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Will the Real Iron Man Please Stand Up!


Genius, Billionaire, Playboy and Philanthropist? There’s No Way This Guy is Real!

Arguably the least heroic of the superheroes on the big screen, Iron Man leads the Avengers, Marvel’s premiere superhero team, and his films are responsible for the gigantic wave of comic book properties that have found their way to film. As Iron Man – the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist Tony Stark is also the most realistic high profile superhero. One of the world’s wealthiest men, building superhuman technology, like an Iron Man suit and fighting evil forces to make the world a better place, sounds like something that could actually happen. So, it should be no surprise that many believe that it is happening already.



Could Elon Musk be the Real Life Tony Stark?

Comparisons between Tony Stark and Elon Musk have been made since the rise of both in the public eye, their similarities are so apparent that they’ve been the butt of many jokes — even landing Musk a cameo in the Iron Man II film. Even though the character of Iron Man is older than Elon Musk, modern interpretations can’t help but be influenced by him, even Robert Downey Jr. himself.


Elon Musk’s continuing work in solar and reusable energies, electric transportation, space exploration, and other scientific fields that deal with today’s hot button issues have earned him a wealth of popularity as well as actual wealth. Musk is an icon in his own right, in the good graces of the public masses as a shining example of philanthropy built upon his genius and wealth, but his personal life is nothing like the scoundrel Tony Stark as far as we know… Instead it’s his business savvy and willingness to gamble his fortunes on researching and developing projects that might benefit humanity that have made him such a jewel in the eyes of the public and put him on the pedestal reserved for the marvelous and fantastical.

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Sure, He’s a Genius, Billionaire, Philanthropist…But Does it Count if He Doesn’t Have the Flying Suit?

But what separates reality from fantasy? Men from myth? Heroes from superheroes? What makes someone more than what they are? A person’s actions and beliefs are more important than the power they hold. Courage is trying to do more than you believe that you can do. That’s why individuals like Elon Musk are considered with the same esteem as the fantastical characters like Iron Man.

Although reports of Musk building a metal power suit might only exist in the rumor mill, there is no other person on Earth who embodies the ideals and characteristics of any modern superhero. He may not be the genius inventor that Tony Stark is, but he is a genius innovator. And if anybody’s really going to be Iron Man, there’s no one else that could fit the bill, or that could pay it!



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Sneakers with a Statement: Hip-Hop Culture and the Elements of Sneaker Design


In terms of its influence on urban style, sneakers widely became the ultimate status symbol…

Sneakers are the most sought after fashion trend in the world. But why? What is it about “kicks” that make them so prominent amongst the youth? Well, most of its popularity can be attributed to the global phenomenon known as Hip-Hop culture. Beyond it being a culture that stems from the artistic expressions of inner-city youth, it has also become a multi-billion dollar industry that has influenced, or at least played a part in, almost every facet of society. In terms of its influence on urban style, sneakers widely became the ultimate status symbol, particularly because of the Adidas brand. They were the perfect shoes for b-boys due to their comfort and color variations. They became even more popular in 1986 due to the promotion of the brand by Run DMC when they stated:

“My Adidas/walked through concert doors/ and roamed all over coliseum floors/ I stepped on stage, at Live Aid/ All the people gave and the poor got paid/ And out of speakers I did speak/ I wore my sneakers but I’m not a sneak/ My Adidas cuts the sand of a foreign land/With a mic in hand I cold took command”

In the article, “Three Brothers with Three Stripes: RUN-DMC and Adidas,” it states:

“Enter Run, Jam-Master Jay and DMC. Their signature street style, a staunch mix of denim, Adidas tracksuit tops, Kangols, fedoras, heavy framed glasses, and of course Adidas Superstars (worn in true prison-style without laces) was a powerfully simple statement that recast the template.”

The relationship between Hip-Hop and shoe brands would eventually spark a sub-culture, known as the “Sneakerheads.”

The Superstars became a fashion statement that represented the streets and its direct influence from the prison system. Inmates in prison were not allowed to wear shoe laces due to the probability of using them for harmful purposes. As a result, when inmates returned to their respective communities, they continued to wear their sneakers without shoe laces. RUN DMC wanted to shy away from looking like superstars and more like the ordinary people the community would see on a daily basis. Their fashion statement would eventually gain the attention of executives at Adidas. The website Sneaker Freaker mentions “while performing the track ‘My Adidas’ to a packed crowd at Madison Square Garden in NYC, they asked the crowd to hold up their sneakers. Thousands of Adidas Superstar sneakers were raised in unison. An Adidas employee in the crowd informed the company and the subsequent million dollar deal marked a new era of corporate affiliation with hip hop music.” The relationship between Hip-Hop and shoe brands would eventually spark a sub-culture, known as the “Sneakerheads.”

The Elements of Design

Each element in a sneaker design can serve a purpose. For instance, lines can stress a word or phrase, the use of color can generate emotions, shapes can be used to attract attention, value (lightness or darkness) can be used for emphasis, size can attract attention, texture can create visual interest, and space can be used to define importance or group information. The use of color can be depicted by one particular shoe that would literally change the shoe game forever, Nike’s Air Jordan 1s.

The Black / Varsity Red model was banned by the NBA back in 1985 due to NBA color rules and this actually helped to create more publicity and interest for the shoes. In essence, the rebelliousness fell right in line with origins of Hip-Hop culture, which at times was a form of rebellion against the establishment. It became symbolic not only because of its color but also because of the man who wore them, a young, innovative athlete who overcame the odds. As a result, the Jordan Brand has been one of the top selling sneakers of all time.

Another shoe that utilized the elements of design to make specific statements was the Lebron 10s.  Austin Boykins states, With LeBron James facing a wide range of opinions from fans and naysayers in the recent year, the beauty and durability of a diamond is used within the shoe to tell the story in relation to LeBron’s on and off the court abilities and experiences.” See “The Inspiration Behind the Nike LeBron 10.”


Other shoes such as Nike’s Air Galaxy Foamposites, Nike Air Mag’s, or the recently released Yeezy Boosts by Adidas all encompass a wide range of unique styles, which can be explored when taking into consideration the elements of design.

Just for KICKS: What Do You Rep?

“Suede Timbs on my feet make my cypher complete” ~ Nas “The Word is Yours”

As I think about my childhood as a military brat, I remember the distinct differences between what was worn throughout the various regions of the United States. Whether it’s Converse’s Chuck Taylors in California, “Soulja” Reeboks in New Orleans, Timberlands and Clark Wallabees in New York, or New Balances and Nike Boots in Washington, DC, each city, state or region, seemed to have a shoe that represented where they were from.

What statements do these shoes make, and why were they chosen to represent where they are from? Fashion trends aren’t necessarily limited to just sneakers; however, it is evident that you can tell where somebody is from strictly by what they are wearing. So, what does your shoe selection say about you? What do you rep? 

Test your kick game knowledge by taking the quiz after the jump…

Is The Snooze Button Bad For Your Health? Understanding the science of sleep

There are very few things in life that feel better than those 10 extra minutes of sleep after pressing the snooze button on your alarm in morning. Unfortunately, hitting the snooze button to get a few more precious moments of sleep can potentially do more damage than good.

The reason sleep feels so good, and bonus sleep feels even better, has a lot to do with chemicals being released in our bodies. Whoever said sleep is like a drug wasn’t lying. As you fall asleep, your body releases a chemical called serotonin into your bloodstream. (Also, see our post Dubstep on the brain for other examples of serotonin’s effects on the human body). Serotonin is a chemical that tells the brain to soothe the body and creates a calm, peaceful feeling of well-being and happiness. Hitting the snooze button is literally like taking another hit of serotonin to the brain. So why is this bad for us again? Don’t worry I’m getting there…

During a normal 8 hour sleep cycle, your body releases serotonin to send you to dreamland and then slowly brings you back by lowering the levels of serotonin and shooting you with a dose of dopamine, another chemical known for energizing the body, giving you that feeling of alertness and motivation. As your body naturally lowers your serotonin and increases your dopamine levels, every time you hit the snooze button you are re-injecting yourself with serotonin mixed with high levels of dopamine. This chemical high leaves you feeling good in the moment but you eventually crash from the chemical imbalance and may lead to waking up feeling disoriented and drained of energy for the rest of the day.

While I enjoy those extra minutes of sleep just as much as the next guy, there are some studies that show snooze sleep may cause a decline in brain function that lead to loss of memory, slowed reaction time and lack of focus and concentration.

We each have our own unique sleep/wake cycles. If you’re having trouble sleeping and you wake up every morning feeling unrested and drained of energy you can analyze your own sleep cycle by journaling the rhythmic pattern of your sleep schedule throughout the week. Keeping a sleep diary and doing some simple data analysis can help figure out the root of insomnia, and other problems related to mood and fatigue. After a few days of collecting data you will notice a pattern start to emerge from your sleep schedule. You may discover daily habits or changes in mood that affect your sleep. Once you have this data you can make some slight changes to your daily habits and routine or even diet. Visit your doctor and bring your notes with you to come up with a plan together.


What Kind of Mutant Are You?

Here at NuSkool, we have studied the psychology of humans and have discovered 9 sacred signs that represent the connection between mutant and human abilities we each possess. Take this quiz and discover your true self.

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Why Fairy Tale Reboots are a Necessary Part of Society


Fairy tale reboots are so in right now.  Cinderella’s in the theatres, Once Upon a Time had a strong last season, and Maleficent rocked the box office. Versions of all these stories have already been made. So why are we rebooting them? Is it a cynical cash grab by studios? Well, yes, partially. But it’s also something more.

Fairy tales are a way to communicate shared values. As our values change, so to must our touchstones that convey them.

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Magic Mirror by Greg Guillemin
The old versions of fairy tales just don’t work for people today. We don’t seem to find them entertaining, funny, inspiring, or relevant. Our culture has changed, and so our stories are changing as well.

This is not the first time that we have changed fairy tales. Disney itself became rich rebooting the dark German peasant tales of the Brothers Grimm into something light and fun for consumerist America, then rehashed them again with a spate of direct-to-video sequels in the 1990s. Now, Disney, and others, are again changing fairy tale characters to make them more relevant to society today. The changes to fairy tales show us many changes in how mainstream society views both the media and the world.

Why Do Fairy Tales Matter?

Fairy tales, or similar folklore, appear in most world cultures. Often, when they were written, they were not believed to be fiction. For example, the Brothers Grimm published “Hansel and Gretel in 1812, 66 years before the last real-life witchcraft trial in the United States was held in 1878. These fairy tales had real relevance to people who believed in witches, fairies, and other evil creatures. Now, few people believe, but fairy tales are still relevant. In fact, with the rise of fantasy literature, movies and TV shows, it’s clear that we are interested in magic almost as much as those ancestors who believed in it. Partially, this is because we still use fairy tales as what literary critics call “touchstones.” Touchstones are references that most people can understand, like the phrases “wicked stepmother” and “magic beans.” These touchstones carry a lot of meaning in a small package, and can be used for metaphors, morals, political speeches, and more. They are a way to communicate shared values and understandings. As our values change, how do we update our touchstones?

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Why Do We Love Crazy? Analyzing Batman Villains using the Scientific Method

Jared-Leto-Joker-Tattoos-Teeth For whatever reason, we as fans are intrigued and even obsessed with Batman’s enemies. However flawed, characters like the Joker, Harley Quinn, Deathstroke and the Red Hood have crept their way into mainstream pop culture and have seriously devout cult followings-leaving Batman in the shadows…pun intended. Next year they will even get their first feature film Suicide Squad that will not feature the caped crusader. We all know Bruce Wayne is a smart guy and never underestimates his foes, but how exactly does he psychoanalyze his enemies? Let’s assume for a second that he employes the scientific method by performing research and analyzing the psychological state of his villains. He would have to identify what is their psychological state, and what psychological disorder is exhibited. After conducting thorough research, hacking into Arkham Asylum’s medical records, he would have to hypothesize and come to a diagnosis for each of them. Next, Batman would test his hypothesis with an experiment by likely using verbal cues of attack strategies that trigger the villain’s behavior, motives and views to determine and reveal symptoms of any psychological disorders. Bruce would then analyze this data under a critical lens to determine if the villain’s behaviors are indicative of the hypothesized disorder’s symptoms. The data may even point toward a disorder that was not initially hypothesized. Batman is known for using science and technology as a tactical defense strategy. Knowing his enemy’s emotional and mental state is an important part of this process. What kind of mental disorder do you think the Joker suffers from? Or maybe the scariest thing about him is that he’s not crazy at all…

Pro-Palestinian protesters take part in a demonstration against the violence in the Gaza strip, in Lyon

The Science Of Protest: How Our Brains Are Wired To Fight For Our Rights

(Credit: Reuters/Robert Pratta/AP/Charlie Riedel)

The recent tragic events surrounding the deaths of Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and the NYPD officers have struck a chord in a us all. However, today’s millennial generation of young people have taken to the streets more so than any other generation in recent history to express their feelings. Motivations, people’s beliefs, identity and emotions are key in generating a person’s willingness to protest. With or without social media, people who are deeply angry about an unjust situation, or who feel strongly connected with a particular issue, will always take to the streets.

Protest is defined as a form of collective action and as participation in a social movement. What is it that drives young people to protest? Why are young people prepared to sacrifice a comfortable and carefree lifestyle, or sometimes even their very lives for a common cause? The research team at NuSkool has found some scientific reasons why we fight for our rights that may have more to do with brain science than we realize. Science can’t always explain what’s in our hearts, but it can help us understand what motivates one of the greatest youth movements in history.
We are the risk takers and the rule breakers
Science has proven that teens and college students are really ‘bout that life. Scientists have used brain scanning methods to study the changes that occur in the teen brain. Recent discoveries have shown that teenagers have well-developed emotions and feelings and are more willing to do dangerous things an adult would avoid, this is due to the brain’s prefrontal cortex.

The prefrontal cortex is responsible for weighing risk and consequences in the teen brain. When experiencing an emotionally-charged situation like a tragedy in the community like Ferguson, the brain is handicapped in its ability to gauge risk and consider the consequences. In most situations, teens can evaluate risks just like adults. But in emotionally heightened real-life scenarios, this rational part of the brain gets overridden by the reward center. Racism, oppression and injustices in the community are definitely triggers for this kind of reaction. Our brains have a reward center, involving the nucleus accumbens, which lights up with dopamine whenever we find something exciting, interesting or meaningful. In a study comparing the brains of teens to adults, scientists found that teens need extreme situations in order to get excited.
We are natural born followers
News flash: peer pressure is actually a thing. Oxytocin receptors in a young brain makes teens highly responsive to the opinions of their peers. Studies find that the brain’s receptors for oxytocin has a strong influence on social bonding and affects our emotional and behavioral responses to social encouragement or peer pressure. When our peers become angry or emotional over a situation, this activates our own brain’s prefrontal areas in response to emotional and social stimuli. During this time, we also have heightened awareness toward the opinions of our friends, so much so that we imagine that our behavior is the focus of everyone else’s concern and attention.

According to a study, which examined brain scans of teens using fMRI data, the presence of friends activated certain regions of the brain that were not activated when they were alone that increased their willingness to take part in antisocial behavior. Being in the presence of friends also doubled risk-taking among young people in their 20’s, increased it by fifty percent among teens, but had no effect on adults, a pattern that was identical among both males and females. So the moral of the story is…choose your friends wisely.
We are a living, breathing social network
One of the strongest emotions in a teen’s life that pulls someone into joining a gang, a sports team or joining a social cause is the need to be a part of something bigger than oneself…joining a movement.

Chris McGrath—Getty Images

Research suggests that people who experience both personal and group oppression are the most strongly motivated to take to the streets. Being part of something bigger than yourself is very important to today’s generation. Any events that harm that group by definition harm the individual, and they find themselves experiencing emotions on behalf of the group. The more people feel that group’s interests or values are threatened, the angrier they are and the more they are prepared to take part in protests to express their anger. Collective anger moves people to challenge the authorities and subdue other emotions such as shame, despair and obedience. Participating in protests strengthens the collective power of that group, and feelings of unity and support empowers people to stand together against the authorities. However, taking action doesn’t always mean people expect that group-related problems can be solved by their united efforts. Protesters find a way to overcome their defeated hopes to eventually protest again and raise consciousness to create solidarity. Is it science?… eh, maybe not. Is it real?…you bet. Does it change the world?… absolutely.

Before you decide to join a protest and put yourself at risk to fight for a cause, ask yourself the following questions:

Who or what caused the event?
How does the event influence my goals?
Do I have control and power over the consequences of the event?
Who can I call for help if I’m in danger or if I get arrested?

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Hero on a Budget: Learn Money Management from the World of Warcraft

Even in the fantasy world, there are no shortcuts to success, everyone in the WoW starts off at the bottom and works their way up.
What better way to practice going broke, or testing out financial decisions than through the virtual world of Draenor?  World of Warcraft is a massive multiplayer online role-playing game developed by Blizzard Entertainment.  It is an online game where millions of players from around the world assume the roles of heroic fantasy characters and explore a world full of magic and mystery. You start out as a newcomer, and must learn and practice your skills to survive.  Earning and spending money is a key aspect of the success of your character. At the beginning, you are given a small satchel to carry your belongings as well as some basic gear.  You earn everything you need from this point onward.  You explore and collect items, earning money and objects through quests.  You first earn copper pieces, then silver, then gold.  Much like the real world, you have to prove your abilities with less lucrative jobs, before you can advance to better ones. Even in the fantasy world, there are no shortcuts to success, everyone in the WoW starts off at the bottom and works their way up.  There’s no silver spoon handed to you from the start.

WoW can actually be a pretty useful tool in learning personal financial literacy or the ability to manage and understand your financial conditions.  This includes the ability to make financial choices, talk about money and financial issues with others, plan for the future, and respond competently to life events that affect everyday financial decisions, including events in the general economy.  Luckily in the WoW there are no economic reasons to ever worry about anything but yourself.  So it puts your financial planning in a bit of a bubble, but thats ok for practice purposes. Here are some tips on how to manage your wealth as an Elf…

1. Pawning for Power: In the game you must manage your budget.  The games’ creators have carefully balanced objects’ values based on your location and your likelihood of affording certain items you might need – like a better set of armor or better weapons.  Through quests, and selling back items you find (like pawning in the real world) you can build up a small amount to be able to buy things for yourself.

2. Auction House Hustle: When you have amassed a large quantity of items, either through farming, looting, or crafting, you can sell these items in bulk, directly to other players through the auction house. Real players may need something very specific that they wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.  Much like the real world, supply and demand dictate the prices in the auction house.  You can compare the current going rate for certain items, and then undercut your selling price to try and win some sales first.  This is the best way to earn a LOT of money all at once.

3. Stash your Cash: Your coin purse is similar to a basic checking account.  You see your balance after making a purchase.  There are bank vaults where you can store more items or money that you won’t be able to spend immediately without retrieving – like a savings account.  This is a smart solution to curb the desire to spend all of your money in one place or to squander your money without planning for the future – like buying that super expensive flying mount.

Luckily, WoW is still a fantasy realm and you don’t have to face the greatest monster of them all, DEBT. But there are still valuable money management lessons you can learn along your quest to rule the kingdom.

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The Legendary Black Card Explained

It is important to note that no matter what color credit card you sign up for, in order to keep your finances and your credit rating out of the red, you must spend wisely.
If you know what a credit card is and you listen to rap, follow celebrity gossip, or have dreams of becoming massively wealthy one day, chances are you know what the Visa Black Card is. Even the mention of this exclusive card is enough to make you wonder just how rich you have to be to get your hands on one. After all, there’s all this hype about the card that contributes to its mystique. Read further to unpack just how exclusive the card really is. Is it really that hard to get? What real perks does it offer?

In order to fully understand the Black Card and the celebrity status it promotes, you should understand the basic fundamentals of credit cards. Credit is an equation and it has two sides — the lender and the borrower. Having the ability to borrow money when you need it gives you flexibility and peace of mind. Still, and all too often, individuals borrow more than what they actually need and fail to pay it off. If you understand that you are being charged money to actually use this credit, many people might think twice before pulling out their plastic. If you understand how credit works, use it only when you need it (to stand in for cash you already have in the bank) and avoid having too much debt, you can call yourself financially responsible.   Many young people don’t realize that responsible use of credit can actually help a person reach their goals.

Basic terms you should be familiar with: Creditors and Debt. Those who lend you money are called lenders or creditors; the money you owe is called debt.

Back in the 1980’s, in the era when Gordon Gekko famously said in the movie “Wall Street” that “greed is good,” rumors were that there was a credit card issued by American Express that was capable of purchasing anything anywhere. An urban legend, the card was nearly impossible to get and was all black. In other words, it had no credit limit. Just to give a reference point, most credit cards range between $500.00 and $4,500.00 depending on your credit rating to start. Some banks won’t issue a credit card to a potential borrower with poor or no credit, for fear they will not be able to pay back the debt.

Black Card members have an average of around $16.3 million in assets and a household income of $1.3 million. But just because you meet those criteria, you still are not guaranteed an invitation. Your credit rating and spending habits will also be carefully studied to see if you are the right candidate for the card.
Instead of letting fantasy live in the minds of would be big spenders, in 1999, American Express decided to bring that dream to life. They took the elements of a powerful credit card and made a card that reflected all these from the color to the exclusivity. They called it the Centurion Card, but it more popularly known as the Black Card. Other creditors followed suite and issued exclusive Black Cards bearing their insignia.

So where do these celebrity flaunted cards with infinite spending power come from? What are the Black Card’s features? Who gets these cards? The fact is that not everyone can get the Black Card. The card is issued out by invitation only. You not only have to be affluent to be invited, but you have to be extremely rich. You’re not just in the who’s who social circle, you have to be part of the social elite.

A quick figure to help you understand: Black Card members have an average of around $16.3 million in assets and a household income of $1.3 million. OK, but just because you meet those criteria, you still are not guaranteed an invitation. Your credit rating (how responsible you are with your money) and spending habits will also be carefully studied to see if you are the right candidate for the card.

Once you are vetted, one of these creditors MIGHT send you an invitation to own a card. You might jump at the chance, thinking that it is just like other credit cards that offer incentives like free membership and zero fees. But in realty, the Black Card will charge you with massive dues and in some cases an initiation fee for those who wish to sign on with the card (in the United States, the fee is $7,500). In many cases there’s also an annual fee of $2,500.

Since the vast majority of us will not actually handle one of these cards, it’s fun to imagine what exclusivity feels like. For starters, the card is black and made of anodized titanium. Your information and numbers are imprinted in carbon fibre. The hard texture of the card actually makes it “clink” when one places it on the counter.

The proliferation of the Black Card’s mention in pop culture, brings to the surface the power trip associated with such cards, namely the Visa Black Card. One of the big draws for the card it it’s concierge service.  Imagine going on a spur of the moment vacation in  a private jet, with drivers lined up to take you from the airport to a local hotspot for some early partying before whisking you, and any new friends, to a world class dining experience.  Nice, huh?

It’s a good thing to use credit wisely and to not spend beyond your means. An overlooked fact is that credit card companies want your business, because they make a profit when you borrow. Although purchasing something, anything, with a credit card is easy, it is a practice that can come back and bite you in the end. It is important to note that no matter what color credit card you sign up for, in order to keep your finances and your credit rating out of the red, you must spend wisely.


The Art of Fresh: Fashion and Philanthropy

“Artists are the gatekeepers of truth. We are civilization’s radical voice.” ~ Paul Robeson

According to the late Paul Robeson, artists have the opportunity to use their platforms to make significant changes in society. However, some would argue that artists have no obligation to address certain issues. Although they may have a point, when I think of artists who have become icons in popular culture, I think of those who have used their voices to raise awareness, especially as it pertains to social and political issues. Artists, such as Bob Marley, Nina Simone, John Lennon, Fela Kuti, Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, have all taken a stand against the injustices of the world. In retrospect, they have become bigger than their artistry. They have been philanthropists, humanists, revolutionaries, and activists. They have been individuals who have lived their lives beyond just fortune and fame.

Issues, such as poverty, gun violence, police brutality, gangs, and racism continue to persist. But there is a new wave of artists who are carrying the torch. These artists are not only using their music, but also fashion to make social and political statements. For instance, in the 2004 presidential election, P. Diddy (founder of Bad Boy Records), Sean John, and Citizen Change launched a campaign to encourage more young people between the ages of 18 and 30 to vote. This helped change the face of the U.S. political landscape by encouraging the youth to “Vote or Die”, using celebrities as his support system.

The campaign was meant to show that the right to vote is a matter of life or death. This notion may not be too far-fetched, as people have literally fought and died for this freedom. I believe this resonated with young people, not only because of the celebrities involved, but also because of its simple, yet powerful position in politics. This campaign was not only successful in 2004, but also in 2008, when President Barack Obama was elected.

Jay-Z, Hip-Hop artist and co-founder of Rocawear, also attempted to use fashion as a statement. Although it was short-lived, he released a new line of t-shirts, which were meant to support the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. This movement served as a protest against social and economic disparities between corporations and the American people. The shirt “tweaks the phrase ‘Occupy Wall Street’ by crossing out the ‘W’ and adding an ‘S’ to make it read ‘Occupy All Streets’.”

Unfortunately, this effort led to a little bit of controversy, primarily because he never intended on sharing his profits to the actual protestors. The Business Insider states, “A Rocawear spokesperson sent us a statement confirming there’s no plan to distribute any of the profits, which will surely pour in from shirt sales, to Occupy Wall Street.” According the spokesperson, “The ‘Occupy All Streets’ T shirt was created in support of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. Rocawear strongly encourages all forms of constructive expression, whether it be artistic, political or social. ‘Occupy All Streets’ is our way of reminding people that there is change to be made everywhere, not just on Wall Street. At this time we have not made an official commitment to monetarily support the movement.”

This leads to questionable motives of certain artists. There seems to be a thin line between legitimacy and sincerity from the public’s point of view, especially in this day and age where there are many cultural capitalists. In my opinion, there needs to be a clear alignment between the art and actions of the individuals, which leads me to Kendrick Lamar’s recently released, “Ventilators 2” by Reebok.

Throughout his career, Lamar has repeatedly shed light on his upbringing in Compton, California, where gang culture seems to dominate the living conditions of his immediate environment. Having been heavily influenced by this reality, he has always mentioned it in both his music and interviews. With songs, such as: “Little Johnny”, “M.A.A.D. City (featuring MC Eight), and “I”, he continues to provide a voice for his constituents by emphasizing social, political, and economic discrepancies that are woven into the American fabric. His response to these discrepancies and pervasiveness of gang culture are the Ventilators 2. Complex mentions, “These Ventilators, which were previewed by Sneakers.fr, are set against an off-white suede base with alternating blue and red accents on each shoe. The gang references are apparent, and each tongue tag is inscribed with ‘Neutral,’ echoing a sentiment Kendrick has been pushing strongly during his career.”

Other artists, such as Usher and John Legend (pictured below), aren’t necessarily known for making social and political commentary in their music, but they have also been recently seen using fashion to make a statement.

As we continue to face adversities in our lives, it is important to have the opportunity to express ourselves constructively. It may not necessarily be directly based on certain social, economic, or political issues; however, we are undeniably affected by these issues in one way or another. In that regard, we should continue to find creative ways to address these issues for the betterment of mankind.