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Mashonda Interviews Olivia Longott

Coming into the world by way of Jamaican/Cuban parents, you have no choice but to accept the fact that you are a soul survivor. Couple that with an upbringing split between Brooklyn and Queens and what do you get? A woman that is not afraid to voice her opinion and refuses to give up on her dreams.

I met Olivia Longott in 2000 at a J Records event. At the time she was my label mate and I wanted to attend to support her. When she took the mic I was blown away by the voice that came out of this young woman’s small frame. Olivia went on to earning a #15 spot on the Billboard 200 charts with her debut single “ Bizounce.” After her success, I sadly witnessed Olivia deal with a test that most artist face -The “Don’t Give Up Test." Through the years I was able to relate to Olivia and I felt that our musical stories and frustrations were somewhat similar. I always hoped that Liv, as I call her, would pass the test.

Recently I was able to sit with Olivia one-on-one after almost 10 years. Revealed was a very passionate, caring, and focused woman. After our conversation, I am pleased to announce that Ms. Longott hasn’t given up.

When did you decide to be an artist and how old were you when you landed your first record deal?
I knew I wanted to be an artist ever since I was a little girl growing up singing in the church. I also took piano lessons at 8 years old so I was always a bit musically inclined [Laughs]. I got my first deal when I was 17 when I signed to Clive Davis as the first artist on J Records.

How was your experience working with music mogul, Clive Davis?
My experience at J Records was a learning experience. With Clive Davis being one of the great musical minds of our time, I learned a lot. Unfortunately my time there was cut short by the politics of the industry and me not actually taking my career into my own hands. I was very young and left some decisions up to people who may not have had my best interest at heart, but snakes always reveal themselves when the grass is cut.

How was the transition to being the first lady of G-Unit?
From J Records I immediately took a deal with Interscope Records that later led to my G-Unit situation. The transition to the Unit was pretty smooth. 50 [Cent] and Jimmy Io-vine both made me feel comfortable. At that time 50 was music’s golden child so I felt it was a great situation.

Did you find yourself arguing for creative control at G-Unit?
The problem was with me being an R&B solo artist placed into a group of rappers. I lost my identity. I know 50 had my best interest at heart but it became a marketing struggle. It became more and more difficult for me to be Olivia and not ol’ girl from the Unit. That was the problem.

What was the lowest point for you in your career, did you ever feel like giving up?
I would have to say the lowest point of my career was when Funk Master Flex went in on me for a whole summer. I never understood the motivation for such hostility towards me. Being from NY and my family being from NY, we had to listen to Hot.97 and hear that. That’s part of why I went overseas, to get away from all of that negativity. I just had to go away and reflect on what I was doing, who I was, and find faith. After reflection I decided that I wasn’t going to give up and let my God-given talent go to waste because I felt nobody believed in me. I had to make them believe.

How did you find strength to carry on?
When I came back home, I regrouped and decided I needed to continue doing what I loved to and not let the negativity consume me. It’s been a difficult road back, but what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

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How were you approached and what was the number one reason you did Love and Hip-Hop?
As for Love and Hip-Hop, Mona Scott-Young approached me about that. It was originally supposed to be me, you, Chrissy Lampkin and Misa Hylton. From that I thought wow what a dope cast of strong black women; we can be the urban Sex and the City or newGirlfriends. In speaking to my manager we thought it would be a great way for people to get to know me. People never really knew me. I was the little girl at J Records and then the girl with the guys at the Unit. I never really got to be me so this was a platform for that. As long as my music was showcased on the show, I was okay with putting my life in front of the camera. Music is a big part of my day-to-day and anything else wouldn’t be a true representation or portrayal of my life.

Did you think the show would be filled with so many intense arguments between the cast members? Do you think you are being portrayed the way you wanted to be?
There seems to be a lot of arguments but the reality is we knew what we were getting ourselves into. Am I upset about some things? Absolutely, but in the end I think the platform was something I needed. I think we all need to take advantage of the platform we have been given and maybe take our dreams and aspirations to the next level.

Out of the eight episodes that we saw, which one disturbs you the most?
Only the first three episodes had me really annoyed. I won’t drag this out like the show did but lying about a guy is crazy and there is no need for it. I’ve never had a problem in the guy department whether high profile or normal. I don’t need a “look." I have no clue what the motives were in that episode and I don’t even care so with that we are moving right along [Laughs].

What’s trickier: Dating a rapper or an athlete? Why?
Both are pretty tricky but then we have to keep in mind a guy is going to be a guy no matter who he is. You have to be super secure in yourself to date either and put up with a lot of mess, more than what one person should have to. In the end you should be with someone who treats you good, loves and cherishes the time you are together. If you don’t get that then move on asap cause he is more than likely doing some nonsense he has no business doing

Tell me about your record “December.” It’s so beautiful and passionate. Is it about Darrelle Revis?
I loved that song from day one. My manager Rich brought the record to me and said Ed Woods had sent it for me from his writers/producers the Awweyeaz. I took a listen and loved it. The funny thing is the record was cut last year before we even knew about the Darrelle fiasco so I can honestly say it wasn’t about him. The record touches home with everyone. Nine out of ten times a guy will tell you what you want to hear and then tell the neighbor the same thing and in the process deny you for personal gain. December is just the month we chose but this happens all year.

Season two of Love and Hip-Hop?
I think I’ve learned a lot from this past season, but my story isn’t fully told yet so with that I would definitely have that added incentive to close out some loose ends and story lines.

What’s next for Olivia?
Giving the world great music. Finally getting a chance to do it my way and hopefully some brand marketing. Be on the look out for some brand marketing stuff from me. I would also love to get into acting. I did a few things and we are hoping that it translates into some feature film opportunities.

 

 

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Andrea Kelly Says She's Been Attacked For Calling Out R. Kelly's Behavior

Andrea Kelly has found it hard to march for women as they continue to support her polarizing ex-husband, R. Kelly.

The former choreographer shared her sentiments on an upcoming episode of Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta shared on Entertainment Tonight. Speaking with close friend Debra Antney, Kelly tearfully expressed her frustrations with her ex-husband and praised Antey for sticking by her side.

The former couple was previously in a child support battle for their children Joann, 21, Jay, 19, and Robert, 17. During the time of filming, Kelly owed $161,000 in back child support to his ex. In May, it was reportedly paid off by a mysterious donor.

"When I think about the ways that I have been abused by Robert, from being hogtied, having both of my shoulders dislocated, to being slapped, pushed, having things thrown as me, the sexual abuse, the mental abuse, words can't even describe," she said.

In addition to the child support case, Kelly was charged with 11 felony counts of sexual assault. He's pleaded not guilty despite reported evidence of videotapes that reportedly show the entertainer engaging in sexual acts with minors. Andrea tells Antey how difficult the process has been for her since speaking out about Kelly's behavior in the Lifetime docu-series, Surviving R. Kelly. 

"Here I am, putting myself in a position because I want to help women, and they are attacking me," she said. "There's some things that I don't even speak anymore, that I feel like, once you give it to God, you better leave with God, because if I don't leave it with God, I'm definitely going to be somewhere with my hands on the glass, visiting my children every other Sunday."

Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on WEtv.

Watch the clip here.

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Courtesy of Baby Tress

Baby Tress' Edge Styler Ensures Women Of Color Will Always Shake The Beauty Table

"Do you have edge control in here?"

It's an inquiry my niece asked me over the weekend as we got ready for our cousin's graduation. Atlanta's heat is friendly but mixed with nimbus clouds, frizz (and thunderstorms) are on the horizon. Given the circumstances, a high bun seems to be the best choice for me and my niece, a slick-back style with extra attention to our baby hairs. It's typical for either one of us to grab a toothbrush to slick and swoop our edges with pomade or gel, but with The Baby Tress Edge Styler, the process is easier and equally as stylish.

Created by boutique communications agency Mama Tress, the styler is everything baby hair dreams are made of. It's also a testament to the rise of the "style" in popular hair culture. With a dual comb and brush top, its pointed tip elevates a consumer to baby hair connoisseur.

But the styler isn't something created to appropriate black culture or piggyback on what boosts the most likes on social media. The handy styler was created by Mama Tress CEO Hannah Choi and her team consisting of other women of color like public relations coordinator Mariamu "Mimi" Sillah. The New York native tells VIBE Vixen the styler was made as a gift for an event they hosted but its intentions to propel black hair were always present.

"We try to make it clear that this is for women of color. Because we all understand the history of baby hair, we all have connections, we all have stories, we all do it differently, some people swoop it; if you see some of my coworkers they do the swirls," she said. "This is a product that we want everyone to see and think, 'I don't need to be using a toothbrush. I deserve more than a toothbrush.' This is a tool made thoughtfully with women of color in mind and we are women of color who came up with the idea because we know what we need."

Coming in six different colors, the styler's bristles are stronger than a typical toothbrush and give anyone's edges a look all their own. Over the years, styled baby hairs have gotten the white-washed celeb treatment. From the runways of New York Fashion Week to fans of black culture like Kim Kardashian, its recent love affair among popular culture crosses out its rich roots.

Many have attributed the actual rise of baby hairs to the '70s with pioneers like LaToya Jackson and Sylvia Robinson of CEO Sugar Hill Records sporting their luxurious edges with Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas being the all-time queen. Recent entertainers like Ella Mai and FKA twigs have made them fun and creative. There are also the many Latinx and black around the way queens who have kept the culture alive.

 

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A post shared by Ebony Brown (@wildcatebonybrown) on Jun 3, 2019 at 1:31pm PDT

“Our tool is more than a beauty product, it’s a conversation starter," Choi, who is of Korean descent, previously told fashion site Beauty Independent. "There are nuances of someone’s world that you won’t see if you’re not part of that community. And we felt that the conversation around why this market is so underserved should be brought to light and talked about. We are seeing such a big change now in fashion and beauty in terms of representation, and we want to be able to have that conversation without it being heavy. We want it to be approachable. Our brand is very approachable.”

When it comes to moving in the black hair space, Sillah feels empowered at Mama Tress. It also makes it easy to develop black hair tools like the styler. "I feel like my voice is listened to because I am a consumer of all these things. It's empowering to be in a position to have more control," she said. "If we're being honest, a lot of the black hair spaces are not owned by people who look like us. To be in a position where I can say "No, don't create this product, we don't wear things like this,' or 'Actually you should name it this because this resonates with this community,' I'm an advocate for my community. That's part of the reason why Baby Tress was created because it's about a larger conversation, about things not being thoughtfully made for us."

Baby Tress' next steps are to make the styler accessible to consumers and create even more products dedicated to black women.

“We need to be in retail spaces because this is a product you need to see up close and touch it and play with it,” said Shannon Kennard, account executive at Mama Tress tells Glossy. “Everyone who tries it falls in love with it.”

Sillah is more than ready for women of color to elevate their beauty regimen, one creation at a time. The future of Baby Tress includes an array of more products designed with women of color in mind.

"Anything that has to do with baby hair, we can bring to Baby Tress and make it beautifully designed and effective," she said.  "That's what this is about. It's about that step up. Again, we should not be using a toothbrush anymore."

Learn more about Baby Tress here.

 

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Beyonce Readies New Line And Serves As Muse For 'Lion King' Makeup Collection

Beyonce is keeping her fans quite busy this week. Yesterday (June 4), the latest trailer for the forthcoming The Lion King live action film gave the masses a first listen of Beyonce as the voice of Nala. To add on to the Disney film's energy, Beyonce's longtime makeup artist Sir John has revealed a special Lion King makeup partnership.

According to The Cut, Disney's Sir John x Luminess Lion King Limited Edition Collection includes "a 6-shade sculpting palette, a 12-shade eyeshadow palette, two matte lipsticks, two liquid lipsticks, a tinted lip balm, and a highlighter." Neutrals, pinks and shimmer jewel tones are all named after characters and other movie references, with various women (including Beyonce) modeling the new work.

 

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From day to night, statement or muted.. I love that there’s so many different looks you can create with this 8 piece collection 🙌🏽 I’ll be posting a few tutorials this month to show you guys some really cool things you can do with these products. & be sure to check out #TheLionKing in theaters July 19!  #DisneyLionKing #SirJohn #LuminessCosmetics

A post shared by S I R J O H N (@sirjohnofficial) on Jun 2, 2019 at 3:05pm PDT

 

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No filters needed ⚠️ Can’t Wait To Be Queen Eyeshadow Palette working that good light 👑✨ #TheLionKingCollectionbySirJohnXLuminess #SirJohn #LuminessCosmetics

A post shared by S I R J O H N (@sirjohnofficial) on Jun 4, 2019 at 9:18am PDT

While that was happening, Bey also caused a stir amongst the BeyHive with the announcement of her own forthcoming merch line. The "BeyHive" range officially hits her website on June 11, right in time for all the summertime functions.

Beyoncé's new "beyhive" range has been sent to several members of the BeyHive is promotion of her new merch line, launching June 11. https://t.co/zIkzJ9B8Qq pic.twitter.com/Ql9yWXKNDR

— BEYONCÉ HUB (@theyoncehub) June 5, 2019

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