Eve Criticizing Nicki Minaj’s ‘Paper’ Cover Is Like the Pot Calling The Kettle Black

nicki-minaj-paper-magazineOn Tues. Nov. 14th,  it was announced that the original pitbull in a skirt — Eve — would be permanently replacing Aisha Tyler as the new co-host to CBS’s The Talk (which rips off The View if you ask me) and a day into her new gig, she is throwing the shade.

For the past 48 hours, rapper Nicki Minaj’s sexually provocative image on the cover of Paper Magazine with three versions of herself has been taking social media and Hollywood by storm — #BreakTheInternet. It was also the topic of conversation on The Talk this past Wednesday with Minaj’s female MC predecessor Eve having this to say:

“I worked with Nicki, I got to know her on ‘Barbershop’… she’s a nice person, she’s an amazing rapper, and as a lyricist I respect her… but as a woman, from my point of view, personally, I would not be able to do that,”. “I think in this climate, it’s not good. I think every artist has a right to express themselves however they want to express themselves and I respect that as well. For me personally, as I started coming up in the business, I started realizing that young girls were looking up to me and younger people were looking up to me, and that, not that you want to be a role model, but it becomes what you become, it is what you are.”

“As I’ve gotten older … I’d just rather be a voice that’s uplifting… I can be a voice for those girls that might not have a voice, in a different way without showing myself off … For the Nicki fans, I love her, respect her. Go women in hip hop. It’s not my thing. I just don’t think it’s right. Personally. Period. That’s it.”

My initial thought when I viewed the clip on The Shade Room was two important things: people like Eve forget who they were back in the day and why in the hell are celebrities (male or female) expected to be role models to young children?

In the years following her peak of her career in the early 2000s, Eve has done some growing up. She completed alcohol-education classes after her DUI arrest, married a British businessman and becoming a step-mother to his four kids, started her own label and became a mentor for young aspiring female MCs.

However, in the case Eve is being a hypocrite for coming at Nicki Minaj for her decision to be sexual in her image. Homegirl literally spoke candidly about being a stripper pre-fame. GET THEM COINS There are even pics from those stripper days available for online viewing. That is not the only sexually explicit photo of the 39-year old online. A sex tape surfaced in the early 2000s of Eve and her then-boyfriend Steve J (who is now on Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta); the video shows J shoving a dildo into Eve’s pussy.

I am sure Eve probably comes off as role model-ish to the younger kids today (I do not know how as it has been years since her last hit), but the GAG she is not. If Nicki Minaj wants to be raunchy that her prerogative, but it comes off ironic when Miss Let Me Blow Your Mind had sexually-explicit tendencies as well. Nicki is comfortable with her sexuality as every adult human being should. Moreover, maybe Minaj will tone down and be more conservative as an artist when she is 60-something — only God knows the future — but even if she did that is her choice.

The second conversation that needs debunking is the popular notion celebrities a la Nicki Minaj and most-recently Cardi B needs to tone-down, and they act and present themselves as they have the young following — particularly of girls.

Nicki Minaj and Cardi B are not Disney Princesses or Nickelodeon stars to be looked up too. Minaj is damn near 35 years old line while Cardi celebrated her 25th birthday this past October. From day one, these two gave it the public raw and unfiltered, whether it was with their lyrics or when they spoke to the public especially with the latter.

These two even spoke candidly to the media about how role model they are not.

In an interview on ABC’s Nightline in 2012, Minaj said: “I don’t want to offend moms or children, like when they come and pay their spend money to see a show…but I didn’t come in the game to be an artist that appealed to kids either.”

Cardi posted a 60-second clip on Instagram of her clapping back to those who believe she is a bad influence on children saying:

“I’m not gonna change myself, I’m not gonna change the way I act because you expect me to be a good example to your fucking kids bitch! Why don’t you be your own kids fucking role model? Like what the fuck, why do you expect public figures to be role model for your fucking kids?”

She later talked about how growing up she wanted to be like her mom. The video came out in 2016. Fast forward to November 1st, Cardi B — now riding high off the success of “Bodak Yellow” apparently has a change of heart promising she will be a ‘better example’ to young girls saying “I’m gonna change for you, little girls, because I deadass love ya.” I think that Cardi’s transition into being recognized by mainstream America is beginning to pressure her into watering down who is truly is.

Point in the matter is, celebrities are NOT here to raise y’all children. They are here to entertain and make a profit from it. It is the responsibility of the mother, father or legal guardian to be the role model or positive influence on their child. It is particularly not right for parents to let their child idolize celebrities whose persona is ADULTS-only until they are older and mature enough to understand what the context of Nicki and Cardi’s lyrics.

On the other hand, I think there are some aspects about a Nicki or Cardi that kids can admire. Nicki Minaj and Cardi B both grew up in poor neighborhoods of New York City with their own shares of family issues — Cardi being kicked out at 18 while Minaj dealt with a once-drug addicted father. They both were told by their peers that they’ll never succeed. But the GAG is they did overcome their struggle and became successful both professionally and financially. I also believe that the omnipresence of Cardi and Nicki can be the antidote for the young girls who are doubtful on if they’ll succeed in Hollywood because they are brown-skinned. Now those are aspects of a celebrity or public figure, which children can idolize.

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTA, YOU DO BETTA.

#BlackExcellence of the week: A Morehouse College Student Turns Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO TOUR Llif3” Into A Biology Lesson Called “XY Cell Llif3”

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Pictured: 19-year old Julien Turner of Morehouse College / Credit: Instagram (@k1ngju)

This story goes to show how creative plus extra credit can go a long way.

Morehouse student Julien Turner is enrolled in a Biology course for non-majors and decided to remix emo hip-hop artist Lil’ Uzi Vert’s 2017 hit “XO Tour Lif3” for his extra-credit assignment. The video currently has 684,913 views & 26k likes on YouTube to date while garnering 150,000 retweets on Twitter.

While the Uzi’s song talks about substance abuse, betrayal, and suicide, Turner turns the verse and hook of the track into a lesson about cellular biology. The video was filmed on Morehouse’s campus.

Turner, a business administration major and linebacker on the college’s football team, told ABC’s Good Morning America that the idea came to him as he was sitting in bed after a game one night.

“[I] was listening to ‘XO Tour Llif3’ and I remembered [the professor] had assigned an extra credit assignment where I could make a music video out of anything, and ‘all my cells are dead’ just kept repeating in my head, “I scrambled to check my notes to make sure it had something to do with biology and I started writing lyrics that were parallel to the song so I could remember it better. I called up a few teammates and we made the video, and it just blew up from there.”

 

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An animated snapshot of Lil Uzi Vert

 

His professor Dr. Dwann Davenport said Turner earned the extra credit with the creative music video.

“I actually heard about it before I even checked my email to see that he’d turned it in,” Davenportd said. “I see the text message with the link and I clicked on it and I was like, ‘Oh this is catchy. This is nice.’ I saw all the likes and all the retweets and I was like, ‘Wait, this is my student. Wait a minute, this is Julien. Oh my goodness.’ I was so excited, but I didn’t expect anything like this.”

But the gag is……Turner was already “an excellent student doing well in the class, minus the extra credit.”, said Davenport. And Turner “never turn[s] down extra credit.”

“He’s an athlete, he’s on the football team. He’s amazing,” she said.

Several years ago, Turner and his 15-yr. Old brother Justin own a production company titled Dreadhead Films, LLC, “with a mission to create stories that entertain, inspire, and uplift.

Turner isn’t the only one in his family that is music-centric. His father Kevin Turner is a jazz guitarist and music professor at Ohio State University.

Sources: Genius, ABC.com, Business Insider, Ohio State

#BlackExcellence of the Week: Brown-Boys Lemonade creators Anthony and Ja’Den Anderson 🍋

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Beyoncé made a whole visual album about it. Moreover, these two Atlanta-based youngsters are creating a booming business of it. Literally!!

10-Year-Old Anthony Anderson and 6-year old Ja’Den Anderson, are the creators of Brown Boys Lemonade. Both boys told Atlanta’s Morning Rush them that they, “strive to produce the best lemonade in the world,” with the goal of motivating other “Brown Boys” to pursue their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs and financially literate.

Anthony asked his mom to buy him a video game that cost $100 for the summer. She told him, she would do so only if he could raise half the money himself. The boys then decided to put a lemonade stand. Two weeks later they had earned $200 and decided to turn it into an actual business, and Brown Boys Lemonade was born. They began bottling their beverages for placement in various stores.

Anthony and Ja’Den hope to create a network of business owners under the age of 18 who will “shift the future of our Black and Brown communities into more property ownership, stronger family foundations, and a solid presence in society.”

Perhaps, I should FaceTime my 9-year old nephew and tell him that he needs to start to create his own business so he will be ahead of the curve in life.

Sources: http://www.11alive.com/article/news/local/brown-boys-lemonade-encourages-diversity-and-following-your-dreams/483667027 | http://www.bckonline.com/2017/10/24/two-brothers-create-brown-boys-lemonade-as-they-follow-their-dreams/

#BlackExcellence of the Week: The Black Panther Movie

black-panther-cast-sdcc-1500933399-640x463Four words: It’s about damn time.

Yesterday, Marvel Studios released the official trailer for the new Black Panthers film (not to be confused with the political movement of the 60s and 70s). And after watching it, I can honestly say my wig was snatched, and I don’t even have one.

For the past ten years, there has been a string of Marvel Universe films and at the same time push for diversity & inclusion in Hollywood. Where it intercrosses with Marvel is there are very few people of color that are superheroes. Most of the times they are either sidekicks (like the Falcon) or aren’t as active as their peers (Storm). With the arrival of the Black Panthers film, black people (particularly black women) are front and center which is a first for a Marvel Comics film.

It is directed by Ryan Coogler who has made a splash in Hollywood with his award-winning films Fruitvale Station and Creed and will be featuring the very best of Black Hollywood. The cast includes Chadwick Boseman (42, Get on Up), Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker.

For those who are like me and is excited asf* for the film but no clue of what the movie is about here is a synopsis I snatched from Comicbook.com:

“After the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T’Challa returns home to Wakanda. He soon finds his sovereignty challenged by factions within his own country. When two enemies conspire to bring down the kingdom, T’Challa must team up, as the Black Panther, with C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross and members of the Dora Milaje—Wakanda’s special forces—to prevent a world war.”

When the poster for the movie was released back in June, it was slammed for being “too black and militant.” But the gag is……Black Twitter was clearly unbothered.

Janet-Jackson-Rhythm-Nation

 

So on February 16, 2018, catch black folks in theatres getting in formation for the Black Panther. How about that?

 

xT0BKKOBP7ZsVsypLG

 

 

*as fuck

#BlackExcellence of the week: Mamokgethi Phakeng

Consider Dr. Phakeng a hidden figure that needs to have the spotlight shined on her for the significant accomplishments she has achieved before the age of 50.

Phakeng is a full-time Professor of Mathematics Education and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town. To date, she has published over 80 research papers and four edited volumes, which has been cited over 1174 times.

Her educational background includes:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Pure Mathematics
  • Bachelor of Education in Mathematics
  • Masters of Education in Mathematics

But the gag is….she became the first black female South African to obtain a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education in 2002.

 

“Integrity, loyalty, and optimism. I hate complaining, and I also hate people who complain about their circumstances when they do nothing to change the situation. It is easy to complain, to see why things are not what they should be. It is much more difficult to make things happen. I prefer to make things happen! People who complain never make anything happen, they don’t change anything – they just die quicker.”

— Mamokgethi Phakeng, Becoming You.co.za

Jaes Get Political in “Breathless” Video, Takes on #BlackLivesMatter

 

In April 2017, DMV native and UNH student Jameson Glover who goes by the stage name “Jaes” shot the video for “Breathless” a trap-influenced number speaking out about the oppression that African Americans still face in today’s society. He rounded up several students who are aspiring musicians, photographer, and videographers to help make this song and video a reality.

This week, I got the chance to have an interview with three of the artists involved in the making of this song: Jameson, who is set to graduate in May with a degree in Music Industry, Anna D’Anae, a senior majoring in Business and recent graduate Demetri Smith. All three aspire to go make it to the top of the entertainment industry in various forms and fashions.

 

Leeky: How was this song born? What is “Breathless”?

Jaes (Jameson): “The idea for the song came to life after viewing the movie “Fruitvale Station” back in 2013 and reading more about the murder of Oscar Grant. I was already enraged behind the profiling and stereotyping of Trayvon Martin that led to his death. At the time of his death, Trayvon was the same age as me which really struck a nerve. It made me view the world differently. Watching that film based on Oscar Grant and reading the details online was the tipping point. Oscar Grant was only 22. From there was Eric Garner to Mike Brown to Tamir Rice to Sandra Bland, and I am only mentioning the ones that made massive media headlines let alone all the other cases that people may not know about. So Breathless became a way to express my frustrations as a young male of color. The goal is to remind people of our struggles. Just because police brutality cases are not being broadcasted to the same degree as the cases listed above does not mean police brutality is over.”

Demetri: “I came up with the idea first but knew Jameson had the juice to pull people together, so I implanted the idea in his mind via inception and waited for him to come ask me to be in it, then I happily accepted the offer. Seriously tho, breathless is a scoreboard of what has occurred to our people over the past 500 years, so the question is why wasn’t the song made sooner?”

Anna D’Anae: “The song was created by Jameson. He was the creative mind and producer of this project.”

L: How did it become a trap song?

J: “To express my anger, I could not make this an R&B nor Pop track, my other specialties in production. Trap beats sound very aggressive. Therefore, I felt as though this track has to be Trap.”

A: “Breathless became a trap song just off of the base of the vibe of the song. Although it is a song with intent when that chorus comes in you just get hyped.”

D: “Didn’t mean to be a trap song but that’s what we have been exposed to for the past few years so when it was created that’s how it came out.”

 

L: What was the processing of creating it?

J: “I actually started off with writing the bridge of the song back in freshmen year of college. At the time, I really I wanted to be a rapper. For the bridge, the idea was to go back and remind people of specific police brutality casualties and then segue into my personal feelings. From there, I knew where I wanted to take it and wrote the hook and Verse 1. Rapper and recent University of New Haven graduate, Damani Piper wrote his own lyrics for Verse 2.”

A: “I wasn’t a part of the initial creative process. But from my observation when it came down to the actual recording, everyone recorded their parts individually. When it was time for the photo shoot we were pretty much together, and Jameson had everything in his mind for his vision. Same with the video.”

D: “A LOT OF MIXING! On my end at least. but during the sessions, I remember listening to everyone do their parts and becoming a fanboy of there performances.”

 

L: Explain your involvement in the song.

J: “For this song, I was the producer, the artist, a vocal arranger, one of the two songwriters, one of the three video directors, and the concept creator. I also had to play the role of A&R, which is finding the talent to be on the song. In addition, I sought out a photographer and directors in the Communications Department. Meetings were scheduled between Campus Police, my consultant and I to get clearance to bring prop guns onto campus. Same goes for scheduling meetings with the Head of the Theater Department to use their light system.”

A: “My involvement with the song was minor. I was simply called to be a part of getting a major message across a major platform. So, I was just involved in the actual song and the video. Jameson and myself also worked on how I was going to convey the part he wrote for me. ”

D: “I mixed the entire thing for one and I’m also on the first verse.”

L: Did you know who you wanted to be featured on it? And why those people?

A: “Who was featured on the song had nothing to do with me. I believe it was solely Jameson’s choice.”

D: “I had a feeling on a few that ended up being picked, but the rest was Jameson.”

J: “The only person I did not know who I wanted at the time was the rapper on the bridge, Kenneth Jeffrey. I knew I wanted Gospel powerhouse, Brianna Young. She is a truly gifted and highly skilled singer. She has perfect pitch, can improvise melodies on the spot and harmonizes like a beast. Then we have Damani Piper. Damani is the type of rapper who truly studied his craft. He is very expressive and always challenges himself to go above and beyond his limit as well as what is expected of a rapper. He also has that raspy, raw grunt sound to his voice that fit the song perfectly! I am really fond of his tone if I am being completely honest. Next is Anna Chapman. I had to get Anna on the track because her voice is so beautiful, soft and innocent. But do not be fooled, that girl knows how to sing! Given that the track’s feeling changes for the final hook, I knew I could not be the one leading. She was the right voice. Now comes Demetri Smith. I did not want a rapper for all the verses. I wanted a second male singer. My immediate thought was Demetri who is yet another talented individual. Demetri’s artistry has grown ever since I met him and he has always impressed me. It was a no-brainer. Plus I figured her can engineer the project as well which is what happened. Lastly, I found Kenneth Jeffrey through a mutual friend of ours. She played me his music on Soundcloud, and I loved his aggressive tone in his voice. He is very articulate and has a nice flow. I figured he would be the final addition to this A1 collaboration team! I can strongly say that I reached out to the right artist that could deliver on a song of this caliber.”

L: Tell me about the concept of the accompanying music video.

J: I wanted this video to be simple so the listeners can still be entertained but really listen to the words. I forget how I landed on this Youtube video, but it was of news anchor Tomi Lahren comparing the Black Lives Matter Movement to the KKK. To add on, given that the topic “Fake News” was trending after Trump’s live bashing of CNN, my directors had the idea of staging a News Show with a bigoted host named “Bonnie Morhen.” The rest of the video, I felt as though Black &White would give the video that edge it needed. I wanted to incorporate still framed shots of Black men and women looking angry and frustrated dead into thee care lens. That’s how our people feel so relaying that message was important. Lastly, the ending of the video was created to give a visceral response to the viewers. My goal was to have people feeling some type of emotion after watching it whether it be shock, anger, or sadness.

L: What is it about the Black Lives Matter movement that resonates with the black community?

A: “The Black Lives Matter Movement resonates in the community because we all know what it is like to be oppressed and being caution about inequality upon minorities is very important. The message that ties into BLM is very clear and communities that understand it wants to understand it and they act on it.”

D: “Because black lives matter was made because of black struggle….🙃”

J: “The fact that the Black Lives Matter movement continuously fights for our struggle is what resonates. They are the main platform that allows us to speak up, be informed and rise together as a community, culture, and race. People are so quick to turn away from conflict and controversial issues. The BLMM makes sure people do not forget through peaceful protesting and seminars. They are the foundation of our fight and instill power back into our voices.”

L: Do you feel it’s important as an artist to be political in your music and why?

J: “[As an] African American artist, yes. Not all the time because even I think that gets played out. However, instead of reciting the same topic of sex, drugs, violence, and money, they can use their gift to educate or remind people of more important subjects. Subjects that are usually swept under the rug.”

A: “It is extremely important to be political in your music. And that doesn’t mean “preaching” in every single song. But, music and entertainment is the most influential way to get a message across to people. If artist talk about political things inside of their music, it will resonate amongst listeners. And even if people don’t agree with what is in the music they still would have listened. ”

D: “Yes because only the real will stand the rest of time.”

 

L: How was it shooting the music video for the song? Why do you think it’s important for young artists or media makers (especially in college to work together)?

A: “It was fun shooting the music video. Being that Jameson already knew what he wanted and he had a schedule it was pretty easy to get done. I think it is very important for young artist to work together. When I shot my video I used everyone around my age and I used connections I made in UNH as far as actually recording the song and doing the music video as well. I think it’s really important to make and sustain these types of relationships because after school these connections can come in handy. ”

D: “The video was very well put together. Everyone was able to add their own sauce. Jameson Is a good director and organizer. Also, I will say that I was very professional because in the last scene I was beefing with one of the other artists.”

Check out “Breathless” right now”

Below are the IG/Twitter accounts to follow the artists of “Breathless”

Jae: @JaesProductions

Briana: @brianaebony

Anna D’Anae: @_anna_danae

Romello (Kenny): @_itsroemello

Damani: @whoisdamani

Demetri: @ayodemetri

Q&A with ProZach

 

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Photo credit: Joseph Moore-Costa

 

Based in the city of New Britain, Connecticut, Zach “ProZach” Pelletier has expanded his musical talents across the world. 22-year-old Pelletier recently graduated from the University of New Haven, where he studied Criminal Justice and Psychology. During his undergraduate career, he began recording his mixtapes and learned how to produce beats. Now, fully embracive of his passion for music. ProZach hopes to invade the hip-hop industry as one of the top rappers and isn’t letting anything get in his way. I got a chance to talk to ProZach about his journey and vision.

 

Leeky Crowder: When you did fall in love with music and the idea of making music?

Zach Pelletier: I picked up the trumpet at 9 years old and have loved the creative process ever since.

LC: What was the first album you ever bought?

ZP: Wow this is sort of embarrassing, but I remember using my birthday money to buy Aaron Carter’s album “Aaron’s Party.”  That had to be around 2001.

LC: What other artists did you listen to growing up? Did they influence you as a rapper?

ZP: In the household, my mom listened to a lot of 90’s freestyle music, like Coro and Stevie B. It used to get me hyped, and still helps my confidence with singing.  My dad used to listen to the Eagles, so that got me into softer music, the direction I’ve been going recently. I also listened to a lot of Streetlight Manifesto. As a trumpet player I fell in love with the instrumentation, and it definitely feeds my motivation to incorporate real instruments into hip hop.  As far as rap goes, I’ve always been a huge Wu-Tang fan, and I used to love following Kanye’s progression.

LC: What rappers are in your top-5 of all-time?

ZP: No. 1 Kanye West (No question). The rest are in no particular order: Redman, Methodman, Kendrick Lamar, Tupac.

LC: What instruments or music production programs do you play or know how to use?

ZP: I play trumpet, and can play pretty much any brass instrument you hand me.  As far as music programs I use Ableton, but I consider myself still learning because my beats aren’t that good yet.

 

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Photo credit: Joseph Moore-Costa

LC: Where does the name ProZach come from?

 

ZP: “Prozac” is an antidepressant. (Also my name is Zach and I’m a pro.) When I first started rapping, I made very positive and uplifting music.  Since then, my music has become increasingly more dark and depressing, as I use it for an emotional outlet. Now there is a lot of irony in the name.

LC: Typically, white rappers have to work extra hard to gain credibility as a hip-hop artist. Before the 2010s, every white rapper that wasn’t Eminem either weren’t highly regarded or had short careers. Do you feel that pressure?

ZP: I believe I feel the same pressure as everyone else trying to make it in this industry. It’s not about color, it’s about what you bring to the table.

LC: When did you start recording music and releasing it? I see all your music from SoundCloud dates back to two years.

ZP: I actually just deleted all the music on Soundcloud from two years ago.  Wanted to start myself with a clean slate again. I started recording with a few friends as a joke when I was 15 or 16.  That music is actually still on Youtube, but I’m not telling anyone how to find it. I became a lot more serious about it when I was 19, that’s when I recorded my first full length mixtape.

LC: Why did you decide to major in Criminal Justice and Psychology during your time in college? Is a career in CJ your back-up plan, in case music doesn’t work out?

KC: We are forced to choose our life paths at such a young age. I was interested in Criminal Justice, but came to realize I’m not necessarily passionate about it.  I came into college with a lot of credits, so I started CJ almost right away.  By the time I realized I didn’t want to do it, I was halfway done, so I finished it up and picked up Psych because the human mind is always interesting. I know I just want to work somewhere in the entertainment industry, I’m not sure exactly where though.  I plan on getting a masters in Digital Marketing so I can learn to brand myself better and possibly get a job within a music company. I wouldn’t mind being behind the scenes and branding other companies or artists.

LC: There haven’t been any major hip-hop acts that has come out of Connecticut. Why do you think that is?

ZP: Connecticut is not a supportive state.  There’s no unity between artists out here, and there’s no true fans.  You see the struggle with smaller artists like Chris Webby and Jitta on the Track. Nobody in CT claimed them until they moved elsewhere and gained a following and some buzz. It seems like my own state will be the last to fuck with me. People in CT don’t want to see each other strive.  It’s so individualistic that it’s harmful to careers. It’s quite upsetting.

LC: Has your family supported your decision to pursue a music career? Do they understand hip-hop music or in the industry?

ZP: My mom is actually extremely supportive.  She listens to all of the music I make (even if it’s inappropriate) and encourages the creative process. She wants it to be a hobby though, while I work a day job to support myself. She’s more supportive of my love for fashion, as it is easier to profit selling the clothing that I make. Essentially she wants me to be happy and that’s all I can ask for.

LC: Growing up in small-town Connecticut where not much happens is it hard having big dreams? How did you deal or continue to deal with the people who doubt you or judge you for pursuing a rap career?

ZP: Not at all.  There’s a ton of people who constantly try to shut me down, and some people who I thought were my friends won’t even give my music a chance.  So I just drop everyone who isn’t supportive.  I surround myself with people who want to see me succeed, and that’s it.  As far as the people who judge, they’ll be buying my music eventually; Joke’s on them.

LC: What are some short-term and long-term goals for ProZach?

ZP: Short term goals: I am working on a website called Uncivilized Civilians, where I cover a new artist every week (rappers, singers, producers, clothing designers, videographers, painters, and any other types creatives).  The vision is to unite all individuals whose creativity was suppressed by the system, by teachers/parents/peers who told them they have to work a desk job, and they can’t live off their passions. I also want to develop more notoriety around my clothing, and incorporate a lot more trumpet into my music. I need to get some tracks on Spotify and Apple Music as well. Long term goals:  GET PROZACH HEARD AROUND THE WORLD!

LC: Would you like to stay independent or if given the chance to sign with a major record label, would you take it?

ZP: That really just depends on the deal, and the amount of creative direction I have with the label.

LC: What are some dream collaborators you have (e.g. R&B artists, rapper, producers)?

ZP: Yeezy Yeezy Yeezy Yeezy! If I could work with anyone, it would hands down be Kanye. I’d also love to work with some UK rappers like J Hus, Stormzy, or Skepta.  I love their culture.

LC: Tell us about the upcoming songs and mixtapes we should be looking out for?

ZP: I’m releasing my first music video within a month called “Note to Self.”  I’m currently working on an EP called “Textin’ Hoes & Lexapro,” as well as an untitled mixtape.  Release dates TBA.  I’m also working on various collaborations with producers, rappers, singers and guitar players, not just rapping but singing and playing trumpet. A lot of it is coming out this month and next. You’ll see my name around whether you like it or not.

LC: What songs that you released has gotten the most buzz so far?

ZP: I put out a song called “IDEW2” a few months back.  It’s not really hip-hop, I don’t even know what genre I’d call it.  It’s just a vibe, but it’s doing the best if we’re talking numbers.  My last release “Mandown” has gotten a lot of buzz from the CT scene on Twitter.

Follow him on

IG : @ProZach_rx

Twitter: @ProZach_rx

Soundcloud: ProZach

Check out his collaboration with R&B singer Jameson Glover that dropped earlier this year:

EXCLUSIVE: Felicity’s Tangi Miller on Playing Minority Student & Affirmative Action

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In another edition of the-fall-of-Americas-political-climate with Haberno Hitler Trump as our president, there was a report from the New York Times earlier this month saying that the Department is taking on affirmative action in college admission that is giving minority student an unfair advantage. Affirmative Action, by the way, guys, is defined by Webster Dictionary as “An active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women.” The DOJ shut down the claim. However seeing the kind of person that Trump (and the people he hired on his team) as well as backlash from white people & Republicans due to colleges & universities continuously becoming more diverse, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is actually occurring.

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It made think about a primetime soap opera from the 90s that I’m currently binge-watching on Hulu titled Felicity with the sole black character Elena. One of the effects of affirmative action is some minority kids feeling like they got into a college not because of their scholastic achievements but for the need to fill a quota. Elena Tyler was a freshman in the first season who hoped to not be seen as the “poor black girl” despite the fact that she’s a wiz in her academics. Here is the clip where she confronted Felicity at her job at the fictional Dean and Deluca.

Miami-native Tangi Miller, the actress who portrays her (and earned an Image Award nomination for it), took the time out her busy schedule as she is promoting her new film promoting the directorial debut of her new film Diva Diaries (#goals) to answer some questions over email correspondence.

KC: I know you’ve been very busy promoting your new film Diva Diaries but have you gotten a chance to catch up with the recent news about the Department of Justice trying to investigate colleges’ affirmative action policies that could “discriminate against white people”? I ask this as you played the smart and stylish Elena Tyler on Felicity wants to be at the University of New York-based on her own merit and not because she was black and underprivileged.

Can you take us back to 1998, to when you shot the scene where you came to Dean & Deluca to confront Felicity for looking into your character’s student records?

TM: “I remember my character being offended, and I remember wishing we could tell that story differently. I received a minority scholarship, which was less money than the non- minority scholarship. My department gave me the lesser scholarship because I am African American. When I earned the larger scholarship, that had nothing to do with my race. To subsidize my income, I was allowed to work on campus to earn the balance of what I would I have earned if I had been given the scholarship I deserved.”

KC: How did you mentally and physically prepare for it, as an actress?

TM: “I was able to pull from my real-life experience and the disappointment I felt, having to be put in minority box.”

KC: In what way has your role as Elena Tyler had an impact on people?

TM: “I don’t know that I can speak for other people, but in 98 there where not many one-hour dramas, coming of age shows, featuring college women or women of color. I wanted this character to have integrity, intelligence and add to the overall story. JJ Abrams was masterful in keeping this character in the storyline and giving her back story that would allow audiences to believe her in this world. I hope she served as a role model, with positive images and her experiences where believable and learning experiences people watching enjoyed.”

 

KC: Has anyone ever came up to you in the streets or reached out via social media to tell you how much she resonated with individuals who were like her or dealt with a similar situation? Be care to explain?

TM: “Yes, it’s really nice when people are moved by you and they see the truth for themselves, I enjoy it the most when mom and daughters tell me they’ve watched together.”

KC: I read that you attended an HBCU: Alabama State University majoring in marketing. Still, were there similarities to Elena Tyler as a college student did you share? Was it challenging to play a black student then but one that is at a mostly white school?

TM: “I think Elena was more uptight that me, lol. She never wanted a “B” I can live with a “B”. Alabama State University (ASU) was amazing. It wasn’t difficult at all to be a minority in college on TV. I was in graduate school at the university of California (UCI). The focus of the show was the college life experience, studying, rooming with classmates, etc. Many issues were the same for me at both universities.”

KC: Was the episode where Elena was livid at Felicity for “winning” the mini-fridge supposed to be a hint for the “Drawing the Line” episode that was to come?

TM: “I’m not 100% sure… I would guess yes, because the outline for the show’s season and episodes are done in advance. The writers work on future episodes and the over story, sometimes is a year or more in advance.”

KC: Diversity and Inclusion is one of the most popular initiatives in today’s society. I read in a Vibe Magazine article that the Felicity executive producer wanted to make the show more “real” as many of WB’s programming had few persons of color apart of the cast. How would you say your experience was being the token black person on the cast?

 

TM: “I don’t know that I would call my character a “token”, but I can say it was most important to me that you believed my character would be in this world and she needed back story. Felicity and Elena where pre-med students. That’s how we became friends. Elena had a past, which included her father, childhood friend and she dated and had a long-time boyfriend.”

KC: We’re you able to have a say in how you wanted your character to be portrayed?

TM: “As an actor, one doesn’t have control over storylines, but I felt included in developing Elena. I shared my experiences as much as possible and happy to writers that were interested in giving all the characters’ back story. We all had families and experienced that with each other like you would in real life. I feel felicity gave an honest look a college life.”

KC: Re-watching the show, I see they were very progressive regarding Elena not perpetuating stereotypes of a black girl that I regularly see in television and movies.

TM: “Thank you, we had an awesome team and a very cool cast.”

KC: If there was to be another prime-time college soap opera in 2017, what do you think creators should do to make it relatable and inclusive to everyone?

TM: “There is no one thing, it starts with the story and setting. I’d start with focusing on an area of study that is diverse. Maybe a college style Fame. I believe it’s most important to tell an honest story, then cast accordingly.”

KC: Some people are for Affirmative Action. Elvis Diaz from Columbia University said to Mic.com “Affirmative Action just gives an opportunity to those individuals that are trying and were given the short end of the stick. Let’s not forget this country was founded on racism, bigotry and the oppression of people for the benefit of others. This is just trying to amend those horrific acts that occurred since the birth of this nation that still affects

us to this day”. Meanwhile, some people have gone as to sue the college for claiming they didn’t get in because they were white. Personally, I had a harder time initially getting into a four-year college because of being a special-education student, not being afforded the same resources that a general education student would. Where do you stand on Affirmative Action?

TM: “Unfortunately, I believe we need affirmative action because many people are not inclusive and they will not be, if not forced. Based on my experience, I would wager that many more minority that are over qualified are getting the short end of the stick, than non-minority in regard to college entry.”

KC: Perception is a funny thing, and it’s not uncommon for individuals to make snap judgments. What would you say to the soon-to-be [disadvantaged] college students in dealing with how their classmates will perceive them?

TM: “Hold your head up and get your degree. I believe the majority of minority people that receive scholarships deserve them and more.”

KC: Finally — because I always wanted to ask — had Elena not been killed in the car accident and graduated from the University of New York, where do you think she would be today? Do you believe she would give back to those who grew up disenfranchised as she did? Explain?

TM: “I used to think about how this character would develop, if we could follow character for longer that their TV life. She would for sure be a doctor, maybe with a private practice in her community. Elena was super smart and very passionate.”

 

You can follow Tangi Miller on:

Instagram: @tangi_miller

Twitter: @tangimiller

 

The Power of a Safe Space

Originally published in Caged Bird Magazine

toutEven in a time that is supposed to be a“post-racial” era, where slavery, Jim Crow, and the civil rights movement came and went, and black and brown people began to have some liberation;  marginalization never honestly ended. There are still individuals of our generation stigmatized because of their race from the moment they enter the world. As a young child, who happened to grow up in the 21st century, I was naturally aware that I was black along with the history and culture of my community. However, it was not until my teenage years that I was made to feel like an outsider because of my race.

In my middle and high school years, I went from going to a mostly minority school in my elementary school days, to predominantly white schools where I was sometimes the token black kid in some of my classes. The racism I dealt with wasn’t drastic but on a micro level. I was made to be a spokesperson for my race inside, and outside of the classroom. White kids were dumbfounded that a black boy who stood six feet tall did not possess a deep stereotypical voice, and more significantly, did not talk “ghetto” (which I  can if I wanted to). After high-school, I realized certain statements that were said to me were offensive.

“You don’t sound like a black guy.”

“You’re not like the other black guys.”

“Your name is Khaaliq; I’m going to call you “WizKhaaliqa” (hip-hop artist Wiz Khalifa was the hottest thing in suburban America for some odd reason).

“You’re supposed to eat fried chicken and grape soda.”

That environment, coupled with my burgeoning, yet socially contradicting identity as a black gay man, made me feel socially trapped. My experience with my white classmates, combined with toxic political views (e.g.. Blue Lives Matter, Trump supporters) that tends to be associated with whiteness made me realize that being friends with white people is most likely not in the cards for me; acquaintances yes but not friendships.

Despite attending this predominantly white campus (60.91 percent undergrad/44.68 percent grad), my social experience is different now than it was in high school. Like any other high school student, I spent seven hours every day in a building with students, as Daria Morgendorffer puts it, “[being] forced to [literally] coexist with people you’d never seek out on your own.”

Here at the University of New Haven — outside of class or work meeting —  I can choose to be in the company of people of my race most of the time, a far contrast from my previous four years of high school. I have the Myatt Center for Diversity & Inclusion to thank for allowing a safe space for current, new, and future students who identify as multicultural, LGBTQ+, or both.

Google the keywords “colleges diversity center,” and you will see a slew of links come up from colleges and universities who are already opening up a multicultural center for diversity and inclusion. Oppression and alienation in forms of racism, homophobia, and Islamophobia is still an issue on college campuses, and because of this, students like me need what is primarily known as a “safe space.”

According to the Safe Space Network, “A safe space is a place where anyone can relax and be able to fully express, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, religious affiliation, age, or physical or mental ability.”

Rudo Ellen Kazembe of Fresh U said that safe spaces “create platforms for students to freely express themselves in various ways which may not always be acceptable in mainstream culture.”

Moreover, I very much feel this way being a frequenter of the Diversity Center. Walk into the building and spend a few hours, and you will see POC (people of color) commiserate, celebrate, and discuss everything from hip-hop artists/lyrics to racial politics, to growing up with strict parents. We also hold programs exclusive to the center, but student organizations and classes are welcome to hold their general meetings in the space as well. The Diversity Center’s director, Juan Hernandez,  also serves as “a resource, advocate and principal advisor on diversity issues to the campus community and specifically to underrepresented students,” according to the University’s website.

One of the things that make me who I am is my blackness. I feel unnatural when I am in a space where I have to compromise it. When I enrolled at the university last year, I was like every other new student trying to figure out the ins and outs of the campus. Jazzman’s Cafe & Lounge in Bartels is the territory for the mostly white Greek life students from what I’ve seen. As the year progressed on, I come to find that these frequenters are a mix of Blue/All Lives Matter supporters, ‘Merica nationalists, Trump supporters, conservative Republicans, and everything in-between. These associations do not sit well with me, as I believe it gives some of the indication that some of these students probably look down on people like me. Realizing this made me glad I decided not to enter that social space out of concern of having my interests and experiences diminished. I can’t be friends with someone who doesn’t culturally accepts and understands me and supports causes that intentionally work against black and brown people. That’s probably why most of my friends are black and Latino.

Overall, I feel like as a student and an ever-progressing young adult, I want to spend my time in a zone of people who look like me, that I am more likely to share similarities and similar experiences with. To be able to understand the struggle as a multicultural community, and build each other up, while trying to unify the campus, all in our safe space.

 

In Honor of National One-Hit Wonder Day: Issa Playlist for y’all

Today, Sept. 25 is National One-Hit Wonder Day, where we celebrate the artists who rocked the pop fame circuit for 15 minutes before fading into obscurity. One-Hit Wonder Day was established by music journalist Steve Rosen back in 1990 to pay tribute to those who have had their five minutes (or less) of fame and subsequently vanished, leaving us only a catchy (hopefully!) tune to remember them by.

Here are the one-hit wonders I grew up on.

  1. You Gotta Be – Des’ree (1995)

Peak: No. 5

If you ask me this one of those songs where you only know just the song and not the artist as well. When I’m unwinding on a day I have no immediate responsibilities, or I’m on the train, this song is a great listen. British-born Des’ree never had another single or album (post-1995) that matched the success of “You Gotta Be” and its’ accompanying album in the States. She hasn’t released any new material since 2003.

2. Gotta Tell You – Samantha Mumba (2000)

Peak: No. 4

Samantha Mumba was a young, fresh-faced pop star of the Y2K era a la Britney Spears meets Janet Jackson but from Ireland (of Zambian descent). Her upbeat dance-flavored song “Gotta Tell You” rose to No. 4 in Dec. 2000 but Mumba would never see the upper reaches of the top 40 again later being dropped from her label in 2002.

3. ‘Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!) – Blu Cantrell (2001)

Peak: No. 2

This is the ultimate kiss-off anthem to the man who cheated and forced you to max out his credit card for “all the hard times.”

4. Girlfight (featuring Lil’ Jon & Big Boi) – Brooke Valentine (2005)

Peak: No. 23

Don’t act like this song didn’t make you wanna beat up somebody and when didn’t even have beef with anyone. Did females really need a song to fight too?

5. No More (Baby I’ma Do Right) – 3LW (2000)

Peak: No. 23

3LW was a teenage version of TLC (two singers-one rapper) but had Destiny’s Child-like management issues that ultimately led to their demise, but we’ll always have pop-R&B bob about telling a boy in ninth grade to be a man and to buy them, Kate Spade.

6. Never Had A Dream Come True – S Club 7 (2001)

Peak: No. 10

After Simon Fuller was dismissed by the Spice Girls as their manager, he founded the seven-piece group of young teenagers (4 girls, 3 boys) and named them S Club 7 who rode the Disney co-signed teen pop wave of the late 90s’/early 00s.  Their tender pop ballad “Never Had A Dream Come True” was their only song (of four albums released) that made an appearance on the American pop charts.

7. He Loves U Not – Dream (2001)

Peak: No. 2

Bad Boy CEO Puff Daddy signed the group in 1998, and they became the female version of N’Sync for a brief period from 2000-2002. Their most notable hit? A song about a teenage love triangle.

8. Don’t Wanna Fall in Love – Jane Child (1990)

Peak: No. 2

I first heard this song as the cover version by Kimberly Wyatt of the Pussycat Dolls. The synthesizer used in this song is as insane as the message that falling in love is dangerous.

9. Oops (Oh My) (featuring Missy Elliott) – Tweet (2002)

Peak: No. 7

Tweet. Tweet. Tweet. Can’t you see? The gag is that it’s your vocals that hypnotize me? So what this was her only major pop hit? It sure was on heavy rotation back in BET’s prime 106 and Park days. And the lyrics were subliminal enough that I didn’t realize it was about masturbation until I was 19. Tweet is undeniably slept-on as an R&B singer-songstress. Check out her most recent album Charlene, her first in over 11 years.

10. Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh) – Lumidee (2003)

Peak: No. 3

Probably what makes this song memorable was it being the soundtrack to my summer ’03 as a native New Yorker along with other dancehall-tinged songs at the time.

11. Me & U – Cassie (2006)

Peak: No. 3

Ok, this is the best one-hit wonder song of all-time; makes me wonder why Cassie found another hit again. I can literally remember this slick-slinky R&B jam with a Janet-inspired video being played non-stop on BET’s 106 & Park throughout the whole summer of 2006. My (white-ass) music teacher back in elementary school even had something to say about it too.

12. Thong Song – Sisqo (1999)

Peak: No. 3

Apparently, Sisqo is not a one-hit wonder (his song Incomplete went. No. 1), but he is a one-hit wonder in my book because this is the only memorable song from him by most pop fans.

 

2017 VMAs — Issa Dub

Over the past few years, the MTV Video Music Awards seems to get less and less attractive. Whether it is awards given to the wrong person, mediocre hosts, or pop stars whose spark is dying out, the VMAs fail to stay afloat of everyone’s attention on a consistent basis. If you did not watch this year’s VMAs, here is the breakdown of why it was far from being saved.

 

P!nk taking home the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. However, where’s Missy Elliott’s?

No disrespect to P!nk’s musical artistry — her 2001 hit “Don’t Let Me Get Me” basically described my high school years; however, when I think of a music video icon, P!nk certainly does not come to mind. She is inspiring, humble and creative, but not in the realm of music video innovations. I do not even believe Rihanna should’ve gotten the award last year, as 10 years in the music game is premature in my mind. Missy Elliott changed the hip-hop landscape since her debut in 1997 with music videos of various outrageousness: the inflated trash bag outfit (“The Rain [Supa Dupa Fly]”), choreographed old school-influenced bops (“Work It,”, “Gossip Folks”) and the pink Barbie Dollhouse (“Beep Me 911”). To award Elliott, this honorary award would be to bring back meaning to the Moonman trophy.

 

Why was Cardi B reduced to the pre-show?

Right now, Cardi B is one of the hottest rising artists. Her major-label debut “Bodak Yellow” is currently the No. 1 single in America, but somehow, she did not perform on the main stage where it matters. However, somehow, she could not perform on, the main stage where it matters. The VMAs were always known for having new artists perform on the main stage to affirms their newly found membership in mainstream pop music (Britney Spears in 1999, 50 Cent in 2003, Paramore in 2008).  The lineup this year consisted of the same artist we have known for half a decade, if not more. Moreover, even then the artists become less and less attractive. Whether it was Fifth Harmony needing to inform us they are Forth Harmony (like we didn’t know nine months ago), Miley Cyrus proving how her music is like unseasoned chicken when she’s not appropriating hip-hop culture or Nicki Minaj who comes to every award show to deliver her 45-second punchline-laced guest verse. There need to be more fresh faces to the lineup than being tossed off to the pre-show stage. I never heard of Julia Michaels until my trip to the taping of the MTV’s revival of Total Request Live this summer when I discovered she had a singer a two-time platinum hit “Issues” that just missed the top 10. Nonetheless, her performance was neither breathtaking but more basic and could’ve been replaced by Cardi B. Also, if the VMAs that prides itself in bringing the biggest names to the stage to perform where was Chance the Rapper, Kehlani, Migos and SZA?

 

Katy Perry as the Host

One quality I look for in an awards show host is a big personality. Black-ish stars Anthony Anderson & Tracee Ellis Ross and comedian Leslie Jones captured the spirit of what it means to host an award show. Katy Perry came off as corny, like the high-spirited 40-year-old mom involved in her son’s school’s events. Perhaps Cardi B, herself, could’ve been the host instead to spice it up.

 

Gender Neutral Awards = fewer Categories

As gender politics is one of the trending topics in the media, MTV decided to eliminate “Best Male Video” and “Best Female Video” with the “New artist of the Year” award. I do not agree with this move as it decreases the number of diverse categories (what happened to “Best R&B Video?”). Coming from someone who keeps up with popular music, the best male and female categories are a reflection (that is let those know) who is the hottest female (or male) artist of the year.

 

Wrong Time to Air

There were too many events going on for the public to pay attention to the VMAs this year. Hurricane Harvey continues to affect our country and the season finale of Game of Thrones was on the same night as MTV, which got more viewers — 12.07 million to be exact.

 

Allowing Taylor Swift to Show Her Comeback Video

I am not here for Taylor Swift’s return to pop music, as I think it was good and inclusive without her. Not only does Swift new [petty] single “Look What You Made Me Do” come short of being a classic, but her music video for it was offensive using black gay guys as props and partially ripping off Beyoncé’s Formation video.