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Queen of Soul And Shade: Aretha Franklin's All-Time Shadiest Moments

Thank you for your music and authenticity, Aretha Franklin. We will miss you.

Aretha Franklin was not only the Queen of Soul, but the Queen of legendary shade. Shade so pervasive that the moon tweeted condolences. Stories have peppered Franklin’s legend and lore, from ignoring other female vocalists to high-level diva antics and long-standing feuds with not only her contemporaries but her actual sisters.

Many such stories were featured in David Ritz’s unauthorized 2014 biography Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin (which Franklin denounced as “Lies, lies, lies and then more lies,”). In the digital age, we’ve watched other unfold in real time.

Since her death, Franklin’s infamous shade and pettiness have been a controversial topic on social media Many argue that celebrating her unflattering side sullies her legacy. It’d be a disservice to her memory not to celebrate her shade; it was a huge part of who she was, and Franklin’s realness played a key part in her incredible artistry. Her behavior wasn’t always rooted in trivial slights or jealousy, either. She didn’t take no mess and wasn’t going to let a slight – perceived or real – go unchecked. Her timing was impeccable and her methods of delivery unmatched, which suggests she knew she was shady, and masterfully so.

Franklin’s former talent agent Ruth Bowen told Ritz that “Falling-outs (were) her specialty,” but legendary session musician and longtime collaborator Billy Preston explained to the biographer why her shade and antics didn’t matter in the long-run: “She can go into her diva act and turn off the world. But on any given night, when that lady sits down at the piano and gets her body and soul all over some righteous song, she’ll scare the sh** out of you.”

Below, we run down some of the Queen’s top moments of royal shade.


11. Not Allowing Dion’s Part To Go On

For the inaugural VH1 Divas Live in 1998, Gloria Estefan, Shania Twain, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Franklin closed the show with “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”. It was meant to be an ensemble performance with surprise guest (and the song’s composer) Carole King, but Franklin led the entire song – since it is her song – and sang over Dion during her part.

10. Demanding Respect From Luther

The two worked together on Franklin’s “comeback” album Jump to It (1982), and then again on her album Get It Right (1983).

Vandross was excited to work with an idol, but deflated by their first phone call, a formal conversation where she introduced herself as “Ms. Franklin” and referred to him as “Mr. Vandross.”

He recounted the call to biographer Ritz, “The Aretha that I had heard through my entire childhood on the radio – warm and down-home – wasn’t the Aretha I heard on the phone.” The formality and tension continued into the studio. “There were a few sharp disagreements. Aretha doesn’t like her vocals critiqued – and understandably.”

Franklin’s version in Aretha: From These Roots aligned with Vandross on that point. "… Luther wanted to tell me how to sing when it was me whom he had learned much about how to sing. My point was simple: If he wanted to tell the artists how to sing, why didn't he sing it himself?”

Ultimately, Vandross won that shade-off. As they argued over the intro for “Jump to It”, he got the last word.

‘”Who's the one with the most hits here?’" she asked. Of course, the answer was her. I just had one; she had dozens. ‘But who's the one with the latest hit?’ I asked. She didn't answer. She stormed out."

As is the case with many of Franklin’s feuds, this wasn’t based on lack of respect for talent. In fact, it was usually spawned by the opposite. Franklin concluded in her autobiography, “We have a lot of mutual respect for each other. Even when we are not talking, we are still cool.”

9. Taking – And Owning – Dionne Warwick’s Song

During Franklin’s early career at Columbia, she was positioned as a jazz and blues artist, but she wanted to be a pop star. Meanwhile, Dionne Warwick was one of the more successful pop vocalists of the ’60s thanks to composers Burt Bacharach and Hal David. By several accounts, Franklin was jealous. Once she was established as a soul and R&B star, Franklin threw down a sonic gauntlet, covering Warwick’s hit “I Say a Little Prayer for You” just a year after release.

Where Warwick’s original version was mellow and shiny, Franklin’s was emotive and gritty. Adding insult to injury, it featured Cissy Houston, Warwick’s aunt, and Whitney’s mom, on background vocals. While it didn’t reach the same heights as Warwick’s on the charts, Franklin’s became the definitive version – even for Bacharach and David. Bacharach told NPR in 2010, “It’s a better record than the record we made.”

8. Letting Wendy Williams Know She Ain't A Game

In 2011 Franklin sat down for a one-on-one with Wendy Williams, and while Williams – known for her own shade – was deferential and respectful, she caught a couple of light jabs.

7. Mixing Down Mavis Staples’ Vocal

Mavis Staples was maybe Franklin’s closest contemporary, vocally; they both had that good ol’ church anointing on their voices. When they paired up for two songs on Franklin’s One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism (1987), Franklin got a little shook, according to Erma’s account in Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin.“

Aretha listened to those duets, she was convinced that Mavis's voice overwhelmed hers. Singing with the one other gospel singer who could rightfully be called her equal, Aretha felt threatened. I told her she had nothing to worry about, that the two of them sounded great together," Erma said. "Their voices were completely complementary. But Aretha didn't hear it that way. She put Mavis's voice so low in the mix that you could barely hear it. It became an ordeal and caused a serious falling-out.”

6. Making It Clear “Queen Of Soul” Is A Reign, Not A Term

Natalie Cole’s first hits were songs originally written for and passed on by Franklin. The media immediately compared the two singers, speculating that Cole might steal the Queen of Soul crown. Cole was also the first artist other than Franklin to win the Grammy for Best R&B Performance Female with “This Will Be”, ending Franklin’s eight-year streak.

Cole idolized Franklin but was met with coldness during their first in-person encounter. She told Ritz, “The first time I saw Aretha was at an industry banquet. She gave me an icy stare and then turned her back on me. It took me weeks to recover. I mean, this is the woman whom I revere! She began this make-believe feud that I still don't understand. I give her the highest respect—then, now, and always.”

Franklin, understandably, wasn’t thrilled at the comparisons with someone newer and younger. She told Jet in 1977, “It's easy for a singer to sometimes pick up on another singer's sound, but that's just copying. It's really a compliment that she sounds like me on some songs. In fact, when I listen to her I hear little things that remind me of myself at the beginning of my career…I don't think she has the ability or the equipment to take anything from me and I'd say that to Natalie herself.”

5. It Doesn't Matter If We're Real Sisters

Franklin’s sisters Erma and Carolyn were also talented vocalists, groomed under father C.L. Franklin’s music ministry along with Aretha. They worked with her often (Carolyn wrote “Ain’t No Way”), but each had their own big career opportunities …that Franklin blocked. Erma shared that Curtis Mayfield originally tapped Carolyn to record the Sparkle soundtrack (1976), but once Aretha got wind, she jacked the project.

“She should have let Carolyn sing those Sparkle songs and then, afterward, do her own record with Curtis [Mayfield]. But somehow Aretha got a copy of the songs. They were so good that she felt she had to sing them."

Erma also shared with Ritz that Aretha quickly shut down discussion of Erma getting a record deal with Columbia’s sister label, Epic. "The man also said that I would be on Epic, which was a different brand than Columbia. They were part of the same company but I'd have my own producers and an identity separate from Aretha. I thought she would be thrilled. She wasn't. She threw a fit. She told Daddy that she didn't want me on Epic, that it would hurt her career and that people would be confused by too many singing Franklin sisters."

4. Keeping It Moving, Literally

The source of Franklin’s (perhaps one-sided) feud with Patti Labelle is unknown, but Franklin took it all the way to the White House. At the 2014 Women of Soul celebration, the Queen entered with much-deserved fanfare, making her fur-clad way to the stage through a sea of adoring subjects. When Labelle reached out to take her hand, Franklin hit her with an elusive maneuver so smooth you almost heard an audible “You thought.”

3. Asserting Her Royal Title With Tina Turner… And Beyonce

Introducing Tina Turner for a 2008 Grammy awards performance, Beyoncè exclaimed, “Give it up for the queen!” Not the “Queen of Soul”, not the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” (which is Turner’s moniker). Simply, “the queen.” Watching from home, Franklin took offense, and released an official statement: "I am not sure of whose toes I may have stepped on or whose ego I may have bruised between the Grammy writers and Beyoncé, however, I dismissed it as a cheap shot for controversy," Franklin’s press release read. She added an extra bit of cloud cover: "In addition to that, I thank the Grammys and the voting academy for my 20th Grammy and love to Beyoncé anyway."

Turner, however, was unbothered. When USA Today asked her to respond to Franklin's statement, she laughed it off. "She’s the queen of soul, and I’m the queen of rock ‘n’ roll… Her ego must be so big to think she was the only one."

2. Gowns, Beautiful Gowns

In 2014 the Wall Street Journal inadvertently gifted the world with one of the greatest gifs and catchphrases of the digital age when they asked Franklin for quick-fire reactions to current pop divas. She was positive about Adele (“Good singer”) and Whitney Houston (“She had a gift”), but employed what we’ll call a diplomatic approach for some others.

Alicia Keys: “Good performer. Good writer, producer.”

Taylor Swift: “Great gowns. Beautiful gowns.”

Nicki Minaj: “I’m gonna pass on that one.”

1. Facts Via Fax

At Whitney Houston’s funeral in 2012, Dionne Warwick, acting as master of ceremonies for the services, commented on Franklin’s absence. “Re's not here, but she is here,” Warwick remarked. “She loves Whitney as if she were born to her. She is her godmother.” In fact, Franklin had been referred to as Houston’s godmother for years without denial or rebuttal, including during the 2011 Wendy Williams interview referenced above.

Yet for some reason, after mulling it over for five years, Franklin decided to go on record that she was not Houston’s godmother. She sent a fax to the Associated Press accusing Warwick of libel. Franklin said in a follow-up phone interview, “She blatantly lied on me...fully well knowing what she was doing.” She also expressed that she’d been “far too busy” over the years “to be anyone’s godmother.” The statement was likely triggered by Franklin and Warwick seeing each other the week prior at the premiere of Clive Davis’ documentary Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives (Warwick signed with diva-maker Davis and Arista a year before Franklin). Franklin said Warwick tried to hug her when they saw each other. Her response? “I said, ‘oh hell no. You couldn’t be serious.’”

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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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Issa Vibe: The Best Songs To Fit Your Different 4/20 Sessions

April 20th isn’t a national holiday, but it might as well be.

Although recreational marijuana use is only legal in 10 states, the U.S. is home to approximately 35 million regular users of cannabis, according to a survey done by Yahoo News and Marist University. That's 10.6 percent of the American population and while that may seem minuscule, the numbers are growing daily and it's understandable.

Weed has now become a staple of American culture; it's become a legitimate business in the states where it's legal, it's now part of the way people socialize, and better yet it's a theme in some of the hottest music out today. "Kush" has been included in some of the hardest verses that millennials and generation-z kids have heard in their lifetime.

Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg, amazing emcees in their own right, are also widely known for their love of the green plant. Wiz's biggest album, Rolling Papers is clearly influenced by weed and along with the Snoop Dogg-assisted "Young, Wild & Free" is all about that green positivity.

There's an endless list of hits about rolling up a joint, hitting it and passing it, but what about moods? Whether it's a bowl, a blunt or an edible weed, can leave people feeling a variety of ways and that all can be traced to a certain strand of weed someone's inhaling, or the mood they're already.

Regardless, it's important to be prepared and have music ready to match whatever feelings marijuana concocts; and that's why VIBE compiled an adequate list of songs for each of the main pot moods.

So on this 4/20, sit back, relax, smoke and find the songs that suit the vibe.


The "Let Me Chill Out" Mood 

Sometimes the best way to come down from an over the top high is to play some tunes with a soft beat and a light voice. The best artists in the game right now, like Jhené Aiko for instance, have created that sound that's perfect for when relaxation is needed, so of course, she made the list.  These are the top four songs that can help anyone kick back and relax if a pull from a joint just isn't hitting the right way.

"Blue Dream" by Jhené Aiko "Muse" by Afro Nostalgia "Summer Games" by Drake "LOVE." by Kendrick Lamar (feat. Zacari) The Bad B*tch Hours or "Top Two and I'm Not Two" Mood 

You look around the room and realize: you're top two and you're not two in it. All it took was one or a couple of puffs and then a pass to make you feel pretty good about yourself. One of the main upsides to smoking that's constantly mentioned in the media is that it can help alleviate chronic pain, well, another positive to it is that it can leave you feeling sexy, sensual and everything in between.

This is that high that can make you feel that you're significant other is lucky to have you, and subsequently makes you hit them up, that tells you: you're single and ready to mingle. It's a smoking session that lets you know: if you shoot your shot now, you'll score and it's a session that you want music playing that only affirms how sultry and seductive you feel. If this is how 4/20 leaves you feeling, putting on some RiRi or even Young Thug can effectively get you 'in your bag.'

"Same Ol' Mistakes" by Rihanna "Tyrant" by Kali Uchis (feat. Jorja Smith) "Worth It" by Young Thug "Smoke Break" by Chance the Rapper (feat. Future) The "Head in the Clouds" Mood 

More often than not, edibles have the power of leaving people spaced out and speaking slowly, after consuming them. Sometimes smoking weed, or hotboxing with friends is a silent event. Either everyone's consumed by their phones, or every other person has been looking at a nonexistent spot on the wall for the past 15 minutes.

Regardless this isn't the high where people want to hear "Act Up" by City Girls, no matter how much they love them. No, this is the high where people need music that takes them on a journey. Songs where the production is out of this world and it seems like the artist specifically made the song for a smoke session like no other. Travis Scott's ASTROWORLD is full of tracks with that vibe, and Lil' Wayne, a weed connoisseur of his own, has songs that fulfill that need too. Smoke a bit and let the weed do its thing.

"ASTROTHUNDER" by Travis Scott "I Feel Like Dying" by Lil' Wayne "Hyyer" by Kid Cudi "St. Tropez" by J. Cole The "Got the Giggles" Mood 

This is when the blunt hits perfectly and there's nothing wrong in the world or when the bowl did its' job and leaves everyone feeling silly. A "feel good high" is the best way to describe and the best way to live through that kind of smoke session is to listen to some "feel good music." These are the songs that can have people swaying unknowingly to its' beat, or the tracks that leave people smiling from ear to ear. This is the session that lets people know that "this is it chief," and here are the best songs to go along with it.

"Pass the Vibes" by Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment "Dreamcatcher" by Metro Boomin' (feat. Swae Lee & Travis Scott) "It's a Vibe" by 2 Chainz (feat. Ty Dolla $ign, Trey Songz & Jhené Aiko) "Binz" by Solange
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Kush & Splendor: 5 CBD Beauty Products That’ll Take Your Self-Care Routine From 0 To 100

Lotions, creams, and salves—oh my! With cannabidiol (CBD) popping up in just about every product you can imagine, the cannabis-infused beauty industry is clearly on the come-up. In fact, analysts predict that the “wellness” movement—as well as the legalization of Mary Jane across the world—will help rake in $25 billion globally in the next 10 years, according to Business Insider. That’s 15 percent of the $167 billion skincare market.

And what better way to up the ante on one’s wellness routine than with all-natural CBD? Just ask Dr. Lana Butner, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist at NYC’s Modrn Sanctuary, who incorporates CBD in her treatments.

“CBD is a fantastic addition to acupuncture sessions for both its relaxation and anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects,” Butner shares with Vixen. “The calming effects of CBD allows for patients to deeply relax into the treatment and really tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, digestion and muscle repair/regeneration.”

She adds that CBD’s pain-relieving effects are “far-reaching,” from muscular and joint pains to migraines and arthritis—and even IBS and indigestion.

The magic lies in CBD’s ability to impact endocannabinoid receptor activity in our bodies. Without getting too wordy, our bodies come equipped with a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the HBIC over our sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD teams up with this system to help reduce inflammation and interact with neurotransmitters. According to Healthline, CBD has also been scientifically shown to impact the brain’s receptors for serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood and social behavior.

All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are thebomb.com for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

“The biggest issue is that hemp seed oil and CBD are two totally different compounds that come from different parts of the hemp plant, have different makeups, and different benefits,” Lewis added. “Marketing them as the same thing just isn’t accurate and does a disservice to consumers who are expecting certain benefits that they won’t get from hemp seed oil and who are often paying more for what they think is CBD.”

So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to see what all the hype is about? For this 4/20, we rounded up a few CBD (and hemp!)-infused products to help give your self-care routine a bit of a boost. Looks like your holiday just got that much kushier. You’re welcome!

Note: Data and regulations surrounding CBD and its use are still in development. That said, please don’t take anything written in this post as medical or legal advice, and definitely double check the laws in your state. Also, please do your body a favor and hit up your doctor before trying any new supplements. We’re just tryna look out for you. Okay? Okay. Read on.

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