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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Yvette Nicole Brown and Gabourey Sidibe were some of the actresses who were vocal about the treatment of actors of color when faced with beauticians in Hollywood.
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Celebrities Use #ActingWhileBlack Hashtag To Point Out Pitfalls Of Hollywood's Beauty Scene

While being a working person of color in Hollywood is something to admire, those fortunate enough to be working in these spaces often have difficulties finding the right person to do their hair and makeup with the right amount of diligent care.

Model Olivia Anakwe took to Instagram earlier this month to detail the issues she faced before a runway show, when she was disrespected by haircare professionals who refused to work on her textured hair.

"Black hairstylists are required to know how to do everyone’s hair, why does the same not apply to others?” she wrote. “It does not matter if you don’t specialize in afro hair, as a continuous learner in your field you should be open to what you have yet to accomplish; take a class."

The hashtag #ActingWhileBlack began to spread on social media over the weekend, and people of color chimed in to share their stories.

Actress Yvette Nicole Brown shared that she often carries her own hair extensions and clothes for shoots, and that having stylists who are untrained in black beauty often runs the risk of them looking bad later on. Oscar-nominee Gabourey Sidibe shared a similar sentiment.

Insecure’s Natasha Rothwell hit the nail on the head in her tweet about the issue with not hiring the right people to work with ethnic hair.

“If you cast a POC— And thank you for doing so!—you also have to hire someone who knows how to do ethnic hair,” she wrote on Mar. 11. “Not someone who's "comfortable with it" but someone who actually knows how to style ethnic hair types.”

Check out some tweets from celebs on this issue below.

 

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This message is to spread awareness & hopefully reach anyone in the hair field to expand their range of skills. Black models are still asking for just one hairstylist on every team no matter where your team is from to care for afro hair. I was asked to get out of an empty chair followed by having hairstylists blatantly turning their backs to me when I would walk up to them, to get my hair done. If I am asked to wear my natural hair to a show, the team should prepare the style just as they practice the look and demo for non-afro hair. I arrived backstage where they planned to do cornrows, but not one person on the team knew how to do them without admitting so. After one lady attempted and pulled my edges relentlessly, I stood up to find a model who could possibly do it. After asking two models and then the lead/only nail stylist, she was then taken away from her job to do my hair. This is not okay. This will never be okay. This needs to change. No matter how small your team is, make sure you have one person that is competent at doing afro texture hair care OR just hire a black hairstylist! Black hairstylists are required to know how to do everyone’s hair, why does the same not apply to others? It does not matter if you don’t specialize in afro hair, as a continuous learner in your field you should be open to what you have yet to accomplish; take a class. I was ignored, I was forgotten, and I felt that. Unfortunately I’m not alone, black models with afro texture hair continuously face these similar unfair and disheartening circumstances. It’s 2019, it’s time to do better. || #NaturalHair #ModelsofColor #BlackHairCare #HairCare #Message #Hair #Hairstyling #Backstage #BTS #AfroTexturedHair #Afro #POC #Braids #Message #Spreadtheword #Speak #Awareness #Growth #WorkingTogether #BlackGirlMagic #Melanin

A post shared by Olivia Anakwe (@olivia_anakwe) on Mar 7, 2019 at 9:07am PST

#ActingWhileBlack Makeup & Hair in one bag. The other bags are filled with clothes because some wardrobe stylists don’t know that cute clothes exist in sizes larger than size 10. “Here try on this mumu, I know it’s a little big, we’ll just belt it!” #ActingWhileBlackAndChubby https://t.co/gl3b64Omtj

— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) March 11, 2019

Most black actresses come to a new set w/ their hair done (me) or bring their wigs & clip-ins w/them. It’s either that or take a chance that you will look crazy on screen. Many of us also bring our own foundation. One too many times seeing no shade that matches you will learn ya! https://t.co/mGAzpuoKtb

— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) March 11, 2019

Most black actresses come to a new set w/ their hair done (me) or bring their wigs & clip-ins w/them. It’s either that or take a chance that you will look crazy on screen. Many of us also bring our own foundation. One too many times seeing no shade that matches you will learn ya! https://t.co/mGAzpuoKtb

— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) March 11, 2019

If they don’t have the budget to hire a black hairstylist for me, or won’t, I just get the director to agree that my character should have box braids or senegalese twist.

— Gabby Sidibe (@GabbySidibe) March 11, 2019

PSA: If you cast a POC— And thank you for doing so!—you also have to hire someone who knows how to do ethnic hair. Not someone who's "comfortable with it" but someone who actually knows how to style ethnic hair types.

Congratulations on advancing to the next level of inclusion! https://t.co/A1Q9ZpvXmH

— Natasha Rothwell (@natasharothwell) March 11, 2019

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Kim Kardashian is seen on February 7, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)

Kim Kardashian Credited For Making Crimped Hair Cool Like Beyonce, Janet Jackson And Naomi Campbell Don't Exist

Spring is nothing without doses of cultural appropriation from those out of touch with black culture.

Insert Vogue, who decided to give props to Kim Kardashian for bringing back crimped hair on Friday (March 15). The businesswoman has been on the move lately, rocking a mix of kanekalon and yaki ponytails during fashion month, Chance The Rapper's wedding and other Kardashian-related events.

“What makes this look so modern is that the front is sleek,” explained her stylist Justine Marjan. “This gives a cool contrast to the texture.”

The texture? 

With many trends from the aughts coming back to the mainstream, this is one that hasn't really gone anywhere. But black beauty markers (layered gold chains, perfect baby hairs, name chains) paired with media ignorance and the Kardashian's own fascination with black culture has made it okay for her to receive all the props.

But we can't forget those who have slayed kanekalon, yaki and crimped styles like...

Janet Jackson

The singer's look for her comeback has been a uniform-like one, with Ms. Jackson rocking all black and her now signature ponytail.

Beyoncé

This. was. last. year. How could anyone forget this? The entertainer rocked various styles of kanekalon hair for Beychella.

There was also this amazing look at Serena Williams' wedding.

 

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A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on Nov 19, 2017 at 9:01am PST

Ruth E. Carter

The Oscar-winning designer made the look all her own while on the red carpet for Black Panther. 

Nicki Minaj

Fans of the rapper are aware her early looks included fun crimped and wavy styles. When she made to move to ditch her color wigs in 2014, she's kept the crimped styles close to her heart.

And we cannot forget about our queen, Naomi Campbell

She's owned the look her whole career, from the runway to the red carpet, Ms. Campbell has always been on the forefront of casual beautiful looks.

Social media also got wind of Vogue's post, including actor O'Shea Jackson who like many of us, is just over it.

Maaaaaaan come on now. Come ooooon now. Bringing it back? Vogue stop this https://t.co/FEGSw3GM9V

— Stone Cold Shea Jackson (@OsheaJacksonJr) March 15, 2019

https://twitter.com/SassySouthpaw20/status/1106642402448732160

https://twitter.com/riridotxo/status/1106924628851728384

Perhaps there's a bit of truth of the theories of fashion outlets trolling readers but this just deserves a permanent eye roll.

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'Boomerang' Episode 6 Recap: Homecoming

On this episode of BET’s Boomerang, the love story between Bryson and Simone begins with a flashback to their freshman year of college. After several years of not seeing one another since their childhood, Bryson is shocked to see a slick-back pony-tail wearing Simone insert herself into his class during a presentation. Nothing has changed with her. Even pre-bob and with Bryson rocking a sharp Steve Harvey-like hairline, even from their younger days, they have always been the dynamic duo of marketing strategy. The product featured this week: Pro-Black T-Shirts.

The devastation of not having his secret love in his life spills over into their sophomore year when a beanie-wearing David and Crystal are happy in their fake hood love. By this time, a rapper named Prisoner has all of Simone’s attention and this makes Bryson big mad. The man can’t even hide it. In an apparent fit of jealousy, he calls Simone out for living under her father’s shadow, in front of everyone. It’s safe to say that sophomore Bry struck out badly.

This isn’t just about Simone and Bryson; they’re not the only ones who’ve made transformations over the years (and I’m not just talking about their hair ‘dos). In his earlier life, Ari was less eccentric and more focused on making his family proud as a young black man in college who isn’t running on BPT for class. Ari was as straight as 180 when he’s first put into a situation where he’s forced to confront his sexual identity. As big and bad as he looked while working as a “rough & tough” bouncer at a nightclub, a flirtatious patron sees right through that persona.  After being charmed by the man who helps him realize self, the rainy night sets the tone for a steamy kiss between the two in the front seat of Ari’s car. The look on Ari’s face is a blend of fear, then relief, then ultimately bliss as he seemingly reminisces on his random but welcomed encounter. Although he enjoyed it, Ari didn’t seem to embrace his identity totally. That same year, we see a less hood-David changing more into the Christian we now know and Ari isn’t buying it. Something about this “we can do all things in Christ mentality” rubs him the wrong way. Facing one’s true self is tough.

Junior year, Bryson has a much better barber but things haven’t changed; he’s still checking for Simone. She and Prisoner are still dating if you want to call it that. Prisoner is the type of dude you’d expect to see Simone date in college. He’s flashy, has money, probably doesn’t even go to the school, and he’s rude AF. As Simone and Bryson reconnect for the two millionth time, Prisoner’s pimp tone telling Simone to hurry up is a strong indication he’s not here for their friendship. In analyzing the hair, it’s clear that Simone is not herself. Seriously, at this point, she’s rocking a glueless lace wig.

With her new hairstyle, she realizes that she made the mistake of loving a man more than herself. Prisoner is officially a dub. To celebrate her revelation, she finds herself drunkenly wining and grinding on her childhood bae, Bryson. Does this look familiar? Well, think back to last week when they were doing the same in the parking lot before 5-0 arrived. Because she couldn’t hold it, Simone ends up using Bryson’s bathroom which leads to a very sober thoughts-type of conversation in the bedroom. It is recognized that Bryson has always had a thing for the kid and Simone regrets that she never said anything about her feelings. His commandeering attitude (like the day she walked into his class freshman year) reminded her of the Different World “Strangers on a Plane” episode. It was an iconic one because it’s where Dwayne and Whitley’s love story began. That’s a telling comparison.

With that being said, Simone always felt Bryson was the Dwane to her Whitley. Unfortunately, the timing was always off and just when we think the two finally catch up to one another, cue: the vomit. Poor Bryson. Did someone do brujeria on this kid? He has the worst luck. But, like the gentleman he is, he takes care of his queen to make sure she’s all comfy in her drunken slumber. He whispers, “I love you Simone Graham,” but on the wake up it looks like sis suffers from sudden amnesia. She pulls the “best friend” card, making it clear that it’s friend zone from here on out. Prisoner’s trifling friend calls to offer to take Simone out to eat and in an act of “let me solidify that Bryson knows this is going nowhere,” Simone agrees to go out with her ex's friend. Once again, a blue-balled Bryson is left sorting out his feelings that Simone continues to perpetually confuse.

It’s important to note that the story of Brymone is not a new one. We’ve seen it in many action movies, comic book flicks, and on “Strangers on a Plane” where the geeky male character is overlooked by the badass female, only to win her affection in the end. Nice guys don’t always finish last, but in Bryson’s case, could it possibly be heading in that direction and is Simone even the heroine worth winning? In browsing through what is essentially the best years of any young adult’s life, Simone had many times to figure out if Bryson was the one for her and yet she chose to ignore her feelings. Unlike David, it’s not like she found Jesus; she hasn’t yet found herself.

One thing she does know is that she cannot lose Bryson because it’s possible she may love and need him more than she’d like to verbally admit. He’s no Prisoner or no flashy member of the entourage. He’s the “gentleman who wears tuxedos and makes sure his homegirl is safe” type of dude and unfortunately, that isn’t one Simone is interested in, for now.

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