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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Questlove To Executive Produce Broadway Musical About ‘Soul Train’

Soul Train, the audacious dance series that proudly spotlighted black culture while showcasing performances from legendary artists such as Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and more, is the focus of a new Broadway musical with Queslove as executive producer, Deadline reports.

The Roots drummer, who authored the 2013 book Soul Train: The Music, Dance and Style of a Generation, will executive produce the musical alongside, Tony Corneilus, son of Soul Train host and creator, Don Corneilus. Having worked directly with his father for “several years,” Cornelius’ son expressed gratitude for the impact that the series “has had on the culture at large,” both stateside and abroad.

Playwright Dominique Moriseeau, director Kamilah Forbes, and choreographer Camille A. Brown, are also included in the musical's production team. In a statement to Deadline, Morisseau said that she can’t wait to collaborate with a “legendary creative team of incredible women to celebrate the history and the unsung hero of our nation’s longest running televised music and dance series.”

More than 20 hits from the era are set to be featured in the musical, which will also detail Cornelius’ story in the early days of creating the series. Soul Train debuted in October 1971, and took its final bow in March of 2006. Cornelius died by suicide in 2012.

The musical is slated to debut in 2021, corresponding with the 50th anniversary of Soul Train’s television debut.

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Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" Is No Longer The Number One Song In America

Lil Nas X's bonafide smash "Old Town Road" has been dethroned from its unprecedented 19-week run at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

According to the publication, rising alt-pop star Billie Eilish now has the No. 1 song in the country with her track "Bad Guy." The song has been sitting at No. 2 for nine weeks straight. Lil Nas X, who collaborated with the likes of Billy Ray Cyrus, Young Thug, Mason Ramsey and more superstars for various remixes of the song, congratulated the 17-year-old on her first No. 1 hit via Twitter.

"Old Town Road" now holds the No. 3 spot behind  Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello's "Señorita."

The Atlanta musician catapulted to fame after "Old Town Road" made the rounds. Initially, it was removed from Billboard's Country chart for reportedly not implementing enough elements of the genre. Since then, it has shattered records and expectations.

Just a few weeks ago, it became the longest-running No. 1 in American music history, breaking a record held by Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men, Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber (for "One Sweet Day" and "Despacito," respectively).

Lil Nas X has a lot to be proud of. Congrats on a historic run.

congratulations to billie eilish!! u deserve this!!

— nope (@LilNasX) August 19, 2019

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Get Ready: A Three 6 Mafia Reunion Tour Is On The Way

Three 6 Mafia is on their way to a stage near you. According to an Instagram post from Juicy J, the popular hip-hop collective will be performing at a series of very special reunion shows.

Per the flyer, one of the shows will be held on Oct. 12 at the Landers Center in Mississippi. The show will also star DJ Paul, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, DMX and all original Hypnotize Minds & HCP Members (Gangsta Boo, Crunchy Black, Project Pat, Lil Wyte and La. Chat).

“I know this is what the fans have been asking for, so we're ready to bring them the classics, along with our new music in the best possible way,” said DJ Paul in a statement. “To quote LL, don't call it a comeback, we have officially been here for years, and we've got a lot to show for it. Just wait to see what comes next.”

The Oscar-winning group went on a hiatus back in 2012. Many of the group’s members have released solo projects, and two of the group’s founding members have since passed on (Koopsta Knicca and Lord Infamous).

Tickets to the event will be on sale this Friday (Aug. 23). Take a look at the flyer below.

DATES 09-07 Atlanta, GA - One Musicfest 10-11 Newark, NJ - Loud Records 25th Anniversary (Prudential Center) 10-12 Southaven, MS - Landers Center


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THREE 6 MAFIA REUNION TOUR! Tickets on sale next Friday August 23rd @landerscenter

A post shared by Juicy J (@juicyj) on Aug 16, 2019 at 12:37pm PDT

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