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Jazmine Sullivan Talks 'Love,' Pain, Working With Missy Elliott & Mary J. Blige

Jazmine Sullivan made major noise with her 2008 debut, Fearless, and its urgent single "Need U Bad," earning kudos for her scratchy soul pipes and audacious (see: "Bust Your Windows"), emotionally stark ballads. Now, the Philadelphia songstress is opening for idol Mary J. Blige on a nationwide tour and prepping the release of her sophomore effort, Love Me Back, in November. VIBE got some studio time with the singer-songwriter and chopped it up about her new album, battling image issues and where in the world is Missy Elliott.


VIBE: When “Need U Bad” came out, you earned a lot of comparisons to older and newer artists. Is there pressure to keep living up to the hype?

Jazmine Sullivan: I felt pressure within myself. For some reason, in the beginning of making this album, I gave myself a hard time. I was really, really nervous about whether people would like it and still think it’s hot, but I did that to myself, not so much the pressure other people put on me. But the more that I sang and recorded, I kinda let go of all of that and I was like, “You know what? I can’t do that to myself.” I gotta just make my music and do me and, you know, hope people respond.

What’s your creative process?

I don’t think of work between albums. Of course, I go through regular life and I live and I experience different things, good and bad, and it does help me, but I don’t think about writing or what I’m gonna do with whatever’s going on while I’m going through it. When I think back on things that have happened, it will come up again. [You live it] and then you choose to write about it and I choose to write about it because I know that it’s other people going through the same thing that I went through.

“Holding You Down” samples a bunch of songs. 

[Laughs] 80 billion.

Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh, Mary J. Blige—Did you pick those beats yourself?

No, Missy picked it. She’s the hip-hop head, so that’s one of things that I go to Missy for—for her to add that hip-hop element to my music, because I’m primarily R&B and I grew up listening to gospel, so when I go to her, she’ll kinda school me on the older artists from the ’90s and you know. It’s just a feeling that the track gave me that you don’t get anymore. The music from the ’90s, you don’t have the feeling anymore, and I think that’s why people kinda like it and they gravitate toward it ’cause they’re like, “Oh, I remember that shit from back in the day!” You know. They respond to it well.

Nostalgic, yeah.

It’s a feeling that it gave you. It was just, like, an energy in it and a realness and rawness in it that we don’t have today.

How has your relationship with Missy Elliott evolved since you guys first met?

Well, one way that it’s evolved is, when I was younger, Missy used to write the songs and I’d be watching her kinda create these songs and I wanted to do it and I started working on my writing, and when I got signed to J, we called to work with her, and she’s seeing that I was kinda in control and I could write my stuff, she almost passed the baton. Almost like a proud sister, like, “She can handle this now. She can do her own stuff.” And I appreciated that because some people, if you work with them and they do a certain thing, they wanna do it. But she let me do it openly. She was like, ‘Go ‘head. Write ya stuff.’

What’s your favorite thing about her as a person? 

She’s funny and she’s a very committed friend. A committed person really. If she believes in something, she has got your back. Even when I was younger and there was nobody on Team Jazmine, she was. She believed in me then, and she believes in me now, and that’s why she works so hard when she’s working with me.

Why is she missing in action right now? She’s very behind the scenes and then you’ll hear a song and be like, “Oh, Missy produced that.”

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Waka Flocka Flame Say He’s Dedicating His Life To Suicide Prevention And Mental Health Awareness

With the month of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, Waka Flocka Flame shared a major announcement with fans. The rapper and reality star is dedicating his life to suicide prevention and mental health awareness, he shared on Monday (May 25).

“I’m officially dedicating my life to suicide prevention and mental illness! Ya’ll not alone Waka Flocka Flame is with ya’ll now,” he tweeted.

Waka’s younger brother, Coades “Kayo Redd” Scott, died by suicide in 2013. In a follow-up tweet, Waka revealed that he’s slowly learning to accept his brother’s passing.

“You have no idea how it feel[s] to wanna [take] your own life man…my little brother took his own life man…and I deal with this fact every birthday because his birthday [is] the day after mines [sic] June 1st. This year I’m officially accepting the fact that he’s in a better place.”

The 33-year-old recording artist, whose other brother was killed in 2000, opened up about losing his younger brother in a 2017 episode of The Therapist, where he revealed that Kao tried to get in contact with him prior to committing suicide.

“Before my little brother died, I ain’t pick up the phone and I seen him call. I was like, ‘f**k lemme call Kayo back, as soon as this s**t lover.’ And I called him back, no answer.”

“What if I would’ve picked that call up? What the f**k is my little brother going through that made my little brother kill himself?”

 

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2 Chainz’s Atlanta Restaurant Shut Down Over Social Distancing Violations

Less than a month after reopening, 2 Chainz’s Escobar Restaurant & Tapas has been temporarily shut down for violating the state’s social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Public Health and Safety cited the eatery on Sunday (May 24), after receiving complaints about the number of customers inside the restaurant and bar. Georgia guidelines limits occupancy to 10 patrons per 300 square feet.

“When I entered the establishment, the entire facility was full of patrons, shoulder to shoulder, and was unable to enter safely,” a DPS officer wrote in an incident reports according to Atlanta’s WSB-TV. The DPS officer also observed the “same violations” that caused DPS to issue an initial warning to the facility.

The manager on duty had security clear out the room but State Police ordered Escobar to close on Monday (May 25) after the violations were not fixed. Various videos posted to Escobar’s Instagram Story prove that the venue was indeed packed with customers.

In April, Georgia’s governor announced that restaurants, hair salons, and other businesses could reopen for in-person service despite the state's rising cases of COVID-19. Escobar, which had been serving takeout orders only, faced backlash after revealing plans to reopen for dine-in service following the governor’s announcement. The restaurant decided to remain closed for a little while longer and fed several of Atlanta’s homeless before fully reopening in early May.

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Doja Cat Speaks Out After Being Accused Of Joining White Supremacist Chat Rooms

After trending online for the entire Memorial Day Weekend, Doja Cat publicly addressed allegations of racism and engaging in white supremacist chat rooms on Tiny Chat.

On Sunday (May 24), the “Say So” rapper posted a lengthy Instagram statement in response to numerous tweets exposing her alleged online activity, including saying “n**ger” in a predominately white video chat room and recording a song named after a racial slur.

“I’ve used public chat rooms to socialize since I was a child. I shouldn’t have been on some of those chat room sites, but I personally have never been involved in any racist conversations,” Doja explained in the statement. “I’m sorry to everyone that I offended.”

“I’m a black woman,” she added. “Half of my family is black from South Africa and I’m very prude of where I came from.”

 

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A post shared by Doja Cat (@dojacat) on May 24, 2020 at 8:10pm PDT

A day later, Doja took to Instagram Live to further explain herself and deny allegations of self-hate, fetishizing white men, and race play.

Later in the video, Doja denied rumors that she recorded the song, “Dindu Nothin,” to make fun of police brutality. According to Doja, the song was an attempt at reclaiming the little-known slur, though she did admit that the song was a terrible idea.

Watched the full apology below.

 

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