ursula stephen ursula stephen

Vixen Chat: Ursula Stephen Dishes on Rihanna's New 'Do, Talks Natural Hair Care

Mane maven and Motions spokesperson Ursula Stephen boasts a client lists that includes international pop princess Rihanna, Scandal star Kerry Washington and Tinseltown sweetheart Gabrielle Union. By taking even the slightest glance at her portfolio, it's clear the Brooklyn bred hairstylist understands the growing natural hair movement and how to nurture of all type of curl patterns while keeping them fashionable and on-trend.

Vixen caught up with the guru of Black haircare at last night's Motions Meet Up (over cocktails and good conversation, of course) to discuss Motions new product line, Rihanna's ever-changing mane and her favorite celeb naturalistas.
VIBE VIXEN: Besides shaving their hair or rocking it super short, what other ways can women be funky and edgy with their hair?
URSULA STEPHEN: I think the whole bohemian thing is definitely an edgy look, and wearing it undone. Kinda wearing it undone is very edgy. It doesn’t look like you just stepped out the salon. It’s kinda that beach wavy, that messed up wave that I like. I think that’s definitely an edgy way but also a sexy way.

Like, the just-woke-up look?
Yeah, the bed head. Definitely.

With you as a spokesperson for Motions, what are you most excited about with this new line of natural products?
I’m excited that we have a new line for natural hair period, because what natural hair is now is more than a trend, it’s a movement. I’m glad that we cater to those visions. ‘Cause there are so many girls going natural now. You see girls with their hair short, and they’re like, it’s natural! It’s good cause they want to feel like they have a product to go to. They don’t want to be using just any product cause they can’t find something. It’s good that we have something specifically for that need.

Give young women three ways that they can stay on team natural and no revert back to relaxers.
The best way to stay a part of team natural is to really condition your hair, because as African American girls, our hair is naturally dry. Our natural hair is dry period, so we have to use products to keep it soft and to break it down so it’s manageable. That’s what it is. That’s what a lot of people want from it. They run from natural because they realize after a while it’s not that easy. Don’t go natural 'cause you think it’s easy 'cause it’s not. You still have to put work and time in it.

Exactly.
So a lot of people when they get to that point where they start going crazy, they run back from natural, so it’s a matter of patience and finding products like the Motions deep conditioning mask because it’s for natural hair. It’s gonna soften it and help you to manage it. Also, even though I promote products we can use at home, find a hairstylist that is great at natural hair 'cause you need somebody to help you with it in between. And you got to have patience. You got to because it’s not easy to have natural hair.

Which product from this new line is your favorite?

God, it’s rough. I love the mask. I love the conditioner. Anything that’s gonna make my hair soft and pretty, I love it. I love the gloss which is good. Everybody needs the gloss in their life.

How often should a person condition their natural hair? Weekly?
I think personally, when it comes to conditioning, it’s a matter of preference. You really have to start learning your hair. I always say with conditioners and natural hair, it should always be increased. I would definitely do weekly, but at the same time, that’s my opinion. If you’re someone with natural hair and your hair works better with two weeks, then you condition your hair every two weeks. It’s really a matter of learning your hair and figuring out what it is because you don’t want to over-condition either, ‘cause when you over-condition, it gets too soft to hold the hairstyle. I always say conditioners are great like once a week or every two weeks.

Which natural-haired celebs are you’re lovin' right now? Top three.
Alicia Keys, for sure. She came back with a bang, I love it. She's lookin' really really good right now.

I know Tracee Ellis Ross. She’s always been a staple.
Right, I love her hair. You could definitely say she’s one too, but I’m just tryna figure out. Brandy is obviously not wearing her own hair natural, but she’s played around with that more natural type.

Yeah, at that Billboard Music Awards.
Like, really stepping out of the box and doing something that’s just fun. It’s not about what everybody wanna see, it’s about what makes you feel good. The trend is not worth anything at all if it don’t look good on you. Everybody wanna shave their side but are you really that girl? If you wanna follow the trends but make sure that it fits to your lifestyle. Don’t fit it into a lifestyle.

VV: What you’re gonna do with Rihanna’s hair next?
US: Girl, I do not know. That girl is driving me crazy!

Nobody saw that black, shaved sides style coming.
She’s like, 'This is what I want,' and we’re like, Alright, gotta make her happy...but I really love the blonde ombré. That was great and then she actually changed to the shaved side without me.

Oh, so she didn’t want the ombré anymore?
She loved it, but she felt like she always wanted to go black. I kinda made her stop at blonde. I was in South Africa with Motions and she was in London doing promo, and she just did it.

Now with the different colors you put on her hair, how do you keep her hair healthy with the colors?
Yeah the colors is dangerous, I always condition her hair…

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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.
KMazur/WireImage

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

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

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Singers Adrienne Bailon (L) and Kiely Williams of the 'Cheetah Girls' pose for photos around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held at Smashbox Studios on October 18, 2007 in Culver City, California.
Katy Winn/Getty Images for IMG

Kiely Williams Explains Fallout With Adrienne Bailon Houghton And Alleged Fight With Raven-Symonè

Our current isolated way of life has given some plenty of time for reflection like Kiely Williams of the former girl group 3LW and The Cheetah Girls (ask your kids). The tales of both successful groups have been told time after time by fans in YouTube documentaries and members of each collective but Williams has decided to share her side of the story.

Williams hopped on Live Monday (March 30) where she discussed her former friendship with The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton and the infamous chicken throwing fight with actress/singer Naturi Naughton. The mother of one didn't pinpoint exactly why she fell out with Houghton but did point out how she wouldn't be interested in appearing on her talk show.

"I don't think Adrienne wants to have live TV with me," Williams said. "'Cause she's gon' have to say, 'Yes Kiely, I did pretend to be your best friend. Now, I am not.' You were either lying then or you're lying now. You either were my best friend and now you're just not claiming me or you were pretending [to be my best friend."

The two remained friends after Naughton was kicked out of 3LW, the platinum-selling group known for 2000s pop hits like "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)" and "Playas Gon' Play." Williams and Houghton were eventually picked to be apart of The Cheetah Girls with then-Disney darling Raven-Symonè and dancer Sabrina Bryan.

Williams went on to discuss her fight with Naughton, which she denies had anything to do with her skin color. With her mother near, Williams claimed Naughton called her a b***h, leading to the fight. While she didn't clear up the chicken throwing, she stated how she was "going for her neck" and was holding food and her baby sister in the process.

Apologies aren't on the horizon either. “I don’t feel like I have anything to make amends for, especially as it relates to Adrienne,” Kiely said. “As far as Naturi goes, if there was ever a reason to apologize, all of that has kind of been overshadowed by the literal lies and really ugly stuff that she said about my mom and my sister. So, no. Not interested in that. I’m sorry.”

Moving onto The Cheetah Girls, Williams also denied claims she got into fights with Raven-Symonè on the set of The Cheetah Girls films and never outed her as a teen. The rumor about Symonè and Williams was reportedly started by Symonè's former co-star Orlando Brown.

Symonè has often shared positive memories about The Cheetah Girls and their reign but did imply during an episode of The View how co-star Lynn Whitfield kept her from losing her cool on set.

On a lighter note, Symonè, Houghton and Naughton have kept in contact with Naughton and Houghton putting their differences aside during an appearance on The Real. 

Symonè and Houghton also reunited at the Women's March in Los Angeles in January. During Bailon's performance at the event, the two briefly performed the Cheetah Girls' classic, "Together We Can."

Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

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Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Kelis Announces ‘Cooked With Cannabis’ Show Will Premiere On Netflix

Kelis is taking her chef talents to Netflix. The musician will host a food competition show titled Cooked With Cannabis that’ll premiere on the very-fitting April 20 (4/20). According to NME, the show will span six episodes and be co-hosted by chef Leather Storrs.

Describing the opportunity as a “dream come true” since she’s a major supporter of the streaming service, Kelis took to Instagram to share how cannabis and cooking is one of her many creative passions. “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,” the mother-of-two writes. “In this country, many things have been used systemically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together.”

Each episode will place three chefs against each other as they craft three-course meals with cannabis as the central ingredient. Each episode’s winner takes home $10,000. Guests will play an integral role in who takes home the cash prize. Too $hort, and El-P are just a few of this season's guests.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

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

In a previous Lenny Letter profile, Kelis shared she comes from a line of culinary influences beginning with her mother who owned a catering service. In 2008, the “Milkshake” singer sought to refine her cooking skills by enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu school. Receiving a certificate as a trained saucier, the New York native put her expertise to the test during pop-up restaurants in her native city, created a hot sauce line, and co-owns a sustainable farm in Quindio, Colombia.

“Food is revolutionary because it is the one and only international language. It’s the most human thing you can partake in,” she said in an interview with Bon Appetit. “We are the only species that cooks.”

This isn’t Kelis’ first foray into the reality-cooking television world. In 2014, she partnered with the Cooking Channel for Saucy and Sweet and published the "My Life on a Plate" cookbook a year later.

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