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

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    ryan leslie


    Now that Ryan Leslie is mostly rapping on his next album, 'Les Is More,' we figured he had to have some old school rap favorites to share. He didn't disappoint either, naming five classic joints that seem perfectly aligned with his smooth, hip-hop soul sensibilities.




    1. 'Smooth Operator' by Big Daddy Kane
    : "I just love that song. That's just the epitome of cool. That's what I wanted to be growing up."





    2. 'Teenage Love' by Slick Rick
    : "I was going through it when he was talking about it."





    3. 'I Need Love' by LL Cool J
    : "Again, I was going through it when he was talking about it."




    4. 'Treat Em Like They Want to Be Treated' by Father MC
    .





    5. 'What's on Your Mind' by Eric B & Rakim
    : "I was gravitating toward those rap records that were spitting that game. When I had coke-bottle glasses, I'd look at these brothers who were so smooth, so slick and they spitting the game," he explained. "[In the same way,] I write my records now so that someone else who may not have the gall could just send it as a message."

     

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  • 06/17/11--11:43: 5 Questions with Ryan Leslie
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    ryan leslie


    Ryan Leslie is a legitimate quadruple threat. He's a singer, producer, entrepreneur and now rapper. On his forthcoming album, 'Les Is More,' and with his media company, Next Selection, he's determined to prove that he can be successful following his artistic impulses and unique business sense.


    In fact, now that Leslie has left the security of his major label (Universal), he says that he's more at ease with what the future holds. As an independent artist, his career is in his own hands more than ever. It's a reality that really came into focus last year when he lost his laptop which housed much of the music he'd been working on. (Luckily, he wound up retrieving the computer.)

    The Grammy nominated artist seems up for the challenge, as he prepares to drop 'Les Is More,' which is tentatively set for release on July 4. As he told us in a recent chat before a Black Music Month Live in-store performance at the Apple store in New York's Chelsea neighborhood, he's just excited about expressing himself.

    Brett Johnson: Have you found it more stressful or more liberating as an independent artist now?
    Ryan Leslie:
    It's inevitably liberating artistically. But it puts a wealth of responsibility on my internal team to make sure all of the internal parts are progressing in harmony, no pun intended. I wouldn't change it for the world currently.

    BJ: Why make the shift from singing to rapping at this point?
    RL:
    It's really a throwback to how I started. If someone is putting an investment in you in terms of what they're creating, they get nervous when you decide you're going to to do something different. I was coming off a Grammy nominated R&B album (2009's 'Transition'). It would almost be crazy to depart from that. That's the beauty of being an artist. You can take crazy risks and do it in the name of art and expression.

    ryan leslie at apple in-store

    BJ: On 'Glory' there's a line that goes: 'Try to put me in a box, the urban dude...' Are you referring to your former label or fans?

    RL: Really I love my fans. They immediately picked up on the line, that's what made them fans. It's more for the folks who didn't want to listen or who didn't want to invest the time. I was in that box in their minds. As a musician and as a person, you want to break down the barriers that people have so that we can all be more free to express ourselves as long as we're expressing ourselves in the name of cultural advancement.

    BJ: What are some other songs fans can look forward to?
    RL:
    'Breathe' is a record which is almost a satirical narrative and description of life on the road. The line is "I can't get too close to groupies/ In the clubs, they pick-pocket you for your room keys/ They show up in your hotel lobby/ Quit playing, girl, you're way too obvious." 'Beautiful Lie,' is like if you know something's not right, it's almost like watching a movie. You suspend your disbelief, just so you can be entertained and in that entertainment you can be happy. You believe in a beautiful lie. There are many undertones of disfunctionality in my relationships or in my life, but sometimes you may look around and say man, 'I'm really living. For this moment, why don't I just believe in this moment so that I can enjoy it to the fullest.'

    BJ: What's Next Selection?
    RL: It's a music driven media company. What we have done is taken the experience with Success stories like Cassie, and my continuing story, and look to create a paradigm where an artist could with as few as 1,000 fans, dedcicated fans, make a living that will support their art. Through Next Selection, we can create elements that can change the minds of artists. We may be able to raise the bar for artistic contributions, cause they're not doing it just for fame and glitz and glory and money, but for sake of art.


     

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  • 06/18/11--04:12: Perspectives on Father's Day

  • For some people Father's Day is a day of celebration or an opportunity to honor the men in their lives. For others it's a time for reflection on what it means to be a dad, the hard work, love and dedication it takes to raise a child. In the black community, with so many of us raised without a father in the home, fatherhood often takes on an even more resonate meaning. We went up to Harlem to talk with men about what it means to be a black father and what impact being in their children's lives can have.



    Check the video below to hear what they had to say.


     

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    In honor of Father's Day we thought it would be fun to check out some celebrity dads along with their "almost famous" children. We've got Donny Hathaway & Lalah Hathaway, Eddie Murphy & Bria Murphy and more.

    If you have a favorite father son-daughter pairing feel free to list them in our comments section.

     

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  • 06/18/11--06:04: Remembrances of My Father

  • From the New York Times:

    Occasionally, without warning, the drunken wreckage of my father would wash up on our doorstep, late at night, stammering, laughing, reeking of booze. Bang! Bang! Bang! Beating on the door, pleading to my mother to open it. "These my boys just like they is yours!"

    Read more here.

     

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    From the New York Times:

    Clarence Clemons, the saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, whose jovial onstage manner, soul-rooted style and brotherly relationship with Mr. Springsteen made him one of rock's most beloved sidemen, died on Saturday at a hospital in Palm Beach, Fla. He was 69. The cause was complications of a stroke he suffered last Sunday at his home in Singer Island, Fla., a spokeswoman for Mr. Springsteen said.

    Read more here.

     

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    From the Gamut News:

    Nearly half of young men of color age 15 to 24 who graduate from high school will end up unemployed, incarcerated or dead. This jarring statistic is just one of many highlighted in two new reports that will be released today by the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center at an event held in collaboration with the Harvard University's W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research in Cambridge, Mass.. The reports, The Educational Experience of Young Men of Color: A Review of Research, Pathways and Progress and Capturing the Student Voice, are especially relevant given the need for these young men to attain postsecondary degrees if the nation's economy is to thrive and compete globally.

    Read more here.

     

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    From Intersections South LA:

    On a recent Los Angeles talk radio show Louisiana state legislator John LaBruzzo lamented the "massacre" of millions of "baby women" by abortion. In this fascist's warped mind abortion infringes on the civil rights of fetuses. LaBruzzo is the author of a bill that would abolish abortion on the grounds that denying fetuses civil rights is akin to the violent denial of black civil rights under slavery. According to male anti-abortion fascists like LaBruzzo, poor single women get abortions because they are forced to by predatory deadbeat dad boyfriends in training or by fathers who have committed incest. Hence, overturning Roe vs. Wade is consistent with gender equity and social justice.

    Read more here.

     

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    From the Telegraph:

    The incident is proving an embarrassment for the Republican Party, which faces an uphill battle to attract minority voters in the 2012 election. The nearly all-white audience at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans laughed raucously when Reggie Brown, a regular Obama impersonator, said that while first lady Michelle Obama celebrated all of the annual Black History Month, Mr Obama, whose father was black and mother was white, celebrated only half.
    Read more here.

     

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    From HamptonRoads:

    Bad report from the doctor // And my bills aren't paid on time // All these things come rushin' at me // But I ain't got time to whine // Lord I need your mighty wisdom // 'cause my situation is unclear // Don't know where to turn // God's word came to my ear // I say speak to that mountain of cancer // And cast down that spirit of fear // Pack your bags, you silly demon // I say you're not welcome here. Lynne Young wrote those lyrics when her situation was cancer. But the Chesapeake woman hopes her song will inspire others to persevere through their hardships, whether they are related to health, family, finances or what she calls "the other speed bumps of life." Young, named Survivor of the Year by the Tidewater affiliate of the Susan B. Komen Foundation, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. That is only part of her story.

    Read more here.

     

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    ime udoka ; nia long

    Last week photos surfaced of Nia Long's baby belly, and it has now been revealed that basketball player Ime Udoka is the father to the actress's second child.

    The two appear to be an item and Long, 40, told People how happy she and Udoka, 33, are to have a child together. "This is the most exciting time in our lives," Long told the magazine. "Words can't explain how thrilled we are by the new addition to our family. We feel truly blessed and appreciate all the well wishes and prayers."

    Udoka has played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trailblazers, Sacramento Kings and most recently the San Antonio Spurs. The baby will be his first and is due this fall.

     

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    From the Associated Press:

    Helicopter flights over Neverland Ranch in California are being booked for the second anniversary of Michael Jackson's death. The singer was 50 when he died on June 25, 2009. He owned the Neverland Ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley for years.

    Read more here.

     

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    From Mediabistro:

    Hip-hop artist Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson will write a semi-autobiographical novel called Playground. The young-adult book stars "a thirteen-year-old schoolyard bully who finds redemption as he faces what he's done."


    Read the whole story: Mediabistro

     

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    Van JonesFrom The Huffington Post:

    As he was being badgered by Glenn Beck over his past political associations, former White House adviser Van Jones remained a relatively silent figure, choosing minimal push back against the charges and ultimately resigning.

    Even in his post administration career, the former "green jobs" czar, accused of being a subversive communist and 9/11 conspiracy theorist, has preferred cordiality to indignation. His first public speech was noteworthy for the fact that he referred to Beck as his "fellow countryman."


    Looks like he was finally pushed too far.

    Read the full story at: The Huffington Post



     

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    From the New York Times:

    The Supreme Court on Monday threw out the largest employment discrimination case in the nation's history. The suit, against Wal-Mart Stores, had sought to consolidate the claims of as many as 1.5 million women on the theory that the company had discriminated against them in pay and promotion decisions. The lawsuit sought back pay that could have amounted to billions of dollars. But the Supreme Court, in a decision that was unanimous on this point, said the plaintiffs' lawyers had improperly sued under a part of the class action rules that was not primarily concerned with monetary claims.

    Read more here.

     

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    Hundreds of years before the main character in Sam Greenlee's seminal black-radical tome 'The Spook Who Sat By The Door' used what he learned as a CIA agent to undermine the US government, African-American slaves and freedmen spied on the South during the Civil War to undermine the Confederacy.


    They played the role of the illiterate, shuffling and bumbling Negro, often pretending to be completely ignorant of the war raging around them, all the while parsing through important documents left un-minded or eavesdropping on talk of weapons procurement, troop location and movements.

    "The chief source of information to the enemy is through our Negroes," said Gen. Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Army in May 1863, according to a story on NPR.com this morning.

    The story recounts tales of these unsung Civil War heroes, some of whom were operatives sent by the Union Army, who risked life and limb to play, and play masterfully, a "high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse with Confederate spy-catchers and slave masters who could kill them on the spot," according to the article.

    There was John Scobell, who worked as a deckhand on a rebel sympathizer's steamboat, who kept his eyes and ears open as the rebels moved troops and supplies up and down river. They thought nothing of talking openly about their plans and strategy in front of Scobell, who they thought of as nothing more than a slave. But in fact he was a spy sent by the Union Army.

    Then there's Mary Elizabeth Bowser, a former slave in Virginia who was freed and sent to school. When she returned to Richmond, Elizabeth Van Lew, a member of the family that once owned her, was running a sophisticated spy ring. Van Lew then got Bowser a housekeeper job in the Confederate White House. While working there she managed to steal top-secret information, all as Confederate President Jefferson Davis slept and worked right under the very same roof.

    And of course there is the godmother of all black super-spies, Harriet Tubman. Tubman's clandestine missions deep into the South are the stuff of legend. Not only was Tubman smuggling slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad, she was gathering intelligence for the Union.

    These black spies are even lauded by today's CIA. According to the CIA website:

    Union officers got so many valuable pieces of intelligence from slaves that the reports were put in a special category: "Black Dispatches." Runaway slaves, many of them conscripted to work on Confederate fortifications, gave the Union Army a continually flowing stream of intelligence.

    At the onset of the Civil War, Allan Pinkerton was head of the Union Intelligence Service. He actively recruited black spies and detailed as much in his autobiography. In it he described a number of successful missions, a couple by John Scobell. He described the spy as a "cool-headed, vigilant detective" who skillfully and easily tricked those around him by taking on "the character of the light-hearted, happy darkey."

    According to the author of the NPR story, there are scant references to the contributions of these spies in historical records, mainly because Union spymasters destroyed documents to shield them from Confederate soldiers and sympathizers during the war and vengeful whites afterward.

    "These kinds of spies and operatives come up over and over again many of them unnamed and rarely do they receive glory," Hari Jones, curator of the African American Civil War Museum in Washington, told NPR.

     

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    From The Loop21


    Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain has announced that he doesn't appreciate the idea of being labeled an "African American." During an interview with Bloomberg, Cain said that he prefers to be called an "American," stating that the word "African" on the front of his racial identity limits him and inaccurately describes who he is. Perhaps Mr. Cain can explain to us why there is something wrong with being connected with Africans, even when your ancestors are....well...African.

    Get the Full Story at The Loop21

    Do you agree with Herman Cain? Is the "African" in African American too limiting and inaccurate?

     

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    The Burberry Prorsum 2012 Resort Collection is rich with African influences and each advertised look features an item that incorporates an element of traditionally worn African attire. But something is off about the collection. Although the fashion house recruited black British model Jordan Dunn to pose for the Fall/Winter 2012 advertising campaign, if you watch the recent menswear Spring/Summer 2012 runway show, you'll be hard-pressed to find any black models.

    The collection uses ankara fabric used in traditional African clothing on several items including trench coats, shoes, dresses, high waisted skirts and men's shirts and pants. But it's not the first.

    Burberry Prorsum 2012Style.com

    In the last few years designers like John Galiano and Gwen Stefani for L.A.MB. (see images below) have incorporated elements of African style and dress into their collections.


    fashion modelmodels

    And as nice as it is to see designers flex their creative muscles and honor the beauty of different cultures, it would be even nicer if their African inspired clothes were showcased by African or African American models. Not as an act of tokenism, but perhaps to show some appreciation for the people who actually wear these prints on a daily basis as part of their cultural ethos.

     

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  • 06/20/11--10:49: Salt N Pepa
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    salt n pepa


    As the biggest selling female rap group, Salt 'N Pepa crashed hip-hop's male dominated ranks with a combination of sass and sultry sophistication. However, the trio of Cheryl 'Salt' James, Sandy 'Pepa' Denton and Dee Dee 'DJ Spinderella' Roper didn't just depend on good looks to make an impact. With songs about female empowerment and safe sex, the group proved that ladies in hip-hop could be smart and sexy at the same time.

    Natives of Queens, N.Y., James and Denton worked as customer service reps at Sears while taking classes as students at Queens Community College in the mid-1980s. At Sears, they met co-worker Hurby 'Luv Bug' Azor, a student at New York's Center for Media Arts who needed to fulfill a class assignment.

    Azor, who would eventually become James' boyfriend and the group's producer, had an idea for the ladies to record an 'answer' record to Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew's popular song 'The Show.' He named the group Supernature and James and Denton recorded 'The Showstopper,' which blossomed into an indie hit, selling more than 250,000 copies.

    Soon after, the group changed its name to Salt N Pepa. James and Denton quit school and Sears to work on music full time as artists on Next Plateau Records, and Roper joined the group too.

    Their 1988 debut album, 'Hot, Cool, & Vicious,' eventually went platinum, largely on the strength of the irresistibly sexy party-starter 'Push It.' The track, with its breathy, whispered chorus and uptempo synth-driven track, was recorded as an 11th-hour addition. It was set to be the b-side to the single 'Tramps.' But when Cameron Paul, a California DJ, remixed it and sent it to Next Plateau execs, they released it with an accompanying concert video. The record took off.

    Subsequent albums -- 'A Salt With a Deadly Pepa,' 'Blacks' Magic,' and 'Very Necessary' -- had their share of memorable hits such as 'Let's Talk About Sex,' 'Shoop' and 'Whatta Man' with En Vogue.

    Their fifth album 'Brand New' dropped in 1997 but failed to take the group back to its hit-making heights. By 2002, the group disbanded. In recent years, James and Denton have starred in a few reality shows on VH1 including last year's highly rated dating show, 'Let's Talk About Pep.'

    Now, Salt N Pepa often perform their old hits on various hip-hop legends tours.

    Influenced...Contemporaries Roxanne Shante and MC Lyte, Yo-Yo, Li'l Kim, Nikki Minaj and Trina.





    'Push It'





    'Whatta Man'

     

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    From The Huffington Post:

    NEWARK, N.J. -- J. Wesley Tann spent much of his life traveling the world, gallivanting among the most fashionable sets and cavorting with the elite. He was one of the first black fashion designers to open a shop on New York City's Fashion Avenue, and he designed clothing for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Leontyne Price, the famed black opera singer.

    But on a misty Saturday afternoon recently, Tann, 83, was deep in the belly of the Boyland Recreation Center in Newark's tough West Ward teaching the finer points of dining and social etiquette to the children of this hardscrabble city.

    "Good living is easy," Tann proclaimed. "All it takes is practice."

    Tann's students were mothers, fathers and children all taking part in a city-sponsored program that Mayor Corey A. Booker hopes will take politeness and manners from "abstract concepts" to daily essentials. The city hopes that by improving the niceties shared among Newark's residents the quality of their lives and their futures will be markedly improved -- one fine meal and one properly executed place setting at a time.

    "I just feel that black and Hispanic children need to have an even playing field when it comes to the social kinds of programming that they get," said Catherine J. Lenix-Hooker, manager of the city's department of recreation and cultural affairs, "so that they are able to have the kinds of social skills that make them very productive and at ease in different kinds of social situations."

    Youth from Newark often bear the heavy burden of being poor or working class, she said, or the bad reputation that can hang over even this city's most promising young people. Thus the importance of "learning the language of the silver."

    "Our youth need to know how to conduct themselves in a public setting -- some of the dos and don'ts," Lenix-Hooker said. "If everything else is equal, it will help them break through these barriers."

    To read more click here.

     

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