10 Ways to Recognize a Good Guy

Now this may not be for everyone, but for me these are 10 non-negotiables that have led me to a pretty awesome relationship. I know some of you will immediately notice I didn’t put “faith” as a bullet point, but sometimes I think we spend more time looking for superficial religious clues than we do for signs of character and integrity. Yes, he needs to be a man who has faith in God, but the quality of his faith is more likely to be found in how he treats you and others rather than the church he attends. So, check out these 10 tips for finding a good guy, then let us know if you agree — or disagree.

1. He Was a Good Guy When You Met Him

Now ladies, please read this twice. You cannot make a bad boy a good boy no matter how hard you try. Every time you tell yourself that lie you should slap yourself and read this article. No, but seriously, stop trying. Please! Your happiness depends on it. Have you ever looked up and said what on earth am I doing here? I should have, would have, could have …! I’d bet my  401K that it had something to do with a guy … a bad guy.

2. His Kindness Holds Up Under Pressure

It’s easy to be a nice guy when you get your way, but the ultimate test comes when you have a right to “go there.” However a man treats the people around him, he will eventually treat you. You don’t want a man that is just nice to you, or disrespects other women but treats you differently. As soon as you tell him no, you’ll be on the bad end of his personality. Easy things to observe: how he deals with an aggressive stranger, how he deals with a family member he doesn’t get along with. How does his personality hold up when he disagrees with you?

3. He Offers to Help Others When There’s Nothing in It for Him

This is the best selfishness indicator.  Does he help people simply because they need help, or does he look for ‘I Owe You’s’? When he does a nice gesture for you, does he expect you to return the favor? His motivation should be based solely on a desire to make you happy.

4. He Feels Honored to Be with You

So many men attempt to make women feel that they are lucky to be with them, but this should definitely be the other way around. I know some men would contest that statement, but it’s true. Honor me and I will honor you. When two good people get together, no ones needs are unmet; you both reciprocate equally. His manhood isn’t diminished by telling you how beautiful, intelligent, and strong you are – that’s what he loves about you.

5. He Inspires You to Be a Better You

His goals, achievements, and motivations encourage you to stay on track with your God-given destiny. He doesn’t hesitate to encourage you when you are down. You are proud of him, and he is equally proud of you. He challenges you to overcome your insecurities instead of giving more reasons for you to be insecure.

6. He’s Not in Competition With You

Do you feel like you have to prove yourself to him in order to earn his respect? Does he get jealous when men recognize your beauty? Some relationships can feel more like a competition than a mutual support system; you compete over careers, intelligence, or even physical fitness. Don’t let your competitive nature convince you that this endurance test is worth winning. A good relationship is not a competition; it’s a partnership.

7. He Has Personal Ambition

It’s far too easy to get distracted by income when looking for a good man. Many men have become pros at the illusion of security. The truth is, a wealthy man can lose his money and a poor man can stumble across a fortune. The best way to avoid superficiality and navigate these choppy waters is to make sure the guy has passion and a plan. You also may want to check his motivations; a good man  will feel his destiny driving him, and will know that God has given him that vision. The proverb tells us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Consider this sound advice for romantic relationships as well. How can someone who is going nowhere and doing nothing inspire you to be anything? Usually, those men are only professionals at destroying confidence.

8. He’ll Do Something Just Because You Want to Do It

Let’s face it; sometimes we are selfish, and that’s okay. Sometimes he’ll want his way and you should give it to him. Why? Because he has treated you like a prize and he deserves it. The same goes for us ladies. We all know relationships are give and take, but unfortunately often when it’s time to give there’s often some person WITHOUT a significant other that is telling us not to. A good man could care less about peer pressure; he knows what he has and knows you deserve to have your way sometimes.

9. He’s Confident in Who He Is

You don’t want a man that constantly needs encouragement or is preoccupied with proving himself to everyone he knows. By this point he should have resolved the major issues (if any) of his past. If he’s still “complicated,” wait until you find something simple, because your relationship deserves peace! A good guy knew who he was before he met you.

10. You’re Happy!

I saved the best for last. One of the greatest indicators that we often ignore is our happiness and our peace. If you argue all the time, or you feel like things will get better in time, he isn’t the right guy for you. This is a hard pill to swallow, but it’s good medicine! Besides, what’s the point if you’re not happy? There are a lot of things in your life that you can’t control, but when it comes to a relationship this should not be one of them. Do yourself a favor and not only find yourself a good guy, but find the good guy that makes you happy.

We all make excuses and exceptions, but I would encourage all you single ladies to consider your past relationships and see if there’s a trend. It’s never too late to elevate your standards.

Where All the Christian Emcees At?

While casually scanning what’s new in gospel music releases on iTunes, I came across a gem. THR3E, Theory Hazit’s latest release, sounds like something you’d listen to back in ’95 while sitting on the porch of a Brownstone in Brooklyn. It’s a classic. I’ve yet to hear this sound from the Christian rap scene, so I made it my mission to find this guy and introduce him to you.

Listen to a clip of the interview below:
Theory Hazit Interview Clip Final

Stephanie LaFlora: What message were you trying to communicate with this album?

Theory Hazit: I was really just trying to define, or let everybody know that we’re human and that in order to do anything you need the Holy Spirit. It’s about being in a fallen world; we live in a messed-up world.

LaFlora: So were you in a dark place?

Theory: Yes, I would say it was a dark place. You know, searching; trying to come up out of a dark place and shine a light in a dark place. Exposing some dark things and bringing it to the light for people to see, reminding people that it’s still here and you can’t ignore it.

LaFlora: You do that a lot. I saw your video for the song “Concealed Sorrow.” It packs a pretty powerful and equally controversial message about homosexuality among Christians. Did you get good feedback from that?

Watch “Concealed Sorrow” video below:

Theory: I got a lot of good feedback and a lot of negative feedback, but not the type of negative feedback that you would think. The good feedback was cool. “Christian rapper makes song about something that’s not addressed all the time or that the church usually ignores.” The negative feedback is that it was on some gay websites, and they were looking at it like me defending them in the wrong way.

LaFlora: What were you trying to communicate with that song?

Theory: I was trying to communicate that we need to address that issue in love instead of waving our fingers like “OH, THAT’S AN ABOMMINATION!” We definitely need to address it in love because it’s still a struggle; no matter what sin it is, they need help too.

LaFlora: Your sound is one of the most crossover sounds that I’ve heard. Why Christian rap?

Listen to a “Old D3rty Hazit” from his new album below:

Theory: I believe it’s a calling. I grew up in the church and I strayed away from the church and I always prayed regardless of my situation, but I know Christian rap helps me in my walk. It helps other people as well. How other people receive it encourages me. Plus, I can’t really sing. (Laughs)

LaFlora: Do you think Christian rap has a suitable platform?

Theory: I think it does. I might catch some flack for this but I don’t think it should be called “Christian” rap.

LaFlora: What would you prefer that we call it?

Theory: I really don’t care, honestly. I understand why things are labeled; it’s for other people to identify. I totally get that, but I’m not the one to put a stamp on it because I give songs to the Christian market and I give songs to the general market and it’s the same stuff — they both dig it. I have Muslims saying they like it and people supporting me at my own church. If it were up to me I wouldn’t put any label on it. It’s hip-hop music; its just music to me. You don’t call Mos Def or Talib Kwali Muslim rap. They just do rap.

LaFlora: How do you measure success?

Theory: By being consistent. If there’s a demand for what you do, just put your material out there, and if people like it and demand it more … I measure it based on that. The opportunity for God to use you like that … God choosing you. I’ve been getting messages asking me how many records I’ve sold or how did the numbers do for my newest album and I told them I don’t know! I don’t know because I don’t care! The only time I’d be concerned about record sales is if I ran a music label. As far as being an artist, I just want to get out there and do what I do and come back home. (Laughs)

LaFlora: Do you feel like you’ve had the exposure that you want?

Theory: Honestly, I’m going to be real human right now and say I don’t think so. I think everything had its time. I think Extra Credit got really good exposure. It actually put me on the map. All the other stuff that I’ve done in between that album and this album, except for Lord Fire, didn’t really do anything. I felt like I was just making music and not really investing enough time into my projects or into my writing in order to be better exposed. And on top of that, people weren’t really doing what they were supposed to as far as getting the music out there. I just put it in other people’s hands hoping for it to do something. I think it will come in time as I continue to invest quality time into a project. Just make something really dope. It’s really all on me. It’s my fault that I’m not out there.

LaFlora: How does the gospel music industry respond to you? There are a couple of Christian rappers that are getting more exposure than in the past, like Mali Music, D.A. Truth, and people like that. How do you fit into that puzzle?

Theory: I don’t think I fit in that at all. Well, I think I do, but there’s a group of people that don’t think I belong there.

LaFlora: Why not?

Theory: I have no idea. Maybe it’s because I need to have a particular Scripture-based album? Maybe that’s what it is. Ultimately, I know what it is. I know that it’s God’s plan. I feel like I am one of the guys that are a bridge for rappers that are Christians and Christians that are rappers. I’m the in-between guy; I wouldn’t call it lukewarm, I’m just trying to bring cats together. I’m trying to do a song with D.A. Truth and then mess around and have him on a Dert beat. Dert is known for his work for The Tunnel Rap, and they were Christian rappers but they talked a lot about situations and how to handle them and not line for line out of the New Testament.

LaFlora: Perhaps, the industry does prefer more overtly scriptural lyrics, but you seem to enjoy doing you. How do you maintain your momentum?

Theory: It’s a desire; it’s a passion. If you love to draw, you’ll probably be drawing until you die. It’s really a passion I have. I love to do it. I love the challenge of making you like something.

To buy his latest release, click here.

Whitney’s Homegoing Gives God the Glory

GOODBYE: Flowers and memorial tributes were abundant outside New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, where Whitney Houston's funeral was held. (Photo: Dennis Van Tine/Newscom)

There is no doubt that God was glorified on Saturday afternoon at pop icon Whitney Houston’s emotional homegoing service. Rev. Marvin Winans preached to nearly 1 million online viewers via UStream and millions more on CNN. If you followed the Twitter feed, it was as if the entire world sat down together for one powerful church service, and it was utterly beautiful.

There were performances from gospel singers Kim Burrell, CeCe Winans, as well as Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, and R. Kelly.

Watch Stevie Wonder’s touching performance below:

Watch R. Kelly’s performance of the song he wrote for Whitney’s final album, “I Look to You”

One of the most interesting takeaways was the power of God’s public glorification. Twitter was flooded with an overwhelming sense of humility and genuine appreciation of life. Though some expressed concern about a hint of “prosperity gospel” preaching in Rev. Winans’ eulogy, for the most part the twitterverse and blogosphere seemed genuinely stirred by the presentation of God’s Word. Many people tweeted that they hadn’t been to church in a while and that they were grateful to hear the Word today. Others seemed proud, like they were watching their favorite team playing in the Super Bowl. God was #winning.

God’s presence is so real, so tangible that it can be delivered even via the Internet. But there’s something about corporate worship that brings believers and non-believers to their knees. I am grateful that Whitney’s family didn’t allow Hollywood to dictate the service, and I am certain today that God was pleased. To God be the glory.

Sister, Sister

A TALE OF 2 DIVAS: The notoriously private Beyonce (right) only shares things designed to enhance her brand; Solange exults in her flaws and has no problem speaking her mind.

We spend most of our adolescent life, mimicking people we admire and then we enter the real world and find out that all along being “us” is actually what we do best. Unfortunately, shortly after that, we find out that our careers demand us to not fully be ourselves. Even the wild career path of celebrity requires an art-directed image. I’m fascinated by the choices that celebrities make to craft their image, not only because their decisions influence the world, but also because their image makes a profound statement on what they (and their fans) think “living” really means.

I consider myself a student of the sociology of fame and I see two very distinct life choices in two celebrity sisters — Beyonce and Solange Knowles — that is reflected in every group of girlfriends I know. They both pack a healthy dose of raunchiness, and I would hesitate suggesting that young girls adopt them as role models. However, their comfort in their own skin as young African American women is worth discussing.

Beyonce’s brand is infallible. This woman does not make mistakes; everything you see from her supports what she wants you to believe. The downside to this is that you rarely, if ever, witness a “human” moment from her; she’s notoriously private about her personal life. Most people that aren’t fans of hers dislike her for this reason. They want a flawed celebrity, not a robot. But that doesn’t stop Bey from tearing down the house every time she hits the stage. Nobody can question her talent; they just want her to be more “real.”

Below, Beyonce talks about opening up after accomplishing her life goals.

I’d like to consider myself to be poised; an individual whose flaws are carefully concealed and behaviors consistently managed but then I’d be Beyonce, and that’s simply not who I am.  Like Solange, I am the proud owner of a personality that is out-spoken, confident, and at times, inescapably rough around the edges.

Below, Solange sets herself apart from Beyonce and discusses her mother’s concern for her blunt interviews.

Solange didn’t have an opportunity to create such a carefully crafted image. She was destined to be in the shadows of her mega-star big sister from the start. And after getting pregnant at only 17, married at 18, and divorced at 19, there was no way she’d ever be a “Beyonce.” But I love Solange. She perhaps exudes self-confidence at a more profound level because she lets the world interpret her flaws and all. She believes living means being true to you at whatever cost and learning from the journey.

The evidence of Beyonce and Solange’s differences is not just in their public persona, it’s also in their music. Beyonce’s soulful voice is often masked by the latest pop sound and, as a result, she tops the mainstream charts.

Watch Beyonce’s ‘Girls Run the World’ video below!

Solange’s gumbo albums include soulful melodies that are obviously challenging for her voice and retro tracks that are equally challenging for album sales. She openly admits that she is not concerned with industry expectations; “everything from my artwork to my video to the music itself has to have a message and not because it’s hot or it looks sexy.”

Watch Solange’s 60’s inspired hit single, ‘I Decided’ below!

I admire Beyonce’s approach. As a businesswoman, she is more focused on the “ends” than the “means.” Whatever it takes for her to accomplish her goals is what she’ll do without divulging too much of her private life. Even Kelly Rowland, the fellow ex-Destiny’s Child member who calls Beyonce a sister, envies Beyonce’s determination. Rowland admitted that her first album flopped because she wasn’t well-prepared and told Stylist Magazine that “(Beyonce) plans everything.”

On the contrary, Solange told an interviewer, “I stopped trying to prove and undo misconceptions a while ago. I’m unexplainable. Most humans are.” In another interview she went deeper; I think confidence is one of the best qualities to have. I’m not making apologies or begging for people to like me. I’m very optimistic that God has plans for me. When you truly find peace with yourself and who you are becoming it’s a beautiful moment.”

I respect both of these approaches to life, but the latter is more “me.” Beyonce is a master at poise and machinelike professionalism, but that’s a hard role to play for a lifetime. Solange may suffer due to her honesty, but I’d argue that her triumphs are more satisfying. What do you think?