Category Archives: Entertainment

[EXCLUSIVE] MÝA TALKS NEW ‘TKO’ ALBUM & 20 YEARS OF MAKING MUSIC: ‘I AM RELENTLESS’

Mya Stucco Wall #2
Photo credit: Jackie O. Asare

In 2000, Mýa acknowledged her Fear of Flying with the release of her sophomore studio project.

“Fear of Flying is a metaphor for the ups and downs of life,” she explained to Billboard magazine. “It’s about handling things like an adult, knowing you must have faith to make anything happen.”

Fast forward to the year 2018 and Mýa is now in complete control of her career and her image. Following the accidental release of her fourth studio LP, Liberation in 2007, the Washington DC native took the independent route and has been at it non-stop ever since.

We recently caught up with Mýa to discuss her ninth independent project, TKO (The Knock Out), trusting your gut and being a #GirlBoss.

Why do you think so many artists who’ve had success are taking the independent route nowadays?

Mýa: Artists who are passionate about their music and in love with their art go independent because they want to continue making music and serving it to the world. Often, when you’re signed to a major label, you have to wait in line for budgets to open up and get cleared. A life without music feels like it’s not a life at all, so when you’re in love with something, you want to constantly be able to do it without restraints. That’s part of the empowerment and freedom that being independent brings and allows.

Was there anything about going independent in the very beginning that made you rethink your decision?

Mýa: It was always a learning process and it still is for me ten years later. I learned different components of the business, from publishing to copyright to radio and how each area works. It has truly been a blessing for me to absorb the knowledge that I would not have absorbed had I stayed in a system, which is a beautiful system. It made me who I am, but there are fans that are still here and are hungry for music and now they can receive it because you have the luxury to put out a new project any time that you’d like as an independent artist. In the process of new territory, you learn new things, but there’s never been a moment where I regretted my decision. I have considered going into the major label system differently, which may just be distribution because I now have more to bring to the table as a label versus just an artist looking for a budget.

Read my full interview with Mýa for The Boombox [here].

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Jennifer Lopez’s Best Hip-Hop Songs & Moments, Ranked

jlo
Photo credit: YouTube

Before Jennifer Lopez landed the “role of a lifetime” in 1997 as the late Selena Quintanilla-Pérez in the biopic Selena, we were introduced to the aspiring singer-actress as Janet Jackson’s backup dancer in the video for “That’s The Way Love Goes” and as a Fly Girl on In Living Color, which was rooted in hip-hop culture.

Naturally, when Lopez ventured off into music, those influences followed her as an artist. “I love the hip-hop, I love the R&B; it’s gonna manifest itself in my music,” she told MTV News in 2013. Nearly 20 years after the release of On the 6, Lopez’s hip-hop collaborations have made her a familiar face within the community.

In celebration of the multi-faceted star’s 49th birthday this week, VIBE Viva ranked her greatest hip-hop tracks and moments throughout the decades.

Check it out below.

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13. “I’m Glad” (2002)

Don’t let the elegant harp strings on “I’m Glad” fool you. The mid-tempo track samples Schoolly D’s “P.S.K. What Does It Mean?” Schoolly D has been recognized as the OG gangsta rapper; therefore, sampling anything from his discography proves that the World of Dance judge is a real G.

Co-written by Lopez herself, “I’m Glad” still goes hard to this day, and the accompanying Flashdance-inspired video ranks among her best.

12. “I’m Into You” feat. Lil Wayne (2011)

The island-flavored “I’m Into You” is hands down one of the most underrated songs of Lopez’s discography. And Lil Wayne’s clever wordplay is impressive, e.g., “You’re way too fly, I could be your jet fuel.” The second single released off Love? failed to crack the Top 40 in the U.S., which is absurd since “I’m Into You” is the perfect soundtrack for sipping piña coladas with the crew all summer. Reaching No. 9 on the U.K. Singles Chart, the Stargate-produced track further solidified Ms. Lopez’s international appeal.

11. “Get Right” (Remix) feat. Fabolous (2005)

Without a doubt, the lead single off Rebirth brought the funk, but Fabolous’ verse took it to the next level. “I ain’t Mr. Right, I’m Mr. Right Now,” he raps over those infectious horn riffs. Co-produced by On the 6 collaborator Corey Rooney, “Get Right” was a bit unorthodox at the time, but it translated into a classic J.Lo sound. Bonus points for the multiple characters (from a DJ to busy bartender to an exotic dancer) Lopez portrayed in the original video.

Read my latest piece for VIBE VIVA [here].

Mel B of the Spice Girls was the OG unapologetic Black girl

scary spiceICYMI, there are numerous reports circulating that the Spice Girls are planning to do a reunion tour this summer — another not-so-subtle reminder that us millennials aren’t getting any younger.

As a 90s baby, I was legit obsessed with the Spice Girls growing up. They were my childhood heroes, and I think the reason they appealed to so many young girls is because they were themselves and each member had something unique to offer, with Ginger (aka Geri Halliwell) and Baby (aka Emma Bunton) being the clear favorites.

But TBH, Mel B was the real star for the simple fact that she was the ONLY Black girl holding it down as Scary Spice in the best-selling female group of all time. The best part? She achieved all that success without compromising her Blackness as an attempt to fit in with her white bandmates.

Little brown girls everywhere recognized themselves when they saw Mel B being carefree and living it up on the screen, paving the way for singers like Rihanna to flaunt their #BlackGirlMagic and unleash their inner badass.

Here are five ways Mel B was the original “unapologetic Black girl.”

1. She rocked natural hair.

The only thing bigger than Mel B’s personality? Her hair. Seriously though, Mel B’s natural curls were always poppin’. Even as an animated fairy in the “Viva Forever” music video.

Oh, and who can forget when she slayed horn-like Bantu knots — a hairstyle that can be traced back to Zulu tribes of Southern Africa? Or this gorgeous braided crown she rocked in the music video for “Stop”? The braided crown was a bold statement since the video appeared to be set between the 1950s and 60s. This was an era when most Black women either chemically straightened their tresses or wore wigs to adhere to white beauty standards.

2. She spoke her mind.

The Spice Girls championed a new wave of feminism, but Mel B was woke AF. Case in point: When Mel B DGAF and shut down a TV host for bringing out a dance troupe of white people in blackface.

“I think they shouldn’t paint their faces. You should get proper Black people to do it. I don’t think that’s very good.”

Side note: Mel B revealed a couple years ago that she and the rest of her bandmates got their famous nicknames during an interview with a “lazy journalist that couldn’t be bothered to remember all our names.” And of course, you can’t be a Black woman who is loud, strong and outspoken without being perceived as hella scary, right? *rolls eyes*

3. She never disguised her Blackness

Who else remembers the photoshoot scene from the movie, “Spice World”? While Emma, Geri, Mel C and Victoria paid homage to iconic figures, such as Jackie Onassis and Marilyn Monroe, Mel B saluted Black icons like the legendary Bob Marley and the original diva Diana Ross.

4. She dared to go braless before it was trendy.

Rih Rih might have inspired millions of women to step out braless, but Mel B did it first, two decades earlier in the “Wannabe” video. Virgin executives were horrified because of Mel B’s, um, erect nipples peeking through her green tank top and wanted to re-shoot the entire thing, but the group wasn’t having it. The video was banned in certain Asian countries because it was deemed too risqué for younger audiences.

5. She was obsessed with leopard print.

Can we just take a minute to show a little appreciation for Mel B’s leopard print ensembles? An ode to the Motherland, baby! Mel B must’ve worn leopard print a million different ways during her Spice Girls heyday, and I loved every single one of them. From the iconic leopard print jumpsuit she made famous at the BRIT Awards to the sequin leopard print pantsuit she rocked at the Billboard Music Awards, Mel B absolutely NAILED every look.

Let’s give it up for Mel B, y’all!