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Junot Díaz & Toni Morrison Have A Prose-Driven Conversation On The African Diaspora

The two acclaimed authors have a conversation about writing and the African Diaspora with Document.

Sharing their equated appreciation for each other’s prowess of prose, Dominican author Junot Díaz and southern-bred novelist Toni Morrison had a conversation about the black diaspora for Document.

Upon being assigned the reading of Song Of Solomon in his first class at Rutgers University, Diaz admits that he asked his professor why there was such a demand to read so many women authors.

“The professor, laughing her ass off, told me to just read the books and ask her the same question a couple of weeks later. Of course, I came back hat in hand, absolutely humiliated, ashamed of myself, and aware of what would be asked of me at university,” the M.I.T. professor reflected.

Healing the writer’s wound, Toni Morrison praised his work, calling it “intelligent and wild,” “provocative,” and “fetching.” The Bluest Eye penman continued, detailing the moment she decided to put pen to paper, professionally. She even revealed she’s 80 pages into a new book.

After the 86-year-old author admitted she’s been sculpting the story of a forthcoming book for two years, Díaz replies: “To know that you have a new book coming out is like hearing somebody invented a new food group, so I’m very happy.”

Morrison went on to disclose that she didn’t start writing until the ripe age of 39, because she realized that there was no one in the abyss that would tell the stories she was interested in. Here enters, The Bluest Eye.

Both literary architects shared their personal experiences with dwelling in the African Diaspora.

Toni Morrison: “My so-called cultural familiarity is highly Southern… and I came from parents who were born in Alabama and Georgia that carried those cultures with them and mixed with other people from other countries and nations. It was only when I went away to Howard University, and later when I traveled with a peer group down South, that I began to fall in love with black culture—the way we spoke and moved and sang and thought. Enormously, I was impressed with the love, the sharing of misery, and the supporting of one another: It was so different from what I had known about, except through things that my mother and father had mentioned or described, so it stayed with me. Not just the language, the sense of control within chaos, the chaotic world that they lived in; the fear that they must have held, but how they refused to let that circumstance squeeze them and keep them from loving one another or sharing with one another or protecting one another. That was the part that amazed me.”

Junot Díaz: “The neighborhood I grew up in was another one of these spaces of unrecognized cosmopolitanism or unrecognized local cosmopolitanism where there were these [elements] that brought a bunch of groups together for whatever reason. For the case of that specific part of Ohio it was steel mills and industrial jobs, and where I was in New Jersey it was very, very cheap housing next to a landfill. It wasn’t next to our neighborhood or on the side of it; you had to literally go through our neighborhood to get to it. What this meant was that the people living there were starters, first-rung on the ladder. I think that neighborhood is how I first saw the United States: a place that has brought every kind of person from all over. I lived with Egyptians, I lived with people from Uruguay, the Philippines, and the back South—“the Bammers” we called them—the Northeast African American communities were Jamaican, and a lot of my ideas around what we call the “African diaspora” began to form in that place. There I was, this very light-skinned person from an African-diasporic family from a predominately African-descendant country, and it wasn’t until I came into contact with these folks [that] I became acutely aware of this.”

The discussion can be read in full here.

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Is Expected To Make $64 Million Opening Weekend

Thanks to Us, Jordan Peele has another blockbuster on his hands. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the highly-anticipated horror flick starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, is expected to have a $64 million opening weekend at the domestic box office.

Peele’s sophomore horror film earned an impressive $7.4 million on Thursday (March 21) night previews, and is forecasted to take in about $27 million from Friday sales. The film is also on pace to knock Captain Marvel out of the No. 1 spot at the box office.

Once final numbers are tallied, Us will likely snatch the third-best opening weekend record for an R-rated horror film behind It, which brought in a whopping $123.4 million, followed by Halloween’s $76.2 million opening weekend last year.

Aside from rave reviews and a genius promo run that included simultaneous screenings in major media markets, Us earned a 95 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film, set in the mid-1980s centers around a family of four who set off on a vacation that finds them confronting some familiar faces.

Peele recently spoke to VIBE about casting Duke (our April 2019 cover star) in the role of patriarch, Gabe Wilson. “I have to have somebody voice what the audience was saying,” he said. “In the case of Get Out, it’s Rod, like, ‘How have you not left yet?’ [In Us], Winston is largely that voice. There’s one moment where Lupita [Nyong’o] takes a step into the unknown, where black people [will think], ‘I don’t know.’ But to have Winston say, ‘Aaaand she left. Your mother just walked out of the car.’ That’s all we need.”

Duke also opened up about the intricacies of his character. “His function isn’t to see through the veil. His function is to tell the absolute truth how he sees it,” explained the 32-year-old actor. “He’s sometimes there to say the things that other people don’t want to say, but he’s also there to make fun of things to keep it from not getting too heavy, even though it’s real. That was my job. [Peele] respected that. I like to lean into functions. If I’m going to be your antagonist, I’m gonna really push you. If I’m gonna be your clown, funny guy, I’m gonna do that.”

Click here to read VIBE’s April 2019 cover story.

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Cardi B Explains Why She Wants To Trademark “Okurrr”

Cardi B hopes to secure as many “bags” as possible. In response to backlash and burning questions surrounding her decision to file to trademark “okurrr,” the 26-year-old rapper took to social media Friday (March 22) to defend her latest money move.

Since people tend to ask Bardi to use what has become her signature catch phrase, she figured that it was time to cash in. “You think I ain’t gonna’ profit off this sh*t? B*tch white folks do it all the motherf**king time,” she said. “So you gon’ be mad at me ‘cuz I want to get some motherf**king money?

“While I’m still hear I’ma secure all the fucking bags,” Cardi continued before adding that there are a “lot of ways to get rich” in 2019.

The Bronx native caught heat for wanting to trademark the word because she wasn’t the first to say “okurrr.” Cardi already revealed that she started using it after she heard Khloe Kardashian saying it, but the word was originally popularized in drag culture -- most notably by Rupaul’s Drage Race contestant Laganja Estranja, in 2014.

However, Rupaul attributed the word to Broadway actress, Laura Bell Bundy, who used it in YouTube skits dating back to 2010. In the skits, Bundy pretends to be a hairdresser named “Shocantelle Brown.”

Although Bundy caught criticism for her little character, which was deemed racist, she typically gets credit for bringing “okrrr” (different spelling) to the internet a full decade before Cardi made it mainstream.

No matter the origin, it looks like Cardi will be the only one profiting off of “okurrr.”


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#CardiB on why she decided to trademark “Okurr”

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Kanye West, EMI Working Towards Private Settlement

Kanye West and EMI could be close to settling their legal drama. Each party filed documents requesting a stay of the case to “explore the potential for a resolution,” The Blast reports.

West sued EMI in an effort to “gain freedom” from his contract, and to own his publishing. In the lawsuit, ‘Ye argued that his contract ended in 2010 under California law, which bars entertainers from being tethered to an agreement for more than seven years. The multi-Grammy winner, who signed the deal back in 2003, also accused the company of slavery because the contract doesn’t allow him to retire.

“Even if the contract were not lopsided in EMI’s favor (it is), even if its terms valued Mr. West’s artistic contributions in line with the spectacular success he has achieved for EMI (they do not), and even if EMI had not underpaid Mr. West what it owes him (EMI has), he would be entitled to be set free from its bonds,” the lawsuit reads.

EMI hit back with a countersuit filed in New York, instead of California. The suit pointed out that the 41-year-old rapper signed multiple contract extensions, in addition to accepting millions in advances.

According to The Blast, West and EMI now feel that putting a hold on the legal proceedings will be beneficial to both sides “and the Court by enabling the parties to engage in meaningful discussions in an attempt to resolve this action without having to incur the burden and expense of litigation and motion practice.”

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