November 14, 2013
By Jordannah Elizabeth
Special to the NNPA from The New York Amsterdam News
Legendary hip-hop lyricist and poet Nas has been chosen to become the face of a new Hip-Hop Fellowship that was founded and developed at Harvard University earlier this year. The Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship is a new program that was funded by an anonymous donor, and at the request of this generous and forward thinking person, Nas was selected as the focal point and face of the program.
As reported by The New York Times’ Art Beat Blog, Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute for African-American Studies, and Harvard University approached another board member about sponsoring a fellowship. Gates expressed that the donor wanted Nas’ name to be at the masthead of the program.
Last week, Nas traveled to the Cambridge, Mass.-based university to formally give his blessing and instate the program. He reportedly took the opportunity with very little hesitation. Jones told Rolling Stone, “I said ‘no’ to a lot of things in my twenties. In the beginning, I was a fighter. I’m always going to be a fighter, but I fight differently, for different reasons, today.”
The founder of the Hip-Hop Archive and Research Institute, which is a program that sits under the umbrella of the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute for African-American Studies and Harvard University, told The New York Times, “The main purpose of the fellowship is to support people doing work that has to do with the ways hip-hop itself reaches out to youth through the world, and particularly how it brings together issues of social justice, art and politics. That relationship–and how difficult it can be–is an important aspect of what we’re looking at. Hip-hop has been a way of getting the word out in very difficult situations.”
The vision for the fellowship and the application process has just begun, according to Morgan. The program will choose two applicants to engage in comprehensive research of the hip-hop genre.
This is a great stride in African–American culture, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute for African-American Studies and Harvard University have taken a great strides to research and preserve one of the most important artistic staples of African-American culture. Nas, son of jazz musician Olu Dara, carries a legacy of musical and artistic excellence. Nas told Rolling Stone, “Hip-hop is important like computer science…The world is changing.
If you want to understand the youth, listen to the music. This is what’s happening right underneath your nose.”
November 14, 2013
By LOU KESTEN
Video-game fans who reserved Sony's PlayStation 4 several months ago won't have any regrets when it goes on sale in North America on Friday: The PS4 is a terrific game machine that will feel familiar to PlayStation 3 owners while delivering the flashier eye candy you'd expect from gaming's next generation.
Microsoft diehards will grouse about the PlayStation hype until Nov. 22, when the new Xbox One comes out. There's no reason for envy: Most of the best PlayStation 4 games will be available on Microsoft's new console as well.
Indeed, many gamers have already made up their minds months ago. If you're somewhere in between — say, a frequent game player who doesn't feel an ironclad allegiance to either system — the PlayStation 4 is a good buy.
Its launch lineup includes 22 games to attract fans of just about any genre, from military shooters to sports simulations to family-friendly adventures. It also offers such a wealth of easily accessible media apps, including Hulu and Netflix, that may draw even the non-gamers in your household.
It's not yet absolutely essential, but if you're ready to upgrade from a PlayStation 3 or rival console, it's worth the $400 price tag. That's $100 cheaper than the Xbox One, but $100 more than Nintendo's year-old Wii U. The PS3 will still be available for $200, but that's now 7-year-old technology.
The PlayStation 4 is a slender, unobtrusive box that plugs into your TV via HDMI cable. Once you've turned on the power, it takes just a few minutes to connect to the Internet and create or update a free account on Sony's PlayStation Network.
The PS4's on-screen user interface has been streamlined, with a horizontal bar of large icons for games and apps. Above that is a line of smaller icons that let you connect with other PlayStation owners, change system settings or access the PlayStation Store, where you can download new games and buy or rent movies.
You navigate through all this with Sony's new DualShock 4 controller. The old ones won't work. Like previous controllers, DualShock 4 offers vibration and motion sensing.
It now has a clickable touchpad as well. What it does will vary from game to game. In "Killzone: Shadow Fall," for example, it's used to send orders to a combat drone. The top of the controller also has a light bar that changes color to indicate player status. In "Killzone," red means your character is close to death.
The DualShock 4's Options button is pretty much the same as the old Start button, pausing the action so you can access in-game menus. The old Select button has been replaced by Share, which allows you to post screenshots and videos on social networks, or even broadcast your game play on the Ustream and Twitch video platforms.
A barebones headset that comes with the system lets you navigate menus by voice command. The DualShock 4 also has a built-in speaker that plays some in-game audio.
The console itself is built around computer processing and graphics processing units custom-built by Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Sony says the PlayStation 4 has 10 times the processing power of the PS3. That should translate into higher screen resolution (up to 1080p) and faster frame rates (up to 60 frames per second), meaning more detailed environments, more realistic lighting, smoother animation and huge online multiplayer matches.
Developers say the new hardware is much easier to design for than the idiosyncratic "Cell" architecture used in the PlayStation 3. On the plus side, that means developers should be able to exploit the PS4's power more quickly. The drawback is that you can't play any of your PS3 games on the new machine. It won't be a deal breaker for many gamers, who won't be getting PS4 to play 4-year-old games anyway.
"Killzone," from Sony's Amsterdam-based Guerrilla Games studio, shows off the new technology most impressively. Purely from a game-play perspective, it's a fairly generic first-person shooter, with humans battling the dictatorial alien Helghast for control of a divided planet. But wow, is it beautiful, from its vast, breathtaking landscapes to the finely tooled details of individual firearms.
The visual boost becomes more apparent when you compare some PlayStation 4 launch titles with their counterparts on the PS3:
— In Ubisoft's "Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag," you can see the wind billowing the sails of your pirate ship.
— In 2K Sports' "NBA 2K14," you can read LeBron James' tattoos and see individual beads of sweat of his forehead.
— And the new technology allows Electronic Arts' "Battlefield 4" to bump online combat engagements from 24 players to as many as 64.
Granted, there's more to great games than slick graphics, and it remains to be seen what designers will come up with once they learn how to harness all that power under the PlayStation 4's hood.
But Sony's off to a good start, planting its flag firmly as the battle for dominance in the living room renews.
By Shonassee Shaver
LAWT Contributing Writer
Meet super-producer Ervin “EP” Pope, whose accomplishments in the music industry are nothing short of amazing!
With a body of work including Janet Jackson, Ne-Yo, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Swizz Beatz, Jamie Foxx, Dr. Dre and so many others, Pope has certainly made a name for himself in the music industry.
Raised in Watts, CA Pope got his start with music in the church playing the piano at a young age, having been exposed to and a student of many genres of music throughout his life, the young ingénue was able to pick up sounds by ear.
Piano lessons passed through a few siblings, neither of which displayed a real interest in the art. However, it was Pope who discovered an interest for the musical keys.
His talent quickly paid off as he produced gospel group ‘Perfect Number,’ it was at this time that he developed a skill for writing and a platform to produce songs.
Pope who didn’t make a transition into mainstream music acknowledges “I still play at two or three churches every Sunday.”
Not only is he dedicated to his roots but feels gospel music encompasses all genres of music from blues to rock. According to Pope, “if you take the lyrics off of a song you wouldn’t be able to tell if it was R&B or rap.
Despite the naysayers, he feels music is a job and as long as he isn’t doing anything that’s not going to discredit his beliefs, transitioning from gospel to mainstream is not a problem.
Speaking of gospel versus mainstream, the newly reality TV show “Preachers of L.A.” has garnered a lot of controversy, Pope weighs in stating, “I don’t have a problem with the wealth, what I have a problem with is the exposure shown in a different light to someone who is weak minded that maybe driven away from God forever.”
Not having a major company backing him, Pope was able to build his name in the business, “if I saw you I would approach you, once I accumulated a certain amount of work I was referred.”
Having accomplished music, he has ventured into film and television, scoring music for ‘Mission Impossible 3: Undisputed,’ ‘My Wife & Kids,’ reality TV shows ‘Bad Girls Club,’ ‘Keeping Up with The Kardashians,’ and ‘The Real World.’
Along with his feats in music and TV, he has developed his own production company, The Furnance Music Group.
“You have to be a smart owner which entails keeping good contacts and relationships because this business is based on business the talent is second,” he states on owning his music company.
Pope has escaped the pits of being a producer who does not receive credit for his work, “you have to learn the ends and outs of your profession, being taken by the gratification of your music won’t work.”
EP who once worked in corporate America remained true to his passion, he felt his job at the time was secondary, “I just did that to keep the lights on, at night I would go to the studio and fall asleep in the meeting the next day,” he said.
Pope has certainly made the right choice; as he has been fortunate to produce great music.
“I take a little bit from each of those genres, blend it in like gumbo, and just make good music.”
The producer prefers live instruments and feels a lot of people aren’t investing music in our youth; he implements instrumentation in 95% of his production.
He feels music executives aren’t looking for anything diverse.
However, EP looks to the internet as an alternative platform for artists, “the power is only in the executive’s hand we have to change the cycle by putting good music out on the internet.”
EP is working on a jazz project and is the executive producer on rap artist Scarface’s new album.
Pope has a documentary film coming out where he produces and composes the entire score.
On where he see’s his career, “I am going to ultimately end up in television and film because you can use all types of music to complete a show as oppose to being stuck with R&B or hip hop, I can do rock, jazz, blues and gospel all in one show.”
LAWT News Service
Legendary blues guitarist B.B. King makes his long awaited Segerstrom Center debut on Sunday, December 8 at 7 p.m. in Segerstrom Hall. One of the most influential bluesmen of all time, King began his career as a professional musician in the 1940s and he continues to perform more than 100 concerts each year. He has recorded more than 60 albums and has received dozens of awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Kennedy Center Honor, 15 Grammy® Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.
Tickets for B.B. King start at $59. Single tickets will be available online at SCFTA.org, at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa or by calling (714) 556-2787. For inquiries about groups of 10 or more, call the Group Services office at (714) 755-0236. The TTY number is (714) 556-2746.
King’s illustrious career includes a bevy of awards and accolades as well as honorary doctorates. In 1984 he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and, in 1987, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That same year, he received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award. In 1990, King received the prestigious Presidential Medal of the Arts and, in 1991, the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts. King received the Kennedy Center Honor in 1995.
November 07, 2013
By Cory Alexander Haywood
Complain, protest, boycott all you want, the ever-controversial rapper Kanye West only hears the beat of his own drum.
West’s most recent stunt for public attention is wearing the confederate flag on the sleeves of a green bomber jacket, photographed recently.
Last month, the “New Slaves” multi-platinum selling recording artist announced plans to feature the racially-charged image on merchandise for his nationwide “Yeezus Tour.” Apparently, he wasn’t bluffing. During an interview with Los Angeles radio station 97.1 AMP, explained the reasoning behind using the flag – which was adopted by the Southern states during the American Civil War but has come to represent a symbol of racism and hate to many.
“React how you want,” he said. “Any energy is good energy. You know the Confederate flag represented slavery in a way – that’s my abstract take on what I know about it. So I made the song ‘New Slaves.’ So I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It’s my flag. Now what are you going to do?”
Never one to display humility, West often makes a point of boasting about his “genius-like” creative music abilities. Granted, his album sales and multiple trips to the Grammy’s offer validation for such thinking, but even Kayne’s fans have grown tired of all the bravado (warranted or otherwise).
No matter your sentiments about the Chicago-bred lyricist, it’s hard to deny his talent, which played an integral role in the development of hip-hop mogul Jay Z’s critically acclaimed, 2001 classic opus “The Blueprint.”
Shortly thereafter, MTV tapped West as an emerging artist in 2002 during a segment of “You Hear It First.”
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