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A Woman's Worth: Estelle On Owning Your Sexuality

Vixen chats with Estelle on owning your sexuality in celebration of Women's History Month

When we first met Estelle back in 2008, the British bombshell had just joined forces with Kanye West and jet-setted across the pond in search of an American boy.

Now, the fly London gal has landed on the top of the charts and solidified herself as R&B’s sweetheart with her soulful voice and infectious hits. Whether she’s wooing her bae to come over, exploring her inner freak or thanking her ex for heartbreak, one thing is for sure: Estelle’s songs come straight from the heart.

“I’m here to relate and touch people in a very real way. I’m not the type of artist that does entertaining records for the sake of it,” she tells Vixen. “I learned early on that people just want you to be you and talk about you.”

Here, Estelle spills the tea on sexuality, girl power, and her own source of inspiration for Vixen's "A Woman's Worth" series for Women's History Month.—Ashley Monae

I credit my personal growth to:
Not being scared to live. Not being scared to keep moving or to be in touch with my true feelings. I learned to stop trying to live life according to how people want you to live it, and live it how you want to live it, especially when you’re an artist. People have their mind made up that you’re supposed to represent a certain thing and I don’t. My whole thing is, 'Well, I won’t get too many of these chances or test runs so I’m going to try and get it right the first time.'

On creating her latest album True Romance:
I had gone through a lot leading up to this album. I learned a lot as not only a human but also a woman. I think it’s something that comes with age. When you’ve come to the point that you’re just not scared anymore, you’re not fearful and just don't care anymore. I think that is what happened with this [True Romance]. I’ve never been out of a relationship during the course of an album (laughs), and I was like, 'Oh, so this is just going to be about me then? Cool.' I also had a lot more freedom with this album, which I’m really thankful for because it allowed me to attack it in a whole different way. Normally, my approach when writing about myself contains a time lapse of a few months or so. This time around I was like, 'Well I’m crying so I’m going to write about it right now.' It was scary. It was extreme. It was a whole different level and once I got used to it, I was like, 'Okay this isn’t so crazy.'

One gem from my parents:
My mom and dad both have the greatest hearts ever. They are my example. They always told me that no matter what happens be nice, have a good heart, and don’t ever do bad things to people on purpose.

Advice I would give my 16-year-old self:
I would say it’s important to keep moving, it’s important to be a nice person, and to have grace above all. Also, watch out for your actions because what you put out there will come back no matter what your intentions. Your intentions and actions have to be on the same page so saying one thing and doing another is going to come back to you. Speak with your actions, stick to your guns and speak to the person you know you are.

My favorite girl power anthem:
“Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. That was the one song that kept me from walking off the ledge when I was desperately homeless back in 1999. That song was in heavy rotation in the U.K. at the time, and I was like, 'Man, this song is literally everything I need to hear it.' I’d wake up in the morning singing it and I didn’t know who I was singing it to but it was those lyrics that meant everything to me: “I’m a survivor/I’m not gon’ give up/I’m not gon’ stop/I’m gon’ work harder.”

How to handle hardships:
It’s going to happen, that’s how I see it. And when it does happen, you can’t be intimated or scared. You honestly just have to get over it. I just don’t see anything as a threat or as a stop sign. If it's something I want, something I’ve dreamed of, and something I really believe in my gut and know that in my heart it’s meant for me, I really don’t see a stop sign. Trust and believe, I’m going to get my happiness at all costs, and of course try to do so with as minimal damage as possible. (Laughs) I’ve always had that way about me.

On the boldly provocative track “Make Her Say (Beat It Up)”:
I have done a record like that before; it’s called “Freak.” So for me, it definitely wasn’t new ground. I feel like people had me in a certain space in their brains after “Thank You,” so that might have scared or shocked people. But then again, I do think [“Freak”] was so long ago, it was almost another generation. I was really like, 'Are y'all serious? No one has sex around here?' (Laughs) I just didn’t understand what the big fuss was. I enjoy good sex, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. I don’t think anyone wakes up in the morning like, 'I want bad sex.'

The key to owning my sexuality:
Be appropriate and carry yourself with grace, from your attitude to the clothes you wear because everything you do represents your brand. You can wear a belly top and be perceived a certain way or wear it and be perceived a whole different way. It’s the way in which you carry yourself, and people will respect your presence if you handle yourself in such a manner. Respect is such a simple thing that many forget to practice. We’re women. We have bodies. It is what it is, but be aware of the way you carry yourself. I’m not a person that wants to take it down for everybody and if I don’t feel like being naked, then I wont be naked, but if I do feel like being half-naked then I will be. Once again, it is what it is and men have to get used to that.

Photo Credit: Atlantic/ Graphic: Epiphany Cole

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Ella Mai On The North Face's 'Explore Mode' Campaign, New Music And Living In The Moment

Ella Mai is in her own age of exploration. Her eponymous debut album scored her a platinum plaque with her breakout hit, "Boo'd Up" earning her a Grammy for Best R&B Song. But the accolades aren't driving her creative path. The arc in her compass is all about the places she's traveled, the people she's met and the lessons learned along the way.

"To be honest, personally, exploration is like growth. I feel like if you don't explore new things, whether it's going outside, meeting people or trying new food, you won't ever grow because you're just stuck in your little comfort zone which can be super scary to come out of," she tells VIBE at The North Face's Explore Mode event in New York on Monday (April 15). The singer is one of three women (including model-activist Gabrielle Richardson and chef Angela Dimayuga) who teamed up with the brand to share a message of enjoying the outside world without digital confinement and the global initiative to make Earth Day a national holiday.

The London native's urge to explore came in handy over the weekend when she performed in the brisk desert of Coachella. Inspired by artists like Rihanna and Ms. Lauryn Hill, Mai helped fans enjoy the hazy sunset as she performed hits like "Trip" and her latest No. 1 song, "Shot Clock."

"It's such a good feeling, especially when it comes to radio," she shared about her track reaching No. 1 on the airplay chart. "I wasn't even sure if people listened to the radio because people have so much access to streaming platforms, but obviously having all three of my singles from my debut album, go number one on urban radio is incredible."

That energy was brought to the Coachella stage with the festival being her biggest artistic exploration so far.

"My favorite part of the performance would have to be when I performed "Naked" and because it was dark, and I performed when the sun went down, I couldn't see how far the crowd actually went back. But during "Naked," it was such an intimate moment I asked everyone to put their lights up (phones) and when I saw how far it went back I was like, "Woah." That moment sealed it for me."

"Even there were two people in the audience, I still would've done my best," she added. "But just to see the crowd be so engaged, even if they didn't know the music, was a really good feeling. I had so much fun."

As the festival energy in Indio, Calif. continued to thrive, another rested on the streets of Los Angeles following the loss of Nipsey Hussle. With the singer having ties to those close to the rapper like DJ Mustard, she says the shift in the city was hard to ignore.

"As weird as it sounds, you felt it," she said. "Even in the weather, it was super hot and then everyone got the news and it started raining. Just a weird energy shift." As a new L.A. resident, the singer says Nipsey's influence cannot be denied.

"I feel like the energy shift went both ways; everyone was really sad, grieving and mourning but everyone feels more inspired by what he was doing that they want to go out and do something and change in their community. It's still a very touchy subject in L.A., especially the people that I'm around since they were very close to him. I think everyone is super inspired to do better and try to be more like him, which is great to see. YG's whole set at Coachella was dedicated to him, I know Khalid had a dedication to Mac Miller. Everyone is super aware of what Nipsey was trying to do and how he wanted to change the world."

Engaging in The North Face's mission to explore seemed to be in the cards for Mai. Like many of us, Mai was familiar with the brand's effective coolness factor. "I remember running home and telling my mom that I needed a Jester Backpack because my cousin had one as well, and it's similar to the other stories, I wanted to be like my older cousin (laughs) so my mom ended up getting me one." But there's also the incentive to showcase the importance of stepping away from the phone screens and into leafy green forests.

"I'm such a live-in-the-moment person," she says of her lack of identity on social media. While she might share a thought or two on social media, Mai is interested in appreciating the world around her. "I feel like everyone is so consumed about documenting the day, you don't really get to live the day. You just watch it back but I like to have the memories in my head. Of course, sometimes, I'll take out my phone but I try to live in the moment as much as possible."

Part of that mission is ensuring Earth Day is celebrated the right way. With the support of Mai, Richardson, and Dimayuga, The North Face officially launched a petition to make Earth Day a national holiday.

“The North Face is no stranger to exploration and this Earth Day we are proud to join our partners and fellow explorers in a global effort to make Earth Day a national holiday,” said Global General Manager of Lifestyle at The North Face, Tim Bantle. “We believe that when people take time to appreciate the Earth, they feel more connected to it and are more likely to protect it. Explore Mode urges us to unplug from our digital lives to connect in real life to the world, each other, and ourselves in the effort to move the world forward.”

Mai hasn't hit her all of her exploration goals just yet. "I really want to go to Indonesia or Bali," she said. "That's one of my Bucket List places I really, really, really wanna go." For her essentials, the singer knows she has to bring along a windbreaker set and of course, a jester backpack. "I think the backpack is the most important thing."

In addition to a few trips around the globe, one destination includes the studio for new music. While she hasn't had time to lock down a moment to record, the inspiration is sizzling.

"When I work in the studio, I like to be like there for a good amount of time," she explains. "I like to block off two to three weeks at a time, I don't like to go to different studios and different places, it's just a comfort thing but I'm very excited to get back cause I have a lot of talk about. I've seen so many different places and met so many new people and a lot that I didn't get to experience last year."

Learn more about The North Face's petition for Earth Day here.

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Mike Windle/Getty Images for McWraps

Tatyana Ali Shares She’s Pregnant With Second Child

A new bundle of joy is on the way for actress Tatyana Ali and her husband Dr. Vaughn Rasberry. On Saturday (April 13), The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air co-star shared the news on Instagram, posting a picture of her baby bump and an excited caption.

“I was on a work trip recently and I thought it was about time I captured my baby bump,” she wrote. “We’re so excited! They say every pregnancy is different and they ain’t lying. Phew! I’m exhausted this go round, swirling with emotion and starving, like constantly. Feeling very blessed.”


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I was on a work trip recently and I thought it was about time I captured my baby bump. We’re so excited! They say every pregnancy is different and they ain’t lying. Phew! I’m exhausted this go round, swirling with emotion and starving, like constantly. Feeling very blessed. #BabyRasberry

A post shared by Tatyana Ali (@tatyanaali) on Apr 13, 2019 at 7:52am PDT


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“Who are you calling?” I asked. He said, “the baby in Mama’s tummy”- Already in cahoots.

A post shared by Tatyana Ali (@tatyanaali) on Apr 14, 2019 at 6:47am PDT

In 2017, Ali and Rasberry had their first child, Edward, who arrived a year after the pair wed in July 2016. In an interview with Parents, Ali described her method to parenting, which she picked up from her mother and father.

“I’m more laid-back than I thought I’d be,” Ali said. “My dad was like this with me and my two sisters. While my mom was stricter, he said, ‘If you teach them everything they need to know, they’ll be prepared and figure things out.’”

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Actor Michael B. Jordan backstage at the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
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Michael B. Jordan Would Like To Be Considered For B2K's Millennium Tour

Michael B. Jordan loves nostalgia. From the 90s and beyond, the actor has always shown love to those who helped create our favorite music memories. Now, Jordan is looking to throw his hat in the running for B2K's Millenium Tour.

The actor shared a hilarious video of himself, Terrance J and Ridiculousness' Steelo Brim jamming to Diddy's "I Need A Girl Remix" this week on Twitter with the caption, "Is there any more room on the Millennium Tour?" Fans of the 2000s hip-hip/R&B era are aware the jam was released in 2002 from Diddy's LP, We Invented The Remix.

We're sure B2K, Mario, Pretty Ricky, Lloyd and the rest of the family wouldn't mind having Killmonger on the road with them. Meanwhile, the guys have brought out several special guests on the Millennium Tour. So far, surprise performances have included Ashanti, Ja Rule, Bow Wow and B5.

Enjoy "I Need A Girl Part 2" below.

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