Lauryn Hill Will Be Performing ‘Miseducation’ On Tour This Summer

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The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill turns 20 this year, and to celebrate, the singer will be playing the album in its entirety on a North American tour beginning this summer. She’ll kick off in Virginia Beach in July, and finish in St. Louis in October. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, with part of the proceeds going towards the MLH Foundation, the singer’s non-profit organization that “directly contributes support for education, health, agriculture, technology, and community based businesses and development initiatives throughout the Diaspora,” according to the announcement.

Hill’s debut – and only – solo release, Miseducation went eight times platinum in the U.S., and won two Grammy’s (for Album of the Year and Best R&B Album). The singer also took home three more Grammys that year for Best New Artist, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song for “Doo Wop (That Thing),” the lead single from the album.

Of the record, she says: “This album chronicled an intimate piece of my young existence. It was the summation of most, if not all, of my most hopeful and positive emotions experienced to that date. I Loved and believed deeply in my community’s ability to both Love and heal itself provided it received the right amount of support and encouragement. Our world today, both complex and changing, is in need of the balance between moral fortitude and cathartic expression. I hope the Love and energy that permeated this work can continue to inspire change with Love and optimism at the helm.”

Refresh your memory and listen to it, below.

 

 

Photo courtesy of the artist.

 

Anatomy of a Stylish Campaign: The Cosmopolitan Hotel Vegas’ ‘Behind Closed Doors’

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It was really just a matter of time, surely, that this deep into the age of the boutique hotel, the advertising campaigns created around them would catch up decisively in sophistication. 

To wit, The Cosmopolitan of Las VegasBehind Closed Doors, which brings together industry heavy hitters like hotshot director and Emmy-winner Steve Fuller, of Mad Men and Nurse Jackie fame, together with set designer Susan Linss – who has worked with Kanye, Rihanna and Mariah Carey – and badass Brit photographer Sophy Holland. 

Focusing attention on the property’s chicly remodeled rooms (part of a recent $100 million upgrade), Behind Closed Doors takes us through one highly stylized space after another. Each visually sumptuous scenario – replete with gorgeous humans doing appropriately gorgeous things – draws the viewer deeper into the heart of The Cosmopolitan universe. When asked about the inspiration behind the hotel’s latest, glitter-fueled video, CMO Tom Evans remarks that it’s “still consistent with luxury with a wink and polished without pretense. We haven’t gotten away from that. We aren’t old or stuffy. We want people to be themselves.” Sure, themselves and then some. After all, what happens in Vegas is, as ever, synonymous with what happens behind closed doors.

 

 

Running across digital channels, the splashy campaign can also be seen on billboards in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. But purposely not choosing to have it appear on broadcast channels – based on today’s viewing habits – the only way you’ll catch the 60-second spot on your TV is with Hulu and Roku digital streaming devices. Evans elaborates that they “create impact through really striking visuals, head turning music and setting the tone through high production quality and beauty.” 

Much of that onscreen beauty emanates from the mind of Fuller. As a director, “I come from the world of graphic design, so when I shoot I often see things in a very ‘graphic’ way. Some of the best photographic imagery is very clean and minimal – more about shape and silhouette than anything else.”

He continues, “There is a bit of that thinking in The Cosmopolitan spot. Creating color-schemes is also important. The colors in each room are very controlled. There are some real gems in there like the cupcake girl’s earrings. The pullback at the end was a last minute idea that probably came from my design background, and my experience doing title sequences. It needed a great ‘wrap-up’ and it wound up being one of the best moments in the spot.” We couldn’t agree more.

 

 

And the woman responsible for the look of all those swoon-worthy rooms, Susan Linss, shared her experience in helping shape Behind Closed Doors. She revealed that “the most exciting – and dizzying – part of working on The Cosmopolitan’s new campaign for me was that there were no creative limitations. I felt complete freedom in my creativity and vision. That’s when the best things come to life. I was able push it further.”

And given that The Cosmopolitan is by far the strip’s haute-est hotel experience, the world-renowned set designer says, “I was looking for chic, stylish, seductive imagery and a color palette that would translate [to The Cosmopolitan brand] and create the mood. Color is so important as is lighting. We are creating a mood and emotion.”

We surely concur – the mood is decidedly sultry and the emotion, pure pleasure.

 

 

Kendrick Lamar Won A Pulitzer

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Yep, you read that correctly. Now, rapper Kendrick Lamar can add “Pulitzer Prize Winner” to his ever-expanding resume. In a historical feat, the “HUMBLE.” rapper beat out composers Michael Gilbertson and Ted Hearne for the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his 2017 album DAMN., an honor that’s previously only been awarded to classical musicians.

Speaking to Slate, Gilberton expressed his shock – and excitement – on learning he was nominated alongside Lamar. “I never thought my string quartet and an album by Kendrick Lamar would be in the same category,” he said. “This is no longer a narrow honor. It used to be classical composers competing against each other in relatively small numbers, but now we’re all competing against these major voices in music.”

“I think it’s wonderful,” Hearne added about the Lamar’s win. “When we say classical music, I think it’s a collection of audiences and musicians that have been grouped together and a big part of that grouping together, over centuries, has been about the exclusion of nonwhite people and nonwhite artists. Sure, in some respects, using violins and European classical instruments is a part of classical music, but so are a lot of other ideas. Especially in America, there are incredibly important musical thinkers who have been kept out of classical music spaces for a long time.”

Hearne’s comment speaks to why this moment is so radical. While, of course, we all know how amazing Kendrick Lamar is, but for him to be honored in a space that mostly (and historically) acknowledges cis, straight, white men – well, that’s incredible. Not only is hip-hop finally being recognized as a creative outlet as important as more traditionally celebrated genres, the world is also finally starting to support the voices of people of color.

Plus, DAMN. is a really great album.

 

 

Photo from the back cover of DAMN. by designer Vlad Sepetov

 

Los Angeles Design Studio Lux Typo + LA Mfg Launches Stylish ACLU SoCal Campaign

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The very idea that the news of Trump’s Department of Homeland Security tracking news outlets, journalists, and social media influencers was not actually all that shocking is evidence of how far out of hand things have gotten. In such times, the work of the ACLU becomes more than just necessary – it is urgent, surely even exigent.

As the great Albert Camus so incisively put it, “A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.”

To that end Los Angeles design studio Lux Typo + LA Mfg has launched a campaign to raise money for the ACLU Southern California, proffering a very stylish, and more importantly provocatively poignant First Amendment Tote Bag, currently for sale on their site. The regional ACLU chapter states its mission as being, “dedicated to ensuring that all people are free to express themselves – politically, artistically, socially and through other forms of personal expression – without government interference.”

Significantly, the bag was made in Los Angeles – not China – with custom typography/design by Lux Typo + LA Mfg founder Greg Lindy, and concept/broadside copy by LA-based social media consultant Nicole Martin.

“The ACLU has been on the frontline fighting for democracy every single day since Trump took office,” says Martin. “And truth be told, they need all the support they can get right now, since we’re on the brink of full-blown authoritarianism.”

Lindy explains of the bag’s bold, attention-grabbing design – for which he created the custom font Gustan Densa – “The font’s compact bold nature was designed to lend itself to urgent headlines where room is limited yet volume is needed.”

Standing up for free speech has never looked so chic.

 

 

 

CherryPick is the New Rotten Tomatoes from Women’s Perspectives

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Hollywood has taken its place at the forefront of the national discussion around sexism. With the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements gaining insurmountable traction, women both in front of and behind the camera have come forward with their own experiences of sexual assault in the industry. Meanwhile, Frances McDormand and others have drawn attention to the gender inequality with mentions of inclusion riders.

Joining the fight to curb systemic sexism in Hollywood, a new site gives women’s voices an unexpected platform. Since a recent study found that men make up more than 80% of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes, such bias encouraged filmmaker Miranda Bailey to launch CherryPicks, an online destination for film ratings and reviews by women.

“The name was part of the idea and it was about cherry-picking the female voice out,” Bailey told W. “I’ve read things online from men about how it has to do with virginity and I’m thinking, Oh my God. This is exactly what’s wrong with you f—ing people.”

Bailey hopes to use the site to elevate the voices female filmmakers. In addition to movies, the site will also review television, music, and video games. Criteria will include such factors as trigger warnings, objectification of women, cast/crew inclusivity, and whether the film passes the Bechdel Test.

CherryPicks launches this fall, ahead of awards season.

Powerful Exhibition ‘What We Bring: New Immigrant Gifts’ Opens at NYC’s City Lore Gallery

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Considering that our perpetually divisive President has just spitefully ramped up his efforts to build a divide between the U.S. and our ally Mexico – now proposing a military-based stopgap until his wall can or can’t be built – it is more imperative than ever to be reminded of just what immigration has brought to our country and our cities all these years.

And so it is that the East Village’s venerated City Lore Gallery will open this Friday, April 6, an exhibition titled What We Bring: New Immigrant Gifts – which focuses on the artistic ideas and treasures that immigrants continually contribute to New York City’s rich cultural fabric. For purposes of this show, these include Indian classical dancer Malini Srinivasan’ distinctive ankle bells; Peruvian drummer Hector Morales’ cajón; and Afghani poet Sahar Muradi’s Hafiz’s Book of Poetry and Prognostication, amongst others.

“Immigration defines the United States,” says the gallery’s founding director Steve Zeitlin (who co-curated with ethnomusicologist Tom Van Buren), “and our aim through this exhibition is to contribute to the national dialogue on immigration. So often the focus is on economics. Our focus here is on the remarkable cultural contributions of New York City’s community-based artists – first generation or children of immigrants – who embody the ‘gift’ they’ve brought to America.”

The exhibition is funded by The National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and will run through September 16 at City Lore. Plans are to then take it to each of NYC’s four other boroughs following that.

 

BlackBook Exclusive: LA Singer-Activist BAUM’s Guide to the Fiercest Feminist Podcasts

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In a telling display of inspiration, Paper magazine said of BAUM: “In a time when women are having to fight for the right to manage their own bodies, [she] could not be more vital.”

Not faint praise, that. And indeed, the LA singer-activist, born Sabrina Teitelbaum, likely streamlined her name to prepare for the ideological war that lay ahead. So far this year, that has included two rousing SXSW shows, and the release last month of her bold debut EP Ungodly.

The music is a remarkable mix of irresistible pop hooks and fierce attitude, with the theme of determined self-possession taking center stage. To wit, over a languid, tribal beat (think: Fever Ray), on “This Body” she proclaims, “I walk alone / And I call this body my own.”

Elsewhere, she moves fluently from silky R&B (“Effortless”) to epic pop (“Dream Girl”), before the title track finds her resolutely declaring that she’ll, “Break the rules / I never even set in the first place.”

 

 

“My EP is very much a coming of age story,” she reveals. “It’s about personal experiences I went through as a late teen and it’s about discovering my truth as a whole. These songs were inspired by specific events and specific people, and they are very much about feeling stuck in between childhood and adulthood.”

And considering how we learn more every day the extent to which deceitful information is being peddled to us, we also characteristically asked her to curate a list of her top ten feminist podcasts, where words of wisdom and empowerment can be reliably found.

“Getting information through a number of sources is important for anyone who wants to be an activist,” BAUM insists, “because it gives you perspective. A big part of feminism, in my opinion, is understanding the perspectives of other women and trying to respect what they go through. We need this information in order to make actual change in the world.”

Take that, patriarchy.

 

 

2 Dope Queens 

This is my #1 fave. It’s hosted by Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams, who are both brilliant and hilarious. This is an all inclusive, intersectional podcast that talks about the realest of the real shit. 

Popaganda 

This is a one hour long podcast by Bitch Media, which talks about feminism, racism, activism, and queer representation in the media. Super informative and fascinating.  

Call Your Girlfriend 

Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman discuss all things feminist from beauty standards to problems in the workplace. This is a podcast about and for normal women living normal lives, dealing with everyday issues of sexism. 

Death, Sex, and Money 

This is not a small talk podcast. DS&M addresses the big issues no one wants to discuss in casual conversation. They recently partnered with Buzzfeed News to discuss politics and social issues. 

RuPaul: What’s The Tee? 

An hour of America’s biggest and baddest queen spilling at the tea from the kettle.  

 

Rupaul’s Drag Race image courtesy of Logo

 

The Black Joy Mixtape 

Amber J. Phillips and Jazmine Walker are two hilarious feminists that cover the daily struggles of womanhood and tackle the bigger issues through intersectional feminism.  

Sooo Many White Guys 

This is basically an amazing 2 Dope Queens spin off hosted by Phoebe Robinson and produced by Ilana Glazer from Broad City (a match made in comedy/feminist heaven). 

Stuff Mom Never Told You 

This is a HowStuffWorks podcast that covers (as the name implies) things you wouldn’t learn at home. 

Unladylike 

This is the podcast for you if you’re like me, and want to hear about badass, rebellious women doing their thing and living their truest lives.  

The Guilty Feminist 

65 episodes of the funniest feminist perspective by comedian Deborah Frances-White. 

 

The Duffer Brothers Are Being Accused of Plagiarizing ‘Stranger Things’

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The creators of Netflix’s megahit 80s sci-fi series Stranger Things – The Duffer Brothers – are being sued for allegedly plagiarizing their show from a short film.

Charlie Kessler, who directed the short Montauk, which premiered at the 2012 Hamptons International Film Festival, filed a lawsuit yesterday in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming that in 2014 he’d pitched the concept to Matt and Ross Duffer at a Tribeca Film Festival party, and that the two had subsequently stolen “the script, ideas, story and film,” Deadline reports.

Kessler’s film involved a missing boy, a nearby military base conducting experiments on children, and a giant monster from another dimension, just like the real Stranger Things. He explained that the Duffers had been calling their show The Montauk Project before settling on the official title, and Deadline reports that when Netflix greenlit the series back in 2015, it was under the title Montauk.

Both Montauk and Stranger Things are preceded by a book called The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time, about secret government experiments conducted on Long Island.

“After the massive success of Stranger Things that is based on Plaintiff’s concepts that Plaintiff’s discussed with Defendants, Defendants have made huge sums of money by producing the series based on Plaintiff’s concepts without compensating or crediting Plaintiff for his Concepts,” Kessler’s suit says.

Azealia Banks Releases New Track Titled ‘Anna Wintour’

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Azealia Banks has released new music (at last). The controversial rapper today dropped a track called “Anna Wintour,” about “finding myself and finding God,” according to her Instagram.

“I relate to Anna Wintour so much as a strong, powerful and larger than life soul in a petite, tidy and feminine body,” she wrote in her post. “While others may see Anna as intimidating, I see a woman who was born into this world with an absolute certainty about her place in it.”

Take a look.

 

Anna Wintour – Press Shot . : I wrote this song about finding myself and finding God. Not at all specific to any religion, this song was written to embody the feeling felt when you connect with the universe. Sometime we feel afraid to take chances that will bring us out of our comfort zone’s and it’s always in those moments that God finds you and let’s you know that you are exactly in the right place .. at the right time. I am and have been since the age of 12, very inspired by @stacieorrico’s work on her self-titled debut (also executive produced by @harveymasonjr). Her ability to craft songs which teeter along the lines of Gospel/Christian Pop/Pop , is something that inspires me so much. My choice to name this song “Anna Wintour” is telling; I relate to Anna Wintour So much as a strong, powerful and larger than life soul in a petite, tidy and feminine body. While others may see Anna as intimidating , I see a woman who was born into this world with an absolute certainty about her place in it. She is a master of masters..like the life path number 11. A woman with an abundance of personal power who influences and defines the world around her. In my case, having such power can lead to self-indulgences. Meaning, i can become so consumed with a power and an ability to affect the world, that I may have forgotten or in fact – may have never learned to use my power to influence and define myself! This song is one of praise, liberation… as well as a kunty stunt. I pray you all have as much fun listening to it as I had creating it. Artist: Azealia Banks Genre: Dance/Pop/Hip-Hop Produced by : @juniorsanchezofficial Executive production: @harveymasonjr Engineer: Andrew Hey and Paul Falcone Performed by: Azealia Amanda Banks p/k/a Azealia Banks. Lyrics: Azealia Banks, Eugenio Sanchez, Dorian Strickland, Kevin James, “Shug”. Management: Azealia Banks A&R: @williamrobillardcole Released via exclusive license to: @eone_music Copyright Azealia Banks 2018.

A post shared by Azealia Banks (@azealiabanks) on

 

The track is the first official song off of her long-teased album Fantasea II. She’s also recently released the single “Movin’ On Up,” and in March 2016 dropped the Slay-Z mixtape.

Fantasea II does not yet have an official release date, but here’s to hoping that more new Azealia music is on the way very soon.

“Anna Wintour” was produced by Junior Sanchez.