50 Cent was on the money at Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Awards on Friday, winning four trophies including one for top R&B/hip-hop artist. His partner-in-rhyme Eminem nabbed three honors, including one for top rap album for The Eminem Show.
We truly have lost a wonderful screen legend over the weekend.
Actor-Entertainer Gregory Hines, arguably the greatest tap dancer of his generation, died on Saturday in Los Angeles of cancer. He was 57. Dubbed "the Pied Piper of modern tap," Gregory was born in Brooklyn, New York and started tap dancing with his older brother, Maurice at the age of three. By the age of six, he and his brother were an successful tap-dancing act called the Hines Kids, performing regularly at Harlem's Apollo Theater.
Gregory later performed on Broadway and then went on to do movies and television. Gregory's most notable movie credits include: The Cotton Club (1984), Tap (1989) and Bojangles (2001) for HBO, for which he won an Emmy award for Best Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie. He also won a 1992 Best Actor Tony award for his performance in the Broadway musical Jelly's Last Jam.
"He was the last of a kind of immaculate performer -- a singer, dancer, actor and a personality," said George C. Wolfe, who directed Gregory in Jelly’s Last Jam. "He knew how to command."
In addition to his brother and father, Maurice Sr., Hines is survived by his fiancée, Negrita Jayde, daughter Dana, son Zach, stepdaughter Jessica Koslow and grandson Lucian. A private funeral will be held in Los Angeles this week.
Not only was Gregory a great entertainer, tap dancer, and actor . . . but he was a wonderful human being and a shining beacon for the performing arts. Simply stated, Gregory was black America's Gene Kelly . . . maybe even our ownBob Hope.
It's official: This will be the new home of Beats & Rants 2.1. So please add the URL (and site name) accordingly to your weblogs. I also want to say thank you to everyone who has been reading my blog thus far.
For those of you wondering what Beats & Rants is all about – quite simply, it's about music: the sounds and images that are the soundtrack of my life. In addition, you will get an occasional rant (bitching) from me about something.
When you visit my blog, please peruse the links that are provided in the "Hot Shit" and "Hot Spot" sections. But I implore you to please check out the "Diarists" section. I'm proud of this area, in particular, because I feel that these online writers offer great essays on their lives and what influences them in popular culture. Great reading is to be found in the "Diarists" section – so check out these writers and bookmark them on your weblogs.
Now comes the hard part for me: What am I going to do with the existing diary at EasyJournal. Inevitably, I will destroy it. Whether or not I will bring any of those entries from there and archive them here is still up in the air. But for those new readers out there, you can still visit the journal and gain a little more insight about me. So for now . . . that journal will still be there until further notice.
As for the future of Beats & Rants 2.1 – more music and more rants.
I'm digging soulful songbird Rhian (ree-ann) Benson. A couple of online diarists – I think it was Antonio G and Naya'hri – have already written about this lovely singer on their weblogs. But after watching Rhian's wonderful new video for "Say How I Feel" – I'm hooked. Yeah, she is sexy as hell, but I'm also feeling her voice. The clip is hot, too. According to Billboard magazine, Rhian's single "Say How I Feel" is the hottest song at several Adult R&B radio stations across the nation.
And folks . . . she's the real Ashanti.
According to her bio:
Rhian was born into the renowned Ashanti tribe in Ghana, West Africa and grew up surrounded by music and musicians. Her mother – from Wales in Britain – is a singer, and her father – an Ashanti dignitary from Ghana – is also a guitarist. Rhian's grandfather led an acclaimed big band in the '50s and '60s; her eldest uncle was a popular highlife singer, and her youngest uncle a record producer.
Rhian's upcoming CD Gold Coast is slated to hit stores in September. "The album name refers both to my homeland of Ghana, West Africa (which was historically called the Gold Coast) as well as my new home in California, with its golden beaches and coastline," says Rhian.
Another songbird that I'm checking for is Myshel and she is hot! She recently beat out 2,000 hopefuls to win the chance to sing at the Atlantis Music Conference 2003 last week in Atlanta, and she blew away the crowd with her performance.
Music journalist A. Tacuma Roebackdescribes Myshel as:
"A neo-soul singer who's reviving the traditional soul aesthetic that was blazed by singers such as Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and Marvin Gaye, who brought substance to the R&B genre."
Myshel (pronounced Mee-shell) is a Frankfort, Kentucky native who began her singing aspirations while crooning in the church choir. When her father went on trips to Trinidad and El Salvador to perform missionary work, she would go with him. She even visited western Africa and her mother's native country, Ghana. A graduate of Tennessee State University, Myshel is now based in Nashville and is recording songs for her forthcoming debut album. Myshel hopes to land a record deal in the process, as well. Yes folks, this talented chantuese is unsigned.
You can hear a clip of Myshel's promo song, "Smile" right HERE.
Myshel believes that her music will help heal the world. ''I believe the whole reason I'm here is to sing to the world,'' she says. ''You don't give that up. It's like giving up your breath.''
Ladies and gentlemen, keep an eye out for her . . . she will be the next songbird to blow up soon.
And remember who told you so . . . Trent at Beats & Rants. And I'm not even an A&R executive. Damn . . . I must be in the wrong profession.
A friend recently hit me off with the new Jody Watley CD titled Midnight Lounge. Remember Jody? She was the dancing hottie of the '80s trio Shalamar. Then she went on the solo tip and blew up. I loved her self-titled debut album, which, I believe is one of the best R&B albums of the '80s. The album featured that funky hit, "Looking For A New Love." (Sing along with me: "I'm looking for a new love baby . . . a new love. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!") I also liked "Don't You Want Me" – that was my skating-ring jam.
But, of course, it was the song "Friends" (featuring Rakim) from her second album Larger Than Life that made her more appealing to the hip-hop set. And by the way, "Friends" is considered by many as the first R&B song to featured a rapper – thus, igniting the onslaught of R&B-hip-hop collabos. Yes, Jody was a trailblazer. Oh, and don't forget about "Everything" – that was the top ballad of '89.
Jody's latest CD Midnight Lounge is b-b-b banging! But she's on the smooth jazz tip, now. There's a song on the disc titled "Skin Deep" that made me squirt in my pants. For Rilla My Frillas! I was squirting!
Jody still has that seductive voice . . . and fellas, she still looks good as hell.
If you want to hear some smooth jazz from Jody Watley . . . check out her latest offering. It really made me squirt.
Oh, and lets not forget . . .
I will be the first one in line to cop the new Mary J. Blige joint – Love & Life.
Man, now I know why the songbirds sing. Sing ladies, sing! Make me squirt!