February 21, 2013
The Supreme Court has passed up another chance to deal with an anomaly of constitutional law that requires federal juries to reach unanimous verdicts in criminal cases, but allows states to make different rules.
The court on Tuesday rejected the appeal of the rapper known as C-Murder, who is serving a life sentence for killing a 16-year-old fan in Louisiana. A jury voted 10-2 to convict the rapper, whose real name is Corey Miller.
Louisiana and Oregon are the only two states that allow for non-unanimous convictions for some crimes.
The justices recently have rejected similar appeals asking them to treat state and federal trials equally. Decisions involving gun rights and other issues generally require states to extend the same constitutional rights as the federal government.
February 21, 2013
You’ll have lots of contact with folks you wanted to hear from this week. Your telephone is your best tool, and you’ll enjoy talking and listening to many supportive and loving friends. A letter may arrive with an invitation. Soul Affirmation: I smile and trust in the powers beyond myself.
You are too kind this week and it’s a wonderful thing. By doing things for others without thought of a reward, you’re racking up beneficial vibrations for your future! Take personal pleasure in what you do for others this week. Soul Affirmation: I let my friendships guide my way.
Exercise prudence this week in your handling of personal funds. Let your mind wander into the future and you’ll receive the happy answer that you are looking for. Time shared with a partner tonight will be very enjoyable. Soul Affirmation: Helping others is the true measure of my worth.
Work with a partner or colleagues goes exceptionally well this week. You receive praise for a job well done! Feel free to change your mind regarding a personal issue. News from a distance arrives. Soul Affirmation: I go inside myself to find peace and joy this week.
You are a superstar at work. Efficiency seems to be your middle name. As you go your charming way, don’t forget to delegate tasks with a smile. Soul Affirmation: I give my mind a holiday again this week.
A relationship may be heating up. Make sure you know what you want, then go ahead. Minor challenges on the home front are easily dealt with. Soul Affirmation: The widest outlook comes from the look within.
You make important progress at work this week by seizing the initiative and letting your leadership abilities shine. What you do makes things better for everyone around you, so rock steady. Meetings and conversations go especially well. Soul Affirmation: The word is in me. I bring it forth.
Pay attention to the details in your big bright beautiful picture this week. You’ll handle everything that comes up if you keep your focus sharp. A grand social event is in store for the week. Soul Affirmation: I am willing to make changes in my life.
Things are going your way in wonderful ways this week. Happy news may arrive from a distance, and on the home front, a romantic question may be answered. Friends are glad to be with you. All in all, a very pleasant week! Enjoy! Soul Affirmation: Success is mine because I feel successful.
Your social life gives big rewards during the week. However, give attention to e-mail contacts. Don’t be afraid as your mental horizon expands into new areas. Soul Affirmation: You are gifted with the ability to give
Your relationships can receive a big boost from a trip that beckons. Business is also highlighted. Your strong mental energy is sustained through the week. Work it out by talking it out. Soul Affirmation: This week is the week the Lord has made. I rejoice in it.
Your vibes are calling to you this week to think fondly of all the love you are now giving and have given. Love itself makes you a better you. So act the fool and love with all your big sunny self. If things get stressful repeat your magic word to yourself: LOVE! Soul Affirmation: Freedom of mind is the greatest gift for me this week.
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.
February 21, 2013
By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr. Associated Press
Quincy Jones says he has co-created the music version of Rosetta Stone.
The 79-year-old composer-producer launched a new music education application Tuesday called Playground Sessions, which teaches users how to play the piano. He said the app will help children and adults learn how to read music and understand the mechanics of piano playing.
There’s “such a need for this,” Jones said in an interview last week. “The concept is brand-new. I have been praying for this for a long time. It has a learning concept similar to Rosetta Stone. I’m blown away by this.”
Playground Sessions is a musical app with real-time feedback and video tutorials from pianist David Sides. It features about 70 popular songs by Beyonce and Justin Bieber, and well-known tunes like Katy Perry’s “Firework” and Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”
Jones, who produced Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and other successful albums, hopes Playground Sessions will have an impact on music education programs in schools around the world. One of first schools that will use the app is Jones' alma mater, Garfield High School in Seattle.
“Our kids in this country know less than any other country,” Jones said of music education in the United States. “We need something like Playground Sessions to push us forward.”
Chris Vance, who co-created the app and founded Playground Sessions, got together with Jones more than a year ago after working alone on the application for three years. He said Jones immediately saw a vision for the product and wanted to make learning music a fun experience.
Vance also said Sides was an easy pick when he was selecting a pianist for the project. Jones calls Sides a very talented piano player who has an engaging personality.
“I wish I had someone like him teaching me how to play the piano,” Jones said of Sides, known for his popular piano covers on YouTube, including his rendition of OneRepublic’s “Apologize,” which has garnered more than 10 million views.
February 21, 2013
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?
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.
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.
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.
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'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.
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.
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 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.
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.