Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kanye West teams up with Hype Williams for "Runaway"

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor

It’s always refreshing to see artists who emerge from Hip-Hop push the envelop beyond the stereo typical images usually associated with the genre; like big booty hoes gathered at a club around a group of guys popping champagne throwing recession proof dollars in our faces.

Kanye West is an artist who (regardless if it works or not) has succeeded at exploring creativity, a criticism I often have about urban media in general being limited to the same recycled ideas.

His new 34min short film “Runaway” written by Hype Williams, starring lingerie model Selita Ebanks previews some good music to come from his album Nov 22 and is visually interesting but emotionally lacking as the chemistry of the product never quite sparks. Something to watch? Sure.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Jay Z Worth $450 Million and Growing. New book "Decoded" Coming Soon

Wall Street Journal article by John Jurgensen

The State of Jay-Z's Empire

He's worth an estimated $450 million and hobnobs with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. How the Brooklyn-born performer has become the leading music impresario of his generation.

In the early days of his entrepreneurship, there were awkward exchanges with white-collar guys trying to relate. "In the beginning it was ' 'Sup, man!' " he says in his soft speaking voice. "But at this point, it's pretty much accepted that I walk both worlds naturally."

And yet, he chafes at the lack of respect for a genre that some people still dismiss wholesale because of ugly words and violent imagery. W hen he shares strawberry malts with Warren Buffett, confers with the president, or even vacations in St. Tropez, he does so on behalf of "the culture," he says, by which he means hip-hop.

Now, to state his case more clearly, the rapper born Shawn Carter has turned to prose. His first book, "Decoded," to be published Nov. 16, is a hybrid of music history, social commentary and memoir, with an emphasis on his transition from the crack trade to the music business. The 336-page book is structured around the lyrics to 36 Jay-Z songs, each footnoted to unpack his allusions, slang and double entendres. This couplet, "No lie, just know I chose my own fate/I drove by the fork in the road and went straight," is explained in footnote 16 to the song "Renegade": "I went straight—stopped selling drugs—but I also didn't accept the false choice between poverty and breaking the law." Microsoft put up about $1 million for the marketing of the book.

He had rejected proposals to write a conventional business-strategy book. "Our ambition was never to just fit into the corporate mold, it was to take it over and remake that world in our image," he writes in a footnote to "Operation Corporate Takeover," a song that rhymes "reverse merger" with "no need to converse further."

read the rest at

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Daddy's, Keep Your Daughters Off the Pole

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor

Chris Rock shared wisdom when he said: “Fathers, our only job is to keep our daughters off the pole “ (or out of the porno video).

So what happened with Montana “Chippy D” Fishburne?

As a 52yr old father of a 19-year old daughter, the same age as Chippy D, my “dad hat” made me over analyze what went wrong here.

What’s been revealed is that Daddy was scarce in Chippy D’s life before she moved in with him, and afterwards, we can guess that it was too much of an adjustment to attend to the new-in-his-daily-world needs and interests of his daughter. This had to be squeezed in somehow (or not) between shooting sequels and Hollywood power lunches. Somewhere during the making of the Matrix, young Chippy discovered getting jiggy, getting on camera, and ultimately getting noticed by everyone else including dad; even if for an Andy Warhol 15 minutes.

Porn makes millionaires, but they are never the 18 year-old wannabees, abusees or refugees on camera. This removes the money motive. So what else led to the barely legal Chippy D, a woman with means being turned out?

I found daddy Fishburne’s interview responses on the subject revealing. Yes, he seemed disappointed and is in fact disowning her until she starts acting right. The last thing Chippy D needs is less attention from daddy. Daddy Fishburne’s real concern seemed to be that Chippy D used the family name, “No one uses their real name in porno,” he stated. That’s only if a person wanted to be anonymous.

Her choice of screen names is a clue about their father-daughter dynamic…and I suspect it went south long before her co-star did. Dad to dad, take notes, Lawrence. I feel your pain, but here’s a tip: Montana’s pain didn’t start when she took off her clothes on camera.

According to Chris Rock who also said that they don’t grade fathers, but if they did …and that dad’s daughter is on a pole (or in a multi-position porno using her family name), Lawrence Fishburne you have failed.

I was divorced from my 19-year-old daughter’s mother many years ago in “War of the Roses” fashion and have been a long-distance dad since she was 5, present no matter the distance. Daughter is today a freshman at Columbia University a poised, well-adjusted, engaging, thoughtful, contributing soul in the world. Her mother and I were a mistake from day one but her birth was a treasured gift and her development a sacred, ancient responsibility that I will always continue to honor.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sesame Street Song: I love My Hair

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor

The ABC program with Diane Sawyer discussing how and why the new Black puppet on Sesame street singing about her hair came about seems to have also brought on some controversy. The head writer, Joey Mazzarino wrote the song in response to his adopted daughter from Ethiopia complaining about her hair not being beautiful. One commentary wrote, “It took a white man to bring attention to this?”

Black girls (and women for that matter) feeling insecure about their nappy heads has been an issue that has been around for centuries. However, centuries ago white men weren’t adapting Black babies to be raised in a loving home, at least not publicly, where they could be hip to this issue. I cannot recall another time where there was such sensational buzz about Black girls and their hair that had this much cross over appeal. The pattern of irony is that some issues take the right time, right context and yes, right person in order for the light to shed.

Click link for ABC Special

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Will & Jada Pinkett-Smith's daughter, Willow "Whips Her Hair"

by today’s Urban Chameleon contributor QsNewz

D*mn you, excuse me, darn you Willow Smith! When I posted the teaser for the debut video of the youngest member of the Smith Fam Hollywood Takover Mafia this past weekend, I was praying that the vid would be wack so I could simply ignore it and continue to not cover a nine year old girl's material on my blog. Unfortunately hot is hot, and I have no choice but to give this kid a "go on, girl!" seal of approval while I curse out the grown folks makin' music who can't seem to come with this kind of heat.

Armed with a ton of charisma and sass generously DNA-donated by her famous parents, La 'Low takes her kiddie club banger "Whip My Hair" from curious novelty to legitimate chart hit with the addition of a visually striking, and age-appropriate, video. The clip opens in a sterile, depressing class-eteria before Ill Will descends upon the children with her magic boom box and blesses the situation with some much needed color via her expert hair whipping skills, some braided extensions, and a few choice finger paints. The styling in the video, from the cotton candy pink mohawk to the knee-high lace-up striped rain boots, is of the "OMG, super cute!" variety and the pre-teen fashionista easily surpasses the recent "oooh, you tried it" efforts of Ciara and LowLow's oft-cited inspiration, Rihanna.

So yeah, the video is cute and well done and all, but um... whose genius idea was it to cast hair whipping goddess, Dance Crew diva and NYC ball legend Leyomi Mizrahi? Seeing LeyLey do her thang all up in this Nickelodeon-bound clip is one of those "You know what would've been really cool? If they had gotten..." propositions --- but this time, it actually happened! With one video, this kid has achieved what it sometimes takes the um, more seasoned pop girls a couple of albums, a few edgy photo shoots and a handful of performances at gay clubs to achieve --- she has already cemented what will surely be a loyal fanbase in the ball community by simply shouting out one of their own.

She sings/raps! She dances! She wears funky outfits! Yes, Willow has definitely got the whole "adorable" thing on lock right now and it'll be interesting to see where her career goes from here cuz famous last name aside, the girl undoubtedly does have "it"! Now, how much you wanna bet some of these older chicks are taking notes and brushing up on their hair whipping? Weave merchants are about to have the best week ever! Grade: B+

For more commentary visit QsNewz

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Real Housewives of DC: The Mis-Use of the Word “Racist”

by today’s Urban Chameleon contributor HaJ

Last Thursday’s Real Housewives of DC Reunion show sparked an interesting conversation with my family about race and culture. Cast member Stacie Scott Turner called co-star Mary Schmidt Amons out for personifying a more ethnic demeanor when talking to her; imitating the stereotypical “s” shape motion of the finger and head roll that is usually associated with Black women. Mary explained it as a “quirk” that has nothing to do with race. I beg to differ.

My family and I talked about how common it is to take on the persona of someone you interact with. When I get in front of Caribbean folks, three might turn into tree. A foreigner who speaks very little English may cause me to speak slower. If I’m in a corporate setting my “ing’s” are enunciated. When I’m with my Puerto Rican girls from around-the-way I may speak it so that juno.

My point is, dialects, hand motions and energy levels can constantly change depending on whom one interacts with. However, what I find problematic is when people take on an urban tone with me when I’m not personifying one.

In corporate environments, where I have been the minority, I've found this to be most common. A white colleague once sent me a work e-mail that started with, “What up yo.” I was the only person in the office that he seemed to take up this informal language with. I never initiated or reciprocated it. So where is this coming from?

He, like many others whom I’ve encountered, is personifying the only image of Black culture featured in media, Hip Hop. Therefore, it’s all they know, and as a result urban professionals everywhere fall victim to stereotypes. I remember a friend of mine from Inglewood annoyed with her boss for telling clients that she was from Compton; as if to brag that she was a child of a ghetto he had saved. Even Michelle Obama has been called a "Baby Mama." What in the hell! Not even the first damn lady of the United States can escape the stereotypes.

However, can we qualify this behavior as racist when people simply don't know any better? The fact is there are more images of Black rappers in media than urban professionals, more Asians portrayed as tech geeks than slouches, and Muslims as angry cynical bombers than people with hopes and dreams like everyone else.

The question is how does one become educated when more often than not… they don’t even know they’re NOT educated?

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Why in the Heck is Columbus Day a Holiday?

by today's Urban Chameleon poet

Why can't I cash a check today?
Why can't I call the company about the status of my check today?
Is this really because of Columbus day?

Why can't I check out a book from the library today?
Why can't my children be educated today?
Please tell me it's not because of Columbus day?

Why can't I get my Netflix in the mail today?
Or check to see if that check is in the mail today?


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Friday, October 8, 2010

Your Eyes Aren’t Slanty Enough to be Asian

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor Sarah K. Cho

My name is Sarah K. Cho and I admit I’m a twinkie. According to my parents I am full Korean but according to the film and television industry my eyes aren’t slanty enough to play the Asian prostitute, martial artist or tech geek. After years of auditioning and constantly letting casting directors down with my poor Korean accent of “me no speak no English,” I finally earned the non-speaking part of a stripper wearing pasties and a thong on CSI.

“ You just have to do the Halle Berry thing then you can turn down those kind of rolls,” my friends said. I’m in New York now.

What sucks is, if I WERE good at math or science I wouldn’t be stuck trying to break into this god forsaken entertainment industry.

Growing up I fit nowhere. Not the Korean church I was force to attend or the Korean Christian camp (yes they have those). Apparently I did not act “Korean” enough for Koreans.

I guess I am like the bumblebee. According to the greatest minds of science it should not be able to fly. The wings just aren’t big enough. So what does the bumblebee do? Fly anyway. I doubt that it cares what anyone thinks.

If you’re in New York, come and see my stand up comedy routine this Monday Columbus Day, October 11, 2010 at Carolines (1626 Broadway Ny NY 10019). Discounted cover price of $5 when you mention my name, Sarah Cho to make a reservation 212-757-4100.

NO I’m not related to Margaret Cho but you can say that you met me before I had to resort to the pasties and a thong.

P.S. If you can't tell already this woman on the left is not me of Margaret.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What would happen if Chris Rock, Wanda Sykes and Dave Chappelle didn't put our business out in the streets?

by today’s Urban Chameleon contributor

My mom once told me a story about a Black woman she knew years ago whose first encounter with white people was in college at NYU. She had only seen white people on TV.

The woman’s college roommate was white and she swore never to let this woman see the process of a Black girl’s hair. She would wake up early just to get into the bathroom before anyone else was awake to do her thang and then stay up late to repeat her routine. What was she afraid of?

Last week in my playwriting class a student performed a monologue about “Ashy Elbows.” Before the performance could begin, our fifty something year old white teacher first had to ask, “What is ash?” Ironically, the Black man performing the monologue had ashy elbows and was able to provide the teacher with a visual reference.

I shared this exchange with a couple of friends and they were shocked to learn there were people in this world that didn’t know what “ash” was. My Jewish friend from college said it never dawned on her to use moisturizer until she saw us, Black girls, bathing ourselves with it in the morning. She now incorporates moisturizer into her daily routine because, as she says, it makes her skin feel so much better. But had we not shared our process of getting ready in the morning she might still be denied this luxury.

I think back to Dave Chappelle and how the cultural over-share started to slip into dangerous territory; as I heard he mentioned something about that it began to feel like white people where laughing at us.

The Black community was pissed with Chris Rock for puttin' our bid'ness out in da streets with his film, Good Hair.

Wanda Sikes has a funny standup routine about Black People being PARANOID of what white people think about them. My question is: Why do we still care?

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

HR Complains About My Muslim Smell

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor

A couple of months ago, a Black female colleague of mine was pulled into HR in the middle of the day. When she returned she told me that someone had complained about her scent being too strong. She’s from the Bronx and is always stopping along her commute to the city buying the Muslim oils up on Fordham Rd. I know this because I've seen her collection. HR claimed that her scent was activating people’s allergies. I bet that it was a partner that complained. I will admit that her scent was a little strong but only in the morning when everyone is FRESH.

What’s crazy is that in our copy and file room, the white guys down there drown themselves in cologne and nothing was said to them. Their scents are so strong you can almost taste it. A month ago my colleague left for a better a job and a new Black girl started work. She sat next to me and I never smelled her but sure enough a couple of hours into her first day they sent out a company e-mail about not wearing “strong” scents. Maybe they just don’t like how Black girls’ smell.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

Baby Mama Drama vs. The Business of Educating Our Children

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor

My cousin, who lives in Philadelphia, called my husband and I to get our take on whether or not he should attempt to get his three-year old daughter into a better school.

Now the obvious answer to this question would be: Of course! Especially since Philly’s public school graduation rate is so low.

My cousin recently moved from the ‘hood to the suburbs, and now has the opportunity to send his daughter to a great school; FOR FREE! But apparently, it’s not that simple.

You see, by the time he figured out that the woman he had laid down with during a night of hot and heated passion was drama, a baby was on the way. Thus, another classic case of “Baby mama drama” was also born.

Now baby mama, who has custody of their daughter, tries to make my cousin’s life as difficult as possible. Calls the crib all times of the night, comes by unannounced, threatens his current girlfriend, creates difficult arrangements for him to see his daughter, etc., etc., etc. To make matters worse, baby mama cannot read and write. I don’t know what’s worse – dealing with an educated fool or an ignorant one. When I asked why not get custody of his daughter he informed me that the court won’t separate a child from their mother unless you can prove that there is something “wrong” in the household like drug or physical abuse. What about ignorance abuse?

My cousin is concerned that his daughter will end up like her mother if he doesn’t at least put her in the better school. The new school is two hours a way from baby’s mama who wants the daughter home with her every night. Oh, and did I mention that she doesn’t drive? So my cousin would have to drive two hours in the morning to pick his daughter up and two hours in the afternoon to bring her back, which his work schedule doesn’t allow.

Baby mama has another daughter, by a different father, who is seven and doesn’t know her multiplication table. My cousin described the time he tried to teach her and the mother shouted for them to stop. Lawd chil’ this was like a scene right out of Precious. The idea of a parent not wanting the best for their child is bewildering to me. It’s a deadly mix of low self-esteem and ego, which can keep us from recognizing the bigger picture.

Regardless of the school, your child’s education starts at home. So what do you do?

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Friday, October 1, 2010

The Inner Racist vs. The Business of Educating Our Children

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor

I am a Jewish woman who works at a high successful charter school in Newark, NJ teaching predominately Black children.

I came to this educational organization not to be the "Great white hope" but because I truly know that if one of us is not free than we are all enslaved.

In my years working at this school, I have been brought to me knees in awe of the children and their capacity to grow and change in the face of tremendous adversity. Many of our children have incarcerated relatives, are exposed to drug activity and gang violence on a daily basis as well as countless other mountains of opposition. Still they come to school everyday because they believe in education and the power it has to change lives. Just about a week ago we got word that we were awarded the prestigious Blue Ribbon in education. President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan give this award to high achieving schools that are sending children to college. Only 300 schools were given this prestigious award and of those schools, 80 were given the dubious honor of being named high achieving (the best of the best) and we were in that select field.

It is a tremendous honor. Education is not a sexy field; they don’t make TV shows about the truth of education. Instead they make poorly acted movies where a privileged white woman goes into predominantly Black neighborhood wearing pearls wanting to make a difference and over night change comes about. This is not the temperature of education in our county. Getting this award really meant something to my school and it really meant something to me Our community is here at 6:45 in the morning and stay through 5:00, 6:00, 7:00 at night all to be the best at serving our children. It was nice to get recognition for our hard work and for our children to be regarded as beacons of excellence.

I excitedly shared the news with my family who were very proud of the accomplishment and the recognition. My sister came over one night for dinner and I told her the good news. She responded, “Well, because it’s a Black school.” She immediately went red in the face, half-heartedly tried to back pedal and explain at the same time really feeling that way.

Her ignorance was jarring since for the past few years I have been working in a cocoon surrounded by like minded people as me who believed in creating a school where under privileged children succeed...and yes the reality is that many of these children are Black. However, the honor my school received wasn't given out of affirmative action as her comment suggested. It was in response to a crisis we face in this country around education.

Corey Booker, the mayor of Newark stated, “One cannot have a superior democracy with an inferior education system”. The rights of our children to be educated is a human right that we are denying them if we continue to provide them with sub-par schooling. The state of education in this country is in dire need of social reform…and not just for Black children but also for ALL children. We will never reach our full potential as a people if we continue to ignore our inadequate system of educating our children. If one of us succeeds we all succeed. 52% of our countries' children did not graduate from High School last year. In Newark alone, less than 2 % of all children graduate from high school.

My sister has since apologized stating that it was just her “inner racist” coming out. However, it's this kind of fundamental thinking that also needs to be educated.

Suffice it to say, we still have a ways to go.

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