Mary J. Blige, to me, is the true definition of the strength of a woman. She’s been from the bottom, to the top, to the bottom and back up to the top. Blige, 42, has been an indomitable force in the music business for more than two decades, ever since Sean “Diddy” Combs, her friend, mentor, and executive producer of her first album, took her under his professional wing. She has gone on to sell more than 50 million albums and is the only artist to have won Grammy Awards in four categories (R&B, Rap, Gospel, and Pop), having been nominated for the award 29 times, and winning nine. She has also begun an acting career. She’s been in the requisite Tyler Perry movie and last fall completed the upcoming Lifetime Network film Betty and Coretta, about the widows of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., in which she stars as Dr. Betty Shabazz opposite Angela Bassett’s Coretta Scott King.
She’s featured in the newest issue of LA Confidential where she leaves no stone unturned as she dishes on her past drug use, including sniffing cocaine at the Grammy’s, and how she used alcohol to cover up the issues that she had within herself. She blames her drug addiction on being molested when she was just five years old and says she is still reminded of the incident when she smells a certain type of lotion. She also reveals how she was affected by Whitney Houston’s death and why she never sought out rehab to help her with her drug and alcohol abuse.
KEVIN SESSUMS: I think a lot of Betty Shabazz’s empathetic—even wounded—dignity can be traced back to when she was the daughter of an unwed teenager herself back in Detroit. Can your empathy, your dignity, be traced back to your own wounded childhood?
MJB: I still have the child within me. She’s more around now than ever. She wasn’t around in the early days because I was pushing her back. I didn’t want anybody to hurt her.
KS: Somebody did hurt you. You were molested. I’ve written about my own molestation—though some people think those kinds of things should be kept to oneself. (more…)
I love to hear other people’s stories of triumph through diversity. Toni Braxton is a testament to the strength of a woman. One can have all the money in the world, but life sometimes has the habit of reminding us that deep down we are all human. What matters is how you deal with the blows and the low points, and find the inner strength to jump right back in the saddle. Which is what Toni has been doing for years! Braxton has won six Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards, and five Billboard Music Awards and has sold over 60 million records worldwide. She topped the Billboard 200 with her 1993 self-titled debut album and continued that streak with her second studio album Secrets, which spawned the number-one hits “You’re Makin’ Me High” and “Un-Break My Heart”.
VH1 Behind The Music special aired Monday night, and folks tuned in to find out exactly why, after winning a bunch of Grammys and selling over 20 million records worldwide, she had to file bankruptcy not once, but twice throughout her career. According to Toni, she signed a slave contract with LaFace/Arista Records and was left with just $2,000 after the label recouped their money for her travel, wardrobe, hair, make up and everything that went into making her a star. I hope upcoming artists, especially the new crop of fame hungry Kenyan artists, are paying attention to that. She was also bombarded and sued by creditors after she had to cancel her gig in Vegas after being diagnosed with Lupus. On top of the bankruptcies, she had to deal with a divorce and finding out her son had autism. You know most of you out here would crack under the pressure!
During the special, Toni also revealed that she felt humiliated by Oprah after a visit to her show because she felt as though Oprah was painting her as an over-spender. She also talked about always feeling the pressure to help her sisters with their own careers while bringing them in as background singers and trying to get them record deals: (more…)
Hi guys! I’m back! Finally getting back the strength to blog. My mum regularly commented on my blog and I really miss her. What better way to come back than with Jennifer Hudson, a person who has shown such tremendous strength in the face of debilitating tragedy. Jennifer and her fiancé, David Otunga were featured on Own’s Next Chapter last night in a very candid interview with Oprah Winfrey. During the interview, Jennifer talked about her family murders and whether she’s forgiven William Balfour as well as her weight loss and feeling the pressures of Hollywood. Meanwhile, David chatted about whether or not she was sexier before the weight loss, wanting a daughter and the two revealed that they are planning to get married within the next two years.
Check out some excerpts:
On If She’s More Comfortable At This Size:
I’ve always been comfortable in my skin. I like the skin that I’m in. I don’t ever feel like I was uncomfortable. I honestly don’t. Yes, at times I feel sexier. At times. [when asked if she feels prettier:] I was always cute.
David On if He Thinks She’s Sexier at a Size 6 or 16:
You know honestly, it’s pretty much the same. It hasn’t really changed that much to be honest. She’s a little more confident now and that kind of sticks out but to me, but I liked her then too. Very much so. I kind of like the curves. I love the way she looks now but I’ll be honest, I enjoy the curves.
One of the things that’s sexiest to me is when she’s doing motherly things. It’s just like, it’s a complete different side. (more…)
We all remember Tichina Arnold from the hit TV show Martin, where she played Pam Jones, Martin’s arch nemesis. After winning us over in the 90s as Pam, she went on to land one memorable TV role after another. These days, she calls the set of TV Land’s Happily Divorced home. On the show, she plays star Fran Drescher’s best friend Judi Mann, and they’re both 40-something woman still single and looking for love. In real life, Arnold’s found true love with her fiancé Rico Hines, an assistant NCAA basketball coach with whom she is planning a dreamy Hawaiian wedding.
Essence.com recently caught up with the Queens native and asked her to open up about her romantic past and how it has shaped her present day relationship. She even revealed some juicy wedding details. Here’s what she had to say about relationships, marriage and her upcoming wedding:
ESSENCE: What have you learned from past relationships that has prepared you for the one you have today?
ARNOLD: To not be so bossy. You know, when you’re single, you’re very independent. Very independent women raised me. We didn’t have a lot of male figures as the head of our household, so I got, and took on, a lot of that strong spirit from the matriarchs in my family. It allows you to get on through life a lot easier, but the downside is that you don’t have that experience of watching a male figure interact with women in the home. When you come from an all-female household, when you’re in a relationship, you get into situations you don’t really know how to handle, which I didn’t. (more…)
My favourite movie of all time has got to be Love Jones! I loved it when it first came out, and I still love it today. As a matter of fact, I force my hubby to watch it with me all the time and I’ve been to so many Love Jones themed parties. The chemistry between Darius Lovehall (Larenz Tate) and Nina Moseley (Nia Long) was explosive and titillating in the love story set in Chicago.
The film, released on March 14, 1997, was written by 24-year-old director Theodore Witcher, who based it on his own dating experiences living in Chicago. Though the movie didn’t do well by Hollywood standards — it made a little over $12 million at the box office — it quickly became a cult classic thanks to its stellar soundtrack, which included now-classic tracks by Maxwell and Lauryn Hill, and, of course, word of mouth.
On the movie’s 15th anniversary, leads Tate and Long, and co-star Isaiah Washington (who played Darius’ married friend Savon Garrison) reminisced on their favorite memories of creating the classic love story as well as if there will be a sequel with Essence.com: (more…)
For everything a man needs to know to look his best in 2012, please grab a copy of GQ’s first ever Style Bible. The April 2012 issue features multiple cover stars: Drake, John Slattery and Dave Franco. Of course you know where my interest lies. Drake gets suited up, lined up and exfoliated in the Spring photo shoot.
The interview concept is really interesting. He practiced his perfect first date on Claire Hoffman, the female reporter who wrote his cover story. Check out how she describes Drake’s mansion:
The backyard of Drake’s mansion is indistinguishable from the set of one of those late-night Lifetime soft-core romance flicks. Waterfalls gush all around, surging over enormous boulders. Bronze animals—lions, elephants, giraffes!—checker the lawn, glimmering in the last light of the San Fernando Valley sun. A giant fire, fit for a king from Middle-earth, burns in an outdoor fireplace, and a flat-screen TV plays Sixteen Candles.
First, there was dinner by the pool while Sixteen Candles played on a flat screen. Next, he poured up some white wine spritzers before giving her a tour of the crazy pool at his Hollywood mansion. Then, she asked to see his closet. And when he showed her to his security-coded bedroom hidden behind a bookshelf with a California King Bed inside with custom sheets and a projector screen floating above, he asked the hypothetical question, “We had wine and dinner by the pool, I brought you inside, I brought the projector down; are you or are you not sleeping with me?” I know many of you ladies would be screaming “YES!!!” at the top of your voices, never mind that it’s supposed to be a first date… (more…)
Not many people are aware that Melanie Fiona won 2 Grammy Awards this year. If you’re one of them, don’t beat yourself up because she was among those who got their awards prior to the live broadcast of the show. Melanie and Cee Lo Green won 2 Grammy Awards for their song “Fool For You” in the categories of Best Traditional R&B Performance and Best R&B Song. Jimmy Jam presented the award, and almost accepted it on their behalf; however, Melanie had other plans. Wearing high heels and a floor-length gown, she came running to the stage to accept the award. Fiona humbly accepted the award and thanked Whitney Houston for paving a way for artists like her.
Melanie recently dished about her new album The MF Life which hits stores March 20th, the Grammys, Whitney, Love and the secret she’s been holding inside:
Tell me a secret?
My heart is breaking right now.
Why’s your heart breaking?
Someone broke it. It breaks for the disappointment I feel for that person.
Interesting. We’ll get back to that. You just won two Grammy’s. What does that feel like?
It is the absolute definition of dreams coming true. Not like when you fall in love or get the job you want. When you really dream of something your entire life, to be able to actually achieve that…and there’s no ‘almost’ achieving it. You either win a Grammy or you don’t. So it’s more than amazing.
Take us through the day of the Grammy’s… (more…)
This week, Estelle released her long awaited third album “All of Me” with its lead single “Thank You” already getting positive reviews. ESSENCE.com caught up with the 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival performer to talk about her third album — and its comparisons to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, rapping, her fond memories of Whitney Houston, and more:
ESSENCE.com: What have you been working on since 2008′s Shine?
ESTELLE: I’ve been living and working on this album. I feel like I needed to take some time off and grow and be a regular human being. Live a little bit. There was actually a point where I didn’t feel like I was growing, and I didn’t know how to go about it. My time off has given me things to sing about. I went through a long three-year relationship. It’s been real life. It’s been everything that comes with it. I was writing through the good times and the bad situations. The approach I took with this album was being more vulnerable — being a little more open with everything. I’m just going to live and if I feel angry today, I’m going to go and sing about it.
ESSENCE: Some listeners may be surprised to hear you’re rapping on All of Me. Is that something you’ve always done?
ESTELLE: Always. My very first single I did in the UK was a rap song… I’m a rapper, I don’t identify myself as a singer. That’s where I write from and where I hear everything from. (more…)
Janet Jackson Talks Secret Marriage, Whitney Houston & Seeing Drugs For The First Time on Anderson Cooper
At 45, Janet Jackson still looks amazing and seems to be getting better with age! She was a special guest on ‘Anderson’ to help media personality Anderson Cooper celebrate the 100th episode of his daytime talk show. While there, she chatted about why she chose to keep her marriage to James Debarge a secret in the early 90′s, as well as seeing crack for the first time at age 11. She also dished on Whitney Houston, why she and her brothers never called their father ‘Dad’ and her self-esteem issues throughout the years. Check out the excerpts:
On Why she never called her father ‘Dad’
I never asked why and I just left it as it is. When our parents tell us something you don’t question it. It is what it is and you just leave it alone because if you don’t, it’s going to go to another level that you don’t want it to go to. So I left it at that but I never asked my other brothers and sisters why they didn’t call him “Dad”. Well, I tried one day to call him “Dad” but he said “My name is Joesph; you call me Joseph. I’m Joseph to you.” (more…)
Nothing inspires you to want great love in your life more than seeing it in action, right in front of you. Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker, have been married for seven years after meeting on the set of Showtime’s Soul Food over ten years ago. Now, the two are ready to dish on how they have managed to maintain a successful marriage.
They caught up with Essence.com during the Valentine’s Day season and dished on the keys to a successful marriage. Boris says that being best friends is number one on the list. Nicole tells the ladies to tone down the nagging and stop following the ‘how to keep your man’ advice from your girls (Can I get an AMEN???). According to Nicole, your man will notice a good home cooked meal before he notices how great you look in those new shoes or purse.
Boris: I think what’s important is that you’re friends and that you like each other. That’s number one. If you like each other, you have fun with each other and you make each other laugh. You enjoy each others presence then that’s a great foundation to have, first of all. We make each other laugh and keep it sexy. It’s like with everything else — if you want to be successful in a business you have to work everyday to make that happen. A relationship is no different. If you want a relationship that’s flourishing and great and fun and successful, you’ve got to put effort into it every day. We try to do that for each other and with each other. (more…)
I’ve been a huge fan of Estelle since she first hit the scene with “American Boy.” She’s starting of the year on a high note bringing sophistication to the cover of London’s Evening Standard. But things weren’t always so glamorous for the British singer. Inside, she talks what it was like growing up with six siblings and one parent and how she transformed from a “skinny, black girl in the ghetto” to the stunning black woman she is today.
After her first label dropped her in 2007, Estelle moved to New York City to try to breakthrough in America, and a chance run-in with Kanye West led to the production of her Grammy-winning single “American Boy.” Estelle is busy promoting her new project ‘All of Me’, and she shared her emotional connection to her newest single “Thank You,” written by Akon.
On how she met Kanye
“I’d been working with a producer in Los Angeles and it hadn’t been going well. So I flew to New York and listened to Kanye West’s ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing: The Official Mixtape’ in my hotel room. Then I went out for a walk and saw him in a fricking restaurant. I prayed to God for him to come out. And he did. We chatted. I said, ‘I love you. I also want to meet John Legend; I want to work with him.’ Kanye told me that John was inside, eating. (more…)
Happy New Year Everyone!!! First off, I have to apologize for my absence. I was busy planning my wedding and yes, I did finally get hitched. Best feeling in the world! See me on the side and I’ll tell you all the details later
What better way to start the year than with the big hunk of chocolate goodness that makes you get your groove back! Yes, it’s none other than Mr. Taye Diggs! Taye says he wasn’t always comfortable in his own skin. It wasn’t until he was an adult that he could overcome and get past all the insults he had heard growing up because he’s dark-skinned. He has written a children’s book called ‘Chocolate Me!’ where he draws from hurtful personal experiences from when he was younger and teaches kids to be happy just the was they are.
He also recently sat down with MyBrownBaby.com and revealed that it wasn’t until he accidentally came across an article about Tyson Beckford that he was proud to be dark. As a dad with a 2-year-old interracial son, Taye discusses raising a mixed race child, how race affected him growing up, his parent’s making sure he always had positive black influences and how he feels Denzel and Wesley Snipes created a “shift” in the industry for the dark chocolate brothas.
On Growing Up With the ‘Light vs Dark’ Stigma (more…)
Jermaine Lamarr Cole is an American rapper and producer, better known by his stage name J. Cole. In 2009 he was the first artist signed to Jay-Z’s label Roc Nation. Born in Germany and raised in North Carolina, the 26-year-old started testing his skill when he was 12 and began making beats at 15 after his mom bought him a beat machine. Years later, he decided to go to college in New York at St. Johns University so that he would be closer to the record labels as he was confident about getting a deal. After graduating college, he had a chance meeting with Mark Pitts, the former manager of Notorious B.I.G., who introduced him to Jay-z and the rest is history.
After many delays that left his fans wondering if his album would ever come out, his debut ‘Cole World: The Sideline Story’ finally hit stores yesterday. It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about a rapper. I like his music because it gives me a Kanye West vibe from his College Dropout days. Ladies and gentlemen, I think we’re witnessing the birth of a star. Necole Bitchie recently caught up with J. Cole at his sold out show at Nokia Live in Los Angeles and he opened up about his recent collaboration with Missy Elliot, what it felt like to see his CD for the first time and his refusal to sell out for commercial gain:
Necole Bitchie: You recently released a track titled ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ with Missy Elliot. How did the collaboration come about? (more…)
Mary J. Blige has come a long way from her “What’s the 411″ days. At the height of her success, Blige later admitted that she was simultaneously dealing with long time bouts of drug addiction, alcoholism, and depression, as well as an abusive relationship with then-boyfriend K-Ci Hailey of Jodeci. She has since made an amazing come-back and married her long time friend and manager – Martin Kendu Isaacs.
It’s hard to believe Mary J. Blige is 40 years old. She covers the October 2011 edition of Ebony magazine with style and elegance in a strapless leopard print dress. My only problem is her weave which looks atrocious and not what we would expect from the Queen of Hip Hop Soul. In the article, she talks about how she found out about Amy Winehouse’s death: (more…)
2011 is definitely shaping up to be Adele’s year. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, I suggest you just crawl back to the rock you were hiding under. Her single ‘Someone Like You’ shot straight to number 1 on the Billboard chart after last week’s MTV Video Music Award performance. Her album ’21′, has sold 10 million copies worldwide, since it’s release in the UK in January and US in February and is on track to sell more than 13 million by the end of the year.
The British singer has managed to capture the hearts of many with her soulful and elegant voice and her album ’21′ has single-handedly dominated the charts for most of the year. She covered Rolling Stone’s Best of Rock issue earlier this year. Now, in the October 2011 issue of Vogue UK magazine she speaks about the music industry’s weight obsession, her unusual ritual before she hits the stage and why she prefers being single:
On getting pre-show jitters:
“I puke quite a lot before going on stage. Though never actually on stage. But then, I sh*t myself before everything … the bigger the freak-out, the more I enjoy the show!” (more…)
XXL celebrates the 15th anniversary of Tupac’s death, September 13, with a special tribute issue. In it, they have candid chats with the people who knew Pac best, including his biological father, his ex-wife and his first manager. Check out what they had to say:
Biological Father, Bill Garland: “[Tupac] cared for people,” he said. “That was his main thing. He really cared for people. I think that’s why he would get so upset when people tried to question his commitment, his love for Black women or Black men. The East Coast/West Coast, you know, that’s a fabrication. I don’t have to begin to tell you that. So when that was questioned, it bothered him. Because he would give his heart or soul. He was a giving person. (more…)
So So Def rapper Da Brat recently revealed her feminine side in a ‘Summer Chic’ shoot for VIBE.com. The Chicago native, born Shawntae Harris, 37, maintains that despite her usual tomboy style, getting girlie is second nature to her. She could have fooled me! She actually looks every bit the lady in this shoot, until she opens her mouth:
What do you have to say about your new mixtape?
It’s DUMB STUPID CRAZY! It’s HOTTER THAN A MOTHER FUCKER! BRAT IS BACK!
Was it uncomfortable transitioning into a “sex symbol” or is this just another side of you that we never see?
I’m such a fucking lady. I loved to get glammed up. I love manis and pedis. I like to go to Vicky Secrets and La Perla because I like lace and bikinis. I’m such a P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thug) (more…)
Kelly Rowland, who is currently riding high on the charts with her single Motivation, covers the August/September issue of Vibe magazine topless! In the Annual Juice issue that hits news stands August 16th, Kelly chats it up about her success overseas, parting ways with Mathew Knowles and sex toy shopping with the girls. Here’s a few excerpts:
VIBE: The last album didn’t do well in the States. It did better overseas, particularly in Europe. Do you feel more appreciated in Europe?
Kelly Rowland: No, not really. People still compare me to B over there. I said in an interview recently, ‘You know, if you guys would be a little bit more intelligent and ask me about myself we’ll have a much better interview.’ You can’t want a story from me and keep asking me about the past.
When you walked away from that last meeting with Mathew, did you feel an “exhale” moment?
I did, but I also felt like, ‘Oh my God, what have I done?!’ I stayed in the house for two days. I was sad. It was like a funeral. I had to deaden that situation in order to start fresh. That’s a very long time to have the same manager and the same label. (more…)
Listen up people! Class is in session! We’ve all wondered how Will Smith and his wife Jada have managed to have 13 years of marriage together in Hollywood of all places! There has to be a secret to their success. Well, wonder no more. Will recently spoke to an Essence Magazine editor and shared the following tips to a successful marriage:
If You Marry Your Best Friend, You’re Good
Every man wants to marry his homie. A lot of women will impress them, but it’s the one they can always laugh with and be themselves with that will ultimately impress them the most. If you can be yourselves around each other, 100 percent of the time, and they can make you laugh like no one else can, you’ll never have a dull moment together. (more…)
Women are naturally very self conscious about their looks. As a result, we tend to think that makeup, weaves, cosmetic surgery, etc. will help make us more beautiful - whatever that means. But what is the true definition of beauty? Singer Kelly Rowland, who’s currently enjoying the top spot on the R&B charts with her new single Motivation, hasn’t been exempt from feeling unworthy. She recently opened up about self love as a guest editor for Essence.com, while discussing her journey of lows and highs in beauty and what really makes her feel beautiful.
On not feeling beautiful
It took a long while for me to know that I’m beautiful. I remember going through this phase when I was younger of wanting to pass by mirrors and not look at them. That was so ridiculous. I’ve learned now that beauty starts from within. If you don’t know your worth, if you don’t know your value, if you don’t know how fantabulous you are — it’s going to be hard for other people to see it. Being appreciative of self, is beauty to me.
On what makes her feel beautiful
What makes me feel really beautiful is when I wake up and my skin is acting right [laughs] and I have a really great workout. When those days come, remember you deserve them because you work so hard. (more…)
I miss the days when magazines had iconic people on their covers. Nowadays even groupies get on the covers. I mean, what has Amber Rose really done, apart from shagging Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa? It makes no sense at all. So the double covers for the next issue of Vibe magazine will be Rick Ross and Amber Rose. Check out the “quotes” from Amber:
AMBER ON LIFE POST-KANYE:
“What am I supposed to do? Crawl up in a corner and die ‘cause I’m not with Kanye anymore? Am I supposed to go back to the strip club and not take these opportunities that I have?”
AMBER OF HER RELATIONSHIP WITH REGGIE BUSH: (more…)
Vibe has decided to traumatize the world. WTH??? Who does that??? Why would you put a pic of a shirtless Rick Ross on the cover of anything??? Man boobs have not, are not and will never be sexy. I think I just threw up my breakfast… Thank goodness it will be a double cover so we still have someone else to ogle. In his x-rated cover story, The Breakfast Club’s host Angela Yee gets Rick Ross, Wale, Meek Mill and Pill to talk candidly and crassly about all things sex. Check out this excerpt:
YOU DON’T REALIZE how colossal Rick Ross is until he removes his white Tee. It’s startling. Six feet of portly tattooed excess, his drooping pecs flexing as he hulks through the Danish contemporary SoHo furniture store BoConcept. Rozay is shooting his first solo VIBE cover—the sexy issue, no less—and a memo from Captain Conspicuous reads that Ross is not the conventional poster child for the cause. (more…)
Beyonce graces the latest cover of Billboard Magazine, which was unveiled just days after it was announced that she would be receiving Billboards’ first ever Millennium Award. She is scheduled to receive the honor at the May 22 show, which will air on ABC at 8-11pm ET/PT from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Many
haters people are speculating that she must have bought the award because it never existed before and they feel there are other more deserving legends for the Millenium Award. Oh well…you can’t please everybody right?
Inside, she reveals that her new album will be titled, “4″. She also discusses her decision to release “Who Run The World (Girls)”, her publicized split with her father Mathew Knowles and her thoughts on “Power”. Check out some highlights below:
We all have special numbers in our lives, and 4 is that for me. It’s the day I was born. My mother’s birthday and a lot of my friends’ birthdays are on the fourth; April 4 is my wedding date. (more…)
British pop singer Adele graces the cover of Rolling Stone magazine’s Best of Rock 2011 issue this week. The 22-year-old singer looks stunning on the cover, with her black eyeliner and voluminous hair. In the cover story, Adele matter-of-factly says she’s quite happy with her current size and she has no intentions of dieting or exercising any time soon. Adele makes no excuses for her weight. She says she loves eating sugary foods, and her weight gain is an acceptable side effect of her high caloric intake.
“My life is full of drama and I won’t have time to worry about something as petty as what I look like. I don’t like going to the gym. I like eating fine foods and drinking nice wine. Even if I had a really good figure, I don’t think I’d get my t**s and a** out for no one.”
“I love seeing Lady Gaga’s boobs and bum. I love seeing Katy Perry’s boobs and bum. Love it. But that’s not what my music is about. I don’t make music for eyes, I make music for ears.”
She also talks about her struggles with stage fright and her alter ego inspired by Beyonce’s Sasha Fierce: (more…)