a v o n asa KASH DOLL
THE W SAN FRANCISCO
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STEAL STEAL THE THESHOW. SHOW.
1. Performance figures comparison only were obtained with prototype vehicles professional drivers using special safety equipment and procedures. attempt. Apps 1. Performance figures areare for for comparison only andand were obtained with prototype vehicles by by professional drivers using special safety equipment and procedures. DoDo notnot attempt. 2. 2. Apps ® ® ® ® functionality requires a compatible iPhone connected with approved data cable services subject to change at any time without notice. Data charges may apply. Apple CarPlay functionality requires a compatible iPhone connected with anan approved data cable andand services areare subject to change at any time without notice. Data charges may apply. Apple CarPlay ® ® a registered trademark of Harman International Industries, Options shown. ©2019 Lexus. USB media port. Apple CarPlay a trademark of Apple 3. Mark Levinson is aisregistered trademark of Harman International Industries, Inc.Inc. Options shown. ©2019 Lexus. intointo thethe USB media port. Apple CarPlay is aistrademark of Apple Inc.Inc. 3. Mark Levinson
THE LEXUS ES F SPORT. With masterfully crafted details, impressive performance, and aggressive styling, the ES 350 F SPORT, part of the ES line, was born for the spotlight. Along with a new 302-hp1 3.5L V6 engine, available Apple CarPlay2, and 17-speaker Mark Levinson® PurePlay3 surround sound, the ES F SPORT is as pleasing to the ears as it is to the eyes. So when you step onto the stage of life in the ES F SPORT, you’ll steal the show.
lexus.com/ES | #LexusES
The Greater Than Ever Corolla Nothing beats relentless drive. With an available 2.0L engine, the all-new, fun to drive, 2020 Toyota Corolla is ready to shift into high gear and seek out new opportunities. Letâ€™s go places. Prototype shown with options. ÂŠ2019 Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
Contents Photography by Andrew Zaeh
s Jacket RALPH LAUREN PURPLE LABEL T-Shirt PAL ZILERI Jeans BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB
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Contents 16 Access By Bleu
48 The Creatives
The Cargo Van of the Future
Confession of a depressed creative
26 Soled Up
A Gross Collection
Winter is Coming
80 The Humans
82 Bombshell How Kash Doll Stacked Her Wins
90 Spotlight The W San Francisco
93 Icon John Singleton
34 Fuel Days And Nights At Sketch London
38 Books Inspire Your Mind with These Intriguing Reads
Photography by Andrew Gordy-Hart
s Jacket HELMUT LANG
Pants HUGO BOSS
Fall by The Sea
On the Cover CASANOVA Words By J’NA JEFFERSON Photography By ANDREW ZAEH Photography Assistant: OLIVIA OWEN Stylist: COREY ROBINSON Stylist Assistant: NINA REYES Barber: JOHN OSAYOMI Grooming: SHANNON K. YOUNG
Publisher/Editorial Direction DéVon Christopher Johnson
Head of Content Ebony Allison
Art Direction & Design Vee Banionis Agnes Mazeikate
Graphic Designer Luis Carlos Lopez
UK Fashion Editor Sean Azeez
Todd Evans, Rivendell Media 908.232.2021
Partnerships & Branded Content
Andrew Zaeh, Ricardo Nelson, Andrew Gordy-Hart
Ash Chak, Patrice Gillespie
Elysia Tanswell, Merilee Kern, Terence McNealy, Imani Suliman
Chevy Wolf, Jamie Rollo, Kaylin Young, Tommy Rodriguez
Digital Content Strategist Kaylin Young, Brandon Beachum, Kwame Owusu
Copy Editor Deputy Editor
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Rannon Harris (Chicago - Midwest) Leroy Williams (Northeast)
East Coast Fashion Editor
Taylor Edwards, Isiuwa Igodan, Shanelle Harris, Evan Majors
THE BLEULIFE GROUP Chairman, CEO & President DéVon Christopher Johnson
Digital Content Designer Carlton Brown
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Take a seat Right over there, sat on the stairs Stay or leave The cabinets are bare and I’m unaware Of just how we got into this mess Got so aggressive I know we meant all good intentions So pull me closer Why don’t you pull me close Why don’t you come on over I can’t just let you go Oh baby Why don’t you just meet me in the middle I’m losing my mind just a little So why don’t you just meet me in the middle In the middle Baby Why don’t you just meet me in the middle
You don’t have to be a musical genius like Erykah Badu to be sensitive about your shit. The truth is we are all artists in our own right. We are delicately crafting the storyboard of our own lives; past, present, and future. The vast majority of us have no formal training in the great art of living. We just aim. That awesome space of just being comfortable in one’s own skin is sacred. Moreover, being comfortable in the uniqueness that is you is hard to pinpoint. There’s no litmus test. No judge or jury. So it is hard to qualify when you should feel good enough or proud of who you are. So instead we compare ourselves to others - ending up disappointed and feeling less than. There is a thin line between being inspired by others and wanting to be someone other than yourself. You have to be careful not to cross on to the wrong side. Coming back is not that easy. Find your happy and nurture it. Find your middle ground. Be inspired by others but also know how great and bright your own future is. In this issue, we explore incredible creatives that have found their middle. The happy. The truth.
I’m losing my mind just a little So why don’t you just meet me in the middle In the middle Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey “THE MIDDLE”
DéVon Christopher Johnson Founder And Group Publisher
C O N T R I B U TO R S
J’na Jefferson is currently a freelance journalist whose writing has been seen on Billboard, Playboy, BET, CollegeHumor and more. Her writing focuses on urban music and culture-related stories and features. She’s also shifted her commentary to reflect topics pertaining to society, women’s rights and more. Additionally, she serves as the host of the podcast #AndFriends, brought to you by the Indie Creative Network.
ANTHONY GODET TE
Anthony (Jango) Godette, born and raised in Far Rockaway Queens, is a full-scale content creator and co-founder of Clip Mode Media. Along with years of experience, Jango currently holds a bachelor’s degree from John Jay College.
A GUY & A GURL
I S I U WA I G O D A N
Isiuwa Igodan is a storyteller and content creator, who has a keen eye for creating artistic visuals and passionate feature stories based on the life and/or careers of the interesting individuals she meets. Isiuwa believes that everyone has a story, herself included, and strives to share unique, inspiring and motivating stories to her audience.
When Brian Goodwin, a debonair southern gent by nature, met Amber “Glam” Leon, a chic and charismatic California girl in New York, they quickly joined forces and created the celebrity image consulting brand aptly named “A Guy & A Gurl.” This style dream team is the perfect rendezvous of multifaceted fashion perspectives and huge personalities operating in glamorous sync. When they are not slaying magazine editorials for the likes of Paper and Bleu Magazine, they are busy wardrobing some of our favorite celebs for awards shows and TV appearances, and coordinating fashion shows and events with some of the hottest fashion hubs and designers.
ANDREW ZEAH E VA N M A J O R S
Evan Majors is the owner of Major Media & Casting, a bi-coastal casting and talent development company. Currently, he’s helping oversee casting for the reboot of MTV’s Making The Band w/Diddy. In his spare time, he’s long-distance running, thinking about writing more than writing, and keeps his therapist on speed dial. 14
Before hitting his stride as a photographer and VMA-Nominated director, Andrew held creative positions at major record labels where he helmed the visual branding for many of today’s top artists. Since then, Andrew has had the pleasure of lensing campaigns for AT&T, Revlon and Johnson & Johnson to name a few. Always happiest on set, Andrew is thrilled to be a contributor to Bleu.
UST OT J A
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GAZINE . @BLEUMAGAZINE
AC C E S S BY B L E U
PYER MOS S “SISTER ” COLLE CTION 3 RU NWAY SHOW AT NYF W 20 19 With a three series collection titled, “American, Also,” designer Kerby Jean-Raymond seeks to showcase pieces that tell the story of the many contributions African Americans have made to American culture. For this collection, titled “Sister,” the fashion house known as Pyer Moss focused on the actual inventor of Rock N’ Roll, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The recently exonerated artist Richard Phillips was the focal point of the designs that celebrated Tharpe’s contribution and life. The showing was held at the iconic Kings Theater in Kerby Jean-Raymond’s hometown of Flatbush, Brooklyn. The star studded guest list included ASAP Ferg, Dave East, Dapper Dan, Estelle, Jidenna, Joey Badass, Normani, Quavo, Saweetie, Victor Cruz, and many more.
AC C E S S BY B L E U
TIDAL X R OCK THE VOTE 5TH ANNUAL BENEF I T CONCER T With the 2020 election coming up, Tidal teamed up with the nonprofit Rock the Vote for their 5th Annual Benefit Concert. Together, they are seeking to get more youths registered to vote. 100 percent of the proceeds and donations are going directly to the cause thanks to the participating sponsors which included D’USSE, Turtle Beach, Mark Levinson By Harman, and CIROC Ultra Premium Vodka and Snipes. Alicia Keys, French Montana, Becky G, G-Eazy, Ty Dolla $ign, Carnage, Doja Cat, Lucky Daye, Angelica Vila, Nicol Bus, Lil Uzi Vert, Young M.A, Casanova, and many more took the Barclay’s Center Stage in support of the cause.
1-7. Pictured: Kerby Jean-Raymond 8. A$AP Ferg, photo courtesy of Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Tidal 9. Moneybagg Yo, photo courtesy of Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Tidal 10. 4Doja Cat, photo courtesy of Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Tidal 11. Alicia Keys, photo courtesy of Steven Ferdman/Getty Images for Tidal
Images Courtesy of MWWPR
The Genius Behind The Pen! We praise our favorite musicians for providing us with a vibe, but rarely do we ever hail the masterminds behind it! Check out these songwriters pushing their pens up the Billboard chart!
JEREMY P. FELTON is the extremely talented singer, songwriter, and producer known as Jeremih. The Chi-town multi-faceted artist made a mark in the industry in 2009 after signing to Def Jam Records, and dropped his debut single “Birthday Sex.” The record peaked at number four on the Billboard charts but the hits didn’t stop there. He went on to release singles “Down on Me” and “Don’t Tell ‘Em,” both making it on the top 10 of Billboard Hot 100 Charts. After his 2018 album with Ty Dolla Sign, “MihTy,” Jeremih has been quiet on the artist front. However, his writing credits have always been on, despite the gaps on the single front. Here are five songs from the Chicago native you had no idea he wrote.
1. Kid Ink “Show Me” ft. Chris Brown 2. Kanye West “All Mine” 3. Rae Sremmurd “Throw Sum Mo” ft. Nicki Minaj and Young Thug 4. Big Sean “Bounce Back” 5. Rihanna “Woo”
PARTYNEXTDOOR, born Jahron Anthony Braithwaite, is a Canadian singer, songwriter, rapper, and record producer; because why not do it all, right? The 26-year-old signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell as a songwriter, under his stage name PartyNextDoor, after making electric R&B infused music when he was only 18. In 2013, he released a self-titled mixtape, PartyNextDoor, that sold over 20K copies and peaked at number 34 on the Billboard charts. That same year, he put down vocals on Drake’s hits “Come Thru” and “Own It,” from his third studio album “Nothing Was The Same”, and later signed to OVO Sound. Inspired by his Caribbean background of Jamaican and Trinidadian descent, PND has not only put out massive vibes like “Not Nice,” but he has writing credits on hits from your favs you wouldn’t even guess.
1. Rihanna “Work” 2. Rihanna “Wild Thoughts” 3. Drake “With You” 4. Dj Khaled “Shining” ft. Beyonce and Jay Z 5. Drake “Ratchet Happy Birthday”
STACEY BARTHE has flown under the radar for far too long! Brooklyn born and bred, the 34-year-old singer/songwriter has been in the game for over 10 years and her accolades do not disappoint. The Grammy-nominated songwriter’s career began in 2007 when she signed a publishing deal to Universal Music Publishing Group by Ethiopia Habtermariam. Stacey has worked with some industry greats such as Sean “Diddy” Combs, Brandy, Melanie Fiona, Akon, and so many more. Not only is she crazy with the pen, but she’s insane on the mic too. She’s released her own music across four EP’s and one studio album. Stacey’s writing credits will definitely blow you away; further than her voice.
1. Rihanna “Cheers (Drink to That)” 2. Brittany Spears “Blue” 3. Miley Cyrus “Adore You” 4. Beyonce “Brown Skin Girl” 5. T.I. “Sorry” ft. Andre 3000
BADRIIA INES “BIBI” BOURELLY is an American German-born singer/songwriter who fell in love with music through her father, notable guitarist Jean-Paul Bourelly. Her start in music began at 4 years old as she attended concerts with her father and went on tour for the first time, with him, at 11. Bibi then attended Blake High School in Maryland, and not long after, her career began. In Maryland, she worked with producer Paperboy Fabe who set up a session for her with Kanye West in LA. From then on, she not only released her own songs like “Riot” “Ego,” and “Writer’s Song,” but she has been racking up those writing credits too! !
1. Usher “Hard II Love” 2. Rihanna “Pose” 3. Rihanna “Bitch Better Have My Money” 4. Mariah Carey “GTFO” 5. Camila Cabello “I Have Questions”
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Words by TOMMY RODRIGUEZ MAZOUR
Words by: TOMMY RODRIGUEZ
THE CARGO VAN OF THE FUTURE The best-selling van of all time has gone electric. Volkswagen unveils the modern-day Volkswagen Transporter, the I.D. BUZZ CARGO.
P P EE R R FF O OR RM MA AN NC C EE Top Speed:
Maximum Power: 201 Horsepower (150 kW)
Electric vehicles have been the talk of the automotive industry for years now, and there is no denying that they are the future. It was only right for the classic company to give us their own line of electric vehicles, and they’ve exceeded expectations with the I.D. Family. At the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, Volkswagen displayed their newest concept and member of the I.D. Family: the I.D. BUZZ CARGO. The electric revampment of the Volkswagen Transporter could be launched as a production vehicle as early as 2022. A sibling of the I.D. BUZZ, the I.D. BUZZ CARGO embodies the astounding advancement of technology and engineering since the first generation release of its iconic predecessor. Designers at Volkswagen managed to create a new panel van that is futuristic and environmentally-friendly, all while managing to keep that nostalgic feel. Its sleek body and brilliant LED systems truly make the BUZZ CARGO a sight to take in, and that can’t be said about just any panel van.
The van is strapped with a 201-horsepower electric motor and a single-speed transmission, allowing for a payload of 1,760 pounds. While the concept offered a rearwheel drive system, it’s very possible for an all-wheel drive system to be implemented at a later time. Volkswagen has made sure to tailor this ride for a wide variety of needs. The vehicle will come with a 48 kWh lithium ion battery, capable of achieving 200 miles on the WLTP cycle. But for consumers needing more battery life for longer rides, batteries with energy capacities up to 111 kWh will be offered, giving drivers up to an impressive 340 miles on the WLTP cycle. The 48 kWh battery can be charged to 80 percent capacity in a mere 15 minutes with a 150 kW DC fast charger, and the 111 kWh unit will take twice as long. As an alternative, the batteries are also prepared for inductive charging. The vehicle can simply be parked over a charging plate and contactless energy will flow. If that still doesn’t cut it, the BUZZ CARGO has a solar roof that can extend battery life by up to 9.3 miles per day. The car charges by sitting in the sun. How could we ever backtrack and drive gas-powered vehicles? The battery and motor are only a scratch on the surface of the countless spectacular
Single-Speed Automatic 198.7 in. (5,047 mm)
77.8 in. (1,976 mm)
77.3 in. (1,963 mm)
129.9 in. (3,299 mm)
innovations and features the BUZZ CARGO will have. The versatile vehicle will be capable of fully autonomous driving, thanks to Volkswagen’s “I.D. Pilot” model. Pair this with a laptop integration into the vehicle and the possibilities for multitasking are endless. In addition, workers will no longer need to worry about pulling over to charge tools, for the BUZZ CARGO’s 230 V socket can take care of that. The cargo area features a shelving system with sensors. Data from the sensors regarding what is on the shelves can be transferred to tablets in the cockpit, and may also be sent to the company’s headquarters by means of a mobile radio networks. Managing workers and keeping track of articles will be easier than ever before. The I.D. BUZZ CARGO is a testament to the innovation of Volkswagen, and why they are still one of the largest automakers decades later. Despite being new to the electric vehicle industry, the CARGO is already in a lane of its own, and no other electric van comes close. Issue 63
ODDLY CONVENIENT We don’t see the conveniences we need until they’re offered to us. Check out these products that you probably didn’t realize you actually need.
Coffee is an integral part of any morning routine. But as the temperatures drop, our glass mugs begin to feel like ice blocks. The Ember Temperature Controlled Mug combats this major wintertime issue. This gadget will keep your cup of coffee (and youâ€™re fingers) nice and warm for the colder months. Coming with a corresponding phone app, you can receive notifications to your phone that will alert you when the mug is warmed to the specific temperature of your liking. And, it will keep your mug hot for an hour preventing your coffee from cooling down too soon. Another fun added feature is a customizable LED light on the mug that you can set to whatever color your heart desires. This mug is a complete must-have for fall and winter. You can find the Ember mugs on Amazon, at Best Buy, MoMa Design Stores, or even your local Starbucks with prices starting as low as $34.00
Photo credit: Kristi Collura for Ember
Ember Temperature Controlled Mug
Click & Grow Smart Garden Most chefs dream of having fresh herbs and vegetables at their fingertips. Now, that dream has become a reality with Click & Grow Smart Gardens. Lacking that green thumb? No worries because Click & Grow is as easy as its name sounds. It works similarly to pod-coffee machines except Click & Grow provides pods of organic soil and seeds. By using the NASA tested Smart Soil, these planters allow users to sit back and relax while the soil keeps ideal pH, oxygen, and water levels. The light attached will turn on and off automatically for the ideal growing environment. They offer pods with multiple options including lavender, tomatoes, parsley, chili peppers, plus others and prices start at just $99.95. The Click & Grow also offers different sizes suitable for any kitchen. The Smart Garden 3 can hold up to three pods, the Smart Garden 9 can hold up to nine different pods, and the largest, the Wall Farm, can hold a total of 51 different pods while offering added decorum to your kitchen. Photo credit: Enno Kirsimäe (Click & Grow)
Buddha Board Want to get your creative juices flowing without the stress of a permanent canvas? The Buddha Board allows you to freely paint on a reusable canvas. This mess-free gadget, with its sleek design, is completely portable and perfect for artistry on-the-go. It comes in two different sizes: 5 in. x 5 in. x ½ in., and 12 in. x 9.5 in. x ¼ in. They retail for $14.95 and $34.95 respectively. According to their website, Buddha Board was designed to be a Zen activity. Basically, you paint whatever your heart desires on the board with water. The water leaves behind a bold design that evaporates overtime creating a blank slate. Another plus about the board is that it is environmentally friendly as it uses only water and not chemicals often found in paint and ink. You can purchase your own Buddha Board at buddhaboard.com or on Amazon.
Photo credit: courtesy of Buddha Board
AMIR Phone Camera Lens These portable camera lenses are made to clip right onto your smartphone. The AMIR Camera Lenses allows you to have professional camera quality without the price of camera equipment. The pack can be found on Amazon for just $13.99 and comes with two different lenses. The 12.5X Micro Lense allows you to take beautifully sharp images, while the Ultra Wide Angle Lens substantially increases a smart phoneâ€™s wide-angle range. These professional-quality lenses are also super convenient. The package comes with a detachable lens clip. Made with soft rubber, the clip-on holder will not cause damage and can fit onto most smartphones and tablets.
Photo credit: Amazon.com
A Gross Collection
IN HAND : EXTRA BUTTER X ASICS GEL SAGA “COTTONMOUTH” RETAIL: $120 (EXTRA BUTTER)
There’s only one word that seems fitting for the sneaker collection owned by Bernie Gross: Nasty. Gross is the creative director of Extra Butter. And if you’re unfamiliar with the Extra Butter brand, consider it to be the Neverland for sneakerheads and streetwear connoisseurs. Tucked away in the lower east side on Orchard Street, the beauty of the flagship store will have one requesting, ‘Extra Butter, Please! Known for housing some of the most exclusive remakes and collaborations from iconic brands, it is no surprise that Bernie’s collection is beasty!
THE AVENGERS DUNK SB LOW (WHITE/BLACK) PURPLE PATENT RETAIL: $225
FOOT PATROL X NIKE AIR STAB BLACK/SKYLIGHT-VINTAGE PURPLE-LIGHT SILVER-MAIZE RETAIL: $250
YO MTV RAPS CLYDE PROMO RETAIL: $90
BLAZER 73 PREMIUM â€˜BEAUTIFUL LOSER RETAIL: $250
2003 DIRTY DENIM DUNKS LOW RETAIL: $90
EXTRA BUTTER X SAUCONY SHADOW 5000 “FOR THE PEOPLE” RETAIL: $195 (EXTRA BUTTER)
ESPO X AIR FORCE 2 LOW ‘ESPO’ RETAIL: $1000( FLIGHTCLUB)
s winter comes into full force, hair becomes dryer and needs some extra TLC. Moisturize, treat, and style your beard and mane with these amazing products from Admiral Supply Co., Good Guy Wellness, and The Beard Club.
The Beard Club Sandalwood Beard Oil Using naturally derived oils, the Beard Club’s Sandalwood Bear Oil is perfect for oisturizing not just your beard, but the skin underneath it as well. The sandalwood formula keeps any beard hydrated and smoothes out coarse facial hair. Another key benefit is the amazing, natural smell of sandalwood oil.
Growth Oil Much like the spray, Beard Club’s Growth Oil helps you achieve a fuller look. hen applied, this oil nourishes hair follicles and moisturizes the skin underneath. This product also eliminates itch while promoting the healthiest growth possible. The Growth Oil also helps to soften and strengthen existing beards.
Growth Oil Vitamin Spray Growing beards can be more difficult than it seems and it takes a long time for a full beard to grow in. The Beard Club’s Growth Oil Vitamin Spray is the perfect product for achieving a full beard on-the-go. Not only does the spray moisturize and hydrate, it promotes growth as well. This oil is also made with lavender, which detoxifies and protects the skin underneath.
Wax Once you’ve used the rest of the Beard Club’s top-of-the-line products to grow a fabulous beard, use their styling wax to keep it in place. This styling wax, similar to a pomade, is perfect for styling with ease. On top of keeping your beard tame, this wax also moisturizes and promotes a fuller look. 32
Good Guy Wellness 1. Hair Regrowth Shampoo Step one of Good Guy Wellness’ hair care regimen is using their Hair Regrowth Shampoo. The shampoo’s formula contains biotin, thioctic acid, L-carnitine and saw palmetto; all of which help stimulate hair growth and promote thickness and texture. The shampoo keeps DHT (and androgen that contributes to male pattern hair loss) away from follicles, all while keeping your hair squeaky clean and smelling like fresh mint leaves.
2. Hair Growth Conditioner Next on your Good Guy hair care regimen is using the Hair Regrowth Conditioner. Simply massage a small amount into your hair and leave it for three to four minutes. This conditioner is made with biotin, apple fruit cells, and thioctic acid to help reduce inflammation and the thinning of hair follicles. This conditioner simultaneously promotes the health of current hair and encourages new hair growth, and is also infused with that cool, fresh mint scent. Neither the shampoo or conditioner contain harmful detergents that strip the hair’s natural oils.
3. Extra Strength Hair Regrowth Treatment The third step of your regimen is applying the Extra Strength Hair Regrowth Treatment. The 5 percent minoxidil topical solution is clinically proven to help regrow hair, and customers testify that the treatment improved the thickness and regrowth of hair. Simply apply twice a day to the hair loss area to reactivate hair follicles.
Hair Growth Gummy Vitamins The last step, and perhaps the most important step, is to take your vitamins. Hair health starts from the inside, and Good Guy Wellness’ Hair Growth Gummy Vitamins are perfect for replenishing those vitamins and minerals your body desperately needs. The gummies are stacked with essential vitamins such as A, B5, biotin (B7), B12, C, D3, folic acid, iodine and zinc. Two gummies a day is all you need to ensure your Good Guy hair health.
Admiral Supply Co. Fiber Pomade
Admiral regards their Fiber Pomade as the “workhorse” of the lineup and for good reason. The Fiber Pomade is perfect for a wide variety of hairstyles, capable of light, medium, or strong holds depending on how much is applied. The pomade’s formula uses micro-fibers to give hair a flexible hold, and is infused with mica to promote hair health and give the pomade its sparkle. Plus, what’s not to love about a classic vanilla scent?
Admiral’s Classic Pomade is definitely a customer favorite. As the highest rated pomades on Amazon, this product perfectly balances a strong hold with a natural feel. Made with organic beeswax and 100 percent plant based preservatives, it has the perfect, subtle coconut aroma. Use of the pomade is as easy as it gets and allows for easy styling throughout the day with just a bit of water.
The latest addition to Admiral’s lineup of pomades is its strongest. A reinvention of the Classic Pomade, the Deluxe Pomade is perfect for those looking for a little more hold and shine. Its “Vintage Musk” fragrance is distinctly masculine, and while the scent is stronger than that of the traditional, it still isn’t overpowering.
Admiral’s most lightweight product, Admiral Matte Clay, is perfect for guys looking for just a bit of hair control. The hold is light and gives hair little to no shine, keeping hairstyles as natural as possible. Admiral infuses the clay/ crème with natural oils to promote hair health and keep the product flake free, tying it all together with a hint of a tobacco aroma.
Words By ELYSIA TANSWELL
DAYS AND NIGHTS AT SKETCH
London Throw away your maps of London and carefully crafted travel plans. This London gem will keep you busy enough to skip the sightseeing.
In an imposing three-story Georgian townhouse on London’s iconic Mayfair Street, you’ll find Sketch London. Whilst taking in the grandeur and hearing the music sneak out from its walls onto the street, you’re liable to wonder what’s inside. The answer is something that not even the founder knew when he started Sketch. Mourad Mazouz bought the building with no plan, but plenty of ambition. Today Sketch London is a collection of restaurants, bars, and patisseries each more unique than the last. Within its walls there is enough luxury and discovery to plan entire days around.
BREAKFAST Early birds have plenty of options at Sketch. The most important meal of the day is served at both The Parlour and The Glade. The former is wonderfully stylish and unique. The breakfast spot upon first glance gives the impression of seventies glamour. But closer inspection finds that this aesthetic is blended with quirky additions such as dainty teapots, and chairs wearing ballet shoes. The food offers something for everyone. The entire spectrum of breakfast from Full English to pancakes, to simple fruit bowls is represented. Alternatively, you could eat your first meal of the day in an enchanted forest. The Glade offers the same food as The Parlour, but with an entirely different atmosphere. The walls are adorned with painted trees. The lights are low. The carpet is green and fuzzy to resemble foliage. To top off the feeling of magic, the music is provided by a pink piano that plays itself.
LUNCH Both The Parlour and The Glade also offer lunch. But if you’re looking for something lighter there’s
photo courtesy of Sketch London
always the quintessentially English offering of afternoon tea. Of course, this is Sketch so nothing is traditional. Afternoon tea is served from 11:30 to 4:30 at The Gallery. The flagship restaurant is a plush pink paradise. The walls, the ceiling, and the luxury seating are all candyfloss pink. The Gallery is named as such due to the 91 David Shrigley originals on the walls. But the artistry of the restaurant doesn’t stop
there, as the turner prize winner also brought his talents to the tableware. Here amongst the art, you can enjoy the three-tiered serving of sandwiches, cakes, and assorted treats.
DINNER If pink is your thing you can return to The Gallery for a luxury dinner. But if your style is more tweed coats than fluffy jumpers, The Lecture Room is the place for you.
The interior is more mature but avoids being traditional. The decor feels like a satire of the private clubs of English old money types. As if The Diogenes Club had color, life, and eccentricity thrown at it. Enjoy your evening meal amongst the grandiose red and gold carpet, thick white table cloths, and paneled walls. Enjoying the food is practically guaranteed. The Lecture rooms boats not one, but two coveted Michelin stars. Experience the seven-course tasting menu, or choose from the diverse al a carte selection. Whatever you chose will be luxurious and delicious.
DRINKS The party can go on all night at Sketch with some venues open until two in the morning. After you’ve spent the day lining your stomach, you can spend the night filling it with booze. Remember breakfast? Both The Parlor and The Glade transition into cocktail bars at night. Enjoy live music and even a selection of beers for the rare few who don’t love a fancy cocktail. If neither of those strike your fancy you can always head over to the East Bar. Perhaps the strangest venue on the outside and the most normal on the inside. The East Bar is a giant pure white eggshaped entrance which contains a classy circular bar. Here you can enjoy an eclectic mix of cocktails ranging from the classic to the bespoke. Sketch London is a place like no other. You could spend morning to night within its walls and come back the next day for an entirely different experience. If you ever find yourself in London with nothing to do, you won’t regret visiting any of the restaurants or bars. Perhaps most importantly, every room offers the perfect location for fabulous Instagram pictures.
1 GRAPPLERS PUSH-UPS
SUNâ€™S OUT, GUNS OUT Since everyday is arm day, we reached out to New York fitness trainer and model Bobby Tolliver to find the best workouts to tone your upper body. If you are a beginner-level gym-goer, Bobby suggests doing five sets of five for each workout. For intermediates, do five sets of 10 and for advanced gym-goers, 10 sets of 10. However, if you really want to feel the burn, try each workout for 15 to 30 minutes, and if you need a break, jog in place or do jumping jacks for getting back into it.
Bobby was introduced to this workout by his older brother, a mixed martial arts fighter. This is the perfect workout for all parts of the body as opposed to a traditional push-up which focuses primarily on the arms and chest. Grappler pushups engage the glutes, hamstrings, back, arms, chest and core. To execute, place your hands on the ground about a foot apart with your butt in the air and legs spread wide, then swing forward as if you are trying to get under a pole without touching it.
2 DARNESS GET-UPS
For this work out, you’re going to need a weighted plate. Bobby suggests trying out a 45-pound plate and if that’s too heavy, try a 35 or 25-pound plate. Once you’ve found the weight right for you, start out by sitting down and laying flat on your back while holding the plate. Extend your arms behind you and raise it back above. Then proceed to “explode up” into a standing position.
For this workout, you’ll need to find parallel bars at your gym. Place your arms slightly behind your body, making sure you have a secure grip. With your legs bent at the knee and your ankles crossed, slowly dip up and down to work your triceps.
4 PLANK UP-DOWNS
This workout is ideal for toning your arms and abodemen. Starting in a push-up position, place one arm down followed by the other resting on your forearms. After, place yourself back into a push-up one arm at a time, starting with the opposite arm you first put down.
Inspire Your Mind with These Intriguing Reads
FOR SMALL CREATURES SUCH AS WE
by Sasha Sagan
Jim Rohn, author and entrepreneur, said it best: “Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” A book can truly expand one’s mind inspiring a whole new way of thinking. Here are some books that will get your creative and philosophical juices flowing. 1
THE EIGHT MASTER LESSONS OF NATURE
by Ryan Holiday
by Gary Ferguson
In this groundbreaking novel, Ryan Holiday focuses on the importance of stillness when finding one’s inner peace. Thinkers, artists and athletes alike are all capable of being “still.” Not to be mistaken with laziness, stillness promotes discipline and focus in order to limit distractions and ill tempers. Holiday, an expert on ancient philosophy, bases this theory off of many historical figures from philosophers, athletes, and even Anne Frank. Though the world may seem chaotic, having the power to create stillness and “zen” in your life is beneficial in all careers. Stillness is Key offers tips and tricks on how to find stillness in your own life in order to achieve your greatest goals.
This book is all about the benefits of becoming one with nature. Gary Ferguson, an expert writing on ecology and psychology, guides us through ways we can use nature to enrich our lives. Through research, data, science, history, philosophy, and psychology, The Eight Master Lessons of Nature proves the powers and “spiritual wellness” that can come along with reconnecting with Earth. Ferguson believes that nature is apart of the human DNA and through embracing that, we can feel more creative, energized, hopeful and smarter. This is the perfect book for anyone wanting to mentally escape the hustle and bustle of city life and the tech-driven society in which we live.
STILLNESS IS THE KEY
Sasha Segan, daughter of the famous Carl Sagan from Cosmos, delves into the reason why we as humans hold sacred certain events. Moving away from religious frameworks, she looks to her personal life of growing up in a secular household and social history. For Small Creatures Such as We also celebrates the truths of the natural world that are grand and wondrous and require no faith to be enjoyed. She seeks to find the meaning of life with what is already available to us. This memoir/guide/history book explains and celebrates the human experience as we see it on Earth.
THE GIFT: HOW THE CREATIVE SPIRIT TRANSFORMS THE WORLD
ATOMIC HABITS: TINY CHANGES, REMARKABLE RESULTS
by Lewis Hyde
by Tommy Hilfiger, Peter Knobler
The Gift explores the proper value of creative labor. Through modern and historic literature, tribal customs, modern economics and copyright, Hyde discusses our society and how it is controlled by the marketplace and capitalism. Because of this, it is often hard for people to place proper value to the work of creatives. In the text, he supports the notion of “the alternative economy of the gift,” where we as a society allow creation to flow free of commodity. The novel has been widely praised and fittingly recommended to anyone aspiring towards a creative career path.
This New York Times Bestseller seeks to change the lives of those reading it. James Clear details little changes you can make to your life in order for success and achievement. Focusing on what doesn’t change about your personality and making those changes will allow you to achieve any goal. Clear perfectly separates each chapter into different aspects of our lives such as creating new habits, your family’s effect on habits, and more. Clear is an esteemed writer and speaker who specializes in decision making, improvement, and of course, habits. Teams in the NFL, NBA, and MLB all turn to his work and guidance.
58 Love Lives On In San Francisco WORDS BY JAMIE ROLLO
78 The Ever-Humble Jovan Adepo WORDS BY JOSHUA SAFFOLD-GERI
86 How Kash Doll Stacked Her Wins PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREW ZAEH
Photo Credit Andrew Zaeh Suit: Daily Paper
Photographer ANDREW ZAEH Fashion DAVON WILLIAMS
FALL BY THE
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TOP ME THEN
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Words By ASHLYN T. CHAK Photo Credit: RICHARDGAINES.COM
As influencer culture reigns in the social media age, it can be rare to find a truly creative soul that is authentic and raw in the way they carry themselves and their art. These days, everyone is all about the clicks and the likes; but Richard Gaines is different - as a Black male who has experienced New York in the â€˜80s, he takes us on a nostalgic trip into an unfiltered version of the art world and our society as he sees it.
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He continues with enthusiasm and bluntness as he describes his gravel pieces: “The trays represent us serving time in the system. I used gravel for these, because the police just picks them up off the streets and puts them into the prisons.” The gravel makes up peculiar faces on the metal trays, making up a dark grey aesthetic that feels cold and concrete.
Richard Gaines is a mixed media artist who creates visuals that address the ridiculous nature of racism and society’s fears regarding it. His work displays the positions occupied by different types of Black men in today’s world, and especially how they are viewed by those who are not Black. Working mostly with materials found in the street, Gaines’s sculpture pieces are representative satires of the discriminatory history of the United States’ prison system and its legal injustice towards people of color. “Back in the days, they would just string a man up to a tree. That’s why my pieces are mainly done on wood and some things are made out of tree materials.” As for the form of his sculpture pieces, “it represents how they package us into prisons. We are almost like commodities to them.”
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His voice is gentle and his smile wholesome as he tells us about his process, “I like to dumpster dive. I like to find trash and raw material and turn it into art. I get a lot of inspiration from things that I find on the street.” He reveals that his creativity and passion come from what was going on in the world at the moment. You can see from his symbolic work that he is inspired by real people, real stories, and real events - strange, contradictory, and ridiculous.
Gaines drew from his personal experience when he made model heads depicting the many types of “brothers,” as he calls them. He expresses frustration about how some people have these outdated and unfair stereotypes about Black men - that they all act the same way, with similar upbringings and thoughts. “It’s really absurd that they would think that,” he says, holding up his contrasting portrayals of unique personalities representing the diversity of men that he has encountered, illustrating their looks and personalities.
He is proudly a product of the ‘80s and ‘90s where everything was - in his own words - “gritty and dirty.” Gaines laughs as he recalls, “I guess I never left that… Back then, people seemed to be more open to new artists.” He went to art school in New York during an era when art was all about graffiti and the authenticity that came with it. “I remember Keith Haring. We went to school together. He didn’t graduate - he didn’t have to.”
The model head wrapped in pink leather represents a Black transgender person. “I hate to say it, but even in our own community, they are not widely accepted.” Sourcing the piece of leather from a leather store, he rubbed it until it was worn out and weathered. He wanted the model head to tell the battled stories of the gender nonconforming people of color. “They go through so much just to be who they are,” he concluded with a sigh.
He reminisces a distinctive period in the art world - a different version of New York before the 2000s. “There’d be these holes in the wall you crawl through and there’d be a club. Oh my God, there were pimps and prostitutes and sailors. Artists would paint the walls - the art was on the walls. It was everywhere… Art was everywhere back then.” Instead of today’s polished new normal, Richard Gaines misses the old times when New York was more real because that’s the way he is. He has been suggested by colleagues that maybe he should try working out, getting abs to show off as he poses next to his artwork. He laughs at that idea “Obviously I want my art to sell, but that’s not the way I want to go. I want people actually enjoying my artwork. I want more passion.”
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Words by JAMIE ROLLO
Love Lives on
in San Francisco To many, San Francisco is a hub of culture and unique history. From the Gold Rush to the counterculture movements of the 1960s, the City by the Bay has become synonymous with prosperity, freedom of expression, music, and opportunity. The charming city is home to amazing restaurants, museums, a rollicking nightlife, and yes, legalized cannabis. The vibrant and particular culture of the city is palpable making this destination a must-see for all lovers of music, art, architexture, and Full House. I was lucky enough to stay at the W Hotel located in San Francisco’s downtown. This central location is beyond convenient and it is the perfect combination of hipness and luxury. The newly renovated building has the most elegant guest rooms and a delicious brunch and dinner spot, Trace, right inside. With a stay at any W Hotel, a “W Insider” is provided who creates specialized outings for guests. “I curate experiences for guests by tailoring each experience to every individual,” explained Vanessa Mina, the W Insider for the San Francisco location. “There’s a lot of fun in discovering what’s new, trending, and local to the area so I always try to incorporate that, too.” If art and history suits your fancy, San Francisco has a huge variety of museums beautifully unique in architecture and significance. The globally renowned SF Museum of Modern Art was actually the first West Coast museum to feature solely 20th Century Art. The museum, sprawling an entire block, contains beautiful, contemporary art pieces from artists across the world. Right
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Marriott Marquis-image courtesy of Marriott.com near the SFMoMA is the Museum of the African Diaspora. Here, there is a special focus on modern and contemporary art, varying in mediums that represent African culture and history. With stunning photography, videos, paintings, and interactive works, this museum is a must-see. San Francisco is broken up into neighborhoods defined by culture. The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood is coined with the creation of the counterculture movement of the 1960’s. In this neighborhood, the spirit of the Love Generation still lives on. With countless vintage shops, restaurants, and vibrant victorians, this neighbor can (and will) take up your whole day. The Mission, named after the Mission Dolores built in 1776, is home to a bustling art-filled culture and is a local hotspot. This neighborhood is known for its amazing taquerias and interestingly unique bars. For amazing views of the city, visit
Painted Ladies Dolores Park to get a beautiful vantage point of the city skyline. When walking along the streets of this expressive-hub, you’ll see thousands of graffiti and art displayed on nearly every building. One thing San Franciscans love is a quality, craft cocktail. The Beehive, which looks like it would be frequented by Don Draper, has an expansive list of artisan cocktails suited for any pallet. For a deeply local experience, check out Bon Voyage. However, there’s no signage outside. Look for a dark green building on Valencia Street with two elephants on the awning, and inside you’ll find delicious Asian dishes with specialty, Africaninspired cocktails. And, of course, this wouldn’t be Cali-travel piece without mentioning cannabis tourism. San Fran has so many unique dispensaries and lounges that have recently become a steady part of the city’s tourism. Coming from a non-legalized state, it is a mind-boggling sight to see. Barbary Coast Dispensaries is the perfect place to go. Not only can you buy a variety of products, but they also have an old-school lounge attached where goers can freely and legally smoke.
Kin Khao-photo from @kinkhao on instagram
If you’re thinking of planning a California vacation, San Francisco would be the ideal city to visit. With so much history, thriving culture, and beautifully breezy weather, Frisco is the place to be.
T R AV E L
WHERE TO S TAY
W H AT TO DO
W SAN FRANCISCO 181 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 777-5300
MISSION DOLORES PARK Dolores Street & 19th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114 (415) 554-9521
TRACE 181 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 (415) 817-7836
MARRIOTT MARQUIS 780 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 896-1600
BARBARY COAST DISPENSARIES 952 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 243-4400
BON VOYAGE! 584 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 (415) 658-7878
MARRIOTT UNION SQUARE 480 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94108 (415) 398-8900
MUSEUM OF THE AFRICAN DIASPORA 685 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 (415) 358-7200
THE BEEHIVE 342 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 (415) 282-8283
WHERE TO E AT
Words by: ISIUWA IGODAN
Wisconsin. THE EVER-GROWING
A MAJOR VACATION SPOT Wisconsin as a travel destination? You better believe it. Trust me when I say there’s more to see in Wisconsin than lush trees and expansive farm life. Ready to go on a journey through two up-andcoming cities? Pack your overnight bag. Together, we’ll explore Janesville and Beloit. My journey began at the Rotary Botanical Garden in Janesville. Sunlight beamed, birds chirped, and flowers bloomed while the river sang. It was a mystical, magical way to pull up to the garden gate. Each plant bloomed with a glossy perfection. You could tell that the staff and volunteers put a lot of effort into making the garden shine for its visitors. Next, it was time to get festive. My first full day in Janesville began in the downtown district - super quiet, empty, and deserted. I wondered if anybody even liked the outdoors. But, perhaps it was just too hot. Carousel Consignment was unlike any other thrift shop I’d ever visited. It was wonderfully expansive yet cramped all at the same time. This was a place filled with collectibles and vintage heirlooms. Hidden treasures abound and every item was super affordable. I purchased a piece of grape glass decor for my coffee table and it only cost me $2! While in Janesville, if you’re in the mood for a salad or coffee, the Bodacious Shop is where it’s at. Without question, Bodacious was one of my favorite memories. It’s a fascinating blend of a coffee shop, salad bar, and an olive oil tasting bar. Pure genius! The food was superb and made by fellow New Yorker, Chef John. My taste buds jumped for the lemon oil cake. It was subtle and warm, with just the right amount of excitement. I couldn’t even taste the olive oil added to the cake. My night ended at the Water Ski Show. When I tell you the whole town showed up and showed out, I mean the whole town. It was a compilation of 56
young families and older folks. Anyone who could walk or swim could participate in the show. We’re talking a free show for the public, complete with a Willy Wonka set. The Rock Aqua Jays killed it with their pyramid performance on the water skis. The next morning, I kicked things up a notch in lively Beloit. Beloit accommodations are reminiscent of some of the best hotels in Florida. The service was way beyond par. The interior decor of both Hotel Goodwin and the Ironworks Hotel was extremely well-appointed. It made me want to call my future architect to build something similar for myself. The day started with a drive to an estate that resembled Richie Rich’s mansion. It was grand, green and beautiful. It was supposed to rain that day but the blue skies came out to greet us at the Beloit Club, the region’s premier private golf and social club. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day at the resort spa and pool, a venue for your wedding event, or just want to hang out with your pals at the golf course, the Beloit Club is where you want to be. You can also grab lunch at the Standard Tavern and get a bite of their mouth-watering mushroom and grilled onion burger. After lunch, I headed over to DC Estate Winery for a wine and cupcake tasting. I’m not much of a red
wine drinker, but I did enjoy tasting the cupcakes - especially the butter pecan. We all know Wisconsin has some of the best dairies in the world, but they also have some of the nicest estates. For a nice dinner after a long day, head over to Merrill & Houston’s Steak Joint. I suggest the fried calamari for a starter, twin lobster for your main course, and a creme brulee for dessert. The lobster is enormous so you might want to share it with your date or take some back to your room for leftovers. After a huge meal, I rushed back to my room for my first night at the Ironworks Hotel. It was the best sleep of the whole trip. I took a bath in my tub that was placed inside my room. After turning on the fireplace, I sunk into the marshmallow-like bed and slept like a baby. Beloit is for budget-friendly people seeking a little bit of luxury. It offers a range of things to do with a mix of city life and farm life. It’s the best of both worlds. If nature’s on your list, spend an afternoon at Double B Farm, and watch the goats and dogs run around while you munch on a freshly made pizza. The view is surreal; I ran around the farm like Julie Andrews during the opening scene from The Sound of Music. Okay! Now that our glasses are empty and our cheese is finished, lets’ head back to NYC! Astalavista, au revoir, bon voyage. We’ll see you soon!
Where to Stay
2400 Fulton St - Janesville - WI, 53546
500 Pleasant St, Beloit, WI 53511
500 Public Ave, Beloit, WI 53511
Where to Eat
THE BODACIOUS BREW
MERRILL & HOUSTONâ€™S STEAK JOINT
208 S Main St, Janesville, WI 53545
584 Valencia Street, 119 N Main St,
500 Pleasant St, Beloit, WI 53511
Janesville, WI 53545 (608) 563-5566
Photo Credit: Citrus Cafe
Photo Credit: Bodacious Shops of Block 42
What to Do
MILTON HOUSE MUSEUM
BASIC COCKTAIL CLASS
18 S Janesville St, Milton, WI 53563
60 S Main St, Janesville, WI 53545
2327 S Riverside Dr, Beloit, WI 53511
Photo Credit: Rachel Brockett
JACKET: RALPH LAUREN PURPLE LABEL T-SHIRT: PAL ZILERI JEANS: BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB
Words by: J’NA JEFFERSON Photography by: ANDREW ZAEH Photography Assistant: OLIVIA OWEN Stylist: COREY ROBINSON Stylist Assistant: NINA REYES Barber: JOHN OSAYOMI Grooming: SHANNON K. YOUNG
SCARS AND ALL, CASANOVA REMAINS
Up & Down nightclub in Manhattan’s bustling Chelsea neighborhood is damn-near filled to the rim on a brisk October evening, and as the night’s vibe-purveyor DJ Boof puts it more than once, those at the ganja-scented venue are there “for one reason, and one reason only.” Roc Nation signee Casanova would release Behind These Scars – his second LP in two years – in just a few more days. The towering emcee (who claims he stands 6’2” but he may be being modest) sports a white Balenciaga jacket, and is (with good reason) entirely turnt as the 10-track project blares from the speakers to positive reactions. The album, which dropped on October 11, is his self-proclaimed “most vulnerable project to date.” The week before the event (October 2), the rapper (born Caswell Senior) is far more composed. He rolls through Midtown for Bleu’s cover shoot, and while he’s not super chatty, his presence is undeniable. He tries on fifty-leven clothing pieces
from fur coats to floral button ups. He’s not shy about his tastes, and some of these ‘fits just ain’t it, however his gleaming white smile makes sporadic appearances whenever the compliments pour in about how good he looks. The 32-year-old is at his most cheerful when the pressure to pose is off. He’s cracking jokes with his crew and watching video submissions for his viral Instagram competition, #SoBrooklynChallenge, while getting groomed. The aforementioned callfor-traction implores young spitters across the globe to drop bars to his popular song about his hometown. If Cas likes what he hears, he’ll post the rappers on his IG page where his 1.4 million followers decide if he keeps it on his feed or deletes it for good. The Flatbush native keeps a relatively level head, but in the same vein, he’s Brooklyn down to his socks. His authenticity by way of the Biggie
borough is paramount to his persona and sonic catalogue, and as he explains during a brief phone call hours before he unveils his album, he’s glad people are taking notice. “[Authenticity] helped me ‘cause I guess that’s what people like,” he says in his husky voice, which has won over fans due to its rasp-filled rawness on tracks like the A Boogie-assisted “Down Bitch” and the in-your-face anthem “Set Trippin.” “People like the real. People like to see the flaws, the scars, the stuff that comes with it, and that’s me all the time. I won’t change, I’ve never been one to fake the funk.” Cas dropped out of school in the eighth grade and became a student of the streets. He involved himself in gang life and committed crimes for some time, and eventually, the harsh realities of his ways caught up with him. He was sentenced to prison in 2006 for a robbery conviction, and
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JACKET: BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB T-SHIRT: POLO RALPH LAUREN JEWELRY: TALENTS OWN
was held at Rikers Island for nearly eight years. While there, he met Rakim Mayers (known today as A$AP Rocky), who Cas has remained cordial with in the years that have passed. After being released in 2014, he attempted to turn his life around, working a job at Local 79 Construction, which was not at all what he expected to be doing. “I thought when I came home, everything was gonna be handed to me,” he explains. What he also didn’t expect to be doing was rapping. While Casanova grew up listening to New York-bred artists like JAY-Z, 50 Cent, Ja Rule and Fat Joe, the thought of becoming one of them never crossed his mind. However, after hanging around a few aspiring emcees, he decided to try his hand at the artform.
“I don’t have to watch my back from police and stuff like that anymore, it’s the greatest, it’s tremendous, truthfully,”
“[My rapper friends] used to take me to studios, and I used to see them punch in and punch out, like ‘Oh! He just did the whole thing in one shot,’” he laughs. “Once I saw them do that, I said, ‘let me try, let me try…’” He didn’t just “try” to rap – he was excelling at it. In 2015, Casanova dropped the electric “It Go Down When You Trappin,” a take on Yo Gotti’s “Down In The DM,” which spread like wildfire online. A year later, he dropped his first original song “Don’t Run,” which has a remix with verses from his NYC contemporaries Fabolous, Young M.A., Dave East and Don Q. He was booking shows, he was gettin’ money, and he was changing his life one bar at a time. “I think I got like $5,000 off of a show and I’m like, ‘I can do this, let me do it,’ and from that day on, I just concentrated on that,” he divulges. He signed with Roc Nation in 2017, and his life completely turned around in three short years, which he calls a “blessing.”
JACKET: CATOU TURTLENECK: NANAMICA JEWELRY: BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB
“I just want to show people – especially those who come from behind the wall [who were] incarcerated – that anything is possible.”
SUIT: CG-CLUB OF GENTS T-SHIRT: POLO RALPH LAUREN JEWELRY: TALENTS OWN
“I don’t have to watch my back from police and stuff like that anymore, it’s the greatest, it’s tremendous, truthfully,” he says of the positive experiences since being released from Rikers. “It feels great knowing that I don’t have to risk my freedom anymore.” As for being signed to the Roc, Cas feels no pressure to succeed. Instead, he feels that being on the JAYZ-founded label is motivation to push himself further than he can imagine. “I just want to go hard, you know what I’m saying?” he says. “[Being on Roc Nation] makes you go hard, and I know I’ll be getting noticed for who I am one of these days.” Behind These Scars is perhaps the most open he’s ever been on wax. Not only will his fans hear the aggressive rap stylings they’ve come to know from the native New Yawker, they’ll also bear witness to his sentimental side. “[On Behind These Scars] I get into detail about things that I went through in life, when I was incarcerated, what I’m going through now,” he says over-the-phone. “I never did that on any project that [I’ve done].” Listeners will be treated to the viral hit “So Brooklyn” and the project’s retrospective opener “Jail Call,” which features bone-chillingly impactful lyrics regarding suicidal contemplations while behind bars. Cas discussed his two year stint in solitary confinement while at Rikers with Bleu. With a gentle nudge from Roc Nation, he recently began going to therapy to deal with mental health issues, which he thinks is “dope” thus far. The album also features appearances by hip-hop and R&B giants alike. “Melody King” Chris Brown appears on the bedroom-ready “Coming Home,” while Gunna and Young Thug tag team on the bass-thumping “So Drippy.” Additionally, Jeremih, Giggs, Kaycyy Pluto and fellow BK Boy Fabolous can be heard throughout the 35-minute project, and Casanova applauds his collaborators for their “creativity,” “They all got their own style, and it’s amazing,” he gushes. The prospering musician is hoping to be in the game for the long haul, in order to do what he loves and provide for his family; he’s a father of two, and he himself comes from a very large brood. Cas has aspirations to become a mogul in his own right, and with the creation of his company 2x Entertainment in 2016, he’s already had a chance to get a kick start on that goal. Artists Jah Dwella and Lamont Sincere are signed to the company’s music division, which is under a Roc Nation/ Warehouse Music Group partnership. Other than solidifying his status in the rap game, he’s hoping to provide a light for those who have experienced similar hardships in their own lives. After an unforeseen cancellation to his October 2019 set at the inaugural Rolling Loud NYC, Casanova got candid about his past on
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social media. According to reports, the rapper and four other artists were removed from the lineup at the request of the NYPD due to “public safety concerns” pertaining to the artists’ alleged affiliations with “recent acts of violence citywide.”
especially those who come from behind the wall [who were] incarcerated – that anything is possible.” He detailed on Instagram that he will “continue to fight against biases and advocate for those facing this same issue.”
“It’s unfair and unfortunate that my past, which I’ve dealt with legally and personally, continues to stigmatize me and my career as a recording artist,” he wrote on Instagram. “I’m at war with my past and the scars that they still leave on me everyday.” He told Bleu mere days prior to the high-profile cancellation that he believes it’s his “responsibility” to uplift his community, especially those who have a similar story to his.
Although the road has been rough, Caswell Senior is living proof that what you’ve been through does not have to remain your lifelong identity. Casanova aims to remain true to his story, while also staying true to himself. As he puts it, Brooklyn has made him “everything I am.”
“I wanna be the hope, like, if I can do it, you can do it,” he affirmed. “I just want to show people –
“I wouldn’t change anything about my journey,” he proclaims. “I wouldn’t even want that. I would want to go through everything I went through because that’s what pushes me now. I wouldn’t change anything, nothing at all.”
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Photography by ANDREW GORDY-HART Fashion Styling by IMANI SULIMAN Fashion Editor TERENCE B. MCNEALY
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F E AT U R E
Words by JOSHUA SAFFOLD-GERI Photography by ROWAN DALY
Known for his performances in The Leftovers, Fences, Sorry For Your Loss, and the groundbreaking Ava Duvernay series When They See Us, Jovan Adepo continues to strive for greatness in his career. We talked with the actor about his previous and current roles, and his experiences on set working alongside Hollywood greats.
Jovan waits patiently as I finish mincing my words. I’ve been tangling questions into segues for so long I’m not entirely sure if he’s on the other end of the line. But after a pause, the 31-year-old actor replies, “Sorry, I didn’t get that.”
“It was an intense experience,” says Adepo, as if he hadn’t already performed in Darren Aronofsky’s deeply controversial horror film, Mother! He tells me how he spent four months in Columbia for Jack Ryan, just “running and gunning with a great crew and great cast.” We never got deep into conversation without the guy praising someone else and their work.
Adepo caught many people’s attention for his role as the adult Antron McCray in the Emmy Award winning series, When They See Us. The highly emotional series brings viewers into the world of the five boys who were falsely accused of a rape in Central Park in 1989. Adepo’s notable and profound performance serves as a mere glimpse into the actor’s expertise. Jovan Adepo, also known for his roles in Fences, Overlord, The Leftovers and Sorry For Your Loss, is nothing if not professional. After seven years of noteworthy performances, his hard work and dedication are paying off. Heeding guidance from powerhouses such as Viola Davis, Denzel Washington and countless others, Adepo is a symbol of devotedness and care. He wants to do things right and that includes answering my wordy questions.
He tells me about how the whole thing was so well run, highlighting the rarity of such circumstances. With TV shoots operating under a schedule imposed by airtimes, there’s typically little margin for error. It seems Adepo has a wide understanding of how things should and shouldn’t go having started out on Damon Lindelof ’s existential drama, The Leftovers. I apologize on the phone and try to paraphrase, enquiring about his most recent role in the second season of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. He landed a significant role in the longstanding franchise and has since worked alongside the ever-loveable, doeeyed John Krasinski.
When I asked him what it was like working with Lindelof, Adepo said, “he saw something in me that - in that point in time - I really didn’t see in myself… He just expressed to me complete faith in what I brought to the character and he was really interested and excited to see how I was gonna work with the rest of the cast.”
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He then took the opportunity to praise his former co-stars, calling them “spectacular, y’know?” And then he was off again, describing them as “actors who have been tested through and through in some of the greatest projects we’ve seen.” In November, Adepo will appear in Jack Ryan as Marcus, a former Navy special crewman “with a chip on his shoulder” who has resigned to repair boats. It’s a classic underdog story according to the actor who is typically cast in roles struggling with personal traumas. Taking on the roles of grieving brothers and lost sons, Adepo brings a vulnerability to the screen that we don’t see enough of in Black male roles. In Washington’s cinematic adaptation of August Wilson’s play, Fences, Adepo plays the son of an emotionally abusive father. Washington, who plays his father, lashes his son with Wilson’s sharp dialogue at a rate of 100 words per minute.
“It was an intense experience,” says Adepo, as if he hadn’t already performed in Darren Aronofsky’s deeply controversial horror film, Mother! He tells me how he spent four months in Columbia for Jack Ryan, just “running and gunning with a great crew and great cast.”
A famous scene between the disparate father and son provides Washington with an opportunity to unleash a flurry of blows in a monologue that justifies his contempt for his son. “Who the hell said I got to like you?” he asks. “What law is there saying I got to like you? You want to stand up in front of my face and ask a damn fool-ass question like that. Talk about liking somebody.”
he was to have had the opportunity, in awe of the talent he was able to work with.
Adepo gives a restrained yet visibly wounded performance, reflecting years of trauma that are painted into the lines of his face. He steadily folds into himself before his father tells him to “Straighten up, goddammit,” smacking his chest.
When I asked Jovan if he had the opportunity to watch much theater himself, I could almost hear him sigh on the other side. “I’m really playing catch up,” he confesses. With a schedule as busy as his, I can’t blame him. He tells me he makes lists and does his best to catch up when he finds the free time. “Part of acting is going and watching performances. Not just performing,” he says.
It’s remarkable to think that this is his first time working with the source material in its entirety. In past interviews, Adepo has shared how he worked meticulously alongside his co-stars. One of the pieces of advice he took away from them was to maintain close ties to theater. Both Davis and Washington have performed Fences on Broadway before they graced the big screen. Earlier this year, Adepo took a different type of stage, playing Lionel in the TV special, Live in Front of Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons.’ He told me how lucky
Sharing the screen with Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Foxx, Wanda Sykes, Kerry Washington, Will Ferrell, and Jennifer Hudson to name a few, one can only imagine how much Adepo learned from this experience alone.
You can see him on-screen truly taking in the energy of those around him. His deep brown eyes and handsome features watch carefully. His presence can slow a scene allowing emotional beats to swell until the next turn. And with each turn, he is charged with a momentum that allows him to fly off the handle just as quickly. In Sorry For Your Loss, Adepo plays Danny - a young man lost in the wake of his brother’s death.
Elizabeth Olsen stars in the show as an angry widow and Danny’s former sister-in-law, Leigh. It’s through their loss that the two foster a connection that is equal parts supportive and volatile. Adepo recalled how the scene that stuck with him most “wasn’t a scene that was Danny’s.” It was where Leigh has a “psychotic break” over the absence of donuts at her grief therapy session, while Danny hangs close to her uncomfortably, yet sympathetic. Those who have suffered the loss of a loved one are familiar with the awkward silence of others.. Sorry for Your Loss captures the finite qualities of grief and loss with such honesty as it pushes into its next season. A lot of thanks are owed to the likes of Olsen and Adepo because of this.
By the end of our phone call, I felt I had exhausted the poor man. My questions only became more complex with time. But his answers were always earnest taking his time to think each one over. The compliments he paid to his peers and former co-stars were all softened with quiet admiration, suggesting that after years of making a name for himself, Jovan had retained his modesty. I figured after so many years of observing others and consciously absorbing each new experience, the man must have made mistakes along the way. When I asked him about any mistakes that might have helped him go forward, he told me, “Early on, I constantly had to remind myself not to rush. I mean it’s so funny because it’s something I’ve shared in conversation with Denzel just about life in general, which applies to scene work as well.” I could hear him pause again like he was making a point in and of itself. “There’s no need to rush. Even life as it relates to the character, there is no stopwatch. And sometimes actors can feel once they have the material down once the director says action they just fly through the scene. And it’s not about that. It’s about relishing the moment and really feeling the beats and understanding what the character’s going through and feeling comfortable in that space and time. Because that’s how life works.” I blinked at the page I had been staring throughout our conversation, thinking about how he probably would have heard my questions better if I had just slowed down. Then, I thanked Jovan for his time.
Photography by: JOSH SOBEL Words by: JOSHUA SAFFOLD-GERI
MIAMIâ€™S OWN DAVON GODCHAUX TALKS COURAGE, DETERMINATION AND FAITH In an interview, 24-year-old Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Davon Godchaux talks about confidence and adversity. Coming from a tough upbringing and facing a debilitating injury years before his early draft into the NFL, Godchaux speaks from a position of maturity and self-certainty.
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A couple of weeks ago, Godchaux watched his team struggle, but he’s managed to stand his ground and show up for everyone else, including himself. From rocking stylish threads across New York Fashion Week to tweeting his support and positive mindset, this young man lends himself as a good team player and a good role model. Bleu: You’ve had an interesting couple of games recently. Davon Godchaux: Yeah. Bleu: I understand you’ve experienced a few losses, but I didn’t want to focus on that, I wanted to focus on the positive energy you’ve been bringing to the game and to social media. How do you maintain that level of positivity? DG: Going to the games, dressing up. I always think that describes your character. I have the motto: “when you look good, you play good.” So I always pick out an outfit I want to wear. An outfit that best describes me; that boosts my confidence. Bleu: You tweeted in the past, that you “love adversity.” What is it about adversity that you love? DG: My whole life I’ve been going through adversity. In my senior year of high school, getting torn ACL - a knee injury - being out the whole season. That was a lot of adversity. Y’know what I mean? Growing up as a kid, my house got shot up. Y’know, things like that, adversity, made me the person I am today. So when I go through a lot of adversity - I was having a rough start to the season - I mean that’s nothing because I compared that to tough things I actually went through in my life. Bleu: You’re very fortunate to be in the position you’re in now, to support yourself, but that clearly comes from a lot of hard work. DG: Yes, I definitely agree. Bleu: In reference to your position in the game, what is it that makes you best equipped to deal with playing defensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins? What is it you’re doing psychologically to keep your head in the game? DG: Just being confident and practicing at it. Practice makes perfect. So each and every day I try to do what I’mma do in the game. So I practice fast, so when I’m in the game on Sunday, I play fast. It’s not just a magic pill you take. If you don’t practice hard, then on Sunday you’re not gonna get those same results. You gotta look good on film, y’know. So I try and get into that mindset each and every day. I go in there with the same focus - this is the opponent I’m going against on Sunday, so let me take the same hits, so on Sunday it can be easy. Bleu: Could you highlight what you think the hardest thing about your position is? DG: I mean, just banging. Because of the defensive alignment, it’s not gonna be pretty in there. There’s not a “safety” like there is for a quarterback or receiver. It’s not gonna be pretty so you gotta be willing to get down and dirty with it. I mean sometimes you’re gonna get double-teamed, sometimes you get a chip block, you know it’s gonna be constant pressure. So you know a part dealing with that is just being strong and confident and having the mindset that you are the best player on the field.
Bleu: You entered the draft early in 2017, What was your thought process behind jumping in early? How were you feeling at the time? DG: I felt like I was mature. Freshman and sophomore year I wasn’t on the same level as I was in my junior year where I really matured towards that offseason. Me having a son, I really matured and I felt like I was ready to take the next step. I really felt like I was ready to become the man to compete against men in the NFL. Each and every day at [Louisiana State University] I took it seriously. I took the game seriously, studying film, knowing the protections, knowing the down and distance and knowing what this team could do on this down and knowing that team’s offense. So I took it seriously, so at the end of the day, I was ready to go to the NFL. Bleu: You injured yourself in high school - As an athlete, what was your mindset when you were healing up? DG: It was tough, staying in my grandma’s house, getting up, going to rehab. There were days when I didn’t feel like it. I felt like I had to learn how to walk all over again. You know with an injury like that I had to get on the bike, learn how to tow all over again. I had to do all those things. It was a lot of adversity. But I’d tell anybody’s going through it, “just stay strong and keep God first at the end of the day because that’s our Father.” I mean, just do that. Just dedicate yourself. It’s only temporary. It’s not forever. So, I mean, with that injury I could have got down on myself and not went to college. Or, who knows, went to college and had a bad start. I went to college off that injury and started my freshman year. So at the end of the day, I’d just told myself, “Don’t get down. It’s gonna be okay. It’s only temporary. And it’s not forever.” Bleu: Is there anything physical or concrete that helped you pull through that injury? DG: It’s more mental. Of course, you gotta have a counselor, someone to talk to, which I think is great. I don’t think no one can go through it on their own. I think you want to talk to somebody, vent to somebody, that’s the right thing to do. But at the end of the day, I think it’s more mental than anything. Because at that point there’s nothing physical that’s going to help you at that point. It’s more of a mindset. Like, “hey, I’m gonna get up and go to rehab and I’mma kill this rehab. I’mma do this each and every day. I’mma get better today... I’mma do this and I’mma do that.” I think it’s more of a mental thing because all of the physical parts are pretty much out. So you have to be really mentally strong, spiritually strong, emotionally strong. At the end of the day, it’s those three things that it’s really all about. Bleu: Is there anything you’re excited about for the future? DG: I’m excited about this team. I’m excited about being here with the Miami Dolphins. You know, I think we have a very young team, but the sky’s the limit. We just had a rough start and we got a chance to bounce back. I think the sky’s the limit for the Miami Dolphins. I’m just really excited about my future in the NFL.
O P- E D
Words by EVAN MAJORS
CONFESSION OF A DEPRESSED CREATIVE
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I have never been clinically diagnosed with depression, though I was clinically misdiagnosed and prescribed antidepressants for what I would later learn was anxiety. Since I was a kid, I was labeled as “different” or “weird” which caused a great deal of anxiety, which led me to be depressed on some level throughout points of my childhood and adolescence. There was a time in my life as a novice writer and an overall creative person that I succumbed to the notion that all great artists, poets, painters, musicians, designers, filmmakers, animators, architects, builders, etc. had to suffer to create great art. I subscribed to the idea that in order to write my Great American Novel, I had to be in the depths of my own “sunken place.” This was also during a time when I was introduced to writers such as Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac, Stephen King, and Charles Bukowski. I listened to a lot of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Marvin Gaye’s music while learning about their incessant drug-fueled recording sessions. These creators became some of my heroes. I linked their creative genius to a type of maddening psychosis, which included drugs and alcohol, that I would try to mimic. Why have so many of the world’s greatest minds and most revered musicians struggled and occasionally died from drugs and alcohol? For me, being depressed in order to be able to write would plague me throughout college and into adulthood. I became my own worst enemy, something I believe all creative people struggle with. I repeatedly watch depressing movies like American History X, Requiem for a Dream and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? to get inspiration.
Even as I write this article I have recently started to climb out of a self-diagnosed depression. Last month, my mom finished chemotherapy and radiation for her second fight with breast cancer. It has been four extremely challenging years for my family. As people of color, we do not like to talk about what we perceive to be our private pain, which includes depression. There was a time when most of us could not even identify what it was or actually is. When I was growing up, depression was something that only white people dealt with. It was a white person’s thing, just like going to therapy. Black people were not depressed, and even if we were, we could not afford to do anything about it. We certainly did not discuss our psychological pain, especially as creatives. Within hip-hop culture, there were a few brave artists early on who rapped about mental illness before it became a part of the hip-hop lexicon. Artists like DMX on “Slippin’” and the Geto Boys’ “Minds Playing Tricks on Me.” It has only been within the last few years that more hip-hop artists have openly discussed their struggles with depression, such as Kanye West, Eminem, J. Cole, Donald Glover, Kid Cudi, and Wale. As more conversations take place about creativity and its link to depression, the better we will understand it and feel comfortable openly talking about it versus believing there is something fundamentally wrong with us. This is not to say that some people are not genetically prone to being
depressed or that environmental circumstances do not play a part in being depressed. I believe both factors are true along with other possible medical issues. To be creative is to live inside our head, mentally sparring with ourselves, trying not to do too much damage. It is a world of loneliness, while surrounded by a sea of people. It is pushing and pulling simultaneously between seclusion and society. It is often suffering in silence. Creative people usually feel out of place. We can easily be the outcast smothering ourselves in the cloak of “not good enough.” According to the psychologist, Dr. Diana Rabb, “Approximately 7 percent of the general population is affected by depression or bipolar disorder, and studies have shown that this number tends to be higher amongst creative types.” In her book, The Creative Brain, neuroscientist and author Nancy Andreasen states that it is far more likely for creative types to be prone to mental illness, which comes from a “problem with filtering or gating the many stimuli that flow into the brain.” She goes on to say that we need to treasure our talents and nurture them as if we are tending to a precious garden. If we block out our talents, we are blocking out our true selves, which can lead to severe depression. What I’ve finally come to accept for myself, because I have known it all along, is that I don’t need to be depressed, intoxicated or mentally spiraling out of control to create art I am proud of. I am creatively at my best when I am firing on all cylinders like a ’68 Dodge Charger. It is when I am in my “flow.” This is not to say being depressed has not spawned some great writing; it definitely has. It also caused me to slip into a creative purgatory for too many years. Creative types are sensitive beings. Erykah Badu once said to an audience while performing her song “Tyrone,” “keep in mind that I’m an artist, and I’m sensitive about my shit.” Our souls are frail. We tend to be introverts. We feel deeply. We love hard. Being criticized is a stabbing wound to our ego, thus our feelings are easily hurt. Being creative when I was depressed saved me from going over the edge of the Brooklyn Bridge. It helped birth a better me during those times when I decided to use my superpowers. My creative outlet was my saving grace. It saved me when I was on the floor feeling helpless and hopeless, not believing in myself. I still struggle with believing in me. I have accepted that this journey will be a lifelong one. Our creativity is our super-human strength. It is our sixth sense (“spider-sense”) and depression is our Kryptonite.
Credit: Tommy Estridge
Nessie Blaze brought her artistry, talent, and Philly flare to the most recent season of VH1’s tattooing reality series, Black Ink Crew. Leaving her east coast home to join the cast in Compton, California was a courageous move for this multi-faceted artist, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. We spoke with her about her reality TV debut, tattooing, art, and her music career.
cast mate Lemeir and Jimmy Castro at Prolific Ink. I’m grateful to know that some of the people that I’m inspired by I get to work with every day. When and where did you first begin tattooing? I began tattooing in my Uncle Todd’s kitchen in 2012. He introduced me to it and I just took it and ran with it.
What was it like being selected for the Black Ink Compton cast? It was crazy. I didn’t expect it or see it coming so when I got that call I was like. “Oh, this is it!” I still can’t believe this is my life right now. My life has changed drastically but all in all you will still get the same Nessie Blaze.
Being a musician and muralist as well, do you find it hard to juggle that while still tattooing? It’s hard to find a balance sometimes, definitely, especially while filming, interviews and everything else in between. I get bored easily, so I like to juggle when it comes to maintaining and perfecting my craft. My love for art, in general, keeps me motivated to be able to work on different of it forms. How have you been using your platform to help others? Well, we did a Back to School event for the kids at the shop for our season finale, so that was really dope. And then a few weeks ago I had my own Kids PopUp Paint Party for the kids at a place called Coffee Del Mundo. I believe that inspiring the next generation to tap into their creative space is important especially when that sort of thing has been taken out of some schools. I plan to do more throughout 2020, and I’m working on something now that I can use my talent to has to encourage justice reform. What was the creation process like for your recent song and music video, “No Fakes”? It was amazing because everyone who was involved did it because they believed in me, we didn’t have much of a budget. I knew that I wanted to make a song that was aesthetically me, just because you may see me on TV, nothing has changed. I’m still the same and I expect that sense of authenticity from everyone around me... NO Fakes! People invested their own time and money to make it what it was and it came out great, I’m grateful for my friends and my team!
Did you initially have any reservations about joining the cast of a reality tv show? I did a little bit. I was really nervous about showing my work to the world, even though it’s what I have been working for... It made me anxious. I didn’t know how people would reciprocate it. My hometown supports [me] like crazy, it’s always good to know that the place where you are from shows love. I wouldn’t have it any other way. What initially inspired you to be a tattoo artist and who were some people you admired? I’ve always been an artist. I admired Nikko Hurtado when I first started. Now I’m really into Liz Venom, Jamie Schene.. and luckily ended up being friends and working around some of my favorite tattooers like my
You’re originally from Philly, a city that is rich in culture and creativity. How did the city influence you as an artist? It’s crazy because I’ve learned to appreciate being from the east coast so much more after moving away. Even though I’m from the suburbs... You don’t even realize what makes you different from other cities and the rest of the world until you travel so I’m happy I see all the differences and I love the rawness of Philly. I feel like it’s embedded in me, the east coast vibe.
Courtesy of VH1
Are you planning to release more music in the future? Anything in the works? Yes, I’m going to be releasing a few singles and then plan to drop a new project next year... all in the works!
BOB METELUS Bob Metelus is a renowned photographer who has shot celebrities such as Rick Ross, Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade, Gabrielle Union Wade, and many more. Based out of Miami, Metelus’s main focus is around commercial photography and cinematography. What truly keeps him in the game is his love for capturing memories. We got to chat with Metelus to discuss his career thus far and how he came to be a successful photographer. When did you first start your photography career? My career started around 1997, which was when I first picked up a camera. I wanted to try something different, and it kind of built from there. I took a class, Intro to Black and White Photography, in college on film and I kind of fell in love with it from there. What were some of the challenges that came along with becoming a successful creative director and photographer? It’s a lot of long nights. And a lot of trying to be in the right place at the right time, you know? You can grind for a very long time and still not really ‘make it’ or be successful at it. I think there’s a lot of hard truths and self evaluations and learning to just continue to be better. You kind of have to learn continuously, and you can’t think that it’s something you can just master overnight or over a few years. I’ve been doing this for nearly 20-plus years and now and I still have stuff to learn. You just have to be patient with it sometimes. This game will make you real humble real quick. Describe the story behind your first major shoot My first major one would be the one where I got the cover of Slam China. I never shot a cover before, never shot any major studio work before that. At that point, I was shooting a lot of lifestyle and editorial type stuff. I’ve done a lot of things before that, but nothing where it was commercial. So, I get there, and they say we’re gonna shoot a cover for Dwayne who’s going to announce that he’s leaving Jordon to go through a Chinese brand, and he’s going to be on the cover of this magazine. And I’m like, oh snap, how am I supposed to do this? A lot of the times you do this whole ‘fake it till you make it’ type of thing. But this was kind of like, ‘if you mess this up, you mess this up pretty bad.’ The advantage that I had at that time is that I shot a lot so I understood photography well, but what ended up being in
photo credits: Dion Burton
my favor was how my camera was set up. I never used professional lighting before and they gave me three assistants who only spoke Manderin. The advantage that I had was having a couple of hours to figure it out. Thankfully it worked out. From that moment I knew there wasn’t a situation that I would be put in that would rattle me. I was always sharp. I’ve been rocking ever since. What is it like working with Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union Wade? To work with them, it’s like working with family. We’ve grown together for almost 10-plus years now at this point. And, you know, I’ve shot things from their wedding to home videos. It’s really been an opportunity to just grow as a photographer and artist where we would just randomly try things. So they pushed me the most in my field and in my artistry. Where do you find inspiration and motivation? For me, I just love the reaction of people, seeing something that moves them. When you’re living your life, a lot of the time, you’re kind of just
going about it not necessarily thinking about the moments themselves. And, for me to be able to help people look back at those moments, and you have a reaction of smiling, joy, or sadness, whatever - that reaction that I get continues to inspire me because it never gets old. What are some pieces of advice you wish you were given early on in your career? Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the art of it because I think sometimes people would love to get into it. You know, ‘I’m gonna make some money. I’m gonna try to be X, Y, Z photographer for somebody’ things like that. Things are always happening and things are growing and you’re gonna be up, you’re gonna be down, it’s gonna be left, it’s gonna be right - something is always happening. But that moment of being able to just enjoy it, you’re making art for someone, I think that you gotta embrace that because I think if you do, it kind of moves you. Enjoy that - enjoy those moments. You’re making art and you’re creating a moment for someone, and you’re giving them the ability to enjoy that. You can’t take that for granted. You can’t take that for granted at all.
HOW KASH DOLL S TA C K E D H E R W I N S
Photography by: ANDREW ZAEH
Fashion: A GUY & A GURL
Makeup: CHANIECE COLEMAN
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Words by: KAYLIN YOUNG
“It’s like waking up in love everyday…” That euphoria is Kash Doll’s new freedom. After years of watching her music go viral online and then disappear from streaming websites or only releasing music via social media, Kash Doll is finally able to watch her fulllength album, Stacked, climb the charts. But it was those moments stuck in her past business deal that Kash knew her story was worth telling.
FACE COVERING: KAREN SABAG
EARRINGS: CHRISTIE LAUREN
SKIRT: ALESSANDRO TRINCONE
“I’m asking myself ‘Damn, do other people go through the shit I’m going through?... Damn, I came this far for this?’ Nah, I have to fight to get out of this because someone has to hear this.” The world is hearing it all now. After three years of independent grinding, Stacked debuted at #76 on the Billboard 200. While some may be rejoicing over that Billboard spot, Kash is focused on climbing up the next mountaintop. “It’s enough for you to have success, but to keep it up is a big responsibility.” As the eldest of six children, Kash is no stranger to responsibility. “My mom has six kids. She was my main motivation, but it was something in me that made me want to get more.” From working three jobs at a time to bringing home $26,000 one night as an exotic dancer, Kash was also hustling. Now she knows the difference between working toward payday versus walking toward purpose. “The first time on stage felt like ‘yeah…. This what imma be doing.’ You gotta think, all the time before then, I was confused about what my purpose was in life. I didn’t have a clue because I was an exotic dancer, and I hated that shit, but I needed the cheese. Once I went to the studio, put out that record, and when I first hit that stage, it felt like ‘this is what you’re supposed to be doing.’” Even though Kash wasn’t a fan of her time as an exotic dancer, there isn’t a moment she would take back because it was that stage where she built her confidence to become the performer she is today. “I needed that, but when I’m performing on stage, I’m singing, I’m rapping, I’m wearing what I want to wear, I’m seen as a star. As an entertainer, I don’t mind being a man’s fantasy. But it got to the point when I had to go on stage and show my ass and seduce someone that I don’t vibe with just to get some money… I can’t fake that type of shit. Being on stage as a superstar and rapping, it’s meaningful and is way more than doing something for lust.” Purpose, grinding for her family, the future… The conversation is very different from Kash and she knows it. She also knows it’s why questions about her age have been trending online. “That’s why people think I’m old… It’s the way I carry myself, the way I talk, my knowledge on life, the things I brush off. I’m talking about credit, buying a house, I’m thinking about longevity. People
“It’s like waking up in love everyday” Issue 63
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FACE COVERING: KAREN SABAG JEWELRY: CHRISTIE LAUREN MINK JACKET: ZAC POSEN
FA S H I O N
“It’s the way I carry myself, the way I talk, my knowledge on life, the things I brush off. I’m talking about credit, buying a house, I’m thinking about longevity”
FA S H I O N
not talking about this, but I wanna know how I can make that money stretch, make the money mean something. It’s a lot of old jokes going around about Kash Doll, but I don’t care.” Speaking of jokes, Kash is not here for the games from these men. She’s playing by her own rules. “Guys like power, but sometimes I think they want power in the wrong way. For some, it’s financial, and when they can’t control you with their money, it’s a problem. When you’re coming to the table with the same thing they have, it takes a real man to know how to handle that… Or handle you having something to do besides him. They can’t control you with anything and they’re lost. That’s when they have to realize that love isn’t control.” Regardless of the games, Kash hasn’t given up on love – she just needs her future man to know what love truly is. Heads up to whoever comes next: Kash already has two men who’ve been with her every step of the way. Her late father and her late ex-boyfriend who introduced her to the studio. “When I first started, I was doing my books, I was traveling by myself, I was doing it all by myself, but I knew that was my dad with me because girls getting snatched every day and I’ve never had a finger laid on me. I know they are here and helped me get to this point. I love my angels. And I know I’m making them proud because they both wanted this for me.” Her angels, her intuition and her undeniable talent have put Kash on stages around the country. But if you want to know who Kash is, listen to Stacked. “If you want some real shit… Some substance… Some purpose… Listen to me. Get that Detroit flavor because there hasn’t been that many girls coming out of Detroit, so go listen to what these Midwest girls are saying.” Kash, if this is what the Midwest girls are saying, trust, we are all listening.
“listen to what these Midwest girls are saying” 86
FA S H I O N
SUIT: DAILY PAPER EARRINGS: KARAT DIET JEWELRY CO. RINGS: CHRISTIE LAUREN
FA S H I O N
HAT: CUSTOM KAREN SABAG X A GUY & A GURL EARRINGS: KARAT DIET GOWN: KAREN SABAG
FA S H I O N
HAT: GO CLOTHED ALL JEWELRY: CHRISTIE LAUREN GLASSES: A GUY & A GURL FUR CAPE: MONOSUIT SHOES: RENÃ‰ CAOVILLA
S P OT L I G H T
Words By JAMIE ROLLO
In the heart of the San Francisco’s downtown sits the newlyrenovated W Hotel. Similar to all of its other locations, the company spent an extensive period of time meticulously designing the 31-story building to reflect the culture of the location. With shining gold accents and a quick throw pillow nod to Timothy Leary, the W perfectly embodies everything that represents San Francisco. It serves as a glimpse into the brand’s long-standing attention to detail and passion for music and artistry. However, the W Hotel’s brand goes far beyond tailored luxury suites by materializing their devoted passion for entertainment. Last year, they launched W Records with the plan to use their platform to support the talented artists on their roster. “From day one, music has been a part of W’s DNA,” said Pablo Henderson, the Global Marketing Director for W Hotels Worldwide. Since the company’s beginnings, the W has always been known as the go-to hotel for artists and music aficionados alike. Back then, they were the first in the industry to bring DJ’s into hotel lounges and lobbies. It was truly groundbreaking and many other hotel brands began to follow suit. “What it allowed us to do was create a little more credibility in the music space. Because it happened from day one, it allowed us to have more of a prominent voice.” According to Leah Chilshom, the Music Director for W Hotels in North America, each location has a catered playlist that is “dialed in to the global sound and also has a local flavor.” The soundtrack for the lobby, the elevators, the wet decks, and the lounges at any W location is completely unique with a special consideration to artists signed to their label.
**All photo credit: Courtesy of W Hotels Worldwide
The W Boasts Authenticity, Appreciation, and Music Admiration
When curating artists, W seeks musicians whose ideas are fresh and unique. “I think that W has always had its own point of view,” explained Henderson. “We are curating something because we are free to curate and when you’re free to curate, it allows you to put magical things together that might not necessarily seem like obvious things that should go together.” W Records, though only a year old, has signed artists that fit their narrative of combining music with travel experiences in a totally original way. “When you can take something that’s expected and kind of flip it on its head, that speaks to W’s values in many ways,” commented Henderson. “When you can go beyond just the music and use travel to tell really compelling stories, I think there’s something special that happens.” Musicians on the W’s repertoire enjoy all the benefits of working with a globally-renowned brand. They’re instantly associated with the W giving them access to their recording studios located in Hollywood, Seattle, Barcelona, and Bali, lodging at any W Hotel, and of course, live performance opportunities and recognition. “The idea is for us to cultivate a relationship with our artists where they feel they’re part of a family,” Henderson added. “I really understand what it’s like to be on the road and to be trying to find a recording studio and to be sleeping in less-than-par hotels or floors,” added Chilshom. “I really understand the gift that we can offer to people and sell it myself because I know what a special opportunity it is.” Her vision is to have the W be the new-age Chelsea Hotel for artists on a global scale. Something that truly makes the W experience worthwhile is their Living Room Live performances, which gives W Records signees an opportunity to perform live, and W Hotel guests a one-of-a-kind experience. Curating both acclaimed and local performers, the W brings the feel of an intimate concert session right into their lobbies and lounges. For the W San Francisco reopening, Tayla Parx, the esteemed singer/songwriter who penned numerous hits like Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” and Panic! At the Disco’s “High Hopes,” performed right in the hotel’s lobby. “It’s rare that an event goes this smooth,” said Parx in regards to teaming up with W. “We just enjoyed working with everybody both behind the scenes and in front of the scenes. It was an incredible show. And, the crowd was just so into it.” Chilshom heads the scouting process for the Living Room Live events. As a touring musician herself, she is always on the lookout for artists to feature. “I’m literally constantly either at festivals or in clubs where there are local openers or in different music venues all over North America and the world,” she said. “I’m constantly taking in new music or people are sending it to me. I’m very tapped into that.” The W has been expanding their experiences outside of the hotel as well. Just this past month, they held their Wake Up Call Festival in Dubai where artists such as Disclosure, Rita Ora, Bob Moses, Mercer, and Roosevelt performed. Before bringing the production overseas, the W had held similar festivals within the U.S, starting in Scottsdale and following up with Hollywood and Barcelona. The extravaganza proved to be a huge success and led the company to expand further into the festival realm. “People looked around and they said, ‘Wow, no one’s really done a whole festival solely on the premise of a luxury hotel,’” Henderson explained. “To go to Dubai where huge names are playing there - kind of like Vegas - and bring something a little bit different in a W way is super exciting.” Overall, the W brand prioritizes authenticity. Whether that’s through music or the brand’s originality, they always want to come from a place of sincere appreciation for arts and travel. “We’ve never had to compromise,” added Henderson. “We’re not doing something for the sake of trying to drive likes or streams.”
75 Black Inventors Madame C.J Walker
Granville T. Woods
Dr. Patricia Bath
Sarah E. Goode
Lewis Howard Latimer
Frederick McKinley Jones
George Edward Alcorn Jr.
Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson
Marie Van Brittan Brown
Alexander P. Ashbourne
Leonard C. Bailey
Charles Richard Drew
Marian R. Croak
Earl S. Bell
Charles B. Brooks
Jesse Ernest Wilkins Jr.
Mary and Mildred Davison
Jerry M. Certain
James E. West
Bessie Blount Griffin
Mark E. Dean
Alfred L. Cralle
Thomas L. Jennings
William D. Davis
Alice H. Parker
Martha De Leon
Joseph H. Dickinson
Jan Ernst Matzeliger
Gertrude E. Downing
George Washington Carver
John Singleton Changed One White Industry and Countless Black Lives
“I was sick of talking about Boyz N the Hood. I’m still kind of sick of talking about it, but I’m really proud of the movie. I just don’t want to be remembered for making one movie,” he said. In 1991, John Singleton made a directorial debut that would introduce a new way of telling Black stories. His portrayal of life in South Central was praised for its unflinching authenticity, telling Black audiences that their stories are worth sharing, without embellishment, fetishization, or the imposed expectations of the white majority. He made us feel seen. Singleton was the youngest and the first African-American to be nominated for Best Director, coming fresh out of college at the age of 24. And it was all according to plan. “I was going to learn the importance of subtext, of character, and of plot,” he said in an interview, shortly after Boyz hitting theaters. “I was going to learn everything I needed to know and to be a bad mothafucka coming out of film school.” Before anyone backed him, Singleton was backing himself. He was unapologetic and many argue that this is what led to his success. After seeing Do the Right Thing two years prior, the young film student bumped into Director Spike Lee himself and told him, “Watch out for me.” Singleton studied at USC School of Cinematic Arts and found himself running in circles that collided with Queen Latifah, Lawrence Fishburne, Tupac Shakur, and Ice Cube. Little did they know he would become such a crucial voice for Black people in Hollywood. Ice Cube recalls Singleton telling him, “I’m not even a director yet, I’m a junior at USC and when I graduate I’mma put you in a movie.” There were no conditional phrases. Singleton was 22-years old at the time, while Ice Cube was in the midst of his explosive career. “So I forgot about John,” Cube told Jimmy Fallon. But the aspiring director was persistent, to the point that Cube joked, “this dude done turned into a nuisance!” Two years later, Ice Cube was approached by his agent with Singleton’s promised-script in hand. Cube claimed he had been too busy to read the script, so come the audition, he was “terrible. Totally terrible.” And without skipping a beat, Singleton told the national rap icon to go home and read the script before they considered “moving on.” Cube went home, read the script and went on to say, “the rest is history,” as he took on the role alongside Cuba Gooding Jr. and Laurence Fishburne. All thanks to one kid’s tenacity. Singleton didn’t compromise. In 2017, he slammed the Tupac Shakur biopic for failing to meet his expectations and understanding of the rapper who had quickly become a friend before dying in ‘96. “I walked off that movie twice,” he said, only returning the second time because of his ties with Shakur’s late mother, Afeni. “I don’t have to see it,” he told hosts of the Breakfast Club. “They were trying to tell me - me - how to make a movie about Pac...” he says between shrugs and disapproving glances. 26 years later and he remained unapologetically himself.
News of Singleton’s death circulated following a stroke at the age of 51. This news impacted countless Black stars. Responsible for casting Angel Bassett, Taraji P. Henson, Regina King, Cuba Gooding Jr., Janet Jackson, Ice Cube, and Tupac Shakur in some of their cinematic debuts, Singleton didn’t just see his value, but he saw potential in others. In return, Spike Lee shared a similar sentiment, writing: “I Will Forever Miss My Brother John Singleton.”More than a writer, director, or icon, to many he was family.
S TO C K I S T
RAG & BONE
BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB
SCOTCH & SODA
CG CLUB OF GENTS
T U PA C S K A K U R
PA N A M A
V O L U M E
V O L U M E
Keith Powers LADURÉE
BELCHEZ SARUNAS JACKSON
B A T I S T E
E 5 7.
M I C H A E L E VA N S B E H L I N G
YOUNG T & BUGSEY
E 6 0.
V O L U M E
ENT ISS M U
SEBASTIAN MIKAEL NIPSEY HUSSLE
1 E 6 .
B U G AT T I
JOHN SEYMOUR FUBU
FAT H E R T O M
R YA N JA M A A L S WA I N LAUCALA ISLAND
LU C K Y DAY
5 E5 .
W I L L I A M C AT L E T T
K A M I E S H A GA R B A DAWA L A
A N D R É L E O N TA L L E Y
V O L U M E
T H E Y.
S D I SU SI S U
TAY E D I G G S
56 E AT I V
E N NI
V O L U M E
E MI LL
V O L U M E
R WA R
Ryan Leslie TH
E ENT TH
TAI ER N
V O L U M E
V O L U M E
ISSUE 62 | S ERG E IBAKA | THE FASHION ISSUE
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