I have had the pleasure of working with and befriending Tayyib Smith over the past year or so. Yet, I still can’t tell you what he does for a living. And I think that’s because he seems to do everything. Owner of Little Giant Media, 215 magazine publisher, event planner, Philly Ambassador. He’s dope. And here are his thoughts on love.
How do you feel about love today, compared to how you felt ten years ago?
15 years ago, I was in a relationship with this girl. And, she was like my high school sweet heart; we went out the entire 4 years I was in the military. I was stationed in Virginia and she was in New York; she went to Columbia. And I spent like, inordinate amounts of money and time just traveling to see her and vice versa. Back then I had – I would definitely say I was more like, “no fear”, ya know, flying with no net or parachute. And now I would probably be less likely to do a lot of things that I did. Just out of like – as you evolve, or as you get issues, there’s a certain reminiscent pain of losing love that makes you less likely to engage in the same behaviors that made you enjoy love the first time around.
So, would you say that heartbreak has influenced how you approach new relationships?
I would say that heartbreak is one of a series of things of why I probably approach relationships differently. I’m probably analytical to the point of my own detriment, sometimes. You know, I used to have these real angelic ideas about women. Maybe that’s because I was raised by my mom and I was always nutured by very strong women. And I think when I was younger I had this idea that women were a lot higher; almost like higher beings. But, whether that’s true or whether that’s something that certain women possess, that naivety allowed me to give too much credence to women who werent’ necessarily of the same standard that I grew up looking up to.
“Sometimes it can feel like a complete fulfillment, or…dreaded agony.”
What does being in love feel like to you?
Sometimes it can feel like a complete fulfillment, or sometimes it can feel like a dreaded agony. With any power there’ a yin and a yang. So, when you say ‘what does love feel like?’, I guess it depends on where you are in the bell curve of that relationship. In the beginning, it’s very enthralling. It’s sunshine, it’s listening to albums together, eating good food, having good sex and stuff like that. But towards the end of the bell curve, it’s like, “Ugh, God. THIS motherfucker.” And you can still be in love with that person but it’s like – what love feels like depends on where you are in the process of that love.
What is your ultimate goal or desire for your love life?
I was talking with a friend last night. And we were talking about how I’m single now, and she was encouraging me to date more. And it’s funny because – I’ve dated a lot of women. I feel like I’ve explored any kink that came to mind that I would ever do. I think there’s a certain point you get to in your life – like, you talk about men who were wild when they were young versus men who never explored their wild oats. I had a really good ten, fifteen years of being a bachelor. And now, it’s kind of a dirty, sad aspect to just continually go through the same emotions. Gender roles have changed so drastically in the last 50 years; people’s ideas of what a relationship is, like whether it’s a big wedding, whether it’s some god-forsaken Basketball Wives interpretation of what a man does for a woman, or vice versa – relationships are actually about partnership. Whether that’s building a family, a support system both financially and psychologically, owning real estate together, things like that. Dating, at this point, I can’t afford to exchange fluids with someone under a certain stature. [laughs] You just don’t wanna get caught up with the wrong element.
Speaking of gender roles, how do you feel about modern romance and how it’s expressed?
I could give you a list of references and people would give you a list of types of stuff I’ve done that I would describe as stupid now because, I’m not in the same mindset. But, I’m a regular at the Godiva shop. I buy flowers. I spend a lot on dinners every year. Ya know, I’ve done the vacations with girlfriends. Romance to me is probably expressed more through small things. Like remembering some wants that they mentioned and they would have no idea that you even knew. Getting someone an album that they might not have known came out by a favorite artist. I think little things today are probably more romantic than big things. Like, I don’t do holidays. I don’t celebrate Christmas or anything. I can’t remember, growing up, any of my Christmas presents. Even things that I’m sure I was excited about. There’s a certain element to material things that after the initial high, it’s either broken or you don’t wanna move it anymore. But the exchange of experience or, the exchange of something that says to somebody “I respect you”, “I appreciate the things you are intersted in” – I think that’s romance.
Have you ever written a love letter?
Oh, yeah. [laughs] My first love – it’s actually funny because, I used to be in the military and in boot camp that was really the only way you could communicate with the outside world. This was pre-email so, being in a long distance relationship, we sent each other a lot of letters. I think she still has them somewhere.
“There’s a certain aspect about being a ladies man that is kinda corny…after a while.”
Have your experiences with love and relationships been an influence to other areas of your life?
There’s a ton of women that have been an influence to me. Like, my ex-girlfriend. She, living in Manhattan, was kind of like an idiot savant to hip-hop stuff. But she always took me to the dopest shit. She’d be like, “Ahh, yeah, my friend said we should go to this club. It’s called The Supper Club. I don’t really know anything about it; it’s really hard to get in. We should go.” And, we would go there and she didn’t know anything. I’d be like, “Yo! That’s Russell Simmons!” Like, “Yo, those are the Beastie Boys. Yo, this shit is poppin!” And she’d be like, “Hunh? What?” [laughter] Or, even how I know King Britt. We knew each other from Philly, but the first times I would see him out and he would encourage me to get involved in music things was at parties that this young lady took me to. Or, I have another ex who used to do the production for the Black Lily. She turned me on to a whole other aspect of rock-n-roll. She was a big Bowie collector, or into other bands like Television or T-Rex. All kinds of stuff that, I may have known the songs but, through living with her and experiencing music through her – I learned a lot from her.
Any advice on love?
I guess to men – especially for African-American men. In popular culture, we have such a limited lens of paradigms to follow. Ya know, whether it’s the Tyler Perry-niggas-aint-shit paradigm. Or, you’re either the slapstick buffoon, pseudo thug, the athlete, or the pimp boy if you look at movies, tv, and straight to dvd. If you look at just the narrative speak about pimpology that came from blaxploitation films and, the rampant sexism and misogny in hip-hop; a lot of young men don’t even realize how much they aren’t experiencing. Because we live through such a small screen of existences that you’re allowed to express yourself in as a man. So there’s a certain aspect about being a ladies man that is kinda corny or dirty after a while if you’re not really gonna make it with someone in particular. So, yeah. Pimpin’ aint all that; that’s corny. [laughs]