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Red Cafe Talks Debut Album, His Best Gift, and Working With Diddy

After years of label mishaps and several critically acclaimed mixtapes, it’s finally time for Red Cafe to have his moment for life. Releasing his debut album Shakedown next February, Cafe took time out of his busy schedule to sit down with VIBE.com to discuss some of his musical inspirations, what sets him apart from some of Bad Boy’s fallen artists and what we should expect from his upcoming album.--Brittny Pierre

 

VIBE: Can you give VIBE readers some reasons why they should check out Shakedown?
Red Cafe: My music is honest. That’s the most important thing to me when it comes to making records, when it comes from life experiences or when I watch things my family members or close friends experienced. I make great music as well, timeless msuic. Those are the things I hope for when I go into the studio. If I want to go for a feel good record for Friday after you’ve had a long week and you want to go and let your hair down, I make those records as well. I would definitely say for the readers, I make timeless records you’ll be able to love it today and grow with it and still love it. You'll gain a lot of inspiration from it. I’m always inspired by a lot of different artists and I try to always remain a fan. I don’t only want to get caught up on myself so I get inspirations from other places. There are a lot of things that I have experienced and I put into the music.
 
Who are you a fan of today that’s inspiring your music?
I like Andre 3000, I like Drake. Drake’s music is the truth, he definitely speaks from experience whether it’s his or something one of his homies went through. His music is detailed as well on real life situations, which is really dope to me. There’s a lot of different guys out there that make great records
 
Your album is being released on Valentine’s Day, what gifts will you be buying for your girl on V-day? And it can’t be your album.
I’ll do like a trip or do something that’s engraved. You always want to do something spontaneous but not in the box something to make her feel that I put something in the thought process, that’s always better than actual gift that you buy someone.
 
What’s the worst gift you’ve received from a girl or even a family member during the holidays?
I don’t really get that many gifts, I can tell you the best gift; I got a gift from a fan this year at one of my concerts. It was a collage of a lot of magazine clippings and a cd or two cover on there. That just blew me away, it was just like what I just said, a lot of thought and your heart was put into it. That made me feel good that someone took the time to do that and I still have it at home, I put it up on the wall. So I really appreciated that.
 
Can you name 5 of your all-time favorite Bad Boy songs?
"Sky’s the Limit" by Biggies and "Suicidal Thoughts" by Biggie, “Flavor In Your Ear” by Craig Mack, Diddy’s "I’m Coming Out" ("Mo Money, Mo Problems"), Black Rob “Whoa” and I was just a big fan of Mase. He left too early; I’m actually upset with him.
 
Did you like his comeback?
It didn’t feel the same.
 
What turns you on?
I like a clever woman, I don’t like them slick it seems like you’re trying too hard. That’s a turn on to me, to be challenged and to be sexy at the same time and a nice smile.
 
T.I. and DMX are both doing reality shows, ever considered doing one yourself?
Sometimes it looks fun, I got a lot going on in my life, I’m not sure I’m ready to put that out there. Someone would have to talk to me about it because my shit is crazy.
 
What do you not want to be shown about your life on the reality show?
I just think I need to be more stable with things so when it’s out there I’m comfortable with it. I just have a lot of stuff going on, like personal things are cool I don’t have a problem with people knowing who I am but maybe I need to be more stable in my situation so it doesn’t look like I’m irrespirable, I don’t want to put that out there.
 
How did you get Ryan Leslie and Rick Ross on the latest song, “Fly Together”?
Ryan Leslie is just a great artist and I’ve been a fan of him for a while. I was very very excited to work with him and anxious to work with him. Ross is a homie, Ross is the street. I got in there with Ryan, I had him on my “I’m Ill” remix, he did a great job and was just effortless and we always said we would get together and make something from scratch. Just to tell you the studio of being in the studio with him: There’s artist that go into the studio with producers all the time and the biggest record company will put an artist in with a big producer and they’ll be in the studio for months and get nothing. We went into the studio once and got something so the chemistry was great, the energy was right and since we got the record done, I thought it would be perfect to put Ross on there, so I called Ross up and he heard it and loved it.
 
In “Fly Together” you’re rapping about wanting your girl to be on the same level as you, is that something you look for in a girl you want to date?
There’s a lot of independent women out in the world today and they should be acknowledged so I felt I needed to make a record to acknowledge the single parents that are holding down and raising a college grad, those should be acknowledge. I feel women can fly just as high as the guys. 
  
In your last interview with VIBE.com, you mentioned people were worried about you signing with Bad Boy records and you stated the mistakes you believe other artists on the label, how will you stand apart from other Bad Boy artists?
I’m motivated by Puff and what he does and everything he has done in his career as far as music and being an entrepreneur. Red Café is his own artist before Bad Boy, that doesn’t change; I don’t come to Bad Boy and expect then to do everything for me. I think that’s where a lot of artists fell short. And there was a time where I was that guy as well, coming into the game young signing the deal and I’m thinking that’s the victory. Or we’re going to go on yachts and we’re going to St. Tropez and I was wrong. Those are the growing pains; I went through a lot of the growing pains a lot of those Bad Boy artists where their first stops were Bad Boy. When Puff is excited and he’s working on a project in the beginning and he gets you up and running and you get a platinum album, it’s time for you to work on your own. I think that’s where a lot of the artists fell short, always expecting him to do everything. I get it done and I called Puffy at the end, after it’s done, 'You wanna put the icing on this? It’s done.'
 
Your debut, Shakedown will be released early next year, what can we expect from the album and can you fill us in on who might be appearing on the album?
There’s a lot of collaborations on the album, I have a lot of friends and a lot of people who wanted to work on the album. They’re proud to be apart of it and I’ve been working on it for a long time. I don’t want to give away all the ingredients to the recipe but I worked with Fabolous closely, he’s a great friends and I worked with a lot of great people on there.
 
Can you let us know any producers you’re working with?
I like to be involved with the production, I’ve been around so long that I know how to make records and I had hopes that Swizz Beatz would produce me or Just Blaze or Timbaland or Pharrell – all the great producers and I didn’t get produced by them. At this point I just learned and kept going back into the studio. So I just worked with a lot of underground producers.  

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The Fast & Furious enterprise is known for gravity-defying stunts, larger-than-life explosives, a few expensive cars going way over the speed limit and fight scenes so intricate and lethal, they look like poetry.

All that and more are on display in the second full-length trailer for the forthcoming Fast & Furious spinoff Hobbs & Shaw. Slated for a summer release, Dwayne Johnson plays Hobbs who must work with his nemesis Shaw (Jason Statham) to take down Brixton Lore, (Idris Elba) a genetically enhanced fighter who fancies himself the black Superman.

Shaw's sister, played by The Crown's Vanessa Kirby, stole a chemical from Lore that can wipe out half the population, and now Lore and his team of ruthless mercenaries are on a vicious hunt to retrieve it.

While Fast & Furious fans are curious to see if Johnson can carry a franchise film on his own, not everyone was supportive of the spinoff.  Tyrese Gibson seemingly took issue when rumors of the film were swirling. Johnson, however, didn't care and reportedly called  Gibson and Vin Diesel a bunch of "candy-asses."

The first Fast & Furious hit theaters on June 18, 2001, and was made with a $38 million budget. The film earned more than $200 million domestically setting it up to be one of Hollywood's most successful franchises. The series went onto have eight films, the last being The Fate of The Furious. It's been dubbed the final film since Paul Walker's 2013 death.

Fast & Furious Presents: HOBBS & SHAW - Official Trailer #2 Are you ready, we’re back with our SECOND WORLDWIDE @HobbsAndShaw trailer🔥THIS SUMMER AUGUST 2ND👀#HobbsAndShawpic.twitter.com/n8YHfa5SET

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Jussie Smollett Cut From Forthcoming Broadway Play

Jussie Smollett has lost a starring role in a forthcoming Broadway play in the wake of his hate crime scandal. The actor was reportedly nipped from the Broadway reboot of the Tony-winning play, Take Me Out, the Daily Mail reports.

Smollett was originally cast to play the main character Darren Lemming, an interracial baseball player who comes out a gay at the height of his career. Ironically, the character also suffers a racial and homophobic attack by a teammate.

The actor previously read for the role only one day before his alleged attack in Chicago in Jan. 2019. A source close to Broadway told the British newspaper that Smollett and his co-star Zachary Quinto's castings were going to be announced in Mar. 2019, but "everything shifted" after Smollett was arrested and charged on the suspicion of staging his own hate crime and stalling a police investigation.

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‘The Chi’ Recap: Ep. 2 Shows That Hustling Humanity Is The Key To Surviving The Jungle

How does one survive in a jungle? How does one survive in an environment where volatility is the norm and there’s no observed rule of law outside of one’s own self-interest?

The characters in The Chi have had to figure that out for more than a season and especially after the vicious assault on 73-year-old Ms. Ethel in the Season Two premiere. Detective Toussaint (Crystal Dickinson), the new detective investigating the assault, described Chicago as “a f**king jungle.” The new episode, entitled “Every Day I’m Hustlin,’” made the primary survival tactic in this jungle clear: You must hustle your humanity.

Out of all of the nefarious characters in The Chi universe, it’s Brandon’s girlfriend Jerrika Little (Tiffany Boone) who employs that tactic the clearest in this episode. She does so in pristine offices, decadent fundraisers in expensive courtyards and her fancy apartment. In The Chi, a jungle can take many shapes, but the hustle remains essential.

Jerrika comes from affluent parents who are real estate developers and judge people’s value by what they do for a living. Her father, while disparaging her choice to date Brandon, says he didn’t “spend 100 grand on Spelman for [her] to marry a cook,” as if his daughter’s life is a property he’s added improvements to in hopes of a large return on his investment. Even though Jerrika is displeased with her parent’s emotionless pragmatism, the episode shows how she’s internalized their worldview and it is that view that is the impetus of her hustle.

As a real estate agent of her own, Jerrika abandons her blackness in order to land a six-figure deal for a housing property funded by black business woman Harriet Brown (Jacqueline Williams). Sitting in her office, with her degrees and achievements decking the walls behind her, Brown rejects Jerrika’s proposal for the inclusion of low-income housing and pejoratively refers to black people seeking low-income housing as “those people” that will ruin your property. You can almost see the battle between Jerrika’s blackness and her career aspirations waged in her head as she twitches in her seat, rattles her fingers on the desk and leaves an uncomfortably long pause between Brown’s dismissal and her response.

But, Jerrika changes her stance and even says she personally wouldn’t recommend low-income housing because, for her, upward social mobility is tantamount to survival, and not that easy to vilify. This idea of feeling forced to abandon your blackness in the pursuit of mobility in business is an obstacle millions of black women face in their respective fields. In 2010, Chasity Jones had a customer service representative job offer rescinded from Catastrophe Management Solutions due to her having dreadlocks; a decision the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals deemed legal in 2016. When the law of the land doesn’t protect you, then jungle rules apply, and sometimes that involves camouflaging.

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Jerrika isn’t the only one in the episode with their humanity and their hustle at odds. At a mediation between Emmett and the mother of his son, Tiffany (Hannah Hall), to establish financial support for the child, Emmett learns he’ll have to hustle to get a piece of his humanity back. The normally boisterous Emmett whimpers to almost a despondent whisper when he rhetorically asks the mediator, “I got to pay for my son, but I can’t see him?” Emmett’s situation evokes similar emotional conflicts as Jerrika as the cards seem to be stacked against Emmett, but it’s largely due to his own personal faults.

The most vicious example of the battle between hustle and humanity occurs following the passing of Junie, a friend to Reg (Barton Fitzpatrick) and the gang he leads. For a few minutes, as the young black men that are part of the gang watch social media videos of their fallen friend in their dilapidated trap house, you can see the compassion in those young men who, more than likely, have had to do inhumane acts for their gang. But, in less than a minute, Reg convinces his group to abandon any emotional mourning of their lost friend and instead honor his legacy by hustling more to get money to pay to the leadership of the 63rd St Mob to avoid being murdered.

In The Chi, emotions can be hindrances to survival, leaving a chasm between one’s hustle and one’s humanity that, for some, is irreparable. It’ll be interesting to see what’s left of the people in The Chi after they’ve given away pieces of their humanity to survive.

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