Category: Entertainment - Original Written by Steve Holsey
The hottest record in the nation, in both the R&B and pop markets, is the pulsating and catchy “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke. I love it, but there is no denying that it sounds very similar to Marvin Gaye’s classic and still exciting “Got To Give It Up.”
However, the question is whether or not it sounds enough like it to justify a legal challenge. The family of Marvin Gaye is alleging that “Blurred Lines” sounds so much like “Got To Give It Up” that they have reportedly been attempting to claim “ownership” (which would mean collecting a lot of money).
The New York Times said “Blurred Lines” is “influenced heavily” by Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.”
Thick and co-writers Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris Jr. have filed a lawsuit to stop this from going any further — that is, counteract any lawsuit from the Gaye family.
Similarities notwithstanding, I think the family of Marvin Gaye should probably back off because it is unlikely they can come out on top in this situation.
Think about it. Cheryl Lynn’s “Got To Be Real” sounds very much like the Emotions’ “Best of My Love,” the Pointer Sisters’ “He’s So Shy” is patterned after the Doobie Brothers’ “What a Fool Believes,” and on it goes.
But where is the dividing line between “similar sound” and “outright theft”?
SPEAKING of Robin Thicke, he and actress Paula Patton have been married for eight years and according to all sources are still going strong. (They have a son named Julian.)
Paula and Robin just seem right together, and the fact that he is white and she is black is irrelevant.
Although he has been around for quite some time, I just recently heard about (and heard) gospel singer Joshua Nelson. Among other things, he is known for doing an amazingly accurate channeling of the legendary Mahalia Jackson singing “How I Got Over.”
What sets Nelson apart is that he is Black and of the Jewish faith. He has jokingly referred to himself as “the KKK’s worst nightmare.” Often he sings Jewish hymns but arranges them in Black gospel tradition.
Which brings to mind the fact that India.Arie has an album completed (no release date has been given) titled “Open Door” which features her singing in English and Hebrew. Will her fans go for that? Time will tell, but it is important to be true to one’s self.
KEVIN HART, the popular comedian, like so many people in show business, gets tired of people feeling they have a right to “get all up in” the personal business of entertainers.
He said sarcastically, “It’s people’s opinions. You just take ’em and say, ‘Oh, you’re right. You’re me!”
But Hart caused irritation when he said, “Black women assume they know your life. That’s the funniest thing about Black women.”
You can just imagine the feedback on that!
Rapper Coolio (real name: Artis Ivey) was hot in the mid-’90s with “Gangsta’s Paradise,” which added a rap to Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise” from “Songs in the Key of Life.”
But since then, not much has been from or about Coolio. However, he has taken an interest in being a chef and author and has, in fact, already written a book titled “Cookin’ With Coolio.”
Now he is auctioning off his entire song catalog and will use that money to fund his culinary endeavors.
Well, that’s different.
It’s fine that Forest Whitaker, the great Academy Award-winning actor, has lost all that weight — at least 80 pounds — after becoming a vegetarian, but he sure doesn’t need to lose any additional pounds. In some pictures he looks slightly haggard and some suits appear to be hanging on him, and it’s even more noticeable since he is 6’2”.
Just in case you were wondering where big stars stay when they are appearing in Detroit, very often the answer is MGM Grand Detroit. Of the three casino hotels, the MGM has the edge. As the O’Jays put it in one of their songs, “Got to give the people what they want.”
Since they have been friends for five decades, it is somewhat surprising that Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson have never recorded a song together.
Could Toni Braxton’s “wardrobe malfunction” have been staged? Some suspect that was the case, and she just happened to be wearing a flesh colored body stocking.
BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW…that Maya Angelou’s birth name is Marguerite Ann Johnson.
MEMORIES: “Dancing Machine” (the Jackson 5), “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” (the Gap Band), “Mama Said” (the Shirelles), “Reaching For The Sky” (Peabo Bryson), “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More, Baby” (Barry White), “It Only Takes a Minute” (Tavares), “I Want to Take You Higher” (Sly & the Family Stone), “You Put a Move on My Heart” (Quincy Jones featuring Tamia), “It Takes Two” (Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston), “Kiss and Say Goodbye” (the Manhattans).
BLESSINGS to John Arnold, Robert Kerse, Ivan Cotman, Shirley Beeks, Mary Grace Wilbert, Carl Walton, Liza Walton, Ray Henderson, Sandra Milhouse, Fred Ellis, Andre Smith, Sheila Cockrel, Marva Stafford and J. “Skeek” Munger.
WORDS OF THE WEEK, from Alan Cohen: “No one can ‘complete you’ because you are already complete.”
Let the music play!
Last Updated on Monday, 02 September 2013 10:08
Category: Entertainment - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
Kanye West and his baby's grandmama, Kris Jenner debuted the first photograph of baby North West to the world, on Jenner's television talk show on Friday, Aug. 23.
Of course, when some of us of a certain age hear North West, we think the Hitchcock classic, North by Northwest, not the daughter of reality show star Kim Kardashian and rapper Kanye West, aka Kimye.
But as promised, the two-month-old doting grandmother introduced the bouncing baby girl to the world Friday, Aug. 23 via her Twitter account. Kim quickly got in on the fun and posted a photo of the adorable babe on Instagram with the simple caption "NORTH."
Kardashian fans have been waiting since North's June birth to get a glimpse of the tot, who's been at home with mom Kardashian for the past few weeks.
West and Kardashian opted not to introduce North to the world by way of one of the Kardashian family’s many reality shows, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” “Khloe and Lamar,” or Kris Jenner’s new talk show with Terrance
Referencing Kardashian's past relationships with professional athletes, West joked, "I wanted to be with her so bad that I thought about picking up sports."
"I can have people saying that this is going to damage your credibility as an artist or a designer, and I say, 'I don't care, I love this woman,'" he said, adding, "She's my joy, and she brought my new joy into the world. There's no paparazzi and there's no blog comments that's going to take that joy from me."
Speaking about fatherhood, the rapper joked, "I'm supposed to be this musical genius, but I can't work the car seat that well."
West also said becoming a dad has changed his outlook on life.
"After I lost my mother, there were times I felt I would put my life at risk," he said. "I felt like sometimes I didn't have something to live for. Now I have two really special people to live for, a whole family to live for, a whole world to live for."
And to put rumors and speculation to rest regarding selling baby photos, "It's all this talk about baby pictures and can you get paid for the baby picture or do you want to put it on a magazine," West said during the interview with Jenner. "And for me and your daughter we have not attempted to get paid for anything, we have not attempted to put it on a magazine. You just stop all of the noise and I thought it would be really cool on her grandmother's season finale to bring a picture of North."
Last Updated on Friday, 23 August 2013 14:52
Category: Entertainment - Original Written by Steve Holsey
B.B. King had a hit record titled “Never Make a Move Too Soon,” and those words are applicable to the talented El DeBarge.
After enjoying major success in the ’80s, first with his siblings in the group DeBarge and then as a solo artist, El DeBarge fell prey to drugs, like so many others in his family. They seem to be predisposed to drug addiction.
After completing a 13-month prison sentence, DeBarge re-emerged in 2010 with a well-received album titled “Second Chance.” The voice we had heard on great songs like “All This Love” and “Time Will Reveal” was still in great shape.
DeBarge received a huge amount of publicity at this time, including an Ebony magazine cover. It was too much, actually, since no one knew if the recovery would be lasting. But people were so happy for him, and he said he was “born again.”
Sadly, in 2011 he relapsed and landed back in rehab.
But Grand Rapids-born DeBarge has returned to performing and those who have seen him say he looks good, sounds great and has a very positive attitude.
We wish him the best.
And by the way, it’s kind of hard to believe that El DeBarge, who was 21 when DeBarge had their first hit, is now 52. Time not only “reveals,” it also “flies.”
MICHELLE OBAMA will go down in history as “The First Lady of Good Health,” determined to be a contributing and lasting factor to making America healthier.
You’ve probably heard about the hip-hop compilation album coming out Sept. 30, connected to Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative, titled “Songs For A Healthier America.” The First Lady herself appears in the video for the album’s first single.
Usher says he would like to make a record with Justin Timberlake. That sounds like a pairing that would work.
Donna Summer, though no longer with us in the physical realm, will always be the Queen of Disco. The title is hers exclusively. On Oct. 22 an album featuring remixes of her greatest hits will be released, titled “Love to Love You Donna.”
Ordinarily I am opposed to material coming out after an artist has passed, because it is not known whether or not the artist would have wanted that. But in this case it is probably okay since one of those doing the remixing is Georgio Moroder, who co-produced the majority of the Summer’s albums.
ONE OF Donna Summer’s classics was, of course, “Bad Girls,” a song about sex for sale.
Actually, that activity has been the subject of more songs than you might think, including “Midnight Flower” by the Four Tops, featuring the line, “Let me buy the things you do for just one hour.”
Among the others are “None of Your Business (Salt-N-Pepa), “Honky Tonk Women” (the Rolling Stones), “(Olivia) Lost and Turned Out” (the Whispers), “Family Man” (Daryl Hall & John Oates), “Fancy” (Bobbie Gentry) and, of course, “Lady Marmalade” by the trio Labelle.
“Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?” is French for “Would you like to sleep with me tonight?” Patti LaBelle says she didn’t know that until many years later. But it’s hard to believe that she could sing those lyrics, first in the studio and then on stage so many times, and not have thought to ask what the words meant.
People are surprised to learn that comedian Kevin Hart is only 5’4”.
You can always count on Prince to do something unexpected and very different from anything anyone else is doing. First he introduced us to his band called the Revolution and that was followed by the New Power Generation. Now he is working with a new, all-female band oddly called 3rd Eye Girl.
BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW…that in early 1964, when he was a sports and media sensation as Cassius Clay, the legendary Muhammad Ali was on the national charts for two weeks with his version of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”
MEMORIES: “Everlasting Love” (Carl Carlton), “When Will I See You Again?” (the Three Degrees), “Don’t Let Go” (Isaac Hayes), “Rainy Night in Georgia” (Brook Benton), “That’s the Way I Feel About Cha” (Bobby Womack), “Every Little Bit” (Millie Scott), “Heaven Help Us All” (Stevie Wonder), “If You Want Me to Stay” (Sly & the Family Stone), “My Baby” (the Temptations), “Stop Your Weeping” (the Dramatics).
BLESSINGS to James Alexander, Montez Miller, David Watkins, Verna Green, Vickie Thomas, Nat Morris, Pam Williams, Karen Love, Rick Keating, Trina Naylor and Marvin Taylor,
WORDS OF THE WEEK, from Gayle King: “We all spend way too much time and energy trying to fight things we can’t change.”
Let the music play!
Last Updated on Friday, 23 August 2013 13:43
Category: Entertainment - Original Written by Steve Holsey
Millie Jackson, who has been called “the queen of raunchy soul,” among other things, was told by a Detroit reporter that she had just answered a somewhat touchy question with total honestly.
Jackson responded quickly, “That I have always been.”
That’s putting it mildly.
Early on in her long career — she made the national charts for the first time in 1971 — Jackson, who has a wicked, no-subject-off-limits sense of humor, knew she had to do something different to distinguish herself from other female singers, as well as keep her audiences’ attention.
So she began doing lengthy spoken segments that were as hilarious as they were often shocking. For example, no one had ever heard, or has heard since, anything like her raunchy rap on “All the Way Lover,” featured on her best-selling 1977 album “Feelin’ Bitchy.” There is a reason why this particular song has received 25,206 hits on YouTube!
As for the subject matter, let’s just say its about “relationships,” “the shortcomings of men,” “the shortcomings of women” and “a certain type of sexual expression.”
THERE IS no doubt about it: In addition to being a rhythm and blues singer in the purest sense, Millie Jackson is a comedienne. Many of the people in her highly specialized audiences are typically doubled up with laugher when she is doing one of her comedy segments.
But, it has to be noted that she is also very serious about her music, and sings with passion and a fire.
One perfect example of that is one of her three biggest hits, “If You’re Not Back In Love By Monday,” a radically revamped, slowed down version of Merle Haggard’s country hit. The song tells a powerful story and Jackson delivers the lyrics to perfection.
Another splendid example of Millie Jackson the deep soul singer at her best is the second of her top three hits, the unforgettable “Hurts So Good.” It is a classic performance, even though the message is not likely to ever win the approval of women’s rights groups. Still, it is reality.
MILLIE JACKSON was born in Thomson, Georgia, and later moved to Newark, New Jersey. However, by the time she was in her mid-teen she was living in Brooklyn, New York, with one of her aunts.
Jackson landed her first recording contract with MGM Records, but much to her disappointment, nothing of significance happened. But after signing with Spring Records, it was a completely different story, right from the start.
“A Child of God (It’s Hard to Believe)” climbed to No. 22 on the national charts, followed by “Ask Me What You Want,” the third of her three biggest hits that peaked at No. 4. Then came “Breakaway” (No. 16) and “Hurts So Good” (No. 3).
A whole new phase of Millie Jackson’s career began in 1974 when an album titled “Caught Up” was released. The songs, including a remake of Luther Ingram’s “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right,” were about a three-way entanglement and all of the complexities involved. And yes, Jackson did plenty of raps.
That very successful album, not surprisingly, was followed by “Still Caught Up.” After another album (“Free And In Love”), “Feelin’ Bitchy,” one of Jackson’s best albums, was released. In addition to “All the Way Lover” it included such gems as “A Taste of Outside Love,” “You Created a Monster,” “Angel in Your Arms” and the aforementioned “If You’re Not Back In Love By Monday.”
ONE ALBUM for which there was great expectations that were not lived up to was “Royal Rappin’s’,” a collaboration with superstar Isaac Hayes. It was a great idea, but the songs were way too ordinary to make the album outstanding. It needed spice.
There is a part of Millie Jackson’s live show that is hard to believe but absolutely true. The song is “Something You Can Feel” and during it the audacious songstress, shall we say, “gets up close and personal” in the most literal sense with men seated in the front row. (We can’t go into detail!)
And then there is Jackson’s infamous “symphony” song, which delivers a hard-hitting message to her critics in a classical music setting. (Millie Jackson is not a favorite among the Black upper class.) This sort of thing is clearly not for everyone, but even those who hate the song — and their feelings are understandable, all things considered — would have to admit that it is very clever and well done.
It is so very easy to believe Millie Jackson when she says she never sang in church!
In addition to being a singer, songwriter and comedienne, Millie Jackson proved herself to be a successful playwright in the early ’90s. The play, “Young Man, Older Woman,” toured the nation and was a success at every stop.
Millie Jackson is not everyone’s cup of tea, but for four decades she has been doing her unique thing and her impact cannot be denied. She is true to herself, knows what her fans want and gives it to them gladly.
Last Updated on Friday, 23 August 2013 13:52
Category: Entertainment - Original Written by by Dr. Jason Johnson
Several weeks ago, I saw comedian W. Kamau Bell, host of the FX show Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell and he did an entire set on black “homework” movies. He said every few years there’s a black movie that everybody is supposed to see because a bunch of influential black folks are in the movie or political and cultural leaders say it’s important that we support the film. Some black homework movies are actually good, like Fruitvale Station or 42, where you’re entertained and you actually learn something. Sometimes they’re like Red Tails where you realize that just because it’s an historic movie about black people, doesn’t mean the film is actually any good. Fortunately this week Lee Daniels’ The Butler comes out, a movie that is not only worthwhile black homework, but objectively is one of the best movies out of Hollywood in years.
Let me preface by saying I would never have gone to see The Butler based on the trailers for the film. Usually, when Hollywood markets a ‘black film' the trailers are geared towards attracting white audiences since the assumption is that black people will pay to see anything with Oprah in it. The trailers for The Butler make it look like another black ‘struggle’ film about some downtrodden black family that manages to survive by keeping their heads down and accepting racism by being apolitical and staying true to their values. Essentially a big screen version of “Good Times”.
Fortunately The Butler is much more than Momma’s crying and wayward sons. The Butler manages to do something that most 'black homework' movies fail to do, which is actually telling the story of black people. Most black movies are really just the story of how white people’s lives are affected by the black people they know. The Last King of Scotland was supposed to be about Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, but the movie focused on a young white doctor and his liberal guilt and jungle fever. As much as I liked 42, the movie spent as much time focused on the white managers, teammates and press covering Jackie Robinson, as it did on the baseball icon himself. The Butler focuses squarely on the family of Cecil Gaines, from the good times and the bad, painting a picture of middle class black life in Washington D.C. something that is rarely if ever seen on film.
Gaines' (who is played by Forest Whitaker) life story is based on a Washington Post interview with Eugene Allen, a black man that served as a butler to eight presidents, from Dwight Eisenhower to Ronald Reagan over the course of 34 years. While liberties were taken with Allen’s life, the historic interactions he has with presidents in the film are amazing, humorous and validating. The war planning, treaties and policy decision that he was witness to make this movie a kind of black Forrest Gump, where a common man with a sincere heart finds himself in the middle of dozens of history altering moments just by the nature of showing up to work every day for 34 years.
The movie doesn’t cheat the audience, all racists don’t get their comeuppance, everyone doesn’t live happily ever after and some victories in the film are small and only shared by a precious few. However the movie never wallows in struggle-porn either, extolling the values of survival over living during the American apartheid. This film shows the totality of African American life, happy families, house parties in the 70’s and moments that are laugh out loud funny.
The main reason the story of Cecil Gaines is so moving is because every single actor in the film is amazingly spot on. Within five minutes you forget you’re watching Oprah as she transforms into Cecil Gaines' loving and often troubled wife. David Olewayo, one of my favorite actors from the BBC spy show "MI-5" chews up every scene as Gaines' son, and delivers his own personal story arc that is inspiring and motivating as opposed to stereotypical narrative of the prodigal son. There are so many stars and guest appearances in this film that you can clearly tell that everyone involved knew that cinematic history was being made.
You shouldn’t just go out and see The Butler this weekend because Oprah is in it, or because a lot of smart and important black people say it’s “good” for us to see the film. You should see it, because the movie is well acted, painful, exciting, and historic and sometimes laugh out loud funny. See it because movies like this don’t get made often enough, and this is one homework assignment that you’ll be glad you took the time to finish.
Last Updated on Thursday, 15 August 2013 16:03
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