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A (Young) Woman's Worth: Justine Skye On Growing Into Your Confidence

Vixen chats with Justine Skye about growth, empowering other female artists and growing into your confidence

In a corner of Justine Skye's Tumblr page lies a comment about regurgitated interview questions.

"It's a bit redundant ... but each platform reaches a different audience so.. you gotta tell the same story til they know it by heart ya dig," she responds like a seasoned vet to the follower's comments on asking about her Tyga collaboration "Collide" and working with DJ Mustard.

But Skye's no stranger to Vixen. Here, the purple-haired leader of #UnicornNation opens up about the life and times of 19-year-old Justine Skye. With her Emotionally Unavailable EP dropping in May, she has a wealth of experience to pour out on wax. Just before her first headlining show at SOB's on Monday (March 16), the Brooklyn-born singer candidly shares her thoughts about finding balance between catering to her fans and honoring privacy, and personal growth. Skye's the limit.

My confidence comes from:
Being that kid that was really scared and in the background a lot. I decided that I didn’t want to be that person anymore. Life is too short to be scared and not take risks. I'd rather be the person that’s like 'I messed up' than 'I wish I did that.'

On her hair:
My hair is always going to be purple, that’s kind of my thing. It doesn’t matter what length I make it, as long as it’s purple. One time I tried bangs and people just weren’t feeling it at all, but it’s my hair. It’s my unicorn mane, and it’s definitely very important to me. It’s also my body, and so I don’t really care about other people’s opinion of it.

My beauty must-haves:
I’ve been doing this brown lip gloss kind of thing. It’s MAC Chestnut lip liner and then I use NARS Supervixen lip gloss.

On heartbreak at a young age:
I’m growing into a young woman. I’m going to be 20 this year and my sound – and really just my life – is changing dramatically. My love life is changing dramatically too. I went through a whole relationship and that was all cool. I was young and in love. Now I’m older and there’s still a lot of experiences I’m going to go through in life, but now I’m well-aware and not so naïve. During the first EP, I was in a relationship and it was the introduction, like 'Hey guys, I’m signed to Atlantic Records, and I’m in love, and everything’s great.' Now, I’ve been through some hard times. I’ve been through a heartbreak and seen the business side of the music industry. Now I see things clearer.

On learning social media boundaries:
What really drew the line was when I was in public and someone grabbed me and said, 'Hey, what happened with you and [your ex] Glen?' I got confused. This person grabbed me like I knew them and I was going to lash out like, 'Why would you ask me something like that?' I had to remember that my whole relationship was public. I learned I got to scale back if I’m talking to someone new and I can’t be so open in public with it. This is my life. Emotions are involved with this and this isn’t healthy to have people coming up to me asking me about this all the time. I kind of had to find a happy medium between talking to new people and still keeping my fans in the loop. It doesn’t matter if you’re famous or not, you want to acknowledge your significant other and be like, 'Hey, I’m happy' and post things, but I’m not going to be as open about it like my last relationship. It’s definitely a lesson learned.

On comparisons in the music industry:
It’s the worst thing ever. There’s always competition in the world, but you don’t have to be enemies. You can empower each other. I feel like it’s coming back though, like in the '90s, when female R&B singers empowered one another, got on each another’s songs, and did tours and shows together. I feel like that was super cool. Me and this other artist, Kehlani, talked about it the other day. We’re going to get in the studio. We were saying we should go on tour with these female artists and do this whole "woman empowerment" thing. That would be so dope and I don’t know why people, especially women, always want to compete with each other and bring one another down. If we come together and support one another, we could be so powerful and men would have no say in anything (Laughs).

Mentors-in-my-head:
I definitely look up to Rihanna. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her and she’s not afraid of taking risks, and trying different things whether it’s fashion or music. She’s all about what makes her comfortable. Meeting Rihanna [at the Roc Nation pre-Grammys brunch] was a crazy huge moment for me. She already knew who I was too, which was really, really crazy. I walked up to her friend Melissa [Forde] and she goes, 'Hey, Justine,' and I go 'Wait, hold up. You know my name? Is this real? Am I tripping?'

Another person is Beyoncé. She’s really the hardest worker in the music industry, and just in life. She’s always pushing her limits and always keeps her fans entertained. Aaliyah, too. She inspires many female artists my age. Just her swag and how chill she was, and Missy Elliott. When it comes to writing, her melodies, her phrases and metaphors, she’s really creative—it’s crazy. When I’m in the studio, I try to get as creative as she does.

What to expect from my upcoming Emotionally Unavailable EP:
There’s a fun, party song called “On & On”. I feel like it’s a great representation of me. Travi$ Scott is getting on it too, so that’s really dope. The EP's coming out in May and I feel like it’s also a great time too, because [my fans] are like, 'You went through a breakup and we need answers.' I’m not going to blurt out my whole life on the Internet, and just be all crazy emotional. I’m not that type of person, but it’s in my music. All the answers they’re going to be looking for will be through that.

Best advice I ever received:
There’s a quote that I live by, and it’s "Never argue with a fool because onlookers may not be able to tell the difference." I feel like I’m still struggling with following that quote, but that’s something everyone should live by because a lot people like to fight back and argue, and don’t chose their battles wisely. When you’re arguing with a fool, you’re the fool for even going back and forth. You got to learn when to be the bigger person, especially in the entertainment business. When you’re in the limelight, you can’t always lash out.

ALSO SEE: A Woman’s Worth: Estelle On Owning Your Sexuality

Justine Skye heads to SOB's on Monday, March 16. For tickets, click here.

Photo Credit: Instagram/Justine Skye, Graphic: Epiphany Cole

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Aaliyah during TNT Presents - A Gift of Song - New York - January 1, 1997 in New York City, New York, United States.
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Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.

Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.

 

Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/LxZfxcqRgF

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/BHlANZjCGZ

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/vLqLTVxqO9

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/ALDcT0ZQxR

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/zwk0AWMCoE

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/mM2GWEg1pe

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!pic.twitter.com/GfxBeJxUY1

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...

#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/iXNwssD3sY

— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/cGl269tuTr

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

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Singers Adrienne Bailon (L) and Kiely Williams of the 'Cheetah Girls' pose for photos around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held at Smashbox Studios on October 18, 2007 in Culver City, California.
Katy Winn/Getty Images for IMG

Kiely Williams Explains Fallout With Adrienne Bailon Houghton And Alleged Fight With Raven-Symonè

Our current isolated way of life has given some plenty of time for reflection like Kiely Williams of the former girl group 3LW and The Cheetah Girls (ask your kids). The tales of both successful groups have been told time after time by fans in YouTube documentaries and members of each collective but Williams has decided to share her side of the story.

Williams hopped on Live Monday (March 30) where she discussed her former friendship with The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton and the infamous chicken throwing fight with actress/singer Naturi Naughton. The mother of one didn't pinpoint exactly why she fell out with Houghton but did point out how she wouldn't be interested in appearing on her talk show.

"I don't think Adrienne wants to have live TV with me," Williams said. "'Cause she's gon' have to say, 'Yes Kiely, I did pretend to be your best friend. Now, I am not.' You were either lying then or you're lying now. You either were my best friend and now you're just not claiming me or you were pretending [to be my best friend."

The two remained friends after Naughton was kicked out of 3LW, the platinum-selling group known for 2000s pop hits like "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)" and "Playas Gon' Play." Williams and Houghton were eventually picked to be apart of The Cheetah Girls with then-Disney darling Raven-Symonè and dancer Sabrina Bryan.

Williams went on to discuss her fight with Naughton, which she denies had anything to do with her skin color. With her mother near, Williams claimed Naughton called her a b***h, leading to the fight. While she didn't clear up the chicken throwing, she stated how she was "going for her neck" and was holding food and her baby sister in the process.

Apologies aren't on the horizon either. “I don’t feel like I have anything to make amends for, especially as it relates to Adrienne,” Kiely said. “As far as Naturi goes, if there was ever a reason to apologize, all of that has kind of been overshadowed by the literal lies and really ugly stuff that she said about my mom and my sister. So, no. Not interested in that. I’m sorry.”

Moving onto The Cheetah Girls, Williams also denied claims she got into fights with Raven-Symonè on the set of The Cheetah Girls films and never outed her as a teen. The rumor about Symonè and Williams was reportedly started by Symonè's former co-star Orlando Brown.

Symonè has often shared positive memories about The Cheetah Girls and their reign but did imply during an episode of The View how co-star Lynn Whitfield kept her from losing her cool on set.

On a lighter note, Symonè, Houghton and Naughton have kept in contact with Naughton and Houghton putting their differences aside during an appearance on The Real. 

Symonè and Houghton also reunited at the Women's March in Los Angeles in January. During Bailon's performance at the event, the two briefly performed the Cheetah Girls' classic, "Together We Can."

Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

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Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Kelis Announces ‘Cooked With Cannabis’ Show Will Premiere On Netflix

Kelis is taking her chef talents to Netflix. The musician will host a food competition show titled Cooked With Cannabis that’ll premiere on the very-fitting April 20 (4/20). According to NME, the show will span six episodes and be co-hosted by chef Leather Storrs.

Describing the opportunity as a “dream come true” since she’s a major supporter of the streaming service, Kelis took to Instagram to share how cannabis and cooking is one of her many creative passions. “As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today’s society,” the mother-of-two writes. “In this country, many things have been used systemically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together.”

Each episode will place three chefs against each other as they craft three-course meals with cannabis as the central ingredient. Each episode’s winner takes home $10,000. Guests will play an integral role in who takes home the cash prize. Too $hort, and El-P are just a few of this season's guests.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I'm really excited to announce my new show, Cooked with Cannabis on @Netflix!! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love my Netflix, so this is a dream come true. Interestingly, this was one of those things that I didn't go looking for, it kind of came to me. As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today's society. In this country, many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together. I hope you all will tune in, it's definitely going to be a good time! We launch on 4/20! XO, Kelis

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis) on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:57am PDT

In a previous Lenny Letter profile, Kelis shared she comes from a line of culinary influences beginning with her mother who owned a catering service. In 2008, the “Milkshake” singer sought to refine her cooking skills by enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu school. Receiving a certificate as a trained saucier, the New York native put her expertise to the test during pop-up restaurants in her native city, created a hot sauce line, and co-owns a sustainable farm in Quindio, Colombia.

“Food is revolutionary because it is the one and only international language. It’s the most human thing you can partake in,” she said in an interview with Bon Appetit. “We are the only species that cooks.”

This isn’t Kelis’ first foray into the reality-cooking television world. In 2014, she partnered with the Cooking Channel for Saucy and Sweet and published the "My Life on a Plate" cookbook a year later.

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