Brandy Oct/Nov Cover Brandy Oct/Nov Cover

Bran'New

It’s been a decade since veteran songbird Brandy has belted a top-tier single. Currently sitting atop the better half of the R&B/Hip Hop stack, Chris Brown-assisted, whispery cut “Put It Down” has allowed the femme vocalist to revive old fans’ standom and wrangle in a new, younger generation.

“It’s amazing that people still have a love for me and still feel like they can relate to me,” the 33-year-old siren admits on a recent Sunday. “It really does keep me on my toes, just being a role model for young girls, but I am grown. I gotta sing for the grown people sometimes.” Life, though, hasn’t always been sweet for the chocolate-colored chanteuse.

Over the past six years, Brandy has faced an uphill battle against devastating legal woes and dwindling music sales. “I thought it was over. I didn't really have a deal and it seemed like no one was interested in giving me another chance. People were calling me a has-been and it felt like it was over for me.”

Only recently has the award-winning singer found renewed strength to comeback—she credits her affectionately named Stars for that power.

Today, youthfully fresh and ever the powerful songbird, B-Rocka’s return rebuilds the gaping hole in female rhythm and blues. Somewhere between the vocal power of Whitney Houston and the international reach of today’s Pop&B stars, Brandy has etched her signature sound, sitting comfortably next to a diverse class. “I know there are a lot of artists out there that are true to this genre, and I wanted to contribute to that too.”

Unsaturated R&B is a sometimes forgotten acquired taste, yet Brandy is equipped with a fully loaded record and the old hand know-how to make us fall in love again.--Niki McGloster

Brandy

How does it feel this time around? What makes this return to music different from times before?
I had a little bit more guidance that I trusted with this album. It just felt like the beginning of my career; how I felt with Atlantic Records. Having my first A&R on board [Breyon Prescott], I just really trusted them and what my album should be—helping bring back the genre of R&B music.

What was the realization that you were ready to make a strict R&B album?
That's what my fans wanted from me. I felt like that was my way to reintroduce myself to them and introduce myself to people that don’t even know me. They’re supporting me and it feels good. I took my daughter to the Mindless Behavior concert and 10- to 16-year-olds are screaming to the top of their lungs when I’m walking in. I started doing music before they were born! I just remember asking some little girl, ‘How do you know me?’

Early on in your career did you think you’d be at this age and still reaching young girls through your music?
I didn't see it, but I definitely wanted longevity. I can’t believe sometimes that I’m still standing after everything I’ve been through, but I'm here. With the success of “Put It Down” and moving forward with “Wildest Dreams,” it feels like a brand new time but it also feels familiar to me.

The energy is youthful but there’s maturity and growth on this album.
It’s definitely different than any album I’ve done, but you can tell it’s still me.

“Wildest Dreams” is definitely a record true to the Brandy we know.
It’s about me not believing I could find someone who cares about me, because at one time, I gave up on love. I just was like, 'I guess I’m going to be alone.' I’m just going to take care of my daughter and do my thing.

Wow. How did you get to that place?
I couldn’t get it right. I got really close to being married and it didn’t happen. After that, I dated a little bit and it was always something that just wasn’t connecting with love and me. I think it was because I was looking for love to do something for me; to make me happy, fill a void, make me feel complete, and all of these things don’t come from another, it comes from a love of self. I didn’t understand that at the time. I really had to confront all of that. I said a prayer and I waited...and I saw Ryan.

It’s widely known that Two Eleven means a lot to you. It’s your birth date but also the date of Whitney Houston’s passing. What runs through your mind when you recall that day?
February 11th will never be the same. I think about her everyday but that day in particular, it’s different. I didn’t understand. I had just seen her the day before; I just spoke to her a couple days before she passed. It just didn’t seem right the way she passed. I was angry, I was confused, but as I started to process it all, I just started to feel like there was a responsibility that she passed on to me to stay true to [the music]. She gave me the dream and possibility, and I have to do that same thing for other people. This music thing is not just about me anymore. It’s about the people that I’m relating to. People need music.

Do you think that you’ll do a song for Whitney?
I don’t think I’m ready for that yet. It’s really about the overall purpose, which is music. I remember her telling me, ‘Nobody can be you so don’t try to be something other than you. Be yourself and stay true to that.’  That was the last thing she said to me. That was the last time I heard her voice. It’s all a spiritual thing to me. The day, the passing, it’s all…

It’s still affecting you; it’s in your voice.
I never want Whitney’s passing to be about me. She meant so much to me, so I have to take something from it to help me move on and give me a purpose after she’s gone.


Brandy

Not only have you stepped back in the music realm, you’ve been exercising your acting chops as of late. How was the transition back?
It was scary and natural. When I impressed my acting coach [Tasha Smith], I felt like I could go forward. She really helped me rediscover that confidence in my acting. I was blessed with Drop Dead Diva then Chardonnay for The Game. I really had to get in there and do my thing if I was going to fit in with them. I just trusted my instincts, the same way I did with Moesha. To be able to trust that again was great, and I’m happy I get a chance to possibly go back to The Game full-time.

Are you excited to work with Lauren London?
Yes! I’m obsessed with Lauren London because she’s so damn cute. I’m excited to work with her and to see her new character, but I’m going to miss Tia [Mowry]. She was such the anchor and backbone of that show.

Interested in being the lead on another TV sitcom?
That’s the goal, to definitely do another television show of my own. There are some ideas that I’ve had for a long time. You never know what happens, but I would definitely be open to doing another television show.

With the political season in full swing, what you would tell young people about the importance on voting.
So many have gone through so much, especially African Americans, to get the opportunity to vote. I remember my first time voting. My mom took me and held my hand. It gives you a voice on what you want and what you need. I think it’s so important for us to get out there and vote. That's all I can really say about it.

This article was originally published in the Oct/Nov issue of VIBE Vixen Digital Magazine. Now available on iTunes

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That Glow, Tho: How To Revive Your Skin After A Brick A** Winter

Whew, chile! Freshly fallen snow may be nice to look at, but the dry skin that accompanies the winter months ain’t it. And by the time the first tulip blooms come springtime, best believe your skin—which just endured months of humidity-deprived conditions—is super parched. Pass the moisturizer, please!

“The lack of humidity during the winter months is the main cause for the ‘winter’s itch’ and dryness,” Dr. Meena Singh, board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon, told VIBE Vixen over email. And let’s not forget how the shorter days rob us ladies of the melanated variety of our warm and natural glow.

Luckily, there are many ways to combat such cold weather woes, both during and after the winter.

“I personally change my regimen significantly between seasons,” Singh added. “In the winter time, I am more prone to use heavier ointments and butters. Whereas in the spring, I can typically get away with moisturizing with emollient creams and lotions.”

But that’s not all you can do to whip your skin back into shape. Looking to bring your fly and radiant self back to life? Look no further. Vixen reached out to five women of color dermatologists, who’ve shared the following tips to help you get started.

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Hydrate From Within.

How many times have you asked a woman with bomb skin what her secret is and been met with the “I drink a lot of water” response? Did you figuratively roll your eyes? We’ve been there and we get it, especially since science says genetics do play a role in how your skin behaves—but homegirl wasn’t wrong!

Dr. Fran E. Cook-Bolden, board-certified NYC dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon, tells Vixen that while you may not feel as thirsty when it’s cold out, it’s still important to stay hydrated and drink your eight glasses of water a day.

“The best way to avoid dry skin in the winter is to tackle it from the inside out,” she says.

Other ways to stay hydrated? Health.com suggests eating fruits such as apples, pears, and clementines, which are all over 80% water. Plus, not only will the vitamin C content of these fruits help you ward off the flu in the winter, but they’ll also keep you cool and refreshed once the weather warms up.

We stan a multifaceted solution.

Don't Forget To Cleanse.

As important as it is to drink your eight glasses a day, it’s also important to keep up with your cleansing routine—even if you’re not sweating as much.

In fact, board-certified Chicago dermatologist Dr. Caroline Robinson tells Vixen that maintaining moisture during the harsh winter months begins with cleansing. Washing our face removes makeup, dirt, and debris from the day, preventing buildup and breakouts. This also means the expensive serums and moisturizers you’ve probably splurged on are better absorbed by the skin.

But don’t overdo it!

“I find that many patients are over-cleansing, over-exfoliating or using cleansers that are not appropriate for their skin type and this is causing excess dryness,” she added. “Using a more mild cleanser can help tremendously in the battle against dryness.”

Our dermatologist-recommended favorite? CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser Bar.

It may also help to reconsider what you’re washing with when the weather changes. Dr. Rosemarie Ingleton, Medical Director of Ingleton Dermatology, adds that as the temperatures go up, your routine should become “less heavy.”

“Switch from more hydrating cleaners and oils to foamy, gel-based cleaners” and to “a lighter weight daily moisturizer,” she advises. And if you’ve been skimping on the SPF don’t—you’ll definitely need it when the sun is back in these streets.

Keeping Up With "Wash Day" Is Important, Too.

Otherwise, you may end up with a condition called seborrheic dermatitis, which often appears on the scalp as a result of product buildup, but can also show up in skin folds such as behind the ears, under the breasts, etc.

“A dry, itchy and flaking scalp is very common in the winter and becomes more common as the frequency of washing the hair decreases,” Cook-Bolden tells Vixen. “When seborrheic dermatitis presents, it’s a common belief that applying scalp lotions, gels or pomades will help to treat the condition and is indeed sometimes helpful in temporarily soothing the itching and irritation.

However, as these products build up on the scalp, they can actually worsen the inflammation and overall worsen seborrheic dermatitis.”

So keep up with your hair care regimen, and if you do find yourself with a case of the seborrheic itchies, don’t hesitate to reach out to your dermatologist for an anti-inflammatory treatment.

Ceramides & Antioxidants Are Your Friends.

If you’re not familiar with ceramides and their superpowers, now’s the time to get familiar. Why? Because they can be extremely healing for desiccated skin.

As Atlanta board-certified dermatologist Dr. Tiffany Clay explains, ceramides are fats in the surface of the skin. When added to skin care products, they not only help your skin retain moisture, but they also give your skin a boost after being exposed to the elements like pollution and icy wind.

In terms of what to use, you’ll want to look for products described as “non-comedogenic,” which means a product is less likely to clog your pores. Additionally, products containing hyaluronic acid (HA) are also a win because of its ability to attract and hold water at the surface of the skin.

“I typically recommend patients keep their antioxidant serum/lotion (vitamin C) and their retinol on board no matter the season,” Clay also notes. “Over- the- counter retinols and prescription retinoids are vitamin A derived medications that most people use in a topical form.”

And they’re a major win-win. Using retinols/retinoids short term will help exfoliate your skin and give you that Kelly Rowland glow. Their long-term use helps to promote collagen production in the skin, minimizing fine lines and decreasing excess melanin production, which will even your complexion, reduce hyperpigmentation, and help reduce photo-damage.

As for vitamin C, look at it as SPF’s best friend.

“Vitamin C is an antioxidant that, when applied topically in combination with daily sun protection, decreases free-radical damage from ultraviolet exposure,” Clay shares.

Those rays don’t stand a chance.

Exfoliate, But Make It Gentle.

It may be tempting to grab the St. Ives but don’t. Instead, Clay suggests, get acquainted with chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandolin acid, or salicylic acid.

These strong but gentle powerhouses typically come labeled as AHAs and BHAs (alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid) and are way less harsh on the skin. Those over-the-counter scrubs you’re used to? They tend to leave scrapes and cuts on the skin, which can lead to inflammation and—you guessed it—hyperpigmentation... and we ain’t ask for all’at.

If you do decide to use a traditional scrub, Ingleton suggests trying Dove’s Exfoliating Body Scrub.

“This will help to slough away dry, dead cells on the surface and also hydrate/moisturize the skin in the process,” she says. “Apply a hydrating body lotion after doing the scrub.”

But again, be gentle!

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Kylie Jenner attends the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Kylie Jenner Doubles Down On Being Crowned A "Self Made" Billionaire

The premise of "self-made" and its interpretation when it comes to privileged celebrities has been a huge debate. When Kylie Jenner was named Forbes' youngest self-made billionaire, debates were raised due to her timeline in the limelight and her wealthy family. The 21-year-old defended her title, explaining how she doesn't fall into any ofter category.

"There’s really no other word to use other than self-made because that is the truth," she said in Q&A with Interview Magazine's German edition. "That is the category that I fall under," she started.

She acknowledged how her fan base equated to her success but refuted claims that she used her family's money to jump-start her wildly successful Kylie Cosmetics line.

"Although, I am a special case because before I started Kylie Cosmetics, I had a huge platform and lots of fans. I did not get money from my parents past the age of 15. I used 100 percent of my own money to start the company, not a dime in my bank account is inherited… and I am very proud of that."

Earlier this month (March 5) the mother-of-one officially surpassed Mark Zuckerberg as the youngest person to reach billionaire status, when Kylie Cosmetics hit a billion dollars in revenue.

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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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