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The Grammy Awards features afro-futurism, snubs The Carters, and signs female host

With the 61st GRAMMY Awards quickly approaching, the buzz around the award ceremony has soared and the Recording Academy has just announced the first group of artists to perform at this year’s show.

Current nominees Camila Cabello, Cardi B, Dan + Shay, Post Malone, Shawn Mendes, Janelle Monáe, and Kacey Musgraves will take the stage on Feb. 1.

Monáe is nominated for Album of the Year for her emotion picture and dazzling Afrofuturist sci-fi visual album, Dirty Computer. She is also nominated for the music video for her queer anthem, “PYNK.”


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#PYNK @Youtube #linkinbio Directed by the bad ass herself: @emma.westenberg

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It will be an exciting night for Cabello as the artist will make her Grammy performance debut in addition to being nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance, Havana (Live) and best pop vocal album, Camila.


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I usually can’t shut up but right now I’m speechless. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. ❤️

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First-time nominee Malone has four nods, for record of the year, “Rockstar”, Album of The Year beerbongs & bentleys, best pop solo performance “Better Now,” and best rap/sung performance “Rockstar.”


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by @adamdegross

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Dan + Shay are in the mix for Best Country Duo/Group for their chart-topping hit, “Tequila.”


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still processing this moment. and still waiting for our clothes to dry. ☔️

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Other Highlights

Kendrick Lamar and Drake are the major contenders of the music award ceremony. Lamar earned 8 nominations and the Canadian rap superstar racked up 7 nods from the Recording Academy.

Drake, Cardi B, Brandi Carlile, HER, Post Malone, Janelle Monáe, Kacey Musgraves and Lamar’s Black Panther OST are up for Album Of The Year.

Mac Miller is nominated for Best Rap Album for his 2018 album Swimming. He is in the category alongside albums by Cardi B, Travis Scott, Pusha-T, and Nipsey Hussle. Should he win, his parents will accept the prize on the late rapper’s behalf.

The Grammy’s snubbing of The Carters — Jay Z and Beyonce over the past two years, looks to continue since the powerhouse couple only garnered a nod for the category of Best Urban Contemporary Album.

All eyes will be on the category of Song of the Year that includes, Childish Gambino’s, aka Donald Glover’s, provocative track “This Is America.” Gambino’s explosive music video and its statement of race in America garnered up to 450 million views.

The Host

Since last years show drew criticism for its heavily male-dominated slate of nominees and performers, the Recording Academy has made some changes to this year’s show.

Alicia Keys will host the award ceremony, making her the first woman to host the Grammys in 14 years. The 15-time Grammy Award-winning artist is only the fifth woman to ever host the Grammys in the show’s 61 years, and only the third woman of color.


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BIG news…. 🔥🔥🔥 (check my story)

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In a statement Keys declared,

“I know what it feels like to be on that stage, and I’m going to bring that vibe and energy. I’m so excited to be the master of ceremonies on the biggest night in music and celebrate the creativity, power and, magic. I’m especially excited for all the incredible women nominated this year!”

The talented singer-songwriter celebrated her honor by posting a behind-the-scenes-clip of her reaction to the news.

The 61st annual Grammy Awards will air on CBS on Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. ET. Be sure to peep!

How Tash Sultana is bringing multi-instrumental artistry back to music

When you listen to Tash Sultana’s track “Notion,” you feel yourself immediately pulled by the opening guitar riff and the looping electric drum beats and synths that follow.

It builds with a soothing and sweeping guitar arpeggio and the multilayered sound runs sweetly alongside the singer’s vocal range and the soul-baring tonality of their bluesy voice.

Indeed, their voice has traveled extensively — reverberating from the streets of Melbourne, Australia, busking and performing open-mics at local pubs and bars — to now selling out shows in stadium-packed arenas and playing at the biggest music festivals across the globe.

Though the scale of their audience has changed dramatically, when you watch the early videos of musician’s busking days, the image of Sultana surrounded by speakers, a web of electric cords and loop pedals at their feet, reveal that their artistry hasn’t changed all that much. The sense of intimacy remains intact and their sound has a visceral effect on their audience.

In being able to play over 15 instruments, Sultana owns the title of a multi-instrumentalist. Though they have mastered instruments like the guitar, saxophone, trumpet, flute, bass and drums, Sultana’s goal is to learn as many instruments as possible.

Evidently, the 24-year-old artist is committed to their craft. Everything they know about music, they have learned in their own time.

After they received a GoPro from their mother one Christmas, Sultana started filming her jam sessions. Then, they posted a video of herself playing their now-hit, “Jungle.” Sultana’s YouTube channel gained 10,000 followers overnight and the video was shared, over and over again. Two years since it was posted, it has just under 37 million views.

After their videos went viral, they went on to record their 6-track EP, Notion, that they later toured with.

Through their trance-like guitar solos, you get the sense that there is something cathartic to the whole experience for Sultana. Their sweeping scales and playful use of different instruments in their tracks suggest that the artist revels in exploring all the sonic possibilities music has to offer.

Sultana, however, has also been candid about their past, citing how at the age of 17, they developed a drug-induced psychosis that took months of therapy to enable them to get back to a good place and mindset. Music was a form of therapy for the Australian artist.

In an interview with The Feed SBS VICELAND, Sultana describes that difficult time in her life explaining,

“It’s like I opened a can of worms and I couldn’t put them back away. It took ages to put it back together. I remember once, I could not understand if I was actually alive or my whole life was a lie/ a dream or if I was dead and in an unconscious state. I couldn’t actually differentiate between the two,”

Sultana admits that the difficult period of their life, in all likelihood, shapes the way in which they create their music. Yet, the musician isn’t looking to dwell on the past. They insist that they are in a very different place now and their music reflects that.


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handful of tickets left for my Sydney show- link in bio Photo @daramunnis 🌝

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Sultana’s music defies any neat category of genre, aligning with their no-bullshit attitude and their aversion to ascribing to the expectations and conventions set out by the industry. It’s a sublime sonic conflation of jazz, rock, pop, reggae, and soul. Every riff, beat, and melody builds and oozes into each other. Music simply exudes out of the artist, just like a flow state to which their debut album describes.

Their debut 62-minute album, Flow State, is composed of a repertoire of tracks Sultana had written years ago. The multi-instrumentalist admits that they struggle with the recording process. In an interview with Billboard, they explained,

“I would say that I am a live artist — the studio is something that I have to do because that is how you market yourself. It is a different art. When I do that crossover to live I change it up because I don’t want play it like I played it in the studio. I want it to have life. It has to have life. It needs to be born somewhere and that’s the stage.”

With fame and success, especially in the digital age, however, comes the pressure to have your whole self accessible to the public. Sultana noted in an interview with NME,

“The music is not enough for people now, I find. They want everything else as well.”

Yet, Sultana isn’t interested in capitulating to the numbers game or exhibiting themselves in any titillating music video performances, that characterize the body of work of the most popular artists today. Their fierce commitment to privacy is central to preserving both their genius and a state of respite for their mind.

The music video for the Flow State track, “Cigarettes” is composed of various VCR home videos that showcase how Tash’s musical journey began at an early age; in which they are shown strumming the guitar at the age of three. Sultana remains enthralled by the fact that their music connects to so many people, expressing to The Feed SBS VICELAND,

“I love the fact that there are so many people who have come to appreciate what I’m doing, that is just the best feeling in the world.”

At the same time, the artist is committed to seeing how far they can take their solo-act live shows, as they declared to ABC News,

“I haven’t put myself in a box and I don’t have a limitation.”

Plus, since their live shows have already taken the multi-instrumentalist all around the world in just a short span of time, why not?

Acknowledging that other people’s artistry and ideas will be another site where they can continue to learn and develop their music, Sultana is looking forward to linking up and collaborating with different artists.

Their genre-blending musical style, speaks to the Sultana’s free spirit and infectious energy; indicative of a true artist.


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Photo by @daramunnis

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How actor Algee Smith is using his platform to prove he can do it all

When The Hate U Give made its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival last year, its overwhelmingly positive reception prompted Fox to push the film’s initial release date forward in an effort to bring the film’s important message to audiences sooner than scheduled.

Though national attention on Black Lives Matter has somewhat faded in recent times, the organization continues to empower and inspire many, and its impact on the national discourse of race should not be disparaged.

Indeed, the political organization inspired author Angie Thomas to write a young adult novel that chronicled the life of a young teenager whose best friend is gunned down by white police officer. A little more than a year after the book was published, it was adapted into a screenplay, rendering Black Lives Matter to find a new platform; the big screen.


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Never forget you come from greatness. #TheHateUGive is now playing in select theaters, everywhere October 19.

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The Hate U Give transcends the definition of a dramatization of an instance of anti-Black policing and the narrative is by no means a far stretch from reality.

While assaults on Black life do not only come in the form of police brutality, the film elucidates the effects of the abuses of power and how they reverberate throughout our local communities and instrumentally shape the quotidian.

The Hate U Give takes its title from the concept. T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E. advocated by rapper, Tupac Shakur; a conceptual acronym that the rapper famously had tattooed on his torso.

Tupac explained that “T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E.” actually stands for, “The Hate U Give Little Infants Effs Everybody,” and elaborated that, “What you feed us as seeds, grows up and blows in your face.” In the film, the character Khalil is a devoted fan of Tupac. Likewise, is the actor who plays him; Algee Smith.

In preparing for the role, Smith revealed that he listened to a lot of the artist’s music in an attempt to align himself with Khalil’s experience and get inside the character’s head.
At the same time, in an interview with the Philadelphia Sun, the young rising star admitted,

“To be honest, it wasn’t hard to put myself in that mindset because that’s a reality for me and a lot of my homies. At any given moment, being a young Black man, we could be out here dead by the hands of a police officer, by the hands of the justice system, or thrown in jail by the hands of the justice system quickly. For me, unfortunately, I didn’t have to do a lot of digging or searching to find where I needed to be for that.”

He continued on saying:

“When you’re living in a place where a lot of these young Black men don’t even have fathers in the house or mothers, they grow up with what society is giving as far as what’s in the music and what’s on television. You’re going to act how society has brought you up to it. So, in a sense, you can’t really blame me for acting like this.

Smith knew he wanted to be involved in the project for the film’s social message and its timeliness.

The charismatic 24-year-old actor and musician doesn’t take his position in the spotlight lightly and is committed to using his platform to highlight important social issues and create work that resonates with audiences. Smith sees himself and other public figures as important vehicles of change and a site for others to look to for inspiration.

He is also proud and excited to be in Hollywood in the midst of the industry’s critical turn. The industry has undergone a major shakeup, with studios adopting new initiatives of inclusivity both in front and behind the camera. In an interview with i-D, he said,

“I’m just glad that I get to be one of the people who gets to reconstruct it. I’m at this point in my life where I can either stand up for everything I believe in or not do it at all… I’m feeling that urgency inside of myself.”

The Atlanta-raised actor first garnered attention through his portrayal of Ralph Tresvant on BET’s 2017 R&B boy band biopic, The New Edition Story.


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From #NewEditionBET📺 to #TheHateUGive📽, our boy @itsalgee keeps shining! Check him out in theaters everything October 19th!

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Smith followed up his breakout performance with a major role in Kathryn Bigelow’s critically acclaimed, yet underrated, drama, Detroit, in which Smith played a victim of police brutality during the infamous 1967 Algiers Motel incident.

With a musician father and fashion designer mother, art ran deep in Smith’s Michigan and Atlanta, household. In making music at 9 and acting at age 15, Smith credits his family for the sacrifices they made to nurture his talent and artistry that ultimately allowed him to launch his career. In an interview with Wonderland, admits that he still turns to his mother’s business expertise, and enlisted her to be on board his new fashion campaign for Prada.

Smith has also released a 6 track EP, entitled Listen. The fresh R&B record showcases Smith’s incredible vocal ability and range, while his lyricism carries a message of empowerment.

Speaking to BET on the inspiration behind the EP, he explained,

“Bring back a message of love and appreciation for our women, show the beauty invulnerability from a man and give the world some damn good music.”

The 24-year-old actor and musician is showing no signs of slowing down. Smith has now been tapped for the HBO teen drama, Euphoria, that also stars Zendaya.

Penned by scribe Sam Levinson (The Wizard of Lies), the show will also have Drake and Future the Prince serving as executive producers. Euphoria, based on the Israeli series from HOT, follows a group of high school students as they navigate drugs, sex, identity, trauma, social media, love and friendship.

LGBTQ artists

5 LGBTQ artists paving their own lane to mainstream music success

While there have always been LGBTQ+ artists in popular music, there is a new generation of openly queer artists who are increasingly entering the mainstream.

The expression of queer identity in music has evolved dramatically over the last few years, with a new wave of artists proudly asserting their identity and challenging the boundaries of musical genres to create stunning and innovative work.

Here is a list of LGBTQ+ artists who are challenging and resignifying the norms around gender, sexuality, and empowerment for those within the LGBTQ+ community.


MNEK is a singer, songwriter and music producer from South London whose collaboration list racks up to an impressive CV, writing songs for the likes of Madonna, Beyonce, Rudimental, Dua Lipa, Kylie Minogue, Gordon City, Duke Dumont, Oliver Heldens and more.

MNEK has 8 years of experience in the industry and has collaborated with some major artists. Now, he is looking to shape and make an impact on pop music, but this time, solo. The release of the 23-year-old’s debut solo studio album Language signals that the artist is destined for pop superstardom.

The broad application of the title of his debut album, Language, speaks to the way MNEK is neither interested in conforming to any singular idea of himself as both an artist or a person nor does he figure these two identities as mutually exclusive.

For MNEK, every individual has their own mode of communicating to others, their own language of love, their own language in which to express their race, gender, and sexuality — for our identity is performative, the ‘norm’ is in itself, an effect of multiplied performances. He will be touring the U.S. in February.

Dizzy Fae

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Hair journey activated

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The Minnesotan artist, Dizzy Fae, has made waves with her stunning and haunting music video for the track, “Her/Indica.” The orange-hued video is a tender depiction of the artist’s first time falling for a woman.

Though her mixtape, Free Form, is lauded by music credits for its genre-defying style and experimental form, Dizzy is actually a classically trained musician who grew up listening to opera and classical music and later transition to jazz and also acquired the skill of learning the trumpet.

Indeed, she credits her classical training to shaping both her life course and the music she makes today. At the same time, these music genres echo in her tracks along with the synths and electronic sounds that culminate Free Form into an evolutionary sonic journey.

Just as much as her new mixtape, Free Form, chronicles her journey of self-discovery as an artist, it also chronicles her journey in finding her sexual identity. In speaking to Gay Times UK, on the source of inspiration for the track “Her/Indica” and her sexual identity, she said,

“It might or might not have been real love, but it was something that helped me love myself, which is very fun and very beautiful, I identify as queer. I believe that queer is the blanket for it all. It’s knowing who you are, and being okay with who you’re not.”

Dizzy is a part of a growing generational group of LGBTQ artists. She is ready to make a dent in the music industry while flying the rainbow flag and being an important public face for queer women of color. She declared in an interview with Out Magazine,

“If I can be anything, it’s that person that someone can look at and be like, ‘I feel you’,”

King Princess

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Cole took this on my birthday night

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King Princess, born Mikaela Straus, grew up surrounded by music. With her father being the owner of a recording studio, the Brooklyn artist and multi-instrumentalist spent her early years at the music studio writing songs that garnered the attention of record companies.

Though she warded off early record deals to focus on her education, King Princess ultimately launched her music career later while she was in enrolled in college at the University of Southern California.

In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, she noted that she wrote “Talia” 20 minutes before class and recalled that the melody to “1950,” what would later be her debut single, came to her whilst in the shower.

She posted her five-song EP Make My Bed, on SoundCloud: a record that took a life of its own and eventually traveled to the ears of Harry Styles who then tweeted a line from the track, “1950.” After that, King Princess became the first signee to Mark Ronson’s Zelig Records, his new label under Columbia.

King Princess is assertive about her sexual identity. Her debut single and queer love song, “1950” is accompanied by an adorable and super-8 style music video.

According to the 19-year-old indie-pop singer, “1950” was inspired by one of her favorite books, 1952’s The Price Of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, which later became the Todd Haynes film, Carol. It’s a song laden with longing, hidden desire and the unrequited queer love that was particularly characteristic of the historical period.

Khalif Jones (aka Le1f)

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baby’s teething 👶🏿 📸: @eclectic.nomad

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Khalif Jones, better known by his stage name, Le1f (pronounced “leaf”), is a rapper and producer born and raised in Manhattan. Le1f studied ballet and modern dance, but ultimately notable figure in New York nightlife scene.

The New York-based MC has received critical acclaim for his self-released mixtapes, his debut album Riot Boi, he now runs the hip hop label Camp & Street, a subsidiary of Greedhead Music. As an openly gay rapper, he’s garnered attention for his subversive music and performances.

His music defies and pushes the boundaries of a genre; rendering his music to be queer in both its lyricism and production. The emcee knows how to make a statement as his lyrics are critical and politically charged.

Yet, he is also aware of how his identity as an openly gay Black rapper is typically figured in the media and how non-normative gender identities and sexualities are viewed within the black community. In speaking to Noisey, he claimed,

“I think as a black man and a gay man talking about politics, the tropes get identified as anger just off of what culture decides happens when black people talk about politics.”


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I hope a nigga doesn’t, but i wish a nigga would. 📸: @katekillet

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Shamir grew up in Sin City. After emailing a few demos to a small Brooklyn-based label Godmode, he received an email requesting him to come to New York City straight away. An EP, Northtown, followed, and soon after Shamir signed a multi-album deal with XL, home of FKA twigs, The XX and Adele.

That was 2015 and Shamir was 19-years-old. Though his breakout experimental electronic pop debut, Ratchet catapulted him to stardom, Shamir was ultimately dropped from the label for not meeting creative expectations and changing his musical style.

Looking back at that time, Shamir describes that he went along with the ride of fame and success and insists that the reset to his career is freeing.

In 2017, the gender queer artist released Revelations and in 2018, Resolutions whose indie-rock vibes are a departure from his debut album that blended house and electronic beats with striking sometimes soul-baring lyrics. In discussing his sexual and gender identity to The Guardian, he explains,

“I never felt like a boy or a girl, never felt I should wear this or dress like that. I think that’s where that confidence comes from because I never felt I had to play a part in my life. I just always come as Shamir.”

Shamir’s story is a testament to his perseverance, an example of how to stay true to one’s artistic integrity, and a guide on how to be open to the different platforms that come with exhibiting one’s art.

Kiki Layne is already proving she’s one of the most versatile actresses in Hollywood

Three months after moving to Los Angeles, actress Kiki Layne had her first audition.

The role was for Barry Jenkin’s screen adaptation of If Beale Street Could Talk, based on James Baldwin’s 1974 novel of the same name.

After being blown away by her audition, Jenkins’ requested a script reading with her on-screen romantic partner, Stephen James. The rest is history.

Beating out 300 other actresses for the lead role, she was cast in an Academy-Award winning director’s film. It was as if Layne’s journey to La La Land was written in the stars. Beale Street was the 26-year-old Cincinnati native’s feature film debut. Layne’s performance was lauded by critics who were impressed by her newcomer’s compelling portrayal of the lead character.


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@voguemagazine #IfBealeStreetCouldTalk is doing really well so Tish can wear @prada and @chloe now 😁💛 📸 @tylersphotos

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The film follows the story of Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James), childhood friends who fall in love but whose communion is interrupted when Fonny is accused of a crime he did not commit.

With the help of those around her, Tish fights to free her husband from prison before the birth of their child. Shifting between the past and present, Beale Street is a crucial depiction of young Black love.

Since the story is transmitted through Tish’s POV and her narration drives the film, a lot of screen time is dedicated to the young actress.

The audience is intimately aligned with her subjectivities as the gentle and tender romance is transmitted through eyes and we watch her grow and mature as she goes through life in the devastatingly beautiful film.

After attending DePaul University and graduating with a degree in acting, Layne had begun to build a name for herself in the theater scene in Chicago, until she, like many others, was hailed by the allure making it big in Los Angeles.

Layne was introduced to Jenkins’ script by her friend who was also auditioning for the lead part that James eventually landed. Speaking on the role, Layne recalled to the Chicago Sun-Times,

“Something just told me that this was the role I was waiting for. I just had to get in the room…When I read Baldwin’s book, I knew I absolutely had to get this. It’s a beautiful love story, and a role like this doesn’t come around often.”

Next, Layne will appear in a screen adaptation of the beloved and much-studied Richard Wright novel, Native Son.


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The film is directed by Rashid Johnson and the screenplay was adapted by Suzan-Lori Parks. Native Son will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 24. She told the Chicago Times,

“This is another adaptation of a really important piece of black literature. I’m super excited for it and thankful to be working in the industry at a time when these adaptations are happening.”

Layne told Variety,

“I’m just feeling thankful that right out of the gate, I get to let audiences know that this is the type of work that really matters to me, and that I recognize that I have the ability to say something with my art, with the projects I choose.”


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While her acting career has been kicked off by two screen adaptations, Layne doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as an actress and is committed to having her name attached to a variety of projects. She continued,

“I could do comedy, action, or even science fiction. The only thing I’m sure of is that I want to keep doing work that speaks to me.”

As more and more Marvel and DC comic book characters take over the silver screen, Layne wants in on the Marvel Franchise. She revealed in an interview with ESSENCE that she has her eyes set on the role of a superhero — X-Men’s Storm. She told Variety,

“She was an image of myself, of a powerful chocolate black woman, and I just think that’s an amazing image to have and I really want to play Storm,”

She disclosed that her agents and managers are actively plotting to make it happen.

Halle Berry famously played Storm in the first four X-Men movies, while Alexandra Shipp took on the role for 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse, as well as in the upcoming Dark Phoenix, set to hit theaters on this year.

On her strategy to stay grounded, Layne admitted that she takes it one day at a time.

She revealed to the Chicago Sun-Times, that she intends on returning to Chicago and reimmersing herself in the theater scene saying,

“I left before I had the opportunity to pursue work more widely in Chicago. I want a career filled with a lot of variety. It’s important for me to not be put into any type of box because that steals the fun of acting. I want to do everything.”

Missy Elliott to be the first woman rapper ever inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame

Missy Elliott was just inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, making her the first female rapper to be inducted ever.

Missy has been a pioneering and ground-breaking force in the music industry since the early 90s. She has racked up an incredible amount of awards and record sales over the years and is the only female rapper to have all six studio albums go platinum.

The five-time Grammy Award-winning rapper, songwriter, and producer known for hits such as “Get Ur Freak On” and “Work It, ” broke the boundaries of genre and the boundaries of gender in a heavily male-dominated industry.

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Her debut album, Supa Dupa Fly, catapulted the Virginia Beach rapper-singer into superstardom. She went on to change the sound of mainstream hip-hop.

Over her career that spans three decades, she’s written for some of the music industry’s biggest stars including Beyoncé, Whitney Houston, Aaliyah, Mary J. Blige, Ciara and many more.

Missy took to social media to celebrate the honor.

The Hall of Fame described Elliott in their announcement as, “a groundbreaking solo superstar, pioneering songwriter-producer and across-the-board cultural icon.”

Missy’s induction not only marks the first female Hip-Hop artist to be inducted but only the third rapper in the nearly 50-year history of the Songwriters Hall of Fame to do so, joining fellow rapper inductees, Jermaine Dupri and JAY-Z.

Though Missy Elliott is grabbing headlines for this historic achievement, we are sure to see her name appear more regularly as she set to release her first album since 2005 this year.

It’s clear to see the influence she has on the game today, especially with new artists like Tierra Whack and Noname paying homage to her through their work. Missy has truly paved the way for talented artists like them before they were even born!

The induction ceremony will take place on June 13 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in NYC.

Airports and TSA are COOKED thanks to the government shutdown

The government shutdown has now become the longest in US history and has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers unpaid and government offices closed.

With no end in sight to the partial government shutdown, as the President has stated he is willing to keep the government shutdown for months and even years, industry officials are worried that federal workers will be forced to find paying jobs elsewhere, leading to major staffing shortages.

Though the President on Monday appeared to rule out declaring a national emergency to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which he demanded Democrats must negotiate the funding for. Of course, Trump has directed blame for the government shutdown at the Democrat Party, despite his earlier statements in which he claimed he would be proud to shut the government down.

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As the President continues to throw a tantrum over his wall, thousands of federal employees have to go to work knowing they will not receive paychecks.

The nation’s 51,000 airport security agents — which include employees that are responsible for screening passengers and scanning bags in airport security checkpoints — are among the federal employees who have been ordered to work without pay. In addition, air-traffic controllers are also working without pay.

Not surprisingly, the partial government shutdown is starting to affect air travel.

Not only are there massive delays everywhere but airports around the nation have had to close security checkpoints due to a shortage of TSA staff and not enough agents able to operate all of the airport’s checkpoints.

Due to TSA agent absences, Miami International Airport will temporarily close off a terminal concourse early for three days. A spokesperson for the airport, Greg Chin, described that federal screeners have been calling in sick at double the normal rate.

As the shutdown enters its 24th day, the Transportation Security Administration announced that a man traveling from Atlanta to Japan earlier this month was able to carry a gun through a security checkpoint and onto a Delta Air Lines flight.

Delta Air Lines official explained that the man alerted airline workers once he arrived at Tokyo Narita International Airport, who subsequently told the TSA, Delta Air Lines said. According to the TSA, the passenger had forgotten the firearm was in their carry-on luggage.

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This security breach has come two weeks into the government shutdown. Trade union officials warn that the shutdown’s impact could become more pronounced over time.

While TSA has said the partial government shutdown is not responsible for the breach, citing that the security breach was due to “standard procedures” not being followed.

Nonetheless, the shutdown has affected the staffing of various airports around the nation. Hydrick Thomas, president of the T.S.A. Council of the American Federation of Government Employees, said this week that “extreme financial hardship” had driven some of his members to resign and many others to consider following suit.

With TSA agents earn about $35,000 a year, on average, many federal employees are struggling to get by. In speaking to the New York Times, a 29-year-old man who works for the T.S.A. at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago said,

“It’s difficult to budget things like food, or knowing which bills to pay, when you simply don’t know when you’ll have money again.”

A 37-year-old woman and screener at Los Angeles International Airport told the New York Times,

“It is getting harder to come every day and know that you’re not getting paid, but it’s my job, and I knew when I started this job that this was potentially going to happen.”

TSA agents and correction officers around the country have expressed their increasing anxiety about their financial instability and insecurity.

Evidently and justifiably, morale is low for these workers amid the shutdown.

The unlikely pair of 50 Cent Chris Albrecht could push Starz to the top

With an overwhelming amount of content and an array of distribution platforms, the landscape for television has shifted dramatically over the past decade.

Yet, Starz CEO, Chris Albrecht is more than well-versed in the television market. In the decade prior, he was the CEO of HBO and the creative force that has instrumentally shaped what TV looks like today.

Now, pair the knowledge of an entertainment industry veteran, with that of the rap superstar, actor, businessman and entrepreneur, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, and you get a recipe for a pair who could change the industry, again.

50 Cent may be the household name, but Albrecht is responsible for providing content for millions of people to watch in their households. His tenure at HBO is noted for changing the landscape of television by creating a seemingly endless stream of critically acclaimed series, such as Oz, The Wire, Sex and the City, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Band of Brothers, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage, along with several other programs.

While the business partnership between the music mogul and the media mogul may seem like a new iteration of The Odd Couple, the pair is taking full advantage of the Golden Age of TV. Indeed, the major success of the Starz crime-drama series Power is testament to this.


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Want more #PowerTV BTS? We got you. More exclusive season 6 content drops tomorrow on the @starz App. 🎬💯

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Since teaming up, the two businessmen have produced five seasons of the gritty crime-drama, with a sixth on the way. The show has also produced one of the most dedicated fan bases in the social media age.

It was announced last year that 50 Cent signed an exclusive, multi-series and multi-million dollar deal with premium cable network Starz.

According to Variety, the deal is worth up to $150 million and is linked to 50 Cent’s production company, G-Unit Film and Television Inc., which he founded in 2003.

Both on screen and off, Jackson proves, again and again, that the star can deliver content people want. 50 Cent is one of the most recognized rappers today and he is responsible for creating one of the most prolific rap artist/group labels. His venture into acting and entrepreneurship (with his stake in Vitamin Water) has led to his net-worth hitting monumental heights.

The duo sat down for a curated talk at Business Insider’s Ignition conference in December last year. Jackson recalled that when he pitched his series ideas to Albrecht, the star admitted,

“I was essentially requesting the biggest deal in premium cable history.”

During the discussion, 50 explained how the company’s willingness to grant him a large amount of creative freedom to develop and produce graphic content, largely informed his decision to stay with the premium cable channel. He compared the serial content of his hit series to creating “ten R-rated feature films.”

In discussing the deal, the Starz CEO Chris Albrecht insisted that he wasn’t just looking to produce a single show with the deal, but a brand. He said,

“The sky is limit when you are in business with this guy,”

For some time now, Albrecht has been dedicated to not just producing new shows but the Starz brand itself. The 58-year-old executive has been formulating and configuring how explicit the content on the premium cable channel needs to be in order to make a significant dent in the market.

While Jackson is reveling at the artistic freedom he can leverage with the premium cable channel, at the same time, Albrecht is trying to formulate content that mediates between the explicit and family friendly.

According to GQ, Starz pays hundreds of millions of dollars each year for the exclusive rights to air movies by the Walt Disney Co., Pixar, and Sony.

On what’s next to come, 50 will make his debut as a director in Power this season and Starz is already developing three spin-offs of its hit series, one of which, includes a prequel orientated around 50’s character, Kanan.


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I’m on set working on my directorial debut episode 603 #bellator #lecheminduroi

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Additionally, 50 Cent is calling on the public for actors for his upcoming series about the Detroit-based BMF drug organization. The rap star announced on his IG that casting for the film will be held in different cities across the nation.

The film, under his production company, G-Unit Film and Television, will definitely be one of the most highly anticipated films whenever it comes out.

With 50 Cent pushing the envelope with some of the most gripping and graphic content on television, Chris Albrecht will be there making even more game-changing moves that could push the Starz network to the next level. We’ll be watching, that’s for sure.

Frank Ocean talks about his IG, moving to NY in rare interview with GQ

In a rare interview conducted by his Blonded Radio co-hosts Vegyn and Emmett Cruddas, Frank Ocean spoke to GQ magazine, on an eclectic mix of subjects; his vices, skincare routine, his decision to make his IG public, his cover songs, his move to New York City, and finally, his New Years Resolution.

Aligning with the artists’ enigmatic style, there was no mention of a new album or tour or any update on the Spike Jonze visual project. I guess we will have to wait until Ocean gifts us with another surprise project.

In the meantime, we do have access to peep his Instagram after Ocean surprised his fans by making his account, which dates back to May 2017, public in November. Ocean made his introduction to a wider audience by posting a mirror selfie with the simple caption “welcome.”


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In the interview, the elusive singer-songwriter explained about his motivation to make his Instagram public, stating,

“I feel like there was dissonance between how I was seen by the audience and where I was actually, so that contributed to the decision to make my Instagram public, for sure. But there’s also the idea of dialogue and discourse and conversation — like theater, where the audience can interrupt you, versus the television.”

Ocean also discussed his recent activism in response to the Midterm elections and his decision to more explicitly politicize his platform. The singer-songwriter used his blonded RADIO episodes to boost voter turnout and encouraged fans to vote by offering free, limited-edition merchandise.

On making his move to the Big Apple, Ocean described how he has felt enthralled during his since stay in New York, and immersing himself in what he poignantly described as the “unsaid energy” that characterizes the city.


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Plus, Ocean is relieved to have finally put a stop to his nomadic lifestyle, living from hotel to hotel room and finally finding a place to call home.

While New Year’s resolutions often involve gym memberships, finding a new job, acquire a new hobby or skill, Ocean admitted that his will carry over from 2018, revealing,

“I didn’t do my last one, to be honest with you. My last one was self-decoration, and I haven’t finished any of my jewelry, so I’m gonna carry that on to next year [2019].”

Releasing only a handful of song covers in his career, he explained to GQ that a song really has to speak to him in order to feel an Ocean interpretation is necessary.

“Nowadays, I have to live with the song for a bit and I have to see if it’s worthwhile to interpret it first. To see what I can do with it, where I can insert my voice. It’s much more deliberate than when I was just focused on the rap mixtape approach of taking a beat or flow, swapping the lyrics and performing it. The performance almost being the stream-of-consciousness, in-the-moment thing, whereas now I would much prefer having the song be with me for more time before I have to record it.”


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@ironkoopz w the sneak haha

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He recalled his thought process behind covering Aailyah’s “At Your Best,” Stevie Wonder’s “Close to You” and Henry Mancini’s “Moon River,” made famous by Audrey Hepburn in the Hollywood classic, Breakfast At Tiffany’s. He recounted,

 “[‘At Your Best…,]” I was at a party and it came on, and I had to sing it. With ‘Close to You,’ it was a similar thing, only without the nostalgia. I was living in a hotel, and I remember listening to it and being really nailed to the floor by Stevie Wonder’s interpretation of it. That version moved into my favorite-songs-of-all-time list, right there with Prince’s ‘When You Were Mine.’ I don’t know what creates that feeling of ‘I have to sing this song.’

On his most recent “Moon River” cover, he explained,

“Someone asked me to sing it, and that was the only reason I listened to it. People ask me to do a lot of things I don’t do [laughs], but when I listened to it, it was something that I wanted to do because I thought the song was small and beautiful and neat. It’s the ‘ocean in the drop’ idea, all these feelings inside this small thing. Living with it, listening to the many versions, thinking about who I would work on it with and what I would go for in interpreting it. Of the covers I’ve done, ‘At Your Best…’ and ‘Moon River’ are my favorites.”

In sum, what we learnt is that the R&B singer-songwriter is an avid moisturizer user and a “true believer of night cream.” Ocean admitted that he perhaps watches too much television and equated MSNBC  with the hit-reality TV show, Love & Hip Hop. 


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@alasdairmclellan @gq 🙂

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Though he did reference Jonze, Ocean recalled the director’s advice for which bed mattress to purchase. And if you a curious, the mattress is called the Duxiana, and the luxury mattress retails at $7600. Gulp.

The singer-songwriter continues to remain tight-lipped about his ventures, opting to instead drop projects here and there online, sending his fans on social media into a frenzy.

Jordan Peele drops his wild new sci-fi show ‘Weird City’

Jordan Peele is increasingly becoming one of the biggest and busiest people in Hollywood.

The Academy Award-winning director’s name is attached to an array of projects and Peele is using his wild imagination to produce riveting content on pretty much every platform.

Peele’s much-anticipated follow-up horror film Us will hit theaters March 22 but the director, actor and screenwriter’s schedule is jammed pack with projects, including a Twilight Zone reboot with CBS, and a Netflix stop-motion animated movie titled, Wendell and Wild.

He is also linking up with Amazon for a four-part docu-series called Lorena, which is a re-examination of the infamous Lorena Bobbitt 1993 case that made world headlines after she mutilated her husband while he was asleep.

Peele and Key and Peele writer, Charlie Sanders have also teamed up to produce a web television series, titled Weird City. The YouTube Originals show is a satirical sci-fi anthology series set in the not-too-distant dystopian future metropolis of Weird.

The first trailer of Weird City was released Thursday.

Peep the official synopsis of the Youtube Originals show:

“In the dystopian setting of our show, the middle class has completely vanished dividing Weird City into two sections: Above the Line (The Haves), and Below the Line (The Have Nots). Presiding over the denizens of the city is the strange and mysterious Dr. Negari, who weaves all of our stories together.

Each episode is a topic that pertains to present day life in America and the world: social media addiction, online dating, fitness obsession, etc.. WEIRD CITY captures the unease of modern urban living, in a bizarre and peculiar lens.”

Peele and Sanders’ new series also boasts an impressive cast, including LeVar Burton, Steven Yeun, Gillian Jacobs, Awkwafina, Laverne Cox, Rosario Dawson and Michael Cera.

The show will be available to watch February 13 on YouTube Premium.