History and heritage serve as inspirational, guiding forces in life. Without knowing one’s history, how can she plan for the future or fully comprehend her present? Many of us look to familial history to better understand ourselves and what has brought us to this very day. Furthermore, cultural roots can color our creativity, for they instill in us concepts of traditional and abstract beauty. For painter Tamara Natalie Madden, heritage is a dominating theme of her artwork. This artist’s cultural ancestry not only serves as a pivotal force behind her paintings, but it actually saved her life.

Growing up in Manchester, Jamaica, Madden was exposed to art very early in life. Her mother was a writer and photographer, and various members of her family were visual artists. In an interview with the online art magazine The Morning News, Madden described her early artistic influences: “My uncles were ‘raw’ artists. They were [Rastas], and they sculpted and drew. One of my uncles was actually my very first artistic inspiration.”

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In the hip-hop community, there is no denying that it pays to have connections. We’ve seen how producing performers like Drake attach their names to music acts, and almost instantly, a breakthrough artist is born. The Canadian rap master started his record label, October’s Very Own Sound, in 2012 as an offshoot of Warner Bros. Records. Since then, he has been monopolizing the Canadian rap scene, signing upcoming artists left and right. His first signee, Partynextdoor, has received much praise from rap critics and listeners in the span of just one year.

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There is an infinite amount of risks when it comes to being an actor. First and foremost, there is the possibility of never achieving success. However, even after playing an Oscar-winning role, there comes the imminent fear of being typecast. Even some of our most beloved performers carry this burden, and we just don’t seem to care as viewers. We love Michael Cera as the “awkward cute boy,” and we love Morgan Freeman as “the wise older man.” But, at a certain point, this lack of variety has to be boring for the actors. Rejecting such uniformity, Actress Viola Davis has demonstrated great versatility throughout her career. Recently, she has diversified her resume with the addition of the tough-as-nails defense attorney Annalise Keating of ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder.”

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Once considered an act of vandalism, graffiti is now widely accepted as a form of art. Though the act of graffiti has ancient roots, modern street art began popping up in urban areas during the 1970s as a means of sociopolitical expression. Silenced by the authorities, street artists were punished for their bold, rebellious artwork. Graffitists attempt to reclaim public space with their paintings, capturing the cultural essence of the environment. While some may view this process as menacing or threatening, many have found the artwork compelling and reflective of urban life. For French artist Noe Two, graffiti is not only a form of self expression, but a communal act that has helped him foster relationships with people from  different backgrounds.

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Wayne’s manager and long-time friend, Cortez Bryant is arguably one of the hardest working men in the hip-hop industry. As Chief Operating Officer of Young Money Entertainment and CEO of Bryant Management, he has transformed fresh new faces into hip-hop icons with his innovative business strategies. Despite his incredibly successful career, Bryant’s story is one of an ambitious friend that dove into the music industry with little experience. Rejecting other career paths, he put it all on the line for his high school friend. His vision was to transform a dream into a reality. With a strong work ethic and relentless spirit, he helped Wayne’s life aspiration come to fruition and established his own career as a leading businessman in the hip-hop industry.

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Many of us fail to realize that fashion is not just about looking cute – it’s a serious art form. From the sketchbook to the sewing machine, the process of creating a clothing line requires great artistry. Looking a bit closer, one begins to see the intense creative process that is required of a designer. For Hong Kong’s up and coming designer Cynthia Mak, her interest in fashion design was not rooted in a love of clothing, but rather, the visual arts.