Chicago’s fashionistas assembled at the historic Macy’s on State Street on February 19th to see fashion queen and stylist to the stars June Ambrose and costume designer Johnetta Boone for Macy’s Black History Month Celebration focusing on the “Soul Era” of fashion.
Moderated by Chicago journalist Robin Robinson (wearing local designer Barbara Bates), Ambrose and Boone gave their insights and expert opinions on the 70’s soul era and today’s fashion. Boone said during the 70’s, there was an explosion of designers going to Africa and bringing back the styles they found. Ambrose added that during that time everything was over the top and there were more African-American designers then than there are now.
Ambrose and Boone also discussed their respective starts in fashion. Ambrose was originally in the financial world as an investment banker and Boone got her big break as the costume designer for the 2004 film The Notebook. They both agreed that stars like Beyoncé, Solange and Ledisi and Janelle Monae are embodying the soul era.
When asked what their “I made it” moment was, Ambrose said she still feels like she’s working towards it, she said when she started, she didn’t think about being celebrated, I thought about making a difference. She said she wanted to be seen and heard, she never thought about the money or getting a publicist. She wasn’t thinking about those things, she said” I was thinking about how do I make this amazing so it can lead to future jobs, how I do I use this to build my brand, how do I recognize the power of my skill set, how do I make a difference in a person’s life.”
Boone added that the reason that you don’t see African American costume designers winning Oscars is because no one goes to see African American movies We need to support one another to be successful. Ambrose said she uses her digital platform to mentor to up and coming stylists and she’s very grateful for that platform. The ladies ended with discussion stating anything is possible and asking attendees to think about what kind of legacy are they going to leave behind.
The event also included fashion from the 70’s, make overs by Fashion Fair Cosmetics and a photo opportunity with Ambrose and Boone.
More photos posted on UnRated Magazine instagram page.
Mike Epps rolled his successful Late Night Comedy Tour into Chicago for two shows at the Arie Crown Theater April 19. Fans packed the theater for grown & sexy late laughs. The show featured Mike Epps and two opening acts. One of the openers was Chicago native, Kenny Howell. Howell got the audience warmed up quickly with his stories of his childhood growing up in the Robert Taylor projects. Howell was felt by the entire audience, many who are very familiar with growing up in the 80’s on the West side of Chi-town. The crowd was gasping when Howell joked about ex-cons working in the kitchen in Church’s Chicken, and about the dos and don’ts of receiving fellatio without messing up a woman’s hair.
Mike Epps, best known for movies like Sparkle, Next Friday, and his hosting of Shaquille O’Neal’s comedy shows hit the stage a little before midnight getting right into what he does best, making fun of people. Epps joked that some audience members were taking unauthorized photos with prepaid “Boost mobile phones”. Epps even paused the show to threaten a nearby press photographer saying, “If I find out you’re not in my camp, we’re f-in you up.” Mike Epps spared no punches talking about many of his celebrity friends and frenemies like rapper Rick Ross, Miley Cyrus, R. Kelly’s lisp, and even Bernie Mac. Epps had nothing but nice things to say about the late comedian, even sharing some of Mac’s invaluable advice to him.
One part that was absolutely hilarious was when Epps touched on the controversy with his daughter, who publically called him a deadbeat dad. While Epps said he loved his daughter dearly, he joked that her mother coerced her to publically condemn him, and that he himself is to blame for getting a mechanic pregnant in the first place. Epps joked that back-in-the-day; he slept with any woman that wanted him, which was most times women he wouldn’t look twice at now.
This was one of the funniest comedy shows I’ve seen this year. Mike Epps kept the crowd roaring non-stop. And he brings his funny friends along for the ride. With a successful career in stand-up under his belt along with a few serious roles in big films; Epps proves that he not just a punchline, but a versatile and very funny entertainer.
Chicago’s most famous festival, the Taste of Chicago brings together the city’s best food and big music acts. Though the revamped festival offered paid concert seating and fewer vendors, headliners like Robin Thicke, Fun, and Jill Scott made this year a huge success.
Jill Scott headlined the Taste of Chicago in Grant Park on Saturday. Jill Scott, Maxi Priest, and spoken word group Ideology performed for a sold out crowd of thousands. Fans stood the entire set as Jill belted out hits like The Real Thing, A Long Walk, and So in Love. Other cuts like The Way, Cross My Mind, and Hate On Me were given soulful remixes. Jilly from Philly rocked the stage in a sexy black and white fitted dress with platform heels. Those of us used to seeing a thicker Jill Scott perform in draped garb were pleasantly surprised at her sexy slimmed down look. Jill is still voluptuous as ever, now with a tighter posterior and muscular legs for days.
Jill Scott also rocked a custom-made grille as she excited the audience with her frank adlibs. On her soulful ballad, Whatever, where she exalts her man and declares there’s nothing she won’t do for him, Jill joked, “I’ll even let your baby mama sleep over and you know we don’t get along.” Another song, Quick got Jill pretty emotional. While she performed it she stop singing – turning from the mic and shaking her head. The audience lent their full support, shouting, “It’s okay…” Jill never finished that song.
Unrated Flair had the pleasure of attending the show as a guest at the Verses & Flow VIP tent positioned right next to the stage. Verses & Flow is a series created by Lexus that brings poets and R&B artists together for a grown and sexy night of spoken word and good music. Verses & Flow in conjunction with the Taste of Chicago presented spoken word group Ideology as the opening act.
Ideology had the audience feeling sentimental when they spoke about love and relationships, then cracking up when the joked about the shortfalls of dating the wrong guy. The five gentleman group set the stage for reggae artist Maxi Priest, who performed before Scott.
Maxi Priest has never lost his swag. He performed classics like Close to You and a few new hits that had the crowd dutty-winding. Maxi even brought out a special guest whose dancehall chants got the crowd jumping.
Day four of the Taste of Chicago was a weather-perfect day of pride for Chicago with grown and sexy folks of all ages packing the Petrillo Music shell to the brim and groovin in unison.
The 4th annual NORTH COAST MUSIC FESTIVAL (NCMF) will take place August 30- September 1, 2013 at Union Park in Chicago, IL. This year’s performers include: Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, Just Blaze and more! Tickets are now available at Clubtix.com!
North Coast Music Festival is produced by a group of independent promoters based in Chicago, IL. Between them they produce hundreds of events each year, including multiple festivals in the Midwest, one off events at Chicago’s premier music venues, street festivals, and more, that attract thousands of fans and artists from all over the world. For more information on the festival, visit www.northcoastfestival.com
Festival line up:
WU-TANG CLAN | AFROJACK | BIG GIGANTIC
NaS | The Disco Biscuits | Lotus | Mac Miller
Gary Clark Jr. | Rebelution | Purity Ring | Laidback Luke
Datsik | Madeon | Skream | Paper Diamond
Claude VonStroke | Future Rock | Conspirator
RL Grime | Danny Brown | Aloe Blacc | AlunaGeorge | Just Blaze
Capital Cities | Seven Lions | JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound
El Ten Eleven | Cherub | Poolside | Flatbush Zombies | On An On
Nas opened the show with a bang, “God Son” and rolled through his Illimatic album, his Stillmatic classics, and did hits like “Bye Baby”, “Cherrywine”, and “Accident Murders” from his new hit album, Life is Good. This is the second time Nas has been to Chicago recently. He was here for the Heineken Red Star Access Concert with Pusha T in August. I love how the Congress Theater creates intimacy with the masses of people. I saw a 50 year-old white man bobbing his head with 17 year-old black boys and Asian teens dancing their heels off. I saw a lot of billows of weed smoke in the air too.
Nas and his full band ran through a catalogue of hits for the commercial heads, then Nas performed some of his non single classics like “Shoot Em Up”, “Pain”, and “We Major”, from Kanye West’s College Dropout album. My favorite part was when Nas asked for the fans to”pray for his city” of New York, that is still recovering from hurricane Sandy.
When Ms. Lauryn Hill finally graced the stage, she was dressed down in an African military inspired number wielding her arms to the melody of her backup singers and directing her band like a composer. “Everything is Everything” took it to the next level, as Lauryn’s musical journey led the crowd through her interludes and overlapping bridges jazz and rock-reggae infused. Lauryn also performed new versions of “Lost Ones”, “X-Factor”, and “Forgive Them Father” from her multiplatinum album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Lauryn’s set was high energy and eclectic. It was as if the last 10 years of her life were bursting out in a climatic rebirth. In the middle of the set, Ms. Lauryn explained where Black Rage derives from then journeyed her fans through the album the Score with the Fugees, performing “Fu-gee-la” and “Ready or Not.”
The entire show was a dream fulfilled. The only thing missing was a duet of “If I Ruled the World.”
Following where her 2003 star-making debut album, The Soul Sessions, left off, singer Joss Stone is back with The Soul Sessions Volume 2. The Soul Sessions Volume 2 is a stunning exercise in vocal poise, passion and power, showcasing some great songs and an artist at the peak of her vocal powers.
Stone had been thinking for a while that it would be fun to revisit where it all began and re explore the vibe of the first Soul Sessions album – this time as a fully formed artist, just turned 25, with the life experience now behind her that was, by definition, somewhat limited first time around at 15 years of age. A phone call with the man who signed her as a teenager, Steve Greenberg at S-Curve Records, and as is often the case with Stone, an idea quickly became a reality – The Soul Session Volume 2 and was released in July of this year.
Stone commented: “I really had fun revisiting The Soul Sessions idea and I’m really pleased with the results. I’ve committed long term to my label Stone’d Records, but it felt right to team up with Steve and S-Curve again for this release. I think there are some great songs on the album and I loved performing them with such brilliant musicians – so I hope people enjoy it.”
Stone is currently on tour supporting ‘The Soul Sessions Volume 2’ and performed at Chicago’s Vic Theatre on October 7th.
Scream Tour 2012 hit Chicago over the weekend and tweens from near and far flocked to the Arie Crown Theater. Diggy Simmons headlined the tour this year with the OMG Girlz, Chicago Native Jawon Harris, and rap duo TKnCA$H. Before the concert I got to talk with the vibrant teen sensation, the OMG Girlz, a trio comprised of Beauty, Babydoll, and Star.
A creation of former Xscape member Tameka “Tiny” Harris, the OMG Girlz are rising to the top with their catchy songs, energetic dances, and of course their pretty girl swag. The world was first introduced to the OMG Girlz on the BET reality show, Tiny and Toya, but after a few personnel changes in the group and a bolder image, the girls are ready to “paint the world pink, purple, and blue,” as BabyDoll puts it. Check out what the OMG Girlz had to say about touring, the family hustle, and of course boys.
UNRATED URBAN MAGAZINE: What’s 1 word each of you would use to describe your music?
BABYDOLL: Age Appropriate
UNRATED URBAN MAGAZINE: You guys have a unique style -it’s very brave. How does your style come through in your music?
BABYDOLL: Our new single “Where the Boys At” is a fun song for girls. The song is just about us having a good time- we just wanna find the party, figure out where the boys at. And “Gucci This” is about shopping- going to the mall and having a good time, even if it’s with your mom. All of our songs are really fun. Sometimes they can be about boys like “So Official” is about a guy we like and he’s really cute so he’s So Official.
UNRATED URBAN MAGAZINE: How has touring with Diggy this time around different from when you toured with Mindless Behavior?
BABYDOLL: It’s not too much of a difference because it’s like a family reunion. We like to watch each other grow. And we really appreciate each other and give each other credit where it’s due. So if there’s a difference it’s the growth and love as brothers and sisters, and doing what we love to do at the same time.
UNRATED URBAN MAGAZINE: Did you know any of the other artists before this tour?
BABYDOLL: Nobody on this tour. It’s good to meet some friends our age.
UNRATED URBAN MAGAZINE: Are there any artist that you have collaborated with that you’re especially excited about?
STAR: We do have one with Diggy on a remix. We have a couple of collaborations but we can’t really talk about them because we’re still choosing what should be on the album.
BABYDOLL: For the future we would like to work with big producers like Timbaland, Missy Elliot, The Dream, and also artists like Beyonce, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, John Mayer, and Katy Perry.
UNRATED URBAN MAGAZINE: Is there a female group or artist you all look up to?
STAR: As a group we really look up to TLC. They are really our inspiration. We love their style in music and their style in clothes. We look back at them then try to come up with something new- something more up-to-date from them. We also look up to Boys II Men, New Edition, Destiny’s Child and Xscape,
UNRATED URBAN MAGAZINE: You guys are signed to Grand Hustle Records and Pretty Hustle. How is it being signed to your parents’ labels?
STAR: It’s a great feeling because when I was younger I always used to talk to my stepdad [T.I.] about Grand Hustle and I would tell him “One day I wanna get the chain and stuff.” I was like 5. So when we started our own thing and showed them that we were serious we ended up getting the chains and getting signed. It’s crazy but it’s overall a great experience.
UNRATED URBAN MAGAZINE: What’s the best advice your parents give you all about the industry that you guys have taken to heart?
BEAUTY: My mom tells me to always stay grounded and stay focused on what I’m doing. She always tells me to practice. She’s always on me about bettering my craft.
STAR: My parents tell all of us to make sure that when we’re in the business to take it seriously. Also that even though we’re in a grown people business not to act like kids, because we are mature for our age. They also tell us to be about what you’re doing and never feel like just cause I’m a kid I can’t ask questions and know what’s going on when we’re in meetings. They tell us to ask questions and know what were doing so that when we get older we’ll be even better.
UNRATED URBAN MAGAZINE: Star- Your brother Domani raps. Have you thought about putting him on any of your songs or putting any of your family members on an OMG song?
STAR: We‘re in the process of doing a song with Domani.
BEAUTY: We did a song with Domani and with my little sister Lolo.
UNRATED URBAN MAGAZINE: Star’s mom and stepdad’s reality show, TI and Tiny: A Family Hustle premiered on VH1 a few weeks ago. What can we expect to see from the OMG Girlz on the show this season?
BABYDOLL: More family hustle. It’s Star’s family so it’s showing how great they are, very family oriented. They chase us here and there.
UNRATED URBAN MAGAZINE: Do you have any funny stories that happened on tour either time?
STAR: On our first tour this girl snuck on our bus. This tour there were these fans outside our van sticking their hands in the window, and we were pulling off. So me and Babydoll kept telling them “you gotta move your hand before it gets cut off.”
BABYDOLL: We were just kidding with them. We just didn’t want anyone to get ran over.
UNRATED URBAN MAGAZINE: What’s your favorite thing to do when you all have some down time?
BABYDOLL: Collectively we like to spend time with our families because when we’re on the road we miss them. We go see our grandparents. I try to go back to my home town, Mobile, Alabama and they go back to A-Town. Star catches up on her sleep. Beauty loves to party and go out and hang out with friends. And me I like to work out. I don’t like to sit still. I like to do things that perfect my craft. We’re in school so on the road we had to stay caught up with our school work, so that when we go back home we have our work ready.
UNRATED URBAN MAGAZINE: When does your album drop? What’s it called?
BABYDOLL: The Album is coming really soon. It’s called Officially Miss Guided, which means girls guided by girl power and independence. It’s great because it can reach kids and parents. Parents are gonna be in the car too, so we wanna make something for them. But it’s fun and it’s colorful like our hair, also distinct and age appropriate like we said earlier. We’re ready to paint the world pink, purple, and blue.
I can see that these eloquent young ladies have a bright future ahead of them. They all sing well, they dance like I never seen a girl group move- very girly but also age appropriate. I also love the OMG Girlz’ unique style. And their songs “Loverboy” and “Where the Boys At” are catchy even for adults. By the end of the OMG Girlz’ lively set I wanted to buy their album, Officially Miss Guided when it drops. The crowd loved the OMG Girlz too. The ladies even paid an unexpected tribute to 90’s girl groups TLC and Total. My favorite performance was “Gucci This” which they killed. I can tell these girls were born to do what they are doing, and they’re serious about their craft.
Other Scream Tour acts included, TKnCA$H, a rap duo with major game. They had the crowd going wild for their hits, rapping every word. DTP Records’ fresh young rap duo is just what the industry needs. Also, Chicago’s own, Jawon Harris performed some of his R&B hits. Jawon reminds me of a Tevin Campbell/Bobby Brown hybrid. His songs are soulful and he has a wonderful voice. But Jawon has a bad boy streak. The girls in the crowd went cray when Jawon took off his shirt and showed his 6-pack while belting out a beautiful ballad. Then this boy poured water all over his nekkid chest (clutch my pearls.) I had to peek though.
After the OMG Girlz, Diggy Simmons hit the stage. I thought the theater couldn’t get any more hyped. Boy was a wrong. Diggy tore the roof off with his first song. And his swag was on 100 as he rocked the stage in all white everything. Everybody knows that Diggy is a star in the making- literally. But the OMG Girlz, with the help of their famous mentors are on their way to super stardom.
Watch the OMG Girls perform “Gucci This” at the Scream Tour in Chicago!
Watch the OMG Girls perform their ballad” Loverboy” at the Scream Tour in Chicago!
On July 27th Walgreens treated Chicago to a promotional appearance by Pitbull – Mr. Worldwide himself. Pitbull is in town promoting his new co-sponsorship for Voli Vodkas. Voli Spirits are the first and only line of low calorie fruit and fusion flavored vodkas. Between you and me, they taste great straight or with many different juices.
The one man show,”Wendell Tucker Hates the World“, written by and starring Wendell Tucker is a hilarious yet intensely deep account of one man’s battle between the world and his sanity.
Tucker, also of the hip hop tribute “I Still Love Her”, once again produces an eye opening hard hitting punch to your psyche. In this rant of a play, Tucker discusses everything from love to the killing of Trayvon Martin, the economy, as well as his deep bout with depression. The recollection of his depression is what draws you into this man’s mind and helps you to understand why he may “hate the world”. This is an extremely well flowing, well transitioning way to hear how one person can see his surroundings and the massive amount of current events that are encompassing you daily.
But it’s not all about complaining and bashing…he offers and encourages suggestions on how to make this world better. It’s not for kids but it may give you ideas of what you should discuss with children afterward. Hurry and check out Wendell Tucker-Hates The World at the Provision Theater. Definitely worth the time and will spark conversations that you can take to the bar.
North America’s top 16 B-Boys came together on July 21st at Chicago’s Aragon Entertainment Center to battle it out in front of a crowd of more than 1,500. Four rounds of intense, 1-on-1 breaking left one competitor, Philadelphia’s DOMkey, with the sought after champion title along with the honor of representing North America during the Red Bull BC One Finals in Rio de Janeiro this December.
After his victory DOMkey expressed his excitement, “It feels great, I always kind of doubt myself because I am my hardest critic. So when I do win; it is always 10 times better and it feels really good right now!”
The road to victory was an increasingly heated one for DOMkey, whose originality, aggressive dance moves, and unique style brought him out on top of the competition in each of the four battles he faced. After advancing past Tata, Prada G, and Bebo; DOMkey’s endurance helped propel him to a unanimous victory in the final round against VillN.
A panel of three judges including; Ronnie, 2007 BC One Champion; Machine, representing Rockforce and Zulu Kings; and Float, from Incredible Breakers, determined which dancer dominated technique, character, creativity and style. Rock Steady Crew’s own Skeme Richards threw down the tracks while RAKAA, representing the Dilated Peoples, the Rock Steady Crew, and Universal Zulu Nation hosted for the night.
Red Bull BC One has earned the reputation of being one of the most prestigious 1-on-1 B-Boy battles in the world, giving dancers a global platform to showcase their individual talents. The 16 elite B-Boys who shared the stage with DOMkey last night included: Ken Fury (New York City), Evol (Chicago), Ronnie Ruen (Los Angeles), VillN (Sacramento), Tata (Brooklyn), Nasty Nate (Houston), Fleau (Canada), Mijo (Milwaukee), MN Joe (Minneapolis), Bebo (Brockton), Prada G (Los Angeles), Mig 187 (Las Vegas), Omen (Homestead), Stripes (Tampa), and Kid Cruz (Denver).
When DOMkey makes the journey to Rio de Janeiro this winter, he will compete against some of the most elite dancers from all over the world. For more information, visit www.redbullbcone.com