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.
“Love Jones The Musical,” a stage adaptation of the critically acclaimed 1997 Love Jones film, is scheduled to tour nationally this Fall/Winter. The stage production will boast an all-star cast of R&B music’s biggest names including Chrisette Michelle, Musiq Soulchild, Marsha Ambrosius, MC Lyte, Raheem Devaughn andDave Hollister, who were all carefully selected to star in the must see musical event of the year. Love Jones The Musical will debut in Oklahoma City on September 9th.
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the popular romantic comedy, the stage play takes the essence of the film and tells its story through music. Fusing chart-topping hits and fan favorite songs from the music artists, along with a few original songs, Love Jones The Musical will be a transformative experience for the audience.
Produced by veteran theater producer Melvin Childs of Produced By Faith with stage play written by Timothy Allen Smith and directed by Zadia Ife, Love Jones The Musical tells the universal and timeless story of love, heartbreak and starting over. The film’s original writer and director, Theodore Witcher, serves as consulting producer.
Walt Disney World Resorts, in conjunction with Essence Magazine and comedian Steve Harvey, recently hosted its 9th Annual Disney Dreamers Academy in Orlando, Florida. After selecting from thousands of applications, Disney rewarded 100 U.S. high school students and their chaperones with a four-day seminar (March 3-6) geared towards inspiring, exposing and guiding them on how to achieve their dreams.
After kicking off the long weekend leading a parade down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom and being welcomed by Walt Disney World President George Kalogridis, Walt Disney World Vice President and Executive Champion Tracey Powell, Essence Editor-At-Large Mikki Taylor, gospel singer Yolanda Adams and host Steve Harvey, the Dreamers are immersed in intensive sessions with motivational speakers such as Jonathan Sprinkles and Capital Prep School Founder and Principal Dr. Steve Perry to help them understand how to overcome obstacles, learn from failures and how to work hard to make their dreams become reality.
Additionally, the Walt Disney World theme parks become vibrant “classrooms,” where Dreamers participate in hands-on, intensive “Deep Dive” workshops led by industry experts. Covering a myriad of career paths ranging from animation to imagineering to marine biology, the Deep Dives do more than expose students to a career choice; they bring to life an opportunity that otherwise might seem distant or impossible.
Celebrities such as MC Lyte, Tamera Mowery, Loni Love, Lance Gross, Lamman Rucker, Silento and film producer Will Packer also gave their personal time and shared their knowledge with the Dreamers on what it takes to gain and maintain an unconventional career.
“It has literally been so amazing,” said Dreamer Deja Kirk from Oklahoma City, who is interested in becoming an elasmobranchologist (a marine biologist who specializes in sharks and rays). “I’m not one to be corny at all, I’m usually a very stoic person, so for me to be so excited about this is really huge. Even if you don’t know what you’re going to do, just getting the general exposure to everything I feel like not only am I prepared to pursue my career, if I were to change it in any way I still have a really good foundation for whatever I want to do.”
This week, Good Black News will be bringing you even more stories from this unique event, including spotlights on several Dreamers, perspectives from their parents, as well as interviews with some of the dedicated professionals who gave their time and wisdom to DDA this year.
“More than just a necessity, given the percentages of men to women at Dillard, immediately we just thought how can we raise the awareness of the education to be had at an HBCU [which] is like none other,” said Lyte.
According to Dr. Walter Kimbrough, President of Dillard University, what began a simple meeting of the minds turned into a full fledged opportunity for Lyte to leverage her renowned platform, and implement change on Dillard’s campus.
Dr. Kimbrough passionately shares how he and Lyte’s partnership began.
“Last April MC Lyte’s foundation president, Lynn Richardson, reached out and said MC Lyte wanted to meet with me. I told her okay, let me know what her schedule looks like and I will come out. She said no, we’re coming to you. So they came and indicated that MC Lyte wanted to do something with HBCUs, and has done a scholarship in the past (U. of Wisconsin). So, the idea was to do scholarships for young men to attend Dillard, explains Dr. Kimbrough, “A pleasant surprise. But we kept talking and they wanted to be more involved in Dillard. So we ended up talking about doing a course- I Cram to Understand: Hip Hop, Sex, Gender and Ethical Behavior. It was already on the books at Dillard (minus hip hop) so we just refreshed it. She came and did an open lecture for the campus plus a special session for the class.”
Lyte lectured the course at no costs to the university and stayed in touch with Dr. Kimbrough after the lecture to further discuss the schools needs and how she and her platform may be of assistance.
“Because of her sincere interest, we thought it would be great to have her be part of the board of trustees, said Kimbrough, “ It will be a new experience for her, and I think a good one to learn more about higher education, and she has a platform that can benefit Dillard.”
Lyte speaks highly of Dr. Kimbrough’s sincere passion as well, and both seem excited for the fruits of their blossoming partnership.
“He’s [Dr. Kimbrough’s] always had a really great relationship with hip hop in general, with the culture and a mass amount of respect for what it is that we do, said Lyte,“It feels like a natural collaboration.”
Through this particular initiative with Dillard, the two, are seeking to bring male enrollment numbers up and improve learning outcomes. Lyte believes Dr. Kimbrough’s moxie and dynamic understanding for the #EducateOurMen cause, makes Dillard the perfect inaugural home for the initiative.
“For me, there is no other school to do it with but, Dillard,” said Lyte, “Education gives one opportunity, gives an outlook and allows someone to dream of something better– of making their circumstances better, of providing for their families and providing for their children.”
Lyte explained her reason for becoming an artist was always to inspire others and to use any influence gained along the way to shine light on issues that deserved acknowledgment– and hopefully with the help of Dr. Kimbrough, and Dillard University, they will do just that, for a community of people, who Lyte believes, have been overlooked.
Recently, she oversaw the 2015 graduation where acclaimed actor Denzel Washington was the commencement speaker and received an honorary degree.
With past honorees like actresses Vivica A. Fox and Nia Long, radio personality Angie Martinez, and broadcaster Soledad O’Brien, the goal of WEEN is to lift up women who aspire to work in the entertainment business, while awarding those who have made great strides. WEEN’s co-founder and chair, Valeisha Butterfield-Jones, remembers the first moment when she felt she simply had no choice but to empower women.
“Russell Simmons, Common, Dr. Ben Chavis, and Kevin Liles were guests on Oprah in 2006. There was an audience of women and from satellite they brought in women from Spelman talking about the misogyny in the entertainment biz and the Nelly “Tip Drill” video,” she says. “I felt like I had this huge responsibility to do something. I didn’t know what ‘do something’ meant. But I knew I was too close and too involved to be silent.”
Butterfield-Jones set out to make a difference. Inviting 40 women of power to a rooftop in New York to discuss issues pertaining to women in the business, the turnout more than doubled expectations: 121 women showed up to support, collaborate, and speak up. The success continued. “At the first major WEEN event at the Hammerstein Ballroom, I was super nervous. And when I arrived I saw a line of girls, thousands down 34th Street. And it was another aha moment,” says Butterfield, who served in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2011 as deputy director of public affairs for International Trade. “Cause this wasn’t just something we thought could work and thought was needed. The evidence was here. Young women were crying for support and mentorship.”