Tag Archives: hip hop

Pt. II: Value Your People (Or Put Them Down)

Cover of "Prepping for Prosperity" book
Toni V. Martin’s newest book, “Prepping for Prosperity,” is available now for e-readers!

(Financial expert Toni V. Martin’s 3-part series on Values breaks down how to ensure you give sufficient energy to what you value most.)

In the first part of this series, I explained that we spend our time on what we value most. When it comes to people, it’s not just the measurement of time that demonstrates their value to us. Communication, appreciation and dedication are the markers by which we can evaluate who we value the most in our lives.

In all relationships, there are inevitable times when another person simply gets on your nerves. In romantic situations, enough of these can add up and cause you to call it quits. With family, you might stop going around certain relatives. In a friendship, you might stop returning their calls.

For whatever reason, you’ve determined that the person doesn’t add enough value to your life for you to maintain contact with them. When you value people, you communicate on a regular basis. Not only do you enjoy the contact, but you genuinely care about how they’re doing and want to know if there’s any way you can assist them.

This leads to how we show appreciation. You’d be surprised at how far the smallest gestures of recognition go, no matter how cheesy. Something about a certificate of recognition makes everyone feel good.

I love stationery, so I take advantage of my stash to send affirming messages to my friends. They’re always so touched that I took the time to hand-write, address, stamp and mail warm words and thoughts to them. Whether I get cards back or not, it’s a simple way to let them know that their presence in my life is noted and appreciated.

Have you ever noticed how we feel free to let the people closest to us bear the brunt of our foul moods, quirks and idiosyncracies while we’re polite to a fault to people we don’t even care for? Are you quick to “cut people off” and let relationships fall by the wayside?

Once, in a fight with a friend, I told them to “replace me if you can.” I didn’t say that to rub in how wonderful I am, but to say good luck trying to replicate my level of loyalty, nurturing, and understanding in a johnny-come-lately acquaintance.

The true qualities of friendship are developed over time and trial, and shouldn’t be callously tossed at the first sign of discord.

Another time, I let a misunderstanding with a good friend fester, telling myself it was no big deal. But when it was pointed out to me, I realized that I have chased and called lesser people to maintain ties. This friend had been too good for me to be satisfied with seeing our connection wither. I sucked it up and extended the olive branch to right whatever wrongs I’d done.

Do your words and actions validate the people you value?

Bougie Financial Columnist Toni V. Martin’s work has appeared in national magazines and media outlets. Her newest book, “Prepping for Prosperity: How to Be Rich Before You Get Rich,” is available at tonivmartin dot com.

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Luke Raises $250 in Miami Mayoral Race

Luther Campbell
"I don't want special interest money--but damn!"

Hip Hop’s first uncle, Luther Campbell, may have put Miami Bass on the map, but he isn’t doing so well in his bid to become the city’s mayor. 
Luke, whose campaign slogan is “Are You Serious?” recently reported a war chest tally  of only $250. Wonder if it’s all in singles?
The tally is more than $150,000 behind the fourth-place candidate. He might do better leaving the posh Bay Village fundraisers alone, and work the crowds at Club Rolexx and Take One–the players might make it rain on him, for old time’s sake.

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Audio Session – I Do – Todd Uno Dos featuring Andre 300

For those that might have missed this, I Do got a little buzz a few months back but never really blew up. There was no big push, no video, no single , nothin. But since Valentine’s Day was last week, we thought it might be a nice boost for those still lingering in the love hangover. Oh by the way, even though it’s his single, Todd Uno barely gets 40 seconds on the track. I guess when your guest rapper is Andre 3000, you gotta let him shine. But talk about getting overshadowed…

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GrownHead Check: 115-120 (Valentine’s Edition)

Maybe you rocked dookie braids and leather Africa medallions, Lees and Adidas, Cross Colours or dunks. But that is not the measure of a grownhead. While we don’t condone discrimination against young bucks, old heads or the other man, you can only truly call yourself a grownhead on Valentine’s Day IF…

115) You ever stayed up late taping chocolate hearts to cards, one for everybody in your class (thanks to peanut allergy kids, this can get you expelled now)

116) You ever sent or received a note saying: Do you like me? Yes [] No []

117) You remember when dances began with all the boys posted up on the opposite wall from the girls.

118) You waited hours with your tape deck on pause to craft the perfect mixtape for your boyfriend or girlfriend

119) Said mixtape contained any of the following artists: Jodeci, The Boyz, LL Cool J, Bobby Brown or Freddie Jackson

120) You were sad when you threw out the mixtape, either because it melted or you realized the public library is the only place with equipment old enough to play a cassette tape

Got more Grownhead ID checks? Post them below!

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Top 10 Hip Hop Love Songs

I despise love songs, but I have been forced to listen to them all of my life. I know Jodeci songs by heart that I wish I didn’t know at all. The subject has run its course. There are too many other things to talk about on Planet Earth.

One of the things that attracted me to rap in the first place was the range of subject matter that could talk about something other than someone’s troubled love life. Scarub has a song about traveling into outer space as a molecule of carbon. Lyrics Born talks about bobsledding off of the Himalayas. Let R&B deal with the drivel.

But if LL Cool J has taught us anything, it’s that the radio loves love songs.

“All the radio do is dangle / That R&B love triangle” — Ice Cube

“I Need Love” ruined LL. Headz know this. That dude that said “BOX!” on Crush Groove died slowly as his radio-friendly smash single made loads of money. He created the formula and other rappers followed the blueprint: Get women to like it, and the men will buy it to get with women.

I feel it is a badge of honor that I never got caught up in this bubble gum BS.

But at the same time, there are some love songs worth mentioning. Please bear with me, for I am dealing with a subject I am not too fond of.


“No Greater Love” – Blu and Exile
This beat is masterful. Exile put his foot in this one. Puffy, please take note. This is how you use a sample. I never thought Smokey Robinson would get me hyped.

Lyrically, Blu is on point. He talks about loving a woman while keeping his nuts intact.

“Plus a little room for Azulito when the time comes” — Like me, he knows he can only make boys.
“I love it when I tell a chick to chill and give me space but she can’t…”
“Plus, she missed a whole semester fucking around with this peasant named Blu.”

It’s almost like I wrote those lines. I can actually relate to a love song. Who woulda thunk it?


“Passing Me By” — Pharcyde

Jimi Hendrix sample + some horns mixed in the hook = awesome.

The triple-syllable rhyme intro on the third verse brings delight to the ears. Looking back though, this song is kinda stalkerish. Not stalkerish like Scarub’s verse in 3MG’s “Hopeless Romantic,” but only borderline disturbing.

Many young people make fools of themselves when dealing with that hormonal surge called adolescence. Everyone has a first crush that they remember for life. I’m Facebook friends with mine. 🙂

“Makeba” – Aceyalone
This is another beat where a foot is a main ingredient. This is one of my most favorite-est beats of all time. I really wish Acey and Mumbles would collab on another project (PLEASE! — for the sake of hip hop!).

Acey and Makeba used to be in love. Something happened when things were getting a little too close and Makeba left. The song is detailing Acey running into Makeba and reminiscing about their past relationship. Acey leaves a back door open for her, though…without spiraling into the role of sap whatsoever:

“I still got a piece of me to give you
You still got a piece of you to give me
You’re listening but you don’t hear me
We can pick up right where we left at
But, I gotta be me and you gotta accept that
I just wanna be homies
Cause I ain’t got love like Monie
Cause as soon as you got close
You got ghost and you tried to leave Acey Aloney
So hook up with me. If you can, cool
Cause you know I know what you get loose to
And if you play your cards right
And keep your shit tight
Then we might be down like we use to.”

The song is almost a hip hop version of Hello Like Before by Bill Withers

“What’s On Your Mind” — Eric B and Rakim
So the R is on the subway and sees a woman he deems attractive. He tries to politely let her know that he thinks she looks nice and was interested in getting to know her better. She ignores him. Then he says “You don’t really look good; I hope you have a bad day,” and leaves her alone. He gets off at his stop and his Spidey Sense lets him know he is being followed. The stalker is the woman from the train! Unsure if she’s following him or if they just had similar destinations, he ducks into the store to get the universal beer of the 5% Nation. ’Lo and behold, she steps into the same store. Then he lays down the law: “If we’re playin games, then we’re gonna play mine.”
The rest of the song is borderline sappy: He talks about needing to be in tune mentally before he could dance horizontally, then consummating the deal. All of this is tolerable only because the first verse is so strong.


“You Never Know” — Immortal Technique Featuring Jean Grae
The songs on this list are not in any order of greatness. If I tried to put them in order, it would probably change depending on my mood. But this song would always be Number One on my list.

Immortal Technique has a horrible delivery (he has really improved this lately, by the way). This is tolerated because he has some very potent content. This song is an example of that.

I will not spoil it for people who have never heard the song. I would even say this song IS sappy and I still think it’s very good.

“Everything Changes” — Aceyalone
I’m really not sure if this song is about Makeba, but it’s another song reminiscing about a woman he used to love. There is a line in there that caught my attention:

“And I knew they would get her when I let go her hand / And when I let go, the inevitable / So beautiful and susceptible.”

I have been in relationship situations with women where I told them something similar. I let them know that there are lots of bad guys out there. I know plenty of the bad guys because many of them are my friends.

Yes, I can be harsh with my honesty at times. Yes, I refuse to follow societal norms and conventions. If you think the grass is greener, then by all means, sample it. But in the back of my mind, I feel guilty about letting a person into the wilderness who ain’t built for the feral creatures they are destined to encounter.

“Otha Fish” — Pharcyde
This is a sappy, whiny song. Slim Kid Tre thought he found “The One,” but it just didn’t work out. He has to constantly remind himself that there are other fish in the sea as he looks back on their relationship. The reason this song makes the list is because of the delivery. The sing-songy flow, mixed with the beat riding cadence that the Good Lifers created, runs strong on this track.

“Next thing you know we got together
Word, I thought it’d be forever
Didn’t have an um -buh- rell- a
Now I’m soaked in stormy weather”

MCs have a hard time maintaining a consistent flow while keeping the content pertinent. Some abandon any form. Others, like Tre, put the structured flow in where they can but then abandon it for the long, drawn out, melodic transfer of syllables over the beat. All the while, the subject matter remains consistent. Mikah 9 should get a quarter every time this song is played.
“Tough Love” — Devin the Dude

“It’s a give and take
You live and make
Decisions together
And be in it like whatever”

Too many people make the mistake of dismissing Devin as just another raunchy southern rapper. His first two albums are hip hop classics. Sure, he’s raunchy, but there is a message under the Luther Campbellness that many people miss because they can’t get past more than a couple references to gonads.

I know many people are addicted to the honeymoon phase of relationships (see Andre Benjamin’s “The Love Below”). They wonder what the hell happened as the grind of day-to-day life creeps in. When that real person starts showing their true colors and all of the pet peeves that you thought were tolerable become serious issues. Devin lets you know that the grind is inevitable when dealing with him. He lays down some ground rules to let you know he is a willing participant in the relationship, but it will not be easy.

“Love is like a maze and you might get stuck/
We can go thru it, or we can just fuck.”

“44 Wayz” – Paris Featuring Mystic
Paris and Mystic are a modern day Bonnie & Clyde in this love song. They read some books, determine that the poor people of the world are getting the short end of the stick and decide to stick it to the system. Their solution is to rob banks. At the end, of course, they both die in a blaze of glory. But they had each other’s back until the end.

We all yearn for someone to have our backs like that. It feels comfortable knowing someone is willing to die to protect you.


“What Is Love?” — Pigeon John
The break down of the beat at the end of this song is MOTHER-FUCKING-EPIC! Sorry Pigeon, I know you love Jesus and everything. I could not think of a better way to express myself in dispensing props.

The title asks the question I have posed to people who freely use the four-letter word in their everyday conversation. I am not so sure that word should be spat out so loosely.

In the song, Pigeon is having issues staying faithful to his girl while he is touring. He thinks he loves his girl, but he is not sure because he has urges to cheat. So he wonders if he’s in love at all.

Love is nothing but hormones. Oxytocin, seratonin and some other stuff combine in a cocktail in your brain that gets you high and motivates you to make silly decisions. Men feel this just like women do. The issue is, men are not built for monogamy. Faithful men suppress millions of years of evolution to remain that way and their women trip because the toilet seat is up.
Honorable Mentions

“No One Ever Does” — Saul Williams
“So many people ask me who is God, and when I tell them God is love, their reaction is quite mortal” — Brother J

This is not hip hop, it is grippo. This is not a classical love song, it is more universal. Saul really wants to love his fellow human being, but he finds it difficult because of the song’s title. He knows that it is imperative, and he will put forth a valiant effort to do so. Yet, he still laments the title. If you like this one, check out “Heading Home” by Eric Bibb.

“Neglected” — Grouch featuring Eligh
This is also not a love song. Grouch and Eligh want to be in love. Pickings just seem to be slim because the women they keep running into are not up to standard. They would rather be alone than spend their time trying to bump uglies with a physcially attractive gold digger. Like so many of the songs mentioned, I relate.


“Fa sho” — Odd Squad
These dudes love their women, but they decide to not suppress their inherent doggishness and get caught in the process. So it is a love song with a bit of folk wisdom sung by Devin in the hook. After hearing the song, I am left with the impression that these guys might not have the urge to suppress anything. Although they are hurt that their loved ones left, I have the feeling they would probably do it again.

Evolution is strong!
Keep ya head up, Kwame Kilpatrick J


“Glenn Close” — Binary Star
One Be Lo falls in love with a girl then realizes he don’t love her after all. He then hooks up with another woman and drama ensues. The name says it all.

There is even a mention of a well-known hoodoo rumor:

“Now don’t think that I’m petty / but I know what desperate ladies put in their spaghetti / thats why I told her that I ate already.”


“Nowalaters” — The Coup
This is one of the most well-written songs hip hop ever produced. The story and rhyme scheme are top notch. It is too intimate to not be autobiographical. I had to put this on the list because it is a story involving a male and a female and love. Boots never really mentions he loves the woman he is talking about. He loses his virginity to her at 17 in a Honda Civic parked somewhere near Lake Michigan. He then realizes she is pregnant.

“It was me up in the vaginary / And I’mma love my kids, whether real or imaginary.”

He then proceeds to talk about all the things he is prepared to do to get ready for his child to come into the world. Then the baby is born too early, but it has a really healthy weight.

Even though he realizes the child is not his, he still wants to take care of the kid and his mother. Now that is devotion. The only reason he leaves is because she pushed him away.

“There’s a few things I’d like to say in this letter
Like I wish I could have seen him grow
And ask my wife, I learned to fuck much better
And thank you for letting me go.
For real,
Thank you for letting me go.
For real,
Thank you,

Because ultimately, sometimes that’s what love is, too.


“Here” — Brother Ali
Check out more of the Hip Hop Purist at www.furth3r.com. Note: Consider yourself forewarned.

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Audio Session – Narubi Selah – I AM Living Math (Album)

Female MC Narubi Selah Could Save Hip Hop

First off, I know that’s a big claim. Narubi Selah is a newcomer to the hip hop scene, with only one album under her belt and far more poetry bonafides than tracks.

But she has the same number of hip hop albums as the (in)famous Ms. Hill, who as the most universally lauded female MC she’s bound to draw comparisons to. Like Lauryn, Narubi hails from New Jersey, and has a similarly raspy, lower-register voice. But Narubi is no clone.

On her debut album “I AM Living Math,” she annihilates each and every track with dope delivery, clever wordplay and an intent behind her lyrics as potent as a bullet to your brain. She aims to take you higher.

The girl spits burning embers on tracks like “Birdee” and “Living Math,” unapologetically gutting jokers of both genders with ease, while not compromising the lessons in self reflection and nation-building contained in the songs. It’s really no surprise to learn she maintains her secret identity as a teacher.

Narubi Selah also comes with some pretty impressive names behind her. Prior to her 2008 debut on Def Poetry Jam, she performed with KRS One, Lauryn Hill, Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers, and Styles P.

After hearing her perform at the 2001 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, former Editor in Chief Susan Taylor said “Her words could save our nation.” Narubi’s debut performance in the independent film, “What Goes Around” won the film the Best Urban Feature Film Award at the 2004 New York International Independent Film and Video Festival.

She’s also written and starred in her own ninety-minute play, “The Classifieds,” which premiered at the Nuyorican Poets Café. And The National Education Dance Institute sponsored her educational play “Free Your Rhyme,” in conjunction with the Trenton Dance Institute.

Hopefully we’ll hear more from Narubi Selah in the coming months. Meanwhile, cop Living Math. I’m already calling it a contender for Album of the Year.

EDITORS NOTE – We usually don’t like to make this into a review but Resident Alien just loooooooved the album so much we didn’t have a choice by the way, don’t forget, these are not the complete songs—just 90-second clips so you can get a feel for the music. If you like what you hear, go out and buy the CD.  Quality hip hop grows when we support the artists.

Music Playlist at MixPod.com

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Curing The Post-MLK Hangover

Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Make it a double!"

Whoooo! MLK Day at casa de GrownHeadz is always a busy event. First the women’s shelter, then a bit o’ culture at the African American museum, and finally wrapping up with a candle light vigil for HIV awareness and prevention.

Or at least, that’s what we always imagine we’ll do. The reality of the day is more like this: Go to work. Grumble at work that this is a FEDERAL holiday after all, and you shouldn’t have to be here. Celebrate the legacy of the civil rights pioneer at TGIFridays (half-off drink specials in no way cheapen the solemnity of the occasion). Come home, watch reruns of How I Met Your Mother, sleep. Face the next day with a side of regret.

But we’ve found a way to cure yourself of the MLK Day-After Blues. So what if you didn’t paint a school, like the Obamas did? Boo-hoo, Habitat for Humanity escaped the deathtrap flooring you’d have installed in some innocent family’s house. Keeping your gross incompetence to yourself probably saved lives. But you still feel like shit in the morning, seeing the glow of giving back on everyone else’s faces. Well, we’ve got a solution.

Just like Kwanzaa provides an extra week to get out late Christmas presents under the guise of cultural pride, MLK Week would let you slide on the charitable work at least until the weekend, when it doesn’t interfere with happy hour or Gossip Girl or whatever you did Monday. You still show you care, you just care about convenience too. And if it’s one thing the Civil Rights Movement did, it was make black people’s lives more convenient.

To quote our man Ricky Gervais, you’re welcome.

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The Hip-Hop Purist: Bouncer Vs. #1 Mom

If you look at me, you probably wouldn’t think of me as a tough guy. And you’d be right: I’m not a tough guy. I’m average weight and pretty non-athletic in appearance. I do, however, train MMA.
So in my small circle of homies, I am seen as a semi wannabe- tough guy. One of my college buddies even asks me to be the informal bouncer at his house parties. I don’t drink or smoke, so I won’t be tapping the stash. If he decides to charge, he knows I am honorable enough to never attempt to pocket a dime. And I look like a geek, so if anyone wanted to test me at the door, they would more than likely try to use their hands instead of using a weapon.
The last time I played door man, I learned a valuable life lesson:

You gotta let people be hypocrites / count your blessings and mind your businesses. – Slug (Atmosphere), Like the Rest of Us

So I’m standing at the door trying to pretend the crunk music is not wack…trying to avoid inhaling too much cigarette/swisher/clove/weed  smoke…and wondering how this dude convinces all of these women to come to his tiny, dirty, decrepit house. Then up steps a pregnant person. Women got in free that night so I did not have to ask for anything. She asked me for something though.
”Do you have a light?”
As a father, I remember trying to make sure only the best foods were in the house during the pregnancy. I even got a juicer. This future mom making an inquiry like that horrified me. So me in my self righteous grandeur decided it was only right to intervene. I mean, maybe she just didn’t know.

“You shouldn’t be doing that,” I murmured in a low tone, not trying to bring attention to the situation. “You should make every attempt to give the little person the best chance possible,” I damn near whispered.
She, on the other hand, decided to test the volume limits of her vocal cords. All the martial arts skill in the world can’t beat sense into anybody, and when someone is determined to wallow in negative circumstances, trying to force them out just leaves you looking stupid.

She “put me in my place.”
I guess.

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Why Flavor Flav Dates Better Than You

Friday night at Flav's

By Yo Jeff the Hip Hop Dating Coach

I do a lot of dating workshops, and whenever I ask the question “Do you date better than Flavor Flav?” the audience responds with a resounding NO.

I ask attendees what the Flavor of Love show was about and I get answers like entertainment, silliness, a guy who wants to sleep with a lot of women.

Nobody recognizes it as a televised display of Flavor Flav’s dating process. Since Flavor of Love‘s debut in 2006, there have been Rock of Love, I Love New York, Real Chance of Love, For the Love of Ray J, Frank the Entertainer, A Shot of Love with Tila Tequila, and A Double Shot of Love with a couple of twins. But it was Hip Hop’s famous hypeman who started it all.

So, I use this show which nobody seems to respect to illustrate a few important criteria most people do not include in their own dating processes.

If the purpose of dating is the personal vetting process to find a life partner, then there are three things most single people can learn from Flavor of Love.

1. Flavor Flav always met the exes.
Some people feel this is an unimportant or irrelevant activity. To these people I say, imagine if your date told you his ex-girlfriend was a crazy freak who didn’t understand him. And his name was Chris Brown.
When Flavor Flav met the ex-boyfriends of the girls on his show, he found that a few of them had cheated in the past or were still dating their boyfriends. Good to know, right?

Sometimes talking directly to the ex-boyfriend or girlfriend is not possible. An alternative to speaking to the ex directly is simply keeping in mind that whatever the potential date tells you about their past relationships is their side of the story. So, listen out for supporting information from their family and friends about the type of person your date is.

2. Flavor Flav introduced his dates to his family and friends.
This is something a majority of people don’t do until they are in relationships. For those of us who don’t think it’s an important early step, there are two reasons I disagree with you.

A) You should see how the person you’re dating behaves toward the permanent people in your life–are they snobbish? Awkward? Flirtatious? It’s best to find out early, and from people who love you.
B) If you conceive a child with the date, then they will all be family anyway. This is important for couples who are sexuality active to understand, because birth control methods can fail and an unexpected pregnancy can join you for life. With a child in the picture, a good relationship between the date and the family can make everyone’s lives much easier.

3. Flavor Flav always made it a point to meet the parents.
This is even more important than introducing your date to your family. When you meet the family of the person you are dating, you can see how they talk to each other, their attitudes toward church or finances, learn if they have unhealthy eating habits or are right-wing gun nuts.

It gives you a better idea of the environment they come from, and what you may be in store for if things get serious. Your date’s family may not ever become your family, but isn’t it better to be prepared, just in case?

The main reason I like using Flavor Flav as an example is because everyone feels that they’re smarter and date better than him. But Flav really isn’t doing anything more than parents used to request of their children.

The problem is the games people have been playing on each other over the years have watered down everyone’s dating processes. The purpose of dating has never changed and the more you respect it as the first phase of family building, the smoother your dating process will be. Remember, you’re the producer of your own Flavor of Love.

Need relationship advice? Email Yo Jeff, the Hip Hop Dating Coach at CoachYoJeff@gmail.com.

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Hip Hop Dating Coach Pioneers “Pre-Pre-Nup”

YoJeff Face
Not unlike Lamar Odom and Kanye West, Hip-Hop dating coach “Yo! Jeff” Carroll is a vocal supporter of the prenup. But he took it a step farther on his national Stop the GAME! Tour at Maryland’s Salisbury University two weeks ago, when he broke out the “Pre-pre-nup.”

It’s actually not a legal document, but a way to get younger heads, especially young women, to take control of their romantic relationships. He says the idea is to set the terms of your involvement, instead of leaving up to chance important issues like sexual exclusivity. The Pre-pre-nup spells out conditions like “only have sex with me,” and “include me in your activities.”

Before an audience of about 50 undergrad students, Jeff also talked about STDs, rape and heartbreak, but he kept a light touch. “I want [the students] to have an introduction to [proper] dating,” he said, because “this is probably something they didn’t talk to their parents about.”

Carroll passed out his “10 Hip-Hop Dating Codes,” which include rules like no cheating and define the relationship. “The Player Hater List,” Carroll’s tips for avoiding users and fakes, also made the rounds.

Carroll gave his first talk at Kean University in New Jersey and, sensing the need for greater dialogue, expanded his tour from there. Carroll is co-author of “20 Soul Questions” with his wife, Nivia Binett-Carroll. They wrote the book to help initiate deep conversations about important issues between partners.

Email your dating questions to RBGWorld@aol.com, or visitwww.rbgworld.comfor more information.

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