Archive for October, 2007

We are in a state of emergency—school shootings, nooses being hung from trees, domestic violence, gang violence, police brutality and war. In the midst of mass turmoil the Hip Hop community cannot afford to stand still. As Rick Ross has said, “it’s time for us to be leaders and not followers.” We must use our influence to raise awareness, heal and move toward truth and solutions. We are going to make a change. We are going to build a brighter future. Be part of it. Apathy is no longer an option. Let’s stop the violence.

Peace,

KRS-ONE

Approaching the 20 year anniversary of the original Stop The Violence Movement, KRS One, The Teacha is re-launching this effort.

Yesterday…

In 1989, KRS-ONE developed an all-star project that became the legendary Hip Hop peace anthem, “Self-Destruction”. The recording denounced Black-on-Black violence and united the most popular Hip Hop artists of that era.

Today…

This new campaign consists of public service announcements (PSAs) from various rappers enlisting the youth and greater community at large to “Stop the Violence.” Some include Lil’ Wayne, Ludacris, Chingy, Rick Ross, Cassidy, Channel Live, Doug E Fresh, Immortal Technique, Lil’ Dude, 50-Cent and Busta Rhymes .

Stop the Violence Mission…

Stop the Violence is a multi-dimensional and long-term movement that calls for the balancing of violent images in mass media. ‘Stop The Violence’ offers controversial and explicit artists, actors, athletes and academics the opportunity to be heard and seen from a broader perspective by involving them in conflict resolution dialogue and encouraging them address the images they put forth. We intend to elicit more depth and understanding between popular cultures’ brightest stars, their fans and mass media. We will use our influence as entertainers and educators to provide a powerful and positive collective voice.

“We will have an ongoing presence with celebrity audio and visual PSAs, lectures, youth programs, a CD- soundtrack and film. A new ‘Stop the Violence’ Hip Hop anthem is in the works,” says KRS One.

For media inquiries, contact Tambria Peeples at 404-734-3963 or send an email to ec@tambriapeeples.com.

Check out the following links to the latest article and PSA on AllHipHop.com.

Story by Roman Wolfe: http://allhiphop.com/blogs/news/archive/2007/10/18/18752346.aspx

Public Service Announcements:

Part 1: http://allhiphop.com/blogs/multimedia__music/archive/2007/10/17/18751811.aspx

 

Part 2: http://allhiphop.com/blogs/multimedia__music/archive/2007/10/17/18751755.aspx

The Mo’Kelly Report:
Nas is a Comedian Not an Intellectual

Nasir Jones is a funny, funny guy.

Nasir Jones, aka Nas, rapper extraordinaire is back in the news. In fact, he’ll soon be back with a new CD. The often controversial rapper is again doing what he does best, causing controversy. To be truthful, there really isn’t any controversy…just high comedy.

Nasir Jones is a funny, funny man; borderline hysterical.

Just in case you’re not aware of the latest, Nas has announced his forthcoming CD will be named…

(drum roll please)

Nigger!

Yes, see how the mere utterance of the word in its full, gory splendor makes most “reasonable” individuals twitch in discomfort. Note; emphasis on the word “reasonable.”

Nigger, coming soon on iTunes. Or, you can run out to your local music retailer and purchase Nigger as a gift for your loved ones this holiday season. In fact, call your favorite radio station and request Nigger right now.

Yes, doesn’t that just “sound” like a good idea?

THAT, my people, is brilliance unparalleled. Such creative genius only comes around once in a generation. The juxtaposition of “nigger” and rap music is groundbreaking. Never before have the two come together in music.

Uh…yeah.

Evidently the NAACP and other civil rights ancillaries are none too pleased at the announcement and have voiced their displeasure. To which, Nas had this to say to MTV News:

“I’m a street disciple. I’m talking to the streets. Stay out of our business. You ain’t got no business worrying about what the word ‘nigger’ is or acting like you know what my album is about without talking to me.

He goes on to say…

“If Cornel West was making an album called “Nigger,” they would know he’s got something intellectual to say. To think I’m gonna say something that’s not intellectual is calling me a nigger, and to be called a nigger by Jesse Jackson and the NAACP is counterproductive, counter-revolutionary.”

And so goes the continuous contradictory nature of hip-hop music today.

Quicker than a single rotation of a 12” LP, hip-hop will argue the merits of “free speech” and how hip-hop should not be “censored” or heaven forbid, criticized. Yet at the same time, hip-hop has been gleefully ignorant as to the implications and responsibility associated with anything “free.”

“Freedom of speech” is an inalienable right to avoid prosecution for your views…not persecution because of them. There’s a distinct difference.

Nas is “free” to title his CD Nigger or any other equally misguided nomenclature he sees fit; regardless of how ill-conceived, illogical and asinine it may happen to be.

But why in the hell WOULD anyone (Black) WANT to do so?

Be it the attempt to justify the BET TV show Hot Ghetto Mess, merchandise “Nigga” T-shirts (Damon Wayans) or naming your CD Nigger…the question is the same.

Why in the hell WOULD anyone (Black) WANT to do so?

Freedom of speech intimates a dialogue, not a monologue. The NAACP, Jesse Jackson and Mo’Kelly are also “free” to express our overwhelming disapproval at Nas’ lack of foresight and class. Freedom of speech does not begin and end with the first voice in the discussion, it continues until all are heard.

This is Mo’Kelly’s turn.

Disciple n.
A person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another.

There is nothing inherently dishonorable in being “from” the streets. Our origination points in life are simply that…a starting locale prior to growth and progress. They should never be the goal or end destination.

The problem though is coveting the infantile mentality that eschews growth, education and progress for items of zero value…synonymous with “the streets.”

In “the streets,” men are not men.

Lil Flip
Young Jeezy
Young Joc
Young Buck
Hot Boyz
Lil Jon
Geto Boyz
Baby Boy (Movie)
Boyz in the Hood (Movie)

Etc.

And to think we as African-American men couldn’t stand to be called “boy.” That’s clearly progress at its best.

In “the streets” women are not women.

Bitches
Hos
Tricks
Chickenheads
Skeezers

Etc.

The “mores” and “ethics” of the streets are contained in phrases such as “stop snitchin.’ The debasement of women and disrespect of fellow African-Americans are acceptable and encouraged modes of behavior.

The “streets” are about “having more” not “being more.” The “streets” idolize drug dealers, rappers who pattern themselves after Mafiosos and/or drug dealers (i.e. “Nas Escobar”) and are largely indifferent to common sense and decency. Mo’Kelly’s not deriding people “from” the streets, just those who embrace the tenets “of” the streets. It’s about the mentality, not the zip code.

It wasn’t the zip code that landed rapper T.I. in jail (again). It was the mentality that convinced him machine guns and silencers were more important than continuing to enjoy his music and movie stardom without them.

If Nasir Jones is a self-proclaimed “street disciple,” then by definition he embraces and extols the “virtues” of the very least that African-Americans have to offer and the worst of human interaction. Mo’Kelly doesn’t need to “wait” for the CD to KNOW that Nigger is an unacceptable way to represent African-American people.

Mo’Kelly’s got common sense and decency.

“I’m a street disciple. I’m talking to the streets. Stay out of our business.”

-Nas-

Like Mo’Kelly said…Nas is a funny, funny man. High comedy. And by the way, since 70% of all hip-hop is purchased by non-African-Americans, what “streets” is Nas REALLY talking to?

Nas should’ve said…”I’m talking to the suburbs, who keep me in business.” THAT is more of an accurate statement.

The moment Nas stops appearing on MTV News, pre-promoting CDs, having his music spun at night clubs, accepting royalty checks from a conglomerate he neither influences nor owns et. al…then and ONLY then might he admonish anyone to stay out of his “business.” In the meantime, he keeps bringing his “business” to us and is quite intent on making a profit in the process.

In addition, as long as Nas is intent on “representing” African-Americans in a public sense with such stupidity, it will always be Mo’Kelly’s “business” to check him accordingly.

“You ain’t got no business worrying about what the word ‘nigger’ is or acting like you know what my album is about without talking to me.”

Great. Nas is also the self-proclaimed “authority” on the word “nigger” with all rights, entitlements and privileges accorded thereto. That is “goal setting” at its highest.

Mo’Kelly wouldn’t dare try to take that “honor” away from him. Mo’Kelly will let Nas hang that award proudly on his bathroom wall…right next to his 8th grade diploma.

The simple point Nas misses (one of many) is that “just because you ‘can’…doesn’t mean you should.” And if you still do, don’t expect the rest of us to support you either.

Enough is enough.

If Nas can’t understand the inherent stupidity in naming his CD Nigger, then it’s a fair assumption the subsequent content is equally lacking in common sense. Remember, he’s a “street disciple” with all the baggage it entails.

Heaven forbid if we as a people strove to “be more” instead of just “having more.”

“If Cornel West was making an album called “Nigger,” they would know he’s got something intellectual to say.”

Let’s stay within the realm of common sense here. Nas is not on any intellectual par with Dr. West and neither are Nas’ “teachings.” And if Nas is only talking to “the streets,” any and all references to Dr. West are silly. Is Nas trying to be silly or serious? Right now, the humor is winning out.

Nas IS a funny, funny man invoking comparisons to Dr. West. Appropriating the intellectuality of Dr. West to argue the merits of stupidity is high, high comedy. Dr. West hasn’t written any songs talking about You Owe Me or engaged in publicized beefs/pissing matches, dissing his peers such as Tavis Smiley, Leonard Pitts or Earl Ofari Hutchinson over perceived disrespect.

Nas on the other hand…

But to Nas’ point, Dr. West has released multiple CDs which included the topic of The N-Word (as the songs were specifically titled). Meaning, Dr. West is clearly sensitive to the controversial nature of the word in ways that Nas is not. The fact is; Dr. West likely wouldn’t ever name his CD Nigger. The hypothetical is erroneous and ridiculous.

“ To think I’m gonna say something that’s not intellectual is calling me a nigger, and to be called a nigger by Jesse Jackson and the NAACP is counterproductive, counter-revolutionary.”

Nas would like us to disregard the greater portion of his career filled with non-intellectual beefs with Jay-Z, 50 Cent and others. He would like us to forget all of his foolishness, but Mo’Kelly won’t. Nas is occasionally intellectual…in the way that it occasionally rains. In other words, he changes like the weather.

But therein lies the rub. Although Nas is fine with using “Nigger” for his own ill-gotten gain, irrespective of how destructive, offensive and inflammatory it might be; he’s “offended” at the prospect of the insult being thrown back at him.

Which is it Nas…is the word offensive and inflammatory or not? Nas can’t seem to make up his mind.

Nas’ own contradictions are the perfect illustrations as to why this word has no place in our mouths, our hearts…or as titles of our CDs. The word and its hateful history are neither redemptive nor salvific. Nothing good has EVER come out of “nigger.” Being that Nas is the “authority” on “nigger” he should already know this to be true.

“We’re taking power from the word,” Nas also added.

No you’re not. The word itself doesn’t have power, it’s the history and racism it embodies which have power…neither of which are you addressing or mitigating by “selling Nigger” for 18.95.

Nas can’t numb African-Americans into submission by the overuse of the word in the hopes of it becoming passe’ and he knows it. He just wants your 18.95 for you to figure it out.

No matter how many times Richard Pryor said it under the guise of humor, no matter how many times NWA used it under the guise of empowerment; the FIRST time Michael Richards mentioned it…we were back to square one. The FIRST time it was used against Mychal Bell, the wheels of history began turning in his mind and the Jena 6 were born.

Usurping the “power” of the word Nigger is a farce. Selling it for 18.95 is a modern-day minstrel show/slave auction…take your pick.

The association of “nigger/nigga” and rap music is not “revolutionary.” Ever since the debut of NWA in the early 90s…rap and “nigger” in all of its permutations have been inextricably linked. Nas is not breaking new ground here, only digging up more of hip-hop’s old skeletons. In fact, the use of “nigger” on an album/CD isn’t even new. Richard Pryor has Nas beat by some 30 years and we should all remember where intellectually and emotionally Pryor ended up on the use of the word “nigger” when all was said and done.

To be “revolutionary” implies cutting against the grain in the hopes of uplifting the least of all of us. It’s a key differentiation between relevant social revolutions and garden variety prison breaks.

Nas titling a hip-hop CD in 2007 Nigger after a career of its incessant use in his music is indicative only of unimaginative profiteering, masquerading as intellectuality. His inability to see past the error of his ways is just more of the infantile faux-masculinity that is common and pervasive amongst “street disciples.”

Nas, you are a funny, funny man…even when you’re not trying.

The Mo’Kelly Report is an entertainment journal with a political slant. It is meant to inform, infuse and incite meaningful discourse…as well as entertain. The Mo’Kelly Report is syndicated by Newstex. For more Mo’Kelly, http://www.mokellyreport.blogspot.com.

Morris W. O’Kelly can be reached at mokellyreport@sbcglobal.net and he welcomes all commentary.

GUCCI MANE

Despite a series of pitfalls that would end the      career of many a rapper, Gucci Mane remains one of the most talked-about artists in Atlanta. Born in Alabama, the 27-year-old moved to the ATL when he was nine, cutting tracks in local studios as a young teen.

In spring 2005, he collaborated with fellow up-and-comer Young Jeezy and came out with a major national hit called “Icy.” A little more than a week before his debut album, Trap House, hit stores in May, though, he was involved in a shooting that resulted in his arrest on murder charges.

While those charges were eventually dropped, Gucci spent the last half of ’05 in jail for an unrelated assault. Released in January ’06, he spent the year rebuilding his buzz, releasing an indie album, Hard to Kill, powered by the underground Atlanta bangers “Pillz” and “Freaky Gurl.” The signs of rebirth caught the attention of Atlantic Records CEO Craig Kallman, who signed the resilient rapper last December and looks to put out his third album, Back to the Trap House, in October.

Hurdles cleared, Gucci Mane has come full circle in two tumultuous years. Checking out our watches, it’s about his time.

Posted: October 10th, 2007

http://www.xxlmag.com/online/?p=14681

  THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH FOR G RECORDS IS SET TO HIT SOUTH FLORIDA WITH A STAR STUDDED CAST……..  Miami, FL, October 24, 2007.- SMAC Entertainment in conjunction with Springbac “Replenish Responsibly” invite South Florida to celebrate the launch of “The G” Monday,  October 29th, 2007. Guests are invited to join in what will be considered rousing and yes “hip” festivities.

With their explosive arrival into the market, G Records have unleashed some of the most talented and intense artists to hit the airwaves within the last year. Their “home base” being in the city of sun and all things Hip-Hop, The G Inc is pleased to announce the “official” launch of one of their many, many ventures- G Records. The launch will take place with a private media and industry only cocktail reception and “listening party” from 10pm to 11:00 p.m. The event will take place at Vice located at the Cameo nightclub, whose address is 1445 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach.

Walking the G carpet will be an eclectic array of friends including The Diaz Brothers, DJ Laz, Pitbull, Slip n Slide VP of A&R Jullian Boothe, Slip n Slide Records CEO Ted Lucas, Abebe Lewis- of Circle House Studios and other “celebrity” friends of the label. Access to the event from 11pm onward will be allowed ONLY to My Space “friends” who must RSVP through the website or email. URLs to access and become a G Inc “friend” and get into this exclusive party are:

www.myspace.com/theginc   www.myspace.com/305lilblaze   www.myspace.com/yungen305

All guests will have a meet and greet opportunity with premier G artists Yungen, Lil’ Blaze & Big Vill and upcoming producers Manny Got’dem and Gio from Traintraxx Productions at the posh event. These artists have garnered attention for their riveting command of the stage at performances all over the tri-county area and with airplay on South Florida’s number one rhythmic station WPOW, Power 96.

The G’s management team can say that this is the next BIG Movement coming from the MIA. In what most would consider “the blink of an eye” they have shot their way across the city and secured collaborations featuring some of the biggest artists in the industry, on some of the most recognized labels to include Miami’s own DJ Laz, Pitbull, KRS-1 and Pleasure P. from Pretty Ricky amongst others. As featured on WSVN’s Deco Drive, Two Mundos Magazine and other local and regional media

The G is taking North America and specifically South Florida by storm. To be part of the rage come out Monday October 29th, 2007, or get left out.

For information please go to: http://www.myspace.com/theGinc. For more information, please contact Liza Santana @ Creativas Group (305) 968-2384 and via email at: lmsantana@creativasgroup.com for interviews, and media inquiries.


RSVP for the event is: PARTYWITHTHEG@creativasgroup.com
 
 

Cheeba, Cheeba Y’all!
“Let’s take a trip,
Back into the past,
When the rappers had no records
And the deejays were fast.
When the great Kool Herc lead the Hevalo pack,
And Hollywood and Cheba rocked the Diplomat…”
‘AJ Is Cool’ by Kurtis Blow

Cheeba, Cheeba Y’all: Original House Rocker Eddie Cheba
By Mark Skillz
MarkSkillz@aol.com
http://hiphop101a.blogspot.com/2007/09/cheeba-cheeba-yall.html

The Fishtail Bar in the Bay Watch Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is right out back over looking the beach. Dozens of families are crowded in several swimming pools trying to beat the heat. Overhead the sound system is playing the dancehall reggae classic ‘Level the Vibes’ by Half Pint. On the surface it appears to be the most unlikely place to meet a former ghetto celeb and rap innovator. But then again it is.Decked out in a white and green short set with matching jersey, is a middle-aged man that many would find likable. His easy-going personality mixed with his affable charm makes him the kind of guy you’d want to share a drink and swap stories with. But it’s the stories that this man with droopy eyes and a raspy voice would tell that could make you look at him cross-eyed while sipping your Long Island Iced Tea. That is unless you’re up on your hip-hop history.

Way before the bling era and rappers rubbing shoulders with the likes of Donald Trump and Paris Hilton in the Hamptons, and definitely before multi-million dollar deals, ring tones, clothing lines and sneaker endorsements, rap was the music of ghetto Black New York. That means you didn’t hear it too far beyond the infamous five boroughs.

Almost jumping out of his seat he says to me, “Most guys back then, only got $175 or $150 with a sound system to play a gig. You know what I’m sayin’? We got $500 for an hour – without a sound system.” All the while he’s tapping me on the shoulder in between sips of a Heineken. “And you’d be happy that you got that hour!” He says to me with the cockiness of a used car salesman. “We’d do one hour over here, jump in our cars and head out to Queens or Hempstead, Long Island and do an hour out there.”

That was in 1977 when the cost of living was different and so was the cost of the best deejay in New York.

Ladies and Gentlemen: meet, Eddie Cheba, who along with Mele Mel, Cowboy, Creole, Coke La Rock, Timmy Tim and DJ Hollywood is one of the founding fathers of rap.

In his day Cheba was a legend. At hot night clubbing spots like Small’s Paradise, Charles Gallery, Hotel Diplomat and Club 371, Cheba would shout into the mic: “Who makes it sweeter?” And the crowd of hundreds would shout back “Cheba, Cheba, Cheba!

He is credited with creating the old school rhyme: “It’s on and on and on on and on like the hot butter on the what?” And if you were in the club and ‘in the know’, you knew to holler back: “Popcorn!” “We had a book of ‘em”, he told me in reference to the call and response tactics that he and his friend, partner and sometime rival, DJ Hollywood came up with.

The call and response style (back then called ‘house rockin’) that MC’s/DJ’s like Busy Bee, Kid Capri, Doug E Fresh, Kurtis Blow and Biz Markie are notorious for can be traced back to the smooth style of guys like Lovebug Starski, DJ Hollywood and Eddie Cheba.

On this day Eddie is in an upbeat mood because Tuff City Records is re-releasing the only recording Eddie ever did, a disco rap work out called ‘Looking Good (Shake Your Body)’. A song which was originally recorded for Tree Line Records in 1980, and was backed by the owners of Club 371, it will be a part of an old school rap compilation.

Cheba’s raspy- voiced, call and response style made a special impact out in Long Island, with some college kids that called themselves ‘Spectrum Sound’, the group would later be known as Public Enemy.

“Eddie Cheba was as important to hip-hop/rap as Ike Turner was to rock n roll”, Chuck D front man for Public Enemy informed me, “nowhere does he get his due credit for spreading it from the BX to [make it more] accessible [to] heads [outside of Harlem and the Bronx]. Cheba and Hollywood simply infiltrated the over 18 college adult bracket that simply hated on the art form. They put a bowtie on hip-hop at that time to get it through. Cheba commanded the audience with voice and a great sense of timing. These cats used rap to set up records like no other. His synergy with Easy G his deejay was simply… telepathic.”

“Now mind you”, says an emphatic Kurtis Blow, a rap pioneer in his own right, ‘let’s not get it twisted okay: Cheba was before DJ Hollywood. On that side of the family tree we have Pete DJ Jones who was the first real disco street deejay with emcee’s JJ Disco the King, KC the Prince of Soul and JT Hollywood – these guys were just announcers…the next level was the crowd response which was Eddie Cheba’s thing, he was the master of the crowd response. He had routines, he had girls – the Cheba Girls, he had little routines and he did it with a little rhythm ya know: ‘Throw your hands in the air, everybody now, we don’t need no music, come on y’all say it, so just clap your hands everybody and everybody body clap your hands! If you’re not too skinny or not too fat everybody say and ya know that!” Eddie was mad sick with the crowd response he was a master!”

As I think back on other names that rung out loud on the streets back then I ask Eddie about:

Ron Plummer: “Awww man, Plummer gave Pete Jones hell with those refrigerator sized speakers.”

Maboya: “He used to play reggae. He was one of the first ones out there to play reggae. At that time rap and reggae were not accepted – you’d play that stuff and people would turn around and look at you.”

The Smith Brothers: “They were older than us, they had an older clientele, but their sound system was good.”

But it’s the name DJ Hollywood that Cheba’s name is almost synonymous with. For many their names are almost linked together like Salt and Pepper, Butch and Sundance or Martin and Lewis. Can’t have one without the other. They were Uptown royalty when Cam’ Ron and Jim Jones were in Pampers.

Back Like Cadillac’s and Brim Hats

Edward Sturgis was born and raised in Harlem, New York’s Douglas Projects, home to such alums as Kenny Smith, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs and fellow deejay Reggie Wells. Originally a music major Eddie got involved with funk and soul bands, but soon grew tired of the instability that goes with being in a group. He soon found that his love for music could be expressed another way: with turntables and records.“My sister’s boyfriend Thomas was one of the first people I ever saw really mix music in a smooth way. I mean he knew how to keep the beat going, you know what I mean?” Eddie says to me while taking a drag off of his cigarette. “I said to myself ‘I wanna do that!”

Soon the Brandice High School student was spending hours a day practicing on his turntables. “I was completely locked into it. My girlfriend, who is my wife now, a date for us back then was, her sitting on my bed reading her books while I practiced.”

By 1974 he got so good at spinning records that he was able to quit his job at Bankers Trust and really concentrate on deejaying, “The money was flowing in.” He says to me with a sly smile.

On the way down the path to being a ghetto celeb he played in Uptown’s hottest spots: Charles Gallery, Hotel Diplomat (which on some nights attracted a white audience and was called LeJardin) and Wilt’s Small’s Paradise. “In 1972 when Joe Frazier beat Muhammad Ali at the Garden, he came to Small’s Paradise after the fight to hang out. I have a picture of me and him at Small’s.”

The Sound Systems in the Park

At the same time that Eddie was perfecting his craft in Harlem there was a whole other scene jumping off in the Bronx. This crowd was younger, rougher and rowdier.“There were two different crowds”, says Kurtis Blow, who’s classic recording ‘The Breaks’ was the second 12’ inch record to be certified gold. “Grandmaster Flash calls them the shoe people and the sneaker people.”

Blow, a Harlem native, is a student of both the R&B style of guys like Pete Jones and Hollywood and the hardcore b-boy approach of the Kool Herc followers. In fact with his deep, booming bass voice and crisp enunciation Kurtis’ style was the perfect blend between Harlem’s smooth R&B chic and Bronx b-boy cool.

At the parties that guys like Eddie, Grandmaster Flowers, Pete DJ Jones, the Disco Twins and the Smith Brothers would play at, songs like ‘Do it Anyway You Wanna’, “I Got My Mind Made Up’, ‘All Night Thing’, ‘Pipeline’ and ‘Soul Makossa’ would rock crowds of hundreds of the 21 and over crowd. Men came to the party wearing dress shoes, suits and slacks and women wore dresses.

Kool Herc, Flash, Breakout, Kool DJ AJ, Disco King Mario, Bambaataa and others rocked the teenage b-boy crowds. Their crowds would come in packs of 15 to 20 strong, wearing sneakers, jeans, hats and silver chains. They couldn’t wait to hear their favorite deejay play obscurities like ‘Give it to Me’, ‘Champ’, ‘Mardi Gras’, ‘Synthetic Substitution’, ‘Hit or Miss’ and many other unknown records that were worshipped by this cult following.

The slight exception was in Harlem at the Renaissance Ballroom, or the ‘Renny’ as it was called, where a promoter named Willie Gums had a thing called the ‘Rolls Royce Movement’, “That was Lovebug Starski’s thing right there”, says Kurtis Blow. “It was the Sapphire Crew: Donald Dee and B Fats that was their thing. That was hip-hop with class. They were young people but they got dressed up for these parties. I think D.J. Hollywood might’ve played there once.”

“Kool Herc and them played in the park. We were blessed to be able to play in clubs,” Eddie says to me. “If you think about it anybody could play in a park; little kids were in the park. There was no money playing in parks. Either the cops was coming to tell you to turn it down or they were gonna unplug you from the light pole or there was gonna be a shootout or something. I played in clubs where people drank champagne and came to have fun. Besides, the park was dangerous”, Eddie says to me while looking from side to side. “You got five niggas over there drinkin’ talkin’ ‘bout fuckin’ you up. Would you wanna be there?”

The Man With The Golden Voice

Before anyone could claim the title of King of New York, there was the original ‘King of Rap’: DJ Hollywood. On the streets of New York in the 70’s, Wood (as he is sometimes called) was the quintessential man. He was the first deejay to play multiple spots in one night and collect a fee of $500 per appearance. According to Cheba, “Hollywood would call ahead to Club 371 [after playing at other spots around the city] and say, “I’m on my way, have my envelope ready.”He was a rap star before there were any records. The history of the mixtape game can be traced back to him. He used to sell 8 track tapes of his mixes for ten or fifteen bucks a pop way back in 1972. He sang, he rapped, he did vocal impressions and crowd participation. On the rap tip in the 70’s no one could touch him.

“Hollywood was ‘all city’ he could play anywhere he wanted in the city back then”, says Kurtis Blow. “Hollywood, had a golden voice, he had a round and fat voice, he had tonality, tonality almost like a singer – he had singing routines where he would sing, “Got a word from the wise, just to tranquilize, your mind your body and soul. We got a brand new rhythm now, and we’re gonna let it take control. Come on y’all let’s do it. Let’s do it’… that was Hollywood, he was the master at the crowd response but his voice…” Kurtis pauses excitedly looking for the right words and when he finds them he says, ‘his voice was golden like a God almost – that’s why I wanted to be an MC!”

“If you went out to a club – you had to go to Club 371 to hear this cat. Hollywood was the talk of the town”, an animated Kurtis Blow says to me. “Everybody was losing their minds, he had skits like ‘Throw your hands in the air, and wave ‘em like ya just don’t care. And if you got on clean underwear, somebody say ‘Oh yeah!’ And the crowd would shout back: Oh yeah! Hollywood had the golden voice, the chants the rhythm. The first rhythmic rhymes I ever heard …a cat say during the hip-hop days – we’re talking about the ‘70’s. I’m not talking about the ‘60’s or anything before that because rap has been around for a long time. We’re talking about the first rhymes that I ever heard DJ Hollywood say were:

“I’m bonnified, I’m celitified and I’m qualified to do,
I say anything your heart can stand,
It all depends on you.
I’m listed in the yellow pages,
All around the world,
I got 21 years experience with loving sweet young girls…”

During an early morning phone interview Hollywood related the story of his discovery to me. “One day in 1975, I was at home playing records, and one of the records I pulled out was the “Black Moses” album. It was not popular at the time. So, there I was listening to this album, and I put on a song called “Good Love 69969”. Isaac Hayes was singing this part that went “I’m listed in the yellow pages, all around the world; I got 30 years experience in loving sweet young girls.” That record stopped me dead in my tracks. You see, before that record I had been doing nursery rhymes. But after that record: I was doing rhymes. And not only was I doing rhymes but I was talking about love. This was another level.”

In a reflective mood the one time King of Rap recalled the next events.”I thought to myself, what if I take what he’s doing and put it with this? What would I get? I got fame, that’s what I got. I got more famous than I could ever imagine. Everybody bit that rhyme. I would go to jams and people would be saying that rhyme, and none of them, not one of them, knew where it came from. It blew my mind.”

“I knew of Hollywood cause we were both from Harlem.” Eddie remembers. “Back in the day when Hollywood would play at the Apollo Theatre the marquee would say: “The Spinners, Black Ivory, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and D.J. Hollywood”. He was that large.”

But Eddie wanted the spot light too.

“I was sitting in my room one day when I came up with my rhyme. I wrote it out in a notebook it went.

About a while ago and I want you to know, just who you been listening to. Just listen to me now, while I tell you how, who I am, and what I do. I’m 5’9 and a half, bow legged as you ever wanna see. Just look up on the stage baby doll, I’m talking about little old me. It’s Cheba girl and I’m so glad that you came around. So we can spend some time together maybe even mess around.

Very quickly, like Hollywood’s rap, Eddie’s rap was eagerly consumed by other deejays, whom very soon, had no knowledge of the raps origin either. ASCAP and BMI were not looking for rappers back then, and rappers were no more aware of ASCAP and BMI then they were about words like ‘publishing’, ‘writing credit’, ‘points’ and ‘royalties’. This was before records.

“Before Club 371 I was playing at a spot called “A Bunch of Grapes” this was on the East side of 125th St. You see back then, the only people that were hip to my shit were the hustlers that went to the after hours spots. That’s where my rep started at was with the hustlers.” Said DJ Hollywood.

Every other rapper today fantasizes about knowing or being somehow connected with a notorious gangster, back in the day – Nicky Barnes was that gangster. Wood played for some of the most notorious figures of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, chief among them was Guy Fisher. It was Fisher who owned and operated the Apollo Theatre as a legitimate front. It was at the Apollo that Hollywood gained his rep for providing entertainment between acts for some of the biggest stars of the era, and often times he overshadowed them.

Guy Fisher was no stranger to the hip-hop set back then. Many an old timer tell stories of the days when Fisher, Bats Ross and other members of Nicky Barnes’ old crew would frequent hip-hop spots like the Hevalo and check out Kool Herc and Coke La Rock.

At the very mention of Fisher’s name Eddie becomes visibly uncomfortable. “Yes, Wood worked for Guy Fisher and them, those were Nicky Barnes’ people. I didn’t want to have anything to do with those people.” He tells me. “Yeah sure, we did parties for them, but that was it! They were nice guys outside of their business, but I didn’t want to play for them that much.”

“Why is that?” I ask.

“Because see, Hollywood might show up to Club 371 at two, three o’clock in the morning. Sometimes he didn’t show up at all. You couldn’t do that kind of shit with people like that because they would come and get you – and throw you in a bag or something.”

Havin’ Fun at Club 371

Sometime in 1978 a group of gentlemen called the Ten Good Guys wanted to expand their Bronx disco. It was called Club 371. They got DJ Hollywood to play there after seeing the impact of what he was doing in 1975 at the club ‘A Bunch Of Grapes’. Hollywood had been playing at 371 for at least three years before the owners decided to expand the club.“Hollywood was packing em in, they had lines around the corner. They built a part two, which was called the ‘House of Glass’. They talked to Reggie Wells and we made a deal and they came to get me.”

It was at Club 371 that Eddie Cheba would meet Hollywood.

“It was Hollywood and his deejay Junebug downstairs and me, Reggie Wells and my deejay EZ Gee upstairs. I’m telling you, we had them people running up and down those steps all night long.” Eddie recalls. “My deejay EZ Gee played with me when it was time for me to rap, [that’s when] he’d take over. I used to rent out a loft so that we could practice our routines. God sent EZ Gee to me.”

“371 was one of the greatest clubs of all time in the Bronx, New York, it was the first black owned club in New York to gross over a million dollars in one year and this was back in 1979, when they charged six or seven dollars to get in the door.” Eddie asserts. “They cleared a million dollars at the door – not to say how much they cleared under the table. This was one of the greatest clubs of all time: Eddie Cheba, Reggie Wells, Junebug and DJ Hollywood at Club 371 that’s where all the fame and fortune came from.”

“Everybody came to Club 371”, Hollywood recalls, “If you came in from out of town, people would be like, you gotta go here – it was like no other!”

Any old time Club 371 regular will tell you that the original chant that Big Bank Hank from the Sugar Hill Gang used in ‘Rapper’s Delight’ went: “Hotel/Motel/Holiday Inn, if you don’t tell then I won’t tell, but I know where you been!” 98.7 KISS-FM mix master Reggie Wells told me the origin of the chant had something to do with the Courtesy in New Jersey and people sneaking around after the club let out.

The club did so well that the owners went to great lengths to take care of their deejays. Reggie Wells remembers the money being so good at 371 that “all of the deejays had caddy’s back then.”

“Hollywood needed a car and didn’t have a license, so they bought him a Caddy and got him a license by sliding somebody at the DMV some money.” Eddie laughs while recalling the time. “They really took care of us.”

Reflecting on his heyday Eddie told me, “I had everything I shopped at AJ Lester’s. I was walked into any club in the city – I always got in free. Champagne? I got bottles of it wherever I went. If I walked down 125th St. in Harlem, people would see me and walk up to me and want to shake my hand or ask me for an autograph. If I had someplace to go I called a car service [Godfather’s, Touch of Class and OJ’s] and they would be there to pick me up. I’d say wait here until I’m done and they would. I used to sell my tapes for $20 a pop. People would be reserving tapes weeks in advance. Godfather’s and OJ’s and them used to sell my tapes. They would have a customer in a car and would be playing my stuff, the customer would be like ‘Who’s that?’ They’d say that’s Eddie Cheba. I was one of the top deejays in the city.

Like Butch and Sundance

“Me and Hollywood became really good friends. We worked together as well, but we were also friends. We used to go to after hour’s spots all over the city together and sit, drink and talk into early in the morning. We were close man.” Eddie said to me.Soon a partnership was born. “At one point they were called DJ-Eddie-Hollywood-Cheba”, laughs Kurtis Blow.

“Let me tell you how large I got.” Eddie says as he leans back in his seat and exhales a cloud of cigarette smoke above his head. “One night we were playing in Queens at the La Chalet on Hillside Ave. Anyway, these brothers were outside shooting at each other. I mean it was a real shootout. Me and my crew, the Cheeba Crew, pulled up when all of this is going on. We were like, ‘Shit, we ain’t getting’ out of the car!’ Somebody went inside and got on the mike and said, ‘Yo y’all stop all that shit. Eddie Cheba is outside right now and he says he ain’t coming in until y’all stop that shit.” Well, the next thing we know, they drop their guns and go inside.” Eddie says to me with an amazed look on his face, “these niggas stopped shooting at each other because they wanted to hear us play.”

The partnership of Hollywood and Cheba made them the two most popular Black deejays in the city. And the best paid. “Hollywood had no problem asking for whatever he wanted.” Eddie remembers. “He could be really arrogant. He had no problem at all blowing people off. I mean Wood was really arrogant. When we first started to play together, I was afraid to ask for more money. Wood would say ‘Say you want $500.” I’d be like, “I don’t know.” Wood would say that he was getting $500, so I’d go in there and say I wanted $500 too.”

As close as the two were they didn’t play everywhere together. Eddie played in midtown clubs such as the Pegasus, Captain Nemo’s, Nell Gwynn’s, Leviticus, the Tunnel, Cork and the Bottle and the Executive Suite. But it was at Charles Gallery that Eddie started to earn his rep.

“Charles Gallery was on some other shit”, Hollywood recalls, “Those guys in there were announcers, they would get on the mike and announce the next record and shit like that. I came in there with my rappin’ – they never heard anything like it before – they threw me out of there!”

Kurtis Blow described the Charles Huggins owned Charles Gallery as a classy spot for the 21 and over crowd. Men and women were dressed to the nines. Kurtis – and his then manager Russell Simmons first saw Eddie doing his thing there on a night called ‘Wild Wild Wednesday’s’.

But Hollywood didn’t like those kinds of clubs. Nor did he like ghetto type clubs such as Disco Fever. “The Fever was a fuckin’ drug store”, Eddie shot back, “you could get anything you wanted at the Fever. Drugs were all over the place. Hollywood did not play the Fever – and he was arrogant about it too.” Eddie says while taking a drag off of his cigarette. “We used to say, ‘Yo Wood, you need to play the Fever.’ He would brush it off and say, ‘them niggas ain’t my kind of crowd.” Hollywood’s crowd were places that catered to an older black clientele such as the many clubs in the Bronx, Harlem and Queens.

“Me on the other hand I liked playing anywhere.” Eddie tells me.

It was while playing in clubs in Queens that Hollywood and Cheba would bump into an eager young promoter that called himself Russell Rush. “Every time we played in Queens in some place like… the Fantasia, Russell would be right outside waiting for us. He was a big fan of ours. He used to beg me, he’d be like “Yo Cheba, I’m throwing a party at so and so place, could you stop by and do a little something?” Hollywood would be very arrogant and would say things like ‘tell that nigga to go away’. I couldn’t do that. I’d say ‘Russell; I’m a little too expensive for what you’re trying to do. I’ll see what I can do.’ I couldn’t blow people off like Wood could.”

Out in Long Island, Hollywood and Cheba were the rap equivalent of the Beatles. According to Chuck D, “In 1979 the whole cowboy look was in [cowboy hats and boots] and Hollywood and Cheba pimped that!”

One night Eddie bought Furious Five lead MC Mele Mel with him to play a gig in Roosevelt. “When he brought Mele Mel with him it was like two voices from heaven,” Chuck D says, “back then, if you didn’t have a good voice you couldn’t ‘cut through inferior sound systems. These cats were flawless. Hearing them sold me on hip-hop as being a wonderful thing for my life.”

“The night I took Mele Mel with me, out to Long Island, I dunno, he was more reserved than usual. I had to give the nigga the mike and say, “here do your thing.” I knew the nigga was bad as a motherfucker. This was just before their record ‘Superrappin’ came out.” Said Eddie.

It was also during this time that he was introduced to a young man who was trying to make a name for himself on the rap scene.

“DJ Hollywood had a ‘disco son’ named DJ Smalls, we figured a way for me get my name out there was if I was the disco son of Eddie Cheba.” Said Kurtis Blow. Although Kurtis, who would later be known as the ‘King of Rap’, would see his own career eclipse that of both Hollywood and Eddie Cheba’s, is to this day still clearly a devoted fan.

At it’s root hip-hop is a competitive art form whether its MC’s going head to head on the mike, or deejay’s crossing swords on turntables, “I was the one that did all of the battling.” Cheba tells me, “Hollywood would not battle anybody. I battled everybody. I didn’t give a fuck. Wood was not into battling. The only person he battled was Woody Wood from Queens. And me and Lovebug Starski had to push him to battle that nigga to do it.”

“Why’s that?” I ask.

“Because that nigga was stealing everything that Wood was doing. Not only did he sound like Wood, but also he got his name from him and all of his rhymes too. I told him ‘Fuck that shit, you got to battle that nigga.’ The way Woody Wood was stealing from Hollywood was a damn shame.”

In any other business imitation is considered to be a form of flattery, but in the rap game even as far back as 1976, it was almost the equivalent of stealing a brother’s hubcaps.

“At one time there were about thirty to forty me’s out there”, Hollywood says to me sounding almost as irritated today about it as he was thirty years ago. “Everybody was saying the rhymes and when it would come time to say my name – they would take mine out and put theirs in. Woody Wood was one of them people.”

“So you battled him?” I asked.

“Yeah, I stepped on him too”, Wood said as confidently as Muhammad Ali in 1975, “at that time there wasn’t nobody that could get wit’ me. I was top dog back then. I had control of everything.”

The battle took place at the Hotel Diplomat, “It wasn’t really what you would call a battle”, Wood interjects, “He did his thing first and then I did mine. No one could beat me with the crowd response thing. Woody Wood was an imitator, his voice, his rhymes he did his pronunciations just like me.”

“We were on top.” Eddie says coolly, “I had battled everyone. But as much as Wood didn’t like to battle he’d always tell me: “Eddie, whatever you do: Never battle me.”

“I thought to myself, ‘What kind of shit is that for him to say?’ I had my own ego too you know. Little did I know…”

One night the two friends went head to head in a sound clash.

“I pulled out all stops this night at the Parkside Plaza. It was a battle for the title.” Eddie remembers. “Wood’s title was on the line. Wood did his thing, but even his people weren’t really feeling him on this night. And then I went on. I rocked the hell outta them people. At the end of the battle even Wood’s people were cheering for me, you know like his main man Captain Jack and all of them people. It took 45 minutes for the judges to make a decision. And they came back and gave the trophy to Hollywood. And that’s when it hit me: No wonder he said to never battle him, it was because he had it set up for him to win regardless. Hell, the trophy already had his name inscribed on it!”

“Nah, nah, nah, nah, it didn’t quite go down like that, Mark”, Hollywood tells me in between laughing.

“You see, it’s like this I was the top dog, couldn’t nobody touch me back then. Eddie did all of the battles. One night he kept going on and on saying, ‘I’m the king battler’ and this and that. He must’ve forgot who I was. He made that happen.” Wood said to me.
“Made what happen?” I ask.
“Yo man, he wouldn’t listen. The shit was already done. I didn’t know it was done. I told him, “Ok, but whatever you do never battle me. He wouldn’t listen.”

What Hollywood meant by it being ‘done’ was that at the time he got major love from all of the promoters back then, these were people that for many years had made good money from billing Hollywood all over the city. It was in their interest for Wood to emerge as the winner in any battle. Hollywood remembers the crowd response that night being about even, but to this day swears that he had no knowledge of the fix being in.

One Night at the Jamaica Armory

One day in October 1979 Eddie and his peers heard the sound that would forever alter the course of their lives: ‘Rapper’s Delight.’“Hollywood and Starski, you would always hear them say ‘hip-hop-da-hippit-da-hibbit-to-da-hip-hip-a-hop ya don’t stop’ and shit like that, they started it. I heard the song on the radio. I was mad when I first heard it. These people came from out of nowhere. We didn’t have the vision to see that records were the next level.” Eddie said as he thinks back to the time. ‘We were making so much money from deejaying that making records just wasn’t our thing. We couldn’t see it.”

What he didn’t know was that the first person that Sylvia Robinson approached to record ‘Rapper’s Delight’ was Lovebug Starski. Then she went to DJ Hollywood to see about he and Eddie making the record.

“One night and this was after ‘Rapper’s Delight’ had long been out and making money, Hollywood and I were at an after hours spot called ‘Poppa Dee’s’ in Harlem. It was on 130th between 7th and Lenox Ave. I mean this was an exclusive spot. Only the hustlers could get in there – people with money. Anyway, so there we are drinking and talking and shit at like 3 o’clock in the morning when Hollywood turns to me and says, “Yeah man, she wanted me and you to do that record, but I turned her down.”

“I must’ve looked at him and said, ‘what record are you talking about?”

He said, “Yeah, Sylvia wanted us to do Rapper’s Delight first.” I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to knock him out of his seat. If I had done that record do you know what my life would be like today?”

‘Rapper’s Delight’ changed the direction of the rap movement forever. The days of guys running sections of the city or dominating the club scene were over. All you needed was a record to make a name.

It isn’t a stretch to believe that the Robinson’s wanted Hollywood and Cheba for their landmark recording, especially when you consider that both of the groundbreaking rap recordings The Fatback Band’s (a group for whom Hollywood used to open for at the Apollo Theatre) ‘King Tim III (Personality Jock)’ and the Sugar Hill Gang’s ‘Rapper’s Delight’ stylistically bore a serious resemblance to Hollywood and Cheba. Although Big Bank Hank got his rhymes from Grandmaster Caz his delivery was much closer to Hollywood’s than the Cold Crush Brothers lead MC.

One night at the Jamaica, Queens Armory the best deejays and emcees of that time got together for a jam. In some ways it was the end of an era. To this day cassette tapes of that night still circulate the streets. It was a star-studded affair; on the bill were DJ Divine and the Infinity Machine, Grandmaster Flash and his MC’s Mele Mel and Kurtis Blow, Lovebug Starski, DJ Hollywood, DJ Smalls, Eddie Cheba and DJ Easy Gee.

“…Like Earl the Pearl has got the moves, ya see Cheba Cheba has got the groove. Now ya heard the best and you’re ready to go, with the baddest deejay of all disco…”

Easy Gee bought in MFSB’s classic ‘Love is the Message’, cued up from the point where the sax and violins are building up to the point of climax. This was a record that guys like Hollywood, Eddie Cheba, Kool Kyle and many others knew well. It was a staple of their act. In some ways it was the main part. This was the song that showcased their skills the best. They could do their crowd participation thing, free style rhymes and party chants; all of it came together best over that song.

“Get ready now you might’ve heard on WBLS tomorrow night we gonna take the sugar out the hill at Harlem World. Sugar Hill and Eddie Cheba tomorrow night. But first we have some unfinished business to take care of right here in Jamaica…we’re gonna rundown a few of the things that we know we made famous…”

As the sax squealed and the organist rocked Eddie went into one of the many routines that made him a legend at that time.

“Go down go down go down go down, owww, go down… Get up close on the freak and shake like Jones is at its peak. Ya say who makes it sweeter? (Cheba, Cheba, Cheba)…You don’t care if I’m the one – cause all you wanna do is have some fun…”

At least for that one night it didn’t matter if there was a record selling in stores all over the country because it was the guys on the stage that night that were the real stars. It could almost be said that ‘Rapper’s Delight’ was what changed the relationship between deejay and MC. For years it was the deejays that the crowds of thousands came out to see, now because the MC’s rap could be heard on a record, the balance of power was about to change.

One by one each crew went up onstage at the Armory that night and showcased for the crowd in Queens the reasons that they were better than any group of upstarts, especially ones from across the Hudson. These guys were the originators of a new phenomenon; they were kings of a sub-culture in a time of innocence. Every empire has its time in the sun, but the sun sets on every kingdom.

Welcome Home

As we walk outside to the front of the hotel, Eddie tells me some funny stories about the club Disco Fever. If only I could print those stories. We sit on the steps and talk some more while I wait on my ride.“I rocked the shit out of the Sugar Hill Gang that night at Harlem World”, he told me. “I pulled out all stops, I made it difficult for them to come .. me. All they had was that one record – I had books and books of rhymes – they couldn’t fuck with me.”

In the mid-80’s to everyone’s surprise hip-hop started its ascent to becoming a dominant force in music. But Eddie was nowhere to be found.

“France was some shit”, he tells me “I was the man over there.”

Sometime in the early 80’s while he was the resident deejay at the club Broadway International, Eddie got the call that would change his life. He went over to France to compete in deejay competitions and spin at clubs. Judging by his descriptions of the clubs and the audiences it sounds like he spun for the jet set crowd. “These people drove Ferrari’s and wore tuxedo’s and expensive jewelry”, he said. All together he stayed in France for eight years.

“I was a New York deejay in Paris. I was a rare commodity over there. They were so far behind what we were doing over here – I beat all of them. I did TV commercials, I spun at the biggest clubs in the country.” Eddie says, “I was a celebrity. I lived in a nice house and drove a custom made Mercedes Benz.”

“So why did you leave?” I ask him.

“Because”, he says as he frowns up his face, “I got bored over there. My daughter was growing up not knowing any of my family. I had done everything I could over there. I won the world competition; I spun at some of the chicest clubs. I got tired of it all.”

But coming back home to New York was not easy. Everything had changed. “Hollywood was over”, Eddie said looking out at the clouds, “he was on 8th Avenue messing up. Kurtis was over, he was in L.A.; Club 371 was over. Just about all of the clubs that I had spun at were over. And rap was different. I couldn’t relate to it anymore. I had been in France, I wore French clothes, and I had been living in a nice house. I couldn’t relate anymore.”

As my wife pulls up we say our good byes. I give him CD’s of the Queens Armory Jam in 1979 and mix tapes from the boat rides that he, Hollywood and Lovebug Starski had done together in the late 90’s.

“Eddie”, I ask him, “one more thing, did you know that JB Moore and Rocky Ford wanted you to do the Christmas Rappin’ record?”

“Yeah, I heard about that”, he says to me with a touch of regret. “If I had done that record do you have any idea what my life would be like right now?”

Not that the man is starving: he owns a funeral business as well as a limousine and deejay service. By no means is the man hard up for a dollar. But who among us couldn’t use a nice little royalty check every now and then?

Eddie Cheba wants to send a special shout and a big fat ‘I love you’ to all of the fans that supported him from 1972 until this day. He can be reached at EYMUSIC21@aol.com. Special thanks to Van Silk, Kurtis Blow, Chuck D, Dianne, Reggie Wells and DJ Hollywood.This feature originally ran in Wax Poetics please contact author for permission to use any part of this story.

R&B diva Keyshia Cole is back and more compelling than ever in the second season of BET’s hit docu-drama KEYSHIA COLE 2: THE WAY IT IS.  During this season, which premieres on Tuesday, October 30 at 10:30 PM*, Keyshia attempts to deal with all of her family drama while putting the finishing touches on her new CD, Just Like You. 

In its inaugural season, the hit series was hailed by critics, including the New York Daily News, which said “[Keyshia Cole] is a refreshing revelation in a star’s life.” Vibe Magazine said, “… [W]ith the cameras rolling, music fans get a chance to witness Cole’s realness, which is ironically a rarity in reality TV,” and TV Guide said, “Ashlee who?  There’s a new diva on the reality scene, only this one is mad talented instead of a lip-synching punch line.” 

The first season of the top-rated Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is gave viewers insight into what it took for Keyshia to rise up from her troubled past as the daughter of a drug addict growing up in Oakland, Calif., to become a critically acclaimed, platinum-selling R&B superstar. This season, Keyshia has invited several members of her family to live in her multi-million dollar Atlanta mansion, including her mother, recently released from prison after serving three years for drug-related charges, and her sister, Neffie, who suffers from alcoholism. For her mother and sister it’s a lofty premise, until they realize that they have to play by her rules – one of which includes no men in the house.

“No company? Are we just going to look at each other? Are we in prison? We don’t get no conjugal visits?” Neffie complains.

“I still feel locked up,” says her mother Frankie. “That’s not a good way to feel, especially since I’m free. I don’t want to feel locked up, so I gotta do me.”

Keyshia soon questions whether her efforts to provide her family with such a cushy existence are really worth the toll it is taking on her personally.  When she realizes that she cannot balance the pressures of her career with trying to help her mother and sister adapt to their new surroundings and sobriety, she seeks professional help. 

KEYSHIA COLE 2: THE WAY IT IS is executive produced by James Dubose of Dubose Entertainment and BET.

BET Hip-Hop Awards & Weekend Remixed

Posted: October 25, 2007 by bigced in Reviews

Written by Isha Edwards 

October 2007
isha edwards.jpg

“Style. Substance.  Swagger.” was the theme for the second annual, BET Hip Hop Awards. Hosted by Katt Williams, the remixed version of the awards followed a series of pre-event parties to include the official BET-Jermaine Dupri bash at the mogul’s club, Studio 72. Actor, singer, producer, Neyo rounded out the fanfare by hosting an exclusive after party (also in conjunction with BET) at his studio, The Carriage House.  

According to a BET spokesperson, this year’s awards were an extension of BET News’ Hip-Hop vs. America special, which offered “insights into the state of Hip-Hop today.”

Remaining true to the network’s goal, the BET Hip-Hop Awards reminded attendees of Hip-Hop’s purpose to serve as a voice for people; to address social ills or injustice as well as to influence social change. The powerful affirmations of unity displayed by the artists who attended and the poignant seeds of wisdom from MC Lyte, Cornell West, and KRS-One stirred the audience. While most aficionados are aware of the social and economic impact Hip-Hop has on cultures around the world including Europe, Asia, and Africa, sentiments shared challenged supporters to think higher and direct Hip-Hop positively. Hip-Hop would not be Hip-Hop without controversy. Among the questionable was William’s preference for making a red carpet fashion statement by accessorizing his pink (silk?) suit with a hangman’s noose.  Known for his quip and animated personality, the comedian was criticized as well as applauded for standing up and/or showing out.

After introducing themselves, two of the Jena 6, Bryant Purvis and Carwin Jones received a standing ovation. Although their expression of thanks to those who supported their cause (dubbed by one as “fans”) was well received, it was overshadowed by the fact that according to one attendee, the two “looked more like rap celebrities than defendants in a pending case.”   Last year’s commitment by BET’s executive vice president for entertainment, programming, music and talent, Stephen Hill, to have more females present in the show, did not translate to the stage (in terms of a performance).   In fact, like last year, male artists of the Southern persuasion dominated both the award categories and the performance roster while a variety of female artists and personalities served as presenters. Mr. Clifford Harris Jr.’s absence during his set confused the unsuspecting audience. It did not help that Hip-Hop heavies, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Diddy, The Game, and Snoop sat this awards out. No shows for a second time were rap icons, Doug E. Fresh, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Eve, Ice Cube, Ice Tea, Little Kim, Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah, Russell Simmons, and Will Smith among others.

What they said
Realizing that Hip-Hop has the ability to shape public opinion, attendees provided their take on several topics. On role models and the Jena 6·        A lot of people always try to tell a Hip-Hop artist what they gotta be and put them in a box but a lot of them ain’t built to be that role model that people want them to be… [Supporting the Jena 6] is not just a Hip-Hop thing–it’s an ‘us’ thing-Chamillionaire On Hip-Hop going forward·        My hope for Hip-Hop is that it keeps growing.  [Despite] all the negative that a lot of people are putting on it, it is still growing. Everyone needs to stay on grind, keep it going, and don’t take no for an answer. – Mike Jones

On the impact of Hip-Hop·        [Hip-Hop] is bigger than all of us. The world is Hip-Hop-Katt Williams 

In line with this year’s theme, nominations for individuals who arguably reflected a sense of style, substance or swagger during the awards are listed below. Since these categories were not included on BET’s award list, feel free to cast your votes or nominate alternatives in the comment section.
 
STYLE

ChamillionaireCommonKanye West
Lil’ Wayne
Ludacris
Yo-Yo
 SUBSTANCEChamillionaireDavid BannerKRS-One LudacrisMC LyteMike Jones SWAGGERBig BoiBusta RhymesLL Cool JKeyshia Cole/TrinaNellyT.I.

A celebration of charitable givingTopping off a weekend replete with hobnobbing among music industry elite, was a reflection of leadership, community and social responsibility. On the Sunday following the BET Hip-Hop Awards taping, Atlanta’s V-103 radio personality, Frank Ski, Hip-Hop artist and actor Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges, and actor and author, Hill Harper were honored during a private reception for their philanthropic efforts.  Martell Cognac’s Discover Noblige made$10,000 contributions to The Frank Ski Kids Foundation, The Ludacris Foundation and MANifest Your Destiny Foundation. Eight other dynamic achievers were honored including Atlanta-based Mercedes-Benz dealer, Juanita Baranco.  Bridges summed up the evening best by noting that more of his celebrity peers should champion similar efforts (outreach to communities). Discover Noblige is a charitable traveling cultural experience that honors individuals for their philanthropic achievements. Among other cities, Discover Noblige visited Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles.  The traveling exhibition of the brand’s culture, art, and style will also be displayed in Detroit and Chicago. For a list of BET winners visit: http://www.bet.com/hha

For TICS event pics visit: http://www.theindustrycosign.com/gallery/index.php?gid=153