February 21, 2013

By STACEY PLAISANCE  Associated Press

 

Grammy-winning rapper Lil Wayne's skate park project in the city's rebuilding Lower 9th Ward is off to a bumpy start.

The building that houses the park didn't pass a city electrical inspection and had to be re-wired, and only a handful of children are able to skate at a time because of a shortage of staffing. Many days, the Trukstop skate park — named after the rapper's skateboarding-inspired Trukfit clothing line — hasn't been open at all.

"We really put the cart before the horse on this project, and right now we're at a crossroads," said Ward "Mack" McLendon, who manages the facility.

But, he said, "Everybody wants to make this work."

McLendon says Lil Wayne dropped by the facility and skated with some kids while in town Super Bowl weekend.

"He's on board, and he really wants this for the community," McLendon said.

The 30-year-old rapper, whose publicists did not return phone calls or emails for comment, announced the park's launch last September, along with corporate partners Mountain Dew and Glu Agency, a New York-based advertising firm . At the time, the park was supposed to be open to the public seven days a week beginning Oct. 1, 2012, but opening was delayed because the facility didn't have enough staffing or insurance coverage.

McLendon said the insurance issue has been resolved, so the park is open. Staffing continues to be a problem. The park is only open when there is adequate supervision, and organizers are relying on volunteers.

Miatta David, spokeswoman for Glu Agency, said the sponsors are working to help establish permanent staffing.

"Everyone involved in this project is committed to ensuring the park is available to our community members year round," she said. "As such, we will soon be shifting from a volunteer to a full-time based staff."

The park is in the Lower 9th Ward, which was all but wiped out by floodwater from Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

While much of the city has rebounded, the Lower 9th Ward has been slower to recover. Homes were pushed off their foundations, and many residents haven't returned. Blocks where homes once stood are empty and overgrown with weeds.

Lil Wayne, 30, whose given name is Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr., has a new album, "I Am Not A Human Being II," due out next month. He is a New Orleans native.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

February 21, 2013

Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah couldn't have picked a more appropriate stage moniker. Thanks to a brilliant mesh of social commentary and political consciousness, this queen had no problem attracting a cult-like following from the jump off. Latifah was one of the first to demand self-respect and gender equality in hip-hop. Who can forget the Grammy-winning "U.N.I.T.Y." (from Black Reign), where she made it clear that addressing her as a b***h is a quick way to get yourself "punched dead" in the face?

 

MC Lyte

If you ask hip-hop fans who the greatest male emcee of all time is, you're more than likely to get about 20 to 25 different responses. Now, switch the question to "Who's the best female rapper of all time?" and, alas, you're more than likely to end up with the same answer 9 out of 10 times: MC Lyte.

With gems like "I Cram to Understand U (Sam)" and "10% Dis" from her 1988 debut, Lyte As a Rock, MC Lyte changed hip-hop's perception of femcees without changing her outfit. Instead, she cloaked herself in dignity and integrity. And did I mention that she could run circles around many of her male counterparts with her take-your-hats-off wordplay? Lyte's originality, smooth flow, substance-packed content, and impeccable delivery, make her the unquestionable queen of rap music.

 

Lauryn Hill

Long before she nabbed 5 Grammys for her debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Ms. Hill was already in contention for the throne. As one-third of 90s super group, Fugees, L'Boogie quickly established herself as the focal point of the crew. By seamlessly blending jaw-dropping lyricism with social commentary, she helped make The Score the magnum opus of Fugees' catalog and, more importantly, a certified hip-hop classic.

On Miseducation, Lauryn unleashed the best fusion of hip-hop and R&B of the last decade. Her stellar songwriting flourished from song to song, whether grappling with spirituality ("Final Hour," "Forgive Them, Father") or stroking sexuality without exploiting it ("Nothing Even Matters"). Like Lyte and Latifah before her, Lauryn shines without drawing unnecessary attention to her sexual ambiance.

 

Missy Elliott

Not only is Missy one of the best, she's also one of the most versatile hip-hop artists, period. A multi-faceted entertainer, Missy writes, raps, sings, and produces all her songs. Her music videos are consistently innovative and intriguing. To crown it all, no other female rapper has ever been able to match Missy's level of success.

 

Da Brat

Discovered by Jermaine Dupri in '92, Da Brat (like MC Lyte and Queen Latifah) exploded into the hip-hop scene at a time when female rappers were almost unheard of. Against all odds, her debut, Funkdafied, became the first platinum-selling album by a female rapper. Unlike Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown, Da Bra-ta-ta skewered sexuality early on in her career. Instead, she relied on her dashing delivery and double time flow.

 

 

 

 

Lil' Kim

Lil' Kim's The Naked Truth was the first album by a female rapper to be awarded 5 mics in The Source magazine. Whether or not the accolades were well-deserved is another story. However, Kim's impact on hip-hop is unquestionable. Since her Hard Core debut in 1996, Kim has spawned a slew of emulators, who are eager to replicate her libidinous lyrics and in-your-face persona.

 

Eve

Before she went all Hollywood on us, Eve was often heralded for her superb songwriting. Hits like "Satisfaction," "Gangsta Lovin'" (with Alicia Keys) and "Let Me Blow Your Mind" (with Gwen Stefani) showcased her unique ability to appeal to a broad audience without losing her edge.

 

 

 

Foxy Brown

Granted, Foxy gets plenty of backlash for her raunchy lyrics, but, let's not forget that she also contributed to some of hip-hop's most notable hits. LL Cool J's "I Shot Ya" and Jay-Z's "Ain't No N***a" would've never sounded the same without Fox Boogie's catchy couplets. Brown has also managed to garner a measurable amount of success on her own three discs: Ill Na Na, Chyna Doll, and Broken Silence.

 

Rah Digga

Rah Digga first showcased her lyrical tenacity by dropping verses here and there as a member of the Busta Rhymes-led Flipmode Squad. Digga eventually solidified her place with the electrifying Dirty Harriet LP. Rah's ability to craft commercially viable tracks while still dropping hardcore gems makes her stick out from the rest.

 

 

 

Jean Grae

With three solid releases--Attack of the Attacking Things, The Bootlegg of The Bootlegg EP, and This Week--under her belt, South African-born, New York-bred rapper Jean Grae has been spinning heads for the past 10 years or so. What makes Grae stand out from the pack is her combination of humor and seriousness. Whether poking fun at herself on "Going Crazy" or rhyming about loyalty and dedication on "My Crew," J.G. does it all with a touch of excellence.

In 2005, Jean hooked up with producer 9th Wonder for a full length collaboration dubbed Jeanius. A widespread internet leak forced her to shelf one of the best collaborative hip-hop albums you'll never hear. Previously down with Babygrande Records (Canibus, Hi-Tek), Jean Grae is now signed to Talib Kweli's Blacksmith imprint.

 

 

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

February 14, 2013

 

ARIES

You have more of a flair for communication this week than usual. Keep your words diplomatic but effective if your opinion is called for. A relative seeking advice will be glad they asked you. Soul Affirmation: I make the first step and the universe will come to my aid.

TAURUS

Don’t sweat the small stuff this week. You have a keen eye for the big picture, and you’ll be most productive if you ignore the petty this week. Your home is very happy tonight! Count your blessings! Soul Affirmation: Cheerfully handling what comes at me is the test of who I am.

GEMINI

Your energy level remains high; be careful not to overdo it but enjoy the wonderful feeling of your physical self as much as possible. A phone call from a friend who lives far away will brighten your week and inspire you with travel plans. Soul Affirmation: Slow and easy is the best way for me to travel this week.


CANCER

Things are busy this right now, and you love it! You feel very much as if you are at the center of life. Children will be a topic of conversation. Make plans to enjoy a special week with your honey. Soul Affirmation: I appear to others what I know myself to be.

LEO

You can fly through the week if you keep your level of cooperation high. By this week’s end, you’ll have many plans, romantic and otherwise for the time period . Be patient at the workplace and things will go fine. Soul Affirmation: I take it easy on myself this week.

VIRGO

You may feel as if you’ll never get everything done that’s asked of you, but stay steady and on course, take things one step at time, and you’ll be amazed at what you accomplish. Celebrate with a special friend. Soul Affirmation: This week is a gift that I deserve.

LIBRA

It’s a great week for catching up on chores and leftover tasks from last week. You’ll also have the opportunity to spend some time thinking about the direction you want your life to flow toward.  Soul Affirmation: I face each day with a smile and the day smiles back at me.

SCORPIO

Communication vibes are highlighted, and you are in your element. Many ideas will be presented, and everyone will be very receptive and agreeable to what you say. Romantic interests are easily pursued this week. Smile on! Soul Affirmation: The slowness of my pace gives me time to refresh my energy.

SAGITTARIUS

Love and romance vibes are all around you this week! They will soothe your spirit and uncoil your tensions resulting from having too much work to do. Delegate some of the minor tasks so that you can do your best at the big stuff. Have a loving, lovely week. Soul Affirmation: New intuitions create new plans and a new cast of characters.

CAPRICORN

Financial matters are highlighted during working hours. Everything to do with your money, or money under your care, goes smoothly. Another party invitation arrives. . . say YES! Soul Affirmation: I admit what I really want out of life this week.

AQUARIUS

If you are finding it hard to concentrate on a project at work, begin imagining it successfully completed. Work steady and stay calm this week. This week is a good time for personal inventory. Soul Affirmation: I will take time to enjoy the simple things in life.

PISCES

Mental fog lifts and you are sharp as a tack once again.  You’ll be making decisions about partnerships and joint finances. A very happy week is in store. Soul Affirmation: My smile is a radiant light to those I encounter.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

February 14, 2013

By Kam Williams

LAWT Contributing Writer

 

“In spite of Black America’s advances… with more successful, educated and accomplished entrepreneurs and corporate professionals than at any other time in history, the journey is far from over. To be honest, it is only beginning...

Pockets of prosperity, a gulf as vast and deep as the Nile, separates the majority of the Black community from its financial elites as well as from virtually every other ethnic group in our society. The abyss between wealthy Blacks and poverty-stricken Blacks is more than disturbing.

“The unemployment rate for young Black males… is fast approaching Great Depression levels. More Black males than ever are incarcerated, attend miserably-failing, segregated, inner-city schools, and live in gang-infested neighborhoods.

“These impoverished enclaves have become the equivalent of a domestic Third World country… Though the challenges… may desperately need addressing, the purpose of this book is to highlight the possibilities that are available to all… possibilities brought to my attention and clarified by Black America’s wealthiest.” 

-- Excerpted from the Introduction (pgs. 8-9)

What’s the key to becoming a millionaire for an African-American? That’s the basic question posed by Dr. Dennis Kimbro to a thousand of the most affluent blacks in the United States in a study conducted over the last seven years.

Among the icons graciously participating in the survey were entertainment industry tycoon Tyler Perry, Godfather’s Pizza CEO-turned-presidential hopeful Herman “9-9-9” Cain, FUBU fashion line creator/Shark Tank co-host Daymond John, BET founder Bob Johnson, Renaissance man Steve Harvey, televangelist Bishop T.D. Jakes, TV-One CEO Cathy Hughes, film director Spike Lee, motivational speaker Les Brown, mutual fund manager John Rogers and entrepreneur Farrah Gray, who became a self-made millionaire by the age of fourteen.

Culling from the copious comments collected, Kimbro came up with nine “Disciplines” common to most of the millionaires interviewed. These pearls of wisdom include “Passion and Focus,” “A Strong Work Ethic” and “A Frugal Nature” to name a few.

The precepts struck this critic, quite frankly, as almost common sense, suggesting that perhaps the biggest challenge rests in taking the advice offered to heart and actually implementing it in your daily economic regimen. A mouthwatering recipe for riches courtesy of accomplished African-American elders with proven track records. 

The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires

by Dennis Kimbro, Ph.D.

Palgrave Macmillan

Hardcover, $25.00

304 pages

ISBN: 978-0-230- 34207-1  

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

February 14, 2013

LAWT News Service

 

Dawn Robinson, former member of En Vogue and Lucy Pearl joins the Los Angeles cast of R&B Divas.  Known for her sultry voice, sexy style, and fiery personality Dawn is prepared to open up and speak freely about her success with En Vogue, and the ups and downs of life after leaving a multi-platinum group.  The show starts taping this month and is slated for a third quarter debut. 

Once a member of one of the hottest groups in the 90s, she truly made her presence known among the talented quartet and became a fan favorite.  Her distinct voice can be heard on many of the groups hits including “Don’t Let Go,” “Giving Him Something He Can Feel,” “Never Gonna Get It,” “Hold On,” and “Free Your Mind.”  The group sold over 28 million records worldwide, garnered multiple platinum albums, several awards, and the honor of being named one of the most successful Girl Groups of all time. 

Dawn is positioning herself for an explosive comeback. She is excited about R&B Divas LA, and the talented cast.  .  Never one to shy away from setting the record straight and laying it on the line, she will talk freely about her experience with the group, but doesn’t intend to dwell on the past.  Where her life is taking her is her focus on the show and her journey back to the top of the charts.

Ready to begin a new chapter in life she faces fears that affect people from all walks; “am I good enough,” “can I have it all,” and “where do I go from here?”  

“Being a part of En Vogue was an amazing experience,” said Dawn.

“The group achieved a level of success that few music groups ever achieve and for that I am humbled and grateful, but now it’s time to focus on Dawn and where my path will lead me.  Being a cast member of R&B Divas LA is going to be an incredible opportunity for me to hang with women I respect and who understand the difficulties associated with re-inventing yourself in this industry.”

Musically, the world is familiar with Dawn of En Vogue and Lucy Pearl, but there is so much more to Dawn Robinson; woman, singer, songwriter, actress, author and designer.  She is prepared to take the entertainment industry by storm with all her new projects, including the development of her own girl group “GLAMM.”  Dawn is finally in a place in her life where there is clarity and confidence.  Her new journey will catapult her to yet another level of success and she invites the world to join her.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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