Category Archives: Gallery

LYRICAL LIZZO

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Lizzo is here to take off where older female musicians have left off in music. Not only is she a rapper she is a singer too. Her genres consist of hip-hop and alternative but she mostly delivers Feel Good music with bare beats. Lizzo just dropped her latest album Big GRRRL Small World in December 2015. She is here to teach us all about loving yourself, chilling with your friends and engaging daily life moods. She can definitely spit with the best of them in the rap game, then turn around and make you get all in your feelings.

Lizzo not only talks about self confidence in her music, she also expresses her concerns about being stereotyped and racism. “My blackness is my largest assumed ‘accessory.’ Not my gender, religion or wealth. Because of it, I’ve experienced countless misconceptions from people— neck rolls and gratuitous gestures, overt southern dialects superimposed onto my own voice, perceived “ghetto-ness.” I laugh it off because it’s seemingly harmless, but when we think about where this originates it’s actually poisonous”. All black women are not ghetto, mean and uneducated.

To humanize is to make something friendlier to humans. Humanizing makes things more cultured, delicate, and acceptable. This video is translation of making women with robotic features (guard up) when it comes to themselves and love. Then this guy comes along, who seems to has good intentions, helps this women he is interested in become free (guard down). Listen closely as she also states the words human eyes which sounds close to humanize as well.

Lizzo is fearless, confident, strong, a beautiful BBW and independent. Young girls are being taught to change themselves to look a certain way for validation. Lizzo is inspiring women to be true to who they are. Slap them thighs and smile at those stretch marks! You will be loved as long as you love yourself first!

Lizzo will be at our very own Chicago’s Subterranean in Wicker Park on February 18, 2016 at 8:00pm. Definitely check her out and ask to take a picture.

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THROWBACK THURSDAY: QUEEN LATIFAH

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All hail to the Queen! Welcome into her Queendom! Dana Elaine Owens has graced the world with her rapping style, elegance and courageous character. She wears many hats in the industry as a musician, television, film actress and producer, activist, president of a music label and entrepreneur. Might I add she is an CoverGirl brand spokesperson. Her personality alone turned her into an enterprise and a legendary female rapper.

“I was always taught to walk with my head up, to be a Queen”

Queen Latifah came in the rap game raising eyebrows from day one. Why are women not seen as equal to men? Why are women being disrespected in society by being called negative names and seen only as sex symbols? Was this our fault? NO! The Queen not only talked about the discrimination and lack of respect towards women she also rapped about how women need to also get together on their own while continuing to be strong.

In the 80’s and 90’s decade women weren’t to fond to be a companion in rap culture. Queen Latifah image was about strength, she never wore clothes to show off her body, only comfortable African culture apparel, casual clothing and sneakers. As her career evolved she still kept it classy and sensual. Her topics were about sexism, power and independence. This theme led to her hit song (above) “Ladies First” and “U.N.I.T.Y” (below)


Queen Latifah is still diligent in her current career pursuit of excellence. She has received awards for her work in film music plus she donates to worthwhile charitable organizations. Every year, Queen Latifah serves as co-chairman for the Lancelot H. Owens Scholarship Foundation, Inc. (In honor of her late brother who was killed in a motorcycle accident) to provide scholarships to students who excel scholastically, but are limited in financial resources. Queen Latifah has also written a book on self-esteem entitled Ladies First: Revelations of a Strong Woman. In honor of this Queen, let’s all inspire to make a positive difference in this world. #BlackHistoryMonth

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THROWBACK THURSDAY: A TRIBE CALLED QUEST

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Four Guys (Left to Right) Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Q-Tip, Phife Dawg and Jarobi wore hip Afrocentric clothes and rhymed to jazz infused beats, formed a phenomenal hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest in 1985. QUEST was the original name of the group but was later given the prefix A Tribe Called by their high school friends.

ATCQ formed a crew with House music group Jungle Brothers and hip-hop group De La Soul, called The Native Tongues. Because of their live energy during performances, they created a buzz in the city of Brooklyn, New York which led them to get signed with Jive Records in 1989. This began the journey of a rap group prodigy for the 1990’s decade.

A Tribe Called Quest made it popular to talk about social issues that could be related to young African Americans such as sex, politics, relationships, stealing your parents car to joy ride and also the use of the N word. while still having fun encouraging positivity through it all. Unlike other hip-hop groups at the time ATCQ was in their own lane. They greeted jazz with bass-heavy rhythmic vibes and eclectic sampling. They have several memorable songs including Bonita Applebum, Can I Kick It and (above) I Left my Wallet in El Segundo. When you listen to ATCQ music what message do you get from the song? How does the beat make you feel?

At this current time, A Tribe Called Quest is still performing at some events, making appearances with their old school friend’s on stage (Busta Rhymes, De La Soul) and new school artist as well. On November 13, 2015 they released a special 25th anniversary edition collection of the group’s classic debut album People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths of Rhythm.

The album is a cool artsy looking trunk filled with remastered original tapes re-released with exclusive new remixes by a few of today’s biggest hip-hop artists who have credited A Tribe Called Quest as a major creative influence. Unfortunately it has sold out everywhere at this point so you may have to borrow a friends. Until then they are on social media so follow them below. It’s the Tribe Yall! Real Live Yall!

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THROWBACK THURSDAY: MADONNA

Chime For Change: The Sound Of Change Live Concert In Twickenham

Everyone knows who Madonna is right? Sure you do! If not she is an Pop singer,songwriter, dancer,actress, fashion icon, innovator, business woman, culture shocker and last but not least  a mother of four. Madonna’s career surfaced in 1982 with her debut single “Everybody”  that was a hit in the New York dance Club scene. It shot up to #3 on the Billboard dance charts, after that nothing was ever the same. An ICON was born. Madonna is 58 years old and still showing us what she’s got up her sleeve.

Madonna has had several songs such as “Like A Virgin”, “Material Girl”, “Live to Tell”, “Papa Don’t Preach” even “Vogue” above reach to #1 on the Billboard charts throughout her music career in the 80’s and 90’s. She also has acting in her blood as she has had roles in films, “Desperately seeking Susan”, Sexual documentary “Truth or Dare”,”A League of Their Own” and many more.

Madonna is currently still touring for her latest album, titled Rebel Heart, that was released on March 10, 2015. She is currently in Mexico on this day and the tour will end in March 2016.  Madonna is an Icon because she achieved popularity by pushing the boundaries of lyrical content in mainstream popular music and imagery in her music videos.

Controversy is her middle name, she humped the stage in a wedding dress during the MTV awards while performing “Like A Virgin”. Madonna is known for reinventing both her music and image, and for maintaining her freedom within the music industry. She is a all about Love and a popular figure still in today’s pop culture. To keep up with this lady, follow her on her social media pages below!

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AC STYLE “KEEP IT ON THE LOW”

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Chicago artist Ashley “ACstyle” Coleman is no rookie when it comes to the music industry. Not only does she write, she’s a rapper and singer. Her music genres consist of Rap, Hip-Hop, Pop, Techno, Rock and many more. When she’s not doing homework, preparing for a show, working on her own business (web designer/ event planner/ party host) or recording, from Evanston to the city of Chicago, catch her in the streets painting the town red (Turn up).

AC has opened many shows on the same stage as Lil Wayne, performed with Trey Songz, met Nicki Minaj, Twista, Elle Varner, Rae Sremmurd and many more famous musicians. She also released a single with another Chicago artist Shawanna called “Ridin”  which reached highly in the charts.

In the first week of this New year, AC is rolling with opportunities already. She released her video “Keep it on the Low” on New Years Day, which has already over 1,000 views.

“My single is really about a love story of how two people meet in a party or at the club, they eventually fall in love, but want to keep their relationship on the low to keep people out of their business to prevent problems”.

The XXL Magazine edition she is featured in will be released in February, She will be on a college tour this spring with Christina Milian and Chanel West Coast, getting ready to drop a song with Drake “Situationship” and graduating from college this year.

Follow ACstyle on her social media pages and let it go down in the DM for inquiries for collaborations while you still can!

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Beauty Salon Hosts an Art Show with a Bang!

This past Friday, The Black Couch Studio and Gallery owner, Mark Narens, hosted an intimate art show at Bang! Salon in Wicker Park. The night starting at 7pm featured live-looping music from Ever Evolved’s own artist, Cameron Broderick. Singing popular songs such as Lights by Ellie Goulding, and So Close by Alex Clare made everyone pay attention to his unique layering  and bright talent.

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Cam Broderick Live Looping for the Guests of the evening

Of course though, the first thing you’ll notice about the salon is how eclectic it is. It’s electric colored walls and friendly staff is definitely something that jumped out at me. Not only that, but at how many salons do you see an empty Jack bottle being used for a sprayer ?

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Who knew Jack Daniel’s had so many uses?

I had the pleasure to talk to many staff members of the night and finally bumped into the owner, Eli. Searching for more about Bang! Salon, I just had to ask him how he opened up shop. Working for 5 months out of his apartment with 2 other stylists from a previous failed business venture, they started to raise money for their salon. Luckily, his building used to be a commercial space, and he was legally able to incorporate Bang! before he even opened up the current location. Saving as he went, having loyal clientele  and borrowing just a little money let him open up shop for almost nothing. “Month by month I bought a chair here, a mirror there,  to what it is now. I mean we’ve been open for 8 and a half years now, with 8 full time stylists, 2 in training, and a full time front desk manager.”

What’s even more special is that Bang! Salon is in  the process of expanding, going from 6 chairs to 16. ” A lot of what is contributed to the success is not only my educational background of the industry [he also teaches], but also in 2012 I won Hair Stylist of the year for North America (North American Hairstyling Awards). I was nominated in 2 categories, and I won the biggest one … that gave us a lot of local recognition in Chicago, because I was the only one to win it here ever! That’s what helped us get to this next level, which is the expansion. ” It was surprising to find out from Eli that there was an awards ceremony dedicated to great hair stylists.  It’s something that always will be around as a profession, so its appealing to know that stylists, such as Eli, can and do get recognized for their efforts.

The BIG question I asked though is, what really makes Bang! Salon different from those in the surrounding area? Eli gladly answered, “My goal was to work in an environment where everyone was passionate … they are just as [excited] about what they are doing on their clients as I am. We like that comforting and welcoming environment,  [not stuffy and closed in like most salons, Bang! doesn’t even smell like hair products when you walk in]. We’re super diverse, catering from babies to older and elderly people … as artists it keeps us from getting bored and doing the same type of hair all the time. … We’re here to be the best we can be as stylists, cater to our client’s needs as well as we can; [but overall] just get along and respect each other as artists.”

When I asked if Eli had anything else to add, he spoke up about a company he is currently teaming up with, Lock and Loaded,a men’s grooming company. He’s their artistic director. They share a lot of the same values as Eli has with Bang! After developing for 5 years, the duo finally released a product line of 4 men’s styling products, shampoo and a conditioner. Even though it’s Chicago based, it’s quickly blowing up nationally, and starting to move its way across waters. The craziest part about it is the product has only been launched for 4 weeks. “Its fun to see that take off the way it is,” Eli adds.

Coming back to Friday’s event, this was actually Bang!’s first art show. Mark Narens had some wonderful pieces and prints displayed on the walls, and even laid some down on the leather chairs for people to pick up and investigate for themselves. Eli adds, “… just to do an event like this … [supporting] artists, I don’t see enough support in Chicago with complimentary artistic fields as there are … so  I’m really happy to help Support The Black Couch.” And The Black Couch supports the salons. They used to support local shops in the neighborhood because they supported art. But since they wanted to get back in it again, they called around to see who would be interested in hosting Mark’s show. Bang! was the first salon they made contact with. “As soon as I walked in for the first time I knew this was it” said mark, “This is the place.”

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A lovely psychedelic piece by Mark Narens

To book an appointment with Bang! Salon, call : (773)- 276- 9414

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The Black Couch Studio & Gallery

“Every piece of art displays a story”. But what is Mark Naren’s story? Well, Mark is the owner of The Black Couch Studio and Gallery.  The Black Couch is a place where creativity has no limits.  Offering everything from open mic nights, to group art and music lessons, the community can actively be involved in the arts. He has over 70 pieces of his own IMG_20151118_160635on the walls of the studio and has done thousands of others which have been featured in numerous art shows and sold for both residential and commercial use. His style of art has darkness and mystery. People who buy his art don’t solemnly come back to just visit Mark (even though that should be enough reason on its own since he is an excellent conversator). They come back for more of his art because each one of his pieces tell a story people want to hear more of.  Mark does a great job along with Suzanne , his wife, at keeping art and creativity alive.

Suzanne is Mark’s gatekeeper the core of everything The Black Couch is created on. He even wears a key around his neck to symbolize her importance. He is the key-holder and she is the gatekeeper. She organizes every meeting, and records every single person who has entered the studio. She is the brain of this operation.  Mark met his IMG_20151118_160551soulmate and business partner at the beginning of his art career .  Mark was creating centerpieces for Suzann’s son’s Bar  Mitzvah. When he saw her he knew he was “f**ked”  as said by Mark, “If i was to create my dream woman on a computer it would be Suzann.”

 

Mark and Suzanne have used their talents to create something bigger than art. They created after school programs to help kids with their creative freedom. They believe if you start kids off early, releasing their creative expressions, you will build their confidence and it creates a certainty that they will be able to figure out who they are wor who they want to be.  They have a need to let parents know what it means to be creative. It is an ongoing goal to get money put back in IMG_20151118_160700school art programs, because without art, kids will won’t be able to express themselves individually anymore. They recognize where power is and they want to fuel the littles ones early. Mark and Suzanne don’t stop there though. In just helping out, they have a philanthropy. They always give a percentage back to different community organizations and charities. Along as well with believing in feminism,  another point that Mark made was how he wants this to be “women strong”. This past year, around 85% of the artists Mark has worked with have been women. It has inspired his creative movement is just powering the creative. “People need to know more about how creative Chicago is. They don’t know about our musicians as much as they do in other places”

IMG_20151118_160941Mark finds encouragement and inspiration through music. The Black Couch welcomed Ever Evolved and now work side by side. One upcoming event is Misfit In Me. The objective of this project is “to bring light to  the  hyper-creative, that have an incredible strong belief in their own belief system”. An event we can’t miss with live production, performances and art. Misfit in me is something that Mark has been dreaming about having, and is ecstatic to see it come to life. It exemplifies all of his motives and shows everything he has been working towards for so many years. Another project he has collabed on with EverEvolved is Art Cases and smart laces. Partnering  up with Mike Booth (One of Ever Evolved’s MCs), their mission is to create art on phone cases and shoes. Everyone loves to stand out so , it’s going to be done with uniqueness of two products people use and wear everyday. They paint or mark up shoes and cases, each handmade with individual design, one will never look the same as another. Rhymster, another Ever Evolved artist,  just started MC Boot camp. It is an all-around interactive course for all ages interested in expanding their skills on the mic.  Its goal is to teach people to release their creative minds and unwind. It is to  help develop skills in poetry, spoken word, and MC-ing.  It also let’s you enjoy other’s art, and bounce ideas off one another, getting a really good creative flow going.

If you’re looking for unique art pieces, Mark is definitely the guy to see. If you want to meet him and see some of his art displays at a show, come out to Bang! Salon (1425 W ashland ave, Chicago IL) this friday at 7pm!

Feel free to stop by The Black Couch Gallery & Studio:                       Where: 4200 W Diversey                                                                                               Call: 847-321-5681

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-Lizzethe & Naihal