A look into Summer Walker: The Miseducation of Socially Anxious Black Women

Black women have several stereotypes about us, whether they are negative or positive, that are thrown at us. We are thought to be “loud and opinionated” or “strong” or even “bitter”. That’s another story in itself, nevertheless, in all the depictions of us we are never looked at as humans allowed to be vulnerable and have weaknesses. So when a black girl has mental issues such as depression, anxiety, or social anxiety.we are frowned upon for exhibiting characteristics that are not necessarily the norm.
Singer Summer Walker has recently been the hot topic for cancelling many dates on her tour due to her social anxiety. “Unfortunately I’m not gonna be able to finish this tour because it doesn’t really coexist with my social anxiety, my introverted personality,” said Summer in a video posted to her Twitter and Instagram.

“But I really hope that people understand and respect that, at the end of the day, I’m a person. I have feelings, I get tired, I get sad. And it’s just a lot.”


Even before she cancelled these dates, Summer has been very vocal about her social anxiety being that it is the reason for her meek stage presence and persona during interviews. It takes a lot of courage to express this weakness with others but she did it so her fans could understand the reason for her actions. However, unfortunately, many people responded to this information in a negative way. People were saying “she isn’t that shy” or “she’s just faking” when observing her behavior when in public. This type of commentary shows the lack of knowledge on social anxiety and how serious it can affect those who have it.
According to the latest addition to the DSM-5, social anxiety is defined as “marked and persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or possible scrutiny by others.” It is important to note that social anxiety is not the same as being introverted or shy. When you are shy you could have nervousness about social situations however those feelings might dissolve when you are more familiar with the situation. This is something many people deal with at some point in time and is fairly common.
Having social anxiety on the other hand causes you to have a complete fear of social situations. This can cause one to avoid the situation all together and it produces severe anxiety about these situations even before they happen. Many people can experience a small dose of social anxiety in their lifetime however for people who have been diagnosed with full blown social anxiety, living with this condition can be almost unbearable. Social anxiety comes with physical symptoms such as rapid heart beat, blushing, excessive sweating, stomach trouble, muscle tension and even panic attacks. So essentially it can make things in life other’s deem as simple really challenging. The triggers of social anxiety are different for everyone but essentially they are things like meeting new people, starting conversations, giving a speech, or even entering a room.
From observing Summer Walker’s interviews and live performances you can see her exhibit these characteristics of social anxiety. To anybody who has social anxiety or is at least knowledgeable of it, it is evident that this girl is certainly not “faking it”. Nevertheless, she is constantly scrutinized for her behavior which is one of the very things people with social anxiety are afraid of.
Having social anxiety sucks no matter what race or gender you are. However, being black, especially being a black woman with socially anxiety definitely hits different. It’s no secret that mental health in the black community is a taboo subject being that too many people in the black community dismiss it. Also, being a woman you are expected to be warm and welcoming to everyone you meet and if not you’re labeled as a b*tch. So when you’re a black woman with social anxiety like Summer Walker you are heavily misunderstood.
There has been an account of a fan from her meet and greet who was very disappointed with their experience. A now ex-fan posted on Instagram a seemingly awkward picture of her and Summer with a long caption expressing her disappointment with the experience saying the location of the meet and greet was changed last minute and Summer barely interacted with her fans.

“She barely spoke to anyone, every couple of people she would say ‘Hi’ it was a big hurt piece for me because I really [idolized] her and her work,” the person wrote. “I knew she was an introvert and kind of closed off but there was no effort at all, whatsoever.”

This really rubbed many people the wrong way and caused many people to call Summer out for “unprofessionalism”. While we only know this fan’s perspective we don’t know the whole story. The fan was right in saying she was an introvert however, I don’t think the fan realized Summer also has social anxiety which is something more serious. I previously stated meeting new people can often be a trigger for people with social anxiety. While Summer might of appeared to be disinterested and aloof she really could of been overwhelmed and filled with anxiety to the point where a simple “hi” was all she could bother to say. Social anxiety can get real and many people don’t really know the full extent to where it can affect people with it.


I feel like a lot of the blame in Summer’s public ridicule is in her team. She has stated that in the contract she signed, she is forced to go on tour, do interviews, and do these meet and greets. With Summer being a new artist with not much knowledge of the industry and of course having social anxiety she probably didn’t have the courage or knowledge to look for management or a deal that accommodated her social anxiety.
With that being said, to all the people who said she shouldn’t have even had meet and greets or shows, I don’t think most of these things are even in her control. When she signed up for these things, she might have thought she could have broke out of her box but we all know in reality it can be much more difficult.
Also, to all the people who said she shouldn’t have signed up to be in the music industry, humble yourself. Summer Walker has an amazing talent that should be shared with the world, she just happens to have social anxiety. We need to educate people about mental illnesses such as social anxiety so they can understand the behaviors. It is hard for people with social anxiety to navigate through everyday life but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have lives. People’s criticism can become toxic and cause people with mental illness to go on a mental downward spiral. So just be nice and understanding to people, before it’s too late.

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 7 Wonders Of The Fashion World

For decades and decades, fashion has always been one of the artistic expressions that truly showed one’s personality. There have been people who have altered the industry with their vision, collections that shifted how we wear pieces, and so forth. I sat for awhile and thought of some fashion moments and people that were monumental in the fashion world — people I’ve looked up to starting my career in fashion, moments that made me glad I was in this industry, and people who your kids’ kids will know.

1. Michele Lamy

The iconic French fashion, designer, and art icon. With her famous black dipped fingers, rare jewelry pieces, and all gold grillz, Michèle Lamy isn’t hard to miss. As the muse and wife of designer Rick Owens, Lamy has been the fashion world’s best kept secret. Her unique style of clothing (mostly Rick Owens and RAF Simons pieces) is what makes her a stand out. Pairing streetwear with avant-garde to give off a “goth priestess” aesthetic. Since 1990, Lamy has been a working force behind many brands and people such as Rick Owens, Lamyworld, A$ap Rocky, and many more. Rocky has been quoted saying “Hardly anyone knows how important you have been behind the scenes for my career. You did not just design my album covers, you took me to art fairs and showed me the art world.” Seeing Lamy’s style for the first time had taken me aback since I first got wind of her back in ’08 when I started developing my career in fashion. She was so unique and confident — mixing menswear with women’s wear so effortlessly to make a new style of fashion. 

2. Andre Leon Talley

Former fashion editor at large at Vogue magazine, current close friend of Anna Wintour, and world renown fashion journalist Andre Leon Talley. Known for his open opinions on fashion and impeccable way of speaking and making women feel beautiful, ALT has been shifting the fashion industry since 1974. My first time connecting with ALT was via television on America’s Next Top Model where he was a judge for three cycles. As one of the few people back in the day to push designers to have more Black models in their shows, Talley always made it his mission to help advance our people in fashion — something we had very little of back in the day. For this reason, Mr. Talley will always be someone I thank because if it wasn’t for Black men like him, Black women like myself and the rest of the Glossē team wouldn’t be able to be here. 

3. Chanel 1983

The first Chanel show produced by the late Karl Lagerfeld and the collection that everyone remembers from Chanel. To this day, this collection seems to resurface in many ways in fast fashion. Prior to Lagerfeld coming to Chanel, the fashion house had a few mishaps in the design department — which made this collection all the more iconic. Pushing womenswear behind the limits of what society would allow, Coco Chanel and Lagerfeld evolved the fashion house into what we know it as today. Pantsuits, knee length skirts, shoulder pads, a-line dresses, two piece matching skirt and blazer set is what made this most recreated. Giving the modern woman a powerful yet sensual look is something Karl knew how to do perfectly. During my early 20’s, I created most of the looks during job interviews or even in everyday life to show my business woman side on a daily basis. 

5. Thierry Mugler

The love of my life, Mugler. The icon. The bar that everyone strives to meet in avant-garde fashion. Mugler is known for his bed the top, robotic, sensual, disproportionate style of designs. After leaving fashion in 2002, Mugler’s designs became untouchable and “locked in a vault”… unless your name is Beyoncé. In 2009, he worked with Queen Bey to create her costumes for her “I Am… World Tour”. After a few more quiet years, Mugler started making noise in the scene again once Cardi B wore his vintage designs to the 2019 Grammy’s and designed a new dress for Kim Kardashian. What drew ,e towards Mugler’s designs were the risqué shapes and how much they celebrated the women’s body. Making women to be other worldly, beautiful creatures in his costumes, he celebrated women’s sexuality in an artistic style that will continue to go down as a one of a kind fashion house.

5. Yeezy

Despite what the world is discussing about Kanye right now, I have to say, Yeezy came in and changed the fashion game — whether you want to admit it or not. How many people saw Yeezy season 1 come out and questioned their fashion taste? The slouching sweaters, oversized boots, intentional ripped holes in shirts, Yeezy had everyone going through a fashion frenzy but what we didn’t know was that he created the trend for all fashion houses for the next 4 years. Neutral colors, sweats paired with heels, body hugging/high waisted leggings and sweats for women. We made fun of Yeezy when it first came out because we were just exiting the era of tumblr where snapbacks was the main accessory. Over the years we came to realize that this era of “cozy” would last longer than expected and even begin to take over major fashion houses such as Rick Owens, RAF Simons, Chanel, Balenciaga; this trend also led to many dormant brands resurrecting like Champion, Fila, and Reebok. We all started dressing like 40 something year old white dads and haven’t looked back since.

6. The Met Gala

With hopes of being invited one day, I watch the Met Gala red carpet every year, as a matter of fact it’s a holiday in my house. Met Gala Monday is the time where every a-list celebrity pulls out… or is supposed to… their best haute couture looks to match the theme of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Costume Institute host a fundraising dinner. Held on the first Monday of May, the Met is home to many fashion formalities and faux pas. Until I walk those marvelous stairs to enter the event, I will join the rest of my peers in the judging room where we decide who has followed the theme this year and who let us down. The twitterverse has declared Rihanna as mother of the Met as she always is on theme and shocks the world with her red carpet look — specifically her 2016 mustard yellow Guo Pei dress. It’s fashion’s biggest single day in history. I mean, we all look forward to the Met Gala and those attending spend 6+ months preparing for it. So it’s safe to say this event will continue to be the leading fashion event for years to come. 

7. Anna Wintour

Last but not least, the woman who inspired my alias under and who inspired me to get into fashion journalism, Ms. Anna Wintour. Known as the editor in chief of Vogue, Wintour holds the titled for one of the biggest names in fashion. Her constant support for diversity and young designers has made Wintour the most respected woman in fashion. With her signature bob haircut and oversized dark sunglasses that she rarely removes, Wintour is THE reason Glossē exists now. Because her personality is so hardcore and demanding, people have speculated that Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada was supposed to be a loose adaptation of Wintour. Although those rumors were debunked, it’s still funny to watch Devil Wear Prada and imagine Miranda as Anna. Anna’s reign in Vogue has moved Vogue to be the most sought after magazine especially the September cover. While at Vogue has been a major change. From the models on the cover to the writers, Vogue has expanded on their pillar to make diversity a priority. As for Anna, I’d like to personally thank her for paving the way for other female editor in chiefs in fashion such as myself.

Diversity And Inclusion: Fashion’s Favorite Buzzwords

How many times have you heard “diversity” and “inclusion” when it comes to the fashion industry in 2019 alone? This year major fashion companies made it their mission to be diverse and include the rest of the world into their prestigious circle because, well, segregation is wrong. Shocker.

I’ve worked in the fashion industry since I was 16 years old. I’m no stranger to sabotage some of the tastemakers in fashion tend to do to Black people so as I sit here today reading Kerby Jean-Raymond’s letter to the publication Business of Fashion, I cry tears of joy. To read his letter, click here.

For decades, Black people have fought tooth and nail to be accepted into fashion and art. We watched as many white and white passing people have mocked and shamed us then stole our work. We sat back while we were used to fill a diversity quota in these large, white, spaces. They screamed “inclusion” and stole our work. They said “diverse” and underpaid us. We sat back and we watched, powerlessly. As they made themselves look good, we worked tirelessly to try to make a name for ourselves.

While we make them look good and share our ideas with them, they’re taking notes. They’re always taking notes on us, on our lingo, on our style, on our trends. We are the trendsetters. We are the visionaries and they know this so what do they do? Create an alternative agenda. Similar to what they did to Kerby. They invite us in as though we’re being recognized and celebrated then the mask comes off. We get blindsided and humiliated. So how do we fight back? How do we stop making diversity and inclusion just meaningless buzzwords? We do what Kerby did. Take the power back.

We use the platform we’ve built and network with people who look like us. We sit at the tables where our neighbors share the same hue as us. We take our power back. We hold them accountable. We continue to create spaces for our people. We don’t allow them to let this happen again. So thank you Kerby for using you voice to share you experience and unmasking the truth; holding BOF accountable for their actions and rooting for the people who look like you.

Letter from Glossē Magazine EIC @amaniwintour

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

 

Kanye’s Sunday Service: An Advocation

Kanye West. In 2019, hearing this name can cause a wealth of emotions, opinions, thoughts, takes etc to come to mind. People have a strong stance on this man or they could care less. I’m here to talk to the former and I’m here to talk to y’all about Sunday Service.

Let’s start with an (obvious) fact: The Gospel influence/usage is nothing new. So let’s stop with that narrative right now. The Christian based lyrics and thought process is also nothing new. The remixing secular songs to have a spiritual meaning is nothing new – especially to those of us who grew up in the church. Kanye among other tracks, has done with his own song “Fade” at Coachella swapping in “Your love is favor/ We feel His favor” for the songs original sample. This month he’s done the same with hits like “Sicko Mode” and even “Grindin” – capturing two generations with the same technique and message. This is seen as corny by some and while this is understandable for some aspects of specific songs it does NOT change the fact that the lyrics are uplifting to God. 

We all remember “Jesus Walks” and the impact it had. We all remember “Ultralight Beam” and it’s unforgettable features from Chance, Kirk Franklin and Kelly Price. Jump to 2018 and these spiritual themes can be most recently found on his collaborative project with Kid Cudi, KIDS SEE GHOSTS. From the victoriously confident hook of “Freeee (Ghost Town Prt. 2)” to the equally victorious yet subdued hook of “Reborn” The last line on the album (that is repeated) is “Lord, shine Your light on me, save me, please”  a fitting closer to an album centered around turning to God for help with mental stability. As this echoes in our ears we know that Kanye needs help. He wants help from God. But is there something wrong with his way of seeking help?

The most popular word on social media I’ve seen used to describe Kanye’s Sunday Service is “cult”. One definition of this word is “a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.” Is this not what church is? This word is used because people’s main argument is that “people are only there for Kanye” when in reality Kanye’s presence during the actual performances is at a minimal level. Majority of the time the choir is led by Jason White who does lead singing. Yes, the original video that went viral shows Kanye chopping a classic Fred Hammond song but this is not how the entire performance goes. In other (less popular) videos Kanye is usually seen just sitting enjoying the music until his cue to perform a few songs in addition to chopping samples on the keyboard. Or, most recently, to give a testimony.  Kanye has always been a coraller, an orchestrator if you will. He likes bringing musically talented people together and showcasing their work. He has no issues giving anyone credit for their contribution to a larger picture. In addition, originally Sunday Service was invite only but now has progressed to a pop up show completely open to the public – with no admission fee. Also, the various choir members, dancers and instrumentalists are all seen in very monochromatic often loose fitting clothes which some call “rags”. This is simply the standard for Kanye’s clothing line. Traditionally, all members of a choir wear the same robe like garment too.

At this point, there are those who have been anti Kanye for years and those who have left him recently. And of course, the ones who…Wouldn’t Leave. Those who have always been anti Kanye more than likely never listened to his music (outside of “Stronger”) and have let the media form their opinion of him. Others more than likely made their decision last year after ALL the things he said and did. Both of these groups often quote tweet Sunday Services performances and share their weekly take on the situation to which many of the followers agree with which results in it raking in retweets and likes. On the other side however others often quote these tweets and share an opposite opinion usually along with a fact about Kanye’s career. These arguments spring up every Sunday afternoon and usually Monday morning too. They fade out during the week (outside of those who retweeted late) and then the cycle starts again. 

If you’re so fed up with him why do you continue to talk about him?

With his album Jesus is King dropping allegedly one week from today on the 27th of September it may seem like Sunday Service was the promo run for it. The 12 song tracklist (which could change knowing Kanye) features song titles like “Sweet Jesus” “God Is” “Through The Valley” and other religiously connected titles. As with Sunday Service, many people view this is as his attempt to “win back” the Black Community by using something we all are familiar with in some capacity – Christianity. The only thing is that he does not need to win anyone back because of the status he has already reached as a person. Remember when his last album went #1 and all seven songs on it were in the Top 40 after he was “cancelled”? No matter what Kanye does people will listen to the music to enjoy, critique, disapprove of, bash or whatever else they choose. However, at the same time, numbers do not matter to him as he said “…the devil had me chasing a gold statue, had me chasing cars, had me chasing numbers … the power of God cannot be calculated by a number, a first week sale…”

Personally, I have no issues with Sunday Service. People are coming together, people are praising God and doing it through song and dance. The music being played sounds good and is uplifting and positive and nothing negative has happened at any of these Sessions. No, it is not a “traditional” church service. There are pastors who share a message at some sessions, typically the ones at the pop up locations or most recently actual churches. Otherwise, the experience is more akin to a “Worship Night” where music is the focus. The only revenue is from the merchandise sold there which is overpriced but this is nothing new for Kanye. And, just because an announcement about the money being donated to a foundation or organization is not made does not mean it’s not happening. 

Because of the general consensus about Kanye right now or rather the majority of his career,  many look to condemn pretty much everything he does. They do not see any positive aspects to it and chalk up to him being “egocentric” or “an idiot”. Social media makes takes of this type even more popular as those with the mob mentality adopt it without ever pressing play on his music. At the end of the day, Kanye is an artist. And, like multiple artists, things that he has said outside of the booth have not been good for his career. This is why he turns to music to address these matters like he did with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and ye.  Although the approach for these albums was quite different they still served as the response or as some put it the “apology” for his recent behavior. However, they both also served as therapy for his mental state, his conscious and his general well being. Sunday Service serves this same purpose however he is fully turning to God to achieve this exhaling while encouraging others to do the same. This approach is different as it allows us to see it happening in real time and partake in it however we see fit. Kanye explained the title of his last album ye by saying “I believe “ye” is the most commonly used word in the Bible, and in the Bible it means “you”. So I’m you, I’m us, it’s us. It went from Kanye, which means “the only one,” to just Ye…” This is a theme of unification which is the most prominent aspect of Sunday Service – celebration together, worshipping together and fellowshipping together. We all go through things and we all need healing from them. Music is healing, and of course God heals anything and everything. As humans, our only obligation is to sing His praises as a thank you for His grace in doing this. This is what Kanye wants to do and have others do with him.

“Let’s not be concerned with the opinions of men at all. Only the opinion of God. I know we say this is the culture or that is the culture. To be radically in service to Christ is the only culture that I want to know about.”                                                                                                                                                                                                         – Kanye West

A Recap of Travis Scott’s Look Mom I Can Fly Documentary

Summer 2018 had a lot of music releases we are still talking about this year. One of the most popular and anticipated ones was Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD which arrived after a huge promo run and had its own share of controversy that came after its release too. A year later we have now gotten Look Mom I Can Fly, A Netflix Documentary that showcases the tour that followed the release of ASTROWORLD, his Super Bowl performance from this year (2019), his night at the Grammys and everything behind the scenes before, during, and after all this. 

Many people have called this documentary inspiring and this is a take I think we call can agree on. In the documentary’s opening moments we see a young braidless Travis performing in a daytime slot at a festival for a crowd of about 30 people. Moments later we are treated to multiple shots of him performing in sold out arenas across the US, including Madison Square Garden. This journey took him about 5 years. The cliche “trust the process” fits here perfectly. Nowadays success can literally happen overnight but usually the hard work still needs to be put in. Those who deserve it, work for it. 

In “beibs in the trap” from Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight Travis croons “Pulled out of the hood Toyota/Drove back to the hood Lambo”. This flex takes on another layer when we see him leave his Granny’s house in his instantly recognizable chocolate brown Lamborghini. Seeing them at the house as he shows us his old bedroom is especially satisfying as Travis has referred to his family in lyrics and interviews his entire career. Hearing these lyrics then seeing them in the documentary singing his praises in home videos when he was a child to still singing them now just brings it all full circle. Family should always support you and ride for you the entire journey. 

Just like the family aspect, the community aspect is equally important to him. Essentially the terms are interchangeable. The city of Houston officially declared November 18th 2018 “Astroworld Day” following the success of the AstroFest event held there. Travis spoke at the ceremony saying “…I kinda just wanted to bring back that feeling and give this city something they could always have, just something fun to do. They try to take us away, but as long as we stick together and create, we don’t need nothin’ special, as long as we got each other.” Right after this we see backstage footage from 2017 where Travis’ high school principal and counselor show up and you can see how he truly feels indebted to them as he says he would not have graduated without them. Lastly, at his Houston stop on the AstroWorld Tour he was awarded the key to the city by the Mayor during the show. It’s safe to say Travis has some sort of impact on anyone he comes in contact with.

The ONLY gripe I had with this documentary was how little in studio footage there was. For music as layered as Travis’ a glimpse of the process for any track is definitely welcomed. The clip of him in there with Kevin Parker of Tame Impala listening to the “SKELETONS“ instrumental AND ending with him playing the early version of “ASTROTHUNDER“ was fantastic for sure. Another great moment was him laying the foundation for “BUTTERFLY EFFECT” in the car after getting off the plane then continuing in the studio. Unfortunately , moments like these were few and far between. Although, we are able to see him hear the final version of “NO BYSTANDERS” and see his excitement there’s nothing like the raw in studio footage. 

The footage from the Grammys was easily the most vulnerable moment from the documentary. After performing a slightly modified version of the solemn yet excellent “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD” and an unforgettable hype “NO BYSTANDERS” Travis eagerly awaited the winner of the Album of the Year Award. There were multiple cameras pointed at him and with Kylie by his side Travis stood on standby ready to go on stage…

His name was not called.

As we all know Travis is an extremely expressive person but upon hearing Cardi’s name his semi subdued yet clearly frustrated reaction and walkout echoed what a great deal of people felt that night.  However the Mayor of Houston had the perfect response saying “Sometimes you don’t get what you want, but you don’t stop “ and I believe this is advice we can all take. 

In the midst of all of these musical accomplishments, Travis also had a daughter with his girlfriend (or wife?) Kylie Jenner. Named Stormi, Travis threw her a birthday party called “Stormi World” which included rides, snacks and live performances for her and her guests. While some may call it excessive for a toddler, we already know Travis goes all the way in with everything. He also has Stormi as a producer on the documentary – so she’ll be making bank off it too. 

Look Mom I Can Fly has the perfect title. Travis has catapulted himself to success and has done so by staying true to himself and making music that resonates with listeners all over the world. This documentary shows that he is a force to be reckoned with and isn’t someone to just graze over when discussing impactful artists. From having a daughter to performing at the Super Bowl to shaping an entire album, tour, and festival around something birthed in his hometown Travis is Flying High and has passed the stars…where will he go next?

Emani Childs: How She Makes Art Into Fashion And Plans To Shift The Industry

It’s been a known fact for years that fashion is art. To know art is to know fashion. To create is to feel. This is especially true for Emani Childs, a creative director out of the beautiful Harlem, NYC. “Sometimes it’s not me designing a piece. I’ll more so try to make art and make it into clothing“. You’ll often find Childs in her office putting together what is wearable art. When you view clothing as art, your view on fashion shifts from being something trendy to something that is personal to the creator’s heart that you now get to wear.

I’ll have to say, after taking a break from interviewing and focusing solely on my writing pieces, it was great to sit and chat with a fellow female creative. “I try to keep it as original as possible and I feel like designing is such a small word. It’s more than that. That’s what keeps me going. I like to make art pieces and it just so happens that I can fuck with it and make it clothing“. She’s right. We tend to put a box on things once we put a single title to it and after that, it HAS to fall under those guidelines. We’ve seen this recent change of wording in the music industry when rappers stopped calling themselves rappers and began going by artists. Photographers are now creative directors. Just like our art, we don’t want to be limited to one specific definition.

At a young age, Emani saw so much versatility from her mother who was a model. “I stepped into everything. I would make pillows when I was younger. Style my mom before she would go out. It started there, it really started with my mom. Now looking back, it really took off in middle school“. Growing up in NYC is a luxury for fashion kids. Seeing the different cultures and styles, being around the self expression and openness, and just being able to see the creative outlets at such a young age can have a positive impact on young creatives. “I had a lot of hands on work. We had sewing machines, a basement full of fabrics. We were located in Chelsea and you’re a few blocks away from thousands of fabric stores. You walk outside and see so many outfits. You see 13 different cultures and 13 different stores that represent a different place in the world. I get amused by it“.

Now one thing we did have in common was being excited to pick out our outfits for the next day. “That’s what makes me happy. Getting dressed in the morning“. Were you also one of those kids that was always doing something different with their look?Oh my goodness! I would go from bangs with blonde streaks to putting pink in my hair when I go tired of that. When I came back from China, I cut all my hair off. Full pixie mode. I’ve gone through every hairstyle you can think of. I went through goth, girly girl, bohemian. I tested all the waters“. Working in fashion is truly an art. You’re constantly evolving, constantly finding what you like, expressing yourself in different styles. It’s an art.

We started to chat about current fashion houses, designers, etc. We both came to the conclusion that Alexander Wang has been showing out with their designs since 2017. “If I could work with people back then, I’d work with John Galliano and Alexander Wang“. Seeing A.Wang transition into this all black clothes phase has been eye catching which we agreed on. “When you’re young, we’re not looking at all black clothes like ‘oh that’s it!’. We want everything that colorful and flashy. We want that brand name displayed right in the chest. When you grow up, less is more“.

I want people to step out for their comfort zone. When I make pieces, sometimes I look back at them like ‘woah, I would never wear this’. I frame it. I make some pieces that I wouldn’t personally wear just because it’s not for me. I want people to look at my clothes like ‘I wouldn’t have done that but I can do it or I can wear it. A lot of people make the same stuff over and over again. I want people to step out their comfort zone“, Childs said when asked about what she wants her presence in the industry to shift. I couldn’t agree more. We see a lot of repetition and it’s time we shift from that and go back to when designers were doing outside of the box pieces.

With her line quickly preparing to release, Emani is all set in the designing department for EMAHN. “We’re just going step by step creating samples for everything. Everyone wants the barbed wire bathing suits. I want to do a little show in September. You guys will see the samples that’s ready to be put out”. After we closed out the interview, we sat and chatted about women in fashion and even set some plans to visit one another. I know, the Pisces in me jumped out but the connection was definitely a lasting one which isn’t rare when I do my interviews.

We’re in full support of Emani and her upcoming line EMAHN. If you’d like to keep up with Emani and all she’s doing, follow her via Instagram at @ayisha.mia.

The Journey to Success with Bri Hall

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Courtesy of WMA/Louis Browne

In today’s age, the internet has made it possible for individuals to do many things. Social media and other platforms has changed the way in which the world is able to do things. Along with this being a digital age, it is much easier for many people who want to put themselves out there and showcase their talents, to chase their dreams and achieve their goals. However, the pressure that is put on an individual in this digital age can be hard for one to stay true to who they really are and may have them changing who they are just so they can feel accepted. In this case, Bri Hall was not one of them.

Bri Hall is a 25 year old artist that has received her recognition through YouTube. What started off as her just using the channel to share her love for the arts soon became something bigger that she never saw coming. As the attention she was starting to receive began to grow rapidly and people becoming curious to know more about her, she started posting herself and began creating videos that focused on beauty and fashion.

Over the years, she racked up a whopping number of over 700,000+ subscribers solely off of just staying true to herself. Even with her continued rising success, she is relatable and makes everyone feel like they too can reach their dreams.

As she continues on journey, Bri Hall went through a rebranding and is taking over the music world as La Hara. With this new chapter starting in her story, I was able to have a conversation with her about her humble beginnings to where she is heading to now.

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Courtesy of WMA/Louis Browne

Tell me about how you became a person that wanted to create art. What made you gravitate towards creating and doing it as a career?

I strongly believe that art is one of my biggest blessings. At birth, I feel like the man upstairs sprinkled something extra on my mind and hands. I started creating around age 2 and no one in my family could explain how I learned. I had a teacher in high school tell me when I was entering the STEM field, that she saw me for who I was. She said that creating wasn’t just a hobby it was part of me and no matter how far I ran from it I would always end up coming back. She was right.

You started off sharing your talents on YouTube through your artwork. Eventually, people were intrigued by you and wanted to know more based on your authenticity and 100% being you. Looking back at the beginning, how do you feel about the beginning of your YouTube journey to where you are now?

I would have laughed for 3 minutes and changed the subject if someone told me I would do all of this a few years ago! I was so excited when my art channel reached 200 subscribers, I mean, I remember that day. I was like wow 200 people connect with my art. I thought of it like a high school classroom, the average class had 30 kids, so in my mind, that was almost 7 classrooms!! I can barely conceptualize 700,000+ people! I’m so humbled by the process.

As a person that has been following your work for some years, music has never been a stranger to the content that you have been putting out. It has always been a major part of your life. What made you want to become a music artist? How did you get to that point?

First, thank you so much for your support! Music has been my safety, my escape, and my diary. I feel like it enhances everyday parts of life so much. Letting go of some fear of judgment. I had to get to the point where I could visualize people saying, “I hate this,” and not feeling bad about it. Letting that go gave me new courage that I didn’t know I had! I know that what’s meant for you will be for you, so my music will resonate with the right people. For example, if you’ve never been a second priority to anyone or ignored anyone important to you, then maybe Mindful isn’t the track for you. For the people that empathize that track may just mean everything to them ❤️

Along with the music you were creating, you made another change, your name. Why did you decide to go with the name La Hara? Can you explain the meaning behind it?

La Hara is an ode to one of my favorite paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat. I remember an old comment on one of my drawing videos that said, “Art creating Art.” What more appropriate of a stage name than one of my favorite pieces?

How did your audience take it when you made a switch on your name? Was the support the same or did it take a while for them to gravitate and embrace it?

I was thinking it would take at least a year, but wow people are really embracing the La Hara name! I love seeing Instagram comments that are uplifting where supporters use my stage name.

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In the beginning of the year, you released your debut single “Mindful.” What does that song mean to you? 

The song ‘Mindful’ by La Hara is a heavy track for me. It means being there for the people that mean the most to your world and knowing the impact your action or inaction can have on your loved ones.

Following up from the debut, you then released another track called “Unlawful.” Tell me about the process of putting the song together.

Unlawful is my BABY! I literally had so much fun recording this song! It came from the inspiration of watching a Netflix series where these two characters fought for their love. I originally wrote Unlawful as a poem.

You have always been a person that focuses on visual art/content. What was the inspiration behind the video for “Unlawful?”

The Inspiration behind unlawful was one of the opening scenes with Angela Bassett in Waiting to Exhale. Though I wrote the song with external factors being what a couple fought against, I thought it would be a nice spin to see a couple where what was being fought was within.


With keeping up with uploading on your channel and hitting the studio to put these songs together, it seems like it can be a lot. How do you balance out everything to the point you don’t overwork yourself/find time for yourself?

I started reading a lot of audiobooks and something that stuck with me was the importance of prioritizing playtime and rewards. I used to work and think that brakes were procrastinating. Now I divvy up my workload and the heart of the task, I think to myself, what is something that would really put you in a great mental health space? And I let that thing be my reward. Another thing that has helped is honesty. Sometimes being the perfectionist that I’ve been I thought telling people that I wasn’t feeling well or perhaps even saying no I can’t go to that meant weakness. I realized that people respect you more when you advocate for yourself and you’re transparent. Imagine showing up somewhere with a terrible migraine and a tummy ache, but not telling anyone. When you don’t speak to people in full transparency they may take it as you having an attitude or being low energy. In this country when you trust people with your truth they can work with you to come up with mutually beneficial solutions. But when you’re feeling good still go hard! It makes those pause moments so earned.

Something I can say about you is that you have a gift of uplifting and empowering others so that they can see the best in themselves. Just the way you carry yourself and allow people to see sides of you that can be hard can inspire others to do the same. With having a big platform and many looking up to you, why do you feel it is important for you to not be afraid to be yourself and help who you can with your messages?

I think this is important because frankly, most people can see right through you when you’re faking it. Being authentic can really help people feel like you’re not a robot and that you do a live a similar life with similar moods and struggles. Like, look y’all I stub my toe on the edge of the couch and jump up and down cursing too okay? But guess what? We bounce back after that too.

What is something you wished you knew before pursuing your music career?

I wished I knew how political it could be. Being an artist visually and hanging around a lot of photographers and engineers I am very laid-back. Music from stories I’m told can be like high school, the popular kids, the anime crew and all that! I never quite fit anywhere in high school so I’m prepping for that too in music.

Do you have any upcoming projects we can expect soon?

I’m working on an EP, but definitely taking my time with it because I want to make sure everything feels complete. I am also performing at the Bungalow Music Festival in D.C. which I’m so excited about because it’s my first performance. It’s on August 10 so make sure y’all get your tickets. I can’t wait!

Photography, Art, And The Future Generation With Ryder

Someone who has the power to capture time. Photography is forever..for generations.” This is how Ryder describes what a photographer is to her. Atlanta based photographer, Ryder, is a unique and fresh creator behind the lens. With her film photography and perfect concert photos, Ryder’s lens is one that Atlanta knows very well. 

Getting her start in 2014, Ryder picked up her own camera while she was a junior in high school. “That was the time I stated to do photography, I was inspired by Tumblr and just looking at other people’s photography but it was nothing serious. I didn’t start taking it seriously until I moved to Atlanta and that was in 2017.” As someone who loves movies, Ryder is most inspired by colors and emotions. “I would say colors inspire me, emotions inspire me and movies. I’m really big on movies. Especially 80s movies.”

Photos can evoke emotions too. People live on forever in photographs. If someone took a photograph of me right now and I died tomorrow, I would still live on forever”, Ryder when asked more about photography’s impact. From history about photography  she talked about how back in the day, it was difficult to film and photograph black people — especially in black and white. It was only when people wanted to photograph things like furniture and other objects that had color that lenses were created to capture darker shades/tones. 

Do you feel it’s something anyone can do? “Absolutely, everyone’s a photographer. Especially when it comes to smartphones nowadays, I feel like anyone can take a photo. I feel like what separates someone is their eye, their own vision. But, anyone can do it.” So what does the future hold for Ryder? What advice would she give the future generation? Her ultimate goal? “That one is to take photographs of our generation now so that future generations can see them and be inspired and see how lit we were. For the next generation, learn your camera and know your camera. Love yourself in advance and put the work in now. Do your research. It’s okay to be inspired by others but you shouldn’t copy them. You have to get your own.”

Ryder’s Andy Warhol recreation with @Buggsview

With her notable work with Cam Kirk Studios, Nike, and her Andy Warhol inspired project, Ryder is a force to be reckoned with. Her unique eye for art, how she studies her craft, and is able to capture her vision for us to see.