When It’s Bigger Than Music

Celebrities have always held a certain, even special place in society. With the ease of access and the multiple social media platforms available, the celebrity culture is the biggest it has ever been. For some, celebs are looked upon as almost god-like, for others they are looked at as family. When our favorite celebs pass suddenly, there is without a doubt an outpouring of love and affection. Some real, some not but love nonetheless. The loss can be devastating for the short term while others linger in the hearts and…

Juvenile and Birdman’s “Just Another Gangsta” Shockingly Dope

Juvenile has teamed up with Birdman on his new album release Just Another Gansta which dropped today. It’s just a few months since the 20th year anniversary release of his best selling album 400 Degreez which was released on November 3, 1998 and continues to be Cash Money Record’s best selling album of all time. The Back That Ass Up king has rejoined Cash Money and looking to make a comeback in the rap game. Now I am sure like many of you, I wasn’t quite sure if I could enjoy a Juvenile and Birdman record in 2019. Often when old school rappers try to make a comeback it is never shy of disastrous, however after listening to the album I am actually pleasantly surprised. It gave me a nostalgic feeling while not sounding overly dated. It features 12 tracks and a guest appearance by Cash Money’s newest artist NLE Choppa. The album opens with the self titled track Just Another Gangsta that has a 90’s type of sound to it that you can dance to. The rest of the record flows well with Juvie’s voice over modern beats, is full of energy and less of Birdman which is a good thing. In Conclusion, I give it flames. Listen for yourself.

BREAKING: Charges DROPPED against Jussie Smollet

According to the Chicago Tribune, Cook County prosecutors on Tuesday dropped all charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett on disorderly conduct charges for allegedly staging a phony attack and claiming he was the victim of a hate crime. “We believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” a prosecutor said in announcing the dismissal of all 16 counts. Smollet was really being criticized by public media when details of the case seemed to be unclear to many. A publicist for Smollett’s attorney was the first to notify the news media Tuesday morning, issuing an alert that did not elaborate on the nature of the emergency. Moments after Judge Steven Watkins allowed the dismissal, attorneys for Smollett issued a statement. “Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him,” the statement said. “Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgement. “Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions,” the statement continued. “This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion. That is wrong. It is a reminder that a victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result. “Jussie is relieved to have this situation behind him and is very much looking forward to getting back to focusing on his family, friends and career.” The 36-year-old actor, who was free on $100,000 bond, has previously denied lying to police or faking the attack. I, Personally, am happy For Jussie as I believed that the 16 felony counts for this situation was ridiculously punitive in nature. I hope that now that this case has been dismissed, Jussie can get back to his life and some level of normalcy. If there are any new developments in the case we will be sure to share them with you.

Us Spoiler Review: All Hail Lupita Nyong’o, the New Queen of Cinema

Warning: “These words are spoiler words about the movie Us. If you haven’t seen the movie, turn around and walk the TF away. THANKS!” – BWNC Management From now on, I lobby that we address Lupita Nyong’o as Queen Mother Empress Khaleesi. Also, she deserves every movie award humanity has to offer. Everything from the BET Award to the NAACP Image Award to the Academy Award to the SOURCE Award while getting recruited by Suge Knight in an all red nigga suit as he mocks Puff Daddy in the heart of New York. Us, the movie, is full of obvious and not so obvious commentary. However, after the end credits of the movie Us appeared on the big screen, all of US in the theater were shooketh. We didn’t really know what the fuck we saw, and I guarantee that most of us who left the theater the other night still have little to no clue what the fuck we saw. At minimum, it will take several viewings along with several pre-rolled blunts to fully comprehend the metaphors, the social commentary and the classism. The movie introduces us to 1986 Adelaide, a girl who didn’t have many words to speak before the traumatizing event in the hall of mirrors. From the looks of it, her parents’ relationship was anything but stable, as her father seemed more concerned with where to find his next drink and her mother even more concerned by her father searching for his next drink. This instability, as well as lack of awareness of their own child, led to the inevitability of Adelaide curiously wandering off, a trait she would pass down to her son, years later. Circa 1986 Adelaide’s traumatizing catalyst comes in the form of discovering that she has a doppelgänger. For those of us who saw the movie, we know that this flashback scene is paramount because in this moment, Adelaide and her “less than” doppelgänger switch places. In this moment, Adelaide becomes Red and the doppelgänger becomes Adelaide. There were clues sprinkled throughout the entirety of the movie that something more happened than what was shown in the initial hall of mirrors scene. Everything from Adelaide’s lack of ability to speak English (which many of us just attributed to some form of PTSD) to Red being the only doppelgänger who could speak English (Albeit, broken English because of how long she was literally cast out of society, but English, nevertheless). Adelaide’s former language, which she tried hard to hide/destroy throughout the movie, would peak its head from time to time. The Tethered slave language was first highlighted during the tense home invasion scene. From there, Jordan Peele sprinkled their communication methods throughout the duration of the movie. Adelaide, at several points, seemed to struggle for coherency, and early on, she tells white drunk girl Katie that she sometimes has trouble talking. Her communicating her communication “defect” to white drunk girl Katie was meant to be taken literally, meaning that almost like a speech impediment, her native language would pop up, out the blue. Her native language rearing its “ugly” head up before being regressed by Adelaide culminates with her—for a moment in time—embracing her native language when she kills Red. And as she kills Red (aka her past) by brutally snapping her neck, she belts out a Tethered roar that echoed throughout the entire abandoned lower-class facility. Other subtle nods to Adelaide being something more than what she was letting on was her reactions to the “crazy white people shit” going on around her. Everything from the Tethered family first appearing in the driveway to her being hesitant on initially calling the police as she repeatedly said “no, no, no, no” to her reaction when Red ordered her to chain herself to the table. These reactions were all calm symbolic recognition’s to her past, especially the shackles. The shackles served as an all too familiar reminder of her days trapped in a literal capitalistic hell as a doppelgänger/American slave. The shackles also served as an all too familiar reminder to US, the viewer, that being black in this country is hard. Being a woman in this country is hard. But being a black woman in this country is like wearing shackles while trying to perform the same acts of those who don’t have shackles. And even with shackles limiting her ability, Adelaide still manages to get her body count up. In hindsight, we also see why Red adopted the name Red while being trapped in the lower(est) class. Her thoughts and references of humanity were stuck in a 1986-time capsule, with two distinct images of red being imprinted on her. The obvious image of the Hands Across America (which was the foundation for the uprising) and the not so obvious red exit signs. These red exit signs were the last vestiges of hope and safety before being kidnapped and dragged into the lower-class abyss. This kidnapping, which one could substitute as simply survival of fittest by Adelaide, is what makes BOTH Lupita performances remarkable. You emphasize for and also root against BOTH Adelaide and Red. Peele’s creation and Lupita’s performance left some of us frustrated, left some of us in deep thought, and left most of us in frustratingly deep thought. As Jordan Peele navigates his way from half hour comedic sketches on Comedy Central to becoming one of the most brilliant filmmakers for this generation, we are starting to notice his signatures. For anyone who is a fan of Get Out, you can see that Peele is starting to develop these wonderful scenes of riding in cars which symbolizes the calm before the storm. In Us, the normal black family riding in a normal family car was black joy and black family joy and black family happiness at its finest. And the apex of this black family joy car ride was reached when the radio blasted “I GOT FIVE ON IT.” When this song played through the theater’s speakers, we/US were all in concert, reciting the lyrics to this iconic song. However, even though this was what I considered the calm before the storm scene, something stood out to US during this scene, and that is when Adelaide attempts to guide her son, Jason through the rhythm of the iconic melody. Here, we see that she is CLEARLY off beat which would lead those of us who are rhythmically inclined to believe that something wasn’t quite right. That Adelaide was a little “peculiar.” As the film focuses on our black family (our DARK SKINNED black family), Winston Duke’s character, Gabe, seems to initially, albeit tentatively, be the head of this conventional patriarchal black family structure. Gabe and Adelaide’s two children, Zora (played by Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (played by Evan Alex) are prototypical everyday movie siblings, picking on each other when given the opportunity. This up and down relationship is highlighted during the first (calm) part of the film. However, Zora serves as the protective figure for the younger Jason during dire times (Not so much during the calm before the storm. See: Beach scene) which fully emphasizes the dynamic of a loving younger/older sibling relationship. And coincidentally, the younger sibling is there for their older counterpart when doppelgänger drunk white girl Katie needs to be knocked tf out. When we move on to more tense scenes, including the ever so stressful home invasion (a stress that accompanies every family, black or white), we suddenly realize that the conventional patriarchal family structure has failed. And it failed rather quickly. Gabe’s heroism is short lived when he is injured by his doppelgänger, Abraham. From then on, Gabe provides much comedic relief, as he limps on (still heroic, just not on the level of Adelaide), reacting how a black person would in any environment full of “crazy white people shit.” During this home invasion, we see each family member’s skill on full display. From Jason’s cleaver ways which was birthed from this natural curiosity to Zora’s determination to kill as many MF’s as possible (which she gladly pointed out while making her case to drive) to Adelaide’s unrelenting zeal to protect her family at all cost. The apex of this film, a film full of overt commentary on classism mixed with subtle, less overt race commentary was Adelaide’s and Red’s black matriarchal takeover. Black womanism set this movie apart from any other movie in the horror genre universe. In it, we saw both Adelaide and Red fight against their own toxic pasts in both the mental and physical form. Furthermore, Us, granted US, the viewer, access into Jordan Peele’s vision as a filmmaker, which is to provide a nuance perspective on what it means to be a black hero. Not a black superhero in a conventional, Black Panther sense (The connective tissue between the actors of both Us and Black Panther are undeniable), but black heroes in an everyday sense. Black heroes we root for, black heroes we cheer for. Peele’s artistry allows us to become fully invested in these black heroes because within that two-hour window from the opening credits to the closing scene, their safety is paramount to us. Our black family’s safety was paramount to us, above all else. As it relates to the Tethers and the undeniable classism that exists within Us’ message, for much of the film, they are regarded as something different. As “the others.” These doppelgängers, during the initial part of the first act of the movie were regarded as simpleton savages, looking to take over the world. We later come to realization that they are America’s throw away children, America’s lower class. Therefore, when Red said they were Americans, it resonated with us, the viewer, because they were US. They symbolized apart of American that is looked down upon, no matter the orientation, no matter the gender, no matter the race. A lot of the Tether’s origins are left unexplored; however, we do know that it was a government sanctioned program gone wrong. As Zora pointed out during the calm before the storm car ride, the government—in this universe, and possibly in our own—are in the business of population/mind control. The Tether protest/savagery represents a faction of America who has been shitted on their entire existence; a faction of America who has been stepped on their entire existence; a faction of who has been looked down their entire existence. And while you/I/we look down on the Tethered (not literally but symbolically just through our “cushy” existence), the Tethered have nowhere to look but up. They have nowhere to go but up. And when they are led by someone (Red) who longs to be a part of that “cushy” existence once again, she galvanizes the Tethered and makes them realize the truth. That they are US. Red suffered considerably worse than Adelaide after being trapped underground. But while she was underground, she discovered that her unique ability to speak revolutionized the way the Tethered viewed themselves. Her ability started a revolution. And history has always taught us that any successful revolution isn’t short of violence. Red, now a product of both classes, realized that for them to become us, it had to be done by any means necessary. Jordan Peele, in this movie, literally sends warning shots to the “have’s” that when the “have nots” get desperate enough, and that desperation is concentrated into organized protest, that’s how (violent) revolutions are birthed. Hence why Us isn’t just a history lesson of injustice because this lesson is still very much applicable in 2019. As the rich get richer and poor get poorer and the middle class gradually shrinks into the abyss of a capitalistic created hell, Jordan Peele allows Us to be a plea for humanity. This movie, more than anything else, was a basic human rights movie who so happen to have beautiful black actors as leads. The Tethered’s end goal is non-violent protest, yet they accomplish their protest through violent actions. That dichotomy is the human experience. That is the America experience. That is US. Us will remain talked about for months, even years. Its overt classism mixed with ever so subtle race innuendos is what makes this movie worthwhile. Sure, race isn’t at the forefront of this movie like it was in Get Out, but that’s ok. From time to time, we black people need a movie that highlights a mundane yet loving black family as they react to “crazy white people shit” happening all around them (even if the “crazy white people shit” revolves around their own black doppelgängers). In a perfect world, do I wish Jordan Peele would’ve tackled the intersection of class and race overtly, at times? Yes, hence why I was slightly disappointed that there were also white carbon copies/doppelgängers in the movie. However, my disappointment was short-lived because this movie was meant to unify, not divide. This movie is meant to highlight our commonalities more than our differences. And this is why Jordan entitled it Us. Finally, Jordan Peele doesn’t spoon feed us shit. One recurring theme of Us that is left unexplained is the repeated reference to Bible passage Jerimiah 11:11. The passage, which the movie doesn’t provide, states: “Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.” The Lord (Red, in this case) unleashed the Tethered and their brutality upon America, the same America that brutalized them for countless generations. Red and Adelaide’s battle between BOTH antagonists and protagonists (Both characters occupied both hence why Lupita’s performance should win every fucking award imaginable) is what made this movie so special. This movie was building on that very emotionally driven moment in which we saw the true connection between the doppelgängers. Everything from the whistle of itsy bitsy Spider (Red is the itsy bitsy spider who climbs up the water spout..i.e., the escalator to the surface world) to the choreographed ballet dancing highlighted the connective tissue both shared with one another while both were trying to essentially disconnect from one another. Both were trying to kill the past because the past was horrifying and tragic and toxic. And when Adelaide killed the past once in for all, all she could do was provide a cleaver, slick smile to her cleaver, slick son. The same son whose “TF??” reaction to Adelaide’s gleeful smile represented all of us in the theater. Again… Jordan ain’t spoon feeding shit. And that’s because he expects US to interpret movies made by us, for us. All of us.

Why I’m celebrating Dr. Dre’s daughter’s acceptance to USC.

Recently, Dr. Dre shared that his daughter, Truly Young, was accepted to USC. For any parent, a child getting into college is a moment of pride and excitement. I can remember when college acceptance letters started coming in during my senior year. No matter where they came from–no matter how big or small the school–my dad would immediately pick up the phone and start calling my aunts and uncles to share the great news. He would call my siblings and even church members. My mom would add the acceptance to the church announcements. She wanted everyone to know her baby boy was going places. For some, this can be annoying. I admit there were moments that I thought my parents were overdoing it. I would think “everyone is going to hate us because they’re always bragging on me; I’m not special.” Now that I’m a parent, I realize that I was special. I was special to them and that’s all that mattered. What matter’s even more is that I received the acceptance letters because of them. I grew up in a “regular” family. We weren’t poor or broke but we needed to be smart about how we spent our money. I didn’t receive many hand-me-downs but new clothes were not a frequent occurrence; we received new clothes at the start of the school year and a few replacements as we grew throughout the year. I say all of this because my parents were able to afford a comfortable life for us but buying our way into any school was out of the question. My dad was great about saving for our tuition, and he supplemented what our scholarships didn’t take care of. In some cases, we took out student loans. All in all, my dad’s claim to fame is that all five of his children have (at minimum) a bachelor’s degree. He pushed us to go to school and he pushed us to apply to certain schools. Following the college cheating scandal, Dr. Dre decides to make it clear that his daughter was accepted to USC and there would be “no jail time.” His problematic past notwithstanding, this isn’t a moment that should be stripped from a father. He’s given USC almost $100 million over the last decade and there’s no hiding that. However, universities–elite or not–depend on sizeable donations to move their institutions forward. His ability to make such a sizeable donation doesn’t mean that his daughter didn’t put in the work. As she recently shared, he pushed her to get into USC. This isn’t the same as hiring a company to circumvent the admissions process and taking fake athletic photos for a sport you never played. Dre made a donation to an elite institution in his home state, near his hometown, and he pushed his daughter to apply to that school. As long as there’s no evidence that he made back channel calls to ensure she was accepted, it seems like the admissions process was out of his control. If we find out that Dre was underhanded in some effort to get his daughter in school, let the roast begin. Otherwise, let’s not penalize a proud father for celebrating his daughter’s success and making it clear that she did it the legal way. There’s plenty that one could hold against him; this isn’t it. I’m happy for Truly Young and hope she decides to attend the place that’s best for her.