Follow the Drinking Gourd- 10 Songs Toward Financial Freedom

Inspired by recent conversations with friends and reading comments about the new   JAY- Z album 4:44, I decided to write a post about 10 songs that I believe are sharing messages about financial freedom to the Black community. Now, these are not all the songs that provide nuggets of wisdom and people may not agree with my choices , but this is my blog and this has been my Tidal playlist titled “When I get to financial freedom.”

Before I get into the songs, I would like to share that I was introduced or at least made aware of what “passive income” was in 2005 while on winter break from my MBA program.  My cousin invited me to this prepaid legal meeting (you know, networking marketing) and in that meeting a man asked people in the audience to raise their hand if they had an MBA. I proudly rose my hand and the speaker proceeded to read a passage from Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki which pretty much said those who have an MBA or are highly accomplished in school essentially become controlled bean counters and employees of C averages students. The passage went on to talk about the lack of financial education in schools. I was furious when I heard this, “I was like who is this Robert Kiyosaki person and what is this passive income term…..and how is it after 17 years of school, I ain’t never heard of this”.

I really took offense to not learning the term passive income or the concept financial freedom, at all, in my educational years. I felt like all I have been doing is going through a system that was teaching me how to become an employee. What I had to come to understand is that financial education is taught in the home… and it’s not how to write a check or how to avoid all things debt, but about creating passive income through paper assets, rental income, and business income; so that your passive income exceeds your total expenses and you do not have to work if you choose not to.  After this moment, my mentality switched and for the past 12 years I have been on a journey to self-educate and advocate for others to learn about financial freedom. I truly believe that if the Black community is going to change and end all our gaps…wealth, health…education…. it’s going to be from our understanding and practice of gaining financial freedom through building passive income.  Maybe in another blog I will go into detail about my thoughts, but for this one here are some songs that speak to me!

Oh…one last thing… did you know that songs have always served as a communicating tool in the Black community.  Slave songs have served as the vehicle to communicate when we were forcibly separated.  The song Follow the Drinking Gourd was a slave song about the Big Dipper and communicating to slave, who were escaping, to follow the North star for freedom.  I believe the songs that are being produced in this era, that talk about financial freedom, are our modern day Follow the Drinking Gourd song. Musical artists are communicating to us how to escape the rat race and get to our own financial freedom.

  1. Forbidden Knowledge by Raury, Big K. R. I. T – this song speaks about the power of knowledge and lack thereof. There is so much information about financial education and how to build passive income, but if you do not even know these terms even exist, it is essentially invisible to a people. This information does not even matter in the age of Google if as a people we are only socialized to be consumers or oppressed by inequitable systems that have removed the levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

  1. Haunted by Beyoncé– first I am a beehiver and LOVE me some Bey, but what I love so much is the work ethic and risk to create her own system. With that there is a part in Haunted where she says, “All these people on the planet, working 9 to 5, just to stay alive, the 9 to 5, just to stay alive, how come?” These lyrics speak to the rat race that we are in and really that the rat race is not limited to a particular race, ethnicity or part of the world.  What this song addresses for me is that we as a people need to build passive income and not earned income. Also that passive income is not for just smart people, or people who have money, or who are famous.  As a people we need to understand that having a 9 to 5 should not be an end goal.  I recommend learning about cash flow and if you can get your hands on the game Cashflow 101….not monopoly, its not the same, you can learn a lot about passive income and financial freedom.


  1. Untitled 03 by Kendrick Lamar– Love this song and I have to give some West Coast love. This song is about advice, remember financial freedom is not being taught in our school systems, so it has to comes from our families and communities. If we don’t have a family or community that has experience in financial freedom, you can grow up not knowing this exist. At this point in the game we have to rely on luck that we will get connected to someone or something that introduces us to this way of life and guide us through. This inequity is where I see one of the biggest injustices. When we factor in compound interest and the importance of the velocity of money, our young people will never get ahead if this inequitable system is not addressed.

  1. My Uzi by David Banner, Big K.R.I.T– when going for financial freedom there are lot of uncertainties and risks that you take that may result in failure, and cause fear. But fear is not of God. In this song David says, “ ain’t got no body guard… I just need mighty God”. This song speaks so much truth. The environment we are living and functioning in has truly caused challenges in our advancement.  In the song David also addresses attacks on Black commerce, “Black commerce they chewed it up, chewed it up, spit it out;” he addresses government treatment of poor people, “trying to make a move because the government don’t give a f#$% about poor folk”. When listening to this song I think about the true change that we can make when you are financially free. I think about the communities and HBCUs who would be able to thrive because they have created their own passive income and are not dependent on the government for money. This song provides advice about taking responsibility and the power to make a difference.

  1. Buy Back the Block by Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane– The buy back the block movement just makes me smile. This song is all about “property, property, property, property” and businesses. I would label this an action song.  Here you have artists communicating what actions need to be taken to move toward financial freedom and making a difference. “ Start with a duplex, work up to a Hyatt’s, maybe a small plaza, I’m looking for a mall.” You have to start small and build your way up…… But like JAY-Z said “You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit!

  1. The Story of O.J by JAY-Z– The newest addition to my Tidal playlist. I love this song for many reasons and the video that goes with it is awesome. Through this song JAY-Z talks about how he had an opportunity to purchase a property when it was cheap ($2 million is cheap depending who you are!) and now it is worth $25 million. I ask you, what properties are in your surrounding area that you can capitalize on, is it a foreclosure; is it a rental property that can provide you with a positive cashflow through rental income?  The various investments that JAY-Z is talking about in this song are capital gains income, which is different than passive income, but still he is addressing the fact that “Financial freedom my only hope”! This song is also a take action song, as he is encouraging people that want to rid communities of poverty and crime to purchase property and “rinse it” (rent it) and be the owners, instead of “‘please don’t die over the neighborhood, that your mama rentin’.” So much knowledge is packed into this song and I truly appreciate the conversation this song has provided.

  1. Formation by Beyoncé– Because I’m a Bey fan, she has two spots on my playlist. As an advocate for people to financially educate themselves, I have emphasized this sentiment to women even more. Women I come across count themselves out because they don’t believe they are good at math or they give the excuse that they will leave it up to their husbands to figure out the finances because it’s just too hard. This is ludacris, one financially educating yourself is not hard to learn and two our lives, as women, depend on us having financial knowledge.  Women live longer than men and women stand to inherit at least two times in their lifetime (parents and husband).  Now, of course I have to ask the question what type of woman is that statistic based off; are we talking about… White women, Black women, Asian women? Either way it is imperative for all of us to understand financial freedom and how to build and sustain passive income.  In Beyonce’s song she says “I dream it, I work hard, I grind ‘til I own it,” that too should be what we as women do when it comes to our knowledge of financial freedom and passive income.  No need to twerk to a song that you can’t truly benefit from.
  2. About the Money by T.I. and Young Thug– the hook of this song says it all “If it ain’t about the money, don’t be blowin’ me up, n^&*@, I ain’t gettin’ up, if it about the money, ain’t no use in you ringin’ my line, stop wastin’ my time”. TIME is the only thing that is equitable, no one can get more of it, but we must be wise about how we choose to use our own time. In order to accomplish financial freedom and passive income we have to be serious about the time we give to things that don’t contribute to our goals of freedom.  I understand that money does not make people happy and that we should not make money an idle. Understanding that, what I get from this song is motivation to stay focused especially when other people are trying to control your time. There are so many distractions that society wants us to fall for: be a consumer, climb whatever corporate/nonprofit ladder, participate in instant gratification, or complain about what others have. This hook says it all, “if it ain’t about the money…stop wastin’ my time”.
  3. B#$%* Better Have My Money by Rihanna­– As we journey on our path toward financial freedom there will be people who will not pay you and those who will have their hands out. Understanding your value (businesses, patents, property, ideas) and having boundaries will be key in moving forward toward financial freedom.  This song makes me think about business plans, contract agreements, life insurance, lawyers, business structures (LLC, C corporations), doing business with family and friends, and helping out family and friends. “B#$%* better have my money, Ya’ll should know me well enough, B#$%* better have my money, Please don’t call me on my bluff, Pay me what you owe me”. Through this process money can ruin relationships and businesses if not properly protected.  Rihanna’s attitude and strong words are exactly how I would feel if I felt like I was getting taken advantage of. It’s important to know that dealing with money is emotional and when on this journey you have to learn how to be emotionless.  Markets will go up and down, tenants will damage your property, skip out and not pay rent, business partners will die, and their will always be someone in your personal circle who will have a financial need and not pay you back.  This song represents being prepared and reminding us to not skip out on important things like contracts and insurance.

  1. F*&# Up Some Commas by Future– So this song doesn’t REALLY address financial freedom, but when you do get to financial freedom I do believe in celebrating the victories. I will say that this song is on my playlist because I look forward to the day my passive income and the financial freedom that I acquire produces generational wealth and permeates the Black community. I look forward to the day when financial freedom is at a critical mass that changes our community. We can truly “give no F*&#@”, and have the capacity to close the gaps that stifle our communities.

Until next time…

A Day in a Hijab

A few weeks ago I found out that the Muslim Student Association on my campus was going to host a “Wear a Hijab” event. I immediately said “yes I will do it”, and I am glad I did. After saying yes, I looked at my calendar and realized one of my most important multicultural leadership awards events was occurring and I was traveling to Atlanta on that day.

When I realized I was traveling that day I thought for a hot second…..”Girl are you about to get on a plane with all this foolishness going on in the United States with a hijab on?” My response was, “Yes, yes you are. Just like you can’t take your Black skin off….these women can’t take their hijab’s off in public”. I did not want to pick and choose when it was comfortable for my situation. It would defeat the purpose.

First let me say my overall experience was good. I was not ridiculed or harassed or treated badly, but I cannot lie and say that I did not get prayed up and get into a mindset to help me deal with whatever would come my way. During this experience I was stretched and learned some lessons. Take the journey with me:

Lesson 1: Race/ethnic culture participation is easy for me but religious cultural participation is new and a stretch experience. I know very little about the Muslim faith, so I did not have any insight on how to handle the intangible standoffness that individuals who wear a hijab may experience. I did not know how to not be offended by black individuals not looking me in my eyes at all, when typically I engage in non communicative conversation with black people as I move through different spaces.  “It’s usually a glance in the eyes that speaks “hi, if no one sees you I see you. Keep doing you,” I missed that today when I traveled.

Lesson 2: It’s not a big deal……I’m not going to lie I thought I was going to experience something negative and I found myself saying….”Girl these people are not stuntin you, how you choose to express yourself is your business” Now, I know that my Muslim friends do experience ignorance and hatred, but I should not be on the ready at all times. What I learned through this experience is about peace, and being comfortable with my choices. Things will happen and no one wants to be caught off guard but a peaceful person cannot live in that space.

Lesson 3: Wearing a hijab also is fashion

 Preparing for this event my husband and I watched You Tube videos to learn how wear it and I found all these cute and chic ways women were wearing a hijab. As I look at women in hijabs I have another level of appreciation for the art of wearing a hijab.

Lesson 4: It is a struggle to shop in Manhattan, KS for cute, suitable clothing. Participating in this event I also had to have my arms and legs covered. I stressed about this for a couple of weeks because I had an event this day and all I have are either cap shoulder or no sleeve dresses, or dresses that stop at my knee. I would be traveling a few hours after my event, so I wanted to be comfortable, and today Manhattan decided it wanted to be 83 degrees. Now, the scarf was not hot at all, but I had nothing to wear that was weather, job and event appropriate. I thought I would go to Dillards and find a cute long sleeve black shirt and wear some black bottom and allow the tan scarf to pop. Well that plan DID NOT work. The shirts that were long sleeve were either winter,  or women’s world fashion….not my idea of chic, cute. I was discouraged but it made me think about all of the women who dress like this everyday and cannot just run to the store and find something cute. We have a lot of fashionistas in hijab on campus and they either shop online or go on a shopping spree when they go home. Once again much admiration.

Lesson 5: My final lesson I will share is, the airport people don’t always know the rules. So I have pre-check status and as I was going through security and the TSA person  asked their colleague “so I just let her go???” the other TSA said “yea…..that’s what it says so I guess you have to let her go?” the TSA guy says “Oooookay???”

Pre-check means I did the work to get advance security screening, so I can participate in the expedited security check. So I found it odd that there was still question about me being checked.

Today was a good day, my event was fabulous, the Muslim Student Association had a wonderful event, I was stretched by this activity and I arrived in Atlanta safely.

Until we chat again

It’s Not About Presents But Being Present

Waking up to Christmas music while momma is making oatmeal and frying bacon in the morning was like waking up back into my childhood. Like nothing had changed my momma had a million things she still needed to do but she always made breakfast and in between her cooking she would come into the room and get in our bed and have mini chats until we were fully awake. My daddy use to do that ALL the time and it used to drive me crazy, now I just miss it.

Opening Christmas presents was fun, but having my 2 siblings and my mommy sitting in a circle opening  gifts like we used to was the real gift. It was like old times and my brother and sister would reflect on  different Christmas years and how much creativity our parents put into our Christmas experiences. At the end we watched a Charlie Brown Christmas, picked out our favorite dance characters and took a family jammies picture.

Time for church! This Christmas I went to my family’s church Center of Praise and it was such a festive time. Lots of new people I didn’t recognize, but there were some familiar faces. The message was fantastic and I left very thankful to learn more about the story of Jesus being born.

Time to eat! So my family has participated in a Christmas brunch tradition and it’s a great way for us to get together and enjoy Christmas together. My family does a lot of holiday house hopping so knowing that for a few hours you can exchange gifts, eat good food and make plans to get together while I’m still in town is so much fun. I had a chance to visit with the little people in the family and they are growing up so fast. I miss them very much and I have to admit I am really missing them grow up. There are only a few more years with them before they have their own plans.

Off to see my Nana! For my entire life I have been told I look like my Nana and it is always a topic of discussion. I am so blessed to be able to come home and spend time with her. At 79 she is still cooking her fabulous food and giving me tips about making certain dishes. I always know I am going to leave her house with either some seafood Louisiana gumbo, tamales, fried fish, some desserts, or even some duck. She loves to cook and cook a variety of things and I absolutely love it. I truly get inspried cooking creatively  from home and I can see it in my future that I too will have 3 freezers to accommodate the food I plan to cook for the ones I live.

Today was a beautiful day to be present with my family. I am truly blessed. Thanks Keddie for my Christmas gift. I love you!

I’ll Be Home For Christmas 

For the first time I flew home (Cali) on Christmas Eve. I felt like I was in one of those Christmas movies where a person is just trying to get to their family but either the crazy weather or something was making their trip difficult. Fortunately I had a pleasant trip and minus a couple of late take offs due to the rain I made it home on time for Christmas.

During my flight home I briefly touched down in my other home that I miss soooooo very much…….Phoenix

It was a tease to land in Phoenix for about 40 minutes and just peer out the window and see the cityscape. I am thankful though to just be back in one of my favorite places for even a moment. Looks like a ticket to this wonderful city needs to be on the 2017 travel list. I miss so many of my friends in Phoenix.

It was time to say goodbye to Phoenix, so I boarded my flight to Sacramento, put my headphones in and listened to R. Kelly’s 12 Nights of Christmas.

I finally landed in my city and the familiarity set in and I was HOME!

Mi madre came to pick me up and when we got home she gave out this year’s family Christmas Eve jammies.

My siblings and I put our pjs on and finished decorating the Christmas tree together.

It’s a wonderful time to be with family and friends and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Time to go to bed because Santa is coming to my hometown!