June 05, 2014
By MESFIN FEKADU
Mariah Carey’s latest album kicks off in wonderful and typical Mariah form: She sings a song that immediately pulls you in, which has ranged from a killer club jam to a searing slow song in the past. “Cry,” a torching, emotional tune, is the song that does its job on “Me. I Am Mariah ... The Elusive Chanteuse.” You feel like you are about to experience musical bliss, and most of the time Carey has been able to hit it out of the park.
But like many veteran all-stars, there comes a time when singers make more errors and can’t score a hit like they used to. Sadly, that is what is happening with Carey.
The batch of tracks on her 14th record are enjoyable, but they don’t have the pizazz and spark of her past albums, including 2009’s “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel,” her worst-selling album, though musically it was one of the year’s best works.
“Elusive Chanteuse” borrows from Carey’s earlier work — and while the powerful singer still has the vocal chops, her songs find her looking too much to the past. The downtempo ballad “You're Mine (Eternal)” is “We Belong Together” 2.0, while the bouncy “Thirsty” sounds like it was recorded a decade ago. And tracks like the Q-Tip-produced dance number “Meteorite,” “You Don’t Know What to Do” and “Make It Look Good” are album-fillers that don't help the project stay on track.
Carey has been recording the album since 2011, and she’s struggled with its singles, from “You’re Mine” to “The Art of Letting Go” to “#Beautiful,” a mellow outtake featuring Miguel that was released a year ago and peaked in the Top 20. Throughout the struggle, she called megaproducer Jermaine Dupri to come onboard as her manager and executive producer to shape the album. The magical duo, who have collaborated on hits such as “Always Be My Baby,” “We Belong Together” and “Don’t Forget About Us,” haven't completely lost their charm, but the thrill is somewhat gone.
Fashion rules are made to be broken, Rihanna told a glittering crowd of fashion industry leaders on Monday June 2, and her outfit dramatically conveyed that message: a sheer fishnet gown, sparkling with thousands of embedded crystals, that left little underneath to the imagination.
The singer cemented her role as a fashion luminary by receiving the 2014 Fashion Icon Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Her trophy was presented by Anna Wintour, the powerful Vogue editor, who said that with Rihanna, “the point is to be audacious — even jaw-dropping or button-pushing.”
Accepting the award, Rihanna spoke of her origins in Barbados, where “I didn’t have a lot of access to fashion.” But, she said: “Fashion has always been my defense mechanism.” Even as a child, she told the crowd, she used to think: “She can beat me, but she can't beat my outfit.”
“I can compensate for all my weaknesses with my fashion,” she said, adding: “There are rules, but rules are meant to be broken.”
Also honored at the annual CFDA ceremony at Lincoln Center were a number of top designers. Joseph Altuzarra won the womenswear award, and the menswear prize went to Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, the duo behind the Public School label. Sisters Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen of The Row won the accessories award.
The international award went to Raf Simons of Dior, and the CFDA lifetime achievement award went to designer Tom Ford, who quipped that he hoped it didn’t spell the end of his career.
“Please have me back in another 25 years,” Ford joked. “I promise I’ll wear a toupee and walk with a cane.”
She was introduced by model Naomi Campbell, who choked up when she described her admiration for Hardison. When Hardison came onstage to accept her trophy, so did 16 models of color, standing behind her and smiling. She spoke passionately of the need for diverse runways — “just let them model,” she said — and added that things were improving throughout the industry on that score.
The annual CFDA show, hosted this year by director and screenwriter John Waters, always draws a mix of fashion insiders and Hollywood. This year, one of the biggest names was Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, who presented the womenswear award to Altuzarra.
Nyong’o, who has become as famous for her choices on the red carpet as her skyrocketing acting career, told the crowd that if there was one thing she had learned in a year of film festivals and awards shows, “it is the power of fashion.” She wore a cropped Suno jumpsuit, in multi-colored stripes.
Other Hollywood stars in attendance included Blake Lively in a short Michael Kors dress, and Emmy Rossum in a green chiffon J. Mendel gown. Greta Gerwig wore a bright orange Zac Posen gown.
But none made as big a splash as Rihanna, in her translucent outfit designed by Adam Selman that was embedded with more than 200,000 Swarovski crystals. The gown was accompanied by matching, elbow-length gloves and a glittering headscarf.
Speaking of Rihanna before the show, designer Posen called the pop star a fashion risk-taker who skillfully melds red carpet glamour with a rebellious streak.
“She takes risks and she marches to her own drum and she knows what she likes,” Posen told The Associated Press.
Rihanna also has a great appreciation for designers, Posen added: “That’s why people love to dress her.”
Also singing Rihanna’s praises was popular designer Alexander Wang, a nominee for both the womenswear and accessories awards.
“I love my girl RiRi,” he said. “She’s fearless. She has guts. Even in sweatpants, she owns it!”
May 29, 2014
Aries March 21 - April 19
f you're thinking of signing a deal, writing that novel, or beginning an Internet business, this week's New Moon in Gemini may be the best time to make a start. Taking action in conjunction with the Moon tide could help bring success sooner than you'd hoped. On another note, you may be drawn to life's luxuries, which you thoroughly deserve. However, don't let extravagance lead to overspending. Your intuition kicks in later, enabling you to focus on your best course of action.
Taurus April 20 - May 20
You'll be in your element this week, as Venus moves into your sign to give you a confidence boost and perhaps make you an attractive option. Image may become important as a result, encouraging you to consider a makeover that could increase the feel-good factor. Where money is concerned, make use of the midweek New Moon if you're about to initiate a financial plan, especially if you want to increase your cash reserves. It might help things come together for you sooner rather than later.
Gemini May 21 - June 20
This week's New Moon in Gemini may be the best of the year for you. It brings the chance to make changes in any area of life you choose. Whether its money, health, or career, you have a two-week window of opportunity in which to start. Roll with the Moon tide and the results could be better than you'd hoped. Mercury eases into Cancer to enhance your ability to intuit the best financial deals or bargains. Trusting your gut could lead to lucrative opportunities.
Cancer June 21 - July 22
As tension continues to ease, you'll feel a lot better about your situation than you did. Perhaps you'll be motivated to move out of your comfort zone and take on a challenge that may have seemed too daunting before. Venus eases into Taurus and your social sector lights up to become a haven of indulgent opportunities. It might be hard to resist invitations to delicious meals, shopping trips with your best pals, or a spa day. Intuitively, you're on a roll!
Leo July 23 - August 22
This week's New Moon brings the promise of new friends and the chance to move in new circles. This isn't the time to stay stuck in a social rut but rather to mix with all kinds of folks, particularly those who can help you reach your key goals. Later, as Mercury moves into Cancer, you may find your dreams becoming more powerful. It might be a good idea to take note of particularly vivid ones, as they may have special guidance for you.
Virgo August 23 - September 22
You get the opportunity to make a fresh career start, as this week's New Moon encourages you to forge ahead with plans and ideas. Collaborating with others and pooling resources might be another way to succeed at a goal that would be impossible otherwise. However, be careful when signing contracts or important deals, and be sure to read the fine print, because not everything is as it seems. Later, Mercury's move into Cancer enhances social opportunities for romance and business.
Libra September 23 - October 22
Exploring fresh options, moving out of your comfort zone, and expanding your horizons can help you get the most out of life. Whether you want to travel, study, or see a different side of life, this week's influences encourage you to try. Venus enters Taurus midweek to also enhance your love life and help make your most intimate moments deeply sensual. From Thursday, pay attention to intuitive nudges, as doing so could help your career to blossom while saving time and resources.
Scorpio October 23 - November 21
If you've been hoping for a new financial start, this week's New Moon could be the catalyst that encourages you to act. Use this opportunity to consolidate debts, review investments, and get your money to work harder for you in general. Venus enters Taurus midweek to enhance a love relationship, bringing extra warmth and nurturing to those important bonds. From Thursday, you might be tempted to take a trip down memory lane, particularly if meeting an old friend or visiting a place can bring closure.
Sagittarius November 22 - December 21
You can certainly have fun, but you'll have more enjoyment if you tackle a pending worry early and get it out of the way. Use the Gemini New Moon to discuss plans with your sweetheart or other interested parties before taking action. As Venus enters Taurus midweek, there may be a tendency to overindulge, which might not help your diet or exercise efforts. "Everything in moderation" should perhaps be your mantra, giving you a chance to keep fit and look good.
Capricorn December 22 - January 19
Aquarius January 20 - February 18
Perhaps it's time to seize a romantic opportunity and make the most of it. If you're hoping to get more deeply involved with someone, this might be the perfect chance to propose a date. Plus, homey pursuits could tempt you to spend more time entertaining at your place as the influence of Venus encourages you to play host. Inviting your pals and extended family for some of your home-cooked food and nurturing attention could keep you busy but happy.
Pisces February 19 - March 20
If you're eager to make changes on the home front, the midweek New Moon in Gemini could be the best time to start. Whether you're dealing with a major project or redecorating, put your best foot forward by tapping into this productive Moon phase. You'll also find that Venus entering Taurus can help you obtain some lucrative deals if you're willing to connect with the right people. Later, your natural empathy may be enhanced, enabling you to better connect with others.
Will Smith Developing Annual New Year’s Eve Special
Stepping in the shoes of Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest, Will Smith will be developing his own Annual New Year’s Eve Special. Smith and his production company Overbrook Entertainment are reportedly developing a New Year’s Eve television special that will parallel to Dick Clark Productions’ “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.” According to the New York Post, “As of now, it’s being shopped to the networks. It would feature musical performances, possibly one by Will.” There is talk of his friend David Beckham joining him in this new venture. Sources say Smith’s people want to film it in Miami and include his friend David Beckham: “They want to do something with Beckham and his focus on his Miami soccer team.” Smith and Overbrook Entertainment are looking to party town Miami as home to the new festivities. There is no word on whether the special will be a family affair with wife Jada, son Jaden and daughter Willow.
Martin Lawrence and Kelsey Grammer teaming up for FX Comedy “Partners”
Two TV-comedic icons will double the laughs with new series “Partners.” The FX comedy follows two opposing Chicago lawyers who are brought together by circumstance. Marcus Jackson (Lawrence) is a soft-hearted community activist going through a divorce. Allen Braddock (Grammer) is a highbrow lawyer who’s just been fired from his father’s firm. But after meeting in court, the pair develop a strong partnership and friendship. Alongside Lawrence and Grammer will co-star Telma Hopkins, Rory O’Malley, McKaley Miller, Edi Patterson and Daniele Watts. The series will air two back-to-back episodes every Monday for five consecutive weeks, reports TVGuide.com. “Partners” will premiere Monday, Aug. 4.
Angela Bassett to Direct Lifetime Original movie “Whitney Houston” detailing the life and career of the icon and her tumultuous relationship with Bobby Brown
Golden Globe Award winner and Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett will make her directorial debut with the Lifetime Original Movie Whitney Houston. Scheduled for a 2015 world premiere, “Whitney Houston” chronicles the headline-making relationship between the iconic singer, actress, producer and model, and singer, songwriter Bobby Brown, from the time they first met at the very height of their celebrity, to their courtship and tumultuous marriage. Throughout it all, difficulties followed the superstar couple while they dealt with the overwhelming rewards and consequences of the fame and fortune created by Whitney’s meteoric rise that would soon overshadow them both. “I have such regard for both Whitney’s and Bobby’s amazing talents and accomplishments; and I feel a responsibility in the telling of their story,” said Bassett. “Their humanity and bond fascinates us all. I’m beyond excited to have this opportunity to go behind the camera and into their world.” Produced by The Sanitsky Company, Whitney Houston will be executive produced by Larry Sanitsky (Betty & Coretta). Shem Bitterman (Betty & Coretta) wrote the film’s script.
Original Talk Series “exhale” to air exclusively on ASPiRE this June
ASPiRE’s popular weekly original talk series “exhale” continues with four all-new episodes in June. No issue goes untouched, the talk show tackles Feminism, Childhood Health and Wellness, Education and Reinventing Your Life. Season two of the eight-episode series continues to air through June 25th on Wednesdays at 8p.m. only on ASPiRE. Hosted by five dynamic, successful African American women – journalist and media maven Angela Burt-Murray; actress and comedian Erin Jackson; director, writer and actress Issa Rae; blogger, author and TV anchor Rene Syler; and actress Malinda Williams, “exhale” brings viewers honest, funny and candid discussion on a wide range of topics affecting African-American women. Shot on location in Los Angeles, an intriguing range of special guests including Tracee Ellis Ross, Kimberle Crenshaw, Feminista Jones, Sahar Simmons just to name a few join in the conversation and fun. ASPiRE and the hosts further connect, engage and continue dynamic, nimble dialogue with the audience through social media. For more information, please go to www.aspire.tv/exhale, Twitter on @ExhaleTV, and Facebook at facebook.com/ExhaleTV.
VH1’s “The Tanning Of America: One Nation Under Hip Hop” Earns a Emmy nomination
Steve Stoute’s VH1’s “The Tanning Of America: One Nation Under Hip Hop is a contender in Outstanding Documentary Non-Fiction Series category for the Primetime Emmy Awards. The series follows an in-depth look at hip-hop as a pop cultural movement, whose profound influence eventually paved the way for the election of Barack Obama. The series was directed by Billy Corben & Alfred Spellman and premiered on VH1 in February 2014. The documentary included interviews and footage of Hip Hop influences such as Diddy, Dr. Dre, Norman Leer, Mariah Carey, Will.i.am, Russell Simmons, Pharrell, Nas, Reverend Run, Rick Rubin, Fab 5 Freddy, Jimmy lovine, Al Sharpton, Cory Booker, Brett Ratner, Brian Grazer, Tommy Hilfiger, Ron Howard, and Stoute himself, among many others. The documentary is based off of former music executive Stoute’s bestselling novel, The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy.
May 29, 2014
By Phreddy Wischusen
Special to the NNPA from The Michigan Citizen
There were about 15 or 20 people dancing, playing pool, chatting and having drinks the night of May 15 at the Painted Lady, a dimly-lit Hamtramck dive bar, frequented by metro Detroit rock musicians.
Andrew Miller, who was DJing that night, says a few people had even begun singing along to, “Other thing” by Detroit hip hop group The Anonymous featuring Kresge Arts fellows Passalacqua.
The crowd’s warm response to the song prompted Miller to play another Passalacqua track.
Miller, one of two DJs that night, had dedicated his mix to the local scene, playing a wide variety of genres as long as the music was made by metro-Detroit artists.
As “Sunset City,” a mellow hip hop song about summer days in Detroit — setting up multiple air conditioners, snacking and playing chess with friends — began, Miller heard a man yell, “Oh f— no. Not in my bar.” Miller identified the man as local musician Timmy “Vulgar” Lampinen.
Lampinen reportedly yelled, “We don’t play (rap music) because it attracts a certain type of crowd. That’s also why we don’t serve Hennessy.”
Miller, who is white, perceived Lampinen’s comments to be racist.
Lampinen went to the jukebox, which served as the speaker for the DJs’ music, and played another song, effectively silencing “Sunset City.”
Dr. Kefentse Chike, adjunct professor of Africana Studies at Wayne State University also believes Lampinen’s words have racial implications.
“You have these coded racial terms, where a lot of white people will, in a kind of denial of being racist, come up with these terms that clearly have racial implications — they are as racist as if you used the n-word — but (they) can express the same (racist) ethos, but use words that conceal the fact that (they’re) racist, at least on the surface. It’s a lie by omission.” Chike says.
Miller packed his equipment and left the bar. Lampinen followed Miller to the parking lot, where he apologized, but did not retract or acknowledge his statements. When Miller responded it was not the volume of Lampinen’s remarks, but the racism inherent in them that bothered him, Lampinen reportedly yelled, “Oh, I’m racist? F— you. You’re never allowed back here.”
Lampinen is not the owner of the Painted Lady. He is an employee who was not working that night. In a brief exchange with the Michigan Citizen, Andrew Dow, one of the Painted Lady’s owners, made it clear that Lampinen did not speak for the bar.
“African Americans have always been welcome,” Dow said. “(Lampinen) was being a drunk idiot.” Patron Becky Garcia pointed out via Facebook the Painted Lady has organized reggae, funk, soul and Motown nights in the past and doesn’t share Lampinen’s apparent views of traditionally Black music forms.
Lampinen is also a former Kresge winner, having been awarded a $25,000 fellowship in 2010 for his rock music. According to their website, the Kresge Arts program aims to: “enrich the quality of life for metro Detroiters by helping artists provide a broad spectrum of cultural experiences, (and) celebrate and reflect the richness and diversity of our community in all its aspects…”
Miller posted about the incident on Facebook, which was shared by others igniting controversy throughout Detroit’s independent music community. While some vowed never to patronize the Painted Lady again, others suggested the incident did not deserve attention.
In response to one of the shared posts, which has since been removed, Lampinen said the issue was not the genre of music being played but the fact that the music was loud and the door was ajar which could have bothered the neighbors.
He also criticized Miller for “pulling the race card.”
Dr. Chike says Lampinen’s unwillingness to take responsibility for his comments is problematic.
“What greatly impacts race relations and inhibits us from being able to heal some of this stuff is, for the most part, white people do not want to own (their racism). It’s like drugs — if you are never going to admit you are (an addict) you are never going to get past it,” Chike said. “If he was truly operating from a non-racist perspective, he wouldn’t have responded to the gentleman’s comments the way he did. He would have had more of a desire to try to make some kind of amends or extend himself. The Michigan Citizen contacted Lampinen about the incident, he responded: “I love everyone! LET’S DANCE!!!!!”
Lampinen later asked Miller to remove the Facebook post about the incident.
Chike warns African Americans and whites not to overly personalize such incidents by either focusing exclusively on how bad the “racist” person is, or how bad it feels to be slighted. “A lot of times we personalize it, but the racism is systematic and people participate in it without consciously realizing they are participating in it or benefiting from it.”
Brent “Blak” Smith, one-half of Passalacqua, sees the outburst as indicative of larger issues. “When I initially saw (Miller’s) post I wasn’t surprised or upset,” says Smith. “When you’ve been making art in Detroit for a while, you notice the ‘codes.’ It’s similar to the FM radio stations’ boasting they play all the hits without the rap. Black codes, rap codes are almost synonymous anywhere.”
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