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Sampha Stakes His Claim To Spotlight On His First Solo U.S. Tour

Music

The artist played a sold-out show in New York last night

Imagine, if you can, a Sampha concert. There's the artist on stage; he's in a spotlight, with nothing but a piano and his undeniable vocals carrying him. His music is as mellow as music gets, after all. It’s only right that his set would follow suit.

But when the 27-year-old took the stage at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, New York, last night—the third stop on his first U.S. solo tour—he was joined by a full band, including singer Kelsey Lu, who opened the show and lent her cello playing talents and breathy, haunting voice as backup.

Opening up the night with an upbeat version of his unreleased track “Plastic 100C” (he played a more subdued rendition for The Fader this summer), it was clear this wouldn’t be a concert that the performer—or the audience—spent simply swaying back and forth. His introspective lyrics were still present—“You touch down in the base of my fears/ Houston can-can-can you hear/ And we both had to harness our pain”—but the atmosphere was decidedly livelier than the message they paint.

It’s unusual for an artist to go on tour preceding an album, yet Sampha did just that. “I’ve been finishing up my album,” he informed the crowd. No release date was mentioned, but he shared a couple of tracks, most of which had a trippy, slightly overproduced, electronic tinge to them—including one that would feel right at home on a going-out playlist, and which prompted the singer to give us an extended taste of the moves he showed off in Solange’s “Don’t Touch My Hair” music video.

In between, were classic ballads, like a somewhat strained performance of “Too Much,” an emotional rendition of “Happens,” and “Can’t Get Close,” from his 2013 Dual EP. The last of which takes on a new, aching meaning once you take in the fact that his mother passed away last September. His father died when he was nine. “Father, hope you're listening/ Mom, she's doin' alright cause God's listening,” he croons. But Sampha doesn’t allow the sentimentality to linger for too long. Once we get around to “Blood On Me,” he becomes his own hype man. At one point, taking the microphone from the stand to sing and continuing his two-step bop toward the edge of the stage. It feels out of place to use "lit" in the same sentence as Sampha, but there it is.

Up until this year, the singer was, more or less, a background artist. He made his way to the music scene in 2011 by way of SBTRKT. He became somewhat of a household name when Drake borrowed his vocals on Nothing Was the Same and was selected to work on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo shortly after. Most recently, he proved himself worthy of a seat at Solange’s table with a feature on “Don’t Touch My Hair.” Other than that, he’s remained pretty firmly in the shadows of bigger artists. But if last night was any indication, he’s more than ready to step out from behind the scenes.

Sampha's is not a concert you should witness through your phone—or the person’s in front of you. It’s one for which you make a point to be present. It was engaging yet introspective, moody yet entertaining, and, most of all, unpredictable. Sampha once told us in an interview:

Sometimes I listen to my music and wonder what will people think of me. It’s very melancholic, isn’t it? But my life isn’t totally miserable, you know. I can be quite silly, as it happens. It’s just that, for whatever reason, I only express one side of me in my music. I suppose one of my challenges now is to express more of myself, to channel my inner Kanye, perhaps. I’m working on it.

And though his concert didn’t include theatrics like a floating stage, soliloquies, or a mosh pit, it showed an animated side his fans aren’t used to seeing. And one to which we’re grateful to bear witness.

For his final song, “Indecision,” Sampha circled back to the intimate version we all assumed would follow him through the night. His bandmates put down their bows and drumsticks, and he ended the show performing as he does best: with a spotlight, a piano, and his undeniable vocals carrying him. 

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

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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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After delivered the perfect pep talk

When Lena Waithe took over as a guest host on Jimmy Kimmel Live, her first time ever as a late-night host, actress and friend Halle Berry knew exactly how to pump her up. After Kimmel's security guard Guillermo Rodriguez hit the "Berry Button" (a large button on the wall that says just that), Berry came running out in a backless tee and boyfriend jeans to give Waithe a pep talk... and plant one on her.

Berry rolled in as if she'd just jogged from hanging out with her friends to come to Waithe's immediate aid, joking she wasn't dressed for the occasion; but, let's be real, she could wear a paper bag, and we wouldn't complain. Waithe requested the "Halle Berry juice," similar to her 2002 Oscars speech, and Berry immediately had the lights turned down low and jumped into inspirational speech mode.

"I know that you are a force of nature. You are a beautiful African-American queen going after everything that is hers," Berry said before going on to list Waithe's many titles and accomplishments. She jokingly concluded, "And you already winning, girl, 'cause you are dressed way better than Jimmy ever will," before asking if Waithe needed anything else. Clearly, Waithe thought that was all Berry was there to do, because she said no, but Berry insisted she needed one more thing before grabbing Waithe's face and surprising her with a kiss. "Wow," Waithe reacted after Berry pulled away, and honestly same!

Watch the video, below.

Lena Waithe's Guest Host Monologue on Jimmy Kimmel Live youtu.be

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