Allow me to preach the young adult gospel. Your twenties should have been filled with experimentation. It’s when you could handle after-work debauchery five days a week — and still make the 9:30 a.m. meeting.
Before becoming editor in chief at VIBE and an executive at BET, I certainly made the most out of being twentysomething. Helicopter rides with Puff? Check. Watching Janet rehearse? Saw it. Navigating marriage and nightlife? Did it. Tried to, anyway. That’s a balancing act that takes practice. My wife and therapist would agree.
Salute to that time in life, but LEVEL isn’t that kind of party. It’s still a hell of a celebration, though. When the lights turn up and you’re on the other side of 29 — that’s where we’ll meet you. This is home base for mature Black and Brown men. We’ve been nomads in need of a meeting place. Sit for a minute.
I know simply existing isn’t enough to get you to join us. You want to know the value proposition. Here is exactly what we’re serving: race and identity, life, and culture.
At LEVEL, it’s deeper than a lifestyle. It’s about connecting and making a commitment to improving your life through discourse.
Critical aspects of life are being redefined: financial security, identity, sexuality, masculinity. It all requires discussion. LEVEL will dig deep and push you to have healthy, uncomfortable, hilarious, stern, and somber conversations — all to help you on the journey to becoming your own best man.
A blueprint provided by some exceptional men in LEVEL’s circle certainly helps with identity. We selected three giants to represent the decades of our readers’ lives, then analyzed or asked them what they’ll hold themselves accountable for. Playwright Jeremy O. Harris represents the thirties. The Yale graduate’s work is brilliant. It’s necessarily provocative (as is this story on delayed ejaculation). As much as I loved his psychoanalysis of interracial relationships in Slave Play, it’s the childhood experiences informing his work that cause me to lean in. There are some outrageous racial scars there.
Jordan Peele was chosen to rep the forties. The biracial boy wonder could have been Comedy Central’s golden ticket, but he knew there was more for him. His sociopolitical horror has made its mark. The jump scares aren’t the payoff for Peele — the most frightening part of his work are the racial scares you walk away with.
And for the fifties, there was never any doubt — especially seeing as how Shawn Corey Carter celebrates his landmark birthday tomorrow. The billionaire didn’t follow a conventional blueprint to success. Even if he made his twenties look flashy, he spent that decade considering every move he made. His thirties were full of accelerated success. Being president of Def Jam was the one I felt deserved more credit. And his forties were a checklist of old-money accomplishments. What happens in his fifties could truly be new ground for the culture. An American gangster, indeed (R.I.P. Frank Lucas).
Che Guevara with bling on isn’t the only complex thing about LEVEL’s cultural conversation. Our aim isn’t to be your discovery point for the latest album or movie or book — you’ve got those places bookmarked already. Instead, we’ll provide a deeper understanding of topics, trends, and flashpoints in the zeitgeist. We’ll flesh things out and add more to the story than an Instagram caption or quick news hit. For reference, check out why we believe Watchmen deals with Black power in a way Marvel’s X-Men isn’t brave enough to attempt.
This is the information we will deliver daily. It must reach a bar to make it in. Nothing below level.
Editor in Chief
PS: We’re on Instagram and Twitter at @levelmag. Connect with us.
A little something extra… because who doesn’t like gifts?!