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KO B E B R YA N T

TIER NYC HARLEM BISCUIT CO.

JUNE3RD M I K K I E T.

DEMETRE CARTIER

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ALL IN ON STYLE. ALL IN ON PERFORMANCE. ALL IN ONE PACKAGE. THE NEW LEXUS IS lexus.com/IS

#LexusIS

Vehicle shown with options using visual effects. ©2021 Lexus.

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Issue 71

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HH BESPOKE SPIRITS

FEATURING

BESPOKE RUM | GIN | VODKA D R I N K F A S H I O N A B LY @HHBESPOKESPIRT HHBESPOKESPIRITS.COM


QUALITY FOOTWEAR. S PA N I S H A R T I S A N S . I T A L I A N M AT E R I A L S .

@mandeauxshoes scan for more info


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Table of

Contents

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THE UNORTHODOX LIFE OF RAP’S MOST NOTORIOUS R O C K S TA R , T R I P P I E R E D D

s Photography by Daion Chesney Fashion styling by Apuje Kalu


m i s e m i m

photography by Isha Shah 8

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Table of

Contents

14 Access By Bleu

48 Travel Antigua

16 Gadgets E-Bikes

22 Soled Up Cut Different

28 Grooming

52 Fashion

72 Books Casual Reads

74 Feature

Spring Is In The Air

June3rd

30 Fuel

76 Op-Ed

Badass Vegan

32 Cars

Prison & Social Exclusion

Four Wheelers

78 Humans

34 Fashion

82 Fashion Advertorial

40 The Creatives

90 Spotlight

The Cartier Watch

TIER

44 Travel

93 Icon

Asheville,NC

Kobe Bryant

Photography by Larry Wright Propaganda Agency SS 2021 Produced by Clean Showroom


M

MASTHEAD

On the Cover TRIPPIE REDD Photography By DAION CHESNEY Stylist APUJE KALU

Publisher/Editorial Direction DéVon Christopher Johnson

Head of Content EIC Bombshell by Bleu Ebony Allison

Creative Director Andrew Zaeh

Contributing Writers

PR & Social Media Coordinator

Marisa Mendez, Evan Major, Heather Grant, Talia

MacKenzie Murray

Leacock, Lavanya Sunkara, Reginald Dominique, Kent Olden, Adam Jacot de Boinod,Sable Tempest

Contributing Photographers Daion Chesney, Daniel Igbinyemi, Eliot Jones, Nwaka Okparaeke, Larry Wright

Art Direction & Design

Contributing Editors

Vee Banionis, Agnes Mazeikate

Chevy Wolf

Managing Editor

Interns

Jamie Rollo

West Coast Fashion Editor

Madison Allison

Copy Editor

Chairman, CEO & President

Staff Writer

Graphic Design Digital & Ecommerce Anahi Flores

Digital Content Strategist Kaylin Young

Licenses & Joint Ventures David DeGraff, Oaklins | DeSilva+Phillips

Brand Ambassadors Leroy Williams (Northeast)

THE BLEU LIFE MEDIA GROUP

Tommy Rodriguez, Elysia Tanswell

Damien Nunes

Rannon Harris (Chicago - Midwest),

Sean Azeez

Trevoy Ross, William Flores

LaTecia Johnson

Justin Wallace, Zaire Turner,

Apuje Kalu

UK Fashion Editor

Partnerships & Branded Content

DéVon Christopher Johnson

AD Sales: Todd Evans, Rivendell Media 908.232.2021

Newsstand Distribution TNG 1955 Lake Park Drive, Ste. 400 Smyrna, GA 30080

Submissions Bleu Magazine 26 Broadway, 3rd floor

Web Design

New York, NY 10004

Kelly Janes Olney

info@bleulife.com

Bleulife Media & Entertainment Inc. | 26 Broadway 3rd Floor New York, NY 10004 | E-Mail: info@bleulife.com | Online: bleulife.com Printed in Canada. Opinions expressed by advertisers, columnists, feature writers or other contributors are not necessarily the opinions of Bleu Magazine or its staff. All advertisements, photographs, text or illustrations are published with the understanding that the advertisers are fully authorized to have secured proper consent for the use thereof. Bleu Magazine shall not be held responsible for any errors, loss, expense or liabilities on advertisements accepted after the deadline. Publication of the name or photograph of any person or advertisement in Bleu Magazine is not to be constructed as an indication of sexual orientation of such persons, advertiser or organization. Partial or complete reproduction of an advertisement, news article, feature or photograph from Bleu Magazine is strictly prohibited as Bleu Magazine is a registered trademark. A $25 or 1.5% (whichever is greater) fee will be charged for all NSF checks. All rights reserved.

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PUBLISHER’S LETTER

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Here’s to the ones that we got Cheers to the wish you were here, but you’re not ‘Cause the drinks bring back all the memories Of everything we’ve been through Toast to the ones here today Toast to the ones that we lost on the way ‘Cause the drinks bring back all the memories And the memories bring back, memories bring back you There’s a time that I remember, when I did not know no pain When I believed in forever, and everything would stay the same Now my heart feel like December when somebody say your name ‘Cause I can’t reach out to call you, but I know I will one day, yeah Everybody hurts sometimes Everybody hurts someday, ayy-ayy But everything gon’ be alright Go and raise a glass and say, ayy MAROON 5 MEMORIES

The future will look back on this moment in the human journey and fill their narrative with criticism and could’ve, should’ve, would’ve. But, the truth is everyone is a genius when looking in the rearview mirror at the handbook of those who came before. I’m jealous of the future. With its side eyes and lessons learned. Conversations in cafes discussing the time we almost let our greedy politicians and ignorant world leaders drive us into extinction. A preventable one at that. I see them now; getting around on their solar panel hover boards and sleeping in oxygen chambers. With all that envy of what they would think- I believe we did the best we could. Even if what we did was completely wrong. It was what we had the capacity to do in 2020 A.D. of our existence on this pale-blue spaceship two planets from the Sun. We have never been the perfect species. We’ve destroyed civilizations, enslaved other humans, and polluted our oceans. We are human. That makes us perfectly flawed. But what we will have is memories. Good, bad, and indifferent. They will be ours. Created by us for us. They will be painful and coarse. Yet, they will be beautiful and transformative. We will carry them into the future and pass them on to those that think they will be better. But they too will be just a different version of the same. Just like us.

DéVon Christopher Johnson Founder & Group Publisher

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C O N T R I B U TO R S

Apuje KALU

Talia

LEACOCK

Lavanya SUNKARA

Marisa MENDEZ

Heather

GRANT

Evan

MAJORS

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Apuje Kalu’s talents are indefinable. He is an instinctive freelance fashion stylist and creative director from Washington, DC known for his eye for detail. Apuje injects forethought, creativity, and boundless energy into every project and brings an aptitude for organization and structure thanks to his engineering background.

Talia Leacock is a self-care enthusiast, soca baby, and hopeless romantic whose longest love affair has been with the written word. She’s spun that last passion into a full-time career as founder and chief creative wordsmith of Word Count Creative, a boutique content agency that helps small businesses and entrepreneurs speak right to the hearts of their audiences. Find her online @talialeacock.

Lavanya is a New York City-based writer covering sustainable travel, off-the-beatenpath escapes, adventure and wildlife conservation. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Architectural Digest, Fodor’s, Forbes, Reader’s Digest, and USA Today among others.

New Jersey-born, Los Angeles-based Marisa Mendez is a journalist, media personality and author. She is the former editor of Funk Flex’s In Flex We Trust blog and the former co-host of The Joe Budden Podcast, then-named I’ll Name This Podcast Later. Marisa has worked as a host on Diddy’s REVOLT TV, a cast member on Hot 97’s Ebro In The Morning show and co-authored chef duo Trap Kitchen’s cookbook, Trap Kitchen: Bangin’ Recipes from Compton as well as actor Columbus Short’s autobiography, Short Stories. She now hosts her Marisa Explains It All podcast and the HipHopDX show, Hacked.

Heather is a Sagittarius working for the integrity and love of music; whether it’s through writing, curating playlists, or showcases.

Evan Majors is a freelance writer and Founder of Major Media + Casting LLC, a casting and talent development company. He’s an avid hot yoga enthusiast, runner and vinyl record collector who has his therapist on speed dial. Follow on IG: @ mr.evanmajors


IT’S NOT JUST A MAGAZINE

BLEUMAG.COM @BLEUMAGAZINE

it’s a lifestyle.


A

AC T I V I S M BY B L E U

END SARS In October of 2020, hundreds of people from Enugu, Nigeria gathered in Okpara Square to protest the Nigerian Police’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a branch with a history of mistreatment, brutality, and abuse. Founded in 1992 as one of the 14 units in the force’s Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, SARS was designed to be a “masked” police unit engaging in undercover operations for violent crimes such as armed robbery, car theft, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and illegal firearms. Since its establishment, they have been accused of several human rights violations such as illegal stops and searches and arrests, extrajudicial killings, sexual harassment, and brutal misconduct with young Nigerian males. After two unjust killings in October 2020, #ENDSARS began to trend globally. On October 11, 2020, organizers made a list of five demands for the government of Nigeria. They demanded the release of those arrested during the protests, justice and compensation for those who died at the hands of police brutality, the creation of an independent investigative body for police misconduct, psychological evaluations and retraining of SARS operatives, and an increase in salaries for Nigerian police officers. The demonstrations continued throughout the month of October and on the 20th, the darkest day, the Nigerian Army opened fire into a crowd of protesters injuring over 25 people and killing two. The day would become known as The Lekki Toll Gate Massacre. Despite the Nigerian Government slightly impeding the abilities of SARS, there are still numerous human rights violations happening to this day. SARS Watch (@sars_watch), a Twitter account dedicated to spreading the word about SARS misconduct, continues to report on instances of brutality, unjust arrests, stopand-searches, and more. Resources and information to get involved, places to donate and how spread the word are all available at https://endsars.carrd.co/#. BleuLife stands with the people of Nigeria as we fight for a better future.

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AC T I V I S M BY B L E U

A

Photo by Ayanfe Olarinde

Photo by Ayanfe Olarinde

Photo by Eiseke Bolaji

Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

Photo by Samson Maxwell

Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

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GADGETS

ELECTRONIC

MOBILITY

Electric scooters, bikes, and skateboards are the easiest and coolest way to get around town. With warmer weather just on the horizon, think about investing in one of these tech-savvy modes of transport.

ONEWHEEL PINT $950

This one-wheeled electric skateboard packs a lot of punch despite its small size. With a top speed of 16 mph and a range of 6 to 8 miles, the Onewheel Pint takes skateboarding to a futuristic level. And traveling is made easy with its compact, lightweight design. Though to the eye the Onewheel looks intimidating to ride, it is actually quite rider-friendly. The engine starts by simply leaning forward and can easily stop on a dime. Onewheel’s skateboards have become a fan favorite for their ability to handle rough terrain and trails, something that other e-skateboards on the market cannot handle. The Onewheel Pint also comes with a detachable handle and a Pint home charger, which can bring the board from zero battery to a full charge in just 120 minutes.

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GADGETS

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UNAGI E-SCOOTER $990

Boasting portability and highly researched engineering, the Unagi E-Scooter has been praised by tech critics everywhere. It all starts with the magnesium alloy handlebar, a design aspect that took over 30 prototypes to perfect. 33 percent lighter than aluminum, the magnesium alloy control center plays a huge role in making an easy-to-carry, portable scooter. Customers have the option of choosing between two different types of motors: the E250 and the E500. The E250, ideal for urban terrains, comes with a 250-watt motor. The latter, ideal for hilly terrain, has a 500-watt motor with 32-newton meters of torque. Each of Unagi’s motors are made with rare-earth neodymium magnets designed for efficiency and longevity. To top it all off, the Unagi E-Scooter has a wide selection of premade designs and an option to customize your own graphics.

Images: unagiscooters.com

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GADGETS

SEGWAY NINEBOT S SMART SELF-BALANCING E-SCOOTER, $489.99

If safety is a top concern, the Segway Ninebot S is the electric ride for you. This self-balancing scooter meets high standards for fire and electrical safety. The Smart Battery Management system provides reliable performance and can go up to 13.7 miles on a full charge. The IP45 waterproof protection keeps the battery and motor safe from various weather conditions. Though the Ninebot S is compact, weighing in at just 28 pounds, it contains a 400-watt motor that can reach a max speed of 10 miles per hour and climb a max slope of 15 degrees. This scooter can also connect to the Segway app, which has an anti-theft function, speed limit and adjustment, diagnostics, remote control, and firmware.

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LECTRIC XP $899

E-bikes have become all the rage over the past year and despite being relatively new to the industry, Lectric has become one of the top providers of electric bikes. Their Lectric XP was included among Electric Bike Review’s (EBR) Best Bikes of 2020 and for good reason. This seven-pound design packs a quiet 500-watt motor and can travel over 45 miles on a full charge. The Lectric XP’s design is also foldable and can be taken on-the-go with ease. This bike can be taken on any terrain thanks to its puncture-proof tires. The best part about this e-bike, however, is its safe and user-friendly handlebar display, which shows the rider the bike’s battery level, current speed, pedal assist level, and trip distance.

Images: lectricebikes.com

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check out

BOMBSHELLBYBLEU.COM


W W W . O D F C L O T H I N G . C O M


SOLED UP

CUT DIFFERENT

S

For sneaker collector Tevin Ryles, exclusive kicks symbolize big payoffs. With the sneaker resell market expected to surge over the next few years, one-off footwear is backed with high-interest. With a collection full of limited editions, his niche hobby has now proven to reap serious financial rewards.

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SOLED UP

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Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG TD “UNC to Chicago”

Jordan 1 Retro High “Not for Resale“ Varsity Maize,

Jordan 4 Retro Off-White Sail

4

Jordan 1 Retro High Pine Green Black

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SOLED UP

Nike SB Dunk Low J-Pack Chicago Nike SB Dunk Low Concepts Purple Lobster Nike Dunk Low SP Kentucky (2020) Nike SB Dunk Low StrangeLove Skateboards Nike SB Dunk Low Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Dunky

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SOLED UP

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Jordan 1 Retro High Travis Scott

Front: Nike LD Waffle Sacai Blue Multi Back:Nike LD Waffle Sacai Green Multi

Jordan 1 Retro High Union Los Angeles Blue Toe

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SOLED UP

Nike Air Fear of God 1 Triple Black

Nike SB Dunk Low Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Dunky

Nike Air Force 1 Customs by HoC Customs for Oberon Asscher

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SOLED UP

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Nike Dunk Low SP Syracuse (2020)

Oberon Asscher x Kevin Concepts

Jordan 1 Retro High Union Los Angeles Black Toe

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GROOMING

Spring is in the Air This season’s must-have men’s fragrances are subtle and refreshing and warm and woodsy.

Byredo Tobacco Mandarin

Chanel Allure Homme Sport

Montblanc Explorer Eau de Parfum

$330 50 ML Available at Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, and byredo.com

$100 3.4 fl. oz. Available at Ulta Beauty, Sephora, Macy’s, and chanel.com.

$98 3.4 fl. oz. Available at Nordstrom, Macy’s, Sears, and Ulta Beauty.

photo credit: commodityfrangrances.com

$105 100 ML Available on commodityfragrances.com

photo credit: stormfashion.dk

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photo credit: chanel.com

photo credit: ulta.com


GROOMING

D.S & Durga Mississippi Medicine

Rag & Bone Oddity

The Nue Co. Functional Fragrance

$260 100 ML Available at Nordstrom and dsanddurga.com

$150 50 ML Available on rag-bone.com and Scentbird

$95 50 ML Available on thenueco.com and Verishop.

photo credit: dsanddurga.com

photo credit: rag-bone.com

photo credit: thenueco.com

Replica Jazz Club Eau de Toilette Fragrance

Tom Ford Ombre Leather Eau de Parfum

RICH MESS Unisex Parfum Spray

$130 3.4 fl. oz. Available at Nordstrom and Sephora.

$134 1.70 fl. oz. Available at Macy’s, Sephora, and Ulta Beauty.

$120 50 ML Available on richmess.com

photo credit: nordstrom.com

photo credit: dillards.com

photo credit: richmess.com

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FUEL

Words by EVAN MAJORS

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT John Lewis, aka “Bad Ass Vegan,” seeks to fight American food norms through his namesake organization. In his upcoming documentary, “Hungry for Justice”, Lewis plans to educate the public on the intersection of race, health, and economics.

Let’s face it, America loves its bacon, Big Gulps, Hot Pockets, and Big Mac’s. The bigger, the unhealthier, the better has always been the American way. Because of this, the United States of America continues to lead the world in chronic disease and illness due to poor nutrition and eating habits, despite all the information, science, and statistics about the benefits of a plant-based diet. For John “Bad Ass Vegan” Lewis, an internationally recognized no-nonsense vegan advocate, certified fitness trainer, motivational speaker, food justice advocate, author, and documentary film producer, his slogan is: “If it takes a shit, I don’t eat it.” “We eat the same five animals every day,” says Lewis, “but there’s over 70,000 different plants, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and seeds for us to eat. The variety is there, and it’s not expensive. The expensive part of veganism is when you allow other people to put the work in for you.” As a self-described former “fat kid” growing up in Ferguson, Missouri, John weighed 315 pounds as a freshman in high school. It didn’t help that his family owned several successful barbecue restaurants. “At the time, I just thought I was fat because of bad genes,” says Lewis. “I thought I was supposed to be like this.” Growing up, John ate what is known as the Standard American Diet. “Everything was processed, everything had some kind of fried chicken involved,” says Lewis. “All the cheese, all kinds of dairy, the sweet tea, I ate all kinds of meat, I ate it all, man.”

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FUEL

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You mean to tell me the food companies don’t know they’re selling poison?” John’s latest venture, which has been four years in the making, is the 2021 release of his first feature-length documentary Hungry for Justice (previously titled They’re Trying to Kill Us), the follow-up to What the Health co-directed by Keegan Kuhn who will also serve as Co-Executive Producer and Director along with Lewis. The film, told through the lens of hip-hop and urban culture, will focus on the intersection between diet, food injustice, poverty, and institutional racism and explore why Americans of color suffer disproportionately from higher rates of chronic disease. It features interviews with NeYo, Cedric the Entertainer, Mya, Soulé, Styles P, and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, along with a host of others. “My biggest accomplishment is knowing that I’m able to show people and empower people to save their own lives,” says Lewis. “We don’t have to wait until we’re sick in the hospital before we make a change because by then it might be too late.”

In 2006, while John was getting his MBA with an emphasis in entrepreneurship from Nova Southeastern University, two major events occurred that not only changed the trajectory of his life but also his relationship with food. He received the devastating news that his mom had been diagnosed with colon cancer, and one of his fraternity brothers passed away from sickle cell. “Once my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer, it made me research the causes of the disease,” says Lewis. “During my research, I discovered that animal protein was related to many other forms of cancers, as well as a host of other diseases and ailments.” Most people would think going from eating barbecue for years to veganism would be difficult, especially if that’s all you’ve known. “I was fortunate I’ve always been a rebel,” says Lewis, “so the more people told me I couldn’t, the more I wanted to prove them wrong. The thing that kept me focused was the friends and family talking shit. They were the ones with all the ailments and diseases. They were my motivation without even knowing it.” Since making the switch to a plant-based diet, Lewis has been on a mission. In 2010, he launched his company Bad Ass Vegan, a health and nutrition company that educates on plant-based nutrition, especially in Black and Brown communities. “The government fucked up on a lot of things,” says Lewis, “but the one thing they got right is when they called it the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) because food is a drug. It’s the most addictive drug we’ll ever put in our bodies. The alcohol and tobacco companies know they’re selling poison.

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CARS

Words by REGINALD DOMINIQUE

TAKE 2021 OFF-ROAD WITH THE KAWASAKI KFX® 90 Check out these all-new ATV designs from Kawasaki and Yamaha. The 2021 Kawasaki KFX 90 and the 2021 Yamaha Grizzly 90 offer all the thrill of an ATV with safety measures in place for beginners.

Grab 2021 by the handlebars and take control with the 2021 Kawasaki KFX® 90 and the 2021 Yamaha Grizzly 90. Perfect for All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) lovers, but fun for those who enjoy a thrill ride. All-terrain vehicles, also known as ATVs, are a great way to get around outdoors. Whether you are looking to get out for a quick joy ride or seeking a good time off-road on trails, ATVs offer a quick and efficient way to get you from point A to B. Similar to a bicycle with one leg on either side of the seat, ATVs are typically equipped with a straddle seating position, handlebar steering, and the ability to quickly maneuver through a variety of terrain and conditions. ATVs are commonly used for practical transportation and recreation, like racing, trail riding, or for a good joy ride.

ENGINE TYPE

SINGLE-CYLINDER

CYLINDERS

1

ENGINE STROKE

4-STROKE

VALVE CONFIGURATION

SOHC

DISPLACEMENT (CC/CI)

89 / 5.4

CARBURETION TYPE

CARBURETOR

TRANSMISSION: TRANSMISSION TYPE

CONTINUOUSLY VARIABLE (CVT)

PRIMARY DRIVE (REAR WHEEL)

CHAIN

REVERSE

NO

BRAKES: FRONT BRAKE TYPE

DUAL DRUM

REAR BRAKE TYPE

HYDRAULIC DISC

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS: FUEL CAPACITY (GAL/L)

1.5 / 5.7

SEATS: NUMBER OF SEATS

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CARS

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Like the 2021 Kawasaki KFX® 90 and the 2021 Yamaha Grizzly 90, youth ATVs are for those little riders who may not have much riding experience. They are smaller than other types of ATVs and usually offer little or no suspension, low power, and either an automatic transmission or no gears at all. All these features make it safer and more intuitive for younger riders to learn and use an ATV. Let’s kick things off with the 2021 Kawasaki KFX® 90. Offering two colors, blue and lime green, the 2021 Kawasaki KFX® 90 will have two ways to start that includes the key and the electric start. There is also a ring system in place that can be removed to get the 2021 Kawasaki KFX® 90 up to 33 MPH. However, there is a safety screw feature included on the handlebars which allows owners to govern the speed as well. This ATV is an ideal way to get the kids outdoors with a ride on the 2021 Kawasaki KFX® 90. With its proportionate power and size, it’s perfect for riders age 12 and older.

photos courtesy of Kawasaki

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FA S H I O N

Words by SARA ORHIN Photography by NWAKA OKPARAEKE

On a Lucky Streak with Scribz Riley Some say that luck is created through our actions. This feeling is one that two-time Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter-producer extraordinaire, Scribz Riley, is in tune with following the release of his EP Wish Me Luck. His latest release reveals his talent for creating a juxtaposition of vulnerable lyrics detailing the navigation of love, life and relationships. Wish Me Luck is Scribz’s debut album but he is no rookie to the music industry. Navigating his way through the business for over six years, Riley has built an exceptional career in production and has been the mastermind of tracks for noted leading artists such as Cardi B, H.E.R. and Khalid. The abstract album art is suited to its title as it shows Scribz standing on a serene ocean, a metaphor for his familiar territory of production, opposite a glass portal of attractive yet mysterious colors and tones; the anonymous land of artistry. “I just wanted to take a leap of faith, put my sound out there. I felt that I owed it to myself to capture the energy that I have put into other music, for my own project, but having the producer background, artistry is like going into the unknown.” It is difficult to classify his sound into a specific genre due to the versatility of sound 34

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across this album. Intro track ‘On My Sleeve ft. Kaash Paige’ takes inspiration from R&B as its lyrical content centers around rising above the hurt and change in energy experienced from loved ones. It begins with an acapella before switching to a pulsating hiphop bassline. Another popular track “Mandy” boasts a laidback afrobeat vibe blended with an upbeat R&B melody describing the dramatic end of a relationship. “Impress Me” ft. Headie One has an authentic UK drill inspired flow with an alternative R&B chorus detailing the adventures of the club scene. Each track invites listeners to a smooth and seamless execution of layered production and relatable lyrics, but one quality that is consistent throughout his discography is the infusion of personal experience. “I’m inspired by different types of music and I like to experiment. My project is based on real life experiences and things that I’ve gone through. I find it easier. It’s quite scary in the sense of being vulnerable, but I find it easy to write from that space because the story already exists, it’s authentic. My life is my idea bank.” I wanted to discuss his intentional contrast of beats and lyrics. The intricate layering of relatable lyrics and an uplifting feel good bassline provides comfort to listeners. Scribz aims to make listeners disregard their situations and move in the moment. “’Mandy’”

for example, it’s actually quite a sad love song but I don’t want everyone to feel depressed. How I saw it based on my experience, is when you go out to a party to forget your problems, the problems are still going to be lingering in the background. You’ll have a good time, but the world is falling down around you, so you might as well buss a skank with a good beat! Upon listening to the completed album the first time, I was thinking wow this is heavy, “am I okay?” he laughed, “but it’ s an honest reflection of what I was going through at the time.” He goes on to describe what the craft means to him. “Music is a form of expression for me. It’s a happy place. My sport, my hobby. It’s just what I do. It’s a part of life for me. I feel weird not making music. But the thing is that I don’t know how to be on holiday… I did it once I left my laptop at home and went on holiday. And I was stressed out! Even if I’m not actively making music, I’ll be looking for new sounds and learning instruments. I’m currently perfecting the guitar for an acoustic session. There’s always room for improvement.” Scribz’s work ethic and passion for music are admirable. A self-diagnosed perfectionist in every aspect of creative expression, I wanted to know who he cites as inspiration behind


FA S H I O N

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his choice to venture into music. “I’ve been inspired by different people at different stages actually. I was inspired by people around my area, in school they would have MC battles and would have so much fun, so I kind of gravitated towards that. Then my brother, Talay Riley; he’s an artist, and a songwriter. I watched him do big things in the USA before I even got into production. His success really made me feel like I could do it. Also, Kanye West; I really respect his journey from production into artistry. He has conquered both and transitioned into fashion, so that mindset of achieving anything he desires is inspiring. In terms of my future and what I am working towards, Michael Jackson is a big inspiration, no one mentions ‘Thriller’ without mentioning the video, so the extreme levels of creativity that he delivered when it came to his visuals is legendary to me.” It’s clear that the 27-year-old has tremendous goals in terms of his craft and the best is yet to come. I wanted to know what his motivations were to keep striving beyond the ebbs and flows of the music industry and the legacy he wishes to leave behind. “Life honestly keeps me motivated. Knowing where I started, I never thought I would be doing the things that I’m doing now. I never thought I would win a Grammy or any of that stuff. So those achievements gave me a new confidence in things that I can do. I just want to be a source of inspiration, to shed light on the

“It’s quite scary in the sense of being vulnerable, but I find it easy to write from that space because the story already exists, it’s authentic”

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“Life honestly keeps me motivated. Knowing where I started, I never thought I would be doing the things that I’m doing now”

fact that I come from ends, from London, as normal as anyone; and show the endless possibilities when you put your head down and work. I really just want to achieve my full potential for friends and family to be proud. I carry them close to my heart.” His ambitions to utilize his platform to inspire those around him is much appreciated in an unsettling time. Creativity has been fluctuating during this lockdown as social and live music events have come to a stern halt. Scribz describes his experience and future projects. “Lockdown has made me a home bug. I hit a creative wall but I’ve been getting back into production. I’ve been working on friends’ projects while concepting for my next project. I’ve been trying to get into film because my original dream was to be an actor. I didn’t think I would do music, it just happened! So I have been trying to plant the seed for that and see what manifests.” One thing that is abundantly clear is that Scribz Riley brings a much-needed breath of

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fresh air to the current music scene. A producer, lyricist and creative director, he is a triple threat. Complimented by a burning passion to challenge himself with different musical styles and leave a musical legacy that he can be proud of. His modesty to his talents is reputable; and will surely come as a shock once concerts and tours become a way of life again. Fans would have had time to absorb his unique tempos, versatility and will be ready to embrace him on his first official tour as an artist. As we wrap up the interview, he mentions the symbols that have become a representation of him visually and that he holds dear, which include a ’93 for his year of birth, a cross for his religious beliefs, a shoehorn and a four leaf clover. “Its the luck factor, I have them tatted on my skin. When you see those symbols. You should know that it’s got something to do with me and that it has my touch, it’s almost like my signature”. With two Grammy’s under his belt and a sophomore album on the horizon, it seems that luck is something that Scribz will not be running out of anytime soon.


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THE CARTIER WATCH Jack of All Trades Sets Sights on Mastering One in Particular

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Cartier is a world-renowned name known for producing some of the most luxury timepieces we have ever seen. When you hear the name, you automatically think, “Hell yeah…” Cartier is luxe. Cartier is love. Cartier is art. Everybody wants Cartier, and in more ways than one. There’s another Cartier on the rise in the world of animation, and when it comes to that art form, Cartier is king. Artist. Actor. Dancer. Hair Gawd. Demetre Cartier is a shining star who is shooting his way to the top. The Brooklyn-born, Los Angeles-living internet influencer is the epitome of Jack-of-all-trades. There is nothing that he can’t conquer when he takes it on, but there is one talent that has made the transition to passion.

In the Beginning…

Photography by Roberto Hannibal

Instagram: @your.royal.freshness

Facebook: Demetre Cartier Durham

“I do a lot of things. Being a cartoonist is just one, but it’s the one that’s my favorite.” Kicking off his career in cartooning at age three, it all started when his mother taught him how to write in cursive. A successful lesson led to some free time with coloring books, only Demetre wasn’t coloring the pictures in the books – he was drawing his own. “I loved coloring books and superheroes. My mother told me I started drawing my own characters in the books,” he says. Constantly curating his craft, Demetre moved on to creating storylines for original comic books that were shared in the classrooms of his elementary school. Not limiting himself to just one form of artistry, Demetre has his hand in other styles of art and drawing. Art classes in school introduced him to the realms of realistic portraits. While he does take it very seriously, it can get to be a little too serious for him. “It takes the fun out of it for me,” he says. “Cartoons are more fun. I love doing cartoons so that’s where I stay.”

Network the Network Currently working on his first major cartoon story, Demetre draws inspiration from a very interesting place: a mash-up marriage of Greek mythology and the supernatural, and Black people. “I took a Greek mythology class in school and I fell in love with all the scan-

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dals and stories,” he says. “I think the supernatural makes a good storyline for the cartoon too. But I wanted it to be Black people. So the characters are Black.” Work first began on this particular cartoon when Demetre was in grade school. He assigned all of his friends a superpower and they formed their own team – something like the Justice League or the Avengers. Forming that supergroup gave him the idea for the cartoon, and the stage began to be set. “It derives from the Greek gods and the Titans,” he says. “My characters are descendants [of the gods and the Titans] who use their powers to save the world, essentially.” Now that he’s older, he’s taking on the task of making it a full-on cartoon, complete with character development and storylines. He even has a working name – which is amazing – but you’ll have to wait to see it on your TV screens when it premieres. Demetre ultimately looks forward to the day that he can collaborate with Rebekah Sugar of Steven Universe and get his cartoon aired on Cartoon Network.

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Style and Profile Demetre describes his drawing style as “very similar to The Boondocks,” although he was never inspired by Aaron McGruder’s characters. His inspiration was drawn from the original Teen Titans characters and he applied that method to practicing by drawing Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon characters. There is one thing that all of these shows’ characters have in common, however, and it’s become Demetre’s things. “The eyes. You can always tell a character drawing of mine when you look at the eyes. It’s my signature.” When it comes to his work routine, Demetre has it all laid out, and it starts with watching TV. “I watch a lot of cartoons and supernatural-themed shows,” he says. “Once I see the creativity of those worlds, I get ready to start mine. I just play music, sit at a desk and draw.” Initially sketching his characters on paper, Demetre has delved into the digital realm and now draws on his iPad. “Everything comes out cleaner and more vibrant,” he says.

Outside the Office While he hasn’t worked with any other visual or animation artists yet, Demetre has collaborated with a number of artists in the entertainment industry, teasing that “a collaboration is on the way.” Always keeping the focus on what comes first, he is currently working on murals and community fridges throughout Los Angeles, adding his own flair with drawings and paintings on those.

A Word of Advice “I met someone who works for Disney who told me, ‘I hire people who know how to do the job. A degree doesn’t matter to me.’” That bit of advice is the same advice Demetre gives to anyone looking to make it in the industry. “I studied journalism with a concentration in digital animation in college, but you can learn from anywhere,” he says. “If you really want to make it then have to remember to sharpen your craft, make time for your craft. Keep practicing, [because] practice makes permanent.”

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Words by LAVANYA SUNKARA

Photography by AIRAM DATO-ON

A Socially Distant Getaway in Asheville, North Carolina The sky was a tapestry of pale orange, pink and blue, the smooth outlines of the mountains indigo blue. On the hillsides, trees stood silently, their bare branches slowly revealing themselves with the rising sun. A chilly gust swept past me as I welcomed the morning with my two dogs on the terrace of Blue Ridge Bliss, our vacation rental home in Asheville. The outdoor hot tub and open fire pit, surrounded by Adirondack chairs in the foreground of the magical dawn made for a picture-perfect panorama. As I captured it on my phone, I realized this moment was my antidote after months in New York City quarantine.

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The CDC says road trips and rentals are the safest forms of COVID-19 travel. In need of a break from New York scenery, travel writer Lavanya Sunkara headed to Asheville, NC for a much-needed, naturefilled getaway.

Sometimes, a change of scenery - when done safely - is all we need to feel rejuvenated. Despite New York state’s success in slowing the spread of COVID-19, my family and I stayed put. But, after months of hikes in the same state parks, and staring at the usual maple and birch trees outside the windows, I decided to take a road trip and stay in secluded vacation rentals. The CDC considers these options safer than flying or staying in hotels during the pandemic. Little did I know that a short getaway on wheels would bring me to paradise.


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Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is a haven for nature lovers. The bohemian city is the gateway to the 469mile Blue Ridge Parkway (that runs from Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains) and is home to the country’s largest privately-owned home, the Biltmore Estate. The year-round destination is perfect for hiking, biking, skiing, and experiencing its thriving downtown. I found our first vacation rental, Blue Ridge Bliss, through a local rental company, Greybeard Rentals, which was adhering to strict cleaning protocols. This gorgeous property, nestled in the mountains of Weaverville, is a short, 20-minute drive from Asheville. Set atop a hill, the private, three-bedroom luxury rental features a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, a large rustic-chic kitchen, and massive windows in the living and dining areas to take in incredible views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom opens to a patio with a hot tub adjacent to a stone fire pit and the expanse of the surrounding mountains. Blue Ridge Bliss is situated just minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway, which we drove on our first full day to the Folk Art Center (museum of Appalachian arts and crafts) that connected us to the MST (Mountains-to-Sea Trail) for a hearty hike with the dogs. We planned to continue along the scenic parkway to Craggy Gardens, an Asheville attraction drawing visitors to its whimsical, wind-carved trees that adorn the mountaintops. But, a road closure on the parkway (all too common in the winter months), changed our plans to an afternoon in downtown Asheville. Asheville’s pedestrian-friendly streets are lined with eateries, souvenir shops, bookstores, bars, and boutiques offering locally-crafted artwork and jewelry. Following an outdoor lunch of fresh fare at Nani’s Rotisserie Chicken, my husband and I strolled through the area. With masks on, we popped briefly into stores on the main thoroughfares and within the Grove Arcade for local finds (hot sauce and handmade pottery and jewelry topped our

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list). After a quick temperature check, we entered the Battery Park Book Exchange, an old-fashioned space with floor-toceiling shelves brimming with used and first-edition books alongside a bar serving champagne and cocktails. Before heading home, we made a few stops to secure dinner and drinks to enjoy back at the cabin: spicy Indian food from Chai Pani (the kale pakoras are a treat) and the “Spice Merchant” chai-flavored cider from the Noble Cider & Mead Taproom. Before checking in to our next vacation rental in Black Mountain, we headed to the Biltmore Estate, the former home of the Vanderbilts. This French-chateau-style mansion is set on four acres and features 250 rooms. Even though ticketed patrons are allowed inside, we opted to walk the elaborate gardens with our dogs. After an invigorating amble on nearly empty paths, we returned to our second rental, tired but excited to see the home that awaited us. Lakey Gap Lodge from the Carolina Mornings, a local rental company with enhanced cleaning and a 24-hour gap between guest stays, provided us with a wonderful experience. Located in Black Mountain, voted as one of the prettiest American small towns, the newly-built four-bedroom A-frame log cabin is just a short drive from Asheville. The soothing smell of pine filled our nostrils from the moment we entered. High interior ceilings with large windows bring the outside in. Despite neighbors in the vicinity, the neighborhood remained perfectly still. The wraparound porch, surrounded by hillsides, is ideal for lounging and dining. Black Mountain lived up to its accolades, sporting a lively main street with momand-pop shops and restaurants. While our stay in Asheville was brief, we vowed to return. A road trip helped us to travel worry-free, and we had peace of mind knowing that everyone in the city and surrounding towns were adhering to safety protocols. Best of all, the getaway allowed us to stay in secluded vacation homes and enjoy the great outdoors, all the while keeping ourselves and others safe.


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W H E R E T O E AT :

W H AT T O D O :

BLUE RIDGE BLISS

NANI’S ROTISSERIE CHICKEN

BILTMORE ESTATE

Greybeard Rentals Weaverville, NC 855-688-9574

1 Page Ave, Suite 147 Asheville, NC 28801 (828) 515-1900

1 Lodge Street Asheville, NC 28803 (800) 411-3812

W H E R E T O S TAY :

LAKEY GAP LODGE

CHAI PANI

CRAGGY GARDENS

Carolina Mornings Black Mountain, NC (855) 398-0712

22 Battery Park Avenue Asheville, NC 28801 (828) 254-4003

364 Blue Ridge Parkway Black Mountain, NC 28711 (828) 298-0398

HUDSON’S PEAK ON LEISURE MOUNTAIN Greybeard Rentals Fairview, NC 855-688-9574

NOBLE CIDER & MEAD TAPROOM

BATTERY PARK BOOK EXCHANGE

49 Rankin Avenue Asheville, NC 28801 (828) 412-5064

1 Page Avenue #101 Asheville, NC 28801 (828) 252-0020

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The Splendor of Antigua:

the Land of 365 Beaches

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Words by ADAM JACOT DE BOINOD

One of the international destinations open to U.S tourists, Antigua is a classic Caribbean getaway. Join travel writer Adam Jacot de Boinod as he explores the Land of 365 Beaches. Many parts of the world have suggested luxury over these last 50 years, but the Caribbean tops them all. With the perfect temperature, long strands of sandy beaches, transparent turquoise water in the bays facing inwards, and ocean waves coming off the Atlantic, they all conjure up the ideal setting for boating and beach holidays. Tourists comprise 65 percent Brits and 30 percent Americans. It’s also home to Oprah Winfrey, Eric Clapton, Silvio Berlusconi, and Giorgio Armani. The famous Carlisle Bay has played host to George Bush, Roman Abramovich, the Duchess of Cornwall, John Travolta, John Kerry, and Michael J Fox. Antigua is an island with immense beauty. The hills create some wonderful vistas, one being the notable view from Shirley Heights on the English Harbour, a naturally formed series of bays and enclosures that hosted Admiral Nelson in his threeyear sojourn on the island. Elsewhere, Half Moon Bay and Valley Church Bay delight in different ways. The former for its symmetry but agitated waves, the latter for the calm and endless spread of bright blue water, knee-deep out to sea for over 200 yards.

Photo credit Kelcie Papp

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Photo credit Greg Gallaher

I stayed first at Carlisle Bay. The entrance consists of a bridge aligned with ponds decorated with lilies and massive orange goldfish. The foyer was comparatively calm and discreet but welcoming. It’s only by looking back at the hotel from out at sea that I could see its perfect setting in a sheltered bay, surrounded by forested hills. The trees virtually cover the architecture to show only the white umbrellas echoed in the crashing white waves. The garden and beach apartments are as well catered for families as they are for couples. I drew my curtains to enjoy the full intimacy and immediacy of the sea that was only yards ahead. The décor was a combination of wicker, wood, cotton, and pebbles giving it a fresh and nautical colonial vibe. The world of boats was soon upon me as I reached my next destination at Nonsuch

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Bay. This resort has a reassuring familiarity with the Mediterranean as the squeezed communal area perched upon a steep rockface looked out over a Homeric wine-blue sea. The lounge area has an infinity pool that implored me to elbow my weight over the edge and fixate upon Small Bird Island directly ahead. A dinghy ride to Green Island opposite and I was left alone for the morning to play out the deserted island dream of imagining how I might survive on basic food, for the boat to then return and collect me safely for the most delicious lunch. As the famous French writer Hilaire Belloc noted, “I have wandered all my life and I have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” By the time I had left the Caribbean, I felt I had done both.


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W H E R E T O E AT :

Photo credit: carlisle-bay.com

Photo credit: tripadvisor.com

Photo credit: carlisle-bay.com

W H E R E T O S TAY :

GREENCASTLE HILL NATIONAL PARK

INDIGO ON THE BEACH

Saint Mary Antigua, and Barbuda, Antigua & Barbuda +1 268-481-5021/22

[Carlisle Bay] Old Road, Saint Mary Parish, Antigua +1 268-484-0000

Photo credit: marinas.com

NELSON’S DOCKYARD Dockyard Drive, Antigua & Barbuda +1 268-481-5021

EAST [Carlisle Bay] Old Road, Saint Mary Parish, Antigua +1 268-484-0000

Photo credit: cocobayresort.com

Photo credit: visitantiguabarbuda.com

NONSUCH BAY Hughes Point, Freetown, Antigua & Barbuda +1 268-562-8000

Photo credit: carlisle-bay.businesscatalyst.com/

CARLISLE BAY Old Road, Antigua & Barbuda +1 268-484-0000

Photo credit: nonsuchbayresort.com

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COCOBAY RESORT

SHIRLEY HEIGHTS LOOKOUT

THE GALLEY BAR

Valley Church, NA, Antigua & Barbuda +1 268-562-2400

Antigua & Barbuda +1 268-776-2853

Nelson’s Dockyard Marina, Antigua & Barbuda +1 268-460-1533

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NUVO

Cool

Photographer DANIEL IGBINYEMI Stylist SEAN AZEEZ-BRIGHT Stylist Assistant BETHAN ANDERSON Grooming by HANNAH DAVIES

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SHIRT QUICKSILVER

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SHIRT QUICKSILVER TROUSERS OLIVER SPENCER SHOES ADIDAS BY RAF SIMMONS

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JACKET WOOD WOOD POLO BENJART HAT NIKE

JACKET WOOD WOOD POLO BENJART HAT NIKE SHOES PALLADIUM SOCKS BURLINGTON FASHION BOTTOMS LIONEL

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JACKET DESCENTE TROUSERS WOOD WOOD

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JACKET LES BASICS JUMPER LES BASICS BOTTOMS LIONEL

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BLAZER SCOTCH & SODA TROUSERS OLIVER SPENCER

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Words by MARISA MENDEZ

Photography by DAION CHESNEY

Fashion Styling by APUJE KALU

Fashion Assistant TAURENCE WHITE

Grooming by ELYSE THOMAS

The Unorthodox

Life of

Rap’s Most Notorious Rock Star, Trippie Redd Trippie Redd stands out for his genre-bending tracks and eccentric fashion, but little know the backstory behind it all. In his first-ever Bleu interview, Trippie talks about life, death, and the pursuit of happiness.

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SHIRT: BRAYDON ALEXANDER HOODIE: KID SUPER X PUMA

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When asked to describe himself in one word, Trippie Redd doesn’t hesitate. “Unorthodox,” he proudly responds. On the path of becoming a household name, Trippie’s genre-bending hybrid of Emo, Rap, and Rock has garnered him over three dozen gold and platinum plaques in the few years he’s been in music. Following the successful release of his most recent album Pegasus (which arrived at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in November and made for his fifth Top 5 debut), the 21-year-old Canton, Ohio native is currently house hunting in Miami for another multi-million-dollar home. “Los Angeles prices are just wild for no reason,” he explains. “My crib in L.A. is like $9 million and the one out here will be $3 million and it’s double the size.”

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But expanding his real estate wasn’t the sole reason for the trip. It also marked what would have been XXXTentacion’s 23rd birthday, and Trippie made sure he joined X’s friends and family to celebrate the life of someone who was one of his closest peers before his 2018 passing. “I don’t really think there’s no way to really learn how to cope with it,” he says of death. It’s a theme that’s been unfortunately close to him throughout his life – both during his career losing close friends like X and the late Juice WRLD, and pre-fame, losing his older brother in a car accident, and one of his best friends to a senseless beef. “I’ve always been adamant about showing my friends extra love while they’re here,” he says. “I lost one of my best friends, Enrique, to gun violence. Somebody knocked

on his door and shot him in his head and it was over somebody stepping on some shoes or some dumb shit. Just stupid! I’ve been dealing with that type of shit. “I choose to just look at it like they’re in a better place and they’re watching over me and they’re making sure that I do what I need to do. I make sure I keep their dreams going and just keep doing what we do best.” Despite experiencing the amount of loss he has at such a young age, Trippie remains focused on finding and maintaining balance in all aspects of his life – his true definition of happiness. While outsiders may focus on the devil horns he occasionally twists his locs into and the “TR666” tattoo on his eyelids and make their own assumptions, his fans have gotten to know


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“I don’t really think there’s no way to really learn how to cope with it”

JACKET + SHIRT: FORMY STUDIOS SHIRT: ROKIT SHORTS: C’EST BON SOCKS: UNIQLO SHOES: GIVENCHY

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“I’ve always been adamant about showing my friends extra love while they’re here” the deeply passionate and unorthodox man behind the insignia.

SHIRT: PROVOKE PANTS: KAPPA

“I’m really into numbers. Fourteen symbolizes balance within life so that plays back into people from the outside looking in will be like, ‘Oh he’s the devil worshipper!’ and then somebody that really looks in and figures out what I got going on, they’ll be like, ‘Oh okay he’s not even on no devil shit. He grew up in a Christian home!” Triple-six (666) has nothing to do with the devil for Trippie, and everything to do with culture and the human experience. “To the outsider looking in, that looks like some devil shit,” he acknowledges. “But in reality, people in Africa do their hair, their dreads in devil horns. It’s their culture. It’s tribal. It’s not nothing to symbolize the devil. And then 666 is six protons, six neutrons, and six electrons, which is what the human body is built of. That’s what it really means. That’s why I got it tatted on me like Trippie Redd is 666 because I’m a human. That’s just me. That’s what I’m made of.”

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HOODIE + PANTS: VALE SHOES: MAISON MARGIELA

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CARDIGAN: LANEUS SHIRT: MIDNIGHT STUDIOS

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Trippie is certainly not the first to fuse rap and rock together, but yet he still finds that he’s an outsider amongst a lot of the rap community. He’ll end up on Instagram blogs from time to time for his antics, not his music – and the feedback is rarely kind. “I get put on The Shade Room and everybody wanna call me ugly and all type of crazy shit. Like, there’s such an emphasis on uplifting Black men and women right now and I’m like, I’m Black too! Y’all don’t stick up for me at all! I just be looking like damn, they treat me like I’m an outcast. I be speaking up for my people and shit, but then I get on TSR and see the same people I’m trying to help just talking shit about me. ‘He’s ugly, he look like an albino, his lips this…’” But he’s not speaking from a place of resentment. Instead, it’s merely an observation and if nothing else, it serves as an inspiration to lean harder into his rock roots. “Rock was invented by a Black man,” he emphasizes. “We don’t even do rock a lot in our own Black community so I’m just like fuck it, I’m about to do this shit. I love rock, you feel me? I always listen to this shit. I like it so I think I could relay the message. Just being able to be free while recording, hit long notes and it all just fit. It’s something about it. You get to be free with your vocals.”

“Rock was invented by a Black man” JACKET + PANTS: JOHN GEIGER SHIRT/VEST: DAILY PAPER BOOTS: PRADA

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“I want people to be self-aware and aware of their surroundings”

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SUIT + SWEATER: BOY LONDON BY SHANE GONZALES SHOES: DSQUARED2

Two rap peers that have embraced him, however, have been fellow Ohio natives Machine Gun Kelly and Kid Cudi. The two artists recently put Trippie on their latest albums, Tickets To My Downfall and Man on the Moon III: The Chosen, respectively – both of which debuted with huge six-figure numbers on the Billboard 200. And there’s more to come.

a mix of rock and hip-hop music. That’s our album together… It would be Ohio’d out.”

got a clothing line on the way that’s been years in the making as well.

As he looks to the future, the 21-year-old has big plans that extend beyond music. With every major check, he wants to make a major investment in real estate with the goal of eventually owning skyscrapers around the world.

“Me and MGK are working on an album actually on some Ohio shit,” Trippie exclusively reveals to us. “I want to get Kid Cudi on it, too. That’s my boy, I love him. We came up with a name that plays off of Ohio. And it’s gon’ be

In the more immediate future, he’s gearing up to drop a collaborative Rock album with legendary Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker, followed by an onslaught of loose tracks before the release of his next Rap effort. He’s

For Trippie, the pursuit of happiness is a constant journey, but he’s committed to it. While he navigates the waters of his new stardom and continues to encounter music fans committed to placing him in a box, he continues to defy every traditional standard while carving his own lane. “I want people to be self-aware and aware of their surroundings,” he adds as a parting note. “Everybody that’s reading, I just want everybody to be aware of everything around them.”

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MILK BLOOD HEAT Dantiel W. Moniz An astounding launch from Dantiel W. Moniz, Milk Blood Heat is one of the most exhilarating finds in today’s literary atmosphere. Milk Blood Heat closely focuses on the lives of Floridians through intergenerational stories that observe human connection, race, womanhood, inheritance, and the elemental darkness in all people. The setting is among the cities and suburbs of Florida, and every story dives into the ordinary lives of young girls, women, and men who find themselves challenged by remarkable events of violent judgment. These personal portrayals of people and relationships shed light on the dynamic of family, faith, forgiveness, consumption, and other aspects that make us human.

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photo credit: amazon.com

photo credit: amazon.com

SORROWLAND

Angie Thomas

Rivers Solomon

Award-winning author Michael Farris Smith brings the notable literature character, Nick Carraway, into the spotlight in his latest novel. Nick gives a vivid glimpse into the life of the famed Great Gatsby narrator on his journey of self-discovery, pre-Gatsby. After witnessing the war first hand, Nick embarks on a journey seeking redemption. From Paris to New Orleans, Nick is taken on an emotional whirlwind filled with chaos and adventure.

Angie Thomas is an American young adult author, best known for writing The Hate U Give (2017). Thomas’s book Concrete Rose follows the life of 17-year-old Maverick Carter, son of a former gang legend. Mav is involved with gang activities to help provide for his family, that is until Mav finds out he’s expecting a son. Maverick is offered the opportunity to live a crime-free life, so he takes this opportunity to prove he can amount to something more. However abandoning gang life comes at a cost, and Mav will have to figure out if he has what it takes.

Rivers Solomon is an American author who wrote the science fiction novels An Unkindness of Ghosts and Sorrowland, which is set to be published this year. Sorrowland focuses on a pregnant woman by the name of Vern who sets out on a mission to escape the strict jail-like compound where she was raised. As Vern tries to protect her small family while being hunted down, she simultaneously has to find the truth about the mysterious place she was raised.

THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL & NEV

photo credit: amazon.com

NO GODS, NO MONSTERS Cadwell Turnbull

Dawnie Walton Dawnie Walton is the author of the novel The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, forthcoming from 37 Ink/ Simon & Schuster. Her content as a fiction writer and journalist discusses identity, place, and the influence of pop culture. Coming of age in Detroit, Opal couldn’t imagine herself working a typical nine to five job. While performing at a bar, Opal is discovered by British singer/songwriter Neville Charles. The two begin to make rock music together, however, with the time period being the early 70s and Opal being a Black woman, a series of challenges emerge. Decades later, music journalist Sunny Shelton interviews Opal uncovering shocking allegations.

Cadwell Turnbull is the author of the science fiction novel The Lesson. Turnball’s new book No Gods, No Monsters will debut this year. The story follows a girl named Laina whose brother was killed at the hands of the police. However, what everyone thought to be a case of police brutality turns out to be something nobody was expecting: monsters! As the monsters make their presence known, it sets off a chain reaction of events and the reason behind their uncanny emergence will soon be revealed.

photo credit: amazon.com

CONCRETE ROSE

photo credit: simonandschuster.com

NICK Michael Farris Smith

photo credit: amazon.com

From established authors to burgeoning writers, check out all of the hottest fiction titles coming out this year.

photo credit: amazon.com

BOOKS

SEVEN MUST-HAVE 2021 FICTION RELEASES

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BLACK BUCK Mateo Askaripour Debut author Mateo Askaripour introduces readers to Darren, a 22-year-old who works at Starbucks and lives with his mom. Darren seems to be content with his rather normal life, that is until he meets Rhett Daniels, CEO of Sumwun, one NYC’s hottest tech companies. Their meeting results in Darren being offered a job to join their elite sales team. After enduring harsh training Darren, who happens to be the only Black person in the company, rearranges his image. He becomes a merciless businessman, which turns his life at home upside down. Darren then comes up with a plan to help young people of color place themselves in America’s sales force. This sets off a chain of occurrences that change things forever.


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Words by HEATHER GRANT

Photography by OHRE KILPATRICK

Styled by STELLY

June3rd V. Jemeni L.A. based artist June3rd discusses his forthcoming debut album, Jemeni. A project with much promise, the album dives into the dualities of this emerging artist. There are few constants when it comes to human life, and duality is an important one; no single person is only one thing at any given time. The most basic way to understand duality is the visual of the “angel” and “devil” on your shoulder - the side of you that wishes the best for you and the side that wants to live on the edge. Justin Peters AKA June3rd has successfully displayed this phenomenon through his euphonious music. Although he’s not a Gemini himself, as his name pays homage to his late grandfather, his forthcoming debut album Jemeni speaks to the devil on his shoulder and the struggles that come with having to choose a side.

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A transplant to L.A. originally from Florida, June attributes his melodic style to his coast to coast move at 19 years old. After getting the chance to work with R&B singer and songwriter Eric Bellinger it became clear to June that his future was in L.A. and staying in school in Florida made less sense when he could learn from the school of life. While the switch may have been a culture shock at first, it was with the help of Bellinger, his manager Edgar, and through his own self-discovery that he was truly able to hone into the mellow and honest sound. The first example of this change can be heard in his 2018 track “There You Go.” Describing his style as emotional, personal, and blunt, June leaves little to interpretation in his music. The June in him craves the feeling of intimacy that a relationship can offer while the Jemeni, or “devil’, in him needs the thrill of the chase. Wanting to display this duality of character through music proved less difficult for June than most. Through the effortless work he’s done with the production duo Dreamaddix, Jemeni can be seen as an ode to the side most men don’t want to admit they have. After approximately 25 studio sessions, the trio was able to create a concise project that brought his vision to life. “I feel like I’m talking to the guy that knows what he wants but doesn’t know how to express it.” A ladies’ man at heart, he still ensures to ca-

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With career role models like Drake, Chris Brown, and 50 Cent, June has been studying the ways to make his music and his brand stand the test of time. Noting that all of his inspirations have brands that are “larger than life” he keeps his eye on things this generation is connecting to while also watching who he could possibly uplift with him when the time comes. With the anticipation for his debut album growing as the release approaches, June is excited for the remainder of the public to experience his evolved dual sound as everyone he’s sent it to hasn’t had a bad word to say. “This is what I’ve worked 10-plus years to get to… All those other years were preparing me for the next level and I think this album is going to speak to a lot of people.” This may be his first album but it’s nowhere near his last. June anticipates releasing a project annually following the Jemeni release to solidify his place in the game.

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ter to them, especially throughout this album. His main lesson to his female listeners is to exercise patience for men that may be like him and try to see things from the male point of view. While both sides of him love and respect women, the June in him empathizes with the struggle women may face dealing with an emotionally detached man while the Jemeni in him is here for a good time and not a long one. “Don’t take things personal” The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many physically interactive fields, music being a major one. Since L.A. has been shut down for the majority of 2020 and on, he like many other artists haven’t gotten the chance to have a lot of face time with fans. Since he only released a few singles this year, one being “1942,” which can be heard on Jemeni, June found a way to keep his fanbase engaged and growing. As someone who wasn’t too heavy on the social media scene prior, June became more personally active on Instagram in order to keep the connection with his fans. Noting how important fan engagement is for the longevity of his career and brand he makes a point to be as interactive as possible on Instagram. Through live session postings and personally sent DMs, June has been connecting with his audience beyond the music. “I’m still at the stage where that matters more than anything,” said June when touching on the importance of a strong fan base. “I have a lot of conversations in my DMs with people I’ve never met, I’m giving them advice and everything… At that point I know I have a fan forever.”

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The Mental Impact of Incarceration and Social Exclusion Words by SABLE TEMPEST

How would your adulthood be different if you spent years of your life locked away in a jail cell? Would you be able to be a productive member of society? Would you feel lost? Would you be able to adapt to being in a free society? Too often society places judgment on newly released people and their inability to quickly adapt to the “free world.” It seems that the formerly incarcerated are expected to come home, land a job in a week or two, and become “normal” members of society. And yes, in a perfect world, an individual would come home reformed and ready for society, but the truth is many individuals are not able to adapt to society. The transition from jails and institutions into society can be a traumatizing experience for an individual. Think about it: those who are incarcerated have structured days. They are told when to shower, when to go outside, when they can socialize, when to eat, when it is time to wake up, to sleep, and when visits may occur. Essentially when a person is incarcerated there is a limited responsibility on meeting one’s own basic needs: three meals a day, shelter, and clothing are provided, and there are no bills. Imagine not having these responsibilities for years, then expected to meet all of your basic needs at once with limited resources, no job, and limited skills and or experience? Moreover, when one has been incarcerated during their developmental years of identity and role, one is unable to build healthy social relationships, fully build an identity of their own, or learn their role in society. Researcher Janet Foster suggests that individuals who suffer from social exclusion often resort to

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crime because they feel “powerless” and do not feel they can overcome their position. Nonetheless, committing crime can give one a feeling of superiority and power. Because of societal pressures coupled with the lack of mental health resources, those who have been incarcerated usually end up being repeat offenders. They fail to comprehend their role in society and their families. They often don’t know how to legally provide for themselves. Some develop mental illnesses, and sadly some die from suicide. Now, let’s talk numbers. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are currently 6.6 million Americans in the criminal justice system. Of those 6.6 million people, 4.5 million are currently on parole or probation. This is to say, 4.5 million Americans are at risk to be suffering from social exclusion. It should be noted that these numbers do not include those who have been released from incarceration and are not on parole or probation. Having been provided with this information, it is clear that there is a large population of people who likely need mental health resources to cope with the experience of being incarcerated.

in society as it pertains to being incarcerated. There needs to be a bigger discussion on why individuals become repeat offenders and or cannot adapt to society. Could it be that PTSD from being incarcerated has resulted in a person’s aggressive behavior and resistance towards societal rules once released?

populations, no matter the nature and root of the trauma. This article is in no way meant to justify violence or illegal activity, but to bring awareness of the struggles many formerly incarcerated people experience when trying to transition into society in a healthy way.

Possibly the depression resulting from lack of legal work soon after release could influence a person’s cognition to resort to their old illegal ways of survival. Perhaps the anxiety of not wanting to go back to prison has impaired one’s ability to function daily. Could the experience of solitary confinement have impacted one’s ability to form healthy bonds or peer relationships? Until the psychological impacts of incarceration are widely acknowledged and addressed not only by mental health experts but by society in a non-judgmental manner, formerly incarcerated people will continue to face unnecessary challenges with healthy adaptation to society. The actions and behaviors resulting from mental health trauma need to be acknowledged and supported across all

Tips for supporting those who may be experiencing mental trauma from incarceration: •

Find support groups or resources that you can direct them to

Know how to spot signs of depression

Offer a non-judgmental listening ear

Know your boundaries and role with the individual

Have realistic expectations of the individual

Understand the limitations of their parole or probation

Give the individual space when needed

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Here’s a breakdown of mental trauma associated with being incarcerated, which contributes to the development of social exclusion: •

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): The diagnosis can derive from experiencing and or witnessing multiple traumatic events.

Paranoid Personality Disorder: This diagnosis can derive from being in solitary confinement, developing stress, lack of peer relationships, and not being able to communicate with others.

Depression Disorder: This diagnosis can derive from not being able to adapt to society, not being supported, or not being able to meet basic needs.

Anxiety Disorder: This diagnosis can derive from worry or fear of going back to jail or adapting to society.

While there are productive and impactful organizations such as the Reform Alliance working to get people out of the prison system, it is just as important to help those who have been incarcerated understand and process the mental trauma that they have experienced. Mental health can no longer be taboo

Photo Credit: Charles Rabada

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HUMANS

HARLEM BISCUIT

ago. I was helping a fellow chef get through a busy Christmas season with a lot of parties. So I reached out to Karl and asked the question: ‘Your bar is closed during the day, can I test out this biscuit shop concept I’m working on?’ He was like ‘hell yeah!’ And here we are.”

COMPANY

Chef Melvin “Boots” Johnson and Warren Satchell opened the Harlem Biscuit Company in November, 2020. Located at 67 Orange Street, 2082 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, this one-of-a-kind NYC pop-up restaurant serves up specialty, southern-inspired biscuit sandwiches.

Bleu: When did you open Harlem Biscuit Company? Warren: “Harlem Biscuit Company was born in 2020. We opened on Election Day, November 3, 2020.”

What would you say to those who are calling post-pandemic NYC ‘dead’? Warren: “WOW, I’ve never referred to post-pandemic NYC as ‘dead.’ I think the pandemic afforded us time, space, and the opportunity to sit still, think and gain clarity around so many things. I think the way that it’s nice and spicy and the Frederick because it’s a breakfast sandwich where it’s sausage (that we make), egg and cheese. It really depends on my mood because it’s like asking me what’s your favorite sandwich or my favorite biscuit is like saying who’s your favorite child. I made them all up. One day it’s the everything biscuit, the next day it’s sweet buttermilk with plain honey.”

Melvin: “We like to say the day of change.” What inspired you to create a restaurant for Southern biscuit sandwiches in the heart of NYC? Do you have a particular favorite sandwich? Melvin: “I am a soul food chef and during this time of Covid I found myself out of a job and so I was cooking fried chicken and biscuits out of my garage in New Rochelle. They got so popular with my neighbors that people started asking for extra biscuits so I was like, ‘wow people really like my biscuits, I might have something here.’ So I started really fine-tuning the biscuits and came up with the Harlem Biscuit Company. I wanted to create a restaurant that was a take out style restaurant but still paid homage to my southern roots. My favorite two sandwiches are the John Lewis and the Frederick. John Lewis because

has shown up for me is getting even clearer on my dreams, goals, and the vision for my life but even more so greater intentionality about what I’m a part of, connected to, involved in, what I consume, the people around me…you get it.” What were some of the biggest challenges you faced throughout the pandemic? Warren: “Staying Focused, and staying motivated.” Melvin: “I was out of a job! So coming up with a concept and wanting to open a restaurant in these times was challenging. But I needed to work. Bills were stacking up. The phone was getting cut off. Internet off, rent behind you name it. I sent out my resume to everyone. But no one was going to hire a corporate chef in these times. So I had to act. HBC was born.” How were you able to overcome those challenges? Warren: “It’s a simple answer for me: FAITH!” Melvin: “I worked for the owner of 67 Orange, Karl Williams, for a few months years

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Melvin: “It’s only dead if you’re not embracing your pivot. I went from being a corporate chef to a baker and I embraced it.” What has kept you guys motivated throughout these unprecedented times? Warren: “For me, I recognize the product we have, the white space in the market, and the real opportunity we’re looking to seize. That’s enough to make me jump out of the bed each morning. Now what I will say is entrepreneurship is no easy road but totally worth it if there’s a fire in your belly.” Melvin: “What’s kept me motivated is the response we’ve received from people that just like good food. Folks are so tired of cooking. And these biscuits make them feel like they’re home at their grandma’s kitchen. HBC is healing folks; healing their spirit.”


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ROMAN

Did you apply for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan? Was it relatively difficult or easy to get access?

GRANDINETTI

“We sadly didn’t get it, but we did have the support of the community as well as Kevin Hart.”

OWNER OF REGINA’S

What did Kevin Hart do to help Regina’s? “Amazon in partnership with Kevin Hart and a number of other celebs made a donation to small businesses that have never stopped during those times.”

GROCERY

A family-owned and operated deli and pork store in Lower East Side Manhattan, Regina’s Grocery has become the go-to spot for your favorite Italian eats and sandwiches. Founder Roman Grandinetti not only provides his family’s favorite recipes but also seeks to create a home-like atmosphere at his Orchard Street location.

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Throughout COVID, plenty of media outlets and politicians have been saying NYC is dying/dead - do you agree? Or is there still room for hope? “There’s always hope! New York isn’t and will not go anywhere.” How were you able to combat those challenges? “Not stopping. We made sandwiches for everyone and anyone in need knowing that if we didn’t, we’d potentially lose what we as a family worked so hard to create for our community.”

In your opinion as a small business owner, how can individuals/consumers help their favorite, local spots at this time? “Come get a sandwich!”

Bleu: When did you open Regina’s Grocery? What do you specialize in? Roman: “We opened about three years ago. We make sandwiches but more importantly, our specialty is building a culture and trust behind what we do. We did this to grow our family… So we are working on building that trust with all of our neighbors especially throughout these times.” How has the pandemic affected your business? What were some of the biggest challenges that arose? “It’s affected us in many ways as it has everyone but our biggest challenge was not operating together. We are a family in the shop and having to be separated for that long was the hardest.” Issue 71

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What’s the meaning behind the name?

MAMA DOTS

“Mama Dot’s is actually my Grandma Dorothy. Growing up in Louisiana, all of my great memories were at my Grandmother’s house. All of my life, I stood beside her in the kitchen while she prepared her heavenly dessert recipes. Imagine this: Grandma’s house on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with family, lots of laughter, and delicious food! Mama Dot’s is a little piece of happiness.” What are Mama Dots’ specialties?

Melanie Perkins always had a passion for her grandmother’s cooking and decided to open Mama Dot’s Sweetshop in her honor. The star of Mama Dot’s show is Melanie’s authentic Creole pecan pralines, a recipe passed down for generations.

“Mama Dot’s specialty is our mouthwatering Authentic Creole Praline Candy. It is the richest, smoothest, creamiest, and tastiest Praline Candy that you will ever have. It is the absolute best in the world. Of course, it’s my Grandma Dot’s recipe, which has been in our family for generations. We also offer a variety of other divine desserts such as our Praline Cake, Praline Brownies, and a plethora of pies, puddings, and cobblers.” What have been the biggest challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic for your business? “One of our greatest challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the fear of the unknown. Early on we were not sure if we would be able to sustain especially, with

Bleu: When and why did you decide to start Mama Dots? “We started Mama Dots almost three years ago in our kitchen. It started out as a hobby. Cooking has always been my passion and my therapy. I sent a batch to my colleagues as a sweet thank you and they marveled over them. We’ve received an overwhelming response. Everyone loved them as much as I did as a kid. The reviews have been amazing. One coworker said that it took her back to childhood at her grandmother’s house. We have received one complaint, that our pralines are addictive and our customers can’t stop eating them, which is a great problem to have.”

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everything being so chaotic. Due to the ‘shutdown,’ we lost a couple of our restaurant vendors. And, we were unable to do our normal grassroots initiatives. Much like the rest of the world, we had to cancel everything!” How did you overcome those challenges? “Thankfully we were able to pivot. Instead of door-to-door sales, we started scheduling Zoom calls with anyone that would listen. We have shipped our samples near and far! We have even had new vendors approach us. We are still facing challenges. But, our will to succeed will always be greater than any challenge we could ever face.” B: What has motivated you to keep going on your entrepreneurial journey throughout this tumultuous time? M: “My family motivates me daily. I grew up in a domestic violence household in a rough neighborhood. I saw a lot of things that no child should ever have to witness. My Grandma’s house was my escape. It was there, where I was not only at peace but I was able to dream. I dreamed of having my own dessert shop ever since I was a child standing by Mama Dot’s side, cracking the pecans, and learning how to stir candy. When you have a dream, you must try everything in your power to ensure it becomes a reality. Mama Dot’s is my dream! And, not even my husband and I (at the same time) battling COVID-19 in a worldwide pandemic will stop us! It’s our destiny.”


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DREAM BODY STUDIO FOUNDER MIKKIE TIQUIR’A

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Being a small business, have you tried getting assistance from any U.S. Government COVID-relief programs, such as the PPP loans, EIDL program, etc.? “No, I haven’t but I will now. I am more educated and informed about how the relief program loans and other assistance programs work. You can get a loan and you don’t have to pay it back or ask for forgiveness. So now this time around I’m going to apply.” How have you been staying motivated throughout this tumultuous time?

Mikkie Tiquir’a opened Dream Body studio five years ago in Atlanta, Georgia. She worked extremely hard and built her business and branding to become the go-to esthetician for celebrities and ATL locals.

What do you specialize in? “I specialize in weight loss and post-op for patients.” How has the business been during the pandemic?

Bleu: When and why did you open Dream Body Studio? Mikkie: “I opened Dream Body Studio in 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. I started esthetician school in Miami, Florida, and started a small business there. I didn’t know anybody out there, and once I moved to Atlanta my business began to boom. I was already in the esthetic field and I was looking for something I was more interested in. I was always into surgery. Facials were not enough income. I had the aspiration of working in a plastic surgery office but then found something that was a surgery alternative and that’s what pushed me into body sculpting.”

“My business is doing better because our clients are purchasing merchandise online. The usage of our online merchandise has seen an uptick. We offer a lot of products such as weight loss pills, and our mini home fat burner where individuals can sculpt and shape their bodies at home.”

“I’ve been getting into my e-commerce store and that has been keeping me motivated more. I make natural products and I also resell products. My goal has always been to make money in my sleep versus sculpting and physically having to do the work. So, when I wake up to sales, it’s very motivating.” What are some ways that individuals can help support local estheticians if they’re wary of leaving the house? “Definitely order online. Yes, you can go in and get a facial but ordering online and using their products at home is a great way to support your estheticians.”

Obviously, we all have to take extra daily precautions, and how do you ensure your clients feel safe when visiting for appointments? “We have a company that comes in and disinfects our spa facility from top to bottom every seven to 10 days. They disinfect everything that you touch within the spa. We now have one person in the spa at a time and all clients must wear a mask upon entry. We have been very cautious with our clients. Clients also have to fill out a form asking if they have been exposed to COVID-19.”

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A fashion production by CLEAN SHOWROOM

Designer PROPAGANDA AGENCY

Photographer LARRY WRIGHT

Stylist DONALD DAVENPORT

Models KAMAU KENYETTA KBRIA WHITE DONALD DAVENPORT

IT’S JUST CLASSIC FEATURING PROPAGANDA AGENCY

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SHOP THE SS 2021 COLLECTION

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S P OT L I G H T

Words by TALIA LEACOCK

TIER: A SELF-FUNDED SUCCESS STORY

Founded in 2014 by friends Nigeria Ealey, Victor James, and Esaïe Jean Simon, TIER sits at the cross-section of fashion and artistry. With the goal of having 100 percent ownership over their company, the founders are dedicated to keeping their money within their community. It’s not unusual for friends to dream about starting a business together. It’s much rarer for those ideas to turn into something real. But Nigeria Ealey, Victor James, and Esaïe Jean Simon have made a habit of shattering expectations. The three are the co-founders of TIER, a high-end creative fashion brand that combines art and clothing to create statement-making garments. Ealey, James, and Jean Simon are all artists at heart, each of them creating in various mediums since childhood. The trio knew that their combined talents and artistic vision had the potential to become something phenomenal, and they had toyed with the idea of launching a fashion brand for some time. On

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December 28, 2014, gathered in James’ basement, the three committed to the idea, and TIER was born. “It was almost a no-brainer, honestly. And because art is so powerful, it allows us to tell our stories and intertwine it so easily into a fashion brand,” James said. TIER has risen a long way from that basement six years ago. They’ve collaborated with Adidas, dressed household names like Big Sean and Carmelo Anthony, released three full collections (or “Projects” as they call them), and created an annual event for creatives and entrepreneurs called Artpreneur Fest.

“It feels good to see the growth in terms of how we produce items, how we market, how we have different initiatives under the brand,” said Ealey, who is both co-founder and creative director at TIER. “Just to see what we’re able to do now compared to what we were doing in 2014 is crazy.” That growth did not come without its challenges. TIER is and has always been entirely self-funded. Ealey, James, and Jean Simon were all working full-time jobs and completing their degrees while building TIER from the ground up, and they each poured portions of their salaries into purchasing the resources they needed. Despite offers from investors, the trio was determined to retain


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full ownership and 100 percent of the profits from their business. “When it comes to someone trying to invest in you, that means they expect their money to come back to them three, four, five-fold. But that didn’t sit well with us,” Jean Simon explained. “We’ve been very intentional about how we support our community, and it only makes sense that the money that they spend on us stays within the community as well.” Self-funding hasn’t stunted TIER’s success in the least. They’ve matched their hustle with excellent quality and limitless creativity to continuously drive the brand forward. Not only are their garments made with luxurious fabrics and flattering construction, but they are also strikingly unique. Their first two Projects have featured one-of-a-kind patterns like article excerpts from their press kit and 90s electronics reminiscent of the founders’ childhoods. Every TIER Project carries a message and story in its design, and their third and latest project, Joy to the World, is no exception. First ideated in 2020 when a global pandemic and rampant racial injustice had rocked the Black community, Joy to the World is a celebration of Black joy and influence. “We decided to use this moment to show what Black people represent—being beautiful, having fun, showing family and unity, music and sportsmanship… Just showing the power

and beauty of our culture and what we represent to give people faith and hope and let them know we are the pride and joy of this world,” Ealey explained. The artwork for the Project was created in collaboration with Haitian-American artist Pierre Jean-Baptiste, known for his surreal, expressionist, and abstract cubism depictions of the Black experience. The depth of the Joy to the World theme and art is complemented by lush fabrics like satin, velour, and high-quality cotton knits. The Project includes many of the garments that customers have come to love from TIER, but the brand is also expanding its offerings, playing

Photo credit: Shanel Smith, @Mspaparazzi

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with new materials and methods, and introducing new mediums of art and fashion. “We’re constantly learning and always trying to elevate and be sharper and better to bring TIER to the next level,” Jean Simon said about the expansion. The team’s dedication has not gone unnoticed or unrewarded. TIER was recently a recipient of the Harlem Fashion Row Icon 360 Fund, which not only helped to finance Joy to the World, but provided the team with invaluable resources, support, and networking to continue working towards their vision. Ealey, James, and Jean Simon were grateful to be recognized and happy to connect with other Black-owned fashion brands that are paving a path of their own. They hope that their success can inspire other Black designers to pursue their dreams on their own terms, despite the industry trying to box Black fashion brands into the category of streetwear. “We would never hate on streetwear because that’s definitely part of our cloth,” James noted. “But I think us refusing to conform to a box or check off a list is paving our own way. We’re setting the trend for people up-and-coming to not just look at the categories and feel they have to pick one. No, you can do whatever you want, and that’s the push.” To make a statement in TIER’s latest category-defying Project, visit shoptier.nyc.

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BLEULIST

BLACK ARCHITECTS, BLACK LANDSCAPE DESIGNERS, BLACK INTERIOR DESIGNERS NORMA MERRICK SKLAREK JOHN S. CHASE PAUL R. WILLIAMS ROBERT R. TAYLOR BEVERLY LORAINE GREENE JOHN WARREN MOUTOUSSAMY MOSES MCKISSACK III WALTER T. BAILEY VERTNER WOODSON TANDY DAVID ADJAYE KESHA FRANKLIN J. MAX BOND, JR. KATHERINE WILLIAMS STEVEN LEWIS

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SAMANTHA JOSAPHAT

TAVIA CHRISTAL

IBRAHIM GREENIDGE

ARIENE C. BETHEA

RICHEY MADISON

MICHAEL SMITH BOYD

ANZILLA R. GILMORE

BRENDA DANSO

JASON PUGH

TIFFANY COBB

ALLISON GRACE WILLIAMS

ANTHONY DUNNING

ROBERTA WASHINGTON

CHRISTOPHER CHARLES EVANS

CURTIS MOODY

TAVIA FORBES

LAUREN N. WHITE

MONET MASTERS

KIMBERLY DOWDELL

AMHAD FREEMAN

MARSHALL PURNELL

ELAINE GRIFFIN

MICHAEL MARSHALL

CARMEON HAMILTON

TONI GRIFFIN

JASON BOLDEN

MARK I. GARDNER

ADAIR CURTIS

MABEL O. WILSON

BRIGETTE ROMANEK

GERMANE BARNES

ENEIA WHITE

MICHAEL FORD

DEMETRIUS ROBINSON

J. YOLANDE DANIELS

BARBARA HAYMAN

GLENN LARUE SMITH

BAILEY LI

EVERETT L. FLY

NICOLE WHITE

KEMBA BRAYNON

DON RICARDO MASSENBURG

SAUNDRA LITTLE

JR.

NAKITA REED

AMBER GUYTON

DAMON THOMAS

CHERYL LUCKETT

TOREY CARTER-CONNEEN

ASHLEY JUNE

KOFI BOONE

TREVAR VINCENT REESE

ANDRE’ JORDAN HILTON

VERONICA SOLOMON

LEAH ALEXANDER

ERIKA TAYLOR

KEIA MCSWAIN

JUSTIN Q. WILLIAMS

JASON MITCHELL

SHERICA MAYNARD

JESSIE CHRISTAL

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MAMBA MENTALITY: THE MINDSET THAT MADE KOBE A KING Photo Credit: Mike Von

“Each moment of my life I was dreaming of how great I could be, and I continued working hard. Every time I closed my eyes, I could see shining bright like the sun.” ~ Kobe B. Bryant

Words by KENT OLDEN

Kobe Bryant always envisioned himself shining. Putting his all into every challenge he took on and never letting any obstacle get in his way ensured that he made it to, and stayed, on top of his game. Where some considered him an overthinker, he saw himself as overcoming. Where others saw him as arrogant, he saw himself as accomplished. When people looked at him and saw an entertainer, he looked at himself and saw an encourager and because of it, he lived a life that made him a legend. Kobe Bean Bryant was born on August 23, 1978, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Partly raised in Italy, he was one of the most sought after NBA prospects throughout his high school career, ultimately making him the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft at just 17 years old. Graduating from Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Penn-

clude the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player Award; twice named NBA Finals MVP; five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers; 18 NBA All-Star slots; 15-time member of the All Star NBA Team; 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team; two-time Olympic gold medalist; and winning the Academy Award for Best Short Animated Film in 2017 for Dear Basketball. sylvania, Kobe made the very difficult – but rewarding – decision to pass up college to stare the challenges of a career with the National Basketball Association in the face. “The best decision I ever made was coming straight to the NBA and skipping college,” said Bryant. “That’s it. The best one.” In 1996, Kobe Bryant became the first guard in the NBA ever to be taken straight out of high school. Initially drafted to the [then]

Charlotte Hornets, Kobe was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers almost immediately after – giving himself the nickname “Black Mamba” for his slick and strategic approach to conquering the game of basketball. The rest, as they say, was iconic history. Spending the entirety of his 20year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant first donned #8 on his jersey, switching to #24 halfway through his career. His career highlights in-

Kobe Bryant and his second oldest daughter, Gianna, tragically lost their lives in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020 while on their way to a basketball game at the Bryant Family’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. He was 41 years old. Gianna was just 13. Keeping the Mamba mentality, lifestyle and legacy alive are Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mother, Vanessa, and his three other daughters, Natalia, Bianka and Capri.

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ADIDAS BY RAF SIMMONS

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