'Escape Routes' Stars Talk Sexiest NBA Players and Road Trip Playlist

Former college basketball players and current NYC-based models Chekesha (@chekeshaj) and Tiffany (@itzmetiffany) have joined Ford and NBC's primetime interactive reality competition series, Escape Routes. The two best friends (who claim to be 21 forever!) auditioned for the Saturday night TV spot on a whim and were quickly dubbed America's Choice for the extreme challenges.

Now, competing with five other teams, the chummy duo have been thrown into a unique road trip (in a Ford Escape, of course), traveling to the major cities around the nation and doing extreme stunts that are rarely seen on a runway.

Vixen caught up with the Houston natives in Miami to talk hoop dreams, HBCU's (University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Tennessee State University), sexy NBA players and just what life on the road is like with no music. --Niki McGloster

What's the most stressful part of being on the show.
CHEKESHA: Besides the crazy challenges that we're doing, it's just really difficult to live with a group of people with so many different personalities. I grew up as an only child, so I'm not used to sharing things and having to work around people. But we've been doing crazy challenges, like dropping off buildings, flying planes, stuff that I'd never even imagine doing.
TIFFANY: Both of us are really competitive. We're thinking about it way too much instead of just having fun with it. So, that's kind of what's stressful because it's hard to have fun when you're losing. To me, that's about the only stressful thing 'cause I have a little brother, so I've grown up with being annoyed and loud people. My family is loud [laughs], so that's nothing new to me.

How is it being in the car with each other for a long amount of time?
T: When we're in New York, we're pretty much together all the time anyway.
C: Me and her being together is easy. If I don't want to hear her talk anymore, I would just close my eyes. Now that we're in the same room, I just close my eyes [laughs].

Okay, so since the show is based around a road trip, let's compile a playlist of today's top songs. What five tracks would you have to have on there?
T: It's so funny that you say that because, on the show, we can't play any copy written music. We don't even have our phones. In the car, it's silence. Our music is each other and we just have to talk and find some way to entertain ourselves.
C: When you get in the car, that's the first thing you do: buckle your seat belt and turn on the music! On road trips, I just put on my Destiny's Child city and go HAM by myself [laughs].
T: Give me anything with Drake or Wayne and The Dream, I'm good. I think I drove from Houston to Miami and all I listened to is Drake and I was good.

Any other big names you'd have to listen to?
C: Kanye West, all his CD's.
T: We love Rihanna. I like Chris Brown…and she hates The Weeknd, but I love him.
C: Yeah, I don't like him.
T: She's the only person in the world who doesn't like The Weekend!
C: [Singing off key]

[Laughs] We covered artists. Now, which particular songs would you have on the playlist?
T: I would say "Stay Scheming"! That's our theme song for the show. We like Rihanna's "Talk That Talk."
C: What do we play every time and I get so crunk?
T: You get crunk to any song that comes on! Um, I feel like I need Wayne and Drake on there.

C: I like it, but it's kind of played out right now. I like listening to Jeezy's "Leave You Alone" right now.

Okay, two more.
T: I like "Crew Love" with Drake and The Weekend.
C: "Squares Out Your Circle." We like that with Rocko and Future.
T: When we're driving to like a meet and greet…
C: Which is not very often!
T: We turn the XM (radio) on and blast! We try to bust the speakers out the Ford Escape.

Living without music has got to be rough!
T: Exactly! They tried to trick us. They asked us what's one thing we couldn't live without at our interview in LA, and we're like, 'Our phones.' Our phones have our music, we text, chat, tweet, all that on our phones, and we give up our phones every day.
C: They give us our [personal] phones for an hour at night, but we do have the production phones and iPads, so we can still get on Facebook and Twitter.

So you can still be interactive.
T: Yeah, they need us to tweet out to our fans and tweet out to our online followers. Their voting helps determine who wins the whole game.

Now, what deterred you two from playing ball? No WNBA dreams?
T: After I graduated, I actually went to play in Europe for a little bit. I mean, it was cool, but girls really aren't respected on the court as much as guys are. As far as the money, girls don't get paid as much as guys. Too, I feel like I've been playing for so long that my knees could go out, I could break something, and it would be a wrap. If I'm modeling, I'll have all my bones and I could make more money doing something that I like equally, so I went ahead and made that transition. I hung up my hoopin' shoes for stilettos.
C: My coach asked me to go overseas and play, but I was just kinda over it. I feel like I had done everything that I wanted to do as far as sports 'cause I played every sport. I started off in gymnastics, played volleyball, ran cross country, ran track, and I really wanted to do something else. At the same time, with me finishing basketball, that's when I went to New York and got signed, so it's like a dream I didn't realize I had until I got a little bit earlier, so I just wanted to try that out.

Why do you think that women aren't respected on the court?
T: Guys are more entertaining to watch, but girls are smarter on the court. Girls play strategic basketball. You know, people don't want to see that; they want to see people dunk, do alley oop's and all that stuff. I think that's why we're not quote unquote respected on the court.
C: WNBA players, they're salaries starts off at 30-, 40-thousand dollars. Some people still have to have a job because that's only three or four months.

Now with Britney Griner recently making some history, how do you feel about her and her skill set?
T: She's a beast. My dad is an official, and he used to ref her 'cause she's from Houston. I used to go to her games, and I knew she was going to be a beast in college.

Who would you say are the top female college basketball players right now, outside of Griner?
C: I don't even watch college basketball.
T: We really don't watch college basketball.
C: Only NBA [laughs].

Who do you think are the sexiest NBA players right now? Top three.
C: I've had a crush on Kobe since I was like 12 years old, [laughs] so I would definitely have to say Kobe Bryant is my sexiest. Two, I would say Rudy Gay, 'cause he's right after Kobe for me. And I don't even look at anybody else for real. [Long pause] I would say Dwight Howard is three. Put Kobe in bold, literally!
T: I have a huge crush on Courtney Lee. He plays for the Rockets. Um, I really like how he looks and how he plays. I like Dwight Howard, he's cool. I used to have a crush on him before he had his second baby [laughs]. And then the third one? You know what? Let's switch this. Two is Carmelo, but I know I can't have him; La La already got him. I've had a crush on him since [he played at] Syracuse with the braids.

He broke a lot of women's hearts when he got married [laughs].
T: He did. He broke mine! Then, I would say Dwight Howard. Make sure you put Courtney Lee in bold letters! [Laughs]

Are you ladies in relationships now?
Both: NOPE!
S: I'm single, and I haven't had a man in like three years.
T: It's been about two years since I've been in a relationships. So yeah, we're both single and mingling. We're having fun and letting whatever happens happen.

Check the team's updates here and tune into Escape Routes tonight at 8PM EST on NBC or mun2!

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Aaliyah during TNT Presents - A Gift of Song - New York - January 1, 1997 in New York City, New York, United States.

Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.

Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.


Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/LxZfxcqRgF

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/BHlANZjCGZ

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/vLqLTVxqO9

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/ALDcT0ZQxR

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/zwk0AWMCoE

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/mM2GWEg1pe

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!pic.twitter.com/GfxBeJxUY1

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...

#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/iXNwssD3sY

— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/cGl269tuTr

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I'm really excited to announce my new show, Cooked with Cannabis on @Netflix!! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love my Netflix, so this is a dream come true. Interestingly, this was one of those things that I didn't go looking for, it kind of came to me. As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today's society. In this country, many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together. I hope you all will tune in, it's definitely going to be a good time! We launch on 4/20! XO, Kelis

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis) on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:57am PDT

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