Navani Knows The Wonder Year

I love when I go to a movie or an event and leave feeling so inspired. Such was the case last night when I went to see the documentary The Wonder Year at BAM. No, I am not talking about the coming of age TV series starring baby faced Fred Savage, I am talking about the doc that chronicles a year in the life of super producer 9th Wonder.

Directed by Kenneth Price the film is an intimate look at who 9th Wonder is from his roots in Winston-Salem where he shows us the house his father built with his own hands to him talking about his sister that passed away, BrightLady, for which his studio is named after. I was a little skeptical about the movie in the beginning because the camera angles were a little weird, and it seemed like the whole film would just be a close up of 9th talking in a room which could be zzzzzzzzzz.

But alas, there was more to the story than that. We not only hear 9th in his own words tell how he came up with his stage name, what his influences in music were and how he played 9 instruments by the time he was in high school – but we hear from others that know him too including industry peers DJ Premier, The Alchemist, J. Cole, Phonte, Young Guru, DJ Green Lantern, Murs and more. One thing they all have in common is a respect for 9th’s diligence, craft and style. A style that 9th aka Patrick Douthit so eloquently defines as life music – music that is more complex than the average joe can make but not overly complicated in an attempt to impress other producers. Instead, it is somewhere in the middle which to me is a dope concept.

Besides the talk of his background, some of my favorite parts of the film were when you get to see him in action: creating a beat from scratch in his studio and the look on his face while doing so. At the end of the day he is still a fan and that is what drives him. He clearly enjoys it. Even more amusing is the look on the face of anyone in the studio with him that witnesses his magic, they are astounded. As Illmind says, he just has an ear for it. He is truly ahead of his time and that’s what makes him so successful. That and of course the fact that he makes a ridiculous amount of beats in a sitting… like 4 in 40 minutes, and over 400 in one summer. I laughed when he told the story of when he played beats for Jay Z for the The Black album. He played 29 tracks. Then Jay Z described the sound he was looking for for a particular song and 9th pulled out his laptop and sat in the corner and 20 minutes later had the beat for “Threat”. This is just one of many stories proving that it’s not about the machine but really the man behind it. It doesn’t take millions of dollars of fancy equipment to be successful, it can be as simple as a program downloaded off the internet.

9th already has many titles before his name including father, son, husband, CEO, NAACP ambassador, Duke University professor and of course Grammy Award winning Producer but he says he wants to hold one more when he is done making music – that of board of ed member in his hometown. But that won’t be for awhile. In the meantime 9th’s focus is paying it forward like Jay Z told him to by making sure his artists grow (Jamla Records) and get to a good place. Then he can go back to solely making music for fun.

Check out the trailer here:

If you weren’t able to make the New York premiere of The Wonder Year check out for updates.

Navani Knows Heroines

I’ve learned in NY that the most random meetings become the most substantial relationships. For instance, the way I met Glamour Mag columnist/NYU  professor Jessica Seigal. I happened to walk by her abode en route to my 9-5 one morning, when she commented on my skirt. She complimented me on my ensemble and continued to walk with me a few blocks towards my job. In that time we learned that we both are writers (SCORE) and exchanged info.

I didn’t expect to hear anything from her, when I received an invite to a book launch party/ walking tour she was participating in for The Heroine’s Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore. The tagline of the book is “Life lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalss Wilde” which intrigued me ( I am all for girl power). Plus, the idea of connecting some of these literary luminaries to the neighborhood I work in,  even better. So, I decided to check it out.

Turned out to be quite the event. There had to be at least 50 people (size of a small wedding recpetion) on this guided walking tour of landmark buildings throughout Greenwich Village. Pleaces of interest included: The street where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women (allegedly, research says otherwise), The place where Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter Rose Wilder Lane lived in bohemian splendor, the former home of Alice Walker and husband Mel Leventhal and Edna St. Vincent Millay’s house (the smallest house in NYC!). Jessica Seigal co-guided the tour which was awesome because she grew up in this neighborhood and had a plethora of fun facts to share at will. Like, the plaque on Cherry Lane saying it was named for cherry blossoms is wrong. It was a typo from “Cheery” Lane that forever changed history. In fact, many of the plaques have misinformation I learned last night. I was in fun fact heaven! Did you know Louisa May Alcott was addicted to morphine? Scandalous. And that the village was split into two worlds: southside was for the poor bohemians that didn’t play by the rules of high society (i.e. Edna St. Vincent Millay) and northside was for high society/ people with money (i.e. Edith Wharton).

I am sooo glad I attended this event (and not because of the free Champagne and Glamour mags, though that didn’t hurt). It ended up being just the surge of inspiration I needed for myself as a writer. I was feeling pretty lame earlier that day thinking I was wasting my life away at a 9-5 where people use the word “circle back” way too often. I felt like this is not what the life a writer is supposed to look like. But then, I came out and found a book that is full of insighful nuggets for moments just like this from women writer’s themselves. These women are truly heroines to me because they continued to write in the midst of their life. They had sucky jobs, families to tend to, money/marital woes yet in spite of  it all, they still wrote. To be reminded of that was a much needed life lesson for me.

 Thanks again Erin and Jessica for a great event and for being literary heroines as well!

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 @

Navani Knows Placeholders

Once upon a time, I had a boyfriend that gave me a beautiful Movado watch as a gift. It was the most brilliant, expensive gift anyone has ever gotten for me and I adored it. Then a month later I inexplicably lost it. I was indeed, super devastated – as was he. I was sure our gift-giving days were over. I looked down at my now naked wrist and cringed. But in my mind, I believed that I would get my watch back one day. I decided to wear something else there, as a placeholder, just until I came across said watch. So, in its place now stood a handmade, string bracelet I got as a souvenir from Mexico from one of my homegirls. Def not as jazzy, but I figured it would do. I said to myself, “this is just until I get my watch back.” With that small action, my intention was cast out to the universe. I didn’t worry about the how part of my plan, just the end result. I never found my watch but 2 months later my bf did buy me another one to replace it (which was even more surprising). I totally did not expect this to be the how. But it didn’t matter, low and behold; I am wearing a watch again. And I believe it was because I knew in my heart of hearts I would – and my lovely lil Mexican bracelet did its part.

This small incident reminded me of what I needed to do in other areas of my life when setting goals. There are times when I forget the power within we all have to manifest the things that are important to us, especially when I find myself in a rut. Things like Paying down debt or becoming a published author may seem totally overwhelming and I sadly let that cloud my belief. It was so comforting to realize that I have put things into action many times in my life and that I can easily do it again. I mean, I got myself through college without anyone in my immediate family able to show me the ropes. I just knew since I was 10-years-old that I was going to college. I didn’t have to figure out “how” I was going to pay for it. All it took was the undoubted belief in my intention. Many times in our journeys we get caught up in the “how” and it becomes a huge roadblock. How can that be possible? And really, that is not what we need to worry ourselves about. All we need is the belief that it will be and the universe will take care of the rest. And believing is a big enough job on its own.  

The cliché “actions speak louder than words” seems fitting here. You can say what it is you want out loud, but it’s taking an action toward it that will solidify that you truly believe in it. So, whether it is holding a place for your watch to return or creating a budget for paying off credit card debt, that small act is all it takes to put your intentions into motion. Now, whenever I look down at my wrist I am reminded of this.

Navani Knows: “I” Performs With Orign and DJ SPS

The best thing about having my own blog is that I am the boss. No one edits me or tells me what to write about. Hence, nepitism is alive and well here at Navani Knows. So, today I’m giving some shine to my cousin out in Florida doing his music thing. He is more like my brother, actually. He is the guy that oks anyone I date and threatens to beat up anyone who dares disrespect me (even his friends). Growing up we became close not only because we are the same age and went to school together, but because of our love of hip-hop.

This love of music continues to be our bond today. We both have passions and dreams that are related to hip-hop. Me, I document it, while he creates it. And through out life’s ups and downs we continue to take great joy in supporting each other’s accomplishments toward fullfilling our dreams. He calls me and recites verses, I call him and go over questions for the next artist I am interviewing. If I hear a dope track I always get a second opinion from him and ask him what he’s listening to. And when he has a show and gets the chance to share his ryhmes with the public, I am filled with equal parts pride and inspiration.

So shout out to Iran, AKA “Classic” AKA” I” for rocking out alongside Orign and DJ SPS this past Friday at Cameo in Orlando. I heard the response was tremendous. He did a cameo (haha) on a track featured on the new Futprnts Workshop album called Colorscope.  I am looking forward to hearing the album myself. DJ SPS was also there promoting his new release called Sunrize. You can check out more Futprnts music here.  Peep my cuz rocking the stage here.

Navani Knows How to Become a Writer

There are days (not many but some) when I question why I write. I question everything about my writing. I question if anyone even reads it half the time or who really cares. This is what I like to call the slump. It’s like PMS for your career. I just don’t feel like anything I want to write makes sense or is good enough. Then I stomp away from my computer in a complete tantrum and try to think of other career paths that I might be well suited for.

This, I thought, was my own weirdo cycle- specific only to me. And it troubled me greatly too, until I came across an article by Junot Diaz on  recently. Funny thing is, he describes going through similar bouts with his writing. The tantrums. The ripping up of the pages. The vow to pick a more “stable”, more rewarding career. I realized I was not alone. Who knew?! 

I figured if this is what aPulitzer Prize winning writer goes through, I must be on the right darn track. So on a day like today when it’s cold and I am feeling utterly useless and uninspired (I know, I’m sorry -I can’t ALWAYS be inspiring lol), I will lean on someone else for some words of encouragement. 

Check out Junot’s article “Becoming a Writer”. Hopefully, it will make you fall in love with the process all over again. Or at least pep you up enough to write another day.

Navani Knows Cleansing & Gratitude

I know this blog is long over do, but I do thank you for your patience and actually checking back here after so long. I have been going through a serious transition period (aren’t we all). Lots of moving going on in all aspects of my life. Now that the dust is starting to clear, I have time for some reflection. Perfect timing, being that the New Year is quickly approaching.

Out with the old, in with the new right? In this time of cleansing and rebirth I am finding out the key to abundance is making room for it. Making the space for the things you want in your life to fit. If you make it, they will come – remember that saying? I know now it is true, if you honestly believe it.

With my new move I’ve gotten quite familiar with cleansing lol. I’ve had to physically clear space for new things. Clearing out drawers of old clothes I don’t use anymore. The funny thing is, with the new empty space I find new clothes miraculously appear. And that can be true of any other aspect of our lives, even matters of the heart. I had to clear space out there too in order to have someone new occupy space. Who knew simple physics would come into play here.

So, how can you clear out space emotionally? Not as tangible as throwing out garbage, but just as easy. I’ve learned you make space for more abundance when you are truly grateful for all the gifts you already have. (Thanks Mama Gena)

So, to start my new year off right, I am composing my year-end gratitude list.

I am super grateful for:
1. Obama winning the election. Seriously.
2. The sun shining when it does.
3. Unconditional love in all its forms.
4. Mel’s couch.
5. My cousin’s loyalty and coordinating skills.
6. My job, from which I write this. Shh
7. My family, both blood and spiritual.
8. Anyone who has ever made me laugh.
9. My health
10. All the times I’ve sweated out my hair dancing.
11. Music that makes me happy to be alive
12. Writing because I love to
13. My new home
14. Those who teach me new things
15. Anyone who has ever inspired me
16. Quiet time
17. Yogi tea
18. Yoga
19. Dancing in the mirror
20. Movies that make me cry
21. Friends who have always supported me.
19. My dreams. Cause they are all mine
20. The will to go after them.

The list can go on and on, but you get the idea. What’s on your gratitude list? What are you grateful for just from today?