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JUNE 2019

Christopher 'Play' Martin and Team Brand Newz 'n Life return with another exciting episode featuring Robert "Rob Veggies" Horton's "TRAP GARDEN" in Nashville, TN. BNz n Life Producer Jay Sweet hangs out with Rob and a crew of awesome people who want to do something good when it comes to health and diet.

Eating healthy should not be as hard as we make it. Sometimes when we want something, we have to get up and do it ourselves. Robert “Rob Veggies” Horton had a vision and made the decision to get up and do it himself.

Then we join Play as he shares some of his new documentary "AND iDANCED" at New York City's Museum of the Moving Image co-sponsored by the Universal Hip Hop Museum with major thanks to Rocky Bucano.

He along with some of the dancers featured in the documentary also participates in a Q&A moderated & hosted by "House Party" and "Boomerang" producer Warrington Hudlin enjoys the many stories and laughs from panel's journeys many don't know.


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Story by Victoria Myles

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Story by Savina Billups


MAY 2019

In our new 6th episode Team Brand Newz 'n Life celebrates Mother's Day weekend with feature stories on HGTV's "Flip or Flop" Nashville host Page Turner. The Real Estate Agent, Entrepreneur and Motivational Speaker talks about life before the popular success as a single mother of three young ladies and some of the challenges that come moving forward. Our second feature is the Know Your Worth / Walk the Purple Carpet Conference with Keynote Speaker comedian Kim Coles with a host of many other motivational guest!

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APRIL 2019

Team Brand Newz n Life hangs out in Nashville, Tennessee with Producer Jay Sweet to meet Bloggers Xchange founders Kay Elle & Leigh Love. They talk about their vision in success in the Blog community! Executive Producer Christopher 'Play' Martin with the help of videographer Sean Gibbs captures and shares the T-Boz (TLC) Unplugged benefit concert in Los Angeles. She candidly shares why she's so passionate about Sickle Cell awareness. June 9th 2019 is the next T Boz Unplugged!




Where would we be without our trend setters, and “juice” givers? Dying of thirst, I think. 


Bloggers in the media keep viewer, millennials and all interested in everything that’s new and fresh. There are all different types of bloggers, from fashion to music to lifestyles bloggers. You’d be shocked at how much what bloggers do characterize many people’s lives. Two bloggers, in particular, have made a business out of coming together to gain the exposure bloggers need and want. 


The Bloggers Xchange was founded by two Nashville natives, Kay Elle and Leigh Love, in November of 2017. These two women have started the Blogger Xchange series event to bring local bloggers together to connect and network. During this event Kay and Leigh set up headshots and many other workshops for the local bloggers. They’ve prided themselves with the mindset of “collaboration over competitive”. Working together in the end, for them, have created a community of bloggers who are successful.


Kay and Leigh explained that they started because there was not a community in Nashville to education bloggers or to provide support for them. They eventually put the thoughts about starting that community on paper and became entrepreneurs. With this new business, Kay and Leigh have sought out to expand to Memphis and Minneapolis. These ladies can’t be stopped. 


The Blogger Xchange series is still going and in full effect. Another expo is coming soon in August of this year for three day in Nashville. Get your notebooks and pens ready because the knowledge that you need, these bloggers have the answer.


   - Victoria Myles

T-Boz Continues to Raise Awareness on Sickle Cell Disease


It’s the illness many have heard about but don’t know exactly what it is. 

One musical legend has made it her mission to educate the world on sickle cell disease. 

Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins has shared her battle with this incurable disease and how it affected her singing career as a member of the pop group TLC.

Approximately 70,000 to 100,000 Americans have sickle cell disease, the most common form of an inherited blood disorder. This disease, which is present in affected individuals at birth, causes the production of abnormal hemoglobin.

The Sickle cell trait is an inherited blood disorder that affects 8 to 10 percent of African Americans.

She recently teamed up with Avalon Hollywood to hold a benefit concert to raise awareness on this disease for the 5th Annual T-Boz Unplugged Benefit Concert.

“I wanted to merge my two passions, charity and music, people go to concerts all the time. So why not hear the know people you love the most, and you’re saving a life at the same time. So what we’re doing is supporting sickle cell disease and kids with blood disorders,” said T-Boz. 

Celebrities such as Larenz Tate, the late Prodigy from Mobb Deep, Tiki Barber, and the late Miles Davis also have battled this disease. 

So what signs indicate that you or a loved one may have sickle cell disease?

According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms may vary from person to person but can include: 

  • Anemia: Sickle cells break apart easily and die, leaving you without enough red blood cells. Without enough red blood cells, your body can't get the oxygen it needs to feel energized, causing fatigue.

  • Episodes of pain: Periodic episodes of pain, called crises, are a significant symptom of sickle cell anemia. This pain varies in intensity and can last for a few hours to a few weeks. 

  • Painful swelling of hands and feet: The swelling is caused by sickle-shaped red blood cells blocking blood flow to the hands and feet.

  • Frequent infections: Sickle cells can damage an organ that fights infection (spleen), leaving you more vulnerable to diseases. 

  • Delayed growth: A shortage of healthy red blood cells can slow growth in infants and children and delay puberty in teenagers.

  • Vision problems: Tiny blood vessels that supply your eyes may become plugged with sickle cells. This can damage the retina — the portion of the eye that processes visual images, leading to vision problems.

If you’re experiencing a variation of these symptoms, please seek medical assistance from your healthcare provider.  

“Raising awareness on this issue means a lot to me because I actually have the disease. I’ve been a national spokesperson for over 20 years. However, I wasn’t getting the support from the national region, so I wanted to use my platform to get the word out on sickle cell disease.”

 - Savina Billups

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Host & Executive Producer Christopher "Play" Martin and Team Brand Newz 'n Life introduces a holiday edition with features on Crossover Ministry's 2018 "Flavor Fest" in Tampa, Florida and Florida A&M University School of Journalism & Graphic Communication's "Grads Are Back"!

Plus Christopher Martin shares sneak peak behind the scenes of Las Vegas first Hip Hop residency at Salt 'n Pepa's I LOVE THE 90's Las Vegas.

Flavor In Your Ear

Hip-hop is a universal commodity that influences every aspect of popular culture, from television to fashion, it’s even changing the spiritual world.

Flavor Fest is an Urban Leadership Conference hosted by Crossover Church every two years. This conference helps urban churches and ministries bring lasting change to their challenged communities.

“We decided to call the conference Flavor Fest because the word “flavor” is an iconic hip-hop word from back in the day,” said Pastor Tommy "Urban D." Kyllonen, Crossover Church. “There are different elements for this event including a poetry slam, graffiti collective, and we even have a hip-hop fashion show with some of the top clothing lines in Christian hip-hop. Every year we roll out new things to keep this event relevant to the culture.”

This event includes breakout sessions that align deeply with the hip-hop culture such as graffiti expo, beat battle and break dancing. Each course and workshop at the conference give attendees the skills, techniques, and guidance on how to better spread the gospel and build their churches and ministries in the urban context.

One of the main attractions to Flavor Fest is the hip-hop performances and speakers, such as DJ Tony Tone BKS, Montell Jordan and KJ-52, who discuss their journey in both worlds.

Many are puzzled by how this music and spirituality coexist. It’s simple the culture is consistent, with empowering underserved communities, while the message is very different.

Since its inception in the early 1980s, this subgenre has not received anywhere the recognition or significance of traditional urban gospel music.

Gospel music, much like other genres, is evolving. This subgenre of Hip-hop, which emerged from urban small underground scenes, is coming to the forefront of this type of music. Artists such as Lecrae and Grammy Award winner, Chance the Rapper, have made it mainstream.

Hip-hop and Christianity, seem to be incompatible, however, both serve as a vehicle of expression for empowerment. 


 By: Savina Billups


I love my H in front of my B. 

My B in front of my C.

 My C in front of my U. I love my H-B-C-U!

It is no secret that HBCU’s have the most fun and the best family-oriented environment for students. Each day on a campus of an HBCU is like a never-ending family reunion. Some familiar HBCUs are TSU, FAMU, Howard, Spellman, Morehouse and so many others. Those who have not attended an HBCU only see it as a college or institution, but for those who have, we call it, “An Experience!”

HBCUs are known for their acceptance and homecomings. Many people wonder why those who choose to attend an HBCU make that decision. I’d have to say that we want it because we feel accepted. There is no question as to whether or not the teacher cares, or if I am just a seat filler for this class. HBCUs have dedicated professors who not only want to see the students succeed but will help by any means necessary. Not to boast, but HBCUs see the you that you would like to be before you do.

A phenomenal way to celebrate your experience in college or to revisit your old stepping grounds is a homecoming. During Homecoming students, alum, facility and the community around the HBCU come together. It is so pleasing to see how much the university or college has affected others. People come together from all walks of life, after building their careers, in the middle of building careers to see their old classmates and network together. You’d be shocked at just how many famous people have come through an HBCU and how many help other people, who also attend the same HBCU, make their dreams come true. It’s like I said, “An Experience!” 

As a graduate of an HBCU, I know firsthand that my HBCU molded me to be the right person that I am. Attending a historically black college and university opens the minds and the world to so many people. I can honestly say my HBCU has shaped me. Can you?

 By: Victoria Myles


Hip Hop pioneer Daddy O of Hip Hop's 1st Hip Hop band Stetsasonic introduces a new Brand Newz 'n Life episode featuring Rapper, Artist and Tallahassee, Florida Community supporter Brandon "Mike Jack" Williams born with a skin condition that would have discouraged and stopped most to find and live their purpose!

Plus Host & Producer Christopher "Play" Martin hangs out at Durham, North Carolina's Black Wall Street 2018 homecoming with the help of filmmaker Steven Starks! 

The Empowerment of Vitiligo

When you see someone with the loss of pigmentation on their face and body, you know what it’s called, but very few people know what it is.

Vitiligo affects one percent of the population worldwide and about 2 to 5 million people in the United States of America.

This skin condition causes the loss of pigmentation resulting in white spots or patches on different areas of the body including the face, hands, arms, and legs. As of right now, there is no direct cause related to the diagnosis of vitiligo, however, issues such as stress can worsen the problem and cause more patches around the body.

Winnie Harlow, Terrance J, Steve Martin, Tamar Braxton, and the late Michael Jackson all have one thing in common. vitiligo. You would never know it from looking at their glamorous red carpet photos, but like millions of others, they have all learned to embrace their unique condition.

Winnie Harlow said in a recent interview “The real difference isn’t my skin. It’s the fact that I don’t find beauty in the opinions of others. I’m beautiful because I know it.”

Vitiligo is no longer being looked at as a rare skin disorder but as a unique asset.

Even mainstream companies and media are embracing it. Earlier this year CoverGirl kicked off a campaign based around inclusivity by featuring a model who has Vitiligo to encourage others to proudly embrace this condition.  In this ad, model Amy Deanna is seen enhancing her white spots with foundation instead of covering it up as many people would assume. Even the clothing boutique Missguided used a mannequin with Vitiligo, recently, to empower and educate their customers.

Brandon Williams, also known as Mike Jack, shared his story in our new Brand Newz n Life feature about growing up with Vitiligo and the challenges he faced with it.

He said “It was rough growing up. Kids used to pick on me, talk about me, laugh at me and say things like I looked like I had acid thrown on me.”

Brandon’s mother would reassure him that all of the things he was going through was because he was special and here to make a change in the world.  And he has.

“Instead of me living with Vitiligo, I decided Vitiligo was going to l

ive with me,” Brandon said when discussing his acceptance of the loss of his pigmentation, “I made a vow to be happy with myself, no matter what anyone else thought of my appearance. I would wear it as a badge of honor.”

To get more of Brandon’s inspiring story watch our Brand Newz n Life exclusive interview with him. Watch, like and share this story on social media using the hashtag #BNZ4Vitiligo.

By Savina Billups

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The Black Wall Street started in the early 20th century in the black community of Tulsa, the Greenwood District. The Black Wall Street gained its title after becoming nationally known as an entrepreneurial center where many pioneers from all around America could come in search of new career opportunities. 

Once word got out about the great things happening on the Black Wall Street, jealousy followed quickly. A riot began in 1921 after allegations of white woman being assaulted by black men. This riot is known as the Tulsa Race Riot. During the riot, hundreds of people died, were injured, lost their businesses and properties. As of last year, there is only one known survivor of the riot, Oliver J. Hooker. 

The Greenwood District was burned down and the damage costing millions to start again. However, many of those who survived then took it upon themselves to rebuild their businesses and home. By the summer of 1922, many businesses were back afloat, but only for a short amount of time as the Civil Rights movement began to arise.

Today the Black Wall Street is being recreated all over the world. Cities like Boley, Okla, the Fourth Avenue District: Birmingham, Ala, Jackson Ward, Richmond, Va and Parrish Street, Durham, N.C. 

The one that is most known and talked about is Parrish Street of Durham, NC. Although many remember the past well, Durham is becoming the connection to making the Black Wall Street continue on for centuries and generations to come. 

Recently, Durham had their 4th annual Black Wall Street Homecoming. This event brings entrepreneurs, investors, students and all those interested together to network and share time, stories of experience and wisdom with each other. Durham provides workshop, seminars, key note speakers and so much more. They have created and pushed to keep the Black Wall Street alive. I applaud how they are bringing history into the present and taking it to the future.

by Victoria Myles

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Young, Black and Fatherhood


      by Savina Billups

There is a long time myth that most black fathers are absent from their homes or that most black children grow up without their fathers. However, a study by the CDC found that most black fathers live with their children, about 2.5 million currently live with their kids. 


Many dads in Hip Hop personify what it truly means to be a father. One, in particular, former B2K member, reality star and now, author, Lil Fizz, story of being a young, single father is one aspect of fatherhood that is not often explored. 


Love and Hip Hop showcased him as a highly devoted father who wants the best for his son, Kamron, despite all the obstacles of life.


Fizz recently released a book titled No Excuses: Being the Father My Son Deserves. The book explores his early life with his single mother, his teen stardom years, becoming a father and maintaining a stable relationship with his son.  In the book, he is sharing his firsthand experiences of being a father and why this role is the most critical role in his life. 


In our recent interview with Fizz, he said “Well I didn’t meet my father until I was 13 so there was not very much experience there having one. I watched my mom struggle and growing up she sacrificed a lot so that just made me want to provide for her and give my son what I didn’t have, which was a father.”

We’re so excited to share this narrative of black fatherhood and dispel a longtime myth. 


We sat down with Lil Fizz for a Brand Newz n Life exclusive interview to discuss being a father and how being raised by a single mother shaped his mind for fatherhood. Watch and share this story on social media with your friends and family. 

The New Face of Homelessness in America: Women Veterans at High Risk

      by Patrice Rush

When we think of all the women who have served our country, the ones who sacrificed their normal lifestyles and motherhood to protect and to serve, the last thing we would associate them with is homelessness.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 3,328 women veterans were reported homeless in 2016. Women veterans only contribute to 14.6 percent of the army population. However, they continue to be the fastest growing demographic of homeless veterans in the United States.

Even with statewide attention and help from federal programs to resolve this issue, there are still so many women left out on the street. HUD, Veteran Affairs and the Department of Labor,  all make a passable effort in tracking all forms of women veteran homelessness and provide resources that can relate to each woman. However, obtaining a complete and accurate number of how many homeless women veterans there really are has been the main downfall for restoring this group. Many women veterans rely on community systems for care and are unaware of state and federal services available to them.

Civilian life can be more challenging for women than for their male equivalents. Some women are single parents and have children to raise all while dealing with PTSD and military sexual trauma. This can put women vets at a higher risk of becoming homeless. The community and VA agencies continue to be a male-dominated system of care, therefore, neglecting many female veterans, especially those who have experienced military sexual trauma.

According to the National Health Care For The Homeless Council, 32 percent of women veterans who are homeless struggle with substance abuse issues, while 74 percent screen positively for PTSD and MST. Sexual assaults occur at an average of more than 70 per day in the United States military. The VA says one in five women seen at the Veterans Health Administration and one in 100 men have experienced MST.

It is evident that women veterans are suffering intensely and have a harder time transitioning back into civilian life compared to male veterans.  Although women veterans are more educated than male veterans, it is easier for the men to find employment after the military than women. As a  result, unemployment for women veterans is more by 8 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Some women have spent over 20 to 30 years enlisted in the army, retiring with a pension, but are still unable to make ends meet because they earn less in and outside of the military.

Women veterans have fought hard for their country. It’s only deserving that the country fights for their lives and well-being, giving them all of the resources they need to adjust smoothly back into society. Sadly, women veterans are seen as invisible and left out of the picture. It is a bigger problem than anyone knows and until everyone comes together to fix the problem, the number of homeless women veterans will increase.

To support these incredible women visit or email




We're back and excited to share a peak at our first feature

documentary "AND iDANCED" please visit 

Life Beyond Reality Television: Dutchess Turns Turmoil Into Women Empowerment And Entrepreneurship

Story: Issac “Ike” Morgan   Video: Ade Bajere  Music: Ohene Savant 

Crystana ‘Dutchess’ Lattimore hails from Lincolnton, North Carolina. At an early age, she showed exceptional talent in art and education. After graduating cum laude from North Carolina A&T State University, with a Bachelor Degree in Business Management, while pursuing her M.B.A. she discovered her passion for tattoo artistry.

She moved to New York City in 2010 to pursue her new passion and immediately became a highly esteemed member of the ink community. Soon after, she found herself involved with a career-changing opportunity with VH1 as they were putting together a new reality show based on a tattoo show entitled “Black Ink Crew.”

Portrayed as an outspoken, drama queen who often butted heads with her cast mates, ratings went through the roof, but Lattimore was suffering deep down inside and couldn't wait to make an exit and pursue other business ventures. Growing tired of the negative exploitation, she decided to leave the show after many successful seasons as a regular cast member.

The former reality TV star-packed up her bags and headed back to her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina to take a massive leap of faith to open up her own tattoo shop, Pretty-N-Ink, with her mother.

Lattimore becomes among the 1.5 million Black women business owners in America. The number of businesses created by black women in the United States alone is up more than 460% over the last 20 years, making them the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the nation.

Speaking on entrepreneurship, Lattimore said, “It’s a journey you have to stay committed to.”

With reality television in her rearview mirror, the entrepreneur is sharing her story with women across the country and encouraging other women to step out and find their own paths.


We sat down with Dutchess for a Brand Newz n Life exclusive interview to discuss her newfound confidence, her past obstacles, and future endeavors. Watch and share this inspiration with your friends on social media.



Our Host and Executive Producer Christopher "Play" Martin wants to sincerely express

his gratitude for all the support and prayers he received during a very challenging time 

undergoing serious surgery on his eye. He wants to give a huge thanks to Kelvin Frazier for his priceless help throughout and wanted to share the details with the surgeon

Dr. H. Logan Brooks Jr. himself.