Sunday, August 30, 2015

Who Are The Rap Icons In Macklemore’s VMA Performance?

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis brought “Downtown” to downtown L.A. at the 2015 VMAs, but they didn’t come alone. Aside from singer Eric Nally, the Seattle duo were also accompanied by super influential rap vets Grandmaster Caz, Melle Mel and Kool Moe Dee.
 The three MCs have been inspiring rappers like Jay Z and Nas for decades but we can’t blame those who aren’t familiar with them. After all, these legends made their names in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s — long before many of us were born. So, we put together a little rundown of who these pioneers are and why you should get familiar.



Saturday, August 22, 2015



Getting Eliminated Doesn’t Faze Her Confidence

By Belinda Trotter-James

America’s Next Top Model cycle 22 has begun picking off the contestants one by one who want the title of Top Model.  Delanie Dischert is the first contestant to be eliminated from the competition.  At the age of 21 this 5’10 ½” beauty comes from Wilmington, DE.  She reveals to me in this exclusive interview the ups and downs of being on a reality modeling competition.

Delanie is not the only one to dream of being on America’s Next Top Model.  When that day comes, you may think you’re still dreaming.  “When they call you from your hometown stating you are coming to LA, it is unbelievable and you feel it’s not really happening”, says Delanie.   “There is no way this is real.  This has literally been a dream of mine since I can remember.  It’s definitely surreal.”

Before Delanie’s journey on America’s Next Top Model began she had been a working model.  “I had been modeling in Philly just doing some commercial work just to save up money as a student to help me pay for my books, my living expenses and everything else,” explains Delanie.  “I really was just doing it as a job and I ended up completely falling in love with it.  I had been singing before that in an art school and I missed the creative energy that I was always surrounded by.  So getting into modeling was like reliving that feeling.”

Most contestants will watch the show and think it’s easy however; their delusional expectations are squashed from day one.  In the 22 cycles of America’s Next Top Model there may have been 1 or 2 who voluntarily left the show.  This cycle was no exception.  A contestant was overwhelmed to the point that she no longer felt confident enough to finish the competition. Delanie explains that the emotional roller coaster of the competition can be a little challenging and describes her feelings going through the elimination process.

“When you get to panel, you really don’t know what to expect,” explains Delanie.  “A lot of things happen on set that they can’t show.  It ended up being really tough because I was partnered up with Nile, who is deaf.  The other couples were able to communicate on set, but we couldn’t do that so it was just us going off of each other’s movements and energy.  I thought that we would get a good picture out of it anyway because our looks complimented each other.  Once I got to panel and saw my picture, I compared it in my head to everyone else’s and I really did have a feeling that I was going to be the one eliminated.  It’s a bittersweet feeling because I really love my 13 other new friends.  I felt that I could handle going home first because I am strong and I’m easy with that kind of stuff.  Tyra’s critiques along with everyone else’s’ was sweet so I really couldn’t be mad at her.  Obviously it was hard not to cry because I’m going to miss everyone.  I just got here.”

It was amazing to hear some of the contestants say they don’t know what to do because they have never modeled before.  Since Delanie does have some modeling experience, one may wonder if it is hard to implement what you know about modeling or would you still feel like a fish out of water?

Delanie replies, “I had a lot less modeling experience than the other contestants, but it didn’t make me less confident.  I thought I had the ability to get a better photo than anybody because, yes, I watched the show, yes, I know they put you in uncomfortable situations to see if you can still shine through it and yes, I know they really were testing me that day.  There are just so many things you can’t see when you’re watching the show.  It really was making me into a stronger model.  It didn’t really faze me.  In the moment I seemed a little frustrated, but I think it was a lot of fun.  I also never modeled with a partner.  I think that was tough to not only worry about how I look, but worry about if he’s looking good at the same time I’m looking good so that we get a collaboration of a great photo and not just look at it individually like he had a strong photo here and I had a strong photo there.  We had to become one.”

Now that Delanie has been eliminated it is up to her to continue her quest to pursue modeling as a career on her own.  “I am looking for a bicoastal talent agency because I not only want to model, but I also want to act and sing because it is still my passion,” reveals Delanie.  “I have a few agencies in New York and Philly that I’m working with.  I am just improving every time I shoot and every time I’m on the runway I’m gaining confidence plus working with personal trainers and just working on myself in every single aspect to see my full potential.  There’s a lot more I can do.  Even if modeling doesn’t work out, I still have my singing and acting skills.  I want to be on TV and I want to be seen and just use my talents to my best ability.”

The odds of being successful in the entertainment industry do increase when you have a few creative skills.  “It definitely helps when you’re on set to feel comfortable when you’re in an awkward situation or acting out a scenario.  Modeling and acting definitely go hand in hand when it comes to invoking emotions,” says Delanie.

Her advice to the youth of today who are pursuing a career in modeling or any career is to never, ever, never, never give up…  “The biggest thing I would say is to just go after it.  Don’t ever give up on going after it because there are actors who we think are these huge stars who have been grinding and grinding since they were 17”, begins Delanie.  “They were grinding and grinding and trying to get parts in movies and then they became successful in their 40’s.  You just never know when someone is going to see you or want you.  Just be confident and work on yourself and never stop working on yourself.  The road to success does not allow you to rest on your laurels because there is always going to be someone who will be hungrier than you or doing more than you.  It’s all about staying with it and not getting discouraged.”

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Exclusive Interview with Music Producer James Worthy

He is a rising star in the music industry, working with talent like Truth Hurts, Sara Stokes of Puff Daddy's "Making the Band", and a host of others. James Worthy is worthy of his new found success and we are excited about the bright future that lies ahead of him. 
by Lenell King

Lenell:  Where are you originally from, and how did you get started in the music industry?
James: I'm originally from New York and I’ve been in Atlanta now for some years. I got started pretty young at about 15 or 16.  At that time, I really got into making my own music. Being from NY, there is a lot of inspiration that you can pull from. There are so many genres to get motivation from out there. It was natural for me to gravitate to that kind of field. My whole thing was really honing in on production and musicianship more than the actual song. I stuck with it.

 Lenell:  So do you actually play an instrument? Oftentimes when you hear about a producer these days, you think of the beat machines, fruity loops, and so forth.

James: Yes, I do play keys and I play other instruments by ear. I've learned throughout the years how to play different things to get the rhythm of how to make records. With any instrument you play you have to have that rhythm. The whole thing with producing is that you actually have to know how to produce. That term producer gets thrown around to loosely. A producer is more than making beats, you are putting together a full product for a commercial release.
 Lenell:  How did you initially get discovered, and signed to Roc Nation?

James: It's hard to pinpoint how I actually got discovered, it was more so my fans honing in on my craft and really listening to the music that I produced throughout the years. This is where I truly believe that I got discovered. As far as roc nation, my relationship with them is more so an affiliation but I do have a publishing deal with them. 

 Lenell: You are working with some established artists right now like Sara Stokes of "Making the Band" and Truth Hurts. When you are working with talent like that whom have been in the game for some time, do you oftentimes find yourself faced with an ego, or is it a mutual respect where they trust your judgement as the producer?

James: Pretty much all of my clients, and all of the artists that I have worked with we all have great relationships. We all get along, we are all on the same page. We all have different visions of what we are trying to bring to the public. There will always be different vibes and inspirations when we are creating records. I am just blessed and fortunate enough to work with artists like that.  You don’t really see too many artists who have made a strong impact come back strong. I am just happy to see that.
Lenell: How do you prepare for a studio session? Do you normally have an idea in mind before you go to the studio, or do you guys just build from scratch?
James: It really depends on what we are trying to do.  Sometimes I may already have a song done, produced, and written. Or we may start something from scratch going into the studio where we have a writing session or listening session where we put things together. It kind of depends on where we are at and what kind of record we are trying to do. That's how some records come about organically.

 Lenell: Whom are some of your influences either from the artists' standpoint or the producer?
James: Growing up I was a really big fan of a Tribe Called Quest. I thought that Q tip was the man. He was one of my favorite producers at the time. He still is. He is probably the "Sample King". I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from guys like him, Timbaland, Pharell, etc. Guys that have just innovated the culture so many times. Right now I like artists like Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West.

 Lenell: What are some of your current projects that you are working on?
James: Sara Stokes from "Making the Band" and I have a single out called "Sneak Peak".

Lenell: It's hot.
James: Thank you. It is doing well and growing. It is currently on ITunes, so go grab that. Truth Hurts and I have a single being released this month called "Fight for Love." It is more of a pop/edm record that will be released overseas. I am working with Arrested Development, the group as well as a solo project with Eshe, a former arrested development member. I'm also working on a project with Men at Large the group, as well as a solo project with Dave Tolliver of Men at Large. I'm also working with J Holiday.  There are a lot of projects that I'm involved with. There are many that I can't even name yet. 

Lenell:  Tell me about this aspiring model career that you are working on.
James: My mom always told me to make whatever you have work for you. I’m blessed to have the looks to do it. Modeling is more of an expression. I’m a fan of great photos .It’s just another expression for me to be creative. It's something that I like to do and it is something that I'm going to get more into. I really enjoy doing it.

Lenell: So if you get a big modeling contract, you're not going to give up music right? You’re going to be a jack of all trades (laughing)
James: Definitely, music is the first love. You never can get rid of that.

 Lenell: What advice would you give an up and coming producer? 
 James: I would tell any and everybody that wants to be in this business period to never sell your integrity to do what you want to do. I say that because there are so many people out here that get so lost in what they think is quality. When you do that you are not setting your own path to do anything innovative 3 to 5 to 10 years from now. That’s what I strive to do innovate and inspire people around the world. That’s just more of having your legacy sustained. When you're done you will know you have something to leave behind and people will remember you for contributing to the culture.

 Lenell: You know those are standards that anyone should and could live by.   Well said.  How can your current fans and new fans can reach you?

James; Thanks again.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sandra Bland's Family Files Federal Lawsuit

The family of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman found dead in a Texas jail cell after a controversial arrest, announced the filing of a federal lawsuit against officials in Houston on Tuesday.
"We are looking for the individuals involved in this situation to take accountability," Cannon Lambert, the Bland family attorney, told reporters at a press conference in Chicago.
Lambert said the lawsuit has been filed against state trooper Brian Encinia and all officials involved in the arrest and incarceration of Bland.
The action, Lambert said, was prompted by "inconsistencies" in the investigation into Bland's death and the unwillingness of authorities in Waller County, Texas, to share information with the Bland family.
"[We have been] unable to get many of the answers we have been asking for," the attorney said. "This family needs an answer to the principle question: What happened to Sandra Bland?"
Encinia pulled Bland over in Waller County on July 10, after she failed to signal for a lane change. The encounter quickly became contentious, and Bland was arrested on a charge of assault on a public servant. She was ultimately jailed in lieu of a $5,000 bond.

Chicago police detained thousands of black Americans at interrogation facility

The Chicago police department has maintained – even as the Guardian reported stories of people being shackled and held for hours or even days, all without legal access – that the warehouse is not a secret facility so much as an undercover police base operating in plain sight. “There are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is no different at Homan Square,” the police asserted ina March statement.
But an independent Guardian analysis of arrestees’ records, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, shows that Homan Square is far from normal:

Ice-T, Coco and the enduring weirdness of daytime television

There are some pretty amazing oddities out there if you turn on the television at noon on a weekday. As of Monday, that included a puppy fashion show on the debut episode of “Ice and Coco,” a new syndicated daytime talk show starring actor/rapper Ice-T and his wife, model Coco Austin.
Daytime television is a tough business: You have to be empathetic and relatable, but also famous enough that people tune in. You must mix breezy monologues and goofy games with human-interest stories and emotional interviews. Oprah Winfrey proved that if you find the right balance, you can turn it into a billion-dollar empire. Ever since she signed off her talk show in May 2011, TV has been trying to find her replacement … with little success.
The road is littered with failed attempts: Katie Couric, Queen Latifah, Anderson Cooper, Jeff Probst, Ricki Lake, Bethenny Frankel, Kris Jenner. So now, Fox Television Stations and Warner Bros. are trying a new twist this summer, launching two shows starring married couples, hoping that doubling up on hosts will encourage viewers to tune in. Actor Boris Kodjoe and actress Nicole Ari Parker debuted “Boris and Nicole” in July for a four-week preview. On Monday, Ice-T and Coco kicked off their three-week test run in hopes of a full-season pick-up.
The competition is brutal, so Ice-T, 57, and Coco, 36, had to be as memorable as possible. Did they accomplish that on their first day? Probably not, save the fact that they literally used it as a platform to announce that Coco is pregnant — to the surprise of some of their closest friends who were in the audience. Either way, the premiere certainly had its weird (and fairly entertaining) moments, which is really all you can ask for on daytime TV, when ratings and expectations are generally pretty low.