In New York, Eight Young Bipoc And LGBTQ+ Artists Take Over The Subway

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VMAS IN NEW YORK, EIGHT YOUNG BIPOC AND LGBTQ+ ARTISTS TAKE OVER THE SUBWAY

By Virginia Lowman, MTV

During a chaotic year that has laid bare the divisive inequities within our society, music and art have often served as universal entities to ground us, tell our stories, and provide a sense of escape. Now, a new exhibition hosted by MTV pays homage to that sense of unity. Nestled appropriately within the belowground subway station at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue terminal at Barclays Center — that great mixing pot where riders from all walks of life brush elbows on a communal commute, as well as the initially planned home of the 2020 VMAs — the show takes over public advertising spaces to amplify the diverse work of eight emerging visual artists working in a variety of media.

Conceptualized by MTV’s Rich Tu, Vice President of Digital Design, and Antonia Baker, Senior Director of Marketing, who were inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests that took place at Barclays Center earlier in the summer, each artist submitted original pieces inspired by the themes of unity, music, space, and the future, which will remain on view through September 6. Where some works feature futuristic dance parties in outer space, others aim to combat tropes that lead people to view BIPOC communities through an exoticizing lens. The result is a vibrant picture of youth and the beauty of the differences that exist between us, as well as a love letter to New York City. Here, the artists share their stories, the inspiration for their work, and more.

  • Amika Cooper, Illustrator

    Amika Cooper’s exuberant depictions of Black women as divine beings are both a call to activism and a celebration of the beauty of Blackness and the LGBTQ+ community. “It’s important to me to refute the idea of the ‘strong Black woman’ and other tropes that limit the public perspective of Black femmes,” she tells MTV News. Working across digital illustration, 2-D animation, and collage, her art plays with space and draws upon rich hues: showing Black women as healers and rulers with lush curls or donning Egyptian headdresses as rulers of the galaxy. Raised in Toronto, she now calls Brooklyn home, but her West Indian and South American heritage is tightly woven into her work. “The culture I grew up on is the product of the unwavering ingenuity in enslaved and indentured people,” Cooper says. Her latest pieces lean heavily into geometry, “a reflection of the forces that connect us and remind us of the importance of creating, sharing, and repeating.”

  • Bronson Farr, Photographer

    For Bronson Farr, art is about making people feel seen. A photographer and director, his craft resides in the sweet spot between beauty and discomfort, with overlapping themes of vulnerability, power, and voyeurism. “People’s faces tell incredible stories when they’re being honest, even if it’s a bit scary,” Farr says. His work casts Black men in a gentle, intimate glow juxtaposed with a sense of reverence and longing. One photo depicts a man against a terracotta backdrop, his chest exposed, his view obstructed by buds of baby’s breath and a sheet of tulle that hides his face. It’s a playful subversion of stereotypes about Black masculinity, calling the viewer to see the softness and serenity in these boys. “My aim is to allow the viewer permission to see Black people, especially men, the way I do — wrapped in warmth, love, and light, and deserving of your protection.” Farr hopes his art takes people on a journey that acknowledges the experiences and feelings of someone who has “[gone] through some shit” but has found their happy ending.

  • Eugenia Mello, Illustrator

    When tapped to participate in the Atlantic Avenue terminal takeover, Brooklyn-based, Argentina-born illustrator Eugenia Mello sought to “translate music into shapes” and create a mural that vibrates so loud a viewer can feel it. She explores the relationship between emotion and the body: Abstract shapes in deep primaries paint the scenes of a dance club alive with rhythm and heat. Her incorporation of contrasting colors and angular shapes adds depth to the image harkening back to a time before social distancing was the norm and when dancing in groups generated a feeling of electricity. Her work is heavily musical, pulling from an upbringing in South America and the Caribbean that was “bursting with energy.” She credits the grassroots spirit of the Venezuelan political climate of the early 2000s as helping her find her own artistic voice: “People would march, exercising their right of free speech by chanting and dancing with loud music,” she says. “Expression was with the whole body.”

  • Eva Zar, Photographer

    Eva Zar wields self-expression as a means of liberation. Raised within a traditional Russian-Austrian household, she uses photography to relay messages of empowerment and self-love. Focusing her lens on the beauty and sensuality of her subjects, her soft, almost retro depictions are subtly nonconformist. “A lot of my art speaks directly against the lessons and rules I grew up with,” she says. “I wanted to create art that shows different types of bodies and liberates women from the idea of only being a wife.” Her latest series exists at the intersection of music and performance, in one instance crafting an image of a dancer clad in black trainers and a neon tracksuit dancing on the stage at a Lynchian bar. Metallic decor and striking cateye liner are reminiscent of the heightened glamour of the disco days. Often incorporating her friends as her muses, her vivid portraiture captures the strength of the LGBTQ+ community; it is a reminder that regardless of what is happening in the world, “our community gives us space for an inclusive and safe future.”

  • Kervin Brisseaux, Illustrator

    Three words come to mind in viewing illustrator Kervin Brisseaux’s vibrant digital drawings: rich, conversational, animated. With a background in architectural studies, bold graphics and crisp lines are at the forefront of Brisseaux’s work. Whether he’s fusing cultures and experimenting with typography or scribing his own language into being, his work always has something to say. His art isn’t just about aesthetic pleasure, it’s also about tapping into discussions that are happening each day. “I feel like it’s my responsibility to not only provide eye-candy but contribute to the relevant conversations of today,” he tells MTV News. The three works he displays at the Atlantic Avenue terminal — a standout piece emphasizing the intersection of culture, art, and identity through the use of contrasting browns and yellows, as well as tribal markings on the face of a sweating subject entranced and empowered by the music playing through their headphones — highlight his bold style, presenting subjects as warriors who champion individuality.

Click here to read the full article on MTV.

Lil Nas X Conquered Pop On His Own Terms

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Lil Nas X Conquered Pop On His Own Terms

BY CHRIS DEVILLE, Stereogum

Lil Nas X was going to be a one-hit wonder. This much seemed obvious to me. “Old Town Road” had all the makings of a fleeting career. A half-rap, half-country novelty hit about a lean-drinking cowboy who’ll ride ’til he drops, made viral through savvy promotion on TikTok and Twitter, buoyed by controversy over whether it should qualify for Billboard‘s country charts, then sent into overdrive by a remix featuring the “Achy Breaky Heart” guy — it was more a meme than a song, a joyous joke adults and children alike could be in on. After the track spent a record-breaking 19 weeks at #1 on Billboard‘s Hot 100, its momentum extended by an assortment of star-studded alternate remixes and videos, it also started to seem like an albatross. Despite everything the “Old Town Road” saga said about this guy’s musical and promotional skills, it was hard to imagine where he could possibly go next. But Montero Hill is nothing if not imaginative.

At this point, about two years after “Old Town Road” ended its run at #1, not only is Lil Nas X not a one-hit wonder, he’s one of the surest things in mainstream music. He nabbed a Album Of The Year nomination for an EP. He landed three more songs in the top five, including one that debuted at #1 and another that was only blocked from the top of the chart by an aggressive BTS stan campaign. He has expertly stirred controversy with some of the most vividly rendered music videos in recent memory and strategically outrageous merch, weaponizing his sexuality, inciting a lawsuit from one of the world’s largest corporations, and throwing in some satanic panic for good measure. His debut album Montero will surely spin off more hits, partially because it shows him wielding the ruling rap, pop, and rock sounds of the moment with expertise. “Funny how you said it was the end,” he raps on “Industry Baby” in a rebuke of skeptics like me. “Then I went did it again.”

Even LNX’s most fervent supporters would agree his promo acumen has been inextricable from his success. During the Montero cycle, that has included descending into hell for sex with Satan, leading a jailhouse full of naked men through a dick-swinging dance routine, donning a prosthetic pregnancy bump ahead of “birthing” the new album, and selling modified Nikes that feature pentagrams and drops of human blood. As he puts it on one song featuring his fellow attention magnet Doja Cat, “I’m just tryna be the daily scoop.” But Montero, released last Friday, affirms that he’s musically adept as well. The album is hooky and energetic, with versatile songwriting and production that maintains a recognizable imprint despite all the genre morphing. Although parts of it edge up to the cheesier corners of the modern pop landscape, it’s an undeniably fun, engaging debut with some depth to it — the kind of album that bodes well for a young star’s future.

Lyrically, Montero largely presents a mix of “hell yeah I’m famous now” and “oh shit I’m famous now” common among budding superstars, delivered with a personal touch and some raw vulnerability that adds some freshness to the usual proceedings. That he’s achieved this success as a gay Black man makes elements of the album’s story feel culturally significant and new, starting right up front with a lustfully flirtatious #1 single named for the queer coming of age movie Call Me By Your Name. As others have pointed out, queerness colors the darker, heavier side of the album as well. Throughout, Lil Nas X revels in the pursuit of both fleeting pleasure and more enduring partnership. But there’s real pain on display too, as on the moody standout “Dead Right Now,” which finds him spitefully telling his old acquaintances, “You know you never used to call/ Keep it that way now.”

Click here to read the full article on Stererogum.

Zendaya Opened Up About Refusing To Have Her First Kiss On Camera And Keeping Her Dating Life Private A Day Before The Photos Of Her And Tom Holland Kissing And Meeting Her Mom Went Viral

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Zendaya in a nude dress on the red carpet

By , Buzzfeed News

Ever since Tom Holland blew up the internet last week by seemingly confirming his rumored relationship with Zendaya, fans have been dying to know more about the Spider-Man duo.

But it seems that, for now at least, Zendaya is keeping her cards close to her chest, recently hinting that she prefers to keep her private life private — certainly easier said than done for one of the biggest names on the planet.

Gracing the cover of this month’s issue of British Vogue, the Euphoria star gave a rare glimpse into her infamously private romantic life, recalling her refusal to have her first kiss on-screen.

“I remember being on Shake It Up and being like, ‘I’m not gonna do this. I’m going to kiss him on the cheek because I haven’t been kissed yet so I don’t want the kiss to be on camera,” the former child-star explained.

And having gone on to make history with her Emmy win last year, Zendaya is certainly no stranger to life in the spotlight. But, despite her fame, it appears she’s remained committed to keeping her most personal moments away from the public eye.

Click here to read the full article on Buzzfeed News.

RED NOTICE Starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds is coming to Netflix!

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The Rock, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Dot together in promo picture for Netflix movie Red Notice

An Interpol-issued Red Notice is a global alert to hunt and capture the world’s most wanted. But when a daring heist brings together the top FBI profiler (Dwayne Johnson) and two rival criminals (Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds), there’s no telling what will happen.

The high-flying adventure that ensues takes the trio around the world, across the dance floor, trapped in a secluded prison, into the jungle and, worst of all for them, constantly into each other’s company.

The all star cast is joined by Ritu Arya and Chris Diamantopolous. Directed and written by Rawson Marshall Thurber (Central Intelligence, Skyscraper) and produced by Hiram Garcia, Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia of Seven Bucks Productions, Beau Flynn’s Flynn Picture Co. and Thurber’s Bad Version, Inc., Red Notice is a stylish globe-trotting game of cat-and-mouse (and cat).

Coming to Netflix on November 12, 2021!

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Michael B. Jordan-Backed HBCU Basketball Showcase Partners With Turner Sports and Invesco

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Michael B. Jordan smiling at camera

By Angelique Jackson, Yahoo! Entertainment

Michael B. Jordan’s upcoming college basketball showcase, spotlighting men’s teams from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) added Turner Sports and Invesco QQQ as partners.

The newly named Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic will take place on Saturday, Dec. 18, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. TNT will televise the doubleheader competition between Hampton University and North Carolina Central University, plus Howard University versus North Carolina A&T University.

The event — presented with WME Sports (the sports division of WME, an Endeavor company), Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE) and Scout Sports and Entertainment (a division of Horizon Media) — was previously announced as the Hoop Dreams Classic.

“I am thrilled to finally announce the four HBCUs that will be competing in the inaugural Legacy Classic,” Jordan said, announcing the latest updates.

“Invesco QQQ and Turner Sports have been amazing partners in helping bring this experience to life,” he continued. “I grew up watching basketball games on TNT, so I am confident they will deliver this set of games to a true audience of basketball fans and their families in an exciting way.”

In addition to the basketball game, the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic is also set to feature an immersive cultural experience that highlights elements of HBCU life and culture, including a band showcase, a live musical performance, college and career opportunities and more.

“We are excited for this partnership with Michael B. Jordan and all of the event organizers as we present the inaugural Legacy Classic,” Tina Shah, Turner Sports’ executive vice president and general manager, added. “We’re looking forward to having this unique opportunity to showcase these four college basketball programs, while highlighting HBCUs both leading up to and during the event.”

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Entertainment

Candyman: Horror reboot director Nia DaCosta makes US box office history

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Director Nia DaCosta, here in 2020, has made history with the success of her film "Candyman."

By BBC

Candyman director Nia DaCosta has made history by becoming the first black woman to have a film open at number one on the North American box office chart.

The director’s reimagining of the 1992 horror made $22m (£16m) in its first weekend in US and Canadian cinemas.

That is almost as much as the film – co-written and produced by Get Out’s Jordan Peele – actually cost to make.

Based on a Clive Barker story, the film is named after a hook-handed killer who has spawned a fearsome urban legend.

The new film stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as a visual artist who comes to regret basing an exhibit on the Candyman myth.

DaCosta only had one feature credit, 2018’s Little Woods, when she was invited to direct the latest instalment in the horror franchise.

The 31-year-old is currently working on The Marvels, the sequel to the 2019 Marvel comic book blockbuster Captain Marvel.

Candyman is the latest horror release to perform strongly in US cinemas as the sector recovers from the impact of the Covid pandemic.

A Quiet Place Part II was another scary success story, having made more than half of its $296m (£215m) worldwide haul from North American audiences.

Box office analysts said Candyman surpassed their expectations for an R-rated film opening in the Covid-19 era.

It performed better than had been expected even with Hurricane Ida depressing attendance in some southern US states.

Candyman also bucked a recent trend by launching only in cinemas, without a simultaneous release on streaming sites.

Films that have adopted a dual-release strategy, such as Black Widow and The Suicide Squad, have seen takings decline steeply in their second weekend in cinemas.

Candyman’s success came at the expense of action comedy Free Guy, which slipped to second place with weekend takings of $13.6m (£9.8m).

Click here to read the full article on BBC.

Beyonce’s husband Jay-Z makes rare comments about why he likes to collaborate with her: ‘She’s an incredibly hard worker, super talented, very inspiring’

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Cheers: Jay-Z made rare comments about his wife Beyonce this weekend. He said he loves working with her because she is 'super detail-orientated' and 'inspiring'

By HEIDI PARKER, Daily Mail

Jay-Z loves working with his wife Beyonce because she is ‘super detail-orientated’ and ‘inspiring’.

The power couple have collaborated musically, toured together, and, most recently, joined forces for Tiffany & Co’s About Love campaign.

And the 51-year-old music mogul has revealed why it’s so easy to work with his ‘super talented’ spouse.

Speaking in a rare interview with Entertainment Tonight at the 18th anniversary of his 40/40 Club in New York City on Saturday night the 99 Problems hitmaker gushed: ‘She’s super detail-oriented, obviously, as you can see from her work.

The star-studded bash was also attended by the likes of Megan Thee Stallion – who is signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label – Swizz Beatz and Busta Rhymes, to name a few.

The high-profile duo’s romance is the center of the ad for the luxury jewelry brand, which launches on September 2.

In a statement, the Crazy in Love pair said: ‘Love is the diamond that the jewelry and art decorate.’

The Destiny’s Child star and her other half – who have Blue Ivy, nine, and four-year-old twins Rumi and Sir together – have also created a dazzling film for the brand filmed by Jay-Z on a Super 8 camera, which arrives on September 15.

Click here to read the full article on DAily Mail.

Beyoncé Just Became The First Black Woman To Wear The Iconic Tiffany Diamond

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Beyonce wearing the Tiffany Diamond

By , NPR

Singer Beyoncé and her rapper husband Jay-Z are once again turning heads. And this time, they’re making history too.

The powerhouse couple is the new face of a Tiffany & Co. ad campaign “celebrating modern love,” the luxury jeweler announced Monday.

Photos from the ABOUT LOVE campaign — including several shared on Beyoncé’s Instagram account — are drawing admiration across social media, both for the stunning images and for the historic firsts they represent.

Beyoncé can be seen wearing a large yellow diamond necklace in the photos. That’s the iconic 128-carat Tiffany Diamond, which the company acquired in 1878 and rarely puts on display. (Audrey Hepburn famously wore it in publicity photos for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Lady Gaga wore it to the 2019 Academy Awards.)

Beyoncé is only the fourth woman, and the first Black woman, to wear the diamond in more than a century.

That’s not the only milestone. Some of the photos show the couple posed in front of a large turquoise painting — Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Equals Pi. The 1982 work came from a private collection and has never been seen before in public, according to Tiffany.

This is also a personal first for the Carters. It’s the first campaign they’ve appeared in together, and Tiffany describes it as “an exploration of connection and vulnerability.” Beyoncé and Jay-Z, who got married in 2008, have a well-documented history of ups and downs, which NPR Music’s Rodney Carmichael walks us through here.

“Ushering in a new brand identity, this campaign embodies the beauty of love through time and all its diverse facets, forging a new vision of love today,” the company said.

Tiffany & Co. is also pledging $2 million toward scholarship and internship programs for historically Black colleges and universities, with more details on the initiative to come.

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

JAY-Z’s The Parent Company hires first Black CEO to lead major public U.S. cannabis organization

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JAY-Z’s The Parent Company hires first Black CEO to lead major public U.S. cannabis organization

By 

JAY-Z’s cannabis company and executive Troy Datcher are about to make history. On Monday (Aug. 16), the Hov-backed The Parent Company, which houses his Monogram cannabis brand, announced that Datcher will soon become the company’s new chief executive officer.

When Datcher assumes the role on Sept. 8, a press release notes, he will be the first Black CEO to lead a major, public cannabis organization in the country.

In a statement sent to Insider, Datcher said the California-based Parent Company has a “unique opportunity to disrupt a sector that has disproportionately impacted communities of color — including my own — for far too long.”

“This is a chance to partner with cultural powerhouses like JAY-Z and Desiree Perez to rectify the wrongs of prohibition, eradicate antiquated laws and create a new cannabis infrastructure rooted in diversity, equity and justice for our communities,” he added. “Together, we can shape a legal cannabis industry that is reflective of our entire culture in California and beyond.”

Datcher will work alongside Hov, who currently serves as The Parent Company’s chief visionary officer. Both the 51-year-old mogul and The Parent Company’s chief social equity officer, Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez, have used the brand to lead initiatives aimed at helping Black and other minority entrepreneurs succeed in the cannabis industry.

“Troy’s business acumen, strategic thinking and leadership skills are invaluable qualities that will be critical to our organization’s growth,” Perez said. “He understands and embraces the unique responsibility we have to redefine the cannabis industry and establish a new precedent for cannabis entrepreneurs to build successful businesses.”

Datcher previously served as the senior vice president and chief customer officer of Clorox, where he worked for 20 years.

“Troy brings a wealth of invaluable experience driving high-volume sales, implementing growth strategies and a deep-seated knowledge of strategic brand execution,” The Parent Company Chairman Michael Auerbach said in the release. “His leadership expertise and perspective gained at such a prominent and enduring organization will be a significant advantage as we look to build the first 100-year company in cannabis, meet evolving consumer demands and create meaningful change in our industry.”

Click here to read the full article on Revolt.

Black women are finally shattering the glass ceiling in dance

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Dionne Figgins, artistic director of Ballet Tech, is one of several Black women named recently to leadership posts in dance. (Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post)

By Sarah L. Kaufman, Washington Post

Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell knows how it feels to be the only Black dancer in the dressing room.

“Everyone was friendly, but it was a lonely feeling that nobody looked like me,” says the former star of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recalling her first dance job 30 years ago, with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

“So when it came to styling my hair, I couldn’t rely on anyone to help advise me. There were so many little things like that.”

Throughout the concert-dance world, dancers of color have often shared that sense of isolation and difference. But in recent months, some significant appointments offer hope of change. In March, Fisher-Harrell began leading the company where she once felt so alone. As the new artistic director of Hubbard Street, a widely respected contemporary troupe founded by Broadway dancer Lou Conte, she is one of very few Black women heading traditionally White-led dance organizations.

Fisher-Harrell, who most recently had been teaching at Towson University and the Baltimore School for the Arts, made changes quickly at Hubbard Street. She hired four dancers of color, bringing the total at the 14-member company to six dancers.

Three more Black women have recently assumed dance leadership roles, in front-office moves that are rare in the dance world. Each has led a distinguished performance career in premiere companies on international stages followed by years as dance educators.

Endalyn Taylor is the new dean of the dance school at the prestigious University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. A former leading ballerina of Dance Theatre of Harlem, an original cast member of “The Lion King” and “Aida” on Broadway, and a dance professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Taylor succeeds former American Ballet Theatre principal Susan Jaffe.

Click here to read the full article on the Washington Post.

ANDRÉ 3000 CAST IN OSCAR-NOMINATED DIRECTOR’S NETFLIX MOVIE ‘WHITE NOISE’

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André 3000 has joined the cast of Oscar-nominated director Noah Baumbach’s upcoming Netflix film titled White Noise, according to The Film Stage.

By Joe Walker, Hip Hop Dx

André 3000 has joined the cast of Oscar-nominated director Noah Baumbach’s upcoming Netflix film titled White Noise, according to The Film Stage.

Set for release in 2022, the reported $80 million production sees the Outkast legend teaming up with Star Wars actor Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig, Don Cheadle and Jodie Turner-Smith. White Noise follows a year in the life of Jack Gladney, a professor who made a name for himself by pioneering the field of Adolf Hitler studies at a college known as The-College-on-the-Hill. The movie is being shot in Cleveland and serves as an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s 1985 novel of the same name. There are currently no details about André 3000’s character.

Noah Baumbach’s 2019 Netflix film Marriage Story received six nominations at the 92nd Academy Awards including Best Picture, with Adam Driver also nominated for Best Actor. In January 2021, Baumbach ended up signing an exclusive partnership with Netflix after two movies with the distributor.

“When I started in the film industry I dreamed of having a home,” he said in a statement at the time. “It took me about 25 years but it was worth the wait. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be making movies with Ted [Sarandos] and Scott [Stuber] and everyone at Netflix, who are wonderful collaborators and friends and family.”

White Noise is André 3000’s second film to be shot in 2021 after his involvement in A24’s Showing Up was announced in June. The film starring Oscar-winning actress Michelle Williams is described as “a vibrant and sharply funny portrait of an artist on the verge of a career-changing exhibition.”

Click here to read the full article on Hip Hope Dx.

Jennifer Hudson Knew Aretha Franklin. To Play Her, She Had to Learn More

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Jennifer Hudson standing with a white button up shirt with her arms on her hips.

, New York Times

Jennifer Hudson had plenty of time to think about how to portray Aretha Franklin onscreen. In 2007, soon after Hudson won the Academy Award for best-supporting actress — for playing a girl-group singer in “Dreamgirls” — Franklin told Hudson she should play her in a biopic, starting a decade-long friendship filled with weekly conversations.

Like Franklin, Hudson grew up singing in church, and she has poured gospel virtuosity into pop songs. And like Franklin, whose mother died at 34 of a heart attack, Hudson experienced sudden, devastating loss: her mother, brother and nephew were murdered in Chicago in 2008. In her career, Hudson has repeatedly paid tribute to Franklin, from using a Franklin song for her “American Idol” audition in 2004 to singing “Amazing Grace” at Franklin’s funeral in 2018. Now, Hudson is playing Franklin in the biopic “Respect” that comes to theaters this week.

“Every artist, every musician, you’ve got to cross paths with Aretha, especially if you want to be great,” Hudson said in a video interview from Chicago, where she lives; her gray cat, Macavity, prowled in the background. “She’s always been present in my life in some form, even when I didn’t know it.”

As Hudson explained the choices that went into her performance, she said that through the movie, she came to understand just how much of a “blueprint” Franklin was. “Our church music was based solely on her. The ‘Amazing Grace’ that I grew up singing in church came from her ‘Amazing Grace’ album. I didn’t realize that until we were doing research on the film.”

Hudson, 39, is both the star and an executive producer of “Respect.” The film chronicles Franklin’s life from her childhood — as a vocal prodigy singing in church alongside her father, the eminent Reverend Clarence L. Franklin — through her pregnancy at 12, her frustrating years singing jazz standards at Columbia Records, her triumphant emergence as the Queen of Soul at Atlantic Records, and the pressures and drinking that threatened all she had achieved. Its story concludes in 1972 with Franklin reclaiming her church heritage to record her landmark live gospel album, “Amazing Grace.”

“Respect” is the first film directed by Liesl Tommy, who was born in South Africa under apartheid and has worked extensively in theater, directing reconceptualized classics and politically charged new plays like “Eclipsed,” about women during the civil war in Liberia. (She was nominated for a best director Tony for that production.) To write the screenplay for “Respect,” Tommy brought in the playwright Tracey Scott Wilson, whose grandfather was a preacher.

“When I pitched my idea of the film,” Tommy said by telephone from Los Angeles, “it was that it should start in the church and end in the church. The theme of the film was the woman with the greatest voice on earth, struggling to find her voice. I wanted to know how a person sings with such emotional intensity.

“A lot of people have brilliant voices,” she continued, “but she’s the only one who delivers songs the way she does. I don’t think you become the Queen of Soul if you have an easy ride. There was a lived experience that allowed her to sing like that.”

Franklin was celebrated anew after her death in 2018. The long-shelved concert film made when she recorded the “Amazing Grace” album was finally released that year. And National Geographic devoted a full season of its television series “Genius” to Franklin, with Cynthia Erivo in the title role. “Aretha Franklin lived a life where there’s room for many, many versions of many stories about her,” Tommy said. “She deserves that.”

“Respect” juxtaposes the personal and political currents of Franklin’s career: forging a feminist anthem with “Respect” while grappling with an abusive husband, appearing regularly with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. while supporting controversial figures like the Black Power activist Angela Davis. One of the rawest scenes involves Franklin singing at King’s funeral. “Imagine being Aretha Franklin in that era and Dr. King, whom she was so close to, being assassinated,” Hudson said. “Imagine the suffering and the pain she was going through. But in her position, she still had to be that person to be the light in such a dark time. That’s hard.”

Click here to read the full article on the New York Times.

SAWEETIE FANS GO NUTTY OVER HER MCDONALD’S MEAL WITH MEMES & GIFS

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SAWEETIE FANS GO NUTTY OVER HER MCDONALD’S MEAL WITH MEMES & GIFS

By Michael Saponara, Hip Hop Dx.

Saweetie’s official McDonald’s meal became readily available at Golden Arches locations across the United States on Monday (August 9), and the California native’s Icy Gang can’t get enough of Saweetie’s latest partnership deal.

The Saweetie Meal consists of a Big Mac, four-piece Chicken McNuggets, medium fries, medium Sprite, with Tangy BBQ and ‘Saweetie ‘N Sour’ sauces on the side for your dipping desires. Known for loving absurd food combinations, consumers are encouraged to mix and match sides and sauces with their Big Mac just as Saweetie would appreciate.

“McDonald’s and I run deep – from growing up back in Hayward, California, all through my college days – so I had to bring my icy gang in on my all-time favorites,” she said about the partnership in a statement. “Depending on the mood I’m in, there are so many ways to enjoy my order. I like to keep things fresh – I know that’s right.”

Saweetie’s meal is the first with a female artist and follows a line of celebrity meals that includes successful partnerships with K-pop group BTS, Latin superstar J Balvin and Travis Scott, which even caused supply shortages at some restaurants.

McDonald’s is also partnering with the “Best Friend” rapper for the Saweetstakes. Every Saweetie Meal order through the McDonald’s app will be entered to win a pair of Brandon Blackwood limited-edition handbags and a five-day trip to Las Vegas to see her perform.

Saweetie even hopped behind the counter of a local McDonald’s and surprised customers while working the drive-thru window.

Click here to read the full article on Hip Hop Dx.

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