Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Lexus Listening Lounge: After the Show with Melanie Fiona

By Sommer Thornton

Beauty, brains, and a voice is an understatement to what newcomer Melanie Fiona brings to the R&B game. Tuesday night she performed in Chicago as part of the Lexus Listening Lounge – promotion of Lexus’ GS, ES, and the ISC convertible. Lexus produced a showroom style soiree inside the Chicago Illuminating Company downtown. The large courtyard and mansion-like foyer was the perfect milieu for socialites and businessmen to mingle and check out Lexus’ sleek new whips.  

Melanie Fiona, a Toronto native, showed the audience her eclectic vocal style and her lively stage presence singing notable hits, Give it to Me Right, It Kills Me, and Monday Morning. The audience was already feeling Fiona’s exotic beauty, and her passionate lyrics. But when she went into her rendition of Bob Marley’s classic, “One Love” –to a smooth reggae groove, she set the roof off! “Where my Shottas at,” Melanie called out, channeling her West Indian roots.

Melanie proved she’s a unique artist focused on entertaining her real fans with an exciting performance. Fiona even sang her own version of Kanye West’s Heartless, digressing from her song, Somebody Come Get Me [Before I Kill This Man].”By the end the audience was captivated by the luxurious ambiance and this novel songwriter with the amazing voice. 

After her performance, Melanie chatted with UnRated Urban about touring with Alicia Keys, breaking down barriers in the industry, and love.

UnRated Urban: What barriers have you already busted down-either on the business side or the creative side of the industry?

MELANIE: I’m an attractive girl, rooted in music and not in gimmick and everything else. I’m more concerned about giving a good show, making sure everyone has fun. I want people to take my music seriously, so I purposely chose to go along a different path.

UnRated Urban: I saw you rocking on stage. You didn’t care how you looked. You were having a great time, so the audience fed off your vibe.

MELANIE: When you care too much about what everyone thinks about you, you’re not living your best life. Cause you’re too consumed with other peoples opinions.

UnRated Urban: How is your sound received by the R&B Soul community in the States vs. Canada vs. Europe?

MELANIE: Different songs came out in Europe and Canada. So it was fun to see how different countries responded to different sides of me.

UnRated Urban: What song brings out the most memories when you perform it?

MELANIE: It Kills Me, is the most memorable. I was in the thick of it when I wrote that song. So I put my all into it when I perform it. I always go back to that time in my life. Sometimes I get emotional while I’m performing it.

UnRated Urban: There is that line in the song that says “I know you’re messing around, but who else is gonna hold me down” You have to really be in love to understand that line.

MELANIE: Yes you have to be in that situation to understand. But yes I was saying I have your back, but no one has my back. I’ve learned that that’s not good in a relationship.

UnRated Urban: What is your view on love these days? Did you find that making this cd changed your opinion on love?

MELANIE: I believe in self love first. You gotta be happy with yourself before you can expect someone else to love you. When it’s right, it finds you. I want to find love. I feel that it’s necessary. I’ve been on the bad and good side. I love myself now.

UnRated Urban: Give me one word to describe your experience touring with Alicia Keys.

MELANIE: Enlightenment – on so many levels. She was such a joy. She was so pleasant and genuine.

UnRated Urban: What have you learned touring with A. Keys this first time around?

MELANIE: I learned humility, positivity. I grew because I was able to see some flaws and become better.

UnRated Urban: Have you had the opportunity to meet any of your idols?

MELANIE:Yes- Alicia Keys, Prince, India Arie, Brandy, Janelle Monáe – I can relate to her because she’s new and she’s a strong woman who’s refusing to let the industry change her.

UnRated Urban: Both of your parents are musicians, your father a guitarist, your mother a singer: What song are you most proud to share with your parents?

MELANIE: There is a song I just tweeted about. It has no title. But it delves deep in to the core of who I am. One line says, “You treat my dreams like it’s a game -like I’m a chess piece here for play” I’m really excited to share it with my parents.

Photos by Raymond Boyd

Erykah Badu at Lollapalooza

By Dan Locke

It was a different type of performance at this year’s Lollapalooza. I was turn down for a photo pass but I did have a ticket for one day so I used it to see Erykah Badu.

Sporting a new blonde mohawk, Badu started out being late as usual with her band starting things off with a ten-minute intro before she hit the stage.

She performed an hour set that included Out My Mind, Just in Time, On & On, Apple Tree, Annie (Don’t Wear No Panties), Didn’t Cha Know, Bump It, The Healer, 20 Feet Tall and Penitentiary Philosophy.

XXL Live Tour in Chicago

XXL Magazine brought their XXL Live Tour to Chicago’s The Shrine nightclub on July 29th. The tour, co-sponsored by Rémy Martin Fine Champagne Cognac, featured Clipse and special guest Twista on its stop in Chicago.

Hometown artist Twista amazed the crowd and those that may have forgotten about his lyrical skills. During his half hour set, the fastest tongue in rap began with his verse on Po Pimp and continued with hits Slow Jamz, Wetter and Overnight Celebrity and debuted new tracks I Do and Make a Movie featuring Chris Brown from his upcoming CD The Perfect Storm.

The evening’s headliner, Malice and Pusha T aka Clipse hit stage shortly after Twista keeping the crowd hyped up as they performed a short set that included Kinda Like a Big Deal, All Good and Popular Demand. All in all an entertaining and enjoyable evening for rap fans.

R. Kelly Surprises Fans at the Shrine

BET’s 106 & Park’s host Rocsi Diaz stopped by The Shrine Chicago Friday, August 13th with Legendary R&B singer R. Kelly to host Club Net 360’s Ultra Sexy Fridays with DJ Vince Adams.

R. Kelly surprised the crowd with an impromptu performance and Rocsi brought a round of shots for all the ladies in the club.

Macy Gray Headlines Macy’s Glamorama 2010

The four-city tour hit the Chicago Theatre on Friday, May 13, 2010 at 8 p.m. The extraordinary event encompassing fashion, fantasy, music and magic included performances by Grammy award-winning singer Macy Gray and young hit make Eric Hutchinson.

Macy’s fashion spectacular will hit the runway with an innovative look into the wonderland of style and inspire guests to dream big. Collections featured included Jean Paul Gaultier, Jezebel, Just Cavalli, Felina, 2(x)ist, Issey Miyake, Marc Jacobs, Material Girl, Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti, Sonia Rykiel, Sportmax and Tommy Hilfiger. This over-the-top event will once again benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana

Photo taken during the dress rehearsal on August 13, 2010. Photo by Adam Bielawski

Gillette Ambassadors have the Ultimate Summer Job: VIP Events, Great Food, and Lollapalooza 2010

By Sommer Thornton               

The winners of Gillette’s Ultimate Job Contest, Jason Fisher and Adam Ward are living the summer dream. They get to embark on an 18-City tour to MLB games, award shows, and the most popular restaurants and clubs across America promoting Gillette’s newest innovation, the Fusion Pro-Glide Power Razor.

Last weekend the guys stopped in Chicago for Lollapalooza and made believers of the locals by setting up a fully-equipped Shave Station at Navy Pier, allowing passers-by to actually shave on site. With their video blog at detailing all of their experiences, Adam and Jason—writer/producers from Los Angeles are single handedly ushering in the glide revolution.

Chosen from a pool of contestants at a Gillette rap contest in New York’s Hudson Hotel, Adam and Jason were ideal because they were average Midwestern boys – relatable, but had the charisma to get strangers to try the new razor on themselves. Most women don’t realize that shaving is such a tedious task for men. At the Shave Station, they watched patiently as their men used the razor for the first time and instantly fell in love with the new design. The new vibrating Pro-Glide gives a cleaner shave with virtually no tug, and no cuts or nicks. After shaving part of his burly beard, Patrick Whittaker, a glider convert commented, “It’s much easier than my cheap disposable razor. I’ve got this crazy in-grown hair on my neck and this took care of it very well.” Using the pro-glide combo—the thermal scrub, face wash, cooling lotion, and the hydration moisturizer makes for the most comfortable shave most of the converts had ever experienced. This is how shaving was turned into gliding.

After they left the Shave Station it was off to the Lolla festivities. But first, the guys stopped in the Hard Rock Hotel, where they got to pick from all sorts of goodies provided by Tiger footwear, Garnier Fructis hair care products, Express clothing, UV Vodka, and receive complimentary tattoos and haircuts. The Hard Rock Hotel is also where the guys got to meet some of the Lolla performers who entertained VIPs in the music lounge, and where the pre-party was kicked off in the DJ’s suite. Hayden Panettiere and David Arquette even stopped in and got tattooed!

Later that afternoon, the guys headed out to Grant Park, to hear headliners Green Day, Soundgarden, Cypress Hill, Wolfmother, and Erykah Badu rock out amidst thousands of fans. The most memorable Lolla moment for the guys came during Green Day’s performance of “Longview” when they pulled an audience member on stage and let him rock a verse. Not only did the lucky guy know all the words, he had the entire crowd going crazy for him. At that moment, he embodied Green Day, and at the end of his performance, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong gave the ultimate fan his guitar. “That guy’s night was like our entire summer,” Adam recounted.

VIP access at Lollapalooza was another stop on an already amazing tour that included attending a Yankees game—where the guys met Derek Jeter—another glider convert, the Vegas Strip, the Espy Awards, and morning news programs in Times Square. Adam and Jason have been on an all expense paid dream road trip promoting Gillette this summer and they hope that shooting and editing their blogs will help sharpen their skills working in Hollywood and forge some valuable connections. The guys say that so far their two most incredible experiences on the tour were when they met Dr. J [Julius Erving] at the Espy Awards, and when they shaved Redskins tight end Chris Cooley’s head.

Next stop for the guys is the ESPN Headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. Their days are jam packed with interviews, demonstrations, and filming and editing. Though they barely sleep, they are having the time of their lives. They get to play on the job and travel the country as cult celebrities. Such a priceless experience is less like work, and more like the ultimate summer adventure.

Photo by Dan Locke

Moët & Chandon Exclusive Rosé Lounge

Annette Grundy, Art "Chat Daddy" Sims and Christi With an Eye

Champagne flowed all night at Lumen’s Night club in Chicago’s West Loop Neighborhood when Moët & Chandon hosted the Rosé Lounge. The contemporary lounge was the backdrop for the sophisticated urban crowd. Continuing throughout the night the environmental video and lighting design enhanced the party while guests sipped champagne and danced the night away to DJ Broadway Streetz.

Notable guests in the crowd included Chicago’s beloved entertainment power couple George and Regina Daniels, WCIU-TV relationship host, Art “Chat Daddy” Sims, entertainment attorney Brian Nix, DJ Niena Drake, promoter Craig Elliot, actress Adrin Thorn and hip hop artist FM Supreme and Gingerbreadman. 

VH1 Fall 2010 Lineup

VH1 just announced its fall lineup and it includes new faces and returning favorites.

New offerings include NBA star Carmelo Anthony and television personality LaLa Vasquez planning their nuptials and tying the knot in  Carmelo and LaLa (September 19);  Real and Chance: Legend Hunters (September 19). The dynamic duo will search for the truth behind some of nature’s infamous animal tales including the Hogzilla, Super Crocs, Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster; and Basketball Wives spin-off Football Wives (October 11).  Described as Dallas meets Dynasty meets the gridiron, the series will give an inside look into the lives of the women who are the driving forces behind the scenes.

Returning favorites include the second seasons of American Idol and Grammy winner Fantasia Barrino’s series Fantasia For Real(September 19) and the brother sister team of Brandy and Ray J Norwood in Brandy and Ray J: A Family Business (October 24).

For more information on these shows including sneak peek premieres, and online extras, visit

Photo courtesy of VH1

My Mic Sounds Nice Discusses Women in Hip-Hop

BET will take an in-depth look at the role of female rappers in the Hip-Hop industry with its first original music documentary special, My Mic Sounds Nice: A Truth About Women and Hip-Hop airing Monday, August 30th on the network.

Directed and produced by Ava DuVernay, the documentary will focus on how women have affected rap music and how the genre has affected and influenced female MCs, past and present.  My Micwill also examine gender specific differences in regards of artistry, marketing, promotion and economics within the music industry and explore the lack of female MCs and if there is still a place for women in Hip-Hop.

My Micwill feature interviews with journalist, executives and female MCs including Missy Elliott, Eve, Trina, Rah Digga, MC Lyte, Salt-n-Pepa, Yo Yo as well as music industry veterans Russell Simmons, Jermaine Dupri, Kevin Liles and more.  For more information on the documentary, visit

Photo by Dan Locke

Wade’s World Weekend

NBA star Dwyane Wade will return to his hometown to host his fourth annual Wade’s World Weekend August 19-21, 2010.

The weekend of events will help raise funds and boost awareness of the Wade’s World Foundation that was founded in 2003 to help inspire and provide support to community based organizations that promote education, health and social skills for kids in at-risk situation.

The event line up will include Wade’s World Weekend Kick Off Celebration August 19 at Enclave, 220 W. Chicago Avenue, with DJ Vince Adam and Co-hosted by Common; Dwyane Brings Miami to ChicagoAugust 20 at Crimson Lounge, 333 North Dearborn; and Chicago LoveAugust 21 at Tantrik, 800 West Superior.

Celebrities and athletes scheduled to attend are Hip-Hop artists and Chicago natives Common and Lupe Fiasco, actors Vince Vaughn and Mel Jackson, Comedian DeRay, R&B stars R. Kelly, Bobby Valentino, Jeremih and Marques Houston, Roland Martin, Jude Mathis, Twista, Alonzo Mourning, Pete Wentz (of Fall Out Boy), Jaslene Gonzalez and members of the Chicago Bulls, Chicago Bears, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Fire and Chicago Blackhawks. For more information and tickets to attend events listed, please visit