Interview with Infinity, Multi-Platinum Grammy Award-Winning Producer

I am so excited for the chance to interview the talented multi-platinum Grammy award-winning producer, Infinity, who is credited with hits for Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly, Lupe Fiasco, Bow Wow and Omarion, Chingy, Raven Symone, Ludacris, Flo Rida, Ciara, Melanie Fiona, Jacob Latimore, and many more.  Most notably, his first placement was "Take Me As I Am" for Mary J. Blige, which quickly shot up the Rnb/Rap charts to #3 and to #1 on Adult AC.  This hit led to his Grammy award winning album "The Breakthrough,” the opportunity to work closely with Atlantic Records to craft the smash hit for Lupe Fiasco's LP, "1st and 15th" album, "DayDreaming.”  His latest accomplishments include "Shattered" from the Backstreet Boys’ newest album, "Echo", and "Banging the Headboard" on R. Kelly's album "Untitled.”

Hey Infinity! So…tell us about yourself - your background and how you came to be such a successful multi-platinum Grammy Award-winning producer.

I’m a Sagittarius for starters! (born December 2nd)  I was born in Connecticut, and moved all around from Florida to Atlanta to my home now - LA.  I’m really laid back and down to earth. On the music side, I've been producing for 7 years now. I started off playing drums at the age of 4. I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock, i.e., The Beatles, Yes, The Who, & Squeez. Somewhere in between the 14 years of me playing everything but urban music, I made the transition to the urban world when I moved to Orlando at 16.  From then on, I just worked to perfect my craft, and in 2005, I got my first official placement.

So you’ve had a very successful career as a music producer.  What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far and why?

My first ever placement led me to win a Grammy.  It was for Mary J. Blige's "Take Me As I Am.” The album won a Grammy for best R&B album and sold over 4 million copies worldwide. Prior to this placement, I ran into so much drama with all types of people in the "business" who said they could take my career higher.  So I think this was important to me because when I got this song placed it made me feel like everything before happened for a reason.  I had to jump over a few hurdles. All this nonsense that I went through turned out to be a huge milestone for my career.

You definitely lead a very busy life.  Can you tell us what you try to do to keep healthy and fit even though your job requires you to work long hours in the studio?

It’s been tough over the years to keep a consistent and healthy lifestyle while being in the studio anywhere from 12 to 18 hours a day. That being said, I had to start making sure I watch what I eat, and when I eat.  Studios are known for junk food!  It’s about understanding the consequences of eating at 2 am. What really helps is that I bought a BBQ grill for the studio. I eat mainly grilled chicken and chicken dogs (way better than beef or turkey).  Now I just have to learn to hit the gym four times a week!  If I can do that I’ll be in great condition, ha!

Good luck!  Try not to stay so late working at the studio, or actually early mornings, at 7am!  Thanks for sharing with us.  We really look forward to seeing more of your stuff in the near future and hearing of your success!

Read more about dj Infinity (real name Jordan Suecof)

first published in 2012


Check Out the Labels on Organic Products

If you would like to increase the likelihood that you are consuming genuine organic products, it is important to look at labels in the packaging before purchasing such products.  The United States federal legislation defines three levels of organic foods.  (1) Products made entirely with certified organic ingredients and methods may be labeled “100% organic.”  (2) Product with at least 95% organic ingredients may be labeled “organic” only.  Both of these categories may also display the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic Seal, which is a circle with "USDA" in green on a white background, and "Organic" written below in white on a green background.  (3) Products that contain a minimum of 70% organic ingredients may be labeled “made with organic ingredients,” but may not display the USDA Organic seal.  Products made with less than 70% organic ingredients cannot be advertised as "organic," but can list individual ingredients that are organic as such in the product's ingredient statement.  Products may also display the logo of the certification body that approved them.  As for livestock products, such as meat and eggs, there are other voluntary labels.  For example, “free-range” indicates that the flock was provided shelter in a building, room, or area with unlimited access to food, fresh water, and continuous access to the outdoors during their production cycle. The outdoor area may or may not be fenced and/or covered with netting-like material.  “Cage-free” indicates that the flock was able to freely roam a building, room, or enclosed area with unlimited access to food and fresh water during their production cycle.  “Natural” indicates that that the meat, poultry, and egg products are minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients. However, the natural label does not include any standards regarding farm practices and only applies to processing of meat and egg products. There are no standards or regulations for the labeling of natural food products if they do not contain meat or eggs.  “Grass-fed” animals receive a majority of their nutrients from grass throughout their life, while organic animals’ pasture diet may be supplemented with grain.  Take note that the grass-fed label does not limit the use of antibiotics, hormones, or pesticides. Meat products may be labeled as grass-fed organic.  If you are not already doing so, next time you go shopping for organic products, look out for the USDA Organic Seal to increase the chance that you are actually buying and eating genuine organic products as growers and manufacturers of organic products bearing the USDA seal have to meet the strictest standards of any of the currently available organic labels.

 


Interview with Corey Stanford, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Blazetrak.com

Corey Stanford, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Blazetrak.com, tells us about his successful online-based platform, which links the general public to established industry experts and celebrity talent, his healthy and green lifestyle, and his favorite charities.

So tell us about your company.

Blazetrak is an online-based platform that provides video access to the world’s top professionals in the areas of music, fashion, tv/film, sports, business & lifestyle.  It is the first website that allows you to get directly in touch with established industry experts and celebrity talent – and be guaranteed a direct video response.  Blazetrak has a roster of 400+ professionals utilizing the platform including Big Boi, from the Grammy Award-winning duo Outkast, Edyta Sliwinska, formerly with “Dancing With the Stars”, Tyson Beckford, Ralph Lauren Supermodel, Mathew Knowles, World-Renowned Music Executive, Tara Conner, Miss USA Winner, and Darren Sharper, of the New Orleans Saints.

We, at Organice Your Life®, promote a healthy and organic lifestyle in all areas of our life.  What do you do to stay healthy?

I workout six days a week, which includes taking a Zumba class, completing a Kukuwa Dance Workout, a strength-based session at the Firm Studios, playing basketball, and swimming. In addition to working out, I eat a well balanced meal on a daily basis, with the exception of Friday’s. I generally splurge with pizza on a Friday.

Does living a healthy lifestyle carry over into your work? Do you let others around you know the benefits of eating organically and being green?

Living healthy is not only part of my work; it’s a part of my life.  My wife is a physician and a workout fanatic. She continuously encourages me and leads by example. I frequently hear stories of her patients who end up in the hospital due to a poor lifestyle choice. Many of the complications she faces with her patients could have easily been avoided if they lived a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes we run to medicine as the solution when ultimately, the solution may be as simple as changing your diet or being physically active.  Instead of just telling my colleagues, associates, and friends the benefits of eating organically, or being green, I demonstrate it.  I walk to the grocery store. I carry my green shopping bags. Sometimes, I even post my grocery list on Facebook and Twitter.

As a very busy executive, what are the major drawbacks that you see regarding living a healthy life?  How do you overcome these? 

The major drawback is definitely traveling. It’s very difficult to maintain your balanced nutritional plan, when the only food selections around you are fast food restaurants.  To overcome this challenge, I typically pack FiberOne Bars and apples in my suitcase. It’s pretty amazing how full you become eating those two items. I also generally purchase a grilled chicken sandwich from a fast food restaurant. I have to admit, at times, I do succumb to the combo meal. However, I pay for it with an intense workout afterwards.

What are your healthy living secrets?

My healthy living secret is to partner with someone to stay healthy. Without my wife, I would have a difficult time. It can be a spouse, companion, friend, colleague, or associate. Encourage each other to eat healthy. Plan workout dates or even report to each other what you have done, good and bad. It really helps.

Do you have a favorite charity? What kind of charity have you been involved with?  Tell us about your charity.

My favorite charity is Rosie O’Donnell’s, Rosie’s Theater Kids. Rosie’s Theater Kids is an arts education organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children through the arts. Using professional teaching artists, Rosie's Theater Kids provides instruction in dance, music and drama and a professional theater experience for children who might otherwise not have the opportunity. Blazetrak has supported this organization through in-kind donations, including capturing some of their highlighted moments on video (http://vimeo.com/29853752). Blazetrak Co-Founder Nathaniel Casey sits on the Jr. Board of Rosie’s Theater Kids as well.

Blazetrak has also recently become a premium sponsor and has partnered up with event producer Faisal Al-Juburi, who has assembled a consortium of not-for-profit organizations – including Friends In Deed; God’s Love We Deliver; Hispanic Federation; International AIDS Prevention Initiative; The NAMES Project Foundation; and Rosie O’Donnell’s Rosie’s Theater Kids - to serve as beneficiaries of funds raised at a gala event to be held in New York City during the week of World AIDS Day. This event, centered around a staged reading of QUILT - A Musical Celebration, will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the AIDS crisis and the 25th anniversary of The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. A large scale viewing of portions of The Quilt is also planned to coincide with the reading, curated to reflect panels made by and/or for New York City artists in the fields of theatre, music, and fashion.

Lastly, we’re also working with Blazetrak Advisory Board Member, Candice Cook, who has connected us with several global organizations. She is assisting us with developing a solution to integrate our technology with the non-profit sector, to spread awareness and receive donations online via our platform.

 

 


Steak Kebabs

 

I know we focus mostly on vegetarian and/or vegan foods on OrganiceYourLife.com, but here's a nice recipe for the Summer with meat-- steak kebabs!  Of course always go for organic, humanly raised meat.

These steak kebabs you can serve with fruits or green salad on the side.  Marinate chunks of steak (organic NY strip steak, filet mignon or sirloin) with Worchester sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, black pepper, salt, cilantro, and minced garlic for two hours or preferably overnight.  Soak four wooden skewers in water.  Thread the beef chunks and vegetables that you like, such as peppers, portabella mushrooms, tomatoes, eggplants, onions, etc. evenly onto the skewers.  Broil in your oven for about 10-12 minutes depending on how you like your steak done.  Turn the skewers on each side every 3-4 minutes. It's really tasty and easy! Maybe something for the 4th of July?

For those who don't eat meat: you can try it with other food items like seitan or tofu!


Living With Your Partner

Cohabitation has become more prevalent in the United States today.  People may choose to live together for a variety of reasons, such as testing compatibilities and establishing financial security before getting married, or the inability to legally marry due to reasons such as same-sex, interracial or interreligious relationships, or philosophical opposition to the institution of marriage.

Food For Thought from a Legal Perspective

Whatever the reason may be, if you are an unmarried couple and are thinking about cohabiting with a partner, here are a few things to consider regarding ownership of your property before taking that step together:

  1. If you have not been together long and do not own much, you may not need to consider entering into a written agreement. However, as you live longer together, it may be beneficial to both of you to enter into a written contract making it clear how property will be owned especially when you both begin to accumulate more property.  For example, if you buy a house together, it is a good idea to create a property agreement.  If none is created, you might face an often costly battle if you break up and cannot agree on how to divide what you have acquired. You can start by deciding how property and assets are owned, and whether or not income and expenses will be shared.  Some couples choose to keep all property owned completely separate, while others choose to share some or all of their property by transferring part ownership to each other.  You can also specify how you will own property when you acquire it during your relationship, and how to share or divide income and expenses. You can keep separate bank and checking accounts, credit cards, and insurance, or youcan agree to handle some or all of these things jointly.  In your agreement, you may also want to decide in advance how property will be divided in the event you separate, and also agree on a process to resolve any property disputes that may arise if you split up.
  2. If you are considering buying a house together, there are financial commitments involved.  If the house is not owned equally, you can decide whether a person who owns less than half could get an increased share, for example, by making a larger contribution to the mortgage payment or by fixing the house.  On the deed of the house, you can choose title to be listed as "joint tenants with rights of survivorship," meaning that when one of you dies, the other automatically inherits the whole house. Another option is "tenants in common," meaning that, when one of you dies, that person's share of the house goes to whoever is named in a will or trust, or goes to blood relatives if the deceased partner left no estate plan.  You should think about what happens in the event you split up -- whether one of you will have the first right to stay in the house (for example, to care for a young child) and buy the other out, or if the house will be sold and the proceeds divided.  If you decide on a buyout right, you should decide how the house will be appraised and how long the buyout process will take.  Typically, couples may decide to have their realtor appraise the house and then give the buying partner one to five years to pay off the other.
  3. You may have heard of the term “palimony” thrown around to describe the division of property or alimony-like support paid to one partner in an unmarried couple by the other after a breakup, but this is not a legal term.  Members of unmarried couples are not legally entitled to such payments unless they have made an agreement about it.  To avoid a battle over palimony, you should create a written agreement that addresses whether or not one partner will make payments to the other in case of a break up.
  4. In terms of debts of your partner, you should not be liable unless you have specifically undertaken responsibility to pay a particular debt; for example, if you cosigned a promissory note or the debt is charged to a joint account.  The one exception for unmarried couples applies if you have registered as domestic partners in a location where the domestic partner law states that you agree to pay for each other's basic living expenses such as food, shelter, and clothing.
  5. In the event one of you dies, the surviving partner does not inherit the deceased partner’s property, unless the deceased partner made a will or used another estate planning device, such as a living trust or joint tenancy agreement.  In a few states, same-sex partners who are registered as domestic partners or have entered into a civil union relationship may automatically inherit a portion of a deceased partner's property, but these laws are not the best or easiest way to plan for inheritance.  In order to protect the person you live with, you should specifically leave property using a will, living trust, or other legal document.

If the idea of bringing up a written contract seems uncomfortable, you are not alone.  However, discussing these issues with your partner can stimulate important conversations about how you define and protect your relationship.  Bringing up the subject can be a great way to learn more about your expectations in terms of your lifestyle, role and financial responsibility and may create a mutually fulfilling partnership.

NOTE: The information contained in this article is intended to provide general information and does not constitute legal advice. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. This article is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship between you and the author, and you should not act or rely on any information in this article without seeking the advice of an attorney.


The Art of Giving and Getting Back

Every year you have to do your taxes! I hope that in the last calendar year you contributed to a charity in some way, shape or form.  If not, start contributing now for next year’s tax return.

How to pick your charity of choice

If you are contemplating making a charitable contribution, make sure you make smart choices to maximize the benefits.  For example, when picking a charity you should inquire as to how the nonprofit is spending your money. You would want at least 75% of a donation to go towards a program. You can inquire about actual amounts of aid distributed and how the charity is fulfilling its mission.  If you are donating cash, you should write a check directly to the charity because if you pay with a credit card, charities lose 2% to 3% processing fees to the card issuer.  If you are shopping, be on the lookout for stores that donate a percentage of your purchase to a charity.  If you can’t afford to give money to many different charities, the smart choice is to focus on one or two charities so that your donation will have a greater impact.  Moreover, if you do not have cash to donate, giving your time or physical goods such as canned food and gently used clothing can have just as much of an impact.  Also, you should watch out for scams, which use names that are confusingly similar to legitimate charities.

Charitable donations can be tax deductions

If you have donated to charity, apart from helping others and boosting your own health and emotional well-being, on a practical level, your donations to charity are tax deductible expenses that can reduce your taxable income and lower your tax bill.  So you are giving and getting back. In order to be tax-deductible, you must ensure that you: (1) actually donate cash or property; (2) contribute to a qualified tax-exempt organization; (3) be able to itemize; and (4) meet record keeping requirements.  It’s time to use your organization skills and keep excellent records of your charitable contributions!

For deductions less than $250, you must obtain a receipt or letter showing the organization name, location, donation date, and item description, and you must keep a written record of:

  • The name and address of the organization to which you made your contribution
  • The date and location of the contribution
  • A reasonably detailed description of the property
  • The fair market value of the property at the time of the contribution, and how you computed the fair market value
  • Your cost or basis in the property
  • Whether there were any terms to your donation

For deductions more than $250 but less than $500, you must meet all documentation requirements for donations of less than $250, and ask for and keep a written acknowledgment of your contribution, with the following information:

  • A description of the donated property
  • Whether you were compensated for your donation
  • A good faith estimate of donated goods

For deductions more than $500 but less than $5,000, you must meet all documentation requirements for donations of more than $250 but less than $500, and you must make a record of how you acquired the property, the date of acquisition, and your basis in the property.

For deductions more than $5,000, you must meet all documentation requirements for donations of more than $500 but less than $5,000, and you must get a written appraisal from a qualified appraiser.

Donated items, such as cars, clothing, and household goods, must be in good condition.  You cannot make a deduction if the items are less than in good condition.  You should keep a detailed list of the non-cash goods you donated to charity, along with a description of their condition.

What contributions are not tax deductible

There are, however, contributions that are not tax deductible.  For example, contributions to political parties, political campaigns, or political action committees, individual people, professional associations, labor unions, chambers of commerce, or business associations, for-profit schools and hospitals, and foreign governments; and the value of your time for services rendered to a non-profit.  Therefore, make sure that if you want to claim a charitable deduction that the charity or philanthropic organization you select is a tax-qualified organization under IRS rules.

Charitable purchases are only deductible in the amount exceeding the worth of the item purchased.  For example, if you attend a gala dinner for $1,000 for a charitable organization, the deductible amount is equal to $1,000 minus the fair market value of the dinner.  If the cost of the actual dinner is $100, then you can deduct $900.  You should keep all documents for any and all of your charitable cash contributions.  You should have receipts from the charity, a cancelled check, or credit card statement to prove the donation.  Even though you don’t need to mail in the receipts with your tax return, in the event the IRS decides to audit you, you will then be able to show supporting documentation.  Generally, household and personal items may be deducted at their fair market value. A good way to get the fair market value of an item is to determine what the item would sell for at a garage sale, flea market, or thrift store.

I hope these general tidbits help you maneuver your way through your charitable contributions this year.  You should definitely consult a lawyer or tax advisor if you have questions regarding your specific situation.  If you make smart choices and keep organized, everyone will be able to benefit from your charitable contributions!

NOTE: The information contained in this article is intended to provide general information and does not constitute legal or tax advice. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. This article is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship between you and the author, and you should not act or rely on any information in this article without seeking the advice of an attorney and tax advisor. First published in 2012.