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Posts from October 2007

Soul Survivor

Now that Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? has become a box-office money maker, you need to know that one of the key players in the ensemble is from my neck of the woods -- Camden, NJ.

Her name is Tasha Smith who plays Angela, the loud mouth, alcoholic wife married to Michael Jai White's character named Marcus.

And the 36-year-old actress has a very unique story to tell. Growing up in Camden, Tasha was living the crazy life. She used drugs between the ages of 19 and 25; she was also a stripper and a thief. That all changed when she found God and changed her belief systems. Tasha then moved to California and discovered her passion for acting and created the Tasha Smith Acting Workshop (TSAW).

"My survival and my success was not just for myself but for my neighbors and my community, and you're my community," Tasha recently told students during her speech at Camden's Creative Arts High School. "You have to survive, you have to make it!"

Tasha promised to return to Camden and start an actor's workshop in the impoverished city, like the one she already established in Los Angeles.

Ironically, while filming Why Did I Ever Get Married?, Tasha was going through a divorce from her husband of two years. "I was going through a divorce when I was filming the movie and I had gotten my divorce papers," she said. "I think a little bit of my ex-husband and ex-relationships I probably put in there to help me to deal with some of the frustrations that my character had."

And since shooting the movie, the actress has no qualms about the institution of marriage. "I'll get married [again] so I can have sex," Tasha quips. "I believe in marriage. I think marriage is so beautiful and the film . . . inspired me to really just look forward to marriage again."

Outside of acting, Tasha's future goals include creating her own ministry so she can inspire other people to conquer their demons and pursue their goals.

"Camden gave me strength! Camden gave me power! I'm able to stand up and say to folks, "You don't know the streets I walked. I'm not scared of you.' "



It's looks like everybody is into the "retro hip-hop look" these days, and I kinda dig it. It's '88, time to get it straight . . . you know what I'm sayin'?

For example, Inglewood, California rap duo U-N-I has a fantastic music video for "K.R.E.A.M. (Kicks Rule Everything Around Me)," their sneaker-loving anthem. These guys flipped Wu-Tang Clan's classic anthem of gettin' money "C.R.E.A.M.," added a line from "Kick, Push" by Lupe Fiasco ("Knew he had a crew/ That wasn't no punk/ And they spitfire shirts/ And SB dunks") and created a fresh-to-def rap hit for the 0-7.

The music video itself deserves an award for creativity and freshness. In the beginning it depicts the scene from Spike Lee's 1989 cinematic masterpiece, Do The Right Thing, in which the bicyclist bumps into Buggin' Out (played by Giancarlo Esposito) and scuffs up his brand-new white Air Jordans. The clip also features the duo parodying the Spike's infamous Air Jordan commercials.

Rhyme-slingers Thurzday and Y-O are also seen in the video wearing fake Cazels, hoodies and Adidas track suits. It's a brilliant clip for a great anthem for sneaker fiends like me.

"Step on my shoes and I will kill you . . ."

And there are also these cats called the Cool Kids. The b-boy duo have the Internets[sic] going nuts over their throwback-to-the-future music video, "Black Mags." Blog vixen Saucy Dame luvs them boys for their "fashion savvy, old-school b-boy flavor and fresh-to-def music." So much so, she wants "to hug them and luv them and wear one of their ADIDAS jackets in 5th period."

The Cool Kids are among those adopting the latest fashion trend(?) of wearing skinny jeans, tight t-shirts, New Era Cap and fresh kicks. A Champion hoodie is optional and the top accessories to highlight the look is the fat dookie rope and/or Seiko digital watch.

As I was strolling around the hipster neighborhoods of Chelsea in New York, almost everyone I saw -- kids and adults, alike -- were flossing this throwback fashion style. It's not for me, I'm more into the saggy jeans, Timberland boots and a loose LaCoste polo shirt (post-'88, '92 look?). I also like to wear a crispy white-T-shirt from time-to time that is extra large but don't come to my ankles. The tails of all of my t-shirts don't fall below my belt, ya dig.

The Cool Kids' video for "Black Mags" is awesome in a De La Soul "Potholes in My Lawn" kind of way.

Check out these videos -- they are dopelicious!

Hip-Hop is not dead . . . it's just in retro, yo!


Machine Gun Funk

Damn T.I., you messed up!

Jay Smooth offers a credible defense for rapper T.I. in connection to his recent arrest on federal gun charges.

In his video, Jay makes a good argument on what could be the reasoning behind the Atlanta rapper's quest to illegally obtain an arsenal of machine guns that would make even the NRA say, "What the fuck?!"

But I don't agree with all of Jay's assessments.

First, let me say this . . .

I don't see T.I. as a loser rapper who is "getting what he deserves" because he did something wrong. In fact, T.I. is a talented rapper and businessman. He is a multimillionaire rapper and pitchman who was about to see his Hollywood stock rise with American Gangster. He is at the top of his game -- skies the limit.

Honestly, T.I. simply had no business purchasing weapons as if he was headed to fight in the Iraq war. I don't give a damn how traumatic his childhood was or how he was medicating his demons by purchasing guns. To me, this is a classic case of when "Keeping It Real Goes Wrong." But this is not a joke.

And let's keep it real, T.I.'s own peoples[sic] -- his bodyguard -- took him down.

T.I. has to now look at his crew and wondered about the company he keeps. Are they loyal? A loyal friend would have the courage to say, "No T.I. you don't need to buy machine guns today, let's get ready for the BET Hip Hop Awards." A loyal friend would have made sure that T.I. didn't get into trouble in the first place. But money changes people. It can make some -- in the case of T.I.'s bodyguard and his associates -- look the other way. And money can really make you do some stupid things.

In the end, T.I. made a very poor choice. There's no defense to buying illegal weapons just four hours before you were to hit the stage at the BET Hip Hop Awards.

Granted, it wasn't the Grammys, but come on, he didn't have anything else better to do that afternoon?

"We're going to be all right," said Young Dro about T.I.'s arrest. "It's just a mistake. Everybody's entitled to some. We'll be okay."

It's going to be a costly mistake for T.I. His high-profile attorneys have a major battle in front of them.

All of you Black millionaires need to fly straight and watch the company you keep.

Stay legit. Period.

Word to Rich Boy and Mychael Bell -- these judges today are giving out football numbers when sentencing Black folks.


U Pod, iPod

For my 37th Birthday, I bought the brand new iPod nano (3rd generation). Needless to say, the player is nothing short of excellent and the most beautifully-designed digital music player on the market right now. I'm in love with it. Apple has done, done, done did it again!

So, in celebration of my new toy, I decided to go back into the archives and revived an old meme created by blog master/veteran j. brotherlove.

Below is a list of song titles that include the numbers "one" through "ten." All of the songs listed below are tunes that are currently playing in my iPod RIGHT NOW! Play along if you like with your own digital players or music jukeboxes.

01. "One Song": Not my favorite tune on Black Milk's banging LP Popular Demand. It bumps nicely in the earbuds, though, so I can't front on the track.

02. "Too Blessed" (Featuring Q-Tip): This tune is from Kevin Michael's self-titled debut effort. Justin Timberlake you better watch out, this crooner is destined to take your throne.

03. "Three + Sum": Now this is one of the better songs on Black Milk's LP Popular Demand. On the banging track, Black Milk details vividly a spontaneous menage a trois between his girlfriend and her BFF -- in a very clever and vulgar-free way, I might add.

04. "4:00 am": One of my favorite tracks on the heavily slept-on disc Change It All by boho songbird Goapele.

05. "Unconditional Love": I didn't have any songs with five in it, so I went with Hi-Five's classic ballad "Unconditional Love." Upon hearing the tragic news of the passing of Hi-Five frontman Tony Thompson this past June, I went to iTunes and downloaded the track. I have been playing the song ever since. R.I.P. Tony.

06. "Soweto '76-06": Forget Amy Winehouse (she really needs to go to rehab). Forget Lily Allen (she's a whiner). Afro-German songbird Joy Denalane is the real deal -- genuine and soulful. Joy is by far the best female vocalist across the pond. Her CD Born & Raised is an absolute soul-pop treasure that is being sorely slept-on by music critics. Check out the video for "Soweto."

07. "Seven Day Hustle": This is Twista's "get money" anthem from his new LP Adrenaline Rush 2007.

08. "Curtis 1-8-7": Yeah I'm cheating here. But it's all I have. Anyway, this is one of 50 Cent's sinister tracks on his Curtis CD. The beat was produced by Mobb Deep's Havoc.

09. "911": A timely song by the great soul crooner Donnie. With the Jena 6 case, the War in Iraq, and President George Bush still in office , we are definitely in a state of emergency right now. Check out Donnie's video for "911" right HERE.

10. "Shorty Is A Ten": Hot tunesmith The-Dream is on a roll. He penned Rihanna's ubiquitous summer hit "Umbrella." He penned J. Holiday's soon-to-be ubiquitous fall hit "Bed," and currently has the ubiquitous radio smash, "Shorty Is a Ten" (featuring Fabolous). He also has an ubiquitous music video that's constantly playing on BET and MTV. Maybe The-Dream should change his stage name to The-Ubiquitousness.