Pardon The Introduction: Zainab

To listen to Zainab Sumu’s story is to be taken on a journey that spans several continents with more dramatic twists and turns than a Spike Lee flick. Growing up the daughter of a diamond scion in Sierra Leone and the niece of the country’s president, her life drastically changed when a military coup took over the government. The African beauty found a home in fashion, first working for Comme des Garçons and recently opening her own boutique on Melrose in Los Angeles that pays homage to her upbringing while attracting major media attention.

VIBE: Tell me about your childhood.
Zainab Sumu: My early years were in Sierra Leone where I went to a Catholic boarding school and then I went to England and started college there. Meanwhile I [spent] my summers in Paris. That was basically it and then once there was a military coup that stopped. Then I had to figure out what to do. After the coup I moved to New York. My first job was working as a hostess at Bambu. Then I got a job at Comme des Garçons.

Was that your first job in fashion?
It wasn’t really my first job in fashion. I did some modeling while I was in London but yeah, that was really my first real job. After my time at Comme des Garçons ended, one of the clients I was working with, H. Lorenzo said, “You should come to LA and check it out” so I said sure and it reminded me of home. [In] New York I feel at home because I have great friends there and I love the vibrancy and the energy. The constant contact with people and the realness of it all—I loved that. But the scenery in LA reminded me of home because of the hills and beaches. I just felt a connection.

How did your upbringing impact your personal style?
Well I was lucky in a lot of ways—my dad wasn’t a typical African dad—he was more open minded. He adored his kids to the point where as long as you were happy and not doing crazy things then he was fine with it. My dad also loved clothes. We had his suits custom made in Saville Row. So he was really into fashion and loved me looking good. My sense [of style] was always different. I didn’t like what typically everyone else wore. If I wore a dress it was because I was made to. I loved things that were different since I was a child. I saw something that was in a magazine, I would take it to a tailor and get my own fabrics and get him to make exactly how I wanted it.

What did your father do in Sierra Leone?
My dad was in the diamond industry and he oversaw the mineral side of it as well for the government. He travelled quite a bit and my uncle at the time was the president, which was when the military coup happened our family was affected big time. That’s just how it is. When you’re linked closely to a certain government and something like that happens, people come after you. Really, our lives changed drastically because most of what my dad had built was taken away from him. We all just had to sort of regroup. They had to leave the country for a while. My mom is still there and things are much better and I can go home but for the longest time they wouldn’t let me.

What brought you to the point of opening your own store on Melrose?
I always knew as a child that I wanted to do my own thing. When I came to LA, I knew my love for fashion was so immense and it came to natural to me. When I stopped working for H. Lorenzo, I asked how I could go about this. I knew there was a place for something new and different in LA. I took the time to find the right location and the ways I could do it. I started working out of my apartment and I had great brands that I was working with. I attracted a really great group of women—personal shoppers and stylists—but then I realized that for me to really be able to crate a brand and make a living, I have to be more accessible. So finally I found a place on Melrose and opened shop.

What’s the style of your Melrose boutique store? What’s the typical customer?
I call it “primitive modern.” Basically, I take my aesthetic—I have a lot of African art. I’m into designers that have a unique creative view, an ideology every season, and at the same time, make women look beautiful. Most of the personal shoppers I work with shop for socialites.

What’s ahead for you in the future? Do you want to expand beyond LA?
I’m definitely taking it global. LA for me was just to build a base and credibility. I want to create other things to go with the store, there’s a household brand I want to create, a jewelry line, a fragrance line.

It’s so inspiring to hear your story. It’s amazing.
My whole thing is to inspire other people. Everyone has a story. Everybody has dreams and goals and there’s so much that I want to do that’s related to where I’m from, that’s related to helping other people. ––Adrien Field

7021 Melrose Avenue (Between Sycamore and La Brea)

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Nicki Minaj Cancels Tour Stop Due To Technical Difficulties

Nicki Minaj is feeling “gutted” and “heartbroken” after she was forced to cancel a tour stop in show in Bratislava, Slovakia Friday (Feb. 22) due to technical difficulties, the “Barbie Dreams” rapper said on Instagram.

“I can’t believe my fans sometimes,” Minaj captioned a cascade of videos of her on stage breaking the bad news to fans. “After waiting for hours & hours, they still tried to be understanding.”

The venue didn’t have the electrical capabilities to support a major “technical aspect” of the show and lost power several times in the process, TMZ reports.

“Production was told the building does not have the power to facilitate my lifts,” Minaj explained. “They’d get the show powered up then the breaker would basically trip after a few mins.”

XL Promotion, the company promoting the show in Slovakia, shared a different story on Facebook. “The Winter Stadium of Andrew Nepelu meets all the technical standards and the agency XL Promotion respected all the conditions sent by the production of Nicki Minaj,” reads the post.

The company blamed Minaj for deciding to cancel, and added that they have done a number of “large world productions” for musical acts including Depeche Mode, Lenny Kravitz, One Republic and “many others.” XL Promotion vowed to refund all ticket holders.

Some of Minaj’s loyal Barbz waited up to seven hours before being told that the show was cancelled, according to comments on her Instagram post and tweets from fans.

Minaj said that she felt “horrible” about the whole thing. The Young Money rhymer also promised to “figure out a way,” to come back and make up for the missed performance, which was the second stop on the European leg of her Nicki WRLD Tour featuring Juice WRLD. The jaunt kicked off in Germany Thursday and rolls into Poland on Feb. 24.

Read Minaj's full Instagram post below.


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Gutted. Heart broken. I can’t believe my fans sometimes. After waiting for hours & hours, they still tried to be understanding. Production was told the building does not have the power to facilitate my lifts (which don’t only move me below & very VERY high above the stage, but also move all our props, furniture, dancers, band, etc.), our lighting rig, fog, cryo, confetti, movies/visuals. They’d get the show powered up then the breaker would basically trip after a few mins. Juice WRLD & I waited while they did this over & over for 3 hours. Some of my fans came from Austria, Nigeria, etc. I met w/a lot of them & they had the best, sweetest energy. I’m so disappointed. Slovakia, I love you so much & I’ll do everything in my power to get back to you as soon as I can. I think the venue/promo team probably didn’t expect a rap show to have such over the top production. We run the risk of someone getting hurt if we start the show & smthng malfunctions mid-show. Sorry we couldn’t have a great night together. We’ll be in Poland on Sunday @ a building that can facilitate our show. ♥️🙏🏽

A post shared by Barbie® (@nickiminaj) on Feb 22, 2019 at 4:49pm PST

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R. Kelly Turns Himself In To Chicago Police On Sexual Abuse Charges

R. Kelly turned himself in to authorities in Chicago Friday (Feb. 22), hours after being charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Kelly, 52, was met by a flood of cameras when he arrived at the precinct. Officers quickly led him away in handcuffs.

The Grammy winner, whose birth name is Robert Kelly, is expected to remain in custody overnight before appearing in court Saturday for a bond hearing, reports the Chicago Tribute.

Earlier in the day, Cook County State Attorney’s Kim Foxx announced charges against the singer who is accused abusing four victims, three of whom are between the ages of 13 and 17, according to a grand jury indictment. Cook County Judge Dennis Porter authorized an arrest warrant for Kelly with no bail amount.

Kelly has claimed innocence for years, amid numerous allegations dating back more than a decade.

Steve Greenberg, Kelly's lawyer, maintained Friday that his client is an "innocent man," and that all of his accusers are "lying."  Greenberg tweeted earlier in the day, that Kelly would be surrendering between 11 p.m. and midnight, at the Area South location.

If convicted on all charges, Kelly faces up to 70 years in prison. See video of his surrender below.

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DESUS & MERO Bring the Brand to Showtime in Their Series Premiere

"Bodega Boys in the building!" That's how Desus Nice and The Kid Mero started the first episode of their new half hour show on Showtime. The "Bodega Boys," as Desus and Mero like to be called, took their comedic talents from Viceland and secured a slot for their talk show on the network. After airing on Thursday night, they posted the full episode on YouTube to give fans and a new live studio audience a look at what they have to offer.

The first episode of their new series did not disappoint. The two comedians represented their roots in the Bronx to the fullest by incorporating the class bodega backdrop as well as inviting none other than Bronx native, and United States Representative for New York,  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as their first guest. The TV personalities greeted the politician with their now famous "yerrr" and managed to keep things light by bonding over the memes they receive from Twitter users while also managing to keep things serious as they talked about AOC's come up.

In the debut of the show, Ocasio-Cortez made the trip back to the Bronx to chat with the former Guy Code cast members, but the "Bodega Boys" also made a trip down to the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. During the trip to D.C. Desus and Mero presented the member of the Democratic Party with a flag of Puerto Rico, representing her roots, and they also were able to meet representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashan Tlaib of Minnesota and Michigan, respectively.

"Am I a gentrifier?" Ocasio-Cortez asked. "No! How are you a gentrifier? You moved from the Bronx to D.C.!" Mero responded.

Ocasio-Cortez's presence on the show wasn't the only highlight of the first episode. Desus and Mero have added a new element to their talk show, which are skits. The skit the two debuted on their talk show poked fun at the controversial Oscar-nominated film, Green Book. Before presenting the skit, Desus described the film as being, "basically just Friday with racism."

The skit features Mero playing the role of the white driver, Tony Lip, while Desus plays the role of the Black pianist. Throughout the entirety of the skit, Desus and Mero show how they feel "Green Book" was made to make white people feel as if they weren't racist in a time where racism was quite obviously prevalent.

"Wait, there's another one of these movies? What is wrong with you people? Please leave us alone. It's not our job to make white people feel better about race stuff," was a fake quote about the movie included in the skit.

Catch DESUS & MERO on Showtime every Thursday night at 11! You won't want to miss out.


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