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Raised By Rap Royalty, Infinite Coles Is Finding Success On His Own

guys
Photographed by Mikey Asanin. Styled by Sam Bates.

The artist on music, sexuality, and growing up in the Wu-Tang house

The following feature appears in the March 2017 issue of NYLON Guys.

“Everyone wants to be real, but no one knows how to open their eyes,” muses Infinite Coles. Seated in a Brooklyn loft on a brisk winter afternoon, the 23-year-old R&B singer, actor, dancer, and model is contemplative yet cheery as he talks over carrot cake. So, what’s real?

“Love, loyalty, respect,” he replies.

It sounds pretty straightforward, but as Coles’s father—Ghostface Killah of the multiplatinum-selling rap group Wu-Tang Clan—once posed in a song, can it be all so simple? Authenticity has a funny way of becoming complex, considering the pressure to be an individual but still comply with society’s predetermined norms. But for Coles, eschewing conformity and simply being who he is has been the most influential force in his career—even more so than the fact that his dad is one of the greatest rappers of all time.

Coles has always known that he was gay, which was the primary source of angst in his teen years. By that time, Wu-Tang’s legendary debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), had been around for a decade, and each member was a star in his own right, with individual albums that garnered street cred and critical acclaim alike. But for Coles, much of the hip-hop collective’s macho dogma was a personal affront.

“The word ‘faggot’ is so prevalent in their raps,” he says of his father and his cohorts. “It annoyed me, and it made me feel like I was being shoved into the closet. It made me feel like Wu-Tang was talking about me.” Because of this, Coles and his father grew distant during his formative years. Now, there’s “no shade” toward his dad, and they’re building a healthier relationship. “My dad sends money and we talk, but there’s nothing like spending time together,” he says.

Of course, growing up in the “Wu-Tang house” (which is in New Jersey, and not in the group’s hometown, Staten Island) with a rotating roster of rappers and their respective families did come with its perks. “Family vacations were off the hook,” Coles recalls. “RZA took us to Turks and Caicos, Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic, and Disney World.” “Uncle RZA,” as Coles calls him, eventually became influential in honing the rising artist’s musical talent. “The first time I sang, it was at the Wu-Tang house,” Coles says. “I was 14 years old and the family was celebrating Christmas. I sang ‘O Holy Night.’ RZA and everyone was like, ‘Your voice is so good!’ He told me that things were going to get good for me.”

Coles’s respect for RZA is palpable—he credits the critically acclaimed rapper, producer, filmmaker, actor, and author for connecting him with key industry folks, and being one of the most inspirational people in his life. But it’s undeniable that Ghostface, too, has had an impact on Coles. If Coles’s music is any indication, he has inherited his father’s penchant for painting pictures with his rhymes, a talent that once led Pitchfork to wonder if the Wu-Tang MC might be “the best, most colorful storyteller rap has ever seen.” This wasn’t always apparent to Coles, who grew up listening to the likes of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, and Aretha Franklin. “I wish I knew that about my dad a long time ago,” he says. “I could be so much better at storytelling if I would’ve known that about him. He’s got a talent of writing about what’s around him. He could write a dope story about a tree.”

Still, Coles is determined to carve out his own niche. He’s releasing music this spring, and contributed to XL Recordings’ Everything Is Recorded, a collective project orchestrated by the record label’s owner, Richard Russell, that sees Coles working with fellow emerging artists such as Sampha and Ibeyi. Coles’s résumé extends beyond music—in 2015, he and Major Lazer’s Mela Murder were cast in Gang, a short film released by Dazed in which his character is “vogueing with [his] bitch” and talking about being a “side dick,” and he’ll be playing what he refers to as a “gay gangsta” in the Netflix film Headless, debuting later this year. (You can also catch him grooving in the music video for Bibi Bourelly’s “Sally.”) Plus, he’s been steadily establishing himself in the fashion world, having modeled for Gypsy Sport and the emerging Los Angeles-based line We Are Mortals, and serving as a brand ambassador for the independent streetwear label Whatever 21.

Despite it being early in his career, Coles is already working triple duty: sidestepping his father’s shadow, establishing himself in a cutthroat industry, and proudly owning his identity. It’s no burden to him, though. “People work so hard to be where they want to be,” he says. “My hard work was to accept myself. And once that happened, [opportunities] started coming to me.”

Top by Kenzo, stylist’s own choker. Grooming: Holly Gowers using Dior Homme for Atelier Management.

Photo by Handout / Getty Images.

From selling probiotic supplements to picture frames and umbrellas

A Kardashian-level of success doesn't happen overnight, and it certainly doesn't happen without proper planning. Kim Kardashian West clearly knows this because, according to TMZ, she has already filed for trademark protection on the name of her two-week-old baby, Psalm West. From personal appearances and entertainment services to probiotic supplements and scrunchies, she is leaving no stone unturned in terms of possible business opportunities.

Apparently, all of the Kardashian parents file these kinds of trademark protections for their kids even if the businesses never come to fruition. It's done as a precautionary measure to keep others from profiting off of their name and to make sure that, should they ever want to start a business, they don't have to worry about someone else getting to it first. The sheer length of this list speaks to the huge earning potential of baby Psalm, who can't even control his own neck muscles yet, let alone go into business. Still, this brings a whole new meaning to "securing the bag."

Below, a list of all the things Kardashian West is seeking usage rights for.

Hair accessories

Barrettes

Bands

Bows

Clips

Ties

Ornaments

Pins

Scrunchies

Chopsticks

Twisters

Wrap

Hair extensions

Ornamental novelty pins

Entertainment services

Personal appearances

Skin care

Probiotic supplements

Toy figures

Doll accessories

Computer software

Clothing

Baby bottles

Furniture

Strollers

Beverageware

Swaddling

Blankets

Skin moisturizers

Lotions

Creams

Bubble bath

Fragrances

Body powders

Shower gels

Body oils

Skin serums

Nail polish

Nail polish remover

Nail care preparations

Puppets

Puzzles

Toy jewelry

Toy cameras

Toy food

Bath toys

Baby gyms

Playground balls

Electronic action toys

Baby bouncers

Baby changing tables

Baby walkers

Pillows

Mirrors

Cushions

Picture frames

Playpens

Baby carriers

Cosmetic bags

Toiletry cases

Duffle bags

Umbrellas

Clocks

Watches

Key chains

Calendars

Books

photo albums

Stationery

Stickers

Writing utensils

Collectible trading cards

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Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Well, actually it's crocodile, but she looks out of this world so...

Winnie Harlow walked the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday on her way to a screening of Oh Mercy!, wearing a showstopping gown.

The sheer black dress featured green embroidery on the front and back, which Ralph and Russo confirmed was in the shape of a crocodile. She belted the dress with a black crocodile skin-like belt and finished the look off with some strappy heels. She didn't leave it at just that. For beauty, Harlow packed on full lids of sparkly purple eyeshadow. She kept her hair sleek and simple.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Though the brand says otherwise, as Game of Thrones fans, we'd like to think the embroidery is reminiscent of a dragon's skin. Not to mention, Harlow looks out-of-this-world beautiful in it.

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Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

That denim kimono!!

Marion Cotillard shut down the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday at a screening for Matthias Et Maxime. Instead of an extravagant gown that's expected of the event, Cotillard wore a matching black crop top and shorts. Despite wearing an outfit I typically don to a hot yoga class, she looks incredible. She completed the look with an oversized denim kimono, a statement necklace, and heeled booties.

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

At first, I was drawn in by the crop top and hotpants duo, but, after looking closer at the kimono, it's clear that it's the real scene-stealer. The floor-length Balmain piece was decorated with artful rips and dragon motifs. I would like to live in it.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Let's all bow down to the Khaleesi of Cannes.

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Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images.

"It doesn't make you weak to ask for help"

Singer Billie Eilish is continuing to open up about mental health, this time in a new PSA video in partnership with the Ad Council and Seize the Awkward.

In the video, Eilish insists that "it doesn't make you weak to ask for help." She doubles down on the importance of asking for help, and stresses the importance of friends and family being there when their close ones reach out and checking in on them as well. "You should be able to ask anyone for help, everyone has to help someone if they need it." According to Eilish, there have been times when someone reached out to her at the exact moment she needed it, and it helped.

It was particularly refreshing to see Eilish acknowledge that there are things she still doesn't know and has to learn about her mental health. At the very beginning of the video, the interviewer asks her to reflect on her mental health journey, and all Eilish can do is let out chortle. "I think when people hear, 'Remember to take care of your mental health,' they think that everyone else is, and that is not at all accurate," she admitted. "You know, for me I'm trying to learn still to make sure that I stay okay."

Check out the PSA below.

Billie Eilish On Mental Health & Friendship | Ad Council www.youtube.com

Photograph via @kimkardashian.

"#NotOnMyMoodBoard"

Kim Kardashian has definitely been accused of borrowing a design now and then. But when Instagram influencer and Kardashian look-alike Kamilla Osman claimed the entrepreneur copied her birthday look for a Met Gala after-party, Kardashian was not going to let it fly—and shared plenty of photo evidence to shut down the claim.

Fashion industry watchdog Diet Prada first noticed Osman's claims on Instagram and shared side-by-side images of Kardashian's Cher-inspired outfit designed by Mugler and Osman's dress. "Never get confused with who 'inspires' who. They won't give you credit but they will copy," Osman wrote on her IG story. "I designed this dress for my birthday last year. Nobody had a dress like this was an original design."

Kardashian responded by posting the true inspiration behind her look: images of Cher, in similarly sparkly, plunging-neckline dresses and wigs, and of model Yasmeen Ghauri walking a Mugler show in the '90s. In fact, the only similarity between Osman's and Kardashian's looks is the bodycon mini-dress style, which the two are not the first to wear. Among the images, Kardashian included a blank slide with the hashtag "NotOnMyMoodBoard," making it clear that this was in response to Osman's claims.

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Though I am with Kim on this one, Kardashian does have a history of co-opting other people's work. From being sued over her Kimoji app, to claims she copied makeup palettes and perfume bottle designs, to being accused of copying Naomi Campbell's entire style, it's far from the first (and probably, far from the last) time Kardashian's name will be mentioned like this.

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