Picasso Baby Pt. 2

When an event and it’s organizers strongly suggest demand your presence in a timely manner, you better probably should listen… In a room filled with creatives, live music, art displays, a dj, a bar, poets, singers, designers, food, accessories, and bodies being painted in real time the desire is for you not to miss a thing. The chatter of the crowd rarely dies all the way down and all 5 senses are challenged to engage. Taking in the who’s who, the who’s new , and the who knew.

My familiarity with Pablo Picasso is pedestrian at best (got that A+ in Art History though) but I know Jay Z no, not personally although we met once and chatted briefly… (and btw don’t be that guy)… So I’ll work from my frame of reference… I love me some Jay (the artist, not necessarily the dude) and the 12th album in his catalog brought me back to Reasonable Doubt and where my admiration originated… But there is that one album I do not eff with (The Dynasty: Roc La Familia) and then a few that I side eye, but you know like one or two songs gave me hope (Kingdom Come, American Gangster, some of them collab joints and by some I mean especially the two with Kells that I won’t even reference by name, Collison Course w/Linkin Park, and Watch the Throne… sideye but hopeful). The #206PicassoBaby elicited some of the same sentiments, in my opinion there were hits and there were misses. I love the concept and how I was able to relate to it (see all the references) but not necessarily every part of the execution.

I loved seeing a room full of patrons (that means people who are PAYING to support the event) and 85% of them weren’t artists and their crews, cliques/clicks, squads, entourages. It is important to note that while there were several artists in attendance and who were not performing. Artists didn’t stand on the wall complaining, having loud side conversations, and generally being disrespectful. (Sidenote: if that’s you and you’re miserable like that just stay at home and use those ends for like some chicken wings or sum’n to make you happy) Oh and I did not arrive in a timely manner (so now you know I speak from experience, as I missed what I heard were some great performances and some people I’ve never seen and some who I can’t get enough of… don’t be me)…

When I arrived the event was in full swing I was shown to my seat (in the the blogging/vip section) which was great, but with so much going on I had to get up and move around, so I encountered my first ummmm moment… because the room was set up like a box, it was difficult to navigate. I felt like when I moved from my seat or while I was trying to take notes or photos from my vantage point that others were blocked from the experience. Also I had to wait until a performance was over before I could move without being rude. Fortunately people seemed pretty forgiving and I’m grateful because I wasn’t cutiful… I had on my in the trenches gear and no make-up (my bad). But once outside of the immediate performance area/vip section the outer box was easier to navigate and I was able to really take in more of what was going on and realize the gravity of the undertaking.

Second ummmm moment was the directly tied into how the event was organized, when you put 30+ artists together with vendors etc in a roughly 3-4 hour period, fluidity it paramount. When I read the promotional material and the performance layout I was prepared to see some rapid fire showmanship on two stages, what I saw instead seemed like a hodgepodgey, random even. If each artist was flowing with the same kind of energy that might have worked. But when you have high energy performances, followed by sultry or even tranquil performances sometimes something is lost in translation…

The artists that I saw were mostly good, I would say 90% of what I saw had my full attention, the other 10% didn’t seem to fit the concept. I loved seeing young dancers interact with the audience as people clapped along because they knew what happiness meant to them. Seeing artists who had honed their craft and came prepared to perform and engage was refreshing. And there is almost never a time that a poem about my people, for my people, by my people that doesn’t pull at the heart strings, may make me reflect and take a deeper look inside and possibly reemerge with some new power, strength, courage, or wisdom. Even with the possibility of placing a heavy load on the audience by bombarding them with so many deep words in such a small space and time 206PB navigated the ocean of words, nouns,verbs, metaphor and silliloquy fairly gracefully and for that I was appreciative. I got to hear some serious and seriously talented emerging artist and some groomed professional artists that I will be following and following up with.

Ultimately, #206PicassoBaby seems to have succeeded in what that they hoped to accomplish, a room full of creatives engaging against a culturally and philosophically rich backdrop. Much like my admiration for Jay-Z PicassoBaby had me from the beginning (title). And also like my relationship with Jay (the music not the man) even with side eyes and ummm moments I remain hopeful. The concept is intriguing and I hope to see the event grow and refine to meet and exceed it’s own expectations. In the quest for a holy grail if not The Holy Grail of an event that captures the prolific artistry of an artist like Pablo Picasso, I am there for the adventure.

Be fearless in your pursuit of GREATness! And only paranoid of being the one that gets the updates and not make the updates. Opportunity is knocking, answer without reservation!

—Malaika Salaam,TheMotivator


Picasso Baby Pt. I

Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, also known as Pablo Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973), was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, who spent most of his adult life in France. As one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubistmovement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore.

In Memphis on April 12 #206PicassoBaby endeavored a major feat by presenting an event that sought to capture Picasso and maybe to a lesser degree Jay-Z’ penchant for prolific artistry. Orchestrated and spearheaded by Speak Life Society founder Timothy “Urban Thoughts” Moore working in conjunction with other local artist 206PB was designed to provide an “ARTIST FREESTYLE” event as a platform to Memphis’ most vibrant, thoughtful, creative artists in the city.

I just want a Picasso…

Picasso Baby, is also the title of the Jay-Z song that reestablished the collaborative relationship Jay and Timbaland and the anchor for the game-changing Magna Carta Holy Grail album (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picasso_Baby). If I didn’t get an indication on what to expect from the use of the name Picasso (Pablo), Picasso Baby definitely drew several from the part of me that relates to urban artistry and artists and what 206PB hoped to achieve.

Perhaps the desire to bring something rare or what is the desire to expose something familiar to a broader audience? The desire to up the ante? Do something new, different, unique? Another creative way to market artists? To showcase the talent of Memphis to Memphis in a new format? To seamlessly blend sight and sound, taste and smell, touch?

In the opening lines to the Picasso Baby song Jay, HOV, Hova, Mr. H-to the Izzo, nee’ Shawn Carter proclaims “I just want a Picasso” and then throughout the song progresses from wanting a million to wanting a trillion. The event seemed to follow the blueprint of seeking more opulence as well. Please allow me to explain…

Let’s say that 10 artists on a non-festival bill is a million. Ten artists in one night for $10 general admission might be a showcase, at the very least, and up line yes part of a festival line-up… So 10 is the million, the base line… Following that logic let’s say 20 artists on a non-festival show is a billion… And 30+ artists, of varying genres, various calibers, some with multiple talents on a non-festival show, in one night well yeah that’s a trillion folks! The winner’s circle, the ultimate… Right?

Ok, for the sake of argument, for the dissenters, the nay-saying naybobs, and those that will call me a hater (oh how I despise that word and it’s colloquial use… grrr) let’s say that is an oversimplified extrapolation of an event that many talented people invested their heart, spirit, soul, blood, sweat, tears, and finances into… The fact remains than when an event shares a name with the a legendary prolific artist and the title of a song from a game changig contemporary artist and business man comparisons will be made! And as comparisons go this is one person’s opinion (mine) and it is based on person’s beliefs and experiences and do not reflect the… blah,blah, blah… You know the spiel.



I have been in Memphis for almost 2 decades (18 years Jan 1, 2014 to be exact) an I’ve seen some old things, seen some young things, seen some little pretty go and come things…What an enticing peace of something! Memphis is so full of talent that it has been my chosen exile, forsaking the sun and sand of Cali and staying planted in fertile ground. The talent in Memphis is so rich an raw that daily I am amazed. And #206picassobaby is no exception! An apropos title borrowed from the incomparable Jay Z album Magna Carta Holy Grail. In as much at that album is a game changer, so is Memphis an especially this event. Seamlessly blending genres, culture and philosophy under one roof. #206PicassoBaby seeks to engage and expose attendees in a creative environment. PHOTOGRAPHY.  DANCE. FASHION. VISUAL ART. LIVE MUSIC. A creative multi-dimensional event with theoretical ideas and concepts.

Described by coordinators as “A Plethora of artistic performances emerging,…. then pouring into the city; reflective of a sense of Picasso’s habitually chaotic style.” 

You are invited to witness this eruption of Memphis’ intellectual, creative beings as they touch the audience through extension of talent in the forms of writing, image, engagement, and performance.

Be fearless in your pursuit of GREATness! And only paranoid of being the one that gets the updates and not make the updates.

Opportunity is knocking, answer without reservation!

—Malaika Salaam,TheMotivator