My Introduction to David Banner


black-history_feb-19_copyright-shila-iris-2017Transformation is possible. He used to be vulgar, ruled by his lower self- arrogant, over-sexed, chasing money, starved for attention, allowing Black life to be dictated to him by non-Black people at his record company. He did this until he knew better. “When you know better, you do better.”  In 2017, he is taking a different approach to African consciousness and to Black life.

David Banner is using his charm to resuscitate Black History, and he is striving to help Black people wake up. Willing to meet people where they are, he uses his own life as an example to inspire change. When you have knowledge of self, small distractions like technology, sex, and material possessions fade. Banner doesn’t hide from his past. He acknowledges his own humanity, and takes responsibility for his actions, reminding people to be humble and honest. When you bring up any of his mistakes, he smiles, laughs, and continues on in his evolution. This level of maturity is necessary on the path to transcendence. I have not known about this man for very long, but I am happy to see him boldly taking action. It’s so easy to get caught up in worldliness that weakens the spirit, but at some point we all have to lay our egos to rest so that we can survive. Always in search of good music, I listened to his latest album, The God Box. I love it. I am sending him good vibrations on his journey to push Black people into consciousness.

“I don’t care what you think of me, I just want you to think!”

Thank you for reading,


Shila Iris


Ancient Dreams & Tantric Wisdom… the show


COME CHECK out the band, Intercourse the Collective, this FRIDAY, JUNE 13 AT LIL’ AFRICA AKA THE KITCHEN located at 6816 Superior Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44103.


This show will feature myself and my wonderful playmates- vocalist: RaShimba WildBloom, Drummer: Ali Boyd, Keyboard Player: Egan Ammerman, and the Digital Griot: jAfterDark. We will be doing a special tribute to the late Rayshawn Armstrong who was a well-known Cleveland poet and community driven activist. Thank you to poet, Bianca Michelle and artist, Latoya Kent for their participation in this show. Peace and love! See you there.

shila iris aka Queen 

The Music of Ntjam Rosie

There are so many beautiful women singing beautiful music! I love it. I am so high on this song. A friend of mine suggested this and I am so glad that he did! This song reminds of a time in my life when I was truly alone, but not lonely. I needed to be alone.  I was a young (er) woman, growing and learning and in need of solitude. Thank you Ntjam for the great vibes.

I used to hear music like this in my mind when I lived in DC. I would ride the Metro around the entire city until I got tired.


Queen for African Essence

P.S. Looking for a book to read? I came across this book on Toure’s website. I really want to check it out. The story sounds so interesting: Soul City by Toure.


My New Year Start’s Today

Today is February 13 and it is my birthday! I am excited! I never really get excited on my birthday but this year I am grateful for so many things, including all the new and wonderful people who have become a part of my world. I can thank my greatest friend in life (he knows who he is) for introducing me to so many new ideas, people, and feelings… we have a chemistry only true friendship can understand.

SMOOTH IS LIFE TRAVELS WITH YOU BESIDE ME… Thanks for being real and being so kind and tough and respectful and thoughtful and supportive. You have helped me evolve as an artist more than anyone. Peace and love to you always.

So… I love being an Aquarius. The sign defines me and I define it. Now it is time to write.

This is my first blog entry of the year. I wanted to write many times, but for some reason I could not! I think I had to get into the groove of the year. I was discouraged from making observations about the year and making resolutions until I made some major decisions about my life. My new year starts NOW- February 13. My birthday always feels more like a new year for me. In the past I have not been a big birthday person, but it means a great deal to me this year because I feel like I have more wisdom than I ever had. I have grown tremendously and I do not mind getting older. I welcome age. I can already see myself loving my gray hair when that time comes!


I’ve noticed changes in my body. It looks like I will have to get more active this year because my skin feels different and my face looks a bit different.

I’ve noticed changes in the way that I think. Things do not affect me the same. I want more now and I have this constant desire to find freedom.

I’ve started to face reality. I used to struggle with the here and now. I wanted people to be how I wanted them to be and I wanted them to change on the spot. I am not too concerned with these types of things anymore. My biggest concern is connecting myself with nature and seeing the world.

I used to have time to waste, but as I get older I realize that I need to keep pressing on. I do not want to play as much anymore (well, maybe just a bit). I love to have fun and smile every moment that I can… smell the flowers, if I may. I just realize that work and play have to match. THE KEY IS: USE MODERATION IN EVERYTHING THAT YOU DO. Overuse and abuse make you grow old faster. Bad habits make you grow older as well. Only take what you need. Only buy what you need. Only use what you need. I accept enough to get by. Do not be greedy. Have you ever been at a cook out and watched that one person load their plate up until it is spilling over? Then they laugh and make meaningless comments trying to come up with an excuse as to why they are being greedy? DO NOT BE THAT PERSON. Take a little and leave some for others, move on. Do not accept anything for free. Work for the things you desire in life.


I ushered in January with history and poetry and art. I celebrated Kwanzaa with a group I perform poetry with: The Griot Project. We celebrated our 2nd Annual Kwanzaa this year. We had all observed Kwanzaa in the past, but we decided to celebrate it together and invite people to our celebrations. For 7 whole days we did this. Each evening we had a brief ceremony, ate, had discussions, took pictures, gave gifts, and glowed in the midst of our ancestors knowing they were proud that we took pride in our African American Identity- no watering it down.


I made Kwanzaa gifts. Since I paint and create, I love to give people art. I used old vinyl records to create Africa-inspired designs. 


I enjoyed making these gifts and spending time with friends. I invited my friend Robert over ON my day which was Nia: Purpose (we all take a day and do research and share our findings with everyone who comes). He brought his friend Jennifer who I had never met. She later connected me with another poetry group in Columbus,Ohio. I was very grateful. This is why I enjoy meeting new people because it seems we all touched each other and were there at that particular time for a reason.  THAT WAS MY NEW YEAR!

I also spent time with my friends from Umojah Nation Reggae Band. We went to Oil City, PA. They had a 4 hour gig welcoming in the New Year! Yes, 4 hours! It was fun. I do not have a picture from that day because I think everyone was too cold to pose!

Well. this year I hope to do some extensive traveling and see my family more.

More to come…

Check out my birthday playlist:

1. Jill Scott: Spring Summer Feeling

2. Telepopmusik: Don’t Look Back

3. Esthero: Thank Heaven for You

4. Janet Jackson: When We Oooo

5. Madonna: Secret

6. Maxwell: Bad Habits

7. Corinne Bailey Rae: Closer

8. Portishead: All Mine

9. LiAnn La Havas: Don’t Wake Me Up

10. Erykah Badu: Out My Mind, Just in Time

Peace & love and thanks for reading,

Queen Duafe of African Essence

Musik for the Soul – TUPAC remembered

I am a poet. I love to manipulate words into messages. For me, the process of writing can be magical and extremely therapeutic. I have an appetite for expression. My expression is not like A FB status update, or a tweet, not even a profile change on LinkedIn. It’s more like having a conversation with a person who is willing to listen and with a person who is willing to share. It is not posting a YouTube video, it is coming into real contact with people everyday and knowing what to say to them and looking into their eyes and seeing my own reflection.

It’s hard to judge anyone. Many of us are in pain and we hurt others attempting to find peace. In finding this peace, we end up creating more pain, brokenhearted  We need to learn how to stop this dangerous process of victimization. It is a bad habit in many of the people’s lives that I am in contact with. Men and women seem not  to want to take responsibility for the failed relationships in their lives. Quick to point the finger, we create unnecessary enemies and label them “haters.” Haters is only one of the names- hypocrites, bullshitters, fake posers, speculators… so many names, but the bottom line is always the same. The problem, the common denominator is you. Is it too much for us to correct our own deviant and harmful behaviors before we start pointing and talking behind backs trying to rally comrades because we are too afraid to stand alone.

Does this sound like you? Well its time to change.

This blog posting is labeled Musik for the Soul. I was going through my windows music library tonight and 2Pacs’ CD came up. It is always the first CD I see in my library, but I rarely click on it. Tonight I had to click on “So Many Tears.” I listened to the song and was extremely moved by 2Pac, Tupac, Makaveli- the writer, the rapper, the actor, the poet with many faces and many names. He was an extremely articulate writer… hmmmmm

His lyrics seem to be a constant reality for so many REAL people.

The lyrics go like this. What do you think?

“So Many Tears”

I shall not fear no man but God

Though I walk through the valley of death
I shed so many tears (if I should die before I wake)
Please God walk with me (grab a nigga and take me to Heaven)Back in elementary, I thrived on misery
Left me alone I grew up amongst a dyin breed
Inside my mind couldn’t find a place to rest
until I got that Thug Life tatted on my chest
Tell me can you feel me? I’m not livin in the past, you wanna last
Be tha first to blast, remember Kato
No longer with us he’s deceased
Call on the sirens, seen him murdered in the streets
Now rest in peace
Is there heaven for a G? Remember me
So many homies in the cemetery, shed so many tearsAhh, I suffered through the years, and shed so many tears..
Lord, I lost so many peers, and shed so many tearsNow that I’m strugglin in this business, by any means
Label me greedy gettin green, but seldom seen
And fuck the world cause I’m cursed, I’m havin visions
of leavin here in a hearse, God can you feel me?
Take me away from all the pressure, and all the pain
Show me some happiness again, I’m goin blind
I spend my time in this cell, ain’t livin well
I know my destiny is Hell, where did I fail?
My life is in denial, and when I die,
baptized in eternal fire I’ll shed so many tearsLord, I suffered through the years, and shed so many tears..
Lord, I lost so many peers, and shed so many tears

Now I’m lost and I’m weary, so many tears
I’m suicidal, so don’t stand near me
My every move is a calculated step, to bring me closer
to embrace an early death, now there’s nothin left
There was no mercy on the streets, I couldn’t rest
I’m barely standin, bout to go to pieces, screamin peace
And though my soul was deleted, I couldn’t see it
I had my mind full of demons tryin to break free
They planted seeds and they hatched, sparkin the flame
inside my brain like a match, such a dirty game
No memories, just a misery
Paintin a picture of my enemies killin me, in my sleep
Will I survive til the mo’nin, to see the sun
Please Lord forgive me for my sins, cause here I come…

Lord, I suffered through the years (God) and shed so many tears..
God, I lost so many peers, and shed so many tears

Lord knows I.. tried, been a witness to homicide
Seen drivebys takin lives, little kids die
Wonder why as I walk by
Broken-hearted as I glance at the chalk line, gettin high
This ain’t the life for me, I wanna change
But ain’t no future right for me, I’m stuck in the game
I’m trapped inside a maze
See this Tanqueray influenced me to gettin crazy
Disillusioned lately, I’ve been really wantin babies
so I could see a part of me that wasn’t always shady
Don’t trust my lady, cause she’s a product of this poison
I’m hearin noises, think she fuckin all my boys, can’t take no more
I’m fallin to the floor; beggin for the Lord to let me in
to Heaven’s door — shed so many tears
(Dear God, please let me in)

Lord, I’ve lost so many years, and shed so many tears..
I lost so many peers, and shed so many tears
Lord, I suffered through the years, and shed so many tears..
God, I lost so many peers, and shed so many tears…

Very moving!!!!!!!!
We all suffer, but we are all given the final decision to change.
Tupac was normal, just like us all. He went through many different controversial phases under public scrutiny. He did things that I do not accept such as the sagging and the california love video, and spreading hate throughout rap with the heated beef with east coast rappers . However, when he was in his right mind, her had many many great lyrics. I think in the end he realized that his greatest enemy was himself.
This song is like a great poem. We honor Edgar Allen Poe, but perhaps we should embrace these types of stories more- like the story told in this song is relevant to the men that we deal with everyday. This was not too long ago and these types of ills still exist. It’s nice when we find situations where the men have not been harmed so much or had to live a rough lifestyle, but the reality is, many of them do. How do you deal with that ladies? How do you deal with a man who has suffered and who has been abused by the world, his family, society, and himself? How do you love this man while maintaining your own identity? It’s a struggle. What do you think ladies?
Peace and Love,
Queen Duafe for African Essence