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Marjua Estevez

Tongue Tactics: 9 Afro-Latino Poets Who Get Radical On The Mic

Get free, stay woke.  

In a climate currently riddled with anti-immigrant and anti-black rhetoric, poetry for many serves as a form of self-preservation, a way to make sense of identity and an opportunity to set the stage for experiences constantly being put under erasure. To engage in the celebrations of #BlackHistoryMonth, we present these Afro-Latino poets with exquisite bars about protest, struggle, family, heritage and youth.

READ: Meet The Artists Who Took Over Afro-Latino Festival 2015

Elizabeth Acevedo
Liz is an Afro-Dominicana whose poetry fuses her Dominican upbringing and the tough grit of her native New York City. Her work has afforded her the opportunity to perform internationally, from South Africa to Paris. Expect her manuscript, Blessed Fruit & Other Origin Myths, to be published in September of this year.

Aja Monet
Of Cuban-Jamaican descent, Aja Monet is an internationally established poet, performer, singer, songwriter, educator and human rights advocate. "Education was the village that raised me," she stated. "I care about it because I recognize the difference it makes in my life and the impact it has on fine-tuning my vision.” Last spring, Aja relocated from her native Brooklyn to Miami, FL to open up Smoke Signals Studio alongside her partner umi selah.

John Murillo
Afro-Chicano poet and Up Jump the Boogie author John Murillo is a purveyor of all things cool. He tinkers with formal and free verse, doing the very necessary work of engaging themes of family history and personal identity.

Ariana Brown
“I remember reading books and being so invested in the characters and the story," said Ariana Brown to PBS.org, "and then I would realize, this book is not talking about me. Part of my work is to always go back for little girl Ariana and figure out what it is she needed that she didn’t get.” After years of struggling to find representations of herself, Brown became the Afro-Mexicana role model she needed through her love of language and the art of poetry.

Willie Perdomo
A necessary voice in the literary landscape, Willie Perdomo's work is lyrical flair meets intelligent wit, stringing together themes of Puerto Rico, el barrio, the diaspora and folk music.  

Gabriel Ramirez
This 20 somethings can be found spitting poetics about Dominicanism in venues around New York City. "most dominicans won’t claim black same way they won’t claim self hate," he writes poignantly in "along the massacre river." Expect his work to be found in the forthcoming Afro-Latino Poetry Anthology (Arte Público Press 2016).

Venessa Marco
Venessa is a working student of Cuban-Puerto Rican descent, whose poetry unapologetically screams #StayWoke. "When I think of my culture, of its struggle, of its will to fight and keep on fighting, I think how blessed am I to have come from such lineage of unmeasurable glory," says Venessa to VIBE Viva. "To be both brown and black and alive is a gift. I honor this gift with my voice and of course the voice of mi gente!" 

Mayda Del Valle
Mayda and her tongue tactics bring into conversation "a hybrid identity and experience" that is "Spanish and English, part hip-hop and salsa, part Nas and Sonia Sanchez, part Shakespeare and John Leguizamo." Her work deals with the aesthetics of hip-hop and the urban Latino experience, while exploring "themes of healing, transformation and the recovery of ancestral memory in the modern day diaspora."

Noel Quiñones
Noel is an Afro-Boricua writer with a wicked knack for performance poetry that largely deals with "the spirituality of languages, the meanings of diasporic identity and the ancient and present art of verse." His work has appeared in The Acentos Review, FreezeRay, and Maps for Teeth, as well as on Blavity and LatinTRENDS. He is a working educator, living in the Big Apple.

READ: How Afro-Latino Festival Is Empowering A Rich & Diverse Community

 

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Queen Of Hip-Hop Soul And Hits: 15 Of Mary J. Blige's Best Songs

Since bursting onto the scene in 1992 asking us What’s the 411?, Mary J. Blige has kept her foot on our necks and provided the soundtrack for most of our lives. Although she’s faced her fair share of heartaches, heartbreaks, and hardships, Mary never let her personal life or the pressures of the music industry keep her from becoming a master of her craft. Who knew the little girl from Yonkers would go on to be not just music but entertainment royalty? She has secured numerous endorsement deals with M.A.C., Pepsi, Target and more while also conquering both the small and big screen, even being nominated for two Academy Awards for her role in the critically-acclaimed film, Mudbound. After countless nominations over the years for categories like Best R&B Artist and Best song, an unprecedented number of Billboard and Grammy Awards, over 75 million records sold worldwide and so much more, she shows no signs of stopping.

This Sunday (June 23), she will add to her repertoire when she’s honored at the 19th annual BET Awards ceremony with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her exceptional body of work across genres and industries. And the undisputed ESSENCE Festival favorite will also hit New Orleans to commemorate the festival’s 25th anniversary while also celebrating 25 years of her iconic 1994 album, My Life.

To honor the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul and her indelible catalogue of hits, let’s take a look at 15 of our favorite MJB songs through the years.

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Black Music Month: 36 Best Black Movie Soundtracks You Should Know

Let's face it, the debate for the best movie soundtrack of all time will never end.

There are too many black soundtracks that are beyond icon status. Some include Diana Ross' epic portrayal of Billie Holiday for Lady Sings The Blues, the carefully curated funk and soul collection for Dead Presidents and Whitney Houston's power vocals all over The Bodyguard soundtrack.

Jamie Foxx didn't seem to realize the debate he sparked on Twitter this week when he raised the question about the best soundtracks of all time. It became a trending topic with fans throwing in their favorites like Prince (Purple Rain and Batman respectively), Whitney Houston (Waiting to Exhale), Babyface (Boomerang), Dr. Dre (Above The Rim) and so many more.

Best movie soundtracks of all time? Go... #BeatShazam

— Jamie Foxx (@iamjamiefoxx) June 18, 2019

There are plenty of other movie soundtracks worth noting, but with June being Black Music Month, it's only right we paid homage to some of the most important and underrated soundtracks of all time.

In no particular order, here are some of our favorites.

Additional contributors include Lola Jacobs, Jessica McKinney, J'na Jefferson, Keith Murphy, Xavier Hamilton, Sierra Brown, Beatriz da Costa, and Richy Rosario. 

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8 Best Samples And Interpolations From Megan Thee Stallion, Tyler The Creator And DJ Khaled's Projects

Megan Thee Stallion, DJ Khaled and Tyler, The Creator have more in common than just a release date. The artists also know a thing or two about thoughtful sampling and interpolations.

Their projects, which all happen to be some of their best efforts, find inspiration from 70s soul and deep 90s underground jams. Jackson 5, Jay-Z and Sizzla were sampled on DJ Khaled's previous release Grateful, but with Father of Asahd, the producer and proud dad jumps back into the crates. This time around, modern hits are used like Outkast's "Ms. Jackson." and throwback cuts like José Feliciano's "And The Feeling's Good."

Megan Thee Stallion's samples also prove her rhymes aren't the only thing fans should pay close attention to.

Check out some of our favorite samples and interpolations from this week's releases below.

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Megan Thee Stallion- Fever 

1. "Hood Rat S**t"

Sample: Latarian Milton's Viral Video (2013)

Plucked from the wonderful world of viral videos, Megan uses the then 7-year-old's mischevious joy ride to accurately describe how she rolls with her crew.

2. "Pimpin"

Sample: DJ Zirk & Tha 2 Thick Family featuring 8Ball & MJG and Kilo-g  "Azz Out" (1996) 

There's something to be said about Megan's very clever samples. The chorus to the late 90s underground gem stems from southern legends like Tennesee's 8Ball and MJG along with NOLA's own Kilo-g. Megan grabs a few bars from the track and puts her own twist on them for the chorus: "Stick 'em up, stick 'em up, raise 'em up, raise 'em up Drop it off in his fucking face just to saw it off/Gotta get my a** ate, gotta make that a** shake/Gotta swipe this ni**a card so much they had to call the bank"

3. "Simon Says" featuring Juicy J 

Samples: Billy Paul, "Me And Mrs. Jones" (1972), "Looking For Tha Chewin,'" DJ Paul (Ft. 8Ball, DJ Zirk, Kilo-G, Kingpin Skinny Pimp & MJG) (1992)

Another variation of the aforementioned track is also heard on her collaboration with southern legend Juicy J. The soft intro by way of Bill Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones" also offers a soulful touch to the track.

DJ Khaled- Father of Asahd

4. "Holy Mountian" featuring Buju Banton, Sizzla, Mavado and 070 Shake) 

Interpolation: "One Spliff a Day," Billy Boyo (1981) 

Boyo's legendary riddim has been used by a bevy of artists including SiR and Wiz Khalifa but Khaled's curation of the track with some of the biggest names in reggae takes it to another level. It also doesn't hurt that his longtime friend and icon Banton opens the album.

5. "Just Us" featuring SZA 

Interpolation: "Ms. Jackson," Outkast (2001) 

This sample definitely raises the eyebrows, but the careful loop paired with SZA's sing-rap flow makes it worth a listen.

6. "Holy Ground" featuring Buju Banton 

Interpolation: "And The Feeling's Good," José Feliciano (1974) 

Grand opening, grand closing. Banton closes out the album with soul-baring lyrics and a thoughtful sample to match. José Feliciano's chords and melody from the original track give the song a sentimental feel along with Banton's lyrics about mass incarceration, cultural warfare, and spiritual freedom.

Tyler, The Creator- IGOR

7. "A BOY IS A GUN" 

Samples: "Bound," Ponderosa Twins Plus One (1971) 

Tyler might have gotten inspiration to sample this song from Kanye West (Bound 2), but his take is smooth and subtle as he navigates through love and heartbreak.

8. "ARE WE STILL FRIENDS" featuring Pharell Williams 

Samples: "Dream," Al Green (1977) 

Underneath IGOR's tough exterior lies a gentle soul. The placement of Al Green's "Dream," on the latter end of the album takes the listener on a starry love high. Pharrell and Tyler allow the sample to act as a skeleton for the song as they point out how to keep love alive.

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