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Josias Valdez

This Is America: 9 Moments You Missed From Billboard's Hot 100 Festival

The kid-friendly festival seemed to be a match for not so kid-friendly acts. 

"F**k, we're 30!" is what lingered from the minds of adults at Billboard's Hot 100 Festival. Over the weekend (Aug. 18-19) between the clouds and the beach crept kids ready to jam out to some of the biggest names in music like Future, French Montana and Halsey. The presence of YouTube stars like Tana Mongeau and SoundCloud kiddos like Lil Xan provided a large age and culture gap between the attendees but it didn't stop the turn-up.

The festival's short lifespan has garnered huge acts like Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, Big Sean and Demi Lovato, but this year's lineup catered to a healthy heap of buzzworthy artists like Justine Skye, Daya, Liiv and London Richards. As attendees got to experience a lost art form in festival culture by checking out new acts, mainstays like Rae Sremmurd, DJ Snake and Rich The Kid provided moshpits and dance breaks.

While the wide age gap warranted cringe during certain sets (ie: girls dancing to the "dancing like a stripper" line from Rae Sremm's "Come Get Her"), the festival managed to be one heck of a moment.

Here's what you missed below.


9. Sremm Life Over Everything

The wild boys of the festival were Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi, collectively known as Rae Sremmurd. With energy as buoyant as their chart-topping hits, the duo put on one of the most lively shows of the weekend. Their set was a workout for many reasons. As the crowd danced to "No Type," "Black Beatles" and "No Flex Zone," others worked out their biceps by tossing their phones on stage. The guys were happy to take selfies and accurately toss phones back to their rightful owners.

There was little time to rest, as the performers glided through over a dozen Billboard Hot 100 hits, including "Guatemala," the solo push from Swae Lee's Swaecation, Vol. 1. The selfie inception continued but fit perfectly into the rowdy set.

8. Halsey's Rain Dance

@hot100fest with my girl @donslens

A post shared by halsey (@iamhalsey) on

As a headliner for Day 1 of the festival, Halsey was a star who twinkled the brightest. With a new hairstyle, the Jersey singer-songwriter took it back to her dynamic debut BADLANDS, where she pulled out favorites like "Castle," "Colors" and the blissful "Hold Me Down." Her pixie-undercut paired with air-brushed thigh-high boots and corset oozed with '90s style, reminding fans why she's not only the coolest, but one of the most stylish pop stars out. With no backing track (because, vocals) the singer belted through tender tracks like "Eyes Closed" before bringing the rain down with an intense performance of "Lie" and "Don't Play."

Wait for it... 🌊 @iamhalsey #hot100fest

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Her set ended with one more outfit change and a gentle chat with her day ones. Before "Closer" blew up radio with the Chainsmokers in 2016, a blue-haired Halsey took to the Sun Stage in 2015's Hot 100 Festival, a memory she looked back on with a smile on her face. After performing a stripped down version of "Closer," the singer brought it full circle to her latest album, hopeless fountain kingdom with her latest hit, "Bad At Love."

7. MadeinTYO Makes A Special Appearance

Atlanta's MadeinTYO has fans everywhere, including one in Bella Thorne. The former Disney star brought out the musician during her set on Day 2 to perform his respected jam, "Skakeboard P." The rapper also showed love to other Billboard festival performers like Rich The Kid and Dreamville's J.I.D.

6. Rich The Kid Keeps The Crowd Hydrated

What's worse than teenagers? Dehydrated ones. Rich The Kid made sure his fans were enriched with H2O during his lively set. Commanding the crowd from the jump, the "New Freezer" rapper was almost too big for the Sun Stage. "Talk To Me" and the Jay Critch-assisted "Did It Again" were more than enough to cause hip-hop mosh pits and screams of joy from the crowd. The part-time skateboarder also dropped "Plug Walk" before parting ways with the overzealous crowd.

5. R&B-Adjacent Acts Provide Soul

As R&B continues to seep through popular music, Justine Skye and other R&B adjacent allies like Taylor Bennett, THEY., J.I.D. and London Richards kept their sets filled with love, peace and falsettos. With cuts from his latest EP Be YourselfTaylor Bennett was a "superhero" to us all with his joyful set.

Roc Nation's purple unicorn Justine Skye demanded good vibes only as she performed gems from her debut album, Ultraviolet. Meanwhile, J.I.D.'s rhymes from The Never Story riled up the crowd with his hits like "Never" and "EdEddnEddy." After greeting fans, the Dreamville solider performed a new track from his upcoming project, Dicaprio2.   

4. Bhad Bhabie Is Pelted With Light-Up Bracelets

From Dr. Phil to the Billboard charts, 15-year-old Bhad Bhabie brought out curious teens for her set on Day 2. They were also pretty well-versed in the art of trolling in real life. As the teen screamed occasionally through songs like "Gucci Flip Flops" and "Trust Me," teens tossed light-up bracelets on stage. It might've been for the look, but the viral star was beyond annoyed while finishing her set. It also appeared that some were just curious to see what the hype is about when it comes to the viral star. She continued to give the kids a show with a twerk dance session with Bella Thorne. This is America, we guess.

3. DJ Snake’s “This Is America” Mix Is What Childish Gambino Was Talking About

Actually, this is America. DJ Snake's set flipped plenty of songs on their head including Childish Gambino's defiant, "This Is America." The original bares a tone unmasked as it fits the plight of living, breathing black men. Hearing it with a dance mix is as gullible teens dance along felt a little off.

2. French Montana Keeps The Party Going

French Montana deserves full arenas. His Day 2 set might've been slept on (Rich The Kid performed at the same time) but it didn't stop him nor DJ Duffey from entertaining the crowd. The Bronx bredren's set was a mix of his biggest hits like "Shot Caller," "Off The Rip" and his features from "All The Way Up," "No Limit (Remix)" and the fiery, "Hot N***a (Remix)." "Ain't Worried About Nothin" and "Stay Scheming"  reminded us all of the Billboard cover star's talents but his tribute to the late Chinx with "Whiskey Eyes" was one to remember.

1. Future Rules The Trap And Long Island Tween Dreams

Future exudes a cool guy style all his own. As the official headliner for Day 2, the Atlanta veteran made sure all fans were served. The ladies and fellow cool kids were able to enjoy his laid back style while the yute were able to mimic his talented dancers. "Bugatti" and "F**k Up Some Commas" took us back to a gritty Future Hendrixx but things came back around with "Jumpman" and "Used To This."

Instead of blending his standout features together, the trap rap titan spread them out brilliantly, etching his verse from "Move That Dope" between "Thought It Was A Drought" and "B***h Back." Like the crowd, his dancers thrived during "Real Sisters" and DS2 gem "Trap N***as." His crossover hits were also shown love like the The Weeknd-assisted "Low Life" and his much-needed feature on "King's Dead" from the Black Panther soundtrack. If there were any doubts about Future's ability to pull in any crowd, they were quickly shattered in Wantagh.

READ MORE: Beyond Lit: 9 Unforgettable Moments From Billboard’s Hot 100 Fest

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CIRCA 1980: Photo of Bill Withers
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Bill Withers' Greatest Hits: Remixed, Sampled And Covered

The recent loss of legends in jazz, soul and classical music have saddened the music industry and reminded us of their touching gifts to music. The passing of Manu Dibango, Krzysztof Penderecki, Ellis Marsalis Jr., Bucky Pizzarelli and Alan Merrill brought endless tributes from peers and fans with the recent loss of soul singer-songwriter Bill Withers doing the same.

With a mirage of hits, the iconic songwriter left his mark on music with the release of his debut album Just As I Am in 1971. "Ain't No Sunshine" put a spotlight on his songwriting while 1977's "Lovely Day" reminded the industry of his signature vocals. Withers released eight studio albums, one live album and garnered three Grammys for his powerful songs that gave hope and love to fans to this day.

Hip-hop and R&B have gained the most from Withers as his music went on to inspire records like "No Diggity" by BLACKStreet, "Roses" by Kanye West and other songs from UGK, Dr. Dre, Jill Scott and more.

Take a look at some of Withers' finest tunes covered, remixed and sampled below.


8. “Lovely Day” | Menagerie (1977)

Sampled On: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999) LunchMoneyLewis - “It's Gonna Be A Lovely Day” feat. Aminè | Pets 2 Soundtrack (2019) Swizz Beatz - “Take A Picture” |One Man Band (2007)

Standout: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999)

Short for "The Whole Damn Yay," the group used Withers' sample while throwing a splash of The Bay's laid back flavor. With cameos from future legends like E-40 and Ray Luv, the single already embodied the best of R&B and hip-hop with guest verses from Too Short, Mac Mall and Otis & Shug. The mimosas and yacht are also a great touch.

Covered By: Jill Scott, The Original Jill Scott from the Vault Vol. 1 (2011) Alt-J, This Is All Yours (2014) Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio 2 (2013) Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Standout: Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Who was going to beat a chorus singing to the lordt? Franklin's take on the classic gives us stirring gospel and appreciation for Withers and God. There are plenty of covers that have lifted the same vocals as Withers, but the ones listed have put their unique spin on the track.

7. “Ain't No Sunshine” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001) Lil B - “Up And Down” | Based Jam (2012) 2Pac- "Soulja's Story" |  2Pacalypse Now (1991)

Standout: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001)

"No Sunshine" served as the only single from DMX's film alongside Steven Seagal, which gave everyone the perfect backdrop to the movie and X's intricate storytelling. Both the original and flipped version points out the dark elements of our lives. Withers penned the song after watching the film 1962 movie Days of Wine and Roses, he pondered over the toxicity in his life. "Sometimes you miss things that weren't particularly good for you," he said in 2004 to SongFacts. "It's just something that crossed my mind from watching that movie, and probably something else that happened in my life that I'm not aware of."

Covered By: Soul For Real | Candy Rain (1994) Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972) The Boris Gardiner Happening | Is What's Happening (1973) The Temptations | Solid Rock (1972)

Standout: Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972)

At 14, the future King of Pop gave a riveting cover of Withers' hit for his debut album, Got To Be There. From his vocal control throughout the track to the instrumentation, his cover takes the song to another level of heartbreak.

6. "Grandma's Hands” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996) Big K.R.I.T. - “I Gotta Stay” | K.R.I.T. Wuz Here (2010) Brother Ali - “Waheedah's Hands” | Champion (2004)

Standout: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996)

R&B heads are well aware of BLACKstreet's neverending ballads and the genius of Teddy Riley. But the pivot of their sound for their sophomore album Another Level was due to Withers and the William “Stylez” Stewart. Speaking to Fact Mag in 2017, the creator of New Jack Swing gave credit to Stylez for bringing him the sample of "Grandma's Hands."

“If he hadn’t played that sample for me, there would never be a ‘No Diggity’ And if he didn’t write it according to the melody I gave him so it would sound that way because I wanted it to sound funky,” he said. “I wanted it to be appealing to everyone, but mostly to women. I wanted every woman to feel like they were the ‘No Diggity’ girl and that song was about them and it came across. And now, still, today, that song plays and people are on that dancefloor.”

Covered By: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981) Merry Clayton, Merry Clayton (1971) Barbra Streisand, Butterfly (1974)

Standout: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981)

Gil Scott-Heron's version of the soul classic reminded us of his versatile talents. From spoken word to his vocal abilities, the Godfather of rap music always came through with his own sound and style. Reflections was one of four albums the late artist dropped in the 80s with critics looking to it as one of his finest projects. Other cuts from the album included "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" and "B Love."

5. "Use Me" | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012) J. Cole- "Dollar And A Dream II" | The Warm-Up (2009) Leela James - “So Good" | Fall For You (2014) UGK - "Use Me Up" | The Southern Way (1992)

Standout: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012)

Lamar's take on "Use Me" blended right into the themes of his debut album, Good kid, Maad City allowing the artist to create another world on the project. To make things even better, Lamar also sampled Al Green's "I'm Glad You're Mine" for the track.

Covered By: Grace Jones, Indigo Nights, Live (2008) Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit  (2004) Issac Hayes, Dr. Dolittle Soundtrack (1998)

Standout: Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit (2004)

On his third solo album, Jagger linked with Rick Rubin to test his creative energy, allowing him to work with Lenny Kravitz on their version of "Use Me." Colliding worlds was one thing but to hear Kravitz's vocals come in on the bridge, set the track apart from the rest.

4. “Kissing My Love” | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: J. Cole - “The Cut Off" featuring kiLL Edward  | KOD (2018) Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992) Masta Ace- "Movin On" | Take A Look Around (1990) Master P- "Bastard Child" | The Ghettos Tryin To Kill Me! | 1994

Standout: Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992)

"Kissing My Love" is one of most sampled from Withers catalog, thanks to its feverish drums. It's also why it fits into Dr. Dre's single and the G-funk era.

3. Grover Washington's “Just The Two of Us” featuring Bill Withers | Winelight (1981)

Sampled/Covered On:  Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997) Eminem- "Just The Two of Us" | Slim Shady EP (1997) Keri Hilson- "Pretty Girl Rock" | No Boys Allowed (2010)

Standout: Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997)

Touching and soulful, Smith's dedication to his eldest son Trey is just too cute for words.

2. “Let It Be” | Just As I Am  (1967)

The Original: The Beatles - “Let It Be” | Let It Be (1968)

"Let It Be" is a pretty special record. Aretha Franklin recorded a version a year before the release of The Beatles' version and Withers gave his take on the record in the 70s. Slightly faster, his upbeat take on "Let It Be" just hits different.

1. “Rosie” | Menagerie Re-Issue (1977)

Sampled On: Kanye West - “Roses” |  Late Registration (2005)

As the somber part of Late Registration, "Roses" brings us into Kanye's world where he contemplates the mortality of a loved one. It's a sentimental take on the sample and one of the artist's most underrated songs. It's also a hidden gem for Withers as it isn't featured on Menagerie's LP. It was added as a bonus track on

Enjoy the jams in playlist form below.

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Remain Calm: 5 Ways To Curve Negative Effects Of Coronavirus Isolation

Self-isolation during the coronavirus outbreak seems to be best practice in keeping our families and peers safe but it's also a shift in our normal social behavior. As millions of families around the country get adjusted to self-isolation, the state of our mental health and how our bodies react to the practice are changing by the day, especially lower-income and marginalized groups.

Speaking with Wired, John Vincent, a clinical psychologist at the University of Houston, shared how apathetic behavior can rise to the forefront, making space for anxiety and depression.

“People start getting lethargic when they don’t have positive inputs into their small worlds,” Vincent says. “We can expect depression to kick in, and depression and anxiety are kissing cousins.”

But the biggest reason behind the uneasiness isn't the self-isolation but just how long it will last. Details of COVID-19 are changing by the day with the most cases now coming out of New York. Yet, there's still little to no information on what happens next.

“Open, transparent, consistent communication is the most important thing governments and organizations can do: Make sure people understand why they are being quarantined first and foremost, how long it is expected to last,” Samantha Brooks of King’s College London told the outlet. “A huge factor in the negative psychological impact seems to be confusion about what's going on, not having clear guidelines, or getting different messages from different organizations.”

Uncertainty hitting low income and marginalized groups is also a problem within itself. As virtual parties and celebrities opening up on social media happen on a daily, there are people who might not access fun distractions on the web.

“Some people have posited technology as a means of connecting people, but lower-income groups might not even have FaceTime or Skype or minutes on their phone,” Thomas Cudjoe, a geriatrician researching the intersection of social connections and aging at Johns Hopkins University says. “People take that for granted, using their devices can be a strain on people’s incomes.”

To make self-isolation less than a bore or a daunting task, experts suggest creating a schedule to dictate control in your home.

1. Work It Out

Gyms are closed, but your home can be transformed into a personal training center. Use heavy bags for weights and if you can, create a playlist of workouts on YouTube. For those who have memberships for Blink or Peloton, the platforms have streamed their workouts on apps.

2. Mindful Meditation

Meditation isn't about dumping your thoughts, it's about staying aware and mindful. AQUA has developed online that leverages the power of "Mindful Meditation and Mobility Movements" for flexibility and fluidity in the body. Classes are free of charge but feel free to donate.

3. Take It Back To High School

Give your friends a call or indulge in a FaceTime party. Feel free to use the Wifi in your home to reduce the amount of data used on your phone. Lala Anthony held a too-cute FT birthday party for writer Kiyonna Anthony with a 70s theme. You can also find creative ways to hop on the phone with friends and family instead of constantly chatting about 'rona.


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We made the best out of our quarantine situation🎉‼️FACETIME 70s Party💃🏽🎉HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY NIECE @kiyonnathewriter ❤️❤️💃🏽💃🏽SHOUT OUT TO ALL MY ARIES ♈️ MAKE THE BEST OF IT!!!😘

A post shared by ℒᎯ ℒᎯ (@lala) on Mar 23, 2020 at 7:14pm PDT

4. Start A Journal

Journals just aren't for kids. The practice not only gives you something to do, but it fuels creativity and a new level of self-awareness. Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently developed Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice, with over 150 inspiring questions and quotes that connect to key themes in her memoir. The journal will also help bring readers to terms with the importance of family and personal reflections as well as the goals they'd like to make a reality.

5. Have a Dance Party or Enjoy Lo-Fi Beats To Quarantine To

If you don't have data or battery power to watch a virtual DJ party, make your own. If you have to pull out your record player, do it! You can also hop on your favorite streaming service and create a playlist all your own.

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From Teen Sensation To Vocal Bible: Brandy's 15 Best Songs

September 27, 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the multiplatinum self-titled debut album by one of R&B’s greatest voices, Brandy Rayana Norwood, or simply Brandy. She was already well on her way to stardom prior to her debut as a background vocalist for Immature and one of the stars of the short-lived ABC series, Thea. However, it was the album Brandy that set her on the path to tremendous success.

Since officially bursting onto the scene in 1994 sporting her well-known braided crown of glory, she has been a force to be reckoned with. She was handpicked by her idol, the late Whitney Houston, to portray the role of the first Black Cinderella in the 1997 film Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. Her show Moesha was one of the longest-running black sitcoms. Brandy was also a CoverGirl in 1999 and became a friend of Barbie that same year when Mattel released the Brandy Doll. In music, she’s released six studio albums, sold more than 40 million records worldwide, headlined three world tours, and won more than 30 awards including seven Billboard Music Awards, a Grammy and the Soul Train Lady of Soul Award. Brandy deserves her flowers.

Let’s check out the top 15 songs that helped solidify Brandy as your favorite singer’s favorite singer (just ask Solange) and earned her the title of the “Vocal Bible.”

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