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Beyonce "The Metamophosis" (October 2002)

The Metamorphosis (Story by  Mimi Valdés)

 

As part of Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé Knowles became an icon and a sex symbol. Now, with her star in Austin Powers in Goldmember and a solo debut in the works, she’s ready to spread her wings. Mimi Valdes meets the real independent woman, who is turning into an artistic, soul-rocking, eclectic butterfly. 

Beyoncé lies twisted on the floor. It’s after midnight, and she’s finally back at London’s chic Sanderson Hotel after an explosive Destiny’s Child performance at Wembley Arena in front of more than 11,000 screaming fans. Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams have retreated to their rooms, eager to crash before another hectic day of interviews, a signing for their new book, Soul Survivors: The Official Autobiography of Destiny’s Child, and still one more sold-out show. But Miss Beyoncé Giselle Knowles, 21, has been talking about taking a yoga class for months. Her back and knees are hurting after the performance, and she thinks maybe some hard-core stretching will help. “Now move the buttock flesh over so you can be on your sit bones,” says Trevor Iszatt, a yoga teacher, as he guides her from a hamstring stretch into a half-lotus position.

They move through sun salutations and downward-facing dogs. Every time the instructor demonstrates a complicated maneuver, Beyoncé, dressed in a tank top and leggings with embroidered flowers on the seat, gives him a confused look, then assumes the position with an ease that surprises him. “You must have done this in a past life, love,” he says. “You’re quite flexible.” After doing a shoulder stand like a pro, Beyoncé lies on the floor in the corpse pose, which looks exactly how it sounds: relaxing flat on her back, palms turned upward, until the pressures of superstardom melt away. At the end of the hour-long session, she’s astounded by her calm state. “It’s like a self massage.” She whispers, sounding very sleep. “I needed to do that, for real.”

Leave it to a Virgo to ace her first yoga experience. It seems perfectionism and an uncanny ability to succeed characterize everything she does. Worldwide commercial success for her group, Destiny’s Child, with domestic and international sales of 30 million? Check. First Black woman to win an ASCAP Award for Songwriter of the Year? Check. In-demand actress, with star-vehicle Austin Powers in Goldmember grossing $71.5 million its first weekend? Checkmate. “She’s something like a phenomenon,” says Kim Burse, 34, director of A&R at Music World, who was instrumental in getting Destiny’s Child signed to Columbia in 1996. “Beyoncé has the ability to do a movie, do a group project, then come back and do her own thing or whatever she chooses,” says Erik Bradley, music director at WBBM, Chicago’s most listened to radio station. “She is a star of stars.”

 There’s something wrong with this picture, however. Between the strife generated by her group’s personnel changes and the reported allegation that her father and manager, Matthew Knowles, was using drugs and consorting with prostitutes, Beyoncé’s true personality has gotten lost in the storm. But as she prepares her yet-untitled solo debut album, due out next year, she’s looking forward to revealing more of herself as an individual. And though she’s excited, she’s also hella scared.

 Among other things, not having her girls by her side means no one has her back when she can’t remember lyrics or important names in interviews. “I already know that when I get nervous, I forget and blank out completely,” she says. “That’s the advantage of being in a group—where one person is weak, the other is strong.” This is more than evident backstage before the Wembley show, when British Sony executives present the troupe with a plaque recognizing Survivor’s triple-platinum sales in the U. K. When it’s time for the girls to say a few words, Beyoncé’s face is overcome by fright. Kelly graciously give thanks, easily rattling off an extremely long list of names, while Michelle crack jokes, to the delight of label employees.

 For Beyoncé, the experience is a vivid reminder that Destiny’s Child is, first and last, a partnership—even with Beyoncé’s upcoming album, Michelle’s Heart to Yours, and Kelly’s successful single with Nelly, “Dilemma.” “If nothing happens with our solo records, there’s always Destiny’s Child,” says Beyoncé. “And if something happens with our records, there’s still Destiny’s Child.”

Five albums deeps, the Houston-based trip is a pop force, and their longevity is due in no small part to Beyoncé’s approach to songwriting. Her lyrics deliver what she feels her young, mostly female listeners need and want to hear: words of wisdom about attain self-sufficiency, dropping deadbeat boyfriends, and turning the other cheek to vicious jealousy. With their girl-power outlook and blockbuster hits such as, “Bills, Bills, Bills” “Bootylicious,” and “Survivor” burning up the charts—Guinness World Records cites them as the girl group with the longest time at No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart (for “Independent Women Part 1”)—the group has attained superstar status. But at the end of the day, they’re not superhuman. “We make mistakes and don’t survive everything,” Beyoncé says matter-of-factly. “With my record, I want people to get a better feel for who I am.”

Indeed the girl is definitely more bohemian hippie chick than bootylicious diva. Don’t let the fabulous first name fool you. It’s simply her mom’s maiden name, and those close to Beyoncé just call her B. Even now, you’re likely to find her in a customized T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, laughing at some silly joke. Things like smelling fried chicken in the air while enjoying a drive around London’s ghetto neighborhoods make her smile. Even before she got the role of Foxxy Cleopatra in the Austin Powers movie, she made the decision to stop relaxing her hair and ease up on the make-up. However, the natural tresses can be overwhelming—she’s got a very full head of hair. “I wake up looking like a crack-head,” she says laughing. “I don’t’ know if I can keep it up.”

 Ever since she was a little girl, Beyoncé says, she always had a bit of gypsy in her; she loved all things creative, especial designing clothes and drawing. When she started filming Goldmember in Los Angeles in January, Beyoncé decided to revisit these interests and try paintings in oil. But when she got back from a trip to the art-supply store, she had to laugh. “I’m like, Well, what is wrong with me? Why I gotta go and get the big canvas and the hardest kind of paint?” she says. Still, she produced her first work, an abstract image of a woman with an Afro and since has completed several more. While she creates these images, she loves to listen to jazz, especially Miles Davis, whom she discovered only last year. Shuggie Otis is another recent music find, and even Aretha Franklin records have taken on new meaning for her. “I’ve always loved Aretha, but now I understand the lyrics to her songs,” she says. “I’m like, Now I feel you exactly, because that’s how I feel.”

Beyoncé is finding out things about herself she wishes she had learned years earlier. “Because I grew up in Houston, where the radio and culture are different, I missed out on a lot,” she says. Seeing the world especially living in Los Angeles while filming MTV’s Carmen” A Hip Hopera, opened her to new possibilities. Now she wants to master yoga, love in Jamaica, and learn to sing in Arabic. “All those things are beautiful to me, so wonderful,” says Beyoncé “And I just want to put all of that into my music.”

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Don Cheadle as Mo in 'Black Monday,' Episode 4 ("295")
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'Black Monday' Recap: Mo Feels The Weight Of Playing God

Another week, another dive into Black Monday. In this week's episode, “295,” Mo tries to salvage his plan to get the Georgina company’s shares after Blair and Tiffany Georgina’s surprise breakup in the previous episode threw a wrench in that plan. By the end of this week’s episode, Mo gets what he wants but it doesn’t go as planned. Don Cheadle told VIBE that Black Monday was “insane...in a good way,” and this episode shows just that, starting with Mo’s God complex.

Stop Trying To Be God

You need a certain cocktail of self-aggrandization and delusions of grandeur to walk around with a God complex. Mo has that cocktail coursing through his veins. The entire episode revolves around Mo’s attempt to control the actions of humans by placing them in certain situations he is sure will yield his desired results. Only someone blinded by their obsession with being right wouldn’t see having to fix a “foolproof” plan makes him a fool.

The writing expertly showed that when you play God your creation is your reflection, especially in the tense scene at Mo’s dining room table with Blair and Dawn. He turned Blair into a cocaine-addicted party animal to show him how empty life is without having someone you love. Then, in one scene, Dawn exposed how all Mo did was build Blair in his image without realizing that part of his plan was to inadvertently show Blair just how miserable Mo really lives.

Even ostensibly innocuous details carry a huge emotional weight thanks to Black Monday’s writing and Cheadle’s consistently engaging performance. The writers literally had Mo on the outside looking in at forces out of his control at the end of the episode when he’s looking into the bar. It’s at this climactic moment of the show that Mo realizes his own mortality by getting what he wants but missing out on what he knows he needs.

It’s also at this moment that the show’s most boring lead character grew into someone worth watching.

Blair Is Here

For the first three episodes, Blair was as interesting as paint on the wall; always in front of your face but in the back of your mind. Before a single character utters a word in this episode, Blair is chain-smoking cigarettes, snorting coke and dressed like a Saturday Night Fever extra. He died “for a song and a half” and was electroshocked back to life, all in the first minute of the new episode. Blair has finally joined the Black Monday party and the show is better for it.

Mo molding Blair into his image allowed Blair to tap into a new level of confidence.  Blair’s exchange with Dawn about the implicit racism and sexism in 1980s films like Teen Wolf was rewind-worthy hilarious and ends with Blair remarking, “My favorite line from the movie is, ‘I’m not a f*g, I’m a werewolf. Oh, Michael J,” easily one of the funniest 1980s critiques on a show full of them.

The episode also entangled Blair in the show’s first love triangle, ensuring that Blair’s character growth is probably not done. With Blair now being compelling, following Dawn and Keith’s character-defining performances in the previous episode, Black Monday has set up its four most accomplished actors to be able to carry entire story arcs without relying on each other. But, the Black Monday world got bigger than those four in this week’s episode.

The Wall Street Mythology

There’s not enough time in a 30-minute episode to flesh out every character’s backstory and fully formed personality. The most surprisingly funny part of episode “295” was the story arc of Jammer Group traders Keith and Yassir (Yassir Lester) trying to stop Wayne (Horatio Sanz) from completing a “The LaGuardia Spread”. The arc showed that Black Monday has an ingenious way of speeding up character development: mythologize Wall Street.

On Black Monday, “The LaGuardia Spread” is when a trader takes a huge position on a stock, goes to LaGuardia Airport and waits to see if they made a huge profit or debilitating loss. If you guess right, you come home. If you guess wrong, “you don’t come home ever. You get on a plane and you f**king disappear,” according to a frantic Keith. Wayne was nothing more than a bumbling joke punchline of a trader before this episode. In only a few minutes of screentime we find out Wayne slept with his wife’s sister, has some weird dislike for The Howard Stern Show’s weekly guest Jackie Martling, and is so money hungry that he’d be giddy at the news of a mad cows disease epidemic and it’s positive effect on his “LaGuardia Spread” trade.

A similar result happened before on Black Monday. In the series premiere, the Lehman twins (Ken Marino) laid out the Georgina Play, the foundation of Mo’s plans to get all the shares from the Georgina company from Blair after he marries Tiffany. That Wall Street myth led to their grandfather setting himself on fire. That myth also showed that at any moment any person you see on screen become valuable because of what they about know how this fictionalized world works. As long as Black Monday continues to use the inherent absurdity of Wall Street as a machine for character development, this show could begin entering the conversation for one of the best ensemble casts on television.

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Cardi B Says Jussie Smollett May Have "F**ked Up Black History Month"

Many people are split on the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett. The Empire actor claims he was attacked by two MAGA supporters in late-January, who doused him in an unidentified liquid while shouting racial and homophobic slurs at him.

Cardi B, who is often vocal about issues in society on her social media platforms, spoke out against the reports that Smollett potentially orchestrated the attack.

"I'm really disappointed in him," she said in an Instagram Live video. "I feel like he f**ked up Black History Month, bro. Like, damn. I'm not gonna say, yet. Until he say it out his mouth that it was fake and the sh*t was staged, I don't want to completely blame him, because somebody I was talking to they said police in Chicago are racists..."

She continues by stating that there's a possibility that the police may be trying to frame the actor, who maintains his innocence amidst damning reports. However, she said that it's "f**ked up" if he is indeed lying to the public.

"Then you gave Donald Trump immunity to f**kin' laugh at n***as and sh*t. Make mothaf**kas look bad," she concluded.

Watch her comments.

Cardi B gave her opinion on the Jussie Smollett case on Instagram live. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/6AYU7cT5nL

— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) February 18, 2019

Cardi B gave her opinion on the Jussie Smollett case on Instagram live. (2/2) pic.twitter.com/c9CdhEB3sN

— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) February 18, 2019

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Reports Emerge Claiming Jussie Smollett "Rehearsed" Alleged Attack

TMZ reports that Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who claimed in late-January that he was attacked by MAGA supporters, reportedly rehearsed the alleged assault with the two men involved. According to prosecutors, his alleged racial and homophobic attack will be headed to a grand jury next week.

Per the site, "Abel and Ola Osundairo told cops they got in a car with Jussie and scouted a location, settling on the one right outside the actor's apartment. The brothers said Jussie chose the spot because he believed a camera would have captured the action."

The sources close the the situation said that Jussie reportedly wanted to make the attack a "physical thing," but did not want to be seriously injured. While Jussie left the scene with just a scratch, the brothers- who are Nigerian, and not white- did not know they left a mark on him, as that's not what they had rehearsed.

"On the night Jussie says he was attacked, the brothers claim they showed up at the scene but were extremely nervous because, just as they played out the scene, a car drove by and they were worried they'd be ID'd," the site continues.

Smollett released a statement through representatives vehemently denying the allegations that he orchestrated the attack, maintaining his original story.

 

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