His Story: #BoosieSpeaks Hip-Hop’s Glorification of Incarceration

His Story: #BoosieSpeaks Hip-Hop’s Glorification of Incarceration

His Story

Lil-BoosieOn March 10, Rapper Lil Boosie appeared in his first press conference following his release from prison in a live streamed event hosted on BoosieSpeaks.com. As an individual who is part of the hip-hop culture, I must question its current state in 2014 after an event like this. I love hip hop music and have loved it for as long as I can remember. I start this session by sharing that, because this blog post is not intended to be an attack on hip hop and/or it’s culture, our culture. Instead it simply questions the messages we are sending young men.I officially fell in love with hip hop when I heard Jay-Z’s Izzo in 2001. Sure I was well aware of Biggie, The Lox, Pac and so many others, but at 11 years old one line rang true:  “I seen hoop dreams deflate like a true fiends weight.” I vividly remember hearing that line and thinking about growing up in the projects of the South Bronx- where so many had aspirations of playing in the NBA. Those dreams never materialized. After hearing the song and analyzing my surroundings, it was clear that hip hop was a communication mechanism. The music spoke to what was actually happening in the inner-cities of America and I was proud to be apart of it. I grew with the music and culture and was inspired by the unprecedented actions of many artists. Jay-Z advised that we stop wearing jerseys and throw on button up shirts before becoming president of Def Jam and eventually a sports agent. 50 Cent bottled up water and sold it to Coca-Cola and made $200 million before taxes. Dr. Dre who once famously proclaimed “F*ck the Police” changed the way we listen to music forever creating Beats by Dre. These were all examples of black men from the hood using hip hop to get into the executive boardrooms. I was and have been thrilled about a lot of developments in hip hop culture, but there are days like yesterday that make me feel like we haven’t made enough progress.

Boosie was recently released from prison after a five year term for multiple drug charges. While incarcerated, Boosie was indicted on federal charges of first-degree murder but would eventually be found not guilty of murder. Upon his release, his family, Atlantic records, his confidants and Boosie himself thought it would be a good idea to have a press conference and field questions from a live audience and social media. This broadcast may have been appropriate to some, but I found myself cringing as I watched.

As I mentioned earlier in the post, I was born, raised and still reside in the projects of the South Bronx. I know what it feels like to have a close friend and/or family member come home from prison. Being so close to it is what bothered me most about the Boosie press conference. There are individuals that are released everyday from prison that are having difficult times reintegrating into society and being treated as outcasts. Yet we decide to celebrate one individual, an exception. The music industry, “Black Twitter” and some of Black America gave Boosie a warm homecoming like he was away at war fighting for our freedom. Boosie didn’t push the culture or world forward. Although individuals can rehabilitate and change, the reality is he was in prison for breaking the law, making him a criminal not a hero. By supporting events like these and celebrating Boosie, we are disrespecting ourselves and our predecessors. There are so many individuals before him that diligently worked to knock down walls and erase the stereotype that all black young men are gangsters and not worthy of being taken seriously. Yesterday we took a step back.

We should have press conferences for people like J.Cole and ask what were his biggest obstacles trying to balance rapping and school work at St.Johns University. Individuals like Ludacris should be asked about how they leveraged a Music Management degree from Georgia State University to obtain a radio internship that eventually led to a position as host before founding Disturbing Tha Peace Records and becoming a platinum selling artists. Ludacris could also speak on diversification and how he capitalized on his popularity to take Hollywood by storm. These are the stories I want the younger generation hearing. Yes, there is still violence and work to be done in the inner-cities of America, but when we highlight individuals like Boosie we are sending the wrong message to our young people. Get locked up and come home a hero. Instead, we should be reminding them that in 2014 the possibilities are endless. Barack Obama proved that over two presidential terms. Jay-Z, Diddy, Bob Johnson, Russell Simmons and others proved that hip-hop is universal, can be mainstream and offer plenty of success. I love hip-hop and that will never change.

With that said, today I find myself disgusted with Atlantic Records, Trill Records, Angela Yee and all other parties responsible for the Boosie press conference. Angela Yee interviewed Rick Ross on The Breakfast Club, the syndicated morning show on Power 105.1, last week and said its important to show young people something different and take them out of their environment. I guess that was true on Thursday, but Monday we highlight Boosie and celebrate the same demons that have plagued so many of our young people. We can’t fix everything in one day, but maybe we start with consistent messaging.

Article by: Fausto Toussaint Follow him on Twitter–> http://twitter.com/Faustotoussaint)
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The Village: Make Music Count

The Village: Make Music Count

The Village


Make Music Count is the new creative Mathematics curriculum that teaches each lesson through learning how to play a song on the piano. Each musical note that is played is derived by solving an algebraic equation. Here is a new method teachers can use to excite students about learning mathematics. Mathematics will be seen as fun while also strengthening students understanding of solving algebra equations once they Make Music Count!

Visit Make Music Count Now Click Here!

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His Story: Open Letter to the Industry: A message for Commercial Hip Hop

His Story: Open Letter to the Industry: A message for Commercial Hip Hop

His Story

Follow Basheer Jones on Instagram and Twitter @basheerj
Filmed by Dark Legacy Ent. Instagram: Dklegacyceo
Edited by SMG Audio Instagram: JracksTheEngineer & Dark Legacy Ent .Instagram: Dklegacyceo
For Studio Time contact SMG Audio at 216 501 7904 for Photo Shoots and Music Videos contact Dark Legacy Ent. via Instagram

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Positive Black Male News: Rapper Lecrae talks southern hip-hop and the church

Positive Black Male News: Rapper Lecrae talks southern hip-hop and the church

Positive Black Male News


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Rapper Lecrae is making history.

He was the first ever rapper to win a Grammy for Best Gospel Album earlier this year for Gravity, and he believes the recognition has been a long time coming.

“It’s nice to see how gospel and music in general has evolved to the point where I have the ability to make honest music,” Lecrae said. “It was an honor to be recognized by the Grammy foundation.”

Lecrae has eschewed the stereotype of Christian rap being too “preachy.” He’s an legitimate emcee who’s collaborated with the likes of Big K.R.I.T.Bun B, and David Banner. They all hail from states within the Southern Bible Belt. So it’s not surprising that they found common ground.

TheGrio | Holy hip-hop gets a good rap among youth (VIDEO)

“We all have a ‘big mamas’ in the church,” Lecrae, a native of Houston Texas, stated about working with more secular artists. “We were raised in it so it’s in our DNA.”

Check out what else Lecrae had to say about religion and hip-hop in our Grio interview.

You can check out Kyle’s musical coverage on theGrio music page, and follow Kyle on Twitter at@HarveyWins.

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League of EXTRAordinary Black Men: Marcus Blackwell, Jr.

League of EXTRAordinary Black Men: Marcus Blackwell, Jr.

League Of Extraordinary Black Men


You have a specific goal that you are to reach and obtain that was made just for you to do by the creator. ~Marcus Blackwell, Jr.

You have a specific goal that you are to reach and obtain that was made just for you to do by the creator. ~Marcus Blackwell, Jr.

TheBlackManCan is back in Atlanta, GA to bring you another Black Man who is making remarkable contributions to society. We bring to you a Black Man who has always had a passion for math and music and now has turned that into a way to help youth learn both. We proudly present Marcus Blackwell, Jr. Founder of Make Music Count. Marcus sits with down with TheBlackManCan to discuss Make Music Count, the intersection of Math and Music and advice for young black males.

TheBlackManCan: Marcus, tell about your childhood and how it plays a role into the man you are today.

MB: My childhood upbringing was a combination of educational excellence, a love of music, and a religious foundation. My mother as an educator always pushed me to excel in school, constantly reminding me to “be a leader and not a follower”. As the oldest out of three sons I wanted to set the best example I could for my brothers. So in school growing up nothing less than excellence in the classroom was an option for me. My love of music came from my father who served as a music director playing the piano and organ for many churches in the Connecticut area. He would take me along to his every rehearsal to sit next to him on the piano or to sing in the choir. The largest influence on me growing up was my consistent attendance of church. In my family having a religious foundation is everything and that is where I spent the majority of my time growing up in church and it’s that foundation and spiritual connection that I give credit to the success I have. I operate within these three areas to this very day. Always looking to reach academic excellence has forced me to adopt a phenomenal work ethic that allows me to work harder than others around me. My love for music and religious foundation eventually combined into one passion as I now serve as the Music Director for the Fairburn location of Elizabeth Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA.

TheBlackManCan: What did you realize that you had a passion for math and music?

MB: My passion for music began at the Artists Collective in Hartford, CT, which is an arts school that was founded by the late phenomenal jazz musician Jackie McLean. At the Artist Collective I began piano lessons at the age of 5 and the rest is history.  Music instantly became a love and great passion of mine. It didn’t matter what style of music I learned I enjoyed it all. I grew up competing in piano competitions and recitals and was literally immersed into Classical, jazz and gospel. I wouldn’t be the musician that I am today without The Artists Collective.

My passion for math was realized in high school when I attended The Greater Hartford Academy of Mathematics and Science. Not only did my work ethic allow me to succeed but also I realized that I was actually good at math and even enjoyed doing it. Math didn’t necessarily come easy to me but I enjoyed the feeling of being challenged by a math problem but then also the relief and confidence gained from solving it. From there math and music would forever be my two passions.

TheBlackManCan: Share with us your Morehouse experience. Why did you decide on Morehouse? What does being a Morehouse Man mean to you? Why should students consider an HBCU education?

MB: My Morehouse experience was life changing…plain and simple. Before Morehouse I was a decent student that did well but attending Morehouse made me challenge myself to the point of reaching a new level of potential. Morehouse planted a seed of confidence that made me believe that I could achieve literally anything I set my mind to. My interest in Morehouse however began at birth since my father is a Morehouse Man. I was visiting Morehouse College every summer with my father before I even knew what college was since he was an Atlanta native. But that wasn’t enough for me to attend. As I mentioned earlier my mother always told me to “be a leader and not a follower” so I attended the Coca-Cola Pre College Leadership Program at Morehouse to further investigate my interest. These one-week included lessons on what it meant to be an ethical leader and how it was my responsibility to do well not simply for my own benefit but for the benefit of the community I came from. I had never heard a message like this before. An idea that me bettering myself was only important if it benefitted the community was incredible and sold me on Morehouse. This is what it means to be a Morehouse Man. Academic excellence but also having a social conscience so that you can use what you’ve learned to benefit the community. In my opinion every African American student should attend an HBCU. It’s in this environment where you’re able to reach your real potential and where you learn the values in doing well to better the African American community.

 TheBlackManCan: What ignited the spark to start Make Music Count?

MB: The spark to start Make Music Count began with my ability to play music by ear. As a gospel musician about 98% of music learned is through this method. I always meet people who are interested in learning how to play the piano or used to play and want to get back into it. But the issue is that no one wants to learn how to read music. This means that I needed a way to teach people how to play music by ear. In my mind the only way to do this was by incorporating math to explain music. So I created a method where only understanding math steps would produce the sound of music. But this idea sparked the real one. Instead of using my new method to teach music, I believed that I could get students to not only be interested in math but also improve through the same teaching method. So now through this method I began to realize that if music were used as a reward for completing math assignments students would become more open to tackling math questions. So I created a curriculum that was all math based but would derive musical notes to allow students to play songs on the piano.

Young black men need to see this so that they are not persuaded or tricked by the false images that the society would like to brand them with.  ~ Marcus Blackwell, Jr.

Young black men need to see this so that they are not persuaded or tricked by the false images that the society would like to brand them with. ~ Marcus Blackwell, Jr.

TheBlackManCan: What is the mission and vision behind Make Music Count?

MB: There are two missions of Make Music Count. The first is to get students excited about mathematics and to eliminate the intimidation that they have when solving math equations. Removing this intimidation will result in opening up more opportunities for students to consider studying and majoring in mathematics in college. The second mission is to validate the art of playing music by ear. Many great musicians learned how to play their instruments by only listening and practicing and hold leadership positions in the music world. Through the technique of playing by ear these musicians understand as much music as someone who studied music in school. My company will validate that learning how to play music by ear is enough to be considered a professional musician.

TheBlackManCan: How does the Make Music Count program work?

MB: The Make Music Count curriculum is centered around learning how to play hip-hop songs on the piano. But the catch is that solving a math equation derives every musical note that’s needed to play on the piano. My lessons currently range from basic addition and subtraction lessons to solving two-step algebra equations. The best part about my program is that you don’t need to have any musical background to participate. If you can count and solve your math equations you can play the piano. Music is used as a reward for completing the math assignments.

TheBlackManCan: How and why do math and music intersect? Why is this area something that needs to be explored in classrooms?

MB: Math and Music have always intersected. You in fact need math to understand every aspect of music. And this is the lesson that students need to be taught in the classroom. It really doesn’t make any sense for kids to like music and not like math. One cannot exist without the other. And if you enjoy and are good at one area then you by default good in the other.

TheBlackManCan: How and why do students develop mathphobia? How can Make Music Count address this issue?

MB: Students develop a mathphobia from teachers and each other. Math is taught to be feared and taught that it’s a class that is naturally hard. once one student believes this then so do the rest. Additionally there’s no connection to show how math is applicable to the real world. Students always wonder, “Where will I use this???” My program is used to eliminate this thinking. I show that math can be useful and even fun when you know how to apply it. Make Music Count takes math and shows how it can be used to play music on the piano. So if students can see that math can be related to something like music it will open up the thinking and discussion of “well what else can math connect to??” and that’s the goal of Make Music Count.

An idea that me bettering myself was only important if it benefitted the community was incredible and sold me on Morehouse. This is what it means to be a Morehouse Man.  ~ Marcus Blackwell, Jr.

An idea that me bettering myself was only important if it benefitted the community was incredible and sold me on Morehouse. This is what it means to be a Morehouse Man. ~ Marcus Blackwell, Jr.

TheBlackManCan: Why is it important to get all students but in particular Black Males engaged and loving math?

MB: Its important to get all students engaged in math because it’s a great tool to use. Math is apart of everything. If you understand that there are so many opportunities and great jobs that will open up for you. But students hinder themselves by allowing teachers to intimidate them.

TheBlackManCan: Where do you see yourself and Make Music Count in the next five years?

MB: In the next five years Make Music Count will be a nation wide curriculum that will change how mathematics is taught in the classroom. My class will show improvement in the math scores of students all because of connecting math to a fun area that they can relate to. I believe that every school needs a program like Make Music Count, not as a class to take over normal math classes but as an extra help method to show students how what they learn in the classroom can be applied to other areas as well.

TheBlackManCan: Why it important for Black Men and Boys to see positive images of themselves?

Black men need to see positive images of themselves because its our reality. Everything about black men in our history is positive. We’re strong, intelligent men and always have been. Young black men need to see this so that they are not persuaded or tricked by the false images that the society would like to brand them with. Once they understand this there’s literally nothing a black man can’t do.

. It really doesn’t make any sense for kids to like music and not like math. One cannot exist without the other.  ~ Marcus Blackwell, Jr.

. It really doesn’t make any sense for kids to like music and not like math. One cannot exist without the other. ~ Marcus Blackwell, Jr.

TheBlackManCan: What words of advice do you have for young Black Males of today?

MB: My advice for young black men of today is to be yourself. Don’t be fooled or persuaded by what brings someone else success. Everyone has something that makes them unique and makes them special. It’s the reason why your name is different from everyone else’s. But the reason why you have something unique about you is because there’s something specific that you are required to do while you’re here on Earth. You have a specific goal that you are to reach and obtain that was made just for you to do by the creator. And the way that you find out what that is by doing two things.

1. Understanding what you’re good at

2. Connecting that skill to how you can help someone else.

These two points combined with a great work ethic will take you anywhere you need to go.

Visit Make Music Count Now –> http://makemusiccount.org/

Purchase Books and Merchandise from Make Music Count Now–> http://makemusiccount.org/collections/all

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Positive Black Male News: Big Sean Kicks Off Official Launch of Sean Anderson Foundation by Giving Back!

Positive Black Male News: Big Sean Kicks Off Official Launch of Sean Anderson Foundation by Giving Back!

Positive Black Male News

Big-SeanAward Winning G.O.O.D. Music and Def Jam recording artist Big Sean celebrates the official launch of his non- ‐profit, the Sean Anderson Foundation, with a new campaign on Prizeo, the premier celebrity charity fundraising digital platform to raise funds to help bring P’Tones Records, a free afterschool recording studio music program, to Sean’s hometown of Detroit.  The campaign is live on Prizeo today and end will on August 19th with the winner announced and notified on August 20th.

big-sean-fanBig Sean is really in the giving spirit recently he showed up as a surprise with MTV in tow to one of his biggest fans home, who is paralyzed to play him his new album Hall of Fame. While sitting on the couch in his living room, he gave him a first listen to the August 27 release.

“I just wanted to give him that experience,” said Sean. “I wish my favorite rapper would’ve come to my house and played their album for me. I just wanted to make that moment happen and make his family proud.”

Back to the giving which also includes some MTV Love. For micro- ‐donations starting at only $3, fans will be entered into the grand- ‐prize drawing. The grand- ‐prize winner, chosen at random, will accompany Big Sean to the MTV Video Music Awards on August 25th in Brooklyn, NY.

The Sean Michael Anderson Foundation is a Michigan non- ‐profit corporation aimed at assisting in the education, health, safety and well- ‐being of Detroit Area school- ‐ age youth as well as disadvantaged youth in other areas across the nation.

205587_10150155853107997_3082386_nP’Tones Records is an organization that opens studios nationwide and provides teens from disadvantaged neighborhoods the opportunity to partake in a hands- ‐on afterschool music program, running a mini- ‐record label set in a recording studio environment.

“My vision for the Sean Anderson Foundation is simply to make the lives of young people better, “ says Big Sean. “We are excited to partner with Prizeo for our first fundraising campaign designed to help bring P’Tones Records, an afterschool music program that I really believe in, to my hometown of Detroit”

“We are delighted to partner with Big Sean to raise both funds and awareness of the mission of the Sean Anderson Foundation and P’Tones Records,” says Leo Seigal, Co- ‐founder of Prizeo.

As extra incentive, Big Sean will reward fans of certain, stipulated donation levels with a range of exclusive rewards including his highly anticipated new album Hall of Fame which will be released on August 27th, autographed Aura Gold merchandise and Hall of Fame Sol Republic Headphones. And the campaign’s top sharer —the donor who shares a personalized link to Sean’s Prizeo page on Facebook and Twitter and gets the most friends and family to contribute to the cause—will win a pair of the new and exclusive Big Sean designed Adidas Sneakers, as well as a follow by Big Sean on Twitter and Instagram. Congrats to Big Sean on the launch of his foundation and to our friends at P-Tones on this endeavor. Be sure to support it BCG Family, Giving is Good!

Source: Black Celebrity Giving

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His Story: Hip Hop Not So Dumb After all…

His Story: Hip Hop Not So Dumb After all…

His Story


We often find that there is a huge misconception regarding the level of education obtained by Blacks in the Hip-Hop community. Many assume the story is the same for ALL; growing up in a world filled with crime and poverty- music was there only way out! Who needs a higher education when you have successful artist such as Soulja Boy and Wacka Flacka? Or when one of Hip-Hop’s most influential rapper Kanye West appeared on the scene with College Dropout?

I came across a blue paper that read, “Rapper’s who attended college“, and as I begin reading down the list I was honestly surprised by the names that were embedded onto the paper. After overcoming the shock, I instantly became honored to be a member of the HIP HOP community. There are many situations which arise where as African-Americans, we are forced to defend our culture and explain the great quality that remains standing. It was then I realized, The Hip Hop Community is not so dumb after all.

Immediately I needed to know more about this topic so I googled “Rappers who attended college”. The list of links that appeared within 15seconds after the computer loaded stated,


  • Rappers who have been killed
  • Rappers who have died
  • List of Rappers who have been shot
  • List of Rappers that are dead
  • Rappers in gangs

and the ridiculous set of links went on. It is degrading to the Hip Hop community as a whole to be associated with such negativity. I find it quite ironic that mainstream pop artists lack of higher education goes unnoticed, in comparison with rappers. As I continued my research and ignored the ignorance of google, I found not only rappers who attended college, many who hold degrees from Prestigious Historical Universities. Some names you may expect to have attended college, and others Such as Plies and David Banner, one would have never guessed.

Beginning with David Banner, he has TWO degrees. His Bachelor degree is From Southern University in Business and his M.Ed (Masters of Arts in Teaching) is from the University of Maryland. In college Banner was SGA President and served on a panel before Congress on African American Stereotypes in the media. I wonder what he would say regarding the way the media eliminates the academic success of rap artist.

Rapper Ludacris graduated Suma Cum Laude ( top 5% of his graduating class) from Georgia State University. So although he screams, “move B*&% get out the way. . .” he has credentials to prove his level of academic intelligence. Starting his career of ass a DJ he entered his way into the Rap game in 2000 and has since made a name for his self with his unique style of delivery. He has also managed to establish a successful acting career for himself landing main or supporting roles in movies such as, The Wash (2001), 2 Fast 2 Furious (2001), Crash (2004), Hustle and Flow (2005) and many more.


Rapper Talib Kweli studied experiemental theatre at NYU. Kweli’s parents are both college professors. This eleminates him from the “growing up in poverty story” that most people think all rappers have.

Rapper Flavor Flav who is most famous for his gold teeth and enormous clock, did not show any signs of a formal education on his hit show Flavor of Love. After the success of his dating show, anyone who assumed they were someone created a dating show. William Drayton has a degree from Adelphi University and was also a member of the rap group Public Enemy. Drayton’s Partner in crime, Chuck D, also received his degree from Adelphi University in Graphic Design. Not all Rapper’s who attended college graduated with a degree, the importance is the journey they experienced which eventually led them to where they are today.

Rapper Common attended Florida A&M University. It is safe to categorize Common as a different type of rapper, one who does not fit the “stereo-type” of a rapper. His lyrics, word diction and overall presence informs you of his level of intelligence. Rapper Lil’ Wayne, P.Diddy, Pall Wall, Ice Cube and Plies are a few others who have attended College.


With the profession of a rapper being known for having 20 inch rims and whole lot of “bling bling”, My friend and I would always joke around, the value of their “bling bling” could potentially pay our college tuition. Rapper Plies, who studied Nursing announced at one of his concerts he was sending a female fan to any college in the world. (Kudos to him on doing so, and congratulations to her)

As well all know college is not for everyone, but the “not for everyone” part of the statement does not exclude Hip-Hop artists immediately. Why is it the academia importance of the Hip-Hop Community (not just including rappers) seems to be ignored?

About the Author:  Kyesha Jennings is Educated.Educator.Dancer.Hip-Hop Head.Non-Traditional.ShoeFanatic. Former Sneaker-head. Life long learner. I’ve always loved Hip-Hop. . . Follow her on Twitter @somethingboutky 

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His Story: Is Commercial Hip Hop the New Blackface?

His Story: Is Commercial Hip Hop the New Blackface?

His Story

blackfaceCommercial Hip-Hop has become the blueprint for the streets for many of today’s youth. The lyrics tell them what to wear, how to talk, what to like and dislike. These ignorant lyricists are the slave masters that abuse young minds by whipping the oppression into them and hanging the glorification right onto them. These young minds have been drugged and enslaved for years now and we are finally seeing the products of exactly what we allowed to happen. These so-called lyricists rap about 3 topics “Ice, Girls, and drugs” and think it is ok to tell fantasy stories about their rise to fame. What happened here? Why have we allowed so many of these individuals to destroy what so many people fought against? The Martins, Malcolm’s, Rosa’s, Stokley’s, Huey’s and Nat’s of the world, who saved the minds of so many. Their hard work has been forgotten because Rick Ross is allowed to lie about his life. Their work has been minimized because T.I. needs the trap back jumping and needs to teach people how to whip up a batch of drugs. The fact that you receive ‘street cred’ because you went to jail is devastating. Prison is not a sentence to glorify or be proud of but this industry wears it as a badge of honor. Ex-cons now they feel they can rap about what goes on in the streets because they did time behind bars, which somehow gives them more “proof.”. T.I. is a family man on television who lives in a nice house in a safe area, but makes an album about ‘the trap’ and people sit back, listen and allow it to happen. Chief Keef is the most recent product of these artist failures and he can be described as nothing more than a character in a minstrel show. Dressed up in poverty and mentally oppressed and talking about ignorance. I ask you today, is Hip-Hop the new blackface?

Commercial Hip-Hop has not only created a world that is unsafe for many people but it opens up room for discussions about stories that never happened. These artists are characters/actors in the new age minstrel show. They talk ignorant (purposely talk ignorant to appeal) and look foolish (tattoos on face) and dress outrageous (50 chains) and are considered heroes because they are on television. Black face can be described as makeup worn by individuals in minstrel shows who preformed racist caricatures of black people. That is exactly what these people are doing. Portraying every negative stereotype associated with communities we come from. 60 years ago we would be protesting, marching and boycotting because it is blatant disrespect, but all we do today is nod our heads and write about it. We can continue to complain and nod our heads, but more chief Keefs are coming. Soulja boy, who was one of America’s first taste of what Commercial Hip-Hop created, said, “Shout out to the slave masters! Without them we’d still be in Africa. We wouldn’t be here to get this ice and tattoos.” If we continue down the road we are on we will inevitably believe in the ignorance we have glorified even more and mental enslavement will grow stronger and it will be nearly impossible to reach the youth who are becoming dependent on oppression and not able to view a world without it. Just as the slave could not see a free world without their slave master telling them what to do.

Minstrel shows and other black face depictions of black people have hurt and angered the feelings of many by describing black people with humor and truth. We have been blatantly disrespected since our arrival and not much has changed if you want to be honest. This is not about electing a black president, artists who are doing positive things in music and life, or talking about how things are getting better. It is about our failure to move pass ignorance and create our own identity. Not an Identity based out of Italian culture that historically is racist, but we tend to look pass that. We have been studied, analyzed, killed, disrespected, oppressed, abused and yet we still put the make-up on and make a mockery of our struggles. We have to stop laughing at our own trials and tribulations and do better. The time when holding artists accountable meant something has passed. It is time to move away from people who knowingly hurt these young minds. It is time to move away from artists who put on their black face and ignorantly rap about ice, girls and drugs. Hip-Hop died a long time ago and it is time we say our final words and move on or Chief Keef will be on Jay-z’s level! You tell me, is Commercial Hip-Hop the new blackface?

About the Author: Mr. Sharif Rasheed graduated from Wright State University with a degree in Sociology. He is the youngest person to be honored with the university program’s ‘Outstanding Alumni Award.’ He periodically goes back to lecture to students about  psychological slavery, the black male image and the effects of hip-hop on today’s society. Mr. Rasheed has a background working with troubled youth and drug addicts. He has worked with both male and female juveniles. He uses his experiences to enhance his writing today. He has been featured on sites like ‘Urban Media Today,’ ‘Pittsburgh Urban Media,’ ‘The Soul Pitt,’ and an original piece was also published in ‘LA RAW’ Magazine. Check out his blog here http://mrsharifrasheed.wordpress.com/

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Positive Black Male News: Harvard announces Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship program

Positive Black Male News: Harvard announces Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship program

Positive Black Male News

by Keith Nelson Jr (@JusAire)

(AllHipHop News)  This warrants a “hip hop hooray” chant from the South Bronx all the way to Alaska.

The Hip-Hop Archive and the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University announced today the inception of the Nasir Jones Hip Hop Fellowship. According to the press release, the fellowship will help fund future exceptional Hip Hop artists:

The Fellowship will provide selected scholars and artists with an opportunity to show that “education is real power,” as it builds upon the achievements of those who demonstrate exceptional capacity for productive scholarship and exceptional creative ability in the arts, in connection with hip-hop.

Nas’ penchant for social commentary and intellectual analysis has ”helped usher in an original form of hip-hop debate and analysis that reflects on and represents urban youth angst and conflict as well as intelligence, confidence and ambition” according to the press release.

The recepients of the fellowship will be selected by members of Harvard University.

Recently, Harvard University has begun honoring Hip Hop and Nas has been integral in that prior to the fellowship’s beginning. In 2012, highly acclaimed Hip Hop producer 9th Wonder became a Harvard Fellow and engaged in an academic projecte called “These Are The Breaks” where he tracked down all the original samples from a few classic Hip Hop albums to archive them permanently in the Harvard Library. One of those albums was Illmatic.

Check out a clip from 9th Wonder’s documentary “The Harvard Fellow” which documented his time at Harvard from the moment he received the acceptance letter in March of 2012 to when he engaged in the research project:

Source: AllHipHop

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His Story: Mad Cities…the consequences of our racial carnage

His Story: Mad Cities…the consequences of our racial carnage

His Story

The killing of 26 grade-school children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut catalyzed a series of much needed National discourses on the issue of gun-violence in the United States, yet these conversations have excluded the impact of excessive gun-related homicide in America’s inner cities. Instead, the dialogue has been focused on: leveraging the constitutional right of gun ownership, banning the commercial sale of high capacity magazines – an ammunition device for repeating firearms, or extending more comprehensive and universal protocol for background checks. While these are important talking points they are not indicative of a holistic approach to resolving the far-reaching command of America’s gun-related murder crisis. And if these conversations will lead to National policy or law – it is extremely important for the stories of those impacted by urban violence to enter the discussion.

The omission of urban violence from the recent proliferation of “gun talk” alludes to a looming apathy about the deaths of Black and Latino children in this Nation. It’s evident that our country’s cultural acceptance of violence has penetrated individuals in urban and rural communities alike, but the Nations attention is consumed by an interest in preventing large-scale shooting incidents such as those at Tucson, Columbine, Virginia Tech, or the Sheik Temple in Wisconsin.  Although it is extremely important to identify and eliminate the causes of these rampages, the same level of thorough examination and careful thought should be applied to finding a solution to the massacres that occur on inner city streets – the bloodbaths that grip the lives of numerous young people in Compton, Chicago and Camden daily.

Violent crime in the inner city occurs with a higher frequency than the rare yet catastrophic rural shooting incidents. The annual death toll of gun related homicide in urban communities far exceeds the death toll of all the recent large scale shooting rampages combined. In 2012 Chicago’s homicide rate increased by 16 percent with 506 killings and this year the city’s death toll is at a pace that may surpass last year’s statistics. Just this week, in Chicago, 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins was shot five times as her father changed her diaper.

Amongst America’s largest cities, the homicide rate in Philadelphia continues to be the worst. Philly’s police stat sheet shows that more than 80% of the murders in “the City of Brotherly Love” are committed with a firearm and African-Americans make up 85% of the victims. Scott Charles, the creator of Philadelphia’s Cradle to Grave anti-violence education program, says “Statistics suggest that as a young black man you have a greater chance of being shot and killed in Philadelphia than you would have if you were a soldier serving the conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq.” These horrendous conditions certainly warrant our country’s attention– they merit increased airtime on media outlets, require apt action from civic leaders, and need the same level of community outrage that catalyzed former social movements. The killing of inner city children and the lack of human concern displayed by the adolescent assailants is one a major social crisis.

As we move toward solutions to this, it’s important to note that public policy is a vital tool for social change. Constituents who are impacted by urban violence, and the politicians who represent them, must work fervently to get their action strategies on the National agenda. On January 30, 2013 the Senate Judiciary Committee hosted a hearing, “What Should America Do About Gun Violence.” No one was selected to present a case about inner city gun-related homicide despite the astronomical statistics. However, if we truly aim to answer the question, as a Nation, we must take on the nuances of gun violence across the Nation.  In regards to violence in the inner city, there must be an examination of the system dynamics that catalyze or exacerbate the problem – joblessness, poverty, failing schools, policing strategies, mental/behavioral health disparities, and damaging pop-cultural media messages. In order to properly absolve violence the root causes need to be tackled.

For example, there are irrefutable linkages between the cycles of poverty, illiteracy, and criminal behavior that should enter conversations about America’s urban violence crisis. The Department of Justice states, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” Over 70% of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.  Arguably, the root of excessive inner-city violence and criminality is impoverishment and an education system that is not preparing our youth to be functional and whole adult citizens. Solution based strategies can begin with community-based teach-ins focused on literacy, life-skill development, anti-violence work, and post-traumatic healing through art-therapy.

Secondly, there is a divergence between the messages emitted by America’s entertainment culture and the types of value-based communities that we seek to build. Popular culture in this country — including music, television, and film – sells consumers cultural standards that are riddled with violent and nihilistic messages. Media messages have pierced youth culture worldwide and often intensify despondent attitudes and behaviors. If we are serious about improving the social disparities that impact violence everywhere but particularly in the inner-city, we must also examine the often-outlandish music and media content that exudes ignorant pathology and is directly marketed to youth who may not have the critical literacy to filter the content.

In Judith Sgarzi’s The Media’s Influence on Violence and Behavior, she writes, “Accountability for everyone and action against the problem are necessary if we are to turn back the tide of violence lapping at our doors. Every citizen has an obligation to help create a society in which people are not threatened by an entertainment culture that accepts violence as a way of life.” To her point, much of America’s music content has become a soundtrack to dejected attitudes and disruptive behaviors. While this content is detrimental to communities major corporations are profiting via advertisements.

Marginalized communities, especially in this Nation, have a history of using media as a tool for advocacy and social action – not vicious violence and buffoonery. It is critical that community members tap into this precedent by using access to social media and technology to reverse the damaging messages that dominate cable television and mainstream radio with little FCC filtering. The community has to mobilize influencers in the media, entertainment, and business industries to be a part of the solution rather than the primary producers of the problem.


At the 44th Annual NAACP Awards, actor and social activist Harry Belafonte spoke on the subject of being an artist-activist and he mentioned the importance of finally facing urban gun-violence. He said, “the group most devastated by America’s obsession with the gun is African-Americans… The river of blood that washes the streets of our nation flows mostly from the bodies of our Black children… While no one speaks of the consequences of our racial carnage.” His speech was a call to action – not only to media outlets that rarely cover these stories and political figures who have yet to thoughtfully address the issue of inner-city homicide, but also to the abled bodied and sound minded individuals who live amongst turmoil and are apathetic, to the mainstream artists who have not honored the responsibility to use their platform to positively impact local and global change, and to individuals who call themselves community leaders but are silent about the weightiest subjects.

If community members demand that our politicians and policy makers become more dynamic in their approach to issues that impact the inner city, as members within the community we must also do our part. We are all accountable for using our own power in this humanitarian effort to absolve the gun-related murder crisis. Everyone must do his or her part, for the load of social disparity has become too heavy and too nuanced for us to continuously cloak ourselves in the comfort of rhetoric. Urban violence, and other related problems, requires strategic solutions and immediate action.

The memory of the recent slaying of Chicago’s Hadiya Pendleton illuminates the madness of gun violence in inner city neighborhoods across the Nation. Pendleton was only 15 years old. She was caught in crossfire and shot dead in a park adjacent to her school – a park that should have been an absolute safe haven. Her senseless death highlights what is at stake if we do not take action against urban violence expeditiously. We may literally lose a generation of potential innovators and leaders – murdered or perpetual murderers swallowed by a culture of violence and inhumanity.

Statistics on youth violence released by the Center for Disease Control, the Federal Database and the Children’s Defense Fund state that every day in the United States 13 young people between the ages of 10 and 24 are the victims of homicide, 80% of those homicides are gun-related, and Black children account for 45 percent of all child and teen gun deaths although they are only approximately 15% of the population ( 2009). Still the daily gun violence plaguing cities like Chicago, Detroit and New Orleans do not trigger outrage or unease. Deaths in America’s poorest cities are treated like “business as usual.” This level of general indifference is both disconcerting and deplorable, for the reaction to the tragedy of children’s deaths must not be impacted by the child’s zip code or stereotypes regarding the child’s race and ethnicity.

Our political leaders should continue to consider gun laws and policies that match the changing landscape of our society. However, again, the National conversation needs to address the astronomical rates at which Black and Latino children are murdered or go missing; healing the trauma associated with living in a neighborhood where death is prevailing; disproportionate joblessness, poverty and cycles of criminality; gang warfare and open air drug trafficking; and finally, the education gap. Courageous thought leaders and activists must continue to mobilize their communities to impact lasting change while our policy makers create systems that will sustain the new neighborhoods that we envision and work toward building together.

glenda1About the Author: Glenda Smiley is a writer, producer, educator/youth advocate,  and young professional in the social sector whose work aims to “educate, empower, and engage the leaders of the new school.” She is committed to using art and literature as tools for social action, critical literacy, positive identity formation, healing, and community building. Follow her on twitter @Glenda_Nicole

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When Posing Goes Wrong: Ricky Rozay is not about that life.

When Posing Goes Wrong: Ricky Rozay is not about that life.

His Story


(picture from www.allhiphop.com)

Rapper Ricky Rozay aka “Rick Ross” or Ricky False as I like to call him has reached the top of the rap game. With a smooth delivery his flows reflects the life of an imaginary drug lord with all the glitz and glamor, the former correctional officer has taken this character and acted his way to the top. Guns, Money, and Drugs is the code he lives by (well at least in raps). However, recently the imitation gangster life has finally caught up to him.

Over the last the few months Rozay has been in the crosshairs from the real life gangstas he loves to imitate, particularly the gang “Gangster Disciples.” Rozay upset the gang when he name dropped (which he loves to do) founder Larry Hoover in his song. The gang basically told Rozay to pay up or he is a dead man, and now recently Rozay had his car shot up in the streets of South Florida.

I recently read a letter that South Florida rap legend Uncle Luke wrote to Rozay encouraging him to stop perpetrating the gangsta life. Uncle Luke dropped some jewels of truth down to Rozay with such lines as : “Hip-hop has a rich history of college guys who never committed a crime rapping about moving kilos of cocaine and taking out snitches,” and “Every gangster rapper takes on the role of a real hood legend to build up street cred.”  Uncle Luke urged Rozay to squash his beefs for his life is really at stake with this line: “But I don’t want you to fall into the trap of believing you are really a gangster. Trust me, you don’t want to go out like Biggie Smalls or Tupac. It’s time you squash your beefs.”

Uncle Luke words go deeper than Rozay’s situation. These days the mainstream hip hop scene is full of wanna be gangstas, and us as a people we support it like the no other. We listen to songs about drug dealing when most of us have never even sold candy. We listen to songs about guns and murders and a good number of us have never even fired a gun and for sure never killed anyone. Our youth listen to these lyrics from these beloved entertainers and take it as gospel. Many take the glorified side of street life as reality and they do not see the dangerous reality until it is too late. Rozay could change the world if he just changed his message. He has the ears of the people especially the youth, he could fill their minds with knowledge and truth. Sadly I don’t see this coming into fruition anytime soon. My hopes and prayers that Rozay understands where his “act” has taken him and changes his ways, not only for his own life but for many lives that look up to him.

We have to stop supporting destruction in our community. The mainstream has taken Willie Lynch and put him over a tight beat and hook, now we are all dancing to destruction. We are at the point now where we are demanding what the mainstream supplies, when the mainstream should be supplying what the people demand. Real people need real music. The people need music we can relate to, and not about some fantasy life that most of us care not to be involved in. Until we decide as a people that we want more out of entertainers, the ignorance will continue. Live real or die fake.


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