I’m BAFFLED as to why more people are not talking about The Remix: Hip-Hop x Culture on Netflix. I mean I know why, but like c’mon! The world is so obsessed with black culture they never want to appreciate it, but rather appropriate it. Ugh! I can go on and on about that… but let’s talk about the film!
The Remix, focuses on pioneers in fashion culture such as Misa Hylton, Dapper Dan, and April Walker. I was born in the mid nineties and I’ve always been around music and the culture that comes along with it. It was pretty shocking to grow up and realize that people had never heard of them, when I’ve always known how much of an impact they made on hip hop culture. Even brands like FUBU and Karl Kani played a big part in this cultural boom, and inspired designers like Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss pursue a career in fashion as well.
Every fashion statement you see today is because of Misa Hylton, it didn’t come from TikTok or someone’s Pinterest board. Misa styled everyone from Mary J. Blige, Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliot, Diddy, and so many other artists that played a huge part in the merging of Hip-Hop and Fashion. More importantly, she changed the perception of what women in Hip-Hop should look as well. Because Hip-Hop is a male dominated genre, women were expected to meet those requirements as best as they could. They would never wear outfits like the infamous VMA Purple Pasty outfit Lil’ Kim wore in 1999. LEGENDARYYYYYY!!! Before Misa’s influence on Hip-Hop culture, women were expected to dress masculine, otherwise they wouldn’t be taken seriously. A few years ago, Misa posted a restructured MCM leather jacket worn by Big Daddy Kane on her Instagram page to pay homage to Dapper Dan’s legacy. Stylist Zerina Akers reached out and wanted Misa to design something similar for her client’s upcoming video. That client, was the one and only Beyonce. Maybe you’ve heard of her? Misa now serves as a Global Creative Partner for MCM. Ayy!
Now I KNOW you’ve seen this video before – YUP, all Misa Hylton!
Now onto Dapper Dan. For DECADES Dapper Dan has been a staple in not only the history of Hip-Hop, but in the history of New York as well. Rapper’s would flock to his shop to get custom designer clothes. Because of the customers he would attract, he knew in order to accommodate their needs he needed to be open 24/7. Until his shop was raided in 1992, Dap was the go-to person for unique restructured designer pieces in the Hip-Hop community. He was even charged with copyright infringement and shunned from the mainstream. He continued his work underground in different cities, but the threat of getting in trouble again was always looming in the background. Years later at the 2017 Gucci Resort runway show, a jacket appeared on the runway that was CLEARLY inspired by Dapper Dan’s previous work. When social media reacted (yas black twitter!), Gucci acknowledged this and even created a line with him. After this resurgence, Dap even was able to reopen his shop in Harlem twenty-six years later! Yay! It was honestly a pleasant surprise to see a brand like Gucci show their respect and include Dapper Dan in the conversation.
I don’t want to give all of the details of the film away, but it’s important to recognize the people who basically made fashion what it is today. When you see uniquely cut and styled designer clothes emblazoned with flashy logos (which I know you have); you can thank Dapper Dan for that. And when you see girls wearing oversized clothes, or your favorite rapper/singer wearing colored hair and a bikini top; you can thank Misa Hylton for that. I’m so relieved that these two are receiving their flowers while they’re still here, because honestly it’s been long overdue.
BONUS VIDEO! The styling on this video was a Misa Hylton + Dapper Dan collab!
Being Black + Private School = A Lifetime of Depression
I attended two separate Private Schools on Long Island, NY. From First to Fifth grade I attended Portledge School, a very small school with maybe thirty to fifty kids in each graduating class. I actually liked Portledge, everyone was kind for the most part and I felt like certain teachers actually had my best interest at heart. By Sixth grade, my parents transferred me to Friends Academy which ironically was right down the street.
I remember my first day at Friends Academy. I felt like an alien. It was huge, I didn’t know anyone and it didn’t really seem like anyone wanted to get to know me either. I entered at the same time as a lot of other new students, but it seemed like they all flocked to the ones that looked more like them. If you guessed white, you win the cash prize! I obviously wasn’t going to tell my parents this, because anyone who has attended a private school knows that you’re supposed to treat this opportunity as an “honor”. The notion is that I should be grateful that I was even admitted to this ~prestigious~ school. And when your parents are paying $25k per kid, you keep those opinions to yourself. Honestly Friends Academy is the worst thing that could’ve happened in my life.
For starters, when I looked around there was nobody else that looked like me in my class. Sure there were like two kids who were half black, but being mixed gives you an “in” with the white kids. I am black. Always have been, I was black before I was born and I’ll be black after I’m gone. The white kids weren’t going to let me forget that either. Once they built the courage to speak to me, I got asked all sorts of stupid questions about my hair, what my parents do, if I was related to another student in the school who looked nothing like me… you name it. Constant microagressions from teachers and students alike. Just like my girl Jodie from Daria said; “At home, I’m Jodie – I can say or do whatever feels right. But at school I’m the Queen of the Negros”.
After a while you get tired of feeling being gawked at 24/7 so you try your best to fit in. You get perms to straighten your hair. Once that breaks all of your hair off, you wear weaves for years, which also destroys your hair. But honestly you’d rather DIE than let anyone see your hair in it’s natural state. Today at 25, my go-to style is box braids past my butt (yes, she’s got inchesssss baby!), but I would not have had the confidence to wear a black hairstyle back then. Regardless of my comfort level, according to our schools handbook it wasn’t even allowed.
Not only was I insecure about my hair, but I grew insecure about my body. I’ve had huge boobs and a big butt since I was twelve, just like all of the women in my family. It’s in my genetics. When I would get undressed in the locker room I would feel embarrassed that I was larger than the fully grown yet grossly underweight ninety pound girls in my class. It got to the point that I would either get there before everyone else to change alone or change in the bathroom stall in order to spare myself from feeling “fat” for ten minutes. For all four years of high school, one of the librarians would call me some other black girls name EVERY TIME I would go to check out a book, to the point that I felt uncomfortable even going there. It was almost like she thought it was some sort of fun guessing game. Might I add that the only black students that looked alike were the ones who were ACTUALLY related, hell my own brother and I don’t even look alike. Basically what she was telling me was that “you all look alike and I don’t need to bother learning your name”.
No matter what I would do I would still feel like an outcast. I lost weight, and entered my junior year thinking “NOW, they’ll like me”. However nothing was enough, because the one thing they disliked about me, I would never be able to change. The only thing that seemed interesting about me to these people was that my dad was in the music business, because they couldn’t relate to me on any other level. Also, they couldn’t quite grasp the fact that a black family could obtain more wealth than them. I knew when random parents called me by my first name, it meant that they looked my family up in the school directory and more than likely googled my dad. So many parents of kids who I had no relationship with would contact my dad and attempt to relive their childhood dreams of being a singer.
What people don’t realize is that when the media, your classmates, and even your teachers are constantly telling you’re not good enough, your self esteem is pretty much nonexistent. Teacher’s would call home and insinuate my depressive nature was due to something happening at home… rather than the toxic environment that the school upheld. They were fully aware and did nothing to change the situation, because it wasn’t effecting them. And because it wasn’t happening to them, it must be a “personal” problem.
The six years I spent at that school were easily the worst years of my life. And I spent 2 years trying to narrow down whether or not I had a cancerous tumor growing in my face, so that says a lot. Years of teachers singling you out and discrediting your abilities will make you feel like you’re stupid. Years of rejection from crushes on white boys and six different prom dates will make you feel like you’re ugly. Years of trying to fit into certain clothes and abide by the “dress code” will make you feel like you’re fat. The only message I got from this school was that I was basically worthless.
To this day, I still fight to not believe these things about myself. Some days I battle my own thoughts because I wonder why I was subjected to that type of experience. But I know it was made to make me stronger. SO many students have come forward with similar stories. It hurts that so many black students were suffering, but I’m relieved that I wasn’t alone in my experience. Now that we’ve all graduated, social media has played a big part in us all reconnecting and sharing our stories of trauma and supporting one another in our post graduate endeavors.
The best thing I’ve done for myself is move across the country and leave all my memories of that place behind. While I know moving to a place like Los Angeles isn’t exactly a tangible solution for most people, living your truth comes at no cost. Though I still feel a sense of self doubt on occasion, it’s pretty awesome to finally be the person who I’ve always wanted to be. I wear my natural hair without any judgement. I wear my glasses proudly, and don’t risk my eyesight with painful contacts. I even got the tattoos that I always wanted! For years I was brainwashed into thinking that if I didn’t fit into this certain mold, I might as well be invisible. Since moving, I’ve been able to make friends of all different backgrounds who actually like me for me. Sure life gets me down once in a while, but I can look at myself and say I am glad I’m no longer struggling to change myself to fit into a society that’ll never accept me.
When I think about all the good memories in my life, they either happened before or after I attended that school. At my graduation I didn’t shed a single tear, I was relieved that I would never see that place or those people again. Friends Academy is a huge factor of my anxiety and depression, and for years I felt like I was crazy putting the blame all on a stupid private school who’s mascot was the Quaker Oatmeal man (yes, really). Private schools or “college preparatory” schools are meant to do just that, prepare you for college. But it didn’t even pay off at the end because many of us didn’t even get into the schools of our dreams. If I had to do it all over again, I would have told my parents how horrible my experience was early on, and save myself from the years of trauma I experienced at Friends Academy.
We all use social media everyday. Most of the time we see nothing but hateful statements and toxic influencers. Every time I log onto Instagram I see some Karen attacking a Walmart employee or some “model” selling Flat Tummy Tea as if the world wasn’t in complete f*cking chaos.
What I find helpful is following women who’s morals and mindsets align with my own. It’s hard being a black woman, especially during these times. The black lives matter movement is thriving, but black women still aren’t getting recognized. Black mothers are dying every day in childbirth without any explanation. All the while, the world still turns and nobody blinks an eye.
Many white influencers posted a black box and spoke about black lives matter for a week before returning to their regularly scheduled program. However the black women I follow on instagram were discussing topics such as inclusion, diversity in media, interracial relationships, LGBTQ issues, and much more even before the “movement”.
Check out my list below of these badass black women who you should be following ASAP!
Hannah Bronfman is from a wealthy entertainment family background like myself. This comes with it’s own set of difficulties, it’s often hard to fit in to a group because the white wealthy kids typically carry their racist parents ideals and are confused to see black people enjoying the same successes as they do. Hannah has defied the odds and created a brand for herself, she is constantly transparent with her followers about her struggles growing up and learning to love things like her curly hair. Most recently she’s shared stories about her miscarriage and IVF journey.
Marz Lovejoy is my favorite badass tattoo’d momma. For years she’s been a beacon in the fashion and underground music industry and served as a representation of what black culture in media should look like. After having two children of her own, she uses her platform to support black mothers. As I mentioned, black women are at a major disadvantage when it comes to giving birth. Marz constantly spreads awareness and raises money to fight for black women to get better treatment during their pregnancies and can safely deliver children into this world.
I first heard of Kayla Nicole because of her longtime boyfriend, Travis Kelce. Honestly, I am more interested in Kayla’s life than Travis’ now. She is the embodiment of black girl joy. She is always living her best life despite the constant haters and people questioning her relationships. Kayla also has a bangin’ body! Her hashtag #STRONGISSEXY, keeps me motivated to workout even when the last thing I want to do is exercise.
I want Flex Mami (aka Lilian Ahkenhan) to be my best friend!!! For starters Flex is from Australia. From what the media tells us I would not even think people as cool as her lived in Australia. I always thought it was just a bunch of skinny blonde white girls. Flex obviously is aware of that, and uses her platform to speak out on how she is constantly defying the odds and not letting naysayers distract her from her grind.
I used to follow Man Repeller solely for Crystal Anderson’s fashions. She was the only black voice I would see on their platform, so once I grew to learn more about her as an individual I could care less about Man Repeller. Crystal has always used her platform to uplift black women who don’t see themselves being represented in the media and always holds events for black LGBTQ women to thrive in the media without being held back by other predominately white platforms… *cough, cough* Man Repeller.
Most of us know that black people have been fighting oppression for hundreds of years. But recently the #BLACKLIVESMATTER hashtag began to trend more frequently than it’s initial inception seven years ago. Besides emailing all of the local legislators and donating to numerous go fund me’s, you can also support Black businesses in effort to show your support for the movement. I’ve compiled a list of a few Female & Black owned businesses below, check them out and give them some love!
1. BLACK PIN MAKER LEAGUE | IG: @blackpinmakerleague – This IG page features black and brown companies that create patches and pins. This is a great way to add a little flair to a denim jacket or a cute backpack!
2. DIME NAILS LA | IG: @dimenails_la – This luxury nail salon is loved by many in LA! Located in the trendy and deeply cultured area of Fairfax, their unique designs are truly a standout in the booming nail industry. I’m hoping to get in there soon and get these tortoise shell nails done, such a cool look!
3. SATYA + SAGE | IG: @satyasage – We’re spending a lot of time inside these days, what better way to bring in the good vibes than with these products from Satya + Sage?! Everything is handmade and eco-friendly, take some time to “slow down + create your sacred space” as their page says.
4. VANILLA BLACK COFFEE | @vanillablackla – “Once you go black, you’ll never go back” is the catchy pun printed on all of their coffee cups. Coincidentally, this is something I say on my hinge profile as well. All jokes aside, if you need your daily caffeine fix, Vanilla Black Coffee in Echo Park is the spot! This quaint coffee shop is the perfect place to go if you want to start your day off right.
5. A A K S | IG: @a.a.k.s – I personally like to be able to standout in a crowd of people (pre-covid of course), and these colorful bags are the perfect way to do so! Each bag is hand-crafted in Ghana and available for purchase online with shipping available around the world.
6. POPPY + ROSE | IG: @poppyandrosela – Just looking at these photos made my mouth water. I miss brunch SO much, sigh. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day because of all the different options, luckily Poppy + Rose didn’t miss a single one! I can’t wait to make this my go-to Sunday brunch spot with the girls.
7. LAND OF GOLD | IG: @thelandofgold – Dainty jewelry, is the best type of jewelry. Especially when it’s layered! Land of Gold by Havilah is the perfect mixture of earthly and etherial. Plus, gold jewelry with ALL shades of brown skin looks bomb AF!
Check back in the next few weeks, I will be posting more black owned businesses. Until then… happy shopping!
All of my life, I’ve never really been able to fit in. Not that I didn’t have friends, I just was never part of a “group”. For starters, I was always one of very few black students from first to twelfth grade. Even then, some of the black students didn’t exactly like the fact that I did not grow up in the same neighborhood as them. On the other hand, the white students (and their nosey parents) couldn’t exactly grasp the fact that I lived in a nice neighborhood, and in some cases even better than that of their own. No one was ever mean to my face, but they did make sure to remind me that I was in fact “different”.
Besides the color of my skin, I also have had different interests than the rest of the girls. I loved playing with Barbies and Bratz dolls, but I also enjoyed riding 4-wheelers and going fishing. All of the girls I knew loved shopping, make-up, and dresses, to this day I still hate all three. The mall is my personal hell, I probably wear make up twice a year, and the pants to dress ratio in my closet is 1,000 to one. I’ve always loved Star Wars, and playing with action figures, and going to see the latest Marvel flicks with my dad and brother. I’m not a girly girl, yet I’m not a “tomboy”. I’ve always had a lot of guy friends, but I’m not necessarily “one of the boys”.
Even my music taste has always been unique. Thanks to my parents, I grew up listening to Prince, The Doobie Brothers, and Miles Davis. But as a product of the 90’s I have a special place in my heart for The Spice Girls, *NSYNC, and Britney Spears. The older I got the more expansive my collection of music was. I began listening to artists of all genres, such as Kanye West, Tyler the Creator, Black Sabbath, Death Grips, Daft Punk, Bjork, The Gorillaz and so many others. Though I listen to a vast majority of music, you probably won’t catch me dead at a Taylor Swift or Ariana Grande concert. Both which are popular among girls my age. That being said, it’s often hard to find someone who listens to, or even enjoys all of the aforementioned artists and genres. My parents are relieved that they no longer have to sit through *NSYNC concerts, but they also are weary that their daughter listens to a group by the name of Death Grips (understandably so).
I always thought badly of myself, because everyone made it seem as though having other interests than the norm was wrong. The older I got I realized just how special it was to be “different”. So many people force themselves to fit into a box just to fit in with everyone else because it’s easier than defending your personal choices. But truthfully, it takes more courage to be unique. It took a while to get here, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m happy to be different, because different is better than being dull.
Black women are the blueprint. Periodt. For decades we have been the originators of the most popular trends, however this is only after white women deem it “fashionable”. In recent years, there’s been an influx of non black women wearing box braids, colorful hair/wigs, door-knocker hoop earrings, long acrylic nails, and many other styles that originated in black culture, without giving the credit where it is due.
Celebrities like Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Iggy Azalea, Miley Cyrus, Gwen Stefani and plenty more have profited off of black culture. They like advertise their fashion choices to their fans as if they were something cool and new that they discovered on their own. However, these styles have been sported as far back as the 1980’s by black women from the “hood”, but being “hood” or “ghetto” was something that society equated to being “trashy”. Ironically, the same members of this society watched and figured out how to on how to make it their own.
Kylie Jenner is best known for being a “billionaire” from her lip kits (which is a whole other story… whew), but she also is known for constantly changing her hair with the help of a wig and wearing revealing outfits around town. While wigs and skimpy clothes can be found in any culture, the specific style she is attempting to emulate was popularized by the one and only Lil’ Kim.
In the black culture, Lil’ Kim “The Queen B” is hailed as one of the most notable innovators of style in the late 1990’s and 2000’s. Everywhere she went her outfits always made a statement, and every day she had a brand new hair color. Much to Kylie’s advantage, most of her followers either are unaware of who Lil’ Kim is or weren’t even alive yet, so it’s much easier for her to market her style as something that is unique to her and her “brand”.
Similarly, her sister’s Kim and Khloe have done the same thing when it comes to super long acrylic nails and box braids or cornrows. So much so that “Kardashian Braids” comes up on google as opposed to actual black women with braided hairstyles. Sigh. When I was younger, there were only specific nail stylists in Brooklyn or Queens that were able to do these unique acrylic nail styles. Now that mainstream culture has accepted them as “fashionable”, every nail salon offers this service. Once again, these styles are only acceptable when white people are able to make a profit from it.
Iggy Azalea and Gwen Stefani‘s careers solely exist due to their blatant appropriation of black culture (their success definitely not owed to their musical skills). They were seen as cool, hip white girls, compared to that of someone like Taylor Swift. Unfortunately the same respect is not given to the black women who created the very styles.
For years black women have lost out on job opportunities due to their style of dress or hairstyles. Still today in 2020, forty-three states discriminate people of color due to their hair. The Crown Act has only been passed in seven states, including New York and California. So it’s completely disrespectful to see non black women wearing these styles as if they created them. It’s even more disrespectful to see the fact that they are praised for being unique, rather than being discriminated against. Black women are sent home from work because their employers see their hair as “unkept”, and black students are often denied the educational opportunities they deserve just because they wear their hair in it’s natural state.
This is why the argument that “black women wear straight or blond styles” is embarrassingly weak. Black women are forced to change the state or appearance of their hair in order to increase the amount of opportunities that come their way.
The styles that we prefer to wear are not accepted in society until a white celebrity makes it look “cool”, or brands like Forever 21 and Fashion Nova advertise street clothes using white models. Currently the Oxford Dictionary defines “Ghetto Fabulous” as “denoting or exemplifying an ostentatious or flamboyant lifestyle or style of clothing of a type associated with the hip-hop subculture. While this is technically true, it completely disregards the black culture that it was born from, just like the appropriators or “culture vultures” frequently do. There was a point in time that ghetto was the last thing anyone wanted to be due to the connotation associated with it. But of course, black culture is seen as ghetto until proven fashionable.
May 21st, 1972 – The Notorious B.I.G. aka Biggie Smalls aka Christopher Wallace was born! As a native New Yorker, Biggie is a quintessential part of my childhood upbringing. In almost every home video we have, Biggie is bound to play in the background at some point. In the mid 90’s everyone was wearing Coogi sweaters because they wanted to be as smooth and stylish as The Notorious B.I.G.
Unfortunately his life was cut short on March 9th, 1997 right here in Los Angeles. Though he was only on this Earth for a brief moment, his music and legacy will live on forever. I was barely three years old when he was killed, but over twenty years later I am still blasting his music. Though time will continue to pass, as a New Yorker Biggie’s music and life will always be celebrated. Below I have created a playlist of my favorite songs either by or featuring The Notorious B.I.G., comment on which one is your favorite!
Mother’s day is this Sunday! In my opinion a loving yet fierce mother is the key to the family foundation, (much like my momma!). Unfortunately not everyone gets to experience this, but luckily there were plenty of women on TV who played doting mothers. Many people from all generations can recall a few TV mothers that had an impact on their life.
Below are a few of my favorites, see if you recognize any and comment on which had the most impact on you!
Claire Huxtable (The Cosby Show) – Claire always knew how to teach her kids lessons with style and grace.
Carol Brady (The Brady Bunch) – Mrs. Brady was always very wise. Not only was she a great mother to her daughters, but she was also a fantastic step-mother to her three new sons!
Vivian “Aunt Viv” Banks (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air) – Now I know certain people prefer one Aunt Viv over the other, but I liked both! Both were very strong matriarch’s to the Banks family.
Wilma Flintstone & Betty Rubble (The Flintstones) – Wilma and Betty had a hard enough time dealing with their husbands antics, but imagine trying to raise two babies like Pebbles and Bam-Bam on top of that…. kudos!
Lily Munster (The Musnters) – Without Lily the Munsters would not have survived! Lily was able to maintain a house full of wacky family members and help them all cope with the fact that they didn’t quite look like everyone else in the neighborhood.
Samantha Stephens (Bewitched) – Samantha might hide a few things from Darren, but she is always fiercely protective of her family, especially little Tabitha!
Rochelle (Everybody Hates Chris) – Everyone in the neighborhood knows they better not mess with Rochelle or her family!
Jane Jetson (The Jetsons) – Jane was the ultimate renaissance woman! She was always hip to the newest fashions, was part of the Galaxy Women Historical Society, and was even awarded Miss Solar System. All while keeping balance and order in the Jetson household!
Morticia Addams (The Addams Family) – Morticia was always very kind, patient, and understanding with her kooky and spooky family.
Florida Evans (Good Times) – Florida is the main thing that kept the Evans family together! Even when James died (damn, damn, damn…!) she made sure her closely knit family stayed as such.
Catelyn Stark (Game of Thrones) – Catelyn is fiercely loyal and protective to her family and her kingdom. Luckily before her untimely passing, she was able teach her children everything she knew.
Linda Belcher (Bob’s Burgers) – Linda is the life of the party and the fiercest mom there is! She always looks on the bright side and always supports her family no matter how crazy the idea is!
Yes, I know I’m late to the party but I’m glad I finally went! Amoeba Music is a record store located on Sunset Boulevard. There are many other Amoeba locations around California, but the original location opened up in 1990, on Telegraph Avenue up in Berkeley, California. I happened to go on “Star Wars” Day, so all of the Star Wars items were on sale!
There is SUCH an extensive collection of vintage music, movies, posters, and art from all different genres and decades. I wasn’t even sure where to begin! It was also quite nostalgic to be in there because I remember actually buying CD’s to put in my boombox and disc-man. My mom also felt nostalgic upon seeing 8-track records and Vinyl’s that my grandma used to play.
I was able to find a few cool items, but I felt as though there was so much to discover. I look forward to visiting Amoeba Music again in the near future!
IT’S FINALLY HERE… the Met Gala! If you are unaware the Met Gala occurs every year and is a fundraising event held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in NYC. Top designers create extravagant pieces based on the year’s theme for different celebrities.
This year’s theme was “Camp”. The idea was based of of Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on Camp”. Camp essentially is the art of being “extra”, but in the best way possible, so over-doing it is encouraged! I loooove the idea of camp and have always been inspired by figures like the Spice Girls, Cher, Prince, and many more who perfectly exhibit what it means to be “Camp”.
I’m so glad so many people went above and beyond on the pink carpet, below are my favorite looks from the night!