Rita Ora Rita Ora

On the Come-Up: 5 Fierce Female Singers to Watch

It’s not often the Roc's head honcho passes through with new artist in tow, so when Jay-Z randomly decided to visit Clear Channel with Rita Ora last month, we already knew she was something special.

She's got the looks (she notes Gwen Stefani as a strong influence) and also packs voice. And if her career takes off similarly to that of another Hov-stamped Diamond princess (Jay-Z first introduced Rihanna to the world around 2005), the future could hold a lot of promise for Roc Nation's spunky newcomer.

But Miss Ora isn’t the only songstress currently on the come-up. Flanking Rita are five other vivacious vocalists worth noting, so get your iPods ready. Today VIBE takes the time to get you well-acquainted.

Bridget Kelly

On BK’s saucy remix of Miguel’s “Quickie,” she sets the record straight: “So disrespectful, I'll be the one to check you,” she sings, later telling him to “knock his own wood” since he won’t be knocking her. And that’s exactly what makes this Roc Nation siren so easily noteworthy: she’s feisty. Nevermind the fact that she’s been Jay-Z’s go-to A.Keys stand-in for live renditions “Empire State of Mind” or that she hit the road with Estelle for the UK singer’s tour – the fact of the matter is this girl can blow. Try her "Every Girl" EP on for size.

Listen:
Bridget Kelly – “Seek and Destroy”

Connect:
Rocnation.com/bridgetkelly
@theycallmeBK
Tiara Thomas

"I didn’t know I was going to be on the mixtape," Tiara Thomas said of her feature on Wale’s "More About Nothing." "I got on Twitter and was like, 'Why do I have all of these new followers?'"

Sure, 19,000+ followers may be considered a lot for an aspiring artist still in college, but Miss Thomas isn’t your ordinary lady rap-singer. For one, she has a penchant for picking brash rap lyrics and making them melodically palatable. For two, she comes equipped with this aura that has followers dubbing her a young Lauryn Hill. Maybe it’s her skills with the acoustic guitar? Or perhaps it’s the fact that she’s not bad with the bars. Whatever it is, we’re into it, and we think you may be, too.

Listen:
Tiara Thomas – “Are You That Somebody” (Aaliyah Cover)

Connect:
Youtube.com/user/xsmall18
@tiara_thomas
Sabi

Before you heard Sabi on Cobra Starship’s “You Make Me Feel,” she was one half of Warner Brothers girl group The Bangz. But once band mate Ella Ann was injured and the group was no more, Sabi went on to pave a new lane as a solo artist. Since then, she’s collaborated with Britney Spears, gone on tour with Spears and Nicki Minaj, and released a single called “Wild Heart” that was featured on the trailer for "Kourtney and Kim Take New York."

Listen:
Sabi – “Wild Heart”

Connect:
Officialsabi.com
@sabisoundz
Kimbra

Australia’s Kimbra is not a book to be judged by its cover. On the outside she’s a sophisticated lady with a comely appearance, but when she opens her mouth, fire emerges. Kimbra’s sound can best be described as new-age jazzy, classy enough for the old heads yet cool enough for contemporary popsters. The 21-year-old has had much success with her debut "Vows." Most recently, she was featured on indie artist Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know.”

Listen:
Kimbra – “Cameo Lover”

Connect:
Kimbramusic.com
@kimbramusic
Melody Thornton

If you haven’t yet heard Melody Thornton’s cover of “No Church in the Wild,” you may want to do yourself a favor. “Lipstick&Guilt” captures Melody at her peak since topping charts with the Pussycat Dolls, and after taking out some recup time to embark on a solo career, the diva finally reemerges with her mixtape, "P.O.Y.B.L." (Piss On Your Black List), which we can’t wait to hear once it drops on March 15.

Listen:
Melody Thornton – “Love Gun”

Connect:
Onlythemelody.com
@MelodyThornton

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Vivica A. Fox Explains Past Hesitance Behind 'Two Can Play That Game' Script

In a new interview with Essence, actress Vivica A. Fox discussed how she initially turned down her role in Two Can Play That Game based on the script. The established entertainer said it's her mission to ensure that black people are positively portrayed onscreen, and noticed the aforementioned film's prose didn't live up to those standards.

"I think the reason why—no I know the reason why—I've been doing this for such a long time is that I fight," Fox said. "When we did Two Can Play That Game, I fought for the way we talked, walked, the way we loved each other." The Set It Off actress continued to state that she consistently declined Two Can Play That Game before signing on to play the lead role. "Because the script, when I first got it, I turned it down three times because it just wasn't a good representation of African-Americans, so I fought them on everything," she noted. "I want to make sure that the images of African-Americans are as positive and as true as they can possibly be."

In 2001, the romantic comedy debuted to fanfare, boasting an all-star cast of Morris Chestnut, Mo'Nique, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Brown, Gabrielle Union, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and more. Directed by Mark Brown (Barbershop, Iverson, How To Be A Player), Fox plays a career driven person named Shante Smith who navigates a curveball when her boyfriend Keith Fenton (Chestnut) cheats on her with a co-worker.

After its release, Two Can Play That Game raked in over $22 million at the box office.

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Actress Gabrielle Union attends the Being Mary Jane premiere, screening, and party on January 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET)
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BET To Unveil Edible Billboard For 'Being Mary Jane' Wedding Finale

As Being Mary Jane comes to an end, BET is willing to offer fans a taste of what's to come in the series finale.

The network has enlisted the help of Ayesha Curry, celebrity cook and cookbook author, to create an edible billboard that also doubles as a wedding cake. The sweet treat will commemorate Mary Jane's (played by Gabrielle Union) nuptials in the two-hour series finale.

On April 20 from 1:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. at Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal in New York, fans will be presented with the edible billboard. At the intersection of Ashland Place and Hanson Place, the closer Being Mary Jane enthusiasts get to the billboard the quicker they'll notice that the four-tiered wedding cake is created from individual boxes, each containing a slice of Curry's prized wedding cake.

All fans have to do is pull a box from the billboard, snap a picture for the 'Gram, take a bite and enjoy. Although lovers of the show won't be able to celebrate with Mary Jane herself, biting into a slice of her wedding cake, for free, is the next best thing.

Don't forget to tune into the series finale of Being Mary Jane on Tues. (April 23) at 8/7 c.

Also, check out what's to come on the series of Being Mary Jane below.

Save the date! 👰🏾It'll be worth the wait. Join us for the series finale of #BeingMaryJane TUES APR 23 8/7c only on @BET! pic.twitter.com/jEwkbC71OW

— #BeingMaryJane (@beingmaryjane) March 29, 2019

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The North Face

Ella Mai On The North Face's 'Explore Mode' Campaign, New Music And Living In The Moment

Ella Mai is in her own age of exploration. Her eponymous debut album scored her a platinum plaque with her breakout hit, "Boo'd Up" earning her a Grammy for Best R&B Song. But the accolades aren't driving her creative path. The arc in her compass is all about the places she's traveled, the people she's met and the lessons learned along the way.

"To be honest, personally, exploration is like growth. I feel like if you don't explore new things, whether it's going outside, meeting people or trying new food, you won't ever grow because you're just stuck in your little comfort zone which can be super scary to come out of," she tells VIBE at The North Face's Explore Mode event in New York on Monday (April 15). The singer is one of three women (including model-activist Gabrielle Richardson and chef Angela Dimayuga) who teamed up with the brand to share a message of enjoying the outside world without digital confinement and the global initiative to make Earth Day a national holiday.

The London native's urge to explore came in handy over the weekend when she performed in the brisk desert of Coachella. Inspired by artists like Rihanna and Ms. Lauryn Hill, Mai helped fans enjoy the hazy sunset as she performed hits like "Trip" and her latest No. 1 song, "Shot Clock."

"It's such a good feeling, especially when it comes to radio," she shared about her track reaching No. 1 on the airplay chart. "I wasn't even sure if people listened to the radio because people have so much access to streaming platforms, but obviously having all three of my singles from my debut album, go number one on urban radio is incredible."

That energy was brought to the Coachella stage with the festival being her biggest artistic exploration so far.

"My favorite part of the performance would have to be when I performed "Naked" and because it was dark, and I performed when the sun went down, I couldn't see how far the crowd actually went back. But during "Naked," it was such an intimate moment I asked everyone to put their lights up (phones) and when I saw how far it went back I was like, "Woah." That moment sealed it for me."

"Even there were two people in the audience, I still would've done my best," she added. "But just to see the crowd be so engaged, even if they didn't know the music, was a really good feeling. I had so much fun."

As the festival energy in Indio, Calif. continued to thrive, another rested on the streets of Los Angeles following the loss of Nipsey Hussle. With the singer having ties to those close to the rapper like DJ Mustard, she says the shift in the city was hard to ignore.

"As weird as it sounds, you felt it," she said. "Even in the weather, it was super hot and then everyone got the news and it started raining. Just a weird energy shift." As a new L.A. resident, the singer says Nipsey's influence cannot be denied.

"I feel like the energy shift went both ways; everyone was really sad, grieving and mourning but everyone feels more inspired by what he was doing that they want to go out and do something and change in their community. It's still a very touchy subject in L.A., especially the people that I'm around since they were very close to him. I think everyone is super inspired to do better and try to be more like him, which is great to see. YG's whole set at Coachella was dedicated to him, I know Khalid had a dedication to Mac Miller. Everyone is super aware of what Nipsey was trying to do and how he wanted to change the world."

Engaging in The North Face's mission to explore seemed to be in the cards for Mai. Like many of us, Mai was familiar with the brand's effective coolness factor. "I remember running home and telling my mom that I needed a Jester Backpack because my cousin had one as well, and it's similar to the other stories, I wanted to be like my older cousin (laughs) so my mom ended up getting me one." But there's also the incentive to showcase the importance of stepping away from the phone screens and into leafy green forests.

"I'm such a live-in-the-moment person," she says of her lack of identity on social media. While she might share a thought or two on social media, Mai is interested in appreciating the world around her. "I feel like everyone is so consumed about documenting the day, you don't really get to live the day. You just watch it back but I like to have the memories in my head. Of course, sometimes, I'll take out my phone but I try to live in the moment as much as possible."

Part of that mission is ensuring Earth Day is celebrated the right way. With the support of Mai, Richardson, and Dimayuga, The North Face officially launched a petition to make Earth Day a national holiday.

“The North Face is no stranger to exploration and this Earth Day we are proud to join our partners and fellow explorers in a global effort to make Earth Day a national holiday,” said Global General Manager of Lifestyle at The North Face, Tim Bantle. “We believe that when people take time to appreciate the Earth, they feel more connected to it and are more likely to protect it. Explore Mode urges us to unplug from our digital lives to connect in real life to the world, each other, and ourselves in the effort to move the world forward.”

Mai hasn't hit her all of her exploration goals just yet. "I really want to go to Indonesia or Bali," she said. "That's one of my Bucket List places I really, really, really wanna go." For her essentials, the singer knows she has to bring along a windbreaker set and of course, a jester backpack. "I think the backpack is the most important thing."

In addition to a few trips around the globe, one destination includes the studio for new music. While she hasn't had time to lock down a moment to record, the inspiration is sizzling.

"When I work in the studio, I like to be like there for a good amount of time," she explains. "I like to block off two to three weeks at a time, I don't like to go to different studios and different places, it's just a comfort thing but I'm very excited to get back cause I have a lot of talk about. I've seen so many different places and met so many new people and a lot that I didn't get to experience last year."

Learn more about The North Face's petition for Earth Day here.

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