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An Open Letter from yours truly,

Conversation with Ron Howard, Steve Coogan, Steve McQueen and Alfonso Cuaron on their Actors

In a video interview with Indiewire, three directors and a writer of some of the best movies in 2013 speak about working with the actors in their films.

What Dreams Are Made Of.

In celebration of his 29th birthday, J.Cole is giving gifts to his fans. This evening, he has announced his Dreamville label has signed a partnership deal with Interscope and releases a new mixtape featuring his fellow label mates. Congrats!

Recognition; But On What Terms?

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Macklemore… Man, to be honest, I like him. I like his entire persona as a rap star. He is the little guys hope that you can do it all by yourself. He’s seems like a real good guy. He has been very honest and genuine in his approach to music. He knows how to intertwine pertinent present-day messages within his lyrics by using catchy hooks, great production, and an enjoyable flow. His songs are very accessible. His songs are very safe. He can be played on the radio without much censorship, kids can listen to him; his songs are great for middle school parties and business parties alike. But is this how we define great rap music?

Read the full article

Before Spitta Andretti premieres his The Drive In Theatre, he gives us a sneak peek of his motion picture on his brand new cut with Bronsolini.

While we wait for his super-secret Da Blood Of Jesus (the title of his Kickstarter-funded joint), Spike Lee can be heard on his brand new show on SiriusXM, starting on January 30.

Sirius announced via press release that Spike will host 2 different shows: first, a show exclusively on the newSiriusXM NBA Radio, channel 217, which will be titled Spike Lee’s Best Seat in the House, which will air on Thursday nights, from 7-8pm ET, beginning on January 30. On each episode ofSpike Lee’s Best Seat in the House, devoted New York Knicks fan Lee will discuss headline stories from the NBA and talking with prominent personalities from the worlds of basketball as well as entertainment.

And the second show, which has no name yet, Spike will do long-form interviews with personalities from the worlds of entertainment, politics and more. Additional details on this second show, including launch date and channel, will be announced at a later date. 

Both shows will air every other week.

"I’m thankful to SiriusXM for giving me another platform to express my viewpoint, the way I see and hear things, not only in Basketball and Entertainment but in the world we all live in," said Lee.

A couple nights ago in the NFC championship, the San Francisco 49ers trailed the Seattle Seahawks by six, 23-17, with 30 seconds left in the game. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick had led the 49ers all the way down to the Seahawks’ 18-yard line. He took the snap out of the gun, set his feet, and released a flossy little fade to the corner of the end zone, where receiver Michael Crabtree had his hands out.

And then Richard Sherman happened. Sherman, a 6-foot-3 physical marvel and the current best cornerback in the NFL, leaped with Crabtree, and falling backward toward the rear of the end zone, he tipped the pass with his left hand back inbounds to a teammate and ended the 49ers season.It was a spectacular play, a historic play, the kind of play we’ll be seeing on NFL playoff ads in five, 10, 20 years.

But we’re not talking about that play today. Instead, we’re talking about what happened right after the play, when reporter Erin Andrews found Richard Sherman in the postgame scrum just seconds after the final buzzer.

When Erin Andrews asked Sherman to rehash the play, the cornerback instead barked out: “I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you’re gonna get! Don’t you ever talk about me!” Then he glared directly into the camera.

It was so powerful, so raw of a reaction that Andrews needed a moment before proceeding. The league’s best cornerback had made the best move of his career on the biggest play of his career to win the biggest game of his career, against an opposing wide receiver and college head coach with whom he shares not a little bad blood. This was a triumphant moment, and still to a lot of people there was something viscerally ugly about Sherman standing over a pretty blonde woman, yelling into our living rooms with an emotional mixture of joy, relief, and excitement, arrogance, and anger.

Millions of Americans took to their cell phones, to social media, to the bar patron next to them, to cluck at Sherman. We called him classless, a bad sportsman, a troll. We called him a monkey and a nigger. We threatened his life. We said that he set black people and race relations back 30, 50, 100 years.

Because in that moment, Sherman—a singular kid from Compton who won both the athletic and intellectual lottery so completely, so authoritatively, that he spent three years playing on Stanford’s football team at wide receiver before converting to defensive back and becoming the NFL’s best at the position—was in the public eye. In that moment, whether he knew, cared, or neither, Richard Sherman, a public figure, became a proxy for the black male id.

When you’re a public figure, there are rules. Here’s one: A public personality can be black, talented, or arrogant, but he can’t be any more than two of these traits at a time. It’s why antics and soundbites from guys like Brett Favre, Johnny Football and Bryce Harper seem almost hyper-American, capable of capturing the country’s imagination, but black superstars like Sherman, Floyd Mayweather, and Cam Newton are seen as polarizing, as selfish, as glory boys, as distasteful and perhaps offensive.

All this is based on the common, very American belief that black males must know their place, and more tellingly, that their place is somewhere different than that of whites. It’s been etched into our cultural fabric that to act as anything but a loud, yet harmless buffoon or an immensely powerful, yet humble servant is overstepping. It’s uppity. It is, to use Knapp’s word, petrifying.

The problem is that too many people think that Iguodala has a point. Too many of us think that one ecstatic, triumphant black man showing honest, human emotion just seconds after making a play of his lifetime, is not only offensive, but is also representative of the tens of millions of blacks in this country. And in two weeks time, in the year 2014, too many of us will be rooting for the Denver Broncos for no other reason than to knock Richard Sherman down a few notches, if only to put him back in his place.

written by Greg Howard of Deadspin

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Schoolboy lets loose of another track off his highly anticipated debut album. Alchemist produced this joint here, titled Break the Bank. 

Pre-order OXYMORON on iTunes now! 

Release: Feb 25, 2014

Pre-order: deluxe 
Pre-order: standard

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Most of you have no idea of what Martin Luther King Jr. actually did.

This will be a very short diary. It will not contain any links or any scholarly references. It is about a very narrow topic, from a very personal, subjective perspective.

The topic at hand is what Martin Luther King actually did, what it was that he actually accomplished.  

What most people who reference Dr. King seem not to know is how Dr. King actually changed the subjective experience of life in the United States for African Americans. And yeah, I said for African Americans, not for Americans, because his main impact was his effect on the lives of African Americans, not on Americans in general. His main impact was not to make white people nicer or fairer. That’s why some of us who are African Americans get a bit possessive about his legacy. Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy, despite what our civil religion tells us, is not color blind.

Head below the fold to read about what Martin Luther King, Jr. actually did.

I remember that many years ago, when I was a smartass home from first year of college, I was standing in the kitchen arguing with my father. My head was full of newly discovered political ideologies and black nationalism, and I had just read the Autobiography of Malcolm X, probably for the second time.  

A bit of context. My father was from a background, which if we were talking about Europe or Latin America, we would call, “peasant” origin, although he had risen solidly into the working-middle class. He was from rural Virginia and his parents had been tobacco farmers. I spent two weeks or so every summer on the farm of my grandmother and step-grandfather. They had no running water, no gas, a wood burning stove, no bathtubs or toilets but an outhouse, potbelly stoves for heat in the winter, a giant wood pile, a smoke house where hams and bacon hung, chickens, pigs, semi wild housecats that lived outdoors, no tractor or car, but an old plow horse and plows and other horse drawn implements, and electricity only after I was about 8 years old. The area did not have high schools for blacks and my father went as far as the seventh grade in a one room schoolhouse. All four of his grandparents, whom he had known as a child, had been born slaves. It was mainly because of World War II and urbanization that my father left that life.  

They lived in a valley or hollow or “holler” in which all the landowners and tenants were black. In the morning if you wanted to talk to cousin Taft, you would walk down to behind the outhouse and yell across the valley, “Heeeyyyy Taaaaft,” and you could see him far, far in the distance, come out of his cabin and yell back.  

On the one hand, this was a pleasant situation because they lived in isolation from white people. On the other hand, they did have to leave the valley to go to town where all the rigid rules of Jim Crow applied. By the time I was little, my people had been in this country for six generations (going back, according to oral rendering of our genealogy, to Africa Jones and Mama Suki), much more under slavery than under freedom, and all of it under some form of racial terrorism, which had inculcated many humiliating behavior patterns.

Anyway, that’s background. I think we were kind of typical as African Americans in the pre-civil rights era went.

So anyway, I was having this argument with my father about Martin Luther King and how his message was too conservative compared to Malcolm X’s message. My father got really angry at me. It wasn’t that he disliked Malcolm X, but his point was that Malcolm X hadn’t accomplished anything as Dr. King had.  

I was kind of sarcastic and asked something like, so what did Martin Luther King accomplish other than giving his “I have a dream speech.”

Before I tell you what my father told me, I want to digress. Because at this point in our amnesiac national existence, my question pretty much reflects the national civic religion view of what Dr. King accomplished. He gave this great speech. Or some people say, “he marched.” I was so angry at Mrs. Clinton during the primaries when she said that Dr. King marched, but it was LBJ who delivered the Civil Rights Act.

At this point, I would like to remind everyone exactly what Martin Luther King did, and it wasn’t that he “marched” or gave a great speech.

My father told me with a sort of cold fury, "Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south."

Please let this sink in and and take my word and the word of my late father on this. If you are a white person who has always lived in the U.S. and never under a brutal dictatorship, you probably don’t know what my father was talking about.  

But this is what the great Dr. Martin Luther King accomplished. Not that he marched, nor that he gave speeches.

He ended the terror of living as a black person, especially in the south.

I’m guessing that most of you, especially those having come fresh from seeing The Help, may not understand what this was all about. But living in the south (and in parts of the midwest and in many ghettos of the north) was living under terrorism.  

It wasn’t that black people had to use a separate drinking fountain or couldn’t sit at lunch counters, or had to sit in the back of the bus.  

You really must disabuse yourself of this idea. Lunch counters and buses were crucial symbolic planes of struggle that the civil rights movement used to dramatize the issue, but the main suffering in the south did not come from our inability to drink from the same fountain, ride in the front of the bus or eat lunch at Woolworth’s.

It was that white people, mostly white men, occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them. You all know about lynching. But you may forget or not know that white people also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment.  

This constant low level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running. It made life miserable, stressful and terrifying for black people.  

White people also occasionally tried black people, especially black men, for crimes for which they could not conceivably be guilty. With the willing participation of white women, they often accused black men of “assault,” which could be anything from rape to not taking off one’s hat, to “reckless eyeballing.”  

This is going to sound awful and perhaps a stain on my late father’s memory, but when I was little, before the civil rights movement, my father taught me many, many humiliating practices in order to prevent the random, terroristic, berserk behavior of white people. The one I remember most is that when walking down the street in New York City side by side, hand in hand with my hero-father, if a white woman approached on the same sidewalk, I was to take off my hat and walk behind my father, because he had been taught in the south that black males for some reason were supposed to walk single file in the presence of any white lady.  

This was just one of many humiliating practices we were taught to prevent white people from going berserk.  

I remember a huge family reunion one August with my aunts and uncles and cousins gathered around my grandparents’ vast breakfast table laden with food from the farm, and the state troopers drove up to the house with a car full of rifles and shotguns, and everyone went kind of weirdly blank. They put on the masks that black people used back then to not provoke white berserkness. My strong, valiant, self-educated, articulate uncles, whom I adored, became shuffling, Step-N-Fetchits to avoid provoking the white men. Fortunately the troopers were only looking for an escaped convict. Afterward, the women, my aunts, were furious at the humiliating performance of the men, and said so, something that even a child could understand.

This is the climate of fear that Dr. King ended.

If you didn’t get taught such things, let alone experience them, I caution you against invoking the memory of Dr. King as though he belongs exclusively to you and not primarily to African Americans.  

The question is, how did Dr. King do this—and of course, he didn’t do it alone.  

(Of all the other civil rights leaders who helped Dr. King end this reign of terror, I think the most under appreciated is James Farmer, who founded the Congress of Racial Equality and was a leader of nonviolent resistance, and taught the practices of nonviolent resistance.)

So what did they do?

They told us: Whatever you are most afraid of doing vis-a-vis white people, go do it. Go ahead down to city hall and try to register to vote, even if they say no, even if they take your name down.  

Go ahead sit at that lunch counter. Sue the local school board. All things that most black people would have said back then, without exaggeration, were stark raving insane and would get you killed.

If we do it all together, we’ll be okay.

They made black people experience the worst of the worst, collectively, that white people could dish out, and discover that it wasn’t that bad. They taught black people how to take a beating—from the southern cops, from police dogs, from fire department hoses. They actually coached young people how to crouch, cover their heads with their arms and take the beating. They taught people how to go to jail, which terrified most decent people.

And you know what? The worst of the worst, wasn’t that bad.  

Once people had been beaten, had dogs sicced on them, had fire hoses sprayed on them, and been thrown in jail, you know what happened?

These magnificent young black people began singing freedom songs in jail.  

That, my friends, is what ended the terrorism of the south. Confronting your worst fears, living through it, and breaking out in a deep throated freedom song. The jailers knew they had lost when they beat the crap out of these young Negroes and the jailed, beaten young people began to sing joyously, first in one town then in another. This is what the writer, James Baldwin, captured like no other writer of the era.

Please let this sink in. It wasn’t marches or speeches. It was taking a severe beating, surviving and realizing that our fears were mostly illusory and that we were free.

So yes, Dr. King had many other goals, many other more transcendent, non-racial, policy goals, goals that apply to white people too, like ending poverty, reducing the war-like aspects of our foreign policy, promoting the New Deal goal of universal employment, and so on. But his main accomplishment was ending 200 years of racial terrorism, by getting black people to confront their fears. So please don’t tell me that Martin Luther King’s dream has not been achieved, unless you knew what racial terrorism was like back then and can make a convincing case you still feel it today. If you did not go through that transition, you’re not qualified to say that the dream was not accomplished.

That is what Dr. King did—not march, not give good speeches. He crisscrossed the south organizing people, helping them not be afraid, and encouraging them, like Gandhi did in India, to take the beating that they had been trying to avoid all their lives.  

Once the beating was over, we were free.

It wasn’t the Civil Rights Act, or the Voting Rights Act or the Fair Housing Act that freed us. It was taking the beating and thereafter not being afraid. So, sorry Mrs. Clinton, as much as I admire you, you were wrong on this one. Our people freed ourselves and those Acts, as important as they were, were only white people officially recognizing what we had done.

written by Hamden Rice

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What’s there left to say about Kanye West? Certainly, West himself would have plenty to say. After all, he’s the guy who, during an NBC telethon to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina, proclaimed, off script, that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” He’s the guy who stormed the stage at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards and announced that his good friend Jay-Z’s significant other, Beyoncé, should have won the prize just bestowed upon the perpetually in faux-awe Taylor Swift. He’s the guy who, in front of the large fabricated-mountain set on his recent “Yeezus” tour, has alternately taken aim at Hedi Slimane, Bernard Arnault, François-Henri Pinault, and Nike; likened himself to Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, and Michelangelo; embarked on a long and winding monologue about Lenny Kravitz (at which Kravitz was present); and asked Google head Eric Schmidt to invest in his design firm Donda (named after West’s late mother)—all while still retaining the level-eyed insight to hold Le Corbusier and Q-Tip as inhabitors of similarly lofty creative planes. 


A lot of it, of course, is just old-fashioned “I’m the Alpha with no Omega” hip-hop theater. But some of it seems to emanate from some deeper, less performative place for West. Lest we forget that before he was a pop-star polymath, he was an in-demand producer whose aspirations to become a rapper in his own right were thoroughly and consistently dismissed by the very people who were profiting from his skills as a songwriter and beat-maker. He’s also the guy who, after a near-fatal car crash in 2002, turned the experience into a song called “Through the Wire,” which he rapped while still recovering from the accident, audibly struggling to spit out rhymes with his jaw wired shut. And he’s the guy who, over the last decade, has turned out six creatively diverse, distinctively classic solo albums filled with almost as many left turns as hits, from the earnest grit of 2004’s The College Dropout (“Through the Wire,” “Jesus Walks”) to the lush musicality of 2005’s Late Registration (“Touch the Sky,” “Gold Digger”), from the anthemic grandeur of 2007’sGraduation (“Stronger,” “Good Life,” “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”) to the auto-tuned poetry of 2008’s 808s & Heartbreak (“Love Lockdown,” “Heartless”), the brilliantly realized rushes of bombast and vulnerability on 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (“Runaway,” “Power,” “All of the Lights”), and the lean, industrial future-soul of his latest album, Yeezus (“Black Skinhead,” “Blood on the Leaves,” “Bound 2”). Over the course of that sustained creative run—an almost unprecedented one in the world of urban music, which thrives off constant novelty—West has perhaps done more than any other hip-hop artist to bring the bold experimentation and cathartic emotional energy of rock ‘n’ roll to rap. Along the way, there have also been, amongst myriad other endeavors, forays into film (such as the 34-minute extended video for “Runaway” that he directed) and high-end fashion (he showed two seasons in Paris), a record label (G.O.O.D. Music), collaborations with the likes of Riccardo Tisci, Takashi Murakami, and George Condo, and a joint album with Jay-Z (2011’s Watch the Throne). 

You don’t have to search far in West’s bio for formative moments. The car accident, his mother’s sudden death in 2007 following a cosmetic procedure, and the birth this past summer of his daughter, North, with girlfriend (and now fiancée) Kim Kardashian have powerfully punctuated both his life and career over the last 11 years. The influence of his parents, who split when West was a toddler, also looms large. His father, Ray West, was involved with the Black Panthers, and went on to become a photojournalist in Atlanta, where Kanye was born, and his mother was an English professor. (Kanye’s decision to leave school before graduating, initially a disappointment to Donda, in part supplied the overarching motif of The College Dropout.) After his parents divorced, Donda took an academic appointment in Chicago, where Kanye spent most of his childhood and young adulthood. It’s also where he first started writing and producing before moving to New York to join Jay-Z and Damon Dash’s Roc-A-Fella crew.

Yeezus, West says, marks the beginning of a new period in his life as an artist, though the events of the last year—North’s birth, his engagement to Kardashian—would seem to indicate that it marks the beginning of a new period in his life in general. 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen, in the midst of a life-changing year of his own, recently caught up by phone with the 36-year-old West in Los Angeles, where he was camped out briefly between “Yeezus” tour stops. They spoke not long after the unveiling of the oft-discussed video for “Bound 2,” which was directed by Nick Knight and features West and a topless Kardashian writhing on the back of a motorcycle against a backdrop of orange-y purple-hued karaoke-video-style landscapes.
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STEVE MCQUEEN: It’s hard to make beauty. People often try, and more often than not, everything starts to feel sort of cheap or kitsch. But you express yourself in a way that’s beautiful. You can sing from the heart and have it connect and translate, which is a huge thing for an artist to be able to do. So my first question is: How do you do that? How do you communicate in that way?

KANYE WEST: I just close my eyes and act like I’m a 3-year-old. [laughs] I try to get as close to a childlike level as possible because we were all artists back then. So you just close your eyes and think back to when you were as young as you can remember and had the least barriers to your creativity.

MCQUEEN: Let’s go deep very quickly then: Talk to me about who you were and who you’ve become—both before and after your accident, the car crash. Who are those two people, Kanye before and Kanye after? Are they different people? Was there a seismic change in who you were after you nearly lost your life?

WEST: I think I started to approach time in a different way after the accident. Before I was more willing to give my time to people and things that I wasn’t as interested in because somehow I allowed myself to be brainwashed into being forced to work with other people or on other projects that I had no interest in. So simply, the accident gave me the opportunity to do what I really wanted to do. I was a music producer, and everyone was telling me that I had no business becoming a rapper, so it gave me the opportunity to tell everyone, “Hey, I need some time to recover.” But during that recovery period, I just spent all my time honing my craft and making The College Dropout. Without that period, there would have been so many phone calls and so many people putting pressure on me from every direction—so many people I somehow owed something to—and I would have never had the time to do what I wanted to.

MCQUEEN: So basically, it allowed you to focus, and you realized at a certain point that it was now or never—and that you had to do it now.

WEST: Yes. It gave me perspective on life—that it was really now or 100 percent never. I think that people don’t make the most of their lives. So, you know, for me, right now it seems like it’s the beginning of me rattling the cage, of making some people nervous. And people are strategically trying to do things to mute my voice in some way or make me look like I’m a lunatic or pinpoint the inaccuracies in my grammar to somehow take away from the overall message of what I’m saying …

MCQUEEN: Well, unfortunately, that is indicative of what a lot of black performers and leaders have had to go through. People will often try to undermine them in a way to take away their power. You know, when I saw you perform, I was like, “This guy is gonna die on stage.” When I saw you play, it felt like that—like it could be the last performance that you give. There’s an incredible intensity to your performances.

WEST: As my grandfather would say, “Life is a performance.” I’m giving all that I have in this life. I’m opening up my notebook and I’m saying everything in there out loud. A lot of people are very sacred with their ideas, and there is something to protecting yourself in that way, but there’s also something to idea sharing, or being the person who makes the mistake in public so people can study that.

Read the full interview at Interview Magazine.

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STEVE MCQUEEN
STEVE KLEIN

The Flatbush Zombies give you a spice of how they do it in Brooklyn! Beast Coast!

BuLife Performed live at The Underground for the release of their mixtape Cape Tippin.

Download Cape Tippin: http://hnhh.co/mfytl

In preparation of his upcoming Dream.ZONE.Achieve on April 1, DZA declares his independence on his brand new track featuring J. Ivy Produced by183rd.

Check out DZA’s new lifestlye brand at ShopMunchies.

Kendrick Lamar – “A Day In The Life”

The Grammys profile Kendrick Lamar as part of their Best New Artist Nominee spotlight.