Reasons Why I Want to Go to AfroPunk Fest 2014


I love the wonderful, artistic, and eccentric expressions from the tribe we call African Americans, Afrikans, or the colorful people of the Diaspora!  The beautiful and poetic faces. The funky and stylish kindred spirits.

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AfroPunk tends to attract the fearless ONES. Those who travel on that untouchable frequency. They levitate. The vibe is heavy. Who wants to go and check out “the other” Black experience? Here’s the website. Dates: August 23-24, 2014. BK, NY.

The type of music that you could hear at an AfroPunk Fest.


Peace and love,

Shila Iris aka Queen, July 28, 2014, 12:53 a.m.

Spring Style Ideas


Are you having trouble coming up with style combinations? Try these looks. Depending upon the weather, you may or may not need to add a jacket or more layers to keep warm.

Shila Iris for African Essence

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The Warm Embrace of Mud Cloth…

Soon, the seasons will change to a warmer climate which may prevent us from wearing our beautiful mud cloths. Although created in a place where the weather is typically warm, it can be difficult to indulge in the beauty of this Malian textile once the sun starts blazing. So, you may want to start taking your heavier pieces out for their final spins. In many states, you should be able to get through the Spring wearing bogolanfini and if so, go for it! Here are some of my favorite styles…

The artistry and aesthetic sophistication of African textiles and dress has been admired and appreciated by foreign observers since the time of the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Navigators would travel to Zaire, Mali, the Kuba Kingdom, Kasai region, and the Kongo from overseas, returning home with cherished prizes of embroidered cloths and mud-dyed fabrics. Fast forward to 2014, what is the importance of these cloths today?

At the risk of greatly oversimplifying the extremely elaborate symbolism in African textiles, we have come to accept them as “ethnic” prints, sold to the masses strictly for profit. However, to the trained eye, a print is not good enough. I myself desire raffia cloths from Zaire. I dream of owning just a piece of a royal Ashanti kente cloth. I would travel far to acquire an aso oke, the ceremonial cloth of the Yoruba or any of the wax-printed cloths that adorned my ancestors. However, my most beloved choice of fabric is the bogolanfini, mud-dyed cloth of Mali; which translates from the Bamana as “mud cloth.”

I like the look of bogolanfini. I like its stiffness. I like how it compliments my tinted skin and I like its warm embrace. Mud cloth was originally decorated by women in the Bamana-speaking region of Mali, using a unique process that utilized dyes made from mud and leaves to produce light designs outlined with a dark background. In its local context, it remains to be a crucial garment worn to mark important lifecycle stages including birth, marriage, and death.

Today, numerous Malian’s as well as the Fulani and Dogon, have taken up the craft to produce simplified versions for tourists and the international market. But let us not forget, the genuine beauty and history of these fabrics. I am not an anthropologists or African art enthusiast looking to profit from this cultural artifact. I am simply a person who is aware of the greatness of my ancestors. I feel their royalty in everything that I do. I am empowered through them!

Read more about the bogolanfini, mud-dyed cloth of Mali…

The Kush Queen, 2/5/2014

I think I’m in love with a woman… wait, maybe several of them!


Yes, I love the ladies! These sisters know how to bring the fire! Check em’ out.

DYNASTY, this lyrical beast, IS MY MAIN CHICK RIGHT NOW!

“Listen to the MC when he spittin’/ if he represent the elements, he’s furthering the mission.”



Not only is she super cute, but her lyrics are amazing. Definitely deep and dope! CLiCk here to hear. FORGIVE, Live at FUNKFEST, MAGNIFICENT, EPIC. WEBSITE


SA-ROC, the rap genius, IS MY SIDE CHICK! She is intoxicating and most definitely untouchable. However, she is my “go to” and I would actually choose her over my main! How can I say no? Have you seen her? What’s so great about her is that her lyrics are not surface. You have to dig deeper and deeper and deeper. So be prepared to experience truth.

“My grind metaphysical/spiritual/hustler/I’m a wild seed like Octavia/Butler/they study my demeanor/ trynna get my lotus poles/drop a cool 16 with my poets prose/Like I’m Nikki/definitely not Minaj/Giovanni!”

Sa Roc




AKUA NARU, rapper and poet, IS MY AROUND THE WAY CHICK! I will travel far to see her because her presence is water to my flowers and food for my soul. She is refreshingly sophisticated and mature. Above that, I admire her career because she has been successful with promoting her music around the world. I also love to hear her smooth voice. I think I need her. Smile.

Akua Naru

Akua Naru



THE LES NUBIANS ARE the sultry WOMEN I LIKE TO WATCH. They are gorgeous, melodic, confident, and super eccentric in such a great way. I’m loyal to them- always. Oh my! Check out the way their bodies move! Pure hotness! They will forever have a place near my heart. Peace and love to them.

Les Nubians

Les Nubians- a bit blurry, but one of my favorite pics


Bonus! Check out Ms. Lauryn Hill. I really believe that we need to stop judging this sister here. I’ve noticed that people have been so quick to dog her out! Damn,  chill already! She just got out. Let her find her voice again. It can be hard to put up with the bullshit that comes with success. Let’s allow her to breathe. 

Thank you for stopping by! Remember to keep an open heart and an open mind. Have fun.

Reading: LET YOUR MOTTO BE RESISTANCE by Deborah Willis

Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits

Shila Iris aka Kush

The Hooded Dress


I have this growing obsession with hooded dresses. Oddly, I do not own any… yet!

The book I’m reading:


Oh my! This book is magnificent! Look at that dance move! Dare you to try it! Smile.

Thanks for visiting African Essence.

Kush Queendom

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My Love for Seydou Keita




Seydou Keita is the self-taught photographer who sparked my interest in portrait, fashion, and family photography; as well as photojournalism and macro/micro face picture-taking. He is best known for his works of art captured between 1940 and 1960, exhibited in hundreds of gallery’s nationwide. That is a great accomplishment for any photographer. He is also known for his books:

  1. Seydou Keita
  2. You Look Beautiful Like That
  3. Photographs, Bamako, Mali 1948-1963

I don’t want to go on a rant about how much I love him, but I will say that Seydou’s work continues to take my breath away. I am always discovering new elements in his photography that I may have missed the first time around. I often mention his name in conversations when I am asked about how I nurture my eccentricities. I honor the greatness in other people. Seydou’s work has challenged and inspired me to share my gifts with the world.

There are many people who are capable of taking exceptional photos but, if you are looking for a teacher, examining his work may help you to understand what photography is really about. With him, it was more than just a picture, it was history, culture, fashion, and reality.

Here are some of my favorite pictures that you can find on the internet. However, there are so many great photos in his books, so if you have a library card, check them out!

In Janet Jackson‘s video, Got Til It’s Gone featuring Q-Tip and Joni Mitchell, the images reminded me of Seydou’s work. Let me know what you think.

Other photographers whose work I appreciate.

Looking for reasons to become a photographer? Examining Seydou Keita’s work- you just may want to try it out!

I am Kush.

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