Archive for "Jay-Z"

Should Jay-Z Say Goodbye to Barneys?

October 29th, 2013

(Photos from left: Brian Ach/Getty Images, Jay-Z Apparel via Barneys)

Jay Z has taken a lot of heat this year for what many people perceive to be his increasingly corporate presence or “Empire State of Mind” if you will. First it was his media-induced feud with Harry Belafonte who accused Hov and ‘B’ of not doing enough to give back to their community, to which Jay Z responded with the now infamous “My presence is charity” line. Then there was the Magna Carta Holy Grail/Samsung experiment which turned out to be a gargantuan data mining operation employed by the cell phone giant to gather consumer information.

Most recently Jay partnered up with upscale department store Barney’s for a holiday collection introduced by some of their top designers. But when the upscale clothing superstore was accused of racism by an African-American customer, who was harassed over a belt that he had purchased, by store employees who thought he stole it, the public has demanded Jay to sever ties with the store.

Jay Z has opted to keep his partnership, which is a smart move. First of all, because the story as a whole is still developing we don’t have all the facts. And making a judgement based on limited facts is an assumption and we all know what assuming can do. As a rapper and entrepreneur, Jay has fought to combat prejudice, so it is only right he hold off on passing judgement before he finds out all of the facts. How bad would it look if it turned out the story was fake? Secondly, as one of the most influential public figures of the last decade, Jay’s influence carries a lot of weight. So whereas some D-list pumping a startup project can call it quits with minimal backlash, everything Jay Z does is put under a microscope and met with an exponentially greater amount of public scrutiny.

The main reason he is right to stick to his guns on this one is the example he stands to set even if everything does turn out to be accurate. Being the bigger person is a role Jay has filled quite a bit over his career and this would be no different. As much as he means to American pop culture, Jay Z sets an example for young people whether he wants to or not, and to show that people or even companies can come together to resolve their differences, learn a valuable lesson and show some semblance of harmony. Peaceful, innovative and diplomatic solutions are increasingly rare, and this is an opportunity for Jay to show his power as a leader. The jury is still out on the situation, but hopefully Americans will learn to seek facts before making judgments.

Jay Z has taken a lot of heat this year for what many people perceive to be his increasingly corporate presence or “Empire State of Mind” if you will. First it was his media-induced feud with Harry Belafonte who accused Hov and ‘B’ of not doing enough to give back to their community, to which Jay Z responded with the now infamous “My presence is charity” line. Then there was the Magna Carta Holy Grail/Samsung experiment which turned out to be a gargantuan data mining operation employed by the cell phone giant to gather consumer information.

Most recently Jay partnered up with upscale department store Barney’s for a holiday collection introduced by some of their top designers. But when the upscale clothing superstore was accused of racism by an African-American customer, who was harassed over a belt that he had purchased, by store employees who thought he stole it, the public demanded Jay sever ties with the store.

Thus far, Jay Z has opted to keep his partnership, which  is a smart move. First of all, because the story as a whole is still developing we don’t have all the facts. And making a judgement based on limited facts is also known as prejudging and is plaguing America. As a rapper and entrepreneur, Jay has fought to combat prejudice, so it is only right he hold off on passing judgement before he finds out all of the facts. How bad would it look if it turned out the story was fake? Secondly, as one of the most influential public figures of the last decade, Jay’s influence carries a lot of weight. So whereas some D-list star pumping a startup project can call it quits with minimal backlash, everything Jay Z does is put under a microscope and met with an exponentially greater amount of public scrutiny.

The main reason he is right to stick to his guns on this one is the example he stands to set even if everything does turn out to be accurate. Being the bigger person is a role Jay has filled quite a bit over his career and this would be no different. As much as he means to American pop culture, Jay Z sets an example for young people whether he wants to or not, and to show that people or even companies can come together to resolve their differences, learn a valuable lesson and show some semblance of harmony. Peaceful, innovative and diplomatic solutions are increasingly rare, and this is an opportunity for Jay to show his power as a leader. The jury is still out on the situation, but hopefully Americans will learn to seek facts before making judgements.

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Rappers Embracing Their Role Model Status?

October 12th, 2013

(Photo: Imeh Akpanudosen/WireImage)

Why do we love Arsenio Hall? Both on his original late night show as well as his new one he’s always represented hip hop. Recently he had 2 Chainz and Big Sean on in the same week. Both had great performances but what was interesting was something that both artists revealed. Each professed to being exemplary students when they were in school. This might not sound like a big deal but if you add context it reflects a significant step taken by hip hop as a culture.

Remember when Ja Rule was the biggest star in hip hop? Nobody wants to admit it but for a short while he superceded Jay Z and DMX. Until it was discovered that he grew up going to private school, a fact that he went to great lengths to hide while he was attempting to pass himself as the second coming to Thuglife frontman, Tupac Shakur. Many rappers, like Ja, did like Chris Rock’s MC Gusto in the cult classic CB4 and created an identity for themselves rooted in the streets. It was a reflection of the generation. Ice-T summed it up best when he noted that pioneering MCs were really on the streets and used rap to get off the streets, while newer rappers got into rap THEN tried to get into real street life.

When 2 Chainz told Arsenio how proud he was about having good grades in high school, even telling the veteran host that “with good grades you can do anything,” this was a moment not to go unnoticed. For as long as hip hop has been around there have been scholarly rappers, but for a mainstream, club-friendly rappers it’s a different story. It’s a sign of the times.

For a long time hip hop has produced some amazing entrepreneurs, but a lot of them advocate an indiscriminate mix of positive and negative ventures to attain financial success. In more recently MCs seem to be promoting a more all-inclusive message of encouragement. People like 2 Chainz and Kanye West are really showing that you can use hip hop as a vehicle to access whatever you’re passionate about the same way rappers used to preach that you can use drug dealing as a vessel to success in hop hop. Note Jay-Z’s recent article with Vanity Fair.

Whatever the motivation, it doesn’t matter–it could be the constant blending of genres diversifying hip hop or the age of information in which we live, either it is crucial because hip hop plays a significant part in every aspect of popular culture and in shaping the minds of young people of every age, race and socioeconomic status. Hip hop has always spoken for the underdog the message keeps getting more positive. 2 Chainz and Big Sean are not perfect role models but they are authentic and in this culture that’s one thing that still goes a long way.

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How Mister Cee’s Confession Shows Hip Hop’s Maturity

September 19th, 2013

Former Hot 97 deejay Mister Cee has had one hell of a month. After being caught receiving oral sex from a transvestite male prostitute, Mister Cee succumbed to public and media scrutiny and announced that he was relinquishing his post at the famed New York radio station. Cee, real name Calvin LeBrun, also admitted that he had been lying about the incident, and said that while he never had sexual intercourse with a man, he did sometimes procure the services of transvestite prostitutes for oral copulation.

What has been most surprising about the whole situation is the outpouring of support for Mister Cee after he made one of the hardest confessions to make to an audience that has not always been known to be very sympathetic or tolerant. Perhaps the most outspoken ally has been Cee’s old friend Big Daddy Kane who told Vibe.com, “I’ve always supported him and that’s not going to change because of today. What he said on-air was real. I support the brother and I’m going to always be his friend.”

Additionally, Cee’s Hot 97 cohorts have shown nothing but love — from Peter Rosenberg to Funkmaster Flex, and even program director Ebro Darden, who asked the DJ to come back to his post.

2013 has been a big year with regards to the maturation of hip hop. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have been tearing up the charts with their pro Gay-marriage hit “Same Love” and Jay Z and A$AP Rocky have both expressed their support for the LGBT community. Frank Ocean was embraced fully when he opened up about his bisexuality. Both Nicki Minaj and Azealia Banks have proudly brought the topic of their own bisexuality to the forefront without allowing themselves to be objectified by it, and there is even a confirmed openly gay rapper (F. Virtue), who recently came out via the single “Anita.” For a culture that has frowned upon homosexuality for most of its existence, hip hop has not only come a long way, but it has done so fast. Even 5 or 10 years ago, the idea of anything pro-gay would have been met with ridicule and scathing one-liners (with the exception of Eminem’s infamous collaboration with Elton John, which worked because who really wants it with Em?). Why the sudden change? Hip hop is mostly a league of followers. Just listen to the radio. First everyone was on autotune, then nobody touched it. Then ratchet, then a slowed up autotune took over (á la Future). Like Kanye said. “There’s leaders and there’s followers.” When the big sellers like Hov, Rocky and Macklemore step up, others feel safer stepping out on that ledge, or if not, they are much less outspoken in their opposition.

Another factor in the equation is hip hop’s continuing explosion into mainstream. The last few years (mostly inspired by the sounds of Mr. West and will.i.am) have seen an unprecedented amount of sonic osmosis. Genre lines have been blurred so much leading to collaborations that know no boundaries, geographic or otherwise. As a result genres that have more gay artists are becoming a part of hip hop and vice versa, and just like with anything, learning about other cultures allows people to have a heightened sense of sensitivity and understanding. Hip hop and its fans should be proud of this new revolution. It’s not perfect, but it’s come a long way in a short period of time. It’s also worth noting that qualitatively the genre is in the best shape it’s been in in years, so those worried about the disappearance of good music don’t have a very solid argument.

Mister Cee may have felt disgraced when he came clean, but in the long run he has helped bookmark a period in time when hip hop changed for the better.

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Is Jay Z’s Presence Charity Enough?

August 1st, 2013

(Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

By: Jake Rohn

An ongoing war of words has pitted legendary singer and philanthropist Harry Belafonte squarely against rapper/sports agent Jay Z. Belafonte name-checked Jay Z (real name, Shawn Carter) and his wife, Beyoncé, last year saying, “I think one of the great abuses of this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile artists, powerful celebrities. But they have turned their backs on social responsibility. That goes for Jay Z and Beyoncé, for example. Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re talking. I really think he is Black.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Twerking: When Will the Madness Stop?

July 12th, 2013

(Photo: Miley Cyrus via Twitter)

By Moriba Cummings

Twerking, the controversial dance revolution, has been taking over America. While many, specifically those within the Black community, are saying this is nothing new, it seems as if the world has just begun to jump on this wave that just seems to keep rising in height. With the likes of Miley Cyrus, Leona Lewis and even Jay-Z – no, he didn’t actually twerk – contributing to the ever present relevance of this craze, it’s that much harder to escape, no matter how hard you try. But like other cultural popcorn crazes of the past, twerking’s days are numbered. Read the rest of this entry »

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Willow Smith’s “Summer Fling”: Great Art or Premature Growth?

July 11th, 2013

(Photo: MELODIC CHAOTIC MUSIC VIA YOUTUBE)

By Moriba Cummings

It’s summertime – everyone’s hot, out and wants some company, even if just for the season. These are usually the sentiments of single young adults, but not for a 12-year-old, right? Is it a thought that is too grown for adequate conception for a soon-to-be adolescent? Judging from Willow Smith’s controversial new music video titled “Summer Fling,” it’s all in good fun, but where is the line between fun and practicality drawn? Read the rest of this entry »

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Sound Off: Is Beyoncé Ready To Go Behind The Scenes?

September 23rd, 2011

(Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

By Gyant

I believe it was Keri Hilson who once hinted in one of her less-than-memorable records that pop star Beyoncé Knowles should “pop out a baby and chill for a minute.” It was a thinly-veiled attack that she denied when pressed on the issue by the media. Nevertheless,  Beyoncé is due to pop out a baby, but whether or not she’ll be chilling for a minute is still up for debate. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jay-Z Gives Six Principles To Living The Best Life…..

March 11th, 2009


Why wouldn’t you take heed to these six principles?????? Read the rest of this entry »

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50 Cent Praises Diddy For Maintaining Relevance…..

February 24th, 2009


Awwww, 50 Loves Diddy….. Read the rest of this entry »

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Video:Mavado- So Special

January 27th, 2009


YES…He’s Special! Read the rest of this entry »

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