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Wednesday, 16 April 2014 19:19

The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie

In the world of early-20th-century African-American music and people obsessed by it, who can appear from one angle like a clique of pale and misanthropic scholar-gatherers and from another like a sizable chunk of the human population, there exist no ghosts more vexing than a couple of women identified on three ultrarare records made in 1930 and ’31 as Elvie Thomas and Geeshie Wiley. There are musicians as obscure as Wiley and Thomas, and musicians as great, but in none does the Venn diagram of greatness and lostness reveal such vast and bewildering co-extent. In the spring of 1930, in a damp and dimly lit studio, in a small Wisconsin village on the western shore of Lake Michigan, the duo recorded a batch of songs that for more than half a century have been numbered among the masterpieces of prewar American music, in particular two, Elvie’s “Motherless Child Blues” and Geeshie’s “Last Kind Words Blues,” twin Alps of their tiny oeuvre, inspiring essays and novels and films and cover versions, a classical arrangement. Yet despite more than 50 years of researchers’ efforts to learn who the two women were or where they came from, we have remained ignorant of even their legal names. Read more...

Wednesday, 16 April 2014 17:38

Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III, The 2DBZ Edition

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In rap, there are no title belts. For all the posturing and all the perpetual debates, there are no trophies to point to, no photos of Ice Cube with his arm around David Stern while confetti rains down on them. But if O’Shea Jackson can’t hang a banner for the 1990-91 season, he can do the next best thing: lay out tattered vinyl copies of Amerikkka’s Most Wanted and Death Certificate. Most everyone who can lay serious claim to ‘best rapper alive’ status has a singular effort that defines their peaks; Nas has Illmatic, Andre and Big Boi have Aquemini. And then there’s Lil Wayne. Read more...

Al Sharpton: The Greatest Snitch

No one should be surprised that Al Sharpton was a snitch for the federal government. Last week, the Smoking Gun unearthed damning evidence of the reverend's role as a mob rat during the '80s. The exposé detailed how Sharpton became the FBI's "CI-7," toting around a special briefcase outfitted with a secret recording device that caught several wiseguys from the Genovese crime family. He flipped when FBI agents showed Sharpton a videotape of him talking about doing a cocaine deal with an undercover agent posing as a South American kingpin. Initially, Sharpton denied it. Now he's claiming he cooperated with the FBI only because his life had been threatened by gangsters. Yeah, right. Sharpton has been bamboozling African-Americans ever since he joined the civil rights movement. He's always been a government double agent, pretending to help black people when he really does nothing for them. Sharpton is a great showman who can get cameras to follow him around. His job is to fool African-Americans into thinking someone is fighting for them. Read more...

The shocking saga of Major League Baseball's most controversial player. Read more...

Even for those who seem to defy it, time has a rhythm. In a boxing gym, it’s unavoidable: the thwacking of gloves hitting mitts, the slow thump-thump of the heavy bag and the echoing bell that starts and stops all of it. And of course, the constant soundtrack from the speakers. Let the young bucks bop their head to the earthquake beats and pungent rhymes. That’s not Bernard Hopkins. He’s tying his shoes, getting ready for the day’s workout and singing. Read more...

Lindsay Evans’ eyes gravitated to the lower end of the 4-foot-by-6-foot piece of fabric, where the names were so abundant in some neighborhoods that they were stitched on top of each other in a barely legible confluence of Chicago’s violence. “You can see the hurt and confusion in it,” said Evans, 26, a graphic-design student from Philadelphia. Hers is the desired reaction for the group of artists who created “Untitled (Homicide Quilt),” a quilted map of Chicago with the names of each of the city’s homicide victims from last year stitched into the neighborhood where a life ended. Read more...

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LOL

During a recent taping of the “Tavis Smiley Show”, President of Music Programming at BET, Stephen Hill finally tells it all. Hill claims the ongoing probe by the FCC, coupled with his reconnection to his new found faith in Jehovah led to this revealing interview that will air during sweeps week on NPR. Tavis Smiley once again shows his journalistic skills in this exclusive detailed interview. Stephen Hill reveals that when he first made the switch to BET from MTV in 1999, he was instructed by Bob Johnson “to dumb the network down”. Hill knew he was brought to BET, due to the imminent sale to MTV’s parent company Viacom. The transition was easy, Hill said. “I simply copied MTV shows like TRL, Tom Green and created 106 & Park. They wanted low budget programming and I have delivered it for 15 years”.Hill admitted to Tavis Smiley that his real problem was catering to the urban market. Hill broke down in tears and admitted that Destiny’s Child “Bills, Bills, Bills” was his all-time favorite song but ironically, it was also the beginning of his lavish life of payola. Hill said, “I knew pay-for-play was working as early as 2005. After watching D4L’s “Laffy Taffy” climb BET’S charts, he knew he could get away with almost anything. Read more...

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Chicago has been in the press lately for all the wrong reasons. Violent crime is at an all-time high. Rampant gang activity has earned the great city the nickname “Chiraq”, a moniker hinting to the war-like reality of some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods. Some in the city’s hip hop community seem oddly proud of this troubling depiction, but not all. Despite the violence, there is also positive news coming out of The Chi.  This week, a  coalition of Chicago’s top rappers are heeding the call that hip-hop artists take on more social responsibility — and they said a new music festival and the creation of a youth-oriented job collaborative were just the start. Read more...

Impressive: Bob Anderson was a pro boxer in Las Vegas until he became homeless and headed to a safe haven for people in his position call the Albany Bulb, a little peninsula that juts into the San Francisco Bay and existed, until recently, as a sort of anything goes no-man's land. He built a three-story trash mansion there to live in

A former pro Las Vegas boxer's attempt to rebuild his life took the form of a 3-story home he erected out of scrap wood and trash in a seaside San Francisco encampment once considered safe for the homeless. Bob Anderson built the home by hand over countless man hours with pallets, discarded wood and anything he found useful after he found a refuge in the Albany Bulb, a small peninsula in the San Francisco Bay. He even built a gym of sorts beside his handmade mansion, where he could lift weights and practice boxing. But Anderson's triumph was torn down in March as part of the city of Albany's decision to incorporate the former homeless safe haven into a state park. Journalism student Mark Andrew Boyer stumbled on Anderson's creation while traversing the Bulb and documented his efforts to build the makeshift mansion and the aftermath when it was taken from him. Read more...

Wednesday, 09 April 2014 09:28

Larry Bird Fight Compilation

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I remember the infamous fight with Dr J and the 76ers and I remember him along with every other player in the 80s getting into it with Bill Laimbeer but I can’t say I remember Bird fighting Batman, Andre the Giant (he did fight Kareem the Giant) or Godzilla (that was Charles Barkley). Here’s a few videos of arguably the biggest trash talker in NBA history getting into a few scuffles with some of the biggest and toughest people in the league. Read more...

Disney. What could be more wholesome and innocent? You might want to take a second look at some of that wholesomeness… Read more...

Shabazz Muhammad

The sporting world is replete with dark recesses, but sometimes it's parents who are casting shadows rather than guiding their kids toward the light. Read more...

Jay-Z’s bling from ‘whites are devils’ group

Black people are the fathers and mothers of civilization, white men are the devil, the Christian god is nothing more than a ghost and only a small percentage of people understand the world. These are just some of the ­beliefs behind the bling — the gaudy Five Percent Nation ­medallions worn by Jay Z and Carmelo Anthony. Last week, all eyes at the Barclays Center weren’t on Jay Z’s better half, Beyoncé — but on the coaster-size golden pendant swinging from the rapper’s neck as the couple sat courtside. Asked once if the group’s symbol — an eight-pointed star with the number 7 in the middle — held any meaning for him, the rapper shrugged, “A little bit.” So what exactly do Five Percenters believe? Read more...

Friday, 04 April 2014 05:06

Teaching The Camera To See My Skin

I was 12 years old and paging through a photo album; my memories of the days seemed to fade in the photo’s recreation. In some pictures, I am a mud brown, in others I’m a blue black. Some of the pictures were taken within moments of one another. “You look like charcoal,” someone said, and giggled. I felt insulted, but I didn’t have the words for that yet. I just knew that I didn’t want to be seen as a quality of a dark black that would invite hatred on my skin. Read more...

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It’s come-to-meeting time in the world of Hip Hop. “It is imperative that politically conscious and revolutionary minded Emcees of the Golden Era of Hip Hop, and of today, organize a closed-door summit.” Cultural and economic liberation should top the agenda. Read more...

Tuesday, 01 April 2014 09:43

Building the Brow

It’s telling that the comparisons have mostly stopped. When Anthony Davis came into the league, with ridiculous arms and guard skills honed before a late growth spurt, everyone rushed to find his NBA analogue. Kevin Garnett was a popular choice. Comparisons with Tim Duncan dominated the lead-up to Davis’s regular-season debut against San Antonio, even though Duncan as a rookie was older and stouter and he had a back-to-the-basket game that was historically great almost from the moment he entered the league. Davis has murdered this parlor game. People around the league don’t know what to make of him anymore. They are just terrified, especially after having watched Davis average 30 points, 13.5 rebounds, and three blocks per game on 55 percent shooting over a 10-game stretch in March — a period during which he turned 21 freaking years old. He’s already fourth overall in Player Efficiency Rating, behind only LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kevin Love. His game has so many elements on both ends of the floor, it’s going to take years for the Pelicans to figure out the optimal uses and roster construction for him. It’s hard to decide what someone is best at when the answer might be “everything.” Read more...

dallas cowboys cheerleaders

Just why would someone ever want to become an NFL cheerleader? For the fleeting, half-baked fame? The camaraderie? Recognition for your athletic-aesthetic prowess? Or maybe it’s the privilege of being one of America’s Sporting Handmaiden – and all the charitable, community-serving femininity you’ll embody forever after. (Provided, of course, you don’t move on to stripping, or bring the NFL into disrepute while you represent it.) Hopefully young women are looking for at least one of the above, because it’s certainly not the money, honey: as a brewing lawsuit brought against the Oakland Raiders by their cheer squad has revealed, NFL cheerleaders are some of the most poorly paid legal workers in America. With next to no labor rights and making nowhere near the minimum wage, they could use a cheer or two themselves. Read more...

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Nasir “Nas” Jones kicked off the 20th anniversary of his classic debut album “Illmatic,” this past weekend with a special performance featuring the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington D.C.

The veteran New York lyricist delivered two sold out performances on Friday and Saturday lead by NSO Principal Pops Conductor, Steven Reineke, who provided newly commissioned orchestrations of the ten track opus, in addition to other notable hits including “Made You Look,” “Hate Me Now,” “Live at the Barbeque,” and “If I Ruled The World” to name a few. Pulling together such an elaborate performance alongside the nation’s most prestigious instrumental ensemble was not only a milestone for the 40-year-old, but also a riveting cinematic experience. Read more...

Kelley Williams-Bolar and daughters

With Hollywood knocking on her door, Kelley Williams-Bolar will be marking 2014 as the year that her story is finally told in summation. In 2011, Williams-Bolar was jailed for sending her two daughters to school in a predominately White school district in which her father lived. This year, audiences will be able to get a more in-depth look behind-the-scenes when her story is brought to life with her upcoming book, The Kelly Williams-Bolar Story set for an April 1 release and a movie, directed by Stephen Stix Josey and starring Garrett Morris and A Different  Read more...

Camden, N.J. is one of those small, forgotten American cities that never makes national news but needs to. For a city its size—just under 80,000 mostly black and Latino residents jammed into nine square miles—Camden consistently ranks first or second in the United States for homicides and overall violent crime. Perhaps that’s why it’s the first place that the 10-film series, ”Little Brother” chose in 2010 to start asking black boys ages 9 to 13 about love. On shoot day, the camera crew got attacked. But they continued anyway and viewers of the resulting 18-minute film are the better for it. With four of 10 cities under her belt, longtime producer and series co-director Nicole Franklin talked to Colorlines about what “Little Brother” is trying to accomplish, the impact of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative on her work and, which city “Little Brother” is heading to next. Read more...

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