NEXT: NAO Has Crafted The Sound Of The Future

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Eighteen months ago, NAO nervously uploaded her first song to SoundCloud from her bedroom. In collaboration with fellow Brit, A.K. Paul, “So Good” found a cozy spot on the World Wide Web. But NAO, who was initially unsure of how the song would be received, decided to turn off her phone in an attempt to avoid any and all notifications of what the masses might think. While she went about her day and found some down time in between a rehearsal, she caved in, turned on her phone, and what she only dreamed of happening actually occurred. (Read More)

Langston League Aims To Form New Coalition Of Black Male Scholars From Creative Writing To Technology

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On the steps of Langston Hughes’ abandoned Harlem-based home grew a new idea that will change the course of a young black man’s future. Erica Buddington, an educator and scholar from New York, sat on those steps of the famed poet’s home everyday for lunch, alone, with her thoughts on how to make kids love to learn again. One day while enjoying her afternoon meal, an unnamed caretaker of Hughes’ 127th and 5th Avenue property interrupted her routine. (Read More)

An Ode To Static Major, The Pen Behind Aaliyah’s Self-Titled Album

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With his roots cemented deep in the church, Static Major’s voice transcended the holy sanctuary and landed on the ears of Jawann “Smokey” Peacock and later Benjamin “Black” Bush. They formed the 90s group Playa — which saw the addition and subtraction of members before it became just the trio — after being discovered by Devante Swing of Jodeci at a concert. For Playa, music was a way of life. Black and Smoke’s first introduction via three-way resulted in a battle of the vocals, and they instantly knew they would click on wax. From winning top prizes at gospel expos to serving as a source of inspiration for Jodeci, the R&B group was determined to be a force to be reckoned with in front of the masses and behind the pen. (Read More)

VIBE Presents Aaliyah Week: Rarely Told Stories Of A ‘One In A Million’ Artist

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It’s been 15 years since Aaliyah Haughton’s unexpected passing (Aug. 25). Within that time span, her music has continued to serve as an inspiration and catalyst for other artists’ careers. The epitome of sticking true to the real you, Aaliyah made sure that her opinions on her career mattered without compromise for the sake of success, leading her to be one of the few authentic and relatable entertainers in the industry. With three solid and genre-defying albums immortalized in her discography, the Detroit native aimed to elevate her sound with each full-length project, leading you to wonder what would’ve been next for the famed singer. (Read More)

Record Executive Jason Flom Shines A Light On The Falsely Incarcerated, One Podcast At A Time

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For Jason Flom, the process of proving an incarcerated person’s innocence is an around the clock task. Before the beginning of this interview, the Lava Records CEO took a call from a prisoner named Jon-Adrian “JJ” Velazquez, who was sentenced to 25 years in Sing-Sing Prison for murder. According to a 2014 NBC report, Velazquez – who has been detained since 1998 –pleaded with the courts to grant him another trial where he’ll present evidence that could solidify his innocence. (Read More)

Views From The Studio: 7 Producers On The Global Spread Of Afrobeats & Dancehall

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From West Africa to the West Indies, the sounds that preserve the history of these regions remain an undeniable influence in pop music. Whether it’s Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You,” or most recently Drake’s “Signs,” pop artists continue to look to the rhythms sewn within Afrobeats and Dancehall to cook up that feel-good hit. With the summer season underway, the dance-floor ready vibes continue to pour from some of our favorite musicians, especially when those stateside link up with the rising pioneers of the aforementioned genres. (Read More)

Michael B. Jordan: Black Star Rising

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Michael Bakari Jordan is pressed for time. The photo shoot set he just arrived on knows it, his personal team knows it and he knows it. With an intense press tour ahead of him for his newest film Creed, it’s surprising that this sort of new leading man takes the pressures of a demanding schedule like a rugged veteran. The straight-laced actor’s time is carved into an itinerary reminiscent of an 18-credit syllabus. With his spotlight getting brighter, it becomes more and more apparent that the man of the hour has arrived. (Read More)