THE FEMME FATALE ISSUE
+ OUR GUILTY PLEASURES
BAD GIRLS DO IT WELL
HE SAID, SHE SAID
PICK A SIDE
Summer 2012 Intern class
ANGELA YEE BAD BITCH, NO MUZZLE
Who You Callin’ A
The word “bitch” has many connotations in today’s society. It can take on its original negative connotation and describe a female who is ill mannered and not liked by many, or it can be used as a term of endearment between to women that have been friends for a while. ie: “Hey bitch! What you been up to?” to which her friend would respond with an explanation of what went on throughout her day. However, in the 2012 urban society, you can place the word “bad” in front of the word “bitch” and it becomes a complement meaning such things like: your style and features are above normal and you are killing most of your competition. --Kayla M. I’ve seen the word “bitch” revision as a word that if said out loud back in the day meant a well-deserved talon-nail wearing slap across the face, to an almost accepted way of describing a good-looking woman or strong-willed female; with the former re-imagined by men as if to “soften” the demeaning usage of it (translation: “you’re a tough cookie”), and the latter by women taking a stance on their own terms. It was crazy but I kind of in a cool, super modern way, how women, specifically the female emcee “flipped the script” (as they say) in changing the word into being said with the threat of the feminine mystique. It’s a word we all use when talking about a difficult person, especially if it’s a girl, and it’s just simply become a part of our common vernacular... whether good or bad, the word is there, isn’t it? --Carmen J. Bitch reminds me of nigga. The term is so degrading, yet commonly used. It also depends on the person, context, and tone in which you’re using the word. --Ashley J. The word bitch is a double-edged word sword. Sometimes we use it to describe the grimiest, most trifling “female” ever. On the other hand, when you and your girls get ready to hit the city at night and everybody’s looking gorgeous, you can’t help but think “Yeah, we’re bad bitches.” It’s the epitome of a guilty pleasure. You know it’s wrong, but it feels so good. What’s my favorite word??? Beeyiitchhhh.. --Taryn E. Who you calling a bitch? I got yo bitch. Go be with that bitch. Look at that bitch over there? Who does that bitch think she is? I’m a bad bitch. That’s my bitches. Common phrases that stir different types of reactions and emotions, how can one word have so many connotations, how can a word so degrading be so pleasing at the same time? Women
The STaff Opinion
get so upset when a male speaks to them as a bitch, but feel entitled when their friends refer to them as one, as if it’s a term of validation. The hypocritical use of this word make any argument a female has with the use of this word irrelevant. Lead by example, stop being a bad bitch, but instead a beautiful lady. No more, that’s my bitch, but instead that’s my girl. And definitely no more I’m a bad bitch, but instead I am beautiful. It’s a shame that we have to stop ourselves from giving this word anymore power but until you start with yourself, you can’t get upset when someone else uses it towards you. --Sharifa D. Bitch has so many different meanings. I think bitch has a negative connotation no matter how its used. People use the word bitch to put others down or call them weak. Bitches are associated with punks and cowards. If someone is afraid to do something they may be called a bitch. If you let someone talk shit to you and you dont retaliate your a bitch. If your a female your automatically called a bitch. If a woman is sexy then shes a bad bitch. If a woman is nagging she a crazy bitch. Women hate the word bitch because there isn’t any positive meaning even when you call a woman a bad bitch its still disrespectful. --Taz B. I’ve turned over a new leaf and no longer do the cussing thing, but I’ve gotta can still talk about one of the most commonly used colorful terms of our generation. I’m talking about “Itch-Bay.” The B-word. Female dog. You know. I don’t use it, because I have no need to. Just as “nigga/ nigger” was used to describe someone who is sub-par, so is the B-word. I am certainly not sub-par, nor are any of my friends. It’s an unnecessary toss-around word that people use as an empty calorie to fill in for a term of endearment. But it isn’t endearing. So stop. --Stacy-Ann E. The word “bitch” ain’t nothing good. It dumbs down the perception of a woman to a derogatory curse word that TV channels don’t even bleep out any more. In turn, the culture feeds off of itself, fueling increased common use of the word and leading to Drake lines like, “I hate calling the women bitches, but the bitches love it.” Thus artists have relinquished the opportunity to resist misogyny in favor of a wellestablished word. The usage of “bitch” is so abundant that any investigation into the term’s context is ignored and deemed frivolous before it can reveal truths about the psychology of hip-hop listeners. Once young listeners are desensitized to the word, they no longer question it’s meaning, causing potentially gaping distances between growing men and women. --Max W.
Walk this way The B-word; A look back on VIBE Ambition; Overheard at the office; Mr. Me Too; Summer’s greatest music hits.
Where ever ything makes an impac t Good music is reborn; The stripper music women hate to love; 20 albums for 20-somethings.
20 Next People on the verge Blake Von D; The Yes Ma’ams; KiKi Ayers; Sonyae Elise; Chardelle Moore, Areeayl Goodwin. 27 Face-off From the eyes of both sexes The softer side of the music man; Regional romantic slang; Two relationship bloggers weigh in; Defying the odds.
+ 36 STYLE Presentation is key Bad Girls Do it Well; The hair behind Carol’s Daughter; Top 10 cutest rookies to root for; Sneaker freakers.
48 Props The ‘hood nail salon; Tips from the big shots of the biz.
34 COVER STORY Angela Yee reminds us all why she’s top dog.
Last call with , once an intern magazine EIC, now Editorial Assistant for VIBE Magazine.
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Jazmine henleyBrown MANAGING EDITOR Stacy-Ann Ellis SENIOR EDITOR Carmen Shardae Jobson general Content Editors Ashley N. Jeter Kayla McGregor MUSIC EDITORs Max Weinstein Taryn Edmondson
Adelle: It’s exciting because we were already aware of his potential the moment we heard the “Niggas In Paris” beat. During the interview, he told me that he was a rapper before he was a producer. He was ecstatic to let the world hear what he was working on in the studio and when I saw Jay-Z interview, it was a year after his cover and I was like “YES!” It was dope to see.
OVERHEARD AT THE OFFICE “ “ “ ” ” ” I love Brooklyn. If I could hug it, I would.
Frank Ocean still
gets the panties.
And the drawls.
Photo/Design Director Stacy-Ann Ellis multimedia Producer sharifa Daniels Publicist Ejiro Enaohwo
afflicted ass slap.
Advertising Tanzania Bridgett
@sashafthumper Atlanta, GA A&R Executive. Super random, but I also want to be a Tour Manager for like a Jet Life Tour or Smokers Club tour. Just once.
@KayLay_SZ Brooklyn, NY MTV VJ/ Professional journalist and interviewer (like Oprah)/ actress/producer I have no idea. Most quiet?
A bout our contributors
I actually don’t get SkyMiles when I travel for free. The best part of travel is meeting celebs when I fly from NY to ATL. So far I’ve met Big Boi, Lil Scrappy and DJ Speakerfoxx! I’m an OutKast fanatic and their albums are what made me decide to pursue a music industry career, so I was at a loss for words when I met Big Boi. It was great though.
@RealWizSharifa Jersey (The Real Jersey Shore, Not that s**t you see on TV) Doing what I’m doing now, freelance music video editor, and director/producer of documentaries that stress social issues, especially within urban communities. It was definitely the wine tasting event, with commentary from everyone about me, Ashley, and Jazmine. That was an event that I found hilarious just because it was so much going through our heads about the situation. LOL.
@stassi_x iRep QUEENS, NY proudly. In a perfect world, I’ll someday soon be the Editorial Director or Senior Editor at a major arts/ music/culture publication, an accomplished freelance photographer and freelance writer/columnist. It was actually this summer in the VIBE office. I’ve seen plenty of major celebs because of Howard U. and never cared, but when 2 Chainz came in the office, it was something else. We heard he was coming and my eyes didn’t leave the elevator all day. When he came in, I just stared at him from the intern desk. I didn’t want to get up and go over there because I didn’t want to be ‘the thirsty intern.’ But he peeped me from over there, looked my way and said, “I see you lookin!” and waved at me. I threw on the cheesiest smile and excitedly waved back. How lame of me.
@the_BOMBshell_ Greenville, SC Media mogul. I’d like to open my own production company, be an on air personality, respected writer, and most of all a positive influencer. Choosing my most embarrassing moment is hard because I’m so clumsy. It’s almost to the point where I don’t get embarrassed anymore. One of my top moments was peeing on myself at Inauguration! I was so pressed to see President Obama that I would not go to the bathroom and ended up ruining my favorite boots. :(
@Stiletto_Vixen Union, New Jersey Publicist
Give us the playlist. Keri Hilson “Gimme What I Want,” Beyonce “Dance For You,” Cassie “Long Way to Go,” Cash Out “Cashin Out,” entire Nicki Minaj Beam Me Up Scotty mixtape, Kanye West “Mercy,” Lloyd “Lay it Down,” Nicki Minaj ft. Chris Brown “Right By My Side,” J.Cole “Workout,”entire Keri Hilson No Boys Allowed album, Nivea “Complicated,” Rick Ross “Yella Diamonds,” Danity Kane “Sucka For Love,” Tyga “Racks City,” Trey Songz “Does He Do It” and Kirko Bangz “Drink in My Cup” to name a few.
Tanzania “Taz” Bridgett
@tAzMaNiAsHoW 75 aka Hampton, VA Successfully running CAS Entertainment Group and expanding to a worldwide brand providing a plethora of goods and services. I want to be mentioned with Roc Nation, Bad Boy Entertainment, and other premier entertainment conglomerates. Mark Wahlberg, lol.
Twitter? Manhattan, New York Head of a record label or management firm. Izzo (H.O.V.A.) by Jay-Z. That Jackson 5 flip, the intoxicating chorus. That was my real intro to being obsessed with hip-hop. I was rapping every verse of that to my classmates at Hebrew School when I was 10 years old. That was kind of awkward. So it was that or some Sisqo song. That might have been awkward too.
@jhenleybrown Milwaukee, WI Best Selling author, celeb gossip columnist & movie/TV show writer Long story short. I knew I was going to intern at VIBE this summer, so I researched the address online, got my portfolio, cover letter & resume together & headed to the office. Only problem was—online showed the old Harlem address. I ended up being buzzed in by some Hispanic dude. He wasn’t a serial killer though, he gave me directions to the new office (“it’s somewhere by union square, on Broadway, if you pass the movie theater, you went too far”). I get to the right office, ask about internships & Clover comes to retrieve my CL/Resume. When I asked her if I could speak to someone right away, she simply says, “no.” I ended up crying in CHASE bank that day. But 2 days later, I got an e-mail from Clover, asking me if I was available to interview.
Carmen Shardae Jobson
@lavishhoney Boston, Massachusetts (Red Sox mofo’s!) Journalist/DJ/Novelist
Why? Hmmmm...I think the next cover of VIBE should feature, well, maybe not the next, but definitely Rihanna ‘cause she hasn’t really had areal cover story about her. I would like to write that ‘cuz I’m quite cross-critical of her since she’s year younger than me. I think I would get a really good interview. I get her, you know? Anyone else? Iggy Azalea and/or a next generation of female rappers all together on a cover; Slaughterhouse; Swizz Beatz; and any excuse to put Dipset and D-Block, I’m with it.
Calm Before the Storm
Letter from the editor
urricanes never appear powerful, until you’re standing in the middle of Katrina. The VIBE Summer 2012 Intern class brought together 10 of the most unique personalities. Contrived of 9 women, and 1 man, this team of extraordinary people somehow managed to maneuver around the office like cats—you never heard us coming, but our presence was more than felt. Not only did we hold down the fort at the VIBE offices, but we also managed to lend our services to other jobs and internships that were equally demanding. So when the opportunity arose to put together our very own issue, we approached like we did everything else, discreet yet ferocious. Once we knew exactly what our intern project was, I immediately shot out an e-mail to the team, organized a meeting and expressed my idea for a women-related issue. The idea for FEMME FATALE came to us as we sat eagerly at our first intern meeting without the rest of the staff. We wanted to appoint positions, and with half of the team in attendance, it was suggested that I head the ship as E-I-C. As happy as Photo: Stacy-Ann Ellis I felt, I quickly assessed each one of my team members talents, and realized that I was working with the most creative, intelligent and resourceful individuals. To me, a great leader is one who knows that they don’t know everything and every person on my team was able to contribute something that I couldn’t. “If every nigga in your clique is rich, your clique is rugged, nobody will fall ‘cause everyone will be each others crutches.” And it’s funny, I’m sure people think we were pretty quiet around the office, but we bonded in our own way and together produced an original issue that is sure to make you understand why we are the Quiet Storm.
Jazmine Henley-Brown Jazmine Henley-Brown | Editor-in-Chief
Mr. M We all have our idols or industry counterparts whose work we tend to admire from afar. For every powerful figure out there is someone else a couple rungs higher on the step ladder they wish they could learn from. Luckily for the staff behind the Femme Fatale issue, we have our masthead counterparts within reach for when we have questions, advice and concerns or when we just want to pick their brains. Here, two of our VFF staffers sat down with two of VIBE’s most valued leaders.
Our Editor-in-Chief, , chatted it up with the head honcho of VIBE magazine himself, , about the prior years when he was running KING magazine.
Yeah, I would definitely get it but I think it would mostly come from people who
didn’t really read the magazine. A lot of times I feel like KING was judged by its cover, which a lot of magazines are [laughs] but I think once you went into the magazine you understood that it was very well rounded and more of a hybrid of GQ and Maxim mashed together.
I feel like whenever you’re dealing with black sexuality, it kind of a lightning rod subject and people feel a certain way about it because the bodies that we’re covering are a lot more curvaceous, it’s not skinny women so people have a reaction to that.
Wow..[laughs] I would say the Ciara cover. No one would think that because it was so tame, for KING. I think they were just starting to present her as being more grown up to the world, and when her people saw her sucking that lollipop, they just freaked out. And I think the cover line was something like, “Ciara pops her cherry” and her and her team were unhappy with it. They wanted it taken off of newsstands and everything.
And now she’s pretty sexed out.
They all had their elements of provocativeness. We probably got the craziest content from the video models. The celebrities were kind of guarded. Mya definitely took it there and her image up until that point was pretty clean, so seeing those visuals, along with the interview, I’d say that one.
The music industry is pretty superficial to begin with, I don’t care who doesn’t agree but that’s what it is. Does it help to have a pretty face? I’d like to think that it doesn’t but it does and the way you deal with people. It’s like psychology. To a certain degree I feel like women are somewhat better at psychology than men.
I don’t think that’s particular to women. I think anyone in a power position at some point you’re going to have to be an asshole. And an asshole can relate to men or women. Whether you’re a man or a woman, for people to actually get what you’re saying and understand when you need something done right away, you’re going to have to be an asshole sometimes. *
Me Too Our Senior Editor, VIBE’s [then] Senior Editor,
, chatted it up with
Well, essentially, I do everything. I edit the front of the book (for the magazine), which is like a couple of sections of the magazine, the cultural and lifestyle sections specifically and is probably about 20 pages all together. And that entails coming up with ideas, working with writers that like the ideas, having them send pitches. I meet with Jermaine and we try to figure out what works. I have my outline of what we’re going to cover. I sign it out to writers and start to the whole editing process. And then we start the magazine and start looking at pages and copies. Other than that, I also do vibe.com. Editing, coming up with ideas. So basically that’s what it entails for the former Senior Editor, and now Deputy Editor. The pros are...well, I’m not a music editor! Like JFK is the music editor, so I don’t really like getting pitches about music [themes] because I feel it’s kind of overwhelming, so I give it to him usually. I don’t like to feel forced into like an A&R position where I have to figure out who’s talented (enough) to cover. That’s kind of a pro [JFK helps me out with that]. A con...it’s a lot of work. A lot of responbility. Like I welcome it, but it can be stressful. Starting the book process, the editing, going through features, watching the internship program, being the coordinator. And then also I edit for vibe.com, and then handle our Twitter. So, it’s a lot. Like the work piles up, which is a good and bad thing, but that is a con. Yeah, I did. When I applied to Temple University, I went in undecided. I was still figuring out what to do. At one point I did accounting, I was good at math. It seemed like a surefire paycheck...anything to do with numbers and finance, you make a good amount of money. But then I figured it was boring, so instead of choosing that as my major, I went undecided, I’ll find out in school. For the first year, I kind of wanted to do digitial engineering, like turning those knobs, like a recording engineer where I would be that person in the studio working with the artists and figuring out what sounds good, and journalism was my minor. So I chose my major to be digital sound, something like that, but then I transferred to NYU my second year, I kind of pushed over to journalism full-time because they’re business production was a bit much, and I loved writing. So it just kind of worked out but I always wanted to be a writer, and wanted to do something with music. Editor-at-Large! EALs have the best job because they don’t always have to come into the office. They pretty much work with the creative team, and there’s a little marketing involved, they only a few features a month and there is no obligation to come in everyday, but still have creative input. It’s more like...not consulting...but, they use their creative skills in other ways as well, not in the work environment.
Yeah, exactly. Like he does a lot of press for the magazine, showing up at events, but he’s also such major voice for VOGUE and continued his duties as a creative contributor, definitely.
Well, we try to cover everything. I feel we tell things from a truthful aspect. Some magazines when they’re writing about celebrities, I mean we deal and have done this too, but they’ll say or take their side; they won’t say anything negative about them to get them angry. VIBE has always been about the culture and not just about...like there’s a time and place to praise an artist, but we also talk about their downfall. Like if we feature Chris Brown, we’re not just going to talk about all the great things he’s done, he’s also had so many fails, we have to address that. So we’re more critical than other magazines which can be bad when artists don’t end up liking the interview, us, or the story. But it all can’t be positive, so we try to have a balance, where other magazines don’t do that as much. We try to talk on behalf of the people.
Good question... Hmmmm, well, don’t not be proactive. A lot of time once you get into the routine, I suppose [don’t get too comfortable], like always continue to ask questions, if someone needs assistance. That would be my big one: don’t not be proactive. Don’t be late. Always try to turn a story in on time. We don’t want to always be waiting. Yeah, and they are a few others as well (laughs).
Yeah, like you can tell who’s more passionate about their writing and who’s just doing it for a check. Like the way they present an assignment or the way that it’s arranged. Like the whole process of why they apply tells me about a writer which is why editors are so picky when they sign out assignments and everybody has a different style. Some are easier to deal with than others because of their style which then makes editing less stressful for us. It makes our job smoother.
Definitely one that’s just blah! It’s harder to edit someone like that and I’ve had both sides of the spectrum. It’s more work trying to spice up someone’s work. The biggest thing you have to do is cut down a lot with verbose writers, as opposed to a blah writer in which it just doesn’t read well. It’s easier to just be like, “Okay, cut this out. Cut this out”. I definitely prefer a writer that gives me too much than not enough. I loved the Trey Songz cover. I wrote it! And it was definitely one of our best looking covers to me. The concept with the shower, and he was all buff. I got a lot of feedback on it, and the timing was just right. It was a matter of good combination with the cover and the photography, his expressions, and even the headline: “The Hardest in R&B”. That’s been my favorite cover since being here. I remember the [last] Chris Brown cover. Recently, I really like the Maybach Music cover. The look of it is good and is like old, vintage VIBE, and that’s because of the art design that we’re doing. That one is definitely exciting.
My favorite album of 2012 (so far) is Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. Frank Ocean in general is my favorite artist right now. He’s just amazing, so talented. Like he doesn’t really have a great voice, but his tone...there’s nobody that really sounds like him. Miguel is great...
Q uestio n s 01
1. So, did you peep all the KimYe love happening at the 2012 BET Awards? Neither did we. #swerve
*2. If they swapped out the title “2012 BET Awards” for “The 2012 Beyonce Show,” would anyone notice?
11. Don’t you love Femme Fatale already?
12. Doesn’t anyone realize that all of Future’s raps are in auto tune?
04 13. Are we the only ones that wouldn’t want to be caught alone in a dark alley with Chief Keef??
3. Were you (and your best drawls) ready for D’Angelo’s comeback?
14. What was the weather before rappers made it rain?
4. Why is Steebie J always on Benzino’s passenger side?
05 5. While we were all focusing on Soulja Boy’s breakdown at the 2012 BET Awards, the real question is where was his manicurist??
15. How many rappers would be unemployed if auto tune didn’t exist?
16. If you drop it like it’s hot, what do you do when it’s cold?
6. Are hoes really winning?
17. 50 cent and Soulja boy working on Father/son album... Does anybody see what’s wrong here?
7. Did Drake think he was getting his “thug card” by starting a fight in the club over a girl?
18. With all the reality shows about wives and now ex-wives, would you be surprise if they made a show called Hollywood Sidechicks?
8. When did bath salts get so popular and why are all black males eating them?
9. Did Karlie Redd refill her ass cheek?
*10. Is hip hop still dead?
Ask The Music Editor *10. is hip hop still dead? Hey, people that are still running around saying “Hip hop is dead,” I’m sorry that we can’t all teleport back to 1993 and hit the Wu-Tang show with you tonight. No shade to Wu-Tang - we all know they’re nothing to f**k with, but instead of hating all of your life why don’t you listen to guys like Big K.R.I.T., Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, and Joey Bada$$ then tell us how you feel about the state of hip hop. If the diversity of the artists that make up the genre now don’t excite you, then you never really loved it anyway. Viva la hip hop! —Taryn Edmondson
19. How do you “turn up” and what is the maximum volume?
20. Dear Charlamange, “Can I Get a Drop?”
Editor’s Pick: Music editor Max Weinstein reviews his pick of summer 2012’s album releases off top. Alchemist – Russian Roulette
An LP by a producer that isn’t exactly an instrumental album and utilizes only Russian samples sounds…outlandish. Alchemist, shining with his recent projects alongside Curren$y, Domo Genesis, and Action Bronson, continues to work with Evidence, Hodgy Beats, Oh No, Prodigy, and an array of other rappers. His aesthetic has simplified, although the texture of his beats has deepened a bit to incorporate buzzing, buried bass, disparate strings, spontaneous horns, and other subtle touches of noise that supplement the actual music. It all combines to create a captivating journey through Alchemist’s warped vision of today’s hip-hop landscape. The album cover looks like a roulette table from a distant tripped out planet, and the album plays more like an indie cult movie with blockbuster cameos from mysterious characters like Roc Marciano, Bronson, Midaz, Danny Brown, Guilty Simpson, and plenty more. These varied voices move the record forward, as the blunted sonic narrative takes twists and turns on every track, where rappers are absent or new MC’s show up for a quick verse without ever forming choruses. It makes for a lean rapping experience, while musically the beats are packed full of classical snippets, vocal dialogue, enchanting keys, and nostalgic strings. Russian Roulette is a beautifully artsy album for any fan willing to approach the concept of a producer album from a different perspective.
Riff Raff – Golden Alien
If there is one artist that listeners did not expect to enjoy this summer, it was Riff Raff. The eccentric rapper with cornrows and live snakes in his homemade videos has made a splash with a multitude of mixtapes that cumulatively collect his best songs and group them with new material. On Golden Alien, songs like “Lil’ Mama I’m Sorry” and “Rice Out” are prime examples of Riff Raff ‘s knack for entertainment with off-key choruses and sudden bursts of energetic rapping, making him a magnetic figure who wears his seemingly genuine personality on his sleeve for fans to accept or move on from. With this latest album, Jody Hightower continues to prove that being a polarizing musician and maintaining a dedicated work ethic can get rappers a long way, and in this case it’s landed Riff Raff a deal on Diplo’s Mad Decent label.
JJ DOOM (DOOM & Jneiro Jarel) – Keys To The Kuffs
Pounding, dark, brooding, electronic, stomping, quirky, stormy, gurgling; these are only some of the impressions from DOOM’s latest mind-bending collaboration album with hip-hop producer Jneiro Jarel, known for groups like Shade of Broad Minds and aliases like Dr. Who Dat? Self-described as being of the “pop-rock direction,” DOOM has been living in London, supposedly banned from entering the U.S. and thus continuing to fulfill the role of the villain. Key To The Kuffs contributes to his mysterious aloofness, finding DOOM at the helm of the rhyming while Jarel fits in a couple of appearances on short interlude-like beats. DOOM sounds like he’s starting to accept his old man perspective on hip-hop with songs like “Wash Your Hands” (yes that’s what it’s about) and “Winter Blues,” where he even breaks into heartbreaking song that’s more reminiscent of an old drunken man singing on the street corner than an underground rap legend. Overall, Jarel provides the electro-funk beats with some help by live orchestration to flesh out the album’s futuristic outcast aesthetic.
Joey Fatts – Chipper Jones Vol. 1
No project of this length has the impact that Joey Fatts’ latest mixtape has in one listen. Spanning seven tracks and employing five different producers in total, Fatts makes an emphatic statement in his tilted voice with this offering, crafting a cohesive body of work that fits unique songs into a strong sequence. “Remy Martin” sounds like a page out of Cardo’s book of sunny beats, while “Curfew” has a floating chorus over a head-nodding sample. The tape tends towards the darker side, with Fatts sounding appropriately menacing and carefree on tracks like “Turn Up” with fellow delinquents Da$h and A$ton Matthews, as well as on the stuttering first cut, “Chipper Jones.” The highlight comes at the very end, with 808 Mafia lacing Joey with a hypnotic, trudging beat that gets strangled by guest star Vince Staples at the very end. Overall, it’s the kind of project that relies less on surprising listeners than on nailing down a certain sound.
Meyhem Lauren – Respect The Fly Shit
This is the kind of special, organic project that comes around every couple of years from a group of likeminded individuals cooperating for one purpose: dope music. Recorded over the course of two days in a hotel room at SXSW this year, Respect The Fly Shit came about by having Harry Fraud, Tommy Mas, Action Bronson, AG Da Coroner, Heems of Das Racist, and Despot cooped up over the course of one weekend, forming the so-called Rap Camp. Thus it feels less like Meyhem Lauren’s own record and more like a Only Built 4 Cuban Linx record, where Raekwon was just one of many stars on what felt like a group album. That managed to become one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time, and the quality of Meyhem’s music doesn’t suffer from all the guests, especially because Meyhem tends to overload his own verses with words to the point of sounding awkward. With Tommy Mas’ distinct loop-based beats and Harry Fraud’s twisted genius, the music on this project is undeniable, even when Lauren handles the final beautiful couplet of the album, “Let’s Hold Hands” and “Peace Dad.” If Lauren can sharpen his delivery, he’s got a team full of talent ready to back him up.
WHERE EVERYTHING MAKES AN IMPACT
The Rebirth of FEEL-Good Music Music was in a rut. Rappers and singers were churning out radio singles just for the hell of it, leaving listeners with empty calories on the airwaves. But times are changing, and quality is overtaking quantity. Will the new wave of artists fill the shoes of the Whitneys and Luthers and feed us hits that we can feel?
IMAGE: STACY-ANN ELLIS
ood music may be subjective, but we all know what feels good. Before I Let Go. Step in the Name of Love. This Is How We Do It. Remember the Time. I Wanna Dance with Somebody. You get it. No matter if you claim to be a 70s, 80s, or 90s baby, we vibe to the same hits. The feel-goods, if you will. The kind of songs with soul and theatrics. The kind where you jump up from your seat, close your eyes, clench your fists, smile and sway. The same way your mother would. And you open your eyes for a second and notice that everyone’s doing the same thing, electric sliding or Detroit shuffling to every song. The dance floor goes from bare to barely elbow room. That’s the feel-good effect. It’s amazing to think that some token musicians created tunes that unintentionally overshadowed hovering personal storm clouds and brightened your day. But to the untrained ear, it may seem like all the creators of the greats have transitioned out. In the past few years, we’ve been stuck in a state of mourning. We’ve had to cope with the departures of the music legends that produced many of these feel-goods over the span of their career. No one was ready to bid adieu to the Ettas, the Whitney Houstons, the Michael Jacksons, the Gil Scott-Herons, the Nate Doggs, the Amy Winehouses and the Donna Summers. Say it ain’t so! cries the world. But with every death comes life. With these unplanned vacancies, could they quite possibly be ushering the new wave of legendsto-be and creators of things that will be considered “classics” in 2200? Think about soul-strumming crooners like Elle Varner, Janelle Monae, Jhene Aiko, Melanie Fiona, Luke James and Frank Ocean. What about masters of melody and beat manipulation like Cocaine 80s and Hit-Boy? And spitters like K.R.I.T., Kendrick, and Theophilus. Have you heard the rich productions like Sweet Life, Cherry Wine and WyW? Think about it. It’s not too far fetched. This new season of music is concentrating more on vibes, melodies and arrangement more so than a dope lunchtime tabletop beat to rhyme to. They’re bringing it all back. ListenILLUSTRATION: closely. You almost feel it. MARCcan MCDONALD --Stacy-Ann Ellis
Filthy Couture An Op-Ed Femme Fatale Moment By Carmen Shardae Jobson before 2004 had come and gone, comedian Chris L_ong Rock was ahead of his time due to his mixture of acerbic
language with salient observations. While satirizing the inconvenient truths of popular culture and the secret life of black Americans, naturally, he was often keen to the general absurdities of peoples’ behavior. During his Never Scared comedy special, he shared a rather hilarious perspective on the growing epidemic of young women actually enjoying some of the most lyrically insolent rap music on the airwaves. While by 2012 standards this kind of music is a boilerplate of the limited selections of either listening to noir (Kendrick Lamar), mafioso (Rick Ross), alternative (Odd Future), dirty, or socially conscious (Lupe Fiasco) hip-hop; in 2004, we weren’t entirely as jaded as Aerosmith made us out to be. Yet, there was something to be said for hit singles of the time like “Get Low”, “Shake Ya Ass”, and “Freek-A-Leek” taking over the local clubs and female patrons willing to from the window to the wall. Even Nas felt he had to dumb down his persona as the hip-hop prophet and alongside The Bravehearts released “Oochie Wally,” literally becoming his nickname of Nasty Nas. Rock’s skit on dirty rap included an envisioned moment of uncouth behavior at said (imaginary) club, featuring his own made up lyrics akin to what was gold in the Top 40 from names like The 504 Boyz. The scene went like this: a group of young ladies getting it in on the dance floor, singing the raunchy jubilantly. Rock, as the naive wallflower, “recalls” his proposition to one lady (as told to his audience): “If you mention to a woman, [‘This song] is disgusting and misogynistic’, they all give you the same answer: ‘He ain’t talking ‘bout me! Smack her with a dick! Smack her with a dick!” Hilarious and repulsive, right? Exactly Rock’s point, and in his perpetually curious utopia, Rock goes on to instigate the situation and (in confirming their
endorsement) by concluding (as suspect song is playing) “[But] he said your name!” Yet these hardheaded vixens aren’t listening and another gal pal answers with a dismissive “No he didn’t! Smack with her a dick!” Hip-hop America; our problem remains. Like Rock also announced during his routine “I love rap music, but I’m tired of defending it!”; in a post-post This Is What A Feminist Looks Like landscape, rap music has earned (or coerced) the privilege of having the clear road ahead of it to say and do as it pleases, even if that sometimes means an artists’ biggest hits may be demeaning towards women or overall deplorable, and it doesn’t matter how impressively intricate their wordplay has grown or how awesomely seedy those underground club beats reverberate. Dirty rap has gotten not Nelly dirrty, but downright filthy at times. Now, let’s be honest by acknowledging the fact that the presence of dirty, sexy, or straight-up vulgar talk in hip-hop and rap are not anomalies as a stimulus by any means. n the late ‘80s and early ‘90s acts like Too Short (the ultimate), 2 Live Crew (your annoying kid brother) and mainstream heroes like Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg with his aptly titled Doggystyle all had tracks out of the woodwork dedicated to libertine behavior and, while sex in music and music for the strip club may had been alluring on a secretive level, the legacy of songs like “Blow Job Betty” and fuck these hoes lyrics are that they were capricious, smutty...and scandalous...they deserved to be paper-bagged, and sometimes were depending at the establishment at hand (*wink, wink* Wal-Mart). Rightfully so, women’s and conservative groups (e.g. PMRC) were appalled that rap and rock artists
alike were becoming millionaires off of savage art, with men and women picking up their albums in record numbers. It was a shameless movement that conversely touched film (Pulp Fiction, Basic Instinct), visual arts (Damien Hirst, Chris Ofili), and literature (American Psycho) as well. By 2002, female emcees had already held a torch in the air in the name of a new kind of female liberation in regards to sexual freedom and expression, affectively commenced by the iconic crew of Missy Elliott, Foxy Brown, and Lil’ Kim. The triumvirate did their best to turn the tables, or better yet the men, in not just taking back the word “bitch” but also in describing dominatrix scenarios with femme fatale tendencies, and while effective on behalf of women at least vocalizing their own carnal fantasies, boys and men have still been granted, on their own accord, the final lyric on pervasive music and attitudes. The unyielding tradition coincides with the decline of western civilization’s plea for clean, considerate art to be displayed and heard, and today, all really is fair when morality’s caught in the wild. The ribaldry movement had hit a new generation when new millennium prototypes of the sub-genre of dirty rap like The Ying-Yang Twins’ “The Whisper Song” became a surprising staple of the Billboard Top 20, and with a closer look at the current tracks from popular artists in 2011-12, the swinish touch is making a major comeback. By getting the scantily clad pink elephant out of the room, case in point are some recent singles and their accompanying charming verses and choruses, advertising nothing more than the celebration of uncultured good times: “Do My Dance” by Tyga f. 2 Chainz: “Do my dance on your dick, boy you know you love this shit” “Round of Applause” by Waka Flocka Flame: “Round of ap-
plause...baby make that ass clap!” “2 Reasons” by Trey Songz: “I only came here for the bitches and the drinks...” “Bands A Make Her Dance” by Juicy J: “Bands a make her dance, bands a make her dance; all these chicks popping pussy, I’m just popping bands...” “Rack City” by Tyga: “Rack city bitch, rack, rack city bitch. Ten, ten, ten, twenties on yo titties bitch”. “My Ho 2” by Future: “That’s my ho, that’s yo ho 2. That’s my ho (6x). I pissed on her, you kissed her, you fell in love with her, I think I miss her”. “Celebration (Remix)” by Tank f. Trey Songz & Chris Brown: (Brown’s verse) “Bring it back now girl. Imma set the camera up, blow your back out, rewind the tape and bring it back now girl” Yes kids; even R&B’s once romantic male leads like Songz and Brown are as salacious as any Meek Mill mixtape track with the aforementioned duo and a truckload of male entertainers in general bragging about being panty droppers more than ever. Again, this isn’t entirely new either...remember Jodeci and the ringleader himself R. Kelly? Some of them best jams of ‘90s R&B were seeped in sex, but in comparison, nothing is left to the imagination in 2012. And female artists aren’t shying away either. You’ve got Rihanna’s sexual rendezvous on the fan requested “Birthday Cake”; The Harlem Mermaid Azealia Banks cannot control her Playboy mouth, and just look at Nicki MInaj’s last two collaborations with 2 Chainz: “Beez in the Trap” and (of course) “I Love Dem Strippers”. A definite soundtrack to doing hoodrat things with your friends. So while the twerk team aggressively swivel on as the successors to the video vixen, rappers and male singers continue to collect female fans in droves, and they, we, know every word of their lewd tracks along the way...so what’s the big idea and who are the culprits behind this vulgar comeback? Some may be quick to ask, what’s the big deal if the fashionable topic right now consists of sex, drinks, frivolous spending, and graceless behavior? What else is new in hip-hop? Okay. Fair enough, but picture this: You knew every lyric to Ludacris’ “What’s Your Fantasy?” in eighth grade, right? So inappropriate. Now imagine your baby sister going H.A.M to Nicki Minaj’s verse on Big Sean’s “Dance (A$$) or Three 6 Mafia’s “Slob On My Knob”. Not so cool anymore, is it? In hindsight, the racy raps of The Notorious B.I.G. still had some artistic flavoring due to his impeccable flow placed in proximity to his use of double entendres. In the ‘12, it’s just so black and white in its descriptions, very few rappers chose to not leave any room for lyrical creativity to be--at best--applied as a silver lining of artistic credibility (Fabolous remains reliably good on the “Dope Bitch (Remix), but hence French Montana’s insipid “Pop That”...cue: eyes rolling). The once visible campaigns and Supreme Court battles that had Dionne Warwick flying off the handle in the fight against the devaluing of women in music nowadays would fall on deaf ears, ears suddenly stone-deaf by the amusing re-emergence of many brutish, barbaric, even uncivilized, “songs” that regale us with nutshell memories of asses bouncing; alcoholics identified; wee hours spent at a rowdy nightclub; male chauvinism; and women are jamming along with almost no precaution to what this could possibly mean for their image and understanding of self-respect. The current state of hip-hop is evidently very stripper music based and a lot of women are sponsoring it by listening to it and so, what does that say about the state of feminism? Does it say anything at all considering it isn’t 1971 anymore and to the contrary of a nation’s pessimism, we have come a long way...yes or no? Too idyllic maybe? Let’s try to break it down... Another moment of clarity must be inserted here in that there is no easy discovery as to how and why stripper music is again happening. The answers can be found in so many directions, we’ll be here all day. The most important action is that stripper music’s return as a (tawdry) factor in music is being discussed. Like Chris Rock noticed and predicted, (young) women have been cooperating with such rueful tunes when in our elders’ eyes, we should be the first in line to object, but its presence is certainly not just one person or group’s fault. If anything, it’s been a domino effect with the start line officially smudged off. The counterculture that we’re experiencing right now is one without much conviction; true inspiration and identification is like a diamond in the rough (toppled over by too many superfluous distractions); and it’s because times are a-changing for the awkward, absurd, and down right belligerent. I mean, who’s got time to fight for decency in art when Master Degree holders are resentfully working in pizza shops? And less serious examples aside, maybe women just want to freely enjoy some cavalier fun too, and frankly, some of those frolicsome songs are certifiably catchy and bombastic. Our responses are innately intrigued than offended because the beats are right and lyrics are tight. It’s a done deal when it comes to ear candy. Reacting displeased only comes after one realizes what they’re saying after singing it to themselves for the tenth time, or even five years later when wisdom and experience kicks in. Additionally, “stripper music” is a guilty pleasure, a pleasure that is of a supercilious escapism and its current popularity is also a direct/indirect result of some of the biggest female pop stars flaunting their goods in the name of reckless independency. When Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Beyonce, though applauded for their success in empower-
ing girls to run the world and to let nobody hold you down, as selected omnipresent figures in pop music, they weren’t exactly intelligent in how to display sexuality as threatening or captivating, thus their idea of feminism was a mussed up ideology of essentially acting and responding to life as a quasi-lioness just for the attention. It seemed as if they just didn’t understand the consequences beyond the rose-colored lenses of fans screaming and award show appearances that in being so sexually free. What exactly is the message you are sending? That you’re easy, don’t care, or emancipated? This goes for guys too, but as we know that double standard has yet to cease. For these girls, they just didn’t get what they were roaring about and that there are other ways of expressing your sexuality and confidence than just doing a spread eagle on stage while cooing and wooing about douchebag boyfriends or a girls night out. The former example just is what it is and the tradition reigns on with the new wave of hellcats with their risque magazine covers and even riskier music. The panorama of sex and rebellion together in music has often been just for magnetizing purposes alone, but it’s not as if it’s impossible to present lustful subject matters with a psychological undertone. Is not having a proper, traditional education to blame for their one-sided presentation? That would be an interesting space to wander with inquisitive glasses, but when it comes to women in music, after the rawness of Janis Joplin and Tina Turner, since reaching stardom in the early ‘80s, the proverbial go-to archetype of women’s sexuality done right in the media is from Madonna and she’ll always be awe-inspiring in her display of sex deliverance because she was confronting the unfair assumption that a woman couldn’t be powerful, sexual, and clever all at once; a strong emphasis placed on clever. Once described as the “Joan of Arc” of pop music by MTV, Madonna imperially comprehended the challenging juxtaposition of the sexy school teacher, as did her actress counterpart Demi Moore with her lusty but domineering movie roles and pictorials. Contemporary megastars that were borne out of the Madonna/Demi era, even when they tried empowerment for size, their attempt and message got lost in that wild forest of the battle of the sexes, good vs. bad art, and reality bites, as what attacked Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls). It worked a bit for Aguilera during her Stripped phase (she seemed profoundly angst-y), but for Beyoncé, while responses were largely spirited (any excuse to jam to Honey B is one for celebration in the Beyhive) but there were also plenty of naysayers that mocked “Run the World” by taking its message of fortitude overtly literally, claiming it as unrealistic and ludicrous. The girl that in 2003 walked down a street with a tank top and no bra, short shorts, and red pumps, in 2011 became a woman in royal headgear encouraging the next spawn of young ladies to take their dreams and the world by its reins was not taken seriously by some, and a percentage of that were by females. Is that what they sometimes refer to the vicious cycle of ‘damned if you, damned if you don’t’? Liberation isn’t a major focus for women today. When Hillary Clinton almost wins the Democratic golden ticket to the White House, Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first woman to receive the Oscar for Best Director and the First Lady of the Free World is a black woman, Michelle Obama. They see that victories have been accomplished, so there’s no need for any such hullabaloo incidents like Supreme Court meetings and tagging rappers as misogynists. Spears, Mrs. Carter, and Aguilera aren’t to fully blame for the 2012 Pro-Strip Club Anthology, but as our elders warned when we jammed to the first round of dirty rap in the ‘90s that if we as women act like it’s okay to be called bitches and act reckless, the repercussions will be that men will think it’s okay to act upon our cheeky ways and the reflection of that is what we’re hearing right now. These rappers aren’t necessarily misogynistic. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt (some of them actually are fathers to daughters), but they are selfish, and what could possibly be the inspiration behind lyrics like: “All I want for my birthday is big booty girl”. Oh brother. Someone cue Sunshine Anderson’s “Heard It All Before.” Then there’s the actuality that as human beings we are also sexual beings, so in re-forming a quote from Sex and The City as a question, we also should consider: Are who we are in bed, who we are in life?” Why stripper music is such a focus right now, maybe we’ll never know. It’s the new Tootsie Pop. The pendulum that swings containing the potent allure of dirty rap always finds it always back to us somehow in the revolving planets of what the people apparently want to hear and what’s looking to resurrect itself. Suppose we are condoning it by foolishly singing along as if the aforementioned songs were carols of some sort. As women, we don’t mean to come across verdant or headstrong to matters like this, the issue of dirty rap’s takeover. For what it’s worth, we get the joke in that it shouldn’t be taken so earnestly. It’s all for a good time, right? In defense of the girl at the club or driving in her car with the top down, rapping along to Well Done 3, girls and women should be allowed to occasionally or (ugh) frequently enjoy dirty rap as much as her older brother or boyfriend. Yet see again, the concern is that it’s at the expense of a girl’s esteem whether it be or the body or mind. But it’s hard to be so offended when grown men decide to act like their shoe size and not their age towards women. Clearly, it’s utterly laughable especially since the sub-genre has been mainly met by a nonchalant “who cares” shrug and dance. Maybe we should consider that if anything, there is a time and place for obscene rap to roam free. In a public domain like the overhead speakers in the mall? Not so much. Through your own personal headset with
tunes streaming from your iPod? Yes, go for it. Even if that means one has to tolerate secondhand hearing “Money on the Floor,” “No Hands,” or worse, “Face Down” during a No. 4 train transit to work. So while it seems feminism has taken a backseat in recent memory, with the August arrest of three members of Russian, radical, self-proclaimed feminist band Pussy Riot and subsequent two years sentence in jail for their protest music, could we be sensing another wave of women’s salvation, as the war on birth control and abortion rages on? Whether standing in our Jeffrey Campbells, Brian Atwoods, combat boots and sneakers, ladies, it seems another go-around of the riot grrrl could very well be on its way. Sex as a topic will forever be met with distaste and satisfaction (we see you with that copy of the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey behind the newspaper, girl). For now, young girls do acknowledge that those inane rhymes aren’t desired or required in the estimation of their self-worth. Yes? No? Just putting it out there. So, let’s have these let me get mine, you get yours paeans have their fun. There’s always the feasible return of conscious hip-hop (anybody else counting the day ‘til Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor 2) Until then...we’ll always have Frank Ocean’s melodiously progressive fusions on the flipside to daydream to. *swoon*
Guilty Pleasures Playlist As women, we KNOW it’s wrong. But sometimes you just can’t help it... “Make Em Get They Money Right” - Pastor Troy “Shake that Monkey” - Too Short “I Wanna Rock” - Luke “Let Me See It” - UGK “Throwed” - SwishaHouse “Freaky Girl” - Travis Porter “Nasty Dancer” - Kilo Ali “Private Dancer” - Big K.R.I.T. “Look Back at It” - Trina “Table Dance” - DTP “Back that A$$ Up” - Juvenile “Pussy Poppin’” - Ludacris “I’m In Luv With a Stripper (Remix)” - T- Pain “Lap Dance” – Tyga “Slob on My Knob” – Three 6 Mafia “Rack City” - Tyga “Strip” - Chris Brown “No Hands” - Waka Floka “She Will” - Lil Wayne f. Drake “Loose” - Spank Rock f. Amanda Blank “Round of Applause” - Waka Flocka Flame f. Drake “Tangerine” - Big Boi f. T.I. & Khujo Goodie “Cake” - Travis Porter “My Ho 2” - Future “If ” - Janet Jackson “Deep” - Blackstreet “Pony” - Genuine “Something He Can Feel” - En Vogue “Change” - Deftones “Freakin’ You” - Jodeci “Dance for You” - Beyonce “Skin” - Rihanna “Take You Down” - Chris Brown “Cream” - Prince Trey Songz: all of them
From the Fellas Music editor , the only male on staff, had a few guilty pleasures of his own: – Bandz would even make me dance. It’s hard to pinpoint what makes this track so outstanding, maybe it’s just the accurate grammar in the song title. Maybe it’s nothing at all. But I love it anyway. – Don’t get it confused: yes it may be cool to like Frank Ocean’s music right now, but hip-hop purists are not getting down with the whole gay thing. I, on the other hand, don’t mind singing along to, “you run my mind, boy” because of how original and heartfelt Frank is on the song. But boys aren’t running in my mind. –Based God is the most interesting rapper out right now. You see his style influence almost every new rapper these days in one form or another, so it’s only right I vigorously cook when this mixtape comes on. Yuh feel me bruh? – I’ve got nothing to feel guilty about here. The instantly ensnaring beat is reminiscent of riding on a jet ski with Kenny Powers donning a sprinkled white moustache in Mexico during the summer. And when Jody Hightower drops the chorus? Boys and girls, please watch the heavy splash RiFF RaFF is about to make. – Damn, that beat sure is smooth. Leme see here…hmm….he sounds kinda old….I hope Curren$y is on this song….what time is it? (Yawns) I wonder what’s on TV….This guy smokes a lot of weed…… Is there ice cream in the freezer? I’m gonna go to bed.
20 20 The Top
A lb u ms for any and every
Every 20-something needs a soundtrack to the bombastic days of their colorful lives. As a young woman during this time frame, you will embody many characteristics that appear and will re-appear at any given moment. Those traits will include behaving as a dynamic; selfish; impatient; sensitive; silly; beautiful; and possibly your most wonderful attribute...a forever hopeful individual. Ranging from R&B, to rock and pop, the following compiled music list features all female artists that have been there and sung about it for your meditative pleasure. Ahhh...that crazy decade of living in your 20s--especially if you’re a woman. During that ten-year tailspin of everything that could go right and wrong does (the pesky rents you’re paying for on your own; nagging elders wondering when you’ll finally get it together; the dawn of the big 3-0; the end of high school; the many ways to NOT be your hair; and of course, the inescapable case of L-O-V-E), who said you had to do it alone? Since even the strongest femme fatale needs a friend, here are 20 of them to get you through the good, the maudlin, and the bad days. Now, as you update your playlist, remember what the beloved legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor once said: “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.” Liz, you’re the best.
This was the emancipation of Mimi before The Emancipation of Mimi, and fifteen years later, this disc remains one of Mariah Carey’s most influential and wholehearted. While it commenced with the sexy “Honey”, critics saw Butterfly as her fully realized, glamorous entry into urban pop, while acknowledging that every song carried a heavy load of disappointment and heartache that was ready to be set free into a comforting sunlit yonder. It was her first LP released after her Svengali marriage to music mogul Tommy Mottola, and was in actuality, a ballad strong collection that fused the basics of R&B with soft rock, the charming wings of gospel (“Babydoll”), and the enduring steadiness of hip-hop (as became of “The Roof ” with its Mobb Deep “Shook Ones Part II” sample, and descriptions of smooth rebellion from carnal intrigue). While she was a new divorcee, she admirably recalled the stages of honeymoon affection; lingering feelings that shouldn’t exist for a no longer in love lover (like on the fan-favorite and lyrically dense “Breakdown”), and the restoration of self-esteem. All topics she had explored before, on Butterfly, there was something invaluably hopeful about the tears emblematized through such personal lyrics. While Mimi was a close second in being an album that every 20-something should listen to, Butterfly is a classic in the Carey catalog that will surely help you through those dark days of heartsickness and eyes wide open faith. At her last high flying note, she still believed in love and life. MARIAH’S AGE: 27 PERFECT AGE(S): 24-29
Mariah Carey, BUTTERFLY 
Probably the most delectably puerile of the albums on this list, Born to Die is an under-appreciated tour de force of every possible affliction that will inevitably occur with your first love. Yes, as a whole, Lana Del Rey’s first major LP is very melodramatic and somewhat sonically monotonous, but it’s also unique in its near acoustic production and vintage style, making her the current starlet of old Hollywood glam and unhurried rockabilly storytelling in contemporary music. Say what you will about her borderline histrionic explanations of awry love tales or overbearing affection, Del Rey truthfully understands, and remembers, how earth-shattering those first real throes of love can really feel. From her death do us part allegations (“Video Games”); admissions to bad boy loyalty (“Diet Mountain Dew”); feminist persistence (“National Anthem”); girls forgetting the adage of sisterhood (“This Is What Makes Us Girls”); to even the effects of depression and the fear of loneliness (“Summertime Sadness”); on wax, Del Rey is a coquettishly, crestfallen young woman that doesn’t want you to join her pain out of persuasion but from a place of knowing you weren’t alone in having felt like you were in a rapturous trance when you finally understood those love songs on the radio. LANA’S AGE: 26 PERFECT AGE(S): 24-27
Lana Del Rey, born to die 
Upon its release in the mid 1980s, Control was an independence ridden LP that secured Janet as a superstar in her own right, but it also would become the playlist for any young woman who was tired of feeling misconstrued by her parents; in a thankless relationship (“What Have You Done For Me Lately”, “The Pleasure Principle”); and in following dreams that couldn’t afford to crust over. Control was all about the yearning to break free, start over, and become the person you aspired to be. Inspired by Jackson’s own struggle with her family; in creating a name for herself and not from her famous brothers; and a quickie marriage to James DeBarge; with artistic support from the terrific duo of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Control was Janet’s coming out party that lit up the charts with her fresh views on self-sufficient breakthroughs from every aspect in life. She even grappled with sexual harassment and female modesty on the funky, jazz-pop fix “Nasty”. Ms. Jackson let it all out on Control and in return, was chosen as the new voice of sassy PYTs everywhere, big curly hair and all. JANET’S AGE: 20 PERFECT AGE(S): 21-25
Janet Jackson, CONTROL 
Whitney Houston by Whitney Houston; Love Me Back by Jazmine Sullivan; Kala by M.I.A.; After The Storm by Monica; Confessions by Usher; Baduizm by Erykah Badu; Rockferry by Duffy; Exile in Guyville by Liz Phair; Live Through This by Hole; P.O.Y.B.L by Melody Thornton; It’s Not Me, It’s You by Lily Allen; Echo by Leona Lewis; La Roux by La Roux; A Girl Can Mack by 3LW; Spend the Night by The Donnas
Please don’t be fooled by the piano-pop melodies of California’s own Sara Bareilles: she’s one brassy dame. On the aptly yet ironically titled Little Voice, heralded by the smash “Love Song” Bareilles exposed rather big voice afterthoughts on the domino effects of following your heart than mind when making possibly life-altering decisions. From “Love Song” to fantastic, notable tracks like “Come Round Soon” and “Morningside”, this is was one look inside the journal of a girl that after much was said and maybe not done, her acquaintances with love and relationships transmogrified her into a flippant creature, and especially at the expense of past and future boyfriends. Instead choosing to keep calm and carry an imaginary shield in order to save herself from detrimental heartbreak, with cheeky lines like, “All the bullshit you feed me; you miss me, you need me; this hungry heart will not subside” this Little Voice meant every word it spoke in its audaciously tenacious yet mature articulation. Let ‘em have it Sara. SARA’S AGE: 28 PERFECT AGE(S): 20-24, 28
Sara Bareilles, LITTLE VOICE 
Back to Black was the ultimate sullen-ex-trying-to-move-on record that, despite itself, its crumbling revelation was an amazing journey of reflection and forgiveness, only this time wrapped in Motown sounds. With the ‘60s given both a sonic and mode tribute through Winehouse herself (she loved the era most dearly), Back to Black was written after her boyfriend (and eventual ex-husband) Blake Fielder-Civil left for her another woman. As a result, her worst nightmare became her saving grace, having placed pen to paper and allowing every stream of disbelief and hurt to pour like drops of clemency. Back to Black is all about that one relationship that even after it ends, you just can’t let go of. Winehouse, with main collaborators Saleem Remi and Mark Ronson, re-enacted those stages of anger; apparent alcoholism (the doomed “Rehab”); sudden alone time (“Wake Up Alone”); ardor attempts of solidarity (the awesome “Tears Dry on Their Own”); merciful relations (“Just Friends”), and the workings of self-pity and sabotage (“You Know I’m No Good”). The richness of the production and Amy’s tortured soul tone made this album not just another woebegone display, but a wagon of repossession for the broken-hearts club. Back to Black, with its oh so blue lyrics and an appreciation for a musical yesteryear, was unequivocally beautiful in structure. Though she passed away at the untimely age of (the rock star urban legend curse) 27, we’ll always adore Amy for her fierce sharing of at least trying to do better. AMY’S AGE: 23 PERFECT AGE(S): 22-24
Amy Winehouse, BACK TO BLACK 
Kelly Clarkson’s sophomore album Breakaway can viewed as a charitable novelty towards a legion of young, presumptuous women that were currently in the dealings of breaking up and girl-world calamities. What could’ve been bubblegum pop became an orchestrated pop-rock mantra with Clarkson’s supremely infectious “Since U Been Gone” spearheading a wonderment movement of finally learning to walk away. Breakaway was that album for the re-birth of angry white girl music that influenced a generation of strong-willed damsels everywhere, no matter their skin tone. They wanted answers because they couldn’t always escape the downward spirals of misty regrets. With singles like “Behind These Hazel Eyes” and “Gone”, there was the occasional mea culpa of admitting mistakes on “I Hate Myself For Losing You” and pleas of sympathy expressed on “Hear Me”, as Clarkson’s powerhouse vocals were exceptionally grand on every pop gem track. Breakaway’s materials in conjunction with Clarkson was a great balance as it was less annoyed than her somber My December and not as pious as Thankful. She had truly found her music(al) identity, and the sing-along tracks she delivered were too good but extremely true. KELLY’S AGE: 22 PERFECT AGE(S): 20-24
Kelly Clarkson, BREAK AWAY 
While everyone was still too busy fawning over Beyonce’s Dangerously in Love to give this album a fair listen, Afrodisiac is Brandy’s most accomplished and personal album of her career. Though much of her reign was in the lane of saccharine R&B, after the birth of her daughter; a fatal car crash; a “fake” engagement; and continuing to make music (but) in a new day and age in a field she once dominated, this disc was chockfull of nostalgic contemplations. Produced mainly by Timbaland, you can also hear in memoriam lyrics to Aaliyah who had died three years prior. Ranging from sexy, eclectic jams (“Afrodisiac”, “Sadiddy”); serene dry humor (“Talk About Our Love”); to lovestruck tendencies (“Where You Wanna Be”); this album’s greatest feature was its intensive theme of a girl becoming a woman right before her very eyes. It all ends with the assiduously crafted and pensive “Should I Go” that sampled Coldplay’s melancholy yet shimmery hit “Clocks.” Afrodisiac was a runaway hit with critics who were glad and surprised to see B-Rocka show a more nuanced side. 20-somethings everywhere would be advised to have this in their collection, because when the going gets tough, Brandy fathoms your awkward growing pains. BRANDY’S AGE: 25 PERFECT AGE(S): 21-26
Brandy, AFRODISIAC 
They’ve said that pain makes for great art, and that was all the more authentic on the darkest, most intimate Rihanna had ever been in her then still tender music career on the grief glazed Rated R. With everyone privy to her domestic abuse incident with Chris Brown, this album to an extent had no choice but to be an impassioned, layered, irate, heartsick compilation of a life-changing year for Princess RiRi. Though some didn’t know how to make of this newfound austere young woman, beyond the shoulder-padded, black rimmed eyes of her exterior and the few aggressively pissed off facade joints (“Rockstar 101”, “G4L”), there were plenty of sob stories with a gooey core of love lost and why, or confidence found in the name of belligerent atonement. The highlights, aside from her return to dancehall good times on the vampy “Rude Boy”, were the semi-downcasted yet eager to find the light--or at least a break--limericks of a girl that’s afraid to love again. Some of the best tracks includes the country-pop of “Fire Bomb”; “Wait Your Turn”; “Te Amo”, and the seminal “Photographs” that’s devastatingly unfeigned. Rated R had Rihanna at her foremost aesthetically resilient. RIHANNA’S AGE: 21 PERFECT AGE(S): 22-24
Rihanna, RATED R 
Every 20-something needs a feel-good album to go to whether getting for work, school, or night out on the town, and Lady Gaga’s The Fame with its glitterati dreams and showgirl presentation, fits the bill. Gaga, herself once a struggling artist in the LES, desperate to be comprehended as a performance artist with a sincere love for dance-pop, sounds almost naive here, like on the optimistic “Just Dance” and keen, chichi cuts like “LoveGame”, “Boys Boys Boys”, and “Beautiful, Dirty, Rich”. Pseudo camp, gangsta virility to boot, The Fame experiences life in the fast lane through often rose-colored glasses, but with a clever usage of wordplay and sayings, still, she was able to convey some real emotions that stood behind tangible periods of (bi) curiosity (“Poker Face”); lust (“Money Honey”, “Starstruck”) and separation (“Eh, Eh, Nothing Else I Can Say”). Her music has immensely grown since her days of admiring Andy Warhol, Bowie, and Madonna, and while Born This Way is her most superior album to date, the buoyancy of dreaming big remains an effervescent treat, making The Fame a new classic for all the starry-eyed lassies out there. GAGA’S AGE: 22 PERFECT AGE(S): 21-24
Lady Gaga, THE FAME 
However Ms. Aguilera got in touch with the lessons of second-wave feminism surely did a number on her as she took it upon herself to take one for the team and resurrect a battles of a sexes on Stripped. At first overlooked, this unpredictable, dauntless collection challenged the rules of sexuality (“Get Mine, Get Yours”); freedom (“Make Over”); and issues of self-love and reparation (“Fighter”, “I’m OK”). Her swan song “Beautiful” propelled Stripped to a better place on the charts, but hard core fans believed in its message of determination straight out of its plastic packaging. She played with the genres of hair metal, Christian hymns, Spanish guitar, piano pop, and UK girl group drum and bass, and no matter the sonic travels at hand, Aguilera sounded understandably frustrated. Her soprano took every song to a planet of promised born again conviction, but Aguilera never strayed far from a good time, like on the misguided release of “Dirrty”. The voice of her generation eagerly wanted Stripped to be accepted as record of struggled defiance, and especially from a female point of view. It was a bodacious look from the outside in of what it really feels like for a girl. CHRISTINA’S AGE: 22 PERFECT AGE(S): 20-23
Christina Aguilera, STRIPPED 
Named in honor of her 25th birthday, Beyonce was even more braggadocios on B’Day than she was on her inflated Dangerously in Love with gaudy assertions of erecting her man on every facet of life, including baller status (“Upgrade U”); getting him hot on cue as punishment (the flamboyant “Freekum Dress”); and treating him like a king (the disco craved “Suga Mama”). But if he acted up, it was a wrap with her irritation getting the best of her yet returning her to sanity: cue “Kitty Kat” and the Ne-Yo penned “Irreplaceable”. While it seemed much of B’Day is surrounded by the behavior of a guy, B’s sophomore solo CD is highly self-assured and celebrates the frivolity of being young which is why it makes the list. It lacks the elegance of I Am...Sasha Fierce and the quaint artistry of 4, but this gall B’Day was Beyonce at her most flirty, cunning, autocratic...and entertaining...while enjoying her once in a lifetime moment in being a quarter of a century old. BEYONCE’S AGE: 25 PERFECT AGE(S): 23-24
Beyonce, B’DAY 
Proficiently and prolifically full of veracious views on enlightenment, child birth, and having to be every woman, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was a clandestine moment for not only Ms. Hill, but for the state of music. At the still impressionable age of 23 (OMG!), Hill was light years ahead of peers with her nonagenarian observations. Simultaneously, she knew how to be funny, supportive, when to let go, and how to hold back. Notables of this certified achievement are the gloriously exonerated “I Used to Love Him” with Mary J.; the tearyeyed “To Zion”; and societal matters versus informal studies of life in the ‘hood on the old school hip-hop/tribal adulterated “Everything is Everything”. Ms. Hill has had it rough in the media since the monumental success of this album, making herself a recluse of crazy genius proportions. When she’ll come back to the music with a sophomore effort, the world may never know, but what we do know is that L’Boogie was a 20-something wunderkind back in 1998. Amen. P.S. Sorry Drake; Ms. Hill has been successfully singing and rapping as a member of The Fugees since at least 1993. “I know you’ve been hurt...by someone else...” LAURYN’S AGE: 23 PERFECT AGE(S): 20-29
Lauryn Hill, THE MISEDUCATION OF LAURYN HILL 
Mya’s Fear of Flying was named in regards to the fear of moving forward with your dreams and away from negative energy, yet the record was seeped in sexual avidity and lessons in distrust. Mya always exhibited an unhinged approach to sex and love in contemporary R&B, and as the pop hit “Case of the Ex” stole the spotlight, this autobiographical disc epitomized the plateaus of adolescent trial and error; it’s the soundtrack for a well-written novel of the feminine, bildungsroman kind. Again, it’s most fascinating feature is its conversational take on sex, the accompanying reconsiderations after the fact, and the danger of repeating mistakes for fear of isolation and rejection. Motifs ranged from catching a cheater (“Lie Detector”); temptation (“Pussycats”, “The Best of Me”); and the pleasures of purposely planned make-up copulation (“That’s Why I Wanna Fight”). On Fear of Flying, Mya represents a sexually complicated, hard to please femme fatale that tries hard to stand her ground, but when her satisfaction is up for grabs or put into question, the results can be dramatic. MYA’S AGE: 21 PERFECT AGE(S): 21-25
Mya, FEAR OF FLYING 
Even the most boss of boss men enjoyed Cole’s empowerment jam “Let It Go” which says much of its appealing and simply realistic lyrics of letting go of someone that doesn’t appreciate you. As a part of Just Like You, said LP garnered an almost cult-like following amongst modern R&B fans, clinging to Cole’s every remembered juncture of her crushed heart (the rose-watered “I Remember”); tropical good riddance to a born again jerk (“I Shoulda Let You Go)”; and her head over heels relief about a newfound daydreamer (“Heaven Sent”). Just Like You was a great achievement for Cole that while the LA native can come across a bit brash in appearance, her gentle songs sung in her impressive chops proved that to the contrary, no matter where you’re from, we’ve all been down that same road of denial and glee. KEYSHIA’S AGE: 26 PERFECT AGE(S): 22-23
Keyshia Cole, JUST LIKE YOU 
Fabulous. Utterly fabulous is how to describe Melanie’s Fiona’s luxurious The MF Life with its very sophisticated outlook on seduction, emotional development, and final acquiescence to relationships that have run their course. Yours truly had this to say earlier in 2012 upon its release: “Indubitably, [it] expands on the themes of fanatical want, unintentional neglect, and heart-wrenching courtships. She’s a true blue soul singer with a fiery affect, as her [classy spirit] expertly distinguishes what she wants most out of life. Even her [composed] offerings distribute nothing below a sting, and every song typifies a melting candle dissolving into itself, most gorgeously heard on “4AM” and “I Been That Girl”. All a girl can believe is that nothing’s fair in love and war. Love with another and self-love are both disheveled and discovered when a part of The MF Life”. The best lyric Ms. Fiona sung out on this LP? “Who really fights on a Sunday?” MELANIE’S AGE: 29 PERFECT AGE(S): 25-29
Melanie Fiona, THE MF LIFE 
The Swedish electro-dance phenom that is Robyn came back to us stateside with her self-titled and brawny album Robyn that completely catechized the intentions and motives of the people in our lives that claim to seek for our well-being, yet all we have to show for it are arms folded and furrowed brows. Luxuriantly pop and with smart aleck lyrics to spare, Robyn is a pop art broad with a mob wives mindset. Tracks like the kiss-off “Bum Like You” and combative “Handle Me” showed a seasoned vet in playing the chess game of love and dating, but when she fell back because of a blow to the heart (“Be Mine!”); competition enmeshed in self-doubt and aversion (“Who’s That Girl”); and anguish (“Should Have Known”), yes, even Robyn had a soft side that didn’t appreciated being taken for granted. Robyn is like our best friend that’s the voice of reason, and when she talks, we listen. Her comeback in the American pop scene was a welcomed celebration towards helping us check off every bullet point that was standing in our way of content as compelling women with thoughts and aspirations of our own that needed to be respected. ROBYN’S AGE: 26-28 PERFECT AGE(S): 23-24
Robyn, ROBYN 
While the blueprint for Tragic Kingdom was the ending of Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal’s 7-year relationship, through the pain, Stefani suddenly became a pop-skilled songwriter with endless inspiration deriving from that heartbreak (“Don’t Speak”); emotional and individualized acquisition (“Spiderwebs”); and unexpectedly sarcastic reprisals (check out the giddy “Sunday Morning”). She may at one point felt like “Just a Girl” with lyrics sung in a curtly sweet tone such as “I opened up, you ignored me. Oh, you’re not the same at all, uh huh. And if I turned back the pages of time, I’ll re-write your point of view, uh huh”, Stefani’s vibrant soul had returned with a girly vengeance. Girl power? Yes, please. GWEN AGE: 26 PERFECT AGE(S): 20-22
No Doubt, TRAGIC KINGDOM 
It can be argued that My Life should have begun with the new jack swing encouragement of “Be Happy” on her 1994 time-honored LP. Much of My Life was a cry for help, but it had an “I’ll pick myself up off the ground torch” that discussed Mary J.’s battle with depression; abuse from substance, physical, and emotional landmines; and obtaining perseverance. Sung in a style that evoked the Broadway and bar singers of the ‘40s, or even more appropriately, The Great Depression, Blige displayed her sorrow in a way that touched millions. With trying to get by pointers like “You Gotta Believe” and love struck tunes like “Be With You” and the amazing “I’m Going Down” at 23 years of age, Mary J. had been through so much, she was singing in vain for all the young sistas out there tired of that hard knock life and just looking for a little common ground. Here’s to Mary, for getting through that blustery storm. We feel you. MARY’S AGE: 23 PERFECT AGE(S): 21-28
Mary J. Blige, MY LIFE 
For the tragicomic single “Rolling in the Deep” alone does Adele’s 21 deserve a spot on this list. Almost scarily descriptive in what occurs inside the mind when we begin to wonder about the dreadful catch-22 of doing what’s right for the mind but leaves your heart in pain, “Rolling in the Deep” became the quintessential song for every romantic event that can be conjured as the one that got away. The rest of21 also harkened to the time of officially, officially becoming of age (18 ain’t cutting it if you can’t drink!), and every song in its idyllic, bluesy-jazz composition soared for wisdom, soared for adulation like on “He Won’t Go”, “Someone Like You” and “I’ll Be Waiting”. After its release, Adele earned a spot in music idolatry, and has been cherished for her heavyhearted memories that remain amorous in hindsight. Sometimes being 21 isn’t all fun and games, there’s some heartache along the way; and at such a not quite ready for the world age, the experiences can be crazy, but dammit, we will survive. Adele is our Gloria Gaynor. ADELE’S AGE: 23 PERFECT AGE(S): 23-26
Adele, 21 
The albatross of Jagged Little Pill is what happens to the misery chick once she lets go of the grunge and learns to live and love again? Alanis’ antagonized magnum opus so largely defined her earthly existence that even when she is happy on her records, no one could get the girl that accused a former paramour of wanting to “wine, dine, 69 me, but didn’t hear a damn word I said” out of their closeted minds. Morrisette’s entry into college rock that hit the mainstream in her ferocious roar was a diary of overtly empirical thoughts on how every guy that did her wrong; every person didn’t treated her like (basically) an idiot; and society’s expectation of what a woman should or shouldn’t acquire. This was second wave feminism on some truthful acid. Vivaciously honest, Jagged Little Pill is a ‘90s landmark in the sub-genre of women’s music for keeping it sagaciously real because lessons learned means that scars do heal. ALANIS’ AGE: 21 PERFECT AGE: 20-29
Alanis Morrisette, JAGGED LITTLE PILL 
NEXT PEOPLE ON THE VERGE We all know that girls rule the world, and that includes the Fashion, Music and Media industries. Coco Chanel, Beyonce’, and Oprah have all been iconic game changers just to name a few, but you may not know about some of the new players that have hit the scene. Here are a few of our favorite ladies that will definitely be taking over the world in 2013 and beyond.
Blake Von D Starting off as just a creative little Spelmanite with a college girl’s budget, Blake Von D has taken being a fly on a budget to a whole new level. With her mantra “Fashion is Expensive, Style Is Not”, the fashion blogger/law student has caught the attention of Essence and Fashion Bomb Daily, not to mention VIBE Femme Fatale. Her site, BlakeVonD.com makes being a fashionista on a budget look effortless, and that’s why we love her.
Have you always been the fashionista/individual that you are now? What experiences in your background led you to have the stye that you have now?
No, I haven’t. My style has evolved a lot as I’ve grown more comfortable and confident with myself. Especially in college, I was really struggling with how I viewed myself in comparison to other women. It wasn’t until I graduated from college when I started feeling more comfortable with who I am and branching out. My style has definitely evolved over the years.
What made you want to start your site, BlakeVonD.com? I started in 2009 and it started off as just a fashion blog, it was initially a place for me to fit in. but over time I started to see that people really responded to my opinion about
things. Blake also talked to us about her project with Eden Body Works, celebrating “Family Beauty Days” in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where ladies can come out and meet with her to chat about everything from body, hair and skin care to of course, being amazing on a budget. This femme fatale might be in a city near you soon. —Taryn Edmondson @BlakeVonD www.blakevond.com
The Yes Ma’ams Take the sexiness of Vanity 6, the work ethic of Destiny’s Child, and the “we don’t give a f*ck” attitude of the Spice Girls and you get Atlanta based trio - The Yes Ma’ams. If you haven’t heard of them yet, get familiar with members, Privacy, Secret and Slander who dropped their teaser EP titled, Taste Test earlier this year. With their sky high heels and tracks that’ll have you lip-poking and hip rocking before you hit the club, we know these ladies are going to be making even bigger moves in the near future. How did The Yes Ma’ams get together? So many of the iconic girl groups we all know and love, grew up together. Have you all known each other since you were kids, or did you come together later in life? It feels like we’ve been together since we were kids, but me(Privacy) and Slander worked with each other at a local diner and we became friends. Slander and Secret met each other at a video shoot and they found out that they had the same interest in music and things like that. So we all got together and we’ve been inseparable ever since.
What do you feel is the signature “Yes Ma’ams” sound? Definitely, fun upbeat music. That will make people want to dance, and that people can relate to. Who are some of the artists and producers you would like to work with in the future? We’ve heard a lot of great things about different producers and writers and artists but we want to work with anybody that’s creative and has creative juices flowing. Are you working on any upcoming projects that you’d like the readers to know about? We’re working on our debut album, and of course more videos. We’re getting ready to take over the world. That’s our plan, to make everybody fall in love with The Yes Ma’ams. —Taryn Edmondson @TheYesMaams www.theyesmaams.com www.soundcloud.com/theyesmaams
Who were some of your biggest influences in the sound you have today as a group? And not just musically, but also in terms of fashion, sex appeal, etc. Prince and Vanity 6 are people we’ll heavily inspired by. The Spice Girls. TLC. The PussyCat Dolls. We’re inspired by a wide range of people, not just people in our genre. Even rappers like Rick Ross. We’re inspired by everything. We’re inspired by people that take chances and do what they want without limits.
Sonyae Elise After winning the first season of Bravo’s Platinum Hits, singer, rapper, and songwriter Sonyae Elise who also refers to herself and her music as Rebel, has been busy preparing to show the world all she has to offer. From getting signed to releasing two mixtapes, Ms. Elise is determined to be the next big thing and if you take a listen to just one song, you can understand why. Vocally talented as well as lyrically talented, this Jersey girl has been compared to some of the greats that have done it before.
What was your inspiration behind your winning song “My Religion”? “My Religion” comes from two places, my relationship and also a situation from someone close to me that was a heavily devoted Christian but became Muslim for the guy that she loved because he was Muslim. After Bravo’s show, did you have any inspiring moments after? Actually, I was just in the studio with Jill Scott and that shit was crazy because she is one of the top 10 people who have shaped and influenced my love for music and sound unconsciously. It was surreal because she was so cool, that I kind of forgot that I looked up to her so hard and she made it feel like she was the homie, everything was smooth and we were laughing. She’s charismatic and cool and it was so easy to work with her because she was talking about me like how I view her. ‘Like ohh you can sing your ass off and those lyrics were tight’, it was so genuine and easy that it was almost unreal that it was her.
Who do you most likely get compared to? I get a couple people in one pot but most of the time I hear the Lauryn (Hill) comparison because I sing and rap, Mary (J. Blige) because of the emotion, and Foxy (Brown) and (Lil) Kim because of my tone. Do you have any celebrity style inspiration? Nah yo; my styles all over the place. For style, Jersey influenced my style. I love a good pump and a good Doc Martin. Do you have a favorite accessory? My stripper pumps. If you could be remembered by anything at all? By my music and however it came out of me and why it came out of me for whatever reason, the fact that it can go on to heal someone else and let someone else know that you aren’t the only one going through it and realize it through the words I’m saying, that you can get through different things in life. What’s a quote you live by? “When all else fails rebel” “Love all, Hate none, Trust God” What are you working on right now? I’m working on my album. —Sharifa Daniels @SonyaeElise www.sonyaeelise.com
KiKi Ayers C.E.O., entertainment reporter, and model; Kiki Ayers has been making a name for herself since college. She has been a personal assistant to almost every major show, MTV awards, BET awards, Hip-Hop Awards, etc.; you name it, she has been apart of it.
What has been your most memorable experience? Working on the superbowl. I have done a lot of shows, but I never imagined I would be working the 2011 superbowl; it was a surreal experience. —Sharifa Daniels
Ayers’ not only is a personal assistant but runs her own online magazine www.theurbanfeedmag.com.
www.theurbanfeedmag.com www.facebook.com/KikiAyers @KikiAyers
What are you currently working on? I am working on my magazine (www. theurbanfeedmag.com) and I am also working on the production of a new television show with NBC set to premiere this month (August 2012).
Chardelle Moore Chardelle Moore is positioning herself to be a household name within the television world. Originally from Dominica, Moore is the multi-talented television host, award winning motivational speaker, and a community activist to say the least. She is the current host of CW’s DC Hot Spots and has been interviewing A-list, Grammy, and Golden Globe award winners.
What was your most memorable/ humbling experience? Meeting and speaking with Megan Good, she’s a beautiful person and very down-to-earth, humble, and godly.
Areeayl Goodwin Arreeayl Goodwin is the up and coming jewelry designer of Beads Byaree who has been making an impact in DC, Georgia, and New York. Starting her business on the campus of Howard University 2 years ago, she personally designs and crafts every piece of jewelry she makes.
Greatest acheivements so far? Having my jewelry in Alicia Key’s Broadway show StickFly and seeing the expansion of my business over the course of a few years. Who does all your jewelry? I recently taught my mother how to make my coin earrings but as far as the rest of my jewelry I do it all. I have a team but I still make every piece of
jewelry by hand. —Sharifa Daniels www.beadsbyaree.com/ www.facebook.com/BeadsByaree @BeadsByaree Instagram: @BeadsByaree
Check her out in our style section on pg 36.
What’s Up For You Next? I am going to be mentoring young girls, still working on DC Hot Spots, and working towards getting my own show. —Sharifa Daniels www.facebook.com/chardellemoore
chubb e swagg picture
DJ Chubb E. Swagg
knows a thing or two about how to start a party. Williams, known more comfortably as DJ Chubb E. Swagg, boasts an extensive resume spanning from being Howard University’s go-to event DJ (think Howard Homecoming and celebrity concerts) to his current job as the official tour DJ for Nipsey Hussle. But with every good party comes an even better wind down. The L.A. native slows it down a little and opens up to Stacy-Ann Ellis about love, lust and the stuff in between over some of his favorite mood-setting songs.
+ “A Night Off” by Drake ft. Lloyd (2009) DJ Chubb E. Swagg: Wraps her hair at night. Which means that she’s black. No offense to other women, I’ve just always liked black women. Eh, I went through a period where I liked white women for two years of my life, a solid ass two years where I was like, “Man, I really want me a milk white goddess.” After that I was like yup, I was wrong the whole time. I’ve always liked black women.
Either between taking her out to a really nice dinner for Valentine’s Day or taking her to a ferry ride out of state. We went to Southeast and floated into Virginia or something like that. One of those things: dinner on water, everything was taken care of. It was nice. You can’t let ‘em catch you slipping. If I find the right one, she’ll be taken care of. You know when a man findeth a good woman, he findeth a good thing. It’s in the Bible.
+“Pony” by Ginuwine (1996) What I’ve been dating for the past 22 years. Honestly. I’ve never had good luck with women, as far as relationships go. Hopefully my luck gets a little better, but I’m not in any rush.
Her mind isn’t open. Without an open mind, it’s hard to understand. Understanding first, then execution afterwards. If you don’t understand, then what makes you think you’re apt to hold down the situation?
+ “One in a Million” by Aaliyah (1996) Probably myself. I’ve tried to talk to this girl, but I wasn’t altogether with myself yet. I could’ve come more correct and been more diligent. I dropped the ball. I mean, I was probably shooting a shot at a gym I wasn’t supposed to be in, but I could’ve looked like a basketball player rather than… I liked her a lot and we were friends, but I thought it was going this way, it went that way.
You can be in the same room with someone, not say anything and your heart still beats fast.
FACE-OFF From the eyes of both sexes
Common: The Light Tupac: Dear Mama LL Cool J: I Need Love Method Man and Mary J.: Your all I Need Nas: Daughters Nas: Roses Fabolous ft. Neyo: Make me Better Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell: Beautiful Talib Kweli: Black Girl Pain KRS One: Womanology Webbie: Independent Wale: Independent Common: I Want You
Romantic S lang for dummies
The Soft Side of a Man
The idea of a man being manly is expected, but also appreciated. When you can get to the point of a relationship where your man does open up, it means more and is much more respected. The point when the alpha male can open up about his feelings towards his lady and life is one of the greatest accomplishments that anyone can get from a man. However, when he opens up, his ability to still be respected and seen as the muscle and “hard one” in the relationship is what is truly beautiful. Every man has a sensitive side. For some it’s just harder to find, yet when those men love and express and show their love, it’s something special. Here’s a list of songs that express the softer side of a man.
a word used by Philly natives to describe anything and everything. It can mean anything from a fine girl, to a place. It basically means “thing”. Used as a noun. If you are going to get laid you are going get some leg. It is also another term for a woman.
noun. Affectionate term for a girlfriend or attractive female. noun. Lover or significant other.
Jadakiss: U Make me Wanna A Tribe Called Quest: Bonita Applebum Jay Z: Glory Ghostface ft. Mary J: All That I Got is You Kanye West: Mama Mr. Cheeks: Renee 50 Cent: All of Me Fat Joe: Bendicion Mami The Roots: You Got Me Wyclef: Sweetest Girl Blackstar: Brown Skin Lady Lupe Fiasco: Bad Bitch
When two people are not exclusive with each other nor have established what they are as a couple, but have some sort of relationship. The act of wanting someone or something more than is necessary. her.
AKA Boo loving. To tie one down in hopes nobody can claim him/
Men say, ‘we don’t love these hoes.’ To women, men ain’t sh*t. In the romantic feud between man and woman, it’s hard to find middle ground, but what the two parties can agree on is that relationships are a tricky business. And sometimes we need a little tutoring on the subject. Luckily for us, relationships writers NC-17 and Demetria Lucas have got us covered. Choosing only to be referred to by his college-conceived moniker, NC-17 is the pen behind the tellit-like-it-is blog, Black Girls Are Easy. You’ll be hard pressed to find a woman who hasn’t read his entries and let out a “Yes!” “Preach!” or the all too familiar sound of a sick and tired woman, “Mmmm,” followed by the shaking of their heads. His blog, designed with the intention of helping people remove their rose colored glasses and realize the mistakes they make when it comes to the opposite gender, is the prelude to the forthcoming book and VH1 television show which will run under the same name. Demetria Lucas could be considered an idol in the world of relationship blogs. When she’s not doing public speaking, running her life-coach company Coached by Belle, and contributing to TheRoot. com, Clutch, and Essence, she’s pushing her blog-turned-book (soon to be turned TV series), A Belle in Brooklyn. Her dissatisfaction with available reading content on the web sparked her interest to chronicle her dating woes and wins and provide tips for love hopefuls along the way. She hopes that her writing shows readers what a confident, educated, ambitious, successful black woman in the relationship world looks like. Let’s hear from the experts as they address a few pressing questions.
D: Yes, but it depends on the relationship you have beforehand and what the expectations were. If you were having sex with someone to get them to like you or to pursue a relationship, then you think it’s going to go somewhere and it doesn’t, it makes it really hard because you set up a weird expectation. If you want to have sex because it feels good and you’re not expecting anything out of it, then the relationship doesn’t have to change. NC: I think you can remain friends but don’t give it more than 48 hours to talk about the elephant in the room. After you have sex, you have to be like, we did this, this is what it was, and let’s communicate what we think about it. Either it was just sex and let’s stay friends, I’d like to have sex again, let’s take it that route or it was just a mistake. If two people are honest with each other, that friendship can continue, but most people are afraid to talk to each other one on one. They’d rather send emails, tell other people, text it, subtweet it. No one’s wants to be up front and say look, this is how I feel. I really liked you, that’s why I had sex with you. They just wait for the other person to make the move, the other person is waiting for that person to make a move, so you’ve got two people sitting off to the side saying, I’m waiting for that person to tell me what’s going on. But when you do that, weeks pass, you don’t know how they feel about you. It seems like oh, they just wanted me for sex. Then the friendship’s over. So as long as you communicate 48 hours after the sexual contact, I think you can work it out and decide if it’s going to be a friendship or was it just physical or nothing at all.
NC: An open relationship should close as soon as it becomes less about sex and more about being emotionally attached to a person. When you analyze your relationship and you find yourself just wanting to sit around that person and hang out and talk and explain things and talk about your life, then it’s moving towards a relationship where it shouldn’t be just having a physical relationship. You guys should start to close the whole chapter because you’re getting dangerously too deeply involved into this relationship. Not a lot of people can handle having a sexual relationship with somebody for months, maybe even a year, without becoming emotionally attached. When you pick up the phone and you’re like, who should I call to talk about the biggest problem in my day and it’s that person, it’s time to close the relationship because it’s already gotten too far. D: I think that’s a conversation between the couple. There’s no particular timeline and circumstance. If you agree to be in an open relationship, you’re going to date other people. I don’t necessarily consider it an open relationship, I call it dating. Close it when they’re actually ready to commit and just be one on one. If monogamy is not their thing, then they shouldn’t try to do it just to please other people. They should do what works for their relationship. But I don’t believe in open relationships. If I’m in a relationship with you then I’m in one. And if we’re just dating then I’m free to do what I want, as are you. So be it.
D: I think thirsty is being desperate and throwing yourself at someone who is obviously not receptive and you’re trying to convince them to like you. I don’t believe in doing that. Proactive is letting someone know that you are friendly and interested and available. I’m not a fan of asking guys out, but I am a fan of women introducing themselves and paying the compliments and striking up a conversation; those who are getting in the line of fire so the guy actually acknowledges her. This idea that if you want to be in a relationship you should just sit by patiently and twiddle your thumbs is the only time you ever give women or anyone that advice. People go after their careers, go after their dreams, go after their schooling and everything else, but when it comes to relationships, you just sit patiently and wait. And frankly it’s kind of dumb. The women who get into relationships, they actually are
proactive. They go out and they meet people and they build strong friendships and relationships and work from there. The girl who is patiently waiting tends to be patiently waiting for a very long time and then sort of stumbles upon somebody. And that can work, but I don’t know many women who want to sit around waiting for years.
NC: Opinion. I hate thirsty and this whole thirsty movement. If you like a person, you like a person. How you go about it can be extreme. We used to call it being a stalker, when you’re following me, on my Facebook page, all this other stuff. That’s being thirsty, that’s being a stalker, that’s going overboard. If you simply see a person, think they’re attractive, what do you do? I’m going to go over there and talk to him as a woman and see what he thinks of me. That’s not being thirsty, that’s being a woman who knows what she wants, is proactive, and is going to try to get her man. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’d rather a girl be labeled thirsty and walk over and say my name is to a guy she likes than to sit back and wait for him to pay attention to her, he never does, she goes home and says what’s wrong with me. Why didn’t he look my direction? Who know why they didn’t look in your direction. You didn’t stand out, maybe he’s shy. There are all kinds of things and standards where not every guy is going to go after the girl he likes. Men are just as shy as women. So there’s no way you can be like, oh he’s going to think I’m thirsty. He’s going to think I want to have sex with him. He’s going to say oh, this is an attractive woman coming over here asking my name, I’m going to talk to her. How the conversation goes is going to determine whether he thinks she’s thirsty or out for sex or just a really nice girl who he’s lucky that came over and said hi. So it’s all in the conversation but the neat approach, a woman shouldn’t be afraid to be proactive.
NC: There was a girl who likes me a lot, we worked together. She never said much to me, she would smile, this and that, and then I found her on Facebook and sent her a message like hey, we should hang out or something. And she sent me this long message back like oh my gosh, you want to really hang out with me? She was just being extra and poured her heart out into this Facebook message. I really liked you but you never really said anything to me, I didn’t know what to say to you. That was so random and awkward but you sensed it too. She had this whole other realm in her head about me and her that I never even really thought about. I don’t think women realize how much guys like them. If he doesn’t ask me out automatically or make a comment about how I look, he’s not interested, which is the furthest thing from the truth. Men don’t want to seem thirsty if anything, so they play it cool and like to take control of their environment when they ask a girl out, so sometimes it may take a while to ask a girl out. You can’t think he doesn’t like you just because…And the girl who sent me the message on Facebook, we didn’t even end up hanging out because she weirded me out with that. Really? You weren’t woman enough to say anything and now you’re talking all this crazy shit through a message? I just gave you my number, you could’ve called me or texted me. It was just weird. I didn’t think she was being a grown woman. She was acting like a little girl, and that kind of turned me off. That’s a lesson to be learned for any woman out there who wants to keep their mouth closed. Speak up and initiate. D: In my book I talk about how I saw this guy at the club. I thought he was gorgeous, so I pointed at him and I crooked my finger telling him to come here, and he did. We had a great conversation and we started hanging out a little bit from there. It’s a crazy story. I learned that if you’re smiling and attractive and friendly, that if you talk to guys and chap them up just a little bit, then they’re very receptive to it. That’s always been my philosophy and it’s worked out pretty well dating wise. Also, I counsel so many young women and I find that they’re so focused and they want to accomplish everything now. They wonder, “What’s wrong with me that I have this degree, I’m sitting in a cubicle and don’t have a corner office and I don’t have a nice apartment and the car and the husband and all that.” It comes in time. There’s no set age to be grown and you’re only 20-25. The world really can be your oyster and you can really just enjoy it and have fun. We need to stop trying to hit all these benchmarks that we set in our heads. Start living and having great experiences and building bit by bit as you prepare for your future. You don’t want to look back at that time in your life where you’re like, I was so focused and so serious. You want to have a great memory.
ersonally, in my everyday life I don’t spend time thinking about the social construction of gender, but it is quite easy for one to turn a blind eye on the reality of the society in which we live in. What it means to say that gender is socially constructed is saying that as a society, we have chosen to live by the “norms” developed from the beginning of time for men and women. The construction starts right from birth. Think about the colors chosen for babies- pink for girls, blue for boys. Or how about your favorite commercial when you were a child, feminine commercials promote; style, beauty and domestic skills; i.e Barbie’s, and play kitchen sets. Whilst masculine toys encourage competition/ challenge, strength, & power, think toy cars, action figures, Lego’s and transformers. Is the picture becoming clearer? The truth is that these roles have been commonly accepted in society. Women are dealing with the struggle of either leading a life that is pre-envisioned for them by society or creating their own path. It is important to see that gender is socially constructed because it allows one to see why society reacts the way they do when a woman decides to enter a field that is male dominated. When one gender over steps the boundary and decides to go against the norm, it opens a gateway for controversy. What makes a man’s decision more solid than a woman’s? Often time’s, women in the corporate world find that their suggestions and opinions go unnoticed only to be overshadowed by that of a man that presents an identical idea. This is where power comes into play. When we were hunters and gatherers it was the men that hunted animals and faced all of the danger, therefore possessing the power and physical skills to overpower women. Unfortunately, to this very day, men, in general, still hold that same power in public places. Men are bigger and stronger, so it gives the illusion that if you place a well-suited man in the same office as a woman, the man will appear wiser. Today more women are taking a stance and going against the grain. Women are not completely abandoning their roles, but they are joining men as their equals. You can now find women dominating in areas like politics, sports and the task force. Unfortunately, women will continue to be criticized as we defy the odds of societal standards. The key is to continue excelling and taking necessary steps towards convincing the world that we are capable of bridging the gap of inequality between men and women. We must go beyond our limitations and take the well-deserved power that we are capable of receiving. --Ejiro Enaohwo
The Social Construction of Gender:
Anything You Can Do,
We Can Do
YEEZY TAUGHT ME. The 2012 woman is a lot different from the one in the 1950s. We hustle hard, we talk shit and we do everything that the boys do, making sure we always remain the top dog. Behind every great man stands a great woman, and is the subtle, yet driving female force behind two great men on Power 105.1â€™s number one rated morning show The Breakfast Club. While sex is usually the topic of this colorful trioâ€™s a.m. roundtable, Angie makes sure to show us how to walk the fine line between being considered a sex symbol, without exploiting herself.
WORDS BY JAZMINE HENLEY-BROWN
There’s nothing wrong with giving a little bit of direction to a guy, you just have to do it in a sexy way.
Imagine watching a scene from America’s Next Top Model. Tyra gives them a theme for their photo shoot and the models then enter with hair, make-up and wardrobe, all on the very set of their shoot location. Today could have very well passed as a clip from the popular television show. Radio personality Angela Yee is gearing up to be photographed for My Girlfriend’s Closet Boutique, an online store ran by her good friend from high school. They try out a few outfits, including a one-piece short jumpsuit that is very form fitting. Angela steps out of the fitting room, visibly uncomfortable, and after catching a glimpse of herself, she decides to opt for a flowy, green gown. Still beautiful, but much toned down from the romper that she just adorned. You’d assume that a woman who hosted a show called “Lip Service” and gives sex advice weekly on “Ask Yee” wouldn’t mind showing off ample skin and curves, yet, she insists that the sexual nature of her conversations on-air is just her giving advice to listeners. On one segment of “Ask Yee,” Ang was put in a position to give advice to a listener who, for years, had failed to reach an orgasm with her boyfriend. Angela told her: “Stop faking. If he can’t do it for you, you have to do it for yourself in the middle of sex and that might teach him how to do it. There’s nothing wrong with giving a little bit of direction to a guy, you just have to do it in a sexy way. Let them know what you like, as opposed to “I don’t like that”, just be like “oh I love it when you do this.” She goes on to say: “I’ve faked it. I don’t know a woman alive who hasn’t. 25% of women have always done it.” Being on a show with Charlamange Tha God is bound to lean more towards the sexual realm. With his brash, no holds barred personality, one would think that it could become a hostile environment, seeing as though 1/3 of this all star team is a woman. However, Yee insists that she’s never felt offended by anything that he says.
“I think his role right now on the show is a lot more dominant than it’s ever been anywhere else. He might be more intimidating to somebody else, but it’s really hard for me to get offended. I just disagree with a lot of things that he says, like polygamy should be legalized, I always tell him, you can’t even handle your one woman so how dare you think that you can handle more than that?”
Angela’s first job was working with Wu-Tang. Before she got to The Breakfast Club, she was at Sirius, where she was also the only woman. She’s used to being the only lioness in a room full of men, and she often tells younger female admirers, “Sometimes you have to be like a boy.” Being pro-female, Yee has made it a point to relate to her female fan base. She even goes as far as to being the face of many women-related products like Belvedere Vodka and Miss Jessie’s hair care products. We’d like to think that she gets approached by these companies because she does so well on the radio, but being attractive has a lot to do with it. Yet, she believes that being beautiful is only a small percentage of her being so in demand. “I think people like me because I’m very reliable. I’m pretty easy to work with, and I keep my word. When you have a great rep in this business, and a lot of people don’t, that gives you a lot of options. I’m not horrible looking either [laughs] but you can’t get far if you don’t have those basic things.” The term “sex sells” does ring true, especially in the music and entertainment industry, but Angela Yee continues to school us on the things that are more important when it comes to getting ahead. Her schedule remains full, and The Breakfast Club only begins to touch the surface of what this blasian beauty has up her sleeve. Television production, and many more behind the scenes endeavors are just around the corner, and while the majority of women consciously use their sexuality to get head, our cover girl opts to use her sisterly vibe and intelligence to propel her career. “Beauty is only skin deep and it’ll only get you so far.”
BAD GIRLS DO IT WELL The vixens behind the Femme Fatale Issue step out in accessories made by Areeayl Goodwin, creator of Beads Byaree. Photographer: Stacy-Ann Ellis
*All items available at w w w. b e a d s bya r e e .c o m
Biz and Beauty Spotlight: Lisa Price, Carol’s Daughter
Finding perfect hair and skin products can be difficult. When you’ve tried everything and nothing works, why not create your own? That’s what entrepreneur, Lisa Price did. Lisa Price began concocting beauty products in the 80s while working on the set of The Cosby Show. She sold her products at flea markets, and out of her house. As her brand expanded in the early 90s, she searched for the perfect name. “When I was thinking of a name for my company, I brainstormed by making a list of what I was and of a list of things that I wanted to become. And one of the things that I was was Carol’s Daughter. It just gave me little goosebumps and I knew that was the name,” Price candidly expresses in a YouTube video. Price cited her mother as her source for inspiration and clarity. “As I was growing the business, I would sometimes feel overwhelmed. But my mother taught me to smile through adversity, to know that I wouldn’t be given the job if I couldn’t do it. It’s appropriate that the company is named after her,” explained Price in an advice column with the Daily Beast. After years of being in business, her mother jokes: “Have you made enough money for me to sue you for using my name?” In 1993, Price created a mail-order and online business which led to her grand opening of a store in Brooklyn in 1999. The mission of the company is “to fulfill the beauty needs of the diversity of skins that make up the tapestry of our world by creating high-quality hair, body, and skin care products, made with natural ingredients.” A major catalyst in the expansion of Carol’s Daughter was record executive, Steve Stoute. Steve Stoute gathered investors such as Will Smith, Jay-Z, Andrew Farkas, Jimmy Lovine, and Tommy Mottola to generate a $10 million dollar deal with the company to make it a national brand. “I had seen the product and I thought it was a new category that could be introduced. Our voice should be able to control and manage it for the marketplace,” explained Stoute in an interview with the New York Post. Beauty ambassadors Jada Pinkett-Smith and Mary J Blige were the first faces of the brand. Since the launch, Solange Knowles, Cassie, Mary J. Blige, and Selita Ebanks have graced the ads of Carol’s Daughter. Part of being a successful brand is adapting to technology and listening to consumer needs. Facebook and Twitter have been pivotal in the success of Carol’s Daughter. “What I love about it is that instant gratification that I can have an idea in a meeting and want to know what will people think about it and you can go on Facebook and say ‘hey would any of you be interested in a lotion that did this or a shampoo that did that’ and you can get instantly answers to that question and know if you should even go down that path.” “One of the most important lessons that I learned during the days of the flea market was how critical it is to listen to the customer and give her what she wants,” says Price. She’s doing just that with a variety of products specializing in hair, body, bath, and skincare products. Carol’s Daughter’s flagship store is located in Harlem, New York. The beauty brand is also available in larger markets such as Macy’s and Sephora. Visit her website at www.carolsdaughter.com. --Ashley N. Jeter
“If I wasn’t into you,
I’d probably date yo shoes”
It’s common to associate sneakers with the fly men in our life but recently, our favorite tennis shoes have been given a very feminine facelift. From Teyana Taylor, to Rihanna & Rita Ora, even down to Kim Kardashian, sneakers have made their way into the hearts of glam girls. We’re sure music editor JFK and associate music editor Mikey can appreciate a bad chick in some retro kicks. Check out our favorites:
Charlotte Bobcats Hometown: Somerdale, NJ Height 6’7 Weight 232lbs
Sacremento Kings Hometown: Washington, D.C. Height 6’10 Weight 237lbs
Cleveland Cavaliers Hometown: Savannah, GA Height 6’10 Weight 240lbs
Cincinnati Bengals Hometown: Camden, NJ Height 6’5 Weight 305lbs
Arnett Moultrie Miami Heat Hometown: Memphis, TN Height 6’11 Weight 240lbs
BJ Cunningham Miami Dolphins Hometown: Westerville, OH Height 6’2 Weight 215lbst
Milwaukee Bucks Hometown: Tampa, FL Height 6’11 Weight 220lbs
Philadelphia Eagles Hometown: Neptune, NJ Height 6’3 Weight 266lbs.
Washington Wizards Hometown: St. Louis, MO Height 6’3 Weight 207lbs
Dallas Cowboys Hometown: Shreveport, LA Height 6’0 Weight 185lbs
TOP 10 CUTEST ROOKIES TO ROOT FOR
The ‘hood nail salon
As any beauty maven knows, nail art continues to be all the rage for even the most tomboy of tomboys. From downtown homegirls to uptown socialites, manicurists are finally getting the recognition they’ve longed craved for their handiwork. It’s not easy re-creating your favorite cartoon character on such a small space as a fingernail, and neither are plastering those velvet and caviar decals that just scream gaudy luxe. While DIY nail art supplies can now be found at any drugstore or Sephora, the nail salons of the ‘hood have always been a sanctuary for the mani/pedi obsessed right on their home-front. A borderline fundamental aspect of your local run-around in the neighborhood, getting your nails done was a big deal back in the day, with talons intimidatingly lengthy, illustrated scenic designs of palm trees and beaches (classic), or solid color supremely applied as celebs of the ‘90s like SWV rocked them thangs like weapons of mass glamour. Today, it’s Rihanna, Katy Perry and Lana Del Rey leading the pack with stiletto tips and super fun doodles. The ‘hood nail salon has also been a comical addendum to a many a skit and slapstick/blue comedy productions, like the scene of *NSYNC’s Joey Fatone’s Cousin Angelo interrogating Cousin Nikki about her numerous trips to the beauty parlor in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. In even the roughest of towns, the nail salon is a little paradise of relaxation and tranquility where well-deserved pampering is in order for the housewife and the working mom. While men may not always understand our seemingly undying love for vampy black nail polish or our desire to have fishnet topcoats, the beauty connoisseur always appreciated the mastery of this underrated art form. Similar to makeup artists but more so undervalued, nail technicians are the unsung stars of a completed, put together ensemble. To all the artists out there that buff, file, clip, and polish for the simple sake of actualizing ingenuity at our fingertips, for those of you especially in the ‘hood, we salute you.
—Carmen Shardae Jobson
Our Cover Girl Angela Yee hasn’t always been the BMW driving, Louis bag toting beauty that keeps her boys in check on the Breakfast Club. She once worked at Struggles-R-Us, like we do now. Dropping gems is second nature to our girl, and here, she gives interns a few words of encouragement when the road seems tough. --Jazmine Henley-Brown
I was broke for a long time, all of us were, but it was some of the best years of my life. It’s great while you’re living it because you get very creative with ideas, and you also have people around you who are also broke. There would be weeks when I would be like “Ok, I have $10, I have to manage to eat, get to work and do any type of recreational activities.” I would say that you’re very fortunate if you’re doing what you love. I would rather not make a lot of money and do something that I enjoy, than make all the money in the world and hate my life.