LL Cool J to Become Kennedy Center’s First Hip-Hop Honoree

LLCoolJ (photo via npr.org)

by Rodney Carmichael via npr.org

Thirty years after becoming rap’s first sex symbol, LL Cool J will be the first hip-hop artist to receive Kennedy Center Honors in its 40-year history.

The rapper-turned-actor born James Todd Smith will be inducted with a prestigious 2017 class — including pop stars Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan, television icon Norman Lear and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade – on Sunday, Dec. 3 at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C.

The honorees will be saluted by performers while seated alongside President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. While Kennedy Center Honors acknowledge the lifetime achievements of contributors to American culture, the list has traditionally been limited in scope. But the inclusion of LL, born James Todd Smith, in this year’s honoree list further expands the center’s growing embrace of hip-hop culture.

Earlier this year the center appointed Simone Eccleston as its first director of Hip-Hop Culture after naming A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip as artistic director of Hip-Hop Culture in 2016. Historic performances by Kendrick Lamar and Common have also underlined the center’s investment, and more programming for the 2017-18 season is expected to be announced in the coming months.

At 49, LL will be the Kennedy Center’s youngest honoree since Stevie Wonder. It’s a long way from home for the St. Albans, Queens native who made his first record, “I Need A Beat,” at 16, after his demo tape made it to the ears of producer and Def Jam founder Rick Rubin. As rap’s first bona fide solo star, LL was larger than life in the 1980s, the first to embody the street-corner swagger and sex appeal that would become a blueprint for future hip-hop icons ranging from Big Daddy Kane to Biggie.

Before an artist like Drake could legitimately mix hip-hop lyricism with R&B vulnerability, LL turned out the first hit rap ballad with 1987’s “I Need Love.” And the ladies loved him for it. Best known today for his starring roles in TV and film, he received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last year. But after a career spanning 30-plus years and 13 albums, he’s yet to leave rap alone — he’s rumored to be in the studio recording with Dr. Dre.

To read full article, go to: LL Cool J To Become Kennedy Center’s First Hip-Hop Honoree : The Record : NPR

Hip Hop Artist Young Thug Donates Proceeds from NYC Show To Planned Parenthood

Young Thug (photo via madamenoire.com)

by Ashley Monaé via madamenoire.com

Young Thug has a huge heart and a soft spot for Planned Parenthood. After performing at New York City’s Terminal 5, the rapper, who is also a father of six, shared that he would donate all the proceeds to the non-profit organization.

“I’m donating the proceeds from my show tonight to @PPFA,” he tweeted. “I was a teenage parent. Planned + unplanned parenthood is beautiful.” Young Thug had his first child at the tender age of 17, so he knows the aid that Planned Parenthood brings to many families.

The organization, which provides reproductive health care, has recently been under fire for their abortion services. In particular, Donald Trump signed legislation just a few months back aimed at cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood and other groups.The trickle down has since continued as four Indiana clinics were officially shut down on Friday (June 30) after the state’s governor signed a bill to stop Medicaid funding for the organization in May.

To read original article, go to: Young Thug Donates Proceeds From NYC Show To Planned Parenthood

Dr. Dre to Donate $10 Million for Compton High School’s New Performing Arts Center

(photo via latimes.com)

by Gerrick Kennedy via latimes.com

Dr. Dre has pledged to donate $10 million to help build a performing arts complex at the new Compton High School, the Compton Unified School District. “My goal is to provide kids with the kind of tools and learning they deserve,” Dre said in a statement. “The performing arts center will be a place for young people to be creative in a way that will help further their education and positively define their future.”

The complex will provide students with state-of-the-art equipment and technology, including digital media production facilities and a 1,200-seat theater. The performing arts center will also be a resource for the Compton community at large, officials say. The hip-hop mogul and Compton native will be directly involved in raising the remaining funds needed to complete the center, which is expected to break ground by 2020.

“The support that Dre has shown to Compton over the years is unwavering and we are so excited that we will now be home to one of the greatest performing arts centers in the country,” said Satra Zurita, president of Compton Unified’s governing board of trustees. Micah Ali, vice chairman of the district’s board of education, said the new high school will be the most modern public school complex ever built.

To read more, go to: Dr. Dre to donate $10 million for Compton High School’s new performing arts center – LA Times

Harlem Will Soon Be Home to 20-Story Hip Hop Hall of Fame Museum

(photo via huffpost.com)

by Brennan Williams via (huffpost.com)

Earlier this month, the Hip Hop Hall of Fame Museum won a bid to acquire a Harlem building and development site for a new state-of-the-art facility that will “preserve, archive, exhibit, educate, and showcase hip-hop Music and culture from around the world.”

Phase one, which is set to begin in February 2018, of the museum’s development plan will include, among other things, a multimedia film production studio and a television content production center for students “that will be training for careers in tech and media, while producing real-life content for the museum, and the hip hop television channel network,” the museum’s founder, JT Thompson, said in a release.

Eventually the 20-story building will include 5-star hotel, retail mall, an arcade, restaurant and concert lounge. The organization has also launched a $150 million fundraising campaign to help complete funding for the entertainment complex.

Last year, Thompson ― who’s also an Army veteran ― told the New York Post that the museum’s progress has been a “labor of love.”

“Hip hop is about empowering yourself, moving beyond the music,” he said. “The HHHOF and I have a duty and responsibility to preserve this rich history of music and culture. [You need to] pull yourself up by your bootstraps to pursue your dreams.”

“This has been a labor of love. It’s had its valleys, mountains, peaks and falloffs. In the Army, I had leaders, mentors and brothers like teammates working to achieve something special. In life and in business, be disciplined and finish strong without quitting.”

For more info on the development of the Hip Hop Hall of Fame Museum, please visit the museum’s website.

Source: Harlem Will Soon Be Home To A 20-Story Hip Hop Museum | HuffPost

Snoop Dogg Gifts Jimmy Kimmel With Check for Children’s Hospital

Snoop Dogg and Jimmy Kimmel (photo via youtube.com)

by Lindsey India via xxlmag.com

Many people were touched by Jimmy Kimmel’s emotional story involving his newborn son’s serious health issues after being born with a congenital heart disease in April, and it looks like some celebrities reached out to do what they can to support the cause for others who cannot afford health care. Snoop Dogg visited the talk show host on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and gifted the personality with a check made out to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

While Snoop was originally there to promote his new Neva Left album that dropped on May 19, he surprised the host with the generous donation that contained an undisclosed amount of money. “This is your show Jimmy, but I wanted to surprise you with something special. I saw you speak on your son as far as his health. So I wanted to come out here and make a donation to the hospital. We just want to make sure that we’re looking out for the next kid that may need that help,” Snoop told the host.

Watch the Dogfather present the check to Jimmy Kimmel in the video below:

Source: Snoop Dogg Gifts Jimmy Kimmel With Check for Children’s Hospital – XXL

Jay Z to Bail Out Dads on Father’s Day and Take On the Bail-Bond Industry

Jay Z (photo via eurweb.com)

by eurweb.com

Jay Z, who just became a father all over again earlier this week, is also making news for a different reason. It seems he’s stepping up his involvement in social issues. One way he’s getting involved is what he’s doing this Father’s Day. He was inspired by what he saw last month by what various organizations did on Mother’s Day.

“Last month for Mother’s Day, organizations like Southerners on New Ground and Color of Change did a major fundraising drive to bail out 100 mothers for Mother’s Day. Color of Change’s exposè on the for-profit bail industry provides deeper strategy behind this smart and inspiring action,” he wrote in an essay for Time, in the closing of what was an ultimate indictment of the bail-bond industry, as a racist institution that exploits people who are poor and Black.

His mentioning of Color of Change was essential seeing how Black women are the fastest growing prison demographic. This Father’s Day weekend, however, he put forth a plea in hopes of generating help for incarcerated dads who remain sidelined by one of the numerous broken parts of the criminal justice system.

“This Father’s Day, I’m supporting those same organizations to bail out fathers who can’t afford the due process our democracy promises. As a father with a growing family, it’s the least I can do, but philanthropy is not a long fix, we have to get rid of these inhumane practices altogether. We can’t fix our broken criminal justice system until we take on the exploitative bail industry.”

To read more, go to: Jay Z to Bail Out Dads on Father’s Day & Take on the Bail-Bond Industry

Ice Cube Honored with Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Ice Cube (photo via vibe.com)

by Jessica McKinney via vibe.com

It’s hard to think that after roughly 30 years in the music industry and blessing the culture with hits like “F**k the Police” and both the Barbershop and Friday series’, that Ice Cube hasn’t already gotten a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But in reality, he actually hasn’t. That is, until today (June 12), when the hip hop icon was honored with his very own star on Hollywood Boulevard.

Director of Boyz in the Hood, John Singleton, was one of  people who spoke at Ice Cube’s star ceremony Monday afternoon. “The mark of a true man is how many people he influences in his lifetime,” Singleton said. “That’s how I see Cube.” Dr. Dre was also in attendance to watch his longtime friend and former N.W.A partner be honored. While the multi-faceted artist has definitely influenced many, he suggested the honor was still somewhat surprising.

“When you coming up doing music, movies, just trying to be creative, you never figure you’ll be on the Hollywood Walk of Fame one day,” he said.Ice Cube’s Walk of Fame ceremony comes only three days after the release of the 25th anniversary edition of the rapper’s politically-charged album, Death Certificate. Coincidentally, it is only three days before his 48th birthday.

To read more, go to: Clap For Him: Ice Cube Finally Honored With Hollywood Star