Crowns & Hops Afropunk Story

Beny Ashburn & Teo Hunter of Crowns & Hops

Wrote this story recently on Teo and Beny, who run Crowns & Hops. They’ve been serving (and introducing) craft beer to a community who often isn’t invited in by the brands who are currently at the top: Black people.

CROWNS & HOPS: CRAFT BEER FOR US, BY US

I sat down with them out here in LA, had a few brews, and talked about what they’re doing to change the game. The answer is a lot. They’re doing a lot. Read the story here.

Game of Thrones Talk with SZA

SZA on the set of “Power is Power” | Shot by Henry Arres

SZA teamed up with Travis Scott and The Weeknd for “Power is Power,” the lead single from For the Throne: Music Inspired by the HBO Series Game of Thrones. Now just because she’s on the soundtrack for TV’s most popular show doesn’t mean that she’s a true fan of it. Luckily, she is.

‘Game of Thrones’ superfan SZA taps into her inner Khaleesi in a new single

I got on the phone with her last week for the Los Angeles Times to not only talk about the track’s upcoming music video, but also why she loves the HBO drama.

“There are some real things for us to relate to on the show,” she told me. “Maybe not fucking my brother [alluding to the incestuous relationship Cersei Lannister, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, has with her brother Jamie], but you know… the other stuff.”

Agreed, agreed.

Give it a read here.

Tour Fashion: Jay-Z and Beyonce’s On the Run II | Drake and Migos


As the game changes and traditional reviews become less of a commodity (who wants to read a play-by-play of a concert when it’s being plastered by fans over social media, city-by-city?), I’ve had to find ways to cover shows and qualify my access to all the cool shit I get to go to. It’s a blessing to get a free pair of tix to see huge acts rock.

How Beyonce, JAY-Z, Migos And Drake Made Their Tour Stages Fashion Runways, Too

A decade in the biz and great relationships means that no-strings-attached assists happen all the time. Still, why not mix a little work in with play and get a good story off? So instead of doing a basic review of the Drake and The Three Migos and Jay-Z and Beyonce’s On the Run II tours, I stepped to it from a fashion perspective. What brands assisted these guys in looking like the icons they are? I ended up talking to Migos’ stylist Zoe Costello and designer LaQuan Smith for Vibe Magazine and learning about what goes into draping Jay, Bey’, Drake and the Atlanta amigos for the road.

Read it here.

Air Jordan Talk with DJ Khaled

DJ Khaled | Shot by Jerritt Clark / Getty Images for Epic Records

DJ Khaled’s a man for the people. I met up with him to talk about his new Air Jordans. Following the press conference of sorts that he held to debut the sneaks, fans who lined the block to see him were allowed inside. We were supposed to have a brief interview in a back room, but he insisted that we do it in the main area with the fans.

DJ Khaled opens up about Jay-Z and Beyoncé, his son Asahd and his recent Jordan Brand collaboration

So at the podium, he picked up his microphone as I sat next to him. “This is one of the big editors,” Khaled told the crowd jokingly, urging them to quiet down. His publicist had just told him that I was with the Los Angeles Times Fashion section. Then he slid me an ice cold water, in a motion that suggested I deserved it more than he. Comedically catering to me aside, we had a fun convo about his Air Jordan IIIs, how his Airness inspired him, and creating furniture. Head over to the LA Times to read it all here

 

 

Blood Orange and Touring Grief: Billboard Review

 

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Devonte “Blood Orange” Hynes | Photo c/o Instagram

 


 

I saw what maybe was my fourth Blood Orange show a few weeks back. I love his latest album, Negro Swan. As I mention in my Billboard piece about that Friday night at The Greek Theater here in L.A., Swan is a fragile collection of sad happenings in singer-songwriter Devonte Hynes’ life.

Blood Orange’s Negro Swan Tour Brings an Outcast’s Pain to a City Near You

His concert reflected that, which made me feel for him. There’s a victory in turning tough times into income and a viable connection with countless fans and followers. But still, after three mostly somber solo offerings, I’m about ready to hear a joy-filled Blood Orange album. I guess that means he’d have to live a happy life that inspires that sort of content and sound. I wish that for him, too.

Read the piece here.

How Daniel Caesar’s Feeling About the Love and Pressure

 


 

Daniel Caesar seems to be handling pressure well. With success comes expectations. Fans of the smooth singer wonder if he’ll be able to surpass his Freudian album’s gorgeous collection of songs and those in the industry have touted him “Next,” as in the next great R&B singer, the prince that will soon be king. Having so many believe in him is a gift and something to appreciate, sure. But it can also be stifling mentally.

Daniel Caesar | Next?

For Flaunt Magazine, Caesar and I spoke recently about what it means to be that guy and how he’s managing the new attention.

“When I’m in my room with my guitar,” he told me, “that’s definitely when I’m in my safest space.” He doesn’t get to spend much time there anymore.

Give it a read. Coincidentally, NPR just dropped Daniel Tiny Desk performance. Songstress H.E.R., who I’m a big fan of, also makes an appearance. Peep that, too.

My SZA Cover Story for Flaunt

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SZA’s Flaunt New Fantasy Issue Cover | image by Amanda Charchian

 


Can’t really explain why I didn’t post this cover story I did for Flaunt on here months ago. But this is a goodie. The interview happened just before SZA began prepping for her Coachella weekends. I met her on set for the cover shoot and from the start, I knew—at least—that she’d be warm and kind.

SZA | A Secret Garden at Wilshire and Park View

Her publicist guided her over to me. “This is Brad,” I heard her tell the singer as they approached. I extended my hand for a shake and for a split second I thought she was going to leave me hanging. SZA looked right past it. We all know that anxious feeling when you think you’re about to be made to look like a fool. It consumed me. Then, boom. She walked right into my chest for a hug. There was an awkward relief. “Oh!” I thought. “This is going be good and different.”

From there, she was pretty open and just the unique blend of quirky and cool that anyone who’s listened to her debut album Ctrl would expect her to be. We talked about insecurities, depression, and fantasies as she munched on her Shake Shack chicken burger.

 

SZA’s had a roller coaster existence as of late. On the high side, she just dropped her earthy “Garden (Say It Like Dat)” video, where she and Donald Glover get close in the forest. She can also be found making a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in Childish Gambino’s “This is America” video, shooting a coy look our way before Glover gets loose on a car roof.

On the low end, she has reportedly run her voice ragged. When I saw her in May at the Forum performing during her set at TDE’s Championship Tour, she sounded solid. But her pipes, she said recently on Twitter, are busted. “My voice is permanently injured,” SZA wrote. She can be a bit dramatic at times, I notice. Top Dawg  CEO Anthony Tiffith just told fans, “ I will get her with the best doctors and she will be fine.” I believe him.

When SZA and I spoke, she said she’s anxious to get started on her sophomore album. Obviously, it’ll probably be a while before she’s at full strength in the studio. But if you’re looking to learn a bit more about the Jersey hugger, read my cover story here.