Sabi Sabi

VIXEN Boombox: Sabi Talks Working With Britney Spears, Admires 90's R&B Artists Aaliyah, TLC

If you haven’t already, grab a ticket to the nearest Britney concert near you and get hipped to the new wave singer that is Jenice Sab-bion Portlock, better known by her stage name, Sabi (Sa-bee).

One-half of former female rap duo, The Bangz, Sabi’s career has been one full of high-highs and low-lows. Proving she is a survivor as well as a hustler, Sabi has been moving from one opportunity to the next, proving to anyone who will listen that she’s here to stay. In an exclusive interview with VIBE Vixen, Sab-bion which means ‘wise’ in El-Salvadorian culture, opens up about the injury involving former band mate Ella Ann, her A-list collaborations and how she manages to stay in her lane, dodging skeptics who add her up to be a young version of Rihanna.

Peep the interview below of a young vixen in the making who truly embodies wisdom, but manages to still communicate in the language of the people.

Give me a brief history of your background, and tell the world who Sabi is.
Born and raised in Inglewood, CA. I’ve always loved music from as far back as I could remember. I decided to take it seriously when I was 17 and found a manager. Then, after working with different writers and producers, they introduced me to a group of producers called the Co-Stars, who put together a girl group called The Bangz. It was me and another girl, Ella Ann. I’m 23 now; I was 20 when I signed my first record deal with Warner Brothers/Asylum Records as a girl group. We did our thing as the girl group and got a little bit of record/radio play. She was injured and we decided to move on and try to keep the brand of the girl group going. So I just performed by myself as The Bangz, to keep our name going and did a year of that. Then I was picked up in a solo situation by Warner’s pop division. Ella is doing well by the way. She still has a long way to go, but right now, she’s focused on getting 100 percent better.

What exactly happened to Ella Ann?
Wrong place, wrong time, type of situation. She’s still learning to walk till this day. (Authors Note: Ella Ann was hit in the neck by a stray bullet back in 2009). So here I am today now on my solo project, working with producers like Benny Blanco and this new guy named Circuit. I did a bunch of features such as the New Boyz album Too Cool Too Care's “Tough Kids”, Cobra Starship's “You Make Me Feel," then Britney Spears' “(Drop Dead) Beautiful." I’m looking forward to doing more features soon. I’m working on doing my solo album at the same time, and yesterday I dropped a new song; it’s called “Wild Heart”. I dubbed it urban electro because the vibe is urban, but it has that dub-type feel. I’ve been on tour with Britney Spears, so the first seven shows of the tour, I was performing. That was on the West Coast and now we’re on the East Coast. I’m going to do six or seven more shows, then also a couple of more shows in Canada. That’s pretty much the deal, I go onstage and do my song with her, and I’ll be doing shows with Cobra Starship as well.

How did the collaboration with Britney happen?
So, I got the call to collaborate with Ms. Spears and they asked, “Do you want to do a song with Britney?” At first I was like, “Is this a joke? This is not funny,” and I went in and recorded my part, but I didn’t think it would be a song with her because we recorded separately. Then when I saw the actual album with my name on it, I thought “Okay, this is the real deal.” I heard she’s always looking for talent and keeps her eye on new things and I just happened to be a lucky draw.

You have a rap featured on “(Drop Dead) Beautiful." Is rapping something you’re trying to regularly integrate into your music career?
There will be rap in my album for sure. It’s funny because when Ella got hurt, The Bangz always had a rap element. Ella would rap and I would sing, but when she got hurt and we had to keep going, we wanted to keep that element in the songs. So while she was recuperating, I’d end up rapping her parts as well as singing on stage when we would do shows. Then while moving forward, they would ask, 'Can you rap on here?' So I would rap and keep singing, and one of the reasons why they wanted to sign me as a solo artist was because I could do both.  I consider myself a singer, but I rap sometimes when I feel like it.

Though The Bangz are no longer together, does the Jerk movement and music still influence your sound?
Yeah, I think the thing that I have still from the jerkin’ period is the urban rawness that I want to keep. I think everyone from the jerkin’ movement has evolved in some kind of way. Most of the artists are still doing all kinds of music. There’s a jerkin’ artist you can find that’s doing
more rock stuff, more pop stuff, so we all kind of branched off and evolved. But, I think we’re all trying to maintain that raw edginess.

Online, in the comments section of your videos on YouTube, I noticed a lot of people commenting on your sound, comparing you to a young version of Rihanna. How do you respond to that?
I don’t really respond to that. Everyone when they first come out is going to be compared to someone. So, I’m not even worried about it. In time I’ll show which lane I’m in and my lane is totally separate from that.

Who are some of the artists that influence your sound?
I remember falling in love with R&B when I was in middle school, Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah, TLC. Then I got into my No Doubt, Gwen Stefani days. Then I got into Outkast, and those are still people who I find inspiration from till this day, from style to everything.

What exactly does Aaliyah mean to you because you were cited in ZINK Magazine to have listed one of her albums as a specific album can listen to over and over without pausing?
It was Aaliyah’s self-titled album Aaliyah. I think it came out the first or second year I was in college, and I used to listen to it while I was walking to class every day. I think she was so graceful, beautiful and feminine. That’s why I loved her, and that’s why I love TLC because they were edgier and were a little more hardcore. I just liked one or the other, or I liked having different sectors of things. [Aaliyah] was the softer, feminine one that I loved, Gwen Stefani was the cool, funky girl and TLC was the rougher, funky group. I just loved watching her videos and her dancing; she was just the total package to me.

Her 10-year anniversary is coming up. Do you think she should be honored and her tribute will be up to par?
I definitely think she should be honored. Every artist, every person that’s gone should be honored, period. Aaliyah had so many fans, and she touched so many people. So they should do the honoring of her whether or not it’s up to par; they should just do it just for the sake of doing it.

Who are some of the artists you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
Andre 3000, Kanye West, Janelle Monae. I would love to just have a conversation with her. The Weeknd and Frank Ocean.

What has the help and assistance of your label Warner Brothers done for your career?
They helped [The Bangz] because when Ella Ann was injured, they didn’t drop us. When it happened, we thought immediately, 'This is the end.' But, they let us know, 'Hey, we’ll work with you guys. We’ll be here when she gets better, but let’s just keep the brand going.' They really worked with us. Then after that, they saw something in me and decided to move me forward which I am madly grateful for.

How has your experience been on tour with Brittney?
It’s been a learning experience. I’ve never performed for crowds that size before. So to do it on a regular, it’s like 'Wow!' So now I’m getting the hang of it, so when it’s my show, I’m not going to be like, 'Oh, this is so many people,' because I’ve already done it. I’m just watching how things operate on that level. I just learned a lot about things to do, anything from merchandising to ticket sales and the travel fees for all those people to come to each place and rebuild the stage everywhere. It’s just interesting to see how that works.

Have you seen Nicki Minaj since you’ve been on tour or had a chance to talk to her?
I’ve seen and met her a couple of times but not really converse with her. We see her all the time walking from where she’s about to go on or when she comes off or something. She’s dope though; her set is crazy! It’s very theatrical, and she kills it! Her energy is out of control!

Any other career ventures you’re interested in doing?
I tell people this all the time, but my first paycheck in entertainment was through commercials I did when I was 17, right before music started. Any form of performance that includes self-expression was always my love in the beginning, but acting was one of them. I tried doing that when I was younger. I did one for Universal Studios in the summer of 2007. I remember it aired because my mom and I taped it, it was really bad (quality) and very fast. (Laughs) Another one was for a Pepsi commercial online and the other one was an ABC Family promo. Both didn’t air but I still got paid.

When should we expect your debut album to surface?
We’re working on the singles now, but it should surface around the first quarter of the New Year. I really feel like it will be around that time.

To all those who don’t know Sabi and just becoming exposed to your music, why should they listen in the first place as well as continue to listen?
I think you should listen to my music if you feel it and you connect to it. So if you hear to my song and it reaches out to you, you should continue to listen to it because I plan to make more music that you will hopefully be able to identify with.

Interested? Check Out Sabi's Official Website: www.officialsabi.com

Photo Credit: Smallz + Raskind

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'Boomerang' Episode 7 Recap: Family Matters And Pride

Bryson and Simone are a thing, like for real for real. They can’t keep their hands (or tongues) off of one another. As the two of them get steamy in the jacuzzi, a sexually riled up Simone tells her new beau that she wants to treat his face like a bean bag. They are in it, y’all. There’s just one problem — they may be half-brother and sister (insert vomit emoji here). The excitement of finally landing the girl of his dreams is shut down when he reveals that his mother, Jacqueline, informed him that Marcus Graham may be his papa. (Wait. Does that mean Marcus cheated on Angela back in the day? Regardless, what a way to ruin a mood.)

As they wait for the DNA test results, Simone and Bryson still try to be business as usual, you know, chillin’ like they used to. Speaking of business, Bryson is all that. Ari may be his boy and all, but when it comes to directing Tia’s music video, Bryson wants an Italian dude to shoot it instead. He just doesn’t believe Ari can execute. All great directors have vision and through Bryson’s eyes, Ari has none. Simone can’t help but agree. It’s obvious that Tia and her bae are not at all pleased with the video production of her single. Bro gotsta go. Tia has never been one to hold back and in a fit of frustration, she does what Simone couldn’t verbalize; she fires Ari.

Like the “big bad boss” he is, Bryson harshly tells Ari that not only will he basically fail at being a producer, but people will notice that he doesn’t belong here. Hold up. Are we sure Bryson and Ari are friends? Tough love is understandable but to completely obliterate the dreams of someone you’ve been rocking with? That’s foul. Unlike Ari, Bryson knows that he was brought up with the keys and basically helped himself to whatever role he wanted in the industry, a luxury he can afford to extend. Why not help your friend out now even with a little guidance knowing his career aspirations?

Bryson may be able to but Simone is not willing to give up on Ari just yet. She lets Ari collaborate Bryson’s pick, Shayan, who is also seemingly having a hard time capturing dope shots. A conversation with Simone about perfecting his craft leaves Ari somewhat disappointed but open to the constructive criticism.

While enjoying the Atlanta Black Pride festivities, an old filing recognizes Ari and waves him down. In catching up, the discussion quickly takes a turn to sexual orientation labels with a judgemental tone and Ari is not having it. Sure, while he was with her, he liked women but sometimes he’d rather be with a man. “Bisexual,” “Gay,” call it whatever, he just likes who he likes, refuses to be put in a box, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What is not about to happen is him being judged by a woman with five kids and three baby favas. Yikes.

That frustration instantly births inspiration. Instead of dryly shooting Tia performing with Pride weekend just happening around her, Ari points out how the world needs to see all black people not caring about what anyone has to say about them, especially when the world includes women rocking $12 jewelry. Sashayers, milly-rockers, and twerkers galore, the video shines on the culture, highlighting Kings and Queens of all shades, ages, genders, and sexualities. It’s a good time. Even Bryson can give up his props and that lead director credit to Ari. You see, Bryson? You gotta have a little faith like David always has.

Speaking of our fave pastor, unlike many Baptist churches, it’s amazing to see that David embraces and participates in the Atlanta Black Pride weekend. With the help of Crystal, David is preaching a message of loving who you are and loving others. His sermon last week no doubt spoke to the soul but if you recall, Crystal did notice that a lovely lady attended the service moreso for David and less so for Jesus. That obviously triggered something. Crystal and David may not have been able to work out their marriage but the attraction is absolutely still there. Could it be one-sided though?

You didn’t think we forgot about Bryson and Simone, did you? It should be noted that for his entire life, all Bryson ever wanted was to be like Marcus Graham, but not like this. David is right: be careful what you pray for. No matter the outcome of the paternity test, Simone and Bryson will undoubtedly be in one another’s life (maybe less like Whitley and Dwayne and more like Denise and Theo).

Well, folks, the results are in (insert Maury voice). In the case of Bryson J. Broyer, Marcus, you are NOT the father! But, you may still have some ‘splaining to do. Now that they are officially not related, Simone can finally go ahead and have that seat. We know, sis has been tired all day. Ow!

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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.

Beyoncé

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

https://twitter.com/SassySouthpaw20/status/1106642402448732160

https://twitter.com/riridotxo/status/1106924628851728384

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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