Back in June, Nas released his 11th album NASIR, which was produced entirely by Kanye West. There were no visuals accompanying the release, until now.
The good folks at Mass Appeal (of which Nas is a creative partner) and Def Jam dropped a new short film featuring the hip-hop icon performing all of the seven tracks from the album.
Directed by Rohan Blair-Mangat, the 16-minute-long film also features a cameo from Slick Rick who Nas sampled on his anti-police brutality track “Cops Shot the Kid.”
There are a lot of great moments in the film including the “White Label” segment with Nas donning old-school Gucci gear and spitting his bars in front of a vintage Mercedes Benz. The “Adam and Eve” segment gets a spiritual theme with Nas rapping in a church. The Queensbridge neighborhood (Nas’s native hometown) is also the star of this enthralling film as well.
For Stan “the Man” Lee, founder of Marvel Comics, who died today (Nov. 12) at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to family representative (via The Hollywood Reporter ). He was 95.
Born Stanley Martin Lieber on Dec. 28, 1922 in New York, the visionary writer/publisher created iconic comic-book characters such as Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Black Panther, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Thor, X-Men, the Avengers, the Defenders, Conan the Barbarian, and so many more. Marvel started in 1939 as Timely Publications, and by the early 1950s the name was changed to Atlas Comics.
The Marvel branding began in 1961 with the launch of the The Fantastic Four and other superhero titles. Along with Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, and many others, Marvel Comics delivered some of the greatest mythological figures of the 20 century through television, books and films. Lee also wrote a monthly comics column, “Stan's Soapbox,” and ending them with his signature catchphrase, “Excelsior!”
"I used to think what I did was not very important," he told the Chicago Tribune in April 2014. "People are building bridges and engaging in medical research, and here I was doing stories about fictional people who do extraordinary, crazy things and wear costumes. But I suppose I have come to realize that entertainment is not easily dismissed."
As a kid growing up in the ‘hood, I would spend half of my allowance money on Marvel comic books. My favorites were the Incredible Hulk, the Avengers, Conan the Barbarian, Thor and the Defenders. Unlike DC Comics, Marvel's superheroes were people I could identify with because they had character flaws and hang-ups. For example, when Bruce Banner gets angry he turned into the Hulk and destroy everything around him. While people saw the Hulk as a menace, he was actually a gentle giant who is simply misunderstood. We all have that David Banner/Hulk "you wouldn't like me when I'm angry"-personality inside all of us.
However, before Lee's death, there have been questions about the vitality of his estate. According to The Daily Beast, Lee appeared to be the victim of "Hollywood charlatans and mountebanks" who are allegedly stealing money from his estate. According to one source close to the situation, “It’s a real fucking mess over there. I think his money will be gone in a few weeks...Stan and [his daughter] J.C. (Joan Celia) Lee are literally being picked apart by vultures."
After news broke of Stan Lee's death, his surviving family members issued a statement thanking fans who sent their well-wishes and condolences. It reads:
"J.C. Lee and all of Stan Lee's friends and colleagues want to thank all of his fans and well-wishers for their kind words and condolences," a family statement read. "Stan was an icon in his field. His fans loved him and his desire to interact with them. He loved his fans and treated them with the same respect and love they gave him."
Stan Lee will be sorely missed, but his imaginative spirit and Marvel Comics Universe will live on forever. 'Nuff said.
Peep the tributes/condolences to Stan Lee via social media below (click the link).
Can we please have a moment of silence for Whitney Elizabeth Houston. The R&B veteran whose unparalleled voice ruled pop music for over three decades has died at the age of 48.
According to the Associated Press, Houston's publicist, Kristen Foster, said the singer passed away on Saturday (Feb. 11) but didn't explain how she died or the location of her death.
TMZ reports that Houston was staying at the Beverly Hilton hotel when security called 911. When paramedics arrived Houston was found unresponsive. According to TMZ's sources, paramedics tried CPR on her but were unsuccessful in reviving her and she was pronounced dead at the scene at 3:55PM PT.
"I am absolutely heartbroken at the news of Whitney's passing," said Quincy Jones said in a statement. "Ashford & Simpson first made me aware of Whitney when she was just sixteen, and I always regretted not having had the opportunity to work with her. She was a true original and a talent beyond compare. I will miss her terribly."
News of Houston's death came on the eve of the Grammy Awards and hours before her longtime mentor and friend Clive Davis was to hold his annual pre-Grammy party.
But none of that matters now. We have truly lost an icon in pop, R&B and soul music. When Houston burst onto the scene in the late '80s, she was the total package: She was a model-esque singer with a beautiful voice who had no limitations to her vocal talent.
Houston came from a very strong pedigree of singers. She was the daughter of gospel veteran Cissy Houston, the cousin of 'Walk on By' singer Dionne Warwick and the goddaughter of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. So singing and performing was simply in her blood.
Houston made her album debut in 1985 with Whitney Houston, which boasted the Quiet Storm staple "Saving All My Love for You" and the endearing "The Greatest Love of All." She followed that with her second LP Whitney in 1987, which included hits like "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and "Didn't We Almost Have It All." In her career, Houston released seven albums and sold over 170 million copies all together worldwide.
Not only did Houston conquered music, but she also reigned in films, as well. She made her acting debut in the 1992 flick The Bodyguard opposite Kevin Coster. The accompanying soundtrack featured the chart-topping single "I Will Always Love You," which is probably the most-remade and revered song in Houston's discography. "I Will Always Love You" won Record of the Year at the 1994 Grammy Awards and Best Female Pop Vocal, while the Bodyguard soundtrack won for Album of the Year.
Houston continued her acting career starring in such movies as Waiting to Exhale, The Preacher's Wife (with Denzel Washington) and she just finished production on the remake of 1976 film Sparkle.
Outside of music, Houston's personal life was examined heavily by the media. The singer's drug usage were well-documented and she once admitted to using cocaine and marijuana on Oprah Winfrey's daytime talk show. Her marriage to New Edition crooner Bobby Brown was also fodder for the tabloids. From their union, they had one child, Bobbi Kristina. The couple would later divorce in 2007.
Among Houston's career-long accolades include 6 Grammy Awards, 2 Emmy Awards and over two dozen American Music Awards.
Whitney Houston was one of a kind. A voice that will never been duplicated, ever. Sadly, her soulful voice is now silenced.
Rest in Peace, Whitney Houston.
Thank you for blessing us with your God-given talent.
You will never be forgotten.
Songwriter Hallerin Hilton Hill, who co-wrote the song "Who Would Imagine A King", which was performed by Houston for the movie The Preacher's Wife, shares his thoughts on Whitney Houston's legacy.
It's here! Actor-turned-filmmaker Michael Rapaport's documentary Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest arrives in theaters today but only in Los Angeles and New York. This is the actor's first directorial project and his chance to show A Tribe Called Quest's ongoing influence in hip-hop.
Below is a video of Rapaport and Stones Throw founder Chris Manak (a.k.a. Peanut Butter Wolf), who was the film's music supervisor, hanging out at the famed Amoeba record store. The duo handpicks a few of their favorite classic albums and explains their musical influence. I dig that Rapaport likes John Coltrane's seminal classic jazz album, A Love Supreme.
If you have seen the ATCQ documentary, don't be afraid to leave a review below in the comments. Thanks.
Watch Rapaport and Peanut Butter Wolf chop it up about their favorite albums.
This is Blitz the Ambassador's accompanied film for his new LP Native Sun. I didn't watch the entire 21-minute film, but from what I viewed it looks gorgeous. Co-directed by Terence Nance and photograph by Shawn Peters, the film is about an orphan African boy who embarks on a journey to find his long-lost father. The film was shot entirely in Ghana and it shows the beauty of Africa.