Jamila Woods Jamila Woods
VIBE/ Stacy-Ann Ellis

NEXT: Jamila Woods Soldiers On For Her City And Her People In Her Music

Chicago singer and poet Jamila Woods knows how to use her gentle voice to make big changes.

Perhaps it was the fluctuating weather patterns of a cool September morning that caused a scarcity of civilians, but for once, Brooklyn’s quaint DUMBO area was serene. Aside from the very few cars whizzing back and forth, the easily-accessible area beneath the Manhattan Bridge Overpass seemed as undisturbed as the East River, which is not too far away from the neighborhood’s famous cobblestone streets. However, just like much of New York City, the alluring unpredictability of DUMBO is enough to make you stay and see what else you can discover while there.

The same can be said for Jamila Woods, whose demeanor is delicate, yet magnetic. A woman whose true magic lies in her poise, the 27-year-old Chicagoan, adorned in an unapologetic “HERO/BLACK” tank, black skinny jeans and black leather shoes with white soles, is quiet at first. Small talk regarding her end-of-day plans seems to warrant mere “mhmm” affirmations, and she often looks down as she responds. In doing so, her funky multi-bun hairstyle ornamented with cowrie shells is prominently displayed.

Once you get past the elevator chatter, her naturally inquisitive mind turns the tables. She is equally as chatty, asking her own life questions as we make our way down Fleet Alley past a brick wall dyed with nearly every color in the spectrum, and into the cozy-yet-busy Dumbo Kitchen for a quick bite.

It’s here that we see that the singer, songwriter and poet’s charming intensity is what really pulls you in. As we defend ourselves from the serious breeze outside, Woods noms on a chicken sandwich that she leaves half-finished and a fruit smoothie, which wasn’t priced with frugal folk in mind. Between each chew, she divulges on some of her experiences with writing, including her favorite piece she’s penned.

“I really liked ‘Blk Girl Art.’ It's like a manifesto saying why I create, whether it's poetry or music,” the Pushcart Prize-nominated poet explains. “I don't create from a place of me making art for art's sake, but wanting my work to actually do stuff…tangible things.” As you can gather, the strength in Woods’ words,especially when it comes to her passions, are what make her soft voice the loudest in the room.

Woods released her debut album HEAVN in July 2016 via the indie-Chicago label, Closed Sessions. The album, which includes features and production by Chicago brethren Chance The Rapper, Saba, Kweku Collins and Donnie Trumpet, illustrates the importance of black self-love and also serves as an outlet for Woods to voice her grievances about issues pertaining to prejudices against the black community. Those unfamiliar with her newly-lauded tunes, however, have certainly heard her gentle-yet-spirited vocals on other high-profile tracks like Macklemore’s “White Privilege II,” Chance’s “Blessings” and The Social Experiment’s “Sunday Candy.”

Woods grew up the eldest of four in a primarily-white, Irish part of Chicago called Beverly. As she matured, she developed an affinity for Lupe Fiasco and Common, and adversely, Jimmy Eat World and Imogen Heap. A former member of the Chicago Children’s Choir, she began taking her music career seriously during her undergrad days at Brown University, where she performed as one-half of the duo M&O (Milo + Otis) with classmate and friend, Owen Hill. The group released two albums before they decided to go their separate ways; soon after, Jamila decided to try her hand at a solo career.

“I wanted to see what it would sound like if I had more control over more aspects of my music, like producing and knowing how to mix your songs and all that stuff,” she says of moving on. She grew up singing in church and acknowledges she wasn’t given solos, which made the thought of a solo career a bit frightening. However, she was up for the challenge.

“[M&O] was when I started realizing that, oh, I don't have to hold my voice to the certain standard. I can just use my voice and experiment in different ways that I can use it,” she says. “I could define what I wanted to sound like for myself.”

Her July LP, a SoundCloud exclusive, took around a year and a half to finish, and features samples of well-known tunes like The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” and Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Want To Wait.” Since her music is rooted in hip-hop, she implements the use of samples to create a new meaning behind the popular songs.

“I think of music as creating a space,” she explains. “I like to put things in that are comforting to me and are nostalgic. To me, that's what sampling does in songs; it’s making deeper layers for people who know where it comes from, but also referencing another part of my history and my memory or a memory that I have.”

Much of the album interweaves the nostalgia of growing up black with the idea that there is strength in connection and vigilance. In a spoken word outro for the song, “VRY BLK,” Woods’ friend Micah Hicks discusses playing hand games with other black women she’s never met as non-black onlookers feel out of place, while the outro read by members of Assata’s Daughters for the song “In My Name” echoes the sentiment: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom, it is our duty to win, we must love each other and support each other, we have nothing to lose but our chains.” “Blk Girl Soldier” focuses on riding for other black girls and possessing a perseverant spirit. She mentions women who embody the message throughout the song, such as Rosa Parks, Assata Shakur and Sojourner Truth. The track’s video, released in June, focuses on the power of self-love and community. It’s truly the epitome of Black Girl Magic.

“In some ways, I value specificity,” she says regarding inclusion in her music. “I think that there's power in, once you know who your fan base is, being able to speak to them. I hope to cultivate a fanbase of black girls and black people and people of color, women of color, queer people, people who are are marginalized in general.” While Woods enjoyed her hometown’s quaint feel, she often felt out of place due to the color of her skin. Feeling outcast encouraged her to begin writing poetry.

“I didn't really fit into my high school,” she says, looking down to reveal her dewy beige eyeshadow. “It was very preppy and also a very Jesuit Catholic school, and I wasn't Catholic, so there were so many ways that I didn't fit. I kind of gravitated towards this after school program that met downtown that was way more diverse, and just had different types of people who weren't so concerned about, like, ‘Is that a Tiffany's necklace?’ or ‘Do you have the Lacoste…whatever.’”

Her experiences with marginalization first-hand, coupled with some of the more well-known issues of racism in the United States today, give Woods’ music a subtle whiff of protest and thinly-veiled frustration while still providing listeners with incredible production and soothing vocals.

“I think there's definitely power in having different approaches to the same issue,” she says of not being silent regarding the issues in the black community. “There's a culture of ‘you're not woke enough, you're not out there.’ Not everyone is built to be that type of protester, but you can access that within yourself. I think it was Audrey Lorde who said something like self-care is an act of protest and revolution, especially for black people, because so many people want to destroy blackness and black people.”

She also hopes to soldier on for causes that don’t directly affect her, which is something that gravitated her towards working with Macklemore on the aforementioned “White Privilege II.” In the early-2016 track, the Seattle-bred MC more or less apologizes for being a successful white man in a primarily black profession. Woods says that the intentionality of the song was powerful and that it was “really smart” of Macklemore to use his platform to raise awareness about appropriation. She recorded the song without regret.

Like many Chi-Town natives, Woods does what she can to give back to her community. She serves as the Associate Artistic Director of the non-profit organization Young Chicago Authors, and is a founding member of the organization’s Teaching Artists Corps, which educates Chicago youth about the city while helping them grow as both artists and people. She implements music in her curriculum to teach writing and poetry, and as an Ivy League graduate and poet whose work has been featured in three anthologies, rest assured, her pupils are in great hands.

“I feel like I get to be really close with them, which is nice,” Woods smiles when speaking about her mostly teenaged students. “They always have great energy and they're pushing me to think of new ideas and new ways to present the same ideas.” Woods’ students’ instant feedback was also helpful when putting the finishing touches on HEAVN; she would bring in rough versions of the songs on the album for them to listen to in order to hear their thoughts.

Above all, Woods believes she and other artists ride hard for Chicago because of the inner and outer beauty the city possesses. Whether it’s the “magical” waterfront areas like Promontory Point or the generosity and friendliness of its inhabitants, she feels that the art lurking around Chicago is too important not to protect, especially since art is where she feels most comfortable.

“[Art] made me feel a sense of belonging and a sense of community that I didn't have before because of my neighborhood, not really fitting in with my neighborhood, not really having a school that I was super-excited about,” she explains, the fervor in her voice rising. “So that became something that I thought about when I think about Chicago, it's the artistic community. If I couldn't have that, I think I would be a totally different person, and that's really how I gained a lot of confidence, not even just in performing, but my sense of value of myself I think came through my writing style and the people I met there.”

Never one to keep my all of my interview questions stagnantly professional, I press Woods with a cheeky challenge.

This is a fun one. Since you’re a poet, give me a quick haiku about Chicago that sums up the city. “Oh God,” she places her hand on her cheek, laughing. “This is freestyle! Haiku…5-7-5…” She pauses before counting on her fingers syllabically.

“Mild sauce and no salt
water, Southside pride, because
Beverly still counts.”

A true soldier whose long-standing pride in her people and her home is admirable to say the least, Jamila Woods’ peaceful and sonically pleasing ways of discussing what truly matters is what makes her voice an undeniable force.

2016 Tour Dates
November 4th - Lake Harmony, PA @ Boiler Room Weekender
November 19th - Chicago, IL @ MCA Primetime Ascend
December 8th - Brooklyn, NYC @ Rough Trade
December 13th - Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room
December 14th - San Fran, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
December 15th - Loa Angeles, CA @ Voila

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Music Sermon: The One Minute Hit - When TV Theme Songs Were Lit

The idea of sitting around the TV for appointment television is an archaic concept. Multiple devices with screens for everyone in your home plus the control of streaming has changed how we consume nearly everything except sports, award shows, and Game of Thrones (until tonight). But the children of the 80s very much remember when TV watching was still an event, cable was basic, and the networks reigned supreme. Back in that era of genuine primetime programming, our favorite TV shows came paired with 30-second to one-minute themes. But not just a random little ditty to open the show; these were genuine mini-songs. Verses, chorus, hook, and maybe even a reprise for the end credits.

Now, a drive for more advertising inventory coupled with shorter attention spans has rendered the true theme song a rarity; but in the cases where they do still exist, the songs continue to be a key part of experiencing the show (again, like Thrones). The theme song draws you into the world of the show, it sets the tone, and it stays with you after. And the theme song game wasn’t a space like the commercial jingle game where only folks in the game know who the players are. The theme show business has its own OGs, but there are also names we know well - acclaimed producers, artists and musicians who helped create TV music magic. As such, there’s also a lot of hidden music history and connections behind some of these joints. I have watched an inordinate amount of television consistently throughout my life - you will pry my cable cord out of my cold, dead hands - and I consider myself an expert on the TV theme song. I offer you my list of some of the most soulful, slappin’ and impactful examples of the majesty of TV theme songs from yesteryear.

Sanford & Son

There is literally no music space Quincy Jones hasn’t conquered, including television. Q was in movie scoring land when Norman Lear’s partner Bud Yorkin came to him about composing a theme for their new show, Sanford and Son. “He said, 'I'd like you to write the theme for it.' I said, 'Who's in it?' And he said Redd Foxx,” Quincy told Billboard. “I said, 'Man, you can't put Redd Foxx on national TV!” I had worked with Redd Foxx 30 years before that at the Apollo. We used to do the Chitlin Circuit. I used to write this music for him to come out with.”

Q composed “The Street Beater” without even watching the Sanford and Son pilot. “I wrote that in about 20 minutes,” he said in an interview about his work in television. “I just wrote what he looked like. It sounds just like him, doesn’t it?” The funky, rag tag, backwoods bluesy song was the perfect musical accompaniment for Fred’s surveying his junkyard as Lamont’s truck rolled up, “It was raggedy, just like Foxx.”

Good Times

Norman Lear was the goat of working-class American storytelling on screen, but his shows also had some of the most iconic theme songs – “Those Were the Days” for Archie Bunker, “One Day at a Time” has great lyrics if you pay attention, he even had Donny Hathaway singing about pre-Golden Girls Bea Arthor for Maude. TV producers often used the same writing and production teams for their shows' themes, and Lear often tapped the husband and wife team of Alan and Marylin Bergman, who got their break co-writing with Quincy on “In the Heat of the Night.”

But as I said before, don’t let the TV theme song credits fool you, the Bergmans are two-time Academy Awards winners and in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. That’s the kind of talent behind Good Times.

The Good Times theme is a negro spiritual (there’s a Hammond B3 organ in it; issa spiritual), and singers Jim Gilstrap, from Stevie Wonder’s backing group, Wonderlove; and Somara “Blinky” Williams, a former original member of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) Singers along with Andrae Crouch and famed session player Billy Preston, put some extra oil on it.

You don’t believe me when I say this is worship music? Watch this.

I really wanna know what the Bergmans knew about hanging in a chow line, though. I’m not even sure I knew that was the lyric before Dave Chappelle told us.

The Jeffersons

Before we move on from Lear sitcoms we have to pay respect to the best black TV theme song of all time. And before you argue with me, let’s please look at the stats: a 35-person choir, stomping and clapping - even double clapping! - mention of fish fry, and a reprise over the end credits with hummin’ like your big mama used to do while she was cookin’ on Sundays. Winner.

Even though it’s one of the best-known sitcom theme songs ever, what’s lesser known is that another Lear alum was behind it – Ja’net Dubois, aka Good Times’ Wilona Woods, co-wrote and sang the theme. Also, the male voice that joins her in the bridge isn’t Sherman Hemsley (although it really sounds like it could be him) but career backup singer Oren Waters.

Ja’net, who was a singer as well as actress, ran into Lear on the CBS lot one day and shared that she wanted to display her talent beyond acting. Lear partnered her with Jeff Barry to work on the aspirational Jefferson’s theme. Jeff had pop hits under his belt as part of producer Phil Spector’s stable; he wrote “River Deep - Mountain High.” He also wrote “One Day at a Time,” and later “Without Us,” Deniece Williams and Johnny Mathis’ yacht-rocky theme for Family Ties.

Dubois later told Jet magazine she pulled from her own experience once she’d “made it” with Good Times. “I moved my whole family. I bought (my mother) a house, bought her a mink coat. I did everything, retired her. I did everything I ever promised her.” And you can feel Ja’net’s testimony coming through as that moving van makes its way across the Queensboro bridge and up the East Side.


Sherman Hemsley had the good fortune of being associated with two entries in the Praise Songs of TV (I just made that up) category. Amen’s “Shine on Me” is not only a rousing bop, it’s a forreal and actual gospel song. The theme was written, produced and played by the father of modern gospel, Andraé Crouch, and sung by gospel legend Vanessa Bell Armstrong. Sister Vanessa was backed in the TV version by the choir from Crouch’s First Memorial COGIC church. She later did her own version, but it didn’t have quite the same oomph when slowed down a little and without the full voices of a choir behind her.

Sigh… Imagine a time when a sitcom about a deacon in the black church with a whole gospel theme song was a primetime network hit. Also shout out to “There’s No Place Like Home” from 227, which preceded Amen on Saturday nights.

The Cosby Show

We’re going to set everything about Bill Cosby the man aside for a minute to talk about the show and its music. Agreed? Amen.

The Cosby Show has to be in this conversation, because over the course of the show’s history, the theme song and opening sequence became a hallmark of the series’ greatness, and it’s a prime example of theme songs being deeper than just something to play over opening credits. Every season, a new adaptation of “Kiss Me,” the theme written by Cosby and Stu Gardner (who also co-wrote the themes for A Different World and Living Single), opened the show. The opening sequence featured a Huxtable family dance showcase, changing as the kids grew and the cast core cast added, and sometimes subtracted. We were as anxious for the Cosby season premiere to see the new intro as we were to see the show itself.

Season 3 is when it started getting crunk, with a little Latin action. Auntie Phylicia was gettin’ it.

In Season 4 (my least favorite), “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” mania had made its way to the Huxtable family with Bobby McPheren’s rendition and a bit of a roaring ‘20s (and for the sake of the show location, we’ll say Harlem Renaissance) feel. Elvin’s first year in the sequence, Denise’s first year out.

Season 5 was a production. Literally, it was staged like a Broadway production. By now, the show was known for exposing diasporic art and culture and the people behind it to the world whenever possible, and that was the intention here as well, on the low.

The set design was a little South Pacific-esque, and costumes had a Caribbean flair reminiscent of some Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater pieces - appropriate since the movement was choreographed by Ailey great (and Boomerang’s off the chain creative director) Geoffrey Holder. Cosby’s high school classmate James DePriest, one of the first internationally recognized African American orchestral conductors, arranged the music, played by the Oregon Symphony orchestra. It was sweeping and gorgeous and I remember it being kind of a big deal. Second season with no Denise in the credits. I think she had left Hillman and gone Africa by this point. Or something.

Season 6 is my favorite. It was a party. The entire family was getting it in to a jam session take on the theme remixed with Junior Walker and the All Stars’ “Shotgun.” Even though the opening was set in front of the Apollo marquee, this was the Motown sequence. “Shotgun,” was a massive crossover hit, produced by Berry Gordy, and featured Motown’s famed session players, the Funk Brothers on instrumentals.

Welcome back, Denise. And hi, Martin and Olivia. Theo and Vanessa were hitting. that. heaux.

Ok, actually, Season 8 is my least favorite. Least favorite season, theme song, opening sequence, all of it. Here, I think, it’s clear that the show was past its prime. This jazzmatazz intro didn’t feel super fresh or creative, and Theo was trying to hit b-boy moves, and cousin Pam clearly wasn’t comfortable, and Vanessa looked like she just got engaged to a 40-year old ninja named Dabnis, and Clair still had her coat on because she couldn’t be bothered.

But on the cultural side, it was still in theme. The mural was created by kids at Harlem’s Creative Arts Workshop, although a legal dispute over art clearances kept this visual from being used as originally intended in Season 7. On the horn is Lester Bowie, a trumpeter known for his free jazz style.

A Different World

Obviously, we were paying a visit to Hillman next. “A Different World” is one of the best theme songs of all time – for Seasons 2 through 5 (also one of the best shows of all time – for Seasons 2 through 5).

Dawn Lewis, aka Jaleesa, co-wrote the song with Stu Gardner. She was originally supposed to sing it, as well, until whoever hired her to write the song realized she was also in the cast, and whoever cast her as Jaleesa realized she also wrote the song. The collective powers that be thought Dawn singing the theme would center her too much when the show was about Lisa Bonet, so they went to Al Green. Yes, the Reverend Al Green. A version of the “Different World” theme song sung by Al Green exists out there in the world somewhere, and I now have a life mission to hear it. Producers didn’t like it, though. They decided to go with a female voice, and pegged folk and blues singer Phoebe Snow.

As the show went into its second season, producers decided to take a similar approach as The Cosby Show and flip the theme every season with different artists and styles. Then Aretha Franklin recorded her version, and that idea was dead, because why would you ever ask someone else to sing behind Aretha. Debbie Allen, who had just stepped in as the show’s executive producer (Aunt Debbie brought A Different World out of the middling fare of its first season to the strong, black and relevant show we remember it as, but that’s a different Sermon) called Auntie Re personally, and then brought her whole team from Detroit to LA on a bus (because Auntie Re wasn’t gonna fly, chile). Then, TV history was made.

“I just know that she came in and hit it,” Allen told Vulture. “It wasn’t like she had to do ten takes, that’s what I know. She just hit it. That’s what I remember and then we all kind of hung out and had food together, you know — she loved our show which is why she did it.”

I’m low key surprised Aretha agreed to do the song since her ex-husband, Glynn Turman, joined the cast in Season 2 and she’s petty like that, but she also watched a lot of television and was a fan. When most think of A Different World, they’re thinking of seasons two and beyond. That iconic montage we’ve see recreated in tribute again and again, from SportsCenter to Grown’ish Season 2 promos. Nobody references car washes and hanging out outside of….a barn, I think? Where they at a farm for the Season 1 opening sequence? (You can tell some white people put that together – no shots).

Finally, the last season of A Different World was sort of “Different World: The Next Generation,” so they went in a new direction for the theme with a very non-Boyz II Men sounding Boyz II Men (I thought it was Take 6 for the longest), but Seasons 2 through 5 still reign supreme.

Different Strokes

On to a different show about different worlds. Remember I mentioned OGs in the theme song game? One of them was Alan Thicke. Yes, Robin Thicke’s daddy was not only lovable TV dad Jason Seaver, but also a professional theme writer. Thicke penned the tracks for a couple of sitcoms, including Facts of Life (with Robin’s mama Gloria Loring on vocals), but his thing was game shows. Your grandma has Alan to thank for the “Wheel of Fortune” theme. He not only wrote but sang “Diff’rent Strokes” (sounding a little like his son), and I mean, the song is perfect. The opening, the harmony build in the second verse, the bridge, the breakdown “…and together we’ll be fine, ‘cause it takes…,” the hum at the end of the closing credits version. You can tell from this one-minute jamalam that Robin got his blue-eyed soul honestly.

Speaking of the Chappelle Show again (there’s a Chappelle reference for everything in life), Dave closes out his famous White People Can’t Dance episode (Season 2, Episode 3) with a spirited performance of “Diff’rent Strokes,” going into a “Facts of Life” vamp, backed by Questlove and John Mayer.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Living Single

I’m putting these two together because they’re two of the last examples of the explanatory theme song for black prime time television.

The Quincy Jones-produced Fresh Prince theme tells us Will’s entire back story and the premise of the show – a ‘90s hip-hop answer to the Gilligan’s Island theme.

Living Single’s theme conveyed the high energy city life the four upwardly mobile friends were navigating, with emphasis from Queen Latifah’s sing-rapping about her homegirls standing on her left and her right, and the legendary dancing silhouette that is Big Lez.

Both shows, songs, and visuals have become representative of the hip hop generation’s takeover of ‘90s black television and ‘90s black culture, and both continue to hold up amazing well 25 years later.

We haven’t even touched on the soulful ‘70s themes that became hit singles, like “Welcome Back Kotter” (my joint) or “Angela” from Taxi, or sketch show theme songs like Heavy D for In Living Color (or TLC for “All That,” for y’all younger folks), or the cartoon smashes. There are gems galore to be mined, all containing shining bits of nostalgia and callbacks to a simpler time. These songs often resonate with us even more strongly than our favorite singles from the era because they were a constant for years instead of months. And thanks to networks later devoting blocks of time to classic TV reruns like Nick at Night and TV Land, many of these shows – and theme songs – have been introduced to a new generation.

We’ve focused mostly on black TV shows, but there are a few theme songs that cross cultural, generational and international boundaries. When the Golden Girls premiered in 1985, the series featured a remake of the 1978 song “Thank You for Being a Friend,” and it has lived in all our hearts ever since. So much so, that a member of the black church delegation gave the song a proper remix a couple of years ago. Let this be a reminder that great TV theme songs were not only catchy songs that stuck in our heads for decades, but also impetrated universal lessons about life, love, and friendship.


#MusicSermon is a weekly series by Naima Cochrane that highlights the under-acknowledged and under-appreciated urban artists and sub-genres from the '90s and earlier. The series seeks to tell unknown and/or forgotten stories that connect the dots between current music, culture and the foundations of the past.

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8 Best Samples 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.

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 Ms. Lauryn Hill's "To Zion" and Outkast's "Ms. Jackson."

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 from this week's releases below.


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) 

Sample: "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 

Sample: "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 

Samples: "To Zion," Ms. Lauryn Hill and Carlos Santana (1999) 

Grand opening, grand closing. Banton closes out the album with soul-baring lyrics and a thoughtful sample to match. Carlos Santana's chords 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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John Johnson III

Megan Thee Stallion Helps DTLR Celebrate Fashion's Past, Present and Future

Fashion retailer DTLR has always curated the best of streetwear, with their latest fashion show proving the evolution is real and influential.

The fourth annual show took place in Atlanta this spring under a theme titled, "Genesis."  The event took place in Atlanta, GA, with hosts Yung Joc and DTLR's Radio's Tiara LaNiece. DTLR's Apprelle Norton, David Storey and KeJuan McGee curated the event to take their guests "on a journey through the past, present and future of fashion, featuring the latest from top leading brands such as Nike, Puma, Adidas, Levis, Champion, Reebok, Fila, Black Pyramid, New Balance, Tommy Hilfiger, Staple, Hustle Gang, Akoo, Ethika, Odd Sox, and many more."

In addition to presenting some of the hottest looks out, the event also welcomed performances from VIBE NEXT Alumna Megan Thee Stallion. Appearances from the the "Big Ol Freak" rapper was an added effort on DTLR's Vice President of Marketing, Shawn Caesar's part to make the fashion show more of an "experience."

"We wanted to add more of an 'experience' feel to the show this year," Caesar said in a press release. "[We wanted]  to encourage more engagement and interaction from our attendees, and to aid in creating more memories and reasons to stay connected to the DTLR brand long-term."

DTLR is quickly becoming a part of a class of successful upcoming brands. The brand has more than 240 stores in 19 states and Washington D.C. and it manages to combine fashion, sports, entertainment, sports, and community empowerment into one; all while providing their customers with elite footwear, apparel and accessories to match.

See photos from the event below.



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