Let me start off by saying that La Vie by CK blew me away. I knew our people were talented but La Vie by CK is on another level! They instantly blow away anything you can get in your Ann Taylor’s or your H&M’s. The women’s bathing suit selection has some of the most gorgeous pieces I’ve ever seen.
The Greece bathing suit (understandably sold out), will absolutely have all eyes on you as you lounge poolside at any resort from Miami to, well, Greece! The white fabric of the sleeves is light and airy, giving you the look of a goddess come to earth, and the ankara print trim around the white bodice will beautifully complement melanated skin, from the lightest oak to the richest ebony. Most of the selections are named after African nations and are created from bold and colorful Ankara prints.
Their current selection is a masterclass in garment construction, Claude Kameni’s eye for design and an appreciation for the black body is something that you can only get from brands run by people who look like us.
La Vie by CK also offers couture gowns which, if the ready-to-wear pieces are any indication of quality, will absolutely be worth every dollar spent – from the consultation all the way up to the design and finishing of the final product. A quick run-through of the brand’s Instagram can give you a good look at the kind of quality couture gowns and outfits Kameni is capable of.
The brand is featured on Beyonce’s website and was even brought on to design a wedding dress for the indelible, forever iconic Jennifer Lewis for the Golden Globe and NAACP Image award-winning show, Black-ish. The outfit, like many of her pieces, features a bold red Ankara print, a long flowing train, billowing sleeves over a simple but stated pant.
I could go on and on about the thought that goes into the construction of each garment and how they look on melanated bodies, but then this would be a book. Instead, go check out La Vie by CK for yourself and tell them I sent you!
Synopsis: Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey (Academy Award® winner Viola Davis). Late to the session, the fearless, fiery Ma engages in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music. As the band waits in the studio’s claustrophobic rehearsal room, ambitious cornet player Levee (Chadwick Boseman) — who has an eye for Ma’s girlfriend and is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry — spurs his fellow musicians into an eruption of stories revealing truths that will forever change the course of their lives.
Chadwick’s on-screen performance was captivating and his charm was irresistible. His years of theater experience are on full display in this film. I felt as if his performance was a gift to his fans and anyone who loves good acting. There are many plays that are turned into films but not all plays are translated well. *Cough Cats! *Cough* American Son. Yeah, you know those were bad. Queue the Kerry Washington memes!
I shouldn’t expect anything less than great work, since the film was based on the play by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, August Wilson. The same energy and passion audiences received from his plays, like “Fences” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” is the same energy in the film. I can say August’s works are written so well they can be translated in any form with the right cast and so far he’s had nothing but some of the best involved in his work or anything based on his plays. James Earl Jones has won a Tony for Fences, Denzel and Viola Davis won a Tony, Golden Globe plus Oscar nominations. Now Viola Davis is back with another award-winning performance and Chadwick Boseman was one of the greatest actors of our time. With COVID stalling plans of the theater performances, the film is a satifsfying substitute.
Chadwick’s character, Levee, personified what it meant to be a Black man at that time. His own band, nice clothes, a good woman, and a dream of ownership are in his sight during a time where racism and deceit are major spoils to his plans. Yet, Levee is optimistic about his talent and charm and believes an open promise will bring him closer to his dreams. Chadwick does an extremely beautiful job and shows range with the character in acts one and three. In the first act, he talks about how his mother was raped by a group of white men and how one of the men slashed him across his chest. He spoke with so much conviction that I could feel the pain Levee was carrying, noting that behind his winning smile was so much hostility. This scene pays off even more later in act three when he and Cutler (played by Coleman Domingo) talk about God. It is at this point Chadwick challenges Slo Drag about God and mocks him by threatening to harm Slo Drag with a knife.
Viola Davis’s performance… Oscar-worthy is how I describe Davis’s performance as Ma Rainey. I could barely tell it was Viola underneath the make-up. Davis captured the essence of Ma Rainey from the way she walked to the way she talked. Ma Rainey knows her worth and lets everyone know. Black, white, male or female, Ma Rainey imposes her divaesque persona on anyone she encounters. Ma Rainey is also the only LGBTQ character in her songs and relationship with Dussie Mae (played by Taylour Paige). I was laughing whenever her white manager would beg her to record or for her signature for contracts, she would get what she wanted every time. An interesting aspect of the film was powerful and in control, the artist was inside the recording studio, but on the outside of the studio, their white counterparts were perceived themselves to be superior.
It was good to see Glynn Thurman in the film as the wise Toledo – although he will always be Colonel Bradford Taylor from “It’s a Different World” and Preach from “Cooley High.” He and all the cast did a great job bringing Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom to the screen. The film is definitely a must-watch and should be continued to be praised for storytelling. It made me appreciate the time Chadwick was on this earthly plane.
August Wilson’s play, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom celebrates the transformative power of the blues and the artists who refuse to let society’s prejudices dictate their worth. Directed by George C. Wolfe and adapted for the screen by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, the film is produced by Fences Oscar® nominees Denzel Washington and Todd Black. Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, Michael Potts, Taylour Paige, Dusan Brown, Jeremy Shamos, and Jonny Coyne co-star alongside Grammy® winner Branford Marsalis’ score.
Release Dec 7 2020 | Vol25 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling its theme of AfroFuture! This volume’s cover features the #SlayBells of @NoriRaneMUA (by @BymshaBrownePhotography with @NYCNory). Gracing the pages are the Editor’s Pick, #BlackLoveConvo: “Jurnee Smollett Talks Lovecraft Country, Activism, and Breonna Taylor” by Dapper Dr. Feel; our Community Spotlight on Nichelle Consulting; our highlighted Hair Feature by Angela Plummer; “Solo Travel: Are You A Performative Global Ally?” by dCarrie; “Micro Betrayals?” by Jashua Sa’Ra; “Building the Image Nation” by Janelle Naomi; Our Vol 25 contributed photo story, “AfroFuture;” Fitness Highlight: @itsdreamsworld; Vegan Fun with Earth’s Pot’s Wontons; Think Tank, “Lack of Love” by Brianna Burnley; Earth’s Cabinet LLC, Aligning Your Body Holisticly; “The Garden Metaphor Of Finance” by M’Bwebe Ishangi, Founder of Cryptowoke Financial Sustainability Movement; Lovely Leo Skincare Awakens All of Your Body’s Senses; Featured Art Piece; Comic Appreciation; Black Business Highlights; and more!!
Taji Mag is the epitome of ‘Cultural Drip’ – elevating Black brands, narratives, and imagery to new levels of Black Excellence. We embody the traditional and modern royalty of Pan-African people via our quarterly digital and print publication and live events.
If you haven’t been watching Lovecraft Country, you have been missing a great series! It’s filled with fear, adventure, history, monsters, and awesome storytelling. The recent episode, “Jig-a-bobo” has more scares and interesting plot twists out of all the episodes so far. Did I mention it has the scariest demons I’ve seen in my life! Episode 8 is worth watching for the following reasons.
Emmett Till Tie-In in Lovecraft Country
It’s hard to imagine Emmett Till was murdered in 1955… that was only 65 years ago! His murder was an interesting story to tie into the series. The murder did happen in Chicago where the series takes place and the act committed by Till’s murderers was horrifying. Misha Green did a really amazing job showcasing how each character is affected throughout the episode with Diana Freeman (Jada Harris) feeling it the most since Emmett was a close friend of hers. Jada’s performance during this episode definitely made me feel for the character – I was impressed with her character being the focal point. I really felt the opening scene with all of the Black people waiting in line to view Emmett’s body.
Topsy and Bopsy Are Scary As Sh*t!
In my 36 years on this earth, I can say there is not much that scares me but Topsy (Kaelyn Harris) and Bopsy (Bianca Brewton) scared the shit out of me! From their acrobatic, eerie movements to the remixed song “Stop Dat Knocking” by A.F. Winnemore (Ralphel Saadiq you ain’t right making the song that scary), the whole set up had me, glad I watched the episode during the day. I mean, I can honestly say Topsy and Bopsy scare me more than Freddy Krueger!
I just hope Diana Freeman does not die, I know the evil Captain Seamus Lancaster said she was “Dead anyway” but I still hope that Leti, Atticus, and crew find some way to keep her alive. SPOILER ALERT: Poor Diana Freeman has lost her father, friend Emmett, possibly her mother, and she’s been cursed with having two demons trying to kill her. Talk about when it rains it pours.
Christina and Rubi’s Relationship
If you been wondering what is going on with Rubi’s (Wunmi Mosaku) and Christina’s relationship in Lovecraft Country, you are not alone. I mean body changing in werewolf fashion and all, the level of connection and relationship can be confusing with these two. I would say Rubi has a closer bond with Christina than she does with her own sister after watching the last few episodes given that they have been sexing each other in their transformed counterparts and they are living together. I found Christina reenacting Emmett Till’s death very interesting. Christina trying “feel” the anger and pain Rubi is going through after Till’s death makes me wonder how much she does care for Rubi or how close she is willing to get?
Succubus in Love
Episode 8 also sees the arrival of the Ji-Ah (Jamie Chung), the love interest/ succubus of Atticus during his Korean war tour. How painful it had to have been for Leti to hear about Atticus’s Korean War fling with a nine-tailed fox demon and to also hear he may meet his demise? News like that would drive any person insane but given the recent events, Leti understands anything is possible. She also understands how much Ji-ah loves Atticus because of Leti herself being in love with Atticus. I just wonder if this is the last we will see of Ji-ah?
Leti and Tic
I haven’t seen a love take so many turns like this since Dwayne and Whitley from a Different World. They love each other no doubt but with all of the chaos going on, at moments it looks like their relationship will not last. With a baby in the picture, I think it’s safe to say these to will find a way. That, plus Atticus went through a portal to the future and was given a book written by his son. It’s crazy how they both know Leti is pregnant but hide it from one another. Which makes you wonder why they don’t tell each other and what will happen going forward in Lovecraft Country once they do?
The Beast and protection
I have to be honest with you, I was happy to see a Shoggoth appear just in time to save Atticus at the end of the episode. Not because it saved Atticus and Leti but because I wanted to see what bigger role if any the big ass scary monsters would play? The Shoggoths are what lured me more into the series!
It was also good to see Atticus can now cast spells or at least one spell. I really felt Christina was lying to Atticus about the spell. Knowing he has the ability to use spells, it will be interesting to see how it will play into the storyline. Leti has also seen the protection spell placed on her by Christina working via deflecting bullets. Now that the couple (and child) are protected what will happen in future episodes? Find out Sundays at 9 pm on HBO and streaming service HBO Max.
Can we discuss the dynamics that cause women to verbally destroy other women simply for being human? Can we PLEASE talk about how women came out of the woodwork to laugh at and drag Cardi B. for doing what was right for her!! Come on, let’s unpack this.
The level of cattiness surrounding Cardi’s decision to divorce her husband was damn near unparalleled. She gave her heart to a man she loved. He cheated and she gave him another chance. When he proved to be unable to keep it in his pants, Cardi chose her peace of mind and that of her child’s by walking away. So, why did women across the country rise up to vilify her? Why the disdain? Why, oh why all the judgments? “If she had cooked and cleaned he wouldn’t have cheated. If she was a better wife and not a former stripper he would have stayed home. If she would have xyz then he wouldn’t need to cheat”
WHY Y’ALL?? Well, let me offer a few reasons why so many fangs came out in defense of the cheater and not the victim. Could it be that women saw in Cardi what they themselves wish they had? Could it be that the truth Cardi spoke contradicted the lies these women lived? I wanted to take each woman, sit her down and ask “Sis, who hurt you?” because that type of vitriol is borne out of pain.
It’s extremely difficult for women to see themselves in another woman’s situation when that woman chooses peace and they have not. It’s easier to place blame than it is to heal their pain. It’s easier to claim they found a way to keep their man from cheating than it is for them to face their own mans infidelity. But you know, people in glass houses…right?
Make no mistake, the women screaming “you should’ve done this and that” are the same ones who go through their mans’ phone while he’s asleep or in the shower. They are the same ones finding their man sent dick pics to random chicks. They are the same ones sitting home mad asf because he supposedly had to work late but he’s not answering his office phone. They are the same ones popping up on his job to make sure he’s actually there. They are the same ones stressing because yet another chick called her saying she’s pregnant by her man.
When Cardi said “no more” and filed for divorce, she triggered thousands of women who secretly wish they had the courage to do the same. Thousands of women who are stuck in the turmoil of their man saying he loves them yet cheats every chance he gets. Blaming the victim for being victimized is a trauma response Sis. Spitting hatred at the one who’s hurting is a trauma response Sis. Blaming another woman for a man’s ashy behavior is misogynistic Sis!!
How did women get here? How did women forget that sisters need each other? How did women forget that Sisterhood is powerful? How did women end up equating being in a relationship with societal validation? How did women get to the place where they believe struggle love is preferred over affirming relationships? How do women end up choosing drama and chaos over peace? I’ll tell you how; years upon years of unhealed pain. Years upon years of unrecognized and internalized trauma has caused women to turn on their sisters when they need each other the most. However, until they face what’s truly going on in their lives they will continue to project their issues onto others continuing the cycle.
What did Shakespeare write? “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”…yeah, that part.
Born and raised in West Africa Liberia, Diezie Sahn is a promising actor, screenwriter, and director, specializing in martial arts and fight choreography, now based in Atlanta. He has acted and performed stunts in several short films, despite battling a speech impediment, and has received the CMF and TERMINUS “BEST ACTOR” Awards. His recent Lead role in the P.S.A, “Corona Man,” went viral. Before breaking into the film industry, Diezie lived in an Ivory Coast refugee camp during the Liberian Civil War. He refuses to allow anything to stop him from achieving his goal of empowering others through film.
Taji Mag (TM): What inspired you to become an actor?
Diezie Sahn (DS): I remember vividly at the age of 7, in the town we were living called “12 houses,” my siblings and I were attending a small community school and my mother had been encouraging me to sing in church. She decided that she would register me to perform in the Bible play, “King Solomon”, and I was to play King Solomon. I was completely terrified! Here I was, a stuttering 7-year-old child, who now had to perform in front of hundreds of people at the end of the school year. The entire school would think I was a joke. I was upset with my mother and didn’t care to see what she saw in me, but my mother was relentless. She drilled the entire play with me for days so that I would be prepared for the role. To this day, I still remember my lines. When the big day came, I was beyond ready. That was when I realized that acting and performing was my purpose in life. On stage, I can speak freely through the characters and truly express myself. For the first time, my voice was heard. I felt free and happy.
TM: What films, directors, and/or actors have influenced you?
DS: Every film I’ve ever seen growing up influenced me in some ways. Western films, the Asian martial arts films that were popularized at the time, and Nigerian (Nollywood) films. I was intrigued by the Asian films because of the action, the western films introduced me to real acting, and the Nigerian films opened my mind to telling our own African stories. I believe that life is a busy intersection we all crossing through to create a path that fits each of us. My influences are the ones like myself who didn’t allow stuttering to stop them from becoming great: Bruce Willis, Steve Jobs, Samuel L Jackson, James Earl Jones, Legendary B.B King, Steve Harvey, Harvey Keitel, Kendrick Lamar, Elvis Presley, John Gomez, Marilyn Monroe, Emily Blunt, Julia Roberts. The list goes on! They inspire me to persevere.
TM: What type of films do you most look forward to creating/participating in?
DS: I look forward to playing James Bond one day or I’ll create my own James Bond-style movie with an African actor as the lead. I’d also like the opportunity to play a superhero. I think it would be awesome to see an African man in the sky doing something out of the normal beside flying to out of his country.
Harlem born and raised, indie rapper-producer XAV. released his debut single “Jiggy” in July to fans who have been patiently waiting for his first single as a solo act (XAV. is one half of the group Xav and Ola). The single was written and produced by XAV. with a seamless feature from fellow Cleveland-born rapper, Trill Mah, who adds to the melodic aesthetic of the track with their own witty, sharp lyricism. The single, “Jiggy”, is a lighthearted track that is the perfect addition to your summertime playlist. In the lyrics, XAV. lets us in on his more playful side as he’s detailing his interest in a young lady, eager to know if she’s interested in getting jiggy with him.
The visual for “Jiggy” was shot before we ever heard the phrase ‘social distancing’. In true indie-artist fashion, XAV. tapped into his community to vividly transform his single from lyrics to screen. Friends and fellow artists gathered to take us back to a time when tripping and vibing with your friends at house parties and on rooftops was a reality. The overall vision was flawlessly executed by Indian female filmmaker and photographer, Tashi Bhutia, who directed and edited the visual.
Quarantine has been a personal experience of ups and downs for all of us. XAV. is using this time to continue to create and engage, whether that means releasing new music, talking trash on XBox, or using his platform to be outspoken about systemic racism and police brutality. For XAV., the debut single “Jiggy” is only the beginning.
“I do this 100% indie with love, creativity and thoughtfulness,” says XAV. “I hope you feel that in the song and video. There’s so much that I have been working on during this time and want to continue to create art that speaks to the humanity of my community. I want to make sure that I am creating art that allows us the freedom to vibe without restriction.”
Taiwo Aloba is proud to offer her latest chapbook, Surulere, Lagos, that has hit Amazon in September 2020. In Surulere, Lagos, Taiwo Aloba offers a map to the city life of Lagos. With deep roots in her African culture, the New York-based writer guides her readers through a series of honest and reflective accounts of growing up in Lagos. Born and raised in Lagos, Taiwo Aloba believes that her poetry mirrors her perception of the world. She explores topics like identity, culture celebration, corruption, systemic violence, and religious fanaticism.
“I am so proud to offer you all a feast in my new work. “Surulere, Lagos” is now available on Amazon: @amazonkindle @amazon (Ebook and Paperback). I threw all of myself into it. I wrote, edited, and published it. It is a labor of love and creativity. Surulere, Lagos is truly a gift, and I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.” – Taiwo Aloba.
The African American Day Parade, Inc. (AADP), one of the largest and oldest parades of Black American culture, will virtually host the 51st Annual African American Day Parade on Sunday, September 20, 2020 at 12pm. It will be hosted live across Facebook, Youtube, our website homepage, and Scratchvision. The 51st annual parade will honor individuals and organizations that have made key contributions to the African American Community through Business as this year’s parade theme is “A Tribute to Black Business”.
Sponsors of this year’s parade include Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), WBLS, TWU Local 100, Scratchvision, the National Association of Black Accountants, and Mech Multimedia Agency. “We are excited to virtually celebrate Black culture,” exclaims AADP Chairman and Board Certified Chaplain at MSKCC, Yusuf Hasan. “For over 50 years, this parade has served as a vital platform for showcasing our heritage and history from our perspective. We feel it is extremely important to continue in this legacy as it uplifts our people.”
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) partners with Rambert Dance Company to present the forthcoming real-time, live-stream world premiere performances of Wim Vandekeybus’ Draw From Within. The show will be streamed direct from Rambert’s London studios and performed across time zones for international audiences. The newly commissioned production is currently underway and is being created while adhering to the latest UK health guidelines to ensure the company’s safety. Using all of the company’s spaces from the loading bay to the studios to the corridors and even the roof, Draw From Within will be performed live in the Rambert building and streamed in real-time to ticketed audiences around the world. The new work will be broadcast to NYC audiences via Rambert’s new cross-platform web application Rambert Home Studio at 8 pm EST on September 26, 2020. Live performances are also scheduled for audiences in Seoul, South Korea on September 24 and the UK on September 25.
World-renowned Belgian choreographer and filmmaker Wim Vandekeybus has brought the prestigious UK company back to life after lockdown and transformed its state-of-the-art studios on London’s Southbank into a fantastical world. Taking viewers on a surreal and exhilarating odyssey, the experience will be an assault on the senses akin to being within the piece itself. Set to a heady and eclectic soundtrack and featuring Rambert’s awe-inspiring company of dancers, Draw From Within promises to make an impactful mark on the fast-developing digitally-driven cultural landscape.
To support the performing arts economy at large, Rambert is encouraging audiences around the world to support their local partnering institution or theater through their ticket purchase for Draw From Within.
Tickets are $13 and go on sale Tuesday, September 15 on BAM.org.
BAM Members will have access to a special pre-show discussion and Q&A with Rambert’s Artistic Director Benoit Swan Pouffer and BAM’s Charmaine Warren, included in the ticket price.