Rapper Nas attends the Producer’s post party during the 2013 NCLR ALMA Awards on September 27, 2013 in Pasadena, Calif.
*Nas is on board as executive producer for the dance documentary “Shake the Dust,” journalist Adam Sjoberg’s new film which sprawls across four countries to chronicle the stories of young hip-hop fans.
Sjoberg discovers that through break dancing, young people are enacting social change around the globe.
Film sales company Continental Media is representing the project overseas and plans to screen a portion of the feature-length documentary at the American Film Market, where it will also shop the project.
Nas will also provide original music for the film.
“What these kids are doing around the world reminds me why I fell in love with hip-hop and how important it is as a creative and constructive outlet,” Nas said in a statement. “After hearing Adam’s vision for this project and hearing the stories, I was incredibly excited to help bring the film to global audiences who need to hear this surprising message of empowerment.”
Director Lee Daniels poses at a photocall for the movie ‘The Butler’ during the 39th Deauville Americain film festival on August 31, 2013 in Deauville, France
*“The Butler” director Lee Daniels is taking his talents to the small screen.
Daniels and “The Butler” writer Danny Strong are teaming with producer Brian Grazer for a hip hop drama that sparked a heated bidding war among the four major broadcast networks before landing at Fox with a put pilot commitment, reports Deadline.com.
Written by Strong and to be directed by Daniels, the untitled project is described as a unique family drama set in the world of a hip hop empire. 20th Century Fox TV and studio-based Imagine TV are producing, with Strong, Daniels, Grazer and Francie Calfo executive producing.
The deal for the TV project comes just as Butler, starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, crossed the $100 million box office mark in North America. It would mark Daniels’ TV debut, while Strong started his writing career in TV with HBO’s “Recount” and “Game Change,” earning Emmy nominations for both and winning for “Game Change.”
Imagine, meanwhile, produces “Parenthood” on NBC and the rebooted “Arrested Development” on Netflix as well as upcoming series “Gang Related” co-staring Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and “Those Who Kill” on A&E.
(L-R) ESPN Journalists Jalen Rose and Stephen A. Smith
*As two of television’s most opinionated sports journalists, ESPN’s Jalen Rose and Stephen A. Smith have never been known to mince words about their field, and they don’t hold back about hip hop either.
“I look at the hip hop industry and for me it’s a double-edged sword,” Smith told BET.com at the Lisa Leslie and American Federation for Children-hosted event to benefit the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. ”On one hand I’m incredibly proud of the hip hop artists that have found a way to make it. It’s legal, it’s legit, it’s something that has been monetized successfully, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry and I love that … The flip side to it is that, first of all, some of the lyrics are beyond misogynistic, homophobic and all of that stuff. That’s a problem.”
Smith said that problem is a lack of self-esteem.
“More important than anything else, there’s a lack of appreciation for their own talent; not understanding that they’re special because other people can’t do what they do.
“… You can’t tell a kid that can’t rap, that can’t ball, ‘You can have tattoos all over your body, on your neck, on your head and go out there and get a 9 to 5 job.’ You can’t do that. You can’t tell them they can run around with gold teeth in their mouth, or their pants hanging below their a– and it’s not gonna be a problem for them … [Because] if they don’t make it, you’ve systemically contributed to the disintegration of our society.”
“There are MCs today that are conscious, that are within their first and second albums,” countered the (Univ of Michigan) Fab Five standout. “I like J. Cole, I like the fact that he’s a lyricist, plus he seems to be socially and politically conscious, and what people underestimate is that he’s a college graduate also.”
He added that context is important in hip hop. For example, Lupe Fiasco‘s recent graduation speech at Chicago University — during which the controversial MC told the class of 2013 to continue educating themselves even though they had just received one of the worst educations on the planet — was ill-timed, he said, but the message was valuable.
“(Lupe) and I are a lot alike in that sometimes we say what everybody else is thinking, but sometimes we say it in the wrong place on the wrong day,” he said. “So for the students that were graduating, it probably was not for them. But for a state, Illinois and, more specifically the city of Chicago — and I played a couple years for the Bulls — that has had hundreds of people murdered so far this year … it’s definitely a message that hopefully young men and young women take heed to.”
Rose hopes his Leadership Academy, a charter school in Detroit, will see at least 90 percent of its first graduating class (2015) go to college.
Civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton has come under fire from Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly for his distribution deal with Cash Money Content, the publishing arm of Cash Money Records, Lil Wayne’s home label.
Lil Wayne has been under fire from some in Black America for lyrics that said he’d “beat the pu**y up like Emmett Till.” All of which resulted in the PepsiCo dropping their support of the artist.
O’Reilly in his daily Talking Points Memo on his show The O’Reilly Factor Thursday said the following:
Right now the unemployment rate among black males age 16 to 19, 57 percent. 57 percent. It’s 25 percent for white males that age. Overall, black unemployment, 14 percent; white unemployment, 6.6 percent. The reason, in many poor neighborhoods there’s chaos, violence and little discipline in the public schools. Kids aren’t learning. Also with the African-American-out-of-wedlock birth rate, at 73 percent. Many young blacks are unsupervised and prone to imitate bad behavior like what Lil Wayne puts out. The parent company of Lil Wayne, Cash Money Content, which markets vile stuff that hurts children, is a partner in distributing Sharpton’s upcoming book. That’s right. Al Sharpton is in business with people who put out entertainment harmful to children.
So let’s begin my talking points memo.
First, it’s not up to white America to tell Black America what to do, who to listen to on the radio, or who to look to as a leader. While it may feel like the their burden, it’s not their job to tell us how we should undo the centuries of damage caused, since bringing the first of us over here on the slave ships from West Africa. If white America feels that strongly about Rev. Sharpton, maybe they should ask themselves why Blacks still need Rev. Sharpton’s in 2013.
Second, Bill omitted the fact that the first people to complain about the lyrics of rappers were Black people, in particular Black women. White people didn’t jump on the bandwagon until Ice-T came out with “Cop Killer” and then folks lost their minds, literally. And to be honest, white people have not had much to say since then on the subject of rap music except for when it can be used to suggest alleged hypocrisy within Black America.
The reality is that white America is not all that worried about Black children and the state of Black families. What’s really bothering white America is their children who are attracted to and caught up in Black culture.
There’s no way that Lil Wayne would ever sell the amount of records and sell out the amount of concerts that he does without the dollars coming from white America. The most recent survey done on whites and hip-hop showed that more than 70% of rap music buyers are white and that number has undoubtedly grown over the years. In 2011, there were 28.25 album sales for the rap genre as a whole. Without the support of the white listeners, rap would not be the billion dollar industry it is today.
So my third point to Bill and those who think like him on this issue is that since white people are the major consumers of hip-hop maybe we need to shift this whole conversation around. Perhaps, it’s Black America who should be asking white America to stop supporting artists like Lil Wayne.
If white America is so concerned about Black unemployment, the Black family, and Black children, it could start with getting out of the way of the policies and funding for programs that make it easier to Blacks to sustain healthy families and lives. This would include supporting universal and affordable healthcare. Stop telling women they can’t have abortions and then snatching the funding for social welfare programs that ensure that those same Black kids eat and have a roof over their head. Forget Sharpton for a moment and stop cutting the afterschool programs that pave the way for many young blacks to be unsupervised as Bill put it. Stand with mothers on the other side of town for better schools for their children, not just yours.
And finally, depending on how you feel about Lil Wayne and music like his, Sharpton putting out a book under the Cash Money label may be a problem for some, but others might look at it as hope and much better material then what they’ve been putting out. Books unlike music require people to read and think and not just sing blindly along.
Who knows, it could be a real turning point for the label and its audience.
About Jasmyne A. Cannick Previously a press secretary in the House of Representatives, Jasmyne A. Cannick is a native of Los Angeles and writes about the intersection of race, class, and politics. She was chosen as one of Essence Magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World and can be found online at jasmyneonline.com. Follow her on Twitter@jasmyneand on Facebook at/jasmyne.
Over a career that spans roughly three decades (yes, he’s that old), LL has managed to conquer just about every mountain in hip-hop, and then some.
Since there is a word limit to this story, it would be imprudent to take inventory of LL’s career. That would require several pages of space, and we keep it brief here at EURweb.
However, it would be criminal not to make note of the Grammy award winning rapper’s longevity and continued success in the genre.
Granted, his latest album “Authentic” was released to little mainstream fanfare and to date has only sold about 26,000 copies.
But do we really need to hop in “Doc” Brown’s DeLorean for a trip down memory lane?
LL Cool J has produced more knockout hits than “Iron Mike” in his prime.
But platinum albums aside, LL simply makes good music, and has for a very, VERY long time.
This qualifies him to judge the new school, and apparently Uncle L aint too impressed.
During a recent interview with The Urban Daily, LL opened up about how fans are reacting to his tour, the mixed reviews he’s getting about his album and how the game has changed since he got his start as a 16-year-old track suit wearing kid from Farmers Blvd.
The Urban Daily: How’s your “King of the Mic” tour featuring Ice Cube, De La Soul, and Public Enemy going?
LL Cool J: It’s going real good. It’s so exciting being back on the road. The response from the people is so crazy. I mean, it’s unbelievable. If you go on my Facebook, you can see the pictures. Like, I got the pictures to document it. I’m not just saying it. It’s unbelievable! It’s crazy!
TUD: What has been the response to your latest album “Authentic”?
LL: The response is mixed. The people who are a little more progressive and into actual art, for real, love it. The people who just want pure street, gutter music, aren’t in love with it. It’s just not on their wavelength. But that’s to be expected. You gotta do what you love to do and you gotta be willing to challenge your audience. I promise you they may not get it now, but some of them three, four, five years from now will get it. I promise you, you’ll hear other rap artists imitating what I did. Maybe they’ll dumb it down or do it in a way that people can relate to and then people will get it. And that’s all the art is for. I’m not making music for a living. I’m making music for the love. So I feel good about it.
TUD: If you weren’t LL Cool J, never became a rapper and were just regular James Todd Smith chilling on the couch, what rappers out now would make you want to be a rapper?
LL: There is not a rapper in this game that would make me want to rap right now. [laughs]
Not because he was a great actor, but because he was a great actor who portrayed a Mafia boss. That’s another heartbreaking reminder of hip hop’s toxic idolization of the streets.
Like his silver screen predecessors in “The Godfather,” “Scarface” and “Goodfellas,” Tony Soprano — the stressed-out criminal Gandolfini brought to life on HBO’s The Sopranos – captivated legions of African-American men and boys whose hip hop culture holds gangsters (both imagined and real) in high esteem.
Putting the actor’s passing into perspective for TheGrio.com, hip hop columnist Cory Townes explained that Gandolfini “was extremely revered in the hip-hop community” because rap artists related to his TV character’s “constant battle of balancing the image of the powerful mob boss…with the quiet family man with a wife and two children.”
Would James Gandolfini have commanded such reverence in hip hop circles if he had become famous portraying a cop, doctor, teacher, a blue collar worker or a devoted family man? Of course not.
And as Gandolfini is laid to rest this week, I worry that a lot of brothers in hip hop are not actually mourning the death of a fine actor and a good man. Instead, their sadness may flow from the perceived loss of an underworld figure whom they had elevated to hero status.
The idolizing of mob bosses, drug dealers, pimps, gangbangers and other criminals within hip hop culture continues to be a tragic trend with lethal consequences for the African-American family. The high rates of homicide and incarceration among young black men testify to the destruction that comes with the celebration of criminal culture.
James Gandolfini was a gifted performer. “The Sopranos” was one of the best dramas ever produced for television. But for the sake of us all, I implore our gifted hip hop brothers to stop emulating Mafia men and their criminal cohorts in real life.
Thanks for listening. I’m Cameron Turner and that’s my two cents.