Beyoncé’s Daughter Blue Ivy Carter Is Dad Jay-Z’s Mini-Me in This Rare Video of Her Rapping

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Blue Ivy drinking out of a straw and a an award trophy

By Julia Teti, Yahoo! Entertainment

The apple didn’t fall far from the tree in Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s family. The mega-stars have been married for more than a decade and share three children together, including their eldest child Blue Ivy Carter. As the 9-year-old has gotten older, fans of the music industry titans have watched Blue follow in her mom and dad’s footsteps. And she proved once again that she’s seriously her dad’s mini-me when she rapped during Jay-Z’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2021 induction video tribute.

The video featured a star-studded ensemble of who’s who in the world of entertainment and music. Naturally, Jay-Z’s wife kicked things off, reciting some of her husband’s most memorable lyrics. The video included shout-outs from the likes of Common, Regina King, and even LeBron James among a bevy of other famous faces. We think, however, the best cameo was saved for last when Blue popped up on screen.

“Congrats S. Carter, ghost writer. You paid the right price, so we just made your hits tighter,” Blue recited at the end of the clip, before letting out the cutest laugh. The lyrics Blue rapped — along with a number of words recited by Jay-Z’s collaborators and friends — were from one of his most famous songs. Blue’s lyrics were a clean version of the words from Jay-Z’s 1998 track “Ride Or Die.”

Between her looks and her Grammy win for “Brown Skin Girl,” Blue Ivy Carter is becoming the perfect combination of her two famous parents. We’ve loved watching the couple’s eldest child come into her own, and we can only imagine how she’s going to take over the music industry in the years to come!

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Entertainment.

Rihanna honored as ‘national hero’ of Barbados

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By Lisa Respers France, CNN

Rihanna’s homeland wants her to continue to “shine bright like a diamond.”

The singer was honored Monday in her native Barbados during its presidential inauguration, which served to mark the country becoming a republic.
Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley told the crowd, “On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we therefore present to you the designee for national hero of Barbados, Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty.”
“May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation by your works, by your actions, and to do credit wherever you shall go,” Mottley said.

The makeup and fashion mogul was appointed as an ambassador of Barbados in 2018.

According to a statement from the Barbados Government Information Office released at the time, the position gives the celeb “specific responsibility for promoting education, tourism, and investment for the island.”

She also became one of the Caribbean island country’s cultural ambassadors in 2008, doing promotional work for its tourism ministry.

In a move that received a great deal of support in the country, Barbados formally cut ties with the British monarchy by becoming a republic almost 400 years after the first English ship arrived on the most easterly of the Caribbean islands.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Simone Biles Details the Trusted Tool She Uses to Help Combat Her Anxiety

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Simone Biles posing on gymnatict floormat after performance smiling with hand in the air

By People

Simone Biles is developing tools to deal with anxiety, thanks to the help of a trusted therapist.

While appearing virtually at the Child Mind Institute’s annual Child Advocacy Award dinner in New York City on Tuesday to accept the inaugural Trailblazer Award, Biles — who has been outspoken about mental health, especially in the wake of a challenging Tokyo Olympic Games — said she hopes to be “a voice for the voiceless.”

In doing so, Biles is being candid about what helps her through difficult moments.

“I do keep close contact with my therapist, I love that,” Biles, 24, said in a PEOPLE exclusive clip from the dinner. “And it’s super exciting so hopefully more people are open to going to therapy and knowing that they’re there for you and not to harm you.”

Part of what Biles’ therapist has encouraged her to do is keep a worry journal.

“I have pretty bad anxiety sometimes so she tells me in my worry journal to put from 12 to 1 p.m. — that’s the time I’ve selected — and anything I’ve written down in my worry journal, I use that hour to worry about the things then,” Biles explained. “And usually by the time 12 or 1 [p.m.] comes, I’ve already forgotten about all my worries so that kind of is a tool that helps me.”

Biles, in general, said she’s learned “to not give up, to move forward and keep pushing,” over the years, even when facing the unimaginable. She said she now sees happiness as, “Just waking up and having a positive outlook on life in general and to know that you’re blessed with another day.”

The athlete was in conversation with Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, president and medical director of the Child Mind Institute. In a press release, Koplewicz said “Simone Biles bravely showed children and the entire world this year that mental health and wellbeing should be made a priority and a foundation for everything else we do in life. The Child Mind Institute is pleased to present her with the inaugural Trailblazer Award for her courageousness and strength in using her global platform to tell young people that it’s critical to speak up and get help.”

During this year’s Summer Games, Biles removed herself from four out of five gymnastics event finals due to a case of the “twisties” — a disorienting condition that athletes can experience when they lose air awareness, putting them at risk for injury when they land.

The Olympian explained at the time that she withdrew to focus on her mental health, saying on social media that her “mind & body are simply not in sync.”

Biles ended up returning to the competition to participate in the balance beam final, for which she won bronze. The athlete also took home a silver in the team all-around final.

Click here to read the full article on People.

Will Smith Says Venus and Serena Williams ‘Cried All the Way Through’ King Richard: ‘They Loved It’

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Will smith playing kin richard in upcoming movie about the williams sisters

By Benjamin VanHoose, People

Will Smith waited on pins and needles to hear Venus and Serena Williams’ reaction to his onscreen performance as their father.

In King Richard, out Nov. 19, the Oscar nominee plays Richard Williams, the dad and childhood tennis coach of the famous athlete sisters. While appearing on The Tonight Show Tuesday, Smith recalled being nervous to find out what Venus, 41, and Serena, 40, thought of the final movie.

“Venus and Serena were really excited about the possibility. And they said that they would potentially be executive producers and they would walk us through the whole process, but they were going to withhold whether or not they put their names on the film until they saw it,” said Smith.

“So then I get the call that Venus and Serena are walking into the theater to see the film,” he continued. “It’s the worst two hours ever. The worst two hours. Because you spent so much time creating these things, and there is literally only one audience when you do it. … You hope that they like it.”

Fortunately, the stars enjoyed the movie, Smith said: “Venus and Serena cried all the way through. They loved it.”

Earlier this month, Smith and the Williams sisters spoke with Entertainment Weekly about King Richard, praising the story, which follows the family’s start in the sport and their rise to ground-breaking champions status. Venus and Serena are played by actresses Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton, respectively.

“When we heard that Will wanted to do it, it was like, ‘Oh my God this movie is going to be the real deal.’ Whatever film he’s in, it’s the real deal. We got the sense of this is gonna be big, this is gonna be a serious film,” Venus said.

Click here to read the full article on People.

Usher’s New Look Non-Profit Receives $500,000 Grant for Financial Literacy Programs

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Usher on stage discussing his new look financial literacy program

, Revolt

Usher’s New Look (UNL), a non-profit organization founded by the R&B superstar in 1999, recently announced that it has received a hefty donation. The Truist Foundation has given UNL $500,000 to support its high school leadership program, specifically its financial literacy initiatives, according to a press release.

The $500,000 is the latest amount given to UNL by the Truist Foundation, which has already handed out a total of $1.5 million over five years to help the company’s mission.

“Breaking the cycle of poverty and debt is tantamount to the future success of young people, particularly in these challenging times where we see that there are currently 16 million children living in poverty today,” said Careshia Moore, president and CEO of Usher’s New Look in the press release. “This is, therefore, a proud moment for Usher’s New Look, and we are so very grateful to Truist Foundation for this transformational grant that will enable us to further our mission and touch the lives of hundreds of young people, helping them prepare for their futures while uplifting themselves and their communities at the same time.”

The Truist Foundation was formed in 2019 after the merger of BB&T and Suntrust Banks. The Foundation’ purpose, according to its website, is to inspire and build better lives and communities by partnering directly with nonprofit organizations that support wealth building for historically excluded communities. Led by President Lynette Bell, Truist Foundation aims to build career pathways to economic mobility and strengthen small businesses. After awarding the $500,000 to UNL, Bell reaffirmed her commitment to the organization and programs like it in the press release.

“Truist Foundation is committed to helping Usher’s New Look advance its mission by empowering young people with access to financial wellness to help them make choices throughout their lives,” Bell said. “Ushers New Look shares in our purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities. Their dedication and proven track record in guiding and developing the talent and skills of young people is unparalleled.”

Globally, UNL has served more than 50,000 youth, according to stats listed on its website. UNL’s high school program offers workshops and how-to sessions, covering a variety of topics such as talent exploration, preparing for college, workforce development, servant leadership, entrepreneurship, budgeting, credit and debt, savings, investing, and more.

Click here to read the full article on Revolt.

Chance the Rapper says the idea to ‘man up’ is harmful to Black men’s mental health

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Chance the Rapper is not holding back when it comes speaking about the benefits of prioritizing mental health.

By David Artavia, Yahoo! Life

Chance the Rapper is not holding back when it comes speaking about the benefits of prioritizing mental health.

In a new interview with Taraji P. Henson and her best friend Tracie Jade on Facebook Watch’s Peace of Mind with Taraji, the rapper opened up about dealing with the “dark days” of his mental health and how it inspired him to fight for better mental health services in Black communities.

“I think Black men are naturally guarded,” he said when asked about the pressure many Black men face to “man up” and not show their emotions. “You kind of have to be [because] your weakness is preyed upon. So, I think it’s a defense mechanism. You go to a funeral, like, you kind of don’t want to cry. You know what I mean? You don’t want to subject yourself to the feeling of like, that weakness, of like, you know, it just takes a lot to be cathartic, to cry, to empty yourself.”

“I saw my friend killed in front of me when I was 19,” he continued. “I’ve seen people I didn’t know get killed too, and you become kind of like numb to it. Somebody else died last week. But it stays with you, you know what I mean? And you don’t realize until later [that] it could have lasting effects.”

It was these types of discoveries that led him to donate $1 million in 2019 to mental health services in his hometown of Chicago through SocialWorks, his nonprofit organization.

“A couple of years ago, I, for the first time experienced a friend, somebody that I knew from growing up, that was having a mental health crisis,” he said. “His family and his friends had exhausted their efforts over years and years of trying to help. I didn’t really know that much about this stuff. There’s probably a ton of situations where people, you know, we just wrote them off as like, ‘crazy,’ or like, ‘they was tweaking.’ But they were actually going through a chronic mental health disorder.”

After realizing “the kind of care” his friend needed “wasn’t available in the city” for those who can’t afford it, he decided to team up with local advocates to help build the change.

“We basically found every possible mental health initiative within the city of Chicago, and then within Cook County, and then eventually through the entire state of Illinois,” he explained. “[We] created this app that allows people to get in contact, whether it’s an in-person meeting or tele-health, with a mental health service provider, and get the help that they need, instantly from their phone. And it’s free.”

While Chance acknowledges it’s great that celebrities are starting to drive the message that “health is beyond just our physical state,” he argues that equal access to mental health services isn’t going to happen until those in power, particularly “our lawmakers and the billion-dollar companies,” rise to meet the community’s need.

“We’re talented people, but we’re not the people that make the big decisions,” he said. “We’re not the people that write the biggest checks. Those kind of things have to happen.”

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Life.

Billy Porter makes peace with himself: ‘I set myself free, honey. No more secrets’

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Billy Porter attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. "Fabulous and serious can go hand in hand. I am proof positive of that," he says.

By Terry Gross, NPR

Actor Billy Porter grew up in Pittsburgh, immersed in the Pentecostal church and convinced that he would be damned for being gay. It wasn’t until he was introduced to the world of theater in sixth grade that Porter began to imagine a different future.

Theater, he says, “cracked open a space for me to dream beyond my circumstance.”

Porter’s family didn’t have much money, but he managed to get into a high school for performing arts, and then attended college at Carnegie Mellon, studying theater and voice. After graduation, Porter headed to New York, determined to make it on Broadway.

Theater roles were scarce, Porter says, because he is Black and was often considered too flamboyant — even for characters who were described as flamboyant. But he landed the lead role in the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, and, in 2013, he won a Tony for that performance and then a Grammy for the cast album the following year.

More recently, Porter won an Emmy for his starring role on Pose, an FX series set in the underground gay and trans ball culture of the late ’80s and ’90s. Porter’s character, Pray Tell, is diagnosed with HIV in Season 1 and dies from HIV/AIDS in the third and final season. While that season was airing, Porter also revealed he is HIV-positive. He says being open about his health status felt like a rebirth.

“That has been a very powerful, powerful thing that has come out of the show,” he says. “I set myself free, honey. No more secrets.”

Porter says that while he and his Pose character, Pray Tell, share the same sharp tongue and sharp wit, they have one key difference: “I am always leading with kindness and compassion.”

Porter tells his story in the new memoir, Unprotected.

On realizing as a teenager that he could make a profession out of being in the theater

I happened to be washing dishes in my kitchen … and the Tony Awards came on and Jennifer Holliday sang “And I’m Telling You, I’m Not Going” [from Dreamgirls] and … for some reason, seeing theater on television registered that I could make money doing it. … It was seeing Jennifer. It was seeing that show that helped me understand, “Oh, I can make a living doing this? I’m going to figure out every way that I can to do that.”

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

Denzel Washington’s New Movie Has A 100% Rotten Tomatoes Score

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Black and white close up of Denzel Washington's Face

By We Got This Covered

The verdict is in and the consensus is that Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth is stellar, according to Rotten Tomatoes. Denzel Washington’s latest turn in a Shakespearian adaptation boasts an impressive 100% score on the review aggregate site, with critics lauding the performances of Washington’s titular character and the conniving Lady Macbeth, played by Francis McDormand.

The film takes on a stripped down approach to the classic story, mostly preserving its iambic pentameter-laden dialogue and reducing its visuals to simplistic, modern black and white photography in a tall 1.37:1 aspect ratio.

The film co-stars Corey Hawkins as Macduff, Brendan Gleeson as King Duncan and Kathryn Hunter as the witches.

Critics are hailing Coen’s take as breathing new life into the half-a-millennium-old story, its dream-like cinematography and McDormand’s turn as Lady Macbeth as being up there as one of her very best performances to date, a tall order for a three-time Academy Award winner, indeed.

Washington isn’t far behind McDormand’s track record either, having garnered two Academy Awards in his career. And critics are also hailing Washington’s nuanced take on the darkly fated character, pointing out that the chemistry between the two actors runs the gamut of epic emotions you would expect from a Shakespeare play.

This isn’t the first time Washington has been in one of the famous bard’s film adaptations, either, having played Don Pedro in Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 take of Much Ado About Nothing. Though Branagh also co-directed and starred in a theatrical adaption of Macbeth, back in 2013, which was broadcast to cinemas, critics are mostly saying that version pales in comparison to this new interpretation.

Click here to read the full article on We Got This Covered.

The Story Behind ASAP Rocky’s Thrifted Met Gala Quilt

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ASAP Rocky wearing a thrifted quilt inspired look for the met gala

By Ashley Boucher, People

A$AP Rocky’s Met Gala look has a special history. The rapper, 32, wore a quilt as a cape as he arrived on the red carpet alongside Rihanna for fashion’s biggest night on Sept. 13. After discovering the quilt in a California thrift store, ERL designer Eli Russell Linnetz used it as inspiration for Rocky’s ensemble — and the family who once donated the handmade blanket is now sharing its story.

A woman named Sarah shared a photo on Instagram last week of Rocky and Rihanna on the Met Gala red carpet side-by-side with a photo of the quilt laying on a bed at home.

“So my great grandmothers quilt was donated to an antique/thrift store a while back. When I saw the #metgala Photo I realized instantly that it had to be the same quilt,” Sarah wrote in the caption.

“I read the Vogue article about the designer finding the quilt in Southern California and with his office not that far from us in Venice, California, I demanded that my mom go look for the photos of it on our old bed,” she explained.

“Looks like great grandma Mary went to the #metgala with @asaprocky and @erl__________ they wrote a @voguemagazine article too 🤩” she added.

Sure enough, Linnetz told Vogue that he had found the quilt at a thrift store and added on to it to encapsulate the Met Gala’s “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” theme.

“I quilted on things that were important to me, from my dad’s bathrobe to my boxers,” Linnetz told Vogue. “Then we used these amazing plaids and flannels and embroidered my family’s name all over the quilt.”

Linnetz worked with Zak Foster, a Brooklyn-based quilter who “specializes in burial and memory quilts” to add the personal touches to the thrifted quilt.

“There’s an irony to it that I liked, using the clothing of the deceased to create this beautiful new quilt then [in their honor] that lasts forever,” Linnetz said.

Click here to read the full article on People Magazine.

Shaq is retiring from celebrity status: ‘Out of their mind’

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Shaquille O'Neal smiling wearing a suit

By , NY Post

Don’t call Shaquille O’Neal a “celebrity.”

Although the Lakers legend has a stacked NBA resume and booming broadcast career (including countless commercials and brand deals), O’Neal wants to be remembered for his kindness before anything else.

“These celebrities are going freaking crazy and I don’t want to be one. I denounce my celebrity-ness today. I’m done with it,” O’Neal told The Post, while discussing his new campaign with Kellogg’s.

“I don’t want to be in that category. Celebrities are crazy, they really are. Don’t call me that anymore. These people are out of their freaking mind with how they treat people, what they do, what they say. That’s never been me. I never want to be looked at like that.”

The four-time champion has found a different way into the spotlight with his random acts of kindness, which he said he tries to do at least twice per week.

Since retiring from the NBA in 2011, he’s become known for helping others with grand gestures that have included paying for a stranger’s engagement ring — and more recently, funding one of his favorite Atlanta restaurants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All my life, everyone probably gets stereotyped, but us celebrities, we get stereotyped because most of these celebrities are out of their mind. I don’t do that. I’m a regular person that listened, followed his dreams and made it,” he said.

It’s easy to hone in on O’Neal’s life from the start of his NBA career to the present day, but things were much different before the 1992 NBA Draft — when the 7-foot-1 LSU product was selected first overall by the Orlando Magic.

O’Neal grew up poor in Newark, New Jersey, and has credited the Boys & Girls Club of America for helping to keep him off the streets and out of trouble.

“I came from nothing,” he said. “But, just because I made it doesn’t mean I’m bigger than you, smarter than you — just because I have more money doesn’t mean I’m better than you. I’ve never been that way and I never will be that way. So I don’t want to be in that category of people.

“When they talk about Shaq, what do you say? ‘He’s a nice guy.’ Because what else can you be? You’re either nice or you’re the A-word, and I definitely won’t be looked at as the A-word,” he said.

“I want people to say, ‘Bro, he’s nice. He didn’t have an entourage. His people didn’t take my phone because I took a picture and threw it.’”

Another good deed O’Neal is focused on, is helping kids play sports.

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

Rihanna takes time with album while unveiling lingerie line

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Rihanna takes time with album while unveiling lingerie line

By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr., AP News

Rihanna might be extremely consumed with rolling out her popular lingerie line, but finishing her forthcoming album is still a priority.

The multi-Grammy winner is just taking her time to “experiment.” She suggests her new music will sound much different than her previous projects.

“You’re not going to expect what you hear. Just put that in your mind,” Rihanna said recently before the taping of her “Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3” event, which will air Friday on Amazon Prime Video.

It’s been five years since the pop star released her critically acclaimed eighth album “ANTI,” which included hits such as “Work,” “Love on the Brain” and “Needed.” Last year, Rihanna said she had started recording new music, holding “ tons of writing camps.”

“Whatever you know of Rihanna is not going to be what you hear,” said the singer, who has won nine Grammys in multiple categories including R&B, dance and rap. “I’m really experimenting. Music is like fashion. You should be able to play. I should be able to wear whatever I want. I treat music the same way. So I’m having fun and it’s going to be completely different.”

Rihanna hasn’t announced a release date yet for her new album, but music plays a major role in her Savage X Fenty event. It returns for a third straight year and will highlight her fashion line’s newest assortment of styles featuring an all-star lineup of models, actors and performers.

The show — recorded in downtown Los Angeles — will include performances by Nas, Ricky Martin, Jasmine Sullivan, Daddy Yankee and Normani. Adriana Lima, Gigi Hadid, Vanessa Hudgens, Erykah Badu and Alek Wek and Jeremy Pope make special appearances.

Rihanna said she’s looking forward to unveiling some of her favorite styles from the new collection.

“The cat suits, the crotchless,” she said, blushing and then moving on. “All the bras that make my boobies sit up, because, you know, I’m 33 now. They’re not where they used to be. I’m just looking forward to actually seeing my pieces on the talent, seeing it on so many different body shapes and silhouettes, because that’s what brings the pieces to life.”

In past shows, Rihanna has taken the initiative to become a champion of inclusion with her fashion line. She wants to continue to highlight men of all shapes, color and sizes in a manner similar to how she’s uplifted women with her line.

Click here to read the full article on AP News.

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.

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.

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. CSUN Center on Disabilities 2022 Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022