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Ledisi Speaks On 'Pieces Of Me' And Her Time Away From Recording

She last left us with her '09 funky record Turn Me Loose and now she's back for a re-introduction, coming naked to the public eye as she reveals the "pieces" of herself. New Orleans' R&B/Jazz singer Ledisi talks to VIBE Vixen about her fifth album Pieces of Me. In the brief conversation, Ledisi explains her two year hiatus from the studio, the inspirational events that sparked Pieces of Me, as well an in-depth insight on featured songs on the album. -Shabazz


You’ve been away for quite some time, you usually come out with back-to-back albums. What’s the reason for your two year hiatus?
It took me eight months to really get into the writing process and it took me and my executive producer Rex Rideout eight months to battle it out about what direction to go. He’s always been there, but now I wanted him to be seen for what he does for me. He’s like a thread that keeps everything attached together. And this time he said, “What is Ledisi radio?” “What do you wanna do?” “What do you wanna express?”  “People know you but they don’t know who you are, we need to see that part, we need to hear it, we need that, it has to be consistent.” So we were battling out about, well "I don’t wanna do this and I don’t wanna do that," and he’s like “Show it you need to show that part.” And it built my confidence up. And that’s what took so long, just building my confidence up to really deal with the fullness of being a woman and showing those sides, despite what others might think, I’m very shy and now I’ve had to show all that and it feels good, it feels really good revealing all these things.

It's apparent that you experience a self transformation for the better. What are we going to see different on this project versus your previous project?
I’ve been on a wonderful journey, it hasn’t been anything negative. I was able to perform for Black Girls Rock and I’ve performed with wonderful women, Jill Scott, Marsha Ambrosius, and Kelly Price and that was a big turning point in my career and I got to see myself in a certain way on television and then to be at the White House singing for the Motown Tribute and then again working with Michelle Obama for a mentoring program for women. All of that plus all the other philanthropy and coming into my own walk being Ledisi, accepting Ledisi fully, being my complete self as a woman has really helped me gain a certain confidence that didn’t have before. And that’s what you’re going to hear on this project, I’m not gonna be talking about the grinding of being a singer or sad songs about wanting certain love. I feel love, I feel confident, I feel good, I feel like I can say whatever I wanna say and not think about it twice. It’s just what it is, it’s all happy, you’re gonna hear me sing a duet with Jaheim and sing a song about a relationship still sustaining. You’re gonna hear a lot of things that we all need to hear as women and as men. It’s gonna be great. I feel it’s gonna be great. I’m exuding that energy of power. I love it.

The “Pieces of Me” single praises and vouches for women. We had “Pretty Girl Rock” by Keri Hilson and Beyoncé with "Run The World (Girls)". Can we expect any upbeat, funky women anthems on your upcoming record?
In a different kind of way. Like there’s a song called “Hate Me, Hate That You Love Me”  about how so fly this woman is, that this man is chasing her and there’s a thin line between love and hate, like he’s getting disgusted, but he loves her so much. She knows it and she expresses that. Usually a guy would say that, but it’s nice to hear a woman say that. It has that kind of energy. There are women out there that do that, but we don’t celebrate them either. There’s a song called “I Gotta Get To You” that I wrote with Ivan & Carvin and mind you that other song I wrote with Rex Rideout and he’s the one that pushed me to express that more dominant side. “I Gotta Get To You” is about this urgency to get home to get to the person I love or John Legend wrote a song called “I Miss You Now” about this relationship going through this argument but now she’s like you’re gone and I need you to come back. And we had this big argument, but even your mama is like “what’s going on, bring your butt home,” it’s a lot of women oriented things on there but in a different way. And then you got to the song “Shut Up Sometime,” you know when someone tells us we’re not going to be anything and that’s how I felt, like wow the people that told me I’m not gonna be anything or you’ll never get this, I do wanna say shut up sometime, so why not write a song for that. Shut up. [laughs] And then it’ll be spiritual,  I’ll write a song with Salaam Remi called “Be Good To Yourself” and I tweeted that one day, and he said “wow, what’s the thing about that” and yeah sometimes we don’t listen to what we already know. We need to be good to ourselves, we need to analyze ourselves and take time for ourselves and as women we try to run with everything, we can do 50 million things and then forget about ourselves, yeah I need to talk about those things. So it’s all celebrated in a different way and they’re all me. That’s who I am.

Your album cover is your face as a puzzle. If something was taken away from that puzzle to destroy it, what would it be?
The root of it for me is my faith. Having faith and that’s a confidence builder for me. That’s my light. My faith, my family, and my friends. Those are the big things. Music is everything, but not everything. If that makes any sense at all. If I don’t have that faith or that foundation to keep me together I couldn’t do what I do. The faith, family, and friends, the 3 F’s, I need those and if I didn’t have those that would definitely destroy my puzzle. You wouldn’t hear the music at all [laughs].

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Don't expect the video to be any sort of conscious offering—it gets a little weird when he's hanging from a tree—but if you need a chuckle-inducing break from a stressful day, let a dancing, old cloth-wearing YG be your relief.

As you wait for the fast-approaching release of his album, now due on May 3, watch the video for "Stop Snitchin" up top.

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Lil Uzi Vert Returns With "That's A Rack" Music Video: Watch

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Beyoncé performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018 in Indio, California.
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Coachella

Homecoming: The 5 Best Moments Of Beyoncé’s Documentary

Once Beyoncé became the first African-American woman to headline in its nearly 20-year history, we knew Coachella would never the same. To mark the superstar’s historic moment, the 2018 music and arts festival was appropriately dubbed #Beychella and fans went into a frenzy on social media as her illustrious performance was live-streamed by thousands. (Remember when fans recreated her choreographed number to O.T. Genasis’ “Everybody Mad”?)

With a legion of dancers, singers and musicians adorned with gorgeous costumes showcasing custom-made crests, the singer’s whirlwind performance honored black Greek letter organizations, Egyptian queen Nefertiti, and paid homage to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Aside from the essence of black musical subgenres like Houston’s chopped and screwed and Washington D.C.’s go-go music, the entertainer performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as “The Black National Anthem,” and implemented a dancehall number, sampling the legendary Jamaican DJ and singer, Sister Nancy, to show off the versatility of black culture.

One year after #Beychella’s historic set, the insightful concert film, Homecoming, began streaming on Netflix and unveiled the rigorous months of planning that went into the iconic event. The 2-hour 17-minute documentary highlights Beyoncé’s enviable work ethic and dedication to her craft, proving why this performance will be cemented in popular culture forever. Here are the best moments from Beyoncé’s Homecoming documentary.

The Intentional Blackness

“Instead of me bringing out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella.”

Throughout the documentary, Beyoncé made it known that everything and everyone included in the creative process leading up to the annual festival was deliberately chosen. “I personally selected each dancer, every light, the material on the steps, the height of the pyramid, the shape of the pyramid,” says Beyoncé. “Every tiny detail had an intention.” When speaking on black people as a collective the entertainer notes, “The swag is limitless.” Perhaps the most beautiful moments in Homecoming are the shots that focus on the uniqueness of black hair and its versatility. What’s appreciated above all is the singer’s commitment to celebrating the various facets of blackness and detailing why black culture needs to be celebrated on a global scale.

Beyoncé’s Love And Respect For HBCUs

#Beychella — which spanned two consecutive weekends of Coachella’s annual festival — was inspired by elements of HBCU homecomings, so it was no surprise when the singer revealed she always wanted to attend one. “I grew up in Houston, Texas visiting Prairie View. We rehearsed at TSU [Texas Southern University] for many years in Third Ward, and I always dreamed of going to an HBCU. My college was Destiny's Child. My college was traveling around the world and life was my teacher.” Brief vignettes in the film showcased marching bands, drumlines and the majorettes from notable HBCUs that comprise of the black homecoming experience. In the concert flick, one of the dancers affectionately states, “Homecoming for an HBCU is the Super Bowl. It is the Coachella.” However, beyond the outfits that sport a direct resemblance to Greek organizations, Beyoncé communicated an important message that remains a focal point in the film: “There is something incredibly important about the HBCU experience that must be celebrated and protected.”

The Familiar Faces

Despite being joined by hundreds of dancers, musicians and singers on-stage, the entertainer was joined by some familiar faces to share the monumental moment with her. While making a minor appearance in the documentary, her husband and rapper/mogul Jay-Z came out to perform “Deja Vu” with his wife. Next, fans were blessed by the best trio to ever do it as Kelly and Michelle joined the singer with renditions of their hit singles including “Say My Name,” “Soldier,” and more. On top of this star-studded list, Solange Knowles graced the “Beychella” stage and playfully danced with her older sister to the infectious “Get Me Bodied.”

Her Balance Of Being A Mother And A Star

Originally slated to headline the annual festival in 2017, the singer notes that she “got pregnant unexpectedly...and it ended up being twins.” Suffering from preeclampsia, high blood pressure, toxemia and undergoing an emergency C-section, the entertainer candidly details how difficult it was adjusting post-partum and how she had to reconnect with her body after experiencing a traumatizing delivery. “In the beginning, it was so many muscle spasms. Just, internally, my body was not connected. My body was not there.” Rehearsing for a total of 8 months, the singer sacrificed quality time with her children in order to nail the technical elements that came with the preparation for her Coachella set. “I’m limiting myself to no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol … and I’m hungry.” Somehow, throughout all of this, she still had to be a mom. “My mind wanted to be with my children,” she says. Perhaps one of the most admirable moments in the film was witnessing Beyoncé’s dedication to her family but also to her craft.

The Wise Words From Black Visionaries

Homecoming opens with a quote from the late, Maya Angelou stating, “If you surrender to the air, you can ride it.” The film includes rich and prophetic quotes from the likes of Alice Walker, Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, and notable Black thinkers, reaffirming Beyoncé’s decision to highlight black culture. The quotes speak to her womanhood and the entertainer’s undeniable strength as a black woman.

Blue Ivy’s Cuteness

Last, but certainly not least, Blue Ivy‘s appearance in the concert film is nothing short of precious. One of the special moments in the documentary zeroes in on the 7-year-old singing to a group of people whilst Beyoncé sweetly feeds the lyrics into her ears. After finishing, Blue says: “I wanna do that again” with Beyoncé replying with “You wanna be like mommy, huh?” Seen throughout Homecoming rehearsing and mirroring Beyoncé’s moves, Blue just might follow in her mother’s footsteps as she gets older.

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