Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Monday, May 28, 2007
Sunday, May 27, 2007
On March 1st, after an approximate two month investigation, the Jefferson Township Police Department assisted the NJ Division of Criminal Justice Alcohol Beverage Commission (ABC) in an undercover prostitution sting.
Dancer Rozilda Flusa Braganca, 39, of Newark, offered up her services to an undercover officer for a fee and was arrested, processed, and released pending a March Court Appearance. The manager of the club, who refused to give his name, said amidst loud music in the background: “This is a first.”
Though, police from the Jefferson Police Department admit that this ISN’T the first time they’ve been eyeing the place, as there have been murmurs of this nature regarding the club, as well as other establishments in the area, for quite some time.
“There have been complaints in the past about solicitation of prostitution,” said Police Spokesperson, Lt. Eric Wilsusen, “And somebody made a complaint just recently, so we forwarded it to the ABC.”
On the day of the arrest, the club was shut down at 2 p.m. for a thorough investigation by the Jefferson police and the ABC, and re-opened at 4:30 p.m. for business after they had concluded their search. “We made our arrest, closed it down, and were back out,” said Lt. Wilsusen.
Being a 4th degree crime, the stripper herself will have to go through the winding court system on the county level, and much is determined on whether she’ll plead guilty or not guilty.
But whether the club itself is in trouble is still up in the air, as the ABC has to do their own investigation to see if this could affect their license.
Lt. Wilsusen speaking on behalf of the ABC: “That’s what they do, that’s their job.”
Friday, May 25, 2007
By: Rich Knight
XXL-Mag.com: You got a lot of big names on this album like Method Man and Big Daddy Kane. How did you go about reaching out to those people?
Jazzy Jeff: You know what, I just wrote a list of everybody I wanted to work with, you know. It was a long list, and I said, you know what, pick up the phone and call them. The only thing that they could tell you was no. Fortunately, no one told me no. So I was extremely ecstatic about that.
XXL-Mag.com: And so do you have any memorable moments in the studio with your guests?
Jazzy Jeff: Well, you know, it’s not what I would say were memorable moments. You know what it was, it was just really cool just going in the studio, because everybody’s collaboration started out with conversation, you know. We sat, we talked, and I’m somebody who’s not about just going in the studio and just starting something. It was kind of like, we sat down and we talked about things. We talked about the current state of music, [and] what we would like to see. We talked about reminiscing back in the day, and it was so, you know, down to political issues, and that pretty much was how you opened the door and got to the point where you were comfortable. You know, even down to making them something to eat. Anything but talk about music.
XXL-Mag.com: You talk about making something to eat. I know you love cooking. I guess my question is, what did you make them to eat?
Jazzy Jeff: I love to cook. So you know, that came from whatever somebody needed. If you didn’t eat meat, it was like, okay, let me make you some fish, or some salmon, you know. If you ate meat, let me make you a steak. A lot of it was just being comfortable.
XXL-Mag.com: Your last album was a bit more underground than this one. Was there any reason you purposely made it more…approachable?
Jazzy Jeff: You know what? I think more than anything it would have to be the people that I used that kinda made it like that. It wasn’t really a conscious effort. I was kind of trying to be on the exact same thing I was on The Magnificent. I wanted to show a little growth. I wanted to show a little bit more of maturity than on the last album, but I didn’t want to change the overall feel that much. You know, I wanted people to kind of say, “Hey, well, that’s kinda cool, I like how he did that,” but I wasn’t trying to make the Black album.
XXL-Mag.com: I read on your website that you wanted to make this album like it was your last. Have you ever thought of making a new album like it was your first?
Jazzy Jeff: Well, you know what’s funny? I’m kinda thinking that that’s very similar. I said that I try to approach every album as if it’s my last because I use that as motivation. But you know what’s funny? This album, the whole theme of this album was that I want to go back into my mom’s basement. I want this to be 2007, my mom’s basement. To the point that this album didn’t start with the first record, this album pretty much started because I had closed down the studio I had had for 15 years, and I had moved from the location that I was working at for 18 years, and I pretty much moved into a new house, and built this studio to be 2007 my mom’s basement. So, it’s kinda funny you said that because this album is absolutely done to be like my first. Like, when I didn’t have any concern of selling records. When I didn’t have any concern of notoriety or who was going to like it. When I was in my mom’s basement, I just wanted to make music, you know, because I love it. And that’s pretty much the main focus for this album. Like, let me go back to my mom’s basements before I had bills, and stress, and stuff like that.
XXL-Mag.com: Hip-hop nowadays seems almost like a young man’s game. How does it feel to be a veteran in this whole thing?
Jazzy Jeff: Well, you know what; I think hip-hop only seems like a young man’s game because, well, we’re the only generation to grow old with it. You know, no one thinks that R&B is a young man’s game because we’ve gone through multiple generation’s of R&B. This is the first generation of hip-hop that’s in their 40s and in their 50s, and everybody’s still trying to figure out what we’re supposed to do [with it]. Are we supposed to like it? Are we supposed to say, damn, I’m too old for it? And I really believe that what we’re doing is trying to find our way. Because I don’t believe that hip-hop is a young person’s market place. I think that we just have to accept that it calls for you to be 40 something years old in the hip-hop age.
XXL-Mag.com: Yeah, I hear you.
Jazzy Jeff: I think what happens a lot that makes us not accept it is the commercial side of hip-hop. Like, I was just telling somebody that my mom and older brother and sister grew up with the Temptations. They LOVE the Temptations and they’re [the Temptations] still making records—for them! With hip-hop, it’s a little bit different because everybody’s like…Well, I was watching an award show [one day], and when I was watching it, The Fugees came on. I jumped up, and was like, “Oh, my God! This is it, this is it!” But when I came down, my son was looking at me like I was a fool. And it hit me, I love The Fugees, I love A Tribe Called Quest. I love De La Soul, but where are you going to hear that? Like, why would the Fugeees come out with a record when they have no place where people can hear it? And I don’t mean to jump off track, but it brings the point that now we have all these adult contemporary stations in the country that play Steveie Wonder. They even play New Edition, but when this was going on, “Around the Way Girl” was on the charts at the same time, so why don’t they play that? It’s a different standard with hip-hop. People are in their 40s and 50s, so how are you going to play half of what I grew up with? And I’m like; you have classic rock stations that play classic rock. In fact, classic rock is the reason groups like the Police are back together on tour. So why don’t they have a hip-hop station? Where are they? Are you trying to tell me if you put Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Kid n Play, De La Soul, Big Daddy Kane, Salt & Pepper, you tell me people won’t go see that?
XXL-Mag.com: That’s a good question. You know what. I think it’s because…because…you know what, I don’t know why they don’t do that.
Jazzy Jeff: You know what I think? I think it’s because, it’s like I said [before]. This is a new thing [and] we don’t know what to do with it. This is the first generation that’s going into hip-hop, and we’re still trying to figure out, do I like this? Do I want to keep this? Should I accept this? Or should I just let it go?
XXL-Mag.com: If hip-hop was Jambalaya, what elements of it currently would you discard, and what elements would you keep?
Jazzy Jeff: You know what’s funny? I don’t think, in just trying not to be hypocritical, I don’t think that I would discard anything. What I’m mad about, is what’s NOT in there. My biggest issue is that I grew up in an era of hip-hop where if you wanted your pro-black, you had your Public Enemy, you had your X-Clan, you had Brand Nubian. If you wanted party and fun, you had Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, you had Salt and Pepper and Kid n Play. If you wanted your gangster shit, you had your NWA. If you wanted your native tongue, you had your Jungle Brothers, your De La Soul, and your Tribe Called Quest. You pretty much could pick whatever you wanted. Right now, we have one thing. If you ain’t a pimp, if you ain’t a ho, if you ain’t ballin’ in the clubs, that’s all we’ve got. Where is hip-hop’s diversity? My issue is, I ain’t mad that we have our walking it out or anything like that, but where’s everything else? My thing is, I wouldn’t take anything out, but I’d add a WHOLE lot more stuff in.
XXL-Mag.com: How is Will doing?
Jazzy Jeff: He’s good.
XXL-Mag.com: Do you guys think you might make a record again?
Jazzy Jeff: We’ve been talking about making a record; we’ve been talking about going on tour. It’s just about making a schedule. Like, Will is pretty much one of the biggest movie stars in the world. It’s really different because, you know, it’s hard for him to just say I’m going to take off two years, and focus on just going on the road, or just going into the studio and making a record. Every time I talk to Will, he really wants to do it. We are just trying to make the right time to do it. We talked about possibly going on the road sometime this year and doing some stuff. So you know what, one thing is going to have to lead to another. But you know, his heart is there, he wants to do it. You know, it’s kinda like [if] the President of the United States was a big hop-hop fan, then it’s time to go on tour.
XXL-MAG.com: Back when you guys were making records together, did it ever bother you that he was the face of the group?
Jazzy Jeff: Naaaaw. Noooo. I mean, I am not into that at all. I think that the success of Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince came from that we were an incredible balance, because sometimes, Will had a tendency to go too far, and sometimes, I had a tendency to be too laid back. And I think, as much as I pulled him back, that was the same amount that he was pulling me out. And I think that chemistry was a great balance of the group. You know, because I’ve never been the guy who’s like, “Oh, man, I want everybody to know who I am,” Because I’m somebody who’s like…I still like going to the mall. I mean, there’s a lot of times that I felt really sorry because Will is in one of those positions where he can’t do annnnything. I think a lot of people need to understand that when they say, “Oh my God, I wish I was rich, I wish I was famous, and I wish everybody knew me.” Will can’t take his son to an amusement park. There’s a lot of little stuff; that, you know, where I’m like, damn, I don’t know what I would do if that was taken away from me.
XXL-Mag.com: You guys were huge. What was going through your mind when you picked up your first Grammy?
Jazzy Jeff: Well, you know, I tell people, the Grammy’s are a little bit different because we boycotted the first Grammy because, you know, it was kind of bittersweet. This is the biggest acknowledgement you can get it in music, but wow, you’re not even good enough for them to televise it on TV. They’ll televise, like, six classical categories, and a country western category, but they won’t show one [hip-hop category], and in that point in time, hip-hop was probably the number three music in the world. That was like a slap in the face.
XXL-Mag.com: And now it’s totally different.
Jazzy Jeff: Now, it’s dominating. But, you know, it’s bittersweet. [They were acting like] We’re not important enough to show [on TV]. You know, you were kind of like, damn. You’re calling your friends, and you’re like, man, I won, and they’re asking, “Where can I see it on TV?” And then you say, naw, they boycotted it, and then they’re like, “Aw, man, you didn’t win.” So, don’t ruin my joy.
XXL-Mag.com: Is there anything new coming out the pipeline for A Touch of Jazz records?
Jazzy Jeff: I kind of just play it by ear. You know, with me traveling, and what I’m doing right now supporting this record, I’m very excited to kind of go back into the studio and work on some new stuff. So, hopefully [I’ll be doing that] by the end of the year. You know, because the biggest dilemma I’m having right now is that I’ve been away, and being on the road for close to 200 dates out of the year, and touring, and being in the studio. I mean, they haven’t come out with the cloning machine yet, so you’re just trying to come out with a way to do both, because I think I love both equally. So that really creates a dilemma.
XXL-Mag.com: You’re very experimental, is there a genre of music that you haven’t ventured into yet but would like to?
Jazzy Jeff: Aw, man, I think I would like to, you know…I like to explore anything, I love to cross genres. I love House music, you know, just because, I just feel that House music is where our original R&B and Soul has gone. The only difference is that the floor to floor beat, but if you go to especially soulful House music, that’s where the lyrics are. That’s where the chord changes are, that’s where the melody changes are, and I love rock. I love the enthusiasm of rock, you know. I’m a huge jazz fanatic, the spontaneity of jazz. It seems in jazz you can do anything you want as long as the music is there. But you know, I’m that hip-hop head. I love the beat. You know, so I’m like, let’s throw some jazz in a banging ass beat. Let’s throw some cuts in a rock record, you know. It’s amazing that every rock group now has a DJ, which is cool.
XXL-Mag.com: You basically started the transforming and chirping technique. Are there any other techniques that you started but haven’t gotten credited for?
Jazzy Jeff: Well, you know what’s funny? I don’t even look at the whole “created” thing like I created the transformer scratch. Because you know, I mean, what I think is that I’m the person who widely publicized it; I’m the person who put it on the record. But you know, DJing to me is a lot like basketball. Somebody at some point and time thought, it might be great to dribble the ball between my legs, and from that came the cross over. And from that came the such and such. It’s kind of like the same thing. Like Grand Master Theodore came up with the scratch, so, somebody else added this to it, and somebody added to that and elevated it. So, I’ve never been the credit hound, of like, I invented this, I invented that. When people today…it just blows my mind that people think I had any kind of impact on the DJ culture. For DJ’s to come up to me today and say, “Wow, I basically do what I do today because of you,” that throws me for a loop. You know, because I basically do it and I’ve done it because I love it. It’s not like I did it because I wanted to be the best. I went and got a job and put turntables on layaway, which is something kids today know nothing about. I mean, I’d DJ your party for free. So it had nothing to do with me trying to be famous, or me trying to make money. Like I said, this to me was basketball. It was something I’d just do for fun.
XXL-Mag.com: What’s the most memorable moment in your career?
Jazzy Jeff: Um…wow…You know what; I would have to say, Live 8. Because, to be able to do a show, [which is] pretty much the biggest show in the world in your home town? That was incredible to me. To go out and do ‘Summertime,’ and to even go and do the theme to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and to hear a million people in front of you. Man, I can’t even BEGIN to tell you what that felt like. Like, I had a camera on stage, and I had captured it, and I got so excited that I knocked the video camera in the air and I got a whole video of the sky. I was so excited that I couldn’t take it down. I was like, wow, this is amazing.
XXL-Mag.com: Okay, last question. When you were thrown out of the mansion on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, was that really you or…
Jazzy Jeff: Absolutely, over and over and over. You know, and it started out as [something where the producers were like] we’re going to do it, and we did it, and people liked it. And it became a trademark, but, that was…Well, one shot might have been 30 takes. People don’t realize it, but it was a lot of hot baths. Even though you landed on the mat, I am not built to do that. I am not the stunt man. That definitely took its toll.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Sunday, May 20, 2007
The time was 7:48 a.m., and it was cold.
Justine Trinidad, wearing glasses and a black coat, parked her car at the edge of the road, stepped out, and shivered. She was cold, yes, but she was also thinking about how, for the first time in her life, she was about to scale a cliff.
“I’m here to challenge myself and get past some fears,” she said.
Trinidad was in Allamuchy State Park at the Riverview Adventure Clinic, a group started to help women find out truths about themselves through self-discovery and teamwork. The founder of the group, Mary-Michel Levitt, who has been in charge of the Riverview Marriage and Family Council for 21 years, organized this event and was set to act as their support for the day.
Fellow adventurer Jessie Martinet said she was “expecting to have a good time and hopefully find some self-discovery.”
“I want to learn something new, and you learn to trust people (when you climb mountains),” said Susan Slaton, who clumber her first mountain when she was still in high school.
When Mary-Michael arrived, she told the women to start up the hill that led to the mountain; she was going to wait at the bottom for other women to show up.
Martinet led the group up a steep hill, bypassing some sharp orange rocks and yellow leaves. After moving the last dangling branch from her path, Martinet and the others saw “the practice wall,” a 40-foot climb straight up, what the Rock Climbing New Jersey guidebook calls “Salty Tears.”
Some of the women looked up at it remotely, others nervously. Above, a man with yellow sleeves was throwing ropes down from the top to his son, Stephen Rusnock. This was Barry Rusnock, the trainer for the day and also Mary’s husband. Stephen Rusnock was already setting up some of the harnesses they would be attached to for the climb.
Through the rest of the day, he would be “invaluable,” said Mary-Michael, who believes everything went as smoothly as it did because of him.
The women sat down on cold rocks. The time was now 8:45, and four more women showed up. Mary-Michael walked over to them with sheets of paper that crinkled in the wind.
“The scariest part of this climb is signing your liability forms,” Mary-Michael joked, and added for those who weren’t laughing, “We promise no death and mayhem, just fun.” And with that, the women signed, some continuously looking up at the mountain as they scribbled.
Normally with rock climbing, it might take two whole classes before an individual would actually scale their first cliff, but with Barry around, an Eagle Scout who was awarded the vigil award, the highest honor one can receive in the order of the arrow, and also a climber since he was 15, everything was secure and ready for them to scale right away.
Mary-Michael also knew what she was doing, having climbed a multitude of mountains herself, even scaling the brutal Mount Washington in New Hampshire, which has some of the worst weather conditions in the world.
The aim for the day was to get all the women on the cliff at least once, and that they did.
“As a good husband, I decided to do it,” said Barry. While the women waited, he leapt backward down the face of the cliff while holding onto the rope with only one hand. Mountaineers call this technique rappelling.
After teaching the techniques of belaying (one person staying at the bottom slackening and tightening the rope while the other climbs the mountain), the women began their ascent.
Martinet scaled almost the whole thing but got stuck at a tree; she went backwards down the mountain with her life in the hands of her partner. At the nadir, her eyes ecstatic, she said, “It was exciting, scary, but a lot of fun, very liberating.”
She blamed her inability to make it to the apex on the fact that she couldn’t see where to put her hands.”
“I’m disappointed I didn’t get to the top,” she said, turning her head to Slaton, who was struggling herself, spread out like Spider-Man on a slab.
Trinidad stood at the bottom and pulled on the rope, now confident that there was nothing to be worried about. The time was 12:30 p.m., and the women had already conquered their fears and learned how to trust their partners. Only a few hours had passed and the mission was already a success.
And this program is just the start of many to come, including fly fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. Classes for men and children are also being planned.
“Trust and self-esteem are so important,” said Mary-Michael, while hooting and hollering for Slaton, who managed to cling to a very difficult spot. “I mean, it’s one thing to talk about it until you’re blue in the face, but when you experience it, it sticks.”
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
A documentary about Los Angeles gang life, directed by one of it’s own? Cle “Bone” Sloan decided it had to be done, and HBO agrees.
KING-MAG.com to explain his film, pointing a gun at Denzel, and why Boyz N the Hood is the only gangsta film that almost got it right.
KING-MAG.com: So how long have you been a non-active member of the Bloods?
Bone: I’d say it started about ‘99, ‘98 when I really started trying to walk it like I talk it.
So why did decide to you leave? Wasn’t your thing?
I didn’t leave, I just found something else to do with my time, thank God. Nevertheless, I just stopped participating in the killings and the criminal activities. It’s a social thing, and I kept my credibility. You know, these guys are my friends, and to call myself an ex and just walk away, it’d be a waste…the only reason we’re actually talking right now is because I’ve stayed in and stayed so close [to the Bloods]. I was able to make this film because I stayed so close to them.
KING-Mag.com: And what compelled you to make this documentary?
You know, man, there’s just so much misinformation about things like L.A. black gangs. People are so incompetently wrong about them. And once I started learning the things I’ve learned, I wanted to make the knowledge accessible and easy for people to get. Learning that the Crips came from the Black Panthers was just jarring to me.It’s interesting that you just mentioned the Crips, because if my memory serves me correctly, Bloods and Crips don’t usually get along al that well. How did you get Crips to appear in your documentary?Yeah, I filmed in South Park, which is notorious as a Crip stronghold. I went there and told them that I wanted to make a film, and they said, ‘Yeah, I respect what you’re trying to do.’
KING-MAG.com: And they didn’t have any problems with that?
Well, we negotiated a couple weeks before I went in, so they knew I was coming. But it took a lot of dialogue. I talked to some of the elders, and a lot of their nephews were members of the Crips over in South Park. So we had about a week of negotiations and we just worked it out. My homies were totally against it. They thought I was crazy for going over there, but I knew I had to get the Crips’ perspective, too.
KING-MAG.com: So how did you come in contact with Antoine Fuqua? Were you guy’s boys before?
Naw, he put me in a Miller Draft commercial. And when I say I literally stepped out of jail and on the set, I LITERALLY stepped out of jail and on the set. He put me in this commercial, and I ate off it for a whole year. It was a national spot. Antoine called me back later in 2001, and that’s when we did Training Day.
KING-MAG.com: How did you get Antoine involved with this project?
Well, I opened up my whole neighborhood to him for Training Day, and afterwards, we just kept in contact. I actually showed him 15 minutes of Bastards in the beginning, and he was like, “You have to finish this film,” and I was like, ‘Well, you gotta help me [then], I can’t do this by myself.’ So that’s when he started writing the checks, and that’s when I started getting the editors involved.
KING-MAG.com: Your name in Training Day was actually Bone. Is that your gang name, or was that just your name in the movie?
Yeah, that’s a funny thing, because in the script, my name was Red. But as we were shooting it, Denzel rehearsed it one day, and he just called me Bone and I rolled with it. I guess he was so in character that he just felt it better calling me Bone.
KING-MAG.com: At the end of Training Day, you actually point a gun at Denzel’s head. What was that like?
That was pretty trippy. That whole situation was just a great experience. I put 156 Bloods in that movie and 28 Crips. So that whole situation was just a powerful moment in my life. But putting a gun to Denzel’s head, yeah, that was trippy.
KING-MAG.com: In the 1990s, there was a surge of movies on gang life, like Boyz N the Hood and Juice. Do you think any of those movies got it right?
Well, for me, I’m too close; you know what I’m saying? For me, they’ll never get it right. It’s like asking a Vietnam vet about Platoon – some of them loved it, some of them hated it. So that’s why it’s hard for me to watch those films. I think Boyz N the Hood got a lot of things right, though. The most powerful scene in the movie to me is at the end. It’s like, “Either people don’t know what’s going on in the ‘hood, or they just don’t care.” And after seeing that film, it made me think, is the rest of the country going through this, or is it just us?
KING-MAG.com: You actually started out pretty young in your thug life. What made you want to become a Blood at 12?
Well, you know. I did everything in Athens Park (a local hang out spot for the Bloods). I used to hang out there from morning to night, and that was the great thing about the park. The park had a dark side, too, though. It had these gangs. And I knew the guys there but didn’t know they were gang members, you feel me? So I naturally sort of gravitated towards these guys. So I really wouldn’t say I made the choice, I just decided to defend the people I cared about.
KING-MAG.com: Have you ever thought of writing a book about your experiences?
I'm actually writing a book right now. It’s the companion piece to Bastards. After going to jail and studying up on the subject of gangs, and talking, and talking, and talking about it, my homies were like, “We’re sick of hearing you talk about it, why don’t you just write a book?” And my ongoing joke with them was, ‘Yeah, but if I write a book, you ain’t going to read it.’ So I made the film for them so they could watch it.
KING-MAG.com: When people see this, what message do you want to come across?
That the situation is much bigger and more complex than you’ll ever understand. This documentary is criticizing [the media] and[the gang members]. It’s a new reference point, man, and I hope it’s seen that way.
Picture found here: http://king-mag.com/online/?p=2406
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Saturday, May 12, 2007
As Rick DeYoung, the Developmental Assistant for Public Relations and Kathy’s husband puts it: “The vision for the DPD is for it to be recognized by all as a ministry for people with disabilities where they are fully accepted with love and encouraged toreach their full potential.”
And Kathy DeYoung agrees: “Overall, our people appear to be happier than ever before.”
Friday, May 11, 2007
61 Thompson Ave
Dover, New Jersey, 07801
Mobile: (973) 570-2276
To write attention grabbing copy and assist in the editing process.
In Style Magazine 4/9/07-Current
Freelance Fact Checker
Make calls to verify accuracy
Work with writers to get the full story
thehappycorp, New York, NY 10/28/06-1/30/07
Blog Writing Intern
Wrote blogs under the nom de plume, Lint Fleecewood, at http://lvhrd.org/
Wrote copy for sponsors that garnered revenue
NJ Daily Record, Parsippany, NJ
Report on a variety of topics such as entertainment and sports
Write in a narrative style
Conduct phone interviews
The Source Magazine, New York, NY
Freelance Journalist 8/23/06-Current
Detail musician’s careers in a minimal amount of words
Conduct interviews in person and over the phone
The Children’s PressLine, New York, NY
Editorial coordinator Intern 6/14/05-8/30/05
Thoroughly edited transcripts
Attended promotional events to help market the paper
Rutgers University, Newark, NJ
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, May-2006
Minor in English
Cumulative G.P.A. 3.8
Phi Beta Kappa, Secretary for the International Golden Key Honour Society, Best Journalism Student
Award, Paul Robeson Scholar, Magna Cum Laude, Former Editor for school paper
Former Vice-President of the Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity
Working to get first novel (http://sojournonthesun.com/) published
Seeking potential buyers for screenplay
Update Blog: http://knighttakesrook.blogspot.com
Freelance for AIM Jefferson/Sussex, Cracked.com, and King-Mag.com
Substitute teacher for nearby high schools
After each winning an Oscar, Forest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson are on the short list for Hollywood African-American history. Here’s hoping neither go the way of their esteemed colleagues and make a Soul Plane 2
Granted, Foxx did the film Stealth before he finished Ray. But having the words “Starring, Academy Award Winning Actor, Jamie Foxx,” plastered on all the posters couldn’t help his image once people actually saw it and heard him spouting off horrible one-liners like: “I will blast your aeroelastic ass right out of the sky!” He probably would have just been better off just making Booty Call 2: Double the Ass, Double the Laughs.
But after her stunning performance in Monster’s Ball where she fell in love with Billy Bob Thorton’s slimy prison guard character, we expected big things from Halle Berry. We were not expecting Catwoman. Or Gothika. Or even X-Men: The Last Stand, for that matter. Please pay attention when we tell you Halle, wearing clear contacts and spreading out your arms to conjure up the tempests is not the kind of role an Oscar winner takes. Not even close.
Though it was directed by Tony Scott (the same guy who made Denzel a marching time bomb, Man on Fire), this horrible, off the wall, sci-fi tanker left much to be desired from the thespian who also starred in Broadway’s production of Caesar, post-Oscar. So what’s the moral of this story? Stick to being a badass and playing historical figures, Denzel, and stop time traveling. You’ll be just fine.
So when Morgan decided his next role should be as a blind piano player (who does he think he is anyway, Jamie Foxx?) in the Jet-Li “epic,” Unleashed, a collective groan could be heard from anybody who actually saw him trade humorous barbs with Clint Eastwood.
(There’s actually no reports of this ever really happening, but if it did, we would completely understand)
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Boyz n the Hood:
The film that made Ice Cube a household name (We mean with the Roger Ebert crowd). Ice Cube’s performance as Darin ‘Doughboy’ Baker was pretty much perfect as a gang banger in South Central L.A. just trying to live (Too bad he doesn’t). With morality, a deep underlying message, and unforgettable characters, it might be Cuba Gooding’s story, but Ice Cube’s the heart of it. And that scene where Ice Cube avenges Ricky’s death in the parking still haunts us today. If you don’t think Ice Cube can act, then you haven’t seen this film.
With Wendell (Faizon Love) from “The Parent ‘Hood” playing Big Worm, and Chris Tucker’s outlandish performance as Smokey (“You got knocked the f*ck out!”), you might tend to forget that Ice Cube was actually the main character in this broad comedy that takes place in only 16 hours. Portraying Craig Jones, a poor guy who just got canned, this adventure of two guys just trying to pay off a drug dealer—oh, and by the way, Chris Tucker counting a wad of cash, telling Worm to turn his head, flipping over the money and counting it over again is one of the funniest scenes of all time—showed that Ice Cube could deliver the funny if he wanted to. And Michael Jordan even likes it! This one’s a keeper.
And thus began the melting of Ice Cube’s movie career. Fighting a giant snake that eventually swallows and regurgitates Jon Voight is one thing, but then exclaiming: “Is snakes out der dis big?!” is another. Also of note, this film features Danny Trejo, Owen Wilson, and Jennifer Lopez’s ass. That alone should make it a winner, right? But sadly, no. Not at all. Thank God he didn’t star in the sequel.
The Player’s Club:
Ice Cube was working overtime with this one. Working as an actor, writer, and making his directorial debut (As well as working on the soundtrack. Remember ‘We Be Clubbin’?), whether this was actually a good film or not is debatable. But with Bernie Mac, Jamie Foxx, Charlie Murphy, Michael Clark Duncan and the sultry LisaRay, Ice Cube has certainly made worse films. Did we happen to mention Anaconda?
Sharing screen time with Oscar winner George Clooney and recent Oscar nominee Mark Wahlburg should spell utter disaster for Ice Cube in this strange comedy/political actioner. But strangely enough, Ice Cube seems to fit in just fine as Sgt. Chief Elgin. After finding a treasure map in some dude’s ass, Ice Cube and the gang go on a treasure hunt across Iraq. From the hood to the desert, nobody can say Ice Cube hasn’t gotten his frequent flyer miles.
Now here’s the Ice Cube we like to see. Smart, funny, and still giving that good old gangster stare, even as a barbershop owner just looking to keep his shop from going under. Portraying Calvin Palmer, it seems that Ice Cube once again tips his hat and let’s everybody else get all the laughs, especially Cedric the Entertainer, who slays as a braggadocios barber who seriously hasn’t cut any hair since Palmer’s father died. The sequel wasn’t nearly as good.
Are We There Yet?:
Biggest-transition-ever. Who knew the gangster could go from being a boy n the hood to raising a boy in the neighborhood in this PG rated comedy? Then again, Eddie Murphy did it. And at least Cube didn’t have to dress up in a giant stalk of broccoli to get any laughs. Cube at least has that going for him.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
“We had a great show the last time we were there, and it’s just a great place to play on a nice, balmy day,” says Mr. Green.
Accompanied by a nicely sized horn section along with the standard guitars, basses, and drums, the band played tunes from Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin, and even Radiohead, all of which were chosen by the founder himself.
“Next time, we’ll play Blue Oyster Cult,” he promises, the song “Seven Screaming Diz-Busters,” being a great challenge for the kids to master, some of whom can actually play Jimmy Paige’s “Stairway to Heaven,” solo flawlessly.
After graduating college in Philadelphia, it was in 1998 that Mr. Green came up with the idea for a rock school for kids. Having faith that anyone can play in a band as long as they put their heart and soul into it, Mr. Green set the age bar low and the standards high, with kids from five all the way up to 18 being a part of the movement.
His goal was to make rock music an educational tool, similar to how some choose to go to the Julliard to study classical music. So instead of Chopin, there’s Alice Cooper. In exchange for Mozart, there’s Metallica. So the dedication to music is the still there; it’s just played to the beat of a different drummer.
Including this concert, the touring All-Star group, which usually consists of the older, from 13-18 set, has also played or will be playing at the now closed CBGB’s, The Knitting Factory, and even this year’s upcoming Lollapalooza.
But if the concept of children turned rockers turned concert performers sounds a bit familiar to you, you’re not going crazy. The story, and even the very title, “School of Rock,” was used in the 2003 comedy of the same name, starring Jack Black.
“I thought it was pretty lame,” says Mr. Green, who made his own little documentary called Rock School a few months before the big theater release came out.
“They just ripped us off and didn’t even come to me,” his sentiments for the film being less than stellar.
Still, any press is good press, and with more of Mr. Green’s schools of rock popping up all over the country, the movie could only have done the school more good than harm. So, if you’re wondering how the kids have already been elevated to rock god status, Mr. Green has the answer: “We make them.” It turns out rock has an age, after all: timeless.
“David was awarded because of his skills,” says Marguerite d’ Aprile-Smith, the director of external affairs for the NJSCA, which also is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the state-legislated group. “The program is highly competitive.”
As he steps into the restaurant, wearing glasses and all black—back T-shirt and black windbreaker pants that the breeze rustles through as he steps through the door—he walks over to the bar with a pile of papers under his arm and takes a seat. He’s obviously no stranger to this building.
When he sits at the high barstool, he strokes his wispy, white beard with one hand and digs his knuckle into his knee with the other. He claims his favorite steak is the filet mignon but that is not what he’s craving this afternoon. Without even looking at the menu, he already knows what he is going to order: the chili. The chili and an iced tea.
He recommends the burger and makes a circle in the air with his finger like a propeller on a helicopter: “It comes with an onion they put on top,” he says with a gregarious smile that makes his eyes squint a bit behind his fitting glasses.
A young waiter walks over and immediately recognizes Sampson. So Sampson politely asks, “What do I want?”
“The chili?” the waiter asks skeptically with a raised eyebrow.
“The chili,” Mr. Sampson agrees with a nod and a grin.
The waiter behind the bar walks over to the other side and places the order.
For being such a small place, it is very crowded at 1 p.m. and a loud din of voices collapses on the area like a tsunami as people in the back raise their beer mugs to the television screen saluting the World Cup.
But even with all the noise, Sampson can still be heard; his sturdy, calm voice a force of its own, which just may be another talent to add to his already stunning array of abilities.
At age 55, Sampson already has a repertoire of classical pieces that would make most accomplished musicians swoon. With composition credits for more than 15songs and 13 recordings under his belt, including a concept piece based entirely on Anne Taylor’s novel, “Breathing Lessons,” this musician raconteur also has modesty as a strong suit.
“Even though a small percentage of the population is involved in classical music, there are still enough out there to sustain it, and it’s something I don’t think I could live without,” he says.
Born in 1951 in Charlottesville, Va., and spending a portion of his youth in South Carolina, Sampson moved to Morristown in 1978 where his wife got into the New Jersey Symphony.
“I love Morristown,” Sampson says while using his straw to push about a bobbing lemon in the iced tea the waiter just brought over. “Everything except the traffic.”
As a youth, Sampson said his parents didn’t push music but supported his decision to become a classical musician. They sent him to a community where his talents could flourish, and there he learned about harmony, counterpoint and other such things that musicians need to know to fully grasp music. His weapon of choice is the trumpet, and even as he sits at the bar while he speaks, he scratches his name and drums on the back of his neck with his finely shaped fingers as if he already were composing a song right there in his head.
Besides composing pieces, he also has performed with The Temptations and progressive rock group YES, but he always comes back to his classical roots.
A man of many traits, when he’s not riding his BMW 1200 LT motorcycle or listening to the Harry Potter series on audiotape, he’s spending time as a composer-in-residence at the Colonial Symphony Orchestra in Morristown where he provides input to aspiring teenagers wanting to be musicians. And as he waits for his food, he taps on the large pile of papers that rest in the bar that he carried in the door.
Just then, the waiter comes back with one hamburger (with an onion) and a bowl of chili. Sampson mashes up his crackers and twitters his fingers above his steaming bowl, dropping the remnants and crumbs into his cheese-topped meal like a long-robed magician sprinkling pixie dust into a caldron.
After he finishes eating, he asks, “So what’s this article for? For the concert on Thursday?” he says as he sweeps his expansive arm to the sheets of paper again.
When he learns that it’s mostly about his achievements and the grant money he received from the NJSCA, he laughs.
“Oh, that’s what it’s about?”
He hunches forward, chuckles a bit, puts his lips to his straw and takes a sip from his cup. The finished chili by his side does smell quite good, and when he finishes off the last of his drink, the people in the back raise their glasses to the TV for a second time, saluting.
North Hollywood, CA
Statistically, growing up in a single parent home doesn’t bode well for the child. But for Bennett “Laze” and Justin “Royal City” Talmadge Armstrong, two 16-year old twin brothers who also double as the West Coast group 2XL, it was their mother’s heroics that pushed them to beat the odds stacked against them.
“When we were younger,” Royal says, “we were like, ‘Ma, can you get us a microphone?’ She bought us a cheap 40-dollar mic, but we couldn’t even use it that month because we didn’t have electricity. Instead of paying for the bill, she bought us the microphone.
It was faith such as this, though, that actually makes the release of the brothers’ debut album, Neighborhood Rapstar, bittersweet, as their biggest fan, who at press time, currently lies in a hospital bed paralyzed from her third bout with terminal cancer. “She was never the kind of mom who would follow you into the studio,” Laze says. “Everything that’s happening now is because of her.”
And everything that’s happening now is pretty big. Signed by Tommy Boy Records (Coolio, Naughty By Nature), and with a hit single, the party friendly, “Kissing Game,” the two brothers have a fan base that is growing,
But whether their success lasts down the line is still unknown. What is known, though, is that they won’t give up, no matter how high the odds are against them. They are their mother’s son, after all.
Wandering Soul Records
Wade Waters had a lofty goal in mind when they decided to revitalize old school Hip-Hop with their debut album, Dark Water. So lofty, in fact, that they called upon some of rap’s greatest raconteurs as their inspiration. “When we made the album, we looked at it like, “What if Nas and AZ made an album together?” says Jason “Haysoos” Nickels, who, with his partner, Ashley “SoulStice” Llorens, decided that if they were going to do this project together, they might as well channel the best in the business.
But if you think this sounds overwhelming, you should hear what they do at their day jobs. “I’m an electrical engineer for the military,” SoulStice says. Haysoos’ job isn’t too shabby either—he teaches African-American studies at the University of Maryland. “Being a teacher, I find that I can actually incorporate rap into my lectures,” he says.
Heady stuff, but if the notion of a rapping electrical engineer and teacher conjures up images of pocket protectors and braces, then you don’t know Wade Waters. “We don’t want to say we’re not street, because you tend to alienate the audience when you say that,” SoulStice says. “But when you think about it, the opposite of conscious is unconscious, and we’re definitely not that either.”
While Nas and AZ never did make an album together, Haysoos and SoulStice are doing their best to come as close as possible to that dream collaboration.
Josh “DJ Shadow” Davis has always had music in his life—and even a little before that. “Four hours before I was born, I was at a Tower of Power concert with my mom and dad,” he says. It’s this closeness to music that has made DJ Shadow world renowned for his ability to take obscure melodies and mix them into masterpieces.
With trendsetting albums like Entroducing and The Private Press made completely out of samples, everybody thought they had DJ Shadow figured out. That is, until he released his latest album, The Outsider, a kaleidoscope of sounds featuring everything from Hyphy to Hard Rock.
And with the album’s single “3 Freaks,” a dance-friendly track, getting played on the radio, some fans have cried foul, claiming DJ Shadow has changed.
“People get comfortable when they think they have you pegged,” Shadow says. “Hyphy is something people in the Bay Area feel passionately about, and when I made [the album], I was channeling all the heroes of the movement, just as I was channeling all the heroes of the early Hip-Hop movement when I made Entroducing.” With a mindset like that, maybe change isn’t so bad after all.
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Off the Radar
Jersey City, NJ
5th Column Media/Day by Day Entertainment
Sitting across the street from the opulent law building at Rutgers’ Newark campus in New Jersey, Hasan Salaam obsesses over the dichotomy of wealth and poverty. He’s been that way ever since the movie Malcolm X. The movie jolted him into new social awareness.
“When that movie came out, we saw the preview and my mother said I couldn’t see it until I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X and I had this bigger perspective,” says Salaam. His take on American oppression was punctuated by a cop peering down at him suspiciously from the nearby campus steps.
This expanded outlook led Salaam to become a Muslim. He discusses his ideologies on his debut release, Paradise Lost, an album that garnered attention after Salaam won Best Live Performance and Best Underground Song of the Year for Lost’s “Blaxploitation” at the 3rd Annual Underground Music Awards in 2005. He attributes his vitriolic lyrics to the belief that, “If we don’t recognize our worth, others are going to take our culture and do some Elvis shit to us. They’re going to take it and 10 years from now they’re going to say they started it.” And for that reason, Salaam continues to rage against the establishment.