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Kehlani‘s sophomore album It Was Good Until It Wasn’t has been doing impressive numbers in its first week, and might be making a bit of R&B history in the process. Not according to, Justin Bieber, however, who thinks he should be given the praise for having the first #1 R&B album in a long time – Twitter thinks not.
Yesterday, Kehlani asked fans to continue supporting It Was Good Until It Wasn’t in order to get a “strictly R&B album” to #1 on the Billboard 200 for the first time in “in a long time.” She wrote on Instagram. “Our genre isn’t dead, our genre deserves! … stream awayyy!”
Shortly after Lani shared the post, Justin Bieber took it upon himself give an uncalled for correction in the comments section, “Changes was rnb ;)”
Kehlani asks fans to continue supporting ‘IT WAS GOOD UNTIL IT WASN’T’ in order to get a strictly R&B album to #1 on the Billboard 200.
Justin Bieber comments that his ‘Changes’ album was R&B, sparking a conversation about what defines the R&B genre. pic.twitter.com/osLRW6lPuE
Yes, Biebz is known to make is fans cheat streams for his songs to top charts, but to his credit it works: Changesdid top the Billboard 200 charts. Yet, while Changes was technically listed as R&B, not everyone is convinced the album deserves that designation.
Following Bieber’s comment, many members of Kehlani’s Tsunami Mob and die-hard R&B fans are schooling Justin on the Rhythm and Blues, arguing that Changes was, in fact, a pop record, calling it a “ringtone album.” Scroll down to see some of the best Twitter reactions.
This is bullshit for Bieber to do. Even if you do categorize your album as R&B, don’t hop on her socials to downplay what’s she’s doing and promote yourself. Corny. https://t.co/mLSNTykhlM
Today, the internet revels in archiving incorrect predictions; it takes pride in its public crucifixions. Knowing this, there’s a level of assumed risk if you aspire to set a trend. For instance, it took courage, thick skin, and faith in one’s personal style to wear clogs a decade ago, only to be validated within the last year. Now imagine being a man in the most macho locker rooms of the ’90s and painting your nails, wearing makeup and dresses, dyeing your hair rainbow colors, and then having to wait 25 years for your coronation as an aesthetic trailblazer. Which is why it’s truly rich that this same internet is unanimously crowning Dennis Rodman as a style god after realizing the similarities between the fashions he introduced in the ’90s and those of some of today’s trendsetters.
Three years ago, Lil Uzi Vert posted a picture of himself wearing a blouse — a very similar look to the one Rodman wore to the 1995 MTV VMAs. It’s not fair to say Uzi didn’t have to endure any slander (he caught heat from old heads P Diddy and 50 Cent, among others), but it only took two and a half years to be validated by a GQ style profile with a subheader crowning him the “Instagram fit pic hero.”
Uzi, who is benefiting from an evolution of taste since Dennis Rodman’s retirement, is largely recognized as being at the vanguard of SoundCloud rappers and the birth of their subsequent aesthetic direction. In a 2017 assessment of the scene, The New York Times described this aesthetic as “high-end streetwear meets high fashion, with face tattoos, hair dyed in wild colors and a prescription-drug ooze.” Sound familiar?
That same look described by The New York Times didn’t get a style feature 25 years ago. Nobody wrote about how Dennis Rodman’s Oakley sunglasses (indoors, for that matter) would be the symbol of stunting a quarter-century later, or how his glitter rayon spaghetti strap — likely sourced from Limited Too — encapsulated an era of mall culture and perfectly revealed his belly chain. And the thinkpiece about how his jean/boxer combo was the true predecessor to Demna’s Balenciaga double shirt and the brilliance of the raw cut jean combined with the masculine sagged boxer, completed with pleating and snap details, wasn’t coming.
But today, the outlook of tastemakers and zeitgeisters is one that thrives when boundaries are pushed. Lawrence Schlossman, brand director of Grailed and host of fashion podcast Throwing Fits, told me where he thinks the new crop of rappers fit into the style hierarchy, after the holy trinity of Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, and Tyler, the Creator: “Once you get the big three out of the way — it’s not fucking Drake, it’s not fucking 2Chainz. You’re talking [Lil] Uzi [Vert], you’re talking [Playboi] Carti, and to me that speaks volumes,” Schlossman says. “People like to write these guys off — they might not like their music — but Uzi might wear a hoodie and Hot Topic pants to the Grammys, but like, that’s crazy. That is such a next level thing. When you take the memes and that shit out of it, these guys really are the actual tip of the spear for an entire cultural moment.”
The choir sounded a little different for Rodman’s similar experimentation in the ’90s. After Rodman punctuated nearly three years of flirting with gender-fluid outfits in public appearances by dressing up as his own bride at a book signing, the Baltimore Sun wrote: “But unlike the Material Girl, this much-tattooed, much-pierced, overdyed basketball star is style clueless, off the court or on, in drag or out.”
“He needs help,” Don Wilson, fashion expert for International Male, the San Francisco-based men’s clothing company, was quoted in the same Baltimore Sun piece. The repeated public thrashing helped form Rodman’s identity as an outcast.
In October 1993, while grieving a failed marriage and the departure of his beloved coach Chuck Daly, police found Rodman asleep in his car with a suicide note and a loaded rifle in a parking lot outside the Pistons’ arena. Instead of harming himself, Rodman wrote in his 1996 autobiography Bad As I Wanna Be that he “killed the Dennis Rodman that had tried to conform to what everybody wanted him to be.” Just eight months later, the Pistons traded him to the San Antonio Spurs.
Rodman’s transformation in the Alamo City can best be characterized by another excerpt from his book, where he described showing up late to the unveiling of the Spurs’ brand new arena because he was bleaching his hair: “When I finally got to the arena, they introduced me and I took off my RODMAN EXCAVATION cap and let the world see the new me. The place went absolutely nuts… When I saw how the people responded to me, I realized, this is the time to break out, the time to be who I really want to be,” he wrote.
His recognition to lean into the skid — in a punk rock sort of fashion — only came after becoming an outcast. And the punk rock ties to both SoundCloud rap and Rodman are pronounced. Instead of following the old-fashioned way of achieving music stardom, relying on a record label or distributor, SoundCloud rappers didn’t buck, which, like Rodman, became their coat of arms. The non-conformist identity of SoundCloud rap, more often thought to be in the DNA of punk rock, threaded the two genres together. The darlings of SoundCloud rap all seem to have success making music blended with the pent-up adolescent anxiety and depression typically found in an emo song — like the song you scroll to during a moody cab ride home alone.
SoundCloud rap’s relationship with punk and emo music squares up with Rodman, too. Eliot Robinson, Dennis Rodman’s Head of Creative, corroborated the premise when I spoke with him: “Dennis used to always say he got his style inspiration from the ’60s British Punk scene.”
And on that fateful night in the parking lot, Rodman recalled that he was listening to Pearl Jam and even went as far as saying their song “Black” saved his life.
Ironically, despite the InfoWars level of connections between the two, no SoundCloud rapper has ever shouted Rodman out as inspiration — not even so much as a namedrop in a song. The only evidence is a spider map of gender-fluid, genre-bending outfits, all pointing back to the kingpin.
But of course, if you truly believe in the idea of dressing for yourself, you don’t seek validation. So we salute Rodman for having the courage to dress true to himself, especially while suffering the slings and arrows that came with this choice. And while we hope his overdue justice in being deemed a style god fills him with gratitude and affirmation, we’ve got a feeling he doesn’t care.
Team Epiphany, a marketing and creative agency that’s been around for 15 years, is responsible for conceptualizing the idea of an “influencer” before the social media we know today even existed. They’re also the creative force behind collaborative projects like the Heineken 100 and Coca-Cola Energy x Camp High’s campaign, a brand that was featured in the latest issue of the Highsnobiety magazine. Coltrane Curtis and Lisa Chu, the agency’s managing partners, work, commute, and live together, now even more than ever. Pretty much the only thing they’re fighting about is sharing office space within their NYC apartment. The duo joins host Jian DeLeon on this episode of ‘Vibe Check’ to talk about recent projects and the steps they’re taking to keep small businesses up and running.
Lisa Chu: In addition to running the agency’s event production, I’m also chief financial officer at Team Epiphany. Which means I’m reading anything and everything that has to do with the stimulus package because this pandemic is having a huge impact on culture and community. We’re an independent, small business that employs over 70 employees so I’m doing everything I can to ensure their financial security as well as the agency’s. I’m on the phone with our friends that own companies like Vosges, Cosabella, LEDE PR and our network of influencer friends to share stimulus information that may help keep our NYC community of small businesses afloat.
The agency’s accomplishments from their Coca-Cola and Camp High collaboration is up on Coltrane’s list as one of Team Epiphany’s top five collaborations (5:22). Jian picks his brain on the project’s execution and how brands can speak to an audience during a time when people are increasingly in tune to what’s happening in the product landscape (7:26).
The below interview is a transcribed version of ‘Vibe Check.’ It has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Coltrane Curtis: I think, when you think about how brands have to move, I think it’s the way brands should have been moving all along, which is to listen. I think brands do a lot of advertising and shouting at consumers, but very few listen. And I think the role of the agency is going to be, after we come out on the back end of this, even more important now than ever, because we represent the consumer, we have respect for the consumer, we are the consumer.
Jian DeLeon: For sure. Well, one of the things that stuck with me about an analogy you made about marketing, around culture, is you said that culture is sort of like a shelf where, whether it’s an agency or a brand, anybody who touches something on that shelf, it’s not totally theirs. It’s like they’re borrowing it for a moment. And when they put it back, they’ve got to ask themselves, “Is this in a better condition than when I took it off in the first place?” Can you speak about that, and how that applies now more than ever to this notion of where we’re at?
CC: I think you’ve got to have respect for the community. And I think time after time, when you really feel about African American communities being hit by the coronavirus, you can kind of look back and look at the way in which our brands, our insights, our culture has literally been pirated and stolen and misappropriated, if you will, for huge brands. And you’ve got to be able to continue to grow those communities. So it’s like, when you plant, you harvest, you take something out of the ground, you put more seeds back in. Otherwise, that land will be barren in the future.
Community seems to be an increasingly elusive concept in this day and age, and Coltrane expresses a need to value and protect such a word from falling to the same fate as hollow terms like “influencer” (13:22). This line of thinking is essential for marketing agencies that aim to activate an entire team alongside their boss — treat it almost like a mob business, as Coltrane suggests. After all, there’s an undeniable strength in numbers.
Stay tuned for new episodes of ‘Vibe Check’ releasing every Tuesday and Thursday.
Playboi Carti recently purchased a new Rolls-Royce to serve as his family car for himself, Iggy Azalea, and their new baby boy. According to TMZ, Carti bought a 2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan last week from celebrity car broker RD Whittington and his company Wires Only.
While the base model starts around $350,000, Playboi Carti decided to spring for some upgrades, including the two leather seats and a cocktail table which deploys from the luggage compartment. The Rolls also projects constellations onto the roof, allowing baby Carti to see the stars while on the go. He can enjoy some added entertainment courtesy of the TV screens integrated into the back of the seats.
With the add-ons and the $10,000 rush delivery fee, Carti is said to have paid $400,000 for his Rolls-Royce Cullinan. TMZ reports that the rapper sprung for the SUV so he would have more space to safely transport his child.
See below for a look at Playboi Carti’s new Rolls-Royce Cullinan, as you can then visit TMZ for more on the purchase.
A new selection of games is coming to Xbox Game Pass this month, including Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2. As of today, May 7, you can play the popular survival video game using Microsoft’s gaming subscription service.
In Red Dead Redemption 2, players follow Van der Linde gang member Arthur Morgan as he explores the American frontier with his band of misfits. Along the way, you are forced to combat rival gangs, government forces, and other deadly adversaries, with one goal in mind: survival.
Also available beginning today via Xbox Game Pass is Zombie survival video game, DayZ. Fast forward to May 14, and subscribers will be able to access Final Fantasy 9, while Fractured Minds comes to the subscription service days later on May 19.
Xbox Game Pass users can take advantage of a Spotify special offered this month as well. Those in the US and the UK are being given six months of Spotify Premium for free, while subscribers in other countries get three months free.
You can purchase Xbox Game Pass for consoles for $9.99 a month. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate retails for $14.99 a month and includes access for Xbox One and PC. Xbox Game Pass for PC is $4.99 a month, but it is currently in beta.
Though its offering ranges from ready-to-wear clothing to leather accessories, Bally is perhaps best known for its shoes. One of the world’s oldest luxury brands, Bally’s footwear craft stretches way back to 1851 when it was established in Switzerland by Carl Franz Bally. But despite being in the game for a while, Bally isn’t one for resting on its laurels.
Vibram soles have long been a sign of quality for mountaineers and hikers alike. However, over the past few years, the world of high fashion has welcomed the Vibram sole as one of its own. As outdoor-bound venturers had done for years, those in the know when it comes to the world’s hottest products now recognize a Vibram sole for its superiority. And for good reason. Its unparalleled grip, vulcanized rubber construction, and flexibility and stability across all terrains make it a go-to, not only for mountain walkers but for those on the front row, too.
Bally’s Vibram-boasting sneakers are available in a wide range of silhouettes and colors, and we’ve picked out some current favorites below.
This one is a beast, and a piece fit for those with a penchant for sneakers of a certain chunkiness. Again coming in grained calf leather, the Viber steps things up quite literally with a hefty sole that proudly bears the now unmistakable yellow Vibram emblem at the heel. An inner sock and a zip-up function offer elevated comfort and ease of wear. The yellow-, blue-, and orange-bearing colorway below is a fun option for the summer.
Lazy footwear fans rejoice — Zip-up sneakers are still a look this season, and here Bally serves up a shoe that lets you do both. The Grody, which references the brand’s classic High Galaxy silhouette, gives you the option of removing its laces and opting for a solitary zip. We’ve picked out two monochrome colorways of the Grody, which comes dressed in grained calf leather. The Vibram outsole adds a nice contrast of color to each of these.
The Gavino silhouette is part of Bally’s Galaxy range and uses rubber-coated calf leather and foam midsole to form the lightest sneaker in our selection. Reminiscent of ’80s runners, the Gavino is a good option for the more minimal-leaning rotation. It arrives below in a sleek all-grey choice as well as a black colorway that’s contrasted nicely by some red detailing.
Now this is something for those venturing into conditions that are a little bit more hazardous. This portable performance, which can be fitted to any shoe, uses Vibram’s Arctic Grip tech to provide a trustworthy steadiness on cold, iced, and snow-covered ground. Or, it might just be your wild new footwear accessory.
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On a Sunday afternoon, I opened the door of my gallery to welcome Heji Shin. The New York-based photographer, who commutes between NYC and Berlin, is in town for a few days, and I am happy to catch her for a brief interview. She is wearing vintage jeans, a brown leather jacket, and carries a thin blue plastic bag, the kind you get from a Späti — the German version of a bodega. She arrives by foot after having walked her way through Berlin’s western shopping district, an area that is under high surveillance, and it makes me wonder whether the photographer herself is camera shy.
Before we speak about her interest in surveillance technology, voyeurism, and the archival nature of her photographic work, we walk through my empty gallery space and make small talk about the enormous difference in rent costs between Berlin and New York (where she moved to from the German capital with her husband, the French artist Mathieu Malouf). The last time we spoke was almost five years ago, at a photoshoot in Berlin in which she had cast her cousins as models. In another recent shoot, she photographed her mother.
“I was interested in the mother topic,” she says of including family in her work. “To make art about your mother is interesting, because, for me, art is an act against your mother. She represents resilience and volatism.”
Shin’s projects are a conceptualized reaction to the systems and practices around her. She explains that if many of her former students and peers from art school would do a project around their families — about their moms, their immigrant pasts — she would distance herself by ironically picking up on the “trend.” “Some people, especially Asian immigrants, elevate their mothers into saint-like beings,” Shin says. “My relation to art is ambiguous, so the mother was actually a perfect subject to be exploited. I never noticed that [my mother’s] style is kind of… hip-hop. She looks good posing with the Russian models.”
Heji Shin was born in 1976 in Seoul, Korea, and moved to Hamburg, Germany when she was three years old. While she does not want to overly-heroicize her mom, Shin also admits that, “From my mother, I learned to be really tough and self-sufficient.”
Her photographic skills didn’t come from art school; instead, she dropped out of the Hamburg School for Applied Arts before graduating. She’s generally skeptical of professors, role models, and other kinds of authority figures, but points to Andy Warhol as a source of influence. “It often goes back to him… That’s a good way to start, because the artist that you like will give you an example of how it could possibly work out. Trying to copy it might not give you the best result, but it’s still a way to start.”
Yet Shin’s approach, which borrows from many commercial and artistic tropes, is not simply sampling — it’s a genuine, twisted mash-up. Before Shin began blurring the frontiers of avant-garde fashion, big money ads, celebrity shoots, and the highbrow art world, she started with portrait photography and basic editorials. Of course, in Germany at that time, this meant regional magazines and newspapers about economics and politics.
Her career only picked up when Berlin connected with other metropolitan cities such as London and New York in the early 2010s. If you want to become someone in fashion in Germany, you have to leave the country. Photographers such as Wolfgang Tillmans and Juergen Teller knew they had to move to London to create an international career, to then be imported back to Germany and celebrated as national cultural treasures.
What is so intriguing about Shin’s work is that she is not a classical fashion nor an art photographer, neither typically commercial nor underground. She is anti and affirmative at the same time, depending on the project. Over the years, she has created some notable series and exhibitions with an instantly recognizable visual signature: her campaign for Eckhaus Latta with images of real couples having sex; her #lonelygirl series depicting a monkey in a pink studio setting interacting with a gun, a dildo, a wallet with cash; her “Baby” series at the Whitney Biennale 2016, featuring close-up shots of babies exiting the birth canal; or her large, imposing portraits of rapper Kanye West.
From fashion models to exotic animals, her subjects are often staged or manipulated using double exposure, X-ray photography, and other forms of analog and digital post-production. If she can’t get what she wants out of the shoot, she works with the materials available and will manipulate it as much as possible to reach her goals. Her work thereby touches on questions of good and bad taste, on fetish, taboo, and infrastructures of power, all inviting us to reconsider our politics of perception. In a recent shoot with athletic men dressed as cops and paired with models posing nude, she stages asymmetrical couples in a BDSM-array of seduction and control, with the cops homoerotically engaging in a way that is rarely depicted in the media.
One of Shin’s talents is her ability to create intimacy with the people she portrays. She is so invigorated by her drive to depict a particular person that this confidence creates the baseline for her connection with said person. As she recently told Interview magazine: “When you’re shooting another person, there’s always this psychological game: How much does the subject trust you? How much do you want to direct? There’s manipulation, in both directions, and I think the person who gets photographed should be willing to submit to the photographer.”
She often looks for projects which seem unlikely to happen. Such was the case when she contacted Kanye West: “I just wrote him an email and the only thing he wrote back was ‘yes’ without punctuation…”
The shoot, which was a complex and extravagantly expensive production (thanks in no small part to West’s schedule demanding constant cancelling and rearranging), resulted in portraits of the popstar that were truly larger than life. For Shin’s controversial exhibition at the Kunsthalle Zürich (controversial, because many felt the images were not worthy of a museum setting), she set out to portray an intimate connection to West, photographing him over and over with only slight variations in lighting and background, reproducing one image repeatedly as Warhol did with his silkscreens.
At the core of Shin’s interest in photographing portraits — and celebrities in particular — is how hyper-visible public personas spurn questions about how human beings become symbols: “It’s about the impact that images can have. When you know what the person’s idea or opinion is, you react immediately when you see an image of them.”
Shin and I speak about Trump and Ocasio-Cortez — both people she is interested in photographing, because they represent something beyond the personal. To her, they represent a movement, a system. “People reacted strongly [to the portrait] after what Kanye said and did. With a portrait of someone, everything comes with it. It’s what you project, positive as well as negative. What you see is not what the person is. It’s actually more what you think about the world. If a photo throws this back to you, then it is interesting. If you are not aware of it, then you’re probably upset solely by an image. In that sense, the Kanye work has become inseparable from the flow of opinions around them.” She pauses, before adding: “But also, a lot of people should stop taking art too seriously. If I dislike something, I simply ignore it.”
For her latest gallery show at Reena Spaulings in NYC, Heji Shin portrayed Jedy Vales, a fictional persona that YouPorn.com created in 2019 for their audience. Vales is based on data pulled from Youporn, a mediocre kind of girl who reflects the average taste of the YouPorn audience. Heji didn’t photograph her as one might expect, instead depicting Vales holding a baby and breastfeeding.
The show also harkens back to a popular shoot with the Kardashian family — re-staging her own shoot in the summer of 2019 for a fashion editorial with models as fake Kardashians — which is hilarious. “After I photographed the real Kardashians the first time, I was like, ‘What the hell, why are you doing this?’ The trouble is really not worth it. It’s extremely unlikely something interesting will come out of it, because of the way they operate. It’d be much better to do a fake Kardashian shoot than a real one; everybody looks like them anyway.”
As we continue to chew over realness and fakeness, and the new global languages of the internet, I ask her one of the big questions I have been holding back: In a world that has become so visual, where photography is everywhere, how can you create your own genuine artistic position in all of this?
“In 2020, it still seems that this ‘60s/’70s generation and their values (or an extension of these values) are still culturally too dominant in the mainstream, even though their world view seems so outdated,” she begins. “They’re not on social media, apart from a corporate platform like Instagram, and a lot of what they are standing for is not that relevant or just vapid sloganeering of repetitive clichés. Every generation has to find its own identity, and that means you have to get rid of old stuff. It is necessary.”
The Air Jordan 1 “White Royal” arrives this week, marking the addition of another non-retro colorway to the silhouette family. Swapping out the “Black Royal” OG sneaker’s dark side panel in place of a white leather one, this new Jordan 1 offers a lighter rendition of the classic. It gets a limited release online this week, but it’s currently available at StockX for a pretty attractive price.
StockX market data shows that the Air Jordan 1 “White Royal” is selling for an average price of around $200, only slightly above its expected retail cost. The 52-week high price reached $459, making it a smart time to cop.
The blue toe box of the coveted OG colorway is kept in place here, while the new lighter side panel gives the Swoosh some extra clarity. The iconic wings logo is stamped at the upper, in proud reference to Michael Jordan. Clued-up Jordan fans might also notice that the “White Royal” aesthetic isn’t far from the Jordan 1 “Fragment,” an ultra-rare piece that can go for upwards of $3,000 at resale.
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Collegiate sweater originator and comfy clothing outfitter Champion just kicked off its huge 50 percent sale, as part of its 50th-anniversary celebrations. Up for grabs at half price are a wide range of what Champion does best — hoodies, staple tees, sweaters, sweatpants, and more. Perfect for running, or doing absolutely nothing, in.
From now until Tuesday, May 12, head over to Champion to take advantage of the sale, which is happening sitewide. Check the details below and click through to shop.
Neve Campbell and David Arquette are in talks to star in the new Scream movie, ET reports. It’s been 24 years since the pair first appeared in Wes Craven’s meta-horror franchise and it sounds like they’re still extremely keen to reprise their roles.
“The conversations are being had, that’s for sure,” Campbell revealed. “There was a lot of talk about it. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen and I was approached six weeks ago, but the timing’s not great right now, obviously. We’re starting conversations, we’re starting negotiations, but who knows how and when studios are going to open again.”
She said that two directors (assumedly Matt Bettinelli-Olpom and Tyler Gillett) approached her for the project and stated that they intend to honor Craven’s work in the new movie (Craven passed away in 2015). When asked about what fans can expect, she answered, “I don’t know. Who knows, what are they gonna do? Is it a whole new franchise? Are they going to bring back some [characters]? Oh it would be exciting! I love playing Dewey so I would always love to be a part of it.”
Campbell continued, “I’m so lucky to be a part of these films. I mean really, really lucky. I think it’s a rarity in any actor’s career to have a film that’s that appreciated, and loved, and respected, and popular. I’m very, very grateful for the fans who appreciate it. And, you know, it’d be a lot of fun to do it again. We’ll see, we’ll see.”