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June 27, 2013

By Shonassee Shaver

Sentinel Intern


MC Lyte is a hip-hop legend.  Nicki Minaj, take note!  Not only is MC Lyte a successful artist, rapper, and entrepreneur, but also she is also highly respected in the music game. From the golden age of hip-hop, she was the first solo female rapper to release a full album, Lyte as a Rock (1988).  It is astonishing.  Interestingly, MC Lyte does not see it that way. “There are so many that came before me.  I came at a time where independent labels and major music labels were in transition. I came at the beginning when major record labels were making deals happen,” said MC Lyte. Although MC Lyte does not classify herself as one of hip-hop’s pioneer feminists, she certainly has met all the prerequisites for being one.

This fresh-to-death MC is back on the scene for the BET Experience Concert June 29th at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, California. She will be performing among the likes of fellow rapper Eve and hip hop/neo soul band the Roots.  Sounds like a good time. “Absolutely, I love working with the Roots.  I would travel back and forth with them over the years.  I am excited for the Roots, to hear them play. It’ll be a good time for good music.”

Don’t get it twisted! MC Lyte has her own agenda that is just not about the music.  She is making her presence well known behind the music scene. The hip-hop legend has an entertainment management and production firm called Sunni Gyrl Global. “The SGG Company has many facets.  I signed with BET’s production company to establish the Hip Hop Sister Foundation. With this foundation, I am developing new artists and am able to support creative singers and artists. Continuing to do work for Hip Hop Sisters Foundation, “I have given out two $200,000 dollar scholarships sponsored by the Soul Train Awards. I want to be able to send a nice young person to school,” said MC Lyte.  The MC Lyte/UW-Madison $100,000 First Wave Scholarship helps children in the community to further their education. “I want to help kids advance their creative awareness. There are many students who want to do poetry, theatre and acting.  Then there are the kids who want to do law and medicine,” said MC Lyte. 

MC Lyte believes that education is the key to succeeding.  She helps young people to be creative and successful.  From the beginning, this rap star has always been about the community. Her lyrics exemplify this and more.

“I started my foundations to understand and to give knowledge to the artistic side of the music industry. People can succeed on the industry side of hip hop, but not have the business aspect of it together,” she said. MC Lyte is concerned with the ‘whole artist.’  “Having the knowledge of the business counterparts the talent. The business aspect needs to go together,” said MC Lyte. She has lent her name to many foundations that have influenced her to establish her own organizations so that she can be creative and flourish with her own plans for the community.

MC Lyte is all about redefining sisterhood. “We need sisterhood. We need to consistently support one another. Our goals should become each others’ goals,” she said.

Being an advocate for sisterhood, it is no surprise to us.  She was a part of Black Girls Rock, a non-profit youth empowerment and mentoring organization.  She was presented in the iRock Testimony.  MC Lyte exemplifies the reason that Black girls rock because she empowers black girls.  “I was the first artist many years ago (2005) to be honored.  It was in Brooklyn at the Dumbo Art Gallery in New York.  I was happy for CEO of Black Girls Rock Beverly Bond to have started with a dream, vision and get hooked up with the right people,” MC Lyte said.

MC Lyte is a close friend to rapper Lil’Mama. “I mentor many MCs’ as well as Lil’ Mama. I was told by a music executive that she had a mind like me.  She is from Brooklyn, NY.  She raps about drugs and gun violence.  In my mind, I already knew who she was. The community needs to support Lil’Mama,” said MC Lyte.

MC Lyte is also a humanitarian.  She respects the capacity of giving back. “From the corporation to the community, I want to be used,” she said on her stance of being a philanthropist.

The humble rapper continues to give back.  She recently visited Johannesburg in South Africa to help launch iLEAD youth program.  “Thurgood Marshall College Fund is an innovative creation in South Africa to uplift the youth. Young people from ages 18 to 20 have a devastating employment percentage. They need to be empowered.  They need to know what it means to be successful,” said MC Lyte. She enjoyed herself along with artists Kenny Lattimore and Lil’Mama.

Rapper MC Lyte wears many hats in the music industry.  She is an emcee, a songwriter, a speaker, a narrator, a voice-over, a DJ, an actress and an entrepreneur. She has a diverse career where she can balance all of these gigs. “I am not afraid.  I educate myself therefore I am able to get it done. I rest then pick up the next thing. This is who I am,” she said. 

Speaking of being a “jade of all trades,” she is an author of the book, Unstoppable.  It’s about having courage and faith.  Never giving up and achieving one’s greatest potential. “I have longevity. It has allowed me to go outside of being a rapper. I believed it has helped me stay motivated and creative.”

When asked about her opinion on rap music today she responded, “it lacks balance and means. The majority of it is promoted mainstream.  Good hip hop with a positive perspective is not on top.”

She did not deny that she loves house music. In South Africa, she listened to house music.  “Beat House African music has evolved.”

As a lyrist, she feels that rap lyrics about men and women are disheartening.  “If we stop buying this kind of music, they’ll stop producing.  It is bullying on record. Women are being objectified.”

As far as female rappers Nicki Minaj, Azealia Banks and Iggy Azalea, they fit into the scope of rap music today.  “Visually and music wise, they fit in for what is called for, what is prevalent.” Music artist resemble that hard edge lifestyle.  Is it even the real thing? That gangster life is often fabricated.  Many female rap artists see themselves as “Bad.”  “Rock stars have defined that hard life of drugs, sex and rock and roll. I followed that image. The lines of cocaine and not sleeping are a part of the music lifestyle. I don’t consider this a hard life,” she adds.  “Being financially strapped, struggling to make it, is a hard life.”

Don’t count this MC out. With a career that has spanned 20 years; she stays current with the music industry and its style. “I’m a DJ.  I’m constantly getting new music. I am able to understand hip-hop and how it affects the masses.  I am able to keep up.”

There is no doubt that MC Lyte can keep up with today’s music and culture. “I’m not into high fashion.  I don’t enjoy being cold and I love layers.  I need to be comfortable.” Well this can explain why she remains a fresh-faced beauty to date.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 27, 2013

By Zenitha Prince

Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American


African-American poet Natasha Trethewey has been reappointed to another term as Poet Laureate of the United States, “the nation’s official lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans,” according to the Library of Congress.

Trethewey, the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University in Atlanta, is also serving a four-year term as the poet laureate of the state of Mississippi.

“The Library and the country are fortunate Natasha Trethewey will continue her work as Poet Laureate,” Librarian of the U.S. Congress James H. Billington said in a statement. “Natasha’s first term was a resounding success, and we could not be more thrilled with her plans for the coming year.”

The poet laureate is appointed annually by the Librarian of Congress and serves from October to May. In making the appointment, the Librarian consults with former appointees, the current Laureate and distinguished poetry critics.

When Billington announced Trethewey as the 19th poet laureate in June 2012, he praised her as “an outstanding poet/historian” whose poems “dig beneath the surface of history—personal or communal, from childhood or from a century ago—to explore the human struggles that we all face.”

Born in Gulfport, Miss. in 1966, Trethewey graduated from the University of Georgia followed by earning master’s degrees in poetry from Hollins University and from the University of Massachusetts, according to

The English and creative writing professor is the author of four collections of poetry. Her first, Domestic Work (2000), was selected by former poet laureate Rita Dove as the winner of the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African-American poet and won both the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry.

Dove wrote in Domestic Work’s introduction: “Trethewey eschews the Polaroid instant, choosing to render the unsuspecting yearnings and tremulous hopes that accompany our most private thoughts—reclaiming for us that interior life where the true self flourishes and to which we return, in solitary reverie, for strength.”

Her later works included: Thrall (2012); Native Guard (2006), which received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; and Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002). She is also the author of Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (2010).

In her first term as Poet Laureate, Trethewey made her mark with her “Office Hours” during which she met with the general public in the Library of Congress’ Poetry Room—harkening back to a tradition established by her predecessors in the post from 1937 to 1986.

For her second term, she plans to travel to U.S. cities to examine how Americans are exploring and expressing societal issues through poetry, and report on her discoveries in a regular feature on the PBS “NewsHour Poetry Series.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 20, 2013



Anybody may occasionally have a week when their energy feels low. Your natural good health will see you through a possible down time if you just go with the flow and let yourself relax. Rest if you have the chance and you’ll feel like your wonderful self in no time flat!  Soul Affirmation: I calm my emotions by forgetting about the past.



You are the center of attention this week and while you’ll be very busy you’ll love every moment. Enjoy your time in the spotlight! You may want to indulge yourself with some emotional theatrics this week. Add up the costs and benefits before acting out. If you can afford it go for it! If not count to ten and smile, smile smile! Soul Affirmation: All vibes are good, and good for me this week!



Stay flexible this week especially where a partner is concerned. While they may be moody there’s no need for you to join them in their attitude unless you really, really want to! Stay positive and go with the good vibrations that surround you. Soul Affirmation: I exercise to lower tension this week.



Ding-dong! Destiny is at the door. Let it in and enjoy the change of pace. You’ll be happy to make a few adjustments for this most welcome guest. Follow through on instincts and hunches! Soul Affirmation: My spirit makes all things new.



Stay on course with your current decisions and dreams . You may doubt your progress this week but you really are moving toward a better tomorrow with your determined attitude. Soul Affirmation: I enlarge my happiness by forgetting about myself this week.



You feel great ! Your shining spirit attracts many seekers this week so let your best wisest self answer questions that are put to you by those who want advice. You’ll smooth over a sticky situation at work with ease.  Soul Affirmation: Distant love is sometimes sweeter.



Busy week. You’ll want to get up with the birdies and you may even want to whistle a happy little tune. You’ll be very much in demand for your expertise and positive attitude. Way to go!  Soul Affirmation: I enjoy the act of adoring.



Happiness arrives and sits on your shoulder like a bright butterfly this week. A relationship can make significant progress if you stay open to love. Keep your evening free for romance in a social setting.  Soul Affirmation: I give thanks for who I am this week.



Take charge of a project at work and get it finished up. It’s been languishing on someone else’s shoulders and desk for way too long. A sensible outlook will get you far this week.  Soul Affirmation: My hunches work well for me this week.



You may find yourself faced with many distractions this week but you’ll sail through and accomplish much if you stay focused on each task and take them one at a time. You know you can do it this evening.  Soul Affirmation: Money opens doors for friendship to enter.



Creativity is favored and yours is especially favored with some project that you’ve been working especially hard on. For the next few days watch for a romance that will bring special gifts.  Soul Affirmation: I care deeply about the feelings of others.



Your new ideas combine well with your will and skill. You get a lot done at work this week. Be soft and forceful. Make time for family life tonight. Your rewards come from those who are related to you by blood.  Soul Affirmation: I let positive emotions carry me through the week.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 20, 2013

7th Annual Leimert Park Book Fair pays Homage to the 1960’s

By Troy Tieuel

LAWT Contributing Writer


“It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive,” said the American novelist, playwright, poet and social critic James A. Baldwin, the 2013 Legacy Honoree for the 7th Annual Leimert Park Book Fair, occurring June 29 in the Vision Theater’s back lot.

The Leimert Park Book Fair, founded in 2006, promotes literacy in the African American community.  Cynthia Exum, Founder and Executive Director of the Leimert Park Book Fair, has prepared a quality line up of events for this year’s fair, which includes celebrities, well known authors, and outstanding political officials.  This year’s book fair also pays homage to the legacy of the 1960’s featuring the music, politics, and of course notable writings and writers of that era.

Among this year’s Featured Authors are actress Victoria Rowell, Judge Mablean Ephriam, Associate Professor of Economics at Loyola Marymount University Robert Singleton, author Gary Phillips, and Rev. James Lawson who will speak about “Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy in the Era of Obama.”

The Fair will host five literary pavilions that will feature poetry performances, writers, publishers and a storytelling stage along with the Memphis-based “Stax Museum of American Soul Music” that will provide the sound track of 1960’s that helped inspire the Civil Rights Movement.

Panels include “From Page to Screen: Adapting Books Into Screenplays” moderated by Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn, journalist, author and producer.  The panel is designed to offer tips to aspiring and established writers on how to transform novels, non-fiction books and articles into scripts for television and feature films.

“This panel is a very unique one for the book fair this year as it focuses both on the creative process of writing as well as the business end of Hollywood” added Littlejohn. “I am very excited to have author Mishna Wolff on the panel. Her bestselling memoir, ‘I’m Down’ was one of my favorite summer reads a few years ago.”

For additional information on this free event call 323.730.0628 or visit the website at

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 20, 2013

Shannen Hill

LAWT Intern 


Black Entertainment Television (BET) is partnering with Bakewell Media’s ‘Taste of Soul’ franchise to bring the biggest weekend in live entertainment to downtown Los Angeles on June 28-29.

BET will be hosting their first ever BET Experience at L.A. Live to precede the annual BET Awards show on June 30. Now the event is more than an awards show, it’s an experience.

The BET Experience is about connecting with the fans, so they have created BET Fan Fest, a festival full of free daytime activities on Friday and Saturday. Some of the best entertainers in the music industry will be at the festival, which will start at 10a.m. – 7p.m. While activities are free and open to the public, online registration is required.

Taste of Soul, which will continue to host its annual Family Festival on Crenshaw Blvd. on Oct. 19th has attracted nearly a million patrons in less than a decade. Presented by Bakewell Media, A Taste of ‘Taste of Soul’ will bring local food vendors with the best flavors to the BET Experience.

‘Taste of Soul’ is the largest food festival in Los Angeles, bringing the community’s favorite food vendors to one place.

Introducing ‘Taste of Soul’ in a limited form at the BET Experience with a taste of ‘Taste of Soul’ for the weekend, bringing L.A.’s favorite food vendors and community performances out to L.A. Live.

The smells of Harold and Belle’s, Chef Marilyn’s Soul Food Express and Cobbler King will fill the air along with 25 other Los Angeles vendors. Some of the performers that will grace the BET & Taste of Soul Community Stage, include Debbie Allen’s Dance Academy, the Crenshaw Elite Choir and Jada Grace, one of Berry Gordy’s latest music acts. ‘Taste of Soul’ is showcasing to BET and the people flying in from across the country the local Los Angeles community has to offer.

While ‘Taste of Soul’ highlights community acts, the BET Music Matters stage will present artists such as Marsha Ambrosius and Big K.R.I.T. along with some up-and-coming artists that are taking the music industry by storm. 106 & Park will also be broadcasting live from the festival and there will be celebrities throughout L.A. Live all day.

For the people who are into being part of the show, instead of watching, Sprite is having a Sports Court where there will be a dance-a-thon with the one and only Chris Brown. The Sprite Court will also have other activities including a slam-dunk competition, celebrity basketball game and high school drum line competition with celebrity judges.

Throughout Fan Fest, there will also be a free film festival and celebrity panel discussions. The panel discussion speakers will include Snoop Dogg, Pharrell Williams, MC Lyte, Laila Ali and many others. They will be discussing topics such as sports, gun violence, finances and marriage. For more of a BET Connection, the Grammy Museum will have an exhibit of all of the winners of BET’s Lifetime Achievement Awards throughout the years.

BET Fan Fest activities are completely free and open to the public, but participants are required to register online at There will be on-site registration at the L.A. Convention Center as well, but BET highly recommends registering online because space is limited.

Aside from the free, daytime activities, there will also be concerts of big name celebrities, which require a ticket purchase. Some performers include Beyoncé, Miguel, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. Other artists that can take you back to the old school will have concerts as well, including New Edition, The Roots and the Jacksons. Sunday’s Best Live, hosted by Kirk Franklin, will also be broadcasted during the BET Experience at L.A. Live. Along with musical concerts, funny men Mike Epps and Cedric the Entertainer will have comedy shows. To purchase tickets for these concerts and find out more information about who’s performing, go to

Not only will there be daytime and evening activities. The BET Experience at L.A. Live is partying with us in Los Angeles. There will be exclusive after-parties at the Conga Room in Downtown Los Angeles, in which a Diamond VIP Package must be purchased.

The BET Experience at L.A. Live will provide an experience like no other award show. There will be free events and concerts all weekend leading up to the 2013 BET Awards show on Sunday, June 30 at 8:00 p.m., hosted by comedian Chris Tucker. Some of the performers will include Chris Brown, R. Kelly and honoree Charlie Wilson. For more information, visit

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture