Danyel Smith

If you are 16 or 14 right now, if there’s something that you believe in, don’t hang back! Put on your stomping boots, put on your sassiest dress and be at the center of that shit. It’s just the best to be part of something as it’s happening. Then on those faraway days when you’re like, “Oh my god, I’m thirty-threeee!” (it happens, young Rookies, it happens), you can look back and say, “I was major, and I’m going to be even more major in my 40s. I have experience in how to change the world.” If you don’t do that, you’re going to be mad. “I was doing what? Homework?!” “What? I was high? Too high to enjoy it?” No—put on your cutest shit and go to the fucking party and run it. Not to get too preachy or anything, but don’t always be going to the party, give the fucking party, you know what I’m saying? Curate it and make that shit as fresh as possible. It’s all good to be invited, but it’s a lot better to be the inviter. It’s all good to be the reader, but it’s way better to be the creator, the editor. It’s just fresher, I’m sorry. And no shade to the community of people that are on the side of reading and just coming to the party, because maybe you’re curing cancer, maybe you’re raising amazing kids, maybe you’re just going to work every day stunting off fools as the dopest receptionist ever at the dentist’s office, because that’s fresh too! But if you’re really into culture, own that shit. There’s nothing like starting your own shit. There’s nothing like moving on up, being like, “I was writing, now I’m editing.” “I was editing, now I’m editing a whole section.”
—  Editor & Writer Danyel Smith via Rookie Magazine 

‘A new new, for the new everyone,’ is how Danyel Smith describes her venture to create a concept magazine in the form of a book, ‘an extreme print experience.’ A crowd-funded, one-time published product, she wants to ‘reject the niche’ and ‘reject mainstream’ because ‘it’s about the multi-stream.’ Passion dripped from her eyes as she teared up at the notion that ‘everyone is equally interesting. In my opinion, hrdcvr is poised to revolutionize what we have come to know as journalism and what we call print.”

Tre'Vell Anderson

hello, theSmithian community,

the above is my project, with my husband. the woman in the video is me, Danyel Smith. pls watch. also:

the tumblr is here

the twitter is here

most importantly, the Kickstarter is here and we need your support to make HRDCVR happen. It’s going to be beautiful and smart and amazing.

Tupac Shakur: a fiery ferocious MC, an auspicious actor, a man so beautiful he made you wanna touch the screen, the photograph, him. He made you wanna see those vanilla teeth, the wet sweet wild eyes, the fleshy lips, the lashes like fans like feathers on his fudgy skin. He made you want to kill him, defend him, make him your baby. He dared you to find the lies, prove he’s crazy. Tupac keeps you searching, even now, for the line between him and the him he put out there for you to see, for the line between being and acting, between how one rolls through life and how one rocks the microphone. Crazy motherf*cker. Coward. Sucker. Sexist. Sex symbol. Superman. Provocateur. Hero.
—   Danyel Smith, (Tupac Shakur)

Are You A Game Changer?

It’s Wednesday and you might need a little bit of motivation to get you through the rest of the week and today it comes from ‘Game Changers’, a conversation between the brilliant journalist Danyel Smith, Janelle Monae, B.o.B, Lupe Fiasco and Londons own Estelle.

The 3 part video talks about how them as individuals are game changers and about the industry in general. It also talks about being you and sticking to your guns. Lupe Fiasco talks about a conversation he had with Ian Astbury (lead vocalist of The Cult) who told him “you need a manifesto, you don’t need the music, you need to know what you’re talking about.” This comment goes off the premise of wanting to see something in not only yourself but in the world too and making sure that your music reflects that.

Many nuggets of information here that we loved!

2 more days until the weekend - we hope this keeps you going until then!

Part 2 | Part 3 

Jay-Z has too many shimmering bars of a now 17-plus year career for this verse to be considered in the same way. Though he does win for saying, All black at the white shows/White shoes at the black shows. There’s something in it that speaks to Jay-Z’s own life and work, to Justin’s life and work, and to their album and upcoming tour. There’s something in it that speaks to the American circle of Elvis supposedly wearing his hair like brothers conking their hair to supposedly look like Elvis and his brethren. There’s something in it about Jay-Z’s very deliberately, multi-culturally booked Made In America music festival. There’s something in it about who gets to do what and who gets credit for what and what makes a song or an artist “go” or “be” “pop,” or not. There’s something in it to twist you out a bit.

more on Justin Timberlake’s new album, here. this piece is written by me.


Here’s the amazing #HRDCVR vid. Featuring @danamo and I. Directed by @EllaCamellia. Pledge your support at http://goo.gl/l2WTou


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The name Trinidad James triggers various responses, ranging from excitement to disgust to sheer amazement that this is actually happening in the world of hip hop/rap. The wheel is not being reinvented either and music lovers who watch trends know this to be true. While some old heads might come for me by saying this, I see no big difference between him and ODB. Yes, that statement might be viewed as musical sacrilege by the elite but take a minute to remove bias and LOOK at James. Now go LOOK at Big Baby Jesus. I’ll give you that lyrically, Dirt McGirt is better. Realistically speaking though, EVERYONE didn’t know what Osirus was talking about in EVERY song.

Never mind my comparison, the real thing at work here is renowned and LOVED artists who are co-signing AND expressing interest in working with the entertainer that is Trinidad James. This is a form of influence that people sometimes overlook and most times how a “nobody” becomes an overnight sensation. To quote James, “Don’t believe me? Just watch.”

“@fatbellybella Yes. I love Trinidad James - All Gold Everything [tweets his video from youtube] I like how many times he say nigga in one sentence. Beautiful.

@fatbellybella “Don’t believe me jeh watch” Trinidad James

@fatbellybella I like a lot of artists but I BELIEVE him. #trinidadjames

@fatbellybella I got to believe u in order to feel u.”

For everyone who is unfamiliar with the Twitter handle @fatbellybella, this is the astounding Erykah Badu.

“@BigBoi Yup RT @NotFunnyRamon: @BigBoi you gonna work with Trinidad James?”

BigBoi is none other than one half of the legendary group, Outkast. His entire body of work, solo and with Mr. Benjamin aka Andre 3000, speaks for itself.

“@danamo …Dunno if we’re getting in to see Trinidad James tho. zany out front.

@danamo got in. for Trinidad. #NYC

@ElliottWIlson Trinidad at work [RT of @danamo Instagram post of Trinidad James on the stage in New York tonight”

Danyel Smith (@danamo) and Elliott Wilson are one of the Power Couples ANYONE in MUSIC should know. Not only do they LOVE a wide range of music, they have become authorities on hip hop. Being an Editor at Billboard magazine and former Editor-in-Chief of VIBE magazine, if you have managed to catch Danyel’s eye, the universe just might be operating in your favor. Her husband, Elliott Wilson? Former Editor-in-Chief of XXL Magazine and currently the CEO and founder of Rap Radar. Someone else whose reach in the music world can have you connected to your favorite rappers rapper.

Even though the above tweets were done within the last 48 hours, I’ve been compelled to highlight Trinidad James because he hasn’t been on the music scene for long. He’s fairly new to THIS, however, he has something that draws people in, whether they like him or not. THAT’S what makes MEMORABLE stars and in my opinion, he is well on his way. The last time I felt like this about an artist, I hyped him to whoever would listen. Being from Oakland, California, pushing any hip hop artist from New York was somewhat frowned upon but I know magic when I hear it. The New Yorker who drew me in had a gift that he was able to share with the world. He went on on to push the envelope and make timeless music for EVERYONE. Shawn Carter turned 43 years old yesterday and I am proud to say I was able to watch his rise to fame, notoriety, wealth, and immeasurable respect in the music world.

While it might be premature to make that same prediction for Trinidad James, the more reputable influence on his side, the more likely his ascent to a level beyond even his own dreams. This isn’t about lyrical ability, it’s about dreams coming true. Many of us will never get an iota of the same chance. The power of influence and connectors is the difference between wishing on a star and living the dream. I wish him nothing but the best. 

If you possess any of those gifts, share them by making someones dreams reality….

The first time I met Danyel Smith, she was interviewing me for a job at Vibe magazine, where she was editor-in-chief. Job interviews are always kind of nerve-racking, especially for jobs you really want; what made it worse in this case was that I went in being pretty intimidated by Danyel, who struck me as basically what you think of when you think of an EDITOR in NEW YORK CITY: powerful, fiercely intelligent, full of energy, and eminently cool.

She lived up to that image, too. I walked into her giant, pristine office, which was filled with modern-looking white furniture, and was introduced to this impeccably dressed woman who just radiated authority. This was way back in 2007, but I can still remember the hot-pink and green Post-its stuck to her computer screen, and the way she gazed out the window contemplatively as I nervously told her about my work experience. I’d had editing jobs before, but the energy in that office, and the legacy of the magazine, just felt so much more real to me. I felt like I had finally made it just by sitting in that room, talking to that woman—whether or not I got the job.

Of course, I already knew all about Danyel Smith. She was, and is, one of my favorite music critics, novelists, journalists, and editors. I knew that she grew up in Los Angeles and Oakland, California, and was one of the first nationally renowned hip-hop journalists at a time when the mainstream media couldn’t be bothered with that genre. She went on to become the editor of VibeVibe Vixen, and Billboard magazine, to write two engrossing novels (More Like Wrestling and Bliss), and to teach writing at various colleges in New York. She has interviewed and/or written about just about every pop and hip-hop star you can think of, from the 1990s to now. And she has written so many great pieces of music journalism that I don’t even know what to tell you where to start reading! If you can wait a few months, maybe start with HRDCVR, the new “book-shaped magazine” she is launching with her husband, the writer and editor Elliott Wilson.

I ended up getting that job at Vibe (thank you, Danyel!), and ever since then, Danyel has been a beacon, awesome advice-giver, editor, mentor, and friend to me. I am still in awe of her—even her Wikipedia page is just like whaaaaaat! She inspires me and so many others to accomplish our dreams.

JULIANNE: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

DANYEL SMITH: … http://bit.ly/1CBOQUp

continue reading interview at rookiemag.com

the project i’m working on with my husband is called HRDCVR.

thanks to our kickstarter backers, in addition to creating a soul-crushingly brilliant hardcover culture magazine for the new every1, we’re offering four virtual-ish fellowships. we’re taking apps now for two of them: the above, in writing & research, and there’s one for social media as well. coming soon: one in design, and one in content leadership.

please see this page for fellowship and other opportunities.

also: here’s the hrdcvrlife tumblr.

Earlier today I bought a copy of Toure’s new book on Prince I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became An Icon. Toure put it out a couple weeks ago, and it looks like a pretty short read, only 100 something pages, where Toure attempts to dissect the things that made Prince, and how he became such an icon in pop music, from interviews with people who were the closet to him and research he’s done. Even ?uestlove calls it the ultimate Prince book, so it must be good!  I’m going to try and read a little bit of it tonight, but I got a lot of stuff I got to do, so I might not really be able to get into it until the weekend. 

Also, earlier today I was finally able to watch the panel discussion that Toure led about Prince and his new book from last week, that featured special guest Questlove, Danyel Smith among others.  It was a great discussion, and they went very in-depth in the discussion talking about race, religion, music, and even Prince’s personal issues that made him who he is. For those interested, here’s a link to the discussion.

P.S. I’ve been in a Prince kick lately, and been revisiting a lot of his albums. I use to have all his albums on my computer, so I’ve been having to put his albums back on m computer lol.  Oh yea… and I still think Prince was badder than Michael Jackson! lol