Angela and Vanessa Simmons, the daughters of Joseph Simmons better known as the legendary New York DJ Rev Run, have broken away from the shadow of their father and built brands around motherhood, their love of fashion and beauty and reality television.

 

“I think people have a lot of misconceptions about people that grow up privileged,” said Vanessa Simmons. “Everything is not spoon fed to us, we have to work for our name and that’s just the truth.”

 

Rev Run was a member of Run DMC, one of the most influential hip-hop groups in musical history. In 2005, he and his family were first introduced to reality television on MTV’s “Run’s House.” Since first appearing on “Run’s House,” the sisters’ leveraged the success of that show with a spinoff show called “Daddy’s Girls.” The Simmons sisters have been no stranger to the limelight.

 

These days the the Simmons sisters are back in the forefront as cast members of “Growing Up Hip Hop” on WeTV along with their younger brother JoJo Simmons.

 

“And it kind of gets to shine a light on who we actually are and how hard we work to upkeep everything.”

 

“You’ll get to see the chemistry and all three of us as parents now and how we’ve matured over the years which will be interesting for the viewers,” Vanessa remarked.

 

“It’s natural chemistry because we’re siblings, so it definitely makes us feel like we’re back on ‘Run’s House,’ kind of just all grown up,” Angela added. “Times definitely passed, but it definitely feels like old times.”

 

GUHH is predicated on highlighting the lives of successful young adults who all happened to be raised by hip-hop legends. Angela was one of the original creators of the show that is now in its fourth season. The cast also includes Romeo Miller, Damon Dash and Kristinia DeBarge.

 

With much of their lives in the public eye, the Simmons sisters have learned how to keep some aspects of their personal lives private.

 

“I think it’s as public as you make it,” said Angela Simmons. “Behind the scenes is what’s really going on and what you show to the public is what you show to the public.”

 

As a young mother, Angela has leaned on her experiences watching how her older sister Vanessa navigates through wearing so many different hats.

 

“It’s been an adjustment, a good adjustment though,” Angela commented on motherhood. Her greatest takeaway in her first year and a half of motherhood, “Balance is key.” 

 

“Sometimes as a mother you can lose yourself in just taking care of your kid, but you are just as important,” Vanessa added.

 

It has not been an easy feat for either Angela or Vanessa to achieve balance as both are business owners, brand ambassadors and active philanthropists.

 

Angela’s latest venture is her fitness program, “Built Not Bought.” 

 

“It’s all about building your mind, body, and soul,” said Angela, who has become an icon on social media for her viral fitness posts. “I’m not even discouraging or body shaming people who have gotten work done.”

 

Simmons’ fitness routine includes working out at five to six times a week.

 

“I definitely feel like working for what you get is a bigger reward at the end,” she stated.

 

One thing that has been very important to both Angela and Vanessa is how they are represented on television. The two are heavily invested in sending positive messages to young girls on acceptance and confidence.

 

“I think women and girls should know it’s nothing wrong with being natural,” Simmons emphasized. “You don’t have to have the perfect legs with no cellulite and you don’t have to have the perfect stomach and boobs. You are perfect how you are and building the inside first because if your inside is ugly, you’re ugly.”

 

Vanessa has created an entire platform as co-owner and director of Miss Teenage California, a scholarship pageant for young girls ages 14-19.

 

“It’s exciting for me to work with young girls and give them an opportunities that I had growing up and hopefully I will make that a national platform,” said Vanessa.

 

“Growing Up Hip Hop” airs every Thursday at 9 p.m. EST on WeTV.

Category: Arts & Culture

June 21, 2018 

By KELLI KENNEDY 

Associated Press 

 

Deputies were searching for suspects Tuesday after troubled rapper-singer XXXTentacion was fatally shot in the driver's seat of a luxury electric sports car.

 

The 20-year-old rising star, who pronounced his stage name “Ex Ex Ex ten-ta-see-YAWN” and whose real name is Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy, was pronounced dead Monday evening at a Fort Lauderdale-area hospital, the Broward Sheriff's Office said. He was shot earlier outside a Deerfield Beach motorcycle dealership.

 

XXXTentacion had been at RIVA Motorsports checking out inventory when he was approached by two armed suspects as he prepared to drive off in a black BMW i8 at about 4 p.m., sheriff’s public information officer Keyla Concep­cion said.

 

At least one of them fired, and both suspects fled the scene in a dark SUV, Concepcion said.

 

A sheriff’s office statement described the shooting as an apparent robbery attempt. No immediate arrests were made.

 

Stephanie Martinez, a 29-year-old mother who lives in the neighborhood, was coming back from the pool with her kids when she heard three shots. She drove to the end of the street and saw the rapper's body in the car.

 

“He has his mouth open and his hand out. Two people went over and checked his pulse,” said Martinez, who also saw blood. “It’s just weird because he should’ve had security and stuff with him.”

 

On Twitter, his peers expressed shock and sadness.

 

Kanye West said: “rest in peace ... I never told you how much you inspired me when you were here thank you for existing.” Producer Diplo posted a photo of the two together and said, “Thanks for inspiring me.” Travis Barker tweeted: “I’m at a loss for words... speechless (hash)RIPXXXTenta­cion Loved collaborating with you. You were a true artist ...”

 

And J. Cole said, in part: “RIP X. Enormous talent and limitless potential and a strong desire to be a better person. God bless his family, friends and fans.”

 

The entertainer, who sported dreadlocks and facial tattoos, was a rising star. He notched a No. 1 album in March with his sophomore effort “?” and had a top 10 hit with “Sad!” but was facing trial on charges that he beat up his pregnant girlfriend.

 

XXXTentacion racked up huge streaming numbers – on Spotify, his “Sad!” had more than 270 million streams and was on its Top 50 chart this week in the United States and globally. He also has several songs that have been declared platinum, including “Changes,” “Roll in Peace” with fellow rapper Kodak Black and “Look at Me!”

 

In interview with XXL magazine, which named him an up-and-coming artist last year, the rapper cited Nirvana, the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur among his musical influences.

 

“Obviously, I’m one of the greatest of this generation, the upcoming generation, as far as artistry. ... And I say that humbly,” he said in an interview with the outlet last year.

 

His brief career was mired in controversy. In 2016, he was arrested on charges including home invasion for a 2015 incident, and less than a month later was jailed on charges that he attacked his girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time. Later, he faced more charges including witness tampering.

 

Regarding a June 2017 attack at a San Diego concert, the following messages were posted on XXXTentacion’s Twitter account: “security and venue set me up, I got sucker punched and knocked out, it is what it is.”

 

A subsequent tweet said, “next time make sure you kill me so I can’t talk (expletive).”

 

He was released from jail on house arrest late last year and released from house arrest earlier this year to allow him to tour.

 

Fan Wyatt Rubin, 21, rushed to the scene of his slaying on Monday, playing the rapper’s songs including “Jocelyn Flores” and “King” on the drive over.

 

“He was just maturing as a person and as an artist ... it couldn’t have come at a worse time,” Rubin said. “A lot of it was really beautiful music, progressive music.”

 

In an interview this month with the Miami New Times, XXX­Tentacion described his upbringing, which included seeing his mother infrequently and being raised by friends, family and baby sitters. His mother bought him clothes, phones and other gifts. He said he used violence so she would engage with him.

 

“I used to beat kids at school just to get her to talk to me, yell at me,” he said.

 

XXXTentacion was initially one of two artists Spotify removed from its promoted playlists in May in accordance with its new policy on hateful music and conduct. After backlash in the music industry, Spotify backpedaled and said it would no longer attempt to police conduct, restoring XXXTentacion to playlists (although it didn’t do the same for R. Kelly).

 

While XXXTentacion made headlines for legal woes, he connected to millions of fans musically. Among topics he spoke about was depression; he addressed it in his music.

 

In one video on social media, he said: “If worse things come to worse, I (expletive) die a tragic death or some (expletive), and I’m not able to see out my dreams, I at least want to know that the kids perceive my message and were able to make something of themselves.”

 

He continued later: “I appreciate and love all of you and I believe in you all; do not let your depression make you, do not let your body define your soul, let your soul define your body. Your mind is limitless ... you are worth more than you can believe.” 

Category: Arts & Culture

June 14, 2018 

By Lapacazo Sandoval 

Contributing Writer 

 

Director Adam Sobel is passionate and in his documentary, “The Workers Cup,” he puts his heart on his sleeve.  He cares.  In a turn of events that he never imagined, he took a job (2010) in Qatar and moved with his significant other, now his wife, and there, so far from home, his life changed, a lot.

 

He quickly landed a production job creating news stories, and documentaries for major outlets like HBO, CNN, and BBC.  One story hit him hard, and it was a story about a group of migrant workers who were building the facilities for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. It was the people that interested him and for 87 long months he went into their lives and the end result was the documentary — “The Workers Cup” now playing in a limited run in Los Angeles, and New York.

 

It’s the time of the film that causes strong word-of-mouth. Here’s what the director — Adam Sobel had to share about telling the truth on camera.

 

L.A. Watts Times (LAWT):  I’m amazed that the level of access that you seem to have obtained in this documentary.  I’m shocked. Dude, I'm shaking.  This is super sensitive stuff. How did the owners of the corporation in Qatar allow this?

 

Adam Sobel (AS): Well, I was living there (Qatar) so there was no travel back-and-forth.  And you’re right.  It is sensitive and because the subject is so sensitive and because media restrictions were so significant, we either had to hide people's identities or work undercover.

 

LAWT: These men’s lives are exposed. This is raw.

 

AS: No top surface stuff.  We wanted to do something that went much deeper than that and really honored the workers for their sacrifices and their hopes and their dreams rather than doing something that just saw them as victims ... I wanted to build empathy for the workers instead of sympathy.

 

LAWT: Empathy vs sympathy. That is a very strong distinction.  I’m leaning toward stating that you achieved the empathy.

 

AS:  Thank you. 

 

LAWT: You have a wide selection of men from India, Ghana, Kenya, and the Philippines, who —in my opinion, and based on the film — are slaves. How in the world could these people get so tricked? Rhetorical question?

 

AS:  We’ve had a lot of context about how the recruiting agents are selling a false bill of goods but certainly, I didn't expect that to be wrapped up in a professional soccer contract. That was a shocker, really.

 

LAWT: So that I am clear when you refer to FIFA we are talking about a FIFA—sponsored “workers cup” which had teams from different construction companies play against one another in a tournament, correct?

 

AS: Correct and when you compare to their horrible living conditions, soccer becomes more than just a sport.  We saw (the tournament) as an opportunity because we knew they were interested in promoting this and showing to the world that workers welfare standards were improving.

 

LAWT: So, that’s how you got the access, I’m thinking?  Am I right?

 

AS: (laughing)

 

Sure, I mean there was a definite PR spin and we took advantage and we managed to stick around and keep shooting in the camps. We were able to actually get pretty close to the story.

 

LAWT: How long did this take? 

 

AS: Three years and I kept it completely secret for two due to the sensitive nature that we captured.

 

It’s a story about these guys whose lives have been sacrificed in some way for our own entertainment and that in and of itself reveals that we’re all complicit in the system

LAWT: That director Adam Sobel is an understatement.

Category: Arts & Culture

June 14, 2018 

Aries 

MAR 21 - APR 19 

You're definitely in the mood for love this week, Aries. And lucky for you, romance is yours for the taking! Venus will move into your 5th House of Pleasure and True Love on Wednesday, remaining here until July 9. With Venus here, it's very possible that a new love interest will arrive in your life if you're single. You might meet this person while enjoying an outdoors adventure or some other recreational activity. You can even meet him or her at a fun event like a party. Are you already in a relationship? You will also benefit from the rays of Venus in your true love sector. You and your honey can enjoy all of those sparks you experienced back in the day when you first started dating. Very exciting!

 

Taurus 

APR 20 - MAY 20 

Your family is somehow deeply involved in your love life this week. If you're a single parent and have started dating someone special, it's possible that you'll decide to introduce your new love to your children. This decision has been carefully considered and discussed between you and your partner because you are very aware that once you bring someone into your home and domestic life, you'll want a stronger commitment. Happily, your new love is on board. Even better? Your kids will love this person as much as you do! If you're completely single, let one of your relatives set you up with someone. You might be pleasantly surprised.

 

Gemini 

MAY 21 - JUN 20 

A New Moon in your sign this Wednesday signals a mental readiness for that personal fresh start in life and love. You are someone who craves variety and constant stimulation if you're going to remain in one place -- or with one person -- for very long. This week, it's possible that the person you're with will spark your interest. He or she knows exactly what to do in order to keep you interested in the relationship. It's also possible that you single Geminis will start juggling more than one romantic prospect under the context of "just being friends."

  

Cancer 

JUN 21 - JUL 22 

Venus is still in your sign for her final days this week (until Wednesday). Use this potent boost to make yourself look and feel better so that your confidence is up to par. If you're single, you might not have to do much of anything to attract someone special your way. If you're in a relationship, you've definitely noticed how much more your partner is showing his or her appreciation for you. However, the most important lesson you've learned is about self-love. Love can only conquer all when you've conquered self-love first.

 

Leo 

JUL 23 - AUG 22 

You're coming into a happy place this week and everyone around you will surely notice. On Wednesday, a New Moon in your 11th House of Community will light up opportunities for you to attend several parties, events, and other outings with friends. Venus enters your sign on the same day and remains here through July 9. This is your once-in-a-year beauty queen (or king) transit that leaves you looking and feeling more vibrant than ever. You'll give off a vibe of joy and open-hearted generosity that is even stronger than usual. Expect no shortage of romance and pleasure Leo. This is your time!

 

Virgo 

AUG 23 - SEP 22 

Your love life will become a much more private affair this week. Venus slides into your 12th House of Privacy -- the most reclusive area of your chart -- on Wednesday. Until July 9, you'll want to pay attention to a tendency for you or your mate to become more secretive. This might ignite some anxiety around the health of your relationship, making one or both of you question whether or not you can maintain trust. Another possibility, however, is that you'll decide to work through your problems with the help of a counselor. That would be an ideal option.

  

Libra 

SEP 23 - OCT 22 

Are you ready to have some fun again, Libra? Some real fun? Good, because the universe truly wants to lighten you up and remind you that social time with friends can have amazing healing benefits to your heart and soul. If you are currently single, you might have the urge to embrace your singlehood and stay away from the complications of love ... at least for now. Go out with your pals to the hottest new club or bar. Attend parties and other events. Focus on you and your personal happiness. Guess what? Love will arrive when you least expect it.

  

Scorpio 

OCT 23 - NOV 21 

A new beginning is possible when it comes to the most intimate corners of your relationship. Have things between you and your partner been shaky lately? A toppling tower moment was likely thanks to Uranus bursting into your partnership sector back on May 15. This week, however, a New Moon on Wednesday signals the potential for healing. If you've already been participating in marriage counseling, it's possible that this is the week you'll both know whether or not your union is salvageable ... or if it's time to truly go your separate ways. Your ability to accept the truth of your situation now is what will heal you -- no matter which way this goes.

 

Sagittarius 

NOV 22 - DEC 21 

If you've been enjoying the single life and someone special suddenly walked into your life, you might be thinking about taking yourself off the market this week. That's right, your bachelor or bachelorette ways might soon be a thing of the past, Sagittarius! A New Moon in your partnership sector this Wednesday has you strongly focused on a decision you need to make about your love life. You want to move forward with the person you're dating and make things exclusive. In fact, what once terrified you now seems like the best idea in the world. Go for it!

 

Capricorn 

DEC 22 - JAN 19 

You're in luck this week if you and your partner need to have a serious conversation about finances, your sex life, or even the overall direction of your relationship. On Tuesday, Mercury slides into your partnership sector and remains here through June 29. Communication will take on a more even-keeled tone, helping you both feel listened to and heard. Compromise will also be much easier now since you'll find it easy to talk to one another in a way that honors each other's feelings and ideas. With Venus moving into your 8th House of Shared Income on Wednesday, it's possible that your partner will have amazing news to share about money. You'll celebrate!

 

Aquarius 

JAN 20 - FEB 18 

Your love life will not be a snoozefest this week, that's for sure! A New Moon in Gemini falls in your true love sector on Wednesday. Gemini is the sign of the twins, of duality. As a result, if you're single, it's very possible that you'll meet not one, but two people who each have something very different to offer you. You'll feel an instant rapport and mental connection with both and will eagerly start dating them. Fortunately, at this early stage, there won't be any pressure to choose one over the other. For now, have fun. You've certainly got options!

  

Pisces 

FEB 19 - MAR 20

There's no shortage of communication for you in matters of the heart this week. On Tuesday, Mercury enters your true love sector and remains here through June 29. If you're completely single, you may notice more opportunities to strike up conversations with people you are attracted to mentally and emotionally. A sibling might introduce you to someone new; it's also possible that someone sexy will move into your neighborhood or into your apartment building and throw you a wink or suggestive glance. Act on it! If you're in a relationship, you and your sweetheart might openly express your love for each other ... perhaps for the very first time.

Category: Arts & Culture

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