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Ari Chi on redefining Beauty, Womanhood, and Sexuality

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Dripping in funk, r&b, and soul, Ari Chi likes to say that she defies categorization.

And she’s right; she does it effortlessly so. Her stunning, eclectic visuals and colorful creative direction transcends her ability to be confined to a specific genre. Ari is not only authentic but defines beauty, womanhood, and sexuality in her own unique way.

The Florida native is a singer, songwriter, and producer whose presence skyrocketed in the music industry after her cover of Desiigner’s “Timmy Turner” garnered over 98,000 views on Youtube. Following Ari’s online buzz, she recently dropped her EP “Lost In The Hues” last week.

Ari’s breathtaking voice and signature ukulele has pushed her career in all the right places, taking her on a self-discovering journey of who she is and what she wants to represent in the music business.

Your presence is one that is closely tied with femininity and womanhood. How do you stay connected with that part of yourself and channel it into your lyrics?

I definitely talk a lot about love and I don’t necessarily talk about the sex of the person that I’m talking about so I kind of leave it open ended for the listener to put themselves in whatever shoes they think I’m in. I leave that open dialogue and I’m not too specific. So that helps because a lot of people can’t really determine if I’m straight, gay or bi and I kind of love that. A lot of people can relate to my music, especially women. I try and stay connected with that and stay aware of leaving that openness in my lyrics.

In this day and age, feminism has sort of twisted itself into a controversial place. What are your thoughts on what feminism stands for?

People have put like this negative connotation on feminism, especially through social media. You know, it’s easy to retweet something, put a quote on it, and make someone else think you said something else. I think feminism is just women sticking up for women. Girl power. Point blank. I think it’s more of womanhood, and people get intimidated by that. But women are the reason why everyone else is here. Our presence is being felt and heard now and that scares a lot of people. Feminism is beautiful, as is women unity. I find it beautiful and I should talk about it more, but it is something I am aware of and something I like to be accountable with.

Do you think the music industry’s double standard is dying down or does it still hold the same gender bias?

At least from my experience, I haven’t found, in the music industry, a problem being a woman yet. I have heard a lot of stories and I’ve heard a lot of experiences from people who are close to me, but my personal past and my personal experience hasn’t really been affected. I produce a lot of my own stuff, and so I have found that a lot of people I produce for are men so they’re very appreciative. I don’t know, maybe it is tied into that but people are surprised when I tell them I produce and that I write my own stuff. That could be a form of it, but that’s not negative for me. It’s more of like, “Oh wow! You do this and this and this.” So I look at it, and I turn it into a positive thing. I think everyone could look at their situation and make it either negative or positive but as far as the industry goes, I know that double standards are there and I just haven’t had to experience them in my journey.

What are your main impulses to write about music?

Definitely colors and art. They inspire things that wouldn’t necessarily make someone think that it came from me watching someone paint but that’s just where my initial influences come from. Watching people create, interact, mess up, fix their mess ups. Actually, a lot of my lyrics are not about me or my personal experiences. It’s just a lot of interacting. You know, I’ve always been the girl that’s there for everyone. I’m the one that a lot of my friends call, just vent to; there’s not too much of my life and thoughts because I don’t really talk to a lot of people about my feelings or what I’m going through but I do incorporate other people’s stories. So art and interactions with other people drive my inspirations for my music.

Any artists that have inspired you lately?

Hiatus Kaiyote is one of my favorites; the lead singer is amazing. Also Lauryn Hill – and a lot of people have said actually, that my style when I’m performing live reminds them of her. Alicia Keys, of course, I connect with her a lot.

How would you describe the music scene of the city you are currently living in and how important is it in terms of what you’re actually writing about?

The music scene in Tampa, Florida, inspires me mainly because a lot of the musicians are also visual artists. They are very involved with the art around their music, and a lot of our events are art and music events so that’s been really helpful because art and color are really the base for all that I create. I figured out what I wanted to do pretty late in the game; moving to Tampa in 2015, moving in with my boyfriend who’s an artist, it’s helped me. Growing with the craft around other people too is just great cause it drives me to create even more.

Your songs are filled with raw, passionate lyrics. Do you have qualms about being misunderstood in what you release?

So, I released “These Parts”, a song about interracial love, almost a year ago. I used this little promo clip with an older white man and an older black woman. It was a clip from an interview from Youtube because someone had told me it reminded them of my song. When I had put it up on Instagram, a lot of younger black women were like, “Ew! Gross! What the hell is this?” Because a lot of things had been happening at the time and I totally understand where there were coming from; a lot of people were getting shot and the bad news had been coming nonstop. So I understood where that anger was coming from. But I am multiracial, so without that other races I wouldn’t be here. I wanted to bring both sides of who I am together, and celebrate that you know. Because my mom is a strong Italian, white woman. She’s amazing; she’s at all the rallies, supports, is a good ally to the black community.

It’s hard to see people attack that part of me. It’s hard to explain who you are to both sides. It was one of the hardest releases I did, but it was also the most popular. So if you stay in your comfort zone, it will kill you. For me, people needed to hear that and I’m happy I did it. Sometimes going out of your comfort zone is the best thing you can do for yourself.

Congratulations on the release of your EP! What were some of the artistic goals that you wanted to accomplish in “Lost In The Hues”?

How “Lost In The Hues” all started was I was asked to come up to Atlanta to work with this guy named Jeremy Brown. He’s Dreams executive producer and engineer so he works for Dream and any artist that Dream writes for. I didn’t know that at the time but when I went up there, we wrote two or three songs and record one. He loved it. We were actually going to push them for other artists but then he told me that I was really good, and that he loved my voice, didn’t want to place these songs, and wanted to make a project with me. That’s how it started.

If you listen to this EP and then my other songs, it’s definitely different than anything I’ve ever released. It’s a lot more “mainstream” and it’s because the first couple of songs were made for Rihanna, Kesha, and etc. But this project is about me showcasing my writing ability and diversity. “Lost In The Hues” is sort of this metaphor meaning I am lost in all these genres. People who know me for the ukulele, they aren’t necessarily going to understand why I’m doing this but basically each track is a different genre. We made it in like two weeks and I just- I really love it.

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Watch the intergalactic video for Gesaffelstein and Pharrell William’s ‘Blast Off’

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Jay-Z to Re-Open New York’s Webster Hall

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Image via Getty/Kevin Winter/PW18

Just when you thought Jay-Z couldn’t make any more business moves, he pulls out the big guns. The rap mogul is slated to perform the first concert at New York City’s newly renovated Webster Hall. The “B-Sides 2” show will take place on April 26.

The iconic venue owned by BSE Global and Bowery Presents underwent a lengthy 20-month renovation, reportedly adding an elevator among other modern advancements.

Tickets to Jay-Z’s “B-Sides 2” concert at Webster Hall “for Day 1 fans” go on sale on April 19 at 11 a.m. ET. A pre-sale for AMEX cardholders begins April 18 at 10 a.m. ET. Jay-Z held “B-Sides” concerts at New York City’s Terminal 5 in 2015.

Take a look at some of the upcoming show dates below.

Patti Smith on May 1
Sharon Van Etten on May 4
Broken Social Scene on May 16 and 17
MGMT May 22 – 24
Real Estate on June 14
Built to Spill on September 30
October 1
Chris Robinson Brotherhood on October 9

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REVOLT and AT&T partner for the REVOLT Hip Hop Summit

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Revolt and AT&T just announced the launch of the Revolt Hip Hop Summit, expanding the multi-city cultural event inspired by the former Revolt Music Conference to two new markets — Atlanta and Los Angeles — and re-imagining the event to include opportunities for young people to network and develop skills business owners desire.

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AT&T will serve as co-creator and exclusive presenting sponsor of the event, expanding its reach and providing greater access for those seeking to become future leaders.

“Now more than ever we need to own our culture,” Revolt chairman Sean “Diddy” Combs said in a press release. “At the Revolt Hip Hop Summit we will empower young people with sessions on the issues they care about. From entrepreneurship and economic empowerment to social justice, we’ll have the provocative conversations not happening anywhere else. With the support of AT&T, we will provide perspective on music and media that could only come from industry veterans committed to our future.”

The event will take place from July 25-27 in Atlanta and Oct. 24-26 in Los Angeles. In addition to showcasing performances from major and emerging artists, the Summit will be  an immersive experience in the world of Hip Hop and culture, offering young people real-life networking experience and helping them to develop and hone the crucial skills business owners need to grow their companies.

“One of the hardest parts of breaking into any field is building a network and making connections with people that can help inspire dreams into reality,” said AT&T SVP-advertising and creative services Valerie Vargas in a press release. “AT&T is a longstanding champion of mentorship across both business and entertainment and we hope the opportunities stemming from the Revolt Hip Hop Summit help young people find their place.”

Headliners and ticket sales for the Atlanta and LA events will be announced soon. 

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