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Entertainment Music

The Chi’s Cast is Full of Surprises

Showtime’s hit series, The Chi, is full of talented individuals. They act their heart out on screen, but some also sing their hearts out in the booth. Bartón, who was known on screen as Regg, surprises fans with a bop. Teaming up with former cast-mate, Jacob Latimore, the pair take us on a smooth journey to bliss.

At first glance, you’d think this was a rapper and a singer. However, Bartón makes sure he carries the very first sweet note in the song. This is why it’s important to never judge a book by its cover.
Sit back and let these young men make you feel Special:

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Entertainment

🎧Hear Me Out: Jacob Latimore is Fire

The Chi’s, Jacob Latimore has a voice beyond the TV screen.

The 23 year-old plays Emmett, a young adult experiencing growing pains set in today’s Chicago. You may recognize Latimore from Black Nativity, Ride Along, and Maze Runner. However, the talented star saw his career beginnings in music. His debut single, “Best Friend” was released in 2005. You may remember his 106 & Park video countdown favorite, “Like ‘Em All” featuring Diggy Simmons.

Since then the promising star has done a lot of growing and it’s all audible in the music. It’s evident that Latimore has grown comfortably into his own artist and is able to fully express his emotions. C3 is a fusion of Jacob’s previous bodies of work C1 and C2 and the final installment. The EP features Mulatto, Calboy, and Trevor Jackson among others.

The preciously crafted project is a smooth collide of early 2000s – mid 2000s R&B with the perfect amount of new age R&B. Don’t just take my word for it. Listen to C3 above and let us know what vibe it gives you below.

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Entertainment Health

Happy Memorial Day Social Distancing!

I hope everyone is practicing social distancing.

But I know you guys aren’t. So, here’s a list of precautions to take while you’re out of the house.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when around others, including when you have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store
  • Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people
  • Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings
  • Use hand sanitizer frequently
  • Practice continued cleanliness

And just in case you’re planning on having a club quarantine cookout check out the playlist below. Tune in today’s latest Hip-Hop hits.

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Entertainment Music

The Internet Gasps at Jay-Z’s Taste in Music

The Brooklyn-born rapper is undoubtedly one of the greatest to ever grace a microphone. So, why are fans so surprised at his diverse musical palette? His knowledge of musicians’ past is woven into many of his lyrics. Jay-Z leisurely creates Tidal playlists and shares them with music lovers through the app. His latest playlist features “Under The Table,” by Fiona Apple. It’s a whimsical tune about perseverance and refusing to be silenced. Fans took to Twitter in amazement at the “standout” selection. When just at the dawn of 2020, artists like Snoh Aalegra and Solangemade his year-end playlist of 2019.

In a 2009 interview with MTV Jay-Z describes his experience with music as a youth. “I grew up around music, listening to all types of people,” he said. “I used to listen to old music like DonnyHathawayMarvin Gaye and things like that. I’m into music that has soul in it, whether it be rap, R&B, pop music, whatever. As long as I can feel their soul through the wax, that’s what I really listen to.” He relates to music as it feels. As all music lovers do. When you can feel an artist’s authenticity in the record, that’s all that matters.

So, Hov adding Fiona Apple to his playlist rotation doesn’t come as a surprise. You have to have an ear for exploration in music. Always being open to the many sounds.

What do you think? Add your thoughts below and peruse the playlist here.

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Entertainment Music

Watch: Jhene Aiko and H.E.R. are Animated in “B.S.”

Two of our favorite soul singers have teamed up to give us one of the smoothest bops of 2020. B.S. is a carefree, hot-girl summer anthem. The blissful track comes from Jhené Aiko’s third studio album, Chilombo. Aiko is very deep into her spirituality and aligning the chakras. She shares that she used singing bowls while making the album. 
Singing bowls are musical instruments that have been used for centuries for healing and meditation purposes. They create a range of sounds to restore the normal vibratory frequencies of diseased and out-of-harmony parts of the body, mind, and soul.

Check out the chart below Aiko shared via Instagram detailing how each song and key heals.

Who wouldn’t want to listen to music played in a healing frequency? Music that not only sounds good, but it actually FEELS good!

Watch the ultra-cool video for B.S. above and make sure to keep listening to those healing frequencies.

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Music

Watch: Zaza Says ‘Girls Run Everything’

The five-year-old pint-sized princess, ZaZa, has returned with the hard hitting new single “Girls Run Everything.”

Zaza with little sister, Simmy

ZaZa first gained popularity after creating a post to SchoolBoy Q’s smash hit, Floating. The west-coast rapper gave her, her props by reposting the video. Not only has she has become an Instagram sensation, garnering the attention of Sean “Diddy” CombsEllen Degeneres, and Rihanna. She’s even had a remix to her song “What I Do” performed by North West.

Zaza created this new girl power anthem to encourage women everywhere, and to celebrate the women like Beyoncé, Rihanna and more who have inspired us all.

Check out this confident little queen’s latest hit, “Girls Run Everything” above.

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Entertainment Music

Giveon is Making His ‘Favorite Mistake’

Long Beach, California native Giveon is back with an acoustic visual for hit single, “FavoriteMistake.”

After a leaked Drake collaboration surfaced, everyone was trying to figure out exactly who this talented artist was. The single happens to be none other than the Chicago Freestyle. Drake’s emotional roller-coaster rhymes paired with Giveon’s calming tone gives your heart the right wringing.

Favorite Mistake speaks to indulging in a guilty or notso guilty pleasure. He belts, “Our secret’s safe, so you’re my favorite mistake. That’s why we gotta keep it on the low..” Sometimes doing the wrong thing is enticing. You decide while you watch the video below.

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Entertainment Interview

Exclusive Interview with Brett Gray

Now is The Time: On My Block’s Brett Gray talks

Brett Gray serves as the comedic relief to a familiar yet, entertainingly unique teen drama, “On My Block.” The show centers four inner city LA teens transitioning into adulthood.

The young actor spoke with Pentagon Mag about his role and branching out into the music world. Gray is from the great city of Philadelphia, PA. The hometown of his acting idol, Will Smith. We shared a few laughs about being from the same city and chatted about his first rehearsal for “On My Block.” Co-Star Peggy Blow, noted his timing was spot on of a young Will Smith. She starred in an episode of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

The whimsical star began his career in Musical Theater, having his first role be in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Brett has been a very busy bee. While wrapping up filming for ​On My Block, ​he’s also simultaneously filming the ​Secret Life of Bees (musical)​ and​ ​another Netflix original; “​When They See Us​.” The series was written and produced by Ava DuVernay. It exposes the U.S. criminal justice system during the ‘​Central Park Five’​ case. Gray makes it a point to play roles that tell stories that are encouraging to young black men. He plans to release an inspiring single “Our Day” for the series.

What’s your favorite characteristic of Jamal?

“​He is hungry, driven, and determined​.” Jamal would not give up the Rollerworld money hunt until he found the fortune, no matter who believed him.

When did you learn you could sing?

Gray says he could always sing since a child. His roots in Musical theater have helped the advancement of his vocal range. Brett says he went to the studio last year and then decided to drop some music of his own. “…​After On My Block, I focused and went to the studio and made my first project.​ ”

We began speaking about the rich musical history of Philadelphia. Home to artists such as: Gamble and Huff, Jazmine Sullivan, Patti Labelle, Jill Scott, Meek Mill, The Roots, and so many other greats. Gray will be apart of the greats our city has produced. His most recent releases include a debut EP, Easy Haze. Along with the video release for single S.O.S. Brett is very much so in-tune with the current wave of music. “I love Tierra Whack and Bri Steves,” he says. Both are fellow rising artists from Philadelphia.

How do you get into character?

To my surprise he answered, “I’m an over-thinker I try not to think about it at all. I just try to remember lines…I really lose myself.” An actor true to his craft, Gray submerges himself into any role.

What’s your dream role and if you don’t have one create one.

I have so many. Comedy, drama, avatar movies, I want to do everything. More live plays; My dream role is The Joker.” Which I could totally see, Gray has the chops to teeter the line of intense drama with a faint hint of humor. He declares he will do an amazing job and I agree. Look out for this promising young actor. He’s setting his own trail ablaze.

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Music Video

Meek Mill Sits Down with Elliott Wilson for TidalXCRWN

Last night was one of the best nights I’ve ever had as a music journalist. Tidal hosted an in depth conversation with one of the most influential artists of our generation, Meek Mill.

He has come a tremendously long way from the streets of Philadelphia. In more ways than one, Mill has successfully beat the odds. That’s something to really take into account. When a black man, or someone from an impoverished neighborhood beats the odds they’re catapulted into a spotlight. They become everyone’s “example” of what to be. But as Meek explained, not all people who defeat adversity want to be an activist. He shared that he wants to keep being a role model for the youth and continue helping neighborhoods just like his own. And he also wants to enjoy his success like any regular person would.
I was able to attend Tidal’s live event. It was held at the PlayStation Theater in New York City. The crowd was vibrating with great energy. All music lovers gathered to listen to Meek speak. He provides motivation and inspiration for the many people he represents; People who have been counted out by society.  Meek spoke about Nicki Minaj, Jay Z, the time he spent in prison away from his son, Beyoncé shouting him out and more.

When Meek entered the stage everyone stood and applauded and cheered. The crowd was very open and accepting. It seemed as though each person in the audience genuinely cared for the artist they had become a fan of. He shared some funny moments: like when Kevin Hart and Michael Rubin came to visit him on his block* in prison or that awkward moment where he and Nicki Minaj are at dinner with Jay Z and Beyoncé and Jay decided to “accidentally” play Back to Back.
I even got to join in on the chat. Being from Philly I was able to watch Meek rise to fame, from the very beginning. I watched him take five steps forward in the music industry only to be knocked back ten, more than once. He remained determined. Each time an entry was blocked he made sure to have another way to get in the door. That is why he is so inspirational to our city. The Philadelphia Eagles fka “the underdogs” coming out to his monstrous hit “Dreams and Nightmares (Intro)” during their 2017 Superbowl win is a testament to that.
Before then the song had already stood as an anthem for anyone who was enduring hard times and planning on coming out on top. And past our city limits Meek is garnering a diehard fan base. I ran into a singer from New York, Nadia, with a cool DC tattoo. DC stands for “Dream Chasers,” a group and mantra initiated by Mill to push everyone forward.

[I remember when I first heard the Intro. There were three of my friends and I in our dorm. We all anticipated Meek Mill releasing his debut studio album, Dreams and Nightmares. The city was ON FIRE waiting for it and we brought that fire with us to college. When the beat started to play we all looked at each other. That’s the exact moment I realized that you cannot count this man out. We had to run the song back at least 20 times. It filled us with so much energy and we learned all the lyrics that night.]
As a music journalist my goal for all artists is to let them know how they have impacted millions of people. I want them to know that the consumers of their art appreciate them sharing so much of themselves with us. I wanted artists to know that they truly do resonate with a vast variety of people for a multitude of reasons. And that, when they experience adversity their supporters are along for the ride.
Check out my question below and make sure to stream the full Conversation with Elliott Wilson & Meek Mill on Tidal.

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Interview Music

Getting to Know H.E.R: a Chat with Today’s Rising R&B Songstress

In 2016, a mystical R&B sensation peaked all of our interests. Now, that we have become more familiar with her, we can begin to learn more about H.E.R.

With just a silhouette to pair with her identity she changed the way we look at music. The 21-year-old songstress forced us to rely solely on our auditory senses to palette her music. Beginning on Radio Disney’s Next Big Thing, H.E.R., has transcended gracefully from child stardom to Adult R&B fame. As a child she learned how to play the piano, guitar, and drums all thanks to her father who was in a band. The last single she released in her adolescence “Something to Prove,” was an up-tempo bop that left fans hankering for more. She reemerged with a more matured version of herself with single, “Focus.”
H.E.R. means “Having Everything Revealed.” That is exactly what she does with her music. Expressing her vehement feelings with a velvety smooth voice over emotion triggering production; H.E.R. mesmerizes us all. She’s received nods from the likes of Rihanna, Solange, Chris Brown, Alicia Keys and more. In an interview with Refinery29 she shared: “Alicia Keys told me that when it comes to music, all you need is three chords and the truth.” She keeps her music simple yet dynamic; Revisiting the use of bridges in R&B and incorporating her poetic past.
After discovering more of who she was she released two extended plays, H.E.R. Vol 1 & 2. Both projects were without features. As “Focus,” garnered attention from the R&B world, another single was making waves of its own. “Best Part” with Daniel Caesar peaked at No. 8 on the U.S. R&B charts.
I Used to Know Her: The Prelude is her latest effort, released August 3, 2018. Already reaching No.1 on the U.S. R&B charts. This project is short, sweet, and features label mate Bryson Tiller.
I was able to chat with H.E.R. and ask a few questions to help us understand the mystique in front of the artist. In an openly candid conversation she gives us an inlet into who she is. Speaking with confidence and conviction.
She hails from Vallejo, a sunny city in California that matches her warm and radiant personality. I had to ask:
What’s your musical background and when did you learn to play the guitar? It’s interesting to learn how an artist so young could possess the expertise level of technique she has acquired.
Growing up in the bay area, there’s a lot of great music, old and new. My dad had a cover band and instruments were always all over the living room[…] I had the advantage of starting so young and being in the industry at a young age sometimes it’s frustrating…waiting your turn.
Signing to RCA records at the young age of 14; She says,I wanted to take out the time to release a project to find out who I was. I was constantly growing and changing.” It’s no secret that understanding the person you are is a trial we all must go through in life. Having been in the music industry for a while has afforded H.E.R. with the knowledge and experience a lot of new artists wish to have. She has studied some of the greatest artists and producers of our time.

Bts for cover shoot

Who were your musical influences growing up?
Lauryn Hill, Prince, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Michael Jackson… I was influenced by the people who our favorite artists looked up to. We can feel the effects of all of these legends in H.E.R. music. The soul, the passion, the melodies, and the instruments. Are all harmonious mixture of her angelic voice and mesmerizing production.
What’s your dream collaboration?
She answered confidently and without hesitation. “Miguel and J.Cole.” Those were the two names off the top of her head. She continued…”I love the message in their music.” Two soulful artists we would love to hear mesh with the vocal stylings of H.E.R.
What mark do you want to leave on R&B? How do you feel about the current state of R&B music? In recent years Rhythm and Blues music has merged with Hip-Hop. More quick-paced songs are being produced than ballads.
“It’s dope, substance is coming back. People appreciate real melodies, people are singing again, and they’re a lot more open. It’s not about the look, it’s about the message. My message is something all people can relate to[…]Raw emotions, I write the things that sit in the back of people’s minds, that they’re afraid to say. Sometimes we lie to ourselves, I like to be honest.” She explained, “Lauryn hill did that for me, allowed me to be open. Hopefully my music allows people the same and to live their truths.”
In regards to H.E.R. fashion sense, beauty and comfort meet. At a recent performance she wore an aqua blue ensemble. The outfit featured a hooded jacket with an elongated bottom that transitioned into a train. She paired the jacket with matching leggings and a pair of comfy kicks. She defines her style as “Tom-Boy Chic,” a perfect combination of the aforementioned.
Explain the energy surrounding your 2018 BET Awards and Coachella performances. What was it like sharing the stage with Daniel Caesar, another young R&B sensation, in front of so many legends?
“It’s funny, during the BET rehearsals I didn’t think about it, but I got to the side of the stage I was really nervous. She says she felt like people didn’t know what she could do live. “But I looked around and I realized there was no place I’d rather be. I proved myself,[…]” She continued, “Daniel is one of my good friends, we have great chemistry. Creatively, I can’t wait to get back in the studio with him. Coachella was a huge deal, I really enjoyed it.”
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When exemplary artists arise it’s always important to understand the construction of their craft. What was the writing and recording process like for “I Used to Know Her: the Prelude?” (Was Lauryn Hill a reference point in translating a certain message throughout the entire project or just the intro track?)
She explains “Naturally, Lost Souls was me getting back to my spoken word roots,”  and that she never had the confidence to just rap on a song. “I have a huge appreciation for Hip-Hop. I had a strong message and I wanted to make a statement.” She makes a few declarations, observations, and shines a light on a few social issues. Proudly stating ”I’m a rapper on that record.”
“I went to Miami and had a bunch of my favorite producers and writers come out…people I trust. We created a bunch of songs that we really loved. I had been on tour for the past year and thought to myself: ‘let me release something.’ ”
Since “I Used to Know Her,” is a prelude, does that mean we can expect a full clip of new music soon? She assured me that her debut album is “On the way…” Without mentioning many details, much is open for our imaginations. My mind immediately began to race with the endless possibilities of features and production options.
This issue of House of Solo is dedicated to the Best of British. The U.K. has always been fashion forward. Can you name any influences their culture has had on your style or music? (Leona Lewis, The Spice Girls, Adele, Elton John, The Beatles etc).
She agreed the artists mentioned are forces to be reckoned with and adds, “London is one of my favorite places to be because of the fashion. Ella Mai and I are good friends, so many people from the U.K. have been able to have great success at home and in the U.S. I love the London vibe, it reminds me of NY. I actually recorded ‘2’ and ‘Lights On’ in London. There’s inspiration everywhere.”
She teamed up with GRADES who rose to fame working with NAO and Grammy nominated producer Scribz Riley on “Lights On.” For “2,” she partnered with singer-songwriter and producer, MNEK. Both records are still co-produced by H.E.R. She is involved in each integral component of creating her music. Having had so many years of diligently studying the music industry at such a tender age has allowed H.E.R. to develop a sound artistry. The future is bright for this young star.