AXE Senior Orientation Announcement
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John Legend Pushes Hip-Hop To Demolish Masculine Stereotypes With AXE's "Find Your Magic" Initiative

The R&B singer joined a AXE's recent panel to discussion ways to encourage millennial men to be themselves. 

"Seventy-five percent of guys believe that society says guys should act strong even if they feel scared or nervous."


Hypermasculinity, like many other topics in the hip-hop community, has often been pushed under the rug. Although we all come out of hiding now and then to salute those—Frank Ocean, A$AP Rocky, and Kanye West to name a few—who briefly dismantle barriers resurrected by this male-dominated industry, there's still very little room for guys, in particular, to be who they are meant to be.

But it's 2017, and the idea that men can only listen to trap music and have to stay far away from the color pink is outdated. So as part of an initiative to encourage self expression and reverse hyper-masculine stereotypes within millennial men, AXE has continued its "Find Your Magic" campaign with an intimate discussion panel last Wednesday (Aug. 23).

The panel included masculinity expert Carlos Andrés Gómez, LGBTQ advocate Hunter Klugkist, and a current high school sophomore. Award-winning recording artist, John Legend also appeared on the panel to discuss his journey to self expression, the stigma of men in the hip-hop industry, and artists' responsibility to destroying crippling stereotypes. Hear are some of his biggest takeaways.

Finding His Voice

Unlike some of the other panelists who shared stories about their high school days, the "All of Me" singer didn't have the most traditional upbringing. At a young age, Legend was home schooled, prompting him to skip a number of grades by the time he got to high school. "By the time I got to high school, I was two years younger than all my classmates. I was 12 years old and everybody was taller and had a deeper voice. So the actual physical manifestation of masculinity hadn't arrived yet," he recalled. He admitted that he was a nerd and at times didn't fit in, but found refuge in music. "For me, music was the thing that made me feel like I could be myself," he added. "I could get on stage and connect with people. That helped me love myself more and open myself up to people. I think art has given me that self expression, that joy in my life and helped me in all of the facets – develop more confidence, develop a connection with people."

Besides using art as a tool, Legend also acknowledged his father's role in reimagining what a man was supposed to be. His father, Ronald Lamar Stephens, was a factory worker by day, but dabbled in the creative realms of painting, carving and sewing in the afternoon. "I think we had an example of someone who wasn't the straight definition of what a man's supposed to be. In the day he was doing the manly factory job and then at home, he was making his own suits, painting and drawing," he explained.

Navigating Hip-Hop

And it was that foundation that would guide him through the music industry, despite it's harsh reality. "I came up collaborating with a lot of hip-hop artists, and hip-hop is known to be a hyper-masculine form and appears to be misogynist," he explained. "So I was collaborating and surrounded by artists where that was the norm, even though Kanye was breaking all of those norms. I think you can be influenced by all those, but it takes some growing up, maturing, and finding yourself, and falling in love to help you understand exactly how you wan  to express yourself in that environment in a way that's more empathetic in a way that's honest." Today, Legend attributes his continued growth to falling in love with his wife Chrissy Teigen and fathering his 18-month-old daughter, Luna.

Hip-Hop, Stand Up & Take Responsibility

In addition to the discussion panel, AXE announced the launch of "Senior Orientation" – a program dedicated to empowering and promoting inclusivity to students at Centennial High School in Ohio. The program offers a custom curriculum, mentorship and a series of performances that will foster a free and creative space for students to express their unique voices.

While it's a step in the right direction, Legend says the hip-hop community and influencers have a responsibility to do their part in dismantling hypermasculinity in all facets. "I think [artists] have the power and also the responsibility to use that power wisely and in a way that can help young people envision other ways to be," Legend stated. "Nicki helps you [directed at high school panelist] with ways to be, and I think JAY-Z talking about his relationship with his wife and therapy, it's helping other people realize ways to be. I think we as artists, we have an opportunity to really help people think about who they are as we're thinking about who we are."


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Ayesha Curry Celebrates Google Assistant Partnership With Thanksgiving Recipe

Just in time for Thanksgiving, Ayesha Curry has teamed up with Google Assistant to share a hearty recipe or two for the chef in you.

To celebrate their partnership, the entrepreneur and mother of three made an appearance at Google's Friendsgiving event in New York City SoHo district on Thursday night (Nov. 14). Before starting a cooking demo, Curry talked about her love for cooking, the importance of family sitting around the table for a meal, and how Google Assistant has helped make her life easier.

"I think it's great because I can walk into my kitchen, child in hand while making a bottle, and ask what the rest of my day looks like. I can just say, 'Hey Google, what does the rest of my day look like' and it'll pull up my whole schedule and it's just one extra peace of mind because I didn't have to do anything tangible. It's effortless... It's like a digital version of a cookbook with how-tos, timers, everything in one and it can truly be integrated into your kitchen."

After using Google Assistant to playfully cue the Kids Bop version of "Truth Hurts," Ayesha whipped up her new Fall Bread Pudding with Brown Butter Apples recipe on a cast iron enamel skillet from her cookware collection. Not only did the device give step-by-step instructions, but it also provided her with alternative ingredients for one of the ingredients.

"With this recipe, you'll see it's super easy, it's fool-proof. Baking is so scientific, this [recipe] is not that. That's what I love about it."

After serving the cooked bread pudding to the audience, the Seasoned Life author talked about her upcoming cookbook in collaboration with one of her sisters and what people can expect.

"It's going to packed, full of flavor. The realistic nature of this [cooking mother] situation is that unless I'm writing a cookbook and developing recipes, I'm not cooking every night at home. That's just not realistic. We all have jobs, we all have things we're taking care of, but I'm always trying to get a meal on the table.

"So that's what this new book is really going to be about. It's going to be about quick, simple, easy ways [to cook]. I tried to keep everything 30 minutes or less, but it's packed and full of flavor."

Ayesha Curry's Fall Bread Pudding recipe can be found exclusively on any Google Nest device. If you're a Google Assistant users, simply say "Hey Google, show me Ayesha Curry's fall bread pudding recipe" and you'll have a sweet and savory dessert for your Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving) dinner.

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Noam Galai/Getty Images for Billboard

Billboard And VIBE Host Second Annual R&B/Hip-Hop Power Players Event

Billboard and VIBE joined forces for the second annual R&B and Hip-Hop Power Players event on Thursday night (October 17). Held at New York City's Union City, the brands honored the 100 accomplished music executives, agents and more who made the third annual list for their outstanding contributions of driving, influencing and guiding the music industry and hip-hop culture today.

Billboard Executive Director of R&B/Hip-Hop Gail Mitchell and VP of Culture Media/VIBE Editor-in-Chief Datwon Thomas greeted guests at the invite-only reception saying, "Big shout to the team that puts this together, we just want everyone to know that this is a night of celebration. A lot of people have been working in the game for a long time - you are here tonight so you are all winning." He added, "We thank you for taking the time to celebrate your colleagues."

Shortly after, the hosts presented Steve Pamon with the Billboard Executives of the Year Award shared with Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. As he accepted his award, the Parkwood Chief Operating Officer delivered a speech saying, “This award was given to myself and Beyoncé, but the award truly belongs to the team behind me. We live off respect and responsibility. A sincere thank you.” He went on to say, “We live off of respect and the responsibility of being around all of you. You are hip-hop. We are hip-hop. It’s not about us. It’s about us all.”

The late Nipsey Hussle was honored with the Billboard Impact Award for his contributions to breaking barriers of cultural appropriation, young professionals seeking educational resources in science, tech and mathematics spaces, and positivity in his community. Prior to Marathon Agency co-founder, Steve Carless, acceptance of the world on Hussle's behalf, there was a 30-second moment of silence.

In his emotional yet encouraging speech, Carless said, “I accept this on behalf of Nipsey, his family, and all his loved ones and his children. What this means to me, it’s a testament to his hard work and dedication." He added, "Congrats to everyone who made this year. It’s a huge honor...One thing I do want to say it, this award is about inspiration. Responsibility is to uplift each other mentor each other and lead each other. May all of us leave here and know we have a responsibility.”

As attendees enjoyed beverages and captured Instagram-worthy images at the Billboard and VIBE cover-inspired installations, rappers Casanova and Young M.A hit the stage, respectively, to perform their popular singles. Flip through photos and interviews from Thursday night's event down below.

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21 Savage And Doja Cat Close Out The Summer At Genius' IQ/BBQ Concert

With summer slowly closing its curtains, Genius held its third annual Genius IQ/BBQ and live concert on (Sept. 7) in Brooklyn, NY. After the end-of-summer event opened its doors and hit capacity, music lovers who made it were in for an interactive, day-long experience.

Presented by Boost Mobile, the free event offered a sky deck view and lounge for V.I.P. guests as well as a warehouse full of both indoor and outdoor experiences. From vendors to ice-cold White Claw beverages to a one-of-a-kind multiplayer trivia game, attendees' attentions were absorbed in activities and an all-around good time. In between sets and as the indoor stage radiated hues of purple, DJ S.WHiT! spun hits from your 1st or 2nd generation iPod.

RCA recording artist Destiny Rodgers took the stage to command the room with her hip-hop, pop, and R&B infused set as she performed her singles, "North$ide," "Apologies," "Lockdown," and "Tomboy."

Hailing from South Haven, Indiana, self-taught guitarist Omar Apollo brought the funk, psychedelic rock, and rhythm and blues while performing "Kickback," "You Got Me," "Unbothered," and "Brakelights."

Yung Baby Tate sported a dark purple laced bustier, black skirt, and thigh-high boots while she sang her hits "Pretty Girl," "That Girl," and "Beckham." The Atlanta producer, rapper, and singer also performed her unreleased track "All Dat" and paid homage to Nicki Minaj while she rapped her "Babytron/Megatron" rendition.

Ann Marie slowed the BBQ down with her R&B sounds rocking a late '90s/2000s-inspired black leather fit. The Interscope Records songstress melodically delivered "Handle It," "Unlove You," "Ride For Me," "Throw It Back," and "My Body," while her backup dancers kept up with their hard-hitting moves.

Rising rapper and Bronx-native Lil Tjay helped to warm up the crowd with his newly released single "F.N." that had the crowd putting their middle fingers up. The 18-year-old Columbia Records signee rapped through his reflective lyrics keeping the crowd hooked from start to finish.

The one and only Doja Cat fans warmed the artist up before she appeared on stage, chanting "Doja, Doja, Doja, Doja." Rocking a yellow, black, and white Fashion Nova pantsuit and jacket set, the 23-year-old engaged with her fans singing her hits "Roll With Us," "Go To Town," "So High," "Game," "Juicy," "Tia Tamara," and "Moo!."

Headliner 21 Savage took over the stage with a 30-minute set as shades of red with hints of green captured the emotion in the UK-native's performance. The Billboard chart-topping rapper took his fans back in time opening  with his 2016 single "Red Opps." 21 carried his set going into Savage Mode with "No Heart," and "X" and gave fans a few M's while rapping "Bank Account."

The Not All Heroes Wear Capes artist closed out the event with performances of "Don't Come Out The House" and "10 Freaky Girls" off of his 2018 album, making the third annual Genius IG/BBQ live concert an event to remember.

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