Exclusive Janelle Monae Performance For Samsung Galaxy Owners At Best Buy Theater To Celebrate The Brand New Galaxy S 6 And Galaxy S 6 Edge

Vixen Chat: Janelle Monáe On Wondaland Venture: 'Diddy Told Me To Be Better Than Him'

After tearing down the house at NYC's Best Buy Theater for Samsung, Janelle Monáe sits with Vixen to discuss Wondaland Records and finding balance. 

If Elvis Presley is the king of rock and roll, then Janelle Monáe is certainly the queen – pompadour, red lipstick and trousers included.

On Thursday night (March 26), the Mother Android surprised her fans and Samsung users alike with a free show at New York City's Best Buy Theater in celebration of Samsung's new Galaxy S6 and S6 edge phones as well as her new title of Boss Lady of Wondaland Records.

In true Monáe fashion, she brought the funk and then some with her eclectic and trendsetting sound. After Outkast's "Bombs Over Baghdad" blared through the speakers – a precursor to the turn-up that would commence once she set foot on the stage, Janelle was wheeled out in a metal Frankenstein-like contraption, coming alive as soon as she touched the mic and took the crowd to church.

ALSO SEE: Electric Lady: Janelle Monáe On Starting A Movement

For an hour and a half, the lady of the night pulled off four stylish outfit changes while performing Stan favorites "Q.U.E.E.N.," the upbeat "Electric Lady," the soulful "Primetime" and her debut hit "Tightrope." Janelle kept the crowd jamming and two-stepping all night with her remarkable catalog of hits. With her dope dance moves and unmatched level of energy, she commanded the stage like a true rock star from start to end.

Honestly, there is an aura about Janelle Monae that can't be put into words. In her purest form, Monáe erases the audience's troubles and teleports them to a funky and futuristic planet of love, empowerment and unity. After tearing down the house at the Best Buy Theater, Janelle sat with Vixen for a quick chat about her latest business venture and how she creates her own Wondaland.

VIBE Vixen: What an amazing show you just had tonight. Why did you decide to partner with Samsung for a free concert strictly for Samsung customers?
Janelle Monáe: I'm all about the people, and doing this was a way to give back to my fans and show them love.

On and off stage, you are truly a standout artist who is known to defy labels and stay true to herself. Were you always a confident woman?
I wasn't always so sure of myself. (Laughs) I still have moments where I'm not, but I got tired of that feeling. At the end of the night, I'm the only one that has to deal with me, and I realized that fighting spirit that my grandmother had was in me. I grew up around matriarchs and strong women who stepped up and provided for the family when the men weren't there. They were leaders. Being surrounded by women like that, I knew it was in my blood to be the same way.

Speaking of being a leader, you have launched a joint venture imprint with Epic Records called Wondaland Records, and the collective is set to drop a project this summer. What can people expect?
Yes, on May 19, The Eephus EP will be coming out. It's a compilation CD featuring four amazing artists on Wonderland Records: the swing master of all ceremonies Jidenna (his latest single is Classic Man"), dynamic duo St. Beauty, the son of soul, Roman and the punk prophets, afro punk masters Deep Cotton. Everyone is so unique and brings their own perspective. Wondaland comes as a movement, not just a record label. I had a dream of us swimming to this boat, and no artist being left behind so I'm just thankful that Epic [Records] took all of us. I told them, "You can't just take one, you have to take us all." It's really going to be incredible. The term "eephus" actually means game-changer and that is what we are setting out to do.

This has to be a full circle moment, starting your own imprint, and giving other artists the opportunity to be heard like Puffy and Big Boi did for you. How does this moment feel?
I feel thankful and a great deal of responsibility. I have to continue to do yoga daily to stay balanced. (Laughs) Puffy and Big Boi are both on the board of Wondaland Records so before I did any deal and any business, I talked to them first and got advice. I really love the fact that if I do need to talk the them that they are always there. They've always respected me as a young woman and one of the things Puff told me, I've actually never told anyone this before, but he told me to be better than him. He was like, "Janelle, promise me you're going to be better than me." So I owe that to him because he created an opportunity for me and now I get the opportunity to create platforms for visionary artists. I'm excited. I want to see more women in leadership roles in the music industry and more A&Rs. I feel like we [women] have a very unique way of doing business, a special way because we have the ability to be compassionate and strong.

Earlier, you mentioned yoga keeps you balanced. How does a singer, songwriter, fashion icon, Cover Girl, and the leading lady of Wondaland Records remain so classy and poised at all times? It seems like we never see you break a sweat. Do tell us your secret.
I'm an android, that's it. Seriously, when I call home and I talk to my original tribe, my family, they keep me centered. People ask me all of the time what is the hardest things you've had to do, and it's really leaving my family because I love them so much. You miss birthdays, you miss so much. [My family's] like you're going to do it because you've left us already so you better do it all the way and that really gives me encouragement. My grandmother was a sharecropper in Aberdeen, Mississippi so she turned nothing into something, and I want to continue to make her proud, too.

Which would you rather wear: heels or brogues?
Heels, actually.

Florals or stripes?
Polka dots.

Tuxedo jacket or cape?
Tuxedo jacket with a cape on top and a brooch.

Your hair is yet another piece of the fabulous Janelle Monae experience. With natural hair a huge trend among women of color, what advice would you give to ladies wanting to take a leap of faith and try it out?
Fall in love with it. No matter what, stay married to your natural hair. Ya'll will have bad days, ya'll might get into it, ya'll might argue and fuss and fight, but at the end of the day, remember it's til death do us part. You came here together, you stay here together. That's it.

As a past Vixen cover, in your own words why do Vixen voices matter?
As a black woman, I stand for the rights of all and for everyone's voice to be heard. This year is the year of change and the year of women – us all working together to raise a generation. Let's not believe in hate, let us choose love.

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Ava DuVernay And Theaster Gates To Lead Diversity Council For Prada

Major luxury brands like Prada and Gucci have been under fire since releasing luxury items with racial undertones. Sparking controversy that is not easily repaired with public apologies, Prada has announced a Diversity and Inclusion Council lead by director Ava DuVernay and social practice installation artist Theaster Gates.

Gates and DuVernay, who have used their art in social justice missions will join " Prada’s initiative to elevate voices of color within the company and the fashion industry at-large.” The pair will also help the brand provide the opportunity for designers of color to obtain internships and apprenticeships that are inclusive of diverse communities.

In a statement to WWD, Miuccia Prada, Prada’s Chief Executive Officer, and Lead Creative Director stated explained the brand's willingness to learn from their own mistakes while actively including creative of color in the company.

“Prada is committed to cultivating, recruiting and retaining diverse talent to contribute to all departments of the company, Prada said. "In addition to amplifying voices of color within the industry, we will help ensure that the fashion world is reflective of the world in which we live, and we are thrilled to be working with long-time collaborators, Ava DuVernay and Theaster Gates, on this important initiative. We look forward to working with the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council to help us grow not only as a company but also as individuals.”

The Diversity Council will work alongside the company's Social Responsibility department to recommend strategic approaches within the next few months.

 

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Solitary Alignment: 5 Self-Affirming Reads For Single Ladies On Valentine’s Day

Ahh, the Feast of Saint Valentine—the Hallmark holiday that strikes us with its arrow each year, for better or for worse, depending on your bae status. While the romantic holiday is adored and celebrated by many, if you’re still reeling over, say, your ex’s refusal to commit, chances are Feb. 14 is more of a heartache for you than anything.

But as a wise woman once said, “If they liked it then they should’ve put a ring on it.” So whether V-Day has you scared of lonely or sulking over a lost love, as another wise woman once said, they “would be SUPER lucky to even set eyes on you this Valentine’s Day. That’s it. That’s the gift.” Shout out to The Slumflower.

Sure, having a bae on Valentine’s Day is cool, but so is reminding yourself why you’re just fine without one (cue Webbie’s “Independent”). In fact, single folks have better relationships overall, according to the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. You know how the old adage goes: love yourself before loving someone else.

For this Valentine’s Day, VIBE Vixen rounds up a nourishing list of books for our sisters doin’ it for themselves. Consider this your reminder of how badass you are—because you are! Oh, oh, oh. *Beyoncé voice*

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Cast of 'Boomerang' (L to R): Ari (Leland Martin), David (RJ Walker), Bryson (Tequan Richmond)
Kareem Black/BET

BET’s 'Boomerang' Recap: Can You Really Hate The Player?

It’s game night at Bryson’s crib and at this point, you have to wonder if he’s playing himself. Clubs ain’t for everybody, especially Bryson who would much rather spend a Friday night shouting out clues to his boo Simone. Judging by her uncanny ability to keep it real in episode one, it should be pretty obvious that Simone hates playing games, but we digress.

The ladies arrive after a walk and talk of d**k appointments and the gentlemen’s faces are beaming with schoolboy joy. The friend zone portal Bryson always finds himself in opens up even wider when new dudes come to join in on the fun. Simone’s excitement to “meet new people” has Bryson feeling so jealous that he damn near blows steam when an almondy young man accidentally bumps into her. Its official: Bryson’s insecurity level has reached a 10.

As Tara reluctantly Insastories the night’s dull festivities, Ari gives his homie Bryson the cold, hard truth: Simone does not want his a**. Out on the balcony, Crystal and David (RJ Walker) have a moment; the two clearly have history. A shared beer and a couple of laughs reveal that David is an aspiring preacher, begging us to wonder if that’s why little Creflo’s relationship with Crystal didn’t last. The newly invited pizza guy, Shawn, makes his crush on Simone crystal clear and Bryson. Loses. His. Sh*t. Damn, we heard the friend zone was a cold place but we never thought it was that brick. Simone and her new eye candy rendezvous en route to and from the bathroom where Shawn makes a very forward ask to keep Simone company in her bed.  We’re not even going to hold you all, Simone was out; my mans didn’t even have to ask her twice. Le sigh. Poor Bryson. He just keeps taking L after L.

Okay, so remember kitchen bae who bumped into Simone making Bryson get all Mighty Mouse? Well, the gag is, his eyes are just for Ari (Leland B. Martin) and the two make their exit for a steamy hot tub sesh. Bryson feels stupid now, but at least someone is getting a happy ending.  Confused as to why the love of his life doesn’t view him the same, Bryson looks to pastor David for some well-needed reaffirmations. Repeat after me: Everything happens in God’s timing. A spirit of prayer, a childhood photo, and spin of Ahmad’s “Back In The Day” is just what Bryson needs to finally feel the relief he was yearning for all night.

This season of BET’s Boomerang looks like it will be filled with bomb hairstyles, plenty of passion, and some “aww sh*****t” moments.

Tune in to Boomerang on BET every Tuesday at 10/9c to see if this nice guy will ever finish first.

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