“Here, within these lines, on this concrete court, this patch of turf, here, you are defined by your actions. Not your looks or beliefs. Equality should have no boundaries. The bonds we find here (the court/field) should run pass these lines. Opportunity should not discriminate. The ball should bounce the same for everyone. Worth should outshine color. If we can be equals here, we can be equals everywhere.”

These are the words of actor Michael B. Jordan, as he narrated a commercial last February for Nike. A commercial that featured LeBron James, Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, former NFL wide receiver Victor Cruz, Olympic champion Gabby Douglas, soccer star and LGBT activist Megan Rapinoe, and Olympic hurdler Dalilah Muhammad

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In the hip-hop community, there is no denying that it pays to have connections. We’ve seen how producing performers like Drake attach their names to music acts, and almost instantly, a breakthrough artist is born. The Canadian rap master started his record label, October’s Very Own Sound, in 2012 as an offshoot of Warner Bros. Records. Since then, he has been monopolizing the Canadian rap scene, signing upcoming artists left and right. His first signee, Partynextdoor, has received much praise from rap critics and listeners in the span of just one year.

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There is an infinite amount of risks when it comes to being an actor. First and foremost, there is the possibility of never achieving success. However, even after playing an Oscar-winning role, there comes the imminent fear of being typecast. Even some of our most beloved performers carry this burden, and we just don’t seem to care as viewers. We love Michael Cera as the “awkward cute boy,” and we love Morgan Freeman as “the wise older man.” But, at a certain point, this lack of variety has to be boring for the actors. Rejecting such uniformity, Actress Viola Davis has demonstrated great versatility throughout her career. Recently, she has diversified her resume with the addition of the tough-as-nails defense attorney Annalise Keating of ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder.”

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The great continent of Africa has given us so much,., from being the birthplace of modern man and the catalyst which shaped civilization, the “Motherlandhas given so much to the world. The latest gem that Africa has bestowed upon us is hyper-realist painter, Babajide Olatunji. Olatunji’s Tribal Mark Series I-V has become a sought after commodity, especially since the world has begun acquiring African artwork by the droves in recent years.

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Once considered an act of vandalism, graffiti is now widely accepted as a form of art. Though the act of graffiti has ancient roots, modern street art began popping up in urban areas during the 1970s as a means of sociopolitical expression. Silenced by the authorities, street artists were punished for their bold, rebellious artwork. Graffitists attempt to reclaim public space with their paintings, capturing the cultural essence of the environment. While some may view this process as menacing or threatening, many have found the artwork compelling and reflective of urban life. For French artist Noe Two, graffiti is not only a form of self expression, but a communal act that has helped him foster relationships with people from  different backgrounds.

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“Sophisticated design for the modern woman” is the way the Italian shoe designer label, Via Spiga,  is described on its official Facebook page, but what it should say is “put some sass in your step.” Because, the Via Spiga shoe designs are some of the most lively and colorful ones around today. Their shoes combine elegant classic shapes like the stiletto heel or the wedge with modern detailing like ropes, cutouts, and buckles that give their designs a unique twist. They are metallic when everything else is matte and they are bringing luxury back one step at a time.

The Via Spiga label was established back in 1985 and it got its name from the main street in one of the most famous shopping districts in Milan. The Via Spiga ”Heritage” page on the company’s website says, “Italian design, luxurious materials and beautiful detailing maintain Via Spiga’s rich heritage…” and I personally have to agree with them. Their designs are beautiful, wearable, and most importantly unique. I can’t tell you how many pairs of matte flats I’ve seen lately and I’m over it. By the looks of things, so is Via Spiga.

 

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Wayne’s manager and long-time friend, Cortez Bryant is arguably one of the hardest working men in the hip-hop industry. As Chief Operating Officer of Young Money Entertainment and CEO of Bryant Management, he has transformed fresh new faces into hip-hop icons with his innovative business strategies. Despite his incredibly successful career, Bryant’s story is one of an ambitious friend that dove into the music industry with little experience. Rejecting other career paths, he put it all on the line for his high school friend. His vision was to transform a dream into a reality. With a strong work ethic and relentless spirit, he helped Wayne’s life aspiration come to fruition and established his own career as a leading businessman in the hip-hop industry.

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It was a giant step for Blake Shelton, actually it would have been for anyone. In 1994, just weeks after graduating high school, the Oklahoma born country singer packed his bags and headed for Nashville, Tenn., a place that established some of country music’s biggest stars like Alan Jackson and Dolly Parton. “I was so naïve though – when you’re seventeen, this [is] going to be easy – so, I never had a doubt that I was going to make it one day,” Shelton said in an interview with Country Music Television.

After years of working random jobs and playing his guitar in bars, the perseverance finally paid off for the young country-rock musician. In 1998, Shelton was signed to the now defunct Giant Records. He released his first single “Austin,” on his self-titled debut album.

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Though you may not be familiar with her name, you’ve lived in her style whether her name was on the label or not. Fashion designers are well known for their head to toe impeccable appearances, in the case of Isabel Marant, you’ll find a more lax style. Baggy sweaters, easy hair-dos and just a light touch of makeup encompass Marant’s look.

However, this is not the same as the clothes she creates. Marant’s designs are very subdued in color. Earthy, natural tones are occasionally splashed with a pop of blue or red. A billowy blouse is complemented by a sleek pair of crop pants. The best part about this is that Marant’s clothes are great for everyday wear. Nothing is grandiose or flamboyant – the focus is on making clothes that people want to wear, not just a piece of art that could be worn, but that will be worn. “I want to make real clothes that you keep in your closet a long time, that you don’t tire of, and that you can juxtapose with the next collection,” Marant said with the arts and travel site Hobo Magazine.

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