Girl, y’all better werk! Kendrick, SZA + ScHoolboy Q hitting three Texas stages in one weekend

By Ciara Rouege

Kendrick Lamar is headed back to the States to headline the Top Dawg Entertainment: Championship World Tour after his international tour across Europe. The show features a weekend trip to Texas, where he’ll be joined by two other A-list artists: SZA and ScHoolboy Q!

Before the month ends, the tour will appear at the Starplex Pavilion in Dallas on May 17; the Austin360 Amphitheater in Austin on May 18; and finally, the Cynthia Mitchell Woods Pavilion in The Woodlands (basically, Houston) on May 19.

Jay Rock, Sir, Ab-Soul and Lance Skiiwalker are also set to hit the stage.

The tour kicks off on May 5 at the White River Amphitheater in Auburn, Washington.

Tickets are on sale now, and ya’ll, I AM SO HERE FOR THIS!

…unfortunately, my wallet isn’t. But with three months left to work my jelly, there’s still hope.

Kendrick Lamar

Marvel studio drops ‘Black Panther’ full-length trailer. Girl, it’s given me all the feels!

It’s been a long time since a movie trailer has given me goosebumps, but Marvel Studios is running my life after dropping its unannounced full-length Black Panther trailer on Monday.

The movie is scheduled to hit U.S. theaters on February 16, 2018.

Ugh, raise your hand if you weren’t ready! Cause I sure enough wasn’t— my hand is raised hella high.

 

It didn’t seem to reveal more than what audiences already knew about the plot.Prince T’Challa returns to his home of Wakanda following the events of Captain America: Civil War to be seated on the throne of his late father, King T’Chaka.

It can’t be a smooth transition as societal reject, Erick Killmonger, is poppin’ off on bullshit with his greedy cronies— threatening T’Challa’s homeland and the entire world. Throw in some internal conflicts revolving around responsibility, pressure and leadership and — BAM! We got a movie.

What I didn’t know: there seems to be a second Black Panther also in the mix.

The design and visuals of Wakanda completely blew me away! It’s definitely a place I can’t wait to explore. On the surface, Wakanda has a perfect balance between past and future.

Black Panther 5

However, it’s obvious the county graduated to that state as it kept an aesthetic that blended into the surrounding jungle environment instead of being a cold, harsh pillar of technological advancement.

We were also shown a few psychedelic scenes that peaked my interest.

Similar to the Thor:Ragnarok trailer, the song selection was beyond perfect. Girl, that SOUND TRACK! Ooh-wee!

It’s Vince Staples’ “BagBak.”

Yes, I’m goin’ all in.

Black Panther 2

Plus, star Chadwich Boseman looked cool as all get out besides his star-studded team of ass-kicking supporting women, which includes Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Florence Kasumba and, our Walking-Dead bae, Dani Gurira.

And Angela Bassett. Yes, Angela!

Black Panther 1

I’m not afraid to admit a strong casts of black female actresses — with multiple roles that go beyond slow rising ass tracking shots — is what has me most excited about this Marvel installment. The trailer served as a great reminder.

Of course, what’s any superhero movie without it’s villain? I haven’t formulated my opinion, but most critics seem satisfied — if not expecting a spectacular performance — from Michael B. Jordan.

I’m neutral.

Of course, the trailer was loaded with action. I wouldn’t have expected anything less than bass-dropping collisions, mid-air fight sequences and other aw-inspiring stunts— all of which were graciously delivered.

In addition to debuting a new trailer, Marvel Studios released a new movie poster, which Boseman, who plays the main character T’Challa, tweeted earlier in the day.

Yum, dessert!

 

Girl, it was a ‘Rough Night’ for all of us! [Movie Review]

By Ciara Rouege

I’m just going to come out and mention what most of us were thinking while watching trailers for ‘Rough Night.’

Yaaas! ‘The Hangover’ with some crazy white bitches: Scarlet Johanson, Jillian BellZoë Kravitz, Kate McKinnon and Ilana Glazer

And…

Isn’t there another movie coming out soon with the same concept but staring all black ladies? Yes, that’s ‘Girls Trip!’

Most of us hoped ‘Rough Night’ would be the ‘Bridesmaids’ of 2017, or at least a good follow-up after watching ‘Bad Moms.’ But alas! ‘Rough Night’ was not the feminine-fueled, laugh-out-loud comedy promised or the epic adventure I expected.

No hilarious excursions through the wild nightlife of Miami, slews of mischievous characters or plot-pushing, split-second decisions. The movie was more of a hectic sleepover with a pinch of awkward comedy tossed in.

Jess (Johanson) and Alice (Bell) are best friends from college– at least in Alice’s mind. But over the years, the women’s friendship has started to whither because; one, Alice is overly possessive and freaking annoying; and two, adulting is time consuming.

In a last ditch effort, Alice attempts to revive their relationship with a life-changing bachelorette party in Miami and lots of selfies.

Alice manages to pull Jess away from her boring life as a politician, but gets clam jammed last-minute by Jess’ foreign friend Pippa (McKinnon)— creating more chick-flick drama!

And the quick jolt of cocaine doesn’t save the night from getting worse. The group accidentally murders a male stripper, leading to multiple failed attempts at hiding the body and all possible evidence.

Total bummer.

Another mood dampener: Johanson and Bell’s funniest jokes are in the trailer.

rough night poster

Most of the movie takes place inside a glass house, which I’m assuming is located in the horniest neighborhood in all of South Beach. The unseen homeowner has a penchant for rough, kicky sex and his neighbors Pietro (Ty Burell) and Lea (Demi Moore) are no less prude. (Side Note: Burell’s role in this film will irreversibly taint your view of Phil Dunphy.)

The b-story follows Jess’ fiance (Paul W. Downs) — a man arguably too in touch with his sensitive side — as he hits the road dressed in an adult diaper on a trip to win back the love of his life. Surprisingly, Peter provided more humor for the movie than all of the main characters put together.

Sad Astronaut-ing it all the way!

(That’ll make more sense when you watch ‘Rough Night’ on Netflix in the next few months.)

Unsurprisingly, the film invests a significant amount of time setting up scenes that do little to enrich the story and serve only as puns that I’m assuming were co-written by 13-year-old students from a boys-only school.

Once the shenanigans are over, the movie makes a sloppy clean-up during the last 20 minutes to semi-tie up any loose strings. Yikes! You took almost two hours to tell the damn story— what gives?!

Still, I wouldn’t say it’s the worst movie in theaters this summer.

‘Rough Night’ did have a few jokes that were edgy enough to warrant an awkward silence from the audience, and individually the characters were amusing. Plus, the friend-tipede is sickeningly adorable!

But, put it up there with ‘Hangover?’ Nah, more like hang up.*

*Yes! I wrote this line first before writing any other parts of this review. 😀

Girl, ‘Baby Driver’ speedin’ off with more than a killer soundtrack! [Movie Review]

By Ciara Rouege

Tequila!

‘Baby Driver’ didn’t park in the numero uno spot for highest grossing movies at the box office this weekend, debuting at $30 million, but it could cruise into my top 10 favorite flicks for 2017.

In the movie, we meet a good kid named Baby (Ansel Elgort) and he’s mixed up with some bad people— a crook (Jon Hamm), a killer (Jamie Foxx) and a hoochie coochie (Eiza González). Yes, that line is particularly cliché but so is the movie’s baseline plot and the character motivations.

No shade, brah! Just shades as Baby twirls across the screen hypnotizing me with that sexy, Elvis-esque accent and smooth showtime dance moves.

Baby lost his parents, a gorgeous waitress with an angelic singing voice and an abusive drunkard of a husband, during a violent car crash that left the protagonist with a hearing impairment. Traumatized and trapped between two headphones, Baby becomes a notorious carjacker at an impressively young age.

Of course, the kid eventually steals the wrong ride and becomes indebted to a debonair and meticulous crime boss played by Kevin Spacey.

Baby spends his childhood paying off his debt to Doc, but on some usual bullshit, he can’t stop being a getaway driver — even after making amends — because the head hancho threatened to break his legs, kill his newly found girlfriend (Lily James) — blah, blah, blah.

After countless jobs, and some not-so-subtle foreshadowing delivered by Jon Bernthal, Baby reluctantly takes on his first post-debt assignment. And SHOCKER! It goes absolutely, terribly, the-universe-hates-you wrong and his moral GPS is put to the test.

…and yawn.

However, ‘Baby Driver’ is one of those rare instances where expectations for an all-star cast are actually met. You’re perpetually kept in the moment because you’re immersed in the characters– their accents, their reactions, their interactions, their hangups, their quirks. You’re only given enough background info– most of which is given in blatant exposition– to understand the movie. No one is winning an Oscar with those lines, but the characters were colorful and the acting was– well, good! Each actor brought their talent and not just their resume to the set.

Like many, I’m a big fan of Edgar Wright and that leave-early, come-late style. He also has a heightened understanding of visual humor and a sense of pacing that really turns me on. The movie has the typical running time, clocking in at a little over 90 minutes, but there weren’t any scenes that felt drawn out or unnecessary. Most movies can barely handle one chase scene, but this one had several and I didn’t take a bathroom break during any of them. So, kudos!

Yes, I’m bashing this movie for being cliche– but it’s in no way run of the mill. Pedestrians weren’t killed off like flies like in most action movies. It maintained it’s humanity, hanging on to a sense of death and danger. It also took a few turns at the end that I genuinely didn’t expect. But I’ll keep those to myself– you should see this movie for yourself! 

Lastly, it’s a comedic action film. The action sequences are well choreographed and the jokes are funny– and that always makes for a good time at the theater. I was wide-eyed watching Baby make his mad dash from the coppers, and I may have choked on my own spit a little when Doc pressed play on Baby’s shitty, natural sounds mix tape.

And don’t think I forgot! The movie also boosts a fucking killer soundtrack– Queen, Martha and the Vandellas, The Dammed, Barry White, Young MC — enough said! The whole movie was made to the tune of “Bellbottoms” by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

But, aye! Having a killer soundtrack has definitely become the standard. We’re only halfway through the big summer movie releases, but I’m confident ‘Baby Driver’ will remain in my top 10 long after the Texas swelter simmers down.

So, full speed to the box office!

‘iZombie’ returns for Season 3 tonight and I’m about to lose my mind — too late!

By Ciara Rouege

Here’s a secret: I’m really a brain-snatching, blood thirsty zombie.

OK, that’s a straight out lie. I’m actually just a zombie fan.

You know like “The Walking Dead;” George Romero flicks; “World War Z” (the masterwork by Max Brooks and not that shit-for-show movie staring Brad Pitt); those endless Reddit threads that explore fictional zombie apocalypse scenarios; the Zombie Research Society…but I digress.

Of all the zombie-related material I consume, my guiltiest pleasure is The CW’s comedic drama “iZombie.”

Don’t judge me, and don’t take my Z card!

It’s just a fun show to watch, and sometimes completely over the top! The only thing I find more interesting than disabled but vicious living corpses is story lines that explore a human’s slow transition into zombism.

“iZombie” is about an uptight Seattle medical student named Liv whose life takes a harsh u-turn after she is infected with a zombie virus while attending a boat party. Unable to return to her average life, she’s forced to take employment as a forensic examiner in order to feed her need for cash — and brains!

But mostly, brains.

Outside of being in need of some level 4 spray tanning and grappling with unpredictable Zombie-roid rage, whenever Liv eats a brain she takes on the personality of the organ’s previous owner. Of course, the transformation always seems to both help and hurt her relationship or the murder cases she’s investigating.

There’s also a cute former-lover, a curious cop, a best-friend roommate, an eccentric supervisor, a strange brain dealer and — there used to be — a self-centered, power-hungry business owner who’s company is responsible for making the virus.

Obviously, that’s the shortest version of all the craziest that transpires over the first two seasons. If you haven’t seen it, iZombie is available for binge-watching on Netflix.

If you don’t have Netflix, I’m confident you know someone who has it — go make friends!

During the third season, Liv and her band of friends are going to be taking on a potential zombie apocalypse after discovering there are way more zombies among them than they thought — LIKE WAY MORE! And some of them are holding ridiculous, mankind-clutched-in-your-grasps positions of power.

The show returns Tuesday night at 9/8c after more than a year off screen. And it completely blows!

I have an event and won’t be able to watch it live, so I’ll have to catch it on-demand tomorrow night.

Like I said, I’m about to lose it!

Syrian-American mom breaking more than the internet with ‘Hijabi’ rap video

By Ciara Rouege

The internet has been hypnotized by the catchy rap lyrics of an eight-month pregnant (at the time), Syrian-American poet who is helping to make the hijab the most feminine and empowering headdress on the planet.

Mona Haydar doesn’t even have a mix tape, but girl! She’s already slayin’ it with her first-ever rap video “Hijabi,” which has gone viral since its release May 27. Haydar’s video has also caught the attention of several major outlets including Mic, BBC, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post and others.

The hijab is often stereotyped as a tool of oppression and terrorism. But the video offers some much needed nourishment for ill-fed minds, stylishly showing its widespread use across different cultures and dispelling misconceptions.

“Given our current administration’s insistence on demonizing and maligning the bodies of women and Muslims, among others, I wanted to get this song out as soon as possible,” Haydar told HuffPost. “I hoped that a pregnant woman who is obviously Muslim [and] creating art and speaking truth would inspire people and offer some levity, joy and hope.”

Throughout the video Haydar is surrounded by beautiful women wearing their scarves and cloths in different styles: turbans, buns, knots, braids, tichels and of course the traditional hijab.

Despite being a God-fearing Christian woman, the song is worth celebrating to me personally for its inclusion of all hijab-wearing women as the head wrap has a significant presence in black fashion and culture.

Of course, I don’t say “fashion” to downplay the hijab’s religious significance. But you don’t have to be Muslim to understand the prejudice wearing a harmless head dress or style — dreadlocks, braids, afro, etc. — can attract.

At a time when fear and ignorance has propelled anti-Muslim sentiment across the U.S, “Hibaji” says holdup! And flips the bird at advocates of hate and judgment like a gangster.

And yes, in case you didn’t notice, “Muslim” is a person of a widely-practiced faith not an ethnic group. The video makes an distinguishable effort at including women of all shades in the message.

Ya’ll, peep this awesome bridge:

You’re just jealous of my sisters
These Mipsters, These hippies
These Prissies, These Sufis
These Dreddies, These Sunnis
These Shii’s, Yemenis
Somalis, Libnanis, Pakistanis
These Soories, Sudanis
Iraqis, Punjabies
Afghanis, Yazeedis
Khaleejis, Indonesians
Egyptians, Canadians
Algerians, Nigerians
Americans, Libyans
Tunisians, Palestinians
Hidden beyond the Mekong in laos
Senegalese and Burkina faso

Haydar was raised in Flint, Michigan and moved to Damascus later in life to study Arabic and Islamic spiritually before heading back to the States to enjoy life with her husband and son. She currently lives in New York.

And she’s cool as all get out!

Haydar is no stranger to the lyrical genius of rap artists like Mos Def, A Tribe Called Quest and Rakim — artists who openly practice Islam.

As the song continues to make its runs around the digital community, the feedback seems to be mostly positive.

I can’t wait for Haydar to bless us with a new video if it’s her goal to make another one.

In the meantime, keep swaggin’ your hijabis, ladies!

Girl, ‘Humble’ yourself! Kendrick Lamar’s latest drop is EVERYTHING!

By Ciara Rouege

I often watch music videos back-to-back only twice: once to criticize the visuals, and a second time to analyze the lyrics. After that, it’s an ears-only experience on Tidal.

But damn! Kendrick Lamar’s latest single “Humble,” which invaded the internet Thursday night,  has visuals and lyrics that will keep fans and strangers enchanted for replay after replay after replay after replay — oh, you get the point! I’m addicted.

It’s interesting because I didn’t feel the visuals offered anything too unexpected from the consciousness or metaphorical undertones of his previous music videos, but somehow “Humble” is still refreshing.

I’m not riding his dick, but consider the heightened witticism. The visuals drag the viewer through a series of religious allusions and sociopolitical metaphors — scenes that are immediately contradicted with mediocrity and stereotypes. Which is something that has been done before, but in this case, it was done well.

I say “drag” because the beat alone knocks you out with authentic Kendrick Lamar bravado, and then pulls you in by using a flashing streak of stunning visuals that are seamlessly sewn together through a commitment to centralized framing. You don’t want to go, but you do because the sequences are just so well executed.

Here’s Kendrick dressed like The Pope wearing a beanie while standing under the spotlight of a single church window. And now, here’s Kendrick playing out any basic rapper’s fantasy of counting money in the world’s most lucrative trap house while surrounded with thick-bodied, half-naked women. Turning up with Kendrick’s crew at the Last Super, and then sitting under the beauty salon dryer with a tight, lethargic look on your face.

Dramatic irony coming from an artist who is often criticized for being fake deep? Yaass, I love it! And yes, I know religious symbolism is the most cliche means to shock value! But who are these dudes with burning ropes strapped across their heads?

“Humble” is also one of few video-song parings that creates a collective experience, helping you appreciate both even more. Don’t listen to the song and then pass on the music video.

The bars are blatant in meaning: criticism about society being superficial in its search for altruistic meaning delivered in the most arrogant way possible. Clearly, the video is bringing most of the hype.

Kudos to you, Dave Meyers and The Little Homies. You’ve done it again! It’s a poignant, culturally significant, cohesive and well-executed production.

Ya’ll, this shit is dope.

1960’s mad woman holds it down in autobiography

 

The ’60s were a glamorous chapter in the history of advertising — torrid love affairs, crisps fedoras and feminine virtue as dainty as white cotton gloves. Women dominated the most profitable areas in the consumer market and were the starlets of grand advertising campaigns. However, it couldn’t be more clear that it was indeed a man’s world.

Jane Maas became an industry legend during a time when most women were confined to kitchen stoves or at best secretary positions. In this sincere and charming autobiography, Maas shares truths about the Mad men era.

 

Maas has been honored with 47 industry awards, served as creative director at Ogilvy & Mather and Wells Rich Greene and was president of Earle Palmer Brown. She is also mother to the iconic “I Love New York” campaign that revitalized tourism in the city when tourism was at its lowest.

She uses a combination of personal anecdotes and interviews with the industries best—male and female alike—to explain the problems women faced in corporate offices, the struggles of being a working mother and the authenticity of the AMC hit-drama Mad Men.

I never considered myself a literary aficionado — more of an avid skimmer of many books — but Maas whisked away my entire Saturday afternoon with her lighthearted wit and honest descriptions of the life and people in New York City at the time. The book was glued to my hand from the morning her husband brings her coffee in bed on the first page and throughout the final chapter where she reflects on all the madness. Maas credits her loving husband and close friend Mable, her Jamaican housemaid, for helping her survive it.

We often forget that concepts like stay-at-home mom, maternity leave and human resources are recent inventions. Maas talks about wage disparity; coping with sexual harassment for two years; being socially scorned for being a working mother; being excluded from projects like Kotex because it wasn’t “appropriate for a woman”; careers dying due to pregnancy; battling with tight bras and unruly stockings, and everything in between.

Its not the sexism that draws your attention — her honesty is the real puller. It’s the thought that most women endorsed the inequality. They rationalized that men should be paid more and get automatic raises because they had families. Women used ceremonies and social ostracizing to keep other women in their good housewife roles.

If you ever have a free weekend and about $15 to spare, you should buy a copy of this book! It’s guaranteed to entertain as much as it will educate.