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In “Renaissance,” Beyoncé Chooses Ecstasy



An important component to both Beyoncé and Lemonade — released during Beyoncé’s mid-30s, a danger zone in our sexist, racist, ageist pop-cultural climate — was how consummately they utilized newfound depth and broader cultural impact to side-step the pop star rat race. Both records centered breathtaking execution, profundity, and the element of surprise to circumvent the search for hit singles, a pursuit that has ruthlessly ended the careers of numerous pop titans. In fact, while each of those albums were massive sellers — both moved over half a million copies in their first weeks alone — neither produced a massive chart-topper, still the de rigueur currency for pop stars and one Beyoncé arguably has not traded in as a solo artist since 2008, when “Sweet Dreams” hit the Hot 100’s top 10.

By announcing the album with six weeks’ notice and releasing its lead single, “Break My Soul,” a few days later, Beyoncé effectively abandoned the shock-and-awe protocol she’d pioneered. “Break My Soul” was immediately notable for its uncomplicated lightness, the first piece of Beyoncé music in more than a decade unburdened from Saying Something. On the contrary, it reveled in being a down-the-middle pop single, complete with obvious, familiar references to ’90s diva house and a big, vaguely empowering, nearly meaningless hook. “You won’t break my soul, and I’m telling everybody,” Beyoncé repeats ad nauseam on the chorus, miles away from the gut-punch specificity of Lemonade-era lyrics like “I like my negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils.”

If “Break My Soul” was, on one level, a respite from Beyonce’s aggressively thoughtful oeuvre of the 2010s, it also felt vaguely disappointing, a concession from an artist who had so miraculously avoided them for so long. What it had in accessibility, it lacked in the iconoclastic thrill of her recent output.

As a commercial gambit, it only partially worked. “Break My Soul” has sat on the lower rungs of the top 10 for the past few weeks, but it hasn’t exactly reached the sheer inescapability of her peak-era hits like “Crazy in Love,” “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” or “Halo.” It raised some questions: Was grabbing for a conventional hit single a worthwhile gamble? And would the rest of Renaissance be similarly neutered?

Now that the record is out, the answer to those questions is “maybe” to the first and, joyously, “absolutely not” to the second. Renaissance arrived as planned (despite a leak 36 hours prior) at midnight Friday morning, 16 tracks, unadorned by visual bells and whistles, and with no solemn processing required.

The record is all the better for it.

A carnal dance fantasia of lust, abandon, and release rendered in a continuous mix of some of the most ravishing and inventive production in recent memory, Renaissance needs no accouterments to get its point across. What Beyoncé and her small nation-state of collaborators have achieved is a fusion of her most gleefully unencumbered music to date with the political and social resonance and virtuosic mastery that are her trademarks.

Here, the dance floor is a place for Black and queer revelry-as-resistance. Take “Cozy,” a thick, steamy dancehall track in which Beyoncé coos, “Comfortable in my skin, cozy with who I am,” layered in the mix with another striking observation: “They hate me because they want me / I’m dark brown, dark skin … that’s all me.” This is the kind of euphoric self-empowerment banger, complete with allusions to Black solidarity and beauty, that Lizzo often attempts with much less dexterity; Beyoncé achieves it here without ever losing her edge or, notably in this very chill vocal performance, even breaking a sweat.


I Went To Morocco And Portugal For 10 Days With Only A Backpack And Small Carry On Bag…Here Are 15 Items That Made The Cut



This set includes a high quality plastic bag, four bottles (two different sizes), four jars (two different sizes), two spray bottles, two product spoons, one funnel, one cleaning brush, and one page of labels.

Before buying this I had just a hodgepodge of random travel size products and a bag that didn’t really fit any of it. I wanted to find a cohesive set, all of which actually had a place to go. Enter this guy. Not only is it all matching, but the variety of bottles, jars, and spray bottles is super convenient for all kinds of different products. The labels are also really helpful for making sure you don’t end up conditioning your hair with body wash. The bottles are incredibly easy to fill because the openings are super wide and you can easily pour directly from the full size bottle.

Promising review: “I absolutely love this travel set!! First of all it looks great, clean, classic. Not only does it come with bottles and jars and spray bottles, it also comes with a spoon, a funnel, a cleaning brush and a page of labels. They thought of everything. The larger bottles for shampoo etc, are made of silicone, so you can squeeze the product out. My favorite thing about this set is the size. It fits into luggage so easily.” —Funnymom

Get it from Amazon for $12.99.

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17 Solo Travel Safety Tips By Women, For Women



17 Safety Tips For Women Traveling Alone

I’ve cried on my couch while watching Eat, Pray, Love more times than I’m willing to publicly admit. Apart from inspiring me to sob alone in my apartment, it also inspires me to live my Julia Roberts dreams and travel alone. The only problem is that I’m SCARED. There’s no way I can comfortably eat, pray, or love on a trip unless I feel safe, protected, and relaxed.


“The best advice I’ve heard as a solo female traveler is if there aren’t local women out alone, you shouldn’t be either.”



“Take self-defense classes so you know how to look after yourself if the worst thing happens. You’ll feel more confident in yourself.”


“I take a tampon out of the applicator, roll up my cash, and put it in the empty applicator. I use my flat iron to reseal the wrapper. Someone may steal my wallet, but no one is stealing tampons.”



“Both Android and iPhones have safety SOS settings. You can configure them to call emergency services with options that you can do without even taking your phone out of your pocket and attracting attention.”


“If you feel uncomfortable around people when you get somewhere alone, you can make a ‘fake phone call.’ Say something like, ‘Can you open the door for me when I get the room?’ so no one knows that you’re alone.”



“If you’re looking to scare someone off, be unhinged. While walking or waiting for the bus, if I get a creep vibe, I stare intensely at something and talk to myself. The less sense it makes, the better.”


“I travel internationally by myself for work a few times a year, and when looking at hotels, I always do a run-through on Google street view of the surroundings so I’ll know what to expect. It helps to feel more comfortable somewhere new after I get the lay of the land.”



“Write down important phone numbers on pieces of paper and leave a copy in your hotel room, another on you, and another in each suitcase just in case you lose your phone and don’t have important contacts memorized.”


“Ignore people! A lot of the worst behavior I have experienced as a woman on my own comes from business owners who think a female tourist is an easy target for a flirtatious or aggressive sales tactic or men in bars or cafes who think that makes you an easy pick up. Most people with less-than-honorable intentions will back off if you really don’t engage with them!”



“Get a bag with a zipper! Makes it way harder for anyone to pickpocket you.”


“I’m single and when I went to Cape Town, I visited a local brewery. When a guy started to chat me up, I got a weird feeling…so I mentioned that my ‘wife’ was on her way over and pulled up my friend’s Instagram that has a ton of photos of me and her together and he immediately changed the conversation and tone with me from flirting.”



“Always share your location with anyone back home — no matter the time difference. It helps in emergencies to track your last known location.”


“Buy a door jammer for your hotel room! It fits perfectly in checked luggage and won’t take up any room in a car. It’s lightweight and could save your life. If you want to add another layer of safety, pack rubber door stoppers.”



“I always tell anyone I meet while solo traveling that I’m meeting up with friends later. It’s always better for people to think that you have someone who would immediately notice if something happened to you.”


“My friend’s aunt is ALWAYS traveling alone. If she stops at a hotel, especially if there are lurkers around, she always tells the person at the desk that she and some friends are there for a martial arts conference.”



“I only stay in hotels with doors on the inside (no cabanas, no cottages, no motels) so someone has to walk past an employee or a camera to get to my door.”


And finally, “Nothing wrong with carrying pepper spray.”


I can never get enough of these travel tips! It’s scary out there, so if there’s anything I can do to feel a little less anxious, I’ll do it. Let me know in the comments if you have more safety advice for women traveling alone!

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Shakira Has Been Accused Of Tax Evasion For A Second Time After Allegedly Failing To Pay $7.1 Million In Taxes



Shakira Accused Of Tax Evasion For A Second Time

For a second time, Shakira is facing tax evasion charges in Spain.

On Tuesday, the Associated Press obtained a statement from Spanish prosecutors accusing the iconic singer of failing to pay around $7.1 million (€6.7 million) in taxes on her income in the year 2018.

According to Reuters, Shakira — who is Columbian — failed to declare the profits from a $12.5 million advance payment she received for her El Dorado World Tour that year, as well as other payments. She’s being accused by prosecutors of using an offshore company located in a tax haven to get out of paying the tax.

Per the AP, the singer has been informed of the charges in Miami, where she currently lives with her two sons, 10-year-old Milan and 8-year-old Sasha, who she shares with her ex, Gerard Piqué. However, her legal team purportedly claimed that she wasn’t notified, and found out through the media.

The new charges come two months after a Spanish court announced that Shakira would be investigated for alleged fraud on personal income and wealth tax in 2018.

After these reports surfaced, a representative for the singer told People that she “defends having always acted in accordance with the law and under the advice of the best tax experts,” and “is confident that there will be a favorable resolution of her tax issues.”

Of course, this is not the first time Shakira has been caught up in tax fraud allegations. In November, she is expected to stand trial in a previous $15 million tax evasion case, in which she is accused of allegedly not paying taxes between the years 2012 and 2014.

For a bit of context, both of these legal disputes center around where Shakira officially lived in the years she is accused of evading tax.

In the first case, prosecutors argue that Shakira spent more than half of her time in Spain between 2012 and 2014, and therefore was obliged to pay taxes in the country.

They allege that the Barcelona property she and Piqué bought in 2012 was her official home. However, Shakira has disputed this and denied any wrongdoing, claiming instead that her primary residence was located in the Bahamas.

According to the AP, Shakira’s team alleged that she paid the Spanish Tax Agency the amount she was said to have owed, and has no outstanding debts.

After she reportedly rejected a settlement deal offered by prosecutors last year, the case will go to trial. If she is found guilty she could face a $24 million fine and a possible eight-year prison sentence.

As it stands, neither Shakira nor her team have commented on the new charges. BuzzFeed has reached out to a representative for Shakira for comment.

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