Tag: “SNL” African-American writers

“Fresh Dressed”: 10 Reasons You Should Watch This Stylish Hip-Hop Fashion Doc

freshdoc
Scene from Fresh Dressed. (SUNDANCE.ORG)

After flipping through the September fall fashion issues of my favorite magazines with black “It Girls” such as BeyoncéKerry WashingtonSerena and Misty Copeland on their covers, I’m unusually interested in clothes. All that paging through magazines got me wondering: Where are all the black-owned fashion brands? Yes, of course well-known black brands still exist. Tracy Reese and Byron Lars are two of my favorites.

Digging into the rabbit hole of black designers led me to Fresh Dressed, a fascinating documentary from 2014 directed by Sacha Jenkins about the foundations of urban fashion that features some of the biggest names in fashion (Dapper Dan, Andre Leon Talley) and hip-hop (Kanye West, Nas). And it conveniently airs on Vimeo on Demand. One late-night click on my PayPal account and I was immersed in the world of pre-gentrified New York and hip-hop’s early years, which started the urban fashion apparel market. Sweet!  Check out the trailer below:

Ready to take a walk down memory lane or learn the secret to how the brands so many of us wore in the ‘90s became hot (then not)? Check out Fresh Dressed. Here are 10 reasons the doc is worthwhile:

1. Unique fashion inspirations.

Customized leather jackets underneath denim vests—a fashion staple that was worn by street gang members who wanted to identify their affiliation—were inspired by 1969’s Easy Rider, a film about two bikers.

2. Jamel Shabazz photographs.

Brooklyn-born Shabazz spent the ‘80s taking iconic pictures of black street style and capturing the culture. His driving force? “[Black style] is interpreted around the world as just being fly,” Shabazz says in the documentary. “What I see is pride and dignity. I wanted the world to see [us] as something unlike they had seen before. That despite people’s condition, they were able to maintain a great deal of integrity and it is shown in the way people dress and the pride they take in having clean sneakers on.”

3. Random hip-hop fun facts. 

Before Play of the rap duo Kid ‘n Play was a rapper, he was a graffiti artist who used denim jackets as his canvas. “People would pay me to paint their names on their jeans,” says Christopher “Play” Reid.

4. Dapper Dan was more popular than Louis Vuitton (among black people).

The (in)famous Harlem designer and boutique owner was best known for merging hip-hop fashion sensibilities with the logos of European fashion houses, such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Think tricking out the upholstery of Big Daddy Kane’s car with a red and black Gucci monogram print or maybe a red leather Gucci sweatsuit for Bobby Brown. “I blacken-ized [luxury] fashion” Dan boasts in Fresh Dressed. “I made it so it would look good on us.”

Nas, a producer of the documentary, takes the boasting a step further:

“Dapper Dan was Tom Ford before Tom Ford,” says the rapper. “He had the foresight to do what they [luxury brands] started doing five years, 10 years after him.”

5. The genesis of fat laces in sneakers.

Before wide laces were sold ready-made in stores, sneaker aficionados had to create their own by taking the laces out of the shoe, stretching them, starching them and then ironing them.

6. Mayor’s closet. 

I’m not so into sneakers, but even I gasped looking at the walk-in closet of sneaker aficionado Mayor, who boasts of going 7.5 years without wearing the same pair of shoes twice. (That’s 2,737 pairs). He keeps his collection, which includes a significant number of Jordans, in a row of plastic containers that are as tall he is and estimates his collection is worth more than half a million dollars.

7. Rediscovering the Lo-Lifes. 

This was a well-known “gang” in Brooklyn, N.Y., that didn’t identify itself by colors but by fashion logos, one in particular: Polo. Its criminal activity was mainly shoplifting Ralph Lauren clothing from department stores, and status in the group was determined by who wore the most exclusive wares best. For some, such as Lo-Life leader Thirstin Howl the 3rd (yes, like the millionaire from Gilligan’s Island), fashion is really that serious.

8. Learning how Tommy Hilfiger became so popular among black people. 

Instead of offering endorsement deals to famous rappers, Hilfiger offered free clothes to the MCs—and in the neighborhoods where they came from. “Tommy Hilfiger would show up in the ‘hood and open up a trunk with clothes,” recalls Ralph McDaniels, who hosted the popular hip-hop TV show Video Music Box. “It was the drug dealer giving you a free hit. It was smart. He knew exactly what he was doing.”

9. That time GAP unwittingly spent $30 million on a FUBU commercial.

LL Cool J signed on to do a GAP commercial, but didn’t really believe the brand respected hip-hop culture, according to FUBU executive Daymond John. The rapper insisted on wearing a FUBU baseball cap in the commercial and even dropped a line that included FUBUs tagline, “For Us By Us.” “It basically became a FUBU commercial,” adds John. FUBU eventually became a $350 million business.

10. Learning that Tupac didn’t charge black people. 

At the height of his fame, Tupac took a meeting with Karl Kani in which Kani pitched him to star in an upcoming ad campaign. “I ain’t gonna charge you; you black,” Pac told Kani. “I don’t charge my people for nothing.” Two weeks later, they did a photoshoot … free. Kani credits Pac with introducing him to a global market.

article by Demetria Lucas D’oyley  via theroot.com

Check Out Trailer for Chris Rock’s Upcoming Release, “Top Five” (VIDEO)

Chris RockAs GBN reported last month, Chris Rock’s new film Top Five sparked a bidding frenzy at the Toronto International Film Festival, with Paramount Pictures emerging as the winner for distribution rights to the tune of $12.5 million. Last week, the studio dropped the first trailer.  Written, directed by, and starring Rock, Top Five tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career—and the past—that he’s left behind.

Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, J.B. Smoove, Sherri Shepherd, Anders Holm, Romany Malco, Leslie Jones, Michael Che, and Jay Pharoah also star.

The movie is set for a limited release on December 5, going wide a week later on December 12.

If you can’t wait to see Rock in action before then, check out him and musical guest Prince as he hosts “Saturday Night Live” this weekend.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Michael Che to Co-Anchor “Weekend Update” on “Saturday Night Live”

MICHAEL CHE WEEKEND UPDATE
Michael Che Will Co-Anchor SNL’s Weekend Update (Photo: Mindy Tucker)

You’ll be seeing even more of Michael Che come Sept. 27. Bill Carter of The New York Times is reporting that the newest “Daily Show” correspondent and “Saturday Night Live” writer will be taking a spot at the “Weekend Update” desk during SNL’s 40th season.

Che replaces Cecily Strong and will co-host “Update” alongside Colin Jost, who enters his second year in the coveted role. Strong remains a repertory player. Che will end his brief run as a “Daily Show” correspondent in the move.

Che, a native New Yorker who got his start in stand-up in 2009, began writing for SNL in 2013, and joined the “Daily Show” cast this year.  After a season with the largest SNL cast in history, the show announced several changes over the summer. Featured players John Milhiser, Brooks Wheelan and Noël Wells were let go, and Nasim Pedrad is leaving to co-star in the eagerly anticipated “Mulaney.”

Several new writers have been announced, including Natasha Rothwell (who was one of 11 women who auditioned last season for the featured player spot that ultimately went to Sasheer Zamata), Streeter Seidell from College Humor, Nick Rutherford (the only member of sketch group Good Neighbor not hired by SNL last year), UCB LA’s Alison Rich and The PIT’s Jeremy Beiler.

To date, Che is the only new on-screen addition announced. But according to Carter, Lorne Michaels is considering adding one or two more cast members.

In addition to his work on “The Daily Show,” Che was recently as the first stand-up comedian to appear on “Late Night With Seth Meyers.”

article by Carol Harstell via huffingtonpost.com

African-American Female Writers Leslie Jones and LaKendra Tookes Join Writing Staff of “Saturday Night Live”

Leslie Jones
Leslie Jones
LaKendra Tookes

According to Variety.com, NBC sketch-comedy show Saturday Night Live added Leslie Jones and LaKendra Tookes, two comedians who recently auditioned for the program, as writers for the late-night series. Earlier this week, the show announced Sasheer Zamata, a veteran of improv troupe Upright Citizens Brigade, would begin as a featured player as of its January 18 broadcast.

The two new writers took part in auditions recently held in different parts of the U.S. with the express purpose of finding a female African-American to join the show’s cast of “Not Ready For Prime Time Players.”

While the current cast of Saturday Night Live includes two African-American men – Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah – it has not had an African-American woman in the cast since Maya Rudolph, a comic actress of mixed heritage, was in the cast between 2000 and 2007.

The show has not featured many women of color during its history.  Yvonne Hudson, an African-American woman, was a featured player during the program’s 1980-1981 season.  Danitra Vance, SNL‘s first African-American female full cast member, joined the show for its 1985-1986 season, part of show creator Lorne Michaels’ return to the program after an absence of several years. Ellen Cleghorne joined the cast from 1991-1995.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson