New Podcast: It’s Nichelle With An N

I have dabbled in podcasting off and on for years. I used to use a digital recorder, upload a file and then use some podcasting software to compress to upload to my blog. I have used Odeo’s AudioBlogger, Audioboo, and now I am using Soundcloud. In addition, I have been a guest on a few podcasts, and co-hosted amTWib for three months back in 2013.

So I have done three podcasts so far and you can listen to them.

music \ Uncategorized

What I Wrote Last Year About Rihanna’s #BBHMM

Rihanna BBHMM

Today I wake up to news that Rihanna and Drake are actually dating. I don’t know if it is really true. I just hope it leads to great music and internet memes.

Coincidentally, I read my Facebook post a year ago and it was about Rihanna’s video, “Bitch Better Have My Money“.

1) If the ‪#‎BBHMM‬ video came out a bit sooner, maybe Hannibal wouldn’t have gotten canceled.
2) One of her accomplices in the video is wearing a partial doobie wrap which Rihanna sported at an awards show in 2013. Nice callback.

3) Rihanna wears granny panties on her head in one scene of the video. (Gotta protect the black hair.)

4) I feel like Rihanna has a future career as a director once she’s done with all this music stuff.

Boat on the ship with reflection

I Went to New York And I Fell Out Of Love With The City

I went to New York for a few days last week, and it feels different. I love New York, but I am no longer in love with New York.  I feel like I can’t be myself there.  That city is a place of compromises. I was suffocating from all the new construction. There are so many tall buildings. Anyway, it was great to see my friends.

 Tricia, Dara and Me

Tricia, Dara and Me

Cat, Kristen and Me

Cat, Kristen and Me

Statue of Liberty

 Statue of Liberty

social \ social graces

No One Wears Khaki Pants

Pink Pants
I was asked if I were a hipster. That made me laugh. Maybe I am. Maybe I just know people who are or know people who make things that appeal to hipsters. Hipsters are the same as millennials. Some millennials are decidedly basic. They are normcore-wearing people who are averse to student loan debt and wearing pants. Seriously, no one wears pants anymore. It is either skinny jeans, leggings or shorts. I worry about the sales of khaki pants. I don’t wear pants often either, but I have some.

Anyway, there are way too many people living on this earth. There are so many generations alive right now and because of technology and internet-sharing, you can have access to all of their thoughts and dreams. This is an excellent time to be a sociologist who can use big data to provide insights into what is the culture now and what will happen in the future.

I am more interested in learning what we can do to change anti-social behavior online and offline. Sometimes it seems that the world is so mean. It makes me sad. However, it could be that I see it more with social media and the 24-hour news cycle.

What I do know is this, “intent does not absolve you from impact”. If you have offended someone with your words and actions, then recognize that even if your intentions were good, it doesn’t matter if someone was offended. We can’t please everyone, but we can be contrite if we fail.

fashion \ music \ women

My Obligatory #LEMONADE Thinkpiece

Beyonce Lemonade

One of my most popular Facebook status updates went something like this:

You don’t have to have an opinion on everything.

I believe that to be true.  The only thing is that I rarely see people with dissenting  views from popular opinion speak up.  As much freedom as we have to say what we feel, many of us have been relying heavily on letting others do that for us.  Whether it is a retweet or share, it seems as though we have ceded our opinions to others who have either wrote it first or better.  Although I enjoy reading and sharing what someone has said more eloquently than I, I can’t silence myself in deference to others. So here are my thoughts on Beyonce’s LEMONADE.

Don’t worry. My thinkpiece is short.

It’s my opinion. It is my perspective and life experience. I don’t speak for all black women. In case you don’t know, black people are not a monolith, and especially not black women. I am happy that some black women feel vindicated, validated or (Black Twitter-verified) by LEMONADE, but I am not one of them.

First, if you plan on writing about this yourself, please heed the warnings of people who will let you know that everything is not for everybody. (Thanks, Very Smart Brothas!)

As Jasmine Masters from RuPaul’s Drag Race famously said “No Tea, No Shade, No Pink Lemonade”, I will pass on sipping Beyonce’s LEMONADE.

LEMONADE has merits. It is a visual album that has a tighter concept than  the previous Beyonce.

The cinematography is stunning. The production is great. The music is phenomenal.

However, the content is not my cup of tea. Calling out the messy details of your marriage may be cathartic, but it does nothing for me. Walking around with bat that says “hot sauce” is a bit on the nose.

My other complaint is that I abhor “plantation chic” fashion. I love a cotton dress, but dressing like a doily is not my thing. In fact, I wish the styling was more of the Afro-futuristic rather than antebellum.

I do like that Beyonce is stepping outside the comfort zone of a pop star, but LEMONADE did not resonate for me personally. I am not thirsty for LEMONADE and that’s OK. Everything is not for everybody. Furthermore, everything Beyonce is NOT for all black women.

music \ new york city

Gutted: Prince Is Dead


Life ain’t nothing but a muffin. We gotta lotta of butter 2 go.

The butter is gone. Prince is dead.  I love Prince.  His first radio hit, “Soft and Wet” was one of the first 45s I ever got. My Dad had a record store in the late 1970s -early 1980s, so I had access to a lot of music.  My Dad even took me to see Prince in concert during his Purple Rain tour.  I was probably too young to go, but my Dad took me and three of my friends to the concert.  It was phenomenal.

When I was high school, I went out to Los Angeles to spend two weeks with my cousins.  We screamed the lyrics to “Housequake” while riding rollercoasters at Disneyland.

In college, my freshman roommate was the biggest Prince I ever knew.   Her side of the room was full of Prince posters. She even went to Minneapolis for spring break.   I once saw her in the subway station years later in Harlem.  She looked the same.

I saw Prince again during the LoveSexy tour. When he performed “Anna Stasia” on the piano, it was magnificent.  This was modern day classical music.

I did not lose my virginity to Prince, but my sexuality was awakened because of his music.  Prince’s music made me want to receive pleasure and to be adored.  I even ask to be kissed on the back of my knees by a boyfriend because of a Prince lyric.  It didn’t do much for me, but I was bold enough to ask.

When I lived in Brooklyn,  my ex-boyfriend and I went to a Purple Rain sing-a-long in Prospect Park in 2009.

I also went to one of  Questlove’s Bowl Train night.  It was one in June 2012, where I danced the night away to deep cut Prince songs.

Although peak Prince’s popularity has ebbed and flowed over the last fifteen years, he never went away.  He didn’t ghost his fans. There was always new music, concert tours and appearances at awards shows. It is so hard to imagine living in a world where Prince is not here.  Prince taught me about myself.  I still need to know more about myself, but Prince is not around to teach me.  How do I learn now?  Part of me wants to withdraw.  Part of me needs to publicly grieve with the rest of the world. One thing I do know is that  I need to be fearless in creating.



art \ me

I Am An Amateur Photographer

Stylish Senior by Nichelle Stephens on

I have been taking photos for years, but I didn’t get a good camera until 18 months ago when I got a Canon EOS.  Now when people see me, they assume that I am a photographer.   I often say “I am not a photographer; I just have a good camera.”  Well, I am actually an amateur photographer. I enjoy taking photos and I want to get better at it. One of my photos will be in a local exhibition, Span The Gap. This week I joined 500px and I am posting photos on there.

Medium Posts \ music

Defending Drake and Awkward Black People


Note: I wrote this post back in October of last year.  This week Drake has dropped two new singles, but I am not sure if either will surpass the pop culture sensation of ‘Hot Line Bling’.

Do journalists who write about Drake actually know who Drake is? Or do they base their assumptions on what a stereotypical hip hop artist is supposed to be?

Thank goodness for pioneers like De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and even PM Dawn. Not every rapper is hard core. Not every rapper is angry and most importantly not every rapper is cool.

Like it or not, black people are actually burdened with the responsibility of being cool. Maybe it is because of musicians like Miles Davis, but it seems that defining coolness is something we black people have to uphold. We know the latest fashion. We create the newest dances. We coin the newest slang. However, we are not always “cooler than the other side of the pillow”. [RIP Stuart Scott]

Sometimes we are awkward like Awkward Black Girl. [Thanks, Issa Rae]

I read an article in the Washington Post reviewing Drake’s latest video, Hotline Bling. Writer Sarah Kaufman posits that Drake has taken “uncool too far” Huh?! If you are uncool, there’s no nadir of how far to go. She thinks Drake is being inauthentic.

Do we buy that? Part of the Question of Drake — an artist who’s particularly good at sparking annoyance– is his sincerity. Is he truly uncool (which is kind of cool) or does he just play at being uncool (which is pretentious)?

I disagree. If anything, Drake is even more comfortable in his music and in himself. He is more authentic, and his easy ability to be unapologetically uncool resonates with his fans.

Not everyone wants to be always cool to be with the cool kids. It’s a heavy burden.


New Hosting,Who Dis?!

Nichelle Stephens

I changed my hosting to FatCow, who I highly recommend. However, all my old blog posts are gone.  You can probably find them in the wayback machine, but I am ready for a fresh start and to continue blogging at I have been blogging since 2003 starting with my first blog Nichelle Newsletter on Blogspot.  In 2004, I moved to Typepad, and then I finally settled on WordPress in 2006.

Happy Spring! Happy New Beginnings!

Medium Posts

Vote Or Die Was Cool, But Charter Schools

Back To School

Running a charter school is not.

I don’t think that Sean Combs (AKA Diddy )should be running a charter school. Charter schools are ill-fitting band-aids trying the fix the big boo-boo of public schools. Public schools are broken. They are broken because property taxes decides how much money schools get in funding. The higher the tax the tax bracket, the better the school. Class affects the quality of schools so much.

I went to a Catholic school for the majority of my elementary school education. I was only in public school for three years 10th grade, 11th grade and 12th grade. Lucky for me, the neighborhood that I live in suburban Atlanta was doing well. I got a good education. It was good that I took AP classes and I got accepted into four colleges.

Recently, I spoke at a charter elementary school. I was fascinated at how smart and inquisitive the kids were, but I was dismayed at how regimented the school was. The kids were reading as they stood in line for the bathroom. They were chastised constantly for being loud and speaking out of turn.  At some charter schools in New York, kids wet themselves due to pressure to perform. These kids were like robots. Anyway, Diddy is a great music producer, businessman and video director. However, he should not run a charter school. In my opinion, charter schools are wack.

About twenty years ago, charter schools seemed like a good idea at the time. They were a way for poor and middle-class kids to get a good education when neighborhood public schools were failing them. Now charter schools have become businesses.  Charter schools are getting more money than public schools, and the awkward thing is that there often housed in the same building.

I don’t think charter schools are all bad.  I just think that we have abandoned many local public schools for them.  It’s like education deserts have sprung up like food deserts.

Anyway, Diddy is a great music producer, businessman, and video director. However, he should not run a charter school. In my opinion, charter schools are wack.