I’m A Hotboy And I’m Not Ashamed Of It

In middle school, I believed I wasn’t “allowed” to listen to any artists that were women because I was a boy. Yes, I know – VERY ignorant mindset. This changed in high school when SZA signed to TDE and I just thought her voice was dope af. I also loved Syd’s voice and felt The Internet was my own little secret band that none of my friends listened to – which they didn’t at the time. Anyway, the point is I got over myself and my toxic masculinity and just decided to enjoy the music because it was good music.

Why can’t some grown men do this when it comes to Megan Thee Stallion?

In 2019, it’s obvious women have made their presence known in rap. In a genre dominated by men, they have to work twice as hard and people make twice the assumptions about them too. Just like with the men, there are clear standouts and some are better than others and that’s the way it should be. Megan Thee Stallion fits both of these categories. She has a commanding presence about her and does this using a combination of her personality, looks and most importantly her skills on the mic. Like a lot of people (yes, I know some of y’all have been there since her very first tape) I first heard Ms. Stallion when her freestyle on the “Big Poppa” beat (Or, “Between The Sheets” whichever you prefer) went viral and I was very intrigued. I decided to wait for Fever to drop and was slightly disappointed as the songs outside of “Realer” and didn’t have the feel of that freestyle or others I had heard from her…then I listened to Tina Snow and officially became a Hot Boy.

Many men have said they don’t like Meg because they don’t want to hear her rap about sex. But, what’s the difference between her doing it and literally any other male rapper doing it? It’s the same exchange just from the opposite perspective. This is especially interesting because Kevin F., who has been listening to Ms. Stallion for months was drawn to her for this same reason saying “There’s something engaging about hearing a woman own her sexuality and be as aggressive as men while still owning her femininity”. When Megan says things like “Imma need that head, give me neck like a vertebrae” and “Sitting on your bae face, I’m the ‘bae-by’ sitter” some men would rather say “I ain’t tryna hear all that bro” instead of just admitting these are simple but clever and fun bars. But if their favorite male rapper said “Got the moves like I’m Ryu/Yellow diamonds, Pikachu/When I switch my hair to blonde/I’m finna turn up like Goku” they’d be all over it. Too bad because Meg said that too.

“There’s something engaging about hearing a woman own her sexuality and be as aggressive as men while still owning her femininity”

Megan Thee Stallion for XXL Freshman

Perhaps it’s because some men can’t handle that she is better than some of their favorite male artists bar for bar? As our very own CEO Amani put it “Imagine a new rapper coming in, rapping circles around current artists, using vulgar language, and looking amazing while doing it. No it’s not a typical male rapper, it’s Houston’s very own Megan Thee Stallion” There are multiple women that are rappers that are legendary as well as those who are popular or not popular now. However, unfortunately they are still overshadowed by men and treated unfairly behind the scenes too. It’s almost as if some people have regressed all the way back to elementary school and are saying “Girls can’t do that” Kevin alluded to this too saying “Some men want their women to be inferior to them and when a woman comes to them and shows up as their equal or maybe even superior to them they get intimidated” Megan is making her presence known among men and will continue to whether they listen to what she has to say or not. Writer Kennadi H. put it bluntly saying “I feel like anybody that has a negative opinion is a hater…” This is an excellent point too. Some men simply decide they do not like a woman because she is bringing change to something they thought “belonged” to them. If you don’t like her simply based on the fact she is a woman that raps you are 100% in the wrong.  This mindset exists outside of the rap world too and can be attributed to movies, games and TV Shows that have had strong women taking over leads that were previously held by men.

“…she goes outside of the box people try to put female artists in. She speaks her mind, has an unapologetic attitude and an empowering amount of confidence! Not to mention her sex appeal…that’s on a whole different level.”

Outside of the haters, we fortunately have another segment of the male population with a much more favorable opinion of Megan and these are her Hot Boys. A “Hot Boy” is simply just the male counterpart of a Hot Girl. These men love and support her just as much as the women do. YouTuber and Hip Hop Critic Kenya P. believes the reason men feel this way is “…she goes outside of the box people try to put female artists in. She speaks her mind, has an unapologetic attitude and an empowering amount of confidence! Not to mention her sex appeal…that’s on a whole different level.” Meg’s technical ability as a rapper is what draws a lot of men in too. On the surface, she may sound like other popular female rappers but when it comes down to it – the bars are still there. And, she writes her verses herself. Also, as Kenya mentioned, men enjoy attractive women obviously but an attractive women doing something they already enjoy and doing it well? It’s a package deal.  Meg’s confidence is what pulls me in personally which easily comes through in her flow and her bars. She says what she means and means what she says. Also, her punchlines are clever and sometimes even funny as she has referenced Spongebob and The Jackson Family in the same verse. Her production is always on point too as it compliments her energy and makes every word just stick. Not to mention she’s an anime fan and as of the day this was written her current favorite anime is JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure which happens to be one of my favorites too. So basically, I’m sold all the way on her. Hot Boys aren’t afraid to admit they love Ms. Stallion because they see nothing wrong with loving her. Can we 100% relate to everything she says? Of course not. But, can we with most rappers? No. Good music is meant to be enjoyed by anyone and everyone and that is exactly what Megan Thee Stallion creates.

Hotties Stand Up. Haters Tune Out.

Her Body, Her Choice: Reasons Why Women Seek Abortions

Disclaimer: This article is not completely unbiased. It is pro-choice.

Abortion bans and heartbeat bills passing in several states such as Alabama and Georgia is the latest hot topic of discussion. Abortion has been a hot-button issue in politics for years, but since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Roe v. Wade in 1973, people across the nation never thought a woman’s right to privacy and right to choose to have an abortion or not would be stripped away. Now many girls, women, and trans men are panicking, and they should be––these anti-abortion laws are not pro-life, they are anti-choice and anti-women. Along with the discussion of the bills and laws themselves, many have talked about rape and incest being the main reason––and to some, the only reason––women should be allowed to have an abortion. However, there are many more valid reasons women seek abortions and should have the right to have one. 

 

According to a research article published on July 5, 2013 by BMC Women’s Health, 40 percent of participants stated not being financially prepared as their reason for seeking abortion. Although not being financially prepared was listed as the major theme, subthemes such as women not being able to afford a child and having financial problems (38 percent), lack of employment and underemployment (4 percent), lack of insurance or inability to get government assistance (0.6 percent), and inability to provide for a child without government assistance (0.4 percent) were included. One 32-year-old woman, in school full-time stated, “I’m unemployed, no health insurance, and could not qualify for any government-assisted aid, and even if my fiancé decided to hurry up and get married, I still wouldn’t have been covered under his health insurance for that.”

There seems to be a misconception that teenage girls are the main group to get abortions, which also seems to fuel outrage in people who think abortions should be banned because “teenagers shouldn’t be having sex anyway.” However, according to the CDC in an Abortion Surveillance report, in 2015, adolescents less than 15 years old and between 15 and 19 years of age accounted for 0.3 percent and 9.8 percent of all reported abortions––this group had the lowest rate of abortions out of the three age groups observed in this study. The majority of abortions accounted for and the group with the highest rate of abortions in 2015 were women in their 20s. Women aged between 20 to 24 and 25 to 29 accounted for 31.1 percent and 27.6 percent of all reported abortions. The second group who had the most abortions were women in their 30s and past their 40s. According to this study, in 2015, women aged 30 to 34, 35 to 39, and equal to or past the age of 40 accounted for 17.7 percent, 10 percent, and 3.5 percent of all abortions. The majority of these women are old enough to make an informed decision on abortion.

 

Another reason women were seeking an abortion, according to the research article published by BMC Women’s Health, was because of partner related reasons (31 percent). The relationship being bad, poor and/or new (9 percent), the respondent wanting to be married first/not a single mom (8 percent), partner is not supportive (8 percent), partner is wrong guy (6 percent), partner does not want baby (3 percent), and partner is abusive (3 percent) are among the subthemes for this category. In this research article, 29 percent of women expressed their need to focus on other children as their reason behind seeking abortion––25 percent stated it was too soon after having had a child, they were busy enough with current children, and they have enough children right now, while 5 percent had concern for other children they were rearing. Among the 5 percent, a woman stated, “I already have 5 kids; their quality of life would go down if I had another.”

Only 4 percent of women in 2015 stated they do not want a baby or to place their baby up for adoption in the research article on “Understanding why women seek abortions in the US” published by BMC Women’s Health. These tend to not be seen as sufficient enough reasons to have an abortion to some people. According to Planned Parenthood, “In 1965, illegal abortions made up one-sixth of all pregnancy-related deaths — and that’s just according to official reports; doctors think the actual number was a lot higher.” Roe v. Wade allowed the access women needed to safe and legal abortions so if a woman does not want a baby, she has the right to choose and have a safe one. And though many suggest putting the baby up for adoption, according to Children’s Rights, there are around 443,000 children in foster care in the U.S. on any given day and that “in 2017, more than 690,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care.” According to an article written in 2017, the National Foster Youth Institute stated:

 After reaching the age of 18, 20% of the children who were in foster care will become instantly homeless.
 Only 1 out of every 2 foster kids who age out of the system will have some form of gainful employment by the age of 24.
 There is less than a 3% chance for children who have aged out of foster care to earn a college degree at any point in their life.

 

The research article published by BMC Women’s Health included many more reasons women were seeking abortion including that a baby would interfere with future opportunities such as educational or vocational plans,women not being emotionally or mentally prepared, health related reasons such as their own health or health of the fetus, influences from friends or family, and so on. Many women who participated in the study gave more than one of these reasons for why they were seeking abortions (which is why the subtheme percentages do not necessarily add up to the major theme it is under), and all of these reasons are valid.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of July 1, 2018, the population of the U.S. is estimated to be 327,167,434 with 50.8 percent of the population being female. Slightly more than half of the U.S. population’s rights are being threatened in the name of pro-life. No one knows the circumstances of every individual woman. Whether they need an abortion due to their life being threatened or they want an abortion because they are not ready for a baby, women deserve that choice. 

Additional information about the recent abortion bans, heartbeat bills, and laws passed:

 According to the Washington Post, “Lawmakers in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah have passed new antiabortion bills, and similar measures are pending in other states.”
 According to CBS news, Alabama’s law is not scheduled to go into effect until November of this year, while Georgia’s law is not scheduled to take effect until January 2020. 
 There has been talk of the recent abortion bans and heartbeat bills being used to try to overturn Roe v. Wade. According to the Washington Post, Alabama state Rep. Terri Collins, who sponsored the bill, said, “This bill is about challenging Roe v. Wade and protecting the lives of the unborn because an unborn baby is a person who deserves love and protection.” 
 According to Time, “Governor Mike Parson is expected to sign a bill that would ban abortion in Missouri after eight weeks of pregnancy. Doctors who perform later abortions would face five to 15 years in prison, although people who receive abortions would not be prosecuted.”
 According to the New York Times, “Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio stopped short of outright bans, instead passing so-called heartbeat bills that effectively prohibit abortions after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, when doctors can usually start detecting a fetal heartbeat. Utah and Arkansas voted to limit the procedure to the middle of the second trimester.”

 

 

 

Testing Was Always Good, You Just Didn’t Listen To Us

With the one year anniversary of A$ap Rocky’s third studio album, Testing, approaching this week, I think it’s time we finally put some respect on it. Understandably, people need time for music to sink in and marinate with them. Hell, maybe even grow with it. But a lot of you are a year too late. Testing was always a great album, you guys just didn’t listen to us.

When we first discussed Testing, there was a lot of backlash. “This doesn’t sound like Rocky”. “This album didn’t slap”. Now, it could be because everyone was too immersed in the Drake/Pusha T/Kanye situation because Rocky dropped right in the middle of the shit. But let’s be real, this album didn’t connect with a lot of people due to the expectations that it would sound like “ALLA” and it didn’t.

The biggest issue people had with Testing was the music itself. But when it comes down to it, Rocky was doing things that weren’t traditional on purpose…and doing them well. We most recently heard how creative vocal layering could be executed on IGOR and When I Get Home. Rocky layered vocals in his own way on “Gunz N Butter” to the point where it almost seems like there’s two songs playing at the same time. And he’s matching the flow of that second song with his verses. This may have been annoying to some but it shows just how much you can do when using a sample. Also, he took us to Motown on “Brotha Man” with strings, keys and a lead melody that only appears on the right side of our headphones – a technique straight from the past. Y’all must have no soul to not appreciate this one.

I’d also like to bring up how instead of using the voicemail interlude trope we’ve all heard before he had a phone call verse on “CALLDROPS”…and did adlibs for said verse. “Changes” is a musical journey split into chapters across beat…changes. “Hun43rd” is classic Rocky — it actually sounds like it’s right off of Live Love A$ap; the old SGP trippy type of beat and layers of distorted vocals. “Black Tux, White Collar” is classic Rocky infused with dope experimentation.

So why did it take people a year to appreciate Testing? I wish I could tell you the answer but I do have an assumption. As consumers, we tend to go into our favorite artists’ new projects with a small hope that it sounds somewhat familiar. When it doesn’t, we write it off as a bad album but with Rocky his album title literally told you what this album was going to sound like — testing new sounds, testing new layers, testing new techniques.

Let’s discuss his rollout. In my opinion, this was my favorite rollout from the massive amounts of albums we got in 2018. Rocky didn’t do a typical press run — in fact, the only press he did was Desus and Mero, SNL, and of course his infamous AWGE DVD. If you paid close attention, Rocky has been using the black and yellow hazard sign “🚧”, crash test dummies, and construction site wardrobe to really give you the affect of testing. In NYC and LA, Rocky strategically placed these hazard stickers that connected to his testing app where you could hear snippets of the upcoming album. After a few months of the album being out, Rocky released his sneaker collaboration with Under Armour.

Rocky and the rest of the mob is known for dropping these dvd shorts of freestyles, behind the scenes of music videos, exclusive & unreleased videos, and just the whole mob enjoying each other’s company. Every mob fan knows, when this drops, that means Rocky is dropping or we’re getting a cozy tape. See below for our favorite one.

Now, don’t think we’re bashing you for loving the album because this isn’t it. We’re simply breaking down why it might’ve taken a lot of you to really enjoy the album… even if it was a year later. Nonetheless, welcome to the Testing Hive. Join us as we currently wait for his next album’s theme and hints that he’s dropping soon. For now, let’s stream Testing and enjoy the diverse sounds on this project.

This article was a collaboration with EIC @amaniwintour and culture writer @paullyb97

Let Your Fears Make You Fierce With Koya Webb

Although many of us don’t like to admit it, we come in contact with fear pretty often. Some defeat their fears, others may let their fears control them, but Koya Webb has made a way to turn your fears fierce. I got to speak with Koya on a sunny day in Atlanta as she enjoyed the California sun and waves of Marina Del Rey. With our three hour time difference, my day was coming to an end as her’s was only half way finished. Koya is the founder to the Get Loved Up platform which is a go to source for all things yoga, holistic health, and a vegan lifestyle. Now, Koya has taken a new title as the author of “Let Your Fears Make You Fierce”. When she created Get Loved Up, Koya reflects on when she didn’t love herself and how she felt she didn’t fit in for many reasons. “It took me a long time to really love myself. Get Loved Up came about for myself because I would love other people and thought that’s what I need for them to love me back and that’s what I needed. Then I realized that no one is going to love you. It’s up to you to love you”.

Before we dove into the meat of interview, Koya mentioned she was able to successfully get through her morning routine. “Well, what does that look like for you”? “When I first wake up, I take a moment of gratitude. Just relaxing and thinking of things I’m grateful for. Then I’ll write in my gratitude journal and I have a gratitude prayer I do with my students. I usually like to do a run — a mile a day. I ran by the water and I’ve been traveling a lot and I don’t always have water to run by. It’s always nice when I can go in nature and connect with nature”. Koya then gives good tips to balance your time on technology and your time in nature. “We are one with nature”, she states, “balance it out with some nature and work on your spiritual health”. After her run she usually meditates for 20 minutes, followed by a 60 minute yoga flow, then some days I’ll go to the gym, have a morning smoothie, and starts her day.

This June, Koya will be releasing her book titled “Let Your Fears Make You Fierce” and for me that’s what drew me to this book. How do we make our fears make us fierce? “After studying the course of miracles, There are two main emotions in life: love and fear. When you’re in fear, you can’t be in love. The two can’t coexist. Whenever I found myself in fear, how can I get to this fierce state where I know I’m my most powerful self? When I’m in love, I’m fierce. When I’m in fear — fear, doubt, worry, judgment, all of that holds me back. Let your fears make you fierce is all about turning those fears around. When you get loved up, you can then be fierce”.

At one point in time or another, we let fear take the wheel. Maybe without even realizing it. So I followed up with asking how do we overcome those fears and setbacks and Koya had an amazing answer. “There’s no one size fits all solution. Find what ways work for you that bring you peace of mind. So when you get that peace of mind, you’ll listen to your soul through meditation. Meditation would be my first step. I believe in the father, son, and the Holy Spirit and I believe the Holy Spirit is our guide. We leave this body and we still have a soul and our soul guides us. We get thrown off by things outside of ourselves — friends, family, social media try to tell us what they think is right for us. But we have the answer right inside of us and meditation helps us tap into that”. In her book, Koya discusses how powerful meditation can be such as pranayama which is breath work, things you can do to reduce stress. Being able to tune a lot of that out and be able to listen to our souls can calm us down including a lot of the anxiety and stress many of us deal with on a daily basis. Healing from past trauma, connecting with the Holy Spirit that is within, and make the steps to connect with themselves is Koya’s goal.

Koya and I shared our love for affirmations. Affirmations help you to speak out loud what you want and train your mind to believe it. Once you are able to believe it and change your mindset, you begin to change a lot of your actions in such a positive way. “I have an affirmation in every chapter of my book! It helps your mental health. Affirmations help us focus on the positive and when we focus on the positive we can really get past the noise and the negativity. My favorite affirmation is: I release all of the limiting beliefs that block me from my greatness”. Now, I had to take a moment to write that down. We tend to make excuses for a lot of things we aren’t doing and these excuses block us from what we can and should be in life. “Step into your peace. Step into your confidence”.

I always wanted to write a book. I love reading. I love knowledge. I love information. I knew I wanted to write a book and I was receiving so much information that I wanted to share but I always thought ‘what if this changes next year? I’m not good enough to share!’. So I had that perfectionism that as my road block. I was procrastinating a lot. So I needed to stop. I got my publisher and they wanted to tell my personal story of trauma! I was like ‘oh no! I just wanted to share my affirmations, meditation, yoga!’. But they said ‘well, how are people going to know this works? You have to share your personal story’”. Koya shared how the process of her going back to face a lot of the old trauma brought up old feelings. She eventually had to get help with writing her book because she so used to speaking. Once she got all of her story out and transcribed it, she was able to structure it the way she wanted. “I went through and I’m still going through a phase of healing after going through my entire life and revisiting the old trauma”. Going through this healing process, she realizes that she has to go through another process because some of the things she thought was healed, wasn’t once she revisited it. “Wounds need air and sometimes you cover it up and it hasn’t healed. you’re just protecting that would but not doing the work to heal it. In my book I talk about community and your team because you should be able to communicate, share, and support because I think that’s the real healer. I tell people you have to reveal it to heal it. It was difficult but I use my story to help other people go through their transitions”.

Being able to sit back and analyze what areas you should adjust and work on is a way to improve your self care and self awareness. Koya suggested doing a check in with yourself and rate where you are in each area of life. “If you give yourself less than a five, then you definitely need work and may need outside help. If you’re around the seven and eight area, it’s probably something you can do yourself. For example, if your health is not gong so well then you might want to improve your diet. If your fitness isn’t great, I recommend everyone to just walk a mile a day. If it’s spiritual, you might want to meditate or go to a spiritual center. You want to just connect. All of us have well intentions and all of us get caught up in different things and certain areas of our lives start to fall off. Once you do the assessment, you’re able to see what you should work on”.

After speaking with Koya, I began diving into Let Your Fears Make You Fierce and created my own self assessment chart to help with my personal life. The words Koya spoke that day stuck with me as I jotted tons of things down in my journal but also her energy resonated with me. Koya has married transparency and the ability to teach perfectly and her book Let Your Fears Make You Fierce reflects that. Be sure to follow Koya on her Instagram at @KoyaWebb and make sure you get loved up with her at @GetLovedUp.

Let Your Fears Make You Fierce: How to Turn Common Obstacles into Seeds of Growth comes out June 11th, 2019

Black Women And Fashion Takeover

Who doesn’t want to support black businesses? More specifically, who wouldn’t want to support black female owned boutiques? Here are five black female owned boutiques that you need to check out ASAP! They’re all different from one another and one might be the right fit for you.

1. Charley’s Closet

Via Instagram

Owner: Charley Moné York

Location: Online

Prices: $7.99–$42.00 (in “Apparel”)

Type: Night/Day Out

This online boutique’s owner is Charley Moné York. York’s vision, according to the Charley’s Closet website, “is to create a brand that is affordable, comfy, and chic.” York also stated, “Whether you’re going on a business trip or to a nightclub, Charley’s Closet has all of your clothing needs.” York began her boutique in college and has recently graduated. York’s online boutique features dresses, matching sets, pants, and more. The sizes offered in her clothing are small, medium, and large. The style of clothing provided is best for those who want to find clothes to wear to any event during the day or night––cookouts, clubs, bars, beaches…you name it!

Interested? You can check out Charley’s Closet here: https://shopcharleyscloset.com/

2. Curve Conscious

Via thecurvyfashionista.com    

Owner: Adrienne Ray

Location: Philadelphia/Online

Prices: $12–$18 (in “Tops)

Type: Plus Size/Thrift

The owner of this plus size resale boutique is Adrienne Ray. According to the Curve Conscious website, Ray created this boutique “after being frustrated for years with local consignment, resale and thrift shops for their lack of plus-size clothing options.” Ray’s mission for Curve Conscious was “to provide an exclusive space where plus-size women can feel safe and comfortable, while they shop and sell gently used items in great condition.” Ray’s boutique offers shoes, accessories, and clothing such as outerwear, skirts, and tops. Sizes of the clothes range from 12 to 28. Curve Conscious also provides private shopping sessions. This boutique is perfect for plus size women who need a little more body positivity in their life and who want to go thrift shopping while knowing they will definitely find clothing in their size. Curve Conscious is both in-store and online.

Interested? You can check out Curve Conscious here: https://www.curveconsciousphilly.com/

3. A.Z.R.I.E.L.

Via Instagram

Owner: Azrie’l Johnson

Location: Online

Prices: $25–$28

Type: Mom/Breastfeeding Positivity

This online boutique’s owner is Azrie’l Johnson. Johnson’s mission, according to the A.Z.R.I.E.L. website, is to create “a brand to support, educate, beautify, and encourage ALL women on their breastfeeding journey.” Johnson also stated, “I am passionate (zealous) about God, breastfeeding, helping mothers to feel beautiful, worthy, and enough.” Though the boutique is new and currently only offers a short sleeve V-neck T-shirt with “I Am Enough” written across its front, the sizes included for this tee range from small to 2X. This online boutique is for the mothers who want to feel confident in breastfeeding and feel beautiful as a mother.

Interested? You can check out A.Z.R.I.E.L. here: https://azriel.shop/

4. Matte

Via Instagram

Owner: Briana Shaneé Wilson

Location: Online

Prices: $65–$85 (in “The Caution Basics”)

Type: Form-Fitting/Daring

Matte Brand owner, Briana Shaneé Wilson — according to Fader, Wilson “launched MATTE, a brand with must-have basics, inspired by her love for clothing with minimal design, femininity and comfort,” after moving to New York City in search of starting a modeling career. Fader also stated that her brand has even “been worn by celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Karreuche and Draya.” Matte offers clothing in categories such as lace, fitness, and basics. Matte offers jumpsuits, bodysuits, matching sets, and more with sizes ranging from extra small to large. This online boutique is for those who enjoy form-fitting clothing and looks that will make you feel sexy.

Interested? You can check out Matte here: https://shopmatte.com/

5. Premme

Via Instagram

Owners: Gabi Gregg (Left) and Nicolette Mason (Right)

Location: Online

Prices: $25–$149 (in “Shop”)

Type: Plus Size/Fashion-Forward

This online boutique’s owners are Gabi Gregg, who is black, and Nicolette Mason. According to Premme’s website, “Premme was born out of a love of fashion and the recognition that the industry is still lacking when it comes to the wants and needs of plus size women.” The website also stated, “We believe babes of all sizes deserve bold, fashion-forward statement pieces without compromise.” Both Gregg and Mason have worked within the fashion industry as “fashion editors at InStyle and Marie Claire, design consultants and two of the first style bloggers…” Premme offers size guides on their website––one in centimeters, the other in inches. The sizes range from large to 6X, but in Premme sizes, a 0 is large and a 6 is a 6X. Premme also offers skirts, tops, jackets, and more. This online boutique is for plus size women who want to be trendy and express their personality through fashion.

Interested? You can check out Premme here: https://premme.us/

Different people have different needs and wants when it comes to fashion, including styles, sizes, budgets, and a meaningful mission from the brand they’re buying from. Hopefully, one of these black female owned boutiques meets all of your needs and wants. And while you’re at it, check out and support the black female owned boutiques near you!

J4y King: Connecting With Beats, Nipsey Hussle, & Being Versatile

There’s a reason the sun wakes you up“. Before hopping into the detailed conversation with rapper, J4y King, we sat for a few minutes discussing the weather. Sounds cliche but since we’re in two different regions, we thought it was comical that I was enjoying the heat in Atlanta while he was dodging rain showers in New York City. We got on the topic of how the weather can truly affect your mood, your motivation. Motivated is actually the word I would use to describe J4y. I have to say, after speaking with him and hearing everything he was working on and how his work ethic is, I pulled an all-nighter because I obviously wasn’t up to par.

You should take note of the way his name is spelled throughout this interview. No, it’s not a mistake or typo. First and foremost, it separates him from the millions of Jay King’s in the industry. “How do I make it different because I want to go by this. My mother’s maiden name is ‘King’, that’s where I got the King from. With the ‘4’ there, I was born in April and it still looks like the letter ‘A’“.

What’s your process like when you’re creating these projects”. As creatives, most of us have these little processes or changes we do once we start developing an idea; whether we know it or not. For J4y, he goes in knowing what he wants to do and how he wants his projects to sound. “For Sativa Season, I knew I wanted a fun and upbeat kind of thing and something you can play on a drive. Give you different types of vibes. It’s a playlist within itself. I also think about how I can perform this”. Performance is a prominent part of an artists’ career. Have you ever went to a concert for an artist you love and he or she can’t perform — or connect with the crowd? “For Breathing Room (released in 2013), it was to show I’m versatile. I kinda rushed it. I was at a point when I was going to quit rapping. My manager at the time convinced me not to. Shout out to Cutty”. He shares that this project didn’t embody him as an artist and it just seem rushed.

Now with his new project coming out, Breathing Room, J4y is going back to the drawing board to really show his versatility as an artist. He then shares his story about meeting with producer Tom Wolfe. “I met him at a show I did. He told me he fucked with my music, got my information probably from Instagram, and sent me over a beat. It took me a minute to write to it. I don’t know why — I was just sitting on it. When I finally sent him back the song, he was like ‘oh this is fire!’ and I knew it was. I’m not gonna lie. I did my thing on it”. Tom sent him more beats — about 4 more for an EP. It was an instant connection. J4y then made his song “Sweet Sweet” and “Ascensia”.

With his mom being Jamaican and father being Haitian, incorporating reggae into his songs just came naturally. “When I sent that to him, he went crazy”! That’s when J4y knew that this is what his new Breathing Room would be like. “Being versatile as an artist, it’s not just about the content. It’s about the way you deliver the content, different flows, cadences, rapping on different kinds of beats, the melodies”.

Now, I’m not artist or producer so I asked how he knew that he connected with a beat. “When I get a beat, it has to move. If I don’t want to start rapping on it immediately, it maybe not it. Some beats it could be the timing or I was tired so I’ll sit on it for awhile. Shout out to Jonny Ice. He sent me 4 amazing beats that went on to Sativa Season and it fit really well. The beats gotta fit well with what I’m trying to do”.

Recently, the music industry took a major loss when Nipsey Hussle passed away. I decided to ask J4y how this death affected him as an artist and a man. “That really fucked me up! I remember hearing of him when he first dropped a “hundred dollar. Then he came back around with Rap Nigga and I went back and listened to what I’ve been missing out on. But what I really keyed in on was his interviews. His interviews should me that your way of thinking is correct, keep going. He built up The Marathon, he stayed independent, kept all his masters. I didn’t know any of that. When I watch his interviews, I looked like this is what I want to do. He gave niggas hope! You can make it. Stay true to yourself. Give back to your community. That kind of integrity isn’t there anymore. After losing him, I had a self realization. Why did the marathon work? It stands for something with purpose. It’s not just the clothing. Keep going”. J4y goes on to speak about looking at his own brand, Sativa Season and what the purpose of it is: blazing, creating, elevating. Staying ten ones down and staying solid. When you do things, do it with purpose. That’s the lesson for today. Purposeful living.

Met Gala 2019: Editor In Chief’s Picks

Every first Monday of May, the fashion world gears up for their biggest night: The Met Gala. As a fashion editor, I tend to look forward to this day more than my own birthday — the looks, the atmosphere, wondering who is going to follow the theme and who is going to have us saying “huh”? Well, this year actually surprised me. Typically, I’m expecting people to look GOOD but miss the mark on the theme but to my surprise, a lot of people showed out for this theme! (Which wasn’t hard if you ask me).

This year’s theme was Camp: Notes On Fashion. Similar to many others, I had no idea what the hell this meant. So I did some digging and researching so I knew what to look forward to last night. The best way I can put it for everyone to understand: kitsch extravaganza. We wanted over the top, we wanted feathers, we wanted drama, we wanted theatrics, we wanted mismatch patterns. This is what it was all about. Just going all out without a care in the world.

So who were the favorites of this year? Well, it was quite a few so what I decided to do was share my top five (5) favorite looks. Check out the full slideshow of looks below!

Editor in Chief picks

1. Billy Porter — not only did Billy Porter stick to the theme but he made such a grand entrance! And we stan dramatic entrances. His all gold, winged outfit made him the bell of the ball. I mean, who else can stand out better than the hosts of the entire event except The Billy Porter?

2. Katy Perry — Katy’s look was very “Be My Guest” but she pulled it off so well that I couldn’t stop staring at her as she walked the carpet.

3. Florence of Florence and The Machine — every year my girl seems to subtly nail the theme. She flies under the radar since we’re all so focused on the big stars but she really hits the nail on the head with the theme.

4. Laverne Cox — honey, Ms. Cox came and showed the girls what it means to give a fashion villain! I absolutely loved her look and I will stand by it forever!

5. Janelle Mone — it’s no surprise that the eclectic queen came and gave us exactly what we needed. Not only this she stand out with her geometrical shapes, her eye titty even winked!

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COLORS: Connecting Fans Through Unique Performances

If you’re not familiar with COLORS and you’re a music fan let me tell you something: you’re definitely missing out. COLORS is a web series on YouTube where talented music artists perform live with their raw vocals. But, the special part is when they perform the room, they’re in only has a suspended microphone and any instruments the artists or their band uses. Oh and there’s three walls and a floor. And they’re all one color. The color always matches the tone of the song or the outfit the artist is wearing. Some may think this is difficult to achieve but every single one I’ve seen has always fit perfectly. This stripped down presentation focuses all attention on the artist with no room for distractions.

COLORS is probably one of the best platforms for promotion of an artist as well as connecting that artist with fans both new and old. As I mentioned, their true home is YouTube but I know I’m not the only one who discovered COLORS via a Retweet. Through this, fans can show their admiration of an artist by tweeting the video of their performance. Other fans will of course retweet the video and before you know it, the mentions become filled with replies of “Who is this?” and just like that new fans are created. Sometimes the artist will premiere a new song on the platform and not release it until their upcoming album. This, once again, creates promo for the artist and the anticipation from their fanbase only makes the view and share count on the performance go up more and more. Seeing your favorite artist on COLORS is always a treat and a surprise. Seeing the preview the day before the video is uploaded gets fans excited and builds anticipation.

The monotone signature style of COLORS is definitely its claim to fame. The aesthetics are crisp and clean with excellent quality both not only visually but sonically as well. Another great aspect of COLORS is the variety of artists they have. Being that they are based in Berlin, Germany there are a lot of European artists showcased on the platform. However, there have been artists we in America know and love on there too such as Doja Cat, Rico Nasty, J.I.D, Gunna, and more. COLORS prides themselves on the variety of artists they showcase as their site says “All COLORS, no genres.”

Check out some of my personal favorite COLORS performances below!

April + VISTA

J.I.D

Kali Uchis

Beast Coast Takeover Hits The Tonight Show

Beast Coast is a supergroup consisting of groups Pro Era, The Underachievers and Flatbush Zombies – a total of 10 people. Chances are if you’re a hip hop head and you know anything about your Third Eye or government corruption, you probably first learned about it from these guys several years back. Tonight they made their debut TV performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Performing “Left Hand” their first single from their debut album they brought the lyric driven flows they are known to the stage backed by 3 screens and a junkyard like stage design. Clad in black and grey outfits that were a cross between streetwear and workwear the energy was just as high as the chemistry between everyone.

Check out the performance below!

Beast Coast’s  album should be dropping any day now and their Escape From New York Tour begins this Friday April 13th.

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.