December 05, 2013

By D. Kevin McNeir

Special to the NNPA from The Miami Times


Albert “Prodigy” Johnson, 49, is one half of the legendary rap duo Mobb Deep — Havoc being his equally-talented partner behind the mic. But one of the things you realize when sitting down with Prodigy is that he is not the stereotypical rap star. His grandmother, Bernice Johnson, who he says taught him about the world of business and a lot more, was the founder of her own dance studio in Queens, rising just behind the iconic Alvin Ailey in terms of success. grandfather, Budd Johnson and his uncle, Keg Johnson, were both stars in the bebop jazz era — his mother, Fatima Frances Collins, was a member of The Crystals — one of the defining acts of the girl group ear in the early 60s. And it is reported that he is the great-great-grandson of the founder of Morehouse College.

So with such a lineage, music and intellectual thought were clearly part of his DNA. But what’s Prodigy doing these days and how’s life now that he’s served his time associated with a gun-possession charge?

“I’m here in Miami to promote my series of novellas, the first one entitled ‘H.N.I.C.,’” he said. “I took some of my friends from Brooklyn and made a fiction story about us. It was originally a movie script and I plan to make it into an independent film with me in front of the camera. I’ve wanted to get into Hollywood but it’s still very tough and so I’m doing to do my own thing.”

Prodigy’s musical career and the beef between rappers from the East Coast and the West Coast is well chronicled. But how does he compare old school rap to those who are entering the industry today.

“We had something special going on back in the early 90s and from my perspective, it was a defining moment in terms of hip hop,” he said. “We created a new sound — New York hip hop and I came up with folks like P. Diddy, Wu-Tang Clan and Nas. It was truly a golden era — one in which we were laying down substantive lyrics. It was a dangerous world too and I’m glad to say that New York City, at least, is a far safer place today than it was back then.”

He says that his lyrics and his life were equally impacted by his health — he has dealt with sickle cell anemia since childhood.

“My belief and relationship to God were instrumental in my living beyond 40 — that’s the estimated lifespan for a person with the disease,” he said. “But also, being in New York and exposed to KRS-One, the Five-Percent Nation and the 120 Lessons made me want to learn about our history and expand my mind. We need more people to bring that kind of thing to the table. You see it’s not just about partying, sex and spending money.

There was a rage within us back in those days and you can hear it in my lyrics and even those of Tupac. I’ve written my memoirs and now I’m writing fiction that has really allowed me to use my imagination.

My hope is that novellas like mine will inspire youth to want to read more. I didn’t read when I was growing up. I just want to write things that interest them and teach them about the ups and downs of life.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

December 05, 2013

R&B star R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet” will return to his hip-hopera to IFC cable network with additional installments.

Although a premiere date or number of episodes hasn't been announced, the network is already celebrating with a marathon of the previous 33 chapters of the series set for Dec. 7

The hip-hopera originally began as a five-video series to accompany the melodramatic segment of songs on his 2005 disc, “TP.3 Reloaded.” A bizarre and complex storyline featuring sexual exploits, little people, gossipy drama and Kelly playing multiple characters, “Trapped in the Closet” became a cult hit after it was released.

Fan demand made the singer continue to add chapters and roll out the accompanying videos on DVD. Subsequent installments started airing on IFC and streamed on the network’s website in 2007.

Early last year, Kelly and the network announced that they had reunited to produce even more episodes of the saga. Those episodes premiered in November 2012.

Aside from starring as many of the screwy characters in the absurdly hilarious “Trapped” universe, Kelly serves as the executive producer, writer and co-director of the series.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

November 28, 2013

By Blair Adams

Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper


During the fifth annual Governors Awards in Hollywood recently the Giorgio Armani team—known for their sleek and unusual fashions—couldn’t tell the difference between a well-known female actress—and a male actor in a “they-all-look-alike” gaffe.

On Nov. 18, stars walked the red carpet, which has historically been linked to a time for celebrities to show off their tailor-made apparel. Alfre Woodard was labeled Idris Elba—a male star—in a caption on its Instagram account triggering howls on Twitter.

“Idris Elba posing in a gorgeous Giorgio #Armani dress at the 5th Annual Governors Award,” the luxury fashion house posted on Twitter when Woodard walked the red carpet and posed for cameras—wearing their gown.

Armani quickly deleted the mistake, but not before several cyberspace followers noticed the error, especially #Black Twitter.

Noting that it was a woman gracing the red carpet in a black, cap-sleeve dress, on-line critics said the confusion between the two was offensive.

According to Rolling Out—a Black entertainment website, “the mistake, which was highly offensive considering that Woodard was mistaken not only for another Black entertainer, but for a man.”

On Instagram, followers posted replies suggesting that incorrect name was embarrassing and a fashion line that held in such a high regard, should have known who she was and not messed up somebody’s name.

Therealqueenofengland posted, “this is seriously embarrassing. Of course they can’t tell one Black person from another. Even if one is a man and this is clearly a woman. Help yourself #armani. Google exists for idiots like the person who runs your IG.”

That same evening, the Armani folks, in another caption gaffe, reportedly labeled a picture of Elba with actress Naomie Harris erroneously, indicating that Harris and Elba are a romantic pair, according to The Grio. It is untrue. Harris is Elba’s co-star in a movie about South African icon Nelson Mandela.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

December 05, 2013

LAWT Wire Services


Singer-songwriter  Usher Raymond is stepping into his role as Sugar Ray Leonard in the biopic, “Hands of Stone.” The movie is based on Roberto Duran, a boxing world champion in four weight divisions in a career that spanned five decades. Duran, whose nickname was “Hands of Stone,” rose from the slums of Panama to defeat an unbeaten Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980.

The film is currently being shot in Panama and will showcase the 30-pounds slimmer 35-year old R&B singer, who had to drop his weight from 180 pounds to Leonard’s typical fighting weight of 146 pounds. This will be his first leading role in a feature film.  Usher doesn’t appear to be intimidated by the pressure to represent Leonard in a role that can establish him as a serious actor.

“I’m up for the challenge, and I’m looking forward to it … I think my overall feeling is one of anticipation. It seems like this is a real passion project. It’s a film that everybody is so invested in, and I have the good fortune of having the character I’m playing still around,” he said in an interview prior to the start of production.

Usher also said that he believes he has an advantage in playing Leonard. “I think my dancing will make it easier for me to pick up his moves. I’ve been working on familiarizing myself with the ring, sparring and just understanding how to move.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

November 28, 2013


A humanitarian cause may get you out to a meeting with others of like-mindedness this week. You’ll meet some interesting people, and also get a new view of how you are perceived by others if you go. Enjoy! Soul Affirmation: I spend the week celebrating me.
Lucky Numbers:  19, 27, 44


Everybody’s in a full-moon frenzy regarding relationship issues. Listen to what others are saying, and chart your own course through this week. If you are in a relationship, remember what brought you together with this person in the first place, and be glad for what you’ve had. Soul Affirmation: My smile is a radiant light to those I encounter
Lucky Numbers:  8, 21, 29


Your intuition is trying to tell you something. Be still for a bit and let the message come. You know when to exercise caution, and when to let go and revel in pleasure. There’s much pleasure in your life this week. Soul Affirmation: I keep my eyes open for business opportunities this week.
Lucky Numbers:  5, 12, 28


Put one of your new ideas into action this week and see how it feels as you work through your routine. You are in command of how you think this week, so use this beneficial energy to accomplish some of the things you’ve been wanting to do. Soul Affirmation: I paint my world in colors of the rainbow.
Lucky Numbers:  10, 19, 24


Every positive idea you have is likely to be challenged this week, so you may want to keep your brilliance under wraps until at least tomorrow. Your ideas are sound and good; don’t take others’ rude behavior personally. Soul Affirmation: I let go and let the spirit run my life this week
Lucky Numbers:  19, 30, 42


This week’s the week to communicate those ideas. People will seem to be much more receptive and less grouchy. Make sure that your ideas have some practical actions that can be taken, so that people will know how to respond to you. Soul Affirmation: I love many people this week
Lucky Numbers:  6, 12, 19


You are the messenger of freedom this week, and if you are not careful with your words, you’ll find that some people don’t want to be liberated. Not to worry, just go your merry way and enjoy yourself. Others will learn from what you are doing. Soul Affirmation: I let my instincts light my way this week.
Lucky Numbers:  18, 20, 45


Your creativity is pulling you in a wonderful direction. Act on your impulse to create beauty in your life. Pay attention when your nearest, dearest friend is trying to tell you something. Your impatience to get to the next project could cause you to miss a valuable signal. Soul Affirmation: Charm is my middle name this week.
Lucky Numbers:  23, 27, 54


Keep a low profile at a family get-together. Someone wants to scuffle, but won’t be able to if you don’t present yourself as a target. Your checkbook needs looking into; you’ll feel better if it’s balanced. Soul Affirmation: I am patient with all that comes my way this week.
Lucky Numbers:  32, 45, 51


Your home life is important to you this week. Get the family together to take care of some fall clean-up chores and make it a party that everyone will remember with joy. Take the lead on bringing happiness to the occasion. Soul Affirmation: I seek connection with the best that is in me.
Lucky Numbers:  23, 43, 46


Daydreaming will work wonders for your spirit this week. Let your imagination fly freely and follow up on ideas in a leisurely way. You are able to accomplish some very rewarding and life-affirming tasks. Soul Affirmation: I celebrate those around me.
Lucky Numbers:  9, 50, 52


Congratulations on your positive attitude this week! While others may be dragging, your spirit is full of   energy. Enjoy the power-surge of good feelings, and you’ll be lifting others’ spirits just by being you. Soul Affirmation: The true path is mapped out by my impulses.
Lucky Numbers:  14, 17, 19

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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