There is an unfathomable power emitted by art that uses urban landscapes as its canvas. It is not exclusive to those of a certain social class or within art circles; it is accessible to all. It does not rely on an unchanging gallery space to be seen or understood; it adapts to the fluidity and movement of its dynamic surroundings.

I can’t personally think of many guys who aren’t madly in love with Soulstress, Alicia Keys. In fact, I’m pretty sure there are a good number of girl-crushes on her too. Keys has been America’s sweetheart since her debut album, Songs in A Minor that dropped in 2001. It featured songs like, “Fallin’,” and “A Woman’s Worth,” that set her apart from the pack and gave us something real to vibe to. For 16 years and five studio albums, Keys has held her fans down with her powerful voice, her skillfully played piano-driven scores and her relatable messages. Now, on the tail-end of 2016, she’s brought out a brand new album and a new message for the world.

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Keys didn’t intend to leave her fans waiting so long for new material after her last album, Girl on Fire came out in 2012. After a four-year wait, her highly-anticipated sixth album, Here was released November 4 and the wait is well rewarded. The album contains 16 tracks, five of which are interludes that are plucked from a film short that accompanies the album. Features are minimal, with only a few stars such as A$AP Rocky, along with production work from Pharrell, and Keys’ rapper/producer husband Swizz Beatz. Other than that, the album is mostly driven by Keys, who composes the majority of her own songs.

Although the production is familiar, with heavy use of piano and guitar based melodies, it has more flavor of New York City Hip-Hop as its underscore. Some tracks contain breakbeats pulled from old-school rap songs, while others contain samples and snippets from classics from Nas and Q-Tip that give it a very 90s sound. And the focus of the music reminds me of Lauryn Hill and India Arie. The lyrics are less about stories, and more about messages. For example, one track, “Pawn It All,” has a very blunt message: Always be ready to let go of things, especially material ones in order to improve your life.  “Kill Your Mama” highlights the damage we’re doing to our planet—our home and provider. One of the most powerful tracks, “She Don’t Really Care,” points out the skewed mindset of many modern young girls who search for the wrong things in their lives, hurting themselves and others in the process.

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Keys’ past work usually ran on the juice that powers most of the R&B genre, love songs. New love, broken love, and hopeful love were past themes of her music, and although that was never a bad thing, she decided she wanted to do something else with her voice for this project. “It is the best music I’ve done in a while,” Keys told Real 92.3 BigBoyTV. “In a lot of different ways this album brings me back to my first album in regards to the rawness and vulnerability. But it’s also the wisdom I have now.” I agree with her statement. This album is a lot like her first project.

Accompanying the album is The Gospel, a short film that is essentially a long video for the album, similar to Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’. The black and white video has heavy depiction of New York City’s gritty environment where Keys grew up. It is a visualization of Here and a depiction of her writing process for the album. The 22-minute film is just enough for you to get an idea of, not only how the album came together, but how Alicia Keys “came together” as well.

The singer explains the album’s title to BigBoyTV. “I called it ‘Here’ because I’m actually here. And I’ve actually arrived to a place where I can know myself.” Perhaps the biggest difference between this album and her previous ones would be the album cover. All previous covers had Keys’ image made-up, and possibly photoshopped, with model-like precision. This album’s cover, however depicts her raw and untouched.

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Keys has been making a large splash in the media recently with her decision to stop wearing make-up. Since her announcement, she has made numerous 2016 public appearances such as Today Show, MTV Music Video Awards, and various other interview and performance appearances. Although she remains radiant and strikingly beautiful without cosmetic help, her naked appearances have stirred up backlash from fans.  People argue that not everyone is as naturally pretty as she, and Fortune Magazine’s May 2016 article on the increased earning potential for made-up women didn’t help. But not all is negative, as many women who stand behind the message have evolved her decision into a movement dubbed, #No Makeup. Keys says she never intended to start a movement, only that she made a personal decision for herself, and wants women to decide for themselves what is best for them. She was surprised by the attention she’s received, but stands by her decision firmly, saying that she didn’t wish to cover any aspect of herself, physical or mental. “I felt like I was becoming a bit of a slave to always feeling like I had to be made up in order to pick up my son from school, or go to the grocery store, or down the block to meet a friend,” she said in her BigBoyTV interview. “I didn’t want to feel like that all the time. It kind of made me feel crazy.”

Not everyone may agree with Keys’ methods, but we can all agree that she is onto something wonderful. Her music and her thoughts give us a glimpse of a world where we can be ourselves without our peers or the media telling us how we should look, think and feel. She made a personal discovery and wants to share it with us all. Her discovery is that anyone who can make their desires the most important thing–will become free, unhinged and unrestricted.

-Chris Simmons

It’s not the typical name you’d expect a band to have. In fact, it seems quite controversial. Slaves.

The connotations are too negative. The history of the word is too dark. It’s too heavy, especially for a group of young musicians from Sacramento, California. Besides, what in the world could post hardcore experimental rock and slavery have in common? But that’s what they call themselves. And the reason why is pretty simple, even if it still causes some heads to turn. “We’re a slave to what we love,” Lead Singer Jonny Craig told Alternative Press, a magazine focused on alternative and punk music. Whether offended or intrigued, one can’t help but wonder about the story, music and people behind an experimental rock band called Slaves.

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Despite being formed in early 2014, the band has already released two studio albums. Jonny Craig, the lead vocalist, brought the group together. In fact, Craig revealed the band members via his twitter account. In addition to Craig, there’s guitarist Alex Lyman, bassist Colin Vieira and drummer Tai Wright. With each of them coming from previous music groups, the guys joined their talents together, releasing Through Art We Are All Equals, their first studio album on June 24, 2014. Aware that most either love him or hate him, Craig explained the band’s name a little further in an interview on the Ryan Rock Show, a Los Angeles radio show. “Men have been enslaving men for as long as we’ve had gods to hide behind. Every man is a slave to what we love-whether it be women, drugs, music or sports. Through art we are equals.” Representative of everyday struggles, addictions and decisions, many of the tracks depict a kind of mental, social, emotional and relational enslavement. Heavy metal sounds, matched with pop rock guitar chords and subtle, consistent drum beats combined with Craig’s sultry smooth voice gives the band a very independent feel. While some tracks feel more ACDC inspired, others have a kind of R&B, reflective and emotional tone. From “The Young and Beyond Reckless,” to  “Starving for Friends” (which features Vic Fuentes of Pierce the Veil), the album’s lyrics remind listeners of the subtle ways we’re enslaved to various cultural aspects and expectations. Featuring Tyler Carter of metalcore bands Issues and Woe is Me, “The Young and Beyond Reckless,” begins with the following words: A puppet is only as strong as its strings/I forgive and forget, yet the truth still stings/ the lies are all easy, and the words are hard to swallow/the leaders get killed/we’re never fulfilled/yet we follow (we all follow). Like the lyrics, the band itself has experienced both the highs and lows of the young and beyond reckless.

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“This band has to fight through each other’s personal problems as a whole, and then the opinions the rest of the world forms of these things as a whole,” Craig told Alternative Press on another occasion. Anyone familiar with the band understands the strong opinions the lead singer referenced. Besides fighting hostility due to Craig’s drug use and internet scams, the band has also had to deny rumors of them splitting up after they were kicked off the Warped Tour due to an altercation involving Craig. Additionally, Lyman, the band’s guitarist was stabbed last year. But through it all, the band remained together. “We have all taken each other’s addictions, family problems, relationship problems on as a group and have each individually became the strongest we’ve been in our lives because of this,” Craig continued to explain in his interview. The band grew financially as well. Fans helped raise $29,000 in less than 48 hours after Slaves was kicked off the tour. Through it all, the band continued to thrive, releasing Routine Breathing, their second album in August 2015.

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Today, the band’s twitter account boasts of their latest tour, Us Against the World. In so many ways, the name of the tour speaks to their spirit. In the midst of scandal, addictions, family problems and physical altercations, Slaves proves one thing to be true: there is power in unity. United by their artistry and their personal experiences, the members of Slaves are like a small, everyday family: flawed, human, slightly dysfunctional but talented and preserving. Like the title of their second album, it’s the routine breathing that keeps them going: the day by day decisions that turn experiences into tracks and tracks into albums and albums into tours. Through it all, their music explores the vast range of human experiences.

-Sharita Gilmore

Like most executives, he’s often found in business meetings discussing the latest plan to keep the company prospering. Marketing strategies, new product ideas and possible collaborations are all topics of discussion. Listening attentively, he takes out his Moleskine notebook. According to The Wall Street Journal, the notebook is always with him, even at the dinner table when he and his wife are out to eat. A businessman, it is easy to assume he’s recording notes, jotting down profit margins and planning out new ideas. In many ways, that is true, but the pages aren’t written on. Instead of meeting minutes, travel plans and/or mental reminders, they’re made up of doodles, sketches and shoe drawings because this is what is always on his mind. Though odd, it makes perfect sense considering he’s the CEO of Nike. Despite having never attended art school, 60 year old Mark Parker is a visionary both inside and outside the pages of his Moleskine notebook.

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At its core, Parker’s journey to Nike began with a dream. Perhaps daydream is better fitting. While studying Political Science at Penn State University, Parker ran cross country and track. Competitive and a visionary, Parker became obsessed with creating the perfect running shoe. As his passion for design grew, he started experimenting with various rubbers and waffle patterns. In addition to drawing, he glued the materials on the bottoms of his Asics shoes hoping for faster times on his marathon runs. Never giving up hope for designing the perfect running shoe, Parker started sketching various designs on graph paper, a tradition he maintains today. Not long after graduation, he joined Nike as a footwear designer in the research and design center located in Exeter, New Hampshire. Less than 10 years later, he became the Division Vice President, eventually going on to become the General Manager, Vice President of Global Footwear and finally, CEO in 2006. In fact, according to The Wall Street Journal, since Parker became CEO, Nike’s annual revenue is up 60 percent, profits have increased more than 50 percent and the brand’s market cap has more than doubled. It’s no wonder Parker was named Fortune’s 2015 Businessperson of the year. Ironically, he’s still into design just like he was during his college days, personally overseeing the brand’s emergence into the fashion industry, resulting in a larger range of high quality shoes.

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Beyond his love for designing shoes, Parker is quite the art fanatic. His office, located in Beaverton, Oregon at the Nike headquarters looks and feels like an art gallery. In fact, there are more than 1,000 pieces of art in Parker’s office. The various collections, including everything from Murakami and Warhol to a framed insect collection to canvas art to Japanese robots to individual portraits of the avengers superheros to a painted cartoon of Abraham Lincoln by Mark Ryden. Having discovered his love for collecting art from childhood excursions with his grandmother, Parker loves being surrounded by large amounts of art as it provokes creativity.

“Being open and curious to the world through collaboration is a way to nourish and inspire our own creative culture,” he told Hypebeast, an online entertainment magazine. Admitting that he listens and perceives information better visually, Parker has as many art friends as he does athletes. “I’ve sketched since a young age,” he tells Designboom, a digital magazine for design and architecture. “…So there’s always been an artistic side, a visual side to my personality.” This is more than evident for anyone that’s visited or seen the CEO’s office eclectic office which has living goldfish built into a table showcasing more art, Parker’s sketches and photographs with friends and colleagues.

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Part executive, part sports fanatic, part art collector and part designer, Mark Parker’s success is a result of a healthy balance between vision and collaboration. From the doodles in his notebook to his hour long discussions with athletes, Parker turns visions into products, designs into dollars and dreams into realities. Acknowledging the fickle changes that come along with sportswear, Parker focuses on the bigger picture and the larger vision. “There is this magnetic pull to focus more on the short term, the immediate, the quarter-to-quarter. And then there’s a sense of f-that, we are going to go out here and really create the future. And we need to do both. I have to live that tension,” he tells The Wall Street Journal. This same tension occurs between his doodles (often done in financial meetings) and the return in dollars. Beyond the tension though, are visions after visions brought to light and shared with the world. And anyone familiar with the Nike brand knows, the products are visions that the world loves.

-Sharita Gilmore

There is something special about a young man who, at such a young age, can put together genius collections of clothing lines ensembles that popularize like crazy, become an inducted member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and be crowned a winner on the ever so popular fashion designing reality show, Project Runway. Christian Siriano is this man. After winning Project Runway back in early 2008, entrepreneur, fashion designer and member of the CFDA, Siriano has been spending his years since doing big things in his career. His major successes range from the launching of his own fashion line, The Christian Siriano Collection, and the release of his first book, Fierce Style: How to Be Your Most Fabulous Self. It surely wasn’t long after his big win that Siriano’s designs were making their a debut appearance at New York Fashion Week later in 2008. His career continues to move in a positive direction, as well as his popularity, but in order to find himself headed toward a fashion whirlwind he had to start somewhere.

csia4Growing up with watching his mother designing costumes for his younger sister’s ballet, Siriano found himself surrounded by fashion at a young age as well as an interest that he longed to practice himself. He used this energy to work towards making his dream a reality. When the time to attend high school rolled around, He chose to take a step towards becoming educated on this new found love for fashion by attending the Baltimore School for the Arts, focusing on fashion design. His longing to find a creative outlet in what he did led him to places where he could do so. He went on to attend the American InterContinental University in London while also interning with renowned fashion designers Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. With experience in hand, graduating from college only led Siriano to larger opportunities in his career.

First on the list: New York. Upon first arriving in the fashion capital, Siriano was unable to jump directly into the designing job of his dreams; having no money and being new to the city, he had to settle as a freelance make-up artist until he was able to earn some extra cash. Fortunately, Siriano’s broke, temporary make-up artist persona didn’t last very long; he was quickly back on his feet and working as a paid intern for Marc Jacobs and auditioning for Project Runway. His career was truly taking off in a positive direction and people were noticing.
2008 was not only the year of Siriano’s big win on Season 4 of Project Runway, but the launching of The Christian Siriano Collection as well. Six months down the road, Siriano had accumulated his share of fans which led to the launching of his fashion line, giving his fans their very own Siriano products to buy. During a Q&A with freelance writer and editor Kate Montrell, Siriano said “It was a quick rush jolt into the limelight with celebrities wanting my designs and so much publicity because of the show,” referring to life after the launch. Although with the pressure weighing down on his shoulders, Siriano had enough motivation to quickly give the people what they wanted.

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According to the Christian Siriano official website, Siriano’s fashion line which is known for its whimsical designs, consisting of fantasy evening gowns, cocktail dresses, tailored sportswear, and intricately detailed shoes and accessories, brought in an estimated $5 million in 2012. The Christian Siriano Collection can be found in department stores and specialty boutiques all over the world, in an abundance of magazines, as well as worn by some the world’s greatest names in film, television, music and fashion. This collection was very much a significant accomplishment in Siriano’s fashion career.

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A great deal of successes continued to go his way in 2012 following with the the opening of the first flagship Christian Siriano store in New York City as well as being inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Siriano also designs a bridal collection for Nordstrom, four seasonal collections for Payless ShoeSource, as well as being involved in other design partnerships with retailers. And if that’s not enough, the Christian Siriano fragrance and eyewear line will make its launch in 2014. One may ask how Siriano has accomplished so much at only age 27, and this is all attributed to the determination, passion and pure talent he has for the work that he does. Dubbed “a prodigy” and “the next great American fashion designer,” by fashion guru and Project Runway mentor, Tim Gunn, Siriano continues to make enormous strides in his career continues to work towards affirming this statement.

-Kayla Rowe

A toddler that masters the violin while he is still crawling around in diapers probably sounds like a fictional story, or at least a true story that was exaggerated over time. But no, in this world, there exists a child prodigy that learned to play the violin at an exceptional rate. Not only that, but he mastered the violin at the tender age of two while other babies were learning to speak and use the toilet properly. It amazes me how intelligent this boy is. His intelligence has shocked people around the globe, but it may be his bravery that awed the most. The incredible violinist, Caesar Sant, has inspired thousands, if not millions, of people by constantly fighting and pulling through. While his life-threatening illness has been proven to destroy countless lives, Sant hasn’t allowed the disease to conquer him.

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I walked around the High Museum of Art solo, smiling at the images that covered the walls before me. Something about them gave me a feeling of warmth and at times they made me feel even more proud of my culture and heritage as an African-American woman. The emotions that came over me were unusual because most of the people that I saw in the photos were complete strangers and living in deplorable conditions, but I still felt a connection to them. Not simply because we share the same skin color, but the fact that these individuals seemed to know the importance of family, caring for those that are close to them and cherishing the small things that you cannot place a dollar amount on.

gparks3Back in the 1950s the late photographer Gordon Parks discovered something different in the black community. He saw something greater and more important to document besides the constant reminders of blacks suffering from oppression, disenfranchisement and poverty. Parks was able to shed light on positivity among black Americans and he decided to put this at the forefront of his work. When I look at his portraits, I believe that he saw black males as role models and leaders of their families, and he viewed black women as the support system and backbone of their households. The photographer illustrated his visions through photography, the images that he documented tell a story that anyone can interpret and learn from—through it all the black race finds a way to live a resilient lifestyle no matter what we are faced with.

Ironically the exhibit titled, “The Segregation Story,” includes a collection of more than 40 color photos by the late Gordon Parks. They are on display at the High Museum of Art until June 2015. The title reflects what was going on in America during the 1950s. But the photographer took a journalistic approach by covering both sides of the story, the good and the bad. He pictured African-Americans dealing with segregation but he put these issues in the backgrounds of the images and he still manages to keep the family as the focal point, showing that black lives matter and our families are important to us. His images represent people of color as a unit and they are displayed in color prints instead of black and white something that other photographers were not doing at this time.

gparks5Take for example a photo called “Window Shopping,” it shows Ondria Tanner and her grandmother out window shopping in 1956 in Mobile Alabama. They stand before a window looking at several mannequins that are positioned high above ground. The mannequins are white and they don’t reflect the lives of the viewers. This photo represents what was taking place back then and even today in 2014 – all men and women are not treated like equals, but we have a choice of the lifestyle that we want to display.

Another photo shows a black man entrepreneur who has created an in-home barbershop. As he shaves his client who sits in his chair, the barber’s children are sitting on the floor playing with their toys together. The father sets an example for his children by allowing them to see him working and leading a home business but still making time for his family.

Race played a big part of segregation especially America. White people were elevated just because of their skin color, and black people were shot down because of theirs and held in small degrading positions no matter how knowledgeable they were.

One of Parks’ photos called “Outside Looking In,” was taken in Mobile, Alabama. This particular image is included in Life magazine’s 1956 photo essay called “The Restraints: Open and Hidden.” In the photo, a group of six black children stand outside of a fence peering through a gate as they stare into the park longing for the opportunity to be able to play inside of the park just like the white children were able to do. Even though the children are clearly saddened by this, they still huddle together in a time of distress.

gparks7Gordon Parks was an amazing man, who died in 2006. In Parks’ lifetime he broke several barriers, he was the first African-American photographer for Life magazine, and in 1944 he was the only black photographer working for Vogue magazine. Parks also co-founded Essence magazine and he became hollywood’s first major black film director.

When it comes to the “Segregation Story,” I think the black community needs to take a hint from our elders and work to make our situation better by taking action and creating change, before lives are sacrificed and dreams are shattered. The black community is notorious for being reactive, but now is the time to be proactive. Our ancestors had the knowledge and courage to do it back then and here we are in 2014 with the world in our hands (literally) so what’s our excuse?

-Jaya Franklin

She captured him so perfectly: his dark shades, full lips and creative swag. The vibrant colors used to create his sweater simultaneously demonstrate her creative license and his unique style. Ironically, his name described her painting with ease: notorious. He, of course, was Notorious B.I.G. and she was was notorious for her art. A self described Jill-of-all-trades, Danielle Mastrion paints on walls, canvases, engages in graphic design and even dibs and dabs in photography. Her murals, bright, bold and culturally relevant, cover several walls in Brooklyn with socially conscious narratives. Illustrating the lives of well-known icons, her art functions like documentaries endlessly playing on city streets. But this extremely talented yet laid back street artist never imagined she’d end up creating murals.

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dani4“I come from a super fine art background and I wanted to master oil painting,”she told Frank151, an independent media company. “I didn’t go to school to become a muralist, street artist, or even [an] aerosol artist, which was the furthest thing from my mind.” Instead, she explained, her work naturally progressed from canvas to walls as a friend noticed that her paintings continued to increase in size. As a result, this technically trained Parson’s School of Design graduate found herself engrossed in the world of public art. Along with that though, she proudly carried her Brooklyn heritage. As a native New Yorker, Mastrion enjoys exploring the city’s history through her art. Her murals, for example, range from dedications to Babe Ruth to tributes to the Beastie Boys to Jay Z to Billie Holiday.

But Mastrion’s narratives are not always rooted in New York. They tell the stories of icons from all over the world. Channeling her inner activist, she painted a mural in dedication and solidarity for the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign, the worldwide response to Boko Haram’s kidnapping of 270 Nigerian school girls. Joining her artistry with the activism of civilians, political leaders, diplomats and celebrities all across the globe, Mastrion illustrated global citizenry through her art. She’s also painted the late Nelson Mandela and Trayvon Martin. Illustrating her love for cultural icons in Europe, she created a mural for French painter and sculptor Marcel Duchamp.

One of Mastrion’s most compelling murals is “Malala Yousafzai,” the young girl from Pakistan that survived a brutal attack from the Taliban. Adorned in a fuschia hijab, Malala’s hazel eyes speak for themselves; they speak of freedom: freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of the press. The eyes, a key element in all of her art, symbolize an artist’s ability to look at the world and express his/her opinions freely and creatively.

dani2“I didn’t think that I do this but I’ve noticed from seeing pictures of me working that I always start with the eyes,” Mastrion told Frank151. “I think if you don’t have the eyes right when it comes to making portraits then you might as well not continue.” Her precise dedication to such a small part of the face reminds me of a quote by art critic G.K. Chesterton. He said, “There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect.” While both Mastrion and her art are full of knowledge, wisdom and cultural intelligence, the eyes of her subjects, reminds viewers of stories, people, songs, and moments in history that bypassed the mind and captures the heart.

Danielle Mastrion creates art that makes you laugh, smile and think at the same time. She’s not afraid of making bold statements. Commenting on what she’d do with a million dollars, She stated that she’d pay off student loans and then blamed the U.S. government for her debt. She also said she’d buy her mother a house off of the beach. It’s these kinds of stories that Mastrion reveals through her art: narratives that highlight humanity. But be warned, this technical artist has and continues to kick butt in live painting art battles, one of her most prized accomplishments.

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With her work featured in not only New York but Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, Washington DC, Israel, Mexico, Cuba, Berlin, Paris and London, it’s no question why she’s successful. What I love most though, is that this self-declared beach bum tells it like it is. I hope her artistic eye never fades and that her work continues to tell the stories we love best: those of our heroes, our advocates, our cities, our songs and our memories.

-Sharita Gilmore

Unknown singers and dancers are being found out by small-time and big-time companies. It’s sort of incredible to think that one day you could be singing in front of your Panasonic camera, making a home video, and then a month later you get a call from a large record company asking you to fly to the big city and sign a deal with them. It isn’t something that can happen to anyone, but it can happen if you’re a talented, English singer and guitarist. James Bay is a lucky guy that happened to be videotaped during a live show in a pub and he got a call to come to New York a few months later. He is very young, but for the amount of time that he has been on the scene, he has proven he has got what it takes to run with the best of them.

jab3Bay became inspired by blues music after hearing Eric Clapton’s single, “Layla,” when he was only 11 years old. In an interview with Mark Savage, a journalist and blogger for BBC News, Bay was asked how he got started playing the guitar. “There was a guitar that my uncle owned and never learned to play. He sold it to my dad and when I heard Layla, that was the tune that really grabbed me. I said to my dad, ‘wait, there’s a guitar, right?’” Eric Clapton’s song definitely provided a lot of inspiration for Bay to go towards a career in music. However, growing up in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, a small English town, he did encounter plenty of music during the World Music Festival as a child. The World Music Festival is an extravagant event where Bay grew up listening to music from different corners of the world: from English heavy metal bands to African dance music. The World Music Festival showed him various music bands at a young age and gave him motivation. He listened and was encouraged by the music at the festival, but he learned about music through his own teachings. At first, it was books and people online. He would read hundreds of books about guitar playing and different types of rock and classical music. People he talked to online through chat rooms would give him helpful information, but he still didn’t receive everything that he could have. But then, along came a little application named YouTube. He was able to watch thousands of videos about guitars and music in one location by just hitting the play button. YouTube was a huge factor that Bay took advantage of at a young age, and by watching these videos, he learned about the music that he plays for us today.

jab4Dark of the Morning, Bay’s first extended play, included five songs and was released in July of 2013. Of the five, I personally enjoyed his single, “Stealing Cars.” The song isn’t as popular as some of his others, like “Hold Back the River,” or “Let it Go,” but I liked this song better than the others because of his voice. His singing voice is very clear and very powerful in all of his songs, but in this one, his voice seemed to portray his feelings with an even stronger tone. One thing that fans of his will notice in his music video is the fact that he isn’t wearing a hat, something that never happens. It could be considered blasphemy for us to see Bay perform without wearing a hat, but the lyrics are so good that I think we can overlook that. Dark of the Morning is an EP that hasn’t made the top of the charts by any means, but contains five underrated and underappreciated songs that have powerful messages. On the other side of things, Let it Go, his second extended play, gained a lot of media attention in 2014, with the album getting a top 10 placement on the iTunes chart and his popular single, “Let it Go,” earning #10 on the music charts in the UK. “Let it Go,” was all the rage during the summer of 2014, giving us a song that female fans could listen to after an extremely, gut-wrenching break-up. The song that was endorsed by the famous singer and songwriter, Taylor Swift, and several others, earned him the Critics’ Choice award, an award in Britain given to artists who gain media attention through their music, earlier this year.

jab1As a twenty-four year old young man who has been playing guitar and singing for about ten years, he has a remarkable voice and excellent skills on the guitar. He hasn’t received real fame until a few years ago, releasing his first songs through Republic Records, a huge record label in New York that first signed Bay on. Once he was signed to the record label and his songs began to flow through the media, Bay got his first taste of international stardom – such a young age, too. It’s only been a couple of years since his fan base grew to a sizeable amount, but in those few years he has made a name for himself with his extraordinary talent.

-Te’Ron Adams

Benjamin Shine certainly has a creative vision. His works are internationally recognized and he’s received several honors including the Red Dot Design Award, The Enterprising Brit Award, and The Courvoisier Future 500 Art & Design Award. While these accolades are admirable, what’s most remarkable about the London-born artist is his ingenuity. Most people might view a fashionista and an artist as distinctly separate roles, but Shine sees them as kindred spirits. He seamlessly blends fashion and art by interlacing fabric in his masterpieces. The level of intricacy in his works is astonishing, and he consistently creates something miraculous.

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