- Created on 19 December 2012
Jim DeRogatis from WBEZ reported his thoughts on The Moral Dilemma of South Side rapper Chief Keef.
If, in the wake of the horrific happenings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, a soulless, amoral and blatantly sensationalist musician released an album glorifying the deranged mindset, unspeakably selfish and evil worldview and embrace of indiscriminate violence that led to the mass killing of 26 innocents, the condemnation of that dubious art would be instant and universal, regardless of whatever imagined merits it might have beyond its abhorrent subject matter.
On Tuesday, a 17-year-old South Side rapper born Keith Cozart but better known as Chief Keef will release Finally Rich, his major-label debut for the morally vacuous Interscope Records. The album is a bleak, nihilistic celebration of street violence, gang culture, drug use, disrespect for women and the worship of the almighty dollar above all humanistic conscience, arriving as Chicago nears the end of a year that's seen an epidemic of violent killings in African-American neighborhoods every bit as tragic—and preventable, if the political will was present—as those in Newtown, Conn.
This is not to equate the words of Chief Keef with the actions of the Newtown assassin. Yet neither can the lyrical messages of the Englewood rapper be dismissed as mere fantasy or "street reportage." He clearly is on the same path of confusing the gangsta pose with violent gangster realities that infamously led to the deaths of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls before him, and which had become a pathetic, played-out cliché in hip-hop even at that time, a decade and a half ago.
A police investigation into Cozart's possible connections to the shooting death of fellow rapper and Englewood resident Joseph "Lil JoJo" Coleman is ongoing. And today, Cozart will appear in Cook County Juvenile Court, where a judge will decide whether he will return to jail for violating the terms of his probation for a conviction on the unlawful use of a weapon—he pointed a gun at police—by appearing at a gun range for an interview with the Pitchfork webzine last June.
Like many media outlets, the formerly Chicago-based Pitchfork is nearly as complicit in the rise of Chief Keef as Jimmy Iovine's Interscope Records or the long roster of rap stars and others who've endorsed the young rapper because of his "authenticity." (The album features guest appearances from 50 Cent, Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross and Young Jeezy, fellow Chicagoan Kanye West has remixed Cozart in the past and the track "Love Sosa" features in the videogame Grand Theft Auto 5.) The hipster Web site has been ordered by the court to turn over the unedited tapes of that gun-range interview, which it posted but quickly removed after Coleman's shooting, and it's fighting that demand by citing its protections under the First Amendment and the Illinois Reporter's Privilege Act.
On Friday, Pitchfork posted a review of Finally Rich as laudable art, giving the album a brag-worthy rating of 7.5 on its vaunted 10-point scale. The logic of critic Jayson Greene is hard to follow: The album "proves that Keef has a lot of potential—much more than his detractors might have hoped," he writes. Yet his descriptions of the artist's musical merits hardly are glowing—"Keef mutters through a thick wall of processing," he notes of the rapping—and he's even less enthusiastic about the message. "Chief Keef isn't a lyricist. At all. His lyrics on Finally Rich are almost entirely composed of rudimentary gangsta-rap boilerplate, which he treats more like a graffiti bomber than a rapper, tagging his beats with slogans meant for maximum impact and minimal scrutiny."
This critic's take: Chief Keef is a thick-tongued, mush-mouthed rapper with little grace and stilted flow who stumbles through generic, unimaginative, frequently plodding and numbingly repetitive backing tracks bragging with little imagination and forced conviction about his bad-ass self and utter disregard for anyone else in the universe. The cynicism is bottomless; in his view, one either exploits his own community or is one of the exploited. "I'm laughing to the bank/Ha, ha, ha/I'm laughing at the slave's life/Ha, ha, ha," he raps. His attempts to shock with exaggerated tales of senseless violence were old decades ago, as noted earlier, already transparent by the time N.W.A lost Ice Cube and its political edge and gave us nothing but empty gangsta porn on Niggaz4Life in 1991. Forced to rate it on this blog's own scale, it ranks at exactly zero stars.
Of course, saying that carries the risk of being dismissed as clueless and chronically out of touch—a "rockist" (code for "racist") who doesn't understand hip-hop culture unless it's of the positive (code for "boring," "feel-good" and "phony") variety that, as noted here before, previously characterized much of the rap music that brought the national spotlight to Chicago in the past, courtesy of artists such as Kanye, Common, Rhymefest, Lupe Fiasco and Kid Sister.
To be clear, as a First Amendment absolutist, I believe Keef unquestionably has the right to say anything and everything he chooses to say. Stifling that speech to any degree is despicable, whether it's the court going after Pitchfork's tapes, or police apparently selectively targeting the street teams who've plastered the South Side with promotional posters trumpeting the release of Finally Rich.
Yet, given that, critics need more urgently than ever to consider not only the strictly musical merits of a controversial artist's work, but the moral ramifications of the worldview it champions or espouses. To do anything less indicates the real failure to understand and respect hip-hop, which remains an art form where the words absolutely matter... and arguably now more than ever, as the Chicago body count piles up.
If, in the wake of the horrific happenings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, an artist glorified that violence, condemnation would be universal. And so it should be for Finally Rich.
- Created on 18 December 2012
The NY Daily News reports that the 28-year-old singer threw a "wad of cash" at Donna McIntosh-Inoe, 36, after she took a picture of him with her cell phone in the VIP section of Club Perfection in Queens, New York.
"He chucked a wad of cash at me," McIntosh-Inoe told the Daily News. "A wad of cash.
"I didn't even know I had a bruise on my face until after I left the club," she said. "I had to walk around a whole week with a black eye."
According to McIntosh-Inoe, Songz grabbed her phone and tried to delete the picture, and when he couldn't figure out how to work her phone, he threw the cash at her.
McIntosh-Inoe believes that if she were a stripper, she would have been treated with more respect:
"Everyone else was taking a picture," she said. "The difference for me and the other girls is that they were naked and I had clothes on."
McIntosh-Inoe and her husband allegedly paid $700 to sit in the singer's album release party for "Studio V," and couldn't believe how disrespectful he was to her:
"It was insulting that he just threw something," she said.
"He was verbally disrespectful as well. . . . He embarrassed me in front of everyone in the club."
She felt so disrespected, in fact, that she claims she didn't pick up the money and pressed charges instead.
- Created on 14 December 2012
The Wayans Family knows comedy; through their monster '90s FOX sketch series, "In Living Color," they easily became a household name, keeping audiences in stitches with hilariously memorable skits and characters like "Men On Film" and Homey D. Clown. And with post-projects that included box office hits like Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2 and White Chicks, the laughs continued, further cementing their status as Hollywood's "First Family of Comedy."
The latest project attached to the Wayans brand is A Haunted House, a hilarious ode to the Paranormal Activity series. The film, which stars Marlon Wayans (who co-wrote it along with Rick Alvarez) and Essence Atkins as a suburban couple who live in a house with lots of haunted happenings (and some far out scenes with stuffed animals), recently screened at AMC River East, 322 E. Illinois St., with Wayans himself on hand to greet the Chicago crowd. Others who round out the film's comedic cast include Cedric the Entertainer ("The Soul Man"), Nick Swardson (Just Go With It) and David Koechner ("The Office").
For Wayans, coming up with the idea to do A Haunted House was "out of necessity."
"I wanted to do a 'found footage comedy'; I wanted to do something different -- something that's never been done." However, in true Wayans fashion, things came with a different twist. "I wanted a version where it happens to a black couple and make it a comedy," he said. And while the Wayans name is mostly synonymous with parodies and spoofs, A Haunted House offers a bit more. "People think it's a parody -- it's a movie, it's a horror comedy with parody moments," said Wayans.
A Q&A session, moderated by actor and Chicago native Craig Harris, followed the screening. During the discussion, Wayans kept the audience laughing as he talked about everything from Hollywood's reluctance to make black superhero movies to the success of the Scary Movie franchise ("Me and my brothers -- we did the funny ones") to his insistence on improv. "If I hire funny people to work on a funny script, I want them to make it funnier. I hate when people don't let me improvise," he said.
Regarding upcoming projects, Wayans serves as executive producer for the new series, "Second Generation Wayans"; the "Entourage"-like show, which stars his nephews, premieres on BET in January. "My nephews are the creators of the show," he said. "This is their point of view; as a producer, I didn't wanna do my point of view of comedy. I wanted to allow them to do them."
And as for getting in front of the camera again himself, Wayans admits he'll continue to mix things up. "I love doing drama, but comedy is just so much more challenging," he said. "I'm doing what I love -- tirelessly -- because I love the s**t out of making people laugh."
A Haunted House opens in theaters January 11; for more on the movie, visit ahauntedhousemovie.com.
- Created on 14 December 2012
When we think of Disney World, the first thing that pops into the minds of most is the magical place to take our young ones to have the time of their little lives.
But what about us, the industrious adults dedicated to our careers and family? Don't we deserve a chance to escape to land rife with fun and the ability to make our dreams come to life? **Hint**, the answer is an emphatic "yes".
As a firm beliver in the philosophy of work hard/ play hard; I was overdue for a brush with decadence. As my friend and I made our way to Orlando's baggage claim; I wondered if Disney World was ready for my diva expectations.
My question was answered immediately as our Disney VIP guide took our luggage, escorted us to the Cadillac sedan, and wisked us away to an afternoon of cocktailing on a yacht. Throughout my stay, Disney World continued to rise to the challenge of bringing the grown folks fun. Vacationing like a rock star doesn't come cheap, but Disney makes sure you get what you are willing to pay for...and then some.
So check the balance of your vacation club account, or the credit card saved especially for fun, and let's discover a few ways to live la viva luxe...Disney World style. Do one or do them all...either way, it will be an experience.
Global Eats and Beats: Epcot Food and Wine Festival
Believed to be the world's largest food and wine festival of its kind - this 46-day fall event at Disney's Epcot Park is the ultimate fête for foodies. With dining experiences designed by signature chefs and nearly 30 international marketplaces featuring authentic cuisine from six continents...we nibbled our way around the globe.
Every night there were "Eat to the Beat" concerts that featured cross-genre entertainment perfect for grooving off some calories. There is nothing better than sipping a Grand Marnier slushy or Moët & Chandon Nectar Impérial (found in the France pavilion) while enjoying the silky tones of "The Voice" winner Javier Colon.
Be sure to score a ticket for "Party for the Senses" held on select Saturdays during the festival at the WorldShow Place Events Pavilion. This high-end evening offers attendees stations of deluxe cuisine, complete with wine and spirit pairings, and entertainment by Cirque du Soliel center stage.
Epcot Entry fee (varies) plus pavilion food tastings ($4.00 - $8.00)
Party for the Senses: starts at $145.00 per person (2012 pricing)
VIP Tour Guide Service
Live the high life and have a Disney VIP guide take care of the details: luxury airport and park transport (you enter parks through the back, just like a celeb), itinerary creation, dinner reservations, snagging good seats for live shows...they just spoil you.
$275.00-$315.00 per hour (six hour minimum) plus theme park admission
Sip and Sail
I swear I heard Robin Leach say "here's to champagne wishes and caviar dreams" when I boarded the Grand 1, Disney's 52-foot, two-level yacht, for a VIP afternoon of sparkling wine and tasty amuse-bouche. As the captain and his first mate deftly launched from the Grand Floridian Resort and elegantly cruised on Disney World's expansive Seven Seas Lagoon, our private butler, who was delightful and quite attentive, kept the party going. If toasting on a luxury craft is not enough, on select nights you can book a voyage during "Wishes" - a dazzling display of fireworks above the Magic Kingdom.
The private butler and dining/cocktail service is extra - but if you are going to do it - why not do it with flair?
Starts at $520 per 60 minutes and maximum of 12 guests.
Reservations: 407- 824 -2682
Driving fast and fabulous: Richard Petty Exotic Driving Experience at Disney World
Getting behind the wheel of an expensive, high-performance supercar was pretty high up on my bucket list. With a fleet of some of the world's finest automobiles - like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Audi, and Porche - and a track specifically designed for the ultimate "petal-to-the-metal" experience - Disney slaked my need for speed. The only thing missing was the custom leather and rhinestone racing suit and thigh-high racing boots with 5-inch heels. Next time I'll remember to pack it...
Cost: Starts at $169.00
Circus Done Sexy...
Whether you are a Cirque Du Soleil vet like me, or you've never experienced this theatrical joyride of music, fantasy, acrobatics and choreography - Cirque at Disney is a "can't miss". Cirque's La Nouba (translated, "to live it up") is performed in a theater specially built for the avant-garde spectacle and takes you into a vivid world where dreams and nightmares collide. Aim for a seat off the ground floor and toward the middle for a panaramic view (you're gonna need it) and ladies - wait until you see the aerial ballet in silk. Muy caliente!
Cost: Starts at $64.00
For more information on Disney World for Adults and current prices, visit disneyworld.com.
Jetta Bates is award-winning consumer engagement/relationship marketing expert with more than 10 years of experience working with prestigous brands like BMW and Coca-Cola. Ever the global girl committed to sharing unique experiences, she also serves as an on-air correspondent and writer with a focus on lifestyle, travel, worldwide trends and personal finance (how to be chic yet savvy).
- Created on 13 December 2012
It's been a big year for the NAACP, between drawing thousands to Florida to protest the handling of the investigation into Trayvon Martin's shooting death, leading demonstrations against New York's stop-and-frisk policy and making what some called a "return to relevance" with an endorsement of marriage equality.
But today the organization is honoring the work of others with the announcement of its contenders for the 2013 NAACP Image Awards. The ceremony will take place Feb. 1 on NBC. Flight, Django Unchained, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Red Tails and Tyler Perry's Good Deeds will battle for outstanding motion picture. Of course, Scandal got a nod in the television category. From EURweb:
"Other nominees included outstanding actor in a motion picture contenders Denzel Washington for "Flight," Jamie Foxx for "Django Unchained," Morgan Freeman for "The Magic of Belle Isle," Suraj Sharma for "Life of Pi" and Tyler Perry for "Alex Cross."
The outstanding actress nominees are Emayatzy Corinealdi for "Middle of Nowhere," Halle Berry for "Cloud Atlas," Loretta Devine for "In the Hive," Quvenzhane Wallis for "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and Viola Davis for "Won't Back Down."
In the outstanding supporting actor category, David Oyelowo was nominated for "Middle of Nowhere," Don Cheadle for "Flight," Dwight Henry for "Beasts of the Southern Wild," Lenny Kravitz for "The Hunger Games" and Samuel L. Jackson for "Django Unchained."
The nominees for outstanding supporting actress are Amandla Stenberg for "The Hunger Games," Gloria Reuben for "Lincoln," Kerry Washington for "Django Unchained," Phylicia Rashad for "Tyler Perry's Good Deads" and Taraji P. Henson for "Think Like a Man."