in the Atlanta area, though. And from the centrally placed vantage point of Saurel Quettan, president of the Georgia Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce, that community is thriving and more visible than ever. Quettan credits the earthquake as the final catalyst that brought some cohesiveness to the many smaller local Haitian groups that had been functioning prior to. “I would say going back 10 years before that, the community had been working to come together,” Quettan says. “In trying to work together after the earthquake, people started to pay attention to what was happening beyond their immediate circle, discovering new businesses and others with shared interests.”Within a year of the earthquake, the Haitian presence in Atlanta seemed solidified with the arrival of the Consulate and Delta’s announcement of a direct flight from Hartsfield-Jackson to Port-au-Prince. But still, that secret-society feel remains. To that end, Crossley believes the Consulate’s decision to work toward promoting Haitian culture in Atlanta over bringing Atlanta’s Haitian community together is a misstep. It’s one Quettan is eager to see if he can correct. The Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce lists a directory of Haitian-owned businesses and profiles of its members on its website (www.gahcci.org). Its “Buy Local and Buy Haitian” initiative is also supported by networking and social events that not only promote the businesses within the organization, but also encourage members of the local community to come together.That generational gap also seems to be closing: Last month, community organization Haitian-American Youth Reaching Out partnered with State Rep. Erica Thomas to celebrate the Haitian community and its contributions to the state of Georgia. Among the honorees: DJ Kash.             20854236         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/03/news_haitian1_1_46.58bf1b6ee7f89.png                  Haiti rises in the ATL "
  ["score"]=>
  float(0)
  ["_index"]=>
  string(21) "atlantawiki_tiki_main"
  ["objectlink"]=>
  string(204) "Haiti rises in the ATL"
  ["photos"]=>
  string(130) "Coming Soon

"
  ["desc"]=>
  string(69) "The metro area finds its place in the Haitian-American atlas"
  ["eventDate"]=>
  string(69) "The metro area finds its place in the Haitian-American atlas"
  ["noads"]=>
  string(10) "y"
}

Article

Tuesday March 7, 2017 08:44 pm EST
The metro area finds its place in the Haitian-American atlas | more...
array(78) {
  ["title"]=>
  string(17) "Blossom and build"
  ["modification_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-06-16T00:40:47+00:00"
  ["creation_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-01-31T07:07:11+00:00"
  ["contributors"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(29) "ben.eason@creativeloafing.com"
  }
  ["date"]=>
  string(25) "2016-12-20T20:50:00+00:00"
  ["tracker_status"]=>
  string(1) "o"
  ["tracker_id"]=>
  string(2) "11"
  ["view_permission"]=>
  string(13) "view_trackers"
  ["tracker_field_contentTitle"]=>
  string(17) "Blossom and build"
  ["tracker_field_contentByline"]=>
  string(15) "Tai Saint-Louis"
  ["tracker_field_contentByline_exact"]=>
  string(15) "Tai Saint-Louis"
  ["tracker_field_contentBylinePerson"]=>
  string(8) "13088083"
  ["tracker_field_description"]=>
  string(51) "New digital TV network puts women of color in focus"
  ["tracker_field_description_raw"]=>
  string(51) "New digital TV network puts women of color in focus"
  ["tracker_field_contentDate"]=>
  string(25) "2016-12-20T20:50:00+00:00"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage"]=>
  string(27) "Content:_:Blossom and build"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_text"]=>
  string(5232) "%{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2258581bff39ab46925ed2b689%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}%When Diamonde Williamson travelled to the 2016 American Black Film Festival in June, she had seen and done enough in the realm of television production to know exactly what her career’s legacy would be. Having worked in production on popular reality vehicles "Chrisley Knows Best" and "Iyanla: Fix My Life" and in development alongside "Real Housewives of Atlanta" executive producer Carlos King, Williamson had moved back to Atlanta from L.A. determined not only to create content that empowered women, but to do it right here where her friends and loved ones were.



She had also already learned how difficult it was to successfully pitch and bring a show to development. And so she had begun the process of developing content that reflected women like herself, with the intent on distributing that content via YouTube. “But once I went to work at the ABFF, I really got to see how many content creators from around the country wanted so badly to be picked up by Paramount or NBC,” says Williamson. “Like, they were crawling over each other to get there, and I realized these people only felt validated by the recognition of these networks. But what if you don’t get picked up? What happens to all this good content?”



Thus was born Blossom: a digital television network set to launch on Jan. 29, 2017. “It’s like Netflix powered by women of color,” Williamson explains. If all goes as planned, on launch day Blossom will offer around 20 titles, a mix of original content, created by the network’s internal team of about 13 producers, as well as curated content created by women of color seeking to showcase their work in front of a larger audience than they might have access to on their own. 



Blossom’s goal of “redefining reality” is quite literal: The bulk of the networks’ content will be non-scripted. Because, as Williamson points out, while shows like "Black-ish," "Atlanta," "Insecure," and "Queen Sugar" have managed to finally present the variety in representation that many people of color have been seeking of late, that balance isn’t reflected in reality TV, which continues to offer the same narrow, unflattering portrayal of women of color in particular. While developing shows like “The Blossom Roundtable” — an intimate conversation between women of color in the media — and the live-streamed news program “#unrefined,” Williamson and her team have been seeking docu-series and other innovative ideas that are representative of multicultural millennial women across the board told in various formats. 



Gathering the curated content to add to Blossom’s line-up hasn’t come without its challenges, however. “Trying to get content creators to see the vision before our website was complete has absolutely been the biggest challenge of this process,” Williamson says. “People feel like they don’t want to lose their content. A lot of times people feel like, ‘If I keep my content on my site, if I point people to me, I will grow.’ They want to protect their brand, which I totally understand.”



Blossom’s subscription model offers those creators who do see the vision the opportunity to not only track and document their viewership, but also to interact with their audience. During the first three months following the launch, Blossom will offer 30-day trial memberships before requiring the $6.99 monthly fee. Williamson’s hope is to build a following of truly engaged subscribers. “This is gonna be a community network,” she says. “I really want the communities around the country to curate the content. I want the viewers’ stories to be told; I want the stories to be told from their perspective. I want them to really dive in and start formulating their own ideas. That’s where these networks miss the mark half the time: You can’t tell the story if you’re not connected to the people.”



As she gears up for the official launch of Blossom, Williamson has poured just as much energy into finding content as she has into identifying and bringing together her tribe. Over the summer, she partnered with local screenwriter Nakia Stephens to host #CreatorsWanted: A Collaborative Weekend for Creatives in Media, which included mixers, a panel on collaboration, a screening of Stephens’ series, "Cream x Coffee," and a workshop on pitching for television. The weekend is symbolic of who Williamson is at her core and what she plans on offering through Blossom. 



It’s about more than just the content. This platform allows Williamson not only to share what she’s learned from executives at networks like OWN and VH1, but also to leverage what she’s learned to change how women like her define success in film and television. Clearly, she’s skipped more than a few baby steps along this six-month journey. “Sometimes we scare ourselves out of shooting really high,” says the 27-year-old. “But in order to be truly disruptive on a high level, you have to start high.”

A preview version of Blossom is currently available at BlossomNetwork.tv."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(5314) "%{[ data-embed-type="image" data-embed-id="58581bff39ab46925ed2b689" data-embed-element="span" data-embed-size="640w" contenteditable="false" ]}%When Diamonde Williamson travelled to the 2016 American Black Film Festival in June, she had seen and done enough in the realm of television production to know exactly what her career’s legacy would be. Having worked in production on popular reality vehicles "Chrisley Knows Best" and "Iyanla: Fix My Life" and in development alongside "Real Housewives of Atlanta" executive producer Carlos King, Williamson had moved back to Atlanta from L.A. determined not only to create content that empowered women, but to do it right here where her friends and loved ones were.

____

She had also already learned how difficult it was to successfully pitch and bring a show to development. And so she had begun the process of developing content that reflected women like herself, with the intent on distributing that content via YouTube. “But once I went to work at the ABFF, I really got to see how many content creators from around the country wanted so badly to be picked up by Paramount or NBC,” says Williamson. “Like, they were crawling over each other to get there, and I realized these people only felt validated by the recognition of these networks. But what if you don’t get picked up? What happens to all this good content?”

____

Thus was born [http://www.blossomnetwork.tv/|Blossom]: a digital television network set to launch on Jan. 29, 2017. “It’s like Netflix powered by women of color,” Williamson explains. If all goes as planned, on launch day Blossom will offer around 20 titles, a mix of original content, created by the network’s internal team of about 13 producers, as well as curated content created by women of color seeking to showcase their work in front of a larger audience than they might have access to on their own. 

____

Blossom’s goal of “redefining reality” is quite literal: The bulk of the networks’ content will be non-scripted. Because, as Williamson points out, while shows like "Black-ish," "Atlanta," "Insecure," and "Queen Sugar" have managed to finally present the variety in representation that many people of color have been seeking of late, that balance isn’t reflected in reality TV, which continues to offer the same narrow, unflattering portrayal of women of color in particular. While developing shows like “The Blossom Roundtable” — an intimate conversation between women of color in the media — and the live-streamed news program “#unrefined,” Williamson and her team have been seeking docu-series and other innovative ideas that are representative of multicultural millennial women across the board told in various formats. 

____

Gathering the curated content to add to Blossom’s line-up hasn’t come without its challenges, however. “Trying to get content creators to see the vision before our website was complete has absolutely been the biggest challenge of this process,” Williamson says. “People feel like they don’t want to lose their content. A lot of times people feel like, ‘If I keep my content on my site, if I point people to me, I will grow.’ They want to protect their brand, which I totally understand.”

____

Blossom’s subscription model offers those creators who do see the vision the opportunity to not only track and document their viewership, but also to interact with their audience. During the first three months following the launch, Blossom will offer 30-day trial memberships before requiring the $6.99 monthly fee. Williamson’s hope is to build a following of truly engaged subscribers. “This is gonna be a community network,” she says. “I really want the communities around the country to curate the content. I want [the viewers’] stories to be told; I want the stories to be told from their perspective. I want them to really dive in and start formulating their own ideas. That’s where these networks miss the mark half the time: You can’t tell the story if you’re not connected to the people.”

____

As she gears up for the official launch of Blossom, Williamson has poured just as much energy into finding content as she has into identifying and bringing together her tribe. Over the summer, she partnered with local screenwriter Nakia Stephens to host #CreatorsWanted: A Collaborative Weekend for Creatives in Media, which included mixers, a panel on collaboration, a screening of Stephens’ series, "Cream x Coffee," and a workshop on pitching for television. The weekend is symbolic of who Williamson is at her core and what she plans on offering through Blossom. 

____

It’s about more than just the content. This platform allows Williamson not only to share what she’s learned from executives at networks like OWN and VH1, but also to leverage what she’s learned to change how women like her define success in film and television. Clearly, she’s skipped more than a few baby steps along this six-month journey. “Sometimes we scare ourselves out of shooting really high,” says the 27-year-old. “But in order to be truly disruptive on a high level, you have to start high.”

''A preview version of Blossom is currently available at [http://www.blossomnetwork.tv/|BlossomNetwork.tv].''"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_creation_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-02-01T03:09:47+00:00"
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_modification_date"]=>
  string(25) "2018-02-02T00:32:28+00:00"
  ["tracker_field_contentCategory"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentControlCategory"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["tracker_field_scene"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentNeighborhood"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentRelations_multi"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(0) ""
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentRelatedContent_multi"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(0) ""
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentRelatedWikiPages_multi"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(0) ""
  }
  ["tracker_field_contentBASEContentID"]=>
  string(8) "20847184"
  ["tracker_field_contentBASEAuthorID"]=>
  int(0)
  ["tracker_field_contentLegacyURL1"]=>
  string(92) "http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2016/12/Diamonde___Blossom_Roundtable.58581bfb0beb5.png"
  ["tracker_field_section"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["language"]=>
  string(7) "unknown"
  ["attachments"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["comment_count"]=>
  int(0)
  ["categories"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(6) "orphan"
  }
  ["deep_categories"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    string(6) "orphan"
  }
  ["categories_under_28"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_28"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_1"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_1"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_177"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_177"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_209"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_209"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_163"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_163"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_171"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_171"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_153"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_153"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_242"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_242"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_564"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_564"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["categories_under_1182"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["deep_categories_under_1182"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["freetags"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["geo_located"]=>
  string(1) "n"
  ["allowed_groups"]=>
  array(2) {
    [0]=>
    string(6) "Admins"
    [1]=>
    string(9) "Anonymous"
  }
  ["allowed_users"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["relations"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["relation_objects"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["relation_types"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["relation_count"]=>
  array(0) {
  }
  ["title_initial"]=>
  string(1) "B"
  ["title_firstword"]=>
  string(7) "Blossom"
  ["searchable"]=>
  string(1) "y"
  ["url"]=>
  string(10) "item267724"
  ["object_type"]=>
  string(11) "trackeritem"
  ["object_id"]=>
  string(6) "267724"
  ["contents"]=>
  string(5538) "    New digital TV network puts women of color in focus   2016-12-20T20:50:00+00:00 Blossom and build   Tai Saint-Louis  2016-12-20T20:50:00+00:00  %{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%2258581bff39ab46925ed2b689%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}%When Diamonde Williamson travelled to the 2016 American Black Film Festival in June, she had seen and done enough in the realm of television production to know exactly what her career’s legacy would be. Having worked in production on popular reality vehicles "Chrisley Knows Best" and "Iyanla: Fix My Life" and in development alongside "Real Housewives of Atlanta" executive producer Carlos King, Williamson had moved back to Atlanta from L.A. determined not only to create content that empowered women, but to do it right here where her friends and loved ones were.



She had also already learned how difficult it was to successfully pitch and bring a show to development. And so she had begun the process of developing content that reflected women like herself, with the intent on distributing that content via YouTube. “But once I went to work at the ABFF, I really got to see how many content creators from around the country wanted so badly to be picked up by Paramount or NBC,” says Williamson. “Like, they were crawling over each other to get there, and I realized these people only felt validated by the recognition of these networks. But what if you don’t get picked up? What happens to all this good content?”



Thus was born Blossom: a digital television network set to launch on Jan. 29, 2017. “It’s like Netflix powered by women of color,” Williamson explains. If all goes as planned, on launch day Blossom will offer around 20 titles, a mix of original content, created by the network’s internal team of about 13 producers, as well as curated content created by women of color seeking to showcase their work in front of a larger audience than they might have access to on their own. 



Blossom’s goal of “redefining reality” is quite literal: The bulk of the networks’ content will be non-scripted. Because, as Williamson points out, while shows like "Black-ish," "Atlanta," "Insecure," and "Queen Sugar" have managed to finally present the variety in representation that many people of color have been seeking of late, that balance isn’t reflected in reality TV, which continues to offer the same narrow, unflattering portrayal of women of color in particular. While developing shows like “The Blossom Roundtable” — an intimate conversation between women of color in the media — and the live-streamed news program “#unrefined,” Williamson and her team have been seeking docu-series and other innovative ideas that are representative of multicultural millennial women across the board told in various formats. 



Gathering the curated content to add to Blossom’s line-up hasn’t come without its challenges, however. “Trying to get content creators to see the vision before our website was complete has absolutely been the biggest challenge of this process,” Williamson says. “People feel like they don’t want to lose their content. A lot of times people feel like, ‘If I keep my content on my site, if I point people to me, I will grow.’ They want to protect their brand, which I totally understand.”



Blossom’s subscription model offers those creators who do see the vision the opportunity to not only track and document their viewership, but also to interact with their audience. During the first three months following the launch, Blossom will offer 30-day trial memberships before requiring the $6.99 monthly fee. Williamson’s hope is to build a following of truly engaged subscribers. “This is gonna be a community network,” she says. “I really want the communities around the country to curate the content. I want the viewers’ stories to be told; I want the stories to be told from their perspective. I want them to really dive in and start formulating their own ideas. That’s where these networks miss the mark half the time: You can’t tell the story if you’re not connected to the people.”



As she gears up for the official launch of Blossom, Williamson has poured just as much energy into finding content as she has into identifying and bringing together her tribe. Over the summer, she partnered with local screenwriter Nakia Stephens to host #CreatorsWanted: A Collaborative Weekend for Creatives in Media, which included mixers, a panel on collaboration, a screening of Stephens’ series, "Cream x Coffee," and a workshop on pitching for television. The weekend is symbolic of who Williamson is at her core and what she plans on offering through Blossom. 



It’s about more than just the content. This platform allows Williamson not only to share what she’s learned from executives at networks like OWN and VH1, but also to leverage what she’s learned to change how women like her define success in film and television. Clearly, she’s skipped more than a few baby steps along this six-month journey. “Sometimes we scare ourselves out of shooting really high,” says the 27-year-old. “But in order to be truly disruptive on a high level, you have to start high.”

A preview version of Blossom is currently available at BlossomNetwork.tv.             20847184         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2016/12/Diamonde___Blossom_Roundtable.58581bfb0beb5.png                  Blossom and build "
  ["score"]=>
  float(0)
  ["_index"]=>
  string(21) "atlantawiki_tiki_main"
  ["objectlink"]=>
  string(199) "Blossom and build"
  ["photos"]=>
  string(130) "Coming Soon

"
  ["desc"]=>
  string(60) "New digital TV network puts women of color in focus"
  ["eventDate"]=>
  string(60) "New digital TV network puts women of color in focus"
  ["noads"]=>
  string(10) "y"
}

Article

Tuesday December 20, 2016 03:50 pm EST
New digital TV network puts women of color in focus | more...
Search for more by Tai Saint-Louis