Lauren’s VIRTUE

When you’re a creative it’s always good to have multiple creative skills. This is exactly what the multi talented Lauren Thomas has done with her life. She’s an artist of multiple mediums, a model, and a photographer. Her most recent endeavour has been the creation of her own magazine – a concept that began as a project for one of her classes initially but blossomed into a whole thing. I hit her up to discuss the magazine, her other creative pursuits and how she balances it all.

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As I previously stated, Lauren is a renaissance woman in her own right. She’s got pieces in the worlds of photography, illustration, and painting but says “I’d honestly have to choose photography as my favorite. Photography for me has such a strong impact for me (personally), and it’s the way that I can fully express myself as an artist. It’s also my favorite way to express what I want through my work. The process is also EXTREMELY rewarding. After all the setting up, picking compositions and angles, editing, etc, I always feel so proud of what comes out and what I’ve done. I’m the happiest doing it.” This love for photography is perhaps the most important aspect of the magazine as it is a very visual based experience for the reader. Lauren stated that the photoshoot for the magazine has actually been her favorite so far as it was “huge”. “Being able to photograph so many Black people at a time in so many different fits they put together themselves was a really fun experience.” It’s always worth celebrating when someone can excel behind the camera as well as in front of it and then is exactly what Lauren does. 

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Denver Dukes – photographed by Lauren.

In the Cinematic Universe of Black Creatives you’re bound to come across a few magazines. These magazines no matter how they’re executed often carry at least one shared theme: Black Excellence. Lauren’s magazine VIRTUE is no different and the name has a purpose much larger than it sounding cool. First, “virtue is defined as “behavior showing high moral standards”. She chose to title the magazine this “because VIRTUE’s focus is on the black (American) community, I thought it would be fitting. We as Black people are always considered to be making the wrong decisions whether that be through what we do, or the things we decide to wear, just because it’s different. My goal is to show that our culture is not the bottom of the barrel, and that it is in fact extremely beautiful.” It’s always a win for us when we are able to grace the cover of these multi million magazine corporations. And it’s even better when the cover story is done by a black journalist too. But when we literally create the magazine ourselves and showcase ourselves there’s nor room for an L. The magazine itself originally was actually a project Lauren had to do for her Photography Final (Exam). She described the process as “Very very stressful. but the best kind of stressful.” The process involved the “designing and editing that has to go into it, along with making sure the copies come out correctly as well as selecting the “names and photo ideas to actually designing the cover, layouts, and getting it officially made.” Since it was so involved she has decided to continue creating future issues on a regular basis. Out of all her projects this has been her most involved so far and in her eyes her most rewarding too. 

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Our Blackness is the focus of VIRTUE.

Like most black creatives Lauren takes her creative expression into everything she does including her clothes. If you follow her on Instagram you’re going to see her Outfit of the Day on her Story pretty much everyday. And these outfits are never just house clothes. She says her style has gone from “sporty, to super colorful, to wearing whatever I want to, but now I feel like it’s a very specific style that I can’t really name. Simple, but also not? I’m super into New York fashion…” She also cites her main fashion inspirations as “@koleendz and @wuzg00d on Instagram, Virgil Abloh, and my boyfriend who’s grown up in New York and is also extremely into fashion.” However, she has other inspirations when it comes to her work specifically and while it may seem unconventional to some, in the world of art it is practically commonplace. “My inspiration can come from absolutely ANYTHING. I can look at a box of cereal long enough and come up with a huge project idea that may OR may not have anything to do with the cereal. The idea can just come from the color scheme of the box.” 

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Pages from VIRTUE.

Having multiple creative lanes means having multiple obligations.This also comes with having multiple clients and some understand the concept that they are not the only client much better than others. Plus – as an artist she has projects she just wants to do for her own personal enjoyment too and as a student she has assignments that have a due date too. But – she manages to handle it all! “A lot of the time, I manage to fit my ideas within the project assignments (make things happen no matter what) just so I still have fun and do what I want while also having time for commissions. Now that I have the magazine to manage though, my regular commissions are closed until I get a really good grasp on things” Despite all this she is still open to collaborations though! 

Lauren has a diverse music palette naturally and says “I never have just one set person or two, but the people I listen to at the moment are Ari Lennox, Lucky Daye, Frank Ocean, Tyler the Creator, Summer Walker, Megan Thee Stallion, and DaBaby.” She also hopes to create a piece for Frank Ocean one day. With the type of talent she has it’s only a matter of time. 

Lauren says her number one goal as an artist is “…to be known for what I do. Not necessarily a celebrity, but just to be well known. I want to be a black female artist whose work shows up on huge banners and becomes an inspiration to the black community. I want to have the ability to create opportunities for other Black artists that don’t get the spotlight they deserve. I just want people to see that black girls got the juice too.”

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VIRTUEous Skies.

You can see all of Lauren’s art on her Instagram @yell.l0 and order your own copy of VIRTUE here right NOW! You can also follow the Instagram for the magazine: @virtuemagazinenow 

 

When I Get Home: A Discussion About Black Art

This article was a collaborative piece by Paul Barnes and Amani Allen-Beale

When I Get Home does not follow the traditional structure of an album. There are six interludes with most of them being under 30 seconds. The longest song on the album is 3:56 which is an average length for most conventional songs – but this project is not not built on the average or the normal in the slightest. Many people feel that the album flows like a series of demos and I can agree with this but I also have no issue with it. Short songs come in, do what they were designed to do, and leave. The repeat button is there for a reason. The longer songs have beat switches/transitions that flow seamlessly and give the song life as it creates a new experience for the listener in real time whether they are ready or not.

As Solange said herself in the conversation she had at the premier of the album’s short film:

“Obviously with A Seat at the Table I had so much to say,” she said. “With this album I had so much to feel. Words would have been reductive to what I needed to feel and express. It’s in the sonics for me.”

If I was forced to put a genre label on When I Get Home, I’d call it Intergalactic Soul Hop. There are songs you can dance to, songs you can rap with, songs you can fall asleep to – and transitions that are so perfect you have to run them back at least twice to hear how smooth they are. Let’s discuss the latter first. On the closing moments of “Jerrod” as Solange’s vocals dance around the bassline that transitions into the horn/synth melody that fuels “Binz”. It’s a moment where the instrumentation and subject matter are linked so perfectly it’s as if they are actually one song. “Exit Scott” which features a sample of Steve Lacy’s beautiful track “4ever” drops out right as it’s peaking to lead into Pharrell’s trademark four count to begin “Sound of Rain”. It’s a wonderful moment near the end of the album when we see how the top of a crescendo always yields exceptional results.

My personal favorite track on the album is the aforementioned “Sound of Rain” as it captures all the best elements of the album into one single track: an otherworldly melody, the perfect amount of bounce, layered and blended vocals and it just sounds good. And of course the beat switch! Another favorite is “Beltway” and while it is short and repetitive it’s the perfect song to fall asleep to. It’s like setting a ship on cruise control in space and just floating along as the stars dance around you. Then as the synths expand as the track closes there’s a subtle cash register noise that pops in just to give the track a sprinkle of extra uniqueness. Now I’d be remissed if I didn’t discuss standout tracks like “Almeda ” and “Binz ” the latter of which we touched on earlier. We all knew Carti was gonna be on the album prior to it releasing but I don’t think any of us expected him to come in how he did on “Almeda”. Solange already gave us an anthem with her list of all things black and then Carti (preceded by The Dream) floats in with his unmistakable baby voice flow and coasts all over the beat as his ad libs bounce all over the stuttering drums. It’s a moment that worked perfectly and gave us “Binz” is probably the most fun (and easiest) track on the project to sing along with and that’s how you know you’ve got a hit. Basically every line in the song is quotable and the hook by The Dream (not Kali Uchis as many people thought on the initial listen) is the perfect moment in between Solange’s verses.

Imagine dropping the bar “I didn’t want to sock her she had Gucci on her cleats’ ‘ as Gucci Mane himself ad libs for you and then proceeds to drop a verse. Then to have Tyler, The Creator come in with a refrain to close out the same song? A blending of worlds we never imagined we’d get but Soalnge gave it to us and it worked – again. “My Skin My Logo” is yet another fantastic track with surprise moments and the ever present beat switch that fits right into the black excellence and auditory bliss this album oozes.

Interludes on albums can serve several purposes: they can be instrumental portions or voicemails that signal a shift of the direction of the album. Or, they can be comedic skits with voices we know and love – or hate. In the case of When I Get Home they serve as a segue between tracks that provide beautiful transitions or signal a shift in tone. And they’re unique in their own way as expected. “Can I Hold The Mic” uses the same technique as the opening track on the album as Solange’s voice is in perfect synchronization with the keys while “Nothing Without Intention” gives us a small glimpse of the atmosphere we’ll be getting on “Almeda” while also giving us a mantra we can all live by. It’s as if these interludes are brief glimpses in Solange’s mind as we pass through the full experience that this album is.

When I Get Home takes us on an auditory journey through space, the south, Solange’s journal and her mind. It’s so many layers and sounds throughout the album that you’ll probably hear a new sound each time you listen to it. It’s an album with quotables and songs you can dance to or lay down and look a the stars while you listen. It’s an album that once you’ve finished listening it wasn’t just something you heard – it’s something you experienced.

After letting the album marinate with us for a few months, Solo has recently wrapped up her tour for When I Get Home. Not only did the tour remind us of the amazing sounds and rhythms, but it wasn’t an ordinary tour. Sure, Solange went to multiple venues and performed her sophomore album in front of thousands, but what made this tour stand out immensely was the visuals, the choreography, and the location of her venues.

Staying true to her aesthetic, Solange’s stage design was very artistic and minimal with a splash of elegance. With a live band behind her and her remarkable backup singers, the performance is also topped off with a staircase full of young Black dancers.

Now when When I Get Home dropped, it paid a lot of homage to Solange’s hometown of Houston, Texas — from the videos to the slowed and reverbed mixes on songs like “My Skin My Logo” and “I’m A Witness”; which Texas is known for. So I’m short, the tone of this album was very Black and Solo made sure to keep the flow going into her performances. Teaming up with different art venues and museums, Solange began to bring Black art in white spaces in a very unique way. While some may argue this isn’t notable, seeing Black art in this setting directly in the face of wealthy white people is exactly where the art industry is currently going. As you can see from Twitter user @NicoKartel, Solange is doing just that. What makes Solo’s movement so intriguing to watch? Well, she’s very unapologetic about her Blackness and where she grew up. Giving us Black southern realness in the face of white critics is something everyone wants to watch.

The 90s, Art and Nostalgia: An Interview With Christian Dior

I think we can all agree that our childhoods were the best part of our lives. And, for many of us one of the largest parts of our childhood were the cartoons we watched. These characters were ones we grew up with and when we see them now the nostalgia comes flooding back. Enter artist Christian Dior who takes these characters we all know and love and puts his own spin on them that is equally as recognizable as the character themselves.

Christian’s beginnings in art holds a special place in his heart as it has a direct connection to his family. “I believe that it was my father who first got me into art. When he was locked up, he use to sketch different superheroes and villains in a composition notebook that he kept. I guess that sparked my interest into the art world and then from then my father taught my brother how to draw then my brother taught me.” In addition to this, he’s also been an entrepreneur since middle school. Along with his brother, they had a business called Fresh 2 Death Customs in which they customized shoes and clothing. He also expanded this to the digital front long before it was commonplace, designing people’s MySpace profiles and profile pictures. Later after this Christian had a pretty big break that only motivated him even more. “My very first art sale was from Bryson Tiller. He had bought 21 paintings from me and 2 shirt designs that I made. I think that experience made me want to take art a little more serious because I was always told with perusing art, you’ll never make money, it’s a waste of time, etc. which isn’t true.”

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Christian depicts iconic girls (and Angelica’s Mom) from our childhood in the style of THE most iconic picture of Cam’ron.

Christian’s unique style is what makes his work stand out. Often set against a black or color coordinating background the characters have a black outline with colors that pop off the canvas. You’re likely to see his version of one of your favorite childhood characters in his work ranging from the classics to more underrated characters. But, chances are you’ll find them stylized in a way that’s equally familiar as it is unfamiliar. “For the longest I would love to paint popular 90’s cartoon characters in scenes from my favorite 90’s hood films like Juice, Menace II Society and Paid in Full. I just remember when I first started out that is what first made me go viral in the first place so I just decided that I was going to keep doing paintings like this and people just stared to recognize my artwork from this art style.”

“I think one of the main reasons why I paint characters from my childhood is because the 90’s were lit. I believe that the 90’s has some of the best cartoons out ever. The cartoons that are displayed on television now don’t even compare. I simply have them displayed in my artwork because they are something that I am familiar with and brings me back to a time where I was happy and didn’t really a care in the world. I also display them in my artwork because I want my work to have that sense of nostalgia. I want people to see my artwork have it bring them back to the time where cartoons were amazing.” Christian’s words sum up his art perfectly. On any given post on his Instagram you’ll find Penny Proud, Suzie Carmichael, The PowerPuff Girls and many more. However, for some of these you may find them wearing something you recognize from a completely different show or movie entirely. This is because Christian has drawn them in a mashup style which is “basically the artist taking one character and designing them to look like another. The way that I decide on which characters that I want to use in these types of paintings all comes down to which characters have similarities.” One of my favorites in which he does this is combining Riley Freeman and Killmonger. “With the Riley Freeman as Killmonger paintings, it was easy for me to come up with that Idea because Riley Freeman displays all the characteristics of Killmonger with his attitude, hairstyle and even just the way that he thinks.” 

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Christian depicts Huey and Riley Freeman as Black Panther and Killmonger

If you’ve gotten this far in the article you more than likely recognize Christian’s work. His pieces have gone viral more than once and someone you know has probably sent you one of his pieces and said something along the lines of “I thought you’d like this” Christian recalls the first time he went viral as an “exciting experience”. “I remember posting my artwork on Twitter, then the next day waking up to so many notifications and followers to the point that I had to turn my phone off because it was overheating. I always tell myself that the experience of me going viral for the first time couldn’t have happened at a better time. I am grateful that it happened, and it really made my business take off.” Y’all know when people say “Twitter do your thing” right? Sometimes Twitter does it all on its own. “Going viral with my artwork is a regular occurrence on my Twitter page. That’s why I would probably say out of all the social platforms that I have; I believe Twitter is the best just because your artwork can get around easier just by a simple retweet.” Christian is a direct example of how we are truly in a digital age. Social Media makes everything spread faster and in this case it’s bringing happiness to people and business to his passion. 

 Like most creative endeavours, art is something that takes time. Creating it takes time. Gaining a following with it takes time. Making money with it takes time.  But if it’s your passion you know all these things are part of the process. “I decided that I was going to just sell the artwork that I had already in my possession and hope for the best. I can admit that at first it was very stressful and there were times that I wanted to give up because it wasn’t as consistent as I wanted it to be, but every time I had got a new order it would always boost my confidence and just make me want to go harder.” 

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Christian combines different era Power Rangers with their color scheme counterparts from DragonBall Z and Super.

Christian has already put in years of work but he’s not stopping anytime soon. “I always told myself that I either wanted to create my own cartoon characters in hopes of one day having it get displayed on television or to create my own clothing line. I still want to do these two ideas, especially having my own cartoon characters because I would create more that are African American.” Representation of our people in a positive light, especially in animation is something we need more of. Spider-Verse was definitely a huge step forward but there is still progress to be made. When our children see these characters they should feel inspired and represented. “I guess my ultimate goal would be just to inspire up and coming artist to never give up and continue to keep putting artwork out in the world that you love without anyone criticism.”

Christian has words for the next generation too saying, “The advice I would give up and coming artist reading this would be to never give up on something that you are passionate about.” This takes on a different level for him personally as he not only changed his major in college from art to political science but quit art all together because of the opinion of his art professor – who failed him too. “…Never stop doing something that you love just because someone told you that they don’t like it. As long as you like your work, that’s all that really matters.” 

You can follow Christian on Twitter and Instagram and purchase his artwork here

 

ComplexCon Comes to Chicago: A Look Into the Festivities.

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Courtesy of Complex

Towards the end of July, ComplexCon left it’s home of Long Beach and took over the city of Chicago. For those who don’t know, ComplexCon is a major hypebeast paradise that in my opinion, is somewhat like an expo. It’s a place where you can pick up and shop for the latest streetwear fashion, sit in on panel conversations featuring many major people in the industry, and rock out to some musical performances from the hottest artists out right now. As being a Chicago native and a huge music head, it was only right for me to find a way to attend the first ever ComplexCon invading the city. I was fortunate enough to attend the event on behalf of Glosse Magazine and wanted to share my experience with you all.

When the day arrived for the event, words could not show how excited I was. ComplexCon is originally taken place in Long Beach, California, As a music lover, I have always wanted to go and experience what I would see on social media. When they made that announcement of bringing it to Chicago, I couldn’t hesitate on making sure I was in attendance. The festival was approximately two days long and I was ready to take it on. The check-in process of getting into ComplexCon was very smooth and I had no hassle. However, the thing that was pretty entertaining yet kind of weird was the reaction of the people that were finally being let into the event. Adults of all ages were literally running in due to the excitement of being at ComplexCon. It was a wild sight to see but it was the first day so I can’t really knock them for it.

A lot was going on. Other than visiting the different booths and speaking to the amazing, creative individuals that were in charge of putting these clothing lines together, there was so much more happening. There was a point where the artistic director Takashi Murakami was on the floor and was welcoming the fans with a meet and greet in honor of it being the first day. It was pretty cool to see. I personally believe other than the musical performances and shopping, the panels that are taken place is also something that many other people look forward to.

Hot Ones is one of my favorite interview shows ever. Sean Evans is one of the best interviewers of this generation and the fact that he was in Chicago to do a live taping of the show brought out the giddy child in me. The show featured Chicago native Juice WRLD and they covered a lot. Juice WRLD was definitely taking those wings like a champ until the last two (which I completely understand because I tried them and they are indeed very very HOT.)

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Courtesy of Complex

I would have to say, the hottest spot to be at that festival was the PUMA booth. There was so much going on over there. Puma debuted a new collection with Alonzo Jackson and it was very colorful and original. Also, Dreamville Records gave fans at ComplexCon an opportunity to listen to 3 additional tracks that is supposed to be on the deluxe version of Revenge of the Dreamers 3. I will tell you those songs were hard and I can’t wait for everyone to hear them. Dreamville artist Omen stopped by during the time, as well as fellow Chicago artist Dreezy and rapper G-Eazy.

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Courtesy of Complex

Over at the Hennessy booth, A$AP Mob member A$AP Ferg was in the building and stopped by to promote his new collaboration with Felipe Pantone and Hennessy. There was a drink that he crafted that was served on the menu and it was DELICIOUS.

The night ended with Grammy award winning singer Ella Mai performing some of her hit singles “Boo’d Up” and “Trip.”

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Courtesy of Complex

It was the final day of ComplexCon and it was the day I was looking forward to the most. The day consisted of people shopping and checking out the booths and just having a good time.

The first thing I attended that day was attending the panel the hip hop panel that featured The Root’s Black Thought and Questlove where they talked about their upcoming show Hip-Hop: Songs That Shook America which focuses on hip hop music and its influence on the major things going on in our community. It had to be one of my favorite panels to sit in on and listen to. They were dropping so many gems.

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Courtesy of Complex

Throughout the day was pretty much the same energy as the first until it was time the headliners of the night. DJ Miss Milan got the crowd pumped and ready for Saweetie’s set and Saweetie came and dominated. She definitely represented for the ladies and performed her hit singles “My Type” and “ICY GIRL.” The energy was still very on the high end when it was time for Rick Ross to come out and perform. The MMG Teflon Don took me back down memory lane performing many of the songs he has released throughout the years such as “MC Hammer”, “Hustle Hard”, ” and “Bugatti”. Closing out night two, Top Dawg Ent’s ScHoolboy Q hit the stage with a high energy performance that literally set the room on fire. Many of the fans were singing along to every lyric of his most popular songs such as “That Part”, “Studio”, and “Collard Greens.” 

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Courtesy of Complex

Overall, ComplexCon was surely a weekend to remember. For it being the first one held in a new city, everything was very well organized and I did not run into any issues while there. I am hoping there will be more events like this in the future to bring the city together again.

Future Planned Films by Marvel to Possibly Change the Face of Action and Superhero Cinema

Marvel has recently announced their upcoming releases they have planned. With this list there several that stands out in particular. The movies planned to release are Black Panther 2, the Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Blade — all of which feature Black lead actors. This is something that is very rarely seen in action and superhero movies. At its release Black Panther, staring Chadwick Boseman, broke a number of records in the film world. One record includes grossing over $1.35 billion — becoming the 3rd highest grossing film ever in North America, the 9th highest grossing film ever, and becoming the highest grossing film by a black director.

Although announced for a release in the near future, Blade had an original run starting in 1998, played by Wesley Snipes. The Blade series ended in 2004 after spawning 2 sequels — Blade ll and Blade: The Trinity. Marvel’s new Blade will be played by Academy award winner, Mahershala Ali.

Photo: @marvelstudios via Instagram

Finally the Falcon and The Winter Soldier series on Disney+, an exclusive streaming service coming before Fall 2020, will feature Anthony Mackie as the lead. Although he is not new to the Marvel cinematic universe, this series will be the first as Mackie as the lead role.

Photo: @marvelstudios via Instagram

These two films and series will address a major problem that currently faces the film industry: the lack of Black representation in action/superhero movies. As of now, it can be seen that many films in this genre failed to have any sort of representation for Black audiences. We saw this during the Black Panther film. With the film breaking numerous records and receiving critical acclamation, it was proven that a great action superhero film could be achieved by Black lead characters. Along with Black Panther, the original Blade films were met with great acclaim and popularity from Black people of all ages. After years of absence, Twitter showed their excitement as Marvel announced the return of Blade

Finally, the new series, The Falcon and Winter Soldier starring actor Anthony Mackie. With being in the background to a number of Marvel movies, he will finally getting the lead in his own series. After the ending of Avengers Endgame, it could be seen that Mackie’s character would make him the new Captain America. Of all Marvel characters, Captain America could be seen as the most iconic since he is America’s superhero. With him representing the idea of the “American Value,” Mackie’s role as the new Captain America could be proven to be a revolutionary role in the world of action and superhero cinema. In a similar case, these two films were groundbreaking for women in action movies: Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel films.

Photo: @marvelstudios via Instagram

With the past success of the first Black Panther film, will these projects be met with same success? If there are any indicators from the past, it should be acknowledgement that the film power house of Marvel Studios are known for putting together successful strings of movies one after the other. If this is so, maybe these movies could change the face of film industry and prove that Black lead superhero movies will be here to stay. With the recent rise of other major black directors, such as Jordan Peele and Ava DuVernay, there will be a rise of influence for young Black film directors and writers who will gain more interest in breaking into the film industry by way of superhero and action films. With these film announcements, there will sure to be many who will be influenced by the direction of the films to make the choice of taking this influence into their own personal creative endeavors.

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Souces images

https://images.app.goo.gl/ziGuRkBGxsGthzc47

https://marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com/wiki/Falcon

With Recent Nominations Beyonce Has Chance to Add to Legacy

With the her recent Emmy nominations, Beyonce has the chance of going the elite EGOT class. The EGOT, standing for Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, signifies those who have won an award in from each of those categories. As of now there are on 15 winners who are EGOT, with Beyonce having the chance of becoming the 16th member. Her Emmy nominations for her film Homecoming are in the categories of outstanding writing for a variety special, outstanding music direction, and outstanding costumes for a variety special, outstanding special, outstanding costumes for a variety and outstanding production design for a variety special. Along with her her six Emmy nominations, her sing “Spirit:, which is featured in the new Lion King adaptation, will have a very strong chance for her to grab an Oscar nomination next year. 

Throughout her career she has won 23 Grammy Awards and with this upcoming award season she will have the chance to take home a Emmy and Oscar award. That would leave her with needing to get a Tony award, which is an award that recognizes Broadway Productions. This will all remain to be seen, but with her recent nominations it makes it all the more plausible that Beyonce will add on her legacy. 

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Sources:

https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/awards/8520208/beyonce-emmy-nominations-homecoming-grammys-oscars

https://www.vibe.com/2019/07/beyonce-nears-egot-status-with-emmy-nominations-for-homecoming

https://www.harpersbazaar.com/celebrity/latest/a28423892/beyonce-egot/

https://giphy.com/gifs/beyonce-boss-bossy-26BRwSiLlTDyhqo1y/links

Black Creative Collectives: More Than A Logo

Often when I see collectives I imagine how beneficial it would be to be a part of one. Everyone comes together with their assortment of talents and uses said talents to produce something amazing. Each person must play their role to the best of their ability because all the roles depend on one another. Collectives were created to make a space for people with the same interests such as art or music. As Black artists, we may have a difficult time finding spaces that accept us and our art so it was important to find collectives made of people who look like us.
As y’all already know we are a multi talented people. Forming art collectives together gives us the chance to showcase these talents outside of outlets that can’t handle (don’t want) us for whatever reason. When we come together, everyone gets put on. We get to promote, not only ourselves but the group as a whole – which still benefits everyone individually. We get to support each other on a level that goes much farther than words of affirmation. We get to see each other do what we do best while simultaneously improving our craft so we can be even better. Also, there’s a chance we might even learn something new from a member of the collective and they might learn something from us. Basically, no matter how you look at it, collectives are units that offer mutual benefits all around.

Established Collectives

Being that we are in 2019, the excuse of not knowing about any collectives is pretty much unacceptable. We use the internet for everything and using it to form a collective is not only conveintet but often quite successful as well. Enter Art Hoe Collective which was established around 2015 and has a goal to “empower and nurture the works of people of color (POC) — especially young people, women, queer, trans, sex workers, and non-binary folk who are too often left without a platform.” (Source: Vivala.com) While mainly active on social media, Art Hoe Collective has appeared at Afropunk and featured in both i-D and Essence Magazine. Their focus is to showcase original artwork and their submissions come from womxn all over the world.

Another collective that’s making it’s mark is AWGE. You probably recognize the acronym from the beginning of every A$AP Mob member’s (and Carti) video released within the past few years. It’s popularity stems from it’s affiliation with A$ap Rocky – as he is it’s founder. AWGE does all the promotion for the A$AP Mob members as well as creates pop up shows for a variety of their associated acts — that of course include music as well as merchandise. They also have the “AWGE DVD” series which currently has 3 volumes. Each DVD consists of tour footage, behind the scenes footage, freestyles and more from the Mob and their associated acts. Basically AWGE is a collective rooted in the media with their claim to fame being their visual creativity and editing style for their media. Making their staple aesthetic vintage throwback film mixed with a futuristic flare, AWGE consistently starts the visual trend we see today. It’s members consist of A$ap Mob, Playboi Carti, Key!, Smooky Margielaa, Ben Baller, Matt Henson, Hidjifilms, and many more.

The Slug Agency‘s motto is: “WHERE AN OPPORTUNITY DOES NOT EXIST, WE CREATE IT.” This goes back to my initial point. When they won’t let us do it, we will do it ourselves. Founded by singer BOSCO, The Slug Agency focuses on giving opportunities to underrepresented groups and a platform to showcase their talents. Their speciality is visual creative endeavors that are created through visual media as well music and of course the culture as a whole. The Slug Agency also has a distinct look to their work often using bright colors and 90s inspired aesthetics. With Pop Up Shops and faithful clients they are without a doubt giving a voice to the voiceless. Their most recent success has been their collaboration with Red Bull at their Red Bull Treehouse in Atlanta.

The Future

Now that I’ve gone over what everyone else is doing y’all gotta be put on to what we’re doing. Debuting in Fall 2019, Her Art Collective is by Women of Color for Women of Color. Also known as HAC, it’s a subsidiary of another one of our platforms, Gurls Inspired. Want to be a part of it? More details are coming soon…

Graffiti & Hip Hop: Hand in Hand Now & Forever

When people think of “hip hop”, they often think of boom bap production, lyric driven flows, and confidence. Outside of the music itself there is another facet to consider- graffiti. Growing up, I’d seen graffiti in a variety of places in my area. My Dad would agree with me that while some of it it did look cool, it was wrong to do it on someone else’s property. Upon getting older, I was able to see just how complex and beautiful these graffiti pieces could truly be – especially murals.

Origins

Hip-hop has its roots in being a community based expression of art. This art came from music of course, dancing and also visual art- specifically graffiti. Graffiti first originated in 1967 – not long before the birth of hip-hop. The two art forms meshed easily as they were both focused on the creativity of the individual, pride in one’s creations and a message to go along with the creation. In these days, the graffiti could only be seen in its rawest form – on walls, train cars, subway trains and any other canvas of the street. Graffiti artists also showed support for their favorite DJs and crews by putting their art on clothing items of the respective members of the crews. These graffiti artists could also be hired to create promotional artwork/flyers for rap shows in their respective cities. The focus was to use one another’s talents to help everyone achieve success.

Prominent Figures and their Pieces

Within the world of graffiti there are some artists who want everyone to know their face and their work while there are others who would rather have all the focus be on the latter. Such is the case of  artist Banksy whose work you’ve more than likely seen without even realizing it. UK based artist Banksy took his skills to the walls of NYC in October 2013 for an exhibition called “Better Out Than In”. Within this exhibition he shared a new piece in a new location each day of the month, culminating in a total of 31 new pieces. These pieces may not look like the graffiti we are used to seeing but they serve the same purpose: To send a message and show something people need to see. Such is the same purpose of hip-hop

Another prominent figure within the traditional graffiti world is Lady Pink. Lady Pink actually hails from NYC and as her name implies is doing it for the ladies as she has been called the “first lady of graffiti” and has been quoted saying “It’s not just a boys club. We have a sisterhood thing going.”. She was also the star of the  1982 movie Wild Style which showcased hip hop culture and all that  that implies including graffiti, breakdancing and more. Lady Pink’s work captured the spirit of hip hop as well with bold colorful pieces that showcased the struggles women were going through everyday throughout multiple aspects of life.

Murals

Murals and hip-hop or just black history in general go hand in hand. There are murals for Biggie, Tupac, Malcolm X, MLK and multiple other prominent figures in our history. However, with hip hop they carry a particularly special meaning. Hip-hop artists who showed love for their cities are immortalized when an artist creates a mural for them. They essentially become a part of the city in a literal sense after being a part of it in a sentimental sense their whole lives. Such is the case with the “King of NY” Biggie mural in Bed Stuy or the multiple Tupac murals scattered across Oakland. Sometimes the mural does not even have to be in the home state of the figure depicted but the importance matters just the same – such is the case with the Nipsey Hussle mural in Conneticut. Paying homage is a staple in hip hop and a mural is probably one of the most dedicated and genuine ways to do so. A mural is something everyone can see and appreciate long after both the hip hop figure as well as the artist of the mural have passed away. While it may become a popular tourist attraction with people taking pictures with it because it “looks cool” those who know the sentimental value behind it can appreciate it on a completely different level.

Graffiti and hip hop are timeless artforms and have evolved into an entirely different level than that of the past. More people than ever before are now able to view and participate in this artform and those who are truly passionate keep the same values that the originators of the artform had and will take them into the future.