Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics And Men: 10 Things We Learned
(L-R): Mathematics, Cappadonna, Raekwon, Method Man, GZA, Inspechta Deck, Goshtface Killah, Masta Killa, U-God and RZA.
Kyle Christy/Courtesy of Showtime

10 Things We Learned From Showtime's 'Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics And Men'

A highlight of revelations from Mass Appeal and Showtime's Wu-Tang Clan documentary.

The early '90s marked a period of unrest for New York City hip-hop, as artists from the city's five boroughs struggled to compete with the new crop of emerging talent from the West Coast. Enter the Wu-Tang Clan, whose goal was to put their Staten Island stomping grounds on the map while recapturing the magic that established the Big Apple as rap's epicenter a decade prior. Comprised of RZA, GZA, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God and Masta Killa - with Cappadonna later joining the fold - the Wu-Tang Clan burst on the scene in late 1992 with their debut single, "Protect Ya Neck," which caught wildfire in underground circles and on college radio. The success of the raucous, hook-less posse cut caught the attention of Loud Records CEO Steve Rifkind, who inked the group to a groundbreaking, non-exclusive record deal, allowing the group's individual members the freedom to sign solo deals with competing record companies.

Months after their November 1993 Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) debut, the Wu-Tang Clan became the hottest crew in hip-hop and earned platinum status while single-handedly putting New York City on their back. Following up Enter the Wu-Tang with a succession of solo albums from Method Man, GZA, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, the Clan reached their apex in 1997 with their sophomore double album, Wu-Tang Forever, which debuted atop the Billboard 200 and was certified 4x platinum by year's end. From there, the group continued to succeed as a collective and individually, however, internal turmoil and a lack of cohesion as a unit would cause the crew to unravel, a journey chronicled in Mass Appeal and Showtime’s docu-series Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men.

The four-episode series documents each Clan member's humble beginnings, the formation of the group and their rise to fame. IWith various members speaking candidly about what led to the group's dissension, the series delivers a rawness akin to the brand of music they've presented to fans over the decades.

After watching Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics And Men, VIBE highlights ten things learned, giving added insight into the inner-workings of one of rap's iconic collectives.

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The Wu-Tang Clan's Brooklyn Roots

Often credited with putting Staten Island on the rap map, the Wu-Tang Clan are regarded as cultural ambassadors for the oft-overlooked borough. However, while the majority of the Clan's members hail from Shaolin's notorious Park Hill and Stapleton Housing projects, the crew's genesis can be traced by to Brooklyn, the home of GZA and the Ol' Dirty Bastard. As two of the founding fathers of the All in Together Now crew - which would ultimately evolve into the Wu-Tang Clan - the pair, along with RZA, originally called BK home base, cultivating their talents in GZA's neighborhood of Bed Stuy and Ol' Dirty Bastard's childhood apartment of East New York. After RZA and GZA's unsuccessful stints on Tommy Boy and Cold Chillin' Records, respectively, the trio went back to the drawing board, hunkering down in Staten Island and joining forces with the remaining members of the Wu-Tang Clan, and the rest is history.

RZA's Connection To Steubenville, Ohio

One revelation that came to light in Of Mics And Men is the significance of Steubenville, Ohio in RZA's transformation from Prince Rakeem and the formation of the Wu-Tang Clan as a whole. In 1990, RZA and his mother relocated to Steubenville, where the producer became embroiled in a fight for his freedom after being hit with an attempted murder charge for wounding two men during a shootout. "It was a bad night," RZA remembers of the intense encounter. "I had got into some trouble to whereas violence ensued. A kid got shot, it led to me facing eight years in jail. I went to the trial and black dudes don't really go to trial and win. The prosecutors wasn't making no deals with me.” Luckily, for RZA, it would be determined that he acted in self-defense and found not guilty, a moment he marks as a turning point in his life. "My mother came out and she saw me. She looked me in my eyes and said, 'This is my second chance, don't look back, walk straight. Walk that straight path.' I did that. I zigged back." Following his acquittal, RZA returned to New York City with a renewed focus, leaving his criminal exploits behind to dedicate his life to making music.

The Story Behind The Wu-Tang Clan Logo

The Wu-Tang Clan's "W" logo ranks among the most distinctive and iconic stamps in hip-hop. Of Mics And Men explores the storied history behind the logo, which was created by Wu-Tang Clan producer Mathematics at the behest of RZA. After sketching multiple variations to flesh out his ideas, a hard, 24-hour deadline set by RZA prompted Mathematics to come up with what would be the finalized version of the Wu emblem. "I went to the store, I went to the weed spot," Mathematics recalls. "I came in, rolled up, smoked. Was drinking my 40 [oz.], then I remember I sat on the floor. So, I drew it and knowing all the sketches we went through previously and all the talk, I said, 'You know what? This gotta be it." Compensated $400 - half the amount of RZA's monthly rent at the time - for his services, Mathematics would go on to earn production credits on multiple albums from members of the Wu and the group itself, but the "W" stands as his most lasting contribution to the culture.

Mitchell "Divine" Diggs' Tenuous Relationship With The Wu-Tang Clan

RZA is viewed as the face of the Wu-Tang Clan, but behind the scenes, his elder brother Mitchell "Divine" Diggs was pulling the strings, orchestrating various deals and partnerships for the Clan. A self-professed "tyrant" and callous businessman, Divine's exact role in the Wu hierarchy has long been a mystery, but Of Mics And Men helps provide context and casts a light on the shadowy figure. During the early days of the Wu, Divine played the background as a silent investor, using funds accrued in the streets to help fund the crew's endeavors. As time progressed, Divine would be brought into the fold as part of the Wu's management team, a role he flourished in, according to Of Mics And Men. "Whatever I did was the foundation to create Wu-Tang. They came to my house to make the music. RZA's my little brother. So RZA's like, ‘Okay, I'ma make all the music, you're gonna run the business,' and I go start the company. I remember I got my first Macintosh and I was like, 'What the f**k do you do with a computer? And within a month or two, I had QuickBooks in there, Peachtree, which is all basically a bunch of software for accounting purposes 'cause I'm managing the group. And I eventually just got good at it. Before I knew it, I was reading all the contracts, I was negotiating all the deals. Wu-Tang Productions started getting big, we were expanding as a company."

However, Divine's professional and working relationship with the Wu-Tang Clan became strained amid what members perceived as shady business tactics, including his refusal to release them from their contracts with Wu-Tang Productions upon request. Divine admits his hesitation to sign the paperwork, crediting his brother RZA with convincing him to wave the white flag. "I said, 'I ain't giving sh*t back,' he says in reference to giving Wu members the right to pursue other opportunities. "And RZA was like, 'Give all their rights back. Let them all go out of their contracts. If you don't let 'em go, you'll never have them.' My brother is wiser than me in that sense." The decision helped salvage the relationship between RZA and his groupmates, but led to a major hit financially, with Divine claiming to have lost an average of $10 million dollars a year in the process. According to Divine, he and the group are no longer on speaking terms, as his interview for the series were done separately from the other members, evidence of his estrangement from the Wu.

Oliver "Power" Grant's Role In The Wu-Tang Empire

Another clandestine figure from the Wu-Tang family tree is Oliver "Power" Grant, a fellow Staten Island native whom Wu member U-God describes as "A stone cold hustling machine." Despite not having any experience working in the music industry, Power, who was partners with RZA's elder brother Divine, would be summoned by RZA to get in on the ground floor of what would become the Wu empire. "Divine is my man," Power shares in Of Mics And Men. "I never really hung out with RZA, but obviously, yeah, that's my man brother. He's like, 'Yo, you still wanna do this music sh*t? We gotta do it now if you wanna do it."

Making a sizable investment in the future of the Wu-Tang Clan using funds accrued in the street, Power was listed as an executive producer on Wu-Tang Clan's debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang: (36 Chambers). Power would also play a pivotal role in helping launch the Wu-Wear clothing, which he started from the mail-order in the back of Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx album. Credited with cross-pollinating the Wu-Tang Clan's music with the fashion world, Power's power moves led to the opening of various Wu Wear stores across the country, resulting in annual revenue topping out at upwards of $25 million during the group's peak years, according to Of Mics And Men.

The Wu-Tang Clan’s Music Was Allegedly Banned From Hot 97

Weeks after the Wu-Tang Clan's seismic sophomore album, Wu-Tang Forever, debuted atop the Billboard Albums chart, Staten Island's finest were tapped to headline New York City radio station Hot 97's annual Summer Jam concert. However, in Of Mics and Men, Wu member Inspectah Deck revealed that the group's appearance at the concert was the result of an alleged ultimatum made by the station itself. "Hot 97 at the time, they wanted us to do Summer Jam," he claims. "The deal was, 'You gotta come back and we gotta do this Hot 97 Summer Jam or we're not gonna play any more of your records on our station." To add insult to injury, upon the group's arrival at the venue, they discovered that the Bad Boy Records set had bled into their own, which Wu-Tang road manager Mook and the rest of the crew viewed as a sign of disrespect on the part of Hot 97. "We come out our own pocket, get our own tickets, fly back," Mook remembers. "We get to the Summer Jam, Puffy is on the stage. It was him and Ma$e." In response to the perceived slight, Ghostface Killah did the unthinkable, coaxing the crowd into a "F**k Hot 97" chant, upon which the group's mics were cut off and the stadium lights came on, interrupting their performance.

While various members of the Wu shared Ghost's sentiments, his verbal assault on Hot 97 came at a price, with the station banning the group from the station and removing their music from their playlists. According to Inspectah Deck, the Wu's beef with Hot 97 would prove to be costly and alter their bottom line as a group, as well as soloists. "They didn't play our records for like the next ten years," Deck claims. "Us not being involved while they playing the Biggie shit and they playing the Nas sh*t and everybody that was rocking with us at that time, that affected our sales. That affected our touring, that affected everything. That affected our presence."

The Fallout From Leaving Rage Against The Machine’s Tour

Rap's kinship with rock music is a storied one, with superstars from both genres having collaborated on some of the most popular songs in music history and accounted for many of pop culture's unforgettable moments. With their cult-like following garnering them the rock star status and the success of their second album Wu-Tang Forever, the Wu-Tang Clan joining Rage Against The Machine’s tour in the summer of 1997 seemed like a no-brainer, presenting the group with an opportunity to add to their audience and expand their reach even further. "Wu-Tang Forever [tour] was the first time I saw blacks, whites, Native Americans, Latins, my Asian brothers [together]," RZA recalls in Of Mics And Men. "I saw straight, I saw gay brothers and I just had an epiphany: the five human families, the black red yellow white and brown are all in one room. All rocking with us. So, I'm like this, I'm like, 'Yo, it's in my hands. These five families come together and these [hands] become our wings.’"

However, as the tour progressed, tension within the group would boil over, with members of the Wu divided on whether to continue on the tour or call it quits, a decision that partly hinged on the group's unhappiness with their compensation in contrast to Rage Against The Machine's. "People [was] going crazy for us," Mook says. “It was beautiful, but the Clan niggas was feeling like they should get more than $45,000 a night. Rage [Against The Machine] [was] getting all the money." The fallout from the Wu's decision to leave the tour prematurely would mark what many consider the beginning of the end of their legendary run as a full unit.

How Police Brutality Impacted The Group

Throughout the Wu-Tang Clan's dominant run in the '90s, the group's relationship with law enforcement was often strained, with members and their affiliates feeling targeted by the police, particularly in their home borough of Staten Island. One incident that rocked the Clan was the murder of Ernest "Kase" Sayon, a close friend of Method Man who died in police custody following an assault at the hands of police. Footage of the attack quickly spread, resulting in a string of protests in Park Hill and its surrounding areas, prompting a close examination between the history of police brutality against African American residents of Staten Island. In addition to Sayon's murder, tension between the Wu and law enforcement reached a fever pitch when Ol' Dirty Bastard was accused of shooting at plainclothed cops during a car chase, a charge that was ultimately dropped after it was determined the rapper was not in possession of a firearm during the time of the incident. These two instances, which were highlighted in Of Mics And Men, were clear indicators that even their stardom didn't protect the Wu from the harsh realities of race relations in America.

Ol' Dirty Bastard's Beef With RZA Over Signing With Roc-A-Fella Records

RZA's professional relationship with various members of the Wu-Tang Clan has been contentious, but the rift that hit home most for the producer was his spat with Ol' Dirty Bastard, who requested a release from his Wu-Tang Productions contract following his release from prison in 2003. Announcing a partnership with Damon Dash and Roc-A-Fella Records - as well as a name change to Dirt McGirt - during a press conference on his first day as a free man, Ol' Dirty Bastard's decision to switch teams ruffled a few feathers, most notably RZA, who shared his feelings on the situation in Of Mics And Men. "I did not want to sign Dirty off of Wu-Tang Productions," he explains. "I had a lot of plans for him. 'Yo, you're gonna come home, I got a home for you. I got a studio for you. You're gonna have at least a half-million fucking dollars to sit around and play with and we're gonna make the best f**king album. And that's what I had planned for him. And for him to think that anybody's gonna care about him or his music or his career or his life or his babies' life more than me is trick knowledge to me."

However, according to Ol' Dirty's mother, Cheryl Jones, her son had no choice but to part ways with his cousin due to a lack of financial stability. "He was penniless," Jones recalls. "He had no money when he came out. I called RZA, I said, 'Come on.' Everybody thought that he shouldn't have rushed back into work, but if he would've have rushed back into work, he would've been back in jail. Because if that child support wasn't being paid, they would've locked him back up again." Unfortunately, Ol' Dirty Bastard never got the opportunity to release his Roc-A-Fella debut, as the rapper passed away on November 13, 2004, from a drug overdose, snuffing out the light of one of rap's most animated figures.

Masta Killa's Connection To Marvin Gaye

Of all of the Wu-Tang Clan members, the most mysterious is Masta Killa, one of the last artists to join the Wu family. A native of Brooklyn's East New York section, Masta Killa's love for music can be traced back to his youth, where his father introduced him to R&B. "My father was a singer, he was heavy into R&B," Masta Killa shares. "And he would even come up the block singing sometimes. And when I would hear his voice, I would almost jump out the window 'cause I was excited to know that my father was coming home. So, through trials and tribulations, when he left the home for good, that was traumatic for me." However, even though he was absent physically, his father's record collection helped foster a bond between the two in spirit. "One thing he left was all his records and I would play them every day because that's how I connected with him. I remember him singing this record and I would get it and put it on the turntable and listen to it, just to remember hearing his voice."

In Of Mics And Men, Masta Killa reconnected with his father, who gave insight into the rapper's rich legacy, which includes ties to one of the legendary singers of all time, as well as an iconic revolutionary. "When he was a baby, I used to sing The Stylistics to put him to sleep,” says his Killa’s father. “He was always calm, that's his nature, but he needed that music just to put him to sleep, he'd just go right out (laughs).” Killa adds: “Music has always been our foundation in my family. With my mother, her cousin was Marvin Gaye and we had that music in the family, the arts. My mother, her maiden name was Gaye. My mother's from North Carolina and my father's from Virginia, which we are direct descendants of Nat Turner. That's his family."

 

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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.

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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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