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Jay Electronica (Pg. 4)

3. Because Monie Love Says So

Living up to the hype can be a daunting and at times crushing task for any musical artist. Indeed, it remains to be seen if Jay Electronica will be able to cope with the intense pressure of being hailed as the next underground savior. The history of hip-hop is littered with the bodies of would-be-contenders who struggled mightily to show-and-prove beyond the buzz (Remember Canibus?). However, rapper Monie Love, who faced similar lofty expectations before the release of her much-anticipated 1990 debut album Down To Earth, believes Electronica will be able to deliver on the hyperbolic raves.

“I know what it feels like to be a Jay Electronica…to be called the next best thing since sliced bread,” Monie says of her time under the intense glare of the hip-hop spotlight. Before the British rhymer and member of the influential rap collective the Native Tongues signed a recording deal in the United States, she was already being hailed as the female MC who would completely reshape the game following career-defining appearances on De La Soul’s “Buddy” and Queen Latifah’s  “Ladies First.”

“Benny Medina (legendary former head of Warner Bros. Records’ urban music division and manager of such superstar clients as Jennifer Lopez and Sean “Diddy” Combs) went back to the U.S. like, ‘There’s this girl from the England…she’s really dope,’” recalls Monie, a former radio DJ at Philadelphia’s Power 99 who currently host the Sirius satellite show Ladies First.

“The record labels started to make their bids to get my U.S. and Canadian rights. Warner Bros won the bid, but what’s interesting is another heavy courting session started with me and Russell Simmons’ Rush Management, which was the monopoly management company at the time. They had everybody from LL Cool J and Public Enemy to A Tribe Called Quest! Russell used to send his boys to take me out to dinner and get me tickets to Showtime At The Apollo…all kinds of stuff just to get me to sign with his management company.” 

Monie Love continues: “Jay Electronica reminds me of that time when I was grinding and free styling at every club that I could get into just to prove I was worth the buzz. “I had the opportunity to see him perform at Luxe Lounge in Philadelphia March of this year. My friend introduced us and we just started talking about music. That time with Jay gives me faith again that there’s someone who is able to capture the spirit of the culture I came up in. He seems to embody everything that epitomizes an MC. It was a very spiritual hip-hop night for me.”

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SAINt JHN Brings Unwavering Confidence To New York's Experimental Rap Sound

SAINt JHN’s amalgamation of primal energy and eager mosh pits at Rolling Loud are unmatched. A hazy sunset would’ve been a fitting pairing for his rage session, but his early set at New York’s Citi Field Saturday (Oct. 12) gets the job done. While a few curious eyes from VIP are studying the vibes, the trenches are full of fans screaming lyrics to “5,000 Singles,” "94 Bentley” and “Trap” (feat. Lill Baby)—all standouts from his sophomore project, Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs.

The diverse crowd isn’t a surprise to the Brooklyn artist. JHN’s musical ancestry has allowed his vines to branch out to artists like Usher, dvsn and Beyonce; all artists he’s earned co-writer credits for respectively. But then there are those who discovered him through Fortnite or his work on “Brown Skin Girl.” No matter how Ghetto Lenny crossed fans' path, he’s grateful listeners are making the pit stop.

“It's better than anything I could ask for, that’s what I wanted,” he tells VIBE. “I just wanted people to hear the sounds and fall in love and not overthink it. You get a 12-year-old and you'll get a 55-year-old standing next to each other in the audience. They’re from different eras of music but they’ll feel the same way.”

JHN calls his presence at New York’s first Rolling Loud “good timing” in light of his appearances across the traveling festival’s Miami, L.A. and Bay Area staples. But the moment feels kismet since JHN is one of the few surviving New York performers who were able to hit the stage.

Just 24 hours before the festival kicked off, fellow rising Brooklyn acts like Cassanova, Sheff G, 22Gz, and Pop Smoke as well as Bronx rapper Don Q were banned at the request of the NYPD because of their alleged affiliations to recent “acts of violence” citywide. While fellow NYC natives like A$AP Rocky, Desiigner, Jim Jones and Fat Joe took the stage, JHN was one of the few acts to represent New York’s new sound.

“Those artists come from the places I come from,” he said of the ban. “In instances like this, you have to separate the art from the incident. Clearly these artists come from different pasts—they talk about it in their music. But the point of the music is to transition out of that.” Many of the artists like Cassanova and Don Q spoke out against the NYPD’s influence in the festival.

"I’m at war with my past and the scars that they still leave on me every day," Cassanova said on Instagram. "I will continue to fight against biases and advocate for those facing this same issue."

“You have to give them the opportunity to tell their stories or you further entrap them,” JHN adds about the group of rappers. “They end up stuck in the same positions they’re trying to escape by making a concrete wall around their history.”

JHN’s history is a mix of the power of attraction and community. His early years comprised of creating the building blocks of his label GØDD COMPLEXx and his fashion line Christian Sex Club. While making his dreams a reality, the grind led him to genuine friendships with future superstars like Jidenna, Skrillex and Ski Mask The Slump God. Last year, JHN released his debut album Collection One paired with head-bashing shows across the country.

Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs takes his sound to the next level with melodic punches on tracks like “I Can Fvcking Tell” and the Lenny Kravitz-assisted “Borders.” With punk and rap flowing effortlessly from JHN, the artist can only attest his glowing confidence to the game of life.

“My journey is where I'm at right? It's the monopoly board of my life, and I'm making my rounds,” he says. Being confident grows every year. So me saying "too lit to be humble" [On “5,000 Singles”] that just means I'm not gonna call it nothing else, I'm just gonna tell what it is. This is who I am, fuck with it. If you don't like it, you can turn left. You can turn around if you want, but this is happening.”

On his collaboration with Lenny Kravitz, JHN looks back with a big smile and several words. “Iconic, outrageous, Ignorant. 3 o'clock in the morning of Paris,” he says. “Checkered floors. Space. Leather fixtures, Dark rooms. Lenny Kravitz. SAINt JHN. My nigga, I can tell you anything. I can tell you it smelled like cigars, whiskey, rum, and the Bahamas because in my mind, all that shit happened.”

But in all seriousness, the moment was an indication for JHN that his journey in music is paved with golden intentions.

“It was reinforcement,” he says. “The first time I worked with Usher, I learned that I belonged in the room. You know the first time you get invited into a room you have never been in and you almost feel like you lied your way in? The second time, you don't feel like you lied your way in.”

JHN's IGNORANt FOREVER Tour kicks off Nov. 11 in Miami with stops in Toronto, Los Angeles and New York. See the dates here.

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Shaquille O'Neal attends the 2019 NBA Awards at Barker Hangar on June 24, 2019 in Santa Monica, California.
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Shaquille O’Neal Buys Home For Mother Whose Son Was Shot And Paralyzed At Football Game

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“I was watching the story and it’s just sad,” O’Neal began. “It could have been any one of us. It could have been my son. It could’ve been your cousin and she was living in a one-bedroom house with her two boys so we found her a one-bedroom house in College Park.” Alongside a couple of board members from Papa John's (which O'Neal holds a significant stake in) and the Atlanta City Fire Department, Payton's mother, Allison Woods, will also receive assistance.

“I’m going to pay her rent for the year and I’m going to give her some furniture and it’s sad because her son is paralyzed from the chest down and no mother should have to go to that,” O’Neal said.

On Wednesday (Oct. 16), police arrested and charged a 15-year-old boy with aggravated assault linked to the shooting.

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Daniel Kaluuya attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California.
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Daniel Kaluuya To Produce Live-Action ‘Barney’ Movie

Daniel Kaluuya is taking a step away from in front of the cameras to stand on the other side of the lens. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Get Out star’s 59% company will produce a live-action film on the beloved children's television character Barney. The movie will be produced alongside Mattel Films.

“Barney was a ubiquitous figure in many of our childhoods, then he disappeared into the shadows, left misunderstood," Kaluuya said via statement. "We’re excited to explore this compelling modern-day hero and see if his message of ‘I love you, you love me’ can stand the test of time.”

Given this new take on the jolly purple dinosaur, Mattel Films’ executive Robbie Brenner believes audiences will appreciate a new approach to telling Barney’s story and “subvert expectations.” Brenner continued to state the film will not only resonate and entertain this generation’s youth but “the project will speak to the nostalgia of the brand in a way that will resonate with adults.”

In 1992, Barney & Friends premiered on PBS, launching a decades-long run (1992-2009) of kid-friendly programming. Sheryl Leach first came up with the concept of Barney when she desired programming crucial to the social development of her son. Along with a team that helped to shape the premise of the show and its characters (B.J., Baby Bop), Leach’s creation made its way to PBS’ developers and the rest is history. The show also produced resounding melodies like "I Love You" written by Lee Bernstein. The song was a staple to the end of most episodes and promoted the show's message of compassion, consideration, and optimism.

Kaluuya is gearing up for the release of Queen & Slim directed by Melina Matsoukas and co-starring Jodie Turner-Smith.

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