Andre L Perry

Bernard David Jones Explains How 'The Mayor' Inspires Young Minorities To Get Involved In Politics

Jones shares with VIBE how The Mayor can plant a political bug within young people of color and how he gets over the fear of creating and sharing content with the masses.

For actor/singer/songwriter Bernard David Jones, his plate of talents aren't sectioned off so that they don't touch. Jones' creative expressions blend together to present a resume that looks pleasing to the eye.

A Paterson, New Jersey native, Jones described his environment as one that treasured the importance of family which fostered his pursuit of an acting career. Through performance art troupes as a middle schooler to getting his degree in theater from Morehouse College, Jones was primed for the spotlight, which ultimately landed him on the recurring cast of ABC's new comedy, The Mayor.

Created by Jeremy Bronson (The Mindy Project) and executive produced by Hamilton's Daveed Diggs among others, the lens follows an aspiring rapper-turned-politician named Courtney Rose (Brandon Michael Hall). The young man originally had his eyes set on popularizing his rap career and decided to run for mayor of his Fort Gray hometown in order to fulfill that desire. Unbeknownst to him, his two best friends, (Jermaine Leforge, played by Jones, and T.K. Clinton played by Marcel Spears), and his mother Dina Rose (played by Yvette Nicole Brown), Rose wins office and has to find a way to make his community better while keeping up with his original dream.

For Jones, he sees some of the main character's traits within himself, especially the art of focus. Not only does Jones act, but the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity member is also a shutterbug and applies the quality of focus from behind the camera lens onto the silver screen.

"Whatever that emotion is that you try to capture in one picture, you have to focus to get that," he says. "I think that has translated to my acting as well, being able to focus and be in the moment of whatever the situation that my character is in. Being honest and truthful in those moments."

Below, Jones shares how The Mayor can plant a political bug within young people of color and how he gets over the fear of creating and sharing content with the masses.


VIBE: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in acting?
Bernard D. Jones: For most young black children, you start performing in front of your family. You sing a little song or you do a little dance or you recite your Easter monologue for them, so it started, for me, with family. Then, of course, the church. For a lot of us young black performers, they start in the church and that’s when I realized I loved performing for people. That was my first major audience. Just going from there I joined a performance art troupe when I was in middle school, junior high. Then I went to a performing arts high school in New Jersey. I was able to hone the craft and learn the skill there. I received my acting degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta.

How'd you come on board to join the cast of The Mayor?
During pilot season, actors normally get a bunch of scripts to audition for all the shows. Once this script ran across my desk, I said, ‘Wow, this is amazing! This story is so important, it needs to be told.’ Most importantly we see these three young black guys who are uplifting each other, who’re relentless in their friendship for each other, and protecting each other and making sure that their best friend is set up for success. I love that about this show and how they depict the black family. For us, we see families where there’s a single mom and a son and then the friends are also like brothers, but for America to see it in such a positive light has been great.

That was one of my questions: how do the characters make this show feel relatable or realistic?
One, it’s the actors. Brandon Michael Hall is an amazing actor. Marcel [Spears] is phenomenal and Yvette [Nicole Brown] and Lea [Michele], but the thing that makes it so relatable is because it’s something that we all have experienced. We’ve been in communities where things aren’t the best and we’ve been in situations where politicians don’t necessarily look out for your best interest. To be able to show what it would look like for a young black guy to say, ‘Even though I didn’t come here with the best intentions, I wanted to get some hits on my rap album,’ but that character took on the responsibility and went for it, and wants to make his community and the constituents of that community better. I think that’s such an important thing for people to see, especially to see young black men doing that, and then to see a strong black family on television. It’s great.

What gems have you picked up by working with major figures like Daveed Diggs from black-ish and previously Hamilton, or executive producer Jeremy Bronson from The Mindy Project?
I’ve learned that it’s okay to grow during a process. You may not come in knowing all of the answers, you may not be delivering this joke the best way every single time, but the growth, being able to grow into the character, making that character full-figured has been one of the things that I’ve learned because they’ve been so supportive. Jeremy has been so amazingly supportive and Daveed with music, he’s doing such an amazing job with the music. We do all of our own music. Brandon is in the studio every Saturday. I’m singing the hooks on the songs, and Marcel is doing verses. We’re very much involved with the music as well. Just getting back into the studio and being able to do that and work with Daveed has been so valuable.

I think that’s what makes the show have an upbeat aura to it. They’re using the cast's talents outside of the lights, camera, action. Like how you mentioned that you sing a few songs within the show, you guys are really hands-on with pretty much every aspect that goes into making The Mayor.
It’s been such a collaborative effort because our show is so ensemble-based and that’s what makes the show special, is that somebody can come to the show and see a character that they relate to and you get to see that character every episode.

The main character in The Mayor ran for public office but ultimately to fulfill his dreams of beginning his rap career. Have you done anything out-the-box to propel your own career?
I wouldn’t necessarily say out-the-box, but one of the most challenging things I’ve done is try to create my own content. Being a creator or creative, being vulnerable and putting the message that you want the world to see out there and hoping that people like it is not crazy, but it’s definitely scary. It’s probably the scariest thing I’ve done, producing my own work.

How do you get over that fear? What mindset do you have to get in to unleash your talents?
My thing is, ‘Hey, we only have one life to live, just do it.’ And if your reason for doing it is to fulfill whatever it is that you have inside of you, you’re not going to worry about whether people will like it or not because you’re doing it for yourself and you’re doing it for those people who need it. I just say do it, we only got one life. Just go for it. You’ll succeed, you’ll fail, but that’s just life; ups and downs.

Speak on how The Mayor blends political and social issues while still being a lighthearted comedy.
What Jeremy has done which has been so brilliant is we address these issues through a non-partisan lens so we don’t have a responsibility to a Democrat or to a Republican. We just tell stories that are affecting the community, that is affecting my community, that is probably affecting people’s communities nationally. We’re able to touch on issues like that, and the writing is so good that you’ll laugh at a joke, but then maybe 10 minutes later, you’ll think, ‘Was that about gun violence?’ It makes you laugh, but if you’re really paying attention it’ll also make you think, and I think that’s how people can come and sit down and watch it and receive it a little better. Plus there’s amazing music on the show, the actors are great, so I think people are able to come and watch this lighthearted comedy that’ll make you think a little bit.

Best Comedy Series!!! Most Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series #SAG! Yyyeeeeaaa!!! Cmon #foryourconsideration!! Dreams stay coming true! Thank you God for this experience! I’m so glad I get to do this with the best cast/creatives on television and the best crew in Hollywood! We still don’t know about the extra episodes, but I do know that we’ve put out great work that I’m so proud of...#FYC #la #hollywood #hollywoodforeignpress #themayor #abc #comedy #bestcomedy #actor #actors #actorslife #bts #setlife #vote #voteforus #voting #yvettenicolebrown #brandonmichealhall #bernarddavidjones #marcelspears #leamichele #represent #goldenglobes #sagawards #hollywoodforeignpressassociation @goldenglobes @sagawards

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That’s interesting you said a lot of the issues that are depicted in the show affect everyday people. There’s one episode, I think it's Episode Two ["The Filibuster"], where you guys talk about the creative arts and how it plays a major role in young kids' creative development. I’ve read articles, not only this year but throughout the years, where the government has threatened to cut funding to schools’ arts programs. How important are these creative outlets in today's society?
It’s extremely important because that little weird kid that’s doing the dancing and the singing and running around the house like I was, if it weren’t for an arts program, I wouldn’t have anywhere to focus that energy or focus that ability into building a sustainable career. Kids should be able to have the option to do whatever is in their heart. My family let me do tons of things until I decided to stay on this and it’s so important in schools because it gives kids something to do. Sometimes they don’t know that that particular outlet is what they need, but once they see it and they’re around it, they feel it, it could create the next Hollywood star, director, actor, singer, you never know. It bothers me so much that they try to fight to cut the arts out. I joined this new coalition here in L.A. that protects and advocates for arts education, it’s so important. It changed my life. If I didn’t have it, I would be lost in the world because I wouldn’t be able to do anything else or want to do anything else. I’m passionate about it.

With the rave reviews that The Mayor has gotten from different media outlets—JET Magazine called it a “political sitcom for millennials”—do you think it has yet to get the shine it deserves, especially with talks of cancellation? Do you think the show has a lane to succeed in today’s society or is it ahead of its time?
I think the show definitely has a place for now. It’s been amazing having articles say how great the show is and how the politics are needed right now. It could succeed, we’re up against This Is Us [Laughs] so it’s kind of hard for a freshman comedy to come in and pull numbers from the number one show on television. That’s a little unfortunate. I wish that more people would be able to see the show, but that’s why it’s good to have things like Hulu and DVR and you can go and watch it, and people can binge to see what’s going on. I think it definitely has a place. If people gave it a chance they would really enjoy it.

I saw that you re-tweeted a statement Color of Change made that said hopefully the show inspires more young people of color to get involved with politics. Have you noticed that in any of the conversations you've had?
Absolutely, there was a hashtag, I think it was #IfIWereMayor, and there was this one young black girl who said the show inspired her to go into her school and try to run for SGA. She saw there was an issue in her school that she wanted to be a part of the change. I think it will inspire, to see this young black guy—a rapper—who’s being respected as the mayor, making a change and being loved by his constituents. It will really motivate some people, put a spark somewhere, especially people of color because if we’re not there trying to make a difference for the marginalized people, who’s going to do it? We have to be at the table to eat.

Have you been inspired to make a change on a local level since you’ve been working on this show?
Yes, for sure, that’s why I joined the arts advocacy group. That’s something that I’m passionate about and being a part of a fraternity, we have a little brother program where we go in and teach these young men how to tie a tie, how to balance a budget. I’ve definitely been doing my part as much as I can to affect some type of change.

The Mayor airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. EST on ABC.

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Lennox McLendon

Music Sermon: The One Minute Hit - When TV Theme Songs Were Lit

The idea of sitting around the TV for appointment television is an archaic concept. Multiple devices with screens for everyone in your home plus the control of streaming has changed how we consume nearly everything except sports, award shows, and Game of Thrones (until tonight). But the children of the 80s very much remember when TV watching was still an event, cable was basic, and the networks reigned supreme. Back in that era of genuine primetime programming, our favorite TV shows came paired with 30-second to one-minute themes. But not just a random little ditty to open the show; these were genuine mini-songs. Verses, chorus, hook, and maybe even a reprise for the end credits.

Now, a drive for more advertising inventory coupled with shorter attention spans has rendered the true theme song a rarity; but in the cases where they do still exist, the songs continue to be a key part of experiencing the show (again, like Thrones). The theme song draws you into the world of the show, it sets the tone, and it stays with you after. And the theme song game wasn’t a space like the commercial jingle game where only folks in the game know who the players are. The theme show business has its own OGs, but there are also names we know well - acclaimed producers, artists and musicians who helped create TV music magic. As such, there’s also a lot of hidden music history and connections behind some of these joints. I have watched an inordinate amount of television consistently throughout my life - you will pry my cable cord out of my cold, dead hands - and I consider myself an expert on the TV theme song. I offer you my list of some of the most soulful, slappin’ and impactful examples of the majesty of TV theme songs from yesteryear.

Sanford & Son

There is literally no music space Quincy Jones hasn’t conquered, including television. Q was in movie scoring land when Norman Lear’s partner Bud Yorkin came to him about composing a theme for their new show, Sanford and Son. “He said, 'I'd like you to write the theme for it.' I said, 'Who's in it?' And he said Redd Foxx,” Quincy told Billboard. “I said, 'Man, you can't put Redd Foxx on national TV!” I had worked with Redd Foxx 30 years before that at the Apollo. We used to do the Chitlin Circuit. I used to write this music for him to come out with.”

Q composed “The Street Beater” without even watching the Sanford and Son pilot. “I wrote that in about 20 minutes,” he said in an interview about his work in television. “I just wrote what he looked like. It sounds just like him, doesn’t it?” The funky, rag tag, backwoods bluesy song was the perfect musical accompaniment for Fred’s surveying his junkyard as Lamont’s truck rolled up, “It was raggedy, just like Foxx.”

Good Times

Norman Lear was the goat of working-class American storytelling on screen, but his shows also had some of the most iconic theme songs – “Those Were the Days” for Archie Bunker, “One Day at a Time” has great lyrics if you pay attention, he even had Donny Hathaway singing about pre-Golden Girls Bea Arthor for Maude. TV producers often used the same writing and production teams for their shows' themes, and Lear often tapped the husband and wife team of Alan and Marylin Bergman, who got their break co-writing with Quincy on “In the Heat of the Night.”

But as I said before, don’t let the TV theme song credits fool you, the Bergmans are two-time Academy Awards winners and in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. That’s the kind of talent behind Good Times.

The Good Times theme is a negro spiritual (there’s a Hammond B3 organ in it; issa spiritual), and singers Jim Gilstrap, from Stevie Wonder’s backing group, Wonderlove; and Somara “Blinky” Williams, a former original member of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) Singers along with Andrae Crouch and famed session player Billy Preston, put some extra oil on it.

You don’t believe me when I say this is worship music? Watch this.

I really wanna know what the Bergmans knew about hanging in a chow line, though. I’m not even sure I knew that was the lyric before Dave Chappelle told us.

The Jeffersons

Before we move on from Lear sitcoms we have to pay respect to the best black TV theme song of all time. And before you argue with me, let’s please look at the stats: a 35-person choir, stomping and clapping - even double clapping! - mention of fish fry, and a reprise over the end credits with hummin’ like your big mama used to do while she was cookin’ on Sundays. Winner.

Even though it’s one of the best-known sitcom theme songs ever, what’s lesser known is that another Lear alum was behind it – Ja’net Dubois, aka Good Times’ Wilona Woods, co-wrote and sang the theme. Also, the male voice that joins her in the bridge isn’t Sherman Hemsley (although it really sounds like it could be him) but career backup singer Oren Waters.

Ja’net, who was a singer as well as actress, ran into Lear on the CBS lot one day and shared that she wanted to display her talent beyond acting. Lear partnered her with Jeff Barry to work on the aspirational Jefferson’s theme. Jeff had pop hits under his belt as part of producer Phil Spector’s stable; he wrote “River Deep - Mountain High.” He also wrote “One Day at a Time,” and later “Without Us,” Deniece Williams and Johnny Mathis’ yacht-rocky theme for Family Ties.

Dubois later told Jet magazine she pulled from her own experience once she’d “made it” with Good Times. “I moved my whole family. I bought (my mother) a house, bought her a mink coat. I did everything, retired her. I did everything I ever promised her.” And you can feel Ja’net’s testimony coming through as that moving van makes its way across the Queensboro bridge and up the East Side.


Sherman Hemsley had the good fortune of being associated with two entries in the Praise Songs of TV (I just made that up) category. Amen’s “Shine on Me” is not only a rousing bop, it’s a forreal and actual gospel song. The theme was written, produced and played by the father of modern gospel, Andraé Crouch, and sung by gospel legend Vanessa Bell Armstrong. Sister Vanessa was backed in the TV version by the choir from Crouch’s First Memorial COGIC church. She later did her own version, but it didn’t have quite the same oomph when slowed down a little and without the full voices of a choir behind her.

Sigh… Imagine a time when a sitcom about a deacon in the black church with a whole gospel theme song was a primetime network hit. Also shout out to “There’s No Place Like Home” from 227, which preceded Amen on Saturday nights.

The Cosby Show

We’re going to set everything about Bill Cosby the man aside for a minute to talk about the show and its music. Agreed? Amen.

The Cosby Show has to be in this conversation, because over the course of the show’s history, the theme song and opening sequence became a hallmark of the series’ greatness, and it’s a prime example of theme songs being deeper than just something to play over opening credits. Every season, a new adaptation of “Kiss Me,” the theme written by Cosby and Stu Gardner (who also co-wrote the themes for A Different World and Living Single), opened the show. The opening sequence featured a Huxtable family dance showcase, changing as the kids grew and the cast core cast added, and sometimes subtracted. We were as anxious for the Cosby season premiere to see the new intro as we were to see the show itself.

Season 3 is when it started getting crunk, with a little Latin action. Auntie Phylicia was gettin’ it.

In Season 4 (my least favorite), “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” mania had made its way to the Huxtable family with Bobby McPheren’s rendition and a bit of a roaring ‘20s (and for the sake of the show location, we’ll say Harlem Renaissance) feel. Elvin’s first year in the sequence, Denise’s first year out.

Season 5 was a production. Literally, it was staged like a Broadway production. By now, the show was known for exposing diasporic art and culture and the people behind it to the world whenever possible, and that was the intention here as well, on the low.

The set design was a little South Pacific-esque, and costumes had a Caribbean flair reminiscent of some Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater pieces - appropriate since the movement was choreographed by Ailey great (and Boomerang’s off the chain creative director) Geoffrey Holder. Cosby’s high school classmate James DePriest, one of the first internationally recognized African American orchestral conductors, arranged the music, played by the Oregon Symphony orchestra. It was sweeping and gorgeous and I remember it being kind of a big deal. Second season with no Denise in the credits. I think she had left Hillman and gone Africa by this point. Or something.

Season 6 is my favorite. It was a party. The entire family was getting it in to a jam session take on the theme remixed with Junior Walker and the All Stars’ “Shotgun.” Even though the opening was set in front of the Apollo marquee, this was the Motown sequence. “Shotgun,” was a massive crossover hit, produced by Berry Gordy, and featured Motown’s famed session players, the Funk Brothers on instrumentals.

Welcome back, Denise. And hi, Martin and Olivia. Theo and Vanessa were hitting. that. heaux.

Ok, actually, Season 8 is my least favorite. Least favorite season, theme song, opening sequence, all of it. Here, I think, it’s clear that the show was past its prime. This jazzmatazz intro didn’t feel super fresh or creative, and Theo was trying to hit b-boy moves, and cousin Pam clearly wasn’t comfortable, and Vanessa looked like she just got engaged to a 40-year old ninja named Dabnis, and Clair still had her coat on because she couldn’t be bothered.

But on the cultural side, it was still in theme. The mural was created by kids at Harlem’s Creative Arts Workshop, although a legal dispute over art clearances kept this visual from being used as originally intended in Season 7. On the horn is Lester Bowie, a trumpeter known for his free jazz style.

A Different World

Obviously, we were paying a visit to Hillman next. “A Different World” is one of the best theme songs of all time – for Seasons 2 through 5 (also one of the best shows of all time – for Seasons 2 through 5).

Dawn Lewis, aka Jaleesa, co-wrote the song with Stu Gardner. She was originally supposed to sing it, as well, until whoever hired her to write the song realized she was also in the cast, and whoever cast her as Jaleesa realized she also wrote the song. The collective powers that be thought Dawn singing the theme would center her too much when the show was about Lisa Bonet, so they went to Al Green. Yes, the Reverend Al Green. A version of the “Different World” theme song sung by Al Green exists out there in the world somewhere, and I now have a life mission to hear it. Producers didn’t like it, though. They decided to go with a female voice, and pegged folk and blues singer Phoebe Snow.

As the show went into its second season, producers decided to take a similar approach as The Cosby Show and flip the theme every season with different artists and styles. Then Aretha Franklin recorded her version, and that idea was dead, because why would you ever ask someone else to sing behind Aretha. Debbie Allen, who had just stepped in as the show’s executive producer (Aunt Debbie brought A Different World out of the middling fare of its first season to the strong, black and relevant show we remember it as, but that’s a different Sermon) called Auntie Re personally, and then brought her whole team from Detroit to LA on a bus (because Auntie Re wasn’t gonna fly, chile). Then, TV history was made.

“I just know that she came in and hit it,” Allen told Vulture. “It wasn’t like she had to do ten takes, that’s what I know. She just hit it. That’s what I remember and then we all kind of hung out and had food together, you know — she loved our show which is why she did it.”

I’m low key surprised Aretha agreed to do the song since her ex-husband, Glynn Turman, joined the cast in Season 2 and she’s petty like that, but she also watched a lot of television and was a fan. When most think of A Different World, they’re thinking of seasons two and beyond. That iconic montage we’ve see recreated in tribute again and again, from SportsCenter to Grown’ish Season 2 promos. Nobody references car washes and hanging out outside of….a barn, I think? Where they at a farm for the Season 1 opening sequence? (You can tell some white people put that together – no shots).

Finally, the last season of A Different World was sort of “Different World: The Next Generation,” so they went in a new direction for the theme with a very non-Boyz II Men sounding Boyz II Men (I thought it was Take 6 for the longest), but Seasons 2 through 5 still reign supreme.

Different Strokes

On to a different show about different worlds. Remember I mentioned OGs in the theme song game? One of them was Alan Thicke. Yes, Robin Thicke’s daddy was not only lovable TV dad Jason Seaver, but also a professional theme writer. Thicke penned the tracks for a couple of sitcoms, including Facts of Life (with Robin’s mama Gloria Loring on vocals), but his thing was game shows. Your grandma has Alan to thank for the “Wheel of Fortune” theme. He not only wrote but sang “Diff’rent Strokes” (sounding a little like his son), and I mean, the song is perfect. The opening, the harmony build in the second verse, the bridge, the breakdown “…and together we’ll be fine, ‘cause it takes…,” the hum at the end of the closing credits version. You can tell from this one-minute jamalam that Robin got his blue-eyed soul honestly.

Speaking of the Chappelle Show again (there’s a Chappelle reference for everything in life), Dave closes out his famous White People Can’t Dance episode (Season 2, Episode 3) with a spirited performance of “Diff’rent Strokes,” going into a “Facts of Life” vamp, backed by Questlove and John Mayer.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Living Single

I’m putting these two together because they’re two of the last examples of the explanatory theme song for black prime time television.

The Quincy Jones-produced Fresh Prince theme tells us Will’s entire back story and the premise of the show – a ‘90s hip-hop answer to the Gilligan’s Island theme.

Living Single’s theme conveyed the high energy city life the four upwardly mobile friends were navigating, with emphasis from Queen Latifah’s sing-rapping about her homegirls standing on her left and her right, and the legendary dancing silhouette that is Big Lez.

Both shows, songs, and visuals have become representative of the hip hop generation’s takeover of ‘90s black television and ‘90s black culture, and both continue to hold up amazing well 25 years later.

We haven’t even touched on the soulful ‘70s themes that became hit singles, like “Welcome Back Kotter” (my joint) or “Angela” from Taxi, or sketch show theme songs like Heavy D for In Living Color (or TLC for “All That,” for y’all younger folks), or the cartoon smashes. There are gems galore to be mined, all containing shining bits of nostalgia and callbacks to a simpler time. These songs often resonate with us even more strongly than our favorite singles from the era because they were a constant for years instead of months. And thanks to networks later devoting blocks of time to classic TV reruns like Nick at Night and TV Land, many of these shows – and theme songs – have been introduced to a new generation.

We’ve focused mostly on black TV shows, but there are a few theme songs that cross cultural, generational and international boundaries. When the Golden Girls premiered in 1985, the series featured a remake of the 1978 song “Thank You for Being a Friend,” and it has lived in all our hearts ever since. So much so, that a member of the black church delegation gave the song a proper remix a couple of years ago. Let this be a reminder that great TV theme songs were not only catchy songs that stuck in our heads for decades, but also impetrated universal lessons about life, love, and friendship.


#MusicSermon is a weekly series by Naima Cochrane that highlights the under-acknowledged and under-appreciated urban artists and sub-genres from the '90s and earlier. The series seeks to tell unknown and/or forgotten stories that connect the dots between current music, culture and the foundations of the past.

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8 Best Samples From Megan Thee Stallion, Tyler The Creator And DJ Khaled's Projects

Megan Thee Stallion, DJ Khaled and Tyler, The Creator have more in common than just a release date. The artists also know a thing or two about thoughtful sampling.

Their projects, which all happen to be some of their best efforts, find inspiration from 70s soul and deep 90s underground jams. Jackson 5, Jay-Z and Sizzla were sampled on DJ Khaled's previous release Grateful, but with Father of Asahd, the producer and proud dad jumps back into the crates. This time around, modern hits are used like Ms. Lauryn Hill's "To Zion" and Outkast's "Ms. Jackson."

Megan Thee Stallion's samples also prove her rhymes aren't the only thing fans should pay close attention to.

Check out some of our favorite samples from this week's releases below.


Megan Thee Stallion- Fever 

1. "Hood Rat S**t"

Sample: Latarian Milton's Viral Video (2013)

Plucked from the wonderful world of viral videos, Megan uses the then 7-year-old's mischevious joy ride to accurately describe how she rolls with her crew.

2. "Pimpin"

Sample: DJ Zirk & Tha 2 Thick Family featuring 8Ball & MJG and Kilo-g  "Azz Out" (1996) 

There's something to be said about Megan's very clever samples. The chorus to the late 90s underground gem stems from southern legends like Tennesee's 8Ball and MJG along with NOLA's own Kilo-g. Megan grabs a few bars from the track and puts her own twist on them for the chorus: "Stick 'em up, stick 'em up, raise 'em up, raise 'em up Drop it off in his fucking face just to saw it off/Gotta get my a** ate, gotta make that a** shake/Gotta swipe this ni**a card so much they had to call the bank"

3. "Simon Says" featuring Juicy J 

Samples: Billy Paul, "Me And Mrs. Jones" (1972), "Looking For Tha Chewin,'" DJ Paul (Ft. 8Ball, DJ Zirk, Kilo-G, Kingpin Skinny Pimp & MJG) (1992)

Another variation of the aforementioned track is also heard on her collaboration with southern legend Juicy J. The soft intro by way of Bill Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones" also offers a soulful touch to the track.

DJ Khaled- Father of Asahd

4. "Holy Mountian" featuring Buju Banton, Sizzla, Mavado and 070 Shake) 

Sample: "One Spliff a Day," Billy Boyo (1981) 

Boyo's legendary riddim has been used by a bevy of artists including SiR and Wiz Khalifa but Khaled's curation of the track with some of the biggest names in reggae takes it to another level. It also doesn't hurt that his longtime friend and icon Banton opens the album.

5. "Just Us" featuring SZA 

Sample: "Ms. Jackson," Outkast (2001) 

This sample definitely raises the eyebrows, but the careful loop paired with SZA's sing-rap flow makes it worth a listen.

6. "Holy Ground" featuring Buju Banton 

Samples: "To Zion," Ms. Lauryn Hill and Carlos Santana (1999) 

Grand opening, grand closing. Banton closes out the album with soul-baring lyrics and a thoughtful sample to match. Carlos Santana's chords from the original track give the song a sentimental feel along with Banton's lyrics about mass incarceration, cultural warfare and spiritual freedom.

Tyler, The Creator- IGOR

7. "A BOY IS A GUN" 

Samples: "Bound," Ponderosa Twins Plus One (1971) 

Tyler might have gotten inspiration to sample this song from Kanye West (Bound 2), but his take is smooth and subtle as he navigates through love and heartbreak.

8. "ARE WE STILL FRIENDS" featuring Pharell Williams 

Samples: "Dream," Al Green (1977) 

Underneath IGOR's tough exterior lies a gentle soul. The placement of Al Green's "Dream," on the latter end of the album takes the listener on a starry love high. Pharrell and Tyler allow the sample to act as a skeleton for the song as they point out how to keep love alive.

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John Johnson III

Megan Thee Stallion Helps DTLR Celebrate Fashion's Past, Present and Future

Fashion retailer DTLR has always curated the best of streetwear, with their latest fashion show proving the evolution is real and influential.

The fourth annual show took place in Atlanta this spring under a theme titled, "Genesis."  The event took place in Atlanta, GA, with hosts Yung Joc and DTLR's Radio's Tiara LaNiece. DTLR's Apprelle Norton, David Storey and KeJuan McGee curated the event to take their guests "on a journey through the past, present and future of fashion, featuring the latest from top leading brands such as Nike, Puma, Adidas, Levis, Champion, Reebok, Fila, Black Pyramid, New Balance, Tommy Hilfiger, Staple, Hustle Gang, Akoo, Ethika, Odd Sox, and many more."

In addition to presenting some of the hottest looks out, the event also welcomed performances from VIBE NEXT Alumna Megan Thee Stallion. Appearances from the the "Big Ol Freak" rapper was an added effort on DTLR's Vice President of Marketing, Shawn Caesar's part to make the fashion show more of an "experience."

"We wanted to add more of an 'experience' feel to the show this year," Caesar said in a press release. "[We wanted]  to encourage more engagement and interaction from our attendees, and to aid in creating more memories and reasons to stay connected to the DTLR brand long-term."

DTLR is quickly becoming a part of a class of successful upcoming brands. The brand has more than 240 stores in 19 states and Washington D.C. and it manages to combine fashion, sports, entertainment, sports, and community empowerment into one; all while providing their customers with elite footwear, apparel and accessories to match.

See photos from the event below.



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