Interview: Aja on Her EP "In My Feelings" and 'Drag Race' Musicians

The RuPaul's Drag Race Season 9 and All Stars 3 legend spoke exclusively to Twin Cities Gay Scene ahead of her Pride block party event at Lush nightclub.

 Photo: AjaKween.com

Photo: AjaKween.com

Fresh off releasing her debut EP In My Feelings last month, the multitalented Aja is headlining Lush's Pride Kick Off Block Party this Friday, June 22. I had the chance to speak to the Brooklyn-based queer performance artist about her whirlwind rise to fame, creative music videos and more.


With RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9 and All Stars 3 airing within a year of one another, multiple DragCons, and gigs around the world, have you had a chance to sit and process it all? 

Honestly, I can start to process it when I’m dead [laughs]. Being in an industry like this means nonstop work, and there really isn’t any time to process it. You just have to keep an open mind and let it flow. The only thing you can really do is direct the current.

What’s your favorite song on your new EP In My Feelings?

My personal favorite song off the EP would have to be “I Don’t Wanna Brag (feat. AVG JO)." Which is also my next music video. It will be released this summer and will feature some cool cameos. 

The music video for “Finish Her! (feat. WNNR & DJ Accident Report)” was gorgeous. Where did you get your inspiration for it? 

My inspiration for “Finish Her!” was pretty much Mortal Kombat. Basically, it was a huge metaphor for me saying I’m killing the game, and I am surpassing the expectations of the people who do not believe in me.

You join a long history of Drag Race alums who are also recording artists. Who are some of your favorites? 

I think there are some immense talents in the alumni. Some of the girls are very talented. I think Blair St. Clair has a great voice. Adore Delano has pretty much her own genre. And then there is Shea [Couleé] who is also killing the game. Trixie Mattel being the only country queen in the mainstream. Love all talents.

 Photo: AjaKween.com

Photo: AjaKween.com

If you could have a Ru girl sing a hook on one of your rap tracks, who would it be? 

Honestly, I’m not sure, but it would be a pleasure to work with any of them.

You’ve kept it real when it comes to bad fan behavior at meet and greets. A lot of queens dance around those issues. Have you noticed a positive change in fan behavior since you addressed those issues on live streams? 

I never really pointed out fans having bad behavior at meet and greets. But I did bring attention to a mutual respect when it comes to big arenas such as DragCon. I think it is important for people to be mindful of all the sacrifices coming from all different places to make that amazing of [an event] happen. I received a lot of different reviews from these comments. But mostly they were positive. It’s good to know the fandom is respectful and understands mostly where we’re coming from as the artists.

 Photo: AjaKween.com

Photo: AjaKween.com

With all the amazing things you and the other RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants are doing, it seems the sky is the limit. What would you love to accomplish next? 

I want to be signed on to a major record label and continue my work as a recording artist. I’m starting to use my drag less as a means of a theatrical performance, and more of a queer expression. So Aja is becoming part of who I am every day. I also want to tour the world doing burlesque shows. Violet [Chachki] got to tour with Dita von Teese, and I think that’s amazing. I’ve always wanted to channel burlesque like them and other queens like BenDeLaCreme, and now I have the resources to make it happen. 

 Photo: AjaKween.com

Photo: AjaKween.com

What can fans expect at your Lush Pride Kick Off Block Party gig June 22? 

Expect lots of fun. I’m insane, I’m crazy. Expect emotions and love! I’m such a human. 


Purchase tickets for the Lush Pride Kick Off Block Party here.

A VIP meet and greet experience with Aja is available here.


What's your favorite Aja song? Tweet me! @DerekPlease

Interview: Bebe Zahara Benet at RuPaul's DragCon LA 2018

Hometown hero! The legendary Season 1 winner gave Twin Cities Gay Scene an exclusive interview for our Pride 2018 Part II issue. 

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Flanked by two ripped go-go dancers, the official Bebe Zahara Benet booth at RuPaul's DragCon was the definition of vivacious - much like the RuPaul's Drag Race Season 1 winner and All Stars 3 finalist herself. Our third time meeting, we spoke about past memories and enjoyed a lively interview full of boiling hot tea. 


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Derek: We’re here from Twin Cities Gay Scene magazine - your hometown of Minneapolis, in the house!

Bebe Zahara Benet: [Squeals excitedly] Noooo! Well, you guys know I represent Minneapolis because the past DragCons, you guys have not been here. Were you here last year?

D: No, this is my first DragCon.

BZB: How is it? How do you feel?

D: Amazing. It’s so fun! We’re here the entire time. 

BZB: Tomorrow is like, going to be ridiculous, now it’s more quiet. Tomorrow that is like when everybody decides to show up.

D: Yeah! I’ve seen some of your residencies in Minneapolis, like Queendom.

BZB: You have, like at the Pourhouse?

D: Yeah, at Pourhouse!

BZB: You see, this is called support.

D: And then you tried to teach us how to do fans at the Gay 90s. [Laughs]

BZB: Oh, did you see the “Jungle Kitty” fan? You’ll have to take a picture with it.

D: Oh, yeah!

I took a picture with the fan - and one of her dancers!

BZB: It says, “I'm Pussy Bitch.” YAAAAS! It does. [Laughs]

D: Oh my God, that’s amazing. [Laughs]

BZB: It’s an attitude, and it’s a state of mind! It’s very that.

D: What was it like going back to RuPaul’s Drag Race after all the years between Season 1 and All Stars 3?

BZB: Oh my gosh, what was it like? You know what’s so funny is I was very - when I was asked to do the show - of course at first I turned it down a couple of times because I wasn’t sure why, when had already won the show and the title. It’s not as if I needed any validation. But, when I thought more about it and to see how far the show has come many years from when I started. I was very excited to come, you know I would say the seasoned queens can always learn new tricks, but it was very important to also show this whole new generation of fans a different aesthetic and a different point of view of drag. I think that coming to the show and coming a voice there was very very, necessary. For people to know where the foundation all started. So, I was very excited and honey, I was excited to come and see my face on HD, honey! [Laughs]

D: Oh, yes! It’s beautiful.

BZB: I wanna see my face on HD! You know? It was amazing and I had such a good time, I really did.

D: Yeah, that iTunes HD… you look SO good! Oh my God.

BZB: Oh honey, I said I was going to come and make sure she’s painted now.

D: The big twist of the season was that you were coming on, and you weren’t announced right away. How was it keeping that secret, even though a lot of people had already kinda figured it out?

BZB: You know, it was very easy for me to keep it a secret because remember when we started Season 1, being able to be quiet about the season or anything about that was very, very important. I mean even worse than now, you know. So when Season 1 happened, when I did Season 1, nobody knew - even my family. So going to All Stars was like “okay, whatever,” you know what I mean? Plus, I didn’t want to ruin the surprise because I knew people were going to be SO surprised at seeing me walk through the door. And I just really wanted them to have a moment for them to be like, “oh! Did she really show up?” [Laughs]

D: Yeah. To be gagged!

BZB: Yeah! We needed a gagging moment. And I’m sure that was… Was that a gagging moment for you? 

D: Yes!

BZB: Because I knew there were rumors around, but was that really a gagging moment when those doors opened?

D: Yeah, ‘cause I don’t trust anything except for the actual show. [Laughs]

BZB: [Laughs] When it happens, right! 

D: I don’t trust Reddit, or whatever. 

BZB: Did you love the show? What did you think of All Stars?

D: Oh my God, yeah. I was so happy that you made it to the end, ‘cause if you hadn’t make it to the end, I would’ve been… 

BZB: Well did you have any doubts that I was going to make it to the end?

D: No, I just mean because of the fact that everybody was voting each other, I was worried that they were going to like, snub you out sooner.

BZB: Oh, they tried it! [Laughs]

D: Yeah. [Laughs]

BZB: They tried it, because what I had to do was to be good - and even better than good - to not be voted out. Because I knew coming into the show, as much I love the entertainers, they were like, “She’s already a winner why is she here?" So, if I was in the bottom, I would have been gone. 

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D: Yes!

BZB: I love the glitter [gestures to my cheeks], it’s like you are trying to copy me. I live! Minneapolis in the house. Thank you guys for representing.

D: Thank you.

BZB: We got to represent Minneapolis, so say hi tomorrow.

D: If I see you I’ll be like, “Hey!” [Laughs]

BZB: I will know exactly who you are. Thank you guys!

D: Well, thank you so much!


Special thank you to RuPaul's DragCon and World of Wonder for giving us the opportunity to cover their Los Angeles 2018 convention. Buy tickets to RuPaul's DragCon NYC 2018 here.


What are you doing for Pride this year? Let me know! @DerekPlease on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter

Interview: Audrina Phoenix & KiKi Fierce Talk Haus of LaRouge Collection

Chicago's favorite drag family just released an all-natural skincare collection with Beauty Kitchen by Heather Marianna. 

Kiki Audrina 2.jpg

If you love drag and haven't heard of the Haus of LaRouge, you're missing out. CeeCee LaRouge, Ki'Arra Ross, KiKi Fierce and Audrina Phoenix are some of the most talented queens I've ever laid eyes on.

The tight-knit drag family is super popular online; their 12,000-member Fans of Haus of LaRouge Facebook group just won Best Online Group at the Candy & Chaun Awards. Recently, they teamed up with my friend Heather Marianna, CEO of Beauty Kitchen, to create a skincare line for their devoted fanbase and beyond. 

Read on for my fun interview with Haus members Audrina and KiKi. We talk about their creative process, sex-positivity and more!


For those who are new to the amazing Haus of LaRouge, please introduce yourselves individually. 

KiKi Fierce: Hello, my name is KiKi Fierce, or boy name Nico Garcia. I’m the youngest drag queen out of the group - drag years, not real years [laughs] - I’m 28 and I’ve been doing drag for about five years now. I was the third member to be added to the Haus of LaRouge. I’m known for my fierce FX makeup, and teaching people to live a more body-positive and self confident life.

 Nico Garcia/Kiki Fierce

Nico Garcia/Kiki Fierce

Audrina Phoenix: Hello love, my name is Audrina Phoenix, the newest and fourth member of the Haus of LaRouge. I am 26 years old and I have been embarking on this drag lifestyle for a total of five years. I probably wouldn’t be apart of any of this if it wasn’t for my best friend KiKi Fierce… no literally, she dragged me into this! 

 Adam Rivera/Audrina Phoenix

Adam Rivera/Audrina Phoenix

What do you think is the “X factor” that makes Haus of LaRouge so beloved?

KiKi: Honestly it’s our compatibility. It’s hard to find a group of friends that you totally connect with; you vibe off of each other and basically can finish each others’ sentences. Image that feeling you have with that one best friend, now times that by four. That’s what we have, we have the same determination and drive to succeed in everything we do. We just get each other, you know?

Audrina: I can honestly say I believe it’s because each of us brings something different to the table, yet we all mend so well together. CeeCee LaRouge is the household mother, and just like any other mother she keeps each of us in check. Performance-wise, she is the “class.” Everything she does is with elegance. 

Ki’Arra Ross is the oldest daughter to the household. Just like any other big sister, she looks out for our best interests. [Ki'Arra] is the “Southern” flavor of the group! She always takes you to church. When you see her perform, you can’t help but listen to each lyric to a song, and are mesmerized. 

KiKi Fierce is, well, the fierce one of the group. I believe my bestie was a stripper in another life… with a sprinkle of porn star. High kicks, splits and death drops are just a few of her skills. She brings the body confidence and “sex appeal” to the group. 

And lastly, Audrina Phoenix; the best thing that’s ever happened to this group of men. Apparently I’m the “bitch” of the group? [Laughs] I’ll take it. My personality is as fiery as my name. I keep it real, and don’t sugar coat a thing. When I perform, I make sure I paint the bitchiest mug and I bring all the “sassy” you could ever hope and dream for. You’re welcome!

 The Haus of LaRouge

The Haus of LaRouge

You have a new collab collection out with Beauty Kitchen! How did you connect with the fabulous Heather Marianna, CEO of the company?

KiKi: Honestly, it was one of our followers, Autumn. Autumn has been following us for months and months, and one day she told Heather (who is her BFF), “Hey, you need to check these guys out, you will love them.” After some slight stalking… [laughs]... just kidding... Heather watched us, reached out and the rest is history!

Audrina: Me and Heather are the same exact person, just the opposite sex. No, really! Just like Heather Marianna, I myself run my own business and chair. My full-time job is my business: Adam.RiveraHairstylist. [Heather] is an inspiration, because she built a business from the ground-up doing what she loves, and that takes a lot of balls to do. Not to mention, she’s effin' gorgeous. I’m sorry, what was the question...? I just connected very quickly because she’s real. Well, and gorg. She’s killin’ it and everyone should want to be their own CEO of an amazing brand and company. 

Describe your initial brainstorming process for the collab. 

KiKi: For me, it was all about bringing high-end products for the everyday woman and/or man. We wanted a variety of options, to tackle most common insecurities we have about our skin. From dryness to wrinkles to bags, and more. I believe we accomplished that with this line. 

Audrina: Each of us have a different mindset as to what we like, so it actually wasn’t that easy at first. We each came up with our favorite flavors and scents, and Heather came up with the breakdown with products. 

CeeCee was bubblegum and margarita, which was put into the body spray and body scrub. Ki'Arra was watermelon. Her scrub polish was named after her boyfriend, who is also a drag queen named China. [Ki'Arra's] scrub was called Fine China.

KiKi is a freak in the sheets, so it only made sense that she got the flavored peach “Bottoms Up” body oil. KiKi’s favorite flavor happens to be peach as well. KiKi also came up with my absolute favorite body spray in "cotton candy." Every time I wear it, my inner bitch is released. 

And I love and wear anything coconut scented year-round, so I was the coconut scrub and soak! It reminds me of summer and the beach, so I named it “Life’s a Beach” which could also be a play on words. Just think about it for a second if you don’t get it [laughs]

 The Haus of LaRouge art by  vltchk on Instagram

The Haus of LaRouge art by vltchk on Instagram

The fact that your edible, peach-flavored “Bottoms Up” massage oil can also be used as lubricant is very sex-positive. What a multifunctional product! Describe your experience creating it. 

  Click here to buy.   Safety Note: Oil-based lubricants cannot be used with latex condoms

Click here to buy.

Safety Note: Oil-based lubricants cannot be used with latex condoms

Audrina: This was all KiKi Fierce’s idea. She is a proud power bottom! KiKi, I’ll let you take it from here.

KiKi: [Laughs] This was my pick actually. We do a segment on Tuesday nights - family night - called AFTER DARK. This is were we get down and dirty. No subject, no comments, no story is off-limits. You’d be surprised by the amount of freaky followers we have. I wanted to have something that can spice things up. We get so many emails asking, "How can we make sex fun?" And with me, I’m such an openly sexual, sex-positive person - the "I’ll-try-anything-once" kind of person [laughs] - so I wanted something they could bring home to shake things up a little. Making it edible just made it even more amazing. Come on, a massage oil that hydrates and moisturizes the skin, while able to use it as a lube - and then the cherry on top of that is it’s edible - it’s friggin’ amazing! 

What’s your favorite item from the House of LaRouge Collection?

Audrina: It hands down has to be the coconut body scrub and soak. Not because it’s my input to the collaboration; I just love coconut [laughs].

KiKi: I would have to say that coconut body scrub! I use it to shave my face, my legs, and my arms. The scent instantly transports you the nearest beach. It is like vacation in a tub. The scent lasts all day.

 KiKi Fierce

KiKi Fierce

Is there a message behind the collection?

Audrina: We all celebrate body positivity. We are all thicker gals in drag, and as boys. Unfortunately thin is not always "in," or realistic. We celebrate all shapes and sizes, and wanted something women/men could use and feel amazing about the skin they are in. 

 Audrina Phoenix

Audrina Phoenix

KiKi: Me personally, I’m known for teaching our followers how to live a healthy lifestyle with eating properly and exercising.  We work so hard on our bodies and mind, that we forget we need to work twice as hard on our skin. So I wanted this to be something natural, organic with a wide variety of options for our followers. Why spend all day eating healthy, working out, mentally getting yourself prepared for everyday life, just to ruin it by coming home and putting junk on your skin. That's a no for me. So it had to have those elements of natural, made in the US, no harsh chemicals... to bring your skin, your body and your self confidence to the highest peak it could be. I work hard on my body, and miss pizza so much! [Laughs] So why wouldn’t I want my skin to be just as healthy? 

Did your life in Chicago inspire your collection at all?  

Audrina: CHI TOWN REPRESENT! I would say so, we are showing that just because you are not a “Ru girl,” doesn’t mean you can’t make big things happen. We love our city and where we are from so, we are so happy to have had this opportunity as just four drag queens from Chicago.

KiKi: I would say no. I would say my personal life did. From working out, to being the sex-positive person, is what inspired this line.  

You unveiled the full line with an exciting livestream featuring Heather herself. How has your fans’ reception of the line been since? 

 Heather Marianna

Heather Marianna

KiKi: Oh my God! First off, can we talk about how gorgeous she looked on camera? Like seriously, let us take a minute to appreciate that. The fans received her so well! Heather’s personality shines just as bright as ours do! She might have a little drag queen inside that petite body.

The fans loved her, we were already getting so many messages about, “She’s down to earth,” “she’s funny as hell,” “she is gorgeous,” “she seems so real,” “she loves what she does,” “you can tell she cares about the customers and her brand,” etc. [Our fans] definitely were shocked that a person like Heather Marianna with such a high-end, successful, worldwide-known company could be so down-to-earth and caring. I mean, come on, she wrote handwritten notes to put in our followers’ packages. If that doesn’t show you the kind of person she is, I don’t know what will. 

Audrina: We love our followers, and we are just blown away with the response. We get Snapchats and posts on Facebook daily of everyones’ products arriving. Everyone is excited, as it is our very first skincare collaboration. This would have never been possible.

 Audrina Phoenix

Audrina Phoenix

Finally, if you could only describe the Haus of LaRouge collection in ONE word, what would it be? 

KiKi: That’s easy, “FIERCE!”

Audrina: I would say, “ACCEPTANCE.” Acceptance is the key to truly be free. We all are very open-minded, and a very accepting household. Happy Pride Month! 


Shop the Collection

Gagged? You can order from the Haus of LaRouge Collection at BeautyKitchen.net!

Write "DerekPlease" in your order notes for a special free gift. 


Audrina on Facebook

Audrina on Instagram

KiKi on Facebook

KiKi on Instagram

Tell me about the last drag show you went to! @DerekPlease on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. 

Beauty Kitchen June 2018 VIP Beauty Box Review

The all-natural, Malibu-themed beauty box celebrates brand owner Heather Marianna's birthday.

 Photo: BeautyKitchen.net 

Photo: BeautyKitchen.net 

The June VIP Beauty Box from Beauty Kitchen is Malibu-themed. This is fitting, as CEO Heather Marianna is having her birthday party in Malibu, CA! So excited for that. 

Titled "Make Some Waves," this all-natural, jam-packed box is her best-smelling one yet. It features giant 8 oz sizes of her Skin Polish and Moisturizing Mist; plus fun, customer-fave products like her Lip Scrub, Eye Gels, Lip Balm, exclusive Bath Bomb and bonus Lotion! 


8 oz Exotic Coconut Skin Polish

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For your face, and that bass! Smooth skin is a summer essential, and Beauty Kitchen's hero product Skin Polish is back with a new scent, Exotic Coconut. This finely-milled sugar scrub does not tear at the skin like competitor brands' products.

This is something you should use before anything else in the box. I love to bring a little tubaware full of this into my shower and use it all over my body. It gets rid of all the dirt that's been locked in your skin. Your facial skincare and makeup sink in better. Body lotion, too. 

8 oz Cactus Water and Aloe Moisturizing Mist

The picture doesn't really do this moisturizing mist justice - it's huge. Like, huuuuge. That's great, because I utilize it for so much around my house. Since it's all natural, I feel comfortable using it to refresh my clothing, fabrics, or furniture. I use it all over my body, of course, including my hair. It's gentle enough where if some gets on your face, it won't burn - and you won't be rushing to the sink.

As we learn more and more about the toxic ingredients in those body mist stores' mists, it becomes harder and harder to justify using those overrated brands. For woke shoppers like us, this Beauty Kitchen alternative is better and more affordable. 

The scent reminds me of a famous clothing store's cologne that was super popular in the late '00s. Think surfer vibes. 

Strawberry Daiquiri Sugar Lip Scrub

When Heather Marianna told me she added aloe to her lip scrubs after I suggested it, I was honored. This is a testament to what a community brand this is. Everyone's feedback is taken into account! 

The result was this rather lavish and delicious lip scrub that leaves your lips so moisturized, lip balm is optional. Aloe is known for soothing skin after sun exposure, so this is perfect after a long day in the sun, when your lips are feeling tender. 

The sugar crystals in this are even more finely-milled than the Skin Polish, for your delicate lip skin in mind. Plus those crystals are surrounded in an aloe base, so it's too gentle to cause any irritation. 

Coconut Eye Gels

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If you follow my Instagram, you know I use Beauty Kitchen eye gels all the time. They're the O.G. eye gels. If you see celebrities wearing eye gels, it's either the real thing from Beauty Kitchen, or an imitator. Large brands are even taking note and releasing single-use, chemically-laden pairs for as high as $10 or $20.

Beauty Kitchen's start around $3 and are thicker, juicier and all natural. Plus subscribers always get to try the latest varieties. 

Lip Balm

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This is not one of those drugstore lip balms that dries your lips out; you don't have to apply it all day, and it isn't $5 per tube. Beauty Kitchen's lip balm has a simple citrus flavor, and is packed with SPF 15 to protect your lips from the sun.

Perfect for use after the included Lip Scrub, I love this because years ago I was taught that the skin on the lips is the thinnest on the face. As in the most prone to sun damage! So pucker up, and put this on. You'll thank me when you're 90. 

Champagne Bathbomb

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Can you say "elegant"? Visually the stand out item of the "Make Some Waves" box, this bath bomb is formed in the shape of a champagne bottle, in celebration of Heather Marianna's birthday.

I've used Beauty Kitchen bath bombs before and they always deliver a more luxurious experience than those mass-produced ones from your local shopping mall. After you drop them in the water, Beauty Kitchen bath bombs slowly sizzle until your bathwater is packed with natural moisturizing oils and brilliant color. 

Of course, you can display them in your bathroom, like I'm doing with this one. I still have the Grinch one from Holiday 2017 and plan to keep it as a Christmas ornament! 

Bonus Let Them Eat Cake Lotion

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Though it's last on the list, this Cake Lotion was the item I had to try first. It could not smell better. It's a classic "birthday cake" fragrance done in the best possible way; not too sweet, not too overpowering. Multidimensional, so you smell different notes upon each sniff. The scent is more than a little sexy, too.

Of course the scent is only half the experience. Lotions need to moisturize too, and this does beautifully with natural moisturizing factors. You can't always "have your cake and eat it too," but you can moisturize with it instead! Not literally, though... of course there's no actual cake in this! That would be a sticky mess, and this lotion formula dries a divine, velvet matte. 


Subscribe

  • Heather's deluxe-sized VIP beauty box is $44.95/month. 
  • Her travel-sized mini beauty box is only $14.95/month. 
  • Yearly VIP and mini plans are even cheaper!

Subscribe here - and get a free gift by mentioning "DerekPlease" in your order notes!

Do a 90-day trial

Three-month trials are available for the VIP and mini boxes, complete with free shipping! Secure yours here. Get a free gift by putting "DerekPlease" in your order notes.


What's your favorite item in the June box? Let me know! @DerekPlease on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.

Stay tuned to my socials throughout June for more tips & tricks for the "Make Some Waves" box!

"June Bops...!" Playlist

Our official June 2018 playlist is out now on Apple Music & Spotify.

 Photo by Derek

Photo by Derek

"June Bops...!" is the second in a monthly series of unique playlists curated by DerekPlease.com!

Stream the playlist on Apple Music

Also available for free streaming on Spotify

Enjoy a musical journey through different genres like pop, old school and R&B. There's a lot of surprises! Things like "Jungle Kitty" by Bebe Zahara Benet and "Thru Your Phone" by Cardi B transition surprisingly well. 

Stay tuned for next month's series installment, "July Jams"! Stream last month's "...May Flowers Mix" playlist here.


What's your favorite song on the playlist? Hit me up: @DerekPlease on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram