Archives for category: Music
Was this commercial screaming racism? Or was it blown completely out of proportion?

By: Taren Vaughan

Performing in front of sold out crowds and making cameo appearances in movies and TV shows, music artists are always down to showcase their talents in various arenas. Singer Mary J. Blige has done all these things and more as she has continued to be a dominating force in the industry. But now “The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” is under fire for her appearance in one of Burger King’s latest commercials for their new Crispy Chicken Snack Wrap. And needless to say, some people were highly upset while others well…found their anger to be quite ridiculous.

“I’m a Black woman and I by no means was offended by this commercial. All she was doing was singing about a product that just so happened to be chicken. I don’t see what the fuss is about. If she was up there singing about shackles and chains, maybe my thoughts would be totally different.”

Alicia C.
Age: 23
Silver Springs, MD

“Come on are people really serious right now? Where is the racism in this commercial? The real problem with this commercial was the singing. I love Mary J. Blige just like the next fan, but that was what I found bad about the whole thing, not the fact that it was being so “disrespectful” to Black people because it obviously was not.”

Jennifer M.
Age: 33
Salem, OR

“So tell me, how is this any different from the Black actors and actresses that we see rapping on the McDonald’s commercials? Was that the product of a racist’s mind? I didn’t see people getting all outraged about that and those commercials have continued to air. If a white, Hispanic or a person of any other race was singing about chicken, I guess it would be okay then. The race card can not be pulled in every situation and this is one where it doesn’t need to be.”

Latisha E.
Age: 25
Yonkers, NY

“I may be reaching a little bit here but I think the commercial was very distasteful due to the fact that she was singing about chicken. It is a known fact that chicken is coined as “black food”, right along with watermelon so to see Mary J. Blige participate in something like this is feeding into the negative stereotype that is placed on us already. And God knows, we don’t need anyone else doing that.”

Ashlee T.
Age: 27
Boston, MA

The commercial was quickly snatched off the air after the heavy criticism that it received. And was followed by a statement from the singer, assuring fans and critics that what they saw was not “MJB” certified:

“I agreed to be a part of a fun and creative campaign that was supposed to feature a dream sequence. Unfortunately, that’s not what was happening in that clip.”

“I understand my fans being upset by what they saw. But, if you’re a Mary fan, you have to know I would never allow an unfinished spot like the one you saw go out.”

Was it really that serious?

Take a look for yourself:

Is the anger justified?

Before Beyonce’, Jennifer Hudson or Alicia…There was Whitney.

By: Taren Vaughan

To be coined a true diva is something that must be earned. That title is not just attached to any female with a cute face and a few dance moves under her sleeve. An abundance of talent this person must have, along with a set of pipes that are unmatchable to any ones ever heard of. Of the old school R&B crowd, many names are notably mentioned from Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan and Patti LaBelle. This list however would not be complete without one woman, whose powerful vocals still go untouched…Whitney Houston.

An angelic voice and a striking natural beauty, she had it all.

Her voice was incredible and pierced the very soul of those who listened to her music and who witnessed her live performances. One of her most memorable live performances was when she sang the National Anthem at the Super Bowl XXV in 1991 between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants.

To this day, this has been said to have been the best rendition of the National Anthem ever.

And it still has the same effect on people that it had years ago when it was first sung by her.

With her sweetheart image, Houston gained millions of fans over the years, along with releasing a countless number of awards for her chart-topping songs. Her self-titled debut album Whitney Houston was released in 1985 and became the best-selling debut album by a female artist during that time. The album also made Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Success is what she continued to find as Houston won a total of 6 Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards and 22 American Music Awards. Some of her classics include “I Will Always Love You”, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”, “How Will I Know” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”. Not straying far from her gospel roots, Houston also received much applause for her singing of “I Love The Lord” featuring the Georgia Mass Choir.

Aside from her musical stardom, Houston graced the big screen, making her way into the film industry, starring in “The Bodyguard”, “Waiting Exhale” and “The Preacher’s Wife” alongside Academy Award Winning Actor Denzel Washington.

Often imitated but never duplicated, Whitney Houston was the epitome of a songstress.

And she has had a major influence over those who have a true love for music like she did:

“I’m still in shock about her passing. It’s so hard to put into words. Whitney Houston was my childhood. I grew up pretending to be Whitney. She made girls who were singers and even those who weren’t want to be like her. An entertainer at heart she was. And even through her trials, you could always see the beauty in her. If it wasn’t for Whitney, there would be no Beyonce’, Jennifer Hudson, Brandy or any of the other young stars. The 80’s produced icons. And she was one that no one could compare to. The music industry as a whole suffered a huge loss but more importantly, her family did. My heart goes out to them. I hope that she knew how much she really touched her fans and how much we will miss her.”

Krystal R.
Age: 27
Los Angeles, California

“Whitney was a beautiful woman with one of the most gorgeous smiles I’ve ever seen. Her voice was angelic and uniquely incomparable to any other female artist I’ve heard. My most memorable performance was her 1991 National Anthem rendition at the Superbowl. The way she sung it in my estimation has never been sung like that before. It was technically pitch perfect and I was in total awe and that is still my reaction today. She was definitely before her time and it’s sad that her life ended the way it did. It should serve as example of what happens when we consistently make damaging decisions in our lives. Fame and fortune can never fulfill the void of emptiness and lack of peace. She will be missed.”

Jeremy M.
Age: 27
Whitsett, NC

Despite the ups and downs she faced throughout her lengthy career and her untimely death, Houston will always be remembered for her one of kind talent and ability to touch the souls of her fans with timeless hits. She has influenced numerous acts in the music industry and the legacy that she leaves behind will continue to live on for years to come through her family, friends and fans.

“Every Woman” is what she was and will always be; a sweet spirit that touched the hearts and souls of those who understand the essence of music. Instrumentals she did not need for her voice alone was more than enough to grab your attention and keep it.

Thanks to you Whitney Houston for leaving your everlasting footprint in the world of music.

Her career is her “Motivation” for the moment.

By: Taren Vaughan

The life of an industry diva can be quite hectic at times. It’s almost unheard of for them, or any other star for that matter, to have one pathway that they are sticking to. Singers are not only going for Grammys anymore. They are striving for Academy Awards too as many of them have made their way into the acting game. When they choose to add to their resumes, it often leaves many of them with little free time on their hands for romance.

Singer Kelly Rowland admitted that her heart has been stolen but not by a handsome face and nice body. She has been swept off her feet by her career, which has kept her from settling down with a significant other.

“Most of the men find me too busy. Which is a real problem, because I like being busy,”

Droppin’ the mic for a man doesn’t seem to be something she is willing to do right now.

Rowland went on to say that she is quite content with devoting the majority of her time to her career.

“At the moment I’m in love with my job. But that doesn’t bother me [because at least] my job doesn’t nag.”

Rowland’s plate has been staying full here lately as her latest album “Here I Am” continues to get much airplay. She is also set to be one of the judges for the United Kingdom version of “The X Factor”.

Whenever she does have a chance to step back out on the dating scene, she knows exactly what she is looking for though.

“He has to be real and most of all he has to have confidence.”

By: Taren Vaughan

When you think of Hip-Hop music and those who brought it to the forefront, so many different names come to mind.

Run DMC: The Hip-Hop trio responsible for making the combination of kangol hats and shell toe adidas a lasting trend through the 80’s and 90’s.

Slick Rick: The UK native that perfected the art of storytelling and telling us how much teenage love can hurt.

Doug E. Fresh: The king of beat boxing.

The list could go on for days of the greats that have paved the way for Hip-Hop music.

As there were many that brought their own style and creativity to the genre, one artist in particular was not only a true emcee but he was no stranger to the dance floor either.

Dwight “Heavy D” Myers first stepped onto the music scene in the mid 80’s as the lead member of the group Heavy D and the Boyz. The group was a successful unit, drawing the attention of Hip-Hop heads all over the country. They were most known for hit singles “Nuttin’ But Love”, “Now That We Found Love” and “Black Coffee”.

Heavy D continued with his music, launching a solo career and he dabbled in acting, making appearances on “Living Single”, “Roc” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”.

The talent that he had poured out from all directions. And let’s not forget the fact that Hev moved like no other as his dance skills were impressive for a man of his size.

As we continuously recognized him for his contributions to the world of music, his life sadly came to an end on Tuesday in Beverly Hills, California. It was reported that the rapper collapsed outside of his condo after having difficulty breathing. Gaining consciousness before heading to Cedar Sinai Medical Center, he later died at the hospital. Heavy D was 44 years old.

“The Overweight Lover” will always be remembered for his music, “big boy” swag and dance moves.

We got nuttin’ but love for you Heavy D…Thank you for leaving your footprint in the game.

Heavy D. and The Boyz “Nuttin’ But Love”:

From his long list of hits, readers give their take on late Hip-Hop superstar Tupac Shakur’s best song of all time.

By: Taren Vaughan

This week, many people’s focus was centered on the anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the United States. Special ceremonies and gatherings to honor those who lost their lives in the tragic event took place all over the country. As September 11th marked a grave loss for hundreds of families, 15 years ago today, the world of Hip-Hop lost a heavyweight in the game; some even claim him to be the greatest of all time.

Truth teller, street poet, rebel, philosopher…Tupac Shakur has been said to have taken on these titles and much more. Often the center of controversy, Shakur was no stranger to troublesome behavior but that doesn’t mask the fact that he had raw talent when it came to lyrics. 2Pac told stories and kept it real with fans about what was going on in the world. He had the ability to create a track that was coined a club hit, and at the same time, he could leave you with a song that really made you think and even led you to the point of tears. Looking back on the legacy that he left behind, some of our readers were asked which one of his songs they would deem as his greatest of all time:

“Dear Mama is the best dedication song that any rapper has ever done. This song relates to me on so many different levels. I have the utmost respect for my mother and all that she has done for me and every time I hear this track, I can’t help but to shed a tear or two. This song is just a solid reminder of how talented Tupac Shakur really was”

Rodney B.
Age: 32
Marietta, GA

“Unlike many artists of today, Tupac Shakur rapped about real life situations. To me, Brenda’s Got A Baby was his greatest hit. The song and the video were both huge eye openers to many important issues that some young black women are enduring every day; having to prostitute themselves to feed their families, watching their parents abuse drugs right in front of their eyes and becoming a teenage mother. The song kept it real about the things that were going on. To me that’s one thing Pac did best was bring truth and realism to his lyrics”

Brayden C.
Age: 24
Columbia, SC

“We all know 2Pac was a philosopher, a poet in his own right. But one thing I always loved about him was that he also had a fun side to him. When I Get Around came out, I remember first hearing the song at a pool party in my neighborhood. From that day on, I kept that song on repeat for like a month. By far, one of, if not his greatest hit of all time”

Xavier R.
Age: 35
Oakland, CA

“Just like many G.O.A.T.’s, Tupac’s list of hits goes on for days. His serious songs were timeless and so were his club bangers. They still get airplay even years after his death. After some real thought and hearing some of his songs on the radio this morning, I would have to say that Keep Ya Head Up was his greatest song of all time. Who could forget Jada Pinkett-Smith’s cameo appearance in the video? Keep Ya Head Up showed Pac’s sensitive side. It was nice to see a rapper uplift the black woman, taking a moment away from all the disrespectful s**t that floods the airwaves nowadays. It also touched on world issues of poverty too which is still a huge problem today”

Alyssa W.
Age: 38
Knoxville, TN

What do think was Pac’s greatest hit?

Will “Watch the Throne” live up to the hype or will Jay-Z and Kanye prove themselves unworthy to sit upon any throne?

By A.J. Niles

Arguably the most anticipated rap album of 2011, Jay-Z and Kanye West released a 12-track collaborative project on August 8th that has much to live up to. They released their album in a revolutionary way; it is first released on ITunes and began selling this week via “pop-up” stores. The Throne duo then released a video for “Otis” directed by acclaimed director Spike Jonze, which featured a Maybach worth over $1 million being transformed into a spark-throwing, donut-spinning dragster.

With a tour beginning this fall, Jay-Z and Kanye are expecting to reach platinum-status asap. But many of their fans are wondering if the duo found their lyrical stride again in the making of this “epic” album?

Well, the opening track, “No Church in the Wild” feat. Frank Ocean, makes it seem that these two decided to throw their lyrical weight around, especially Jay-Z. This song may rub people the wrong way as they speak of religion as the wrong path in life but it does make you seem that they are going to blow your mind lyrically. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Kanye in particular seems to depend on basic rhyme schemes and a lack of actual content beyond the usual braggadocio flow regarding being a very rich black man that can have any woman he wants. On tracks such as “Lift Off” Feat. Beyonce, “N—-s in Paris” and “Otis,” Jay-Z raps circles around ‘Ye which is not saying much because Jay-Z just seems like he is getting lazy in the studio. For those looking for deep, profound lyrical content, you are not going to find that on “Watch the Throne” except for a couple of stand out tracks such as “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Made in America” feat. Frank Ocean and “Why I Love You” feat. Mr. Hudson.

The highlight of “Watch the Throne” will be its production which is some of the best in 2011. Even the Swizz Beatz produced “Welcome to the Jungle” is just a “straight head-knocker.” As soon as the beat drops, you just can’t help but nod your head. The track is reminiscent of the late 90’s/ early 2000’s stuff that was coming out on Def Jam. Just straight pure unadulterated “dope”.

Overall, “Watch the Throne” will be one of the best albums to release in 2011, mostly due to the production which is amazing. But, as I said earlier, those who are looking for Jay-Z to return to his “Blueprint” glory and for Kanye to re-live his “College Dropout” days, you will be disappointed.

Readers give their thoughts on Wiz Khalifa’s excessive love for the green…Not money but weed.

By: Taren Vaughan

Rapper Wiz Khalifa topped the Rap charts with his hit single “Black and Yellow”, a hometown anthem for his stomping grounds of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And ever since, he hasn’t come down from the top spot with his album “Rolling Papers” approaching platinum status. With all the success that Khalifa was seen, he manages to keep it real with the media and his fans. So real in fact that he had no problem at all vocalizing his love for the sticky in an interview with and even went on to encourage his fans to well, “Roll Up”:

“When the venues are not [ok with people smoking weed], we respect it and the fans respect it. And when it is friendly, then people know. The high, I don’t think that ruins anything, it makes people chill out,”

“And then when you tell them they can’t smoke weed, they find other creative ways to get high that’s less constructive.”

He went on to say that everybody puts one in the air from time to time, even the wealthy:

“Everybody smokes weed. My music and my fan base is really built off of my lifestyle – and from older people to doctors, plenty of really successful people function off weed.”

Something tells me that he would be all for legalizing it…

Is Wiz Khalifa really responsible for the new found Hip-Hop weed heads?

“It’s not like Wiz is the first to promote weed smoking. Snoop has let it be known for years that he smokes weed and has never tried to hide the fact that he did. But I guess Wiz is catching more heat for it because he actually came out and told his fans that it was okay to light one”

-Bryan K.

Age: 23

Newark, NJ

“I am a fan of Wiz Khalifa and really like his music but I am not okay with the fact that he encourages his fans to smoke weed. It’d be nice to see a rapper promo something other than drugs, sex or money”

-Alayna H.

Age: 21

Albany, NY

“Wiz Khalifa is a one of the hottest rappers out right now but really, can we be surprised that he made such a bold statement? I mean he has managed to wife up Amber Rose. What did you expect?”

-Jaylen B.

Age: 20

Jacksonville, FL

“Some of these rappers let anything come out of their mouths. I can’t say that I am shocked that Wiz Khalifa would say something like this to his fans. I’m more so disturbed that he could have potentially started a mass of druggies with his comments”

-Charmaine L.

Age: 27

Hampton, VA

“Let’s be clear, rappers are in no shape, form or fashion God, even though some of them think they are. But the one thing about what their position in our society is that they have a lot of power. Even when they say and do outrageous things, you can almost count on a fan or two to go out and mimic their lifestyles. And because of that, they should be mindful of the messages that they are relaying to their fans”

-Kelvin G.

Age: 31

San Diego, CA

Regardless of whether or not they want to admit it, music artists have a lot more influence over their fans than they think they do.

Why do you think Nicki Minaj has a band of pink wigged “Barbies” following in her every footstep? And why do you think there are hundreds of young Black men parading around in skinny jeans? Lil’ Wayne is the only grown man that could pull that off.

Their influence can be so heavy that whatever they say goes in the minds of the brainwashed and overly loyal fanatics.

Wiz Khalifa is making much noise in the Rap game right now. His flow is undeniable hands down. But openly telling your fans to take a few hits? Not quite sure about that one.