Why You Should Pay Homage to Nicki Minaj + Amber Rose Why You Should Pay Homage to Nicki Minaj + Amber Rose

Paid Homage Talk T-Shirt Collections, Explain Why You Should Pay Homage to Nicki Minaj + Amber Rose

The three minds behind Paid Homage, a clothing line that represents the current state of pop culture and its icons, have trained their eyes on the winning possibilities of right now. My-Kel Monroe, McFresh and Fli Stylz have combined their creative capacities and individual skills to create a fashionable ode to the influential celebrities of sports, music and iconic artistries. VIBE Vixen found that, most recently, caramel crooner Chris Brownhas signed on to debut a FAME t-shirt collection, inspired by his latest LP F.A.M.E. You know what? We'll just let them tell you the rest... -Niki McGloster (@missjournalism)

VIBE VIXEN: How do you three come to know each other and start working together?

My-Kel: Me and McFresh met running my own online magazine [Persona Magazine], and we met through a mutual friend. We’ve been collaborating and doing stuff together since then. Fli Stylz came in toward the end ‘cause I met him through another friend. We all just clicked. The first day me and Fli met we were talking about doing some stuff together because he had a lot of celebrity access. He did creative direction and choreography for Usher and Chris Brown, worked with Michael Jackson, worked with Aaliyah, so it’s kind of like we’re a dream team. McFresh is dope as hell with designing so it all worked itself out.

It seems like your line is coming along well with the attention it’s getting. What made you come up that initial T-shirt line for Nicki Minaj?
Basically, I was really good friends with Amber Rose, and she had hooked me up with Nicki Minaj at the time. Nicki was just coming up; She wasn’t a megastar like she is now. About 2008, 2009. Right before her buzz got crazy.

Tell me about the designing part of the process.
McFresh: With Nicki, for a whole entire weekend, I just researched everything about her. I dug real deep into who she was as a person and built my whole proposal package for her. I did, probably, six to seven designs, but each one was represented something about her. We had the Harajuku panda, the tattoo that’s on her arm, we did a lot of things that she was representing in her music too.

Did you go to school for fashion and designing?
McFresh: Yeah, I actually have a degree in web design, and I was going back to get one in fashion merchandising. That’s where those two things tie in, but I pretty much do everything. That’s our strong point; I’m able to do everything in-house, so we don’t have to outsource the web or the fashion. We can keep it close-knit and everybody’s happy.

Where did the name for the line “Paid Homage” stem from? Obviously, it has a clear, literal meaning, but is there more to it?
The “Paid Homage” title came because me and McFresh were looking at the whole Nicki Minaj situation and how we missed out on it based on lawyers and a bunch of stickiness. Sometimes you can have a connection with an artist and the lawyers will mess the whole deal up, you know what I mean? As artistic people, we just want to go and work, and that’s how it naturally should be. So, I came up with “Paid Homage” because it speaks to youth culture about who we make celebrities. It’s like, at the end of the day, we have Internet celebrities. You have people like Amber Rose who became popular because her sense of fashion, the way she looks and her uniqueness. There are different people that you’re going to meet and see that you see everyday, like, on the blogs and all that. I just felt like it was fitting for the way society embraces people who have a unique way about themselves that speaks to everybody. Everybody likes or admires their sense of fashion or their attitude or how they carry themselves, so I wanted to have a brand that focuses just like that.

Why did you pay homage to Nicki Minaj?
My-Kel: Because she came up and transformed into this superstar. Same thing with a Amber Rose, a Lil Wayne, a Kanye West. We like them all for the value that they add to pop culture.

You’re talking about a lot of people that are huge in our culture currently, but do you have any plans to pay homage to older or past artists who paved the way for Nicki and Wayne and ‘Ye, etcetera?
: Yeah, we were actually talking about that, but that’s commonly done. Everybody does a Bob Marley shirt, everybody does a Tupac shirt, so we were trying to start with the people who are new and fresh now. Then, we can do Audrey Hepburn, Andy Warhol [and] those type of people. With Paid Homage, it’s an ongoing thing. Stars are created every day, so there’s always an opportunity to pay homage to someone.
My-Kel: We’re in an Internet world. Our core demographic, 15 to 35 [years old], are gawking after people they see every day right now, so we’re representing a new facet. We could do a Tupac and a Biggie shirt, but when you start paying homage and start noticing the people that are effective today and are getting booku hits on the Internet or whatever, it speaks directly to you. People are fanatics overnight because of the Internet, so we’re just speeding up the pace.

Chris Breezy & Nicki MinajDefinitely, and this digital era is a perfect time to make a line like this successful. What artists do you most want to pay homage to that you haven’t yet?

McFresh: Personally, we want to go with people like M.I.A. and Gaga because they’re really open and out there trying new things. I think that’d be another great avenue to take. Right now, we only have hip-hop artists, so I want to branch out and make sure we cover everybody.

My-Kel: Also, I want to start doing athletes that are just phenomenal.

Like, Derrick Rose!
All: Definitely! [Laughs]

[Laughs] Okay, so tell me a bit about this new line with Chris Brown and its direction.
The Chris Brown situation came about because Fli Stylz showed him a brand that I did called Collage, and Chris Brown went crazy over it. [Fli] was like, ’Why don’t you do something for Chris?’ So, I hit Fresh up, and Fresh always comes back with something that thee people are knocked onto the floor with. In less than 24 hours, we had a full layout, full concept broken down, stuff that really fit hit persona and he loved it. Loved it off the top! I made him some samples and he went to Australia, and on a video he was rocking that. There’s a Twitter link of him wearing the shirt, and we’re just going through the paperwork part to solidify the deal.

That’s going to be nuts! Chris Brown is a major stable in music culture right now.
The best thing about it is that he’s fully supportive of it. That just makes everything that happens from it even better, you know?

Exactly. It’s better than just putting artists’ faces on shirt without their input. What are your thoughts on the marriage between fashion and pop culture?
I think that’s the future. We live in a very fast-paced world and consumers want to be sold to. Right now, we’re in the age of instant everything. If a person knows that they can connect with their fan with something cool that fits their persona then it works. If you look on the twitter page where Breezy tweeted that picture, he didn’t even say anything about Paid Homage but he was wearing the shirt. The reaction to the shirt was authentic, and that was ever doper to me that people connected with that shirt off top. People were like, ‘Yo, where can I get that shirt,’ because if you can connect with your favorite star or whoever by what they’re wearing then you want to get into it. There are stars and people that put out stuff all the time, but it doesn’t necessarily connect with the fans. We’re actually seeing that the designs and the concepts and the ideas that we have are actually connecting with the fans of these artists. Even with Nicki, she saw what we did for her and loved it. Fresh has a very unique way of making things fit the aesthetic of that person to a T. Artists do 360 deals now that means merchandise, touring and your music, and you’ll make more money off your merchandise in the long haul. You have to give these consumers what they want, so pop culture and fashion is one and the same.

What do you feel, overall, about our culture and the direction we’re going in?
We’re going into a new generation. It’s all about good energy and working with your unit. It’s about teamwork , and I’ll collaborate with anybody. I’m open for whatever, and I’m into everything. There’s no reason why you can’t positively create with people. That’s the legacy I’m pushing towards; that’s the legacy I want to leave on my kids. It’s all about building pyramids with your people.
McFresh: Each person is necessary.

Check out more at PAIDHOMAGE.COM!


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Yvette Nicole Brown and Gabourey Sidibe were some of the actresses who were vocal about the treatment of actors of color when faced with beauticians in Hollywood.
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Celebrities Use #ActingWhileBlack Hashtag To Point Out Pitfalls Of Hollywood's Beauty Scene

While being a working person of color in Hollywood is something to admire, those fortunate enough to be working in these spaces often have difficulties finding the right person to do their hair and makeup with the right amount of diligent care.

Model Olivia Anakwe took to Instagram earlier this month to detail the issues she faced before a runway show, when she was disrespected by haircare professionals who refused to work on her textured hair.

"Black hairstylists are required to know how to do everyone’s hair, why does the same not apply to others?” she wrote. “It does not matter if you don’t specialize in afro hair, as a continuous learner in your field you should be open to what you have yet to accomplish; take a class."

The hashtag #ActingWhileBlack began to spread on social media over the weekend, and people of color chimed in to share their stories.

Actress Yvette Nicole Brown shared that she often carries her own hair extensions and clothes for shoots, and that having stylists who are untrained in black beauty often runs the risk of them looking bad later on. Oscar-nominee Gabourey Sidibe shared a similar sentiment.

Insecure’s Natasha Rothwell hit the nail on the head in her tweet about the issue with not hiring the right people to work with ethnic hair.

“If you cast a POC— And thank you for doing so!—you also have to hire someone who knows how to do ethnic hair,” she wrote on Mar. 11. “Not someone who's "comfortable with it" but someone who actually knows how to style ethnic hair types.”

Check out some tweets from celebs on this issue below.


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This message is to spread awareness & hopefully reach anyone in the hair field to expand their range of skills. Black models are still asking for just one hairstylist on every team no matter where your team is from to care for afro hair. I was asked to get out of an empty chair followed by having hairstylists blatantly turning their backs to me when I would walk up to them, to get my hair done. If I am asked to wear my natural hair to a show, the team should prepare the style just as they practice the look and demo for non-afro hair. I arrived backstage where they planned to do cornrows, but not one person on the team knew how to do them without admitting so. After one lady attempted and pulled my edges relentlessly, I stood up to find a model who could possibly do it. After asking two models and then the lead/only nail stylist, she was then taken away from her job to do my hair. This is not okay. This will never be okay. This needs to change. No matter how small your team is, make sure you have one person that is competent at doing afro texture hair care OR just hire a black hairstylist! Black hairstylists are required to know how to do everyone’s hair, why does the same not apply to others? It does not matter if you don’t specialize in afro hair, as a continuous learner in your field you should be open to what you have yet to accomplish; take a class. I was ignored, I was forgotten, and I felt that. Unfortunately I’m not alone, black models with afro texture hair continuously face these similar unfair and disheartening circumstances. It’s 2019, it’s time to do better. || #NaturalHair #ModelsofColor #BlackHairCare #HairCare #Message #Hair #Hairstyling #Backstage #BTS #AfroTexturedHair #Afro #POC #Braids #Message #Spreadtheword #Speak #Awareness #Growth #WorkingTogether #BlackGirlMagic #Melanin

A post shared by Olivia Anakwe (@olivia_anakwe) on Mar 7, 2019 at 9:07am PST

#ActingWhileBlack Makeup & Hair in one bag. The other bags are filled with clothes because some wardrobe stylists don’t know that cute clothes exist in sizes larger than size 10. “Here try on this mumu, I know it’s a little big, we’ll just belt it!” #ActingWhileBlackAndChubby https://t.co/gl3b64Omtj

— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) March 11, 2019

Most black actresses come to a new set w/ their hair done (me) or bring their wigs & clip-ins w/them. It’s either that or take a chance that you will look crazy on screen. Many of us also bring our own foundation. One too many times seeing no shade that matches you will learn ya! https://t.co/mGAzpuoKtb

— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) March 11, 2019

Most black actresses come to a new set w/ their hair done (me) or bring their wigs & clip-ins w/them. It’s either that or take a chance that you will look crazy on screen. Many of us also bring our own foundation. One too many times seeing no shade that matches you will learn ya! https://t.co/mGAzpuoKtb

— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) March 11, 2019

If they don’t have the budget to hire a black hairstylist for me, or won’t, I just get the director to agree that my character should have box braids or senegalese twist.

— Gabby Sidibe (@GabbySidibe) March 11, 2019

PSA: If you cast a POC— And thank you for doing so!—you also have to hire someone who knows how to do ethnic hair. Not someone who's "comfortable with it" but someone who actually knows how to style ethnic hair types.

Congratulations on advancing to the next level of inclusion! https://t.co/A1Q9ZpvXmH

— Natasha Rothwell (@natasharothwell) March 11, 2019

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Kim Kardashian is seen on February 7, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)

Kim Kardashian Credited For Making Crimped Hair Cool Like Beyonce, Janet Jackson And Naomi Campbell Don't Exist

Spring is nothing without doses of cultural appropriation from those out of touch with black culture.

Insert Vogue, who decided to give props to Kim Kardashian for bringing back crimped hair on Friday (March 15). The businesswoman has been on the move lately, rocking a mix of kanekalon and yaki ponytails during fashion month, Chance The Rapper's wedding and other Kardashian-related events.

“What makes this look so modern is that the front is sleek,” explained her stylist Justine Marjan. “This gives a cool contrast to the texture.”

The texture? 

With many trends from the aughts coming back to the mainstream, this is one that hasn't really gone anywhere. But black beauty markers (layered gold chains, perfect baby hairs, name chains) paired with media ignorance and the Kardashian's own fascination with black culture has made it okay for her to receive all the props.

But we can't forget those who have slayed kanekalon, yaki and crimped styles like...

Janet Jackson

The singer's look for her comeback has been a uniform-like one, with Ms. Jackson rocking all black and her now signature ponytail.


This. was. last. year. How could anyone forget this? The entertainer rocked various styles of kanekalon hair for Beychella.

There was also this amazing look at Serena Williams' wedding.


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A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on Nov 19, 2017 at 9:01am PST

Ruth E. Carter

The Oscar-winning designer made the look all her own while on the red carpet for Black Panther. 

Nicki Minaj

Fans of the rapper are aware her early looks included fun crimped and wavy styles. When she made to move to ditch her color wigs in 2014, she's kept the crimped styles close to her heart.

And we cannot forget about our queen, Naomi Campbell

She's owned the look her whole career, from the runway to the red carpet, Ms. Campbell has always been on the forefront of casual beautiful looks.

Social media also got wind of Vogue's post, including actor O'Shea Jackson who like many of us, is just over it.

Maaaaaaan come on now. Come ooooon now. Bringing it back? Vogue stop this https://t.co/FEGSw3GM9V

— Stone Cold Shea Jackson (@OsheaJacksonJr) March 15, 2019



Perhaps there's a bit of truth of the theories of fashion outlets trolling readers but this just deserves a permanent eye roll.

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'Boomerang' Episode 6 Recap: Homecoming

On this episode of BET’s Boomerang, the love story between Bryson and Simone begins with a flashback to their freshman year of college. After several years of not seeing one another since their childhood, Bryson is shocked to see a slick-back pony-tail wearing Simone insert herself into his class during a presentation. Nothing has changed with her. Even pre-bob and with Bryson rocking a sharp Steve Harvey-like hairline, even from their younger days, they have always been the dynamic duo of marketing strategy. The product featured this week: Pro-Black T-Shirts.

The devastation of not having his secret love in his life spills over into their sophomore year when a beanie-wearing David and Crystal are happy in their fake hood love. By this time, a rapper named Prisoner has all of Simone’s attention and this makes Bryson big mad. The man can’t even hide it. In an apparent fit of jealousy, he calls Simone out for living under her father’s shadow, in front of everyone. It’s safe to say that sophomore Bry struck out badly.

This isn’t just about Simone and Bryson; they’re not the only ones who’ve made transformations over the years (and I’m not just talking about their hair ‘dos). In his earlier life, Ari was less eccentric and more focused on making his family proud as a young black man in college who isn’t running on BPT for class. Ari was as straight as 180 when he’s first put into a situation where he’s forced to confront his sexual identity. As big and bad as he looked while working as a “rough & tough” bouncer at a nightclub, a flirtatious patron sees right through that persona.  After being charmed by the man who helps him realize self, the rainy night sets the tone for a steamy kiss between the two in the front seat of Ari’s car. The look on Ari’s face is a blend of fear, then relief, then ultimately bliss as he seemingly reminisces on his random but welcomed encounter. Although he enjoyed it, Ari didn’t seem to embrace his identity totally. That same year, we see a less hood-David changing more into the Christian we now know and Ari isn’t buying it. Something about this “we can do all things in Christ mentality” rubs him the wrong way. Facing one’s true self is tough.

Junior year, Bryson has a much better barber but things haven’t changed; he’s still checking for Simone. She and Prisoner are still dating if you want to call it that. Prisoner is the type of dude you’d expect to see Simone date in college. He’s flashy, has money, probably doesn’t even go to the school, and he’s rude AF. As Simone and Bryson reconnect for the two millionth time, Prisoner’s pimp tone telling Simone to hurry up is a strong indication he’s not here for their friendship. In analyzing the hair, it’s clear that Simone is not herself. Seriously, at this point, she’s rocking a glueless lace wig.

With her new hairstyle, she realizes that she made the mistake of loving a man more than herself. Prisoner is officially a dub. To celebrate her revelation, she finds herself drunkenly wining and grinding on her childhood bae, Bryson. Does this look familiar? Well, think back to last week when they were doing the same in the parking lot before 5-0 arrived. Because she couldn’t hold it, Simone ends up using Bryson’s bathroom which leads to a very sober thoughts-type of conversation in the bedroom. It is recognized that Bryson has always had a thing for the kid and Simone regrets that she never said anything about her feelings. His commandeering attitude (like the day she walked into his class freshman year) reminded her of the Different World “Strangers on a Plane” episode. It was an iconic one because it’s where Dwayne and Whitley’s love story began. That’s a telling comparison.

With that being said, Simone always felt Bryson was the Dwane to her Whitley. Unfortunately, the timing was always off and just when we think the two finally catch up to one another, cue: the vomit. Poor Bryson. Did someone do brujeria on this kid? He has the worst luck. But, like the gentleman he is, he takes care of his queen to make sure she’s all comfy in her drunken slumber. He whispers, “I love you Simone Graham,” but on the wake up it looks like sis suffers from sudden amnesia. She pulls the “best friend” card, making it clear that it’s friend zone from here on out. Prisoner’s trifling friend calls to offer to take Simone out to eat and in an act of “let me solidify that Bryson knows this is going nowhere,” Simone agrees to go out with her ex's friend. Once again, a blue-balled Bryson is left sorting out his feelings that Simone continues to perpetually confuse.

It’s important to note that the story of Brymone is not a new one. We’ve seen it in many action movies, comic book flicks, and on “Strangers on a Plane” where the geeky male character is overlooked by the badass female, only to win her affection in the end. Nice guys don’t always finish last, but in Bryson’s case, could it possibly be heading in that direction and is Simone even the heroine worth winning? In browsing through what is essentially the best years of any young adult’s life, Simone had many times to figure out if Bryson was the one for her and yet she chose to ignore her feelings. Unlike David, it’s not like she found Jesus; she hasn’t yet found herself.

One thing she does know is that she cannot lose Bryson because it’s possible she may love and need him more than she’d like to verbally admit. He’s no Prisoner or no flashy member of the entourage. He’s the “gentleman who wears tuxedos and makes sure his homegirl is safe” type of dude and unfortunately, that isn’t one Simone is interested in, for now.

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