Meet The Dancer In JAY-Z's "4:44" Video Reclaiming Agency Over The Black Female Body

Okwui Okpokwasili is the brilliant choreographer you want to know. 

"When I'm making work, I'm making it from a black/brown woman perspective. It’s about authorship of language of the body. Authorship of language coming out of the tongue of text. How to make something that is direct comes critically from a particular place," said Okwui Okpokwasili, writer, performer and choreographer.

You might not know Okpokwasili by name, but perhaps by now you've seen her fearless performance in JAY-Z's ambitious "4:44" video. The 9-minute clip is a collage of images of black American life as commodified by the mainstream and consumed in popular culture. It also places Okpokwasili's dance of contorting limbs and syncopated hips at the center, an intensely emotional scene juxtaposed with some of JAY's most vulnerable lyrics.

"My entry into "4:44" feels quite strange and lovely. I feel this incredible productivity and connection that's happening across art spaces right now. I would never imagine myself in a music video, or never have, but [it happened] because Arthur Jafa and Elisa Blount-Moorehead and Malik Saeed and TNEG are traversing these lines that were left porous. For JAY-Z to entrust TNEG with his vision and make something that is absolutely not a video but some really special film. To have words colliding that you don't think would normally collide. To make a space for many other languages and space to emerge," she told FADER during an interview about her latest film, Bronx Gothic, where she "reclaims agency over the black body" and turns a lens on "the lack of innocence society grants black and brown girls."

With that in mind, Okpokwasili had to hear very little of the song to know what JAY's intentions were. "I knew the concept. I knew that it was in some way about a kind of contrition — an apology. I was looking at some interview with the women who were behind the video," she explained to FADER, "and they were suggesting that the apology wasn't just an apology to Beyoncé but also to himself. He's trying to open up a space that isn't necessarily opened up for rappers. It's a worthy endeavor to try and think about. What have you made up of the self? And how can you reduce all of these layers of postures?"

Read more on Okpokwasili's brilliance, her daring work and body politic, here.

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Doja Cat Delivers Vibrant Music Video For Single 'Say So'

Doja Cat is back with another stunning visual, this time for her current single "Say So." Having since performed the melody on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the rapper/songwriter debuted the music video with multiple 70s looks, vibrant colors, and translated the feel-good energy of the song into a mini-motion picture.

"Say So" is featured on Doja Cat's second studio album, Hot Pink. The soundscape, which was released in November 2019, features other standout tracks like "Rules," "Talk Dirty," and "Juicy" featuring Tyga.

The California native also plans to hit the road next month for her "Hot Pink Tour." The trek begins March 25 in Chicago, Ill., and ends on April 15 in San Francisco, California.

View the full video above.

 

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going on tour 💕 tickets on sale Friday at 10am 💋 dojacat.com/tour

A post shared by Doja Cat (@dojacat) on Feb 24, 2020 at 11:51am PST

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Jhene Aiko Taps Big Sean,Ty Dolla $ign, Ab-Soul And More For ‘Chilombo’ Album

After announcing the release date for Chilombo, Jhené Aiko unveiled the album's track list on Wednesday (Feb. 26). The project features appearances from Big Sean, Ty Dolla $ign, Nas, John Legend, Ab-Soul and Aiko’s father, Dr. Chill.

Last month, Aiko released the track “P*$$ Fairy (OTW),” which will be featured on the LP. The album's other interesting song titles include, “Happiness Over Everything (H.O.E),” “Tryna Smoke,” “Born Tired,” “LOVE,” “Mourning Doves,” and the Sean-assisted, “None of Your Concern.”

 

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March 6th ✨ #CHILOMBO 🌋

A post shared by Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo 🌋 (@jheneaiko) on Feb 26, 2020 at 9:17am PST

In a new interview with Essence, Aiko spoke on the “healing” properties of her music and discussed how she maintains privacy in the age of social media -- especially with all the chatter surrounding her relationship with Sean after the two seemingly broke up and got back together.

“The internet has made everyone aware of their opinion,” she said. “As many people as there are in the world, that’s how many opinions there are. If you let that many opinions affect your own opinion, and your own way of looking at things, you’re going to be so confused. I just love the feeling of taking that away from people; their need to have to say something or have to give their opinion because I personally have never been that way—well maybe when I was younger, or high or drunk.

“Whether it be something with me and Sean, or me and my daughter,” continued Aiko. “I share about one percent of my whole being with the internet. Even in my songs, that’s literally one moment that I’m talking about or when I felt that way. There’s so much more to my relationship with my [late] brother [Miyagi], or with my daughter, or with Sean. People hear a song like ‘Triggered’ and they’re like, ‘Oh, do we hate him now?’ In the grand scheme of things that was like a moment.”

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Alicia Keys performs during The Celebration of Life for Kobe & Gianna Bryant at Staples Center on February 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevork Djansezian

Alicia Keys Honors Kobe Bryant With Performance of "Moonlight Sonata"

After helping honor Kobe Bryant's life during the Grammy Awards, musician Alicia Keys paid tribute to the future Hall of Fame basketball player again during Bryant's memorial service at the Staples Center.

On Monday, Feb. 24, Keys sat at a piano and joined an orchestra of violinists to play her version of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." As Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka said of his friend, Bryant learned to play Beethoven's masterpiece by ear as a gift to his wife. But he didn't take lessons from a professional; in pure Kobe fashion, he learned to play the iconic composition by ear.

"Sitting down and taking lessons would be too easy. So I taught myself by ear," Bryant said, according to a story by Bleacher Report. "...If you just sit down and say, 'I'm going to learn this thing until I do,' there's not really much out there that you can't figure out eventually."

Keys, wearing a purple outfit, played the song as the jumbotron in Staples Center showed images of Bryant with his teenaged daughter Gianna. As the performance ended, she appeared to be fighting tears as she showed gratitude toward the audience and to her fellow musicians.

Kobe and Giana were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, January 26, 2020.

Alicia Keys performing Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” at the Kobe & Gianna Celebration of Life.

One of Kobe’s favorite pieces of music. One he learned to play on the piano as a surprise for Vanessa. pic.twitter.com/4t2UnoBnhK

— Steve Mason (@VeniceMase) February 24, 2020

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