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Inspired by fashionable businesswomen like Victoria Beckham and Gisele Bundchen, Draya Michele has stepped into her new role as an entrepreneur with full force.
Her swimwear line MintSwim consistently receives rave reviews for its quality, cuts, array of sizes, designs, and editorial and high fashion touch. The former Basketball Wives LA star has now transitioned into full-time CEO of the line, planning to expand it beyond swimwear to include styles for men plus loungewear.
We caught up with Draya to talk more about making swimwear for Black women, her career dreams, her personal growth and more.
Why did you decide to create a swimwear line?
“I wanted to do something others really weren’t doing. Especially for young Black women, no one had tapped into the swimwear industry yet, so I decided to do it. I always loved the beach and I always loved water, so it made sense for me to create my own swimwear. I started to promote it exclusively to people who were following me on social media, and it took off from there.”
Were you expecting it to grow into such a large business?
“Yes! I was very intentional when coming up with the concept for the line. I definitely needed it to work out; it wasn’t a side project or done on a whim. I wanted it to be an exit out of reality television. I wanted to create something meaningful I could continue to grow and pass down to my children. I think that’s so important.”
Your line is known for its sexy cuts and shapes. How can all women feel sexy in their clothing?
“Social media has influenced how women look at themselves in clothing. People try to fit their body into specific styles and sizes, but they should be confident in their own frame. Find things that fit you, instead of you trying to fit clothes. That’s why I made sure to include pieces for plus size women and made them specifically to compliment fuller figures.”
What have you learned about women’s empowerment since being part of reality television?
“Being the owner of a brand gives you a platform to have a voice. But the thing is, once you have that voice you have a big responsibility to the world (and yourself really) to be influential and use that in a positive way. I needed to find a way to use the platform the show gave me to make a positive impact on my life and the life of others. That came through the swim line and I’m really spreading my entrepreneurial wings.”
What’s an affirmation you live by?
“I look at quotes all day every day in order to get a motivational boost. One thing I tell myself often is my job is to like me—it’s not anyone else’s job to like me. I’m the only consistent thing in my life and I have to be me. Once you stop searching for acceptance you can stop stressing, and from there people will respect your confidence and drive.”
What kind of space are you in during this phase of your life?
“I feel excited and I feel anxious. I’m also very curious. I haven’t really expected what’s happened to me this far, from my personal life to my career. I know what I planned and had in-store for myself, but it’s all far exceeding my expectations. It’s crazy. I’m doing what I love, going to the beach and researching trends and planning my next moves. I feel blessed to be in such a fun space doing what I love.
Any advice for those wanting to step outside of themselves and take on a different role?
“Just know that when it’s time, you’ll know it. Get organized and get the behind the scenes stuff done before you make any announcements. ‘Coming soon’ doesn’t translate in the right way to people, and that’s how you get haters and doubters discouraging you before you have time to flesh everything out. Make sure you’re confident in your plans before showing the world, that way other people’s hate and jealousy won’t make you doubt yourself and not follow through.”
With Diamond Mind, the ambitious debut EP of newcomer Pearl Gates, the rapper succeeds in introducing his well-rounded nature as a taste-making musician. He also surrounds himself with the best company, including guest appearances from acts like Masta Ace, Wordsworth and Khrysis of Justus League (9th Wonder).
Hailing from Washington Heights, Gates released his first mixtape A Star In A Broken Sky in 2014, representing hard for New York City and for underground Hip-Hop heroes alike. Shortly following the release, Gates appeared alongside eMC (Masta Ace, Wordsworth and Stricklin) on “Fly Thoughts,” the first single from their album The Tonight Show.
With a balance of forward-thinking experimentation and vocally and gritty boom bap production, the 8-track EP is a strong showcase of variety. Diamond Mind has a “came from nothing” vibe, with Gates sharing his perspectives in an honest way. He’s genuinely invested in his craft and this charm helps capture independent Hip-Hop’s most favorable qualities in one release.
Lyrically, Gates is a wise writer, with smart storytelling and subtle philosophies from his direct experiences etched into each track. His laid back demeanor isn’t one to be interpreted as lazy or passive; as an MC, he tells it like it is, with a confident lean in his posture and a watchful eye on his future. Focusing on the power of thought, Pearl Gates expresses his frustration with economic and contemporary hardships, as well as detailing the ways in which he feels like both an outsider and a leader.
With a careful selection of beats that best display the artist’s lyrical talent, the EP features production from Khrysis of Justus League, Kic Beats, iRobot Scott (for Matrax Productions), Sirplus, Jay Notez and M. Stacks. Featured artists include Masta Ace, Wordsworth, Boldy James and Stricklin. Given the large amount of features, Gates’s role isn’t overshadowed but strengthened.
Diamond Mind is a well-executed first project from a promising artist. Standout tracks include the title track, “Diamond Mind,” “The Ritual” featuring Masta Ace, “Countdown” and “Winning (Whip It).”
J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar over the past few years have gone from underdog favorites to mainstream juggernauts, racking up platinum plaques, Grammy Awards, sold out tours and accolades galore since they released their debuts in 2011 and 2012. They’ve also remained friends during that time–yes, even after “Control”–and have continued to tease the possibility of a joint album, which they’ve been alluding to on and off for the last half-decade. Today will only add fuel to that fire, as the emcees release remixes of the most popular record off each other’s albums: J. Cole took Kendrick’s “Alright” for a ride, and K. Dot shared his rendition of J. Cole’s moshpit inciting “Tale of 2 Citiez.”
Take a listen below. Who wins?
Just after apparently being on the phone with Drake for an hour, Wale chatted with The Source during his Comeback Artist of the Year photo shoot about being the “guinea pig” for internet artists, as far as being one of the first to have an actual retail album in stores. It was an awkward time for Wale, coming off of hitting a terrible sales mark the first time out, but as he alluded to, the labels smartened up. Since then? Two number one albums.
New York street artist BUA has been privileged with the honor to paint the official commemorative painting for the 75th birthday of Bruce Lee. Set to release on November 27th, Lee’s actual birthday, the painting features Bruce Lee in stance and a dragon lurking in the background, paying homage to his popular film Enter the Dragon. Only 75 prints were created and will be available for purchase at www.brucelee.com. Each piece is numbers and signed by the artist. When asked about his connection to Bruce Lee BUA said,
“When I was a kid I used to take the train in NYC to 42nd st. and Times Square just so that I can catch the latest Bruce Lee movie. Enter the Dragon and Game of Death were my favorites and I must’ve seen those two movies a hundred times. Bruce was the epitome of cool, calm, and spiritually collected while still being the baddest Martial Arts Master EVER! I would sit in the theater, take out my sketch book and draw Bruce in different wild and crazy poses. Painting him is a dream come true as he was and still is one of my idols.”
The painting itself is titled ‘Dragon Eyes’ and is set at the modest price of $250. It is 26 x 20 inches making it a perfect living room centerpiece and conversation point. It is a must garb for all fans of street art and martial arts coming in time perfectly for the holiday season.
Today (Friday, November 27) Yo Gotti released his third project of the year and the latest addition to his Cocaine Muzik Mixtape series, CM8: Any Hood America.
Man of the moment Big Sean is the sole artist with a feature on the mixtape, which offers production from Greedy Money, Ben Billions, Infamous, Street Symphony, Youngstar and more.
Yo Gotti starts his 8 For 8 Tour with the newest member of CMG, Blac Youngsta, on December 1.
Stream CM8 and check out the 8 For 8 Tour dates below:
12/1 New York, NY w/ Blac Youngsta
12/2 Baltimore, MD w/ Blac Youngsta
12/3 Philadelphia, PA w/ Blac Youngsta
12/4 Atlanta, GA
12/5 Chicago, IL
12/6 St. Louis, MO w/ Blac Youngsta
12/7 Memphis, TN w/ Blac Youngsta
12/8 Oakland, CA w/ Blac Youngsta
On this day in Hip Hop history in 2001, Ludacris droped his third full length album, Word of Mouf. This LP was ridiculously successful, debuting at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart and selling 281,000 copies in the first week. It also received critical acclaim, being nominated for the Grammy for Best Hip Hop album (he lost to The Eminem Show). The album today is Ludacris’ top selling album and is certified triple platinum selling 3,674,000 copies in the United States.
His previous album, Back for the First Time, peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 and served as a launching pad for the new sound that was refined on his Word of Mouth album. Containing hits like “Roll Out”, “Area Codes”, and “Move B****”, it is easy to see why this album got the attention it did. The production on this project, coming from the likes of Swizz Beats, Timbaland and Jazzy Pha helped to set the tone of early 2000s rap music.
Word Of Mouf as a whole embodied a lot of what southern rap was in the 2000s. There were club hits like “Move B****”, that could appropriately get any function jumping and there were introspective, soulful story-rich tracks such as “Growing Pains”. The spectrum of styles that this album provided suited a plethora of listeners. After this project, Ludacris finally reached a #1 album with Chicken and Beer and continued to grow into a household name in Hip Hop. Even today, Ludacris is a highly respected figure in rap and can still be heard every now and again on someone’s radio single as a strong feature. Take some time to day to reminisce and listen to this project that helped shape a legend.
Idris Elba will return to our screens next month to reprise his role as lovable rogue DCI John Luther in Luther.
In the two-part special, the contentious cop is called out of seclusion after a deranged cannibal begins his twisted reign of terror across the city of London. Luther then uses his highly controversial, brute force style of policing to put a stop to the murders once and for all. The special also stars Games Of Thrones actress Rose Leslie, Darren Boyd, John Heffernan and Laura Haddock.
Luther will air December 15 in the UK and on December 17 on BBC America at 9pm ET.
During Thanksgiving millions of people take to social media to share snaps of their meals and declare what they’re most thankful for. Teyana Taylor was in the spirit of sharing yesterday, but instead of the obligatory plate, the newly engaged singer posted a beautiful photograph of herself in a flowing, see-through garb, showing off her adorable baby bump.
Fiancé Iman Shumpert also posted a picture via his Instagram account. In a loving message to his soon-to-be wife, the NBA star expressed gratitude for his new, growing family.
It’s certainly been an epic year for the young couple. Baby Shumpert is expected to arrive January 16.
Chris Brown will no longer release his album this month but instead, we’ll receive Royalty on December 18th. This Black Friday, he has decided to surprise us all and drop a mixtape out of nowhere.
It’s titled Before The Party and features huge names from Rihanna and Wiz Khalifa to Wale and Fetty Wap. Not to mention the fact that there are more than 30 records on it. Stream below.
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