The mother of late R&B star and actress Aaliyah has spoken out against stories shared about her daughter in Surviving R. Kelly, a new Lifetime mini-series exploring accusations of sexual abuse surrounding musician R. Kelly.According to E! News, Jovante Cunningham, who worked as a backup dancer for R. Kelly, claims she saw Aaliyah and Kelly having sex on a tour bus when the deceased singer was just 15-years-old."It just so happened we were all laying in our bunks and the curtains are open, everybody’s communicating, laughing," Cunningham says, according to Complex. "When the door [to Kelly's room] flew open on the bus. Robert was having sex with Aaliyah."Specifically, the dancer says she saw Kelly engaged in “things that an adult should not be doing with a child."Diane Haughton, Aaliyah's mom, told E! Cunningham is making things up.“The woman and so-called backup singer that describes seeing, meeting or ever breathing the same air as my daughter, Aaliyah, is lying and is a liar," said Haughton in a statement. "My husband and I were always on tour with her and at interviews and every place she went throughout her entire career. Whoever this woman is, I have never seen her before anywhere on planet earth, until now.”Haughton also said allegations of an improper relationship between Kelly and her daughter "can not be tolerated and allowed to be spewed from the forked tongues of saboteurs of Aaliyah's legacy."As Blavity has reported, Kelly currently faces a number of abuse allegations, including claims of domestic abuse from his former wife and reports of forcing women into sexual slavery. A now 34-year-old woman alleged last year Kelly worked to groom her into his "sex pet" when she was 14. In 2018, Kelly's brother accused the singer of molesting their 14-year-old cousin. Kelly has denied all of these allegations in statements, and in a song called "I Admit."Blavitize your inbox! Join our daily newsletter for fresh stories and breaking news.Now, check these out:Beyoncé And Jay-Z Try To Convince Everyone To Go Vegan In New BookObama Ended Up On The Billboard Hot R&B Songs ChartJussie and Jake Smollett Join Forces In Fight To Save All-Women's HBCU Bennett...
Pro-Palestinian groups were extremely disappointed to find out Pharrell Williams performed at a recent gala in support of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), HotNewHipHop reports. Pharrell performed his hit song "Happy" after giving a speech, Variety reports.Referencing the Pittsburgh shooting, the singer said, "What happened in that synagogue was incredibly cruel, it was wrong, and it’s not supposed to be what our nation is. This group of people have been tested over and over and over again … but you guys show an incredible resilience.”According to the Voluntourist, Pharrell also touched on the ongoing struggle between Israel and Palestine saying, “I don’t know how popular this is, but there just shouldn’t be fighting. Abraham was the father of many nations, not just one. There should not be brother against brother. I just want to say that.”The event was attended by a number of celebrities, including Gerard Butler, Ashton Kutcher, Ziggy Marley, Andy Garcia, Fran Descher and David Foster. It reportedly raised a whopping $60 million.Days after the gala, fighting broke out between Israel and Hamas on the Gaza Strip that left 15 Palestinians and two Israelis dead, Al Jazeera reports. A ceasefire was declared Tuesday, ending Israel's air strikes.Death tolls like those of this week and Israel's ongoing occupation of Palestine have many criticizing Pharrell's choice to raise money for the IDF. Some are even calling him a hypocrite, given he recently sent Donald Trump a cease and desist letter over the president's use of "Happy" at rallies, NME reports.WOWZA. Check out this cease and desist sent by Pharrell Williams to Donald Trump for using “Happy” on “the day of the mass murder of 11 human beings,” as the letter puts it. pic.twitter.com/Mst83Vp0kO— Eriq Gardner (@eriqgardner) October 29, 2018“It is difficult to understand how actors and performers, who carry the message of life, can support an army that carries out systematic killings, which contradict the essence of life and art,” Ahmed Abu Artema, a Gaza Strip protest organizer told Middle East Eye.On Twitter, users made their displeasure with the artist known:Dear @Pharrell, you contributed in raising $60 million to a nasty army that has killed hundreds of thousands of my people. Is this the change you want in the world? You're a partner in crime. #HollywoodFundsTerror
pic.twitter.com/SToDRFUST6— Nisreen. (@NisreenAlKhatib) November 7, 2018Here's a #double_standard for u: @Pharrell sings Happy @ Friends of the IDF Gala (https://t.co/snMuEbzlz0), supporting army maintaining brutal #occupation & violating basic rights of #Palestinians , but dislikes Happy being played @ Trump rallies (https://t.co/iuiudzzQjQ).— Fady Khoury (@FaddyKhoury) November 5, 2018You’ve lost all credibility. Good luck with the IDF.— Rana Jafar (@Rana_Al_Tajir) November 13, 2018Not everyone has been critical of the artist. At the fundraiser, gala chair Haim Saban feted Pharrell and the other guests and saluted Israel's armed forces."Tonight you have seen up close the unbreakable spirit and the unimaginable bravery of our IDF soldiers and their families,” Saban said. “Standing behind these heroes is one of my greatest honors in my life.”Now, check these out: Not Everyone Is Happy With Pharrell After He Released A New Shoe Collection Inspired By The Holi FestivalPharrell Sends Donald Trump Cease-And-Desist Order After His Music Was Used At RallyThe Movement For Black Lives Releases Statement Of Solidarity With The Palestinian...
On a Sunday morning in 2017, I sat at the kitchen counter, drinking tea with my mom, as we listened to College Dropout. She had asked me why people “love Kanye so much.” I gave her answers in the music. We danced through the kitchen to the chorus of “We Don’t Care.” I was celebrating myself when I sang, “Wasn’t s’posed to make it past 25. Jokes on you; we still alive.” That morning, I was 26, and despite the darkness of the days prior, I was full of light. My mother, my music and myself, in an interchange of energy that I wished I could forever loop.I skipped tracks, landing on “Hey Mama,” a song that Kanye wrote in celebration of his own mother. “Mommy, I’ma love you ‘til you don’t hurt no more. And when I’m older, you won’t have to work no more. I’ma buy you that mansion that we couldn’t afford,” I rapped to my mom, in our newly purchased home. With tears in her eyes, she asked me to turn the music off because of everything that I do for her and everything that she can no longer do for her own mother.I’d say my mom is magic, but I find myself describing her through Kanye’s words. (“Mommy, can’t you see? You’re like a book of poetry”)Despite considering the use of words to be my superpower, putting my feelings of admiration for my mom into words isn’t the only time that I find myself speaking through Kanye - or that I’ve found Kanye speaking to me. Convinced that few other artists are so adept at parsing the nuances of ego and culture, for years I relied on his music to help me make sense of society (“We can’t cop cars without seeing cop cars”), of my emotions (“Everything I’m not made me everything I am”), and of the self assurance (“This generation’s closest thing to Einstein, so don’t worry about me. I’m fine”) that others regard as “too much,” but that has pushed me through days on which I would have otherwise resigned. For me, a sufferer of chronic depression and anxiety, my connection to Kanye’s music has been centered around zoning out of my chaotic brain and out of my world, into an artistic and sometimes spiritual state that transcends whatever I feel at the moment. In that space, I’m not alone and I’m not broken. I’m relatable.I first learned the concept of Heterotopia in an African-American literature class. We studied Michel Foucault, as we discussed spaces -- physical and mental. The Heterotopia is a temporary space that transports you from some here to some there and that is only accessible in the moments in which it exists. Before I learned that philosophy, I realized that musical experiences have the power to carry me from any headspace into an intangible exemption -- a free space, where it’s all good.Kanye’s Glow in the Dark tour stopped in New Jersey, on May 17, 2008. Ten years later, I still feel the levitation. I screamed the lyrics of my favorite songs with thousands of other voices, coming from thousands of other bodies, beliefs, struggles -- for that moment -- one. It was not just a concert, but the art of experience. He created an atmosphere through music, and energy that, for an hour and 45 minutes, allowed me to escape my reality.This tour happened at a pivotal moment in the public’s perception of Kanye West. It followed the release of the albums that have come to define “the old Kanye.” And, the stop in Camden was 6 months after his mother’s death. The crowd silenced, in collective reverence, as he began to perform “Hey Mama.” He sang an added lyric, “Last night I saw you in my dreams. Now, I can’t wait to go to sleep. And, this life is all a dream. My real life starts when I go to sleep.”That lyric became one of the first public signs that Kanye West was trying to evade pain.November 10th is a tough day for Kanye and I. It is the day that my mother brought me into this world and the day that his mother died. Each year, on this day, we are confronted with the fragility of mortality and the simplicity of either being alive or not. We are reminded of what we have or don’t have, like strength, control, a mother.In 2016, as that day approached, Kanye was admitted into the hospital for mental exhaustion, after a series of public breakdowns and I was falling into one of the longest and deepest depressive episodes that I’ve experienced. My 25th birthday triggered immense dissatisfaction with where I was in life and with myself. I had my mother to navigate with me and I don’t know what I would have said, did or survived if I didn’t. (“Hello, my only one. Just like the morning sun, you’ll keep on rising ‘til the sun knows your name.”)I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety for as far back as I can remember. Negative thoughts and worst case scenario assumptions about my interactions, relationships, image and ability to continuously meet elevated expectations, including my own, followed me through childhood. They followed me through graduating with honors from an Ivy League university, through being a creative black woman excelling in the tech industry, through being employed by Google, through giving my mother what she couldn’t afford.With each year and each accomplishment, is another indiscriminate episode that doesn’t acknowledge wins nor opportunity and only tallies time past and when I could have been better, faster and stronger. Through every episode, I have music.The artists that help to deliver me from pain become my doctors, my superheroes, and extensions of myself that are capable of doing what I can’t do. I develop a relationship so dependent on the pieces of life that they’ve decoded, that I hold the artists, themselves, close enough that they can also hurt me. What if the genius that empowered Kanye West to gift the world College Dropout loses the battle to mental health and spirals into toxicity? What do I do when the music begins to pale in comparison to actions?Until this year, there was nothing that Kanye said or did that I didn’t feel like I understood enough to rationalize. Allowing the parallels in our lives and the dots of mine that I’ve connected to his to lead me into blind defensiveness. I tried focusing only on the parts when he reveals pieces of information related to his lack of mental healthiness -- the opioid addiction, the fear of being called “fat,” the prescription medicine that he does or doesn’t take, the irrational back and forth of an unstable mind. I wanted those pieces to outweigh the egregious behavior that disrespects the culture for which he used to advocate -- my culture. I’ve reasoned that because I know that he is hurting and because I know what it’s like to hurt, then it is incidental that he, in turn, hurts.To grow up depressed, in a family of those who also battle depression and to have a brain that both leads to my success and, on any given day, betrays me, is to learn to normalize pain, as a survival tactic. What do you do to deal with a mind that is hellbent on destroying itself from the inside? Power is in the realization that your normal can be your toxic.I’m learning that on days when myself and my loved ones feel like they have no happiness in themselves, they have none to give to me. I’m learning that to deeply understand is not to excuse. The emotional casualties left by those who suffer from mental health issues cannot be met with dismissal -- be it a parent affecting a child or a cultural icon affecting the culture. I’m learning that my regard for art does not require an infallible artist. This recognition is the creation of a boundary. I’ve learned that the days that I owe to Kanye’s music do not equal a debt to his demons.It is not my right to use my knowledge of mental health issues to excuse the harm that Kanye West is perpetuating. My therapeutic experience as a black teenager at the Glow in the Dark tour is equal in power to a black teenager who regards Kanye West as a Hip Hop pillar and who cannot process what it means for slavery to be a “choice,” when they know that they’ve been born into a society that systematically opposes their very right to exist.Both collective harm and collective healing can be present in the same force. Part of what I know about suffering from mental health issues is that your own lack of healthiness affects those who love and depend on you in fatal ways. On days when my mother woke up expecting to have morning tea and I couldn’t get out of the bed. On days when I can’t bring myself to talk to her. On days when I snap because of my inner aggravation and nothing to do with her, I know that I am robbing her of pieces of her magic.As difficult as it is to define, the Oxford English Dictionary defines art as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination... producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” The power dynamic between art and receiver of that art can be so fraught with emotion that boundaries blur. Kanye West has produced work that is strong enough to soothe gaps in my emotional strength. Kanye West, himself, is fighting his own battle that knows nothing of me. To recognize that I’ve felt “like Pablo” is distinctly different from contorting to accept dangerous behavior just because it comes from a mind that I respect, as doing so would perpetuate the very patterns of my own brain that his music has helped me to...
Do you remember the 21st night of September? I do, oh so vividly. And it will be one I cherish for a long time.A few weeks ago, I was blessed to have one of the most black, queer, rejuvenating weekends in sunny Los Angeles with my longtime college best friends. I left work early and made the short, but traffic filled, journey from San Diego as I prepared to see two of my favs: Blood Orange, and my queen, Beyoncé.(I should also take the time to let my devoted Beyhive siblings know that this article is not about Beysus, so you can put down the Twitter fingers.)My little heart could not be more excited as my friend Jordan and I drove up to The Greek Theatre to bask in all that is Dev Hynes. The whole car ride I was overwhelmed with nostalgia, thinking about San Francisco college memories. My sophomore year of school was painted with Tumblr photoshoots, cheap vodka and Blood Orange’s Cupid Deluxe album. To say that I was an uber fan of Hynes would be an understatement.Everything was beautiful and nothing could hurt. I cried my heart out to old favorites, such as "Champagne Coast," and danced my small booty (tiny, but mighty), to the new album, Negro Swan. Now, more than ever, Hynes’ new project resonated with me tremendously. Negro Swan truly captured the heartache that comes with being ostracized while simultaneously narrating a journey of leaning into your blackness.As much joy as I received from the spiritual experience of the concert, as I left the gates of the venue it began to feel like an episode of the Twilight Zone. We made our way to the merch table to purchase the airbrush style t-shirt that said “Negro” on the front with hearts. My credit card was ready and I had to have it. With my luck, I got the last one — which put me at odds.Confused, my friend Jordan questioned, “How does a shirt with the word 'negro' sell out to a theater that was not filled with negroes?”As we left, I looked around and gasped as I saw so many white concert goers leave proudly with their negro shirts in hand, off to enjoy the rest of their Friday night.I felt hot. I felt flustered. I felt mad. I left trying to process why I was so upset. How did I all the sudden go from feeling so appreciated and validated, to feeling like a spectacle.Blood Orange makes amazing music to be cherished by all, and in no way will I ever negate that. However, unless you have ever been called any variation of the word “negro,” what are you doing with that damn shirt?In the past few years, there have been so many conversations surrounding art consumption, appropriation and appreciation. With all the dialogue, it seems as if some just don’t care and can’t accept that some things are just not for you. Even with the folks in social circles who think of themselves as socially aware, liberal and not like “those white people,” we still see these harmful acts perpetuated.As Solange said, “You want to be the teacher, don’t want to go to school. Don’t want to do the dishes, just want to eat the...
Budgeting is the bane of most people’s existence, but doing so over brunch? Suddenly, the idea doesn’t sound so dread-inducing.Husband and wife Brian "Dyalekt" Kushner and Pamela Capalad have married these two concepts to create Brunch and Budget, a financial planning session where participants receive budget coaching, as well as tax planning and financial advising. Together the couple is laying the groundwork for a financial literacy and counseling empire, through multi-tiered programs for people of color. The concept for the program came about when Capalad was at a party. One of her friends expressed that she needed financial help, but was too afraid to look into it. So Capalad offered to talk to her about it over brunch. In exchange for a meal, Capalad started offering her financial advice. Soon, one brunch turned into a couple of brunches, which yielded countless others. “These Brunch and Budgets gave me and my friends (and their friends) a place to break bread, find common ground and let our guards down, when it came to talking about money,” Capalad told Blavity. “We’ve all built up so much shame, embarrassment, fear and loneliness around money, and the comfort of a good meal and familiar space allowed me to have tough conversations, hold people’s hands — sometimes literally — and let them cry.” The couple also dedicated a year-long financial literacy program to POC called Dead Day Job Army. The program spawned from Capalad’s belief that low-income POC are often taken advantage of by financial systems. She aims to remedy corporate predation by enrolling cohort members in monthly courses that tackle topics like cash flow management, income diversification, bank account organization, credit analysis, debt investments, insurance, estate planning and more. “If you look at the history of government policies and corporate and banking policies, there’s a clear-through line,” Capalad said. “From slave masters buying insurance on the lives of their slaves to Walmart buying insurance policies on the lives of their employees; from slavery itself to the school-to-prison pipeline to the prison-industrial complex.”Dyalekt, whose “grandfather lost his land to legal loopholes,” shares these sentiments and hopes their program can help enrollees learn to create generational wealth. In another endeavor, the couple is challenging traditional school curriculums with Pockets Change, where students are taught about entrepreneurship, and how to better understand their relationship with money through the use of hip hop pedagogy. Founded by Capalad and educator Andrea Ferrero, Pockets Change launched in 2008. According to Capalad, they then roped in Dyalekt because of his 15 years of experience working with a hip-hop-based, job-prep program. “In its purest form, an economy can be like a B-boy or rap cypher: A circle where everyone creates, receives and inspires each other to create something great together,” Dyalekt said. “When I started jamming with Pockets Change, I realized how important it was to get financial acts and figures, and a broad understanding of the bigger picture.”Dyalekt’s lessons are inspired by Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, in which Gardner argues that there are several categories of intelligence outside of reading, writing and arithmetic. Musical skill is included among the eight proposed abilities outlined in Gardner's theory, which makes room for learning to be accomplished through these unconventional means. “The way we express is the way that we learn,” Dyalekt said. “The reason hip-hop is a thing at all is because it puts together all of these different modes of expression (aka learning).”Before entering one of their workshops, Dyalekt and Capalad had a few words of advice.“We are told that talking about money is taboo and it’s rude, but the only people who benefit from us not talking about it is the people who have the most money,” Capalad said. “The system is not broken,” Dyalekt added. “The system is working as intended — and it is designed to exploit you.”Through these methods, the couple is working to spread financial literacy, helping individuals build confidence in their futures. Liking this content? Check these out: 4 Easy Ways To Teach Kids About Financial LiteracyBlack And Broke In America: How To Obtaining Financial Freedom4 Companies That Are Creating Our Very Own Wakanda And Committing To Advancement In The Black...
This month, Lenny Kravitz released his 11th studio album, Raise Vibration, and with songs that make you think, feel and dance, the diverse musical composition is well worth the wait. The Grammy award-winning rock star will mark a 30 year music career next year with the anniversary of his debut album, Let Love Rule, which has become his musical anthem.Coming full circle, the vibe of the first song from Raise Vibration, “It’s Enough,” calls for a positive change from the world’s obsession with power, to a return to love and compassion for one another, consistent with the sentiment of “Let Love Rule.” The video for “It's Enough” includes powerful images highlighting social injustice around the world. The tempo and lyrics of the song are reminiscent of the thought-provoking and socially conscious songs from legendary artists like Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye.“Low,” the second release from the Raise Vibration album, features background vocals from Michael Jackson. The album also includes classic Lenny Kravitz guitar riffs on songs like “5 More Days ‘Til Summer,” “Gold Dust,” “Ride” and “The Majesty of Love.”Kravitz slows the tempo down on the LP with the tunes, “I’ll Always Be Inside Your Soul” and “Johnny Cash.” The lyrics of “Johnny Cash” recount the time that Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash consoled Kravitz after he learned of his mother’s (actress Roxie Roker) passing.Ultimately, Raise Vibration is a noteworthy collection of songs featuring the vast musical range of Lenny Kravitz. Kravitz began the Raise Vibration tour in Europe, and starts the U.S. leg this month, with stops in New York, Las Vegas and Los...
My memories bring me misery,and life is hard in the ghetto, it’s insanity,I can’t breatheGot me thinking, what do Hell got?Cause I done suffered so much, I’m feelin’ shell-shocked-Tupac, “Lord Knows”22 Years ago yesterday, Tupac Shakur died at the age of 25, six days after being shot in Las Vegas.Although he’s been gone for over 2 decades, many hip hop fans still are captivated by the image and legend associated with Tupac. They hear the songs, they see pictures of him flipping off and spitting at reporters. He’s praised for his wit, candor and general vibe of “No f**ks given” before it was even called that. To some, he’s almost a folk hero.But in recent years, what I’ve come to realize is that one of the things which also makes many people connect to Tupac is what’s under the surface of his image, and that is the fact that he constantly dealt with trauma and pain.Before you even look at lyrics, just look at some of his song titles: "Trapped", "Pain", "Under Pressure", "So Many Tears", "Me Against The World". As Chris Rock once famously said in a bit about Tupac's seemingly leaving "clues" in his music, "Pac is trying to tell us something!" Themes of sadness, rage, hopelessness, betrayal, and paranoia all are signature parts of Tupac’s music and his image, and if you take a look at his life, it’s no surprise that these themes of suffering are prevalent. Many people aware of Tupac’s story, but not many understand the pain and trauma he experienced because of it. He was born into a black radical family at a time where the US government declared war on black radical movements. His mother, Afeni Shakur, a high-profile NYC based Black Panther, faced extensive police surveillance and harassment, much of which Tupac witnessed firsthand as a young child. Based on his mother’s political history and her connections, she was blacklisted, and it was difficult for her to keep jobs, so his family moved around often. In Tupac’s high school years, he watched as his mother became addicted to crack cocaine.He was beaten by police for jaywalking when he was only 20 years old. At 21, he was involved in an altercation in which he was blamed for the accidental shooting death of a six-year-old child. He dealt with losing friends to violence, being shot at, receiving death threats, constant legal trouble and being branded as an enemy of law enforcement for his critiques of police brutality in his music.By 23, he had survived being shot 5 times, in what he believed to be an attempt on his life. Shortly after, he went to prison for sexual abuse, a charge for which he claimed to be innocent until his death, and was harassed/abused by correctional officers while in prison.… Now, just imagine what all of that would do you in your early 20s. How would you function? How would you think? How would you cope?Tupac Shakur was traumatized, stressed, paranoid and at times, seemingly suicidal. He was a public case study for black trauma and mental health long before these conversations were common in hip hop.And it's no secret that he often attempted to cope through alcohol and marijuana. Just think about how many times you've heard the words "memories" "misery" and "Hennessy" in a 'Pac song. Even his childhood friend, Jada Pinkett-Smith once said “People don’t like to talk about [the fact that] Pac was an addict… high all the time, drunk, whatever, his mind was never clear.”“I smoke a blunt to take the pain outAnd if I wasn’t high, I’d probably try to blow my brains outI’m hopeless, they should’ve killed me as a baby,Now they got me trapped in the storm, I’m going crazy”-Tupac, Lord KnowsI often think about how his pain changed him and made him a more bitter and angrier. I wonder if that anger clouded his judgment? I sometimes wonder if he was introduced to healthier ways to cope with his pain and trauma, would he still be around today?Ultimately, what Tupac’s life taught me is that trauma and pain, especially for black people, is often romanticized and commodified, yet rarely treated. Our coping mechanisms are seen as character flaws rather calls for help.I also realized that so many pieces of Tupac’s struggle are a part of the struggles which many of us face, whether it’s growing up in poverty, dealing with trauma, overcoming forms of addiction, dealing a parent’s addiction, coping with loss, adjusting to adulthood and becoming aware of the injustices of the worldTupac’s pain was, in many ways, all of our pain. Hopefully, in understanding his struggles, we can better understand not only the struggles which we face ourselves, but those of the people we interact with every day, and who knows... maybe we’ll start to help other to...
I don't know how this caught on — maybe there was some memo that was broadcasted in everyone's dreams but mine, or maybe I forgot because I don't remember my dreams — but everyone's been spelling 2018 wrong. The right way is: T-Y-L-E-R. The Creator, that is.I'm no Tyler stan. I haven't been here for him since the early days of Odd Future. I can't recite lyrics from Goblin at the drop of a fanny pack, I don't have any Golf Wang in my closet, I wasn't ready for what they were about to bring back, I wasn't ready for Tyler with the green hat, I wasn't ready for the wang$AP. But listening to Flower Boy did things to my ears that will draw serious side eye from Peter at the pearly gates, and it was worth it.Which is why attending his annual music festival, Camp Flog Gnaw, last year was less of a choice and more of an existential obligation. Now, I'm not saying the hell of a year he's having has anything to do with me being at Flog Gnaw last year and the unprecedented proximity providing potent powers practically unparalleled. Nobody's saying that. Especially not so eloquently. I'm saying we should've known this was coming.The man has built not only a career, but an empire defying expectations after premiering two TV shows, releasing his best album, earning his first best rap album Grammy nod and collaborating with Converse on a shoe line in 2017. It should've been no surprise when Tiny Desk had us doing too much, "OKRA" had us fried, "BRING IT BACK" was all about that bass, "435" had us lauding the twelve, "CRUST IN THEIR EYES" had us like this, "GELATO" was too too sweet, "PEACH FUZZ" didn't have my beard on the verge, but had us buzzing, "BRONCO" had us juiced, "POTATO SALAD" had us creaming, "TIPTOE" had us toe-tapping and "QUARTZ" ... I don't know (I don't really have any tangential references for quartz, but it was a trip). Also, the "See You Again" video was must-see.And the elio of this coming out party? THE Lauryn Hill will consecrate the stage with her presence at Camp Flog Gnaw this year. Bestowment of the queen's blessing is like the closest black people get to being knighted.So yeah, here's to you Sir Tyler. May your garden forever know...
Black woman.Daughter of African immigrants.These are just a couple of things that represent me, and are the antithesis of our current president.Sadly, we live in a time where the news and our social media feeds are on a consistent cycle filled with more tragedies, hate and sadness than ever before. To say the colors red, white and blue rub my melanin skin slightly differently these day would be an understatement. But when surrounded in a place where you look around and see people that look like you, all coming together in peace for art — well, that's only the beginning of what Afropunk is to me.For those who haven't been, Afropunk, by dictionary definition, is an arts festival that includes music, photography and more. But for those of us who have experienced this whirlwind of an art-filled blessing, we know it is beyond that. It represents black culture, community, art, diversity, inclusivity (in every sense of the word) and, to be frank, cool people, dope music and just good vibes.I'll never forget the overwhelming amount of emotions that came with Solange's performance last year. Singing along to "F.U.B.U.," hearing our sound travel in waves through the crowd ..."And all my niggas in the whole wide world / Made this song to make it all y'all's turn / For us / This shit is for us"Us — the key word to this all.See, we may live in a time of the Trump Era, but I refuse to call this Trump's America. Together, this space reminds me that this is, in fact, ours. Too often words like "borders" and "shootings" blaze the front of media headlines. Let's be real — it's heartbreaking, exhausting and beyond frustrating that so many lives are exploited to this after all they have contributed to build and shape this country.And yet, whenever I look around at Afropunk each year, it’s just another reminder that you can try to break down, strip and destroy everything that we are and stand for, but you will not break us or keep us down.It is here where we come together beyond class, gender, race, religion, walk of life. Instead, that story is your art. You are you. Regardless if we ever formally meet, the Afropunk community is fam. So although Solange might not be gracing the stage this year, the song remains the same: this shit is FOR...
2016 kicked off the year of #BlackGirlMagic with memorable moments thanks to Netta, Teyonah, and Yara's Essence Cover and our CEO, Morgan DeBaun being named on Forbes' 30 under 30 list. What's a memorable moment without a soundtrack to go with it? We 've got you covered. For those times you have to remind yourself of your inner light, or that day you have to remind someone else that seems to have forgotten. Check out our list of 26 songs that will help you unleash your inner #BlackGirlMagic!1. Fantasia - "Baby Mama"
2. Chaka Khan & Whitney Houston - I'm Every Woman
3. Salt and Pepa - None Of Your Business
4. Lil' Kim feat. Da Brat, Missy Elliot, Angie Martinez, & Left Eye Ladies Night (Not Tonight Remix)
5. Destiny Child - Independent Women
6. TLC - No Scrubs
7. 702 - Where My Girls At
8. Janet Jackson - Control
9. Kelis - Milkshake
10. Beyoncé - Run the World (Girls)
11. Aretha Franklin - Respect
12. Rihanna - Take A Bow
13. Mary J Blige - No More Drama
14. Jennifer Hudson - Spotlight
15. Nicki Minaj - Anaconda
16. Ariana Grande - Problem
17. Erykah Badu - Tyrone
18. Janelle Monae - Electric Lady
19. Ne-Yo - She Got Her Own ft. Jamie Foxx, Fabolous
20. Lady Gaga feat. Beyoncé - Telephone
21. Fifth Harmony - Worth It
22. Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu - QUEEN
23.Diana Ross - Work That Body
24. Ciara - Basic Instinct (U Got Me)
25. Mya - $ Can’t Buy My Love
26. Rochelle Jordan - Follow Me
Woop, there it is!
Photo: giphy Obviously, this list can go on forever, as Black girls are just that magical! What songs are on your #BlackGirlMagic playlist? And you can take this playlist with you by following us on...
The Voice, the definitive moniker given to the legendary talent of Whitney Houston, may have been silenced this day six years ago. But her pristine instrument continues to wow music fans. While she established superiority with her own string of hits, her talent was only exemplified when she covered these songs and made it all her own. 1. "Home" from The Wiz (Stephanie Mills)
Whitney Houston's "Home" Live On The Merv...
by jefrilibra Whitney's debut on 'The Merv Griffin Show' is breathtaking, to say the least. The professionally-groomed singer belted the heart-warming ballad "Home" from The Wiz and let everyone know you won't forget her name. 2. "That's What Friends are For" (Dionne Warwick)
In the latter 80s Whitney was still a rising star, but her talent surpassed many of her peers, aligning her with legends. Here she was grouped with Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder and cousin Dionne Warwick in a cover of "That's What Friends are For." 3. "All the Man I Need" (Sister Sledge)
Many are probably unaware this stirring ballad from I'm Your Baby Tonight was originally performed by Sister Sledge. Houston infused a touch of heaven in this cover that is unmatched. 4. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (Simon & Garfunkel)
Houston's roots were grounded in the church and gospel music. In 1995 she proved this in a rousing rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" with gospel legend and friend CeCe Winans. 5. "I'm Every Woman" (Chaka Khan)
Yes. Whitney even managed to out woman the diva herself, Chaka Khan, when she reworked the 70s hit for The Bodyguard soundtrack. Houston appeared in the music video very pregnant with daughter Bobbi Kristina, which emboldened the message of the song. 7. "Impossible: It's Possible" (Julie Andrews)
Representation was delivered as Whitney and her protege Brandy both starred in the 1997 remake of Rodger and Hammerstien's 'Cinderella'. The duo's take on 'Impossible/It's Possible' is audible magic. 8. "I Love You Porgy/And I'm Telling You/I Have Nothing" Medley
Whitney flexed her versatility at the 1994 AMAs with a 10-minute medley. She playfully cooed "I Love You Porgy" (Porgy & Bess), bellowed "And I'm Telling You" (Dreamgirls) and cascaded into her signature single "I Have Nothing." 9. "I Love the Lord" (Isaac Watts)
Whitney was unstoppable in the 1990s and continued her reign on The Preacher's Wife soundtrack. Starring in the film, Houston gave us the perfect version of this precious hymn. 10. "The Star-Spangled Banner" (Francis Scott Key)
Whitney was the first artist who's rendition of the National Anthem was packaged and sold as a single, setting a precedent from that day forth. Arguments that Lady Gaga - or anyone - surpassed this version are purely erroneous. 11. "Love's In Need of Love Today" (Stevie Wonder)
In 1994 Whitney went on an international tour which included the recently apartheid-free South Africa. Here she stunned with a rousing version of Stevie Wonder's heartfelt message song. She also sang it for South Africa President Nelson Mandela at a White House dinner the same year. 12. "I Believe In You and Me" (The Four Tops)
Another soundtrack cover came courtesy of a song originally done by The Four Tops. Houston's cover is often mistaken as the original version. 13. "I Will Always Love You" (Dolly Parton)
Houston's tour de force moment came on the wings of a little song written by country icon Dolly Parton. Whitney took the heartbreak song and morphed it into the ultimate swan song of anyone who's ever loved. We miss you Nippy!
Photo: giphy READ NEXT: The ultimate Whitney Houston guide to collecting...
At first, re-entering the dating scene seemed like it would be a thrilling new adventure. I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to put in the effort to get to know someone all over again, starting from the ground up. I’d gone through my healing phase, so to me, it only felt right giving dating another go. I’d meet people out at sporting events, grocery stores or the local bars. One person in particular grabbed my attention more than the others, so I decided he may be worth learning more about. Little did I know, once you get invested with certain types of people, they may cease all communication with you without warning. I learned this was called “ghosting.”According to Urban Dictionary, ghosting is when a person cuts off all communication with their friends or the person they're dating, with zero warning or notice beforehand. You'll mostly see them avoiding friends' phone calls, social media and avoiding them in public.After some months of consistent talking and dates, I had been ghosted. No texts back, no callbacks — no nothing.To me, there was no sign of him losing interest, but maybe I was too caught up in my own emotions to see them. I was confused, of course, and damn right hurt. I was playing out our last few dates back in my head, trying to figure out if I had said or done something wrong. Hell, maybe it was never my own fault. I had to accept the fact that I may never get an actual explanation.Is Ghosting Necessary, or Just Plain Petty?Maybe I’m biased since I was the one who was ghosted and not doing the ghosting, but when someone disappears without an explanation, that shows their lack of being able to communicate. Effective communication is essential in all relationships, whether it be platonic, romantic or even your family. You should be able to express yourself openly and freely with your friends or partner. But why is it that our generation feels it necessary to "ghost" rather than to speak up for ourselves?In part, a lot of us still have unresolved baggage or healing that we haven’t addressed. Maybe we should deal with our own shit first before bringing someone else in the equation. So before you get proud of ghosting someone, ask yourself, "Am I just not ready to put in the time and effort with someone else?"Ghosting is petty! Say how you feel and mean what you say. Look, I’m not butt hurt or bitter that I was ghosted, I just don’t necessarily understand the concept behind it. A simple, "this isn’t going to work for me," can convey the same message, but more directly. It's OK to speak up, and it's OK to lose interest, but try your best not to.The dating scene shouldn't be like navigating through a minefield. It should be fun and allow you to learn more things about, not only another person, but yourself, as well. Be open to the possibilities and don't be afraid to communicate, rather than...