Navani Knows: TOOFLY Helps Launch Navani Knows Radio

This whole year I focused on making moves towards another passion of mine: radio. I’ve been interning at various shows and helping out where ever I can (Shout out to Brooklyn Bodega Radio, Rap is Outta Control, The Halftime Show). I ‘ve had the honor to work with some of the greatest people in the NY Radio scene who have graciously taken me under their wing. In some odd turn of events, my year ends with an offer to have my own online radio show via Urban Latino Radio.

I am completely speechless and excited. So, Navani Knows Radio is born, a weekly show that will focus on music and culture. Specifically Hip-Hop music and how it influences art, food, dance, literature and film. Me and my co-host Suley will be probing guests with inciteful questions in an effort to give exposure to great artists outside the mainstream.

This week we set off our first “trial” show dedicated to the Holidays with graffiti queen TOOFLY. The Queens resident has been in the game for 20 years and had many great stories to share about making her way in the male dominated art form. She also dished on holiday traditions in her native Ecuadaor as well as show us her awesome merchandise featured in the NY Daily News Gift Guide. You can catch her today at the Ladies Love Holiday Pop Up Shop.

Suley and I also dished on our fave picks for gift ideas this Christmas that cover everyone from music lovers to the do-gooders. Take a look at our own gift guide after the jump….

I am so excited to be embarking on this new journey in the New Year. Thanks to all of you that have supported me along the way. Tune in for the Navani Knows Show 2012 Launch on January 6th (Three Kings Day) on Urban Latino Radio from 6-8pm.

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Navani Knows Earth Day: Change Your Diet, Change the World

(Earth Day is actually April 22nd, but I’m a member of an amazing group called Latina Fashion, Lifestyle and Beauty Bloggers and we have decided to collectively make today about Earth Day in some way, shape or form as a group as an effort to help draw attention to our first tweet chat scheduled for Wednesday April 20th 7:00 p.m. EST. Here we will celebrate the group launch and focus on “Earth Day,” with hash-tag #LLBlog. Tune in for more tips!)

Happy Earth Day! Coincidentally, it is also my three year anniversary of giving up meat. At the time, I gave it up as a challenge –  a dare if you will. I was looking to make a serious sacrifice for Lent and a co-worker said soda was too easy. Instead he suggested, “why don’t you give up meat?” Wanting to see how disciplined I could be, I took him up on the challenge. What I didn’t know was that this decision affected way more than just my own diet.

During Lent I ingested tons of pro-veggie reading material to keep me focused on my path, including the ever-so-popular book Skinny Bitch. I thought this was going to be a “cute” book about dieting. Instead, what I found was all the scary, hidden details of our food industry. It made a case for being vegan by highlighting how the FDA really allows chemicals in our food that they know can harm us and how gruesome and unhygenic the factory farming process is. I was mortified and I swore off meat for good after Lent was long over.

 My choice, which was initially a totally selfish one, (I wanted to see how long I could do it and feel less guilty about what/who I digested) turned out to be a rather green one too. There’s plenty of scientific evidence to support the healthfulness of a diet made up mostly of plant foods.  Studies show that vegetarians live 3.6 years longer and, on average, weigh 15% less than non-vegetarians. It also reduces your carbon footprint by easing the strain on our Earth’s limited resources, protecting the planet from pollution, preventing global warming, and save countless species from extinction. Phew!

According to Dr. David Brubaker, PhD, at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for a Livable Future, “The way that we breed animals for food is a threat to the planet. It pollutes our environment while consuming huge amounts of water, grain, petroleum, pesticides and drugs. The results are disastrous.”

I’ll admit, it has not been an easy transition and it is not one I am going to preach to everyone. I’m definately not the ultra snide, judgmental veg-head that won’t be in the same room as someone eating meat. Instead, I live on the very laxed side of things. So laxed, I sometimes eat chicken (sorry! my aunt scared me with her stories of a man almost dying because he wasn’t getting enough vitamin B-12.).  Plus, I can’t say no to hot wings at Superbowl anymore. I just can’t. SIGH

 It’s not an easy lifestyle. So, if you want to make a change and reap all the wonderful benefits but like me, can’t always live up to the rigidness of the diet, what do you do? Don’t fret! You can still make a difference just by lessening the amount of meat you eat. Enter, the Flexitarian diet. In The Flexitarian Diet, author Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, says being a “flexitarian” gives you the benefits of a vegetarian diet without having to forgo meat entirely.The Flexitarian Diet aims to make it easier for people to transition to eating less meat.  The diet promotes fresh, natural, and seasonal foods but also includes staple items from the pantry and freezer. I think this is the place I am in now.

Stats say 10 people could be fed with the grain used to feed 1 cow and for every pound of beef you do not eat, you save 2,500-5,000 gallons of water. Therefore, even if you give up meat just one day a week it would help make a change. Why not make that day today?

Image via Google

Navani Knows: Vast Aire’s Exclusive Interview on Brooklyn Bodega Radio

There are times when my whole life comes full circle and the stars align and everything makes perfect sense. Not many, but few. Like for instance, when I cross paths with someone I grew up with in my present career. That’s what happened this past week when I was able to reconnect with my childhood friend, Vast Aire.

Vast and I met in high school working an arts-based after school job that his father ran. He stood out not only because of his size (some think that’s where his name was derived from), but for his vocal ability. He was a rapper, since before I met him at 15. He did rapper like things, for example, carrying around a notebook that he constantly wrote in, kicking verses at the drop of a dime and battling in ciphers. When someone asked what he aspired to be, he said with conviction, “a rapper.” This wasn’t as common or easy to say as it is today. Today, everyone is a rapper.But then it wascommon  to not take this seriously. I mean, no one we knew ever did this profressionally.

Cut to some 15 years later (yikes, totally dating myself) and we cross paths once again. Him as a rapper for more than a decade and me as a music journalist. It was a treat to be able to reach out to him not only on a personal level, but this time profressionally and ask him for an interview to promote his latest project. He’s had a long, successful career thus far that continues with the release of his upcoming EP and LP OX Street Odyssey 2010.

He agreed with only two days notice to come on the show. It was great to catch up.  Not only was he humble but completely candid as he addressed rumors of beef in the game and Cannibal Ox breaking up. It’s refreshing to actually speak to an artist this way, where nothing is off limits. It doesn’t happen often in this game where everything is scripted and publicists give a list of demands before any interaction.  

Most importantly, we also got to hear more about the making of his latest opus which features  Hip Hop heavywweights Raekwon, Cappadonna (he’s on the single “I Don’t Care“), Guilty Simpson and Vordul Mega. Check out the entire interview here on Brooklyn Bodega Radio.

OX Street Odyssey 2010 EP is dropping March 3rd. The LP due out in May.

Photos via Google

Navani Knows the Power of Purging

[Please note, I DO NOT mean purging as in making yourself throw up. That is a whole other topic I have no knowledge of. ]

I recently moved for the umpteenth time. I realize I move way more than the average person should so this time I vowed never to do it again UNLESS I A. Miraculousy get a job in another country like Spain or B. Get swept off my feet by a rich man that meets me while away on business and within a week falls in love and asks me to move with him. (Ok, so that last scenario sounds strangley like the premise of Pretty Woman, but so what, a gal can dream right?)

Anyhoo, I digress. So I am in the midst of packing and clearing out my stuff which I of course waited until the very last moment to do and in a mad dash  I pull out all my crap from every crevice of the room at once. Now, I am just  knee deep in randomness I forgot I owned and feel completely overwhelmed. My first instinct was to twinkle my nose and wish I could instantly teleport to my new place, but alas that failed. So, I finally rolled my sleeves up and started digging in. I had totally forgotton about some of the things I had hidden in my closet. A lot of which I no longer needed. My goal was to lighten my load as much as possible so this meant tossing EVERYTHING I could i.e.:  the shoes I haven’t worn in a year along with the infamous winter scarves I received for xmas 3 years ago that have yet to be worn. It also meant getting rid of all the cute little keepsakes over the years and every birthday card given to me the past 5 years. The real estate books I don’t need anymore, trashed. The jeans that have holes but are so comfy I keep holding on to: trashed. You get the idea. So a few hours and garbage bags later I had control again. I found there was so much “stuff” I was holding on to without even realizing it –  until I had to pull it all out in front of me and sort through it.

Hoping that I wouldn’t go through the ardous task of moving again without learning from it, I immiediately related this “purging” process to my personal life. In life, purging is good too. It is so easy for us to go through our experiences and just start collecting emotional baggage and behaviors and ideas about ourselves without even realizing it. It is so much easier to keep all the unfavorable things locked away in that emotional closet, out of sight and out of mind. Who really wants to have everything spilled out on the floor around them in an emotional mess? Not me. I do not want to face all the not so great things about myself. My habits or defense mechanisms. Who does?

But I realized that the only way to sort through all the junk and actually get rid of it, is to take the time to bring it all out in the open. Clean out the closet. Yes, it is messy but it’s the only way to take stock of what is and isn’t working for you anymore and purge the things that no longer serve us. If I don’t face the fact that jealousy and possesiveness still lurk in some deep down crevice of my subconscoious, how can I release it? It’s hard work to face the things we don’t like to admit to ourselves but so worth it to understand that maybe at one time this served us and luckily, now it doesn’t. So, with that we can acknowledge it and pack it up in the trash and send it on its way – along with the ripped up jeans that I’ve finally learned to part with. In the end, it makes room for something new and better to reside there in it’s place instead.

Photo via Google images

Navani Knows: The Olivia Chronicles Christmas Edition

Holidays are a time for reflection and prioritizing (Ever see the movie, Scrooged?). Luckily, I was able to spend them surrounded by family this year for a much needed break from the grind that is NY (thanks for the ticket Titi Millie). There is something about being around children on Christmas that is so refreshing and helps put things into perspective. Sometimes you need to take a step outside of your own head, your own routine, to see what’s really important – the relationships you cultivate with others. It is so easy to lose sight of that when you spend all your time striving towards a goal or a place you want to be in your life. But my lil cousin Olivia quickly reminded me that the true meaning of Christmas is:

“The meaning of Christmas is not really about presents, it is really about sharing and caring. Because you can still have Christmas with no presents, but you can’t have Christmas without sharing and caring.”

Spoken like a girl who just received a new limited edition Wii lol. But it is true so, this holiday season I am treasuring all the people that touch my life in different ways, and that includes you (the reader).

I just want to take a moment today to personally wish a Merry Christmas to all my readers/friends/fam and anyone else who has stumbled across my blog and read it. It means so much to me to know someone out there is actually recieving my words. There are times (probably once a week) when I doubt myself as a writer. When I wonder if there is any point to the struggle. Or when I think no one really cares about what I have to say. However, anyone who has taken the time to  utter the sentence “When you gonna update your blog again dude? You need to get on that,” proves me wrong and I appreciate that to no end.

Ok, enough mushy stuff. Back to the food and festivities. Merry Christmas!

Navani Knows Checklists…

I am learning in my adventures/ experiences here in NYC  that you are always searching for something: either the perfect job, the perfect apartment or the perfect relationship. In my own search for all the above, I’ve come to see that the process for each are very similiar.

Searching for an apartment is very much like that of settling in on a relationship. You go through the arduous process of finding and answering ads/ meeting people/ interviewing them/making time for them and in very little time deciding if you are interested enough to commit. Of course, that means deciding what factors you can deal with. The trade off. What traits can you tolerate, what are you willing to scarfice? Same process for moving. In apartments, you figure out what ammenties you can/cannot live without and what things are dealbreakers (being across the street from the projects). Then you tally all that information and figure out if this place will do. Will it make you happy enough to stop wondering what else is out there in your price range? Will it make you stop questioning if you are getting the best deal? Maybe you should just see a few more places.

I see we do the same thing when it comes to relationships. Though, I always thought it was much simplier in thoery. I thought you meet someone and you click and that was it. I never saw it as a business investment, or an investment at all. Maybe I should have. I am having the same issues commiting to real estate that most people I’ve dated have had with committing to a title. It is an eye opening experience that is for sure. There are so many factors! I never realized it is probably as scary when it comes committing to a person. No matter what qualities a person may have, does it align with our personal checklist? If not, can we deal with the shortcomings? The lack of ammenities? Is there one trait that is a dealbreaker no matter how good everything else sounds(not agreeing on marriage/kids/bad credit). Or do you still sit up at night wondering if you are settling and there might just be someone a lil more fitting for you out there? Does this make someone a commitmentphobe? Or just superbly cautious?

In either situation, what exactly draws the line? And at what point do you actually stop the search and make a decision? When is it right? Do you count on how many items on the list are crossed off? Or do you wait for the intuitive flutter in your stomach? Do you just wait until you’ve exhausted yourself and pick whatever is there in front of you at the moment? What is the right formula for committing? I’m all for standards but when do they become a hinderence or an excuse?

I guess it comes down to a simple decision:  the decision to commit to the idea itself – whether it is to move or to be in a monogamous relationship. You have to have already committed to this idea within yourself before starting the journey. Whatever the situation is at that time. I guess all these factors mentioned will play a unique part in this process, but at the end of it all there has to be the desire already in place to make the move. Quite literally. That is what one has to come down to the root of: is this what you really want? Without knowing this, all the ammenties in the world will not appease you – in any search. And now, thanks to pounding the pavement all month, I can understand that.

Navani Knows Daily Love

Funny how inspiration comes right when you need it. That’s how it usually happens to me. I might be watching a random movie or at an event and in the midst of it something relevant will present itself.

Lately I’ve been struggling with my need to control things. My need to get whatever it is I want. I like to call it ambition. Most times it is a very positive thing, I mean it’s this drive that has gotten me to where I am today. Unless of course, I don’t get what I ant and then the affect is completely catastophic to me. Perhaps it’s the attachment to outcome that I have to let go of. I go into every venture, especially romantic ones, with huge expectations for how they should turn out and a strict timeline to keep to to track my progress. Yeah, pretty scary now that I take a step back and look at it. Then, when someone else, like say a boyfriend doesn’t go along with my planned outcome, I am appalled. I am totally flabbergasted. I can’t comprehend why they don’t agree. Then, I immediately curse the love Gods for another failed relationship.

But I received a forward that changed my whole perspective on not receiving the outcome you hoped for. My buddy Mastin says:

When you don’t get what you want it is usually because the Uni-verse is preventing you from selling yourself short.
Celebrate NOT getting what you want as much as getting what you want. There are invisible hands guiding your life that have your best interest in mind.
If something or someone has walked out of your life see that circumstance as protection and also being in your best interest.
Not all of life is pure joy, but sometimes we have to go through the temporary pain of letting go to be open and able to receive something better and brand new.

I found this incredibly timely as my heart is healing from another releationship gone awry. I was trying to do everything in my power to make it work despite how stressful/hurtful it was becoming.  This troubled me. But this quote reminds me that sometimes things are just not going to work AND THAT IS OK. It’s more than ok. It means there is something even better in store for us. Sometimes we can’t even comprehend the possibilities that are waiting for us. So much that we are so eager to sell ourselves short. Luckily, the universe doesn’t let us.

So, today I am celebrating the NOTs. Not being with the wrong person. Not being in the wrong job or career.  Instead, I am excited about the “what ifs” that are still on the way.

For more cool quotes from Mastin sign up @