According to the Los Angeles Times, Compton native and acclaimed hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar has won the Pulitzer Prize for music for his 2017 album “Damn.” It is the first time work outside of the classical and jazz genres has been recognized in that category.
In today’s announcement, the Pulitzer board described the album as a “virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African American life.”
“Damn,” released on April 14, 2017, is Lamar’s fourth studio album following 2015’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” 2012’s “good kid, m.A.A.d city” and “Section.80,” released in 2011. In January “Damn” won the Grammy for best rap album and was among the nominees for album of the year.
INDIO, Calif. — Let’s just cut to the chase: There’s not likely to be a more meaningful, absorbing, forceful and radical performance by an American musician this year, or any year soon, than Beyoncé’s headlining set at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival Saturday night.
It was rich with history, potently political and visually grand. By turns uproarious, rowdy, and lush. A gobsmacking marvel of choreography and musical direction.
And not unimportantly, it obliterated the ideology of the relaxed festival, the idea that musicians exist to perform in service of a greater vibe. That is one of the more tragic side effects of the spread of festival culture over the last two decades. Beyoncé was having none of it. The Coachella main stage, on the grounds of the Empire Polo Club here, was her platform, yes, but her show was in countless ways a rebuke.
It started with the horns: trumpets, trombones, sousaphones. For most of the night, the 36-year-old star was backed by an ecstatic marching band, in the manner of historically black college football halftime shows. The choice instantly reoriented her music, sidelining its connections to pop and framing it squarely in a lineage of Southern black musical traditions from New Orleans second line marches to Houston’s chopped-and-screwed hip-hop.
Her arrangements were alive with shifts between styles and oodles of small details, quick musical quotations of songs (Pastor Troy’s “No Mo’ Play in G.A.,” anyone?) that favored alertness and engagement. As always, one of the key thrills of a Beyoncé performance is her willingness to dismantle and rearrange her most familiar hits. “Drunk in Love” began as bass-thick molasses, then erupted into trumpet confetti. “Bow Down” reverberated with nervy techno. “Formation,” already a rapturous march, was a savage low-end stomp here. And during a brief trip through the Caribbean part of her catalog, she remade “Baby Boy” as startling Jamaican big band jazz.
She does macro, too — she was joined onstage by approximately 100 dancers, singers and musicians, a stunning tableau that included fraternity pledges and drumlines and rows of female violinists in addition to the usual crackerjack backup dancers (which here included bone breakers and also dancers performing elaborate routines with cymbals).
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) brought down the House on Tuesday with a loving tribute to female hip-hop and rap artists.
“Throughout the years, artists such as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen have been recognized on the floor of the House of Representatives,” Jeffries said. “Today, I rise to honor the top 10 female MC hip-hop collaborations of all time.”
Jeffries’ top 10 includes Eve’s “My Chick Bad,” Lauryn Hill’s “Ready Or Not” and, of course, Lil’ Kim’s “Quiet Storm” remix. He also shouted out the legendary Queen Latifah, MC Lyte and Salt-N-Pepa.
“As we celebrate Women’s History Month here in the United States’ Congress, these dynamic women are worthy to be praised,” Jeffries said.
This isn’t the first time the Brooklyn-native congressman has honored rap artists on the House floor. Last year, Jeffries paid tribute to New York rapper The Notorious B.I.G. on the 20th anniversary of his death.
One of the nation’s most renowned performing arts institutions has taken a major step in recognizing hip-hop culture’s influence on society. The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.recently announced the creation of its hip-hop culture council.
The council was developed in efforts to bring more hip-hop-focused programming to the institution. Through an array of different events, hip-hop culture will be examined through the lens of workshops, film screenings, panels, and virtual programs. Rapper Q-Tip will spearhead the council which is made up of a collective of influential individuals that are connected to hip-hop. Amongst some of the individuals who will sit on the council are Questlove of The Roots, rapper Common, rapstress MC Lyte, producer Mimi Valdes, DJ Bobbito Garciaand Interactive One’s own Kierna Mayo. Rapper LL Cool J—who was honored by Kennedy Center last year—will also be a part of the council.
“We are thrilled to be collaborating with such an extraordinary group of icons, innovators, and contributors to the Culture,” said Simone Eccleston, Director of Hip Hop Culture and Contemporary Music at the Kennedy Center in a statement. “As we continue to build the complex ecosystem that supports this program, the Council becomes an integral piece in sustaining Hip Hop’s presence at the Center.” Events that are lined up include a screening of the film Wild Style and a live performance inspired by Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me.
The creation of the council comes at a time where many institutions are bringing hip-hop’s influence to the forefront. In November 2017, it was announced that the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. planned on creating an anthology to capture the essence of hip-hop history and highlight how its culture has left an indelible mark on the world. Check out Q-Tip’s introduction to the Kennedy Center’s hip-hop culture council below.
According to huffingtonpost.com, Grammy-nominated rapper Craig Mack, who performed the 1994 hit “Flava in Ya Ear” for Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Bad Boy label, has died at age 46. The New York Daily News confirmed his death with Alvin Toney, the producer of Mack’s breakout album, “Project: Funk Da World.”
Mack succumbed Monday to heart failure at a hospital near his home in Walterboro, South Carolina, the producer said. He had been ill for some time. “It was a pleasure to know you & rock with you,” tweeted LL Cool J, who performed on Mack’s remix for “Flava in Ya Ear” with Notorious B.I.G., Busta Rhymes and Rampage.
The New York City-born rapper hit it big in his debut album for Bad Boy, “Project: Funk Da World,” which also generated a second single, “Get Down,” Billboard noted.
To read more about Craig Mack’s life and music, click here.
The U.S. Postal Service today celebrates the life and legacy of Lena Horne as the 41st honoree in the Black Heritage stamp series during a first-day-of-issue ceremony at Peter Norton Symphony Space.
“Today, we honor the 70-year career of a true American legend,” said Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman, who dedicated the stamp. “With this Forever stamp, the Postal Service celebrates a woman who used her platform as a renowned entertainer to become a prolific voice for civil rights advancement and gender equality.”
Joining Stroman to unveil the stamp were Gail Lumet Buckley, an author and Horne’s daughter; Christian Steiner, photographer; and Amy Niles, president and chief executive officer, WBGO Radio.
The stamp art features a photograph of Lena Horne taken by Christian Steiner in the 1980s. Kristen Monthei colorized the original black-and-white photo using a royal blue for the dress, a color Horne frequently wore. Monthei also added a background reminiscent of Horne’s Stormy Weatheralbum, with a few clouds to add texture and to subtly evoke the album title. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp. Anyone can share the news of the stamp using the hashtags #LenaHorneForever and #BlackHeritageStamps.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, on June 30, 1917, Horne was a trailblazer in Hollywood for women of color and used her fame to inspire Americans as a dedicated activist for civil rights.
Horne began her career as a dancer at Harlem’s Cotton Club and later became a featured vocalist with touring orchestras. The rampant racial discrimination she encountered from audiences, hotel and venue managers and others was so disconcerting that she stopped touring, and in 1941, she made her move to Hollywood. A year later, she signed a contract with MGM — one of the first long-term contracts with a major Hollywood studio — with the stipulation that she would never be asked to take stereotypical roles then available to black actors. Her most famous movie roles were in Cabin in the Skyand Stormy Weather, both released in 1943.
During World War II, Horne entertained at camps for black servicemen, and after the war worked on behalf of Japanese Americans who were facing discriminatory housing policies. She worked with Eleanor Roosevelt in pressing for anti-lynching legislation. In the 1960s, Horne continued her high-profile work for civil rights, performing at rallies in the South, supporting the work of the National Council for Negro Women, and participating in the 1963 March on Washington.
Horne’s awards and honors include a special Tony Award for her one-woman Broadway show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music; three Grammy Awards; the NAACP Spingarn Medal; and the Actors Equity Paul Robeson Award. She was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient in 1984, and her name is among those on the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.
Customers may purchase the Lena Horne Forever stamp at The Postal Store atusps.com/shop, by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724) and at Post Office facilities nationwide. A variety of stamps and collectibles also are available at ebay.com/stamps.
The winners of the 49th NAACP Image Awards were announced last night during the live broadcast from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium which aired on TV One. The two-hour live special was hosted by Anthony Anderson and opened with a powerful moment in support of #TIMESUP featuring Angela Robinson, Kerry Washington, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Laverne Cox, Lena Waithe and Tracee Ellis Ross.
Ava DuVernay was honored as the NAACP Entertainer of the Year. NAACP Chairman Leon W. Russell presented the NAACP Chairman’s Award to William Lucy, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson presented the NAACP President’s Award to Danny Glover and several members of the Memphis Sanitation “I Am A Man” Workers were also in attendance – they were presented with the NAACP Vanguard Award earlier in the week during a press conference at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN.
Gap Band leader Charlie Wilson was honored with the Music Makes a Difference honor which is bestowed upon an individual within the recording industry who has achieved worthwhile success and inspiration for civic engagement, criminal justice, education, economic opportunity, or criminal justice.
“Girls Trip” triumphed as the winner in the Outstanding Motion Picture category, and picked up a second award for its breakout star Tiffany Haddish in the Supporting Actress category.
Jordan Peele‘s horror opus “Get Out” received three awards, including Best Actor honors for lead Daniel Kaluuya, and Best Director and Best Writing wins for Peele. “Black-ish” took home the award for best television series, while host Anderson won Best Actor, Tracee Ellis Ross repeated as Best Actress and Marsai Martin won for Best Supporting Actress in a TV series.
In recording, Bruno Mars took home awards for Outstanding Male Artist, Outstanding Music Video/Visual Album and Outstanding Song – Traditional for “That’s What I Like.” Kendrick Lamar owned the Outstanding Album, Outstanding Song – Contemporary and Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration categories (the latter with Rihanna).
The winners of the 49th NAACP Image Awards in the non-televised categories were announced during a gala dinner celebration that took place Sunday, January 14, 2018, at the Pasadena Conference Center – the event was hosted by The Real’sAdrienne Houghton, Loni Love, Jeannie Mai and Tamera Mowry-Housley.
The NAACP Image Awards is the premiere multicultural awards show. It celebrates the accomplishments of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature and film, and also honors individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors.
Mary J. Blige will be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the recording category.
The ceremony will take place on Jan. 11 at 6201 Hollywood Blvd. in front of Eastown. Sean “Diddy” Combs will join Hollywood Chamber president and CEO Leron Gubler to unveil the star.
“Mary J. Blige is one of the most popular singers of our generation. Fans will be thrilled to see her star on the Boulevard as her career milestones are celebrated on this very famous sidewalk,” said Ana Martinez, producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies.
The Grammy Award-winning artist has recently been recognized for her acting work. Blige received Golden Globe Award, SAG Award, and Critics’ Choice Award nominations for her role in Dee Rees’ period drama “Mudbound,” as well as a Golden Globe nom for best original song for “Mighty River.”
Born in the Bronx, N.Y., Blige got her start in music by signing with Uptown Records in 1989. At 18 years old, she was the label’s youngest and first female artist. Her debut album, “What’s the 411?,” was executive produced by Combs and spun off hits including, “You Remind Me” and “Real Love.” Since then, she’s released 12 additional albums that have garnered nine Grammy Award wins from her 31 nominations.
Among her most popular songs are “Family Affair,” “No More Drama,” “Be Without You,” “Not Gon’ Cry,” “Love Is All We Need,” and “Seven Days.”
Her film debut was in 2001’s “Prison Song,” followed by Tyler Perry’s “I Can Do Bad All by Myself.” She also starred alongside Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, and Russell Brand in 2012’s “Rock of Ages,” and appeared in 2013’s musical drama “Black Nativity.”
On the TV front, Blige has guest starred on “How to Get Away With Murder,” “Empire,” and “30 Rock.” She also played Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, on NBC’s musical “The Wiz Live!”
The vision of an expanded space for the world famous Motown Museum is closer to fruition with the donation of $500,000 from the Hudson-Webber Foundation, Business Insider reported.
“Every time we get another one of these significant lead gifts in the campaign, not only does it encourage us as a team, but also sends a message to the rest of the funding community about this project, the importance of this development and also makes clear that this is real,” Robin Terry, chairwoman and CEO of the museum, told the Detroit Free Press when the foundation notified her about the award.
This donation comes after the museum received a $1 million donation from the Fred A. and Barbara Erb Family Foundation. In October 2016, the museum announced plans for a $50 million, 50,000-square foot expansion project. The new space will include more interactive exhibits, a performance theater, recording studios, retail shops and meeting spaces.
Museum-goers currently only have access to two houses on Grand Boulevard and the funds from the campaign will allow a third house with more exhibits to be built. The expansion will foster job creation and economic growth in Detroit, providing the local community with nearly 250 job opportunities.
“The Motown Museum project will increase the vitality of the surrounding neighborhood and will expand the museum’s ability to serve as an educational and cultural amenity for the city and beyond,” Melanca Clark, president and CEO of the foundation, told the newspaper. “We’re so proud to support an iconic Detroit institution that connects our city to the world.”
Motown founder Berry Gordy’s sister, Esther Gordy Edwards, established the original museum in 1985.
Jay Z released his video for his single “Family Feud” last night exclusively on Tidal, although it was more than a standard music video premiere. Much like anything else he and Beyoncé create, it was a cultural event to punctuate 2017 with the most inclusive, woke A-list cast you will ever see in a music video.
Helmed by Ava DuVernay, the seven-minute-plus video is a short film, serves up some sci-fi, futuristic realness that can very well be a taste of what’s to come in the celebrated director’s adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. Joining JayZ, Beyoncé and the heiress to their throne, Blue Ivy, includes an inspiring roster of actors from every part of the color spectrum: Michael B. Jordan, Trevante Rhodes, Thandie Newton, Jessica Chastain, Irene Bedard, Omari Hardwick, David Oyelowo, Emayatzy Corinealdi, AmericaFerrera, Aisha Hinds, Henry G. Sanders, and Storm Reid — who is the star of Wrinkle in Time. Rounding out the cast is the “founding mothers”, which feature Mindy Kaling, Rashida Jones, Rosario Dawson, Janet Mock, Brie Larson, Constance Wu, Niecy Nash, and Susan Kelechi Watson, who, as the video shows, are different women from all walks of life who are enlisted to change the country’s constitution.
Even though there is a cinematic scope to the video, which was co-written by Jay-Z and DuVernay, it is highly personal for the Grammy-nominated rapper, who uses the track from his critically acclaimed 4:44 album to confess his sins to his wife and all-around queen of everything, Beyoncé. Where Beyoncé used her visual album, Lemonade as a platform for working through her personal issues with Jay-Z, he used 4:44 to respond and tell his side of the story. In other words, it’s an artistic way of saying, “Yea, I messed up.”
Jay’s track serves as an atonement and one key lyric sets the tone for the short film: “nobody wins when the family feuds.” Of course, he is referring to his familial relationships, but it goes beyond that and applies it to feuding within the country and the world. There’s layers of meaning in the short that starts off with a poignant James Baldwin quote and goes into a Godfather-meets-Game of Thrones scene, moments of war, moments reflecting today’s volatile political climate, and a group of empowering females looking to build a utopian rather than dystopian future.
DuVernay took to Twitter to share her thoughts, inspiration and behind-the-scenes photos from the video.