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The 5 most valuable players in the WNBA right now

The WNBA has gained significant popularity worldwide throughout the last couple of years. Even though they come nowhere near the NBA ratings, there is certainly an increase in the overall interest in the League. 

The 2022 WNBA season marks the 26th year of its existence so far and with the league getting more popular than ever, the games become even more electrifying. The on-court competition slowly becomes more intense as everyone tries to end up under the spotlight.

However, there are several players who stand out due to their skills, hard work, and great mentality. It’s no surprise that most of the players battling out for the MVP award each year are spread across the top teams in the league. 

The WNBA lines favored A’Ja Wilson from the Aces all season long due to her all-around game as she looked for a way to top her closest rival on the list, Breanna Stewart. 

A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces

A’ja Wilson has been one of the most consistent and improving WNBA players in recent years. The 26-year-old power forward won her second MVP award in her career this season. She averaged 19.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists across 36 appearances in 2022. 

Wilson picked up his A-game in the Playoffs leading her Aces past the Phoenix Mercury and the Seattle Storm while averaging 21 points in seven games. She won the Western Conference Player of the Week award five times this season which further cements her dominance over the competition. 

After winning the 2018 WNBA Rookie of the Year, A’ja Wilson has been on top of the charts alongside Breanna Stewart who has been her biggest opponent during the course of her career. 

Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm

Breanna Stewart will once again go home empty-handed after her Seattle Storm lost to the Las Vegas Aces in the Semifinals. However, she ended the Regular Season on top of the leaderboard with 21.8 points per game.

The power forward has had a fantastic series against the Aces scoring 42 points in the deciding Game 4 which was just not enough to stop A’Ja Wilson, Jackie Young, and Chelsea Gray. 

Stewart was named among The W25 which is a list of the top 25 WNBA players in league history. The 28-year-old has won almost everything on an international level as her focus is now set on breaking records in the WNBA. 

Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Suns

One of the most experienced players in the WNBA, Alyssa Thomas, has single-handedly led the Connecticut Suns to the Finals in her ninth season with the team. The 30-year-old power forward became the leader in rebounds and assists in four of the five games in the Semifinals series against the Chicago Sky. 

Thomas managed to keep high consistency levels throughout the entire season which certainly books her a spot in this list. She averaged 13.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 6.1 assists to help her team finish third with a 25-11 record. 

Alyssa has managed to further improve her stats during the Playoffs as she is now getting close to the double-double average with 11.9 points and 9.6 rebounds across the most important eight matches of the season. 

Sylvia Fowles, Minnesota Lynx 

Sylvia Fowles has been part of the WNBA since 2008 when she was drafted by the Chicago Sky. Later on, in 2015, she switched sides and went to Minnesota in pursuit of a title. She eventually managed to crown herself a two-time WNBA champion with the Lynx following their success in 2015 and 2017. 

Fowles has never stopped impressing with her game as she is certainly one of the best defensive players the league has ever seen. In 2020, the 36-year-old center surpassed Rebekkah Brunson and topped the all-time rebounds leaderboard. 

This year, Fowles led the WNBA in rebounds per game as she went just shy of averaging a double-double for the season. She also recorded the highest FG% at 62.2% underlining her unstoppable force under the rim. 

Sabrina Ionescu, New York Liberty

Sabrina Ionescu drew attention to herself after her amazing college career in Oregon. She became the only NCAA player both in women’s and men’s competitions with 2,000 points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds. 

Ionescu also won the Naismith Player of the Year award in 2020 which further set the expectations quite high for her first season in the WNBA. She was selected by the New York Liberty with the first overall pick. 

In 2021, at the age of 23, she became the youngest player to record a triple-double in the history of the league. On top of that, in July 2022, Ionescu once again rewrote history following yet another masterful performance.

The talented point guard recorded the first 30-point triple-double in the WNBA chronicle as she went off for 31 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists.

Who is Valkyrae? The gaming queen making the industry safer for women

Gaming has dominated a huge chunk of social media and of the internet world, and Valkyrae, the gaming queen, is just one of the names that most gamers would know.

Gaming Queen Valkyrae’s title is not only backed up by her influence and social media engagement but by actual numbers. In 2021, Valkyrae was the most watched streamer with 12.2 Million hours watched in Youtube Live Gaming, double of Pokemane’s hours watched on Twitch.

Before Valkyrae

Valkyrae, or Rachell Hofstetter off-screen, is of mixed descent. She is a Filipino-German who grew up in Washington. She now lives with her mom as her dad passed away last 2017 due to cancer.

She studied at a community college and worked at GameStop after. Sharing her gaming hobby at first on Instagram, Valkyrae made a switch to Twitch.

This was a huge risk for her as Valkyrae shares that she only had 3000-4000 viewers when she first started.

Valkyrae’s broken family lead her to an early exposure to video games to cope and escape her reality.

Sharing the story of her father’s death and her relief at his freedom from the pain he’d endured due to treatments needed to cure his cancer, Valkyrae realizes that online streaming became a platform for her to help other people heal from their own journeys.

“Because of the stuff I’ve been through in my life, I openly talk about it on stream. And I think me being open about this kind of stuff helps a lot of people that are watching. This is going to happen to everyone. I do think sharing the way that I view things helps people see things in a more positive light as well.”

Valkyrae, YOUTUBE-Anthony Padilla

Why game streaming dominates your feed

Connection with fellow video gamers is one of the many benefits of playing video games since the industry was started.

Streaming has made it possible for millions of gamers to interact, play, watch, and even connect with fellow gamers, most especially their gamer idols.

Valkyrae’s streaming success started out with her fans from Instagram convincing her to try streaming on Twitch. Her very own community of fans have grown since.

Women in the gaming industry

Among her millions of viewers, 45% are women which is an insane, in a great way, for Valkyrae.

I want to be a role model to them and inspire them and let them know that gaming is literally just gaming and it’s not a big deal. And that it shouldn’t be gatekept because of who a person is.

Valkyrae, 100 Thieves

Valkyrae shares her regret of not streaming in Youtube sooner than she did. Her female audience apparently increased once she made the switch to Youtube; a fact she was most excited about.

Despite women gamers dominating the top mosts lists, the gaming world isn’t entirely a friendly and safe space for women gamers and gamers from other minorities.

Reports of women gamers being harassed on platforms such as Twitch and other streaming platforms have only been increasing.

With male counterparts mass reporting their content and getting them banned or even questioning their intention for streaming when none of very few of these specific cases and doubts happen to male streamers.

Sadly, despite the countless efforts of women on various platforms, slut shaming still occurs in the digital world.

Women streamers have also shared about getting slut shamed for their costumes or being praised for being modest while male fans or viewers shame other women streamers for their “revealing” costumes.

On overcoming women’s obstacles in the industry

“No matter what you do to cover up, it never ends. There’s always going to be trolls, judging based on your looks, just saying sexist things because I’m a girl and they think it’s funny.”

Valkyrae, Business Insider

Valkyrae isn’t immune to these harassments as well. Valkyrae shared how she received sexist and racist remarks from trolls, one harassing her with such slurs for weeks using 30 Twitch accounts.

Appreciating her fans and the influence she has in the streaming industry, Valkyrae tries as much to collaborate with women gamers and create content her young girl viewers would enjoy.

“I get thousands of emails and messages from people who say I’m helping people with their depression and anxiety, just by playing Fortnite. I wouldn’t do it for as long as I have, if I didn’t realize what an impact it would have on people. I’m just very happy with it.”

Valkyrae, Business Insider

100 Thieves, music videos, and more

Co-owning 100 Thieves, and becoming the first female at that, with fellow gamers and big names such as Drake, Scooter Braun, and more, Valkyrae has lived in left the 100 Thieves content house.

“It feels like a bit of a reset moving in real life, and onto YouTube,” she continued. “I’ve been gaming my entire life, but now with the move I can focus on beauty, fitness, and as well as everything with 100 Thieves. I couldn’t be more excited.”

Valkyrae, Dexerto

Valkyrae still does collaboration with 100 Thieves. With more time and personal space within her reach, Valkyrae has accomplished more outside the streaming industry.

Valkyrae shot videos with MGK and Corpse’s “DAYWALKER!” and Bella Poarch’s “Build a B*itch”, “Inferno”, and “Dolls”.

Valkyrae has also reconnected with her Filipino heritage with the help of her mother and her fellow content creator and music artist Bella Poarch.

Just a few months ago, Valkyrae kept her fans on their toes by tweeting a teasing and cryptic tweet about a certain future project.

You’re probably just as curious and excited as we are!

What with Valkyrae’s streams, life vlogs, and this mysterious project, her fans just crave more of the positive energy and impact Valkyrae gives to her loyal fans.

How Bella Poarch went from Filipina immigrant to major label pop star

If we’d ask you way back in 2020 if you know Bella Poarch, you’d think of Tiktok right away. Now, Bella Poarch is for Dolls and “Build a Bitch” hit singer, content creator, and Tiktok sensation.

Bella Poarch and her traumatic childhood

Born in the Philippines in 1997, Bella Poarch was raised by her grandmother until age 3. She was later adopted by a bi-racial couple and was raised living on a farm.

At 13 years old, she immigrated to the United States with her adoptive family, leaving behind two older adoptive sisters. Little did she know how her life would completely change. Migrating to the US might seem like a dream but this wasn’t the case for Bella Poarch.

Bella described her childhood as a traumatic one for her and her brother. Both were forced to work on their farm in the wee hours of the day and not allowed to bathe before going to school.

She and her brother were also deprived of meals and sometimes hit whenever their father was not satisfied with the farm work they did. 

Freedom found in the NAVY

Bella’s family lived with her aunt in San Francisco. At 17, Bella finally found her freedom by joining the NAVY just like her brother. She saw the NAVY as her only escape from her abusive family.

Poarch was stationed in Japan and she fell in love instantly with Japanese culture. Her time in the Navy also allowed her to finally trust people and be surrounded by people who genuinely cared for her.

Being the smallest in her team, Bella opened up about how her NAVY experiences empowered her and taught her that nothing was impossible despite her past, unsupportive family, and small size.

“It taught me that even if you’re the smallest person, you can do whatever you want. You can get through a lot of things.”

Bella Poarch (Rolling Stone)

Bella shared how she cut off her adoptive parents but remains to be part of her brother’s life to this day.

In spite of Bella Poarch’s shy personality, her fame and work as a content creator have brought her closer to fellow Filipino-American content creators and many others.

Staying close with her fellow Tiktok content creators, friends, and her brother, her life couldn’t be more positive than ever. 

As a Tiktok sensation

Bella Poarch is no stranger to the curiosity everyone had when it came to Tiktok and the buzz it was creating across social media. She joined Tiktok in the early months of 2020 and hasn’t stopped reigning the platform ever since.

Numerous ‘toks’ such as #booktok , #pottertok , #povtok , and many more content dimensions were already dominating the platform. Bella Poarch’s content found its massive audience who craved unique content.

Her TikTok video in August 2020 of her doing Millie B’s “M to the B” became the most popular TikTok of all time, with more than 58.7 Million likes as of this posting.

You might remember some of Bella Poarch’s first videos in the same format with the zoom feature and her cutesy facial expressions dancing to the tunes.


I had to #repost because the sound didn’t match😂😌

♬ All TikTok Mashup (JVKE – Upside Down) – JVKE

Bella Poarch’s big leap to music

With the opportunities her Tiktok fame gave her, Bella pivoted this fame and young career towards her ultimate goal of becoming a singer. Telling her manager, Aryan Mahyar, about going to music, Bella and her team received laughter from record labels they talked to.

Thankfully, they were shut up by Bella Poarch’s ukulele covers of low-fi artist Shiloh Dynasty and the rest as they say is history.

Fighting against women stereotypes and female body stigma, Bella Poarch’s music doesn’t fall short of standing for girls and women who are breaking the gender role, body, and beauty expectations of society.

Whether it’s a message or snippets of her personal life, neither ever went missing from her music and official music videos.

One of her new singles, “Living Hell”, is described by Bella Poarch as her story about her real-life living hell during childhood, with the music video inspired by her experiences and her actual room back in the Philippines which had the color yellow.

Described as “dark pop” by Bella herself, her success story over a dark past is evident in her hits “Build a Bitch”, “Inferno” and now “Dolls”. Music and singing were her coping mechanism when she was young, now she’s using them to uplift other girls who look up to her. 

“Looking at Beyoncé, she sang songs to uplift other people. Now, that’s what I want to do.”

Bella Poarch, Rolling Stones

Many have been said about people who became famous from Tiktok, both the good and the bad, and Bella Poarch is no stranger to the thousands of opinions on various social media.

But you have to admit, she makes her haters regret their hate and her fans excited and full of her light in every lyric, video, Tiktok, and just any Bella Poarch content.

If you got a kick out of her previous hits, stay tuned for Bella Poarch’s EP featuring Grims is out on August 12!

What is Blackfishing? How to find out if you’re a culture vulture

What is Blackfishing? If you don’t know, it’s time to read up on it.

It’s an old story– when white voices repeat what Black artists have been saying, their voices get amplified. This happens in all American cultures, but music has seen some of the most egregious examples.

Same old song..

Rock and Roll was pioneered by Black artists who were pushed out of the spotlight. Elvis Prestley’s early career saw him re-recording hits from Black artists, bringing accusations of theft and plagiarism.

But now that music-making has been inextricably tied with image, this imitation goes beyond the aural realm and into the physical. Some have argued that the recent body ideal of being “slim-thick” is an impossible standard that transplants Black features onto white bodies.

The sexuality of black women has always been a source of fascination in the music industry: consider the shock-based success of “WAP” or “Anaconda.”

Blackfishing hits the mainstream

Because black women have found such success using their bodies to bring more attention to their music, white artists are blackfishing, shifting their bodies to imitate those of Black women.

Though the lines are always blurry on matters of cultural appreciation versus appropriation, posing as another race for profit is egregious.

After collecting their paycheck, the white artist can shift back into their white persona whenever they like, sidestepping the daily racism that Black people cannot avoid.

With her single “I Am the Strip Club,” Iggy Azalea has faced accusations of blackfishing after appearing several shades darker than her natural skin tone.

Detractors also mentioned her brunette wig and her wearing a waist trainer, imitating the curvaceous body type more commonly seen in Black women.

She denied the allegations, saying on Twitter: “It’s the same makeup from every other part of the video just with a Smokey eye and different wig. Just ignore them. Who cares?”

Ariana Grande also comes to mind: though she is Italian American, in her single “7 Rings”, she sports a dark tan and fake hair, singing from a trap house about money and bitches.

All these things have ridiculed Black artists, but “7 Rings” turned out to be one of Grande’s biggest hits in recent years. Fans have also noted the gradual darkening of her skin throughout her career, though she appeared pale and freckled on the covers of magazines like Elle and Vogue.

How she’s spoken has also changed, with Grande adopting phrases and vocal mannerisms from the Black community. But Grande and Azalea are only two examples of a societal phenomenon spreading further and further.

Because of the proven marketability of Black aesthetics, many white influencers have subtly shifted their appearances into something more racially ambiguous to appeal to the widest possible audience.

Who gonna tell her?

Then, they leverage their larger audiences for more brand deals and sponsorships, and just like white musicians skimming off Black culture, make better profits than the vast majority of Black influencers.

This leads to a phenomenon some refer to as “Instagram face”: since most influencers are editing their photos to match the same idealized body type and face, there is an uncanny similarity from page to page.

Thick lips, big eyes, tan skin. An impossibly small waist is paired with a large ass. A strange amalgamation of ethnic features, carefully selected and placed onto white bodies.

When this is the standard that young white people see in their favorite musicians and on their social media, it can be hard to resist the urge to measure up.

Exhibit A… Jesy Nelson

jesy nelson blackfishing

You can stay up to date with all of Jesy Nelson’s blackfishing below via the Reddit thread.

Before trying on that waist trainer or getting a spray tan, consider how blackfishing impacts the Black community.


Instead of perpetuating the beauty standards that capitalize on Black features while ignoring actual Black people, try embracing your features unapologetically so that Black peers might do the same.

It’s easier said than done, however. Young people of all races feel the pressure to change themselves. It’s a capitalist endeavor to the core, exploiting insecurities from all kinds of people to sell products promising a transformation.

While Black people struggle to wrestle their ethnic features into something palatable for white society, white people are profiting off those features with none of the same struggles. 

Beyond being exploitative to Black culture, consider that these changes are often fruitless in the face of a constantly-shifting body ideal. We are all chasing after the mirage of an ideal body, an image that always seems to be changing.

Many are forecasting the return of 90s heroin-chic skinny and the end of the slim thick reign, and things seem to be moving in that direction, as celebrities are beginning to remove lip injections and butt implants.

When you think about, ‘What is Blackfishing?’ think of it this way. Your body isn’t like a shirt you can take off at the end of the day: it’s your permanent home and something you’ll never be able to change completely.

Black people know this better than anyone, and until racial profiling and discrimination have been alleviated, white people should stop adopting and abandoning ethnic features whenever they find it convenient.

The only way to win the blackfishing game is to stop playing.

By supporting the natural appearances of people from all races, we can move towards a reality where white people no longer profit off Black aesthetics, and all kinds of people receive equal amounts of exposure and opportunity in the cultural sphere.

Why stepping outside your comfort zone is the only way to grow

By nature, we’re creatures of habit. Whether we realize it or not, we’re obsessed with what we’re used to — what’s familiar; what we understand. Anything else seems offputting and far from attractive by all means.

It’s why we’re “shocked” when introduced to a new culture, why we order the same thing at the same restaurant when we go out and why we find ourselves navigating to people who look like us.

However, what if I told you that stepping outside your comfort zone is the only way to grow?

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For starters, simply having the mind state to grow and embodying that ambition is an indication of maturity and self-awareness that, in itself, the majority do not have.

That’s because it is a process that a lot of us have no idea where to begin — the concept of changing who you fundamentally are is one that is not introduced enough.

Either we’ve grown tired of having change forced down our throat due to the trouble we’ve gotten ourselves into or we were never encouraged to because of how “stand-up” we think we are or told we’ve been.

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The big pill to swallow however is that whether you’re living recklessly or you’re a model citizen, there will be a point in life where you’ll be forced to change and adapt — otherwise, you’ll just remain who you are and plateau.

The goal is to see change as good and as the key to what’s next.

You’re not done yet

Personally, I know one of the hardest parts about evolving is the fear of abandoning the individual you’re both comfortable with and proud of.

Maybe you were once an addict, or possibly you were confrontational in the past and have now mellowed out now; you could have adopted a new spirituality that you’re dedicated to.

Either way, the moment we think we’ve arrived or even think there’s a finish line for our personal development is the moment we’ve lost ourselves all over again.

No matter what we’ve overcome, there are always going to be new lessons to learn, challenges to conquer, and more character to develop. In fact, that’s the issue with a lot of adults: they’ve become callous to change.

If we allow ourselves, we can get so caught up in who we are, how much we did right, and how far we’ve come, that we become blind to the rut we’re in and incapable of smelling the rubber of our tires that are effortlessly spinning in place.

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When we keep in mind that we’re forever a work-in-progress, we’ll be more open to change and aware of the habits that are no longer applicable to our lives.


Systems are comfortable when they work for us and some grooves feel much too good to snap out of sometimes.

It’s why so many of us are tied to lifestyles we should have long outgrown and why others of us refuse to progress to new ways of life — along with feeling like we don’t need to, we straight up don’t want to.

However, in every stage of our lives, there will be ways we must abandon habits that must be left behind. It’s the only way to take on new opportunities.

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As a child, Christmas meant magic, gifts, and good behavior. As an adult, Christmas means catching up with family and friends.

When you were first starting school, free time was spent at recess, swinging on swings and climbing monkey bars. When you’re finishing school as an adult, free time is spent working a second job or studying for an exam.

The issue is being able to see these habits as dead weight. Habits that, for the longest, may have sustained us, can become consequential when our lives change. It’s up to us to have enough self-awareness to know where we want to go and if our lifestyle matches up with that direction or not.

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Especially if we claim to want different for ourselves, if we do not stop observing our tendencies, pinpoint the ones that aren’t conducive to success, then develop new ones, all we’re doing is complaining.

We grow through change. So, any cry for growth is inevitably a call for transformation. The sooner we understand this the more accepting we will be.

Those who don’t change

We’re all witnesses of what happens to the people that refuse to change — they stop growing.

When was the last time you encountered someone that hasn’t adapted, changed, or progressed as an individual in some time? Sometimes you don’t even have to know them personally to tell whether or not they’ve accepted the change their own life requires from them.

Usually, those types of people live a life of conflict or a life that’s plateaued, and you can probably attest to someone who’s like that through experience.

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The know-it-alls who know nothing, the old-heads who complain about new trends, or the guy who keeps landing in trouble for the same reasons — they’re all individuals who aren’t growing.

We should not only be open to change but looking for it. Why? Because change means growth and newness and evolution. Change means taking it to the next level, and change is inevitable.

You shouldn’t be the same person you were last year. Like a sports team seeking a championship, there should be modifications done every year to help yourself get closer to whatever your end prize is.

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You cannot bring back the same players every year and expect the same result. That is, of course, unless you’re content with where you currently are.

Overworked musicians and burnout: 5 ways fans can help

When the music industry decides an artist is valuable, they are expected to uphold their popularity with constant touring, promotion, interviews, and music-making.

From Britney Spears sporting a shaved head to Kanye West’s mental breakdowns on the web, the headlines regularly keep space for overworked musicians.

Doja Cat is just the most recent example of a musician going public with their burnout. Before now, she seemed invincible: her moves have been impossible to predict, bobbing and weaving from viral hit to viral hit, wearing bizarre outfits, and feeding goofy one-liners to her TikTok followers.

Her weirdness and her undeniable musical talent have proved hypnotic to fans. But even though she’s made a career out of toeing the line between conventional American beauty and weird sexy alien, with a recent Instagram live, some were concerned for her wellbeing.

A couple of weeks ago, with hundreds of fans watching, a gleeful Doja Cat shaved her head and eyebrows, joking that she “was never meant to have hair.” The Internet responded to this move with an eerie echo of the discourse surrounding Britney Spears shaving her head in 2007.

A mix of support and disgust poured onto Doja’s social media: some complimented her new look, and some called it ugly. Others suggested that we shouldn’t focus on her appearance and look into her mental state instead.

But there’s no need to speculate considering Doja has already addressed the state of her mental health in a series of now-deleted Tweets. “I’m just tired, and I don’t want to do anything,” she said. “I’m not happy. I’m done saying yes to motherfuckers cuz I can’t even have a week to just chill. I’m never not working. I’m fucking tired.”

Instead of pinning it on managers, a label, or the industry, she blamed the overworking on herself. “I just keep agreeing to shit I don’t wanna do in the future,” she said. “It’s my own dumb ass fault, and then I’m too tired to put any effort into this shit cuz I’m so run down from everything else.”

High expectations from labels mixed with overworked musicians is a recipe for burnout. But musicians rarely talk about it. They want to avoid damaging their brand or backlash: much of the public has no sympathy for the struggles of the rich and famous.

In some people’s eyes, the preconditions to fame are signing away free time and privacy in exchange for riches and popularity. But there are always exceptions.

Looking deeper into Doja Cat’s situation, she signed a joint contract with RCA Records and Kemosabe Records when she was only 17.

She had no idea how famous she was going to become.

Regardless of how an artist came into the spotlight, fans might feel guilty for enjoying their work when they mention their unhappiness or feelings of stress.

So, what can we do about these concerns around our favorite overworked musicians? As fans, there are some ways that we can help support.

1. Don’t engage with rumors.

This is a simple request since it doesn’t require any action on your part. Some well-meaning fans will pick through interview footage, paparazzi shots, and social media posts, looking for clues about their favorite musician’s mental health.

Try to avoid doing this. Even public figures who’ve chosen the spotlight deserve to have their health remain private and not used as a subject for debate.

If they choose to go public about their mental health to raise awareness or to connect with fans, that’s a different story. But until then, stop coming to conclusions based on what little information has been revealed to the public.

You will never know the whole story; these rumors often hurt more than they help.

2. Boost positivity on social media

If your favorite artists post something concerning, try to offer positivity instead of trying to diagnose or interrogate them.

Like this…

Not like this…

Unfortunately, fans cannot offer the kind of support that a close friend or family might be able to, but reminding the musician that their work is valued and appreciated can help combat feelings of burnout and remind them why they love making music in the first place.

3. Continue to support their music

This step applies more to independent artists or smaller, upcoming artists who might be balancing their music career between another job to pay the bills.

Streaming platforms garner the most listeners but pay peanuts to the artists, who might find it difficult to continue producing art under these conditions.

Try buying their songs on Bandcamp, buying their merch, or, best of all, buying tickets to see their live shows.

For fans interested in cryptocurrency, some musicians upload their songs as NFTs on websites like Zora and PHLOTE. These purchases can help support a smaller artist.

Money can’t buy happiness, but for these smaller artists, some financial support from fans can go a long way in lifting their music career to new heights, allowing these artists to focus on creating what they love.

4. Give music artists breathing room in digital and physical spaces

We’ve all seen it before: pop stars flanked by black-suited bodyguards, who have to fend back the pressing mobs of fans trying to touch their favorite musician.

The same thing happens online when die-hard fans overanalyze every action of their favorite overworked musicians, everything they say, every picture they post.

overworked musicians
Photo by Anna Shvets

This hyper-visibility reminds musicians they’re always in the public eye and can never slip up unless they want to be Twitter’s punching bag of the week.

Giving celebrities, especially overworked artists, a little breathing room would be healthy for both parties. The stars can reclaim a bit of privacy, and the fans will remember that musicians are just people, not gods.

5. Overworked musicians are human too


Imagine something embarrassing you’ve done. Whether you like it or not, I’m sure these moments resurface occasionally. Everyone has slip-ups and bad hair days, moments they regret, and things they wish they hadn’t said.

But for someone in the public eye, these mistakes are discussed by the entire country. Embarrassing moments become permanent, humiliating on an unimaginable scale, and often career-ruining.

Instead of using a musician’s slip-ups to rip them apart, try to exercise some empathy in this regard. If you disagree with them or their actions, it’s much easier to quietly stop supporting them.

Don’t add to the stressful day of an overworked musician, artist, or celebrity.

Art d’Ecco invokes the past to create his future

For the past decade of his music career, Art d’Ecco has strutted through glossy rock productions in platform shoes, clad in white face makeup and a bobbed black wig.

He’s carried the mantle of 70s glam-rock greats, knowing that people listen with their eyes as much as their ears.

Refusing the bearded, rugged mold of a rockstar, he sang in an androgynous whisper and dared listeners to think strangely of it.

But with his newest release, “After the Head Rush”, he’s shed the glamorous, binary-bending regalia. d’Ecco now wears cropped blonde hair and his bare, natural face: a sharp departure from the eccentric look he’d cultivated for years.

By refusing to hold the pose he struck at the beginning of his career, his image has settled into something that feels more candid to him.

“I’ve been grinding away at this Art d’Ecco character for ten years, and times have changed. The grander statement of gender identity and being androgynous is not transgressive anymore, and I have no place to stick that claim.”

Art d’Ecco

“I thought it was time to pivot and do something more honest with my image. Obviously, I’m not a natural blonde, so there’s a little bit of fibbing going on!”

Art d’Ecco

“After the Head Rush” seems to mark a great deal of changes for d’Ecco, both musically and personally. When we spoke, he had recently moved into a new apartment.

The empty walls were the same bright white as his hair, both promising fresh beginnings. Through shedding the character, he is singing from a place closer to his authentic self, a place he’s felt more comfortable inhabiting lately.

“I had this whispering delivery on ‘Trespasser’, and I was doing a concept about the entertainment industry with ‘In Standard Definition.’ With this album I think I’m using my most natural singing voice. There’s a lot more confidence in the way I’m singing,” he said.

Stripping back the theatrical image has brought a refreshing candor to “After the Head Rush,” with d’Ecco spinning his lived experience into song. This approach was inspired by a visit to his hometown of Victoria, BC, Canada, which he cites as the first spark of inspiration.

“I was inundated with a flow of memory going back to these old stomps. That’s the parking lot where I would sneak out on a Saturday night and drink with my friends. Oh, there’s the bush I puked in. It stirred up all these emotions in me.”

Art d’Ecco

These recollected scenes of youth became the well of inspiration he pulled from. While walking through the annals of his childhood and teenage years in Victoria, he reflected on the increasing distance between himself and those times.

“I’m at that part of my life where I look back on my teenage years and my adolescence and tap into a high of nostalgia. When you approach middle age, you realize that before the stress of taxes and mortgages, you felt an adolescent joy,” he said.

The entire album is infused with that intense rush of memory, a golden aura of nostalgia overlaying the music. The songs are full of tenderness for the past, written from the perspective of a sobering future, after youthful optimism has faded.

Beyond the play on Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush”, the album title embodies that idea, with d’Ecco placing himself “after the head rush” of youth, entering a new era of his life and music.

The album’s title is also a cheeky reference to his biggest hit, “Head Rush”, delivering an answer to those wondering what would come afterwards.

If “Head Rush” is a rock anthem suited to dancing in a bar full of reckless bodies, “After the Head Rush” is the soundtrack for the hangover afterwards, waking up crusted in glitter and sorting through last night’s memories.

But don’t mistake it for thin, frivolous party music. “After the Head Rush” is full-bodied and maximalist, with complex instrumental layers breathing and moving together on each track.

Strong guitar lines drive the album forward, and d’Ecco deftly blends adjacent sub-genres of rock, pulling from new wave, funk, glam, and art rock influences that all “melt together in the pot”. Playful horns, vocals, and synths accent the consistent tethers of guitar and drum.

The tracklist strikes a balance between the glittering energy of youth and weary, time-worn pessimism.

“Get Loose” and “Until the Sun Comes Up” are exuberant danceable tracks, but these party anthems are threaded between “Midlife Crisis” and “Run Away”, much moodier tracks using dry wit to cope with middle-aged ennui.

D’Ecco keeps space for both of these contrasting mindsets on the album, running next to each other on parallel tracks, showing how one is created by the other.

“There’s a duality with this album. When you’re young, it’s all about the party, it’s about having fun and falling in love. When you’re much older, you’ve got baggage, you’ve got fatigue, you’ve got to adopt a cynical playfulness to survive. I want to write a timeline jumping back and forth. Half of the album is the upbeat party, and the other half is songs about being old and tired.”

Art d’Ecco

Working within an industry obsessed with youth and the next big thing, many musicians adopt a winking, hush-hush attitude towards their age. But d’Ecco tackles the topic fearlessly, with humor and finesse.

“I Was A Teenager” dances to the tune of its own wry angst. “I was a person / not yet in debt / not yet a citizen filled with panic and dread,” d’Ecco sings, setting existential fear against catchy call-and-response vocals and a hand-clapping groove.

“Midlife Crisis” puts forward a similar perspective: “Midlife so crushing I could move underground / but I just signed a lease for this / the penalty keeps me around.”

Given d’Ecco’s years of experience as a musician, this honesty is a way of striving for timelessness, having seen musical trends come and go. With the rise of streaming, and the viral hit machine churning out immense profits on TikTok, there’s a new pressure for artists to bend to the algorithm.

Yet despite this turn to digital music, d’Ecco remains fiercely analog, steadfast in his creative vision.

“I long for crafty songwriting and intelligent music production, not ephemera that comes and goes. I want my music to have staying power. The only way to combat it is to fight back, be yourself, and write good music.”

Art d’Ecco

On the album’s final, titular track, d’Ecco sings a repeating refrain: “Now that it’s all gone, gone, gone…”. At the climax of the song, his vocals are soaked in reverb, and we can hear each word echoing, already moving into the past, leaving afterimages of itself.

It’s a fitting way to close out an album that holds onto the past, reliving its beauty. But by heralding these memories of youth and sending them on their way, the future is opening up.

Art d’Ecco is poised to launch in a new direction, and as long as he continues performing, he’ll be tapping into a different kind of rush.

“At the end of the day, any musician that you talk to can stand by this statement: we just want our songs to be heard. Bringing that song to a live audience, nothing beats that. It’s a genuine high, it’s the ultimate head rush.”

Art d’Ecco

Art d’Ecco will be playing live shows through autumn 2022, tickets are purchasable here. You can find his music on all streaming platforms, and on Bandcamp.

banned books

7 banned books and where you should buy them

Led by conservative politicians and parents, a renewed wave of banned books has been raging through American school districts, washing away title after title.

Books dealing with LGBTQIA+ identities, racism, and historic atrocities have been challenged– most notably Art Spiegelman’s “Maus”, which grapples with his parents’ experience in the Holocaust.

If implemented, these book bans would create an artificial silence around issues of racism and LGBTQIA+ identities.

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The latter goes hand in hand with political moves like the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prevents teachers from speaking about LGBTQIA+ topics (such as gender identity or sexual orientation) to schoolchildren.

Hard truth on banning books

Here’s a difficult truth: if a child is gifted an iPhone or iPad, as many American children are, it’s no longer possible to shield them from all forms of cruelty.

Even with parental controls, when the world is placed in a child’s palm, you can’t filter out the unsavory parts with complete accuracy.

When we remove these difficult topics from classrooms, we aren’t preventing our children from encountering them; we’re only taking away their space to discuss them with trusted adults and peers.

We risk raising a generation of children who develop their viewpoints on racism, LGBTQIA+ people, and atrocities on the Internet, where the outrage is social currency and nuance is lacking.

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Those hoping to ban books should also consider that the practice can be counterintuitive. As humans, we have a burning curiosity to know the information deemed forbidden to us– we are all Bluebeard’s wife, wondering what is behind the door.

Ironically, sales of titles usually increase after they’ve been banned. Why not join in, and give banned books a try?

“Any book worth banning is a book worth reading.”

Isaac Asimov

Below is a list of 7 titles that have commonly been challenged, and the reasons why they were considered unsuitable– and afterward, places where you can buy them.

Maus” by Art Spiegelman

maus by Art Spiegelman

As previously mentioned, this graphic novel recounts the author’s parents’ experience during the Holocaust, and though the committee cited curse words as the reason for banning, it has sparked a national conversation about what topics are suitable for children to learn.

The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“The Hate U Give” follows Starr, and her encounter with racially motivated police brutality when her friend is killed during a traffic stop.

The banning of the book was cited due to expletives, but the conservative backlash against teaching children the state of American race relations suggests an alternative motive.

All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson

All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson

This self-declared memoir-manifesto details the upbringing of a queer black boy in New Jersey. By telling the truthful story of his life, Johnson hopes to erase the distance that fictionalization can create between a story and its audience.

It is a frequent target of school boards, and opponents have concerns about mentions of masturbation and oral sex. 

Beloved” by Toni Morrison

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison books are frequent targets of banning– likely due to her frank, uncompromising handling of difficult subjects. Beloved, in specific, deals with slavery, infanticide, racism, and sexual abuse in no uncertain terms. Critics of censorship worry that banning these books will sanitize the history of American racism, but opponents say the content is too disturbing for children.

Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe

Maia Kobabe’s graphic memoir chronicles eir struggles with binary gender roles, growing up, and coming into one’s body. The banning of this book is part of the ongoing effort to censor gay literature and gay stories from children.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

This classic novel, dealing with a small town’s scapegoating of an innocent black man, is one of the most frequently banned titles in schools all over America. Like most truly great books, it makes the reader uncomfortable.

Many schools emphasize its teaching as an important example of the way outsiders are treated, but some schools still reject teaching this book on the grounds of sexual content and racial slurs.

The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood’s most prominent novel envisions a futuristic America where fertility rates have plummeted, and the remaining fertile women are kept as broodmares for wealthy men.

Though the story is fictional, Atwood continually reminds her readers that everything within the story has happened to women at some point in history. The book is most commonly banned for its explicit sexual content.

Where you can buy these banned books

If you can find these banned titles in your local library, give them a try.

Independent booksellers in your community would also appreciate the business, but a Barnes and Noble store work in a pinch. If you’re looking to buy online, dodge Amazon and try, which supports local bookstores.

The battle within: Why we should conquer ourselves before conquering the world

What if I told you the only thing holding you back from where you wanted to be in life was your lack of self-control? I’m talking about in every aspect of life you can ponder educational aspirations, athletics, romantic endeavors, etc.

Well, that’s the case with the majority of us in our personal pursuits. We haven’t won the battle against ourselves. How then can we expect to conquer anything else?

These days if you listen to hip-hop you’ll constantly hear rappers talk about their demons and how they gotta shake them or dodge them or not succumb to them in some shape or fashion.

If you listen to rap as much as I do it can almost seem laughable that so many of them are “going through it” but honestly, though they may be exaggerating the concept, we all have demons and we all are on some level “going through it.”

For some, it may be an addiction while for others it could be laziness. Whatever the Achilles heel may be, it’s up to us to recognize it, address it and improve from it. Only then can we reach our full potential.

Discipline of self

We’re our own worst enemy. We shoot ourselves in the foot far more than anyone else yet we give ourselves the most leeway.

All of us are very capable, talented individuals with amazing visions. Yet some have not even scratched the surface of accomplishing their goals because they can’t get up early enough for the job or they can’t shut out the world for a couple of weeks to study.

The last thing you want to be is a prisoner to yourself. You want to be able to do everything you say you’re going to do without the pushback from your own will.

I don’t think people take the easy route because it’s easy. I think people take the easy route because they haven’t mastered themselves enough to endure the hardship of what’s best for them.

Good sleeping habits, eating well, being active, meditating, and other good self-care habits all require dedication. Unfortunately, we don’t naturally want to adopt those practices.

In order to be what we’ve always seen ourselves as we must be better for ourselves.

Discipline around others

Whatever happened to the kid that was spoiled rotten? The child who always got his way, who does she grow up to be? You know, the ones whose parents let them get away with anything.

Every day when we run across the prude who cuts us off in traffic or the co-worker that dishes attitude because of what they’re going through —  that’s them. Until we are able to reign over our emotions and actions we’ll always be short-tempered around others, warranted or not.

If we were to act on every human impulse, the world would be in shambles. Marriages would never work, politics would be far worse than what they are now and no one would be able to live with one another.

That’s why we learn patience, moderation, and forgiveness.

Someone else shouldn’t have to suffer because of what’s not going right in your life. Toddlers who don’t get their way have temper tantrums and when that behavior isn’t curtailed it manifests into the grossest individuals you’ll meet.

Once we understand the first and most important battlefield is the one within and we give it the attention we give everything else, the more prepared for our dreams we’ll be.

Who is New York Nico? The internet’s favorite talent scout for NYC

Being the son of Steven Heller and Louise Fili, it comes as no surprise that Nico Heller, more famously known as New York Nico, inherited his parents’ artistic eye and talents.

This American documentary film director is making noise around the big apple as the city’s favorite native talent scout

But even though the apple doesn’t fall from the three, Nico’s the kind who keeps on rolling away from his tree to create his mark on the world- most especially in New York.

Nico Heller started as a music video director for new artists. Carrying his DSLR camera and editing skills, he first directed and shot low-budget rap videos. According to him, he still carries this skill set up to this day as an American documentary film director. 

How does Nico scout New York talents

Nico Heller, better known on social media as New York Nico or @newyorknico, is the kind of creator whose content goes beyond the boundaries of the social media influencers industry.

Through his content, New Yorkers and the world are able to experience New York life virtually with his authentic content starring actual New Yorkers. His posts do not contain him promoting someone or advocating for a brand or artists.

New York Nico is the bridge between New York Culture and New Yorkers. 

His scouting talents are rooted in his love for meeting people and walking around New York. From buskers to strangers he walked past in the streets of New York, talents are found and shared by Nico.

“You’re kinda free to express yourself however you want in New York.”

My biggest motivation is loving what I do and Loving New York.” 

Nico Heller, Topps

His creative process

Basing everything on what he grew up into, Nico has high respect for what his fellow New Yorkers love. That’s why when he recreates classic tokens and memorabilia he was hesitant at first to go all out and far from the original’s content and artistic details. 

Nico also learned that in capturing the nostalgic emotions of New Yorkers, hiding easter eggs is one of the easy ways to go. Adding his process of conducting research to actually walking around New York to meet the artistic and chaotic character of his city.

Growing up with artistic parents gave him the skill to see what ordinary people cannot, and its the art and talent of the weirdest and coolest strangers you meet.

His big role as New York Nico

One of the many reasons he is considered a favorite talent scout for NYC is because of his eye for the value of the city’s hidden gems.

This became more evident when the pandemic struck New York and locked its colorful people in their homes. 

Nico widened his lenses to local businesses and specialty shops around New York.

From sharing about the daily lives of the people of New York, Nico started #MOMNPOPDROP. This has become his free ad space for local businesses around the city that were on the brink of their closures.

Nico did not only want to introduce the culture of his people but also to the small stores and specialty shops New Yorkers tend to walk past pre-pandemic.

His most viral in #MOMNPOPDROP was Henry Yao’s @armynavybags which received 50,000 dollars in its GoFundMe account just a couple of days after being posted. 

This made Nico realize the potential of his platform in uniting New Yorkers to save every local business they can. Nico’s artistic eyes were able to see how these small businesses had their own specialties that contributed in their own ways to the culture he grew up into. 

“I know for a fact that once they close for good, that’s when people are gonna start crying and posting. So I really just want to get the word out so people can still support these businesses while they’re still around.”

Nico Heller, New York Live TV

In 2021, Nico partnered with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York City in a collaboration of bringing new voices and new meaning to New York City’s subway and bus announcements.

Bringing together various famous artists such as Akwafina, The Kid Mero, Eric Andre, Bob the Drag Queen, Whoopi Goldberg, and many other New Yorker icons, Nico connects New Yorkers in the most fun and iconic way possible.

“The city’s subways and buses–and the range of characters who ride them–have always been central to my work and I’m so grateful that I could help bring some of the most recognizable voices of iconic New Yorkers to the system.”

New York Nico, MTA

With scripts written by MTA, Nico, and the guest artists themselves, every New Yorker’s commuting experience becomes the epic ride each one of them deserves.

Last May Nico signed with Hollywood agency United Talent Agency (UTA). Last month, his directorial debut film also premiered worldwide at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival.

Titled ‘Out of Order’, this chaotic film shows the irony of the existing scarcity of restrooms in the big city of New York and how a 30-year-old man, on the way to his date, tries to survive through this crisis before his date.

With little and huge doses of content, New York Nico hasn’t failed yet in touching the hearts of his fellow New Yorkers. His documentary films and social media content give the world a glimpse of the realities of New York life.

New York Nico’s stories are not about how he fell in love with New York but about why he and his fellow New Yorkers love living and being one. 

And we just can’t get enough of it.