News Brief

3 Gems We Learned from Issa Rae's Stunning ESSENCE Cover Story

The "Insecure" maven opens up about her rapid growth and transformation in the entertainment industry in ESSENCE's April issue.

Issa Rae's graceful cover of ESSENCE Magazine's April issue has truly made our day.

I mean, just feast your eyes on how breathtaking she looks (thanks to photographer Itaysha Jordan) with New Orleans as the perfect backdrop:


In her interview with ESSENCE, Issa opens up giving an introspective on how far she's come in her career—though with the success of Insecure and with shooting the upcoming romcom she's co-starring in, The Lovebirds, she's truly just getting started.

Here are three gems from her that stood out to us. Check out the full article here.

On focusing on what matters when navigating dating—her mind:

"I think a part of it just came from figuring out that the guys I like, I'm not their type. Learning that early on made me realize there's no point in valuing the physical, because it wasn't going to get me anywhere. So what can I control, and what can I bring to the table? How can I be valued in this way?"

On her legendary web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl:

"When you don't have much to do or you don't have plans on Friday night, you're making up a character who does. That was an outlet for me. I fantasized all the time about having a different life. And that manifested in creating characters and worlds and scenarios. I've definitely let my imagination run free."

On young girls who look like Issa now having someone to look up to in magazines:

"I just didn't imagine that [for myself]. So the fact that it happened is like, you just never f—ing know. And you should never discount anything. I think so many of us tend to be comfortable with what we're not and complacent with what we're not. You really don't have to be. I didn't solve world peace or anything—it's not like that. But something that felt so small and intangible ended up being tangible. And that's just the coolest thing in the world."

Music

The 8 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Femi Kuti, RIMON, Joeboy, Makhalanjalo, Tayc and more.

Every week, we highlight the top releases through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

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News Brief
Photo: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Watch Pa Salieu Make His US TV Debut With Performance on 'Fallon'

With the way the Gambian-British rap star is moving, 2021 is sure to be his year.

The excitement surrounding Gambian-British rapper Pa Salieu doesn't seem to be slowing down, as he has just further introduced himself to U.S. audiences. The buzzing artist made his U.S. debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon , performing hit "Frontline".

Three weeks in to the new year and UK based Salieu has topped NME's 100 Essential emerging artists for 2021 list, won BBC's Sound of 2021, and the list of accomplishments keep rolling in.

In his visually bewitching performance of "Frontline," a standout track off 2020's Send Them to Coventry, Salieu not only showed off his talents but his personality in the upbeat performance. At one point the rapper sang to viewers through a car, was joined on stage by some friends and their dogs, before ending his show front and center and glowing. The energy and vision that so obviously went into the performance is noted and appreciated. Who doesn't love to see people doing something they love?

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Photo: Courtesy of The Outside Organisation

Ayra Starr Shines Bright on Debut Single 'Away'

Mavin Records' new teenage signee comes through with her debut EP.

West African native and the newest Mavin Records signee Ayra Starr is fresh out of the gate and already getting tongues wagging. The 19-year-old has released her self-titled debut EP, starting with head bopper "Away."

Born in Benin and raised between Cotonou and Lagos, Nigeria, Starr's sound allows her versatility and distinctive styles to take center stage. Her new five-track EP exhibits strong examples of soulfulness and a diverse musical range that usually takes some years to master.

But, what can't African women do?

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MTV Africa Music Awards Announces Top 20 'Listeners' Choice' Finalists

Focalistic, Tiwa Savage, DBN Gogo and more score a spot on the nominees list for the 'Listener's Choice' award at the 2021 MAMAs.