Christina Aguilera answers my burning questions

xtina

I think you already know her name. And just in case you forgot how comfortable Christina Aguilera is in her own skin, she’s dropped a new music video for “Your Body,” the first single off her upcoming album, Lotus. I’m loving the use of pastel colors and the vintage prop styling, all of which suggests a soft and feminine approach, but no less confident than her Dirrty days- if you’re going to rock pink and lavender hair, you may as well do it with panache.

And she does.

Continue reading

What’s in your suitcase: Gaby Moreno

gabymoreno

She’s one of the most exciting acts in Latin music, that much we knew. She’s even earned comparisons to the late, great Chavela Vargas. So it makes sense that Ricardo Arjona’s 30-year-old protege Gaby Moreno is in high demand.

I caught up with the Guatemalan chanteuse (who has a serious love for vintage) at a friend’s house in L.A., just as she drops her third album, the aptly titled, Postales, and preps for a trip to the Dominican Republic to perform with Arjona.

One of the many things that I learned about Gaby from rummaging through her carry-on is that she loves all of Woody Allen’s body of work. She loves Allen so much she wrote a song called “Daydream By Design” (from her sophomore album, Illustrated Songs, released last year) which she was hoping would be used in his film, Midnight in Paris. It may not have been used, but if you listen to it with your eyes closed, you can clearly hear Édith Piaf’s influence on this talented singer/songwriter. She loves Paris so much she’s already performed there three times this year.

Oh, and Marion Cotillard (who played Édith Piaf on the big screen and won an Oscar for it) is one of her fave actresses.

See a pattern here?

Gaby can switch effortlessly between Spanish and English, between blues, rancheras, pop, jazz, and R&B, and her newest release is evocative of the 1920s and 30s, like most of her wardrobe and accessories.

If you’re in the L.A. area, come through Largo tonight to watch Gaby play a live set as she celebrates the release of Postales on Arjona’s indie Metarmorfosis label.

When you’re done admiring all the goodies in Gaby’s suitcase, check out what Alex Cuba and Li Saumet of Bomba Estereo like to travel with. Everyone is so different so don’t ask me to pick favorites, although Gaby’s collection of hair accessories is kind of amazing….

gabymoreno2

Check out the pics on Fusion (ABC/Univision), where this was originally posted.

RIP Chris Lighty: A conversation about the loss & legacy of a true hip-hop pioneer

chrislighty

A day after Chris Lighty took his own life in his New York apartment, the hip-hop community continues to mourn the loss of a brilliant music executive and a true leader for the culture.

The 44-year-old Bronx native was known for managing the careers of, at one point or another, some of the most important figures in hip-hop (50 Cent, Diddy, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, Missy Elliot — even Mariah Carey). As founder and CEO of Violator Management, he was responsible for some of the most groundbreaking deals in music, such as 50 Cent’s now-famous deal with Glaceau (which owns Vitamin Water), valued at over $100 million. He was also the man behind LL Cool J’s Gap commercial in the 90s, the one in which he’s seen wearing FUBU gear — a milestone, for sure.

As Jon Caramanica put it in the New York Times, Lighty was “an executive who distinguished himself by knocking down the often stiff wall that separated hip-hop culture from the mainstream, back when those worlds were far apart and still regarding each other warily.”

At the time of his death, he was still managing, among others, 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes, as well as 17-year-old Diggy Simmons (the son of Run-D.M.C’s Run).

Lighty’s love for hip-hop goes all the way back to his days carrying records for the pioneering New York DJ Red Alert. Soon he’d be road managing the likes of Boogie Down Productions (DJ Scott La Rock, D-Nice, and KRS-One) and the Jungle Brothers. He even rapped on Black Sheep’s first album (back when he went by “Baby Chris”). The legendary Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen would eventually take notice of Lighty, and scoop him up to work for Rush Management and Def Jam, the most important label in hip-hop history.

Read the rest of this story here and listen in on my conversation with Jayson Rodriguez, Executive Editor of XXL and a friend/fellow VIBE alum, whom I called to discuss the loss and legacy of Chris Lighty.

The Univision Shoe Diaries: Maria Elena Salinas

maria_elena_shoes

It’s no secret around the Univision offices that we have some shoe-a-holics in our midst. Our leading ladies confess to having a love affair with their shoes, but trust — this isn’t just a superficial addiction. In our new web series, “The Univision Shoe Diaries,” we’ll be talking to some of the most recognizable faces from the network (Maria Elena Salinas, Chiqui Delgado, Teresa Rodriguez, to name a few) individually to hear the stories behind their most cherished footwear.

Their stories will surprise you.

Let’s start with Maria Elena Salinas, co-anchor of Noticiero Univision and news magazine Aqui y Ahora, and a confessed shoe addict. On any given day, the click-clack of her fabulous heels can be heard in the halls of Univision’s Miami headquarters. But today, she wants to tell the story behind a far-from-glamorous pair.

More modest than many of the shoes in her closet (and trust us, she has some hot heels), these shoes serve Salinas as an important reminder. “I got to go home to my daughters and go into my air conditioned house, but so many people in Haiti didn’t,” she said. “So many kids never got to see their parents again and so many parents never got to be with their kids.”

“I rarely wear them, because they do have a special significance for me,” she added.

Aspiring journalists: take notes! This is how you win an Emmy.

Of course, Maria Elena also has lots of beautiful shoes in her closet (check out her shoe gallery on Fusion, where this story was originally posted). When you work as hard as she does, you should treat yourself once in a while.

The reggae scholars have spoken: Snoop Lion is not a gimmick

snoop_lion

By now you’ve heard the news: Snoop Dogg has officially changed his name to Snoop Lion. After a soul-searching trip to Jamaica last February, the legendary West Coast rapper (now a 40-year-old father of three) is a changed man. To prove it, he came back with a new, reggae album, Reincarnated (with help from Diplo), and a documentary of the same name (with help from Vice), premiering September 7 at the Toronto Film Festival.

The whole thing seemed suspect to me initially –- Did he smoke some new potent kind of weed we don’t know about? Is this a mid-life crisis? Is he bored? All fair scenarios, by the way, but I was still undecided. That’s why I called on someone whose opinion and musical expertise I respect greatly, Mr. Boomshots himself, Rob Kenner.

Rob is an old friend, and one of the toughest/most talented editors I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. He’s also the most prominent reggae music journalist in America. During his tenure at Vibe magazine (we met while I worked there almost a decade ago) he founded the only column in a major U.S. media outlet on all things reggae, Boomshots, which is now its own magazine/website, of which he is the publisher. His day job is Senior Editor at Complex Media Network.

Above all things, Rob is a lover of good riddims. Every Monday night from 7-10pm, you’ll find him behind the DJ booth at Miss Lily’s Variety in NYC (a West Indian-themed gallery, record store, juice bar and boutique owned by the same folks behind Miss Lily’s, the Jamaican restaurant on Houston and Sullivan) for his radio show, “Strictly Boomshots,” which is livestreamed on RadioLily.com. Everyone from Jimmy Cliff to legendary reggae producer Clive Chin has stopped by the show and it hasn’t even been on the air for a year. That tells you how much of an authority Kenner is on reggae.

Miss Lily’s is also the place where Snoop held his press conference last week to announce his reincarnation, so right after that, he walked over to Rob’s booth and the two chopped it up, settling the score once and for all about who has the best ‘vegetation,’ Jamaica or California.

So just how authentic is the Doggfather’s identity switch? Well, to his credit, Snoop has been flirting with reggae as far back as The Chronic (you can hear it clearly toward the end of “The Day The N**gaz Took Over”).

Kenner declares: “It’s sincere.” And he meant it. Here’s why.

Read the rest of this story on Fusion (ABC/Univision), where it was originally posted.

The best of my live Twitter chat with Juanes!

tumblr_m7dwsinqns1qi7ua6

Fusion recently hosted a live Twitter chat between Juanes and his fans leading up to Univision’s youth awards show, Premios Juventud (aka Univision’s version of the VMA’s). I served as translator and moderator with Juanes by my side. The theme of Premios Juventud this year was superheroes, so you can imagine how much fun we had with props.

Fun blooper reel below:

And check out our compilation of the most memorable tweets via Storify.

Frankie J dishes on his upcoming tour with J.Lo & Enrique

I can’t think of a more deserving person to join Jennifer Lopez and Enrique Iglesias on tour now that Wisin y Yandel pulled out than smooth crooner Frankie J. I caught up with him backstage during rehearsals for Premios Juventud and even got him to do a little accapella which he does so well!

Ivy Queen opens up about finding real love

The woman with a million nicknames (La Caballota, La Potra, La Diva, to name a few) stopped by Univision recently for the Despierta America concert series and chatted with Angie Romero of Fusion (ABC/Univision) about finding love again, her new look, and her new album, Musa.

The subtle genius of Aubrey Plaza

AubreyPlaza1

In comedy, as in any other genre, game recognizes game. So Aubrey Plaza, otherwise known as April, Amy Poehler’s snarky college intern on NBC’s mockumentary-style show Parks and Recreation, is the kind of funny that my favorite comedians — people like Conan or Chelsea — give props to.

It’s called subtlety. And it’s not exactly something Latinos are known to do on the big or small screen. Blame George Lopez– anyone who relies on muecas to elicit chuckles is going to run out of jokes eventually.

It’s like Marlon Brando once said: “We only have so many faces in our pockets.”

But as Darius, Plaza’s first major film role in this summer’s Safety Not Guaranteed, the 27-year-old, half-Puerto Rican, half-Irish actress isn’t so much funny as she is a disaffected, deeply insecure, socially awkward live-at-home college grad who has never fully dealt with the one big tragedy in her life: the death of her mother.

She’s not exactly someone you love at first sight, but there’s a transformation that happens here, and eventually, Darius becomes endearing, relatable, and most important, memorable.

Continue reading

Exclusive: on the set of Pitbull’s ‘Men in Black 3’ video

Screen Shot 2013-10-19 at 5.42.21 PM

Come with me as I take you behind the scenes of Pitbull’s hot new video for “Back in Time,” the theme song for the upcoming blockbuster Men in Black III, in theaters May 25, exclusively for Fusion (ABC/Univision).