Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Welcome Home John Forte

Monday, January 26, 2009

Playing with Fame

I've never heard a complete song by Marques Houston, Immature or Imx and I probably never will. That's part of the reason why I handed over the hosting duties of Wavelength, the video show I produced for more than a decade and came to naught, to a younger person. Yasmine seems really comfortable with Mr. Houston in this clip, as if she didn't have to do her homework for this one. Maybe she once had a poster of Romeo, LDB and Batman over her bed. Immature was pretty huge back in the day, as I remember.

On this Wavelength appearance from 2003, Houston offers a humorous explanation for the group's demise and talks about working with R. Kelly and his manager Chris Stokes, both men who have a fondness for hanging with the youngsters. The singer followed his first album "MH," which he discusses here, up with two more albums, including his 2007 release "Veteran," which debuted at #1 on the Hip-Hop/R&B charts. It would appear that the career trajectory former this pop idol has traveled a direction inverse from what I would have predicted. But if you're judged by the company you keep, the singer might have already peaked.

Houston is one of the "stars" (The show will also feature Kel Mitchell, Bobby Brown and Keshia Knight-Pulliam) tied to BET's new reality show "Played by Fame," which premieres on Friday. The show pairs celebreties with fans, who become the victims of pranks played by the semi-famous. In BET's hands, I'm sure this show will be much worse than it sounds.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Notorious is the Illest

Finally got around to seeing "Notorious," last night. It's a solid film. The legacy of Christopher Wallace hasn't always been treated with reverence it deserves (Duets and Born Again) so a project like this "Notorious," had little room for error. Fortunately, the errors are little in this well-constructed and provocative biographical film directed by George Tillman (Men of Honor, Soul Food). 

The majority of the cast, especially the actor who plays Biggie, Jamal "Gravy" Woolard, succeeds in their portrayal of famous personalities and making you care about what happens to them, even though you know how it all ends.  Angela Bassett inhabits the spirit of Voletta Wallace, bringing the dignity and grace to the role that you would expect. Anthony Mackie and Derek Luke are horribly miscast as Tupac Shakur and Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, however. 

Missteps aside, this is a good film that's worth a trip to the barbershop or movie theater near you.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

MSNBC News Feed

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nas & Kelis: Oh Baby!

Kelis and Nas are having a child, according to Us Weekly. The girl known for her milkshake is three months along and sporting a baby bump, according to the magazine.

It's good to see these two still together. They've seen their share of drama during their breif union. (They married in 2005.) Kelis, while with Nas, was arrested in March of 2007 for screaming obscenties at police officers in Miami. (She was acquitted last year.) In recent months, Kelis has been the subject of sex tape rumors, which is usually a career boost, but the tape hasn't surfaced yet. Which may be for the best, as the footage is reportedly more embarrasing than titilating.

When Wavelength host Yasmine met Kelis, she had recently become engaged to God's Son and spoke about how being in love colored her approach to the material on "Tasty." The two young ladies also discuss fashion favorites, breakfast options and who's got the better milkshake.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The B.I.G. One That Got Away

"Nobody Is Invincible" scene from "Notorious"

As the release of "Notorious," nears I've been reflecting upon that era. I had a chance to interview Biggie when he visited our home base, the Phono Booth, in 1994. Unfortunately, I was sick and couldn't will myself to come to the record store. My partner, Dre, shot some footage of the rapper as he signed some autographs. I attempted to sell that tape to Nick Broomfield for his "Biggie and Tupac," documentary, but he passed.

When Biggie came to Richmond again, (Dec. 26, 1994) I missed out on another chance to to record him. The rapper was performing at a local nightclub (The Flood Zone) and there was a guy from Bad Boy running through the audience putting his hand over video cameras and making threats. I knew I couldn't get way with filming the show as my camera was about three times the size of what most people were using. Somebody else was able to shoot the whole show, however and I've been trying to get that tape for minute. 

I do have clear memories of that night. Keith Murray opened with an energetic performance which climaxed with an unfortunate decision to stage dive. The crowd of Richmonders parted and Murray landed hard and came up swinging. He didn't miss a line of "The Most Beautifullest Thing," but he was relieved of his pager, which was an expensive communications device back then. 

Biggie came out with Puff Daddy and members of the Junior Mafia. The rotund rapper's performance was understated, which complimented Puff's dancing and continuous ad-libs. Busta Rhymes came out for the "Flava In Ya Ear" remix, which nearly tore the packed club in half. 

Later on during the show, someone from the crowd climbed onstage and made a few steps in Big Poppa's direction, and was thrown off the side of the stage by a member of Big's crew.  He might be the only one has bad memories from that show. 

A Notoriously B.I.G. Movie

Newsweak published some shoddy articles on hip hop back in the day, as did many mainstream publications, and they've had to work hard to earn my trust. I stumbled across the first review I've seen of "Notorious,' the bio pic on the late Notorious B.I.G, at the doctor's office and since I had already perused last month's Family Circle, I dove in.

The write-up, written by veteran journalist Allison Samuels, is generally positive, which was a relief as I have been bracing myself for an exploitative take on the last years of hip-hop's golden era. Samuels didn't see it that way: "NOTORIOUS... managed to stun, unsettle and move me. It's been 11 years since the still-unsolved murder of the hip-hop icon, and the film does a wonderful job of revisiting that dangerous yet creatively rich time in music history. For a hip-hop fiend like me, it's a bittersweet journey to the days when the Cristal was overflowing, the bling was blinding and the performers burned brightly — but briefly."

You can read the whole thing here.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

New Year's Evestyle

Before Skillz became a globetrotting entertainer and ghostwriter, he suffered the often-poor entertainment options of Richmond, Va. along with the rest of us. One night in the late nineties, he was among the unfortunate few who came to the Richmond Centre to see Black Moon and the rest of the Boot Camp Clique. None of the groups ever took the stage to perform and somebody lost quite a bit of money that night.

The only performance came from Skillz, who freestyled about an recent altercation with a security guard at the event, with some help from Jazzy Joyce.