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Black Entertainment, Money, Style and Beauty Blogs - Black Voices

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    For those of us who thought Aretha Franklin's big reveal would happen at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony tonight, we must think again.

    Though the undisputed Queen of Soul will be showered with a vocal Valentine's tribute by the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Yolanda Adams, Martina McBride and Christina Aguilera, she will not be present at the Staples Center festivities this year. Instead he taped a video to thank the Recording Academy for their honor.

    Franklin, however, showed up to the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit to catch a game of basketball with her longtime friend Rev. Jesse Jackson on Friday night.

    MORE PHOTOS BELOW

    "I'm feeling really great," Franklin, who is recovering from an undisclosed ailment - which was rumored to be pancreatic cancer, told reporters. "Loving the game, loving the game."





    That match-up was between the Miami Heat and the Detroit Pistons, and it is the 'Freeway of Love' singer's first public appearance since undergoing surgery Dec. 2.

    According to the Associated Press, during a break in play in the first quarter, the big screen above the court showed the 'Freeway of Love' diva while a couple of her songs played over the P.A. system. Franklin, who lost 100 pounds over the past few months, waved as the crowd cheered.

    With her 69th birthday coming up next month, the 18-time Grammy Award winner turn is already looking forward to getting back on the road to do more concert dates.

    "Probably starting at Radio City, reschedule what I had to cancel," she said when asked during halftime about tour dates.


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    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/24/10: Kanye West
    In the midst of promoting his forthcoming album, 'Watch the Throne' alongside Jay-Z, Kanye West has also announced details about his next solo effort. The 33-year-old superstar took to his Twitter page to reveal his big music plans for the next coming months. "I'll be back this summer," he wrote. "Watch the Throne coming in 2 months! My new album coming this summer." In addition, West is also set to close this year's annual Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival on April 17.

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/19/10: Diddy / Janelle Monae
    In celebration of this year's annual Grammy Awards Essence magazine and Sean "Diddy" Combs are teaming up to recognize Grammy nominee Janelle Monae at the 2nd annual Essence Black Women in Music. The exclusive, invite-only, event is scheduled to take place during Grammy week and is hosted by Essence.com Managing Editor Emil Wilbekin, Joy Bryant and Taraji P. Henson. "Janelle Monae is a remarkable creative force and a passionately talented young performer, who perfectly personifies ESSENCE as the 'voice and soul' of Black women," said Wilbekin. "As fans around the world continue to embrace Janelle's artistic vision, we are recognizing her tremendous influence among her peers with a salute to her contributions at the 2nd annual ESSENCE Black Women in Music event."

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/19/10: Snoop Dogg
    Last month international hip hop star Snoop Dogg released his latest single, 'Wet' in honor of Prince William's engagement announcement. And this week the self-proclaimed "Doggfather" officially announced the release date of his 11th studio album, 'Doggumentary,' will hit stores on Mar. 29. In support of the forthcoming opus, Snoop will be hitting the road for the 'Get Wet' tour. The 'Get Wet' tour begins January 18 in San Francisco and concludes Feb. 25 in West Virginia.

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/12/10: Boosty Collins
    Iconic Funk bassist Boosty Collins is set to release his first new studio project in five years, 'The Funk Capital of the World' on April 26. On Collins' latest effort he chose to tap into an all-star lineup of collaborators including former Parliament Funkadelic member George Clinton, rappers Snoop Dogg, Chuck D, and Ice Cube among others. "There are real messages on this album that I wanted to share," explains Collins, "whose soul-deep rhythms and layered melodies are punctuated by lyrics that range from meditations on the nature of truth and spiritual transcendence, to blissed-out joy."

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/12/10: Corinne Bailey Rae
    Just in time for Valentine's Day, Corinne Bailey Rae is paying homage to some of her favorite musicians with the release of 'The Love EP.' The Grammy nominee's five track opus finds Bailey Rae covering Prince's 'I Wanna Be Your Lover,' Bob Marley's 'Is This Love,' Paul McCartney's 'My Love,' Sly & The Family Stone's 'Que Sera, Sera,' and Belly's 'Low Red Moon.' Corinne Bailey Rae's 'The Love EP' hits stores Jan. 25.

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/10/10: Janet Jackson
    As previously reported by Black Music Notes, Janet Jackson is set to kick off her intimate 35-city 'Janet Jackson Number Ones, Up Close and Personal' international tour in Singapore on Feb. 7. In addition to Jackson's global trek, the platinum-selling singer will begin the North America leg on Mar. 7 in Chicago. During each show one lucky fan will have the chance to accompany Janet as one of her VIP guests. "I'm asking my fans and their friends, Parents, relatives, neighbors and teachers to nominate five people to qualify as one of the 20 under 20 in each place I will perform," she said in a statement. "At each concert the 20 people chosen and the person who nominated them will be VIP guests at my show. " Janet Jackson's North American tour concludes on April 23 in Las Vegas.

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/10/10: Rihanna
    International Pop star Rihanna recently made history in the UK by becoming the first female artist to score five #1 singles in consecutive years. Her current single 'What's My Name' landed at the number one spot on the Singles Chart last week surpassing Elvis Presley, who previously held the record for his span of #1 hits from 1957 to 1963.

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/7/10: Nicki Minaj
    Nicki Minaj has overcome all critics and disbelievers of her debut opus, 'Pink Friday.' The critically acclaimed album has reached platinum status within six weeks of its release, outpacing Kanye West's 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' which was also released on Nov. 22. To date, 'Pink Friday' remains the #2 Rap Album and the #4 Album in the country on Billboard's 200 charts.

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/7/10: Cee Lo Green, Sade, Michael Jackson
    In preparation of the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards, set to take place on Feb. 13, comes the release of the 2011 Grammy Nominees album. The Jan. 25 release highlights 19 songs from various artists who are up for nominations this year including Cee Lo Green ('Forget You'), B.o.B ('Nothin On You'), Sade ('Babyfather'), and Michael Jackson ('This Is It') among others. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the album will benefit the MusiCares Foundation and the Grammy Foundation.

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    12/29/10: Janet Jackson
    Good news for Janet Jackson fans of Southeast Asia. The multi-talented Pop singer will kick off her 35-city tour in Singapore on Feb. 7. Jackson will perform tracks from her 2009 greatest hits album, 'Number Ones' and plans on dedicating a song during each tour stop, which she promises will be "more intimate and more personal" than ever before. "It's not about effects, it's not an extravaganza, it's not about being as big as in the past," she said. "This one is all about you and me. I love you Singapore. Let's go!" Tickets for Janet Jackson Number Ones, Up Close and Personal tour go on sale Jan. 7.

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

     

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    The 53rd annual Grammy Awards show will be presented at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, tonight. It's branded as Music's Biggest Night. Before the internationally, broadcast telecast gets underway, a majority of awards were handed out.

    Below is an early list of winners:

    Best Female Pop Vocal Performance: 'Bad Romance' -- Lady Gaga

    Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: 'Just The Way You Are' -- Bruno Mars

    Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical: Danger Mouse (Broken Bells, Danger Mouse And Sparklehorse, The Black Keys)

    Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals: 'Imagine' -- Herbie Hancock, Pink, India.Arie, Seal, Konono No 1, Jeff Beck & Oumou Sangare

    Best Traditional Folk Album: 'Genuine Negro Jig' -- Carolina Chocolate Drops

    Best Americana Album: 'You Are Not Alone' -- Mavis Staples

    Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: 'Empire State Of Mind' -- Jay-Z & Alicia Keys

    Best Rap Song: 'Empire State Of Mind' -- Shawn Carter, Angela Hunte, Alicia Keys, Jane't "Jnay" Sewell-Ulepic & Alexander Shuckburg

    Best Female R&B Vocal Performance: 'Bittersweet' --Fantasia

    Best Male R&B Vocal Performance; 'There Goes My Baby' -- Usher

    Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group: 'On To The Next One' -- Jay-Z & Swizz Beatz

    Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: 'Soldier of Love' -- Sade

    Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance: 'Hang On In There' -- John Legend & The Roots

    Best Urban/Alternative Performance: "F*** You' -- Cee Lo Green

    Best R&B Song: 'Shine' -- John Legend/John Stephens, songwriter

    Best R&B Album: 'Wake Up' -- John Legend & The Roots

    Best Contemporary R&B Album: 'Raymond V Raymond' -- Usher

    Best Contemporary Blues Album: 'Living Proof' -- Buddy Guy.

    Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group: 'Moody 4B' -- James Moody

    Best Improvised Jazz Solo: 'A Change Is Gonna Come' -- Herbie Hancock. Track from: The Imagine Project

    Best Jazz Vocal Album: 'To Billie With Love From Dee Dee' -- Dee Dee Bridgewater

    Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album: 'Still' -- BeBe & CeCe Winans





     

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    Earlier this evening, viewers of the '53rd Annual Grammy Awards' got to see a start-studded tribute to the one and only Aretha Franklin. Asides from being delighted with the powerful voices of Jennifer Hudson, Yolanda Adams, Christina Aguilera, Florence Welch and Martina McBride belting out a medley of Franklin-certified hits (including 'Respect' and 'Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves'), the world got to see a videotaped thank you from the undisputable Queen of Soul.

    It was the first time the world got to see Franklin up, close and personal since her Dec. 2 surgery.

    From her home in the Detroit area, the 18-time Grammy Award winner said she "loved" the salute, which opened the show.
    "I LOVED it! The ladies all sounded so wonderful and they looked fabulous! All of them were dressed to the nines! I enjoyed each and every performance, especially Yolanda doing 'Spirit In The Dark' and Christina's rendition of 'Ain't No Way.' Loved them all! They all looked beautiful, I really liked Jennifer's outfit, those epaulettes on her shoulder pads were too sharp! Bravo ladies!!!"

     

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    This year's Grammy Awards brought out the bold (Lady Gaga in a womb, anyone?), the beautiful (Jennifer Hudson in Versace) and the "whoa!" (yea, Rihanna, we're talking to you). Check out what the stars wore this season and tell us who your favorite is.

     

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    The first decade of the new millennium brought a lot of things that the world didn't expect: the ability to order a pizza on your home computer, cell phones that allow you to talk to your friends face-to-face, and our nation's first black president.

    One other unexpected event of the last decade is the disappearance of a century's worth of progress in reducing the wealth gap between black and white Americans. As Rex Nutting at Market Watch so accurately notes, wealth levels of the black family in America have declined dramatically during the past decade, and they show no evidence of getting better any time soon.

    According to Nutting, "In a country where access to capital is everything, most blacks have nothing."

    First, Nutting mentions that African Americans have the highest unemployment rates in the country, which stand at 16.5%, compared to 9% for whites. What is most daunting is that soaring black joblessness, combined with higher foreclosure rates, bankruptcies,and declining home values have seriously cut into the wealth of the black family in America. in other words, we are the first to lose our jobs, have the least wealth to protect our families when times are tough, and a greater reliance on declining home equity as a source of wealth. This economy has provided the perfect storm of black economic destruction.

    According to Nutting, the median net worth for black households dropped from $9,300 in 2007 to $2,200 in 2009, much lower than the median wealth of $98,000 for white households. He also mentions that incomes dropped in black homes by 7.2% between 2007 and 2009, much greater than the 4.2% decline for white families.

    Nutting's article also reminds us that the United States has a long way to go when it comes to wealth distribution. Over 80% of the nation's wealth is controlled by just 20% of its citizens, and the richest 1% of Americans control one-third of the nation's wealth. Roughly 40% of Americans have no wealth at all. African Americans are disproportionately represented in the group of Americans with zero or negative wealth, which is a problem that most of our elected officials are inclined to ignore, and something that our nation's citizens don't spend much time getting upset about.

    Nutting is correct to mention that most Americans have their wealth tied up in their home values. So, when home prices dropped so dramatically during the economic downturn, this led to the wealth of many black families disappearing as quickly as it had arrived. Most of the economic disparities in the United States don't exist because whites are more responsible with their money or possess economic intelligence that black people don't have. The primary reason for the gap is that for hundreds of years, African Americans added to our nation's net worth, but were not being properly compensated for it (similar to how the NCAA operates). Being left out of the growth of America's economic engine has kept African Americans at the bottom of the ladder of institutional opportunity: Our school systems are not well-funded, we can't find jobs because we don't own the businesses that take applications, and we continue to be utilized as for-profit commodities by the prison industrial complex.

    According to Nutting's research in the Survey of Consumer Finances, black families were three times wealthier (in real terms) in 1983 than they were in 2009. As white families saw their net worth grow from $124,000 in 2001 to $143,600 in 2007, blacks actually saw their net worth drop from $12,500 to $9,300. By 2009, white families saw their wealth levels drop to $94,600, but African Americans dropped even more to $2,200. So, between 2001 and 2009, African American families went from having a disgraceful one-tenth of the wealth of white families to an even more horrific ratio of one-fiftieth.

    I am not sure how to process the Obama Administration's blind, deaf and dumb response to the persistent wealth and opportunity gaps in America that pertain to race. While the president continues to be popular among African Americans, I would encourage members of his administration to remember that leading with courage is an important part of making African American history (not just holding a fancy title that adds almost nothing more than symbolic value for the black community at large). Courage means sometimes doing things that are not popular and working to make America better. Given that I haven't heard the president or his team use the words "black man," "black woman," or "black families" in public over the last two years, I am concerned as to whether or not our first black president has been or is willing to do much to fight on issues that matter to black people who didn't go to Harvard University. For example, it's interesting that President Obama would speak up for Henry Louis Gates in a meaningless and ambiguous scuffle with a police officer, but wouldn't say a word about Kelley Williams-Bolar, a black woman who was sent to jail for trying to get her kids into a good school. The latter case was far more significant in the fight against inequality, but Kelley's housing projects were apparently not close enough to Harvard Yard.

    There is the added complication that by being a black man, President Obama would "get in trouble" with white voters for advocating on issues that matter to African Americans. This argument has been used by supporters of Hillary Clinton, who might be far less sheepish or self-conscious about advocating for women and minorities. I'm not sure if the Clinton supporters are correct, but the last two years have made many African American families wonder if it even matters who sits in the White House.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. To follow Dr. Boyce on Facebook, please click here.

     

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    It was a good night to be Jay-Z.

    New York's current "King of Hip Hop" won three trophies in a ceremony preceding the glitzy '53rd Annual Grammy Awards,' but didn't bother showing up to revel in what was branded as "Music's Biggest Night."

    Meanwhile, Eminem -- another hip hop icon, who was a supposed shoo-in to win the major award categories tonight - was there front and center. He even performed (ahem, shouted) an angst-riddled set featuring Dr. Dre, Rihanna and an unidentified chanteuse who nearly put the Bajan beauty to shame. Yet, the Detroit native legally known as Marshall Mathers only took home two trophies - after leading the pack with 10 nominations.

    When it came to doling out the awards this year, that sentiment seemed to pretty much summed up the night from start to finish, though.



    Surprises and shut-outs seemed to be the status quo at tonight's show; proving once again that just because you're a mainstream media darling, that doesn't necessarily mean you will win an award.

    Ask Justin Bieber.

    The teen dream had one hell of a week; a Superbowl commercial, his debut movie raking in $30 million at the box-office its opening weekend, and a hyped-up Grammy Awards performance with his mentor/big "brotha," Usher Raymond, and pal Jaden Smith. He walked away empty handed.

    It was him and the other mainstream media darling, Drake, who were duking it out for the coveted trophy for Best New Artist. They both were plastered over covers, appeared on late night talk shows and their names were ubiquitous on Viacom-owned music-centric networks like MTV and BET. Who won? Neither; the relatively unknown classical instrumentalist/singer Esperanza Spalding.

    A favorite of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, she's also recently toured with Prince -- after being hand-picked by The Artist for his BET Awards tribute last year.

    Primarily known as a jazz bassist, the Portland, Oregon native has served a professor at Berklee College of Music and has recorded with M. Ward.

    She, herself, seemed shocked at the big win. "Thank you to the Academy for even nominating in this category," she gushed as she approached the podium. "Thank you to the beautiful family of musicians I'm so blessed to be a part of ...I take this honor to heart so sincerely and I'll do my damndest to make a whole lot of great music for all of you. It's such a blessing and an honor. God bless."

    Spalding, 26, joins a growing list of music superstars who won the honors over the years, including Bette Midler, Natalie Cole, Jody Watley, Sade, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Carrie Underwood, Adele, and John Legend, who introduced her for the award.

    Her third album, 'Chamber Music Society,' was recorded last year and received critical acclaim in the classic music genre featuring her ethereal vocals and upright bass playing.


    Below are other noteworthy scenes from the '53rd Annual Grammy Awards':



     The show opened with the much-anticipated salute to Aretha Franklin, which consisted of a video montage of her glittery performances throughout the years and LL Cool J stepping out to 'Freeway of Love.' It was true Sisters With Voices as all five women (Jennifer Hudson, Yolanda Adams, Christina Aguilera, Martina McBride and Florence Welch) belted out Aretha classics 'Respect,' 'Ain't No Way,' 'Think' and 'Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves.'


    Lady Gaga emerged from her Mork from Ork-esque egg shaped cocoon to perform her new song 'Born This Way.' She looked and sounded like a cross between 1980s Madonna and 1990s Marilyn Manson - with a dash of vintage Christina Aguilera. Towards the end of her thrilling performance, Gaga and 10 dancers emulated a scene from Alvin Ailey's timeless 'Revelations' dance.

     'American Idol' host Ryan Seacrest introduced "one of those moments that only happen at the Grammys;" alternative/pop-centric black music acts Bruno Mars, B.O.B and Janelle Monae, performing a stripped down version of his chart-topper 'Nothin' On You' replete with a trio of violinists. The set went black & white for a retro-style performance of Mars singing a revamped version of his monster hit, 'Grenade.' He sang his face off. And then things kicked it into high gear as Monae belted out her up-tempo romp 'Tightrope.' Dressed in her trademark, dapper dude get-up, the Kansas native brought much energy to the room as she offered her vocal highs - she even surfed the audience while Mars banged on the drums and B.O.B. rocked out on guitar. The crowd was on its feet for all three of the Atlantic Records-associated acts.

    Eva Longoria introduced Justin Bieber and Usher, who revisited their 2007 meeting. After Bieber sang a little of his 'Baby, Baby' song while playing the guitar on a stool, Asian drummers came out from the audience as he sang 'Never Say Never' with 'Karate Kid' star Jaden Smith joining him onstage. And from the smoke Usher rose, twirling and vogueing before doing a military style dance in a royal blue outfit and singing 'OMG'. Bieber joined in on the pyrotechnic action towards the end.

     Lady Gaga gave a special mention to Whitney Houston, whom she imagined singing the song 'Born This Way' when she wrote it because she was secure enough with herself to imagine being a superstar.

    David Letterman did a Top 10 Surprises At The 2011 Grammy Awards riff, joking about Jay-Z, Willie Nelson, Lindsay Lohan, will.i.am, Lady Gaga, Lady Antebellum, John Mayer, Susan Boyle and Justin Bieber.

     In a very brief tribute to the late R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass, Lady Antebellum sang country-style version of 'If You Don't Know Me By Now' before singing their hit song.

     Academy and Grammy Award winner Jamie Foxx brought much fervor to his introduction to Cee Lo Green, who was accompanied by Jim Henson's puppets and Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow. All done up in giant sunglasses, loud color feathers and a bejeweled headdress, the former Gnarls Barkley frontman channeled 1970s era Elton John. He seemed to leave the expletives to left Paltrow, who wore a black cat suit with a plunging neckline accentuated with multicolored Christian Louboutins and hot pink feather earrings. Cee Lo had the crowd until he stood up and revealed that he was actually dressed as super-sized puppet. *blank stare*

    Johnny Deep (oops, I meant John Mayer), Keith Urban and Norah Jones sang a piece of 'Jolene' in honor of Dolly Parton, who was inducted as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

     Late artists such as Lena Horne, James Moody, Charlie Louvin, Bobby Hebb, Teena Marie, Gregory Isaacs, Harvey Fuqua,, Gladys Horton, Eddie Fisher, Alex Hilton, Albertina Walker, Walter Hawkins and Solomon Burke had fitting tributes to them during the In Memoriam segment. Hip hop pioneer Keith "Guru" Elam (of GangStarr fame) was noticeably absent from the montage. He passed away April 19, 2010.

     Bringing the energy from somber to spirited, the one and only Mick Jagger - wearing a cape and tennis shoes. - paid a musical homage to his late friend Burke; he and neo-soul maestro Raphael Saadiq lifted the crowd to its feet with the feel good anthem, 'Everybody Need Somebody to Love.'

     Three-time Grammy winner Kris Kristofferson introduced his 'A Star Is Born' co-star Barbara Streisand, who sang her 1976 Grammy and Academy Award winning ballad 'Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)'

     Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am and hip hop "it girl" Nicki Minaj introduced Rap Album of The Year, which Eminem took the trophy for. He thanked Rihanna for helping propel the album "to where it's at right now and what it's doing" before mentioning Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine, Interscope Records and the fans.





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    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/24/10: Kanye West
    In the midst of promoting his forthcoming album, 'Watch the Throne' alongside Jay-Z, Kanye West has also announced details about his next solo effort. The 33-year-old superstar took to his Twitter page to reveal his big music plans for the next coming months. "I'll be back this summer," he wrote. "Watch the Throne coming in 2 months! My new album coming this summer." In addition, West is also set to close this year's annual Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival on April 17.

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/19/10: Diddy / Janelle Monae
    In celebration of this year's annual Grammy Awards Essence magazine and Sean "Diddy" Combs are teaming up to recognize Grammy nominee Janelle Monae at the 2nd annual Essence Black Women in Music. The exclusive, invite-only, event is scheduled to take place during Grammy week and is hosted by Essence.com Managing Editor Emil Wilbekin, Joy Bryant and Taraji P. Henson. "Janelle Monae is a remarkable creative force and a passionately talented young performer, who perfectly personifies ESSENCE as the 'voice and soul' of Black women," said Wilbekin. "As fans around the world continue to embrace Janelle's artistic vision, we are recognizing her tremendous influence among her peers with a salute to her contributions at the 2nd annual ESSENCE Black Women in Music event."

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/19/10: Snoop Dogg
    Last month international hip hop star Snoop Dogg released his latest single, 'Wet' in honor of Prince William's engagement announcement. And this week the self-proclaimed "Doggfather" officially announced the release date of his 11th studio album, 'Doggumentary,' will hit stores on Mar. 29. In support of the forthcoming opus, Snoop will be hitting the road for the 'Get Wet' tour. The 'Get Wet' tour begins January 18 in San Francisco and concludes Feb. 25 in West Virginia.

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/12/10: Boosty Collins
    Iconic Funk bassist Boosty Collins is set to release his first new studio project in five years, 'The Funk Capital of the World' on April 26. On Collins' latest effort he chose to tap into an all-star lineup of collaborators including former Parliament Funkadelic member George Clinton, rappers Snoop Dogg, Chuck D, and Ice Cube among others. "There are real messages on this album that I wanted to share," explains Collins, "whose soul-deep rhythms and layered melodies are punctuated by lyrics that range from meditations on the nature of truth and spiritual transcendence, to blissed-out joy."

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/12/10: Corinne Bailey Rae
    Just in time for Valentine's Day, Corinne Bailey Rae is paying homage to some of her favorite musicians with the release of 'The Love EP.' The Grammy nominee's five track opus finds Bailey Rae covering Prince's 'I Wanna Be Your Lover,' Bob Marley's 'Is This Love,' Paul McCartney's 'My Love,' Sly & The Family Stone's 'Que Sera, Sera,' and Belly's 'Low Red Moon.' Corinne Bailey Rae's 'The Love EP' hits stores Jan. 25.

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/10/10: Janet Jackson
    As previously reported by Black Music Notes, Janet Jackson is set to kick off her intimate 35-city 'Janet Jackson Number Ones, Up Close and Personal' international tour in Singapore on Feb. 7. In addition to Jackson's global trek, the platinum-selling singer will begin the North America leg on Mar. 7 in Chicago. During each show one lucky fan will have the chance to accompany Janet as one of her VIP guests. "I'm asking my fans and their friends, Parents, relatives, neighbors and teachers to nominate five people to qualify as one of the 20 under 20 in each place I will perform," she said in a statement. "At each concert the 20 people chosen and the person who nominated them will be VIP guests at my show. " Janet Jackson's North American tour concludes on April 23 in Las Vegas.

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/10/10: Rihanna
    International Pop star Rihanna recently made history in the UK by becoming the first female artist to score five #1 singles in consecutive years. Her current single 'What's My Name' landed at the number one spot on the Singles Chart last week surpassing Elvis Presley, who previously held the record for his span of #1 hits from 1957 to 1963.

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/7/10: Nicki Minaj
    Nicki Minaj has overcome all critics and disbelievers of her debut opus, 'Pink Friday.' The critically acclaimed album has reached platinum status within six weeks of its release, outpacing Kanye West's 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' which was also released on Nov. 22. To date, 'Pink Friday' remains the #2 Rap Album and the #4 Album in the country on Billboard's 200 charts.

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    1/7/10: Cee Lo Green, Sade, Michael Jackson
    In preparation of the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards, set to take place on Feb. 13, comes the release of the 2011 Grammy Nominees album. The Jan. 25 release highlights 19 songs from various artists who are up for nominations this year including Cee Lo Green ('Forget You'), B.o.B ('Nothin On You'), Sade ('Babyfather'), and Michael Jackson ('This Is It') among others. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the album will benefit the MusiCares Foundation and the Grammy Foundation.

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

    12/29/10: Janet Jackson
    Good news for Janet Jackson fans of Southeast Asia. The multi-talented Pop singer will kick off her 35-city tour in Singapore on Feb. 7. Jackson will perform tracks from her 2009 greatest hits album, 'Number Ones' and plans on dedicating a song during each tour stop, which she promises will be "more intimate and more personal" than ever before. "It's not about effects, it's not an extravaganza, it's not about being as big as in the past," she said. "This one is all about you and me. I love you Singapore. Let's go!" Tickets for Janet Jackson Number Ones, Up Close and Personal tour go on sale Jan. 7.

    Black Music Notes Jan. 19

     

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    Is Wal-Mart a Good Idea for Brooklyn?


    Normally, it's easy to see why people would want to keep Walmart out of their communities.

    The big box behemoth has in many senses come to represent everything from the dumbing down of America to the dismantling of the small business economic system that once held together neighborhoods. Complaints about the company stomping the old Mom-and-Pop stores to its handling of workers are valid and widespread. However, while doing all this, Walmart has become the largest corporation in the world.

    But an ongoing controversy over the placement of a Walmart store in Brooklyn, N.Y. may well serve as a test of the anti-Walmart logic.

    For at least a year, community activists and politicians have been sending the message to the retailer to stay out. They've made it clear that Walmart greeters won't get a greeting in this area. A City Council hearing last week lasted four hours where the company --which didn't even bother to show up -- was shouted down, most vociferously by revolutionary crusading Councilman Charles Barron, whose East New York district has been among those sized up as a potential location.

    "Don't even think about coming into east New York," Barron said. "We're desperate for jobs, but we're not going to take anything."

    But although there's not much to be happy about when it comes to Walmart, people like Barron do not seem to offer much in the way of alternatives when it comes to poor communities like East New York.



    The unemployment rate in that community is about 14 percent, with similar totals in neighboring communities like Brownsville and Bedford-Stuyvesant. In Brooklyn, it's 12 percent, just higher than the city average. There is a lack of gainful employment there, and the New York City Council is not putting it there.

    There are many who say small businesses will be put in a vice-grip by the big-boxer who may sell a bag of apples for $2, undercutting the corner store who sells it for $3 because overhead costs are easier to absorb for large companies, thus causing them to lay off workers and shut down.

    But at the same time, the people who are up in arms about Walmart coming to town are hardly ever getting into the streets on any other day to fight for the small business to grow and expand, enabling them to hire more people and pay a living wage.

    The reason why companies like Walmart are snuffing out the small guy is because in America, for about 30 years now, we've let the small guy down. There was once a time when several shoe shops, for example, could exist within a half-mile radius and do well enough to pay their bills, their taxes and a few dozen employees. Thanks to the American, more-more-more consumer attitude, we shot straight to large department stores that could give us what we wanted en masse.

    Over time, we began to forget the man who marketed himself to us by sending Christmas cards to three generations of our families in favor of who had the best sale at the mall 15 miles into the suburbs. All the while Sam Walton was building his company from that exact type of business that once existed on Main Street U.S.A. Now he's the only game in town.

    Politicians like Barron, who actually organized a demonstration against a restaurant because it called itself Obama Fried Chicken, don't seem to have another use for the huge, unused, undeveloped empty space being eyed by Walmart. I'm happy to hear what he has to offer to get non-working cats off the block in the middle of the day who ain't doing sh*t else with their time.

    There are other examples of large retailers coming to Brooklyn and not disrupting the air. Target is well-anchored at Flatbush Junction, and Ikea has been settled in once crime-ridden Red Hook for five years now. Both stores employ hundreds.

    So it really comes down to this question: if a large service industry business comes to the hood offering jobs, benefits and development, do we turn it down? If we do, what do we offer ourselves as an alternative?

    Don't get me wrong, there's little reason to be a fan of Walmart. They have a long-documented, poor relationship with workers, and it's not like they sell the best-quality material, goods and produce. But if they can follow the example set on the South Side of Chicago, where an ordinance was passed requiring them to pay workers $10 an hour, in Brooklyn, then it could work.

    Not that $10 an hour would be enough to live off of in New York, but it beats the hell out of trying to win money in a Cee-Lo game because your shorty needs formula and diapers.


     

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    Deion Sanders and Pilar, Money Problems


    Could pompous power couple Deion Sanders and wife Pilar (pictured) actually be having money woes? The latest rumor mill is that the famed NFL gridiron great and his "Football Wives" reality star partner might be in a financial pickle since their two pricey properties, which are for sale, have not sold.


    Deion, who is known for signing his name by turning the first letter of "Sanders" into a dollar sign, placed his Prosper, Texas, 29,122-square-foot home, which was featured on his defunct reality show "Deion & Pilar: Prime Time Love," on the market back in 2009 for $21 million. The asking price of the mega manse has remained the same.

    The former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, though, is fumbling on his asking price, according to real estate experts. The home's county appraiser estimates the value of the mansion at only a quarter of its current price tag, $5,410,602. The exorbitant asking price for the home has had tongues wagging: why would anyone pay $21 million for a home that is valued at $5.4 million?

    The 109-acre ranch home is oozing with luxe features, including a two-story entry, 10 bedrooms, 3 dining rooms, a banquet dining space, indoor basketball court, bowling alley, indoor and outdoor pools, a billiard room, 5 fireplaces, a movie theater, 9.4 bathrooms, a hall of fame gallery, 9 covered parking spaces, a football field, a tennis court, a 12-acre lake and a guest house.

    The newly inducted Pro Football Hall of Famer, who also works as an NFL network analyst, placed yet another property up for sale a little over a year ago: a 5,025-square-foot condo in Dallas that is listed for $7.5 million. The property also has no takers.

    Deion has certainly had his fair share of questionable money dealings. In 2000, he received a $56-million contract with the Washington Redskins but only stayed with the team for one season. He also left a CBS network's pregame show after two years in a serious contract dispute.

    Meanwhile, as far as wife Pilar is concerned, she has brought her fair share of drama to the VH-1 reality show "Football Wives." Word on the street is that she no longer wants to continue her association with the hit series. Sources close to Pilar say that she is sick and tired of being painted as a villainess and that there is no love lost between her and the other women on the show.



     

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    Going to graduate school was one of the best investments I've ever made. Many of us are still first generation college students, so it's easy to believe that finishing college is the holy grail of academic achievement. But the truth is that there is more out there if you are willing to put in just another year or two to make it happen. When I was in college, my goal was to secure a better economic future for myself, since I didn't have much money. One day right before graduation, one of my classmates told me "I like money too much to go to graduate school." I then replied to her by saying, "I like money too much NOT to go to graduate school!"

    But beyond the economic rewards, there are benefits that go far beyond the size of your paycheck. Having more freedom on the job market and the chance to get a job that fulfills you is worth more than any amount of money in the world. Making money is nice for a while, but after about six months, you are faced with the place you have to get up and go to every day. If you hate your career, you may end up hating your life, and no amount of money is worth that. At the age of 18, you never would have convinced me that I would spend eight years in graduate school, doing the work for multiple masters degrees and getting a PhD. But now that I look back on the journey, I wouldn't change it for the world. I truly love what I do, and that's what makes me glad to get out of bed in the morning.

    The National Black Graduate Student Association (NBGSA) serves as an advocacy group to help students of color get through the challenges of graduate school and navigate their way to meaningful careers. It is due to the massive benefit of going to graduate school that Tina Ligon, past president of the NBGSA is today's Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight on AOL Black Voices:

    What is your name and what do you do?

    My name is Tina L. Ligon and I am the Immediate Past President for the National Black Graduate Student Association (NBGSA). I serve as the informal advisor to the current executive council and assist them with any tasks, event planning, and special projects.

    In addition, I established the Dr. Todd C. Shaw E-Mentoring Project in which I serve as the coordinator. The mentoring program for graduate and undergraduate students is named after our founding president, who still plays a very active role in the organization. My duties with this pilot program include recruiting mentors and mentees, overseeing the mentorship pairs, and handling any related issues and concerns with the program.What is the purpose of your organization?

    The primary purpose of NBGSA is to help increase the enrollment, retention, and professional development of graduate students of African descent. Its objectives are to provide resources to help with the success of current students in graduate and professional schools and work to create an emerging group of black scholars who are dedicated to improving their communities, institutions, and academia. NBGSA also functions as a pipeline in encouraging undergraduates to attend graduate school and assist in the transition from undergraduate to graduate study.

    NBGSA was founded in 1989 by a group of black graduate students at the University of Michigan. Over the years, it has served as the primary interdisciplinary organization that allows graduate students of African descent the opportunity to network, present their research, and serve as leaders on the national level. NBGSA is a non-profit organization that is governed by graduate students from across the country.

    What's it like being president of a large and prestigious national organization?

    I truly enjoyed serving as the 2009-2010 National President. It was a challenging and rewarding experience that helped me develop as a professional and a scholar. Some of my challenges were managing a board of twenty people in different geographic locales with varying opinions, expectations, and levels of experience. I had to learn how to negotiate, make quick decisions, and deal with different personalities while keeping NBGSA in line with its mission. The rewards of serving as the national president were great. I got to meet many wonderful people from all over the country, learn a host of new skills, and hone my administrative competencies by serving as the chief executive officer and principal spokesperson for this growing organization.

    There were some difficult times during my tenure as national president. I had to be available to my board members at all times while balancing my school work, NBGSA-related travel, and my full-time job. This was definitely a learning experience that taught me a lot about who I am as a leader. Overall, it was a pleasure serving as the national president. I loved the bonding that occurred during the quarterly meetings, the various debates that took place at NBGSA gatherings, and the genuine friendships that I made with my board members. Ultimately, I felt that I was able to help develop future leaders and scholars as well as make NBGSA more visible. I was extremely pleased when the majority of my Executive Council decided to serve another term as leaders with the organization.

    What is your personal, educational and professional background?

    I have a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and a Bachelor of Science in History from the University of Cincinnati, a Master of Arts in African American History from North Carolina Central University, and a Master of Library Science plus a Master of Arts in United States History from the University of Maryland College Park.

    Currently, I'm working towards a Doctor of Philosophy in African American History at Morgan State University. As well, I am a full-time Archivist for the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland.

    Do you have any advice for aspiring young African Americans who'd like to go to graduate school one day?

    Undergraduate students should start making plans to attend graduate school as soon as they start college. They should focus on academic excellence and not be afraid to take advanced classes or communicate in-person with their professors on a regular basis. They should also take advantage of relevant opportunities that are presented to them-especially those that allow them to present, publish, and serve in leadership positions. Finally, networking is very important. Students should read up and reach out to become familiar with people in their academic areas, as well as those in different fields and at various institutions.

    Is there anything else you'd like to share with our AOL Black Voices audience?

    Our 23rd Annual National Black Graduate Student Conference, "Transforming Roads Ahead," will be held March 9-13, 2011 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Columbia, South Carolina, and we'd love to see them there! Information about conference registration, membership, and sponsorship is available at www.nbgsa.org.

    While NBGSA would not be the success that it is without the tireless efforts of scores of student leaders and the critical support of corporate and institutional partners over the years, I'd truly like to highlight the extraordinary work of the 2010-2011 Executive Council and recognize the incredible dedication of President Antonio White (Morgan State University) (the rest of the Executive Council is listed here).

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. To follow Dr. Boyce on Facebook, please click here.

     

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    Washington Redskins Brandon Banks Stabbed

    NFL's Washington Redskins kick-punt returner Brandon Banks (pictured above) and a companion were stabbed outside of a D.C.-area nightclub Saturday night, following a heated argument with a male suspect.


    Washington Redskins Kick Returner Brandon Banks Stabbed: MyFoxDC.com



    Banks, who just completed his rookie season with the Redskins, was standing outside The Park nightclub at about 3:00 a.m. with his boyhood friend Christopher Nixon.

    Nixon was first approached by Jason D. Shorter and a violent verbal exchange allegedly escalated to a physical altercation. Banks, who had walked away when he and Nixon first stepped outside the club, immediately ran back to assist his friend when he heard the commotion. Eyewitnesses state that Shorter attacked both Banks and Nixon with a pocket knife, slashing at them wildly.

    Twenty-three-year-old Banks was stabbed in the upper left abdomen. Nixon was slashed across the face and throughout his body several times.

    Banks was treated and released on Sunday, but Nixon had to undergo surgery and is listed in critical condition.

    Shorter was arrested and initially charged by D.C. police with assault with the intent to kill, but the U.S. Attorney's office later charged him with a lesser crime of assault with a dangerous weapon.

    Banks was not the only Redskins player who had a brush with the law this past weekend. Redkins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (pictured below) has been formally charged with misdemeanor assault, stemming from a road rage encounter. Haynesworth and his attorney appeared at a police station Saturday morning to sign a summons warrant charging him with assault.

    Albert Haynesworth Allegedly Bullies Motorist

    According to the Fairfax County police, the 29-year-old is being accused of tailgating a 38-year-old driver with his pick-up truck. The accuser was driving a Honda Civic and he used a "non-verbal hand gesture" to the man who had been allegedly tailgating him.

    Haynesworth and the unidentified driver stopped their vehicles at an intersection, got out and began to argue. The driver told police that the NFL player, who has been often referred to as "potentially a brutal run-stopper," punched him right in the face.

    Haynesworth's attorney is claiming that his client is innocent and that the accuser just wants a big pay day.

    Ironically, Haynesworth was involved in a few other driving-related incidents. In May 2006, arrest warrants were issued against Haynesworth in two Tennessee counties but dropped a month later. Three years later, he was indicted on two misdemeanor traffic charges stemming from a car accident that left another driver, Corey Edmondson, partially paralyzed after Haynesworth was driving his Ferrari at speeds in excess of 100 mph. Edmonson later sued.



     

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    Obama Unveils $3.73 Trillion Budget for 2012


    President Barack Obama is sending Congress a $3.73 trillion spending blueprint that pledges $1.1 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade through spending cuts and tax increases.Obama's new budget projects that the deficit for the current year will surge to an all-time high of $1.65 trillion. That reflects a sizable tax-cut agreement reached with Republicans in December. For 2012, the administration sees the imbalance declining to $1.1 trillion, giving the country a record four straight years of $1 trillion-plus deficits.


    Continue reading the story here.

     

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    Premiering tonight on CBS TV is 'Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior,' starring Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker, Janeane Garofalo, Matt Ryan, and Michael Kelly.

    As the spin-off series from 'Criminal Minds,' Forest Whitaker stars in this new drama about a team of agents in the FBI's Behavior Analysis Unit who have unconventional methods of catching criminals.

    Unit chief Special Agent Sam Cooper is a mentally and physically fierce natural leader who is not afraid to put his career on the line in order to stand by his convictions. Cooper strives to avoid political bureaucracy and has handpicked an eclectic group of profilers to work outside the confines of Quantico. They include Beth Griffith, strong-willed and outspoken, the newest member of the team who joins them from the FBI Threat Assessment Task Force; Former British Special Forces soldier Mick Rawson, confident and handsome, works as a highly-skilled marksman with an undiluted eye for rooting out evil; John "Prophet" Sims a former convict with a street-smart edge and a calm, Zen-like presence, who is determined to make amends for past sins; Gina LaSalle an attractive, tough agent armed with a cunning sense of perception; and Penelope Garcia, a computer wizard who has spent years aiding Agent Hotchner and his BAU team on its toughest cases.

    This exceptional group of FBI operatives is strong in their beliefs and steadfast in their mission to bring the country's most dangerous criminals to justice.

    Kirsten Vangsness, who plays Penelope Garcia on 'Criminal Minds,' will be a series regular, while Richard Schiff will have a recurring role as FBI Director Jack Fickler.

    Coming out this week in theaters is 'Unknown,' starring Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Aidan Quinn, Bruno Ganz, and Frank Langella.

    Dr. Martin Harris (played by Liam Neeson) awakens after a car accident in Berlin to discover that his wife (played by January Jones) suddenly doesn't recognize him and another man (played by Aidan Quinn) has assumed his identity. Ignored by disbelieving authorities and hunted by mysterious assassins, he finds himself alone, tired and on the run. Aided by an unlikely ally (played by Diane Kruger), Martin plunges headlong into a deadly mystery that will force him to question his sanity, his identity, and just how far he's willing to go to uncover the truth.

    Out on home video is 'Unstoppable,' starring Academy Award winner Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Dunn, Ethan Suplee, Kevin Chapman, and Lew Temple.


    Inspired by actual events, 'Unstoppable' is an adrenaline rush fueled by director Tony Scott's signature mark of propulsive action rooted in the reality of ordinary people placed in extraordinary circumstances. A veteran train engineer (played Denzel Washington) and a young conductor (played by Chris Pine) race the clock to stop an unmanned runaway train - effectively a missile the size of a skyscraper -- and prevent disaster in a heavily populated area.

    Extras on the DVD will include an audio commentary with director Tony Scott, and a Tracking the Story: Unstoppable Script Development featurette. The Blu-ray release will include that, along with 4 additional featurettes ('Derailed: Anatomy of a Scene,' 'Hanging Off the Train: Stunt Work,' 'On the Rails with the Director and Cast,' 'The Fastest Track: Unleashing Unstoppable'), and a digital copy of the film.

     

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    Being the younger sister of one of the world's biggest stars cannot be easy, but Solange Knowles has learned to do it with grace. By singing, songwriting, DJing and constantly changing her indie look, she has managed to step from out of her sister's shadow and become a woman all her own. Let's take a look at this superstar mom's history of hairstyles.

     

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    After successfully producing the hit TNT comedy series, 'Are We There Yet?,' actor Ice Cube is looking to get back in the film business with a slew of projects, including 'New Year's Eve' and the film adaptation of the hit TV series '21 Jump Street.'

    In 'New Year's Eve,' the South Central, Los Angeles native joins an all-star cast that includes Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Ice Cube, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Ashton Kutcher, Seth Meyers, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank, Sofia Vergara, and Katherine Heigl.

    Directed by Garry Marshall, the romantic comedy is about couples and singles whose lives intertwine one New Year's Eve in New York.

    With '21 Jump Street,' Cube will be joining Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in the film adaptation of the TV series that launched the careers of Johnny Depp and Holly Robinson Peete. Cube will be playing the precinct captain role originated by Steven Williams. Phil Lord and Chris Miller are directing the pic for Sony Pictures, stated Deadline.com.

    Shooting begins in late April and Neal Moritz is producing.

    The former rapper is also looking to direct his first feature since 1998's 'The Players Club,' which starred 'The Best Man's Monica Calhoun and LisaRaye.

    He's preparing to shop 'Chrome and Paint,' a gritty 'Boyz N' The Hood'-style drama that Cube wrote with Eva Vives as a starring and directing vehicle that focuses on custom car culture of South Central Los Angeles.

    Cube last directed the 2010 Oakland Raiders documentary 'Straight Outta L.A.' for ESPN.

     

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    President Barack Obama has won a showdown vote in the GOP-controlled House to kill a costly alternative engine for the Pentagon's next-generation fighter jet.

    The vote is a switch from where the House stood last year under Democratic control. A wave of Republican freshmen elected on campaign promises to cut the budget made the difference. Many taxpayer watchdog groups weighed in against the $3 billion engine program.

    The move was a loss for House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, whose state reaped thousands of jobs from the engine, built by General Electric Co. and Rolls-Royce.

    It was a big victory for lawmakers from Connecticut, where the main F-35 fighter engine is built by Pratt & Whitney. Former President George W. Bush had also tried to kill the second engine.

    Read more here.

     

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    New Evidence That LAPD Officers May Have Killed Notorious B.I.G


    CBS Los Angeles is now reporting
    new evidence that officers within the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) may have played a role in the death of rapper Christopher Wallace, also known as the Notorious B.I.G and Biggie Smalls.

    Wallace was murdered March 9, 1997.



    Related Article





    According to witnesses, a lone gunman in the driver's seat of a black Chevy Impala pulled up to the truck, where Wallace was sitting in the passenger seat, and opened fire. Wallace died shortly thereafter.

    The Wallace family filed suit against the LAPD in 2005, bringing forth additional evidence that implicated LAPD officers in the death of Christopher Wallace. The two officers under suspicion are David Mack and Rafael Perez.

    Both Perez and Mack are in prison now for unrelated crimes, Mack for bank robbery and Perez for stealing cocaine.

    The new evidence involves an alleged conversation between Perez and a cellmate in the L.A. County jail. Mack and Perez were reportedly close confidants with Death Row Records, the label that represented rap artist Tupac Shakur, who was involved in a highly publicized dispute with Biggie. C

    In sworn statements, the cellmate said that Mack and Perez were on the scene when Biggie was killed, with Perez working security:

    "Perez told Mack that Biggie Smalls was in his truck----circle whose truck?----Kicking it with someone else in the truck."

    The cellmate says that Perez never said he set up the murder of Biggie Smalls, but that he strongly believes Perez had something to do with the murder. There were hundreds of pages of documents in the inmate's sworn statements that were not utilized in the original LAPD investigation.

    Former LAPD Lead Investigator Russell Poole says that the documents are crucial and that he was frustrated that his investigation in to the murder was thwarted when he got too close to the truth. Poole resigned from the LAPD in 1999.

    Poole put things in to proper context by referencing the fact that the LAPD was already dealing with major headaches after the Rodney King beating just a few years earlier, as well as the O.J. Simpson trial. This racially charged environment, according to Poole, made LAPD officials squeamish about the idea of enduring yet another major controversy.

    Poole also mentioned the financial incentives of the department for possibly covering up the truth. According to Wallace family attorneys, Rafael Perez was on duty the night of the homicide.

    If Perez was involved, then the LAPD would become liable for hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Given the LAPD's tattered history of corruption and abuse of power, it is entirely conceivable that officers were involved in the murder of the Notorious B.I.G. as well as the deaths of countless citizens whose stories will never be told.

    Additionally, the fact that officers Perez and Mack were both sent to prison gives tremendous credibility to Russell Poole's allegations. One might hope that years later, since the dust has settled and a few bigwigs have retired, the world may finally get the truth about what happened to Christopher Wallace.

    The East Coast-West Coast battle between Biggie and Tupac was one of the most unfortunate incidents in the history of hip-hop. The gang warfare mentality of the West Coast, which was artificially contrived when guns and drugs from outside sources were allowed to flood South Central Los Angeles, is reflected in the music of Tupac Shakur and other groups of the day, namely N.W.A.

    This kill-or-be-killed mentality spread like social poison with an in-your-face style of music that translated into real violence that ended the lives of scores of young black men.

    As a fan of both Biggie and Pac, I believe that Tupac was truly prepared to die. I honestly don't believe that Biggie wanted to die and that he and his partner Sean "Diddy" Combs were hoping that common sense might prevail in this deadly game of chicken.

    In the West Coast, though, where children are militarized at an early age and prepared for a short existence, beefs like this typically don't end until someone is in a casket. Years after the deaths of Biggie and Pac, homicide is the leading cause of death for young black males, with gangsta rap serving as fuel for the fire.

    But while it's easy to blame the artists for the music that encourages black men to carry guns and kill one another, we must look deeper at the gun manufacturers, government officials, record labels and others who earn billions by creating this deadly environment. Quite a few institutions have blood on their hands, and we must dig to the root in order to stop it.


    Watch the case here:





    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. To follow Dr. Boyce on Facebook, please click here.

     

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  • 02/16/11--07:18: Suge Knight's Car Impounded
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    Suge Knight's Car Impounded

    An SUV belonging to former Death Row Records kingpin Marion "Suge" Knight was seized by the Los Angeles police department. Apparently the LAPD suspected that Suge was ridin' dirty and he was ... with a suspended license.


    According to TMZ, the rap mogul was not arrested for his latest law-breaking caper. The black SUV that he was driving got hauled away by police, and rather than call on a bud to bail him out of his dilemma, he resorted to asking a female onlooker for a ride to his destination.

    Suge was arrested in the not-too-distant past for yet another traffic violation back in December for failing to appear in court.

    The hip-hop heavyweight who rose to fame and fortune, after founding his record label in 1991 and bringing in such artists as Snoop Doggy Dogg and Tupac Shakur, may not be able to financially beat this latest legal go-round: He is reportedly broke and in dire need of dough.

    The man who once boasted that he owned dozens of cars, a nightclub, expensive jewelry galore and even the Las Vegas mansion that was featured in the film "Casino" has fallen on hard times. Bankruptcy, legal bills and baby momma lawsuits have allegedly left Suge penniless.

    The Compton, Calif., native's possessions were sold late last year on the A&E network show "Storage Wars."

     

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    Family Affair: Sinbad Lands New Reality Series
    Hollywood funnyman Sinbad is the latest celebrity to feature his family life on reality television.

    The 54-year-old comic has struck a deal with WE TV for a new show tentatively titled 'Sinbad's Family Affair.'

    "It's not your run-of-the-mill reality show. I'm looking at this medium to find ways to be creative. If done right, reality TV can be funny," he told Entertainment Weekly.

    Sinbad joins the WE TV's lineup of family-oriented "docu-soaps" like Joan River's 'Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?,' which airs now; and Toni Braxton's 'Braxton Family Values,' which premieres in April.

    "Sinbad's story is one of second chances. It's remarkable and heartwarming, but not without its drama, conflict and chaos," said John Miller, Senior Vice President of Development, WE TV. "This is a modern family that's reunited and they're dealing with the emotions and issues that come along with that. It's what viewers will see more of on WE TV, and women will be able to connect with this story and this family, either from their own experiences or those of people in their life."

    The series will focus on the Michigan-bred comic attempting rebuild his career while balancing life as a family man.

    'Sinbad's Family Affair' will premiere on April 12 and air after 'Braxton Family Values.'

    In 2010, Sinbad competed on the third season of Donald Trump's 'Celebrity Apprentice' and starred in a standup special for Comedy Central called, 'Sinbad: Where U Been.'


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    North Carolina Couple Claims $1 Million Lottery Prize

    From The Grio:

    STALLINGS, N.C. (AP) -- A North Carolina couple has claimed a $1 million lotto prize just a day before it expired.

    Raleigh Hill bought the Mega Millions ticket last summer. The state lottery agency said Hill and his wife claimed the prize Tuesday at the agency's headquarters.


    Hill said he only realized a couple of weeks after the Aug. 20 drawing that his ticket matched all five white balls. He waited two or three more weeks to tell his wife, until she came home at the end of a bad day.

    Hill told the state lottery he hesitated to come in because of the attention. At one point, he lost track of the ticket before finding where he'd hidden it in a shoe box.

    Read the rest on African American news site, The Grio.

     

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