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Amber Rose Wants Men To Know When A Woman Says No, It Doesn't Mean Convince Her

"I'm the Michael Jordan of thots."

The mother, author and activist talks to VIBE about her fourth-annual Slutwalk and how she teaches her son consent

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Captain Save A Ho! At least, so says Amber Rose.

During the day, Rose is just your mild-mannered mother to a cutie patootie 5-year-old. But at night she dons her highest heels, figure-flattering jeans (maybe Fendi, probably Fashionnova) and a cleavage-bearing top to walk the streets of Los Angeles, saving those besmirched with distasteful names thrown at a woman with the sexual appetite of a man. As the self-described "Michael Jordan of thots," the 34-year-old has made it her mission to help women reclaim their sexual narratives regardless of the names spewed at her in the process.

For three years, Rose and her Rosebuds have gathered in Downtown L.A. for her annual SlutWalk. The festival, which started with 2,500 people, has grown to about 20,000 and is billed as a day of empowerment, education, and awareness about sexism and rape culture in America.

And while Rose's efforts are valiant and well-intentioned, there are many who don't deem her a "proper" representative for feminism or women's rights. Maybe it's her stripper past, her love of twerking, or her shameless parading of her voluptuous body. Either way, Amber has been called everything but her name in her quest to even the gender playing field, and you know what? She doesn't give a f**k!

Sebastian's mama dialed into a call with VIBE—where she greeted me with the warmest, "Hey babe!"—to discuss her annual SlutWalk and how she handles all the unsavory comments she receives. Being Captain Save A Ho isn't easy, but somebody's gotta do it, right?

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VIBE: What will be different about this SlutWalk that hasn’t taken place in previous years?
Amber Rose: I would say that every year it grows. The first year, 2,500 people attended. The second year it was 11,000 people and the third year there were more than 20,000 people. This year it’s bigger. It’s more awareness. It’s more people understanding the narrative. It’s more inclusive. It’s not just for women. It’s for the LGBTQ community as well. It’s for straight men and for people from all walks of life. I love that we do the initial walk in the morning and then we have a full festival for the rest of the day from like 11 o’clock in the morning to like 5 o’clock in the afternoon. No matter who you are, you’re coming into a very safe place. You can wear what you want. You can talk to people who’ve been through things that you’ve been through. You’re gonna cry. You’re gonna laugh. You’re gonna dance. You’re going to have a very emotional day in such an amazing way and you’re going to realize that you’re not alone in the world. It’s a no judgment zone. We have zero tolerance for bullying. We have counseling and it’s really just a positive amazing day for everyone.

You proudly call yourself “Captain Save A Ho,” yet in the 'hood that phrase is associated with men who adorn women who are “unworthy.” You’ve reclaimed that phrase. What does it mean to you now?
That’s the thing. I’m a woman. I took the power away. Now I’m saving the h*’s. [Laughs] H*. Slut. Skank. Whore. Those are all derogatory labels just thrown at women. It’s never thrown at a man.

"I’ve been associated with so many men I’ve never slept with." —Amber Rose

And men can very well be whores, sluts, h**s. I know quite a few.
Yeah! And guess what? For a man, it’s almost a word of affirmation. It’s like they poke their chest out with pride if they’re a h* and they get b***hes. It’s a cool thing. But for us, if we take control of our sexuality, and even if we don’t. And that’s the crazy thing about it. It really doesn’t matter what we do—it’s the projection of negativity they just put on you. I’ve been associated with so many men I’ve never slept with. I’ve been branded as a h* when I’ve been in long-term monogamous committed relationships. They’re like ‘Ugh! Another boyfriend.’ I was just with someone for a whole year. I literally cried for five months. And I’ve moved on with my life. What do you mean? I’m not supposed to ever date again ever? I’m not supposed to find love? It’s just people being uncomfortable with the confidence we have as women or other women being uncomfortable with women saying, ‘Hey, this is what I want to do. This doesn’t have to be your thing but it’s my thing.’

Does it bother you when women perpetuate sexist ideas? 
Oh my God, babe. It drives me f**king nuts! I also at the same time try to have patience and understand that these women have been raised their entire lives to think certain behavior is OK. And so I can’t really get mad, I just have to educate. And that’s what happened when I did the show with Tyrese and Rev Run. It was like, ‘Look, guys, I’m not mad at you because this is really all you know. But I’m here to tell you, you're wrong.' So I’m not going to scream at you. I’m not going to call you ignorant or a derogatory word. I’m just going to say that you’re wrong. And this is what’s right. I’m going to let you know what right is.

It is unfortunate to see women like that but it only comes from their own insecurities and it also comes from the fact that celebrity men are looked at as higher level human being because they have talent. And it’s like ‘He’s so talented. Why would he rape someone?’ or ‘He could have sex with anyone. Why would he do it to her?’ It’s not about sex, it’s about power and they don’t understand that. And that what the SlutWalk brings, which is the awareness to what’s happening. Saying 'no' doesn’t mean convince me.

Right.
It’s f**king sad and it really boils down to the men being like, ‘You know what. It’s okay that you don’t want to do this right now. I’ve no problem calling you an Uber or taking you home.’ This is where the awareness and the education come in because no one is obligated to f**k you. I’m sorry.

 "Saying 'no' doesn’t mean convince me." —Amber Rose

No one. Slut-shaming. Victim-shaming. It’s all an indoctrination that affects everyone. Can you provide some examples of men who attended your SlutWalk and learned something?
Oh my, God! Babe. I know the girls are going to show up and I love my girls. But when I have the straight guys show up, and they have sayings written on their chests in pink because they have daughters and they have mothers and they f**king get it! Last year I was walking. We were doing the walk in the morning and it was an older white man—I want to say late '60s—and he came up to me with a camera in my face and I’m not going to lie. I judged him. I thought he was probably some bible-thumping old man. He’s about to get on my a** so fast. And he came up to me with a camera and he said, ‘Amber. Please say hello to my daughter in Seattle. She absolutely loves you so much. She couldn’t be here this year but I came on her behalf. We love you. We love everything you’re doing for feminism.’ And I gave him a hug after that and I was like ‘I really judged you, dude.’ That’s when I realized that my SlutWalk is so inclusive that its people from all walks of life who f**king get it. And I know I’m making a difference every single year. Even though there are thousands and thousands of people that don’t get it. We are changing more minds every single year and we’re making a difference and that’s the most important thing.

How does Sebastian feel about your SlutWalk?
He doesn’t get it yet. He’s still very young and he doesn’t fully understand it yet. But I will say that I do teach my son consent at a very young age.

How do you teach him consent?
Culturally, I grew up Italian. I’m black, Italian and Irish. As Italians in our family, we kiss everybody on the cheek when we greet each other. Also, Wiz and I, and also all of Sebastian’s grandparents were very loving towards Sebastian. We kiss him. We hug him. We love him up all day. So when he goes to school, he kisses all the boys on the cheek when he greets them because that’s what he’s seeing in our house and all the girls he kisses them on the lips. This was actually last year when he started going to pre-school. I dropped him off at school one day and I saw that he went up and kissed a little girl, Natalie on her lips and he went to go kiss Stella on her lips and she said, ‘No Sebastian. I don’t wanna kiss.’ And he was almost forcing himself on her to kiss her. And I said ‘Baby, I know you want to kiss Stella. I know that's your friend but when she says no, that means no, honey. And you’re not allowed to kiss her when she says no, okay?’ And he says ‘Oh, okay mommy.’ And then I said, ‘Well listen. If she says yes, then you give her a kiss and if she says no, then you say "Okay Stella."' It’s starting already at four or 5-years-old where I have to teach him that when somebody says no, that means no. You have to fall back from that. I feel like as parents, especially with our sons, we have to teach them consent at such an early age because I don’t want him being a teenager forcing himself on a girl.

Do you think men don’t know consent or they choose when they don’t know consent?
I think that some don’t know. I’ll say that, and I think some do know and they use their power to get a yes when it’s not a hard yes.

You mean when it’s not a hard no.
Right, but also when it’s not a hard yes. Like, ‘Ah, okay.’ You know what I mean? It’s kind of like I feel obligated to do this because you are a powerful man. And women feel like I put myself in this situation and now I feel obligated to have sex with him because I pushed him too far. And I’ve been in those situations before where I’ve literally had sex with someone and I went home and I was like ‘Why the f**k did I do that?’ I did not want to do that. I should’ve just been like, ‘No, I said no I want to go home right now.’ But then I felt bad because we made out for a long time and I pushed him to the limit where he was ready to go and I was like ‘Ugh! God! I don’t want to do this. So I feel obligated now.’ But now that I’m older. It’s like no! F**k no! Don’t f**king convince me! Like, no means no. I’m not trying to do this. We hung out. It was cool. I don’t want to have sex with you bro.' But you get to that point with just being fed up of being convinced. I don’t want to be convinced. I said no.

Why do you think there are so many people who don’t think you’re a “proper” advocate for gender equality?
I think that goes back to people being judgmental. Women being judgmental against me. It’s like, ‘She’s a stripper. She doesn’t know anything about feminism. It’s so ignorant that I just can’t take it. 'She can’t keep a man.' Is it I can’t keep a man or I just don’t settle? You can go and determine what the f**k that is. And what is keeping a man? You can’t keep a man that doesn’t want to be kept.

Correct.
I feel like that’s the thing a lot of women put on me, unfortunately. Some of the things I’ve heard is ‘She makes excuses to be a whore.’ Or ‘She’s the Michael Jordan of THOTS’ I see that one a lot.

[Laughs] What?
Yeah. It’s hilarious. And I get a lot of those things, babe. I laugh at those things and then I apply it to my Instagram captions. So I’ll post a picture and say “I’m the Michael Jordan of thots," and I take the power away. They can’t hurt me anymore. It doesn’t work like that. I let it roll off my shoulders very easily and I take the power away because all they can say in the comments is ‘Well at least you know you are’ It’s like bro, I already said it. Shut up. [Laughs]

READ MORE: Amber Rose's Slutwalk Aims To Unite All In Divided Times

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NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Royce da 5'9'' visits Build Series at Build Studio on May 1, 2018 in New York City.
Jamie McCarthy

Royce Da 5’9” Talks Consciousness And Self-Sufficiency On ‘The Allegory’

How do you move forward when you’re already one of the greatest of all time? In rappers’ circles, a 20-year career has seen Royce Da 5’9” considered one of the best MCs on earth. His witty punchlines, versatile flows and irreverent sense of humor have seen him compete with the likes of Black Thought, Kendrick Lamar, his former Slaughterhouse groupmates, and his longtime friend Marshall Mathers. “Eminem himself will tell you I'm the only ni**a livin' that done ever spanked him on the same record with him,” he pointedly rapped once. In recent years, he’s added a personal tone to his music, using songs like “Cocaine” and “Boblo Boat” to grapple with his family history of substance abuse and incarceration while conquering his own alcoholism and infidelity.

Now, after introducing listeners to his lineage, Royce is using his new album The Allegory to continue his artistic progression. His first two singles are more sociopolitical, lines that he isn’t known for drawing in his music: “Field Negro” chastises uppity blacks for forgetting their roots, while “Black Savage” calls on T.I., CyHi Da Prynce, and Sy Ari Da Kid to unite for an anthem against white oppression. The latter was chosen for the Jay-Z-led Inspire Change initiative with the NFL. And the third single, “Overcome” with Westside Gunn, features a music video that tells a “fictional” version of the story of 6ix9ine’s gang affiliation and his infamous testifying on the stand. “I hate when rappers get a mic in front of them and somebody asks them about something that affects us socially, and they write it off,” Royce said while visiting VIBE’s office in Times Square. “... I think with as much emphasis as we put, there’s certain rules that you’re supposed to be tapped into the hood. Just as much as you go out of your way to be tapped into the hood, you need to be tapped into us.”

There’s also one other detail: after a career working with legends like DJ Premier, Bink! and The Alchemist, Royce has decided to make his own beats this time around. He even landed a production credits on Eminem’s new surprise album Music To Be Murdered By, to go along with his trio of guest verses. “I call it rabbit hole behavior – I just start practicing a whole lot, just like I do anything else if I’m interested,” Royce shared. “...I didn’t set out to produce the whole album, it just happened that way.”

In a conversation with VIBE, Royce Da 5’9” talks about the importance of keeping up with your community, a musical lesson from T.I., and why he doesn’t care if he makes a wack beat.

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VIBE: On your last two solos, Layers and Book of Ryan, you shared more of your personal life than ever before. After sharing that much, where do you go next creatively?

Royce Da 5’9”: I’m definitely taking my time. I don’t always know what I want to do, but it’s pretty easy for me to look at what I don’t want to do, and rule that out. I just create and try not to think too much. The important thing for me was, when I did do the super personal thing, when it was about myself, to make sure that I really did it thoroughly. Did it in a way where people get it. And also, I’m presenting the people in my life in a respectful, positive way, but truthful, honest way. From there, it’s just taking in as much information as I can and just talking about the way that I see the world. Whatever inspires overrules.

You said that you ruled out what you didn’t want to do. What did you not want to do?

I don’t want to look like I’m an artist that’s doing this as some type of job. There’s nothing wrong with that; I just don’t want to do it. I’m not an employee of the people; I don’t make music for people. That’s not my job, that’s not what I’m here to do. I think some people can do that, but in my mind, that’s crazy. I express myself through the art as a coping mechanism most of the time. I look at it as putting paint on a canvas and hanging it up. You’re more than welcome to come by look at it, but if you don’t, that’s fine. And then when I’m leaving, I’m taking it home with me so I can look at it for memories. Whatever that feeling is, money won’t give me that feeling.

Between “Field Negro” and “Black Savage,” both songs have a more conscious, sociopolitical slant. People don’t associate that with you. 

I like “conscious” better than political. I think we separate those a little bit. I’m very conscious. I’m not very politically-inclined, but a lot of things that people associate as political are important to me. I don’t care who the president is. I don’t care about that type of sh*t. But I do care about the way that some of the things that happen on a higher level of government affect us in our community. So I’m very conscious of our people, and I’m very conscious of artists having a platform and understanding how important that is and understanding how important it is to be connected to us and how we need to take care of each other first. Then we’ll be able to take care of everybody. I’m conscious of that. But I’m not trying to run for senator in ten years. I don’t have any aspirations of being president or a political activist. But as I get older, the things that I say begin to get more important.

A lot of artists have their feelings on issues like that, but they completely separate them from their music. What made you decide to integrate it into your music?

Everything I’ve made has always been a reflection to what I’m doing at the time, who I am at the time. As black men especially, our perspective changes so much. I don’t know exactly what did it, but I know I hate when rappers get a mic in front of them and somebody asks them about something that affects us socially, they condemn it, and they write it off. That’s a pet peeve of mine. They condemn the concept all the way together. They don’t want to answer it, and they condemn it. Most of the time I feel like it’s because they don’t know, they’re unaware of it. They don’t know enough about it to be able to speak on it. Or they just look down on being smart or being socially aware. I think with as much emphasis as we put, there’s certain rules that you’re supposed to be tapped into the hood. Just as much as you go out of your way to be tapped into the hood, you need to be tapped into us. That’s important. But it’s not going to become important to you until you start taking in information the proper way.

So how do you keep in touch with what’s going on?

I mostly read. I don’t watch a whole bunch of TV. I just read. I do research online like a crazy person. I just stay aware, I look at what everyone is talking about, constantly on my phone. When I used to get drunk, I’d see everybody talking about something, and I’d just go look at something else. I don’t do that no more; I need to know now.

It’s always interesting to me when I hear about your life pre-sobriety and post-sobriety. Because I realize how many things stem from that - getting your personal life in order, being more lucid with your family, being more aware of the world around you.

Well, that’s the problem. Drinking makes it to where you don’t care. Perfect: I’ll go cheat on my girl, I’ll become a ridiculous person. Nothing is connected into nothing until I started going to therapy, then I realized everything was for a reason. And then, I started learning about myself in a way that made me elevate, first my mind and then better as an artist. I’m like damn, I can keep learning about myself – how can I stop being better at everything? Most of us we come in, and if we want to get better at rapping, then we just figure we’ve got to keep up with the times, let me keep up with rap and I end up being a better rapper. That’s all you’re dialed into, all of that misinformation that’s being spread around. You’re doomed. There’s no way you’re gonna get better. No way. It’s impossible. If I’m keeping up with what’s current, but everything that’s current, there’s no future in none of it. I focus on me, getting myself better. I make a lot of music I don’t use. Every time I do something that I feel is cool, I let it go.

How old are your kids?

Twelve, 10, 5 and 3. And 21.

Do you have conscious conversations with them?

Only Roycee, my oldest son. We can go pretty deep. My daughters, they’re just having fun right now. I’m not going to lay too much on ‘em. [laughs] Just let them be kids. I’ll eat with Kino, his kids know how to order at a steakhouse. … Nah, none of that. They don’t watch rap videos. They aren’t tapped in yet. Just chillin’. That’s one of the only reasons I celebrate Christmas: I just want to see them open gifts and having fun. But there’s lots to tell, lots coming on the horizon.

On this new album, you made all of the beats. Did you make beats at all before then?

Nope. But I have made a beat here and there before in different situations. Sometimes in the studio 4 in the morning, and we’re all drinking, I just decide to start hitting piano keys. Make some terrible beat that we rap on at the moment. [laughs] But I never had equipment, this is my first time doing that. But I’m glad I did it that way. I learned Pro Tools first. I learned how to cut my own vocals first, just engineering. Denaun showed me how to make beats in Logic, and it was easy for me to catch onto because it was very similar to Pro Tools. I call it rabbit hole behavior – I just start practicing a whole lot, just like I do anything else if I’m interested. I just kept on practicing and came up with this song, came up with that song. If you do it enough, stuff comes out of it. I didn’t set out to produce the whole album, it just happened that way. That’s the fun part. Normally, we would tell ourselves, you can’t do nothing like that. I’m glad I didn’t even have expectations. I wasn’t even thinking. I just love practicing. If I make something and it’s terrible, it does not bother me, as long as I don’t have to play it for nobody else. [laughs]

Did anything spark that initial creativity to start making beats more?

It was boredom. But there wasn’t a starting point. One time we were working on a mixtape or something, and I decided I was going to do the beat. I’ll just have my engineer play something. I never applied myself and bought equipment like, “I’m going to make beats.” Little stuff in passing. But just drunk shit. This is my first time deciding to do it that way. I went to Guitar Center. I bought Ableton, bought the Maschine, it starts out like that – get a bunch of stuff, and see what sticks. Everything went back except the MPC. [laughs] I kept that, but I gave it to my friend. I just use Logic now.

What’s interesting about what you’re saying is that your raps are very meticulously crafted. I think if you were to write a rap that was wack, you’d be upset. But you’re saying that if you make a beat you don’t like, you don’t have an issue with it?

It goes both ways for me. But I do understand being that way about a rap. I was that way for a long time. I think we start out like that. I don’t know if it’s “upset” – it’s more of a fear. Most people won’t admit that, but it’s like a creative fear. You don’t want to come up with something that’s not good, or you don’t want to admit that it’s not good. If you don’t know no better, that’s synonymous with falling off. You never want to admit that. But the more honest you are with yourself, the better off everything is. So going out and working with Puff, and him making me rewrite the same verse 8,000 times, is what made me introduce the art of rewriting into my lexicon. I just started rewriting stuff to rewrite it. And then i developed this relationship with the verses in a song where it’s just, I don’t have no respect for it. I call it clay. I just lay a bunch of stuff, poke holes in it, fill a line in, take the bottom half out, fill that in, remove the top of it, put some back on top of it. [laughs] It’s like playing LEGOs or something. Take the best pieces, take it from there, and then just A&R it. There’s no such thing as a bad verse – I’m sorry, yes there is. But it can be great for different reasons. Just because it’s lyrical, that doesn’t make it great. “Ain’t Nuttin But A G Thang'' is a perfect verse. Add too many syllables, you f**k it up. I’m sure that if Dre knew Marshall back then, and Eminem hit him with a super technical verse, he’d probably be like, “that’s lyrical, but that ain’t it.” It’s almost like you’re A&Ring yourself. It’s so much going on, you don’t have to be so tight if it’s not the right one.

“Black Savage” is you, T.I., CyHi Da Prynce, Sy Ari Da Kid, and White Gold. How’d that song come together?

The producer me picked the people. I always knew I wanted to work with CyHi on something. Anytime I ever do anything that’s a little bit socially conscious, I always think of T.I. He’s very aggressive, I can tell he hit that point in life. I think we have spiritual awakenings, man. Us as black men, we just wake up one day like, “this is what I am,” and we have no idea where it came from. T.I. seems like he’s there with it. You get to a certain point and start seeing things for what they are. You don’t always like what you see. I think T.I. is at that place, so I always told myself if I was ever doing anything along the truthful line, to speak up for us, I would call Tip. We did some stuff before, but it ended up slipping through the cracks. Tip actually suggested Sy Ari to sing the hook. He said, “the hook we have is a little bit too direct,” and he asked me what I thought about somebody else taking a shot at it. I said, I’m more than open if you think you can make it happen. He reached out to Sy Ari, and he sent it right back. That’s one dope thing about collaborating. I learned that in Slaughterhouse: learn that with an open mind. A lot of guys would’ve taken it personal. I was cool with what we had, but when he sent Sy Ari’s hook, Sy Ari’s was better. But I still liked what we had, because the part that we had as the hook was White Gold’s part. So I was able to use both, and I moved them and made it more like a bridge. I had to change the music around a little bit, but it worked way better. But he was right – it was super direct. I’m a very blunt, direct person, and I heard what he meant. So it actually taught me something, so I’m glad we had that conversation.

That really sounds like Producer Royce, man. Not just beatmaker Royce, but producer Royce.

I could never be a beatmaker, because I’m around too many guys who make beats who have been doing it their whole life. You can’t catch up, it’s impossible to catch up to Bink!, Denaun, DJ Premier. I’m way behind. There’s never been a beatmaker Royce, but I’ve been producer Royce even before I was making tracks. I had to play that role in Slaughterhouse, I had to have that relationship with the music in Slaughterhouse. I was the guy that was more on the technical side, doing the drops and stuff like that. I just always had a knack for the sonic stuff. After us getting our own place, I think it was the logical next step. It just kind of happened spur of the moment, and I like for things to happen like that. Every time I ever planned to do beats, I didn’t end up seeing it through. But the one time I just thought of it real quick, I was at Guitar Center 30 minutes later. I came back and it didn’t just end up being a conversation – I saw it all the way through, because I wasn’t thinking about it.

How did you connect with the NFL for their campaign?

Kino was talking to Jason from Tidal, and he said they were looking for a song to launch the initiative. Everybody knows about the initiative. They were saying they were looking for something, and Kino was like, “I think I may have the perfect song for you.” It was just a shot in the dark. He sent it over to them, and they loved the song. Once he explained to me what the initiative was and all of that, I was 100 percent with it. After that, I found out that we needed to partner up with them and go do stuff, which was cool too. Anything Jay-Z related, man, I’m in. I’m not a real big football guy, but I’m willing to be for that cause.

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Courtesy of adidas

Rapsody And Pusha T Inspire Students At Adidas' All-Star Weekend Career Day

The recording artists, alongside WNBA star Liz Cambage, encouraged student-athletes to chase their musical dreams at adidas Legacy's “World’s Best Career Day.”

Last weekend, stars from all over the country flew into a frigid Chicago for the 69th annual NBA All-Star Weekend, where they celebrated their accomplishments, promoted their projects, and rubbed elbows with other industry leaders.

The NBA All-Star Weekend often serves as a fun spectacle with slam dunk competitions, brand-sponsored parties, and big music showcases. But on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 15), adidas gathered professional athletes, media personalities, musicians, filmmakers, and other creatives to participate in a more impactful endeavor – making connections with the youth and giving them the exposure and resources to chase their dreams.

adidas hosted 240 student-athletes from eight Chicago public high schools at its “World’s Best Career Day” event in downtown Chicago during the highly-anticipated weekend. The event gave the kids an opportunity to get some hands-on learning experience using professional equipment and face-to-face time with celebrities, including Jonah Hill, James Harden, Candace Parker, and others.

Rappers Pusha T, Rapsody, and WNBA star Liz Cambage ran the “Sound Lab,” which served as the music portion of the seven interactive workshops during the career day. The “Sound Lab” consisted of professional recording equipment, including a vocal booth, turntables, mixing consoles, and drum machines. After a brief panel discussion, the students broke up into three groups, where they could work more closely with one of the stars.

“A lot of people don’t have these opportunities, I didn’t have these opportunities,” Pusha T told VIBE after the workshop. “People weren’t really pushing you to go toward your dreams if they were in the music business. To see all of this put together like such, to have makeshift recording studios, engineers, people of quality, who can really explain the game to you. To me, it just sort of reinforces the idea of pushing kids toward their dreams and goals. I think that’s what it’s about.”

Pusha’s workshop mostly focused on the technical aspect of working in a studio and emphasized the importance of the vocalist and recording engineer relationship. He referred to engineers as “the cornerstone of making music” and explained that while it’s an overlooked job in the music business, it’s an important and lucrative one.

After he spoke with a group of about 13 students, a couple of them went into the vocal booth to spit a verse. The G.O.O.D. Music President gave them tips on recording vocals and explained that having a trusted engineer is crucial.

“When the kids did get in the booth, sometimes there’s a bit of anxiety and feeling like, ‘oh man I gotta rush and hurry up,’” Pusha said. “The engineer is the reason you don’t have to rush and hurry up. You can take your time. You can do four bars at a time, get it perfect. And get another four bars, put it all together, and make it sound seamless. You know just being new to the recording structure, I was trying to share those tips with them.”

Rapsody also shared how she hopes the kids in attendance will learn to “think outside of the box” after the career day event. She said the “Sound Lab” workshop will show them there are many different avenues to pursuing a career in music.

“There are so many ways to inject yourself into the music business, outside of just being an emcee, or just being a producer,” Rapsody told VIBE. “Just opening their minds creatively and interacting with them one on one. It’s always dope to look at people who are doing things that are successful and be able to reach them and talk to them because it gives you an aspiration.”

During her section of the workshop, she and her producers, Khrysis and Eric G, showed the young athletes how to use drum machines and samplers while using her song “Aaliyah,” from her 2019 album Eve, as a reference of how to chop up samples.

“Exposure is the biggest thing for kids,” Rapsody said. “Once you expose them to something, it’s endless, like their mind goes. But if you don’t expose them to it, it’s sometimes* they think that it’s not for them and they put themselves in a fishbowl. So it’s dope to be able to have these kids touch machines and talk to myself.”

After the workshop, Rapsody was approached by a few of the student-athletes, including a young, teenage girl who sang for her.

“I grew up in a small town in North Carolina, and for music and creativity, all I really had was TV. I watched videos,” she said. “If I had something like this, I would’ve started following my heart, my passion a lot sooner. Just to have the knowledge, for somebody to teach, to show me that it is available to me. Whatever I want to do is available to me, that I can do it.”

Cambage, who is a house DJ in addition to playing for the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, spoke to the teens about being an athlete who also has a passion for music and other creative outlets.

The three-time All-Star center spoke to them about her love of house music and referenced Canadian DJ/producer KAYTRANADA as one of her favorite current artists because he often takes “old ‘90s hip-hop and (puts) a house beat with it.” During her interactive workshop, she showed them different mixing and beatmatching techniques.

“You don’t know how talented someone can be at something until they try it,” said Cambage, who won a 2012 bronze medal as a member of the Australian women’s basketball team. “We could have the next Mozart in the building today, and I think that’s the really exciting thing. Kids are putting themselves out there, being like, ‘yeah I really am interested in this, and I do want to learn about it.’ And adidas is giving them that platform to go chase another dream.”

Since all of the students that attended the career day event are basketball players, Cambage told VIBE she wanted to show them that they can “break that mold of just being an athlete.”

“We do it all, it doesn’t have to be just one thing,” she said. “There are so many things I love and things that inspire me... So I think it’s really important that we’re not just one thing, we can keep learning, we can keep evolving, we can keep finding things that inspire us.”

Fellow WNBA star Chiney Ogwumike, who moonlights as full-time basketball analyst at ESPN, also emphasized to the kids at her workshop they can be a successful athlete with other interests. Ogwumike worked on the broadcasting workshop, alongside Tracy McGrady, Candace Parker, and Maria Taylor.

She viewed the event as a great way to show the teens, particularly the girls and young women, that they can achieve so much when they have opportunities and the infrastructure to succeed.

“Visibility matters, especially for those who feel invisible in society,” she said. “It’s on us as women to uplift others. For so long, we’ve been so competitive, because like a seat at the table, there’s only one for a woman. Now there are more seats at the table, so instead of being competitive, we’re now being collaborative. We’re harnessing our collective power to lift each other up.”

The “World’s Best Career Day” coincided with the launch of adidas Legacy’s expansion to Chicago. The high school basketball program, Legacy, partnered with eight underserved Chicago public high schools, providing their boys and girls basketball teams with fresh adidas gear and opportunities to connect with peers, learn from mentors, and gain exposure to different career paths. The program was founded in Los Angeles in 2017, later expanded to New York City in 2018, and now serves a total of 28 schools and 840 student-athletes within those cities.

Brandon Walker, adidas’ head of North America Sports Marketing - Basketball,  highlighted how Legacy equally serves the boys and girls basketball programs and is made up of 98 percent of students of color.

“I just hope it’s an opportunity for these young men and women to reimagine their future,” Walker told VIBE. “It’s very difficult to dream it if they’ve never seen it. And for them to be in these workshops and see people that look like them, it gives them a chance to realize their potential long-term. Them having a chance to sit across from somebody and get hands-on learning, and say, ‘you know what? Broadcasting isn’t all that difficult, I might be able to do it myself. I’m a real good sketch artist or I can draw, I could be a designer for a major brand.’ Those types of moments are what we hope these young men and women leave with, just opening up their ideas of what’s possible in the future.”

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Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant reacts during the Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals in Boston, Massachusetts, June 17, 2008.
GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP

Kobe Bryant Went From Peerless To Peer, And That's Why It Hurts To Lose Him

If you were to list the major events of Kobe Bryant’s life, it would read like one of those cheesy, unbelievable movies on Netflix that you scroll right past every night. Born to an NBA player, grew up in Italy, made it to the NBA at 17 years old, won five championships, won an Oscar, won an Emmy, died in a helicopter crash.

The abruptness of the ending of the list is matched only by the totality of the list itself. As fellow NBA superstar Kevin Durant put it, “You’ve seen Kobe in every situation… he lived life to the fullest.”

Ultimately it was that all-encompassing nature of Kobe Bryant’s life that made his death so tragic and so painful. Kobe was the rare entity that made the entire world feel something about him. Whether it was love, hate, admiration, fear, respect or whatever other emotion he could elicit out of you as a spectator, you felt it. As such, everybody felt something when the news broke that he’d perished in a helicopter crash, even his most feverish haters.

Perhaps you were attached to Kobe the basketball deity, with his insatiable competitiveness that became its own mantra for life: Mamba Mentality. Or maybe you loved Kobe the artist and storyteller, who found new ways to express himself and succeed after leaving the sport most thought he would be miserable without. But the most wide-ranging side of Kobe is surely the father and the family man. That was the most “normal” of his superpowers.

There was a side of Kobe for everybody, and as such he may have lived as the most revered and celebrated athlete in the world. There are others more popular by standard metrics, but the adulation Kobe received in every pocket of the world is the type of devotion that only existed in eras past, before the internet opened up niches for every single interest and gave platforms for every single counterargument.

In the sports world, Kobe may be Patient 0 for that sort of internet native life, as we’ve been privy to almost his entire life since the moment he arrived, arm and arm with Brandy at his high school prom. His entire career exists on camera somewhere, and most of his adult life is Google-able and available at the click of a button, in HD.

As such, we get the feeling we know Kobe, a sentiment that became amplified when he allowed us to get even closer to him with the intimacy of his social media profiles. His random thoughts were strewn across his Twitter account. His adorable family life is plastered on both his and his wife’s Instagram accounts. Plus, there were documentaries, stories, books, Oscar-winning shorts and every other sort of content for all the rest of his life and the arbitrary contemplations that exist between those two worlds.

Kobe was as transparent as any superstar on Earth, and that made him as endearing as any superhero can possibly be. We felt we came to know Kobe, a jarring turn of events after he existed for two decades as the most sinister, malicious and villainous athlete since Michael Jordan, a man so feverishly and obsessively devoted to winning it left him with strained relationships, but five championship rings to warm his bed at night.

 

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My Gigi

A post shared by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on Sep 3, 2019 at 1:59pm PDT

Suddenly he was approachable, an aloof basketball dad, now fully devoted to family life in a way that somehow seemed even more dedicated than he ever was to his previous profession. It made for a few comical pictures and stories, but it resonated, and the supernatural had become normal. After two decades of Kobe doing things no other human could hope to do, he was doing the things every other human does on a daily basis and it made him even more lovable.

But that turn is what made his sudden death even that much more painful. Kobe was doing something every parent of an athlete has done hundreds of times, taking their child to a game and sharing that intimate ride and alone time that may not exist if the sport had not brought them together for that moment. That’s the innocuous moment that led to the death of Kobe Bryant and eight others, including his own 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

For many, that made the tragedy hit unbearably close to home. Whether as a parent, a coach, someone who was once that kid riding to the game with their parents or any other cog in the village that raises a child. Everybody has been within that equation somewhere, and now the reality of how fleeting those moments can be is staring the entire world in the face, forcing them to come to grips with the fragility of life. Not only your own life, but those closest to you who could be doing something as ordinary as driving to a game on a Sunday morning.

 

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Had a great trip to @uconnwbb for senior night and the retirement of basketball legend @promise50 with my baby Gigi. Thank you Gampel, Thank you Coach Geno and Cd for the warm welcome. Good luck the rest of the way 💪🏾 #mambamentality #wizenard

A post shared by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on Mar 2, 2019 at 9:22pm PST

Once again, Kobe is making everybody feel something. Once again, he’s bringing people together, united by a common cause, and feeling ever so strongly about the topic at hand. Gone is the hate or even the fear for the man they call The Black Mamba. Now that’s been replaced by somber regret, sadness, reflection and perhaps most importantly, appreciation.

Rarely does the death of a complete stranger create ripples in someone’s life, but it seems Kobe’s has caused tidal waves for many. In stripping away the layers of mythology that once shrouded him from normalcy, Kobe was no longer a stranger. He’d become a big brother, an uncle, a friend to so many, even from afar. Kobe spent his entire basketball life as a peerless prodigy, a wonder of the world who was simply unmatched. From the moment he retired he became the exact opposite, he was a peer.

So, on January 26, the world didn’t lose a stranger who played basketball for a living, they lost a peer, a friend who they’d known for over 20 years. Even if you never met Kobe, you met him. You watched him grow, from an innocent, smiling child who dreamed of the impossible, to a hyper-focused brooding adult at work. And what did he become after achieving the impossible over and over? He went right back to smiling, as a gleeful father entering an entirely new and exciting stage of life.

There was a little bit of Kobe in all of us, and that’s why it hurts so bad to lose all of him.

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