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V Review: Solange's 'True' EP

Solange Knowles is her own woman, and in many respects, a woman’s woman. On her seven-track EP, True, Beyoncé’s eclectic younger sister charters the jagged waters of love, lust, loss and all things in between. She is at one point the woman we have been, and at another, the woman we don’t want to be.

Duality reigns supreme here, as Solange tackles complex situations with even more complex sounds. To the amateur, heartache can only be depicted through the quintessential ballad—using slow, painstaking melodies to relay the pain—but she does just the opposite, employing up-tempo handclaps and catchy choruses to ease the blow. “Losing You” and “Lovers in the Parking Lot” reminds us that women can be selfish, too, admitting regret and shameful defeat in the war of love over experimental beats. The latter and less carefree track also sneaks Solange’s vocal range and soulful harmonies along for the ride.

Still, the singer's brave face somehow makes her vulnerability more apparent. Foul-mouthed and frustrated on “Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work,” her plea to be left alone rings false. She wants her love to stick around. She even plays the role of the dreamer, playfully fantasizing about being someone’s object of affection on “Locked in Closets.” Musically, both tracks channel sounds of the ’80s, proving these sentiments to be timeless.

For many like her, the hypocrisy is clear. On one hand, we’re begging our lovers not to break our hearts as she does on “Don’t Let Me Down,” and on the other, we’re “Bad Girls”: destructive balls of confusion. She knows it’s never simple. --Iyana Robertson

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New Music: Billi Phene Drops 'Love Crimes' Off Of Forthcoming EP

Billi Phene started as a background singer for Rihanna, but since then, she has emerged as a solo entity who is read to take the world by storm on her own accord.

The Bronx-born singer and songwriter recently released her first single off of her forthcoming EP, which is expected to drop in the summer. "Birthed from the ashes of an explosive breakup, 'Love Crimes' is an unapologetic declaration," says a press release for the song, which became available on streaming services Friday, Jan. 11. "Envisioned as an interrogation room confession, it tells the story of emotional self sacrifice."

The artist, who cites her influences as David Bowie, Bjork, Beyonce and Lady Gaga as some of her influences, says that she's always trying to push the envelope. Her lyrics range from mysterious to dangerous to playing with the boundaries of sex.

“I’m always down for edgier soundscapes," she continues. "It’s the story of being nonconformist, and not fitting into any pigeon hole that seems to inform my lyrics and musical choices. It comes from my truest self. Maybe my music can encourage others to do the same...to be different, to be honest with themselves for once.”

Listen to "Love Crimes" below.

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Footage Reveals That R. Kelly Was Aware Of Aaliyah's Age, Contrary To Lawyer's Statement

An old video has resurfaced which showcases that R. Kelly was aware of Aaliyah's age when they married in 1994. The documentary-style interview demonstrates the R&B singer in the studio with a then 14-year-old Aaliyah while they worked on her debut album Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number, Okayplayer reports.

“Right now I’m producing a very talented young lady, she’s 14. Aaliyah, she’s real street,” he said, continuing to give her directions on how she should hit her notes on the track’s production.

Amid the blatant evidence, Kelly’s lawyer Steven Greenberg recently said that the 52-year-old singer did not know Aaliyah's real age at the time of their marriage. Greenberg also said that Aaliyah allegedly lied about her age in order to get married.

“..My understanding is that she did not claim to be 15. And in order to get married she had to lie about her age,” Greenberg said on Good Morning America. However, he confirmed the two were married. In 1994, VIBE published Kelly and Aaliyah’s marriage certificate in a cover story documenting their union. An excerpt from journalist Danyel Smith reads:

"Then there’s the story that says Aaliyah is supposedly 19, and none of this is as scandalous as folks would like to make it. There is, after all, an Illinois marriage license dated August 31, for Robert S. Kelly and Aaliyah D. Haughton, which lists their respective ages as 27 and 18,” Smith writes. “(Of course, the marriage would be null and void if the ages are not legit.) The only problem is, while promoting her million-selling Jive Records debut, Age Ain’t Nothin’ but a Number, Aaliyah has been evasive about stating her age. Her official bio says 15, and a record company publicist has said, “We stand behind the bio."

Now, another detail has surfaced in relation to the physical abuse Aaliyah allegedly endured at the hands of Kelly while they were married. Journalist Jim DeRogatis, who's extensively covered Kelly's plight with sexual and physical abuse of women, told The New York Times that he obtained court documents stating physical abuse, BET reports.

“The annulment of the Aaliyah marriage and Aaliyah’s legal claim against him had been sealed in Detroit … they were sealed by the court but those documents were provided to me," he said. “It’s a harrowing document, a non-disclosure agreement on both her part and Kelly’s, vowing not to pursue further legal claims for physical abuse. So it wasn’t just an underage sexual relationship, he hit her, allegedly, according to that court document."

R. Kelly is reportedly under criminal investigation by the state of Georgia since Lifetime aired its docu-series Surviving R.Kelly.  

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Premiere: Jordan Hollywood Goes To War In Visuals For "Explosion"

A war-torn forest reminiscent of 1969’s Vietnam War serves as the perfect backdrop for Jordan Hollywood’s video for “Explosion.” Through a montage of wild greenery, Jordan is seen dodging a rainstorm of fiery explosives. Amid the dangerous scenes, his lyrics tell a variety of sex-induced tales paired with braggadocious bars used to remind his rap contemporaries of his space in the game.

The 25-year-old newcomer, who is signed to Quality Control (Migos, City Girls, Lil Baby, Lil Yachty), centers on having his creative visual artistry merge with his lyrical prowess. For “Explosion,” he wanted to revert back to his old artistic roots.

“I’ve been using the same director, Christian Breslauer, since I was 17,” he told VIBE via email. “He did these war videos back then on a shi**y camera that still looked good. Fast forward to now, we were sitting at his house and I was like, 'Yo, remember those war videos you made back then? Let’s do something like that for “EXPLOSION.'”

The Broward County native credits his label for granting him artistic control to express himself how he deems necessary. He named his latest project FINALLY!  as an ode to feeling like he has creative control, and the agency to pursue his craft.

"I’m signed to the best label in the world, I have full creative control, and I have a platform now," he told Billboard. "Whatever vision I have, I can do it. That’s the best feeling. When I say 'finally,' that’s what I mean. To be an artist, not a lot of artists feel the way I feel. They feel controlled or manipulated by people telling them what to do all the time. With me, I feel like I’m in the perfect space and it’s an unbelievable feeling."

Watch the video for "EXPLOSION" below.

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