little simz
Getty Images

Little Simz Brings The Heat To A Glacial NYC On 'Stillness In Wonderland' Tour

After we warmed up with the lyrics of CJ Fly + Stillness In Wonderland, among the rest of Little Simz's herd of fans, we talked to the UK rapper about interacting with fans, the reason behind her Alice In Wonderland-themed album, working with WondaGurl, and finding a balance in creativity.

“She probably brings out the most diverse crowds.”

Straight from the mouth of a fellow Simbi fan, shivering with anticipation to finally get into Webster Hall Saturday night (Mar. 11). The rest of the devoted herd huddled in a congested line, inching closer and closer to the door for the heat the UK rapper was about to deliver to warm up the below thirty-degree weather that our coats, scarves and hats couldn’t seem to defeat on their own.

As we all piled in one by one in as much of a spacious, respectful manner as a flock of fans could, CJ Fly of “Pro-era-era, Pro era-era” entered the room. The mellow flows he brought to the “Studio” stage as he spat his “Motto” into the mic, filled the chilled room with some warmth as the crowd chanted along with Captain Fly:

“She know she wanna roll with me, She know she wanna roll with me

Ain't ridin' in a stolen Jeep

Ain't ridin' in a stolen V

I'm carrying the O on me, I'm carrying the O on me

So I'm just ducking police

Ducking the D's, I say f*** the police

My n**** puff on your weed”

CJ Fly continued to warm not only the room, but the hearts of everyone in the crowd as he asked everyone to put two fingers to the sky as he dedicated spots to his late grandfather and Capital Steez.

NYC was special as always, niggas was singing the words to my songs, thank you guys again #FLYTRAP

A post shared by CJ Fly (@flyestintheeera) on

As Simz's DJ took the stage, he started spinning “Picture Perfect,” and asked us if we were ready for Simbi. I peered through the silhouettes of the two fans ahead of me and awaited to follow the British rabbit into the blue and pink-tinted foggy journey we were going to embark on through NYC’s Wonderland – our collective Wonderland.

Little Simz entered Webster Hall’s stage nearly just as excited to perform as we were to watch, sing, rap and dance along to the sonic fantasy world we were about to embark on with her. But, Simbi’s honest, warm and immensely grateful demeanor bridged the gap between fantasy and reality creating a musical-getaway “home away from home” for every individual that came to support her.

Even if you’re afraid of coming to the show alone, the Stillness In Wonderland rapper assures that her tunes weaves the energy of all in the room together to create a space welcoming to any and everybody. Possibly, the reason why the crowd is in fact, so diverse.

Simbi Ajikawo brought us back to her home as we collectively asked God to “Bless Mary,” her next door neighbor who endured the loud thumps of bass oozing from her speakers and evasive vocals creeping into the walls of her home – yet she never complained or called the cops, she let Simbi rock out. And for that, we’re all thankful. Simz let us join her in thanking Mary, because without her, we probably would’ve been somewhere else that Saturday night.

Prepared for battle, Little Simz invites us to her corner of the ring as she leans against the DJ’s table ready to mark her territory as a “Bad To The Bone” “King Of Hearts.” Embodying Sour Patch Kid’s “sour and sweet” nature, Simz effortlessly transitions from her thankful form of bowing and smiling to her zoned state of sweating and spewing fire through the mic and out the speakers warming us up even further. I mean, sometimes she “has to remind n***** who the f*** she is,” right?

what a night , #welcometowonderland | 📷 @ashleyverse

A post shared by simztheperson (@littlesimz) on

In transitioning from a live guitar solo to performing the “forbidden love” song, “Poison Ivy” over its original beat to calling the crowd to raise any light – phone, lighter, etc – in their possession for the “final” song, with every ounce of energy and versatility Simz brought to the room, the crowd magnetically drew closer and closer to the 23 year-old artist. Probably the greatest magnetic pulls between Simbi and her herd of loyal fans were during her live rendition of her beloved track, “Dead Body” and the actual, final song she performed that had to be restarted three times just to bring the right amount of energy. Her manager, Eddie Smith, who was tucked away behind the DJ’s table, even had to sneak in a swig of the “Hennything’s possible” juice upon a demand of 110% energy from everyone in the room. Simz and her crew brought nothing less as they all gathered on stage jumping up and down, cooling the crowd down as they used water bottles as water hoses, while the crowd fed off their energy and dished out 120% more.

It’s the moments where the UK lyricist connects with the camoflauge-jacket wearing fan in the front row, rapping together “you don’t know the half you better chill” during her set of “One In Rotation” and the 5,000 English-accented thank you’s accompanied by just as many bows, that make someone feel like they want her to win – even if they’ve never listened to her music.

Even though my request was ill-timely, her team allowed me to speak with Little Simz after the show backstage amidst the thumping tunes of the following act nearly drowning out our conversation. As Simbi signed CDs, comic books, took pictures and just rapped it up with her fans, her manager, Eddie Smith, tried to persuade me that the sound at the venue was a 5 out of 10. While those of us in the crowd could agree it was probably all that we could’ve hoped for and more, Smith attested to the fact that he knew the show could've been so much better and that’s exactly what they aim for every show. His constructive perfectionism, the family vibes backstage and Simz’s own dedication and gratitude towards her supporters are exactly the reasons I hope they win. Because someone traveling from a small town in London to NYC to perform a sold-out show like Simbi did, doesn't happen often.

VIBE: How is it for you coming to your shows and getting to interact with your fans? I didn't even know you were going to do the meet and greet at the end, I thought that was pretty cool.

Little Simz: Oh yeah! I do that at every show because I'm always aware that it's bigger than me. Regardless of the fact that I've been traveling for days, I'm short of sleep, and I'm tired and all these things -- it's really not about me. It's beyond me and it's about the people that wait for me to come to their city and save money and pay for their ticket. So, it doesn't cost me anything to spare half an hour to say hello and offer time to take a photo. But for me, it's also a reminder of why I want to continue to do it. It's always nice for them to tweet you and say, "I love you".. there's something about looking someone in the eyes and having that human interaction. It gives me a fire in my belly to keep me to continue. It costs nothing and they go home happy and I go home happy and we just repeat... So, it's cool.

I have a thing for jumping in the crowd 😅| Sydney you were too live ?? | 📷 @simonefisher

A post shared by simztheperson (@littlesimz) on

VIBE: It was a really good show. I was just so surprised because you were saying thank you after every song and you seemed so shocked at the response. Did you think it was going to be a smaller turnout?

Little Simz: I did, yeah, actually. I try to live with no expectation. And as much as I may seem active on social media, I'm really not. I don't know who's listening to me, so when I come out and I see a crowd I'm like "Oh s***!" People actually know of me, or like care enough to want to come see me live. And for that, I'm eternally grateful because I've done shows where there's been five people in the crowd and I still give my everything. I'm mad appreciative. So when it's a room like that, it's even more like "Ughh! Blessings on blessings."

VIBE: That must be an amazing feeling. I must ask, why was Alice In Wonderland the one to work with this album?

Little Simz: Ooooh, why was that the one? I think it's because, for anyone who’s seen the film, I felt like there's something about her story and my story that has agreeable symmetry. I feel our stories are very parallel. And I just felt like at the time that I'd written the album, that was the perfect way I could describe it. If someone were to ask me how I was feeling like when I wrote the album, I would say, "feeling like Alice in Wonderland." It just kind of made sense for me to talk about her reality. I call it Stillness In Wonderland because I consider myself a very introverted and still person. I'm very polite, I'm very social. But at the same time, I'm very much so in my own head and in my own space. And there's so much that I can give in experiment. So what you get it may have those characteristics, those qualities in a Wonderland, which is in other words, the industry. You know? I don't know, I hope it works. All along I think I just wanted people to feel like they had a bit of a visual experience. So when you listen to the record, it feels like you're immersed in Wonderland.

Thank you New York 💙? #welcometowonderland - 📷 @_louisvi

A post shared by simztheperson (@littlesimz) on

VIBE: Funny that you bring up the fact that you're very introverted. How was it working with another person who is sort of the same way and traveled the same career path as you in terms of starting off early on, with WondaGurl on "Bad To The Bone"?

Little Simz: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. WondaGurl is someone that I'll forever champion. Just like the mere fact that she's young, a black woman.. KILLING. I can't not support. To know what I'm about and to know what I've been living, it doesn't make sense for me not to support her. So I feel like when you put two people together with that, of that caliber... and then Bibi Bourelly, it's bound to be something special. So, it's always good. I'm here to work with WondaGurl anytime. It's crazy because I just came from Toronto and she was in London. So we just missed each other which is annoying but, yeah. WondaGurl is sick, man. She's gonna do great things, no doubt. For sure.

VIBE: So, for the release of Stillness, you attested that your fans are used to a speed of 10 projects within three years, but you slowed down because of tours and traveling. Do you see yourself getting back to that or you enjoy the pace you're going now?

You know what? I've come to realize that with me I can't -- it frustrates me when I'm not able to create. It drives me crazy. If I'm not able to make music, I understand that I get the best out of myself when I'm under pressure and I work really well under pressure. And I get the best out of myself when I live my life. Because my music is very personal, so everything that I've experienced, it all comes out in my music. I'm not one to just talk about it, I just write it. Know what I'm saying? I think I'm just learning new strategies and I don't over-saturate things with little somethings, because it gets to be like "Chill. No, you're good." But I just want to take my time delivering quality as opposed to quantity. I would hope it's what has come of this album. Because while I was making it, I really didn't release anything for the whole year and I was able to produce Stillness in Wonderland. I'm not saying I'm going to take three to four years to make a record, I just want it to be a little bit more thought out, but at the same time if I'm sitting on bangers, I'll put it on SoundCloud. I'm just trying to find a balance.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BPebor2g2sC/?taken-by=littlesimz

From the Web

More on Vibe

(L-R) Adam Selkowitz, Michael B. Jordan, Toni Braxton and Nick Cannon attend Michael B. Jordan's MBJAM19 at Dave & Buster's Hollywood on July 27, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for Lupus LA

Toni Braxton, Nick Cannon And More Attend Lupus LA And Michael B. Jordan's MBJAM19

Over the weekend, Michael B. Jordan and Lupus LA celebrated their 3rd annual MBJAM in Los Angeles (July 27). The non-profit health organization united lupus patients with celebrities, athletes, advocates, and children of all ages at the Dave & Busters Hollywood.

During the star-studded event, the Creed actor shared how his family is connected to the autoimmune disease and how the MBJAM came to be.

"My mom [Donna] suffers from lupus. When we moved to LA as a family and needed resources to help her, Lupus LA was the first place we turned [to]. They've been awesome to us, so we wanted to give back in a meaningful way. That's when MBJAM was born," he said.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

@michaelbjordan shares his vision behind #MBJAM, and why families play such a critical role within a patient’s #lupus journey. A lupus diagnosis isn’t something you should face alone. 🧡

A post shared by Lupus LA (@lupusla) on Jul 27, 2019 at 9:40pm PDT

Partnering with American Airlines, Coach, GSK, and Warner Bros., all lupus patients and their families attended the charity event for free. Lupus LA raises funds under three core values, as stated in a press release, supporting medical research, providing patient services, and promoting awareness and advocacy. A total of $13M has been raised for the cause mainly through special events including MBJAM.

Nick Cannon (who's also been open about his life with lupus) led the event as the Master of Ceremonies and Jamie Foxx, Toni Braxton (who also narrates Lupus LA's PSA for their #YourStoryOurFight campaign), Kyrie Irving, Omari Hardwick, Storm Reid, and more made special appearances.

Lupus LA chairman Adam Selkowitz kicked off the program by welcoming over 250 lupus patients and families. "The more we can do to give a face to what is so often referred to as an 'invisible' disease, the greater shot we have at finding a cure," said Adam Selkowitz, Chairman of Lupus LA in a press release.

For more information visit www.LupusLA.org. See more pictures from the event down below.

 

Continue Reading
Courtesy of Billboard

Billboard And The Hollywood Reporter To Host First-Ever Pride Summit

Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter have joined forces to launch their first ever Pride Summit. The inaugural event will take place Aug. 8 at the 1 Hotel West Hollywood and will celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and the contributions they have made to the arts and entertainment. The summit will provide attendees with "thoughtful panels and conversations" stemming from editorial information and insight both brands possess about what LGBTQ+ audiences consume.

Pride Summit follows in the footsteps of other inclusive and diverse, live-events such as Billboard's Latin Week, Women in Music, and Hip-Hop and R&B Summit, as well as The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment and Empowerment in Entertainment. The minds behind the summits, newly hired VP of Pride Alexis Fish, VP of Cultural Media Datwon Thomas, and VP of Latin Leila Cobo "support strategic content pillars with a dedicated focus on short-form video, data, and real-life events."

In a press release, Billboard-The Hollywood Reporter Media Group president Deanna Brown explained the creation of Pride Summit. "Our company has a year-round dedication to diversity, inclusion, and representation, and we're proud to establish the summit during this year's historic summer of pride to honor the LGBTQ in real life," she said.

"This event, our new hire of Alexis Fish and our comprehensive editorial and data products underscore our commitment and expertise in super-serving the LGBTQ+ community in a multitude of ways."

Aside from the illuminating panels, Pride Summit, which falls on the same day as Billboard's annual Pride Issue, will feature the issue's cover star, top LGBTQ+ artists and industry executives. The panels will discuss a variety of topics such as bringing LGTBQ+ voices into the songwriters' room, upcoming queer artists, eradicating homophobia, and the best methods on welcoming queer and gender non-conforming people in the workplace.

In addition to the new event that Billboard curated with THR, the brand has announced two, new Pride scholarships that will cover the costs of its Music Industry Essentials course at the NYU Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. Students will receive valuable insight on the music industry, from music production to history and marketing; they will also have the opportunity to learn from Billboard staff members and music industry leaders.

The winners of the scholarships will be announced at the summit, and more information about the course and the scholarship (applications are open through July 30) can be found here.

Registration for the summit is open BBTHRPrideSummit.com. Specific participants will be announced in the coming weeks.

Continue Reading
Martin Lee Studio

Carol's Daughter Founder Lisa Price Reflects On Selling Company And More At The 'In Between Series'

October 2014 was supposed to be one of the highest points in Lisa Price’s life. Instead, it felt like one of the lowest for the Carol’s Daughter founder. That month, the entrepreneur announced that she’d sold her company to one of the largest cosmetic brands, L’Oreal. As a result,  many onlookers and supporters vocalized their disappointment, especially Black Twitter, and accused the Brooklyn-born success story of being a “sell out” quick to leave behind her people to chase a dollar.

While many felt the move would result in the end of hair milk moisturizers as we know it, Cornell University professor, Noliwe Rooks, wasn’t wrong when she said: "[Lisa’s] love for that community and love for black women and economic possibility for black people is as much a part of her creation story and her narrative as whatever her products would do for your hair."

5 years and a 25th-anniversary milestone later, I would soon learn how Price handled the criticism and learned from her experience.

--

As several aspiring entrepreneurs and industry shakers gathered in the Made By We workspace for the intimate In Between Series facilitated by Tiffany Hardin, founder of boutique consultancy, Gild Creative Group, I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive in hearing what Lisa had to say —mainly because of, well, haters. Admittedly, I was a hater by association when the sale was first announced. I keke’d along with tweets that accused her of giving in to “The Man” while I was rocking a weave with a permed leave out. Clearly, I was in no position to laugh. While hearing her reflect on that trying time at this event, I left with not only a better understanding of why she decided to sell her company but also with a couple of her products in my Amazon Prime cart. Above all, the happy 57-year-old mother of three kept it real about her journey during the event and dropped gems too shiny to pass up during the audience Q&A.

When asked about how someone who had zero experience owning a business ended up being the owner of such a profitable and preeminent company, Lisa's response was simple. “Just because you’re not in a certain space, doesn’t mean you can’t dominate it.” And dominate she did. For those who don’t know, let’s take it back. In 1993,  Lisa Price began her business in the kitchen of her Brooklyn home. Originally, Lisa created natural fragrances, body butters, and oils for skin care but after realizing several people weren’t showing her love at craft fairs for not having hair products, Lisa began making them. $27M, a Home Shopping Network (HSN) partnership, and several fully-stocked shelves in Sephora, Target, and Ulta later, Lisa became living proof that it’s possible to be successful in a field you otherwise knew nothing about.

Despite selling her company to L’Oreal, Lisa remains heavily involved and committed to her “child”, Carol’s Daughter, until she’s ready to retire. (Don’t let her angel-kissed skin fool you, sis is seasoned.) “ I’ve been doing this for 26 years...When your child is 26, they need their mom but not every day. I don’t need to be there as much.”

However, it wasn’t all easy choices. There were several times when Lisa was presented with the opportunity to take her business to the next level, but they just didn’t feel right to her. “I needed help. [But] I wasn’t desperate,” she admitted. Although she met with many big bank bosses, she held out until she found the right partner - one who understood her. That key player ended up being Steve Stoute. Through their partnership, Lisa was able to fulfill her vision, one that most prominent beauty brands still don't fully see. “Beauty companies need to understand that we’re no longer buying ‘the box,’” Lisa stressed.

To us, going natural means not having a perm made by Just For Me and protective styles are braids. To Lisa’s 12-year-old daughter, the word “natural” when it pertains to hair doesn’t mean much because, well, not it’s just hair. ”What happens when we all raise children that just look at it like hair?” Price asked. “My daughter has no perspective of [a] relaxer and she doesn’t go to the salon.” Like Lisa’s daughter, Generation Z is being raised in a time where young girls are celebrated for rocking their natural tresses and cornrows or ponytails are just an added accessory to an otherwise fierce look. Hair is not unique and Lisa feels that big cosmetic brands need to understand that there will be a shift in consumerism. “There has to come a time where we don’t buy shampoo in our own section,” said Price. “You can just line up all the shampoos, I’ll I know how to read, find one that I need… I don’t need to go to a separate aisle.”

And if you really think about it, hair really is just hair. We’re all born with it. There is no need to go to the ethnic aisle just to buy some conditioner. As long as you educate yourself, know what works for you, and can read the ingredients on a bottle. Any product, regardless of the brand, could be a fit for you.

With that being true, shouldn’t we have been rooting for Lisa instead? Shouldn’t we want for as many people as possible to use her bomb dot com product line and support her business? “Everybody needs to get comfortable with folks building stuff,” Lisa stressed. “That’s what we gotta do until we can build it and have wealth….Wealth doesn’t go away. It stays with your family.”

The backlash from selling her company was a lot, but it didn’t break her. Instead, Lisa turned that moment into a learning opportunity because, at the end of the day, no Twitter bird is writing her story but her. And no one should ever write your story for you. “As transparent as I thought I was being about [selling Carol’s Daughter], people were writing a whole different story for me. But you can’t write my story. I’m living it and so I used the opportunity to teach.” When chasing success, you will have uncomfortable moments, and how you move in them will define how far you’ll actually go.

As the In Between Series conversation and Q&A came to an end, Price revealed that these days she invests in people instead of businesses, and offered advice to those entrepreneurs in attendance and offered suggestions like the importance of having a financial advisor and paying taxes. “In this day and age, [you need an accountant] because you’re probably going to make money online and they have receipts for that,” she pointed out. “That’s real, that’s not cash when someone Venmo’s you. You might not need an accountant on retainer but you need to understand ‘What’s my liability?,’ ‘What do I need to deduct?,’ ‘When do I 1099?’” Price continued: “As soon as you get money, you have to know how to pay taxes ‘cause they never go away.”

Price answered another question about mentorship and reminded attendees that it’s good to follow and seek out, but just be inspired by them. “You can find those people to follow and to watch and to listen to,” she said. “You just don’t want to try to be them… just watch how they move.”

At the end of the day, the goal is to build a legacy for your family, an empire that still stands long after you’re gone, while expanding its reach across generations and races. So was Lisa’s decision worth it? I’d say very much so.

--

Guild Creative Group's “The In Between Series” is a conversation series that brings together unique founders and leaders across the beauty, fashion, tech, and culinary industries to share their journeys of entrepreneurship.”

Continue Reading

Top Stories