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A Long Convo With... Jermaine Dupri (Pg. 2)

Will you be involved in Janet Jackson’s next project?
I can tell you that she’s not working on an album. We just did the one song (“Nothing”) for the Why Did I Get Married Too soundtrack, which was released off of So So Def. Last time I heard she really didn’t want to do an album. She wanted to just do singles every once in a while. She’s looked at the marketplace—albums are not really doing what they usually do when you put all this budget out there. Janet is just trying to figure out her landscape. But the crazy part is “Nothing” is the biggest format record that I’ve ever had. It’s playing on seven different formats: gospel, AC, urban AC, urban mainstream, jazz and top 40 and rhythmic. I never had a record on a jazz station. I’m out here in LA and the biggest jazz station out here, The Wave, you know, that station when you go to hotels and you don’t know what station the radio in your room is on? This record is on that station [laughs].

How is Janet holding up?
She’s cool. She has a lot of work going on that’s keeping her in the right direction. The movie came out, which is the biggest Tyler Perry movie he has had thus far. It looks like her star power as an actress is still there. And she’s about to do the other movie (For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf) with Mariah, Kerry Washington, Whoopi Goldberg and few others. They will be shooting that in June. And then she’s performing at the Essence Festival, so she’s rehearsing for that every day.

You recently re-launched your So So Def label as an independent imprint. One of those younger artists that you mentioned is pop R&B vocalist Dondria, who you discovered on Youtube.
Right now, Dondria is my main focus. I had her for two years going back to when I was at Def Jam. When I discover a new artist, I try to figure out their niche. And while Dondria and Whitney Houston are so far apart from each other in terms of their careers, Dondria wants to be what Whitney became. I believe that that lane is opening up. Dondria doesn’t want to be Mary J. Blige. She wants to sing that big record. It took me a while to realize it and then I went into the studio one night and wrote “You’re The One.” This is my first new artist and single I’ve put out for So So Def independent. It’s a top 10 record right now and it’s a top 10 ringtone. The video even made no. 5 on 106 And Park. I’m excited to see it all happen. I’m really promoting her grassroots and making sure that everyone understands what she is about. She came to me with two million people watching her on YouTube. I had to connect both worlds.

How much of an adjustment has it been going independent?
It feels incredible. But it also makes me question what I was doing in my career before I went independent. Because now I’m really working. Niggas see me living the life and playing around. But to do this independent thing and to have it work, my life is completely different than it ever was. I’m doing everything. I do the blogging shit for real…I don’t have anyone writing it for me; I write up my own press releases so that people can get the right information about my artists. I shoot all these videos that you see on YouTube. And then I wake up every morning and do all the paper work. I’m spending my own money and talking to people I never used to talk to. It actually feels good.

 

Wow, sounds like a real 9 to 5…
[Laughs] I’m really working. At 16-17 years-old dealing with Columbia Records, I thought I would be doing what I’m doing now. I was working, but it was nothing like this. I rarely get two hours of sleep now. But it’s all worth it. To have Tyler Perry, a person of his caliber trust my instincts to put his soundtrack on So So Def. And then for a legend like Janet to do the same thing? I dreamed of having So So def becoming the Motown of my generation. If I can keep on doing what I’m doing, I believe that’s what I’m going to get to. I’ve proved to myself that I could put out records without the majors.

 

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Issa Rae Is Now Co-Owner Of A Natural Hair-Care Brand

Issa Rae is expanding into the world of natural hair care. The Insecure creator and star became the co-owner and face of Sienna Natural, a vegan product line for textured hair.

Rae partnered with Sienna Naturals CEO Hannah Diop to rebrand the company. “I think hair has always been part of my identity,” Rae told Allure. “[Even my] debut was a big chop that I did for Awkward Black Girl.”

Rae’s interest in the natural haircare industry was peaked after watching Diop’s “journey,” in products creation. “I’d been watching Hannah's journey for a while, seeing her developing these products. I got interested in the natural, organic side of hair care. I felt like this was a great opportunity to partner up — not to mention obviously loving what the products did for my own hair.”

Sienna Naturals products are made from “lightweight natural ingredients free from synthetics, harsh chemicals” and “heavy oils.”

The product line includes a Salon in a Box collection for $75, H.A.P.I. Shampoo ($18), Dew Magic leave-in conditioner, and Plant Power deep treatment ($22). Shoppers can visit the Sienna Naturals website to get on the waitlist for product restocks and updates.

 

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Allow us to reintroduce ourselves… ✨ We are Sienna Naturals and the countdown begins until we’re fully restocked in your shower, so make room! 🚿 Our products are made with lightweight natural ingredients, free of synthetics, harsh chemicals or heavy oils— formulated by women with textured hair for women with textured hair.
 We are so excited to be back with: 💫 Larger product sizes 💫 More accessible price points 💫 A whole new look and whole new face Join the waitlist to get your favorites the second we’re back! Link in bio. Also, here’s your friendly reminder to check your voter registration status.

A post shared by Sienna Naturals (@siennanaturals) on Sep 22, 2020 at 3:00pm PDT

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Mural Honoring Chadwick Boseman Unveiled At Disneyland

A new mural honoring Chadwick Boseman made its debut at Disneyland’s Downtown Disney on Thursday (Sept 24). The beautiful art work was painted by Nikkolas Smith, a former Disneyland Imagineer.

The art installation includes an inscription from Smith that reads: “As a former Disney Imagineer, I had the honor of working on a major children's hospital initiative and Avengers Campus as my final two assignments. Seeing Chadwick's heart for people in-person, and later discovering his courageous battle with cancer, I was inspired to create this tribute to honor his life and legacy. To us, he was and will always be T'Challa. Long Live The King.”

The image shows Boseman kneeling alongside a child in a hospital gown while both make the Wakanda salute. The photo is a nod to Boseman’s many hospital visits with sick children, all while he secretly battled colon cancer. The 43-year-old actor passed away from the disease in August.

 

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A post shared by Disneyland (@disneyland) on Sep 24, 2020 at 12:18pm PDT

The piece, which will be on display until the end of the year, was Smith's final project as a Disney Imagineer, a job that he held for 11 years.

“This one is special,” he explained in an Instagram post. “My King Chad tribute is now on a wall on display at Downtown Disney. It is a full circle moment for me: my final two projects as a Disney Imagineer last summer were working on the Children’s Hospital project and the ‘Avengers’ Campus. To millions of kids, T'Challa was a legend larger than life, and there was no one more worthy to fill those shoes than Chadwick Boseman. I'm so thankful to be able to honor Chadwick's life and purpose in this way.” Smith added a note of gratitude to Disney for being supporting of his artistic journey.

See more photos of the mural below.

 

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This one is special. My King Chad tribute is now on a wall on display at Downtown Disney. 🐾 It is a full circle moment for me: my final two projects as a Disney Imagineer last summer were working on the Children’s Hospital project and the Avengers Campus. To millions of kids, T'Challa was a legend larger than life, and there was no one more worthy to fill those shoes than Chadwick Boseman. I'm so thankful to be able to honor Chadwick's life and purpose in this way. I am grateful to the Disney family for being so supportive of my journey as an artist. @waltdisneyimagineering @disney @marvelstudios @disneyland 🐾✨ #LongLiveTheKing #KingChad #WakandaForever #Phambili #DowntownDisney #BlackPanther #ChadwickBoseman #RIPChadwick #WDI

A post shared by Nikkolas Smith (@nikkolas_smith) on Sep 24, 2020 at 10:01am PDT

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Breonna Taylor’s Mother Speaks Out After Cops Who Killed Her Daughter Get Off Without Charges

Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, says the system failed her daughter. Palmer posted a painting portrait of Taylor on Instagram on Wednesday (Sept. 23) which she hashtagged, #ThesystemfailedBreonna.

The Instagram post serves as her first public response to a grand jury failing to bring charges against three Louisville police officers for killing Taylor. On Thursday (Sept. 24), Palmer shared a photo of a woman carrying a sign with the Bible verse: “It’s wrong to favor the guilty and keep the innocent from getting justice.”

 

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It’s still Breonna Taylor for me💙💔💙 #ThesystemfailedBreonna

A post shared by Tamika L. Palmer (@tamikalpalmer) on Sep 24, 2020 at 10:19am PDT

 

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A post shared by Tamika L. Palmer (@tamikalpalmer) on Sep 24, 2020 at 4:52pm PDT

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron held a press conference on Wednesday where he announced that no charges would be brought against Louisville officers Jonathan Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove, and Brett Hankison for killing Taylor. Hankison was the only one among the three to be charged, but not for Taylor’s death.

In an interview with NPR last week, Palmer expressed her hope that charges would be brought against the officers. “I’m hoping to hear that there will be charges,” she said at the time. “That these people will be fired and arrested.” Hakinson is the only one of the three officers to be fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department after Taylor’s death.

Speaking to her daughter’s character, Palmer stated that the 26-year-old emergency room tech was a “beautiful person inside and out.” She pointed out that Taylor “kept saying that 2020 was her year.”

“And she was absolutely right,” said Palmer. “I hate that it came in that form, but it definitely is her year.”

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