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Vixen Chat: Author Raqiyah Mays Talks Love, Relationships, And 'The Man Curse'

Mays is tackling it all and not holding back in her debut novel.

After years of motivating and inspiring others, journalist/radio personality/activist Raqiyah Mays is turning her dedication to positive vibes into her debut fiction novel, The Man Curse.

As the writer chatted with VIBE Vixen about her new body of work and breaking onto the scene as a new author, Mays gives readers an inside scoop into what they’re in store for. The novel centers around the life of a young woman named Meena Butler, who is surrounded by the belief that she's next in line of a generational curse when it comes to love.

Mays dishes on it all, from love to self-healing, and even the pressures of being compared to Terry McMillan as she digs deep to reveal what has gotten through the trails that life has thrown in her path along the way. Continue reading as The Man Curse author enters our Vixen Chat session, giving women off all ages something to think about when it comes to their approach in all that life has to give.

VIBE Vixen: What about this point of time in your life made you think that this was the perfect opportunity to begin your journey as an author?
Raqiyah Mays: It has actually been 10 years in the making, writing and all. If I could’ve finished it 10 years ago, then it would’ve been 10 years ago, but life gets in the way. And anyone that's a writer knows that the hardest part about writing is getting started and then finishing it. Outside of personal things and life getting in the way, I was able to delve deeply into finishing the book when I moved to L.A. in 2011. I was just at that point in my life where I felt tired. I just needed to get away from a lot of distractions in my world. I had just had a divorce, my grandmother had died, and I got laid off, everything just came at the same time. I remember asking myself when my grandmother passed, 'What would she want me to do?' I knew she would have wanted me to live my dream. I had never been to L.A. so I went and focused on finishing the book.

What can your audience expect from The Man Curse, and what do you hope they get from reading it?
I have to emphasize that The Man Curse is relatable. People can read it and be like: ‘This is real. This happened to me.’ The main character, Meena Butler, is vulnerable and emotional, but when she becomes unafraid she begins to look within – that’s when she begins to heal and does what needs to be done to heal. I hope that women who read the book understand there’s nothing wrong with doing what it takes to heal yourself, to actually go there and heal your emotions and talk to someone. Sometimes you actually have to face yourself and face your past and the reality of the situation.

Given the subject of your book, do you believe that there are curses in love or is that just a myth?
It’s funny because for years when I run into church folks, they’ll say: ‘Hmm, yes…generational curses. That’s in the bible.’ I also tend to believe that it is a law of attraction. I’m big on name it and claim it, so you are what you think. If you feel like you’re cursed then you will live a cursed life. If you feel like all men are dogs then that’s what you will attract in life. Once you change your outlook and your perspective then you change what will manifest and what comes to you. That is what I believe. I’m not a relationship guru, don’t get me wrong, but I believe in vision boards, writing down your goals, and affirmation, and seeing things to fruition. These things work to mindfulness, this is real. That’s what I believe in.

A photo posted by Raqiyah Mays (@raqiyahmays) on

With Meena Butler’s character, it’s often a misconception that women can’t have it all whether it’s family, love, and career simultaneously. What is your personal take on that, and do you think women can indeed have it all?
I disagree with that narrative that you can’t have it all. It’s a socialized thing and I really, honestly feel that way because this is a man’s world. I think the thing to having it all, and let’s just say in this case we’re talking family and a work life, yes you can. I know plenty of women that do. I know powerful women that have high-ranking jobs and kids at home, and they’re married and they have a personal life. Now, it’s difficult, but they have the support to get through it all. So,  I don’t buy into that [not being able to have it all] and I don’t think any woman should because the moment you start to believe that, you manifest it for yourself.

Karen Hunter called you the next Terry McMillan, how did that feel for you being a breakout author?
I was surprised that she said that. She’s a no-chase type of person, she tells it like it is. So when she said that, I had to marinate on it for a while. It is a big deal and I feel honored that she would say that. I definitely felt a lot of pressure when it came to putting my art out into the world as my first novel. I can’t just go back like in digital media, in which I worked in, and edit it and change it. This is it; this will be it forever. It was nerve-racking, it was scary and so I felt honored equally at the same time that she said that. In the end, I am ready to prove myself and I do believe in my talent. Bring it on!

What’s next for Raqiyah Mays?
My dream would be the film interest that has come with this book. It's pretty exciting. I would love to see The Man Curse on the bigger, small screen. We’re putting energy into that and we’ll see where it goes. The next step is embarking on two nationwide tours: one will have radio personalities conduct uplifting conversations with women,  the second will travel to different colleges across the country to speak with young women. Getting this book out and in front of as many people as possible is very important to me because everyone wants love in their lives at some point. My dream is for people to be like: ‘When’s that next book, Raqiyah?’ and being a part of making amazing content that features people of  color, our stories, and what we’ve gone through. Sharing that with the world is priceless.

The Man Curse is now available for purchase and download on TheManCurse.com

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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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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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