lianalysis

SAINT PABLO VS SUMMER SIXTEEN

It's concert season: that magical time when artists comes out with new music and then tour at the same time with no consideration of your bank account or day job. But I'm a hustler, so I went to the Atlanta Saint Pablo Tour and Summer Sixteen Tour within two weeks of each other. Here are my thoughts:

SUMMER SIXTEEN TOUR

  • HEADLINER: DRAKE AND FUTURE
  • SPECIAL GUESTS: DVSN, ROY WOODS, GUCCI MANE, YOUNG THUG, USHER

 CROWD HYPE: 9/10 | SET LIST: 7/10 | VISUALS: 6/10 |  ATTIRE: Grown and sexy

I saw Drake during his NWTS and Take Care tours, but this time was something special. Drake is on the top of his game now; his confidence was understood, but not rubbed in our faces. (I've been to many concerts where the artist acted "too cool" for his own show, but this was not one of them.)

Drake and Future brought out their greatest hits, not just their most recent albums. The concert felt more like a club; everyone was dancing (not just me for once). As a surprise to the guests, Drake brought out Gucci Mane to the tune of "Back on Road", which blew Atlanta's mind. On the second night of the tour, he apparently brought out Young Thug and Usher...much to my chagrin. Bringing out guests is the magic touch to any performance, especially when you're in the hip-hop capitol of the world. 

If I had one criticism, I'd say the concert actually went a little too long. While I enjoyed Drake's back-to-back bangers, it became draining. I wish he played a little harder-to-get because the crowd lost energy and interest towards the end. There are only so many songs to which we can scream our hearts out. 

SAINT PABLO TOUR

  • HEADLINER: KANYE WEST
  • SPECIAL GUEST: KANYE WEST

CROWD HYPE: 7/10 | SET LIST: 8/10 | VISUALS: 10/10 |  ATTIRE: Your coolest f*cking outfit ever

This was my first time seeing Kanye and I had been told that it was going to change my life. Of course, that's what every stan says...but I'm a stan, too...so. More than the actual concert itself, I was overly excited to get my hands on Saint Pablo Tour merchandise. There were around 6 different booths throughout Philips Arena that sold the merchandise (we'll save this for a future blog post). It's worth noting that everyone there was extremely well-dressed; it's like I walked into an Urban Outfitter's lookbook. 

No one opened for Ye, which was odd and buzz-killing; We figured he'd at least have a DJ hype the crowd. Instead, we waited an hour and a half past start-time to be greeted by his first song, "Father Stretch My Hands". It was rumored that Ye would only perform T.L.O.P. songs, but the crowd was pleasantly surprised when he played hits like "Gold Digger" and "All of the Lights". 

We've all heard that his stage floats from the ceiling, which was great because the back of the arena felt like front row at times. In true Kanye fashion, he was a perfectionist about his songs; If the sound team skipped a beat, he'd call them out to restart the song from the beginning. 

Bottom line: Summer Sixteen was a full-on party. Saint Pablo was a curated masterpiece.  

3 MEANINGS OF KANYE'S "FADE" MUSIC VIDEO

Kanye West's premiere of his newest music video "Fade" at the 2016 VMA's was nothing short of intoxicating. I went from drooling in front of the couch to sweating in the gym with Teyana Taylor on my mind. 

The video begins with a three-minute dance number that is a cross between Flashdance and soft porn. Our minds were blown by her rhythmic sex appeal. As I watched for the first time, I told my friends, "This is hot...but I wish something controversial would happen!"

Yeezus answers prayers.

The video cuts to a steamy shower scene with Teyana and Iman, her NBA star fiancé. No filter. And in the last 10 seconds of the video, Kanye takes us back to the gym, this time with Teyana costumed as some kind of sexy lion Avatar, standing over her husband and baby Junie in a room full of live sheep.

......WHAT DOES THIS MEAN??? After studying the video and countless Reddit threads, I've developed 3 concepts for the deeper meaning of Kanye's "Fade" music video: 

LEVEL 1: FAME Kanye is always pushing boundaries for the newest generation of Hollywood's elite. In his prior video release of "Famous", we saw Bill Cosby in bed with Taylor Swift, Ray J alongside Rihanna. He draws attention to the unconventional blend of society's most influential members. Kanye continues with this theme by spotlighting the talented Teyana Taylor, My Super Sweet Sixteen princess turned G.O.O.D. Music rapper turned NBA wife and mother. 

Teyana and Kim have a lot in common. They're both ambitious bombshells that have leveraged their sexuality for fame. Kanye worships the juxtaposition between thirst trap and ambitious career woman/mom. The "Fade" video is an ode to his muse, Kim, who has paved a new lane for fame. 

LEVEL 2: PUSSY POWER In line with the fame theory, one could take a more metaphorical approach. Teyana's dance number seduces our most carnal, animalistic desires. We were glued to the screen for a solid three minutes. She takes us to the next level with none other than her husband, representing the pinnacle of intimacy (one could even argue success). And then, BAM. Cue sexy lioness. We're caught with our pants down. We've been lured in like prey. All of us. Sheep. Led blindly by sex and fantasies of #GOALS.

Teyana's lioness character represents power. Queen of the jungle. She has it all: fame, family, fortune. You could even call it pussy (heh) power. Kanye is validating the new generation of "royalty", reminding us that the equation for success is simple; we're all animals brought together by primitive desires.

LEVEL 3: LION AND THE LAMB Maaaaybe it's a stretch, but there's potential for a biblical allusion. I mean, it is Yeezus. Life of Pablo (Paul, the disciple). A passage in the book of Isaiah (11:6) describes a time in the future when all creatures will coexist. In this utopia, lions and "fattened calves" will roam together peacefully without persecution. 

Could Kanye be setting the tone for his perfect society in which different groups of people can coexist? A world where rap and street culture can mingle with the elite Vogue group he begs? Or could this ladder up to social justice? Black and white? Classism? Sexism?

Or maybe it's not that complex, Liana. Maybe it's just another provocative dance video to promote his up-and-coming signed artist. The world will never know.

I'm Cuban and no, I don't want to go visit Cuba

I'm incredibly bothered by the hype behind visiting Cuba. First it was Beyonce and Jay Z's controversial vacation. Then the Obama's. Then the Kardashian Klan. And now, Jet Blue is offering $99 flights to Cuba to everyone. I've overheard many conversations saying, "Oooh I'm going to Cuba now before it gets expensive!" While I can empathize with the opportunistic thinking, I can't help but feel horrified by the ignorance. 

Wait...like seriously...?

Wait...like seriously...?

 

Similar to the racial injustices in the U.S., unless you've been personally affected by Cuban communism, I can understand why you don't feel as outraged as I do that the embargo has been lifted. Yes, this scenario is woven with complicated diplomacy and politics. But here's a simple breakdown of the logic behind the embargo:

When a child behaves poorly, you put them in time-out and ignore them. Eventually, after skipping out on dinner and dessert, they finally feel desperate and change their ways. Oppositely, if a child behaves poorly, but you give them money and attention and attempt to hug them, their behavior is positively reinforced. So it goes with Cuban relations.

It's not "cute" that Cuba is stuck in the 1960's. It's not "relaxing" that there is no Internet or phone service. None of this is by choice. (And if you see any friendly Cuban in a tourism promo trailer telling you otherwise, understand that they have been brainwashed.) Cuba has been a prison for decades.

Take for example the currency system. In Cuba, there are 2 forms of currency, the CUC and the peso:

[CUC is] the currency that’s been required for the purchase of almost anything important in Cuba since 1994. CUCs aren’t paid to Cubans; islanders receive their wages in a different currency, the grubby national peso that features Che Guevara’s face, among others, but is worth just 1/25th as much as a CUC. Issued in shades of citrus and berry, the CUC—dollarized, tourist-friendly money—has for 21 years been the key to a better life in Cuba, as well as a stinging reminder of the difference between the haves and the have-nots. -- Bloomberg Business

It works out that the money you (a tourist) spend on the island is not even the same type of money that the actual Cuban citizens can use. So say you tip the driver in a CUC, they likely can't even spend that on anything meaningful like food or rent. If they try to convert the CUC to their own usable peso, they'll then only receive a fraction of what it could be worth. 

This is just one example of how spending money in Cuba puts money in the pockets of an evil dictatorship that robs its people of freedom and financial independence. Because if you think that the Cuban citizens will actually profit off of the tourism, you're sorely mistaken.

This post was written in loving memory of my grandmother, Tibi, who passed away a few months ago at age 74. She refused to return home to Cuba until freedom was restored to her people. Tibi left her homeland when she was 16 and was unfortunately never able to return to the Island she loved. 

Tibi in Spain. It was an incredible honor to have travelled "home" with her.  

Tibi in Spain. It was an incredible honor to have travelled "home" with her.  

Love Languages

I'm a huge fan of Love Languages, which is the study of how people give and receive love. Learning about yourself and your partner (or even friends and family) completely transforms your outlook on love. Two people can truly be in love but feel unloved by their partner. Tati and I dive into each of the 5 Languages and discuss the importance of open communication in relationships. 

Before you listen, I urge you to take the Love Languages quiz for yourself

MAKE AMERICA SNAP AGAIN

WE ARE OUTRAGED. Instagram released the Stories feature this week, which is far too similar to Snapchat's capabilities if you ask us. We discuss how social media platforms jump ship to follow the latest media trends. 

In my opinion, social media is an ecosystem. You've got Facebook for broad, family and friends interactions. Twitter for your more brief, unfiltered thoughts. Snapchat for an intimate few to experience your uncut daily life. There's a place for each platform. But if they begin to "cross-pollinate", it disrupts the user experience...Facebook using hashtags...Instagram with Snapchat stories...Twitter with 2 minute videos...

At the end of the day, I'm just a girl with an iPhone, looking to show off the one time per week that I leave my house to do something exciting. Don't confuse the situation. I don't want to repeat myself on a poo poo platter of platforms. 

Pokemon can grow your local business

My not-so-little siblings shamelessly hunting Pokemon in the jungles of Miami.

My not-so-little siblings shamelessly hunting Pokemon in the jungles of Miami.

The new PokemonGo app is taking the world by storm. With the use of augmented reality (remember all that talk about 3D goggles and virtual reality?), the game challenges users to (literally) search around town to catch Pokemon. People are getting together with friends to go chase after Pokemon in real life; most Pokemon can be found at central locations like landmarks, parks, malls, etc. 

This article describes how even the most playful of apps like PokemonGo provides opportunity for unique integrated advertising. We’re not talking banner ad placements or expensive brand partnerships. Pokemon sightings can be used by local businesses to draw foot traffic. For a couple dollars, I can plot a location on a Google Map to be a Pokemon “hub”…So if I own a coffee shop and I want more customers, I can make my shop a Pokemon hub and it will bring dozens of Pokemon hunters to my doorstep in a matter of minutes.

This is a similar strategy to Snapchat’s On-Demand filter offering. Starting at just $5, event planners can pay to place a custom Snapchat geofilter (a graphic design that can be stickered on photos and videos in the app) in an area of their choice. From my own experience, I've witnessed the incredible return on investment that Snapchat integrations can have for a brand (in the advertising world, we're talkin' $0.08 CPM). 

It's fascinating to note the rapid change in the advertising landscape. Our opportunities to interact with consumers are multiplying and demanding the utmost creativity. Plus, the opportunities are extremely short-lived. The lifespan of consumer interest is waning as people are quickly turned off by platforms that are oversaturated with ads. 

Point blank: act boldly, move quickly. 

And Pokemon safely.

Your 20's are a free for all

I swear that every time I get on Facebook, I see at least one engagement, bachelorette party, wedding photo or something of the sort. As a 23-year-old woman, this comes with so much pressure. Questions I ask myself:

  • She's my age...should I be married too?
  • They've been dating as long as my boyfriend and I...should we be engaged?
  • Isn't it a bit soon to be married?
  • What's it like to share bills with someone?
  • What if they get divorced?
  • Did she choose "the one"? Is she sure?
  • Are they happy?
  • Am I happy?

In this episode of Dos Cocos, I wondered if the pressure comes is a result of my own desire to be married; is it reminding me of something I don't have yet? Or is social media a hopeless breeding ground for comparison?

But then I think...reality check...?? Last month, my mom paid for my orthodontist appointment to replace my lost retainer. I am not ready to be a grown adult who gets married. I sometimes toast marshmallows in my oven for dinner. It's not uncommon for me to go a week without shaving my legs. Yes, even in the summer. 

In the words of Taylor Swift, these years are "happy, free, confusing, lonely at the same time." Almost anything goes in your 20's. You can be fresh out of college or living in your parents basement working at Starbucks. You can be single like an episode of Girls, or married with your second child on the way. Getting a masters degree or starting your own business. No one's on the same page. That's what makes it so exciting and terrifying. 

My personal opinion: space this shit out. Life only happens once and there's a time for everything. Graduation. New career. Carefree trips with friends. Picking out your own apartment. Being at your parents house hanging out with your siblings like you're still 14. Get the most out of every moment. Some milestones are time sensitive and not worth rushing. When you're 40 on the mundane grind, you're going to wish you'd relished those unpredictable, chaotic years.

ashes to ashes, dust to side chicks

beyonce-lemonade-video-trailer.jpg

Beyonce already blew our minds when she dropped the Formation video a day before her performance at the Super Bowl Halftime show.

Kanye starts trolling the world with his newfound Twitter account months before the drop of his iconic The Life of Pablo album. He seeds the wardrobes of LA celebrities with exclusive TLOP merchandise prior to the release.

Drake fuels the flames of his Twitter beef with Meek Mill by releasing multiple diss tracks, steamy Island beats with Rihanna, and pop-up shops in major cities to prime his audience for Views from the 6

All of these mega artists have grown to such elite levels of stardom in part because of their visionary release strategies. They've permeated style, lifestyle and music, all key sensorial triggers. The timing is impeccable and the content is viciously good, but through and through, I realize that they're playing us all.

But this weekend, I didn't feel played.

On Saturday, a one-hour music video aired on HBO debuting her newest album, Lemonade. She trumped her last visual album (individual music videos for each song) with a short film narrating the story of betrayal and redemption in her marriage. This release felt less like a stunt and more like "Bey was ready to get real with us".

The emotion was so deep and genuine. For years, Beyonce has been an idol to women everywhere: she's gorgeous, wildly successful and married to the most OG player in the game. Her life is perfect. Until Lemonade, where her dirty laundry and personal failures were exposed for our Saturday night viewing pleasure.

She admitted to listeners that, "I'm not too perfect to ever feel this worthless". Anybody who has ever been cheated on, or has felt the pang of envy, melted in the visuals and lyrics of Lemonade. "What a wicked way to treat the girl that loves you" It empowered women to know that even Beyonce gets her heart broken. Nobody deserves disloyalty. 

Beyonce showed us that nobody how many times you sob-sing "Single Ladies" and "Run the World" to yourself in the car, you can still feel like there's something missing from yourself that could've made him stay. "I tried to change myself...I tried to be softer, prettier, less awake"

I lay down my marketing cynicism to say that Lemonade was one of the greatest music moments in my time. 

Should've called Becky with the good hair.

Shameless plug for our most recent Dos Cocos Podcast about Lemonade:

 

 

mindfulness

Tati and I recorded our 4th episode of Dos Cocos podcast. I loved recording this episode because the conversation just flowed; I had tons of questions about being mindful.

I've been having more existential thoughts these days (maybe I'm getting old). Is life just how we perceive it? Do we have the ability to control our own happiness. Tune in to this episode where Michael explains the value of meditation and positive thinking. 

Small Business Saturday

I'm realistic. I don't need a special farm-raised elixir to clean my toilets; there's Clorox for that. If I lost my gloves, I couldn't quickly hunt down a local knitter in time for work. There's nothing wrong with big business; when big business is done right, it does good for the world.

But I'm also an entrepreneur. When I get to choose who I give my dollars to, I want to put them directly in the hands of someone who had the ambition to actualize their ideas. Society needs to reinforce this positive behavior more often. Economically, small businesses create jobs. But most importantly to me, entrepreneurialism is the foundation for monetizing creativity.   

Without it, we have mega companies doing all the inventing for us. Ironically, I am a creative minds at one of these companies. Although I have a few great ideas, I shudder to think the fate of packaged food innovation is in the hands of my co-workers and I. Every once in a while, I wish our consumers would be snacking on boiled peanuts off the highways of Georgia, or dim sum from the mom-and-pop in Chinatown.

Or let's take art for example. If you're decorating your home, you'd likely go to Target and buy the mass-printed canvases and photo frames. Art that was curated by a few dozen merchandisers and marketers at the Minneapolis headquarters. The same art that will hang in a college room dorm in Houston, or an elderly home in Nebraska. But within 30 miles of any Target, there are 30 different artists with unique styles who would adore the opportunity to paint something for your home.

If we let big business curate our shopping experiences, we lose individuality and creativity. Instead of boutiques, we'll have Walmarts. In place of local pizza joints, there will be Dominos. Small businesses need us. If we don't shop local, there will be nothing local to shop for. There's harmony in buying products from their makers. They have a dream-- the American dream. To do what you love; to build nothing into something.

Instead of Applebees, use Yelp! to search for local restaurants.

Instead of Target art, how about my best friend Brynn of Beckoning Art?

Ditch Kroger for your city's farmers markets. If you go to a big enough market, prices are competitive, if not cheaper than grocery stores. 

Shout out to American Express for creating Small Business Saturday. AMEX cardholders receive triple points on this day. Visit their site to search for local businesses within your zip code.

being good just to be good

This is for the big fish in little ponds.

There's a certain level of intrinsic ambition that is required to push yourself when no one is watching. To deliver A+ work when your boss is still wow-ed by your B+ efforts. To dress up to the office when everyone else is wearing business too-casual. 

I suppose we call this overachieving. But even the most type A overachievers sometimes don't feel like jumping through the highest hoops when it's not necessary. 

  1. Be good just to be good: Why leave the Mustang in the garage? Putting your best foot forward is training yourself, like shooting in the gym. The more often you do incredible work, the more that incredible work becomes your norm. Whether it's creating a flawless PowerPoint deck for your presentation or delivering doughnuts to the office. Sharing an out-of-the-blue compliment with a friend or taking a pottery class just because it interests to you. Push your own limits for you, not to impress someone else.
  2. Someone is always watching: If self-gratification isn't enough, just know that there's always someone watching how you work. Life is a series of chain reactions. You never know what impression you made on someone and how that may be passed along down the road. If nothing else, the glow on your face when you're truly proud of your own work will radiate to others. People know the difference between good and really good. 

2015 grammys review

I love the Grammys. Every year, every time. To me, the Grammys is my version of the Super Bowl. 

Ed Sheeran and John Mayer performance was phenomenal. I'll preface this by saying that I am a mega Mayer fan (since 8th grade): I've seen him live 4 times, and every time he blows me away. Expectations were high, but were met. Mayer is not only a star, but a phenomenal feature artist (listen to "White" by Frank Ocean). He never steals the limelight, and it showcases the confidence he has in his craft. His background vocals and incredible guitar solos really added a dynamic element to Sheeran's pop song.

Coldplay's Chris Martin and Beck was another great one. They harmonized to Beck's "Heart is a Drum" and it was moving. I hope the track hits iTunes, along with the other Grammy performances, because this was a keeper. They didn't go over the top with stage theatrics; it was a raw performance that pointed all attention to their melodic voices and Beck's acoustic guitar. 

From an advertising perspective, I loved watching the Grammys, start to finish. The commercials were curated for the audience, which proved more engaging. (I found myself not wanting to run to the kitchen during the commercial breaks!) A few stand outs: Apple's "Make Music with an iPad". I didn't even know that I was watching a commercial. The art direction was on point, and the music choice was culturally diverse. Lincoln's Matthew Mcconaughey commercial has been around for a while, but it's still so captivating. The drama makes you stop everything you're doing and just focus. I love the use of a celebrity cameo in a way that is not hoaxy or promotional. And in Mcconaughey's own words, "I just liked it"

Brands: You can't sit with us

Now that I see advertising from the "inside", I have been paying closer attention to how hard brands try to "be cool" with the millennials. Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal published a front-page article about how Denny's has recently blown up on social media because they tweeted "on fleek". Yes, this silly slang phrase (which came from a Vine of an outrageous, foul-mouthed girl talking about her eyebrows) made the front page of The Wall Street Journal. 

Older generations are mystified by our generation. We blow their minds with technological intuition and cryptic Internet slang. They don't understand why the stupidest things are so funny to us (and to be honest, I don't know why they're funny either, they just are...). What the "adults" have yet to recognize is that Internet trends are merely inside jokes on a larger scale. Trends like “on fleek” are nothing more than laughable references to a funny photo or video that have been passed around to friends enough times to flood the Internet.

However, just like any inside joke, you only find it funny if you know where it came from. That's why I find it so funny that big brands are trying to get in on these trends, when I'm sure they barely understand them in the first place. Brands pay boatloads of money to tap into our millennial minds because, face it: when we find something to be funny, we make sure it gets spread around the Internet. I would hope that the Denny's social media writer is a young millennial like me, who found the "on fleek" Vine months ago and uses it in regular conversation with his friends. Then one day, he thought, "Wow these hashbrowns are on fleek!"

What I think really happens though? I can imagine that older marketers sit around a conference table saying, ”So what is this ‘on FLEEK’ that the kids are sayin’ this week??” They probably have to Google it, or search Urban Dictionary...

Unless you're in the exclusive Millennials Club, chances are, when Denny's tweets, "hashbrowns on fleek", you'll never quite grasp how funny it really is. It's as if our whole generation has a secret handshake...and in my personal opinion, I'd like for it to stay that way. Because there's nothing more lame than when your mom comes downstairs wearing a concert tee and skinny jeans, trying to be "young again". 

(And by the way, if you're not a millennial, chances are you won't understand the title of this blog post. Gotcha.)

Let's get real with each other

http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/The-power-of-compliments-Tracie

Today at my internship with Flock and Rally, I overheard my boss Tracie mention that she gave a TEDxTalk a few months ago. I immediately stopped what I was doing (don't tell Tracie) and did a quick Google search...WOW! My own boss -- an inspirational speaker! I watched her talk (which I encourage you to do, too) and was reminded of the undeniable truth that genuine compliments are the best compliments.

I reflected upon an experience in sixth grade, when I stood up for a bullied classmate. That day, I lost all of my friends, but gained one. Samantha and I didn't have much in common, except for the fact that we were not a part of the in-crowd. Samantha had a list of self-confidence issues that I didn't fully grasp at that age. She wouldn't believe any form of flattery, so instead, I listened.

She told me about her parents, little brother and cat. I spent time with Samantha in her room, which was always cluttered with her incredible artwork. I didn't give her half-baked compliments about her appearance; we both knew that she was no prom queen at the time. I didn't encourage her to be "cool" like the popular girls at school; that's not who she was.

By listening and understanding, I learned that there were things about Samantha that were truly unique and compliment-worthy. Investing in her life allowed me to see the beautiful qualities about her that she didn't even recognize. She became radiant. 

All of this to say that Tracie's TEDxTalk confirmed the importance of being authentic. There is so much value in taking the time to recognize the details about somebody or somethingAs Tracie mentioned, a bouquet of flowers is a nice gesture. But leaving an original, meaningful message with somebody lasts a lifetime.

Is this not true for advertising as well? Advertisers often try the "one size fits all" approach to their brands. They'll use the same tagline template, typeface and color scheme because it worked for someone, somewhere...But does that necessarily resonate with every brand? Sometimes, advertisers make assumptions about their clients without ever taking the time to invest in understanding its true identity. 

Let's try to be real more often. Let's get to know each other and pay attention to the details. When we do this, we'll create relationships instead of transactions. 

(And for the record, Samantha is now a total knock-out.)

A pair of Timbs in a room full of Uggs

I set this as my Twitter bio several weeks ago and I have been giving it some deeper thought. If you are not savvy with these shoe trends, Ugg boots are largely worn by generic teenage girls. They are notorious for being a common and stereotypical for females. To me, they represent fitting into the mold…Waking up, slipping on a pair of Uggs and blending into the crowd of my peers…

"Timbs", or Timberlands, are construction boots that have come into everyday style in recent years. They are statement-making and unafraid. In October, I purchased my own pair of Timbs. Every time I wear them, people always compliment my choice and often laugh about how a woman of my small size fits into these bold boots. 

In the never-ending pursuit of finding my path, I’d like to think that I stomp through uncharted territories with my Timberland boots on. I am daring and resolute in my work; I refuse to ever settle for mediocrity. Paved sidewalks are for regular people revisiting the same old places every day. And do you know what kind of shoes walk on sidewalks? Uggs. 

Being goofy...

Being goofy...