What The F*ck Happened To VSB?

On Rick Ross’s last album that sounds just like the the rest of his albums, God Forgives, I Don’t (a title that really has nothing to do with anything), there’s a record featuring Dr. Dre doing his best Rick Ross impression – a pointless appearance since he didn’t even produce the track –  and Jay-Z doing Jay-Z things, which can at times seem bored, effortless, and entertaining. The song is called “Three Kings” and isn’t even the best song called “Three Kings”, a distinction which clearly rests with Slim Thug, Bun B, and T.I.

This post isn’t about music though. In this song, Jay-Z utters the words, “it’s just different…” twice. At the beginning of his verse and at the end of his verse which ends the song. It’s a nod to the fact that the life and things he talks about are just…different. While everybody else is talking about the longterm riches and b*tches, Jay has been there and done that. Hell, everything he’s talking about is actually true and verifiable. His attainment is just…different. Which is ironic because it could be taken as a shot to the very artist whose song he is rapping on. Since, well, Jay-Z’s reign is just…different.

For some reason, it’s sat with me ever since I heard him say.

“It’s just different…”

It’s the way he says it. The arrogance but actualization that straight up, the Jay way is really what he purports it to be. In fact, in hip-hop probably only Puffy and 50 Cent know that life. Granted, it’s possible that marginally speaking, clearing a certain level of millions probably entitles you to that feeling, but something about Jay just makes it…different.

VerySmartBrothas has always been…different to me. This is no shot to all of the other blogs that exist in a similar-ish format. We all do the same thing with largely the same goals. But we’re just…different. In fact, that’s the beauty and the busted of it. It’s both a gift and a curse. This is a special place and it became so not solely because of the work of Champ, Liz, and I, but because of everybody who ventured here day in and day out. Hell, it would have to be in order to continue to exist after 4+ years doing the same thing you started doing.

The community is what makes us tick and what keeps us going and what allows us to get any acclaim we’ve received. To that effect, it’s like the running back who wins the MVP who has to share that trophy with his line. We’ve hit on so many interesting and odd topics. Some have gotten deep (though apparently not enough depth exists here) and many have gotten controversial. But all in all, for every week we’ve existed, it’s been a chance for folks to come in and sound off and wax poetic and offer opinions and shoot the sh*t with likeminded individuals.

We’ve seen many people come and go. Many have bounced because they ultimately hated me or Champ or our flippant arrogance and approach to any of a number of topics. We’ve managed to create a few posts that shall not be named and apparently written more than enough stupid sh*t to make some individuals actually detest one or the other of us. While some would take that personally, I actually view that as an accomplishment.

See, as an artist (I’m using the term loosely here, but walk with me) your ultimate desire to make somebody feel something. Most people who write are just that, writers. But there are some writers who you connect with because their way of wordsmithing brings you into their world and allows you feel like you know them. That’s been a goal of VSB since our inception. It wasn’t just to create a blog. No, it was to create a home. Where folks feel like they knew us. And it worked. We turned into a veritable Cheers over the years. Folks looked forward to interacting with their new friends. Relationships formed. We’ve got a few VSB-babies. Hell, I informed the world about my then-girlfriend’s pregnancy and subsequent birth of our daughter who is now almost *this many* years old. We’ve shared and offered dark moments and offered support. VSB has often been a place of peace with various moments of tension and unrest, but we always found the happy medium somewhere.

It’s just…different.

Which is why I’m wondering what the f*ck happened?

“…f*ck this man…” ~ Jay-Z “What More Can I Say?”, The Black Album

No seriously, what happened? It seems like all of a sudden there’s tension here everyday and folks are ready to jump ship and curse one another out. I hear the words rape-culture more than Planned Parenthood does on this site. The consideration for folks feelings and respect is waning. I honestly don’t get it. Folks actually DETEST certain other people that comment. Folks quit a blog.

I repeat, folks are actually “quitting a blog”. With announcements. Seriously, I’m wondering who shot my baby?

So if you all, past and present VSB ninjas could, civilly and respectfully, tell me what the f*ck happened, I’d be greatly appreciative.

Consider this a VSB feedback and debriefing session. Please speak freely but respect the architects and all the construction workers on site. Please and thank you.


And for all the DMVers: Don’t forget to RSVP for REMINISCE This Saturday night from 930pm to 3am. Come out and hang. It’s a special occasion and we’d love to see, take pictures, with and hang out with you! It’s our one year anniversary!!! RSVP for free entry: http://reminsicedc.eventbrite.com


Very Smart Singles (For Real This Time) And More

Writing books, throwing parties at the SAME. DAMN. TIME!!!

A year in a half or so ago, I wrote an entry talking about our plans to launch Very Smart Singles — a service created to help the thousands of single members of VSB nation connect with each other, date, (hopefully) copulate, and (maybe) spawn a race of big-headed VSB babies.

Unfortunately — well, fortunately for us, but unfortunately for Very Smart Singles — “Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night” was released a month later, and that pretty much took up all of our attention and energy.

Anyway, we have quite a few things planned for the next couple of months, and the return — and follow through — of Very Smart Singles is one of them

Here are the details:

A person (male or female) submits a picture and a short (150-200 word) and witty (well, as witty as you can be) bio to our email address. Included in the bio should be their general location (i.e.: DMV, Greater Atlanta area, etc) and the name they prefer to have on their profile. (For instance, if your name is Kimberly Johnson, you’d be “Kim J”, “K.J.”, or “Kimmers”)

We’ll then post the pic and the bio on VSB as its own entry. (We’ll eventually have a Very Smart Singles permeneat sidebar, but for now this’ll do) People interested in possibly meeting the Very Smart Single will email us, and we’ll then contact the Very Smart Single, giving them the contact info of whoever expressed interest. From that point, they’re on their own.

We plan to launch this in a few weeks, but we’re currently accepting submissions so that we can hit the ground running. If you’re interested, email a hi-definition picture, a short bio, and your location to contact@verysmartbrothas.com, under the heading “Very Smart Singles.”

Also, if you already sent something in during the first go around, please resend if you’re still interested.

A couple more things…

After receiving over 500 emails, we ended up choosing three interns — Mylon M., a D.C. resident who actually was one of the baby-haired kids in the Just For Me ads that used to run on BET in the late 90′s, Natalie D., a Princeton student and former female pro wrestler, and “Stalls,” who won’t allow us to print her real name because she owes the IRS $19,000. These lovely ladies are needed additions to the VSB team, we’re glad to have them on board, and we apologize in advance for all the shit we’re going to put them through and all the Greyhound station Bible study classes Liz will drag them to.

A couple weekends ago, Panama drove up to the Burgh so that we could record an audio version of “Your Degrees…” at Ya Momz House, the recording studio owed by my man Emmai Alaquiva. All of the final engineering and production was completed this week, and we’ll have it available shortly (possibly by next week). Stay tuned and shit.

There’s something else really big in the works that I’m not allowed to talk about right now. Lets just say that you’re going to be seeing a lot more of “us” in the very near future.

It’s still not to late to cop a limited edition VSB sweatshirt from our partnership with Coliseum Apparel. Forget about the fact that it’s supposed to be like 90 degrees everywhere on the entire east coast this weekend. Cop it, and literally be the hottest dude (or chick) in the club.

Lastly, if you’re in the D.C. area this weekend, come through to #REMINISCEDC, the party dedicated to all 90s music at Liv Nightclub in DC!!! Straight hip-hop/r&b/dancehall brought to you by Very Smart Brothas x Shine On Me x Just Cause Events. Come party with us THIS Saturday, May 5, also know as Cinco De Mayo (rock your sombrero), FOR FREE! It’s FREE before 11pm with RSVP (reminiscedc.eventbrite.com) and $10 after, there’s an OPEN BAR from 930-1030PM (sponsored by Courvoisier) and NO DRESS CODE. It’s cheaper to come out and party!!!! After you down all the Coronos and Margaritas you can, come party with us! Plus, we’ll have $5 drink specials all night long. Really, you can’t beat it.

Anyway, VSB nation, does anyone have anything new and exciting (or old and mundane) that you want to get off of your chest? The carpet is yours.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)


New Web Series: “Ask A Black Man” Featuring Panama Jackson

Hey strangers!

Liz here. We’re skipping our regular entry today because your very own Panama Jackson was featured in a web series talk show that debuts today on MadameNoire.com. The show is called Ask A Black Man, and it’s all about love, dating, sex and relationships from the male perspective. I happen to be the Executive Producer on the series, so you know if 2/3 of VSB is involved it’s gotta be halfway decent! Ha.

This episode is called “The Life of A SIngle Man” and Panama will also be featured in The Sex Episode premiering on April 11. Make sure you tune into Ask A Black Man every Wednesday for new episodes.

Anyway, press play below or head on over to Episode 1 and watch over there.


Tell us what you think about Panama’s Participation! Did he represent well for the 3s?

It Was A Very Good Year

Welcome, VSB nation, to our final post of 2011 — a year that can be summarized in one word: Wow. 

It might take 5,000 words to list each memorable moment, so I’ll just settle for the highlights.

The release of a long-awaited book that garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews from many, including celebrities (well, celebrities to reading ninjas, at least) Helena Andrews…

 “Written by Damon “the Champ” Young and Panama Jackson, the two “very smart brothas” behind the blog of the same name, Your Degrees isn’t the latest literary money pit for pitiful women looking to “find, keep and understand a man.” Instead, the book, which reads more like a “best of” blog series (in a good way), is a case study in new-millennium mating for like-minded folk who live near a metro. The book is playful without being patronizing.”

…and The Artist Formerly Known As Sister Toldja

“The 250-page book has consistently remained on Amazon’s top-100 for both love/sex and humor titles since its release at the end of January…and for good reason! It’s a genuinely entertaining read. Though they’re both men, Panama and The Champ (the first Pittburgian…Pittsburger(?) that I ever knew outside of an August Wilson play) do a fantastic job at not throwing women under the bus, nor attempting to make too many excuses for guys when it comes to the behaviors that make the dating game a tough one to play.”

(Hint, Hint: “Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night” would make for a great stocking stuffer. Humor, wisdom, and rachetness all in one cheap package. What more can you ask for?) 

The first annual National VSB Day — officially recognized now as February 10th of every year — an event where hundreds of fans of VSB gathered in various cites across the nation (Pittsburgh, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, New York City, Oakland/Bay Area, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Miami/South Florida) to meet, greet, and celebrate VerySmartness.

“Three Deez” — The VSB Three Year Anniversary Party and Book Signing — an event that took place on April 2nd, drew over 500 folks (Including numerous VSB veterans. Don’t even want to bother naming who all showed up because I don’t want to forget anyone, but lets just be safe and say that every f*cking body was there) and was notable for three reasons.

1. It marked the first time that Panama and I met in person. (Also was the first and only time that all three of us — Panama, Liz, and I — have ever been at the same place at the same time)

2. It managed to get VSB and SBM together for a picture…

…an instance that will surely be our version of the famous “Pac and Biggie when they were still cool” pic when VH1 does their “Behind The Music” special on black male bloggers in 2021. (If I had to guess, the segment will probably start off with a narrator saying “Everything was great…until that one fateful night in 2016 when Panama and Slim Jackson (no relation) decided on a whim to rob that Uni-Mart…”)
3. It produced this totally awesome video.

Panama appeared on The Ed Gordon show, and was a featured panelist at the Princeton University’s Hip-Hop: Arts & Life Symposium.

I had spots on the Michael Baisden Show and The Michael Eric Dyson Show, and was a featured panelist at Blogalicious 2011.

We were featured by The Washington Post, interviewed by The Root, named on The Root’s list of 30 Black Bloggers You Should Know, interviewed by Essence, profiled by Black Enterprise, and spotlighted by Edge Magazine. 

We won a record FIVE Black Weblog Awards — (Blog of The Year, Best Writing In a Blog, Best Humor Blog, Best Dating and Relationship Blog, and Best Blog Duo)

We were named on Ebony Magazine’s Annual Power 100 List

(Also, I haven’t seen it yet, but apparently we’re in this week’s Jet Magazine. Kelly Rowland should be on the cover.)

Panama, Liz, and I also continued to spread our wings to other parts of the internet. Editor gigs, writing contracts, featured columns, and Liz even managed to executive produce a series about women exactly like her.

Now, I can’t speak too much about our plans for 2012 yet, but I will say two things…

1. VSB will open the new year with a few, um, changes. I can’t tell you exactly what’s going to happen, but things will be very different around here. Don’t worry, though. These are good changes. (Well, we think they’re good changes, but that remains to be seen)

2.  You know how jaw-dropping it can be to see your favorite book on screen? Well, if “Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night” is your favorite book, prepare to have your jaw-dropped in 2012.

None of this — the book, the awards, the recognition, our plans — would have been possible without VSB nation, and trust me when I say that we’re honored and humbled by your continued support. It’s completely amazing to think of how far we’ve come (and how much further we plan to go), and you’ve been there with us every step of the way. We are forever indebted to you, and we sincerely wish each of you a safe and happy holiday season.

See you in 2012

—The Champ

VSB: Now Slightly Less Janky

Thanks for always being logged on to VSB.

*taps mic*

Hey guys. Liz here.

Just wanted to give you the heads up that there is no new post today because the site has been on the fritz the past week, as I am sure many of you have noticed.

I wanted to take a minute to apologize for the downtime and the jankyness factor going on here at VSB lately. It’s been a rough week, rougher than usual, but I believe we have fixed most of the problems for now, and we have upgraded our server so the site runs faster.

Yes, that means less 404s, 503s and OPPs.

Sorry if you had problems accessing the site this week. Also, really really sorry for some of you throwback Internet Explorer users who were getting forwarded to a pr0n site when coming to VSB. (Some of you may have actually enjoyed that, I’m not really sure.)

I also wanted to take the time to remind you that you can always subscribe to our RSS feed via your RSS feed reader, or email. That way, you can read our published content in your RSS feed reader or in your email inbox even if the site is down or slow. Click here to subscribe via email or RSS.

If you ever have any technical problems with VSB please email us at contact@verysmartbrothas.com and we can help troubleshoot. And by “us” and “we” I mean “me.” Panama and the Champ can’t help you on tech problems. SMH.

Have a good weekend! Make sure you read P’s very important post from yesterday, since the site was down most of the day.

Thanks for your patience and support!