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Leading a creative revolution whose ripples were seen from Kanye to Donald Glover to Little Simz, Beyonc consigned the idea of performers sticking to the music to history

By now, its a cliche. You have as many hours in a day as Beyonc, the saying goes. You can find its words slapped on mugs, T-shirts and Instagram quotes or murmured into the bathroom mirror as a bleary-eyed morning affirmation. The backlash (largely led by white women) to this tongue-in-cheek attempt at self-motivation has already pointed out its blind spots around class. Of course, you, regular human with looming mounds of debt and bills, cant maximise your time like a pop star with entire creative and personal teams to eliminate her drudgery. Thats obvious.

But the sentiment that Beyonc would, at one point, have been a nobody just like you, with as much time to work with still holds true. Like her or not, she leveraged a childhood work ethic into a career that spreads beyond her role as a performer. Yes, Beyonc is a singer. Yes, she often co-writes. In addition, she is also an all-round entertainment mogul, directing documentaries and music visuals, executive-producing film soundtracks and commanding a wider, ephemeral level of cultural influence not to mention moving into fashion.

She isnt alone. Over the past decade, black labour in music has produced a new understanding of musicians as curators a word that neatly describes the ways black artistry has evolved with the times. As music has become more visual and omnipresent, weaving itself into ads, apps and other art forms, the most impactful acts of the 2010s have found ways to integrate those outlets into their own output: theyve become industries unto themselves. Music may be their anchor, but for everyone from Rihanna to Janelle Mone to Kanye West, its just one part of their contribution to culture. Working within the framework of an exploitative industry, these black musicians have created a space that allows for at least a semblance of autonomy.

Her work functions like a mirror held up to black women … Janelle Mone performing in October. Photograph: Chelsea Lauren/WWD/Rex/Shutterstock

In January 2010, Beyonc announced a hiatus. She retired her Sasha Fierce alter ego and didnt release new recorded material until the following year. (For Beyonc, a hiatus only lasts 18 months.) It marked the first time she had put an explicit homage to soul, classic R&B and more ambitious arrangements ahead of profit. Shed never sounded blacker.

She also retired her father, Matthew Knowles, as her manager and took on that responsibility herself, via her company Parkwood Entertainment. When I decided to manage myself, it was important that I didnt go to some big management company, she said in 2013. I felt like I wanted to follow the footsteps of Madonna, and be a powerhouse and have my own empire and show other women when you get to this point in your career, you dont have to go sign with someone else and share your money and your success you do it yourself.

You can almost follow a direct line from this moment to her current work, which is increasingly pro-black, self-examining and intimate. Her quest for self-affirmation played out publicly when she came forward in 2015 as one of the artist-owners of streaming service Tidal, along with husband Jay-Z and just about every A-list musician around at the time. With more economic freedom came the ability to do as she pleases: that much was obvious from her heavily autobiographical self-titled album, surprise-released in 2013, then Lemonade in 2016.

This transition reverberates in the work of peers whove followed in her wake. On opposite sides of the pond, London rapper Little Simz and Afro-futuristic artist Janelle Mone embody the importance of owning the means of production. Simz self-released her first mixtape in 2010, aged 16, on label Age 101 a place for her and the rest of her Space Age rap collective to share their work. By 2013, Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar had taken notice. Since then, Simz has branched off into comics, curated a genre-hopping festival Welcome to Wonderland: The Experience and returned to acting (see her now in the Netflix revival of Top Boy). Shes navigated the industry as both an eternal outsider and one of Britains most talented rappers, which seemed to frustrate her at first. The business caught up eventually a Mercury shortlisting here, some Radio 1 airplay there though these days she appears less bothered about external validation, perhaps having realised that the industry needs her more than vice versa.

Rihanna scaled unprecedented levels by becoming the first black woman to head up a luxury fashion brand. Photograph: Caroline McCredie/Getty Images for Fenty Beauty by Rihanna

Mone, meanwhile, co-founded the Wondaland Arts Society which is a film and TV production company, a record label and an organising core for activism in Atlanta. When she moved there from Kansas City in 2001, her art-pop sound and left-field approach soon piqued the interest of Outkasts Big Boi. He introduced her to fellow polymath Sean Combs, who signed her in 2006. As a producer, social justice activist and actor (Moonlight, Hidden Figures) she chooses to uplift black people while acknowledging our complexities. Her 2018 album Dirty Computer confronted questions of gender, sensuality and desire; she can model in a Cover Girl campaign, lead a Black Lives Matter march and be CEO of a record label all roles that show dark-skinned black women theyre more than a worn-out stereotype. Her work functions like a mirror held up to black women, offering them representation in ways that white gatekeepers wouldnt instinctively understand.

This decade, I watched black musicians defy other traditional gatekeepers in the hard-to-crack world of fashion. Like Beyonc, Rihanna entered music as a teen, signing to Def Jam at 17. Now, shes scaled unprecedented levels by becoming the first black woman to head up a luxury fashion brand, with Fenty in partnership with French company LVMH. At the start of the decade, few would have seen her evolution coming. During her Loud era, all shrill EDM production and flame-red hair, she felt easy to dismiss as a pop-machine puppet, singing words written by other people. Now shes a savvy businesswoman, equally at home with music as with philanthropy, acting, design and beauty. Her line Fenty Beauty has shaken the cosmetics industry to its core, forcing a diversity of makeup shades into the market as her competitors scramble to react a sign of what will become a norm. Her Savage x Fenty line does the same for lingerie, essentially ringing the death knell for the Victorias Secret catwalk show by employing a diverse cast of models, as she did at New York fashion week in September.

This matters on two levels. Rihannas success in fashion and beauty moves her away from seeming like a product that belongs to her record label. She becomes a person and force of her own Fenty, after all, is her real-life surname. And by steering all these seemingly disparate parts into one brand, she is creating a new set of norms for black art. Plenty of her peers have seen how investing in and executing a broader vision can support, rather than distract from, their music. Consider the likes of Tyler, the Creator, Solange, Kanye West, Dev Hynes, Frank Ocean and Donald Glover, and you realise how their multifaceted work shaped some of the most important western pop culture of the decade.

Our notions of what counts as black art no longer need to be defined by the global norths white mainstream. Since the 80s, black genres from hip-hop and house to R&B have led countercultures. But those genres used to be put into neat boxes black culture, to be consumed in specific ways and places, without needing to care about the experiences behind the work. Now, black music soundtracks global teendom. Now, Kanye West can endure being laughed out of fashion circles before turning Yeezy into a billion-dollar company. West brought a certain kind of self-conscious tastefulness to his work as a designer, continuing to kick back against convention just as he had as a middle-class art-school kid during his mid-2000s backpack-rap era. (Hardly the usual thug life backstory easier to sell to white consumers.) Glover, meanwhile, can rap (and sing) as Childish Gambino, and also create and executive produce a TV show as lush as Atlanta. Solange can create performance art, with installations for New Yorks Guggenheim and LAs Hammer Museum and Londons Tate Modern. Once you realise youre more than a preconceived notion of a black artist, or of black industry, entire worlds open up.

These polymaths show that you can eschew one neat categorisation and do so on your own terms … Donald Glover as Earn in Atlanta. Photograph: FX Productions

These musicians stories are aligned in a quest for true independence. Such a thing cant exist within the parameters of a business designed for profit historically, recording contracts let labels exploit artists. Yet this type of multifaceted black labour rebukes the idea that youre only worth the figure on your first contract. Frank Oceans Endless album/livestream, a quick way out of his Def Jam contract before he released Blonde, brought these delicate chess moves to life. One of the most boring critiques of Beyonc is that shes just a cog in a corporate machine. But the fact that any of these artists turn their talent into products doesnt negate their overall value.

Black children are always taught that we have to work twice as hard to gain half as much recognition. These displays of black labour, of a relentless drive to excel in various ways and a refusal to be defined by one skill, push that adage to an extreme. These polymaths show that you can eschew one neat categorisation and do so on your own terms. Black American fans of Beyonc would have recognised the cultural references others missed in Homecoming, her 2018 Coachella festival performance, an ode to historically black American universities. Later, it was turned into a Netflix special produced by you guessed it Parkwood Entertainment. The decade in Beyonc drew to a close with her executive-producing 2019s pan-African Lion King reboot soundtrack, The Gift, in addition to voicing Nala in the film.

The idea of performers just sticking to the music is all but dead. In the next decade, it may well become the norm for black artists to explore other creative avenues without being mocked or cut down. As pop music shifts away from English as lingua franca, new global acts could begin to dominate in spaces previously only held by this crop of multitalented public figures.

Seen at a glance, they can inadvertently make hard work appear effortless, and as though youre failing if youre not squeezing as much productivity out of every day as Beyonc. But that misses the point. These artists have poured buckets of themselves into these accomplishments, and have done so while working in an industry still mired in institutional racism, sexism and one that treats duty of care as an afterthought. They made the choice to seek self-determination sometimes at a high cost. What you do with your 24 hours is up to you.

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In its sophomore year at New Yorks Randalls Island Park, the festival marked Frank Oceans first performance in the city in five years, and A Tribe Called Quests last ever

In just its second year, Panorama has already become a mainstay on the summer festival circuit. Evidence of this came in the vast crowds, numbered in the tens of thousands, and a slate of headliners Frank Ocean, Tame Impala, and A Tribe Called Quest among them that rivaled those of more established festivals such as Britains Glastonbury, LAs FYF, and Tennessees Bonnaroo. Panorama still remains, as it was dubbed in its inaugural year, the younger sibling to southern Californias Coachella, although, judging by the throngs of supermodels in attendance, its well on its way to being a worthy cross-country successor, insofar as optics indicate a music festivals cool factor.

The grounds at New Yorks Randalls Island Park, which also hosts the rival Governors Ball in June, were awash with gleeful fans sauntering between stages in colorful variations of summer concert attire (knit tank-tops, distressed overalls, white leather sneakers ranging in tone from the pristinely white to the mud-soaked). The crowd was also discernibly younger than the standard horde of festival-goers. As the sun set on Friday evening, rain had been in the forecast. But by the time Tyler, the Creator took the stage at the Pavilion, a short walk from the main stage, where the festivals headliners performed across the field, shades of bright orange and purple emerged, a New York City sunset befitting of hip-hops resident flower boy.

Tyler, the Creator The Pavilion

At around 7pm, Tyler, the Creator appeared onstage outfitted in his signature Golf Wang gear, a pair of botanic pink pajama pants paired with a zip-up red sweater that seemed ill-advised in the summer heat. Of course, this being Tyler, the Creator, the red sweater would soon come off and hed perform most of the set shirtless.

Tyler, the Creator. Photograph: Chris Lazzaro

He went to play a range of songs from his new record, whose name Flower Boy was reflected in the daffodils, pine trees and sunflower patches that lined the stage. Appropriately, he kicked off with the whimsical, piano-driven Where This Flower Blooms. This new, lighter Tyler could be chalked up to the 26-year-olds maturation or, as many have suspected, to the fact that on his latest album he seems to come out of the closet or suggest, with oblique references to romances with other men, that his sexuality is fluid.

Jerking side to side and practically doing sprints across the stage, Tyler had that glowing but self-conscious veneer of an artist playing new songs for the first time, and he professed to the crowd that he was nervous about performing them. But judging by their reception, and the clouds of weed smoke that kept rising to the Pavilions awning, the rappers first appearance at Panorama was a rabble-rousing success.

Solange. Photograph: Nikki Jahanforouz

Solange Panorama stage

Solange began her headlining set on the festivals main stage with the same song that opens her stunning 2016 record A Seat at the Table, perhaps the best full-length release of last year. Fall in your ways, she began on Rise, so you can wake up and rise, harmonizing for a good minute and a half on that last word with her backup singers, whom she matched in red monochrome getups. The band and the stage, too, were awash in shades of orange and red, which made for a striking scene against the cotton-candy sky.

Solange appeared immensely comfortable throughout; shes a performer who prefers elegant synchronized movements to the blistering, run-the-world choreography of her older sister Beyonc. But it made perfect sense, especially as she was performing hits Weary, Mad, Cranes in the Sky from a mellow and melodic record that doubled as a powerful meditation on her experience as a black woman. Halfway through her set, after a number of slow-burners, she brought out a 20-piece horn section for an extended version of her hit F.U.B.U, dismounting from the stage and joining her fans in the crowd, appropriately, for an acronymic anthem whose title stands for for us, by us.

Frank Ocean Panorama stage

Seeing the reclusive Frank Ocean live was not only a rare experience but also, as thousands of us stood in the singers thrall, a religious one. True to form, he took the stage a bit late, but by the time the studio version of his chaotic song Pretty Sweet began, announcing the singers imminent arrival at just his second North American performance in four years, the anticipation had morphed into something profound.

Frank Ocean. Photograph: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Oceans a mixture of songs from his dual 2016 releases Endless and Blonde was a kind of communal reckoning, marked by an astounding intimacy given the size of the crowd. Ocean was remarkably emotive, his natural timidity on display between spurts of vocal catharsis, as when he asked the crowd to help him through the the break-up track Ivy, the Ocean song most tailor-made for the vibe of summer festivals, with fragile, guitar-pop verses making way for a vocally acrobatic chorus that seems to literally break his heart as he sings it.

A discerning eye could catch the director Spike Jonze in the corner of the stage with his camera, filming Frank in the sort of glitchy, home-camera type style that so captures his aura: romantic and nostalgic, small but simultaneously large, emotionally fragile yet creatively prodigious. Ocean wore a white t-shirt, the words of which I strained to read from the middle of the morass. Of course, by the end of the night, the shirt had gone viral on the internet. Why be racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic, it read, when you can just be quiet?

Ocean ended his set, and the festivals first night, with Nikes, the lead single from Blonde; the song is one of the best tracks on an album with virtually no bad ones, a shapeshifting, five-minute display of his falsetto, his chipmunk voice, his raps, and his poetry. When it ended and the lights went dark, fans werent sure if hed come out for an encore. They stood in place, some jockeying for a better view should he return to the stage. But after a little while they began to slowly disperse and make way to the bridge connecting Randalls Island and Manhattan. It was after 11pm, not terribly late for this crowd, but Frank had put us all in a stupor.

Mitski – The Pavilion

The rocker Mitski wasnt one of the weekends headliners, but I was thrilled to catch her on the side stage on day two, belting out confessional anthems with the force and self-possession of a seasoned veteran. The Japanese American singer-songwriter, just 26, burst on to the scene last year when her single Your Best American Girl, off the record Puberty 2, became a massive critical success. Her first appearance at Panorama, and the way she so formidably commanded the stage with just her voice and guitar, was an indication that well be seeing much more of her.

Mitski. Photograph: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Panorama

Tame Impala Panorama Stage

Headlining Panoramas second night was the Australian band Tame Impala, headed by Kevin Parker. The set was perhaps the most festival-y of the festival in stark contrast to Solange and Oceans more muted offerings beginning with a display of phosphorescent swirls on the three LCD screens before they launched into the lead single from their 2015 record Currents, Let It Happen. It was the most palpably electric Panorama felt all weekend.

The lights continued throughout the set, the neon visuals a perfect companion to a danceable rock record, or a rock-able dance record. The band also gave longtime fans a treat by playing the song Sundown Syndrome, the bands earliest single, preceding their debut record by a year; then, having toured behind the Currents album for two years, they played Love/Paranoia, one of the albums best tracks, for the first time live.

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Kanye West, the Weeknd and Bon Iver all owe a large part of their visual identity to the man who shoots their album covers and videos. Now, with a forthcoming movie, hes set his sights on Hollywood

Nabil Elderkin is in his car, cruising along a Los Angeles highway on his way to a camera shop. He needs to buy a flash for the nights Kanye West show; the Saint Pablo tour has come to Forum in Inglewood and, as Wests go-to photographer, Elderkin wants to try something a little different tonight: I kind of want to jump in the crowd and grab some shots from audience level.

Elderkin could probably have had someone else fetch a flash, but hes relentlessly hands-on. Perhaps thats why hes one of the most sought-after and prolific creatives in music and beyond. Working with stars including West, the Weeknd, Bon Iver and Frank Ocean, he has directed acclaimed music videos, taken image-defining still photographs and lent his distinctly raw yet epic visual sensibilities to commercials as well. Some Elderkin projects are created with a shoestring budget; others involve a few more resources. No matter how much or little money is spent, however, his brooding aesthetic remains intact.

He shot the sleeve for the Weeknds current single and forthcoming album both called Starboy, a now ubiquitous comic book-style shot showing him head-in-hands with a fresh haircut. Elderkin also directed Oceans first trio of cerebral, slightly grim music videos. He has lent his visuals to other genres too, making videos for Arctic Monkeys (Whyd You Only Call Me When Youre High), Aohini (her Drone Bomb Me video, which starred Naomi Campbell as a weeping Statue of Liberty) and Nicki Minajs Lookin Ass, a sharply shot, monochrome epic of butts and guns. Even his adverts are great, including a movie-quality Beats by Dre spot featuring LeBron James.

West, however, is his most frequent collaborator he directed the videos for Coldest Winter, Welcome to Heartbreak, Mercy and Paranoid and their partnership goes back 13 years. So how did he and Kanye meet? Ive told it a million times, but Ill tell it again. Shy not?

Its Chicago, 2003. Elderkin and his parents are back in their home city after a long stint living in Australia. An avid music fan and aspiring photographer, Elderkin is obsessed with a mixtape by an obscure Chicago rapper. It was the most refreshing thing I had ever heard, he says. I was instantly blown away by this guy. I wanted to photograph him, so I looked online and there was nothing really about him or any contact email. So I went to and it said you can buy the domain name for like seven bucks. I bought it, thinking at some point Id get a hold of him.

A few weeks later, a rep from Roc-A-Fella Records called him. The label had just signed the fledgling rapper and were looking to buy the web address from someone they assumed was out to fleece them. They were like: How much do you want? I was like: Ive been wanting to get a hold of this guy so I can shoot him. And they said: OK, what do you want compensation-wise? I said: No, you can have the URL. Just let me take his picture.

Impressed by Elderkins initiative, Roc-A-Fella and Wests manager set them up. The subsequent shots became Wests first promotional pictures. Kanye is a guy who takes chances with people a lot, even to this day, he says. If he likes somebody, hell work with you. Its not about a name or an affiliation. He takes chances like that all the time. The shoot launched his career. All relationships came from Kanye. He was the first musician I worked with when I was 21 and everything came from that point.

Elderkin soon expanded his horizons beyond still photography. Ill seize opportunities as they come and dont force or dwell on things, he says. I didnt know I was going to be making music videos when I was a photographer. And when I was doing videos, I didnt know I was going to be doing commercials. Its a completely natural evolution and I try to be that way with everything I do.

Its an attitude Elderkin employed while at a party at John Legends house. Frank Ocean was there. This was back when he was only doing some songwriting for other artists. I remember him saying he wanted to work with me, but I hadnt heard anything. Soon after, he messaged me some early songs on iChat, including Swim Good and Novacane. I was like, holy shit, amazing. Lets do this. With a budget of $5,000, Elderkin directed Oceans video for his debut single, Novacane, which showcased Ocean ruminating in his bedroom in one long tracking shot, an Elderkin staple. Its the song thats important. Im just making a visual that hopefully elevates it and doesnt take away from it. Their professional relationship endures: he recently worked with Ocean on his recent zine, Boys Dont Cry, where he naturally captured West going through a McDonalds drive-thru in a Lamborghini.

Bon Iver is the raddest guy

Its now a week after the Kanye West show, and Elderkin is satisfied with his crowd shots, which may well never see the light of day: 80% of the photos Ive taken of him have never been released, though I think were doing a zine, he notes. Today Elderkin has quite a different assignment: an afternoon at a pool with his nieces.

I have such an untypical day, he says, the sounds of splashing in the distance. Im never in one place, and if Im not working on something, Im thinking of working on something. While he does have some constants avocado toast for breakfast and an early morning trip to the beach to surf, both habits he picked up in Australia a single email from West or the Weeknds team can change what he does for the rest of his afternoon, or week, or month: I cant set up meetings for a week from now because I dont know where Im going to be.

Like the time he went to photograph the Weeknd for a press shoot that turned out to be the central image of his campaign for Starboy. They had some rough concepts on what they wanted stylistically with the colors, so I sent them some references of various different lighting styles and we just shot it. I think Abel liked the images so much he was like: Thats my album cover.

The pictures also became the first that showed the Weeknd without his famous dreadlocks. Cutting his hair, Elderkin chuckles, had nothing to do with me. When I first shot him years ago, he had the hair much closer to where it is now. Obviously the hair became a singular thing, but Im not going to lie I like this look. Thats more of him, to me. Thats how I know him.

Elderkin has the knack of getting on with characters who seem enigmatic to the public. Bon Iver, whom hes directed in two music videos, is the raddest guy. Hes nice and hilarious. Just a real funny guy. I know thats crazy to imagine; you imagine him as a guy in a dark corner somewhere.

Elderkin points to a common thread between the musicians hes worked with. The thing with all these guys Bon Iver, James Blake, Frank, Kanye is that besides from being musically talented theyre open to collaborating. They play instruments, write melodies that are fucking good, and they all show emotion. Emotion is another Elderkin touchstone: it seeps through the screen in many of his projects, whether its West and Travis Scotts video for Piss on Your Grave, an angry anthem belted out in the middle of a picturesque forest, or that Beats by Dre advert with LeBron James which perfectly captures the Kings will to win. The dream of mine is to make something that inspires other people, he muses. For me, thats the greatest thing ever.

Elderkin hasnt confined himself to entertainment: his 2010 documentary Bouncing Cats followed those using breakdancing to rehabilitate children of war, while a series of photographs taken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a joint venture with Oxfam in 2007, was later exhibited at the United Nations.

However, there is one upcoming project he calls one of the most important of his career: directing his first feature film. Called Gully, it is set to begin shooting next year and can best be described as a Clockwork Orange that takes place in South Central Los Angeles. Its a reflection of the disenfranchised youth of America, Elderkin says of the story, which was tweaked with writer Marcus Guillory at the Sundance Film Lab. Weve been working on it for about two years.

The sizzle reel for the film, shopped to producers, portrays a deep sense of foreboding and syncs up perfectly with conversations about race, economics and the plight of the inner cities that dominate todays headlines. As for the plot, Elderkin is mum. Discretion is one of his watchwords another reason he has risen so far in a world endlessly paranoid about leaks. I just dont like to talk about work before its done, he explains. I like the work to speak for itself. I dont make stuff to try to explain it.

Yet despite Elderkins vast body of work, he maintains he has barely scratched the surface when it comes to what he wants to eventually accomplish. Hopefully, theres much more ahead, he explains, ready to stop talking and go back to his nieces and the pool. I want to expand on everything 13 times over. There are so many things I want to do that I havent done. Maybe in 2024 Im gonna go for that presidential run. Kanye has 2020.

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The music industrys blowout season is upon us, and with that comes the rumors from a Jay Z-Beyonce duet to another Frank Ocean LP. Lets debunk and dissect

Were a month away from Q4 the music industrys traditional big album blowout season. There are some certainties this year: Lady Gagas album is already scheduled for October, Bubls got the Christmas stocking filler market sewn up and Emeli Sands filling in for Adele again. But what of the surprises? Where are the collaborative curios? The surprise album drops? The tabloid-fuelled pop operas? Below youll find five potential oddities that range from the almost certain to the yeah, but imagine though.

Beyonc and Jay Z

Bonnie and Clyde 16? Beyonc and Jay Z Photograph: Danny Moloshok/AP

Rumors of a joint album from Beyonc and husband Jay Z have been swirling since 2014 when the pair embarked on a joint tour of North America (and a stadium in Paris for two nights) entitled On The Run. The jaunt started just three months after Beyonc had finished her own globe-straddling world tour in support of her surprise self-titled album, and was essentially a nice act of charity on her part. Since then Jay has released a few slivers of new music, while Beyonc turned bitter soap opera lemons into deliciously refreshing Lemonade. Despite most sane people wanting a Beyonc/Nicki Minaj duets album, in May there were reports that a collaborative project Bey Z? was due very soon. Earlier this week, however, that shifted to the next three months, which would make it prime Q4 fodder and the perfect excuse to play album release roulette, i.e. release it exclusively via Tidal. So what can we expect? In an ideal world it would be 12 songs based on Jays reaction when he first Dont Hurt Yourself. Or maybe a conceptual piece based around that evening at the Met Ball titled Elevator. In all likelihood its going to be the perfect vehicle for Beyonc to keep asserting her creative evolution and for Jay to contemplate where it all went wrong.

Existence rating: about as likely as Beyonc being in charge of the TV remotes in the Carter residence.

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift: will she cash in on breakups? Photograph: Spaulding/WWD/Rex/Shutterstock

Youll be unsurprised to learn that Taylor Swift is very methodical when it comes to album scheduling. Since her country-tinged, wide-eyed debut was released in 2006, each new opus has arrived two years after the last. Her multi-million-selling proper pop debut 1989 arriving in October 2014, so as darkness approaches so should a new Taylor Swift album. Despite the boss of her label claiming no new album would arrive in 2016 (well, actually, he only says it wont come in October), close personal friend and fully paid up member of the Squad, Gigi Hadid, recently let it slip that Swift was back in the studio. That was then followed by a leaked snippet of what was assumed to be a new song. So what could be fuelling Swifts sudden burst of creativity? While in the past it would be safe to assume there might be a song or two about recent relationships a thinly veiled ode to Calvin, or maybe a knowing lyric about Tom Hiddlestons T-shirt Im keen for a full-blown, multi-layered, wonderfully unhinged pop opera based around the Kim and Kanye drama. Titled Excluded From This Narrative, it will be accompanied by a stage show on Broadway in which all the characters are played by Taylor Swift.

Existence rating: about as likely as Taylor apologising to Katy Perry.

Kanye and Drake

A friend of Drizzy Kanye West. Photograph: Chris Pizzello/AP

Despite his personality hinting at a God complex that suggests complete unawareness of the existence of other artists/people, Kanyes surprisingly good at collaboration. Watch The Throne his album with Jay Z somehow managed to sound urgent and angry despite mainly being recorded in a posh hotel suite in Paris, while his last few albums have fused together the talents of just about every producer Pitchforks ever mentioned. Earlier this month, Kanye confirmed to Vogue (of course) that he was working on another collaborative album, rumoured to be called Wolves, this time with professional meme artist Drake. Rumours of the albums existence were started in August when Kanye made a surprise appearance on stage at Drakes OVO festival. Is yall ready for this album? Drake asked. I wasnt talking about Pablo. I wasnt talking about Views. I wanna ask yall right now: are yall ready for this album? Its safe to assume that people were indeed ready. Expect the album to touch on universal themes and concepts and in no way be an exercise in glorious naval-gazing set to whichever dancehall rhythm is popular at the time.

Existence rating: about as likely as Rihanna and Drakes relationship lasting one more awkward PDA.

Kanye and Chance The Rapper

Chance The Rapper not leaving it to chance. Photograph: Michael Zorn/Invision/AP

Perhaps keen to avoid winding up on Keeping Up With The Kardashians again, Kanyes apparently working on numerous projects simultaneously. In May, Chance The Rapper mentioned a joint album between him and Kanye called Good Ass Job, the title being the final part of Kanyes College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation album series. Fast forward to September, however, and things havent really progressed. Talking to LAs Power 106 radio show earlier this week, Chance said the pair have at least two songs that could make the album, but that neither of them have had the time to be back in the bunker and be at the spot and have that time to just sit and make stuff everyday. It sounds to me like Chance is just waiting for that call from Kanye. Perhaps hes keeping an eye on his mobile. Maybe, just maybe, if it ever happens they could call themselves wait for it Watch The Phone. No? Okay FINE. Take A Chance On Ye? No? ALRIGHT THEN, WHATEVER.

Existence rating: about as likely as Kanye releasing an album entitled This Includes Three Good Songs, Quite A Bit Of Filler And Im Simply Not Sure Its Good Enough Actually.

Frank Ocean

Endless Frank Ocean Photograph: Claudio Bresciani/Scanpix Sweden

No offence to part-time carpenter and magazine editor Frank Ocean, but do we really need another album right now? Most people are still digesting the appropriately titled Endless a visual album that takes its cues from watching paint dry and the accompanying Blond(e), a collection of shrugs set to music. According to guitarist Billy Spaceman Patterson, Ocean has hours and hours of unreleased noodles that could in theory arrive at any moment. Theres a lot of stuff that we recorded that I still havent heard yet, Spaceman told Pitchfork. We recorded a lot of music. Apparently sessions could last up to 16 hours at a time, with bits of Spacemans guitar parts appearing in different contexts across both albums. One theory, that Im just formulating as I type, is that a new album could arrive in November given that he previously teased that date when he posted a picture of a library card that time. Perhaps Franks keen to make it a hat trick of albums in 2016 so he can then vanish again for four years and start that carpentry course hes been eyeing up.

Existence rating: about as likely as Frank Ocean teasing a long-awaited album by filming himself constructing a spiral staircase.

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Katonya Breaux left her job in construction to make suncream that works for all skin colours which is why she didnt have time to lend her vocal talent to her sons international smash hit …

When Katonya Breaux asked Twitter about sunscreen that does not leave a white sheen on darker skin, she spotted a hole in the market. She also realised that many people were unaware of the dangers of exposure to the sun. There is a learning gap between women of colour, she says.

Speaking from her home in Calabasas, California, she tells me about UnSun a line of sunscreen that she has just launched. Although it is designed for darker skin, in a neat twist on diversity, it also works on all complexions. The plaudits are pouring in.

I ask her about moving from construction the industry she worked in for 20 years to beauty. She pauses, as a dog barks in the background. Sorry, she says. Two dogs, actually. Always barking. One is Bisous, a bichon frise, the other is Everest, a Bernese mountain dog who belongs to her son, Frank Ocean. Frank the most talked-about artist of the year, the man whose much-delayed new album, Blonde, has topped the charts in the UK and the US Ocean. That Frank Ocean.


But back to Unsun. Breaux has worn sunscreen ever since her 20s, when she noticed molesappearing above her lip. Atfirst, she liked them, painting her lips red, going a little bit Marilyn Monroe. Then, when a few more appeared, she went to the GP, got scared, read about theunder-reported problem of skin cancer in people of colour, and became more diligent, really, because you have to be. Then her aunt got skin cancer.

So, does she think about the beauty industry? I dont think its diverse enough, but it is improving, she says. There is a long way to go.

Breaux features prominently on the Unsun website and, at 50 years old, is an impressive advertisement for her own product. But, when I suggest that she get Frank to model for her, she laughs. I cant get him to do that, she says.

So, is her son supportive of herbusiness? Incredibly, yes, I send him articles and hes so great, so proud, she says.

What does she think of his new album? Oh, we love it we meaning Breaux and her son, Ryan, Franks brother. Apparently, they play it in the car every morning on the way to school. We always turn it up loud at the end. And her favourite song? Thats hard. Nikes, I think.

Then comes the big question: was, as has been widely rumoured, hers the voice on the song Be Yourself that says: Do not smoke marijuana, do not consume alcohol, do not get in the car with someone who is inebriated. This is mom, call me, bye.

That wasnt me, no, Breaux answers, but I would have done it happily. And why the delay why did Frank torture us with such a long wait? Ah you know Frank is an artist, hes creative. That just happens.

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(CNN)Finally we know what that video in the workshop was all about.

Frank Ocean released a “visual album” late Thursday. Titled “Endless,” it was streamed on his site and Apple Music.
    The 12 songs and interludes, including an earlier released version of Aaliyah’s cover of the Isley Brothers’ “At Your Best (You Are Love),” runs for 45 minutes over a black-and-white film shot by Francisco Soriano. In it, three versions of Ocean work on a building project in a warehouse.
    Ocean has a few collaborations on the album, including with R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood and British artist James Blake.
    Fans have been eagerly awaiting a sophomore album from Ocean for the past four years.
    But the expectation for new music heated up in recent weeks after Ocean’s brother posted a photo on Instagram with the title ‘Boys Don’t Cry.”
    Rolling Stone reported that the “Boys Don’t Cry” album is still happening — just not under that name.
    “That album, set for release by Apple this weekend, was previously called Boys Don’t Cry, but Rolling Stone has learned that the singer has scrapped that title in favor of an alternate title,” according to the publication.

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    The singer whose last album, Channel Orange, was nominated for six Grammy Awards is expected to release his follow-up on Apple Music

    For Frank Ocean fans, the long wait looks as though it is finally over. The R&B singer, who hasnt released an album since 2012s Channel Orange, is said to be debuting his next record exclusively on Friday through an exclusive deal with Apple Music, according to a source who spoke with the New York Times.

    The anticipated release is also expected to include a major video and printed publication called Boys Dont Cry (the rumored title of the album), which will be distributed at Apple stores. Ocean had previously hinted that he had edited a magazine to be released with the record; an image on his website shows the singer with a pile of publications with that title.

    Oceans partnership with Apple doesnt come as a huge surprise: early on Monday, the artist launched an ongoing live stream, likely as a method of previewing snippets from new songs, with the Apple Music logo appearing in the right-hand corner of the frame. The stream saw Ocean moving pieces of wood around a studio, accompanied by ambient sounds and mournful strings. The studio also contained a sculpture by the artist Tom Sachs.

    Should Apple indeed release the album, this would mark a major victory for the tech giant, which recently rolled out Drakes latest album, Views, exclusively on its platform. Over the first five days on sale, Drake sold more than 1m albums through iTunes, while Apple Music users streamed the album more than 250m times, according the Wall Street Journal. Drake is rumored to have signed up for the deal with Apple last year for $19m.

    Whereas Views was only available exclusively for one week, Oceans new album is expected to remain only on Apple for two weeks before being released everywhere.

    Ocean first hinted that he was working on new material in 2013, when he said he was working with Tyler the Creator, Pharrell Williams and Danger Mouse on a new concept album. He has cited the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Tame Impala and King Krule as influences.

    Ocean most recently lent his vocals to Kanye Wests album The Life of Pablo, and served as a cowriter on James Blakes latest record. His most recent public statement, on his Tumblr, was prompted by the Orlando massacre, on which he wrote: Many hate us and wish we didnt exist. Many are annoyed by our wanting to be married like everyone else or use the correct restroom like everyone else.

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