Sly and the Family Stone

Premiere: Get Uplifted By Sly & The Family Stone's 'Life' (Live)

Forty-six years after performing at one of New York City's historic venues, Epic/Legacy records announce the debut release of Sly & The Family Stone's live compilation.

Forty-six years after performing at one of New York City's historic venues, Epic/Legacy records announce the debut release of Sly & The Family Stone - Live at the Fillmore East October 4th & 5th 1968.

The four-disc set features 34 unreleased performances from their live shows at Bill Graham’s legendary concert hall. During their rise, Sly & The Family Stone built an undeniable reputation as one of the most influential bands of the 1960s. The group effortlessly combined upbeat, funky melodies with socially conscious lyrics that would paint a vivid picture of the sociopolitical landscape of the ‘60s while also creating a road map for pop music in the decades to come.

SEE ALSO: Whitney Houston’s “You Give Good Love” (Live On ‘The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson’)

The collection has been preceded by a double-vinyl ‘best-of’ featuring highlights from all four shows compiled by “Captain” Kirk Douglas, guitarist for The Roots:

“This performance is living breathing evidence of how much of a force of nature Sly & the Family Stone were at this point of their career. Every member of the group shines in a way that I can only describe as a revelation. It was enjoyable listening to the band break free from the studio arrangements of the songs we know and love to find new interpretations. And to think they did this twice in one evening! The heaviest of rock and the funkiest of soul jumps out of the speakers combined with a message just as relevant today as the day it was recorded. This deserves to be played LOUD!"

SEE ALSO: The Staple Singers’ Unreleased ‘View The Holy City’ Adds A Taste of Black History

Live at the Fillmore East October 4th & 5th 1968 hits stores on Friday, July 17 and can be pre-ordered in CD and vinyl format on Amazon.

Hear their live funky, organ and horn-laden performance of "Life" down below.

Photo Credit: Sony Records

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(L-R) Flex Alexander and Shanice attend the Soul Train Weekend Kick-Off Party on November 5, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
(Photo by Earl Gibson/BET/Getty Images for BET

Interview: Flex and Shanice Talk 'Virtual House Party,' Staying Together And That Call From Aretha Franklin

Shanice and Flex Alexander are ‘90s Black pop culture in the form of husband and wife. Shanice was an R&B ingenue with a hypnotic smile and powerful voice beyond her years when her sophomore album Inner Child propelled her to pop status thanks to the 1991 hit “I Love Your Smile.” Flex was a background dancer for acts like Sal-N-Pepa, before becoming a comedic actor and a mainstay on our TV sets during the golden era of Black TV in the ‘90s through early ‘00s.

After years of pulling in approximately $25K per week (according to Alexander) and not knowing how to properly manage the income, the couple lost their home, liquidated their assets, and filed for bankruptcy in 2010. They chronicled part of their journey with their reality show Flex and Shanice on OWN from 2014 to 2016 and are now positioning themselves for their respective next career chapters.

A big part of Flex’s next chapter was announced in July, when Netflix revealed they were bringing a slate of UPN shows from the early ‘00s arriving to the app this Fall. The line up includes Girlfriends, on which Flex originated the role of Darnell Wilkes; and One on One, which features Alexander as a single dad to teenage Kyla Pratt (and also features Shanice singing the theme song). Following the eagerly met premieres of classics Moesha, Girlfriends, and The Parkers, One on One and Half & Half (Essence Atkins and Rachel True) premiered on Thursday on the video streaming platform.

The couple, who celebrated their 20th anniversary this year, talked to VIBE recently about adjusting during the COVID-19 pandemic, growth as a married couple, and that time Aretha Franklin asked her to play a role in the upcoming Respect biopic.


VIBE: How have you all been doing with everything that's going on?

Shanice: We're hanging in there. (Flex) doesn't like it when I say, "We're hanging in there."

Flex: We are doing exceptionally well. We are alive, we are healthy. Just dealing with it like everybody else, taking it one day at a time because you can't really plan too far ahead.

Did you ever think that we would be going through something like this?

Shanice: No, never. Flex said he kind of...Didn't you say over the years you thought...No. You said you read a lot of books and stuff.

Flex: Yeah. I do a lot of reading and stuff from my college days. Just stuff that talk about this stuff that's going on I like to get into. Everybody thinks it's conspiracy or whatever, but I just didn't think it would be in my lifetime. It is an adjustment for everyone. Like she said, we try to find the positive in it. We sit at the table, we eat dinner at the table, we can sit down. I say, "Baby, do you want to watch a movie?" We sit there and just hang out. Before, we were just crossing [paths where] everybody's hustling and grinding, hustling.

With the senseless police killings, racism seems to be at an all-time high. What type of conversations are you guys now having with (teenage children) Elijah and Imani now that they're older and this could happen to them or any other young adult? What are you telling them?

Flex: This is something I know I've been talking to Elijah about not just since this. When he was younger, just explaining him as a young Black kid, being a Black teenager turning into a young Black man, just the crosshairs that's on their back. You talk to them about if you're pulled over what to do, what not to do. We don't like to let him ride. He has friends that have cars and I'm like, "No, four or five of you all in the car? No. That's an open invitation." It hurts us because their regular daily livelihood has just changed. They would just walk down the street to the store. Now, we're like, "No."

Shanice: He [Elijah] has one friend that we allow him to be around. One of them wanted to play basketball and wanted me to drop them off at the park and I said no. There was a noose in our area.

Flex: Less than a mile from our house.

Shanice: Less than a mile from our house, there was a noose at the park. I sat in the car and I just watched him play. Normally, I would just drop him off and come back and pick him up, but I don't feel safe anymore.

Flex: And we have to have the conversation with Imani as well because it's not just relegated to just men and boys, women, too. We get ahead of the conversation, but they are very keen. Listen, information is traveling fast. They got these phones, they see stuff as well. A lot of the time, they tell us stuff and we're like, "What?" We just try to instill in them the best that we can and just pray over them.


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Throwback photo of @flexaforeal and I ♥️ We look like kids Flex lol

A post shared by shanice (@shaniceonline) on Sep 21, 2020 at 7:22pm PDT

Shanice, nobody sounds like you. You were a young pop icon, not just as an R&B artist, but also in pop - and paved the way (for other young crossover singers). How does that feel today?

I just feel blessed to have longevity in this industry. I've had my ups and downs. You know how crazy this industry is and sometimes you get frustrated and it's like, "Why am I doing this? I want out. I don't want to do this anymore." But then, when I get online and I talk to the fans directly on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter, it keeps me going. I get emotional because I've had some great moments in the industry, but then I've had some very low moments and it gets frustrating sometimes. I love music. I love singing. It's in my blood. I've been singing since I was seven months. I do it because I love to sing and I love my fans. I have the best supporters out there.

You both are such a likable couple and people gravitate to you from all walks of life, from all nationalities. What is it about you two that they can identify with Flex and Shanice?

Flex: Just being us.

Shanice: I think we're just being ourselves.

Flex: We're just being ourselves. I'm on here deejaying on Instagram and she's here dropping it like it's hot. (Shanice laughs) That's what she does. We just try to be ourselves and we show a little bit of that doing the reality show and sharing what we went through because we wanted people to know what we went through and that you can come out of it. We just don't, I'm going to say a real old school word, we don't put on airs-

Shanice: Airs. (Laughs) That is real old school.

Flex: ... for anyone. We're in here every day. I want to throw it back to her real quick. I see the pain and stuff that she goes through the ups and downs and disappointments. Even through all this, you're still like, "Man, is it a place you want to reach?" She feels like, "I didn't get there." I said, "Listen, you've had more success than a lot of people and it may not have been here, but people love you." Whether they like to hear it or not, she's paved the way. There's no dig against anybody because a lot of them have said it. You paved the way for the Monicas, the Brandys. Beyonce even spoke to her and told her Solange sang your song (“I Love Your Smile”) at a talent show. I try to tell her just, "Hold on to that and just keep doing what you're doing," because you see where everything is going in the business, in the industry. And to have a good name and people that love you, I think, is a great thing. That brings longevity.

You guys have been staying creative. I see you’ve been doing virtual house parties. Who came up with that concept?

Flex: It came from me starting deejaying back in 2016. I was doing it once a week. Every Thursday I was doing, and she would be in the bed. When we got here, I started doing it again. It was right at the beginning of the pandemic. I just jumped on, and then she came over and then just started—

Shanice: I was like, I said, "Let me be your hype girl." (Laughs)

Flex: It worked. It's at a point now where if I get on it by myself, people are like, "Where's Shanice?"

Shanice: I like to drop it like it's hot. (Laughs) It’s fun.

Flex: It helps our mind because we didn't know what ...I'm talking about when it was like March when it was cold and rainy out there and all of this gloom and doom...we didn't know what was happening. The people that came in and people that were on our page, people said, "Yo, this helped me so much get through the night or helped me get through the week. Man, that meant more than anything." I didn't care if there were 10 people on there or 10 thousand. We just go on there. We shout everybody out.


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Thank you EVERYONE for rocking last night!!! We appreciate your undying support, to our day one #LockdownwithFlex family you already know!!! And my fellow New York brother @lilcease thanks for hanging last night we hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane✊🏾✊🏾

A post shared by flexaforeal (@flexaforeal) on Jul 24, 2020 at 11:39am PDT

Flex, you’ve written and produced your own TV show, you’re a comedian....Are you working on any other current TV projects? Will we see you on a screen again soon?

Flex: Before I mention that, I'm excited about Netflix releasing One on One. It was through the Strong Black Lead who really pushed for us to be in more places and to have another life. This is crazy because two years ago, I wrote the reboot. I had it ready to go, and then that happened and I'm like, "Man, This is perfect."

Shanice: It's perfect timing.

Flex: This could lead right to it. I'm thankful for that. I just wanted to throw that out there. We have an animated series that we're working on now. We just got a showrunner attached and we're working on that. I have a drama that I've developed right before the COVID hit. We also worked with a Black-owned company called Ceek, where we do the Flex and Shanice Virtual House Party. They have great programs and they do live concerts. They've had Elton John, they've had Lady Gaga.

Shanice: Jennifer Lopez.

Flex: They have DL Hughley on there with Chris Spencer, [and] we're on there now. What they're trying to do is create this virtual experience [where] I come in, I deejay, [you] put your (VR headset) on and you're in the party. It’s great to partner with them and just continue to stay active and creative. It just keeps you going.

Shanice: And I've been doing live concerts in my living room.

Flex: Yeah. It's crazy because we've worked a lot.

Shanice: We've been doing so much in this living room. (Laughs) Like Flex said, we were working before the pandemic, we're working our butts off more now.

Tell us how you balance being in the entertainment business, being stars, having a family and being married. You're probably going to tell me love, but there has to be something else besides love that has kept you together. What do you think it is?

Flex: Honestly, praying is the first.

Shanice: Praying. Yes.

Flex: And communication. We can agree to be disagreeable.

Shanice: We've had our ups and downs. It's not like it's been all great, but we do love each other and we don't go to bed angry. We're mad at each other and we try to talk it out, and I just feel like you’ve got to try to make it exciting and you can't get too comfortable. People, after a while, they get bored in their relationship.

Flex: There are times that she ain't checking for me; she doesn't like me right now, so I'll come downstairs and she'll be up here. There's time's out like that. We go to different parts of the house and we figure it out.

Shanice: And we try to give each other a little space to breathe. We may come back to the situation and talk about it.

Flex: Every day you figure it out, you grow. I think I'm understanding who I am more now at 50 than I did at 30 or 35. I just love being here, being with my family, us having fun together, the kids. It's a beautiful thing, man. It's a beautiful thing.

Flex, what’s one thing that Shanice has taught you about being married? What have you learned from her?

Flex: Growth. I would say growth because if there's anybody that I've seen grow is her. If there's anybody I've seen with perseverance, it’s her. Her patience, her kindness, her. It has really taught me to listen more because as the man you're like, "I got it." She says, "Something ain't right," and I'm like, "I got it." Learning how to cut that off in my brain and go, "You know what? I need to listen. I need to listen to her. I need to hear her." I think that was probably one of my biggest hurdles is not that I didn't listen, but listen and go out, really listen and apply it. I've just seen so much from her in 20 years that I'm just like, "Wow, man. We've got 100 more to go." I just want to grow some more, and we’ve got more fun to have and love to have. We're done with the babies, though.

Shanice: Right. No more babies.

Flex: We're done with the babies.

Shanice: No more babies.

Flex: No more babies.

Shanice, what one thing Flex has taught you, or that you’ve learned by being married and connected to him for so long?

Shanice: I've learned that people over the years grow and they change, and sometimes you have to learn how to go with the change. I've learned to try to adjust to the change because we're not the same people we were 20 years ago.

Flex: Not in a bad way, though.

Shanice: Not in a bad way.

Shanice, you’re an international pop star. You started in pop and then crossed back to R&B, and can travel the world with just “I Love Your Smile.” That's big in itself, but can you share some of your greatest accomplishments? 

I think when I got nominated for a Grammy, that was like a big highlight for me because when I was a little kid I used to always look in the mirror and I used to practice my speech. I used to always dream about getting awards. I have several moments: the Grammys, (Aretha) Franklin, rest in peace—when she turned 50 the Queen of Soul reached out to me and flew me and my band and my dancers down to her house. I did a whole concert in her living room with a band and dancers and everything. That was so big for me.

Meeting Michael Jackson, singing on three of his records. I sang in the background for like three songs, and that was big for me. Just being able to travel all over the world. “I Love Your Smile” was No. 1 in..I believe it was 22 countries. I've traveled all over the world and I'm still traveling the world because of that song. “Saving Forever For You” was a big record for me as well with Diane Warren and David Foster. That went to No. 5. It didn't go No. 1, but it was almost number one. That was another big pop record for me. So you're right. I came out pop and then I crossed over to R&B.

I’ve got another Aretha story. I have to say this. I was having one of my moments when I was frustrated about the industry. I was home and I was crying and I said, "God, I don't want to do this anymore." I was feeling really low. I was like, "I'm done. I don't want to do this." And then, Flex came home and he was like, "Somebody reached out to me.” I think it was Aretha’s sister-in-law saw Flex and said Aretha wants to get in touch with Shanice. Here’s her cell number. So Flex comes home and says, "Miss Franklin wants to get in touch with you. This is her cell number." I'm like, "Me? Really?" I called her and we talked for like probably an hour. We talked for a long time, and she said, "I reached out to you because I want to tell you I know real talent when I hear it, and you got it." This is when I was feeling down. This was nothing but God telling me keep going.

So she said, "We had auditions. I'm doing a movie about my life, my life story." And she said, "Most likely Jennifer Hudson is going to play me, but I would love you to play my sister." I’m sitting on the phone like, "Yeah!" They'd been talking about this movie forever. Even when she was alive they were talking about the movie, and I said, "Anything you need. I would love to be a part [of it]." We talked several times over the years about the movie. Unfortunately, she passed. I think God wanted just to encourage me to keep going. I think that's why that happened. It was just to tell me to keep going. I just had to share that story.

Flex, what would you say to the younger Flex as he’s just starting out in the entertainment industry?

Take everything in more. Enjoy it. Don't fly through it so fast. Tell the people you love that you love them while you have them. I would have learned more about the business on the financial side to plan better. Those would probably be the things I would say, but I think overall, it would be to take it all in, sit back and take it in more. I think things happen so fast and it's like, I'm here, I'm there, I'm dancing, Salt-N-Pepa here, boom, traveling the world. And then, you think it's all going to keep going. You think it's all going to just last forever. And then, next thing you know, you look back and the time has passed and all you have is maybe a picture. I think that would be the thing I would tell myself.

Shanice, what would you tell up and coming talent that is trying to break into the entertainment business?

Shanice: I would tell them to definitely do it not for the money, do it for the love. The money and all that stuff will come. Believe in yourself. Back when I started, you had to get the approval of a huge record exec to put you out there. And now, because of the internet, you don't have to wait on somebody to tell you if you're good or not. You can put out your music on iTunes and get out there and create an audience online. I would say just don't give up on yourself, keep trying. It may not happen overnight. It might. There are people like Justin Bieber. He got on YouTube and he's one of the biggest stars in the world. Everybody's story is different, but you just have to keep trying and keep believing in yourself.

Flex: Yes.

Shanice: Just don't give up. You’ve got to keep going. Even when it seems like it's impossible, you just gotta keep going.

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2020HHA/Getty Images via Getty Images

2020 BET Hip Hop Awards: Watch Performances From City Girls, Big Sean, 2 Chainz And More

City Girls, Big Sean, Jhené Aiko, Brandy, 2 Chainz, and more made the 2020 BET Hip-Hop Awards a night to remember. Hosted by DC Young Fly, Karlous Miller and Chico Bean of 85 South, the socially-distanced event went down on Tuesday (Oct. 27).

Doubling as a sounding board for socially conscious commentary and voting engagement, the show featured several references to Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and other victims of police brutality. The night included a statement from vice presidential hopeful and Howard University alum, Kamala Harris, in celebration of HBCU’s.

Although there were more performances than awards given out during the ceremony, the show was full of surprises. Master P received the I Am Hip Hop Award presented to him by former No Limit artist, Snoop Dogg. Rapsody won her first award ever for Best Hip-Hop Lyricist, Pop Smoke was posthumously awarded the Best New Artist trophy, and Lil Baby accepted the Impact Track honor for, “The Bigger Picture.”

YBN Cordae paid homage to Juice Wrld, and Quavo performed a tribute medley to Pop Smoke. The award show also honored other late rappers, including Fred Da Godson.

Watch some of the performances and cyphers below.

City Girls Perform “Kitty Talk” & “Jobs” Big Sean, Jhené AIko and Ty Dolla Sign Perform “Body Language” Brandy, Erykah Badu, Teyana Taylor & H.E.R. Perform Ladies First Cypher Beenie Man, Bounty Killa, Skip Marley & More Participate In Reggae Cypher Tobe Nwigwe Performs “Try Jesus, Don’t Try Me” 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne Perform “Money Maker”
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Lyric Jones

Interview: Lyric Jones Sets The Tone Of Showing All of Her Talents With New Album 'Closer Than They Appear'

At a time when uncertainty and fear has run rampant in the world, Lyric Jones' confidence and self-assurance is akin to a cup of hot chocolate on a chilly autumn morning. Well accustomed to a good cup of joe, The New England native, who is currently based in Los Angeles., exudes a warmth that's particularly palpable when discussing her favorite topic: music. A veteran lyricist, who unleashed her debut project Jones St. in 2012, Jones has spent the better part of the past decade asserting herself as one of the most vicious pens on the indie circuit with a string of solo and collaborative releases.  Her last drop, 2019's Gas Money with producer Nameless, received a considerable amount of acclaim, however, Jones felt she had yet to separate herself from the pack and break through the proverbial glass ceiling of being pigeonholed as a "female rapper." However, a chance encounter with rapper Phonte Coleman, of Little Brother and Foreign Exchange fame, earlier this year led to an artistic rejuvenation on the part of Jones, after Coleman offered to executive produce what is the rappers' forthcoming project, Closer Than They Appear.

Released today, October 27, 2020, the album captures Jones' hunger and grit, as well as her immense talent and versatility, the latter of which she says played into the title of the album. "I think a lot of people kind of wrote me off as kind of staying stagnant," Jones reveals to VIBE, via phone. "Putting me in a box and just not giving me any room to break through, so I think the project kind of represents the title in and of itself. The project is an object that's closer than they appear. I'm an object that's closer than they appear. And Phonte and all of the other people that came together to be a part of this, whether they're mentors, celebrities, or whatever throughout my journey were considered like objects. So it was kind of a triple entendre, in a way, of just tying [together] how everything makes sense."

Featuring guest spots from Little Brother, Vic Mensa, Phil Beaudreau, and Sy Smith, with production by Nottz, Phil Beaudreau, Carrtoons, Focus..., H0wdy, Blaaq Gold, and Nameless, Closer Than They Appear is a culmination of the road traveled thus far for Jones and indicative that her time is now.

VIBE spoke with Lyric Jones about her new album, being challenged creatively by Phonte, working with Vic Mensa and Phil Beaudreau, her appearance on Sesame Street, and more.

VIBE: Your new album, Closer Than They Appear, is your first full length release since 2019's Gas Money, your collaborative album with Nameless. How does it feel to get a new body of work out to the public, particularly being that it's your first solo album in years?   Lyric Jones: It feels good. I wanted to have some type of a bookmark [to put] on 2020, it's a lot going on this year. I think this is gonna be a year the whole world is gonna remember for the rest of our lives. And as an artist and musician, we use our words for a living...I just would be remiss to not have a body of work to put a stamp on my sentiment and energy on this year.

You recently touched on the album's title being inspired by the trajectory of your own career and breaking through any proverbial glass ceilings as an artist. Would you say that sentiment or sense of urgency bled over into your creative process?   I don't know if it was a sense of urgency. I don't think urgent is the word. I just think the actual title of the album came together with just me realizing at this point and me questioning did I say all that I have to say already, is this even for me anymore? All of those questions that I was asking kind of started to come full circle when I connected with Phonte.

Earlier this year, an encounter with Phonte Coleman backstage at a Little Brother tour stop in L.A. led to him deciding to hop on board for Closer Than They Appear as an executive producer. Give us the backstory on your history with Phonte? I've always been a fan of Little Brother, particularly Phonte, throughout his solo career, from the beginning. I was super young, in high school, when Little Brother came out, and then [when I was in] college was where he really came into the Foregin Exchange and his own solo stuff, so I was just very inspired. I had confidence in kind of being myself when I saw him in his career-path because he would sing and he would rap and he would curate and put all types of different people on projects that I would know about already that was bubbling. So I would just be a butterfly and be like, 'Wow, I feel like he's me and I'm him,' you know. So for years, I've just been feeling this connection to him as an artist and how versatile he was and how people didn't put him in a box. Whereas other artists, when they come out rapping and then they try to sing or do jazz or something, people hem and haw about it. I didn't really see that happening with Phonte so I was like, 'He's the blueprint of how I want to be looked at in the industry.' Just a savant, like someone that can do it all.

In what ways did Phonte challenge you during the creation of this album and how would you describe his role in the overall recording process?   Since I was younger, when I first started making music, I never really had anybody pick apart a bar and kind of go, 'Hey, this reference is good, but it's not landing the way I think you're trying to land it, so rework that.' Or, 'I see this double entendre, I see this metaphor, but I have to ask you about it, so try that again,' you know? That was a good challenge 'cause I got so used to everybody just saying, 'You're dope, you're dope, bars only.' But having my favorite rapper really dig into the bars [on] a couple of these songs, it's like I expected it, but when it happened, it's just like, 'Oh...Damn, OK.'  So that was a good challenge. And his role was executive producer, so he A&R'ed, he arranged the songs. I brought some tracks to the table that he liked, which was good so, he would give the yay or nay on all the tracks, what order we put it in, the personnel that was on the records, So he oversaw, and that was the first time that's ever happened for me, too. I'm usually in the driver's seat with everything, all of my music, every aspect of my career, so that was also a challenge.

Being that the COVID-19 pandemic came in the middle of the making of the album, did that have any impact on your ability to lock into a creative zone, for better or worse, and how did you go about that in the face of uncertainty?   That's exactly what it was for me. It was very paralyzing in the beginning, because it's just news porn and police brutality porn, it was just hard to talk about anything else. Like, at one point, with "Show You How," I'm like, 'I don't wanna write about no love or nothing like that, I'm just not in that space,' but Phonte's enthusiasm at one point got me going again. I was already in a funk before we started on the project so what got me wanting to do anything was this was his idea and brainchild of wanting to do this. So him being motivated and having a jolt of energy got me wanting to do it, too. So, with COVID, the beginning definitely was a standstill for a while 'cause everybody's just trying to figure out what's next, but then, once I did the [NPR] Tiny Desk [performance], that kind of got my gears going again."

The first single from Closer Than They Appear, "Show You How," includes a guest spot from Vic Mensa. How did that collaboration come about and what was it like working with Mensa?   "Show You How" was the last song that we were working on when I went to Raleigh [NC] at the start of the album, so that was when we really locked in. Unfortunately, I had to leave to come back to L.A. to go back to work, but that was one of the songs where we were really catching the vibe. I was sitting on that track for a couple of years, so that was one of the tracks I let Phonte hear and he was like, 'Yeah, this is it.' That went through a few phases, we laid down some background vocals and then I think I started writing the verse around the beginning of quarantine, like right before COVID kind of hit off. And once I finished, Phonte originally was supposed to be on the rap part and Phonte was just like, 'You know, what we're talking about and how you're talking, I don't know if that's the message that we're trying to come across. I'm the executive producer, this topic-matter, I just think we should find somebody closer to your age, a young dude that can vibe in both worlds just like you.'  And we ran through a couple of names, but I had mentioned Vic Mensa. He just crossed my mind. I remember him on Kaytranada and just a whole lot of different things where he's a chameleon just like me, and Phonte was like, 'I like the idea of Vic on, let me see what I can do, let me reach out.' He did and Vic sent that back, like, asap. From then on, I've texted Vic a couple of times, of course I thanked him immensely, but that was a perfect example of Phonte doing the curating and being the executive producer here and players together to have the song do the right thing.

You showcase your talent as a vocalist in multiple instances on Closer Than They Appear, which has become a calling card for a number of artists in recent years. With proven lyricists making a splash off the strength of their crooning, was it important for you to place an emphasis on that side of your artistry?   Absolutely, that was like the key thing to highlight. I've been singing my whole career, from my debut album in 2012, I was doing a whole lot of hooks for people, like J-Live, Planet Asia. There's a lot of stuff out there with me just singing, but somehow, a lot of people still don't know that I sing, it baffles me 'cause I sing a lot. I sing way more than people think and people still aren't connecting the dots, so Phonte, yeah, I don't even think we discussed it. I just think it was understood, like, 'Yeah, you're definitely gonna be singing on here, we're gonna showcase what you can do.' But for me, it was very important that I'm singing on stuff and showing that I can play in other sandboxes. I'm not just over here, again, in this female rapper box that is over here, I can do a house song or dance song. I can sing a ballad, just a ballad [with] no bars. I can do a basa record with Phil Beaudreau, but then I can fuck with Little brother you know [laughs]? I can get on a Nottz track, like, all of that was an intentional thing for creating this.

Another artist that isn't listed as a feature, but appears on the album is Rah Digga, who you've toured with over the past few years and has become a mentor of yours. Describe the chemistry between the two of you, musically or otherwise, and the influence she's had on your artistry and career?   Digga is on track seven, it's called "Wanna Say," and she's doing adlibs on there. And initially, we were really thinking about how we could include Digga on the project, whether it's a verse or whatever and Phonte was like, 'Yo, her doing adlibs is such a subtle enhancement and it represents how she's been behind you for so many years.' Like the symbolism of her just doing adlibs, granted that we've done two or three songs already, I loved that idea. So Digga just hopped on that real quickly adlibs on her phone and the way it came together, I really love it.   But yes, to answer your question about our relationship, Digga is like my sister, for real. People say that in this industry and it's just, like, cap  [laughs]. Digga's mom calls me daughter, her little daughter is like my niece. She's been at my crib, slept over here multiple times, she's really like my sister. We talk all of the time, we bicker, we challenge each other. And I love that Digga doesn't make me feel small. she talks to me like I'm her equal, like I'm her peer. Now, she'll gather me if I'm wyling [laughs]. She'll get me together, but she lets me be myself, even if it's to a fault, but she'll correct me later. I feel comfortable being who I am with Digga and that's true family, true love and unconditionally, so I'm immensely grateful. And it really just started with me being a big fan and running up on her, and she always tells how it wasn't the music that attracted  me to her, it was my work ethic and how positive and assertive I was. She sees a lot of me in her so that's how everything started in the beginning."



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The realest #RapParents haha

A post shared by Lyric Jones (@lyricjones) on Nov 24, 2019 at 5:52pm PST

Are there any particular songs on the album that you're excited for fans to hear or hold extra weight to you from a personal standpoint? If so, why?   "Face To Face," I think, was the real honesty. I think out of all the songs, people kind of get a gist of who I am. The good thing about me through my career is you literally learn something about me on every song. I don't just rap in fluff [laughs]. I have a couple of those, but everything is insightful unto who I am, but I think "Face To Face," how it kicks off, I really think it's eye-opening and real and relatable. And "Angelina," I think [that track] really shows my ear. That was a track that Phonte was surprised that I liked. He kind of was playing it and was skipping to the next one and the next one and I was like, 'Hold on, go back to this, go back to this.' He was like, 'You like this one? Ok.' And the way we came up with the metaphor and collaborating with Phil, I hope the musician heads really love that one. Like, that one is for the people with an ear, for sure.

On another note, you recently did voice over work on an episode of Sesame Street, which cast you as a rapping hamburger battling against a hiking boot, voiced by Phonte. Being that Sesame Street is such a legendary program that transcends hip-hop, what was that experience like?   It was so different because me being in L.A., I've been wanting to do voice-over stuff for so long. I just think it's a fun thing to do and kind of step out of the realm of being an artist, like, being Lyric Jones. I've been waiting for those opportunities. Again, that was something like March, I wanna say right when COVID was starting to get real. Phonte, he was like, 'All right, I need you to do this voice-over thing real quick. I need it, like, tonight, so'...[laughs]’. I was like, 'Ok,' and I just, like, hopped up, opened up Logic and it was just so fun doing a little trappy animated voice 'cause that's not something I would normally do for me on my project. So the thought of all these little kids that may know me as a rapping hamburger and not Lyric Jones is kinda cool to think about.

What message or feeling do you hope listeners walk away with after giving this album a spin and what would you say someone who wasn't privy to your music beforehand can expect?   This project is for the people, it's not for me. I'm more concerned about how everybody else feels, like, I really feel this album is for everybody else and that's a unique perspective. I just want people to grasp the range. This project was really supposed to highlight the versatility and the range of Lyric Jones as a writer, as an emcee, but also as a musician. I want people to grasp my ear and grasp my style, holistically. But I really think this project kind of shows the range of all that I can do and all of the worlds that I can play in and that's what I want people to get. I don't want to be labeled 'female rapper,' that's like the biggest thing I'm trying to run away from with this project. It's like, 'Nah, we're not doing boxes here.'"

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