Sights & Sounds: These UK Artists Are The Ones to Watch in 2019

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As part of our Sights & Sounds music series, we’re always on the lookout for emerging artists around the world. The British music scene is a melting pot of diverse music genres and emerging artists who aren’t afraid to express their opinion. The rich history of our creative spaces has produced an array of musical styles and social messages and consciously woke music.  
These 23 UK artists are coming in hot with their music in 2019. But are you ready?

1. Ella Mai

2019 is off to a great start for Ella Mai. She won a Grammy for everyone’s summer favorite hit “Boo’d Up” and her platinum-selling self-titled debut album. The 24-year old British singer was discovered by music producer DJ Mustard via social media. She’s the modern version of 90s R&B we always knew we needed. Next month, she’ll begin the second leg of her debut tour with special guests Mahalia and Victoria Monet.

2. Jorja Smith

Soul singer Jorja Smith also started the year in gratitude, winning British Female Solo Artist at the Brit Awards. Her music is a collective rendition of neo-soul and UK garage. Lost & Found, her debut album peaked at #3 on the UK Albums Chart in 2018. This spring, Jorja Smith will go on tour with Colombian artist Kaliuchis.

3. Young T & Bugsey

Championed by Stormzy as Nottingham’s finest and boasted by Prince Harry himself, the dynamic duo Young T & Bugsey are on their way. They are quite entertaining, especially on social media, where they began growing a huge presence. Each performance is better than the last. Their hits include “Gangland,” “4X4,” “Green Light” and more recently, “En Route.”

4. LD

The Masked One rapper first introduced himself to the world in 2016, as part of Brixton collective, 67, before branching out on his epic debut project in 2018. His flow is distinctive, his lyrics tell stories and he’s viewed as a pioneer of drill scene in the UK to many.

5. Arlo Parks

To be so young, yet so brave. 18-year old British singer Arlo Parks shared her struggles with her identity on her debut single “Cola.” Her songs are personal and intimate, with themes of love, making mistakes, suicide, self-medication, and being apart of the “Super Sad Generation that’s killing time and losing our paychecks. Watch the video here.

6. Stormzy

Grime MC Stormzy had an exceptional year in 2018, winning awards for both British Male Solo Artist as well as Album of the Year. 2019 is no different, as he’ll become the first Grime artist to headline the currently sold-out Glastonbury Festival this summer. Aside from working on new music and changing the spectrum of what it means to be “young, black and British,” the rapper made his second actorial debut in BBC’s new drama Noughts + Crosses, a novel exploring political themes of race and privilege between black people (Crosses) and white (Noughts), reflective of some of his politically charged music. 

Stormzy during his performance at the BRIT Awards 2018 | Getty Images

7. Mahalia

Do not disturb Mahalia’s vibe. The British songstress blends her conscious lyrics, soulful melodies, and free-spirited personality very well. She calls her music “psycho-acoustic soul.” “Pyscho” refers to her lyrics, “acoustic” refers to her guitar love and the “soul” that runs through her blood. She doesn’t “want anyone to have any expectations” when it comes to her music. Mahalia may have her work cut out there: whatever style she turns her hand to next, hopes are high, and expectations are great.

8. Lava La Rue

West London artist Lava La Rue is the leader of NiNE8, an underground DIY arts collective of creatives. She was highlighted as one of Converse’s most exciting creatives in London. Her debut project Letra was food for thought that touched on systematic racism and being more than a social media activist. “I think it’s very important to spread healthy ideologies and spread awareness but at the end of the day retweeting a hashtag is exactly what the government would rather us be doing than actually like barricading Downing Street [the official residence of the Britsh Prime Minister],” she explained to Complex. Keep watch for Lava La Rue and the soon to come NINE8 mixtape.

9. Octavian

France-born, London-based rapper Octavian’s minimal, spacious mixtapes have marked him out as one of the UK’s most intriguing talents. A producer in Octavian’s Essie Gang collective, J Rick has been integral to creating some of the most distinctive UK rap music of recent times. Alongside Octavian, he co-produced anthems like Party Here and Hands, establishing a sound that blends contemporary rap with club music and is drenched in emotive melody. Fans of J Rick’s style will be excited to know that he’s releasing his own mixtape entitled No Retreat, No Surrender in 2019.

10. Rai-Elle

Her four-track EP KSB showed the world why Rai-Elle made it as a finalist on 2017 season of X Factor. Her vibe, her chill aura, unapologetic attitude and 90’s aesthetic, it’s everything. 2019 is hers and I’m here for it. Stream her debut single “KSB (Always On My Mind).”

British

@raielle_official

11. Isabella Brown

At home, Isabella is a normal teenager who hangs out with friends shopping and has dinner with her family. To the world, she’s one of the next big artists to come out of the UK. The self-assured singer holds your attention with her soulfully rich voice and nostalgic sound. Its been one year since her 7-song EP Only Having a Laugh featuring her star-studded single “Pot of Gold,” but we can’t wait to see what else she does this year.

12. AJ Tracey

West Londoner AJ Tracey is a hot lyrical beast known for his wordplay and catchy references, who started out as one of the best MC’s of 2017. There’s no way you can man that I can’t do what I want. His self-titled debut album hit #3 in UK chart as an independent artist. His lineup of breakthrough EP’s solidified his place in the music scene, and we definitely want more.

13. Olivia Nelson

I was put onto Olivia by media personality Scottie Beam’s weekly female empowered #ListenToBlackWomen, Literally playlist. She reminded me of Mary J. Blige back in the day. She’s young but from her spills the soul of a first-time lover, as she did on “Smother Me.” ‘Only one who makes me feel this way, since you left your mark on me without a bruise.’  Still riding the wave of her For You EP last year, we’re excited for what’s next for the young queen.

British

14. MNEK

London-based singer, songwriter, and producer MNEK has worked in the background of the music industry for a long time, writing for artists such H.E.R., Craig David, Tinie Tempah, and Queen B’s Lemonade. “Now It’s time to step up to the front row so you can hear me out,” he sings on the first single from his 90’s inspired debut album. MNEK hopes to create the blueprint for other black gay pop stars speaking on love from a male perspective, self-confidence and making people feel comfortable with themselves.

15. Kojey Radical

Kojey is playing no games this year. “ALL STUNTS. ALL GENRES. ALL SMOKE. I AM HERE FOREVER!. His latest single “25” discusses his career, his haters, motivators and how blessed he is to see 25. Hopefully, this is a tease from his new music since it been two years since his last project.

16. Flohio

British-Nigerian born Flohio is one of the fiercest, stylish rappers in the underground UK scene. Her style and flow is impeccable, coupled with her gritty lyrics and carefully selected beats. Once her tour, the British-Nigerian born rapper will be in the studio working hard on her EP. “I feel like I’m ready now. I want to be able to put something out that I’m really proud of,” she explained.

British

17. Jvck James

Jvck James is another emerging UK artist bringing the 90s R&B vibes. A growing force in the industry connecting with audiences through his relaxed melodies and comforting melodies for a soulful, authentic sound unlike no other. Get lost in his ‘Wave.’

18. Deno Driz

When it comes to songwriting, the 17-year-old Ghanian-British rapper pulls inspiration from his favorite music and artists such as The Weeknd. “I take inspiration from the styles I like, the music I like and the artists I like. I like Hip-Hop and RnB, and all the great artists that do that like, The Weeknd definitely inspires me, I think what inspires them,” he said. He’s worked with Stormzy and has been co-signed by rap newcomer Idris Elba. His music intermixes UK rap and Afrobeats with classic and contemporary styles.

19. Unknown T

Baby bend ya back and then dig it dig it.” A powerful voice in UK’s drill music scene is Homerton native Unknown T. His energy on stage is as contagious as his music. His first official single “Homerton B” is part of my weekly music rotation. 

20. Jamilah Barry

It was a long time coming, but last we got to see just how special Jamilah Barry is with her long-awaited EP. Impressive vocal skills, Showing her selflessness and sense of unity, the young star gave an entire track to another London artist Midnight Phunk on her EP.

21. Tiana Major9

Tiana Major9’s successful momentum is built around her jazzy voice and her epic live performances, flipping between singing and rapping. She’s guarded but open to love and exploration, ‘letting her past decide how I should feel today.’  This could be the year she catapults her career, releasing her EP Rehearsal @ NINE.

22. Jaz Karis

Huge things are in store for the 20-year-old singer and songwriter. Inspired by the late singer Amy Winehouse, Jaz Karis explores multiple genres outside of R&B; hip hop, jazz, gospel and soul, and hip hop. She developed her unique sound and creativity as a student at BRIT school, where students dreams come true. Stream “Petty Lover,” because let’s admit it, we’ve all been there before.

23. Big Tobz

East London rapper Big Tobz discusses cultural appropriation, while uplifting black women on ‘Black Girls.’ He makes his transitions between verses and powerful messages seem so effortless, influenced by his Caribbean background. Listen to his rendition of Summer Walker‘s “Session 32” here.

Pop-Up Museums You Should Visit This Year

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When’s the last time you went to a museum for fun and not for a school assignment or research? Pop-up museums have become a popular sensation over the last few years, in major cities like Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles and even as far as London.

Here is a round-up of the top pop-up museums and experiences you won’t want to miss this year.

Museum of Ice Cream
Since the summer of 2017, the Museum of Ice Cream has been a popular phenomenon visited by many, including beauty influencer Jackie Aina. Pools of plastic cherries and sprinkles, a grocery store-inspired gift shop, and a variety of fun-colored backdrops and sculptures are great for your Instagram feed. The company has opened other exhibits in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami. This exhibit is free and open to the public,” The museum is currently open in San Francisco, every day except Tuesdays. Tickets can be purchased here.

Egg House, Los Angeles
Let me guess, you just got a whiff of some scrambled eggs and cheese, with your favorite garnishes like tomatoes and spinach. Well, this isn’t that kind of breakfast house. The Egg-themed pop-up museum was designed as this whimsical dreamland for all egg lovers, such as myself. Walk on eggshells. Sway back and forth on an egg-shell shaped swing or simply play in your breakfast. Indulge in other eggtivites and eggcessories from local egg vendors such as The Egg Shop and Eggloo.

Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle, Washington
MoPop, as its called for short, uses pop culture as an incentive to encourage others to learn, create and connect with various audiences. You will find a supreme collection of pop culture content and innovative technology. Travel alongside music legend Jimi Hendrix and learn about his rise to fame in the 1970s’ in the Wild Blue Angel: Hendrix Abroad exhibit, including original photographs, artwork and the Electric Lady mixing console he used up until his death. Other exhibits highlight Nirvana, science fiction and the inspiration behind movies like The Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter and more. Dive into the narratives of Marvel’s most iconic superheroes such as Black Panther, Captain America, The Avengers, and one of my personal favorites, Spider-Man.

Color Factory, New York and San Francisco
Bring along your curiosity and explore the collaborative, color-boosting exhibit that is the Color Factory. Originally debuted in San Francisco in August 2017, the exhibit went from a month-long showcase into a full display show of creativity and color. Beauty influencer Kayla Boyd enjoyed the Tiffany Blue ball pit. Visit The Color Factory any day of the week, except Wednesday, in Soho’s Hudson Square neighborhood. Tickets must be purchased in advance, as the exhibit is open now until May.

“When I went to Color Factory in NYC, I had no idea what I was getting into, but it ended up being one of my favorite exhibits of all time! There were multiple themed rooms that approached color in all different ways, from actually sitting down and drawing to playing music to eating candy! It was a really unique experience, and it ended with a huge, blue ball pit! So of course, I had a blast.”

Color Factory

@kaylaschaos


London Transport Museum

In Covent Garden, you’ll find an ode to London’s historical transportation system, celebrating Britain’s heritage. Visitors get an inside look at the architecture, signs, posters, photos, and uniforms all from the last 200 years. Check out London’s infamous vintage red Routemaster bus and other classic vehicles, over and over again. Once you buy a ticket, you can visit anytime, or so I’ve heard.

29 Rooms, New York and Los Angeles
Ready for a grand immersion of culture, creativity, and color focused around women? Always! Refinery29 co-founder and executive creative director Piera Gelardi wanted to create a space for all ideas and arts. “Whether that’s feeling inspired to get involved in a cause or picking up a paintbrush, we hope to help inspire new passions in people,” he said. 29 Rooms hosts pop-ups in various cities like New York and LA, throughout the year, with more thought-provoking themes each year.

The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American, Seattle, Washington
Did you know martial arts artist and actor Bruce Lee opened his first martial arts studio in Seattle? Me neither, but it’s one of the many unique things you learn during Bruce Lee’s four-part exhibit on his personal life and obstacles that shaped his journey into a global icon. The most recent installment Do You Know Bruce opens March 10 and runs until 2020. Take a guided tour through the streets of Seattle’s hidden gems, such as the Wing Luke Museum. Learn about the cultural history of Asian American pioneers and their contributions to art.

Bruce Lee

On the set of the ‘Enter the Dragon’ movie. (Getty Images)

 

Winky Lux Experience, New York
Winky Lux opened its first pop-up experience store in New York City last year in August. This space is designed to ignite your creative juices and help you connect with other fellow lovers of all things beauty and makeup. Celebrate their beauty products and an array of magical moments featuring clouds, disco balls, stripes, watermelon and more, in one of their seven unique rooms.

Snark Park, New York
Opening later this month in New York City is a collection of immersive art installations, all created by design studio Snarkitecture, challenging visitors to expand their mind when it comes to exploring their curiosity. Tickets are currently on sale, $28 for adults and $22 for children over four years old.

 
Candytopia, Los Angeles, Atlanta
If you’ve got a crazy craving for candy, just like me, let’s go to Candytopia. This pop-up shop brings a high-class interactive, experience to candy and all things sweet. From flying unicorn pigs to marshmallow tsunami, bring your friends and family to satisfy your sugary sweet tooth. The three-month exhibit is currently in Atlanta until June. Get your tickets soon.

@candytopia

 

Museum of Selfies, Hollywood
The Museum of Selfies is the perfect place for influencers, photographers or your average joe that wants to look like a photographer. It’s got all the right accessories for you to stunt on Instagram such as fake awards, emoji pools and tubs of fake money. Get all the right angles at this color-popping interactive exhibit.

Winky Lux Experience, New York 
Winky Lux opened its first pop-up experience store in New York City last year in August. Designed to ignite your creative juices and connect with other fellow lovers of all things beauty and makeup. Celebrate their beauty products and an array of magical moments featuring clouds, disco balls, stripes, watermelon and more, in one of their seven unique rooms.

High Museum of Art, Atlanta 
Atlanta is a hotspot for contemporary art and culture combined into one. The High Museum of Art houses over 15,000 pieces of art, including the largest collection of civil rights prints in the U.S. and art in the Southeast. The Six Infinity Mirror rooms exhibit by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama was one of their latest editions to the museum with its interactive accessories and activities, such as placing polka dots stickers in a once-white living room, adding pinches of red, blue and yellow.

The museum also hosts monthly events like Friday Night Jazz, on the third Friday of the month and Films at the High.

@highmuseumofart

 

Museum of Illusions, Los Angeles
Enter the world of illusion at one of New York’s most unique museums, where you’ll be both mentally stimulated and visually confused by various elements. Change your view of the world by 360 degrees in the Rotated Room or use their kaleidoscope mirror, or stay afloat in their anti-gravity room. The museum is open Monday to Sunday from 9 am to 10 pm.

Happy Place, Los Angeles
When things get tough, it’s great to find a happy place. But for now, you can borrow Los Angeles’ place of peace, happiness and all things that make you smile. Their first pop-up experience featured over 100,000 guests exploring life-size installations, interactive rooms and guests capturing their happiest moments. Happy Place Boston is set to open this spring. “Because we believe that our world today can use a lot more happiness.”

@wearehappyplace

 

WNDR Museum
Coming this spring, the WNDR Museum, an interactive art experience, becomes a permanent staple in Chicago, blending art and science. The exhibit will also feature Kusama’s infinity mirror room. Celebrate International Women’s Day inspired by women and for women, while listening to women. Donate menstrual products to the Chicago Period Project to show support.

Rosé Wine Mansion, New York
Venture through this custom-built mansion designed to make you feel like part of the Bad and Boujee crew. Wander into each uniquely decorated room embarks on the history of wine while sipping on different Rosé from around the world. Although their New York mansion has ended, stay tuned for their hours this coming summer. Book your next private party at the Rosé Wine Mansion.

@rosewinemansion

 

The Living Computers Museum, Seattle, Washington
Take a trip back to the future celebrating the past and future of technology. It’s the perfect place for creative engineers and video game lovers, where you can create your own video game in the “Gamemakers Space.” This is one of Seattle’s must-see museums. The museum holds the world’s largest collection of fully restored, usable computers; supercomputers, mainframes, minicomputers, and microcomputers. Get geeked out with robots, artificial intelligence, and digital art.

The Seattle Pinball Museum, Seattle, Washington
For just $15, you can take a trip back to your youth, playing Pac Man and a growing array of pinball and arcade games. The Seattle Pinball Museum is more like a game hall rather than a museum. Most of the games have unlimited playing levels for the price of one ticket.

Getty Images

Best Solo Travel Destinations For Black Women

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Solo travel can be rewarding in many ways. Without the pull of other’s agendas, interests, and travel worries, you are left with much more time for self-reflection, growth, and personal exploration. For many women, solo travel also offers a sense of empowerment. You are your own travel guide, safety net, and voice of reason. You get the chance to choose every leg of your journey and walk away with memories that will trigger a smile for the rest of your life.

San Francisco, CA

For the first-time solo traveler, San Francisco offers a domestic location where the language and culture will be familiar while still offering a range of experiences. From sunset views of the Golden Gate Bridge to a stroll through Fisherman’s Wharf, you will not be at a loss for things to do and places to visit to fulfill your solo-travel needs.

Exploring some of San Francisco’s decadent dining scene is also a must. Jackson Square offers the extravagant dinning experience of many Michelin star restaurants, while Chinatown, The Fillmore, and The Mission offer a range of food options. With 14 neighborhoods, there is something for everyone.

While in town, you can also check out a solo show at one of the numerous historical theaters including the San Francisco Playhouse and the SHN Orpheum Theatre where Hamilton is currently making its run through September 2019.

Golden Gate Bridge | Oliver Plattner | Unsplash

London, England

If it’s your first time out of the country, London is a great place to get that first stamp in your passport. Without having to deal with the language barrier, you can easily get around and connect with locals. One of the best ways to get to know a new city is to explore it on foot and London has a lot of neighborhoods to explore!

For sightseeing, head to South Bank and Bankside where you will find big attractions like the London Eye, Tate Modern, and The Shard. Some of the best dining and theatre options can be found in Covent Garden. Centrally located, Covenant Garden offers options for every pallet and budget. The Soho neighborhood is perfect for an afternoon stroll, with narrow streets lined with restaurants, bars and shops.

In the evenings, head to Soho, Camden, or East End for a full taste of the London night scene.

Phuket, Thailand

Though flights may be expensive, Phuket is a safe and budget-friendly option for someone looking for something a little different. Boasting some of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, Phuket is an island located in the Andaman Sea. With thirty stunning beaches to choose from, you can also enjoy some of the neighboring islands by speedboat.

Some of the must-see attractions include Phang Nga Bay where limestone cliffs jut vertically out of the emerald-green waters. The natural beauty of this bay will allow you for plenty of self-reflection.

Phi Phi Island lives up to its hype. With sheer cliffs, jungle, and sea, being alone with yourself will feel more magical than you could have ever imagined. Other attractions include Big Buddha, visiting one of the many night markets, and Wat Chalong and Phuket Temples to round out your Thailand experience nicely.

Phuket, Thailand | Diego Delso | Unsplash

 

Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi is East Africa’s most cosmopolitan city and the capital of Kenya, offering many options for your solo travels. The Ngong Hills, located southwest of Nairobi, overlooking the Great Rift Valley is a great place to meet people and explore the hiking trails through the picturesque landscape.

For nature and animal-lovers, Dame Sheldrick’s Elephant and Rhino Orphanage located inside the Nairobi National Park, is a game nursery that takes care of orphaned elephants and rhinos. The Giraffe Center is a breeding ground for the rare Rothschild Giraffe and the Nairobi National Park is the only capital city in the world with a game park.

After a day in nature, Carnivore Restaurant, known for its game meat, is a great place to try local dishes and meet new people to the sounds of live music and cultural celebrations.

The Brixton Pound: London’s Historically Black Neighborhood Creates Own Currency

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What yellow cabs, the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and the millions of lights that decorate Times Square are to people who think of New York City are the red double-decker buses, telephone booths, and London Bridge are to the millions of tourists who flock to London each year.

Similar to other big cities, especially for people who live, work, and play in them, there’s often so much more to a metropolitan city than what meets the eye.

One place you probably won’t see is a place that has historically been known as London’s black neighborhood: Brixton.

Related Post: How To Spend A Day In Black-Owned London 

Located in South London, Brixton’s importance to the black community dates back to 1948 when the first wave of immigrants of African-Caribbean descent arrived from Jamaica on the HMT Empire Windrush and temporarily housed in the Clapham South deep shelter.

Today, you will find that Windrush Square is an open public space in the center of the neighborhood in front of the Brixton Tate Library to recognize the contributions made by the African Caribbean community in the area.

Like many metro cities in the world, the area is changing due to gentrification, but it’s still one of few neighborhoods in London where you can support a variety of black-owned businesses.

During your next visit to London, be sure to show your support for black-owned businesses with the area’s own currency: The Brixton Pound.

What Is It?

The Brixton Pound (B£), which officially launched in September of 2009 is a currency that does just that: sticks to Brixton. It was designed to support businesses in the area and encourage local trade and production, according to organizers.

It’s key to point out that this form of currency does not replace the pound. It’s circulated in this area by to increase local trade and community connections.

Related Post: What It Means To Be Black In London

How Does It Work?

You can trade your British Pound for the Brixton Pound either at local vending machines or stores in the area.

The goal is to support the smaller shops which are under threat from the recession and larger chains.

The B£ encourages people to spend money locally. Organizers said money spent with independent businesses circulates within the local economy up to three times longer than when it’s spent with national chains.

There are more than 200 businesses that use the Pound and more being added each year.

For more information, visit the Pound’s website.

Flights To London And More For As Low As $129 One-Way

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Norwegian Airlines has deals on flights right now that will get you to Europe for as low as $129 one-way.

The list of popular destinations includes London, Amsterdam, Paris and Madrid. The airline allows you to book your travel well into May.

The only catch is there are a limited amount of seats, and you only have until Feb. 3 to book a flight.

Here’s a rundown on flight options:

From New York

After analyzing the list of European destinations, trips to Paris are among the cheapest for those of you leaving the New York area priced at $129 one-way.

For about $10 more, trips to Madrid are priced at $139 one-way and London is priced at $145 one-way.

From Chicago

The only option for those of you leaving the Chicago area is to go to London.  Norwegian Air has one-way flights priced at $139.90 from February to April. In May, prices jump to 194.90 one-way.

From Denver

Two options are departing from Denver. Trips to London are running $155 one-way through April, then increases to $199.90 one-way in May.

If you want to push your travel plans off to the spring, trips to Paris will be added beginning in April for $179 one-way.

From San Francisco

Those of you leaving from the Bay Area have a sweet deal.  There are tons of flights to Europe departing from San Francisco, including Barcelona, London, Rome, Oslo, and Paris.

London is the cheapest option this February, priced at $139 one-way and increases to $179.90 one-way in March.  Barcelona maintains a steady price through April, at $149 one-way, before increasing to $179.90 in May.

Interested in Rome? The lowest option is this April at $169 one-way.

From Los Angeles

Just when you thought the choices from the West Coast couldn’t get better than San Francisco, those of you leaving Los Angeles will hit the jackpot with this recent sale.

You have a total of 8 destinations to pick from with this flash sale.

One-way trips to London and Barcelona are among the cheapest, priced at $164 one-way.

Rome is an option as well, but the trips are pricey in March and May. April would be the best time to fly to Rome for $209.90 one-way.

7 Black-Owned Boutiques Around The World

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Finding a black-owned boutique to patronize when traveling is always a win. With black designers and entrepreneurs making strides in the world of fashion, we hope that there will always be a place to spend our money that keeps our dollars in the black community. Here are a few black-owned boutiques run by black entrepreneurs and designers around the world.

New York

Harlem Haberdashery is known for its custom-made threads that have been seen on athletes, musicians, and fashion icons. Not only can you find one-of-a-kind pieces at this uptown boutique, but the brand has recently launched HH Bespoke Spirits which offers small-batch gin, vodka, and rum.

Washington D.C.

Lettie Gooch was founded by Teresa Watts, a former software saleswoman, and lifelong fashion lover. Located in the Shaw neighborhood of D.C., you will find pieces from emerging designers and top-notch customer service.

Los Angeles

Sneakerheads and athleisure lovers will love this LA-based store. With brands like Puma, TCG, Dita, Clear Weather, and limited edition releases from Nike, Laced Southbay will be an instant fave.

Atlanta

East Atlanta’s Pink Sky Boutique is a go-to shopping destination for ladies in the Atlanta area. Store owner Christi Hector’s goal was to bring fashion-forward, quality pieces to the city. It looks like she succeeded.

London

Handmade accessories are the name of the game at Frank Horn with each wallet, backpack, bag, and journal handcrafted in his east London studio.

Accra

In 2015, Stefania Manfreda opened the doors to Elle Lokko — a women’s boutique filled with locally sourced clothing, shoes, accessories, home decor, and organic beauty products.

Paris

If you’re looking for well-tailored classic pieces, Nefer Paris is worth a stop the next time you’re strolling through the streets of Paris. Daniel Tohou describes his line as “When French luxury meets Africa.”

The Most Affordable Travel Destinations In The African Diaspora

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As a black traveler that has had the chance to go to many countries outside of the United States, I gained a sense of belonging in the world after seeing myself in the faces of people from different cultural backgrounds. African descendants span the globe due to the inhumane way our ancestors were bought, sold, and brutalized by European nations during the transatlantic slave trade.
With the help of travel and technology, we are now able to learn about the experiences of our people across the African Diaspora through our own lens — no history book needed. If you’re interested in connecting with your history beyond the scope of your own backyard, we hope this list inspires you to plan your next trip.

Brazil

Eighty percent of the population of Salvador is of African descent, making it the most Afro-based community in the world outside of Africa. The average cost of food is $10 per day and Airbnbs go for as low as $50 a night for an entire apartment, and boutique hotels like Studio do Carmo can be booked for $60 a night. Salvador is perfect for the cost-conscious traveler. That is if we aren’t factoring in the flight. The average round-trip flight is about $1200 on a carrier like Delta. But if you’re looking to save a little more and don’t mind a few layovers, thanks to Google Flights, I found a ticket option from LAX with Aeroméxico with one overnight stop in Mexico City along with short layover in Sao Paulo for $760.

Canada

Blacks make up about three percent of the Canadian population with Nova Scotia’s North Preston being one of the oldest black communities in Canada with Alberta and Toronto just behind it. Thanks to Drake, Toronto is known for its musical talent, but Toronto has long been hailed as “the most multicultural city in the world.” With flights averaging $300 from the east and west coast, and Airbnbs averaging $83 a night, travelers can take in the sights, sounds, and black culture the “clean” city has to offer. If you’re more interested in exploring the history of the first free black settlers of Nova Scotia (which by the late 1700s, was the largest settlement of free black people outside of Africa) book a flight to Halifax Stanfield International Airport to visit the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre.  Airbnbs in the province offer accommodations from oceanfront cottages and trendy lofts starting at $75 a night.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a hot vacation spot because of its sandy beaches and five-star resorts but has a problematic past filled with colorism and racism. That racist past begins with “antihaitianismo,” racist, anti-Haitian discrimination that began in the colonial era. Even with the country’s history, the DR is one of the most affordable destinations in the African Diaspora with a flight from LAX, ATL, or JFK averaging $400. Airbnb’s start at $60 per night with five-star all-inclusive resorts like Paradisus Palma Real offering packages starting at $358 per person.

Barbados

Though Barbados has only one airport, affordable flights are doable as long as you book at least two months out. Searching two months out, I found flights just over $400 out of airports on the East and West Coast. If you’re looking for a luxe experience on Rihanna’s home island, the rates at top-rated hotels like The House start at $439 a night. But, if you’re looking to do Barbados on a budget, that is possible with the help of highly-rated Airbnbs that have entire villas going for $79 a night.

Colombia

Columbia’s documented African roots should be another stop on your list of places to visit. With flights ranging from $450 on the East Coast to $531 on the West Coast to Cartagena, airfare won’t break your travel budget. Like the destinations listed above, you can rent an Airbnb starting at $50 a night. If you’re more of a hotel traveler, Cartagena has many boutique hotel options like the Alfiz Hotel that have rates starting at $132 per night.

United Kingdom

Much of what we see in the news about the UK revolves around the Royal Family and now the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. But there is black history and culture there due to the tri-continental slave trade between America, Europe, and Africa. Most British blacks live in London while a few hundred thousand calls Scotland and Wales home. Flights to the UK can be reasonable if you book in advance with an airline like Virgin Atlantic that offers economy fares for $433 from LAX and JFK. If you’re a traveler that enjoys laying their head in a one of a kind “hotel,” this boat for $103 a night might be a fun option, or you can always book a private room for $60.  

Cuba

We couldn’t leave Cuba off of this list because of its rich Afro-Cuban heritage. Cuba is a country that will give you a lot of bang for your buck even with their currency converting into the same value as the US dollar. Booking casas in the three most visited tourist cities: Havana, Trinidad, and Viñales can start at just $22 a night. Flights to Havana are easy to book with the embargo lifted and usually hover at less than $400 (average $340) across the country.

Overcoming Grief Through Travel: ‘Traveling Helped Me Rebuild My Life After Traumatic Loss’

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Fanan Hailu was enjoying a two-week vacation in Brazil with friends when she received earth-shattering news from home back in London.

Just when she was about to start the second part of her vacation in Salvador after a week in Rio, she was told that her favorite cousin was found dead in his apartment at the age of 27.

To effectively come to terms with her pain, Fanan decided to leave her home during the holidays to travel.

Travel Noire spoke with Fanan about how traveling helped her cope with pain to help those in a similar situation.

Travel Noire: Tell us more about your trip before the news?

Fanan: I was in Salvador, Brazil on a two-week trip. We had just arrived from an awesome week in Rio and decided to slow the pace down. We were honored to experience Afro-Brazilian culture and were literally soaking it all in.

TN: After hearing the news, what was going through your head?

Fanan: I am unable to put into words exactly how I felt in that moment and how much that news sent me into in a whirlwind of pain. One minute I was a 25-year-old having the time of my life and the next I was on a plane back to London crying nonstop.

 In that moment, you realize that life is too short.

Life was never the same. For me, [Salvador] it will always be the place that I buried my cousin.

TN: How did traveling help you to mourn?

Fanan: I decided I could not face Christmas in London. I flew to New York on Christmas Day to dull the pain.

My cousin was two years older than me and traveling is something that we both loved. Travel to New York was my therapy. Even in my moments of complete and utter hurt, being able to switch off, be on a plane, and going to somewhere new was my way of processing pain. I felt no comfort in speaking to others about how I was feeling.

Instead, doing something I loved and creating new memories helped me to navigate my way out of a rock-bottom you can only understand once you go through it yourself.

TN: What you tell our readers going through something similar?

Fanan: Traveling helped me slowly rebuild my life together after a traumatic loss. I’m not suggesting that travel has completely healed me. I am yet to believe that there is anything that can fully heal grief, but traveling has given me the time to unplug from my routine life and focus on myself solely. It has helped me to have vulnerable conversations with my friends and family and helped me shed some loads.

You will get past this gut-wrenching pain.

My dream now is to one day travel back to Salvador and take back the little piece of my cousin that I left in that hotel room the night I learned of his passing.

Fanan is a British writer from London. She can be reached on Twitter @seoulfulsatsuma.

Best London Brunch Spots

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We couldn’t let you take your next trip to London without giving you a few recommendations on where you can break out your newest pair of brunch boots. With London being one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, you can find new favorites that will broaden your palate or stick to food that you’re used to.

Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings

If you love a bottomless brunch, then this is your spot. With a menu that has drop scones with crisp bacon and maple syrup and huevos benedictos — you’ll have yummy eats to help soak up your champagne.

26 Grains

Looking for a healthy, yet filing brunch option? Try this Neal’s Yard eatery’s take on traditional British porridge. This spot serves oats cooked in coconut, cashew, and almond that can be topped with foods like cacao nibs with banana, or if you’re looking for a more savory option san the porridge, try the lamb shoulder with chicory and beetroot.

Dishoom

All we needed to see on the menu was the bacon naan roll to add this Indian inspired cafe to our list. If bacon isn’t your thing, they offer date and banana porridge, house-made granola, and naan roll options with just eggs. With over 5,300 reviews, we think its best if you plan ahead and make a reservation.

Honey & Co

Located in Fitzrovia, this Israeli-run cafe is known for its green Shakshuka and pastry window. Be sure to make a reservation as the cafe is very small and very popular.

Merchant’s Tavern

Located in Shoreditch, this tavern serves up traditional breakfast favorites like porridge, pancakes, and poached eggs all inspired by the seasons. The ambiance and all-day bar will make you feel so cozy, you might want to settle in.

Granger & Co

At this Notting Hill restaurant, you can have the best of both worlds by having a green juice with a side of their “not to be missed” ricotta hotcakes served with banana and honeycomb butter.

Lantana

If you’re a vegan, this brunch spot has a Green & Gold Vegan Super Bowl with sweet potato, avocado, turmeric mixed seeds, cauliflower quinoa ‘rice,’ toasted cashews, and fresh spinach topped with vegan cashew mayo just for you!

What It Means To Be Black In London

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“It’s lit!” is how Fanan Hailu describes her experience as a black woman in London.

Fanan moved to London at a young age, after her family sought refuge from Eritrea. Her story of migration is a familiar one for hundreds of thousands of blacks living in London. Many are the children and grandchildren of immigrants.

“There was a heavy influx of immigrants in the 90s,” Fanan tells Travel Noire. “A lot of Eritreans migrated to the Middle East, so a lot of us were born in Saudi Arabia and then a lot of us dispersed from there. Some of my cousins went to Canada, some of them went to America, some of them went to other European cities, and some came to London.”

Fanan says she doesn’t remember “black culture” specific to London when she was growing up. “We never had a culture. We just kind of copied Americans when we were younger.  We just wanted to be like the Americans,” she says jokingly.

But now, Fanan says the growing “Afro Swing” music scene, is evidence that black Britons are developing their own unique culture. Afro Swing is defined by MN2S as an amalgamation of African-influenced melodic rap hooks and Caribbean chord progressions. The music genre, similar to Afrobeats, is being played throughout various party scenes in London.

“Black culture is evolving and now I feel that we have a culture that everyone is into now,” says Fanan.

Group Party Images

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But if you ask renowned author and historian David Olusoga about black culture in Britain during the time he was growing up, his answer would be far from Fanan’s experience. In an opinion piece about race in the Guardian, Olusoga reflects on racial tensions of that made him feel profoundly unwelcome in Britain.

“To thousands of younger black and mixed-race Britons who, thankfully, cannot remember those decades, the racism of the 1970s and 1980s and the insecurities it bred in the minds of black people are difficult to imagine or relate to,” he said. “But they are powerful memories for my generation. I was eight years old when the BBC finally canceled The Black and White Minstrel Show.”

He goes on to say, “it was a place and a time in which ‘black’ meant ‘other’ and ‘black’ was unquestionably the opposite of ‘British’. The phrase ‘black British,’ with which we are so familiar today, was little heard in those years. In the minds of some, it spoke of an impossible duality.”

For Fanan, reflecting on her experiences, the behavior from her white counterparts that made Olusoga feel unwelcome still lingers today. “The British, they’re quite conservative with their racism, but they’re still very much racist,” she says. “You face racism and microaggressions in London every single day.”

Young woman traveling with metro in London, UK.

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Where you find racism today, according to Fanan, is higher education and in London’s workforce. “When you’re in an entry level field, or you’re not working a professional job, you are treated as less than in the UK. There are people who are denied opportunities because they’re black.”

Fanan said the British conceal their racism, especially compared to race-relations in the United States. “What’s happening in America could not happen here. I am very grateful to live in the UK because we are very safe here,” she says. “I’m not going to try and compare the black experience in America, but a police officer just wouldn’t stop you and shoot you. If that happens, there would be complete and utter uproar.”

The Future of Black Britons

When asked how she would define black culture in London today, Fanan said it would be difficult because there are different pockets in London. “There’s so many scenes, but one thing I love about all black Londoners is that we have a dual-identity, so, we bring all these things into being British.”

And when it comes to systematic oppression and inequalities in London, Fanan says that’s changing too. “We are now going to be experiencing a wave of rich, black, kids growing up in London. I’m so proud of that. and I don’t know how the white Brits are going to deal with it. Everything is changing.  You can’t not like us anymore. We are in these prestigious places. Whether you like it or not, we are here, we are present, and we are powerful. Black people have a voice now and there is nothing you can do and it’s just going to get better and better from here.”

Here Are 5 Ways To Ensure You Travel More in 2019

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People often come up with excuses when it comes to why they don’t travel. It could be money, time or not knowing where to go. It’s hard to take off work right now because you’ve expired all of your vacation time for the year. You’re not sure how to start saving for later when monthly bills are coming in now. With proper planning and preparation, traveling is in your near future.

Here are five ways to ensure you travel more next year.

Create a vision board. 
I know it sounds corny, but its true, vision boards do work. Cassie Owens created a travel goals vision board to help grieve with the loss of her loved one. It was a self-healing project for her, and let’s admit it, we all need a little of that from time to time.

Start a money jar/account.
Sometimes it can be hard to save money while using your debit card every single day. But there is something about saving physical cash that makes all the difference. For every $5 dollar bill you get, place it in the jar. After a year, you’ll have no excuse to take a vacation and celebrate yourself. If that doesn’t work, take out a portion of your paycheck and put it into another account.

Keep up with the latest travel news.
That means subscribing to Travel Noire, but I assume you did that already. Allow us to be your travel guide by providing you with daily flight deals or the hottest new travel destinations. Apps like Hopper also help to keep you up to date on the best times to book the cheapest flights. I booked a flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles for only $145 for a week. I love this app. Sign up to receive travel deals and discounts on hotels and flights sites like Expedia, Kayak and more.

Be open. 
Being open to new experiences in other places with new people. Three years ago, I decided to start traveling to other cities and states I have never been to, being open to seeing what it looked like in other parts of the world. Being open to having those same fun experiences I have in my hometown somewhere else and sometimes better. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Negotiate your vacation days.
For some, a new year means new contracts. It may be time to negotiate your contract or your benefits package at work to include more vacation days or more opportunities to travel for work. Look over your vacation policy, and see if there is any wiggle room. If this is a new job, there’s an effective way to negotiatemore vacation days without sounding unappreciative of what was already offered.

London Airport Shut Down For 19 Hours After Drone Sightings

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One of the busiest airports in the United Kingdom was shut down for 19 hours after drones were seen flying over the runway.

More than 65,000 people at Gatwick Airport had their travel plans disrupted when two drones were spotted around 9 pm on Wednesday night, causing a massive shutdown. Reports say that close to 20 separate police units were dispatched to search the property surrounding Gatwick’s airfield to find the drone operator but have been unsuccessful.

The airport’s chief operating officer, Chris Woodroffe, said that during the closure, no planes were allowed to take off or land. He said more drones were spotted around 12 p.m. on Thursday. Euro Control, the European aviation agency, reported that the airport will stay closed until at least 4 p.m. on Thursday with Woodroffe mentioning that he doesn’t know when the airport would open again.

RELATED: This Major Airlike Beat All Others In Discrimination Complaints For 2018

Gatwick Airport, in the outskirts of London, is the second largest airport in the UK, with more than 56 airlines operating daily. The shutdown comes at a horrible time as Gatwick expecting close to three million passengers traveling through the airport during the holiday season. This isn’t the first time a drone interrupted the airport’s traffic. Last year, people were first forced to sleep in the airport and grounded planes after a drone was spotted on the runway.

The CEO apologized to passengers, calling the act “irresponsible.” Police say it was a “deliberate act” but there are no indications that the action is terror-related. Woodroffe also said that the police didn’t want to shoot the drones down because of “what might happen with stray bullets.” The airport is warning passengers not to travel to the property before checking the status of their flight. Gatwick is working with airlines to schedule redirected flights and get the message out to passengers.

Flying a drone and disrupting an airport is a crime with a sentence of up to five years in prison.

This Hotel In London Has Rooms Smaller Than A Prison Cell

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One doesn’t think of prison cells when considering places to lay your head for vacation, but if you have some type of curiosity about them, this hotel in the UK is open for business.

The Corbigoe Hotel in London has a room that is almost smaller than a jail cell. Marketed as a “single room,” the room goes for as little as $39.00, going up to $71.00 depending on the season. Product testing site, Which? reviewed the room and measured the tiny bedroom at just 32 square feet. How big is a prison cell? According to the American Correctional Association, a cell is supposed to be a minimum of 70 square feet, with 35 square feet of space to move around.

The review said the room is filled wall to wall, literally, with a narrow bed and one window, giving views of some stairs. It does have a bathroom, which ups the total square footage to 53 square feet, smaller than the average parking space. The room in its entirety is about the size of Singapore’s new 50-square-foot A380 first class suite. Do we really want to even fly in something that small? People who have claustrophobia, beware.

RELATED: 7 Airbnbs We’d Book Again In A Heartbeat

But you don’t have to spend much time in the room. Travelers may want to take advantage of the budget hotel. It leaves room to spend while touring with the hotel being closely located to the Westminster neighborhood, home to Big Ben and Queen Elizabeth’s Buckingham Palace. Corbigoe rates include complimentary breakfast and a discounted parking rate. You can breathe now because they also offer larger rooms.

The trend of tiny hotels isn’t just a European thing. Ironically, they are all over the United States. The Longman & Eagle hotel in Chicago has rates starting at $95 a night as well as the Hotel Covell in Los Angeles, with their ‘Chapter 2’ room being the smallest available. The cleverly named Sleepbox Hotel is in Moscow, Russia, which is ideal for travelers with an itinerary and the Peng Heng Space Capsule Hotel, located in Shenzhen, China provides minimum but necessary amenities like TV and wi-fi.

Flight Deal: Fly Nonstop From L.A. To London For $446

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If you are located on or near the West Coast, you may want to take advantage of this deal.

 

New Zealand Air is running a sale on its nonstop flights from LAX to London. The low priced route can be found for as low as $446. You can search Google Flights to find the dates that are best for you. The sale is valid for travel in February and March. You can book your seat directly on the airline’s website or via your favorite third party travel site such as Priceline.

 

London, England is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cities in the world, and the influence of residents with African and Caribbean roost is alive and well in the vibrant metropolis. The contributions of the UK’s black British citizens has helped to redefine laws and shape art, food, and pop culture in the region.

 

Related: London-Based Artist Pays Homage To Michelle Obama With Giant Mural

 

London has no shortage of pubs, and Prince of Peckham is a modern, black-owned, youthful approach to the city’s famous pub culture. Owned by Clement Ogbonnaya, the South London pub was inspired by a black 90s British sitcom called Desmond’s, and the eatery prides itself on being an inclusive establishment where guests can enjoy jerk dishes, creative cocktails, and of course, beer.

 

It took more than 33 years for Black Cultural Archives to open its doors in the heart of Brixton, and the facility is one of the first museums in Britain devoted to celebrating the history and art of black people in the region. The center showcases both contemporary works by black artists as well as fascinating historical exhibits, and the Black Cultural Archives always hosts events in conjunction with it’s latest exhibitions.

 

Move fast before you miss out on this amazing deal. We can guarantee it won’t be around long.

London-Based Artist Pays Homage To Michelle Obama With Giant Mural

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Michelle Obama may not be our first lady anymore, but she is still larger than life in our eyes. Literally. If you head over to London, you will find a huge 30 foot mural of Mrs. Obama on Dorrell Place in Brixton.

 

Neequaye Dreph Dsane, an artist from Nottingham decided to pay homage to the first African-American first lady with the giant artwork on the side of an M&S supermarket. Going by the name Dreph, he created the work in a collaboration project with Penguin Random House, to celebrate the upcoming release of Obama’s autobiography Becoming, which will be released on November 13.

 

 

“Michelle Obama is undoubtedly an inspiration to many as she continues to use her voice to speak on pressing societal issues that are close to her heart, particularly issues that affect young people within our global community,” Dreph told The Evening Standard. “I feel that it’s important for us all to have visible, relatable and progressive people to model ourselves on and to see ourselves reflected in. Michelle Obama is always open in giving us an insight into what it looks like to push through and forge our own paths.”

 

Even though Mrs. Obama is no longer in office, she is still very much committed to politics. She has been busy at work on the campaign trail pushing the importance of voting to Americans nationwide. Her husband, the incredible former President Barack Obama, has been right by her side. The latest antics of those trying to silence them with bomb deliveries has not fazed them at all. Mr. Obama has continued to speak out against Trump’s ways and supporting political candidates like Florida governor hopeful, Andrew Gillum and Georgia governor candidate Stacey Abrams.

 

A representative for Penguin Random House says that the work will stay on the building. Be sure to catch Mrs. Obama on her new book tour, starting on November 13 in her native of Chicago.