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Sister Souljah Chats New Book, "Midnight And The Meaning Of Love"

VIBE caught up with Sister Souljah to get details about her new book, Midnight and the Meaning of Love, the sequel to her Coldest Winter Ever spinoff, Midnight a Gangster Love Story. Midnight and the Meaning of Love finds protagonist, Midnight, searching around the world for his wife Akemi, who was kidnapped by her own father in an attempt to keep the lovers apart. Midnight,  a highly skilled Ninja, will do anything to get back the love of his life but does that mean facing off with his own father in law?

Here, Souljah chats about the influences for what she calls a "global story," and why she doesn't like being considered a "street lit" writer. ⎯Starrene Rhett

Talk about Midnight and the Meaning of Love.

I would describe Midnight and the Meaning of Love as a global novel, which means that it’s a story that anyone, anywhere in the world can truly love be attracted to and understand, and it’s also a story that travels around the globe so it introduces a young Black cat living in Brooklyn, to Japan, Korea, and other cultures and languages, and in that sense it introduces the genre of literature that I write to people and places and traditions that they probably haven’t seen before in their literature.

What do you consider your genre of literature?

I consider it literature. It’s just that. It’s often categorized as urban literature but in The Meaning of Love, of course, it starts in Brooklyn, which is an urban area but as it travels the areas are suburban and also rural and so I don’t think it can be classified as urban literature and I don’t know why they came up with that classification anyway.

A lot of people credit you with starting the quote, unquote, street lit movement. How do you feel about that?

I think it’s literature. I went to college and graduated from college and was always a good student, and I know what the components of literature are and I know that what I write is quality literature, so I don’t know why they want to come up with another term, especially a term like street literature, because what does that mean?

This book does have a lot of unique elements, like with the Brooklyn guy who is a ninja who ends up traveling the world, like you said. What was your inspiration for such diverse elements?

I like to be challenged and I like to be introduced to new things and as a writer, in order for me to continue to write quality stories and do great story telling, I have to also be inspired so I went into it seriously where not only am I going into it to teach something to the readers but I had to learn them myself. So it wasn’t like I knew it all, it was a whole learning process that I went through.

Speaking of learning, what was your research process?

My research in regards to Japan⎯I felt like if I was going to write Japanese characters and families and neighborhoods, I needed to be familiar with not only the country but also the culture and I needed to be familiar with it in a way where I wasn’t like the standard tourist that goes to any great country. I wanted to move into the neighborhood where other people live⎯not just a place that was a bunch of hotels⎯I wanted to shop at the supermarkets that people shop at and become part of the lifestyle. So I got an apartment in Tokyo and I stayed there over a three-year period, back and froth from Tokyo to China, Korea and the United States.

So you just dove into unchartered territory. That must have been scary.

It was really great because it was unfamiliar so that made it great. Anytime you experience something fresh and new you’re gonna learn a lot, you’re gonna see a lot, you’re gonna be hungry to see more and learn more, so it was a great experience for me and my family, and we learned a lot about the culture and the people and the traditions and the lifestyle.

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A potential Sept. 13 concert at New Jersey’s Prudential Center was added to the venue's website and later deleted. The site listed Brown as the marquee act, while Minaj was a featured performer.

Besides going on tour together, Minaj makes an appearance on Brown’s newly released single “Wobble Up,” which also features G-Eazy. The track is the latest music collaboration from Brown and Minaj who have worked together a few times over the years.

News of the joint tour comes a day after it was reported that Minaj parted ways with her longtime management team. The “Gonja Burns” rapper was originally billed to hit the road with Future for the North American leg of her Queen tour but the jaunt was cancelled due to scheduling conflicts. The Queens native recently finished up her European tour with Juice WRLD as her special guest.

Last Sunday, Minaj took the stage as a surprise guest for week one of Ariana Grande’s headlining set at the 2019 Coachella Valley Music Festival. It’s unclear if she will hit the stage when Grande returns to perform for week two of Coachella on April 21.

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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.
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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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