I went to the spot where Katy Perry recently hosted her four-day live-streamed existence to promote her latest album, Witness. Now an empty makeshift “home” and temporary pop-up shop, super fans were allowed to visit and poke around. You could lay in the bed Katy jumped on, sit on the couches that several comforted several of her celeb friends and things of the sort.
Covering it for Billboard, I have to admit that I essentially came into it with a “Who would want to go to this?” attitude. But after hanging around a bit, seeing how dedicated some of Katy’s fans are and reading bits of the notes they wrote her, I left with a lot more respect for not only Katy (who I’ve always appreciated as an artist), but her followers—many who have used her music to power themselves through breakups and sickness. Give it a read.
On Monday night Kevin Durant’s 2017 NBA Champion t-shirt was damp with champagne. The goggles that protected his eyes from bottle corks and alcohol drops dangled from his neck. A smile as true as his jumpshot sparkled from ear to ear. He had just won his first title and was the series’ MVP.
Sitting in for a post-game SportsCenter interview with ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt, he was asked what he now sees in himself after accomplishing such a feat. “Nothing,” he responded. “This doesn’t complete me. I already knew who I was before this even happened. I’m going to continue to be the person I was yesterday.”
On the surface, this answer could seem like complete bullshit. Like, dude, YOU’RE AN NBA CHAMPION, THE BEST PLAYER ON THE BEST TEAM IN THE BEST BASKETBALL LEAGUE ON EARTH!
But on second thought, I understand why he’d say that. Today and, I presume, throughout the rest of the summer, many will write their think-pieces and essays about how—at last!—Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder last year as a free agent to join the Golden State Warriors (the team that kicked him out of the playoffs that year) has been vindicated.
The idea is that his decision to go to a better team, one likely to go on several future championship runs with or without him, wouldn’t have been valid or accepted by the the peanut gallery unless he performed spectacularly (he did) and won this year. And like I briefly noted last summer, that’s dumb. Mostly because the man made a decision for himself. As the author of his life story, no one but him has the right to put their pen on his pages.
Sure, Kevin could have done things the “hero” way and continued to toil and chip away year after year in a small town as half of the one-two punch Russell Westbrook completed. Maybe they would have gotten to the finals again (OKC had been before in 2012, and lost to the LeBron James-led Miami Heat). Maybe. But KD decided the next chapter of his life would go in another direction.
Then came the ridicule. People called him weak, soft, pathetic even. All because he didn’t do things how XYZ legendary veteran who may or may not have won a champion by staying “loyal” to the team that drafted them or was on a team where they were one of a maximum two star players (ie: Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller…).
Hell, even Nike released an ad right after his Finals-sealing Game 5 victory that addressed the naysayers—a minute’s worth of pundits arguing about Durant’s supposed mental and physical flaws and ending with him a champ in a confetti storm. “DEBATE THIS,” it closes. A classic, well-articulated “Fuck you, hater!” without being too crass for network TV.
So I totally get why Kevin would say he’s the same guy he was before the locker room bubbly bath. It’s a mix self-assured confidence and not wanting to let us know he gave a shit about anyone else’s opinions. Though he might admit later that he heard the chatter and that it motivated him a tad bit, I doubt Durant will ever say that he ever felt that he needed to be vindicated for his controversial choice.
If anything KD probably felt that he made the right decision after training camp and a few games with the Warriors during Fall/Winter 2016, when he was enjoying the music that booms out of practice facility speakers while Coach Kerr is running through Xs and Os. Or when he realized that playing for Golden State really is as fun as it looks on TV, with Steph Curry joyously splashing threes launched just inside half court and eagerly throwing him no-look passes on the next possession. Or when he got emphatic encouragement from forward Draymond Green.
Kevin Durant wasn’t waiting for anybody’s approval. He gave himself the okay, And now he’s the champion he always wanted to be. Critics can say they don’t like how his story played out. But there’s no debating that.
Underappreciated legend Janet Jackson turned 51 today. Why isn’t she in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame yet? Why don’t I see more people wearing vintage Miss Jackson tees? How many of today’s alt-R&B singers are direct descendants of Janet’s quiet storm sleepers like Rhythm Nation’s “Lonely” or Janet‘s “Anytime, Anyplace” (Jhene Aiko, Tinashe…)? Ah, let’s talk about that another day.
Whipped up this fashion bit about Janet’s videos and the ‘fits she got off in them. Plenty of which wouldn’t look out of place on your favorite style blog.
Any Tupac Shakur fan will tell you that the rapper, actor, and activist was a layered individual—sweet, brash, thoughtful, aggressive, intelligent and witty are just a few attributes that could be accurately lobbed his way. But one that I think has been a bit forgotten is how stylish he was. This week marks the marks the 25-year anniversary of 2Pac’s first album, 2Pacalypse Now, making its Billboard chart debut (April 25, 1992).
To mark the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s impact on the fashion game, I connected with several stylists (my guy Memsor Kamarake, Brea Stinson, Wouri Vice, and Ty Hunter) and asked them about ‘Pac’s impact on the style world. Whether it was his iconic shoot with David LaChapelle, his role as Lucky in Poetic Justice, or his street style, Tupac still influences a lot of our favorite artists’ sense of fashion today.
“Tupac was one of the original fashion killers, pioneering the melding of street style—bandanas, gold chains, exposed boxers—with high fashion, which is now commonplace in mags and on runways worldwide.” – Memsor Kamarake, former VIBE Magazine Fashion Editor, current Stylist for Wendy Williams and The Wendy Williams Show.
Kendrick Lamar may be the best rapper out right now at hiding the proverbial medicine in the candy. His latest album, DAMN. has songs that are focused on totally unattractive topics when it comes to their assumed commercial potential: Humility. Loyalty. Integrity. And they’re all touched on as part of his exploration of religion, another touchy subject. Making club-ready, popular Hip-Hop that bangs as hard as DAMN. does while quoting Bible verses in the lyrics is no easy feat. Still, as Kendrick says on “ELEMENT.,” he makes it all sound sexy.
As I marveled at DAMN. over several listens, I wrote about how Kendrick is learning more about himself and the world he lives in with the guidance of Bible scripture for Billboard.
Here’s a taste: “The Bible’s influence is immense. For many it functions as their life’s compass, by which going in the right direction means to walk in God’s footsteps and all other paths — at best — lead nowhere. That perspective is what Kendrick Lamar cautiously navigates on his third proper studio LP, DAMN.”
With festival season upon us, young gun model Luka Sabbat has some words to heed in regards to trying too damn hard to look good while you’re dancing in the dirt:
“But really, just wear a white tee, some jeans and a pair of sneakers that you can fuck up. You’re at a festival, not fashion week. Some people do too much and get mad when their clothes get fucked up. Nobody came out to see your outfit. We came to see the artists.”
So true. There are dozens of Best Looks at Coachella lists that include both musicians and fans out there. But more times than not, when I see the fan ‘fits, some variant of what Luka says up there comes to mind. Why not just throw on some old Chucks, Levi’s, a tee, scarf, and hat (props to those who know to bring hoodie for the night chill)?
I talked to Sabbat about that and some other fun topics—walking in Kanye West’s Yeezy shows, John Mayer’s low-key style and more. Check it out.