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'The Floacist' Talks New Album, Neo Soul & Possibility Of Floetry Reunion

Together as Floetry, Natalie Stewart and Marsha Ambrosius burst on to the music scene in the mid-90s as coveted songwriters. The duo penned hits for Michael Jackson, Bilal, Jill Scott and more. But by the turn of the millennium, they debuted their own style of music, which they describe as “floetic” (also the name of their debut album). Their sound was described as neo-soul but there was no denying that their unique interplay between spoken word and soulful singing blended with jazz was something that the masses craved (they have the Grammy nominations to prove it).

Although their sophomore album, 2005’s Flo’Ology, reached top-3 upon release, Floetry split the following year. Natalie, the floacist, was more low key than her singing counterpart who still toured and made cameo appearances but after four years of taking a break from the spotlight she’s gearing up for her solo debut, Floetic Soul, dropping November 9. Here, she opens up to VIBE about the Floetry split, her relationship with Marsha and why she still embraces the term neo soul. ⎯Starrene Rhett

VIBE: How was it collaborating with Musiq on your first single, "Forever"?

Natalie Stewart: Musiq was one of the first people I met when Marsha and I had come to America in 2000 and I’m a complete fan of what he does. I think not enough of us neo soul artists collaborate together and I’ve really been looking forward to working with him. I made the song out in L.A. and at the end of recording it I was sitting down listening to it and I could just hear Musiq’s energy. It was like his spirit was in the space and I felt I just needed to get him on there so I gave him a call and he said he would love to get on there. It was a very quick process but I suppose, over a long time due. So the song is about companionship, union and just how over the years in love we can do more than just be in love we can be supportive of each other.

What have you been up to all these years since your departure from Floetry? Were you touring?

If I had been touring you would have known about it [laughs]. I’ve been being creative. I did a few different shows over a few years but more so on the spoken word side of things. But ultimately I’ve been cultivating my craft, recording, trying out different energy. I’ve been building my music company. I’ve been learning and growing as a person. Living. I’ve been away from my husband and my son; I’ve been living away for so long. I came home, I got married, I’ve lived a beautiful life. I’ve always been creative. Art is not an "it’s time to make an album" kind of thing for me. It’s a day in and day out thing. It’s not only what everybody hears. I have journals upon journals of books and sketching and writing⎯all different types of things. I’ve pretty much just been chilling and gearing up to have something new and fresh to say. It’s not always about putting albums out. Sometimes you have to⎯in order for the content of the record to come together you may have to live a bit to have something to say. So in a whole, personally, that’s what I’ve been doing since the end of Floetry, and just trying to understand and formulate in my mind how I can continue the floetic ethos, the energy, floetic delivery, musical intent and just music that makes you feel good.

Talk about your music company.

I’ve created my own production house. It’s Free Sum Music. It’s a creative outlet. I work in collaboration with a few producers that I have and I produce myself. My business partner is also my husband. We all produce over here. We create the sound. We’ve executively produced this project and we work with other people and get other sounds out as well. So it’s a nice production outlet. It’s quite similar to A Touch of Jazz.

What was the reason behind Floetry's split?

It’s not as razzmatazz as I supposed it could seem. I left Floetry in 2006 in December. That was when the last show had occurred. Marsha had signed to Aftermath earlier in 2006 and Marsha and management were more so pursuing a gangster rap creative outlet and that’s just not what I came in for. So I wanted to stay in the direction of Floetry, which is poetic delivery with musical intent but that’s not musical intent. Creatively the sounds were different and I fired management and that was when we stopped working together with them.

Do you think you guys would ever come back together?

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Fred The Godson Tested Positive For COVID-19

It was all good two weeks ago. That's when the Bronx-bred Fred The Godson released his Big Payback mixtape. But today (April 6), the Fat Boy Fresh rapper announced on social media that he tested positive for COVID-19.

"I’m in here with this Covid-19 shit! Please keep me in y’all prayers!!! #GodIsGreat," Fred said in Tweet.

I’m in here with this Covid-19 shit! Please keep me in y’all prayers!!! #GodIsGreat pic.twitter.com/e6xRM3OSWb

— FRED THE GODSON (@FREDTHEGODSON) April 6, 2020

FTG isn't the only rapper to be hit with Coronavirus. Houston rapper Slim Thug recently tested positive for COVID-19.

"I was definitely surprised because I was trying to be precautious way earlier than a lot of people," the "I Ain't Heard Of That" rapper said during an interview with VIBE. "I started to feel a headache and a fever and I've never had those symptoms so I thought, 'Man this Corona time, it's got to be something.' But at the end of the day, I haven't felt severe sickness or nothing."

"I have high blood pressure, I already do this. I run three miles at the park and go to the gym every day, so I'm pretty healthy," Thug continued." You know, I never felt like I wouldn't be able to fight this off, I never really felt really sick or crazy sick, just kind of felt like a sinus infection."

Also, YMW Melly recently tested positive for the virus while in jail awaiting trial for double murder. The "Suicidal" has plans to file a motion for his release.

Also, Yo Gotti and Team Roc filed a motion demanding that inmates in Parchman Penitentiary receive testing for COVID-19.

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Rita Wilson Remixes Naughty by Natures "Hip-Hop Hooray"

Many artists are coming together to raise funds for the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund. Today (April 6), actress and singer Rita Wilson joined forces with Naughty by Nature for the "Hip-Hop Hooray (Remix)."

While recovering from COVID-19, Wilson posted an Instagram video of her rapping the classic record. She also sent it to the New Jersey rap group. Impressed with Wilson's microphone skills, and inspired by her recovery, Naughty reached out to Wilson for the remix.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

See it to believe it

A post shared by Rita Wilson (@ritawilson) on Mar 21, 2020 at 11:31pm PDT

“We were totally shocked she could rap the verses so well,”  the rap group said via press release.

“’Hip Hop Hooray’ is like modern-day Shakespeare,” Wilson adds. “It took me a month to learn because it’s so complex and nuanced; it was like training for a marathon. The rhythms and tempos are so unique and creative. When I was quarantined and recovering from COVID-19 I wanted to see if I still remembered it, kind of like a brain exercise. To my surprise I did. I thought it would be fun to put it on my Instagram to show people I was doing OK and to make them smile. When Naughty by Nature commented about it, I couldn’t believe it,” she continued.

Back in March,  actor Tom Hanks, Wilson's husband, released a statement saying that he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19 while in Australia.

Listen the Wilson's remix above.

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Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson attends a ceremony honoring him with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 30, 2020 in Hollywood, California.
Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

50 Cent's Big Meech-Inspired 'Black Mafia Family' Series Heading To Starz

Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson is heading back to Starz with another television series.

After the success of Power, the hip-hop icon-turned-entrepreneur-turned television executive producer is set to have a hand in Black Mafia Family. The crime series is inspired by the true-life story of Detroit drug lord Demetrius "Big Meech" Flenory and his brother Terry "Southwest T," who rose from the decaying streets of southwest Detroit in the late '80s and gave birth to one of the most influential crime families in the country." According to Starz, the series will touch on the subjects of “love, family, and capitalism in the pursuit of the American dream.”

"I told you Black Mafia Family was coming and it’s going to be the biggest show on television," said Jackson in the announcement. "Meech and Terry are legends and I am excited to bring their story to Starz."

Starz president and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch added: “This is a project Curtis has always been incredibly passionate about and we are excited to have him as our partner in bringing it to life.

“Black Mafia Family has all the hallmarks of a great drama, from the larger-than-life Flenory brothers to the deadly, high-stakes world they inhabited. This series is going to be an incredible ride for audiences around the world.”

No word on who will star in the series or when it will premiere. 50 Cent's current ABC drama, For Life—about former-inmate-turned-lawyer Isaac Wright Jr.—reportedly tallied the "biggest playback increase for any new broadcast midseason debut — scripted or unscripted."

Jackson's multi-million dollar deal with Starz includes another series titled, Vanguard, as well as other upcoming Power sequels: Powerbook II: Ghost, Power Book III: Raising Kanan, Power Book IV: Influence, and Power Book V: Force.

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