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

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    From Clutch:

    Widely credited with the desegregation of Oklahoma City, Civil Rights icon Clara Luper passed away last Wednesday. She was 88 years old. Marilyn Hildreth, Luper's daughter said her mother's battle with a longtime illness came to an end on Wednesday night. She said her mother's greatest struggle lives on.

    Read more here.


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    Filed under: ,

    Holly Robinson Peete
    was honored with the 'Woman Of Excellence Award' at Luxe Hotel in Los Angeles this weekend. 'The Talk' co-host wore a bright geometric print dress, blue peep toes and her standard Shirley Temple curls for the event. Hip and classy, just like her!

    Tiffany Rose, WireImage

    Full Length

    Holly Robinson Pete


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  • 06/13/11--06:43: Slick Rick & Doug E. Fresh
  • Filed under:

    slick rick; doug e. fresh; the get fresh crew; chill will; barry bee

    Although Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh may be known as solo artists today, the two rappers solidified their status as hip-hop icons when they joined forces in the mid-1980s. To this day, the former has one of rap's most unique lyrical deliveries and inimitable sartorial styles. (He still wears truck jewelry and an eye-patch when he performs.) The latter still is a master beatboxer and is considered the genre's ultimate crowd pleaser.

    As members of the Get Fresh Crew along with two DJs Chill Will and Barry B, London-born Rick Walters (then known as MC Ricky D) and Barbados native Douglas Davis (aka Doug E. Fresh) linked up to record two of rap's most enduring party anthems.

    The first song, "La Di, Da Di," gained popularity when Doug, the self-proclaimed 'The Original Human Beatbox,' enlisted Ricky to add his story rhymes over his uncanny ability to vocally mimic drum machines beats and other sound effects into a microphone. The partners performed the track - on which Rick tells a detailed comical tale about getting propositioned by an unlikely cougar - at live shows, creating a huge buzz even before they wound up recording it in 1985.

    Another single, 'The Show,' which sampled the 'Inspector Gadget' theme song, became an even bigger hit, reaching number four on the R&B charts that year. The two songs immediately made Ricky D a fan favorite. He admitted to 'Insomniac' magazine that the attention he got from those records tested their relationship.

    "It might of put a little bit of a strain on the relationship, because I was a guest on his ship," Rick said. "I had received such major attention and then the problem of the money, as far as it's your ship why should I get more than you. I think is was best that I branched off in my own way to avoid any conflict."

    As a result, Ricky D embarked on a solo career, changing his stage name to Slick Rick and signing to the Russell Simmons-led Def Jam Records. But it took another three years before the rapper would release his debut album, 'The Great Adventures of Slick Rick.'

    The album proved to be worth the wait as it was jam-packed with great narratives and some devilishly salacious rhymes all in his unique quasi-British accent. Tracks like 'Children's Story,' 'Hey Young World,' 'Mona Lisa,' and 'Teenage Love' were proof that Rick wasn't just into gratuitous sextalk, but had emerged as hip-hop's best storyteller with songs that detailed realistic urban struggles, promoted dreaming big and touched on the joys and pains of relationships.

    That same year, Doug E. Fresh, released his second album, 'The World's Greatest Entertainer,' but was overshadowed by Slick Rick's debut. (Doug's first LP, 1987's 'Oh, My God!,' featured most of his showpieces, like 'Play This Only at Night' and 'All the Way to Heaven.') The sophomore featured hits such as 'Rising to the Top' and 'Cut That Zero', two songs that helped cement his playboy persona. But after that album, Doug's career began to stall. He had moderate hits in the '90s including call-and-response party-starter, 'I-ight (Alright)' and 'Freaks,' on which he mostly beatboxes while pint-sized dancehall phenom Lil Vicious rhymes in a melodic Jamaican patois.

    Rick's career took a hit too when he served jail time for his involvement in a shooting, and subsequently faced deportation charges. Despite his legal troubles, he released two hastily crafted albums - 'The Ruler's Back' (1991) and 'Behind Bars' (1994). But it wasn't until 1999, when his comeback album 'The Art of Storytelling' really saw Rick fulfill his early potential.

    These days, both Doug and Rick are regarded as two of hip-hop's best ever entertainers and regularly perform their hits separately and together on spot tour dates. Doug has even inspired a dance craze and song 'Teach Me How to Dougie' by the Los Angeles rap crew, Cali Swag District.

    Influenced...Snoop Dogg, MC Hammer, Nas, Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., Outkast, Mos Def, Cali Swag District, Ludacris, Raekwon, Chamillionaire, MF DOOM, Eminem, etc.

    Slick Rick's 'Children's Story'

    Doug E. Fresh's 'Keep Rising to the Top'


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    It was 1968, not long after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., when a young Jesse Jackson, still emotionally devastated by his mentor's death, stood amid a crowded tent city. People here were desperate for food, shelter and security.

    Jackson, who was 27 at the time, had committed himself to continuing King's poor people's campaign to advocate for public accommodations and relief for the needy. He was there that day to give the people what he could. Money was in short supply, he said, and the people that had gathered around him were hungry for so much more than he could provide.

    "They were the most rejected, the most impoverished, the most needy," Jackson recalled. "I would look in peoples faces, they were looking to me and they wanted me to give them something, to say something. I had no more food to give them. I did not even have a bus ticket to get home. I couldn't offer them any material."

    It was then that Jackson recalled the moment and the words that first came to his mind as he addressed them, a three-word refrain that would go on to change the way generations of African-Americans and poor people would see themselves.

    I Am Somebody.

    "I said say it with me. I am," he called out that day. "Somebody."

    "I may be poor," he said. "I may be on welfare or unskilled. But I am somebody."

    The seeds for the poem, I AM SOMEBODY, were born.

    "Once I set that table," he said, people bought in, that "where there is life there is hope, and where there is hope there is infinite possibility."

    While the saying had long been part of the repertoire of black preachers and ministers, it was Jackson who took it beyond the black church. In 1971 Jackson read the poem to a group of children during an episode of 'Sesame Street' (see video above), cementing it in the pantheon of popular culture. A few years later, he again took it to the masses during the now legendary WattStax music festival (pictured below) in Los Angeles. "I Am Somebody" joined "Black Is Beautiful" as a phrase that went beyond catchy to become powerful statements during a time when self-worth was synonymous with self-empowerment, both of which were desperately needed in the black community.

    More than just a self-affirmation, it was a pronouncement, a willing of value by folks whose poverty or skin color or social circumstance left them marginalized and feeling less than. It touched more than just blacks, it reached people of all color who felt beaten down by mainstream American society.

    "I think one constant in all of this is that people are always on a quest for self-affirmation, to be loved and to be protected," Jackson said. "With all of these changes we go through, that is a constant. There are so many signs that condemn people to nobodyness. 'I can't get a job because, I can't go to school because, I can't afford health care because, I can't live here because.' All of these abounding negatives, but affirmations trump a negative."

    In 2002, the rapper Nas took a page from the Jackson playbook with the release of his chart topping song, 'I Can,' where he implores youth, in similar call and response fashion: I know I can / Be what I wanna be / If I work hard at it / I'll be where I wanna be.

    Robert Ferguson, 45, a design engineer for AT&T who grew up in Indianapolis, said that as a young man the poem spoke to him "in terms that I could understand."

    "I think that for me it was just a mater of pride," Ferguson said, "and the way that I carried myself." He was a fifth or sixth grader when he first heard the Jackson poem.

    But by and large he said today's young people are a generation obsessed with itself and not the collective community which has shied away from the kinds of affirmations and self-awareness that helped others open doors for them.

    "I think it's generational. I don't think that this generation or the time that we live in now, I'm not sure that message resonates with us," he said. "I think now it's I can have, I can attain, I can achieve, I can have more. I can get more material things. That seems be the mantra for today, as opposed to I am somebody, I have worth."

    And the Rev. Jesse Jackson's stock has fallen amid various controversies and assaults on his character over the years. So, it is likely that as many people have distanced themselves from Jackson as a public figure, they have also distanced themselves from many of his messages, I Am Somebody, included.

    But Jackson, who still tends to speak in rhythms and prose, created a canon of phrases to address social needs. There was "Down With Dope, Up With Hope," "Stop The Violence, Save The Children," and perhaps most famous, "Keep Hope Alive."

    There was a time when Jackson was viewed as cool, an activist and minister that was as trendsetting as any activist could have been. He was often seen on the covers of popular black magazines of the day, wearing denim jean jackets, dashikis and medallions.

    "I remember having his poster on my bedroom door and I remember that, for my mother and my grandmother, Dr. King and Rosa Parks and Abernathy, that was kind of their civil rights heroes. I remember thinking those people were so old and out of touch," Ferguson said. "But Jesse Jackson was kind of cool to me, he had the big afro and the dashiki and he was just kind of speaking to me."

    Even this reporter's mother used I Am Somebody as a way to motivate her young son each morning before school, to send him out into the world with a head held high.

    "You were two or maybe three. I was just taking you to school one morning and I said I AM," she recalled, "and I just kept saying it until you could respond, that I AM, Somebody. Just knowing that your situation was not going to be the easiest I wanted to give you the weapons and tools that you would need."

    "I think it really worked," she said, "that regardless of what the situation was, you knew that you were somebody."

    Forty years after Jackson first read that poem on 'Sesame Street,' he says he is still asked to read it no matter what country he is in or what kind of group he is addressing, black or white, young or old.

    "Wherever I am in the world, in our country or Britain or South Africa, it resonates," Jackson said.


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  • 06/13/11--09:08: Summer Beach Essentials
  • Filed under: ,

    swimsuit model

    Beach bound? Be sure to pack these essentials to protect your skin and enjoy your fun in the sun.

    flip flops
    Flip Flops:
    Give your feet a break from the hot sand and pick up a cute pair of flip-flops, like these zebra printed ones from Old Navy for only $5.

    swimsuit model

    Cover Up:
    Cover up when you're lounging with this lacy delight from Victoria's Secret for $39.99.

    straw bag
    Straw Bag
    You'll need a place for all your beach essentials, so grab a sturdy classic straw bag like this J.Crew striped one for $49.50.

    African-Americans do need sunscreen! Pack an SPF-packed lotion like Neutrogena's Wet Skin SPF 85+ to protect your skin both in the water and out.

    Who doesn't need a groovy pair of shades? You can either splurge on a designer pair that you will likely lose or break by the end of June, or grab a pair at for $5.80.


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    mcdonalds; hoax

    Over the weekend, this fake sign made its way around the Twitterverse. It's an old online hoax that has found new legs as it gets passed around with the hashtag #seriouslymcdonalds. Chalk up another PR foible for the fast-food empire.

    Claiming that McDonald's is charging African-American customers an extra $1.50 as an "insurance measure due in part to a recent string of robberies," the image first appeared on the Internet's notorious 4chan bulletin board last June. But for reasons unknown, the pic appears to be stirring controversy once again.

    On Saturday, McDonald's responded with this Twitter message, "That pic is a senseless & ignorant hoax McD's values ALL our customers. Diversity runs deep in our culture on both sides of the counter."

    And today, the fast-food chain reiterated on Twitter, "That Seriously McDonalds picture is a hoax."

    Savvier social media users have helped to clear up any lingering doubts about the pic's veracity by pointing out that the toll-free number listed on the bottom of the sign actually belongs to KFC.

    But this can't bode well for McDonald's. The company has already endured a few major PR nightmares recently. An ad campaign demanding the resignation of Ronald McDonald, the fast-food chain's clown mascot, apppeared in newspapers across the country last month.

    And in April, on the day when McDonald's was touting the hiring of 50,000 new employees, a brawl broke out in a parking lot of a Cleveland, Ohio, restaurant. A manager and one other adult were injured when two women got into a fight in a car, which they then accidentally put in reverse and backed into a crowd, according to news reports.

    Now this hoax has the burger empire scrambling to do some serious damage control.

    Let us know what you think about his sign in the comments below.


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    Filed under:

    mirror; mirror on wall

    Mirrors can be used in a variety of ways to dress up your home. They're not just for checking your outfit and makeup in the morning. Don't be afraid to live in a house of mirrors and get the most out the design element by using it in more than one space. You'll make your home look larger, reflect more light in your rooms and make beautiful decorative statements with it.

    A mirror in your hallway or foyer can be a nice way to open up a tight space. Try also using a mirror to do double duty as a coat hanger.
    Maybe it's time to swap out your boring bathroom mirror and go for a modern decorative mirror to update the space.
    decorative mirror
    Place a mirror above a dresser in your bedroom and you instantly have a vanity. Place your perfumes or jewelry boxes on top to adorn your new space.
    decorative mirror

    A decorative mirror can serve as a nice art piece in your office. Pick a mirror with a bold pattern or shape and have fun adding some color to your room.


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    Filed under:

    Tracy Morgan

    If anyone thinks this Tracy Morgan fiasco has anything to do with the controversial statements he made about gay people at a standup show on June 3 in Nashville, the joke is on them.

    Stand-up comedians have always been granted a "funny pass" -- unspoken permission to say offensive and controversial things about anyone and anything. But only the talented comedians get the pass, and it's clear Morgan isn't funny enough to receive one.

    A reminder about the last time a comedian without a "funny pass" said some offensive remarks about a group of people and couldn't get anyone to buy the apology he was selling afterward.

    In 2006, Michael Richards (more commonly known as "Kramer" on the sitcom 'Seinfield') went ballistic on a group of black hecklers at Los Angeles' Laugh Factory. He called them the n-word, said, "50 years ago we'd have you upside down with a [expletive] fork up your [expletive]." In the days after, some attempted to come to his defense, but most of his peers knew the truth. Richards was his best as "Kramer," a character written for him and guided by a more superior comedian, Jerry Seinfeld. Left to his own devices on the stage, Kramer lost whatever semblance he had of a career and these days he's closer to being a civilian looking for work than a star.

    Like Richards, Morgan is a comedian more known for a character he plays on television ("Tracy Jordan" on the sitcom, '30 Rock') than a heavyweight on the stand-up scene. Comedian W. Kamau Bell wrote on his Twitter today, "It is an open secret in Hollywood that the only person who knows how to make Tracy Morgan funny 100% of the time is Tina Fey. Not Tracy."

    The secret is open because the secret is so obvious.

    Morgan's comedy is high on absurdity but low on jokes. His HBO stand-up special last year, 'Tracy Morgan: Black And Blue,' was barely watchable. He was rude, offensive and foul, but hilarious? No.

    Those defending Morgan are not strengthening their defense by commenting on his actual skills as a comedian. Current 'Saturday Night Live' cast member Jay Pharoah went on a brief rant yesterday via Twitter not to defend Morgan, but to suggest what the uproar about Morgan's statements mean for comedians today. He wrote, "I'm not supporting anyone, I'm just saying over the past 30 years comedy has dramatically changed because people are so sensitive."

    Fey's statement
    was also devoid of any praise for Morgan's skills as a comedian. She said his actions didn't "line up with the Tracy Morgan I know, who is not a hateful man and is generally much too sleepy and self-centered to ever hurt another person."


    And then there's Chris Rock, the practical Godfather of stand-up comedy, who first defended Morgan on Twitter but later took it back when he wrote this: "when i first heard the statement i thought it was offensive but it also reminded me of my father saying ill kill you if you ever bring home a white girl but after reading everything tracy said. Wow i get it that [expletive] wasn't called for and I don't support it at all."

    Perhaps Rock couldn't support it because, again, like a lot of Morgan's material, it wasn't funny.

    Rock has a pretty well-known bit condoning a homophobic slur in his last stand-up comedy, 'Kill The Messenger' (see video below). The stand-up was performed, recorded and released in 2009, but never received the kind of negative publicity Morgan has received. Some might say that Rock's remarks, in which he defended the actor Isiah Washington, who's homophobic slur against a co-star on the show 'Grey's Anatomy' got him fired, were just as controversial as Morgan's. More, though, will likely say his remarks were funny because, well, they were.


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    Filed under:

    As if Katt Williams' track record with the law could get any worse, the comedian turned actor has landed himself in hot water once again. Over the weekend the 39-year-old funnyman was reportedly arrested following a run-in with a tractor driver.

    According to TMZ, law enforcement officials stated that a man, who was doing landscaping on the Palmdale, California home where Williams was staying, suffered facial injuries stemming from an attack in which three women approached his tractor and began throwing rocks at him on Saturday afternoon.
    The unidentified man then proceeded to call his wife, who attempted to pick her husband up from the California residence, before Williams pulled up in an SUV which blocked the couples exit. The L.A. County Sheriff's Department arrived on the scene shortly after and arrested the three women for assault with a deadly weapon and Williams with intimidating a witness. His bail was set at $50,000 and he was released later that night.

    Upon his release, the 'Friday After Next' star took to his Twitter account to share his thoughts on people who find themselves caught up in the law. "If you admit to crimes on social networks or post evidence #youdumbashell," he wrote.

    Although Williams may have tried to make light of Saturday's incident, his growing rap sheet is no laughing matter.

    In November 2009, Williams made headlines for an alleged burglary in which he was accused of taking nearly $4,000 worth of jewelry and collectible coins from a suburban Atlanta home. Just a few days after that, a 17-year-old claimed Williams held him and "threatened" to beat him up if he left a Newman, Ga. estate where Williams was staying at the time.

    That same month The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the comedian was kicked out of his rented penthouse suite in Atlanta's Four Seasons hotel, due to employees complaining that he was causing a disturbance among other guests.

    "I haven't been here 72 hours and I'm being kicked out of the Four Seasons even though I paid up front and in cash," he said at the time during a press conference. "I don't understand. I'm at the point now where I'm standing out here with millions of dollars in movies and TV specials sold, and most of them done right here in Atlanta. And to be ceremoniously dismissed at a hotel is sad."


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    From Paper Mag:

    When he's not kicking back with hip-hop royalty, chilling in his Harlem brownstone, having dinner with David LaChapelle or managing one of his numerous side-ventures -- most recently as a curatorial advisor to Jeffrey Deitch on MoCA's monumental "Art in the Streets" exhibition -- Fred "Fab 5 Freddy" Brathwaite can be found painting in a Brooklyn studio he shares with his old running buddy and fellow graffiti artist Lenny McGurr, a/k/a Futura 2000. After putting art on hiatus for a number of years to launch "Yo! MTV Raps," direct videos and maintain his status as playa par excellence, Brathwaite is back with "New York: New Work," a solo exhibition that will be on view at Gallery 151 (350 Bowery) through July 1.

    Read more here.


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    Glancing at the Hollywood landscape today, it might appear that ethnic film festivals like this year's American Black Film Festival are relics from cinema's more segregated past. The four-day event, which celebrates its 15th anniversary when it kicks off on July 6 in Miami, has long been a supporter of African-American filmmaking.

    However, if you consider that at this year's Sundance Film Festival, there were no less than 30 black films and filmmakers showcased in some capacity, then one could argue that black film is making significant inroads beyond predominately black events and/or audiences. For example, the Salim Akil-directed vehicle, 'Jumping The Broom' proved to be the little film that could when it opened nationwide as the week's third top-grossing film, behind 'Fast Five', which also stars, Tyrese Gibson and Dwayne Johnson and 'Thor', starring Idris Elba.

    The independent film, 'I Will Follow,' written, directed and produced by Ava DuVernay (pictured below) and starring Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Omari Hardwick, and Blair Underwood, received critical acclaim while also managing to triple its box office revenue from an initial $50,000 investment. Plus there are vets such as Tyler Perry and Spike Lee, who despite having philosophical differences about movie making, are still regarded as two of Hollywood's most successful directors.

    But Jeff Friday (pictured above), founder of the ABFF and CEO of Film Life Incorporated (the company who owns the ABFF) says accomplishments like these are not as progressive as they appear, deeming such examples "the illusion of inclusion." The phrase sounds slightly Don King-ish, but it's no less true, Friday explains. "There's always going to be one or two independent films," he says, pointing to 'I Will Follow' as an example. "But that film didn't have any mainstream distribution."

    Mention, 'Jumping The Broom,' and Friday is quick to point out such black niche movies are a dying breed. With the exception of Perry, Friday says, black-themed movies are not being made in significant numbers.

    "The industry is going away from making black movies," he explains. "They're making big budget films and yes, they're smart enough to say we have to throw in a black actor, but it's a coded success."

    If this year's ABFF had a theme, Friday says it would be "looking back but moving forward." He recalls that the late 1980s and 1990s was an era when black actors and black crew members were being employed in critical numbers. From that era, Kennan Ivory Wayans will be honored with the Entertainment Icon Award. He produced 'Eddie Murphy: Raw' (1987) and 'I'm Gonna Git You Sucka,' (1988) and executive produced 'In Living Color,' the pioneering sketch comedy show that gave modern-day popular actors like Jennifer Lopez and Jim Carrey their first big break.

    Robert Townsend, the director of 'Eddie Murphy: Raw,' and the cult classic 'The Five Heartbeats,' will open the ABFF with his new film, 'The Discarded Boys.' The film features Loretta Devine and is based on the true story of Vivian Saunders, a woman who started an alternative school in North Carolina for boys who were getting kicked out of traditional schools.

    Other highlights at this year's festival include a screening of comedian Kevin Hart's new stand-up comedy film, 'Laugh At My Pain.' Academy Award-nominated director John Singleton will also be a part of a screening for a 30-minute documentary on the making of his debut film, 'Boyz In The Hood,' which will be celebrating its 20th anniversary. Bill Duke will teach master classes on acting and Townsend will also teach a master class on pitching a film to studios for distribution.

    Friday says, the master classes, the screening of films featuring new talent and paying tribute to black Hollywood trailblazers are the reasons why the ABFF is still necessary. "[Hollywood] isn't going in the right direction," he adds. "The festival has to keep beating the drum, we want to be a platform to show what black artists can do."


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    Filed under:

    steven tyler of aerosmith; run-dmc

    When Run-DMC joined forces with aging rockers Aerosmith on the breakthrough 1986 hit, 'Walk This Way,' the collaboration bridged any cultural gap that had previously existed between hip-hop and rock. The partnership also made it clear when you combine rap with another seemingly divergent genre, the resultant hybrids can actually sound pretty great when done right.

    That's why for this Black Music Month feature, we've chosen a baker's dozen of the most unexpected, and memorable, rap collaborations between rappers and musicians from the pop, rock, R&B, country and jazz worlds.

    13. 'Unity' by Afrika Bambaataa and James Brown.
    When the hip-hop pioneer and the Godfather of Soul combined on this 1984 song, it represented an effective olive branch between Brown and entire rap music community. For years, rap producers had liberally sampled grooves from his funk records (including his soulful grunts). This record was the first effort where Brown actually performed live (and arguably, willingly) with a rapper. The chorus simply states his good intentions: 'Peace, Unity, Love and Having Fun..."

    12. 'Numb/Encore' by Jay-Z and Linkin Park.
    This combined effort between the Brooklyn rapper and the California rockers from the latter's 2004 album 'Collision Course' proved incredibly fruitful. The song, which mashes up Linkin Park's 'Numb' with lyrics from Jay-Z's 'Encore,' won a Grammy for Best Rap Sung Collaboration and received major radio play and stayed on the Billboard charts for nearly half of 2005. Recent proof that rock and rap audiences can bang heads together.

    11. 'Fallin'' by De La Soul and Teenage Fanclub
    . This track is just one of many great rock-rap hybrids on the 'Judgment Night' soundtrack, which also included songs with Cypress Hill and Pearl Jam, Run-DMC and Living Colour and the title track by Onyx and Biohazard. But where those aggro songs featured lots of fierce, crunching guitars, this De La Soul interpretation of Tom Petty's 'Free Fallin' is a mellower meditation on the pitfalls of fame -- a point that the gone-missing Teenage Fanclub can probably appreciate these days.

    11. 'Missing You' by Puffy feat. Faith Evans & Sting. Back when he was known as Puff Daddy, the Bad Boy Records exec recorded this tribute to his dead protege and friend, the Notorious B.I.G. Sampling the melody of the Police's 'Every Breath You Take,' Puff revamps the original song's lyrics to reflect his painful loss. But the unexpected part comes in when Sting actually hits the stage, singing with the choir and widow Faith Evans at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards. The former Police frontman adds a refined gravitas to Puff's heartfelt but awkward performance.

    10. 'Superman' by Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson. That it took so long for country music and hip-hop's consummate weed smoking geniuses to actually reunite on a song together might be a mild surprise to some fans. (Nelson appeared on Snoop's 2008 album 'Ego Trippin'.) But the wait was worth it with this country blues track. Who knew Snoop had such a great singing voice? If he ever gets too old to rap, he could easily transition to country music.

    9 .'Lougin' by Guru feat. Donald Byrd. During the '90s, hip-hop had a love affair with jazz. Groups like Gang Starr, Digable Planets and A Tribe Called Quest regularly sampled old jazz records, creating some of their biggest hits. The late Guru's Jazzmatazz series was the era's best example of how well the two genres sounded together. Here, he enlists the incomparable Donald Byrd to blow trumpet over a smoothed-out hip-hop beat.

    8. 'Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey' by Body Count's Ice-T and Jane's Addiction. This Sly Stone song was meant to push buttons when the funk god released it in the 1970s. But Ice-T, when he took his hiatus from rap to rock-out with his band Body Count, and Perry Ferrell turn the notch up further on their cover version. This performance is from Jane's Addiction's 'Gift,' a semi-autobiographical film about the singer with loads of live concert footage. Chilling.

    7. 'Wicked' by Ice Cube and Red Hot Chili Peppers. After Ice Cube left NWA, he seemed to really hit his stride, releasing some of the hardest-hitting hip-hop ever. This song from his 1992 'Predator' EP touched on the riots in Los Angeles which split the city after the Rodney King beating verdict. He rhymed: "April 29 was power to the people, and we might just see a sequel.' RHCP's Flea and Anthony Keidis romp through the awesomely chaotic-looking video.

    6. 'Friends'
    by Jodi Watley and Eric B & Rakim. It's hard to imagine now but there was a time that hip-hop and R&B were musical adversaries with most rappers of the mind that soul music was just too soft-sounding. But this 1989 track changed all that. Who else could make rap and R&B (a decidedly uptempo quasi-club track at that) sound like they belong together better than Rakim?

    5. 'Mama Said Knock You Out,' by LL Cool J and Pop's Cool Joe.
    The Queens rapper ripped the stage when he performed on this inaugural rap edition of MTV's 'Unplugged' series in 1991. The energy he's able to command as the band rolls through his major comeback tune is amazing. Though he gets teased for using too much deodorant - you can see white globs caked in his pits - LL Cool J will always be remembered for this killer show.

    4. 'Stan' by Eminem and Elton John. The album version of this song features an unlikely sample from pop singer Dido, but Slim Shady enlisted the Piano Man to sing the hook at the 2001 Grammy Awards ceremony. The duet set off a shitstorm of controversy. Gay and lesbian advocacy groups like GLAAD condemned John for doing the performance given Em's sometimes homophobic lyrics. But Sir Elton just shrugged it off, claiming the duet was a bonding moment for he and the rapper.

    2. 'Bring the Noise' by Public Enemy and Anthrax. Just like Run-DMC had done a few years earlier, Public Enemy teamed with a rock act. But not over the hill rockers. They chose speed-metal outfit Anthrax to remake the PE track. The original song was the most in-your-face and discordant hip-hop at the time. When Chuck, Flav joined Anthrax, the collab took the song to another level, making the militant rap group hugely popular amongst white audiences. Far from a sell-out moment, though. PE remained as edgy and as politically progressive for several more years.

    1. 'Walk This Way,' by Run-DMC and Aerosmith. Legend has it that Run-DMC's late DJ Jam Master Jay would cut parts of rock records like Billy Squires' 'Big Beat' and Aerosmith's 'Walk This Way' for Run and DMC to rhyme over even before the collaboration came to fruition. The resulting track is rap's singular breakthrough moment, when it became a legitimate mainstream phenomenon. The song both resurrected Aerosmith's flagging career and made Run-DMC international superstars in one fell swoop.


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    From the New York Times

    At the beginning of the college application season last fall, Natasha Scott, a high school senior of mixed racial heritage in Beltsville, Md., vented about a personal dilemma on College Confidential, the go-to electronic bulletin board for anonymous conversation about admissions.

    Read more here.


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    From the Salon:

    It has been quite a week for Herman Cain, and yet somehow it is still only Monday afternoon. He is still in favor of loyalty tests for hypothetical Muslims serving in his administration, which is sort of constitutionally problematic. Dave Weigel caught him answering a question about how it is being a black Republican.

    Read more here.


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    From the Daily Mail:

    What are we to make of yet another series of damaging headlines for fashion? After the revelation that John Galliano nursed hatred for Jews comes the news that the hairdresser James Brown - an influential figure in fashion given his long collaboration with Kate Moss - used the 'N' word. Both Galliano and Brown have swiftly apologised. Their ignorance could be seen as isolated incidences. But the truth is that behind the headlines there is something much more sinister and, ultimately, more damaging and institutionalised going on in fashion.

    Read more here.


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    Viola Davis

    Actress Viola Davis glowed in a purple jewel toned gown at the 65th Annual Tony Awards on Sunday. Last year the two time Tony Award winner starred in 'Fences' alongside Denzel Washington and at this year's Broadway celebration she was a presenter. Her lovely dress gathered at the midsection and showed off her delightful figure. Davis pulled her look together with black satin pumps, a matching clutch, dangle earrings and a cropped bob.

    viola davis

    Full Length

    viola davis


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    Actor, Gary Dourdan, was arrested after police responded to a report that Gary crashed into two parked vehicles.

    Read the full story:


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  • 06/14/11--09:24: Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom

  • Today marks the 200th birthday of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the abolitionist and author who gave us 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' the profoundly influential anti-slavery opus, and the character Uncle Tom, arguably one the most divisive and misunderstood black characters in American history.
    Stowe's novel, published in 1852, sparked enthusiasm and pride for blacks and those fighting slavery as well as outrage on the part of those, particularly in the slave-holding South, who damned the book as dangerous and subversive. In the North the novel emboldened folks like W.E.B Dubois, who according to historians once lauded Stowe as a champion of the people, saying: "Thus to a frail overburdened Yankee woman with a steadfast moral purpose we Americans, both black and white, owe our gratitude for the freedom and the union that exist today in these United States."

    When the book was first published the slave trade was a thriving industry. But Stowe and her novel, in emotional fashion, convinced many Americans of slavery's evils and the humanity of blacks, then relegated as little more than property at best, animals at worst.

    At the heart of the controversy over the novel is the character Uncle Tom, a slave, who in his original incarnation was as a physically imposing yet mild mannered man that opted for proud accommodation over antagonism for the safety of those he cared about, including other slaves. Uncle Tom's master eventually killed him because he refused to reveal the location of two runaway slaves. An act of heroism?

    But as the novel gained world-wide acclaim and stage plays and theatrical renditions were performed and artists took license over the characters, Uncle Tom began to take the shape of the stereotypical black slave of the day -- lazy, servile and a white man's boot-licker.

    As time went on and black politics shifted more toward the radical, free of white validation, Uncle Tom came to represent those deemed not black enough for the community's own good.

    Thus, today an Uncle Tom is seen as the consummate sell-out, the self-hating black that loves nothing more than the adoration of whites. From a symbol of, dare I say, black empowerment to black impishness, Uncle Tom's journey from dignified black man who refused to betray his race to race-hater has long dominated the discussion around Stowe's novel.

    But this day, Stowe's birthday, offers a great opportunity to reexamine a work that changed American history and ignited the debate over slavery. And the devolution of a character and phrase so reviled in the black community today, but 159 years ago was a radical condemnation of black slavery.


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    President Barack Obama

    From The Huffington Post

    President Barack Obama says his wife and daughters aren't "invested" in him being president and would have been fine had he decided against running for re-election.

    Read the whole story: The Huffington Post

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


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    Stevie Wonder, Apollo, Spring Gala

    Stevie Wonder is 61-years-old, looks to be in good health, and performing as strong as ever. At his most recent show, which took place Monday night at the Apollo Spring Gala in Harlem for his Apollo Legends Hall of Fame Induction, he bursts with as much energy as he did in the clips they showed of him performing when he was 12-years-old and better known as Little Stevie Wonder. His soaring alto was all there, his piano and harmonica playing as sharp as ever, and his song selection was making the woman sitting next to me raise her hand in the praise position every three minutes. Leaving the Apollo, though, there was something slightly sad about all the nostalgia.A look at the songs performed last night and the year of their original release (all songs performed by Wonder except where noted):

    "I Was Made To Love Her" (1967, performed by Raphael Saadiq)
    "Higher Ground" (1973, performed by Melanie Fiona)
    "Knocks Me Off My Feet" (1976, performed by Kim Burrell)
    "I Wish" (1976, performed by Take 6)
    "Love's In Need Of Love Today" (1976, performed by Yolanda Adams)
    "For Once In My Life" (1967, performed by Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder)
    "People" (1964)
    "Fingertips" (Part 1 & 2)" (1963)
    "My Cherie Amour" (1969)
    "Do I Do" (1982)
    "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" (1970)
    "Pastime Paradise" (1976, performed with Chick Corea, Paul Schaffer and Questlove)
    "All I Do" (1980, performed with Doug E. Fresh)
    "Living For The City" (1973)

    The Spring Gala was a tribute to Wonder's entire career, so the set list made sense, but it begged the question: By asking our living legends to perform their "Greatest Hits" collection, as opposed to new material, are we putting them out to pasture too soon?

    There is something noble in not waiting for an artist to pass before paying homage to their work, but something selfish in asking the artist to only perform the songs with which we grew up. This is not to say Wonder's show last night was flawed (it wasn't), it's an observation of how bottom heavy tributes can become, and they need not be, especially for a living legend like Wonder.

    In 2005, Wonder released an album of new material, entitled 'A Time To Love.' On the album was his last single, "From The Bottom Of My Heart" (shown below) which peaked at number 25 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Chart according to The song is classic Wonder: simple but beautiful, proof that unlike some legends still living, Wonder can still craft a hit for a new generation of listeners.

    Last night, Wonder didn't perform "From The Bottom of My Heart." As a matter of fact, he didn't touch one song he made after 1982, and considering the adult audience, it was a wise move. But those who grew up on Stevie shouldn't want to hold him to only the songs they grew up on, they should want him to continue his legacy with not only performances of his old songs, but the release of some new ones.

    Wonder is at the point of his career where he could do no wrong, but not at the point where he could do no more. The question is would an older generation of Wonder fans let that happen?


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