Monthly Archives: January 2015

Cookie Strikes Back

I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong. Thankfully it’s not often, but when it happens I can take a slice of humble pie.

For two weeks I heard about a new show that folks on Twitter were raving about. The buzz around Empire was loud and undeniable. My issue with not watching it was Terrence Howard. I’m not a fan of him as an actor and the show was airing on Fox, which recently hasn’t had the best track record for TV. But the numbers spoke for themselves. Since it’s debut, Empire’s ratings have grown each week. For the premiere episode, 9.8 million people tuned in. Episode two had 10.3, episode three had 10.9 and last week’s episode had 11.3 million viewers. Television critics are saying that in 10 years, no prime time show has seen a steady increase in viewers in its first week like this.

But one night I saw a picture on my Twitter timeline of actress Taraji P. Henson, who plays the leading lady on the show, in character. Her outfit was killer! Yes, pure vanity peaked my curiosity. So I pulled up episode one on my PVR, completely anticipating that I’d be turned off before the first commercial break. Well, let’s say that I had my share of humble pie then and there. I not only watched the first episode, I found myself searching for episode 2.

The hip-hop soap operaesque drama airs on Wednesday nights at 9 on Fox (CityTV for us Canadians). What pulled me in was that similar to a Shakespeare play, all the good dirt isn’t revealed in Act I. There are moments of satirical irony where the audience is in on the plot that the characters in the scene don’t have the full scoop on. At other times, the writers give us morsels of information that you know is going to be revealed in all its dramatic glory in coming episodes. And it’s that complexity that has me hooked.

And then there is Cookie! Trash talking, no shit taking, brazen like the sun, bad ass mama Cookie. After serving 17 years in prison, the first episode kicks off with Cookie getting released and reuniting with her musically inclined family. Her ex-husband, Luscious Lyon (Terrence Howard) is head of a record label and decides that he wants his three sons to fight for his throne as head of the company.

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Cookie’s one liners will give you whiplash. But your eyes will be glued to the fierce outfits that actress Taraji rocks on the show. From the flashbacks to the 1970s and 1980s as well the present time, Cookie’s wardrobe of fur stoles, animal print, bold colours and thigh high boots are all borderline ghetto fabulous and all sass. Which I love! Topping off her outfits are vibrant lipsticks and often door knocker earrings. Let’s just say, heads turn when Cookie walks in.

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The show’s costume designer Rita McGhee was recently interviewed by Essence Magazine and spoke on Cookie’s style –

“She likes bold colors; she likes loud colors. She likes all the animal prints, tigers, zebras. She likes the leathers, she likes the fur, and she likes the loud colors. So she blings and she’s loud and ostentatious but also in a way that’s just refined style.”

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She said she took from Beyonce, Mary J Blige and mob wives as inspiration for Cookie’s look. Larger than life women who not only have drama around them, but aren’t afraid to deal with it head on.

With only four episodes in, I’m hooked. Looking forward to seeing where this show goes and what Cookie will say and wear next.

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ChineduStyle – Part I

If you’ve read my previous award show review posts, you’ll remember I’ve commented on men’s fashion making a huge statement recently. Male celebrities are getting as much attention on the red carpets as the actresses, taking bolder risks with suit colour, fabric and print.

Someone who has a well informed opinion on men’s fashion is Chinedu Ezemenari (ChineduStyle) who is an independent style consultant with private label EPH Apparel, who provide quality custom made to measure suits, shirts and accessories.

I’m happy to announce that RealDelina.com will be featuring ChineduStyle as a regular guest style expert periodically to weigh in on men’s fashion and style.

“The way that a man dresses and presents himself has a profound impact on his experiences and opportunities,” believes Chinedu. “My role as a stylist is to ensure that every man regardless of his stature or status, has the opportunity to tell their story with class, distinction and elegance.”

With Chinedu’s guidance, each customer gets to build and design their individual unique garment; from the stitching, amount of buttons, type of cuffs, etc.

January 25th marks ChineduStyle’s one year anniversary. It has been remarkable to see the the growth and reach in just a year. Stay tuned for my full video interview with Chinedu as he walks us through suit colour and fabric selection along with his fashion tips.

To see what to expect during a private suit fitting with ChineduStyle, please see the video below then contact him for an appointment.

To contact Chinedu:

 

Hey Mr DJ – The Grand Groove Edition

There is a magical art that good DJs possess that you hear when you notice you’re seeking out their mixes before a hot new song. These are the DJs that know that exact part of the song to blend in to the next, which songs seamlessly coexists next to each other and have a trained ear that can catch the original samples used on a track.

When I go through my iTunes, I have probably as many mixes as from two particular DJs as I have of actual albums. DJ Big Jacks and DJ Royale, who together are Grand Groove, are a serious duo out of Toronto. They have made killer mixes that you can dance, wild out, late night drive or work out to.  I met these guys while they were guest DJs at the retail store I worked at for several years. The long grueling hours would fly by because of the music they played and long after I moved on to another job, I continued to seek out these guys at parties and download their mixes.

I reached out to them to learn more about what makes them tick and what they’ve got brewing behind the turntables.

How did both of you guys get started in DJing?

DJ Royale: Well, I got my first pair of starter kit turntables in ’96 as a grade 8 grad present. My interest in DJing came from one, just being a fan of rap music at very early age. Listening to the radio and mixtapes, wanting to be just like guys that were breaking the new music and the hot records. Secondly, an older cousin of mine was a DJ. So I used to just watch him and his friends play at family parties and just mess around in the basement.

Big Jacks: I always had a passion and interest for music since I was young. I grew up loving hip hop music and that’s what really got me interested in DJing. Once I started listening to the radio a lot more, I wanted to know how they made all the records blend together seamlessly. I used to just listen and study from what I heard and eventually I had to go out and learn myself.

What brought you two together to create GrandGroove?

Big Jacks: Roy and I connected in the early 2000s via the Funky Teknicianz message board. If you were to look back at that moment in time, a lot of the finest cats from our city doing big things now all connected on there. Cats like Jr Flo, Mensa, Wristpect, Drastik and many others.  Both Roy and I were on there too and we just kinda clicked. I think it was initially because of a record trade we were trying to work out. A Grand Puba 12” I believe. So thank Grand Puba for Grand Groove. Not really, hahaha, but yeah that was how we initially met.

Been a fan of both of your mixes ever since I first met you guys at Artizia when I worked there and you guys were spinning at various locations. I still have some of your CDs in my car. That evolved to now curating mixes for them that are available on their Soundcloud page. How has that partnership worked out for y’all?


DJ Royale: Great, probably one of the best looks we or any DJ can have in terms of exposure. Our mixes have been able to reach all across Canada and most major cities in the US. The Aritzia look has definitely opened up a lot of different opportunities and reach a lot of new fans daily. They also now trust our brand and let us control the creative process of the mixes 100%. So shout outs to Aritzia.

Big Jacks: It’s been amazing really. I started out DJing in their stores in Toronto in 2004. A dude I knew at the time had the opportunity come across his lap and he had done a few in stores for them but I don’t think he was that into it. He asked me if I wanted to play there too and I was all for it. Aritzia was already a huge company (in my mind) at that time so I was like hell yeah. Soon after I got Roy on board too and we really took off with that, playing in their most popular locations every weekend. We would hit thousands of people just playing in the stores, which I thought was great. They eventually stopped doing the in-stores but approached us about curating mixes for every store and their online site, and that’s when things hit a whole other level. We went from hitting a few thousand people in one store to now having our mixes played in every single one of their stores in North America every single day. We’ve traveled to places like New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Vancouver and heard our stuff being played. Not to mention their following on Soundcloud and the exposure we’ve gained from that. I’ve even heard our Aritzia mixes being played in places like Top Shop and other big name stores, which is kinda funny when you think about it. But yeah, the Aritzia relationship has been huge for us. We’ve been able to grow with the company and they’ve supported us along the way. Plus, as Roy said, we get our creative control when we program mixes and that’s extremely important.

You each have a unique sound and taste when it comes to your own mixes outside of Grand Groove that I think I’ve noticed over the years as a listener. 


Big Jacks, I’d say you lean more towards the soul and funk. Some of my favourite mixes of yours are Originals, where you merged original tracks with their modern day samples which really showed your crate digging skills, and Black Magic, which sounded like a cool blaxploitation film soundtrack. 
And the dope remix of Shi Wisdom’s ‘Lovespeak‘ that you did.

Big Jacks: We both came up as hip hop dudes but our love for music is deeper than that and our tastes have just expanded as we’ve grown and gotten older. For me I love all my original soul and funk joints too. It’s the record nerd in me. So I do what I can to incorporate that sound and give some education in my sets or mixes, wherever I can. Mixtapes are a great place to do that too, to show people a little something. Oh word, you like that new Drake record well here’s the original sample from so and so from back in the day. It’s a great way to show the connection between the music and also make some of the older stuff current and relevant to what’s going in today’s music.

Royale, you’re like the R&B meets dance treasure finder. So many people nowadays harp on that R&B is dead but whenever I’ve listened to some of your mixes like Refill, INFATUATION or the All Neptunes Mix Skateboard, I’m reminded that R&B has just changed and so much of the songs now are more dance-floor oriented.

DJ Royale: Definitely, as much as I love rap music, I am huge R&B fan as well.  Plus I love the vibe R&B gets people into, especially people who are fans of R&B. But I’m just a fan of music, period.

Y’all also have a ratchet side that comes out in your Leant party series held at Parts & Labour on Queen St W. This is where you guys bring that trap music sound and you go by GGBRFUCKEM and not Grand Groove for this party series. Can you explain the party series and the new name?

what happened in Toronto, 24 hours ago… #LEANT. this is how we do it. shouts to @djmkyboy on the footage!

A video posted by GGBRFUCKEM (@ggbrfvckem) on

DJ Royale: Leant is just a Rap music party. Club rap to be specific. It’s a fun party people can just wild out and have fun. We don’t really do the bottle popping thing. A very straight forward party where you can just be yourself and let loose. GGBRFUCKEM means just that. Grand Groove Black Rap F*ck em.  It’s always been like that we just gave it a name. Shouts to Bozack Morris. It’s our brand, it’s our mentality, it’s everything. It’s how everyone should be thinking. Stay focused on what you want to do and F*ck the rest, f*ck em.

Big Jacks: As for GGBRFUCKEM (which stands for Grand Groove Black Rap F*ck Em), that’s just another extension of us and what we do. That’s Roy, Bozack and I. We’ve been doing stuff for years all together but now we just have a name for that movement. But in reality GGBRFUCKEM is anyone, it’s you, it’s your friends it’s whoever feels like how we do. When we say f*ck em, we’re talking about anyone getting in the way of  your dreams or goals etc. F*ck em. If they ain’t down with you and what you’re about, f*ck em! This is something we believe everyone can relate to. We’ve all been told we’re not good enough or we can’t do this or we have to things a certain way only. Nah. F*ck em.

And we have a lot of exciting things on the way with the GGBR brand. The Leant party is just the start, there’s our GGBRFM podcast, we have some music releases planned for this year, clothes, and much more.

Another place that folks can hear you both regularly is on your weekly radio show Backroad Radio, that airs on Mon nights on CHRY 105.5FM York University’s college radio. How long have you guys been doing the show and where did the name come from?

Big Jacks: We started doing the show in 2001. The look and the sound of the show has changed over the years but right now the team is Royale, Bozack, Melizia and myself. And I truly believe we have the best rap radio show in the city. Back in the days me and my homies at the time used to refer to Richmond Hill as the Backroads, that’s where we were all from and where we repped. When we started the show it was just me and another dude named Crispy. Some other homies from our neighbourhood would come and hang out. It was our spot to just rep us and what we were about, so we went with the name Backroad Radio and been running with it ever since.

Speaking of radio, this past August you both were featured as guest DJs for the Sway In The Morning radio show on Shade 45. It was a quick interview but I’m glad y’all shouted out some of the key Toronto artists other than Drake that have put our city on the map. How did the whole opportunity come together? 


DJ Royale: Long story short, we just knew the right people who knew the right people, you know? It was probably the greatest experience I’ve had in my DJ career and for GG. Sway is a legend and deserves all the praise and accolades he gets. It was an honour to be there.

Big Jacks: I have to give big shout outs to Sway, DJ Wonder and the entire team there. You had all these other celebrities, actors and rappers there but the show staff treated us like any other guest and welcomed us with nothing but love. It was a surreal experience and one of the top highlights in our Grand Groove career.

As we kick off 2015, what are some of the big things you each and/or both have planned for the New Year that we can expect to check out?

Big Jacks: Working smarter and keeping consistent with what we do. Consistency has really been key for us.  Grand Groove has a ton of mixes on deck for the year and lots of parties to play among other things. We plan to tour more too so if you want us in your city, hit us up.

DJ Royale: In the words of Bobby Shmurda “get that money back and spend it on the same thing”. I’m playing, but just more. More mixes, more Leant, more cities to reach out to and spread the word. Don’t worry, you’ll definitely hear more from us in ’15. Just Pay Attention.

 

Spring/Summer 2015 Fashion Trends

So we’re half way through January and although it doesn’t look like there’s a light at the end of tunnel, warmer weather isn’t that far off. Even if we’re focused on putting on the layers right now, soon we’ll be stripping them off and adding colour to our wardrobes once again.

In hopes of reviving some sunshine, here is a look at what fashion heads are saying will be the trends for Spring/Summer 2015:

Here Comes The Sun

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Diane Von Furstenberg – NYC Fashion Week

What better way to bring colour back after months of dreary winter than a splash of sunshine. Yellow made a resurgence on runways for Spring/Summer 2015 and I can’t wait to rock my marigold, canary and yellow pieces in a few months.

Gingham Style

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Oscar De La Renta

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Think more French actress Brigitte Bardot from the 1950s and not that one hit wonder from Korea. This print harks back to an older time but is making a come back in dresses that are cut in a classic pencil or pin up girl look. Creates a casual feminine look.

Wear All White When You’re Feeling Godly

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Forget all the weddings that are probably going on this summer and snatch that bridal white right from the main lady of the night. The rule is to keep all white only before labour day, but fashion rules are lame anyways. Get a nice pair of white denim, a white blazer and/or a breezy white sun dress this spring. Get your angelic look on.

All That Sash

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Technically not a new look as I’m pretty sure we’ve seen this one shoulder action in the past but, hey no idea is original anymore. The one shoulder look with the sash has been around since togas at the Acropolis in Greece and the runways now are no different. So be ready to have one shoulder more tanned than the other this summer.

That’s My Shirt

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Some people say that comfort has no place in fashion. I’m sure those same people are insane and would hate the idea of a shirt dress. I however adhere to the mantra of confidence, and I know I can confidently be comfortable and fashionable at the same time. Taking a bit from the early ’90s look of flannel shirts as the new look of rocking shirt dresses was all over the runways for Spring/Summer 2015. Paired with strappy sandals, I’m sure this free flowing look will be a hit.

Golden Globes 2015

And here we go again! Other than my birthday, awards season is my favourite time of the year. I love seeing all the glitz and glamour on the red carpets, and the Golden Globes are the sneak peak to the Oscars.

This year there were some surprises and some tried and true winners. Men, again this year, stepped their game up and added glam to their tuxes.

Returning as hosts, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler did a fantastic job and held no punches with their jokes. As this was their last year hosting, the ladies appeared more relaxed and seemed to have more fun with the audience. My favourite joke was when they highlighted Amal Clooney’s many brave career achievements as a Human Rights lawyer then noted that it was her husband, George Clooney, receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award. Priceless!

Alamuddin is a “human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, an advisor to Kofi Annan on Syria and was a appointed to a three-person commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza strip,” Fey said. “So tonight her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award.”

Another highlight for me was seeing musicians Common and John Legend win for their song ‘Glory’ from the Selma soundtrack. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, please do. More than just the great acting, the historical storyline is very significant to current events. Common and John Legend’s speeches spoke to the greatness that is director Ava DuVernay but also the stark comparison between events in Selma and what is occurring right now in America.

But let us get into the main part of the show, the red carpet. Here are my best and worst dressed at the 2015 Golden Globes:

Worst dressed

Kiera Knightley – not sure if in her attempt to hide the obvious baby bump, but Keira looks horrible in this tablecloth-turned-dress ensemble. Nothing about it is flattering and I struggle to believe that Chanel had anything to do with this dress.

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Lena Dunham – maybe her outfit choices are meant to be ironic and I’m just not getting the joke, but Lena has never worn anything to an award show that is flattering. It is as if she intentionally seeks out dresses that don’t suit her. Despite the great colour, this outfit looks like she just cut out arm holes on a starchy garbage bag.

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Claire Danes – it actually feels weird to have Claire on the worst dressed list. She usually stands out on the red carpet looking polished and glamorous. But this year, she either switched stylists or she decided to dress herself and we’ve been fooled all along. This Valentino frock looked heavy with too many jewels and embroidery that it became distracting. Better luck next year Claire.

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Best Dressed

Jennifer Lopez –  In one of my previous posts, I covered the amazing dynamic between designer Zuhair Murad and Jennifer Lopez. These two have rocked many red carpets together. They’ve done it again. Murad’s dresses can do no wrong and with the reigning champ of the red carpet, this was destined to be great. My good friend Samantha who is my inspiration behind following the red carpets for award shows, swears by JLo and surprisingly this year didn’t find her dress that great. A little over the top, but when does Jenny From the Block ever do anything demure? Honourable mention to model Chrissy Teigen who also wore Zuhair Murad and looked fabulous.

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Kate Hudson – Versace, Versace, Versace! Kate simply wowed this year. As my good friend Samantha said, ‘if Kate was trying to make a statement, we heard her loud and clear.’ The outfit appears to be a direct resemblance to outfits that JLo has worn in the past, seeming as if Kate is gunning for JLo’s position as La Reina of the Red Carpets. Nonetheless she brought her A game this year and it was definitely noticed.

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Emma Stone – I love seeing anyone take the path least traveled, whether in life or in fashion. Too often on these red carpets the young actresses try to look much older than they are by emulating their seasoned female role models. They end up looking like kids playing in mommy’s clothes. How refreshing was it to see Emma Stone pull off an elegant jumpsuit by Lanvin? Matching her offbeat sense of humour, this jumpsuit with beaded top, satin pants and flowing sash was the definition of cool. Here here, to confidently looking good Emma.

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Jessica Chastain – so my friend Samantha and I disagree on this one. She didn’t like the material although I liked it. I think this dress looks great and Jessica looks stunning in it. Maybe I’m projecting myself into this image too much, because I could see myself rocking this dress. Mind you, there’d be a bit more tape and possibly other contraptions to hold things in place but a girl can dream.

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In betweens:

I don’t know how to classify these next two outfits merely because I think they could’ve done better. They are both gorgeous women who have in the past worn amazing dresses but this year opted to try something different.

Amal Clooney – ever since she stepped on the scene Amal has been elegantly dressed but the gloves were too distracting for me. I’ve been watching  a lot of Downton Abbey lately, and seeing those gloves took me back to that show. The Edwardian era is over, the gloves need to go. Sidenote – I think if she had pinned her hair up, the over the shoulder sash would’ve stood out more.

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Lupita Nyong’o – if you follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr (@RealDelina) you’ll know I jones for Lupita. Ever since the red Ralph Lauren red cape she sported last year, I’ve been singing her praises. But this year, I was left looking at the TV perplexed. She’s still stunning with flawless skin and a smile that can melt, but the dress is too boho for me. The custom Giambattista Valli couture gown in lilac which featured 3D floral appliqués is a beautifully crafted dress but looks more like a piece of art than an evening gown. Still love her but I’m hoping she’ll wow me at the Oscars.

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Let’s hear it for the boys.

Again the men came ready to stunt on the women this year. Two men that stood out to me were actors David Oyelowo and Matt Bomer. David absolutely dazzled while Matt shined in his navy blue tux.

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Let me know if you had any favourites and if you agreed/disagreed with any of my choices.