Leaf Leaf
VIBE/ Stacy-Ann Ellis

Become Familiar With Leaf, Girl Power's New Face And Sound

By way of Brooklyn New York, Leaf is here to unite women through hip-hop.

Floating into the VIBE Vixen offices with a crown of sunset colored hair, Leaf catches your eye even when she’s not trying. When she smiles and her diamond flanked tooth sparkles in the overhead light, it’s obvious there’s something different about the 21-year-old. With a subtle nod to Aaliyah with Tommy Hilfiger boxers peeking out from her denim, Leaf effortlessly blends the hardcore artist we’ve heard on singles like “Slick” and the nostalgic R&B crooner on her most recent release, “FWM(Lie To Me)” into a dynamic aesthetic.

As the great grand-daughter of jazz artist Jackie McLean, music is buried deep within her bone marrow. The Brooklyn and Lower East Side raised lyricist released her first EP in 2015, Magnetic Bitch, and since signed to Fool’s Gold Records/RPM MSC, A-Trak’s label. With bangers like “Nada” featuring Lil Yatchy--a dare to anyone who try question just how lit her and her friends may be--Leaf has been busy setting up a new wave for girls who want to support their girls. Dropping female empowering anthems like “Money” and working to make sure everyone eats on her single, “Plate”, it’s clear Leaf isn’t the artist only in it to make you dance, although she’d love nothing more than to get you moving.

VIBE Vixen sat down with the queen of the Magnetic B***h Movement to discuss her spring debut album, Trinity, why she’s a rap artist, and the power behind being a woman in 2017.

VIBE: For starters, why the name Leaf?

Leaf: Everyone always asks me this and expects some insane story, like ‘I was in a garden.’ Nah, it's my birth name.

Music is in your blood, but what what made you say, "I'm going to be a rap artist and a singer?"

I think the reason why I chose hip-hop is because I am a girl from an urban world, I'm from Brooklyn and the Lower East Side. I've always been a rocker in an urban world. I think that for me hip-hop has all those influences, it has rock influences, it has R&B influences and I wanted to be in a place that gave me a broad spectrum.
I love being a hip-hop artist, it gives me that freedom.

What made you take the woman empowerment route?

I chose this route because it's really who I am. I've always been that girl that other women have bashed, or the one they think thinks she's better than everybody else, you know what I mean? I've been in both positions. I think women bashing other women is the worst thing you could ever do. What is the point of it? I guess it comes from insecurity. I guess it helps you sleep at night? I don't know, but I'm not for it. You have an issue with her, send her love. Keep being yourself because you're dope and that's all that matters. It doesn't matter if other people are being mean to you, don't lower yourself to their level. That's why I stand for what I stand for, because that's really what I believe.

So how do you feel about this Remy Ma and Nick Minaj beef or female rap beef in general?

I think that if it weren’t females, it would be regular rap beef. The only thing I think is an issue is why does there have to be one queen? I think that as women we have to stray away from that. When it's Meek and Drake, it's not about the king of rap. It's about who's the better rapper, who has the best songs. It becomes a different thing when it's two girls bashing each other based on the fact ‘that no one else could be the queen in hip-hop except for me.’ There's enough space for 20 queens, 30 queens, we can all be queens. Why can't we share our crowns?

That definitely comes across in your work and mantra. So explain MBM, Magnetic B***h Movement.

So magnetic, I believe in the Law of Attraction and that we’re all magnets for what we want and don't want. I tell my girlfriends that you have to be a magnet for what you want by deciding and speaking it into existence. B***h, I love the word b***h because it means that you are a woman with an opinion. I think that all women with opinions need to come together with their opinionated ass. No more silence! There's no reason for us not to have a voice. And movement because anyone can join, everyone is included, no matter what you like or what you don't like, you're included.

Considering the political climate, what do you think feminists could learn from your music and your movement?

Not just feminists, but I think everyone could learn that we're all human and it's about human equality more than anything else. I'm not putting out music to say I'm better than men and they need to bow down to women, and I'm not saying women are less than men, I'm saying we're all equal, no matter what race you come from, no matter what your favorite color is. We're all equal and we all need to come together and spread the message of love and unity.

What are you expecting Trinity to do for people?

I don't think there's a voice for young girls or young men like my last song I just put out. (FWM) I don't think enough girls even think on that basis. I think that there is such a disconnect with girls and boys right now. Guys don't really know what to do with this new generation of women and women don't know what do with this new generation of men. We're in a social media age. Boys are so socially awkward nowadays; they don't even know how to approach women, and women are so powerful nowadays, that they scare the sh*t out these little boys. I'm just trying to give them a little guidance. I think songs nowadays are always "I stole your b***h and you ain't sh*t, you lame". It's like...who wants to listen to that stuff all the time? I want to listen to stuff that makes me feel good about myself and that's the type of music I try to put out into the world.

Why the title Trinity?

The number three is a very important number. It stands for fertility in tarot cards. Basically Trinity is all about creation. The Holy Trinity is about creation, the number three is about creation and I just wanted it to be about what I believe the creator is which is women. We carry these children, we create life, and I wanted it to be about the creation of life and women and represented as a whole. Trinity to me is just an everyday reminder to be a creative, powerful female.

Looking forward, what women artists would you want to work with?

So many women! I love Grimes, Solange, Beyonce, Rihanna, Nicki, obviously. I love Little Dragon so much. Idols of mine like Shakira, Mariah, J.Lo. I don't care what people say about Mariah, I love her. She set a forefront for women that can't be touched to this day. I would love to work with Missy. Missy is deada**...you can't even put her in a category. She’s just awesome, all around, 360 awesomeness. There's so many women that I look up to in so many ways. Janet Jackson? Oh my God. Her life? She's just flawless.

Check out Leaf’s newest video for “FWM(Lie To Me)” below and expect Trinity out in the spring.

 

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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.
KMazur/WireImage

Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

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

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

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

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

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

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

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

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

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

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

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

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...

#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/iXNwssD3sY

— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

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

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

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

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

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

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

 

View this post on Instagram

 

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

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

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

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

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

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