Janelle Monáe Talks Celebrating Diversity, Missy Elliott Helping Her Embrace Her Uniqueness, And More With ‘TimeOut’ Magazine

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Something I believe we can all agree on when it comes to Janelle Monáe is an undeniable love and respect for her authenticity and unapologetic personality — or should I say her free-ass–motherf*cker spirit as she calls it.

The singer-songwriter and actress recently sat down with TimeOut magazine to discuss everything from Prince’s influence over her music career, idolizing Missy Elliott, expressing herself through style, being a “queer black woman”, the responsibility she feels to make sure people who are like her feel seen, heard, and celebrated, her most recent album, Dirty Computer, and so much more.

Janelle Monáe on using style as a form of expression:

“I love the ’80’s,” she says. “It was a vibe. It wasn’t about name brands; it wasn’t about designers. Everything you had on was about how you wanted to express yourself. You didn’t let the trends speak over your art.”

Janelle Monáe on connecting with Prince and his free spirit:

“Prince has been an inspiration to me since I was a little girl,” said Janelle. “He did, in fact, scare me a lot. I think it was the fact that I had never seen a man express himself like Prince. You just got the sense that this is a free-ass motherfucker, you know? And it inspired my free-ass–motherfucker spirit. And then I got to form a great personal relationship with him. If anybody understood where I was trying to go musically and sonically, it was him. Whatever you needed, he would say, “I’m here.

Janelle Monáe on the narrative that drove her album, Dirty Computer:

“I think the narrative first comes from a young African-American woman living in America through my lens. You take off the makeup, the costumes, the artist—I am the daughter and descendant of working-class parents and grandparents. My grandmother picked cotton in Aberdeen, Mississippi. She helped build this country, and when I think about being a woman, being a minority and being a queer black woman, I think it makes me feel a deeper responsibility to make sure people who are like me feel seen, are heard and feel celebrated.”

Janelle Monáe on Missy Elliott helping her embrace her uniqueness:

“First of all, I grew up idolizing Missy Elliott. She is the master of visuals, so I would be honored to have her do anything [directing a video]. It’s been a long time coming,” she says.

“When I first started my career, I did a showcase here in New York City. I was so nervous. I didn’t look like any of the other artists who were performing that night. My music didn’t sound like them, and I was in this tuxedo and had natural hair. I wasn’t what you would call a “typical” R&B black female artist, and I was really having anxiety about it. I did my thing, and I remember seeing her in the audience. When I came offstage, she was one of the first people to greet me. She told me she loved my performance and thought I had something special. Just the affirmation I got from her right there helped me embrace the things that make me unique.”

For the full interview, visit TimeOut.com.

Ashanti Is The Latest To Join The #MeToo Movement By Sharing Her Story Of Sexual Harrasment With Music Producer

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The #MeToo movement continues to give people the courage to speak out about their run in’s with sexual assault, especially in the entertainment industry. R&B artist, Ashanti is one of the most recent black female celebrities to share her story of sexual misconduct and discrimination.

The “Rain On Me” singer whose hits we can’t stop singing our lungs out until this day talked about it all during her interview on SiriusXM’s “Conversation with Maria Menunos,”. Ashanti revealed that she was sexually harassed by a male producer who would not listen to her music unless they were sexually involved.

“I’ve come across a situation where there was a certain producer that, you know, he had his little crush or whatever, but it wasn’t anything new, you know,” Ashanti said. “And once I said ‘no,’ all of a sudden the track became $45k.”

“It’s funny because he said something like, ‘Well just take a shower with me and let me do this,” she continued, as she explained the producer apologized when one of her “big brothers” walked into the room.

“The way that apology came in, I actually got three records for free,” Ashanti said. “And I got two of them mixed and mastered for free also.”

The songstress was thankful for having someone there who would look out for her. Who knows what would have happened if nobody was there to step in.

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“I’m blessed because I have that,” she said, as she reflected on her experience. “It happens it does and it’s unfortunate.”

 

Instagram And Spotify Team Up For #BlackGirlMagic Interactive Map And Playlist

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Black history month is coming to an end but you know we’re going to continue to celebrate the greatness that is our culture all year round. Instagram and Spotify have teamed up to celebrate Black History Month and the “power, resilience, and beauty inspired by out black women in our generations and generations past” with the interactive United States of #BlackGirlMagic map and playlist.

The graphic highlights the most liked- IG posts for top-ranked artists most frequently playlist with the term #BlackGirlMagic by U.S Spotify users. The map will come with a playlist and it is currently live on Spotify.

The ten most streamed artists on Spotify #BlackGirlMagic playlists are Lizzo, India Arie, Beyonce, SZA, Solange, Kehlani, Nicki Minaj, Janelle Monae, Alicia Keys, and Rihanna (in no particular order). You can view the full interactive map here, and the playlist is now available on Spotify.

 

 

Sade Creates Original Song For Ava Duvernay’s ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ Film

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According to Ava Duvernay‘s most recent post, it looks like we will be getting new music from soul-stress Sade. Ava took to Twitter to share the amazing news that Sade will be creating an original song for the upcoming film, ‘A Wrinkle In Time’.

Fans are in awe because Sade hasn’t released a song or an album since the beloved “Solider of Love” project back in 2010. The song will be on the “Wrinkle In Time” soundtrack and it is called “Flower of the Universe”.

The highly anticipated film is directed by Ava DuVernay and stars Oprah Winfrey and Storm Reid. It is an adaptation of  Madeleine L’Engle’s novel and it can be described as this generation’s Wizard of Oz. Who will be heading to the theaters and downloading the soundtrack?

Michelle Obama Dedicates A Valentine’s Playlist To Barack Obama

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Playlists will always be at the top of the unique custom gift list for any romantic holiday and Valentine’s Day is no exclusion. From the mixtapes to digital playlists, curating a musical soundtrack to profess your love for your partner is a special way to spread love. This Valentine’s Day, first lady Michelle Obama dedicates a 44-track playlist to President Barack Obama in the sweetest way.

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Michelle Obama shared via Twitter the playlist she crafted for her “one and only.”  Like Barack Obama, Michelle Obama’s musical taste encompasses a wide variety of artists and genres. This playlist is specifically made with their love in mind.  The playlist has songs from Etta James and Beyoncé to Kendrick Lamar and Bruno Mars. Check out the entire playlist below:

 

 

Janelle Monae Delivers Passionate Speech Declaring #TimesUp In The Music Industry

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Abusive and intimidating behavior in Hollywood has existed forever and now, will no longer be tolerated. Hollywood’s elite have banded together to form the #TimesUp movement, empowering victims to come come forward and providing resources for victims of sexual abuse on the job across many industries. While the focus has been on the world of acting, the music industry is also home to the same grotesque behavior. Janelle Monae, award winning singer and actor took to the Grammy stage to echo the message to the music industry that time is indeed up.

Many celebs wore white roses on the Grammy’s red carpet, indicating their support of the #TimesUp movement and Janelle Monae, no stranger to using her voice to speak for the greater good delivered a passionate speech to the world. Her speech took place before an emotional performance by Kesha, singing a ballad provoked by the pain from sexual abuse by her former producer.

“I am proud to stand in solidarity as not just an artist, but a young woman with my fellow sisters in this room who make up the music industry. We come in peace, but we mean business. And to those who would dare try and silence us, we offer you two words: Time’s up.” said Janelle Monae as the audience applauded in approval.

Janelle Monae made it clear that not only will sexual abuse no longer be tolerated but equal pay, gender discrimination and other inadequacies in Hollywood will soon be coming to an end.

““Just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo the culture that does not serve us well. So let’s work together, women and men, as a united music industry committed to creating more safe work environments, equal pay, and access for all women.”

 

 

 

Aretha Franklin Hand-Picks Jennifer Hudson To Star In Her Biopic

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Aretha Franklin has lived a legendary life with a noteworthy music career.  It is only right that the Detroit born Queen of Soul select the talent to play her role in her own biopic.  Her life story soon to be pictured on film will be lead by Jennifer Hudson.

During the Clive Davis pre-Grammy party Hudson took the staage to perform a couple songs.  Clive Davis informed the audience that Dream Girls star Jennifer Hudson was hand selected by Aretha Franklin herself to take on the leading role in her biopic.  Davis who has a longstanding relationship with Franklin was perfect to deliver the exciting news. Hudson’s performance included renditions of Aretha Franklin classics such as Think and Respect. 

The biopic, acquired and financed by MGM will chronicle the life of Aretha Franklin and detail her decades long career as a musician.  Franklin who boasts one of the most decorated artists in Grammy history also has accolades including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the NAACP Hall Of Fame and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

Kandi Burruss Chooses Not To Record New Xscape Music To Preserve Their Legacy

Xscape has toured the country on ‘The Great Xscape” tour and many fans began buzzing about their favorite R&B girls group of the 1990’s bringing new sounds to the new millenium. Group members Tiny,  LaTocha and Tamika were on board for recording a new album however Kandi decided she was against the idea of a new Xscape album.

Their successful tour featured R&B acts Monica and Tamar Braxton allowed the group to create a buzz in the music industry yet Kandi feels their legacy should remain untouched.  Kandi, who currently pioneers several businesses and stars on Bravo’s Real Housewive’s of Atlanta explains her decision to not record any new tracks with Xscape.

“As soon as the girls and I started talking initially I had told them I didn’t really want to do new music and the main reason is because I feel like I don’t want to mess with our legacy.  When we were in a group, we had three platinum albums, all of our albums were hits, we never had a flop album and things are not how they used to be back then.”  remarks the singer during an interview with Madam Noire.

Kandi who has gotten used to standing on her own two feet and also admits that the quartet does not ofen see eye-to-eye on the direction of their music. Watch the interview below:

 

Whitney Houston And Billie Holiday Among 2018 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inductions

Whitney Houston and Billie Holiday are both legendary voices who’s presence in music are both missed. The achievements and talents of both women will be acknowledged by The Recording Academy as they are inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame.

Whitney Houston’s legacy includes one of the most awarded female vocalists of all time released seven studio albums and two soundtrack albums, all of which have diamond, multi-platinum, platinum, or gold certification. Houston’s powerhouse voice and not so demure personality makes her a favorite of many.

Billie Holiday, an icon of Jazz music had a career that spanned decades. Nicknamed Lady Day by her peers, Holiday made her name performing in spirited Jazz clubs in Harlem.  Besides selling Carnegie Hall shows, Holiday’s music has won her four Grammy awards. Both Houston and Holiday experienced public scandals with substance abuse and their untimely deaths harrowed many.

Although they are no longer creating, The Recording Academy recognizes the timeless talent displayed on their records. The latest inductees include a diverse range of both singles and album recordings that exhibit qualitative or historical significance and are at least 25 years old. Reviewed by a special committee, the final selections are approved by the Recording Academy’s National Board of Trustees.

With 25 new titles, the Hall, inductees currently total 1,063 recordings all  displayed at GRAMMY Museum® L.A. Live.

“Iconic and inspiring, these recordings are an integral part of our musical, social, and cultural history, and we are proud to have added them to our growing catalog.”  said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy.

Whitney Houston will be recognized for her hit single “I Will Always Love You”. Billie Holiday’s single “My Man” will be inducted. Other inductees include Gladys Knight & The Pips’ “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power, Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me” and Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five’s “Savoy Blues”

 

 

#ICYMI: Amara La Negra Signs Multi-Album Record Deal

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The Afro-Latina artist with Dominican roots has turned heads not only for her beauty but her pride. Amara La Negra stars on the first season of Love And Hip Hop Miami and has brought the issues of colorism and anti-blackness to the silver screen. Open and rightfully proud of her existence as a Black and Latina woman, Amara La Negra has faced racism and stereotypes at many levels.

An intense conversation between Amara La Negra and producer Young Hollywood, a castmate on the VH1 reality show, highlights the reality she faces as she continues to expand her music career. Shown defending her dark skin, natural hair and Latina identity.  Despite the ignorance of Young Hollywood’s comments, Amara La Negra admantly states the industry can and will see a dark akin Afro-Latina woman succeed.

While this may be many’s introduction to Amara La Negra, she has been on stages and screens since childhood.  Born Dana Danelys De Los Santos, Amara got her start on the television show Sábado Gigante.  Today, on the cusp of Love And Hip Hop Miami and social media fame,  Amara La Negra can celebrate a new record deal.

The pop and reggaeton stylings of Amara La Negra can call Fast Life Entertainment Worldwide and BMG Recordings home. A deal crafted by CEO  of Fast Life Entertainment Worldwide Jullian Boothe and Zach Katz, President of BMG Recordinds promises an Amara La Negra single in the first quarter of 2018.

““I’m still in shock! At times, I am caught pinching myself because there is a part of me that still is in awe of being signed to a franchise that will heighten my success,” Amara shares with Billboard.

Producers Rock City, behind hits of succesful artists including Rihanna, Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj will work hand in hand with Amara on her forthcoming music.

Mary J. Blige Celebrated Her Birthday With Hollywood Walk of Fame Star

Our favorite Auntie of all Auntie’s Mary J. Blige was honored today, January 11 2018, with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“Mary J. Blige is one of the most popular singers of our generation. Fans will be thrilled to see her star on the Boulevard as her career milestones are celebrated on this very famous sidewalk,” said Ana Martinez, producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies.

Blige is well deserving of this recognition, she has received plenty of Grammy Award’s, a Golden Globe Award, a SAG Award, and Critics’ Choice Award nominations for her role in Dee Rees’ period drama “Mudbound,” as well as a Golden Globe nomination for best original song for “Mighty River.”

The Grammy Award-winning artist has recently been recognized for her acting work. Blige received Golden Globe Award, SAG Award, and Critics’ Choice Award nominations for her role in Dee Rees’ period drama “Mudbound,” as well as a Golden Globe nom for the best original song for “Mighty River.”

Congrats to Mary, what an amazing way to start 2018!

 
 

 

Missy Elliott To Be Honored By ESSENCE At 2018 ‘Black Women In Music’ Celebration

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The legend herself, Missy Elliott named honoree at ESSENCE’s 2018 ‘Black Women In Music’ annual event.

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Missy Elliott who has served a distinct flavor to hip hop and R&B for decades has worked with music icons Pharrell, Timbaland, Beyoncé and more. The Grammy award winning artist

“The artistry of Missy Elliott cuts across generations—underscored by her vast creative accomplishments and contributions to the culture,” said Essence‘s editor-in-chief, Vanessa De Luca, in a statement. “So prolific is her work, she is an inspiration to women all over the world. Missy’s energetic presence is truly magnetic, and we can’t wait to celebrate her as one of the artistic masterminds of our time.”

The ‘Black Women In Music’ event, began in 2010, with the mission of highlighting the accomplishments of black women during Grammy week. Missy Elliott joins Erykah Badu, Kelly Rowland, Sylvia Rhone, Mary J Blige as recipients of this honor. The event will take place January 25 at the Highline Ballroom in New York City.