X Japan’s Yoshiki Speaks on Marilyn Manson and Bouncing Back From Neck Surgery

An appearance by Marilyn Manson at Coachella? Sold. Yoshiki, the leader of rock band X Japan, has pulled it off, too. Not easy, with Manson tweeting that he was previously banned from the festival, but who follows the rules anyway?

The fact that X Japan are one of the few hard rock acts on the bill speaks for itself. With hip-hop recently stealing the No. 1 spot as the most popular music genre in the world, X Japan's headlining set at the Mojave Stage is a big deal. He's up against Beyoncé in the highly coveted time slot, and even Yoshiki admits he'd rather be watching Queen Bey live in person.

On the Wednesday between Coachella weekends, Yoshiki hosted a screening of We Are X, a music film/documentary showcasing the band's journey into near-legendary status. Prior to the event, we caught up with Yoshiki to discuss bouncing back from two neck surgeries, his relationship with Marilyn Manson, and how the band established their own style in fashion overseas.

L.A. Weekly: For a first-timer, how would you describe X Japan?
Yoshiki: Disaster.

Yoshiki, what role do you play in the band?
Maker of the disaster. [laughs]. Leader of the band. I play drums and piano. I compose the music.

This past weekend, X Japan made their debut at Coachella. Can you speak on this experience and what it was like performing in front of the U.S. crowd?
It was so cool. We played at Lollapalooza in Chicago before, almost 10 years ago. Then we did a North American tour in 2010 — only went to seven cities. The last one we played before Coachella was Madison Square Garden, We played in New York in 2014. Since then, a lot of things happened. I got a neck surgery last year. I was almost paralyzed. Coachella wasn't only X Japan coming to the U.S. but it was my comeback also.

How does it feel being one of the only rock acts at the festival?
I think it's cool, we stand out. [chuckles] We are so lucky to be a part of those amazing artists. It's pretty eclectic, even though some people define us as a hard-rock band. But we have some ballads and some songs you can dance to.

Aside from your own set, what was your most memorable moment from the weekend?
I was playing against Beyoncé's slot. Because it was only last week or so, my agent said, “You are headlining the Mojave Stage.” I'm like, “Whoa, that's cool.” Then he says, “You are playing against Beyoncé's slot.” I said, “Noooo!” Because I wanted to see Beyoncé. The time that I was headlining was 10 p.m. to midnight or something, so I haven't really seen any bands or groups yet. Some of the groups we're looking forward to see are on Sunday after our show.

Speaking of, talk about the announcement of Marilyn Manson joining you this weekend.
Yeah, he's been an amazing friend of mine. So we talked about him showing up at Coachella and he said, “I'd be happy to."

I mean, that's a big deal!
I mean, he's just a very sweet person and he kindly tries to support X Japan — or support me. That's wonderful.

How long have you guys known each other?
A pretty long time.

What's the dynamic like in the studio with Marilyn Manson?
I enjoy every single process. I don't feel like we're “working” together. We're just talking, being friends — nobody's like “do this, do that.” Maybe just put this phrase with this melody or something like that. Just enjoying the process. He's very inspirational.

Talk about the making of We Are X. What do you want fans to get from this documentary?
It's not like a normal music documentary, it's more like a crazy drama. If we didn't make it right. that could have turned into a horror film. But somehow we made it right. There were so many deaths — my father's death, my guitar player's death, my bass player's death — then the lead vocalist got brainwashed and joined a cult. It's almost too crazy to be a true story but somehow the band came back and started touring again.

Talk about how the band started a fashion movement in Japan.
Because I didn't know the rule. So even though we were playing super heavy or fast music (or punk rock or whatever), I started dressing up something like a David Bowie — something feminine. People freaked out: “What are you guys doing?!” I came from a classical music background. Classical music is just full of rules. When you play Chopin, you should play this way. When you play Beethoven, you should play how Beethoven thinks. Which is cool!

Then after my father's death — when I was 10 years old — I found out about rock. I thought rock has more freedom to express yourself than anything, but it was not! Divided by all those genres and all those styles, I was like, “Fuck it, I'll do whatever I want!” Eventually that became our own genre.

You were also featured on the cover of Vogue Japan recently and your own fashion line, Yoshikimono, kicked off Tokyo Fashion Week. How does your style define you?
My parents used to create kimonos, a Japanese robe. Usually in Japan, the oldest son takes over the family business — but I became a musician. So I always wanted to do something with like a fashion line. Then several years ago, I met a kimono creator — a very cherished one. They've been doing it for 150 years or something like that. So we decided to do this kimono together. So we have a very traditional version, but we also have a rock & roll version. You know, kimono and wear these kinds of boots [points to knee-high military boots]. That kind of caught attention from Tokyo Fashion Week and they asked us if we can open it. I also did the finale, too. So I headlined Tokyo Fashion Week one year, and I also opened Tokyo Fashion Week.

How does it compare to fashion in the States?
Japan is an interesting place. We have influences from the West as well as the East. Things are mixed into the eclectic way of life. Japan's fashion is sometimes crazy, in a good way. Also we have some animation influence. Compared to the United States, it's almost like Japan's fashion seems somewhat out of control, but in a good way.

You've had much success over the years. What's next? What's your end goal?
I don't think I made it to that kind of level yet.

No, I mean... I'm pretty unknown in the States. I have a lot to do still.

Where do you see yourself down the line?
Another neck surgery? No, just kidding. [laughs]. I already did two. The last time, they put a cervical disc between vertebrae five and six. The doctor told me not to play drums and not to play piano that hard, but it's rock & roll. So whatever works.

One more question. What are some American bands that you love?
I'm not saying it because he's a good friend, but I love Marilyn Manson. Of course, I love Kiss. I love Muse, Slipknot. I love … is Rihanna from America?

YES! I love Rih.
I do like her. And Lady Gaga. Beyoncé. Ah, can't see Beyoncé because we're playing at the same time! But that's the downside of things. I'm very happy, and sad. [laughs] But at the same time, it's cool playing at the same time. It's the same kind of slot. Anything else you wanna let us know? I just wanna thank my fans around the world, I'm in America right now. Because of you guys' support I'm here, and let's rock the world together.

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The BEY-attitudes: 8 Beyoncé -Inspired Lessons To Apply To Your Hustle

The BEY-attitudes: 8 Beyoncé -Inspired Lessons To Apply To Your Hustle | BLAVITY

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Blavity is a community of the most exceptional multi-cultural creators and influencers in the world. We partner with diverse content creators and influencers to help them reach a wider audience, amplify their message, and fund their hustles. We believe that the world shifts according to the way people see it. If you change the way people view the world, you can transform it.

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Beyoncé Just Launched a Coachella Pop-Up Store


If you loved every second of Beyoncé's Coachella performance, then you're going to adore this news—the Destiny's Child singer has opened up a Coachella pop-up store, which you can visit online here for a limited time only.

Watch Beyoncé's Coachella Performance

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Rather than selling replicas of her incredible, custom-made, Balmain-designed outfits, Beyoncé's pop-up store features brand new designs inspired by her Coachella set. And, of course, there are several items featuring Beyoncé's very own coat of arms, which was designed for her Coachella appearance.

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Beyoncé Nefertiti Photo Tee, $40 SHOP

According to Harper's Bazaar UK, fans have been noting that much of the merch seems to take inspiration from "fraternity logos, which typically employ Greek lettering, and that Beyoncé is effectively creating her own sorority collection with the launch." And I think we can all agree that if Queen Bey started a sorority, we'd all want to join it immediately.

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Beyoncé Crest Windbreaker, $115 SHOP

Sadly, Beyoncé's second weekend at Coachella won't be livestreamed on YouTube, but at least the world has last week's epic, and groundbreaking, performance to keep rewatching. The singer made history as the first black woman to headline Coachella, and her performance was lauded the world over.

As well as reuniting Destiny's Child, Beyoncé engaged in a dance battle with her sister Solange, and even brought husband Jay Z out on to the stage for a duet.

A countdown clock on her site announces that the Beychella pop-up store closes in around a month, so you'd be smart to order your merch quickly.

Beyoncé Wore Drugstore Makeup at Coachella

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Thank You Notes

Also available on the NBC app

Jimmy pens thank you notes to rain pouring into NYC subways, a photo of Donald Trump golfing with Shinzō Abe and other things.

Appearing:Jimmy Fallon

Tags: The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon, Thank You Notes, beyonce, pizza

S5 E1122 minHighlightTalk and InterviewLatenight


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14 Ways Beyoncé Could Top Her First Coachella 2018 Performance

Beyoncé's performance at Coachella's first weekend was one for the ages. The musical mastermind opened her set in a worship-worthy Queen Nefertiti-inspired ensemble, brought together a gaggle of dancers for an HBCU-inspired extravaganza, and invited her sister Solange Knowles and Destiny's Child members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams to be part of her historic set. Audiences far and wide were captivated by Bey's unapologetic celebration of blackness, while she managed to disrupt popular culture and make history, again.

With so much lavishness, surprise, and ingenuity, how does Queen Bey top herself for a second performance at Coachella? There's speculation about how her reprise may differ from the first. Frankly, it would take a lot. We came up with 14 ways Beyoncé (and only Beyoncé) could outdo last week's performance:

1. Destiny's Child Resurrection Pt. 2

Beyoncé enters on stage with the other two women and then a fourth figure materializes out of shiny light. No, it's not Prince. It's not Tupac. It's not Amy Winehouse. The hologram is Farrah Franklin, the fourth Destiny's Child member (who was actually featured on the “Say My Name” remix). Her technological likeness joins not because she's dead, but because nobody's quite sure what she's been up to since her several-month stint in the group in 2000 and they simply couldn't find her.

2. A Lion King Presentation of Rumi and Sir

The stage goes dark, festival attendees unsure what's going. “Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba!” thunders through the sound system. Out of thin air appears Beyoncé and Jay Z with Rumi and Sir. Someone wearing a Rafiki mask from Lion King approaches the royals and are handed the twins. Set designers were somehow able to create a massive crag onstage. “Rafiki” climbs to the top of the cliff as Beyoncé belts “Circle of Life” (catch her as Nala in the 2019 live-action Lion King) featuring the cast of Disney Channel. Rumi and Sir are presented to the audience as true royalty as two rays of heavenly light hit their foreheads. Rafiki pulls off the mask — it's Sanaa Lathan.

3. No Angel

Question: tell me what you think about the 2000 film Charlie's Angels? If you're a fan, you're in for a treat. Destiny's Child begins performing “Independent Women, Pt. 1” and as they say each of the actor's names, they make their entrance. “Lucy Liu,” and the icon parachutes onto stage. “With my girl Drew,” and Ms. Barrymore rides in on a horse. “Cam-ron D and Destiny” and Beyoncé pulls off her face, revealing it was Cameron Diaz the entire time. The real Beyoncé zips back onto the stage with a jetpack.

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4. About to Be Obsessed

Beyoncé continues her string of cameos of people she's worked with during her expansive career. During the DJ set (by DJ Dris aka Big Driis aka Idris Elba), a gigantic chandelier descends onto the stage. None other than Ali Larter is riding on the lighting fixture. It's an Obsessed reunion. The trio performs a cover of Mariah Carey's “Obsessed.”

5. Beyoncé, Tech Entrepreneur

Already having dominated the music industry, Beyoncé sets her sights on Silicon Valley. She introduces her new line of technological products, Lemon, reclaiming the word that has colloquially been known to describe a car with manufacturing defects. Bey's Lemon computers and phones are top-notch, just like her Lemonade. Apple investors immediately try to sell their shares, but 2 am the stock market has crashed. She also debuts her own cryptocurrency, BeyCoin.

6. Mother Monster and Honey Bee Together Again

Beyoncé brings out yet another guest star: Lady Gaga. The two perform their hit “Telephone” together and unveil “Telephone Pt. II” after over eight-years of waiting since that “to be continued.” Turns out the desert they were driving through at the end of the 2010 music video was the Indio landscape, and their story continues at Coachella.

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7. Who Runs the World?

At the close of her “Who Runs the World (Girls)” number, Beyoncé announces that yes, girls indeed run the world, and the Beyoncé Army mobilizes for global domination. With the aid of Rihanna's Navy, Nicki Minaj's Air Force, and Cardi B's Marine Corps, the women form a global Axis of Good. Finally, the entire world lives under a matriarchy as it should be.

8. No, You're Not Dreaming

Beyoncé begins dipping into her tracks from her acting career. She brings on stage Jennifer Hudson and Anika Noni Rose. Forget Destiny's Child, these women are Dream Girls. They go through Act I of the beloved production. As they croon “We are a family, like a giant tree” the Indio desert ground cracks open, a lush forest erupting out of the fissure, the California drought ends.

9. “I Love Whales”

The Beyoncé artist, as in her self-titled album, starts her “Drunk in Love” number. The Coachella stage splits in half revealing a shimmering pool of water. A dark shape swims to the surface of cerulean blue, jumping into the air — it's a whale. Beyoncé jumps onto the aquatic beast with no hesitation, singing “surfboard, surfboard.” The whale takes a deep breath and its blowhole explodes, but instead of water, it's liquid gold.

10. Beyoncé Reveals Her Residency

At the end of her set, Queen Bey announces her two-year residency: on Venus. For those interested, there will be rocket ships escorting people from the festival grounds to the heavenly body after her it completes. She accomplishes what Elon Musk has devoted his entire life to, and goes light years beyond what he has done so far.

11. The Truth About Sasha Fierce

Bey finally divulges the truth about album I Am… Sasha Fierce. The artist behind it was indeed Sasha Fierce. With the announcement, it's also revealed that Beyoncé is the first human in history to have achieved genetic cloning with Sasha Fierce, who struts onto the stage. “All the single ladies” booms through the festival. A third Beyoncé clone emerges from the crowd and jumps 20 feet into the air and onto the stage. The trio of Beyoncés performs the “Single Ladies” choreography together.

12. Beyoncé for All

Unfortunately, the second Coachella weekend is not being livestreamed on YouTube. But at the beginning of Beyoncé's set Saturday night, electronics across the world light up. Miraculously, all screens everywhere begin broadcasting Beyoncé's performance. Nobody can stop her.

13. The 8th Wonder of the World

Channeling Queen Nefertiti at the very beginning of her number, attendees notice that members of the Beyhive begin laying down bricks. As Bey continues her set, the audience realizes they are building a sphinx-like stone statue in the likeness of their leader. By the end of her Coachella set, there stands a 500-foot Beyoncé. It is now acknowledged as the 8th World Wonder.

14. 2016: Lemonade. 2018: Impeachment

As Beyoncé closes her second historic set, she has yet another grand declaration. At that very moment, a package is being delivered to Robert Mueller which contains files acquired by the Beygency that will accelerate the investigation into Donald Trump and begin impeachment hearings. Her new album, Impeachment, will be available to stream exclusively on Tidal starting that night.

Additional reporting by Teen Vogue staff.

Related: It Only Took This Teen 40 Minutes to Teach Herself Beyoncé's Coachella Dance

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Beyoncé has launched a pop-up shop inspired by her storming Coachella set

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Beyoncé releases #Beychella Merch in Time for her 2nd Coachella Performance!

Photo Credit:@beylite

Beyoncé's spectacular two-hour long performance at Coachella last weekend – which included an ode to historically black colleges and universities with a full marching band and some expert baton twirlers – confirmed her position as one of the world's greatest performers!

One of the highlights of her performance was her outfits, especially the emblazoned yellow cropped sweatshirt with a sorority logo. Yesterday the singer announced a Beychella Pop-Up Store on her website selling all kinds of merch with the same Beyoncé sorority logo.

The pieces available for sale include coach jackets, sweatshirts, t-shirts, and basketball shorts and range from $115 to $40.

All the pieces are available on

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Settle in with these weekend reads

An American woman says her husband forced her and her two kids to join him as he fought for ISIS in Syria. She recounts how he abused her, raped teenage slaves and made her son participate in ISIS propaganda. Now that her husband is dead, she's looking for a way home.A teacher who was killed in the Parkland shooting used to call his mom every day. Now his mother hears from a student he helped save -- and they've formed a powerful bond.

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Beyoncé and Lamar show what it means to be ‘unapologetically black’

A container of hot, crispy Popeyes chicken stood untouched in front of her. Around her were cubicles and hallways filled with white office workers. Stidhum had just purchased the chicken and was about to dig in when a question popped into her head:

What will all of these white folks think when they see this black woman chomping away merrily on a fried chicken leg in a classy corporate establishment?

Stidhum was so vexed that she quickly called a friend for moral guidance. They both decided she couldn't allow her desire to appease white people to shape her actions. She had to be what Stidhum calls "unapologetically black." Stidhum started chomping away.

I thought about Stidhum's epiphany when I considered the remarkable highs and lows America recently experienced concerning race.

Last weekend, Beyoncé "obliterated" a rapt, mostly white audience at Coachella when she became the first black woman to headline the musical festival. On Monday, the black rapper Kendrick Lamar became the first hip-hop artist to win the Pulitzer Prize for his album "DAMN." Around the same time came a discordant note: news that two black men had been arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks for what many describe as "waiting while black."

On the surface, these moments may not seem connected. But after talking to a chorus of black poets, writers and activists, I began to wonder if all three incidents are actually glimmers of a new mood filtering into the black community.

As many try to find their footing in the Trump era after eight years of seeing President Barack Obama in the White House, some have decided they aren't going to worry so much about what white people think. They are not going to apologize for their blackness -- whether it's on the Coachella stage, before the Pulitzer committee or even in Starbucks.

They are saying it's time to be "unapologetically black."

Being unapologetically black means not expending energy on what white people think, say Stidhum and others. It means loving yourself and your people because some whites sure won't. It's an act of racial self-realization, as the writer Damon Young says in his essay "How To Be Unapologetically Black."

It's reaching a place, Young writes, where "you're both unscared to be your black-ass self and embracing of that black-ass self."

"It was inspired by this sense of being fed up," Stidhum says. "We're trying to assimilate into a culture that does not welcome us."

Being unapologetically black is a relatively new term, but it has a long history. Here's how Beyoncé, Lamar and two black men waiting in Starbucks gave it new meaning.

They stepped outside the white gaze

Sly Stone, the legendary black musician from the 1960s, once wrote a hit for Sly and the Family Stone with the refrain "Thank you for letting me be myself."

It was fun song for people to sing; harder, though, for many blacks to live. For much of their history in America, black people have struggled under what some call the "white gaze" -- looking at the world through the eyes of anxious and racist white people.

George Yancy, a philosophy professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, described this experience in a 2013 New York Times essay. He said black people have to "move through social spaces in ways that put white people at ease" and that at one time "it was deemed disrespectful for a black person to violate the white gaze by looking directly into the eyes of someone white."

Living under the white gaze can be exhausting: always worrying about what they may think, what they may do, how they may react if your subjects and verbs don't agree -- or if they catch you eating fried chicken.

Part of what was so thrilling about Beyoncé's and Lamar's achievements is that they seemed indifferent to the white gaze. They weren't arrested, killed or fired from their jobs. They were applauded.

Beyoncé makes history with Coachella performance

Beyoncé makes history with Coachella performance

Consider the gushing tributes to Beyoncé's performance from many white critics such as Jon Caramanica of The New York Times. Though she was the first black woman to headline the largely white music festival in California, she didn't adjust her performance to the white gaze. It was drenched in black culture: There were references to the black marching bands and Greek step shows that are part of historically black college culture, and vocal snippets from Malcolm X and black singer Nina Simone. Beyoncé also performed part of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," known as the black national anthem.

And critics such as Caramanica and the mostly white audience at Coachella loved it. Caramanica called it the most "radical performance by an American musician this year, or any year soon" and said Beyoncé "obliterated" the laid-back vibe of Coachella.

Lamar's triumph took place on another stage: the announcement by the committee that awards the Pulitzer Prize. He obliterated the stereotype that hip-hop is just a bunch of thugs grabbing their genitals while mumbling nonsensical lyrics. He showed through his dazzling wordplay that hip-hop is art.

And he did it by never toning down his blackness -- in his appearance, lyrics or sensibility, says Rashod Ollison, music critic for The Virginian-Pilot and author of "Soul Serenade."

Lamar "looks like the type of person that if some people saw him walking down the street, they would fear him," Ollison says. "It proves that there are still people who can get over the stereotypes and get over what they think hip-hop is about and listen with an attentive ear and hear the artistry in what he does."

They didn't give into despair

There's an uncomfortable truth, though, about Lamar's and Beyoncé's successes:

Many white Americans have long accepted black people's humanity when they are performing, says Stephanie Batiste, a performance artist and an associate professor of black studies and English at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

"If you're an athlete or a musician, your blackness is acceptable," she says. "If you're not performing, white audiences view your blackness with suspicion."

Part of being unapologetically black, though, is dictating your blackness on other stages.

Which brings us to the scene of the two black men in Starbucks. It, too, was a piece of performance art with its own message.

Perhaps one of the reasons the video of their arrest went viral is that they were literally doing nothing. They were just being black in Starbucks. The incredulous look on the men's faces and their quiet refusal to leave underscored the despair that some blacks now feel: We are never safe anywhere -- even if it's holding a cell phone in our grandmother's backyard, as one black man in Sacramento, California, tragically discovered. Renee Graham, a Boston Globe columnist, captured this despair when she wrote:

"To be black is to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time because, in America, there is never a right place for black people."

And that includes the White House.

Even though Obama was elected twice and left office with high approval ratings, some black Americans are still stung by the way he and his family were treated when he was President: the racist caricatures, the treatment by some white politicians, the birther conspiracy that took flight.

Blacks saw Obama as a man who came across as unthreatening but was still treated as if he was, says Stidhum, the writer and director.

"He was the respectable Negro. He was biracial, wasn't dark-skinned, spoke the King's English, was smart, married and the head of a nuclear family," Stidhum says. "But still that wasn't enough."

Some say Obama was a hybrid figure who alternated between two modes of blackness.

When he first ran for President, there were black critics who said he wasn't black enough. He was also criticized for backpedaling after accusing police of "acting stupidly" when they arrested a famous black scholar in his home for suspected burglary. But Obama could pivot into unapologetic blackness on a dime. He quoted hip-hop lyrics in speeches, sang "Amazing Grace" behind the pulpit of a black church and even performed a snatch of an Al Green ballad at the Apollo in a surprisingly competent falsetto.

"He was a very complex man," says Anthony Bolden, editor of the Langston Hughes Review. "In certain spaces when it was politically expedient, he was unapologetically black. When he sang at the Apollo, that was about as cool as you can get. Nobody imagined that a president could hold a note. But at the same time, he was rather mute about the hard-core realities that affect black people disproportionately. That was a mistake."

So, too, was the election of what Stidhum calls an "unapologetically white" president such as Donald Trump. She and others say it seems to have triggered a shift in some black people's thinking:

This country will never love me -- time for me to learn to love myself. That, too, is part of being "unapologetically black," some say.

It's part of the reason social media is filled with memes such as #blacklove and why so many black people flocked to see the movie "Black Panther," starring unapologetically black actors with dark skin and African facial features.

More than a movie, 'Black Panther' is a movement

More than a movie, 'Black Panther' is a movement

"You cannot be unapologetically black if you still assume that if something happens to be 'black' -- whether it's a public university or a publication or a person -- it's inherently less than," Young wrote in his essay on "How To Be Unapologetically Black."

The notion of celebrating blackness, of course, is not new. It fueled elements of the Black Arts Movement in the late '60s when black artists tried to convince black people to love themselves in the face of white racism.

"I remember when James Brown said, 'I'm black and proud,' " says Bolden, the Langston Hughes Review editor. "That was electric."

Today's version of being unapologetically black comes with something new -- a sense of defiant patriotism, says Bolden, who is also an associate professor of African and African-American studies at the University of Kansas.

He, too, traces it to Trump, who he says has rekindled "old-fashioned bigotry" in America.

"That's one of the things about the Black Arts Movement in the '60s," he says. "Blacks were saying, 'We're African and we want to go back to Africa.' Today's people are saying, 'No, we're just as American as you.' It's an unapologetically black American."

They don't exclude white people

"It's a black thang. You wouldn't understand."

That was the slogan of a popular T-shirt I often saw when I attended Howard University, a historically black university in Washington. It captured an earlier version of this unapologetically black sentiment: There are regions of the black experience that outsiders cannot comprehend, so don't even bother.

What's different about being unapologetically black today, some say, is that this disdain for whites seems absent.

"There is a population of white people who love Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar who are not bothered by the protest-oriented performances they are creating," says Batiste, the performance artist and professor. "There are white audiences who are not requiring an apology for black independence, for black self-love and black creativity."

One of those people is Mark Laver, a Canadian who teaches a course on Lamar's music at Grinnell College in Iowa. Laver is a jazz saxophonist who also directs the college's jazz band.

He says Lamar is an extraordinary musician because of his "flow" -- the rhythm of his lyrics and delivery.

Like Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar's appeal crosses racial lines.

Like Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar's appeal crosses racial lines.

Like Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar's appeal crosses racial lines.

"There are other rappers who have a more sophisticated wordplay, but the way his flow spills across the bar lines -- he sounds like a saxophone player," Laver says. "He really floats over the top of the music."

Though Lamar's music is unapologetically black, others are drawn to it -- and the work of other black musicians -- simply because "it's awesome," Laver says. He cites something the late critic Albert Murray said about blues, another black musical form.

"When Albert Murray talks about the blues, he says it isn't a music about struggle, it's about overcoming the struggle. It's about when you wake up in the morning you can't get out of bed, but you do get up and move on because struggle is part of life and you handle it. There's something universal about that, even as it's important to acknowledge that it's coming from some really powerful black voices, it's relatable."

Black artists tend to thrive when there's political and social turmoil. Black people look for them to "articulate a vision of what hasn't occurred yet" and inspire them to reach for that vision, says Bolden, the University of Kansas professor.

"Now it's hip to be an intellectual, to be an artist," he says. "Anytime people are engaged in struggle, it's always cool to be a thinking person."

And now it's hip to be unapologetically black, whether it's onstage, in Starbucks -- or even while eating fried chicken in the office.

Expect more unapologetically black moments to come.

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Beyoncé’s Makeup Artist Reveals His Top Melt-Proof Beauty Products and Tricks

Whether cheering on Cardi B from the packed audience or sipping a cool cocktail by an Indio, California, pool, Coachella-goers need be observant of the makeup applied for the day-to-night affair. Too heavy a hand will cause powders and eyeliners to blend into one, while not enough ensures a wiped clean slate within minutes of arriving at the festival. How then to keep a hydrated (and not slick) complexion and not let your glitter crystals and pink shadow budge? Just in time for Bey-chella round two is Los Angeles–based makeup artist Sir John, who's made it his profession to keep Beyoncé's false lashes and flawless glow in place while she wows the crowd.

For a humidity-packed day ahead, Sir John urges desert frolickers to employ the mode of “duality” in the form of creams and powders used consecutively. First up, skip the moisturizer. “When it's hot, an emollient moisturizer is going to lift off your foundation,” he says, advising to instead opt for a serum or primer, like L'Oréal Paris's matte formula. Next comes a dab of concealer underneath the eyes, topped with a dash of translucent powder to make it last. Rather than de-shining the entire face, however, the expert makeup manipulator suggests restricting this application to under the eyes for a “refreshed and youthful” look that won't “weigh your face down.”

The second rule of Coachella is: There's no room for shiny foreheads, not with selfies and flower crown filters reigning supreme. Grab a set of rolling papers on your way out to blot excess oil before pressing on powder as an afternoon touch-up—a trick Sir John has picked up over the years on tour with his talented clientele. “If you apply [the powder] before blotting,” he explains, “you'll just push the oil right into your pores.” The papers quickly absorb shine and easily slip into the tiniest of festival cross-body bags—quite possibly your best bet this weekend.

Because colorful eyes are no match for the uncooperative elements, Sir John counts NARS's eyeshadow base as his trusty sidekick to keep lids looking fresh and never melted. As for winged liner statements that stay, well, in line, swipe on a creamy liner like Dose of Colors's latest formula and “set it with a dark, matte powder shadow,” he says of his double-impact strategy. Perhaps his best eyeshadow hack yet? Swipe the primer higher than usual: “Apply the primer directly over the brows, set with a Dipbrow formula and then a gel.” Talk about a fierce, Coachella-approved gaze.

With lips being the least of his concerns, he swears by eye cream as lip balm anyway—“it won't change the texture of the products applied over it,” he says of the consistency—his final steps include a flush of cream blush, powder (mais oui!), and a finishing spray to set it and forget it. Sir John relies on a secret concoction that he's carefully crafted after years of experience working with in-demand artists whose jobs it is to look good while sweating. It's not out until early next year, but in the meantime, Urban Decay's cooling spritz will keep it all in place so you don't have to. Otherwise, go ahead, let loose.


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