Give Them N***a’s A Show

Image courtesy of Access Atlanta

Image courtesy of Access Atlanta

 Reality shows have become the new standard for entertainment in television. The Food network to TV Land, there are few networks that do not offer some form of a reality show. The Real World and Survivor are widely noted for being the catalyst in the reality TV movement. While there are many shows that offer a range of ignorance for viewers to indulge in, there seems to be an increasing trend in reality tv shows aimed for black audiences. VH1 may be the starting point for the black reality show explosion, as they greenlight shows for every  black person imaginable. The infamous Flavor Flav and his quest for love was the first step in the black reality show trail. Flav’s dating show led to Ray J receiving a show, and from there VH1 opened to Salt-N-Pepa, Fantasia, a single Chili from TLC, NBA groupies divorcees Wives, Terrell Owens, and the list goes on.

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Friday Feature: Drake or J.Cole?

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By: Tiffani Haynes & Chris Swails

Flow

TH: When it comes to the flow, J. Cole has Drake beat. Yeah, I said it. Drake might have the punch lines but his story-telling skills are subpar. J. Cole’s ability to tell a story from the first verse to the last has classic characteristics. He has the inherent ability to take you there, to the moment and feeling the song’s supposed to represent. Take “Dreams” of Cole’s Warm-Up tape, he builds up this anticipation about approaching and attempting to bag the girl of his dreams. Hell, even I get nervous on the verse where he approaches her, feels like I’m trying to holler.

“…I spot her walking in the mall/‘Ok, it’s time to grow some balls if she’s really gon’ be yours’/Oh my God, I’m walking towards her/My mind screaming “Stop” but my legs keep walking forward/‘Straighten up your face, nigga, she sees you coming for her’/My heartbeat racing and my hands keep shaking/‘Say something you shy motherf*ker she’s waiting’…”

You didn’t feel that? Yup, thought so.

CS: Not so fast, let’s not overlook the versatility factor. Drake can go from Birdman to Mary J. in a matter of seconds. Also, Drake is a better studio artist than J. Cole. If you leave Drizzy in the lab with the lights off, he’s going to make the magic happen. Furthermore, at any given moment Drake can hold the kind of note that begs the question, is he a singer or a rapper? His flow is a mixing bowl comprised of herbs and spices from different regions of the map. Through his flow the listener absorbs East Coast quality punch lines, a sprinkle of southern slang and a unique Toronto sound that’s all his own. My favorite thing about Drake’s flow is his cleverness, it puzzles me how simple but effective his lyrics are. While spitting over Kanye West’s “Say What’s Real”, Drake utters one of my favorite lines of last year.

“…and promoters try to get me out to they club/They said I had fun but I can’t imagine how/Cause I just seen my ex-girl, standing with my next-girl, standing with the girl that I’m f*cking right now…”


Body of Work

TH: Cole has released two mixtapes since his time in the rap game, The Come Up (2007) and The Warm Up (2009) with bangers on both. The first effort pales in comparison to his second, the time between the two allowed J. Cole to up the ante on the mixtape game.

The Warm Up has album potential. Aside from the radio spot (the Water Break interlude), the tape flows effortlessly. Few have been arranging albums lately with such thought that each song leads into the next, from one emotion to the next. Look at his 3-track melody of “Lights Please”, “Dead Presidents II” and “I Get Up.” He starts out talking about bettering the community, trying to spit knowledge in the midst of a money-hungry, power-driven world. But in “Dead Presidents II” and “I Get Up” he gives in to it. DP2 shows his focused money-mentality while “I Get Up” balances both. It focuses on the struggle of trying to get the money while still speaking about substance.

“Destined to shine I’ma find a way/ ‘Cause hey, damn it them jobs out there ain’t tryna pay/ Granted a Nine to Five is how you survive/I ain’t tryna survive/ I’m tryna throw my mama in rides…”

So while The Come Up is appreciated and respected, The Warm Up shut it down. Hands down.

CS: As far as material goes Drake is, So Far Gone…past J. Cole. Never before have I witnessed one piece of work do so much for an artist. Drake’s third mixtape, So Far Gone (2009) landed him with hit singles, a Grammy nomination and the arguably the biggest buzz of 2009, all without an album in stores. If that’s not enough, add Jay-Z on stage as Drake’s hype man. Many wonder was So Far Gone really a mixtape or an album.

The reaction from So Far Gone trumped that of his first two mixtapes: Room For Improvement (2006) and Comeback Season (2007). What many are unaware of is that the singles “Forever” and “Money to Blow” are old songs from the Drake archives. With his debut album, Thank Me Later due to hit stores on V-Day, fans are anxious to see how good Drake’s music really is…when it’s not free. Like Drizzy said on the Birdman track Mo Milly …“Thank Me Later first week I’m takin’ all bets/Cause a million copies really isn’t far fetched…”

Affiliations

TH: As an emerging artist, it doesn’t get much better than signing under Jay-Z and his new label, Roc Nation. Being the label’s first artist is an honor and a weight on the shoulders. J. Cole’s got to perform and represent the label well, he’s setting the standard. Yet, Cole’s wearing the responsibility well. J. Cole stands to fare better with Roc Nation than Drake will with Young Money. As the solo artist, Cole will be the main focus, whereas Drake’s sharing the spotlight with a whole group of people. Without going above and beyond to stand out, he could get lost in the mix, especially if the focus and promo switches to another group member. Not to mention that the tradition of the Roc has been to branch out and have multiple businesses and deals, all pots Cole could get his hands in. Roc Nation will only improve him and launch him into a bigger arena, approaching the rap game as a business.

CS: Pick your poison, would you rather be signed with Jay and not even have a single out or be signed with Wayne and be a part of the peanut gallery? Although I’m not a fan of him as a part of Young Money, I am glad to see that Drake is signed with a label that gives him artistic freedom. Besides, I’m a fan of The YM Triple-threat: Drizzy, Wayne and Nikki, 2010 should be a good year. But Drake, if you’re going to be with YM, get a chain or a tattoo…or something! How can you be in the video with “the #1 STUNNA” and you don’t even have on any jewelry? Another thing, somebody hurry up and get this man a stylist please, [minus the varsity jacket] he dresses like Al from Home Improvement.

Predictions

TH: I’ve been trying to place J. Cole in category. He’s not like the conscious Common. He’s not the over-the-top arrogant ‘Ye. He’s not the catchy-cliché Wayne either. Guess he’s a little bit of them all. He can spit about the community, brag about chicks and hit a catchy one-liner with the all of them. His personal potential plus his Roc Nation family and big homie Jay makes for a scary combination. Jay’s already said he’ll teach them about fish scale but he won’t fish for them. If J. Cole’s smart he’ll take his fishing pole, get on a yacht and learn from the best. Under Jay’s tutelage, J. Cole could go far…around the moon and back.

CS: In the following months I predict that Drake will begin to disconnect himself from YM. I believe Drake sees the music business as the first day of high school; he is just trying to figure out where to sit at lunchtime. When Drake begins to grow as an artist he will realize that he does not need run in a ‘clique’ to be successful. The YM group thing is destined to fail…soon. I mean seriously Wayne, you want to be a Hot Boy that bad? If a group of 4 didn’t work, what makes you think a group of 20 will? Simply put, Drake will leave YM in 2010 because his work speaks for itself. No ad-libs.

The College Degree: A Dream Deferred

By: Tiffani Haynes

A college degree ain’t what it used to be.

Jacintha Garnder celebrates her graduation from Hampton University.

Well, correction, let me use my journalism degree and be grammatically correct…A college degree isn’t what it used to be.

Either way, earning and having a college degree just doesn’t represent what it used to. It used to be about education, hard work, reassurance, planning and success. In 2010, it means none of those things.

Sure, it’s an education and by my alma mater’s motto, “An Education for Life” but what you learn isn’t in the classroom and it definitely doesn’t have to do with your major (most people graduate and don’t even pursue their major as a career). It’s in the career fair when you learn the right type of hosiery to wear under your skirt suit. It’s in the frustrating, stressful 3 a.m. group meetings where you perfect your portfolio and then 6 hours later when you execute a flawless presentation in your 9 a.m. that you’ve learned about project management, group effort and the power of execution. Continue reading

Friday Feature: The Plight of the Black Athlete

By Melva N. Lloyd 

Sports fan or no sports fan, just about everyone remembers the infamous brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills six years ago during a Detroit Pistons-Indiana Pacers game; less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, Pistons center Ben Wallace took a hard foul from resident bad boy Ron Artest of the Pacers.  Chaos ensued and before we knew it an all out smack down was taking place.  Players from both teams left the bench to take part in the melee and if that wasn’t shocking enough Artest, with the help of teammates Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O’Neal, made their way into the stands to fight with fans. Continue reading

Friday Feature: The Most Powerful Debuts

By Chris Swails

With Drake’s year of domination in the books and Thank Me Later due this month, I felt the need to analyze the most groundbreaking debuts of the past decade. Namely the debuts of: Fifty, Kanye and The Snowman.

What can I say about 50 Cent? He is the man that turned 9 bullets into 13 million albums sold worldwide. His February debut, Get Rich Or Die Tryin‘ was a ‘new classic’ that had everybody thinking they’re a gangsta or a rapper or both. The thing about 50 was, you believed him! He had the image, record and the bullet-wounds to prove it. The most critical piece to include about Fifty’s debut was the way that he ended the Murder Inc reign. Ja-Rule wasn’t the only one to feel Fifty’s rath, we haven’t heard anything ‘good-good’ from Ashanti in years. Get rich or die tryin’ eventually become a movie, notably a movie that was better than Notorious, I blame Diddy. Fifty’s debut gave him a platform to make power moves, the most eminent was the Formula-50 vitamin water deal worth $100 million.

Lets take a trip back to 2004, the U.S. was on a manhunt for Saddam, Bush cheated his way into a second term and most of us were in high school hating our parents. However, 2004 was a triumphant for then new artist Kanye West, His debut album College Dropout was released in February, little did Kanye know, the album would go triple platinum. Do you remember how many singles he had? Let me run them down: Through the Wire, Jesus Walks, All Falls Down, Workout Plan and Slow Jams. If that wasn’t a recipe for success then what is? By 2010 Kanye has recorded a total of 4 studio albums, won numerous awards, bad-mouthed a President, picked up a Nike/Louie shoe deal, abused the autotune ,fell in love with baldy AND entered rehab all in six years. Not to mention he made Taylor Swift famous…just keepin’ it 100.

The summer of 2005 belonged to one artist, Young Jeezy the Snowman. Thug Motivation 101, released in July had the world yelling ‘Trap or Die’, even the kids in the suburbs. The album achieved platinum success and put Jeezy on the scene as one of the hottest acts in the game. Pay attention, this is how you know your big, when schools around the country ban your t-shirts. All the publicity did was influence Jeezy to work harder, since 2005 Jeezy has released 3 studio albums and several mixtapes. His fourth album, Thug Motivation 103 is scheduled to be released this year. With the success he has attained in 5 short years one thing holds true, you can’t ban the Snowman!

What will Drake’s debut do for his career? We will all be waiting in mist to find out.

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Friday Feature: The Other Side of The Ring

By Chris Swails

Some short weeks ago, my highly intelligent and educated female counterparts decided to touch base on the big ‘M’ word, yes marriage. The problem is that there was no male present to provide an alternate opinion, so here it is. I want to let you know up front that a few of you are going to be upset by the end of this story. Since there is  no real way for me to introduce my thoughts I let will just spill them, here goes…

Lets start off by addressing this misconception that men supposedly buy time, what exactly does that mean? News flash ladies, if he’s not willing to make you the one, it’s probably because you’re not! Age is not a factor in a man’s decision to make you his centerpiece. I know that’s a hard pill to swallow but get over it, move on and stop holding on to n!99@$ that don’t really want you! Continue reading

Friday Feature: Sexting… Fun or Fatal?

by: Randi M.

According to About.com the definition of Sexting is sexually explicit images distributed through cell phones or similar electronic devices. The definition is so simple, yet the consequences can change your life. People today are sending naked images of their bodies to their boyfriends or girlfriends in hope that these things to stay intimate. While some pics remain private, most images make their way to another cell phone from someone pushing “send.”

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