April 11, 2013

By CHRIS TALBOTT | Associated Press

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country singer Brad Paisley says he was trying to foster an open discussion of race relations when he collaborated with rapper LL Cool J on "Accidental Racist."

The new song about racial perceptions has drawn ire from both the country and urban music worlds after its wide release this week. Paisley, the singer-songwriter known for his white cowboy hat and virtuoso guitar work, gave his first interview Tuesday since the hubbub began on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" after briefly addressing the debate Monday night on Twitter.

"I felt like when we were writing this song, it wasn't necessarily up to the media and I don't really trust Hollywood ... or talk radio or anything like that to sort of deal with that anymore," Paisley said on the show. "I think it's music's turn to have the conversation."

The song appears on Paisley's new self-produced album "Wheelhouse," released Tuesday. It's his most ambitious album so far and the progressive message of "Accidental Racist" is in line with opinions the 40-year-old West Virginia-born singer has expressed before in interviews and songs.

Of the album, Paisley wrote on Twitter, "I hope it triggers emotions," and says he wouldn't change a thing about it: "This is a record meant to be FAR from easy listening. But fun. Like life. Have a ball, ya'll."

At its heart, "Accidental Racist" is about how cultural symbols favored by whites and blacks — the fashion choice of wearing Confederate flags or baggy pants, for instance — come loaded with meaning.

It's not a new discussion. Though race relations have evolved over the decades, cultural symbols continue to color perceptions.

Paisley uses the Confederate flag as an example in the song, noting whites are "caught between Southern pride and Southern blame" 150 years after the end of the Civil War.

"I try to put myself in your shoes and that's a good place to begin," Paisley sings, "but it ain't like I can walk a mile in someone else's skin/Because I'm a white man livin' in the southland/Just like you I'm more than what it seems/I'm proud of where I'm from/But not everything we've done/It ain't like you and me can rewrite history/Our generation didn't start this nation/We're still paying for mistakes that a bunch of folks made long before we came."

Paisley was unavailable for an interview and LL Cool J's publicist did not immediately respond to messages. The 45-year-old rapper, who elevated himself from a teen sensation on the streets of Queens to an American cultural icon as a personality and actor on shows like CBS's "NCIS: Los Angeles," provides the response to Paisley's meditations.

He kicks off his portion of the song "Dear, Mr. White Man, I wish you understood what the world was really like living in the hood." Later in the song he raps, "I guess we're both guilty of judging the cover not the book/I'd love to buy you a beer, conversate and clear the air/But I see that red flag and I think you wish I wasn't here."

Later he and Paisley enter a call and response portion of the song where LL Cool J raps in part: "If you don't judge my 'do rag, I won't judge your red flag. ... If you don't judge my gold chains, I'll forget the iron chains ... Can't rewrite history, baby ... let bygones be bygones ... Rest in peace, Robert E. Lee, I got to thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me ... ."

"One of my favorite lines in the song is he says 'I think the relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixin','" Paisley told DeGeneres. "Leave it to a rapper to put it so simply and so beautifully."

Not all the good people of the blogosphere and Twitter world were as taken, though, and comedians were weighing in as well.

Demetria Irwin of black culture blog The Grio wrote, "'Accidental Racist' is the worst song in the history of music," then broke it down line by line.

Comedian Patton Oswalt tweeted: "I can't wait for Brad Paisley & LL Cool J's next single: "Whoopsy Daisy, Holocaust, My Bad""

Even the usually open-armed Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson of The Roots seemed taken aback as he tweeted: "Just heard the "Accidental Racist" man that Weird Al is amazing."

A little later, he compared the reaction to "Accidental Racist" to the recent backlash over Rick Ross' contribution to the Rocko song "O.U.E.N.O," which brought an apology after detractors accused him of glorifying date rape.

"All the "OUENO" weigher ins....i expect "Accidental Racist" to get equal amount of discussion & dialogue," he wrote.

That it did. Paisley told DeGeneres that was the point.

"Make up your own mind," he said. "That's fine. You can throw things at me. I'm all right."

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 11, 2013

By Chelsea Battle

LAWT Contributing Writer

 

Wayans.  The mere mention of the name likely brings to mind the talented siblings who took Hollywood by storm in the 1990’s and successfully created a dynasty that traversed the decade and reigns to this day.  Determined to carry the torch, the latest generation of Wayans is working hard to earn their rightful place on the throne.

Says Damien, “There was always a misconception of what it’s like being a Wayans or a second generation Wayans. A lot of people thought we were just born into money and it was like—nope—it was a tough road, a tough journey.” But the Wayans are nothing if not tough.  The new kids on the Wayans family block have taken the popular misconception of a cookie cutter lifestyle and capitalized on it, resulting in the launch of BET’s Second Generation Wayans show.

“You know, me and my cousin Craig [who co stars in the show] were project kids, project bred—we were not born with a silver spoon in our mouths,” Damien reveals. People look at you in a good light sometimes and people look at you in a negative light sometimes. Because you are a Wayans, they expect you to be [like] your family at times. We’re trying to carve our own name and ground ourselves, like our uncles grounded themselves.”

In keeping with family tradition Marlon Wayans, Damien’s uncle, is one of the executive producers for Second Generation Wayans. The show, which Damien says is largely based on real life experiences, reflects years of the ups and downs, successes and failures which he and the younger Wayans have experienced while trying to break into showbiz. Because ‘elders’ Shawn, Keenen, and Marlon have frequently appeared in the spotlight, the assumption is that the entire Wayans family is solidly linked into the film industry. With Second Generation Wayans Damien, his cousin Craig, and Uncle Marlon wanted to dispel that notion and portray the true path which the younger generation has taken.

“Hollywood is a very fickle town,” explains Damien. “It’s a very ‘What have you done today?’ type of town especially now a days. They’re not making certain types of movies like they used to.  Sometimes you feel like Hollywood is its own clique, so that’s why I’m happy I got my clique—my Wayans clique!”

Underneath it all is the rocky, albeit quirky, and genuine love that is the glue that bonds the Wayans together.

“It’s always fun being able to do what you love, and my family is my best friend; so throughout the years that I’ve been working with family it has kind of become second nature. You know, we have our arguments; we have our disagreements, but at the core of it all we are family, and we love to have fun with each other.”

Outside of the show when he’s not working out at a spin class, or chowing down on some Crazy Rocking Sushi on Santa Monica Boulevard, he’s writing and working on projects for his production company. In addition to developing a movie, he’s also directing a six part You Tube web series called That’s a Friend. The series is designed to make viewers beg the question “Is my friend really ride or die?”

“It’s about putting your friend to the ultimate test,” says Damien. “So if you’ve ever wondered, ‘How ride or die would my friend really be in a time of need?’ we take scenarios and we see how ride or die that friend really is.”

The multifaceted Damien Wayans is slowly proving his staying power in this industry, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that he is indeed a ride or die Wayans.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 04, 2013

LAWT News Service

 

Motown Records takes a giant step into the ever-expanding Gospel music field as the result of a joint venture partnership with EMI Gos­pel, creating a new label Mo­town Gospel. The announcement was made by Barry Weiss, Chairman & CEO, UMG East Coast Label Group and Bill Hearn, President & CEO, Capitol Christian Music Group.

“UMG’s acquisition of EMI music offered the ideal opportunity to merge the EMI Gospel label with the strength of the newly revitalized Motown Records,” said Mr. Weiss. “The new Motown Gospel label will offer broader Urban AC crossover potential and further opportunities and synergy between Motown Gospel artists and the Motown and Island Def Jam urban roster.”

Motown Gospel was officially launched tonight, with a gala press reception and artist showcase at the Arc Theatre in Los Angeles. The evening featured performances by Gospel best sellers Smokie Norful, Tasha Cobbs, Tye Tribbett, and Kierra Sheard. In addition to the artists who performed at the showcase, the Motown Gospel roster includes multiple Stellar Award winning artists VaShawn Mitchell, Pastor Charles Jenkins and Fellowship Chicago and Grammy nominee Anita Wilson, among others.

The structure of Motown Gospel will include Ken Pennell and the executive leadership of EMI Gospel, based in Nashville, coupled with new hires, particularly in the A&R areas. As such, the first appointment of Motown Gospel is VP of A&R, songwriter and producer extraordinaire Aaron Lindsey. Mr. Lindsey, one of the most respected talents in gospel music today, has four Grammy awards and multiple Stellar and Dove awards. His songwriting credits include “Again I Say Rejoice,” “My Testimony” and “He Saw the Best in Me” and he has produced such bestselling artists as Israel Houghton, Byron Cage, and Marvin Sapp’s “Never Would Have Made It” from the platinum-selling album Thirsty.

Platinum seller and multi-Grammy winning CeCe Winans has also announced her intention to be the first new signing to the Motown Gospel label. The Gospel superstar’s first all new recording in more than five years is planned for an early 2014 release.

“I’ve been a huge fan of Barry Weiss for years” said Mr. Hearn. “Through his leadership of the Verity Label in the past, he’s been responsible for much of the growth and artist development in Gospel Music today. I can't wait to partner with Barry, Motown through A&R collaboration, and promotion and marketing support from Steve Bartels and the amazing IDJ team. I’m confident Motown Gospel will now be even more effective at connecting our artists with their fans and growing their fan base.”

Motown Gospel’s strong 2013 release schedule was also showcased at the event with Tasha Cobbs performing her hit single “Break Every Chain” from her current Top 5 charting album Grace. Tye Tribbett introduced his new album and label debut, Greater Than which is set for June 4 release and performed his first single “If He Did It Before Same God” which debuted Top 20 on the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs Chart in March. Kierra Sheard also debuted her new Rodney Jerkins produced song “Trumpets Blow” which will lead her new Karew Records release later this summer. And Gold selling, Grammy winning Smokie Norful debuted songs from his long awaited new album set for fall 2013 release.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 04, 2013

LAWT News Service

 

For those who thought that they’d never get an opportunity to walk a red carpet or brush shoulders with their favorite celebrity,  BET Networks, AEG and L.A. LIVE have teamed up to provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—aptly called The BET Experience at L.A. LIVE.   For the first time ever, public can purchase tickets to attend the BET Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE, which grants them exclusive access to the red carpet and special VIP entrance to performances during the BET Experience weekend, June 28-30, 2013.

Even though Beyoncé’s North American tour kick-off concert at STAPLES Center is completely sold out, guests purchasing specially created VIP Ticket Packages can rest assured that they are guaranteed great seats for all of the sold-out weekend performances as well as numerous other events, receptions and programs taking place during the BET Experience.  Fans are warned to buy early as these special packages are limited.  The three VIP packages provide access to the entire STAPLES Center weekend concert series featuring Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Miguel, ScHoolboy Q, legendary artists The Jacksons, R. Kelly and New Edition. Packages also include intimate show performances by comedian Mike Epps, songstress Erykah Badu, The Roots & Friends, and a gospel showcase including Kirk Franklin over the BET Experience weekend at Club Nokia.

“The BET AWARDS weekend has evolved into a tremendous 3-day experience,” said Debra Lee, BET’s Chairman and CEO.  “Attendees will be treated to a specially curated BET GRAMMY® Museum Exhibit; empowerment seminars that range from money and cultural to entertainment, family and health; a film festival; fan fest; the Music Matters stage, celebrity appearances and more.”

Special hotel package pricing is available for the weekend’s events.  The official host hotels for the BET Experience are the JW Marriott Los Angeles, L.A. LIVE and The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles. The BET Experience will offer special rates to consumers at more than 20 other hotels in the downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and Beverly Hills areas. 

“I can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend than by enjoying all the sights and sounds at the BET Experience.  Who wouldn’t want a chance to hobnob with the stars while sipping champagne on the red carpet in sunny Los Angeles?  It just doesn’t get any better than this,” said AEG’s Sean Dee, President, Global Branding AEG Live.

For more information on the BET Experience and access to the limited VIP packages, visit www.BETExperi­ence.com. Tickets are also available at www.axs.com/ betexperiencevip. To receive updates and announcements, follow the BET Experience at L.A. LIVE on Twitter @betexperience.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 04, 2013

ARIES

You may feel an extra burst of energy this week. This is a good time for you wrap up any miscellaneous details on a project that you’ve been working on. Your vibrations are very conducive towards generosity and general well-being that you’ll want to extend to friends and family. Soul Affirmation: I find many things about myself that I really love.

 

TAURUS

Any nervous energy you may be feeling can be dispelled with some physical activity. You are doing just fine, so take long walks or try a yoga class and leave your worries behind you. Everything is working out in a perfect way. Soul Affirmation: Helping others is the true measure of my worth.

 

GEMINI

A conflict may arise, but you can handle it. Let your life be shaped by the choices you make, not through choices made by others. You’re a very independent sign, and you may be feeling downright feisty this week! Act with love. Soul Affirmation: This week I forgive myself for everything that has happened.

 

CANCER

Love gets you back on an even keel, and you feel balance and much appreciation for all of the blessings in your life. Your creativity is soaring; let some of your wilder ideas free and watch them fly! Soul Affirmation: Success is mine because I feel successful.

 

LEO

This week your thoughtfulness and generosity is very evident among those close to you. Do something adventurous, and surprise & impress your lover. Try to sneak away at lunchtime together and enjoy each other’s company. Things will be looking even brighter for you in the next few weeks. Stay happy! Soul Affirmation: I face each week with a smile and the week smiles back at me.

 

VIGO

Exercise your social skills in a new and inventive way at work. Make yourself noticed in a positive way. Buy a new scent or wear that daring red item that you’ve been too shy to put on! Try to resolve the conflict between two of your friends, but you might have to let them go through the motions of anger, and stay out of it. Soul Affirmation: Time is the greatest peacemaker of them all.

 

LIBRA

Nobody expects the world from you, but a little more effort would be appreciated. Let go of the grudge that you’ve been harboring and start living again! You’ll feel much more light-hearted and free when you forgive and forget about the past. Soul Affirmation: With my spirit I co-create my week.

 

SCORPIO

This week you will feel like you’re on top of the world when you finish completing the project that you’ve been working feverishly on. Take some time off and splurge on a vacation spot that has been tantalizing you!  Soul Affirmation: I focus on the positive things that are happening in my life.

 

SAGITTARIUS

This week is a good week for remembering that without the help of your colleagues it would be impossible for you to expedite the tasks that need to be done. Thank them ahead of time. Thank them graciously and celebrate with them. Soul Affirmation: Appreciation leads to recognition.

 

CAPRICORN

Little by little you will come to realize that you are too good to be second choice. This week don’t even think about why your recent romance failed. It wasn’t meant to be. There are many more fish in the sea ready for you to hook them. Go for it! Soul Affirmation: There are other fish in the sea waiting for me.

 

AQUARIUS

Offer a shoulder to cry on to someone you know that has been going through some difficulty. They need a friend right now, and you can be that person. Listen and don’t speak. Your sensitivity and compassion will mean a lot right now. Soul Affirmation: Newness of outlook helps me deal with the monotonies of life.

 

PISCES

If you need some time to yourself this week, take it. You’ll be doing yourself an act of kindness. Since you do so much for others, why not treat yourself as well as you treat them? Your world is the way you are living. Live with love. Soul Affirmation: I let go of the old in order to make room for the new.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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