While 2016 has had many unexpected world wide surprises, for me, it was a year of lots of personal and artistic growth. In this blog, I review the experiences that defined the past 363 days for me.
This year I had the opportunity to travel to several different countries I had never had the chance to explore. The artist in me seeks new challenges which in turn helps inspire new songs and creations via experiences lived. I was able to Vlog about my trips and create videos (25 total) I’ll treasure for the rest of my life, and I'm very proud of this accomplishment. These are the places I was able to visit in 2016
Within the last couple of months, I was able to witness and explore an array of creative diversity from three artist I love and adore by attending their concerts. Their names: Beyoncé, Britney Spears, & Lauryn Hill.
As detailed in one of my previous blogs, Beyoncé puts on one heck of a show. She dances, sings, & mounts a spectacular performance that keeps one entertained from beginning to end. The lights, the dancers, the cinematography- what was there not to enjoy about it? Years in the entertainment business have schooled and helped her polish her craft while bringing out the best within her. I must say, I had a phenomenal experience watching her perform at the New Orleans’s Mercedez-Benz Superdome arena.
Beyoncé has always been an entertainer who has captivated millions with her performances. I, for one, LOVED her first album as a solo artist titled “Dangerously in Love.” As years have progressed, her talent, drive, and ambition have evolved into something much greater. The last two albums respectively titled “Beyoncé” & “Lemonade” have recaptured my interest in her musical works and thus, prompted me to purchase a ticket to her Formation Tour. While I knew I was in for a great spectacle, I didn’t know how fantastic it’d actually be.
- Staging/Production- In the center of the stage stood a white cube approximately 6 stories high where video montages and footage of her performing live on stage would be broadcasted for the stadium audience to view. The compilations were amazing and the live footage was extremely crisp and clear!! Loved it!
1. Shopping- India is a shoppers paradise. Why? Well, not only does your money go really far, but there is a variety of unique selections one can purchase at various bazaars and stores. I definitely splurged a bit and bought many unique, wonderful pieces which you’ll see me using in the future. India’s richness and vibrancy is properly reflected in people’s attire. In New Delhi, Connaught Place was one of my favorite go-to destinations. There are various little shops on the outskirts of this area where one can find some pretty amazing deals. Jaipur had a lot of great fabrics as well. The main shopping area in the old part of the town had much to choose from and I definitely went a little cray. In Jodhpur, I found a shop where I was able to purchase some very fine quality fabrics that were all done by hand; very luxurious and gorgeous for a great price. While I only managed to travel through the northern part of India, I can confirm that the northern area will have you covered style wise.
1. Indian Visa- An Indian Visa must be purchased in order to enter the country prior to arrival if you’re a citizen of the USA. There are several options offering different spans of time and amount of entries in/out of the country, so choose wisely. If you purchase an ETA Visa, when you arrive at the airport, you must go through the ETA Visa checkpoint and not your normal passport control desks where they will then proceed to scan your fingers and take a picture of you before allowing you into their country.
2. Flushable Wipes- Some places don’t have toilet paper so unless you want to be using your hand, I suggest taking flushable wipes.
August 2nd- 4th
Waiting for the sun to peak out was not an option. Rain poured from the sky the day I arrived at Udaipur. Time tick-tocked away, and I decided that diving right into the stormy weather and wasting not one more second of this valuable opportunity I had to explore a little bit more of India was the appropriate thing to do. Thankfully, one of my hostel roomies who was originally from the country guided me to a local restaurant he’d come across that offered traditional Indian cuisine. It was here that I was introduced to, now, one of my favorite Indian dishes- Thali. Imagine Spanish Tapas with a slight kick of Mexican spiciness and an Indian twist; this was Thali and it was VERY tasty! The buttermilk drink served at the end had a very bitter taste to it which my tastebuds strongly disliked. The only reason I managed to chug three fourths of it down was due to it helping with the digestive process of the human body. After enjoying such delicious meal, I returned to my hostel and relaxed to the soothing sound of the rain.
July 31st- August 2nd
It’s been a little over a week and I’ve had glimpses into the dark side of the moon; not all of it has been as bad as it first appeared to be. Perhaps the shock of being thrown into such an overbearing city as New Delhi made it difficult to clearly see the gems India possessed. It was never a question of whether or not this country was great, but rather if I’d enjoy such a challenging, unpredictable journey. Overall, we’ve developed a love/hate relationship. There are days where I find myself experiencing some amazingly mind blowing things and others where the chaos, poverty, and unsanitary conditions scream, “Run!” Perhaps that’s what makes this country quite unique and remarkable: the drastic changes; how real it is. It’s yin and yang, always having both right in front of you. A complete rollercoaster ride where anything and everything can happen in an instant. Life and death extremely present.
July 29th- August 1st
After stepping out of the train station wearing an appropriately worn pink shirt for the pink city (Jaipur,) a tuk-tuk driver transferred me to my hostel which I would soon discover was perfectly situated in the older section of the town. A couple blocks away stood the iconic Hawa Mahal where an abundant amount of shopping markets surrounded the area thus making my desire to explore what seemed like an amazing place hard to hide.
(July 27th-July 29th)
My train was set to depart at 8:10AM and while I knew I had to put aside some of my high standards while traveling through India, I was not going to be giving up comfort, nor safety. I booked an express A/C train to Agra which would get me there in 1.5 hours and to be honest, I couldn’t wait to get as far away from Delhi as possible. A relaxing, reflective, eye-opening, deep spiritual Indian experience was what I was after and I hoped the remaining cities I intended to explore would showcase that side of India. Optimism prevailed.
It was a scorching summer day and the horns’ piercing persistence woke me. I walked down to the common area of the hostel and waited for breakfast to begin. I was eager to start exploring the city, but prior to diving into the New Delhi beast, intel had to be gathered. What I love about big cities is that they offer varieties of options and this one, while still big, chaotic, and dirty, would prove to not be an exception. I was optimistic…
Welcome to New Delhi, India
Chapter 1: Tik-Tuk
July 24, 2016
It was 2AM in New Delhi and the night was alive. Nineteen hours after taking off from Chicago, I found myself in a monstrous city that houses a population of 24 million. This new journey was daunting yet exhilarating for I had never been this far out in the world by myself. I made my way through the visa checkpoint and after the requested information/ fingerprints were uploaded into the system, I continued on to baggage claim, grabbed my bags, and proceeded to make my way out of the facility towards the on-site Taxi desk. Once I arrived, a gentleman in his late 30’s, early 40’s made his way towards me and asked if he could offer taxi service. After he asked me where I was headed, I showed him the address I had for my reserved stay in a Delhi hostel via my phone. I followed up by asking how much it’d cost for his service and he quickly answered “500 Indian Rupees.” Being that the subway station was closed at this time and I wanted to make my transition as painless and smooth as possible, I decided to proceed. I made my way towards his cab while contributing to a dialogue. The trip began, the small talk continued, but gradually turned into a very personal interrogation. An unsettling feeling dominated my body and I began to raise my guard.
Day 1 (July 5th, 2016)
It’s July 5th, 2016 and I’m sitting here in Tangier, Morocco playing back through a myriad of troubling scenes and emotions which I experienced in an unfortunate event. Yesterday, as per custom, I decided to slip into a nice little outfit and head on out to the mall that’s right next door to the Hilton Garden Inn where I’m staying at to not only go souvenir shopping, but also, to see if I could find any new outfits which I could use to capture artistic shots in a country which I was so looking forward to trekking. After convincing myself that I shouldn’t be fearful, I took a step outside my door, whispered a quick little prayer, and didn’t look back. I walked out into the streets with confidence and strength, but little did I know it’d all be put to the test. As I walked into the mall, I immediately noticed several individuals stopping to watch. The minutes passed and more and more people looked at me like the phenomenon I believe I am. I thought, perhaps they’ve never seen someone as exotic and refined as myself. I swam through the crowds like a swan on a lake and continued to search to see what it is I could find in Morocco that I couldn’t find no where else. Who knew I’d be handed my answer so quickly...
6 years later and our paths have, once again, crossed. This past Friday, Kelis came by the DFW area to promote her delicious “Bounty & Full” spices and I must say, it was a glorious day! Not only has she grown so much as a human being in the last few years after now being a mother to two boys, but she’s also shifted her attention from the artistry of music to the artistry of cuisine. A clear passion and love for food was evident as I approached her station inside my local Central Market lovingly handing out samples of dishes she had prepared while explaining details and ingredients contained in each portion. As I approached the counter with two CD’s in hand, which I had bought years ago, my heart palpitated like never before. I was so nervous, yet excited and couldn’t wait to give her a hug and show her how much I REALLY admired her.
As I get ready to welcome my 30th birthday in a few months, I've come to the conclusion that becoming a renown World Star is not what I want to be. The artist in me will never cease to exist, and the star quality I was gifted with will never dim, but the illusion of stardom has come to an end. I've always known what kind of industry I was trying to get myself into, but the more and more I surround myself with it, the more I've discovered how elevated the toxicity levels are of the oceanic narcissism that is driving our world mad and I wouldn't want to contribute to the problem when I've always tried to embody the solution. Having many doors closed in my face has never quite stopped me from pursuing my heart's desires; I've persevered along this musical journey of mine, and God knows it hasn't been easy. I will continue to get lost in my fairytale world which music helps create while working behind the scenes applying my expertise
Immigration from third to first world countries is prevalent throughout the planet, but when analyzing the situation and searching for the root of the problem, one can come to understand that in a competitive capitalistic society where progress, efficiency, and brotherhood are counterproductive to the system, a being's desire for a better life innately burns within the human spirit, and therefore, the search for opportunities and the desire to climb the latter will never cease to exist.
Trump's controversial words in which he states that Mexico is "sending people that have lots of problems" to America including rapists, drug runners, and other criminals fails to recognize that the Unites States itself has a population of NO Latino descent whatsoever who themselves are racist, drug runners, and criminals. As a matter of fact, every country faces the exact same problems such as these. Are there issues within the US that need immediate attention? ABSOLUTELY!! I'm a firm believer that a reduction in governmental involvement in other country's affairs is imperative for us as a nation to progress and focus on issues that will improve our economical and social standing. Let's not forget, this country was originally settled by immigrants from Europe who helped annihilate a grand portion of the Native Americans who peacefully lived in this country for thousands of years. The US is a melting pot where dreams have the potential of becoming a reality through hard work and that's what makes it so unique. It's a place where freedom, liberty, and innovation were celebrated, but times do seem to have changed.
Mykonos, Santorini, Rome, Naples, Berlin, Paris, & London- an ambitious trip that I successfully and independently achieved all by myself. After a couple months of intricately planning this expedition in which I sought to conquer markets outside of the US, the day had finally come and it was time to put the foot to the pedal and GO! Was I nervous and scared? Absolutely!!!! This was the first big promo trip I had EVER planned by myself and while I did encounter a few bumps on the road, a positive attitude helped me pull through each situation while having fun along the way. After knocking on many doors in the US for years and not getting where I should/ want to be, I decided this would be a great career move. Open minds and a progressive attitude are welcomed and celebrated in Europe hence the reason for this campaign. God knows I've worked super hard in the US and only hope that new doors leading me to where I should be successfully open up. In conclusion, never be afraid to take the jump off the cliff for only then will you learn to build wings as you fall so you can fly high like the Phoenix and soar into the sky like a King/ Queen. Never give up on your dreams and most importantly, believe in yourself completely and have faith. Thank you guys for your continuous support and remember, my album "God's Gay Sun" is now available for Pre-Order off of iTunes; spread the word!! To all the wonderful souls I met alone the way- thank you for your contribution in making this trip unforgettable. Love you all!!! <3
The follow-up to "6" is a solid, classic body of work that effortlessly toggles through seduction and love with a diverse pallet of colorful compositions. It's unapologetically confident and bold while serving a healthy dose of vulnerability. The undeniable vocal growth helps further define the unique path Ulises has managed to create for himself while the impeccable production and catchy lyrics of these tunes make this a promising record that will manage to catapult this androgynous being into the long deserved platform of success. Expected release of album is Summer of 2015.
2014- what an amazing, unforgettable year this one has turned out to be. As I lay here under satin sheets in the comfort of my bed listening to Beethoven's music as I reflect on what will in a matter of days become another year I've been blessed to live, I can only express complete gratitude for it all. Releasing two albums: my 6th English one appropriately titled "6" and my first ever Spanish album titled "Reino Mexicano" in which I was able to explore orchestrations I grew up listening to as a child, made this year one of musical growth. The fact that I
T'was the night before Christmas when I heard an unsettling noise coming from my living room. I cautiously crept out of the comfort my king size bed, grabbed my Texas sized shot gun out of my 18th century, hand crafted wooden armoire, and tip toed down the long, chilly corridor of my house. As I approached the living room, the sound grew louder and louder when all of a sudden, a thunderous thump echoed within the walls of my residence. A quiet shriek escaped my lips. I was armed and ready to shoot, but then, confusion clouded my mind… Could it be possible? Was it him? It was him!!! It was Santa. My eyes must have been deceiving me, or at least I thought so, but, they weren't. What was he doing… here in my house? Why was he here?? The answer to my questions were to be revealed. My gun was not gonna come down anytime soon, and I was ready to shoot this motherfucker. I was too startled and alarmed to bring my guard down.
After an amazing week and a half in a country housing ancient temples, tombs, and statues that pre dated to thousands of years of existence, I can't be persuaded to believe that Egypt is anything less than a spectacularly mind-blowing country. With every inch trekked across cities such as Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, and Horghada, I fell deeper and deeper in love with the rich history this beautiful country offered. The trip began with a visit to the Giza pyramids who stood in all it's pride and power firmly after thousands of years of creation. Breath taking seems like an understatement. What made this experience even more unforgettable was trekking across the desert on camels as the pyramids stood behind us in all their grandeur. The shots captured tell a story all on their own and are nothing short of epic! The next few days consisted of a cruise up the Nile River from Aswan
With just a matter of days before the end of an unforgettable year, reminiscing about 2013 almost becomes mandatory. A trip to Europe and South America- two continents I LONG wished to visit- finally manifested. The most important thing I acquired from these trips were the creativity and wealth of insightful knowledge these countries possessed. Those experiences lived have forever changed my life. In effect inspiration whiffled up a desire to create something that reflects upon that in a new body of work I'm currently in the process of creating for 2014. A message from the editorial director Bill Werde of Billboard in which he compliments my singing voice and advises me on my songwriting is a great way to round off the year. Any professional critique I could receive is always welcome, especially from prestigiously insightful and respected individuals like him. This journey as a creative continues to be an adventurous ride, and I assure you, the best of ULISES is still to come. I admit, I am a diamond in the rough, but then again, every major artist was once an unknown. If the natural skills are honed, cultivated, and further developed, then success is unavoidable. It's all a learning process that through determination, hard work, and drive can be achieved. I'm thankful for the independent release of my fifth album this summer- "The Discovery of the Sesliu Galaxy;" another stepping stone along my journey. What can you expect from ULISES in 2014? New album & new artistic visuals… I'm determined to make my 6th album the most creative one yet. If you've been around since the beginning, awareness to my craft's continual improvement and evolution through time should come as no surprise. Never stop believing in yourself and what you embody; have faith and work hard towards your dreams. That's my "secret." 2014- not sure what's in store, but I'm ready to give you all of me. I'm determined to work harder than ever to get to where I need to be. To all the people I've met along the way, I'm thankful for your friendship and your time. Know that the exchange of energy we've had has no price. I love you all! Aim for success and nothing less! God bless!
Today marks the 10,000th day since I made my way back to Earth on that 26th of June in 1986, and I must say, it's been quite a journey. I've had the privilege of meeting many amazing individuals who have contributed to my growth as a human being throughout my life and which I sincerely hope I've been able to equally reciprocate. For the last few months, I've been on a quest to creatively refuel so that I can continue producing art that not only captivates the human eye but speaks to the soul. After releasing my latest project in which I poured my entire heart out, "Discovery of the Sesliu Galaxy," I felt a need to tread unexplored grounds in hopes of drawing new inspirations, and although I'm not 100% recharged, doubt not for one second that I do continue to work towards fulfilling my purpose on Earth. There are many new surprises I'm working on which I hope to have completed by early next year and in just a matter of days, I'll begin an adventure which I hope you are prepared to undertake with me. That being said, I do want to take the time to thank you for your continuous love and support. Sending you blessings and positive vibes! Remember: if you don't build your dream, someone else will hire you to build theirs.
I was ready to board the plane. After a month and a week from being away from my country, my home, I couldn't wait to arrive at the house in which I grew up in and be in the vicinity of all that I loved. My spirit clamored for it. I proceeded toward my gate only to be informed that my flight had been cancelled due to unprecedented weather conditions. What was I to do now? Although I wasn't prepared for this unfortunate twist, I walked on back towards the airport's entrance, and decided I'd make the best out of this situation. I thought, certainly, the universe must have something it wants me to experience here that I yet had not. I rescheduled my flight and went on down to pick up my luggage from the carousel. I was feeling particularly great and this was certainly not gonna ruin my day. As I walked up to take a seat at a nearby bench, I noticed celebrity star Jeff Lewis walking along the vast corridors.
In just a few days, I will embark on what will be the biggest, most adventurous trip I’ve ever taken in my life; for a little over a month, I will be traveling throughout the European continent and will be digesting a “buffet of countries.” The countdown has begun.
I’ve never really traveled outside the North American continent so this will be a new, unparalleled experience. I will finally be making a lifelong dream of mine come true! I’ve always wanted to go to Europe, and see the beauty the continent beholds. Am I nervous? Of course! But I am also, VERY, excited!! The mystery and unknown can be quite intriguing.
What am I looking forward to?
I want an experience; I want to embrace the culture, languages, and people.
The release of the "Discovery of the Sesliu Galaxy" marks the end of a two year chapter in which I've experienced so much not only as an artist, but as a human being. It's immortalizing a period in my life where I've grown exponentially and been able to appreciate life's beauty even more. It's going abroad to wonder at the heights of the mountains, the huge waves of the sea, the long courses of the rivers, the vast compass of the ocean, the circular motions of the stars, and being able to see and appreciate the magic in each. It's being independent and strong enough to pull through challenges that unexpectedly arrive. It's working hard, through sweat and tears to make an idea come to life. It's falling down and getting back up. It's knowing that love is all around you and that this planet is just a neuron in the universe's dynamic brain. It's magic. It's loving who you are and what the universe offers. It's acknowledging being born not for the development of society alone, but for the development of one's self. It's having courage. It's choosing to be love when hate corners you down; it's surrendering to the beauty of this dance called life. In short, it's the discovery of the galaxy within one's self; the unlocking of the secrets that lie within. With just a few more days till its release, I can't help but to look back at everything experienced within the past two years and be thankful for it all. And even if only one person were to listen to this album, I'd still do it all over again for there's no greater feeling than successfully bringing to life an idea that once existed as a vague thought deep within the trenches of one's mind. I can confidently say that I'm now ready to embark on the next chapter of my life; blank pages are waiting to be filled with new experiences. I welcome thee. I will persist until I succeed; success and nothin less.
THE DISCOVERY OF THE SESLIU GALAXY
Intro- Perfectly sets up the stage for the album
*Home- A pulsating beat with lush strings and a captivating set of drums. Vivid lyricism, an infectious melodic beat, and an intimate vocal performance make it a homerun.
*2gether 4ever- If Max Martin and David Guetta orchestrated a musical baby together, this would be it. An infectious chorus over a captivating beat- it zings with exhilaration, happiness, and youth. I ask myself, could this be one of the biggest hits in 2013? It lacks no element to disprove otherwise. With the right marketing, its potential of being a huge smash would be inevitable.
Native Americans have often held intersex, androgynous people, feminine males and masculine females in high respect. The most common term to define such persons today is to refer to them as "two-spirit" people, but in the past feminine males were sometimes referred to as "berdache" by early French explorers in North America, who adapted a Persian word "bardaj", meaning an intimate male friend. Because these androgynous males were commonly married to a masculine man, or had sex with men, and the masculine females had feminine women as wives, the term berdache had a clear homosexual connotation. Both the Spanish settlers in Latin America and the English colonists in North America condemned them as "sodomites".
Rather than emphasising the homosexuality of these persons, however, many Native Americans focused on their spiritual gifts. American Indian traditionalists, even today, tend to see a person's basic character as a reflection of their spirit. Since everything that exists is thought to come from the spirit world, androgynous or transgender persons are seen as doubly blessed, having both the spirit of a man and the spirit of a woman. Thus, they are honoured for having two spirits, and are seen as more spiritually gifted than the typical masculine male or feminine female.
Confidence is something you develop through time; it comes through acceptance of self with virtues, weaknesses, flaws and all. It's something that comes across and is transmitted through your body language and the way you carry yourself as an individual. It's inviting and attractive. It's being at peace with one's self and truly embracing the totality that you are. It's loving yourself entirely inside and out. Confidence doesn't mean you're better than anyone else, but rather that you recognize that you're capable of achieving whatever it is you set your mind on by believing in yourself completely. It's empowering. It's strength. It's not accomplished by belittling who you are but instead by being a cheerleader to your success. It's being humble and not stepping on others to make you feel superior. It's helping others rise with you, a necessary ingredient just like yeast on bread. With it, the sky is the limit. With the right attitude, anything is possible. It's being responsible for the energy you provide in this allotted space in time. It's a strong frame of mind, a key to being happy. It's knowing who you are and what you stand for; knowing the principles and morals that you embrace. It's essential. It doesn't come right away but rather comes through trials and tribulations one experiences and learns from these waves we ride on this oceanic grid of life. It's knowing who you are and accepting that you're not perfect and that those imperfections are what makes you beautiful. That is confidence.