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FAB in the City: Do your Own Thang!

FAB stands for Food Art Beats.

A couple of years ago I started an IG handle called Food Art Beats. I have never blogged about FAB but my inquisitive nature has been eager to exchange with others some conversations about food, art, and beats.

In the context of the blog, food could refer to real food or simply to food for thoughts.

Beats could refer to music or to someone living life "dancing to the beats of their own drum."

Today I decided to interview my friend and amazing artist, YZ Dream to learn more about his new music video " Do your Own Thang!"

Since YZ had graciously contributed to my book The Art of Rooting, and we have recently shared the stage at the Shades of Poetry, James Baldwin Festival of Words back in August 2023, I couldn't wait to learn about his new project and celebrate him with you all.

Below is my conversation with YZ, in purple will be my little interactions.

In the book, there is a designated section with some very interesting conversations, and just like I did in the book, I respected the language style of my interlocutors by sharing their answers without altering their sentences for the sake of proper grammar.

In sharing my conversations, respecting authenticity is more important to me than sounding proper.

1.) What was the inspiration for your video?

I was on Instagram and came across this producer's page named "Chu Toy Beats," all the way from Colorado.

When I pulled up his beats, that was the 1st instrumental I heard. I instantly started repeating "Do My Own Thang Do My Own Thang," rather just keep it that way! After that I was like "yep! Thats it! That’s the hook!"

I bought the beat and then created and finished the song.

2.) What do the locations you selected mean to you?

The locations for the video are a representation of Chattanooga.

Chattanooga Lookouts Stadium and logo is HUGE in the city.

You’ll see people all around Chattanooga rockin' that Lookouts logo on a t-shirt, hoodie or hat.

And just about everybody has been to the Tivoli downtown!

A lot of magic, musicians, and superstars have left a mark inside that theater. I felt like sittin' or standing in front of the Tivoli would make the video look cooler. S/o (Carissa) More Life Media Prods for directing it and bringing it to Life!

3.) In your song you have a line about meditation, can you explain what meditation means to you, and how it serves you as an artist and in your daily life?

Meditation is HIGHLY powerful to my daily life and as an artist/creator. It brings peace of mind, to my spirit and body as well!

Also pushes me to be my authentic self with no shame. A lot of people tell me I’m original so I know that’s where the help comes from. Meditation guides me to tap into my inner self. I love it!

I love that you integrated meditation so well into your life and even referenced it in your music. I remember that when I asked you if you would like to contribute to The Art of Rooting you were kind to pen a page sharing about your meditation process and some affirmative words. I love revisiting those lines.

4.) When you contributed to The Art of Rooting back in August 2023, was the song something you wrote before or after?

I wrote the song back in 2021 before the book came out. S/o you for allowing me to be a part of The Art Of Rooting book too.

Shout out to you as well for delivering on your promise. It was so important to me to show and celebrate a young black man who values the importance of nature and mental health, it meant a lot that you were willing to be a part of it and I appreciate that you were very reliable. You also helped me overcome some of the angst that comes with releasing a book and being vulnerable to my readers.

5.) What was your experience working on being a part of the book knowing of the author's connection ( me) to Africa? Do you feel like it benefited you to be a part of this project and if so, in what ways?

I look at it like we are aligned with a similar purpose so it was meant for me to be a part of this book. I’ve always wanted to go back and visit the motherland!

I learned things about Africa through meeting you, (N’nako Kandé), conversing and connecting.

Also, I love going out into nature.

Grounding my feet, Sun Gazing, sitting still listening to the trees blow, birds chirping and the water flowing! It’s so peaceful and brings healing and joy to my mind, body, and spirit! I feel more like myself every time I go.

I couldn't agree more with that last statement, I feel the same way and that's why after publishing the book, I decided to start a Blog series called Trail Life to be able to keep learning and sharing about the amazing effects and benefits of time spent in nature.

Even though I wrote the song before the book came out it still aligns with the book in a way. Doing my own thang, going hiking is just a thing I love to do. You don’t hear anything about guys from the hood going hiking often but I’m one of them.

6.) What does it take to make a music video?

What are some details that people don't think about in preparing to shoot a music video?

To make nice creative videos it takes a lot of brainstorming with like-minded people. Putting ideas together and bringing them to life.

When I watch other artist videos (not all) I feel like they don’t think about really standing out and trying something different foreal foreal. Some people don’t care to be creative.

So I would say stand out more!

Make sure your videos are creative in your own way and just think of something different you’ve never seen done before and DO IT.

I don't have any experience yet in shooting music videos but as a bilingual spoken word artist, author, and performer I can certainly see the appeal in creating something visually different because I love to use props when I perform my poems and I love to decorate and set the stage to give more context to my poetry. To some people it may seem " extra" but I strongly believe in doing my own thing and love adding a theatrical element to my poetry performances and giving the audience something that represents me best.

I use every opportunity I get to offer an experience that connects people to my cultural heritage.

At the end of our conversation, there will be a few links showing some of my stage performances where YZ and I shared the stage on different occasions within the past two years.

7.) What is your writing process?

As a writer and a poet, I have my own writing process but I wonder how rappers and singers write songs, I am assuming that adding music can make the process different from what I am familiar with.

My writing process is different at times.

Flows come to me out of the blue then I record them on my phone so I won’t forget them.

Later when I get to my home studio I find a beat then put words to it and turns out to be a whole song! Usually, when I record at home, I pitch in like every 2 to 4 bars.

So it just be different at times.

Most times when I hear a beat I write the hook 1st then the verses come after.

Hearing the hooks first makes it easier for me to write the verses or when I write a verse I sometimes make a hook out of a few bars in the verse.

8.) What sparks your inspiration when you write?

Life itself sparks my inspiration to write. Relationships, friendships, family, traveling...

Different songs or albums I hear, interviews and day-to-day blogs I watch, books I read, TV shows, movies...Things that remind me of some of my life experiences which have me super inspired and put me in the creative mode to record new tracks.

9.) Do you create your own beats?

I do at times create and produce my own beats.

10.) What comes first, the beats or the words?

Sometimes the words come first.

Sometimes the beats come first.

It just depends!

11.) Share how people can learn about you:

They can go stream my music on all streaming platforms and follow me on social media to learn more about me. Subscribe to my TikTok and YouTube channel too as well @ Yz DREAM

12.)What message do you want to pass with your music?

It’s nothing wrong with doing your own thang.

Life’s better that way I promise. It’s ok to do what you do, do what you like and love! You don’t have to be like others.


13.) What's next for you? Do you have any upcoming events and projects that we can support?

I do have a few collabs coming soon that I’m excited about, so stay tuned with that.

I’ll be posting more upcoming shows on my social media. Y’all make sure y’all follow me on ig @yz_dream Twitter @YzCreator

Snap chat @yzdream fb @Yz DREAM

Make sure that you get your copy of The Art of Rooting to learn more about YZ meditation practices and read our in-depth conversation about art, nature, and our roots, his roots...

Yo hold up! Where are you going? We ain't done yet!

This series is called Food Arts Beats so we can't go until I actually find out what are some of YZ Dream favorite things.

So I asked YZ about some of his favorite things, Food Art & Beats wise and this is what he answered

Food: Chicken Alfredo

Favorite place food-wise: Big Chill, Power Plant Cafe (black-owned)

Art: Listen, this part was so dope because I actually know the amazing people on his list of favorites, (except for Basquiat).

His list of favorite artists included Basquiat and some amazing artists who live here in Chattanooga and whom I have the pleasure of knowing:

Genesis The Grey Kid

Briah Gober

Juanita N. Montgomery

Qimmah Zayn Muhammad ( whispering: alright I don't personally know this one, but she's a Facebook friend)

and N'nako Kande' Oooomg I know this one very well! (laugh) I am being silly but the truth is, I am deeply honored that he has me on his list of favorite painters.

Above: Juanita Montgomery, & N'nako Kande' holding one of Juanita's Montgomery's prints.

Beats: I asked who he listens to when he relaxes. He gave me a list that would make a great playlist to enjoy for days and I must say YZ has great tastes because any list with Bob Marley, Khalid, and Kendrick Lamar, just to name a few of his faves, is a great list in my opinion.

There was someone on his list whom I had heard great things about and whom I would love to have the pleasure of meeting one day.

I will drop her name here and see what the universe does...maybe one day she will have a FAB conversation with us. Her name is Bindy!

Greatness runs in the family it seems because she is actually YZ Dream's cousin and I have heard enough great things to know that neither of us is biased when it comes to her being a Fabulous artist.

Alright, now we are done...sort of....unless you think of this as a literary version of the Marvels and expect more...

Remember to follow YZ Dream to keep up with his positive vibes.

ig @yz_dream Twitter @YzCreator

Snap chat @yzdream fb @Yz DREAM

YZ Dream & Damon Dash at the Chattanooga Hip-Hop Summitt October 2023

Subscribe to the Blog for more FAB in the City.

Know of someone FABulous we should chat with next?

Gallery & Memories

Being extra!

You know a good artist gotta give an Encore!

N'nako Kande' and YZ Dreams August 2023, post-rehearsal, talking books, artistic dreams, and goals. Performing at the James Baldwin Festival of Words was a milestone for both of us.

YZ shared how it would be his first time performing with a band.

Full time mom of four, and an immigrant who wasn't planning on being an artist, what were the odds of me performing at The Chattanooga Theater Center, a few years after I decorated the first Shade of Poetry and just a year after I finally had the courage to stand on stage...

Below a clip of the James Baldwin Festival.

The last performance of Summer 2023 with YZ Dream as one of the performing artists.

Body Painting by Nolah Trinity

Fabric by Nakivoire (me)

Styling by Vee Rhodes

Honored to have those remarkable people with me: As my dancers Tarrisha Hicks founder of Sobi, Kenneth KG Glatt, Ryan Roberts, Dallas Bailey, Damien Chaney and Michelle Simon as my Bongo player. Read more about the dancers and other performers here The Shades of Poetry Showcase - DanceChatt (

YZ Dream and Vee Rhodes at the Fashion Hip Hop, Chattanooga Hip-Hop Summit October 2023


1. The firt time I met YZ Dream in 2022..

He bought one of my greeting cards with my Artwork and Poem Akwaba that I performed both at our first Doetry production and at the James Baldwin Festival. That Doetry production in 2022 was my first stage performance.( See the link below). By the time I performed the same poem for the James Baldwin Festival of Words, I had grown into a much more confident performer and the August performance allowed me to have more fun with my vision. You can compare both videos and see for yourself.

2. Backstage at The Barking Legs Theater with a few members of the amazing performers that night. Left to right: Poet, writer and stage actor Arche Twitty., poet and stage actor Kyree Brown, dancer and co-founder of Doetry Onyney Lafree, N'nako Kande' and YZ Dream.

3 .My tribal design body painted by artist and poet Nolah X Trinity who also painted me at the James Baldwin Festival of Words. For that first Doetry performance, I made my own outfit with authentic indigo fabric from Guinea and hand-sewed some cowry shells. For the James Baldwin Festival, I provided my fabric and the fabric for the dancers and gave Vee Rhodes directions on what I wanted. She was amazing!

The first stage performance was when I first got to share the stage with YZ Dream in 2022.

That night he performed On the Rise which is now available on his YouTube Channel.

The following link is a performance of my Self-Love Blessing premiere at the Barking Leg Theater in February 2023 with Doetry production.

Even though YZ was not a [part of this show, he was a major part of this precious moment.

He introduced me to Trey Mullins of Wavelength studio where I finally recorded my first spoken word recording on all streaming platforms. ( Here for Spotify and Apple Music )

Prior to working with Trey Mullins, I have had some frustrating studio experiences. YZ Dream was concerned about my setbacks and assured me that Trey Mullins would take great care of me. He was right. I had a pleasant and very professional experience. I released the Self-Love Blessing on January 13, 2023 and had the pleasure of premiering it weeks later.

Context: I published the Self-Love Blessing as an e-book on May 4th 2022 and also published it in my paperback poetry collection Potions & Passions: Poetry & Artwork on May 7th, 2022.

Months later I decided that I wanted to add music to the lyrics but I wanted specific instruments that are part of my family's heritage, the kora and the balafon that my uncle Mory Kante was world famous for.

Why am I sharing all this? Remember when I asked YZ what comes first in his process?

I wanted to know if he goes through phases like this where something you create today can become another beautiful thing tomorrow.

I am also sharing this to send a not-so-subliminal message about the importance of having a good circle of people around when you are serious about your goals.

Now we are done! (smile)

That was food for thought, from an Art girl who certainly moves to her own beat....

Adding to YZ words, " Do your own thang!" but make sure you treat people well as you do and make sure you do your thang with excellence.!

Talking of excellence, I have been nominated for a third year in a row, as a Black Excellence of Chattanooga.

This is my second year in a row to also have two nominations and my first time as a Performing Arts nominee.

If you are reading this before December 6, 2023, please vote for me! #44 and #60 on the following link

Thank you for being a friend!

I am N'nako Kande', Thank You for being so FABulous and sharing this conversation!

Stay in touch

You can follow me on Instagram and Tik Tok.

You can shop for any of my 8 books and counting or start working on your goals and shop from my notebook NaKbook collection : n'nako kande

You can treat your skin to something handcrafted by me or shop for some African prints good straight from the motherland SHOP nakivoire

Read and Subscribe to the Blog Comment and Share. The goal is to host a FAB in the city every 2-3 weeks so reach out & support. Let's build each other and our community.

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