May 02, 2013

ATLANTA (AP) – Chris Kelly, half of the 1990s kid rap duo Kris Kross who made one of the decade's most memorable songs with the frenetic "Jump," has died, and authorities say they are investigating his death as a possible drug overdose.

Investigator Betty Honey of the Fulton County Medical Examiner's office said the 34-year-old Kelly was pronounced dead around 5 p.m. Wednesday at the south campus of the Atlanta Medical Center.

Cpl. Kay Lester of the Fulton County police said "it appears it may have been a possible drug overdose."

An official cause of death is pending an autopsy.

Kelly, known as "Mac Daddy," and Chris Smith, known as "Daddy Mac," were introduced to the music world in 1992 by music producer and rapper Jermaine Dupri after he discovered the pair in an Atlanta mall. The duo wore their clothes backwards as a gimmick, but they won over fans with their raps.

Their first, and by far most successful song, was "Jump." The hit, off their multiplatinum 1992 debut album "Totally Krossed Out," featured the two trading versus and rapping the refrain, the song's title.  The duo had surprising maturity in their rap delivery, though the song was written by Dupri. It would become a No. 1 smash in the United States and globally, and one of the most popular of that year.

Their success led to instant fame: They toured with Michael Jackson, appeared on TV shows, and even had their own video game.

The group was never able to match the tremendous success of their first song, though they had other hits like "Warm It Up," and "Tonite's tha Night."

Earlier this year, the group performed together to celebrate the anniversary of Durpri's label, So So Def.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 02, 2013




Sweet sincere emotions can run through you like the odors of different perfumes. Open yourself up and let it flow.  If love offers itself this week please accept the offer. Everything is open.  Write down what you think of yourself this week. Save it. Make a poster out of it. Soul Affirmation: Trust gives me a deep sense of peace and joy.




Business as usual is good business. Energy is high. Others give back to you what you gave to them the past few weeks.  We hope you were generous because what you get this week will be a multiple of what you bestowed. Soul Affirmation: I love myself for being myself.




Did joy take a vacation on you?  Well, joy is back and ready to unpack. Get the spare room ready or move over and let joy crawl in bed with you. Smile in joy’s face and make joy feel at home. Know that you’ve done good. ­­­ Soul Affirmation: Joy is my house guest this week.




Putting the world back in balance is your chore this week. Cheerfulness has been a little lower on the scale than it should be. You can spread it around lavishly this week. Give some to everyone. The more you give the more you’ll get. Soul Affirmation: Goodness is its own reward.




Celebrate!  It’s summer time!  Communications will flow easily for you this week.  Dress up and get the weekend started earlier. Social life can take your mind off of heavy subjects. Don’t tighten up, brighten up. Soul Affirmation: I get joy from giving good things.




Stay positive on all fronts this week.  You’ll receive subtle cues this week that will confirm what you already know to be true.  Act on your instincts and others will be receptive to your vibes.  Even if  you feel fleeting moments of uncertainty this week, go with the flow, and be a team player. Soul Affirmation: This week is the day the Lord has made. I rejoice in it.




Your positive energy will spread feverishly among family and friends this week.   Your timing is just right because your positive vibes will be the extra nudge someone needs to pull through the week.  Your strength and friendship will be tested. Soul Affirmation: Facing down challenges makes me feel good about myself.




Call a family member to ask for a second opinion on something important.  A different perspective will give you more options on your action plan.  Use your faith to guide you through a mental maze that might stir up confusion. Soul Affirmation: I smile and trust in the powers beyond myself.




Give yourself a break this week!  You’ve been going at full speed and you need to shift down to a lower gear.  Time is a luxury and it will be on your side this week.  Kick off your shoes, enjoy a long afternoon nap, or  curl up with a good book that you’ve been meaning to read. Soul Affirmation: I let the outer world and inner world change places this week




This week remember to pamper yourself by giving.   To give with no expectation of receiving in return is truly a luxury of the joy filled spirit.  The act of giving has a reciprocal effect on those that it touches.  So when you share your gifts know that as you do you are lavishing not only others but also yourself. Soul Affirmation: Giving is a luxury that a rich spirit can afford.




Romance, friendship, family ties, no matter what you call it, love is indeed your special blessing this week.  Allow yourself to show love and to be loved. Bless someone by sharing your love and you will be blessed in return. Soul Affirmation: Giving love is finding love.




You’re not usually a gambler but luck is with you as never before in recent months. You have the Midas touch this week. Buy a lottery ticket or make a wager. Gamble on love if you have that option handy. You can’t miss if you follow your instincts. Soul Affirmation: My hunches pay all day this week.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 02, 2013

By Troy Tieuel

Contributing Writer

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When driving down Centinela, south from Florence, on the left side stands a stretch of grassy knolls and concrete pathways, lined with palms and unassuming greenery.  Occasionally, kids will be seen running, playing, jumping, and living.  What is in the future for those innocent faces and happy smiles?  Glancing to the side, at the graffiti scrawled walls that read of gang slogans, it can be assumed that a limited future in in store for those inquisitive youths, searching for outlets for their boundless energy, darting between trees and running through the rolling landscape.  It’s hard for some to imagine that this sanctuary, surrounded by bustling city and roaring traffic contains a future lawyer, doctor or artist.  It’s easy to assume the worst.

That stretch of land is called Edward Vincent Park, named after the first African-American mayor of Inglewood.  If you looked back in time, back before the renaming in January of 1997, when the park was commonly known simply as ‘Centinela Park,’ one of those children that might be seen standing thespian-like on a bench, jumping, spinning, or dancing, might have been a future Alvin Ailey Dancer named Matthew Rushing. 

In a brown, wood framed building containing a modest stage and seating for about 100, stands the Inglewood Playhouse, the place were a young, Jr. High School student first discovered his interest for the theater arts.  Describing his time spent doing plays at the Playhouse with dance instructor Kashmir Blake, Matthew states, “At that point, learning about my history through the arts and being able to perform and articulate through a gift I was given, I felt like that was a peak in my life.  I remember, I felt really complete, even as a kid, you know, when you feel like you haven’t learned that much?  I felt like that was exactly where I was supposed to be.  It was almost like the moment that you fall in love for the first time.  [At the Inglewood Playhouse] I fell in love with performing and the performing arts.”

An Inglewood native, Rushing attended Latijera Elementary, and the Los Angeles County High School for the Performing Arts, where he honed his talents as a performer.  Rushing describes himself as a “student of dance” who admits to getting started in dance by taking classes and training as a dancer after he was exposed to theater at Latijera and eventually the Inglewood Playhouse.  Rushing’s first dance teacher Kashmir Blake, created choreography for students with little to no dance training and prepared them for performances.  “She [Blake] knew we had passion,” explained Rushing, “and she knew we were moldable.” 

At the tender age of 12, working with Blake taught Rushing how to use dance to express deep, emotional topics such as drug addiction and how drugs effect you and those around you.  This training in performance arts and dance lead him to be accepted in the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and receive in-depth, classroom instruction in classical ballet, modern, jazz and training in ethnic dances such as East Indian.  “When I look back, I’m really grateful for that [the time spent with Blake],” said Rushing, “Because I had a huge understanding of performing, first.”

“I think the discipline of dancing is one of the most important disciplines, I feel, as far as getting control of mind, body and soul,” says Rushing, “I say that, because I often tell allot of people that even if you’re not interested in becoming a dancer, taking dance is very important, because it teaches you certain skills and certain ideas about will power that you probably wouldn’t learn doing anything else.  With dance, you have this idea of being disciplined physically, but you have to add your emotions to it.  You have to add expression to it.” 

Rushing goes on to describe how dancers must combine both the physical aspects of being an athlete, the discipline of bodily control, and willpower with being a creative artist in order to be truly successful at performing at the highest level.  “You see these athletes…you see these people jumping and spinning and turning, and using their bodies in an extreme way.  At the same time, they are speaking to your heart,” said Rushing in a phone interview while preparing for the Ailey shows in Berkley California, “That is what so awesome and beautiful about the art of dance.”

Joining Alvin Ailey Dance Company was a defining moment for Rushing who, although he had to work extremely hard, describes his journey to becoming a professional dancer as a “smooth,” with support from friends, family teachers and administration.  “I couldn’t afford to fly to New York for the [Alvin Ailey Dance Company] audition, so one of my dance teachers from the High School for the Arts flew with me to Berkley, and came with me while I auditioned for the company.”

That trip to Berkley California early in the year 1992, garnered Rushing not only a scholarship training with Alvin Ailey, but a place on the training company that came with a job after he finished high school within the segment of the Alvin Ailey Company called ‘Second Company,’ now called ‘Ailey II.’ 

Normally a dancer trains in Ailey II for two years, but Rushing’s extreme talents and hardworking mentality allowed him to be accepted into the Ailey Company after one year, something that Rushing called, “totally unexpected.” 

“I’ve had so many fulfilling moments with Ailey, it’s hard to say,” recalls Rushing, “My first time going to South Africa, was one of my proudest moments as an artist, as a dancer, as a person.  We went to South Africa to perform in Johannesburg, but part of our purpose for going there was to make sure we had a huge hand in the out-reach.  We went to the local townships and gave master classes and lecture demonstrations.”  Rushing goes on to describe the participants, who walked for hours along dirt roads with no shoes, just to participate in the classes and how they quickly picked up the moves and the choreography of Ailey’s ‘Revelations’ that was taught as part of the classes, despite most of them not having experiences in traditional classrooms.  “They performed as though they had choreographed the work.  It was mind blowing. I realized that because of what they were going through.  Their spirits were much more mature than mines, and to see them find so much joy in something so simple, really blew me away.”

A typical training day for Rushing starts at 8:30 am, at the gym with cross training, weight lifting, biometrics, swimming and stretching.  He also does lots of cardio to aid him in getting through those longer performances.  After the gym, Rushing takes Company Class, a ballet or modern class that starts around 10:30 am.  Then, he goes into rehearsal at 12:00 pm until 7:00 pm.

Rushing plans to continue indefinitely with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company and continue with his promotion as ‘Rehearsal Director’ for the Ailey Company. “I’m still trying to find myself in it, and [figuring out] how to become completely devoted to the dancers and still be completely devoted as a performe.  Ailey is my home.  I enjoy teaching, choreographing, and helping other artist, younger dancers, and even more mature dancers become better artists have become a new passion of mines.”

Rushing has had a incredible career with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. His many accomplishments include a Spotlight Award, Dance Magazine Award and he was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts.  He became Rehearsal Director for the Ailey Company in June 2010.  He has choreographed many Ailey performances and plans on creating more.

For more information on Alvin Ailey Dance Company go to  The Inglewood Playhouse is located on Warren Lane and Centinela, in the center of Edward Vincent Park and can be reached by calling (310) 412-5451.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 02, 2013


Associated Press


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Millions, and possibly billions, of dollars are at stake in a civil trial starting Monday over allegations from Michael Jackson's mother that the company promoting his comeback failed to properly investigate the doctor convicted in his death.

Katherine Jackson, her son Randy and daughter Rebbie came to court as attorneys prepared to deliver opening statements. Outside the courthouse, a large contingent of news media awaited developments. Two people won a lottery for the only seats in the tiny courtroom that were available to the general public.

Jurors will listen to remarks from attorneys who hope to frame the issues before testimony begins in the months-long trial.

Lawyers for concert giant AEG Live contend the company did nothing wrong and could not have foreseen the circumstances that led to Jackson's death in June 2009 at age 50.

The case will focus on the last few months of Jackson's life and his overall health and financial history. Jurors will also hear evidence throughout the case about Conrad Murray, the former cardiologist convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter after giving Jackson doses of the powerful anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid.

Any award in the case will be determined by a jury of six men and six women who have agreed to hear the case, which may last 90 days.

Lawyers for Katherine Jackson and the singer's three children have said AEG failed to spot red flags about Murray's finances and created a conflict of interest for him between a major payday and maintaining the superstar's health.

Murray agreed to serve as Jackson's doctor for the planned series of "This Is It" comeback shows in London for $150,000 per month, but Jackson died before the superstar and AEG officials signed the agreement.

AEG contends it did not hire Murray, who had previously treated Jackson and who the singer requested serve as his physician.

Murray remains jailed and is appealing his conviction.

The trial will address issues about Jackson's health and finances that were not factors in Murray's criminal trial, and may also feature testimony from the singer's two oldest children. Stars such as Diana Ross, Spike Lee and Quincy Jones are also listed as potential witnesses, and several top AEG executives are expected to testify. 

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 02, 2013

By Chelsea Battle

LAWT Contributing Writer


Those who know and love Kellita  Smith as “Wanda Mac”, the hot wife who performed alongside the late Bernie Mac on Fox’s The Bernie Mac Show, will be happy to learn that the star is maintaining her staying power—both on and behind the screen. For starters she is producing quality media, with a new movie and radio show in the works. On screen she can be seen starring as the First Lady in BET’s newly acquired television series, The First Family. On the grassroots level, her advocacy against domestic violence is also noteworthy. 

“I came from a single parent home and I definitely was exposed to violence,” Smith reveals solemnly. “I just recently did a PSA [Public Service Announcement] for One Billion Women Rising. As women we are beautiful in so many different ways. Part of what I was able to do with this campaign was to really reveal a little bit about myself, because sometimes a lot of the roles I play allow me to be sophisticated or allow me to seem polished and refined. I’m playing roles where the marriages work. The truth of the matter is that I really come from the opposite.”

Smith’s work with One Billion Women Rising, a women’s advocacy organization that focuses on domestic violence and rape, is of considerable importance to her for more reasons than one. The California native, who was raised in Oakland’s inner city, openly reveals that she fell victim to domestic violence and molestation well beyond her adolescence, up until she was 24 years old.

“I grew up without a father around pimps and hoes, dope dealers and athletes, so my self-image was being destroyed,” reveals Smith.  “And if you never address the shame that is created from molestation, then as a woman it’s hard for you to realize your true value.”

Smith credits acting with saving her life.  Given that actors are constantly required to delve deep into the emotional realm, running away from ones own emotions is virtually impossible. Thus Smith believes that her personal tragedies are essentially her gifts that help to create more depth within her craft.

Most recently her gift for acting has been put to use in the family-friendly television series, The First Family. Co-starring alongside Christopher Duncan [The Jamie Foxx Show], who plays President Johnson, Smith plays First Lady Katherine Johnson.  Given the green light to develop 104 episodes, the show follows an African American first family through their day-to-day routines as they navigate life in the White House. Other cast members include Jackee Harry, Gladys Knight, and Marla Gibbs.

“It’s a comedy but we also have to honor the fact that we do have a Black family in the White House, so it’s not corny. It’s representing them, but at the same time it’s giving you a little bit of art and also giving you jokes,” Smith shares.

The humble yet ever provocative Smith also has a slew of behind the scenes projects in the works. Her reserved, albeit outspoken, charm has enabled her to create her own radio talk show called “Let’s Get Naked.” Soon to be online, the streamed show will feature Smith and three others as they discuss sex, love, relationships, and everything in between. She is also producing what promises to be an exciting film, a work based on the story of a childhood friend she grew up with who was the youngest drug kingpin in Oakland.

“I think that where you’re from is very essential to who you have an opportunity to become,” Smith reflects. “Growing up in the inner city there were a lot of choices that did take me down a lot of different roads, which is actually a good thing because you’re able to see that you can make better choices.”

Smith’s current offerings stand as evidence that she is indeed making good choices. In parting she leaves us with a quote from the 19th century theater director Constantin Stanislavski: “Love the art in yourself and not yourself in the art,” which she interprets as, “Don’t get caught up in rewards that art can give  you; love the fact that you are a creator and that you are brilliant.”




Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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