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"I sit writing this in my favorite comfy nook. My apartment has become my safe haven.
A place where I am blessed to stare into the trees, watch the newly born bird be fed by its mom in the nest, admire the smaller birds as they steal my thyme and oregano herbs and fly off to use it as medicine.
Nature has become my meditation. My restored faith in peace.
This time of intense energy is one we are all in disbelief to be witnessing. But it is one we are blessed to be a part of.
As a black woman. I want to connect even deeper to what this all means to me from my ancestors and for my future children.
It is no mistake we are in a revolution. And it is no mistake I am a part of it."
June 8th, 2020
Written by my sis - Yohanna Alem - Designer
SILENCE IS LOUD. ACTION IS LOUDER.
AND EVERYONE IS LISTENING . . .
DONATE TO BLACK LIVES MATTER
Growing up in the U.S., it's sad to say that seeing discrimination and serious racial attacks against my black brothers and sisters is something that me, my family, and black friends became accustomed to.
But if the past few weeks have shown anything, it's that the black community is tired of this narrative, and many are on our side.
I was always told to be smarter than my peers, be more watchful than my peers, and obey the law, no matter what my non-black/POC friends were doing, because thanks to my skin color, the microscope on me would be 10x more magnified than on anyone else.
Thanks to that upbringing, I was fortunate to rise to the top of every team and class (minus my UChicago grades lol) and to be blessed with every opportunity after opportunity that has led me to where I am now.
Now living in Europe, and seeing the injustice continue, and my community and all of our allies (which is absurd, because if you have a pulse and a conscience, you shouldn't agree with groups being marginalized, mistreated, and murdered due to their skin color), I am reminded of a very obvious fact: combined action is the only way that change will take place in stopping the mistreatment of the black community in America and beyond.
And to those of you who think the U.S. is the pits, but are mistaken that racism is an American trait, do not turn a blind eye to the monstrous histories that many countries have, and implications of intolerance towards almost ANY non-white group.
Silence is the most dangerous thing. If no one talks, no one walks. No change will happen. So shoutout to the black, white, green, whoever people, who were brave enough to speak up before the cases blew up, and inspired others and gave them the courage to speak up. Regardless of the intention of whoever is posting in support, awareness would not have spread to the degree that it did without the copious amounts of people who came together during this sadly precedented time.
Ask questions. Don't be afraid to be uncomfortable. Forced discomfort to breed understanding will only allow for stronger allies. To our allies, thank you. It's one thing to support your friends and colleagues in the black community, and another to have the guts to educate your non-POC friends and family. I've never felt more support from people who look like me AND don't in my life and I am sure some of your other POC friends would say the same.
Regarding everything above, I'm doing things a little differently than I usually do here. Like many of you, the work that we do 9-5 as well as our personal projects have rightfully taken a 180 degree turn in order to make sure we are focusing on what is REALLY important in the immediate future.
Two weeks ago, I asked several of my friends, who have also been some of my strongest allies, to discuss how the rampant events of this year impacted their creative work, and what they have been creating this season. Please note that these interviews took place before we went to worldwide war for the protection and uplifting of the black community.
I also wrote some album reviews of the pop artists who dropped music in the first half of 2020. While none of these artists come from black/African American communities, they have been heralded as allies and supporters of the black community and, and many other marginalized groups LONNNNG before the events of the past month.
So without further adieu . . .
Girl WITH PURPLE Gucci's
ft. WORK BY
EMELIE SOLANO DOMINGUEZ
INES DE PEUTER
by TOBI GBILE
PHONE A FRIEND
Life as we know it has changed, but the tough got going and use change to light a fire under their voices. As creatives, getting stimulated by the world around us for our work has been crucial to our success. Or so we thought?! How does one keep their work afloat during a global crisis . . .
So I decided to ask some of (if I did all, this page would go on for ages) of my talented friends the same question(s):
What is your mind saying during this time? How did you keep your passion and work alive? And what beauty did you realize, or create?
I sit writing this in my favorite comfy nook. My apartment has become my safe haven.
It is no mistake we are in a revolution. And it is no mistake I am a part of it.
During quarantine, I woke up every day and contacted my family & BFF to spread some love. I also used the time to create a new routine for when I work from home (very, very important). You should push yourself to go out for a run, even when you hate it. Every morning, I discovered new music, and created a bunch of new Spotify playlists. I'm a dancer, so I took dance workshops through Instagram-live with my favorite choreographers. I even got inspired by my friend and created my first painting of Bugs Bunny.
DESIGNER / STUDENT AT CENTRAL SAINT MARTAINS
During the pandemic, I took it upon myself to look at it not as a barrier from being connected to the outside world, but as an opportunity to create and rethink how I work, almost like an unexpected artist’s retreat.
It’s been a really good time to listen to my gut and create. Instinctively, when I saw everything that was going on, I thought how can I help, which led me to start to create masks for healthcare professionals and essential workers and challenge some of my creative friends who were at home to do the same.
So far, I have made and sent out near 200 masks and keep sending them out. It’s been a really unique opportunity to see practically what my craft can do and how creativity can manifest when you start to break things down to accessibility and function. It’s really helped me in my other design work!
RECENT UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS GRADUATE
Creating clothes is a delicate, timely process that requires me to slow down and be present in every step. It’s really therapeutic for me when I feel overwhelmed with all of the current information surrounding us. When I’m at the sewing machine, it’s all I can focus on because I like to get things right the first (or second) time. Designing garments from repurposed materials also gives me a sense of hope. I get to take beauty that already exists in the world and give it a new life.
PhOTOGRAPHER: BERNIE LITTLE
Corona gave me the time to finally reclaimed my own headspace.
A space where ideas emerge connect and form alliances.
To gather these thoughts I had to start writing again, which in itself mutilates into a lot of different projects.
Writing can be anything and everything. My writings have found their homes in trend forecasts, poems, performances and songs.
But mostly it’s been a tool for mental health.
Writing things down can either erase or amplify the gravity of the words you are carrying with you.
But most of all they provide you a perspective. That one of a beholder.
Bringing your words outside of your own body gives you the ability to reflect.
All of a sudden ideas in your head that has been going on a loop start to align.
These thoughts often form the base of philosophical conversations I have with friends, so they can build and give new depths to the idea.
This by itself provides for deeper and more meaningful conversations but also establishes true connections. And in a time of self-isolation, that all of a sudden becomes an extremely valuable experience.
Y'all trust my tips/advice, which implies that there's a chance you trust my taste as well. As a super fan with protective (not possessive, contrary to popular belief) tendencies, I like to keep my new gems and obsessions to myself for some time, but now I am ready to spread the love . . .
Summer 2020 is bringing in way too much music heat for us to be able to contain. As an avid music fan, the last few months of spring were full of tons of solo dance parties and frantic texts to my equally music obsessed friends.
A lieu of artists dropped albums that helped the time pass and fill our ears with joy. As a pop music fan in particular, the industry overdelivered and it felt like Christmas and my birthday all in one.
If you're anything like me, you felt the same. March: Dua Lipa. April: Rina Sawayama. May: Charli XcX; Carly Rae Jepsen, and Lady Gaga. ?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!!???!?!?!?!?!
If you aren't like me, I strongly encourage you to read below. I love all (except for country and metal sry) music, and you're probably a music fan if you made it this far through my site as well. The past five years has been PHENOMENAL for the hip hop/rap industry, with newcomers and icons alike holding the top spots on the charts in the highest positions and for the longest periods of time in history. It ruled the radio and the club.
However, in 2020, pop music has set out to reclaim our hearts, and the dance floor. And it's extremely unapologetic, pure to the core, 100% intentional, POP MUSIC!!!
The best part about it is, it's not f*ckin EDM-pop to please the masses. It ranges from heavy disco influence (s/o black culture) to futuristic fusions of syncopated hip hop inspired with over-saturated pop influenced melodies (s/o black culture).
This merging of genres and celebration of the past is why I love music so much. It also reminds me of truly how much the black community has inspired the popular music that we have today. Read my reviews below and give the albums a listen. Because, my friends, this is the soundtrack to summer 2020!
OVERALL RATING: 3.5/5
2. Break My Heart
4. Don't Start Now (leading single)
Don't hate me. Hear me out first! I am a Dua Lipa stan, have paid to see her in concert, and have been a stan since the "Blow Your Mind" days.
Critics loved this album and it was the first major quarantine era release from a chart-topper. They patted Lipa on the back for the same reasons I did--she brought disco back in a 2020 way, without being contrived and schemey. The album is cohesive and is a great pivot, yet extension, of her self-titled debut back in my college days.
However, while a fan of her and the idea in general, there's only 4 songs that I can truthfully say hit the nail on the head, while the others, while average, fell short. And that just goes to show how powerful those 4 bangers were!
Levitating is easily Top 5 best pop songs of the year. The bridge is the best Dua Lipa has ever done. Well done girlie, we adore you!
OVERALL RATING: 3/5
1. Bad Friend
2.Tokyo Love Hotel
3. XS (leading single)
To the uninformed music fan, Rina Sawayama is a newcomer. However, she's been on the scene for the past five years and came up in the same circle as the Charli XcX pop proteges of the Kim Petras' and Dorian Electra's of this underground pop world.
This is her first official LP under her label and it was a solid big dog debut. Sawayama pulled clear influences from the pop and punk worlds of the early 2000's, a smart yet authentic move as she, like many of her listeners (s/o me) grew up on Britney and Jimmy Eat World alike.
The songs all make sense for the project, but a portion of it is forgettable to a non-die-hard fan like myself.
However, I love "Bad Friend" for its message, that isn't thought of sexy when it comes to being tackled in pop music very often, and the progression throughout the song makes for a nice, easy listen.
HOW I'M FEELING NOW
OVERALL RATING: 4/5
1. party 4 u
3. forever (leading single)
4. 7 years
It's no secret that I stan Charli XcX harder than any other pop musician in the game. A music pioneer that should be recognized in history books for our children, Charli XcX announced at the start of the US quarantine that even though she had just released an album last summer, she was going to produce and write a whole new album from the confines of shelter at place, and her label said "lol fine you have a month".
And like the queen she is, she delivered.
The critics heralded her courageous effort from the album's conception to it's release. While I love Charli and the tracks that I pointed out as standouts, I do prefer the sound of her previous releases like Pop 2 and Charli , but am so blown away by her producing, writing, and storytelling gifts that I have to rate her to the same degree as the critics.
If you listen to anything other than the leading single "forever", listen to 1:36-2:00 of "party 4 u". Those seconds are the reasons why this album deserves the rating it has, and why Charli XcX is an actual musical maven.
DEDICATED B SIDES
CARLY RAE JEPSEN
Overall rating: 3.5/5
1. Felt This Way
3. This Is What They Say
If you’re a fan of pop music then you know that CRJ is that bish. No need to discuss her claim to fame, but her 2013 single “Runaway With Me” is heralded in the pop hall of fame forever.
Dedicated, released a year ago; was easily the best pop album of 2019. With songs like “Want You in My Room” written and produced with the genius Jack Antonoff claiming Dedicated as their home, I had extremely high expectations for the B Sides.
That being said, CRJ didn’t disappoint, however, there’s def a reason these tracks didn’t make it onto Dedicated.
While it’s cohesive with Carly’s way to make you feel like you’re 13 and head over heels into your classroom crush, there’s several songs we could live without.
However, CRJ reportedly wrote 200 songs for the Dedicated project, and is a serial over writer. That means there’s plenty more to come for us pop fans.
Overall rating: 4/5
1. Stupid Love (leading single)
2. Rain On Me (secondary single)
3. Fun Tonight
When Gaga dropped “Stupid Love” at the start of quarantine, my expectations for LG6 were astronomical.
“Rain On Me” cemented the heavy disco / dance pop direction that Gaga was headed in full force in order to reach her 2020 goal of reclaiming the dance floor.
The album was solid in its voice and direction. But other than the standout tracks above; like most Gaga projects with the exception of her debut album; I won’t listen to them again.
Why the high rating then? It’s Gaga for fux sake. The production and vocals were pristine.
You heard it here first folks. This is a glimpse into what I'll be listening to all summer long. Standouts include TGBEAM and ALLLLL of the pop princesses in one.
Ft. items that you can find on me this summer!
Tee - Uniqlo x KAWS; Skirt - Zara
Skirt - Tibi; Jacket - thrifted Guess
Tee - Contemporary Athletics; Skirt - Monki
Blazer - & other stories; Tee - Shanghai Disneyland; Skirt - Monki
Top - Dolls Kill
Head to Toe Monochrome
Instagram - @dualipa
What am I sayin?
© 2020 Tobi Gbile