By now we should all be familiar with the amazing Ava DuVernay. Not only has she been making her mark in Hollywood, but she’s stayed true to the idea of supporting your own. In 2014 DuVernay founded AFFRM, a distribution company focused on promoting and distributing films back African American filmmakers. Now in it’s 2nd year, DuVernay did something I’m pretty sure has never been done before. As part of AFRRM’s membership push, DuVernay and Co. hosted. 12-hour Rebel-A-Thon on twitter. For 12 straight hours, 43 filmmakers took to twitter to answers question from fellow filmmakers about topics ranging from creative process to production to distribution. Participating filmmakers included Tyler Perry, John Singleton, Julie Dash (my personal favorite), Justin Simien, Kasi Lemmons, the LEGENDARY Haile Gerima and the LEGENDARY Euzhan Palcy and a host of others. There was even an Oprah cameo.
42 black filmmakers. 12 hours. One website. One hashtag. Let me see if I can explain how important this was to black film. Any of us who are in the film industry know how difficult it can be to get films of substance about the African American experience produced and financed by mainstream outlets. This amazing e-symposium not only educated, but introduced black filmmakers to not only filmmakers they may not have been familiar with but with each other, helping to strengthen the African American film community. DuVernay is doing what is so badly needed. She is creating a platform for us to create and support our own images. To say that AFRRM is ground-breaking would be an understatement. AFRRM is revolutionary and is showing just how important and powerful black film and the community of black filmmakers real are.
As a filmmaker, this Rebel-A-Thon was a dream come true. Not only did I gain invaluable knowledge about being a filmmaker, but I also got the encouragement I needed to tell the stories I want to tell. Today’s directors kept it real. Nothing was sugar coated. That honesty is needed.
Thank you Ava DuVernay. You are a shinning of example of “do for self” and the work you continue to do for your people is inspiring a slew of filmmakers like myself to continue doing the work we do.
Did you miss the rebel-a-thon? You can read all 12 hours here. Don’t forget to head over to ARRAY Action and become a rebel. This is more than just a group. This is movement.
We often define moments in our life by music. The song playing when we first started high school. The hottest video out when the cute boy had his friend tell you he likes you. The hottest track on the radio when you turned in your last assignment as a high school senior. We can all hear a song and remember something happening in our life at that time. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was one of those albums. We were introduced to Ms. Hill in the 90s by way of The Fugees, which comprised of Lauryn, and fellow emcess Wyclef Jean and Pras. In addition to adding soul stirring vocals to the group, she also lyrically held her own, dropping lyrics such as “and even after all my logic and my theory, I add a ‘muthafucka’ so you ignorant niggas hear me” or “while you imitating Al Capone i’ll be Nina Simone and defecating on your microphone.” Not only was she lyrically raising the bar, but her natural beauty spoke to young black girls everywhere. So you can imagine our excitement when her debut solo album dropped. I was in 10th grade at the time. Every girl in school had the album. We knew all the songs. Ms. Hill’s beautiful chocolate skin, majestic locs and socially relevant lyrics helped balance out the influx of sexually provocative female emcees who were dominating the mainstream air ways. We saw Lauryn Hill and we saw us. Lauryn Hill let us know that it was okay to be yourself and rap/sing about more than sex and be fly with it. While Ms. Hill wasn’t the first woman to rap and sing (shout out to Queen Latifah), she definitely took it to another level. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hillproved that Ms. Hill can play in both the R&B arena and Hip-Hop arena and when a battle with no problem.
So it is only fitting that The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was entered into the Library of Congress. Ever year, the Library of Congress picks 25 audio recordings that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill joins 24 other recordings including Ben E. King’s Stand By Me (1961) and Sly and the Family Stone’s Stand(1969).
Congrats to Ms. Hill. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was a life-defining album for me as a young black girl in America. On behalf of young black girls every who have grown into beautiful black women while listening to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, thank you.
2015 just keeps giving us treats. The first visuals from theirTake Flight EP, the bilingual Kings of Negros Americanos give us Flowverdose. A beat as smooth as silk paired up with lyrics as sharp as tacks. Thank me later.
2015 is shaping up to be an AMAZING year for music. Hip hop has been stepping up to the plate with the release of Lupe Fiasco and then of course Kendrick Lamar just broke the internet a few days ago. If you were wondering were R&B was, well Jill Scoot just answered your call. Jilly from Philly dropped the visuals for her new single “You Don’t Know” from her forthcoming album.
Jill hasn’t given us a specific release date for her new album,but if this single is an indication of the music to come, I’m sure it will be nothing but fantastic. The song is reminiscent of that old school Philly R&B (shout out to Gamble and Huff). From the guitar to the horns, the classically trained Queen Jill flawlessly conveys the feeling of unconditional love that causes you to do that which you normally wouldn’t.
The video itself takes us back to the analog days of recording. We see Jill in the middle surrounded by a full band (with Questlove on the drums of course) and a trio of male background singers as well as tape machines and monitors recording the vocals. Shoutout to Nzingha Stewart for capturing Jill and Co. in such an intimate atmosphere.
This past Sunday, I has the pleasure of witnessing the launch of an amazing program. Your Queens is an educational program created by Ekiuwa Asemota of Eki’s Famous, LLC. Asemota was at an event for young people when she noticed that none of the princes and princesses at the party resembled those of the children in attendance. It was then that the idea came to her for Your Queens. A way for our youth to see themselves as royalty.
The launch party was held at Tafari Cafe in Brooklyn, NY. Queens Nefertiti, Makeda of Sheba, Cleopatra, Amina and Goddess Isis blessed the audience with their presence, as well as a snippets of what the program offers, which features history of the Queens as well as a dance performance. Afterward, the Queens provided the children with musical instruments to create magic with, as well as head-wrapping for the young princesses in the room. It was a magical afternoon.
The importance of a program such as this is obvious. Our children need to see images of themselves and learn that before our ancestors were enslaved, we where Kings and Queens. I highly recommend this program to anyone. Whether you’re a preschool teacher, college professor, or work for a non-profit, Your Queens is a much needed reminder of the importance of knowing one’s history.
Visit their website for more information on bookings and upcoming events.
So I woke up for a hot second around 2:50 this morning, decided to check Instagram and Facebook real quick and saw this:
Hold up, what?
Originally the album wasn’t supposed to drop until March 23, but for whatever reason, TDE decided to drop the album at midnight and social media (or at least my timelines) went crazy. So imagine my surprise when I see my friends posting pics of the album.
I’m still listening and re-listening to the album and digesting it, but what I can say is that this is a masterpiece. Many albums today are very beat heavy and often times can either overpower and/or overshadow the lyrics. However To Pimp A Butterfly is a perfect balance between rhythm and lyric. The music itself is very nostalgic of the 90s however K.Dot’s hard-hitting, socially relevant lyrics hit the listeners with a fierceness that has been finding it’s way back into “mainstream” hip hop via K. Dot and other passionates emcees such as Logic, J. Cole, Royce Da 5’9 and Lupe Fiasco. Given the current social climate, To Pimp A Butterfly comes at pivotal time and serves as a voice of a generation who struggle with finding their place in the constant battle for justice in a system that profits off their demise.
Every track is crafted in it’s own perfection, but the one track that struck me the hardest was Mortal Man. Kendrick basically calls EACH AND EVERY LAST ONE OF US who claim to be fans of not just himself, but any friend or well known figure that we say support and questions whether we’ll truly support them when the forces that be come after them. (“How many leaders you said you needed then left them for dead?””That nigga gave us Billie Jean, you say he touched those kids? When shit hit the fan, is you still a fan.”) And the most MONUMENTAL moment of the record (SPOILER ALERT!!) is his conversation with Tupac Shakur. That moment itself helps bridge the gap between generations and kills any speculation as to the validity of Tupac’s legacy. Tupac often said that his lyrics would spark the mind that will change the world. Kendrick is ‘Pac’s prophecy coming into fruition.
Do your self a favor and buy the album. Sit down, listen and feel.
Well here it is. The last day of Dilla Month. It’s been wonderful going through the J Dilla collection. The man definitely left his mark on the world. I can only dream about the Dilla beats we’ve never heard.
Everyone knows about the line up change in Slum Village. One of the things fans hoped for was a SV reunion with all four members. Unfortunately, the release of Detroit Deli saw the departure of Baatin from the group. The situation was address in the track “Reunion” which was actually produced by Black Milk. Elzhi pretty much explicitly addressed the situation. And Black’s choice of single gives a very sentimental feel to the song. One could only imagine how dope a track with all four members would have been.