City reverses course on Legler painting

Kerry James Marshall’s ‘Knowledge and Wonder’ will not be auctioned off after all

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018 2:19 PM

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Almost a month after the City of Chicago and the Chicago Public Library announced that it would sell a painting by acclaimed African-American artist Kerry James Marshall to convert Legler branch library into a West Side regional library, the city has reversed course.

The painting, which was taken out of the library shortly after the announcement, will be returned to the building. And CPL will make more modest improvements, extending service hours and adding computers. However, it is not clear exactly how much funding that would require and where the money will come from.

In 1995, the city commissioned Marshall to paint “Knowledge and Wonder” as part of Legler library renovations. On Oct. 1, the city and CPL announced that it would sell the paintings to help fund the series of upgrades, with the goal of turning Legler into a West Side regional library. Legler was a regional library until the 1970s, when it got downgraded. 

A press release issued at the time indicated a renovated children’s area, expanded YOUmedia space for teens, a much larger computer lab and adult workforce training on the second floor, and a Maker Space and a studio space with an artist in residence program.

Patrick Molloy, the library system’s director of government and public affairs, said at the time that Legler currently has more underutilized space than the two existing regional libraries, which gives the library system more opportunities to make improvements and add amenities. 

But even then, there were many unresolved questions hanging over the proposed upgrade. Molloy indicated that the list of improvements wasn’t necessarily set in stone. The specifics would depend on how much the painting sold for. He also acknowledged that the library system wouldn’t cover the day-to-day costs of extending the library’s service hours and keeping the new programs running. 

The initial announcement led to backlash from residents, members of the city’s art community and Marshall himself, who decried selling the art meant for the community to finance the improvements.

While the city originally stood by the plan, on Nov. 4, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the city would pull the painting from the auction and bring it back to Legler “as soon as possible.” He told the Chicago Tribune that he simply had second thoughts. 

As of Nov. 9, the painting wasn’t back at Legler and a librarian at the branch said that she had no idea when it might be returned. 

In a Tribune interview published Nov. 7, Marshall said he was happy with the decision.

“On some level you have to understand that not everything that can be sold should be sold,” he was quoted as saying. “The fact that the work was owned by the city didn’t mean the city had a right to sell it, even for the reasons they claimed they were going to sell it for. The value of an artwork isn’t just what money you can get for it. Sometimes things have a little more intrinsic value than that.”

Artist Theaster Gates, who grew up on the West Side and currently lives on the South Side, said that he was glad the city changed its mind.

“Public art should never be sold,” he said.

Gates also said that he appreciated that Marshall was at a place where he could share his true feelings on the matter, without worrying about career repercussions. 

Molloy did not respond to seeking comment on the recent turn of events. Emanuel told the Tribune that there would be a “less ambitious” upgrade to Legler, with extended service hours and 50 new computers (up from the current 12), which the mayor said would be funded through $1.8 million in cost savings from other areas of the budget.  

CONTACT: igorst3@hotmail.com    

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ is an insight into inequality, feminism and a FLOTUS who broke the mould

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Diversity on stark display as House’s freshmen gather in…

WASHINGTON – The most diverse House freshman class in history convened Tuesday for the first time since last week’s elections.

But of the two political parties’ freshman gatherings, only one looked something like the country as a whole.

The incoming lawmakers – memorialized in a flier that circulated on Capitol Hill – are overwhelmingly white on the Republican side, with only one woman, while women and people of color are a majority of the newcomers on the Democratic side.

As the incoming members gathered at a hotel in Washington, D.C., several Democrats said they hoped that the diversity of their numbers would inform the party’s approach to policy.

“It brings a different perspective to the table,” said Rep.-elect Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, the first Democratic woman elected to Congress from her state, adding: “I’m very excited to be part of this new class that looks a lot more like our communities.”

The freshmen were projected ahead of the election to be younger, more female and more racially diverse, the embodiment of a coalition that helped Barack Obama win the White House in 2008. The new members include several firsts for Congress – the first Muslim women, the first Native American women and the first African American women from several states.

The diversity underscored a looming debate for Democrats ahead of 2020, when the party will choose its candidate to challenge President Donald Trump. A large group of up-and-coming Democrats, including several women and minorities, have shown interest in presidential bids. Choosing a white man as the Democratic nominee would disappoint some of the party faithful.

The next Congress has already hit a long list of milestones. More than 100 women have been elected to the House, with 29-year-old Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., the youngest women to enter Congress. Many lawmakers of Latino or Asian heritage were elected or won fresh terms.

The Democratic gains were illustrated on the cover of the Nov. 19 issue of the New Yorker magazine, which depicted a room full of white men in outline as new political talents – drawn with detail in color – entered through the door.

Dave Wasserman, the House editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, recently calculated that the percentage of white men as a share of House Democrats is “set to decline from 41 percent to 38 percent as a result of the 2018 election.”

“Meanwhile, the percentage of white men as a share of House Republicans is on track to rise from 86 percent to 90 percent,” he tweeted Sunday.

The story for House Republicans is different, with the party losing several female members to retirement or higher office, including Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Lynn Jenkins of Kansas and Gov.-elect Kristi Noem of South Dakota.

The fate of two Republican women of color was uncertain late Tuesday, as Rep. Mia Love of Utah trailed Democrat Ben McAdams in her suburban Salt Lake City district and Republican Young Kim, running for the House in Orange County, California, held a lead of roughly 2,000 votes over Democrat Gil Cisneros.

New members spent part of Tuesday in orientation, a multiday process that will teach them to find their way around Capitol Hill, run a congressional office and handle constituent casework.

Democrats, some seemingly overwhelmed by the crush of media attention, described wide-ranging policy priorities they hoped the party will focus on next year.

“Helping children and families, working on voting rights issues, working on criminal justice issues,” said Rep.-elect Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania.

“Climate change and renewable energy,” said Rep.-elect Deb Haaland of New Mexico, who is one of the first Native American women elected to Congress.

“Health care and education,” Oklahoma’s Horn said.

Other newly elected Democratic members will arrive in Congress already associated with certain policies.

Rep.-elect Lucy McBath of Georgia, a gun-control activist whose son was fatally shot six years ago, flipped a longtime Republican congressional seat outside Atlanta last week.

The younger bent of the incoming class was also on display, as Rep.-elect Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., arrived at the hotel carrying his infant son.

Ocasio-Cortez drew attention for joining a protest in the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., over climate change.

“Should Leader Pelosi become the next speaker of the House, we need to tell her that we’ve got her back in showing and pursuing the most progressive energy agenda that this country has ever seen,” she said.

More than a hundred activists with the Sunrise Movement had streamed into Pelosi’s office on Tuesday morning, delivering letters demanding that Pelosi commit to a Marshall Plan-size economic blueprint that would transition the country away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

It was not enough, they said, to simply reestablish the select committee on climate change. Many protesters wore shirts that read “12 years,” a reference to estimates that by 2030, it will be impossible to wind back the effects of climate change.

“Pelosi’s plan on climate change is the equivalent of bringing a squirt gun to a raging drought-induced wildfire killing Americans right now,” said Varshini Prakash, the Sunrise Movement’s co-founder.

Ocasio-Cortez played down her own involvement.

“This is not about me. This is not about the dynamics of any personalities,” she told reporters. “This is about uplifting the voice, and the message, of the fact that we need a green New Deal.”

Pelosi followed with a statement supporting the protesters but declining to specifically address their key demand.

“I have recommended to my House Democratic colleagues that we reinstate the select committee to address the climate crisis,” Pelosi stated. “House Democrats ran on and won on our bold campaign for a $1 trillion investment in our infrastructure that will make our communities more resilient to the climate crisis, while creating 16 million new good-paying jobs across the country.”

Haaland, who described addressing climate change as her key priority, said she also wanted to focus on health care and the issue of missing and slain indigenous women.

She left a gaggle of reporters to meet Rep.-elect Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, who is also Native American, for coffee.

“We need to make Americans’ lives better,” she said.

The Washington Post’s David Weigel contributed to this report.

Adia Victoria to Bring ‘A Delta Blue Christmas’ to Third Man

AV Panel

Ace singer, songwriter, bandleader and poet Adia Victoria has constantly used her work to explore the powerful legacy of black art, with songs and poems heavily informed by blues, hip-hop and other traditions and reckoning with the history of hate and violence against people of color. On Thursday, Dec. 6, she’ll share a deeper look inside that work with a two-part event called A Delta Blue Christmas at Third Man Records’ Nashville headquarters.

At 2:30 p.m., she’ll participate in a panel discussion focused on blues music and other forms of art as practiced and refined by black artists — specifically looking at the way that art functions as protest and the roles it plays in activism. Victoria’s fellow panelists are multi-disciplinary artist Joshua Asante, NPR music critic and author Ann Powers, folklorist and ethnomusicologist Langston Wilkins, and poet Caroline Randall Williams. Jamey Hatley, co-founder of The Center for Southern Literary Arts (as well as a 2016 Prose Fellow for the National Endowment for the Arts), will moderate. Tickets are $10, and available right here.

Later that evening, starting at 7:30 p.m., Victoria will perform both solo and with her band. The solo acoustic set will feature blues classics (last year, she recorded a few for release on an EP called Baby Blues), and the band set will focus on her forthcoming second LP Silences. (Check out the first track from that, “Dope Queen Blues.”) Victoria and Williams will also read poetry, alongside fellow outstanding poet Ciona Rouse. Tickets for that portion of the day’s events are $20 and available right here

The day promises to be an engaging feast for mind and body. But if you need a little something more to convince you, a portion of the proceeds will benefit Jessi Zazu Inc., the nonprofit organization set up to carry on the work of the late artist and musician by fostering youth arts education, access to health care for women and peaceful social justice initiatives.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Diversity on stark display as House’s incoming freshmen gather in Washington

November 13 at 7:59 PM

The most diverse House freshman class in history convened Tuesday for the first time since last week’s elections.

But of the two political parties’ freshman gatherings, only one looked something like the country as a whole.

The incoming lawmakers — memorialized in a flier that circulated on Capitol Hill — are exclusively white on the Republican side, with only one woman, while women and people of color are a majority of the newcomers on the Democratic side.

As the incoming members gathered at a hotel in Southeast Washington, several Democrats said they hoped that the diversity of their numbers would inform the party’s approach to policy.

“It brings a different perspective to the table,” said Rep.-elect Kendra Horn (Okla.), the first Democratic woman elected to Congress from her state, adding: “I’m very excited to be part of this new class that looks a lot more like our communities.”

The freshmen were projected ahead of the election to be younger, more female and more racially diverse, the embodiment of a coalition that helped Barack Obama win the White House in 2008. The new members include several firsts for Congress — the first Muslim women, the first Native American women and the first African American women from several states.

The diversity underscored a looming debate for Democrats ahead of 2020, when the party will choose its candidate to challenge President Trump. A large group of up-and-coming Democrats, including several women and minorities, have shown interest in presidential bids. Choosing a white man as the Democratic nominee would disappoint some of the party faithful.

The next Congress has already hit a long list of milestones. More than 100 women have been elected to the House, with 29-year-old Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) the youngest women to enter Congress. Many lawmakers of Latino or Asian heritage were elected or won fresh terms.

The Democratic gains were illustrated on the cover of the Nov. 19 issue of the New Yorker magazine, which depicted a room full of white men in outline as new political talents — drawn with detail in color — entered through the door.

Dave Wasserman, the House editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, recently calculated that the percentage of white men as a share of House Democrats is “set to decline from 41 percent to 38 percent as a result of the 2018 election.”

“Meanwhile, the percentage of white men as a share of House Republicans is on track to rise from 86 percent to 90 percent,” he tweeted Sunday.

The story for House Republicans is different, with the party losing several female members to retirement or higher office, including Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), Lynn Jenkins (Kan.) and Gov.-elect Kristi L. Noem (S.D.).

The fate of two Republican women of color was uncertain late Tuesday, as Rep. Mia Love (Utah) trailed Democrat Ben McAdams in her suburban Salt Lake City district and Republican Young Kim, running for the House in Orange County, Calif., held a lead of roughly 2,000 votes over Democrat Gil Cisneros.

New members spent part of Tuesday in orientation, a multiday process that will teach them to find their way around Capitol Hill, run a congressional office and handle constituent casework.

Democrats, some seemingly overwhelmed by the crush of media attention, described wide-ranging policy priorities they hoped the party will focus on next year.

“Helping children and families, working on voting rights issues, working on criminal justice issues,” said Rep.-elect Mary Gay Scanlon (Pa.).

“Climate change and renewable energy,” said Rep.-elect Deb Haaland (N.M.), who is one of the first Native American women elected to Congress.

“Health care and education,” Oklahoma’s Horn said.

Other newly elected Democratic members will arrive in Congress already associated with certain policies.

Rep.-elect Lucy McBath (Ga.), a gun-control activist whose son was fatally shot six years ago, flipped a longtime Republican congressional seat outside Atlanta last week.

The younger bent of the incoming class was also on display, as Rep.-elect Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) arrived at the hotel carrying his infant son.

Ocasio-Cortez drew attention for joining a protest in the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) over climate change.

“Should Leader Pelosi become the next speaker of the House, we need to tell her that we’ve got her back in showing and pursuing the most progressive energy agenda that this country has ever seen,” she said.

More than a hundred activists with the Sunrise Movement had streamed into Pelosi’s office on Tuesday morning, delivering letters demanding that Pelosi commit to a Marshall Plan-size economic blueprint that would transition the country away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

It was not enough, they said, to simply reestablish the select committee on climate change. Many protesters wore shirts that read “12 years,” a reference to estimates that by 2030, it will be impossible to wind back the effects of climate change.

“Pelosi’s plan on climate change is the equivalent of bringing a squirt gun to a raging drought-induced wildfire killing Americans right now,” said Varshini Prakash, the Sunrise Movement’s co-founder.

Ocasio-Cortez played down her own involvement.

“This is not about me. This is not about the dynamics of any personalities,” she told reporters. “This is about uplifting the voice, and the message, of the fact that we need a green New Deal.”

Pelosi followed with a statement supporting the protesters but declining to specifically address their key demand.

“I have recommended to my House Democratic colleagues that we reinstate the select committee to address the climate crisis,” Pelosi stated. “House Democrats ran on and won on our bold campaign for a $1 trillion investment in our infrastructure that will make our communities more resilient to the climate crisis, while creating 16 million new good-paying jobs across the country.”

Haaland, who described addressing climate change as her key priority, said she also wanted to focus on health care and the issue of missing and slain indigenous women.

She left a gaggle of reporters to meet Rep.-elect Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), who is also Native American, for coffee.

“We need to make Americans’ lives better,” she said.

David Weigel contributed to this report.

Another Viewpoint: African-American Quarterbacks in the NFL

By Tim Lacy, Special to the AFRO

Few people know the history of African-American quarterbacks in the NFL. This question has come to me, and I thought it to be a good idea to share.  When this question comes up for discussion, those who have knowledge of football history come up with the same answer.  Frederick Douglas “Fritz” Pollard is the answer most given.  Fritz Pollard was the first head coach in the NFL, but although he had a heck of a career in football, he never played quarterback.  Fritz and Bobby Marshall (circa 1920) were running backs and Fritz held the distinction of being hailed as one of the greatest of all time.

It was 48 years later before an African-American quarterback took the field with a professional team.  In 1968, Marlin Brisco a defensive back with the Denver Broncos was moved to the quarterback position.  From this position, Brisco was named “The Magician” and became the first African-American quarterback to start at this position. Brisco broke every rookie quarterback record and despite his color became a household name at the time.  Unfortunately Brisco was his own worst enemy.  He turned to drugs and was relieved of the responsibility of leading his team.  He became a wide receiver and collected two Super Bowl rings.

After going through my notes and checking with my friend Google, I discovered I had been giving out false information. My answer on this quarterback question had been “Shaq” Harris.  Shaq broke in with the Buffalo Bills in 1969, and later moved to the Los Angeles Rams.  Shaq played at Grambling College and set the tone for another record breaker.  I am sure you have heard of Doug Williams who in one day set or broke too many Super Bowl records while conducting a clinic for the Denver Broncos.

In Doug’s era, African-American quarterbacks seemed to flourish.  There was Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb and Warren Moon. Unfortunately Jim Crow was lingering around the NFL Draft and nobody wanted another “Colored” quarterback.  Warren packed his bags and headed for Canada.  While there he won so many Grey Cups (the equivalent of the Super Bowl) he couldn’t bring them back to the US as carry-on luggage.  Once firmly planted on US soil and playing in the NFL he left people scratching their heads with the question, “Where the hell has he been?”

There has been a pretty good size list of “Brothers” to play QB in the NFL, but the most recent are Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Jameis Winston, Tyrod Taylor and Dak Prescott.

By the way, Doug Williams and Russell Wilson are sporting Super Bowl rings.

Crealde exhibits significant African-American artists

In “Vibrant Vision,” the Crealdé School of Art displays works by African-American artists across two locations.

The 26 paintings, prints and sculpture are on view at Crealdé’s main campus and the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, both in Winter Park. They come from the collection of artist Jonathan Green and his partner and studio director, Richard Weedman.

The works — by artists such as Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Clementine Hunter, Jacob Lawrence and Hale Woodruff — represent a who’s who of African-American artists. They date from the late 1930s to the present and are by artists throughout the Caribbean and United States.

The men started their collection decades ago with a goal of amassing works by African-American artists.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

A 3-year-old shape-shifting startup founded by a Vice alum is betting on viral Asian hip-hop stars to be the future of the entertainment industry

88 rising_4x3
88Rising CEO Sean Miyashiro, center, is betting on viral Asian hip-hop stars such as Nikki, left, and Rich Brian, right.
Shayanne Gal/Business Insider; 88Rising; Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

If you want to understand where the entertainment industry is going in the age of Instagram, SnapChat, and Soundcloud, look no further than 88Rising, the shape-shifting startup that not even 37-year-old founder Sean Miyashiro can find a tidy way to explain.

From the outside, it looks like a record label mixed with a creative agency, a web-video production house, and an artist-management company. But if you ask Miyashiro to explain what exactly 88Rising is, as I did recently, he tends to chuckle.

“Damn. It’s funny because I always answer this different,” Miyashiro told me. It’s as if he knows his company is a Rorschach test for the media, his investors, and its fans.

“We’re really focused on creating superstars and creating heroes and creating something that people can really believe in and be excited about. A global media company that focuses on celebrating Asian talent and Asian stories and Asian culture.”

Miyashiro with hip-hop artist Don Krez in the green room at the 88 Degrees & Rising Tour show in New York City.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

88Rising — “88” in Chinese means “double happiness” — launched three years ago. It has already fostered several stars. While its biggest names don’t yet rival name-brand artists like Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber, they have dedicated followings and a certain cachet with connected Gen Zers.

The biggest of the bunch include Brian Imanuel, a 19-year-old rapper and beatmaker who goes by the name Rich Brian; George Miller, a Japanese-born R&B singer who got his start as a YouTube star making outrageous comedy videos before turning to music full time under the moniker Joji; and the Higher Brothers, a quartet of rappers from Chengdu, China, who make high-energy, bouncy tunes about modern Chinese life, like the group’s 2017 single “WeChat,” about the titular Chinese messaging app.

When Miyashiro has been asked to explain it, he’s likened his company to a future Vice and Disney. It’d be easy to write off Miyashiro as having delusions of grandeur, but 88Rising and its fans are the kind of thing you need to see in action to really understand.

88Rising and its founder, Sean Miyashiro, have their fingers on the pulse

Miyashiro backstage with members of the Higher Brothers, a Chinese hip-hop group.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

On a warm September night, Miyashiro invited me to attend the New York date of the company’s 88 Degrees & Rising Tour.

The 21-date road show comes on the heels of 88Rising’s inaugural Head In The Clouds music festival in Los Angeles, which brought together the company’s complete artist lineup, featuring artists from Indonesia, Korea, China, and LA, for the first time.

Held at Pier 17, a swanky rooftop at the southern tip of Manhattan, the concert started slow as the streetwear-clad attendees filed in and 88Rising’s newest artists ran through abbreviated set lists.

Those early sets, like much of 88Rising’s oeuvre, have a DIY quality. Like the first generation of YouTube stars, the artists feel talented, but unstudied and rough around the edges. The artists alternate between bleeding their hearts with unvarnished honesty and making the next irony-laden meme-inspired joke. In a way, each artist’s persona seems designed, intentionally or not, to make teenagers feel like they could be one of them.

In recent dates on the 88 Degrees and Rising Tour, Joji has taken to juggling between songs.

Singer August 08 performs at the 88 Degrees & Rising Tour show in New York.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

During his set, August 08 — an LA-based African-American singer who traffics in melodic and atmospheric R&B — stops the music to egg on the crowd. “Everybody yell ‘F–k!'” he shouted mischievously. “F–k, f–k, f–k, f–k!”

At one point, he stops mid-song and directs the crowd to look at the sunset. “Everybody look at that skyline. It’s beautiful, man.”

At first I can’t tell if he’s trolling the crowd, but then everyone turns toward the Hudson River. The sunset is gorgeous, with pink, purple, and orange cotton-candy clouds.

Downstairs, in the green room, August introduced himself shyly before complaining that he wasn’t sure the crowd was feeling the set. He, like the rest of the 88Rising crew, is earnest in person. A few minutes later, Rich Brian, Joji, and others in 88Rising’s orbit debated the merits of Brockhampton, another of-the-moment hip-hop collective.

Artists Joji, right, and Rich Brian hang with members of the 88Rising team.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Meanwhile, Miyashiro was in another room finishing up an interview with Vice. The budding mogul is nothing if not savvy. In the last year, he’s scored glowing features in Bloomberg, The New Yorker, and CNN.

After the interview wraps up, he starts talking shop with me. Wearing a rolled cuff skullcap pulled back over messy hair, a wispy beard, and a flamboyantly patterned button-down, Miyashiro has a mind that never seems to stray too far from work. Within minutes, he’s asking me if I shoot video, telling me Business Insider’s feature on 88Rising would work really well as a video, and offering pointers to Vice’s videographers on where they might get the best shots for the segment they’re producing. The funny part is, he’s totally right.

Miyashiro is prone, like his artists, to switch rapidly between impish trolling and wide-eyed earnestness. In the elevator up to the rooftop concert, I ask him about Thump, the now defunct electronic music site he cocreated at Vice, he looks at me deadpan and says, “What’s Thump?” He holds it for a moment before he starts cracking up: “I’m just f—-ing with you, man.”

Fans at the 88 Degrees & Rising Tour show in New York.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider
The 88 Degrees & Rising Tour show in New York.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

It’s clear Miyashiro understands the digital-media game better than most — its need for headlines, hooks, and, above all, content — and he knows it.

To Miyashiro’s mind, 88Rising has four parts to its business: a digital-media and video-production business, a music label, a burgeoning arm looking into film and TV opportunities, and a “cultural agency business” working with like-minded brands.

When describing his strategy for helping Chinese megastar Kris Wu break into American hip-hop, Miyashiro told The New Yorker he discouraged Wu from appearing on “Good Morning America.” The morning show’s 4 million viewers aren’t who Wu needs. Miyashiro told Wu he needs the audiences who read hip-hop magazines like XXL and Complex and listens to Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s Beats 1.

Later, when I ask him where the idea for 88Rising started, he again turns to deadpan: “The idea started in my brain. Like, I was just chilling and I was, like, ‘I wanna do that.'” But then he pauses, as if recognizing that he needs to be earnest again.

“The whole genesis of 88Rising came from me and my friends hanging out,” Miyashiro said. “I was fortunate enough to hang out with a lot of different creators and people doing cool things that happened to be Asian. They were all leaders in their respective fields, whether it was graphic design or acting or music.

“And I just thought that … if we all tried to combine [our skills] and do something with a real, concerted effort, it was gonna be something that’s better than nothing because nothing existed.”

Early on, Miyashiro figured out how to turn viral hits into a career

The 88Rising offices in Manhattan, New York.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Miyashiro possesses a native’s understanding of media, virality, and, in a word, cool. His initial incarnation of the company was a DIY management firm called CXSHXNLY that he started in 2015 from the roof of a Bronx parking garage.

He would trawl the internet looking for up-and-coming rappers from Asia. Miyashiro’s first client was Jonathan Park, a Korean-American rapper who goes by the name Dumbfoundead.

His first big success came when Park showed him the video for the 2015 hit “IT G MA,” by Lee Dongheon, a South Korean rapper who goes by the name Keith Ape. Miyashiro and Park persuaded Ape to come to the US for the South by Southwest talent showcase in Austin, Texas. Miyashiro then persuaded Lee to become a client.

Shortly after, Miyashiro contacted Taiwanese-American music producer Josh Pan to create a remix of “IT G MA” with Waka Flocka, A$AP Ferg, Father, and Dumfoundead. The remix reportedly cost him less than $10,000 to pull off. It and the SXSW performance launched Ape’s US stardom.

Miyashiro’s stewardship of Ape’s career speaks to how 88Rising, even in its prototype stage, has positioned itself as different from the rest of the music industry and — if Miyashiro’s ambitions are realized — Hollywood too. Miyashiro didn’t simply release a new song for Ape; he strategically directed Ape’s entire entrance into the culture, from his media appearances and his early shows to his artistic direction. It was a creative, hands-on approach to get his artist the right looks from the right people.

“Our label exists because no major label or distributor or American music company’s gonna know what to do with something like this,” Miyashiro said. “We’re the only ones who are gonna know and it’s not easy.”

Japanese hip-hop artist KOHH performs at Fans at the 88 Degrees & Rising Tour show.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Japanese hip-hop artist KOHH performs at Fans at the 88 Degrees & Rising Tour.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Miyashiro pulled a similar feat with Rich Brian.

In 2016, Rich Brian was 16 and going by the problematic moniker Rich Chigga, a portmanteau of Chinese and the N-word. He independently released the rap song “Dat $tick.” The accompanying video features the young Indonesian rapping hip-hop tropes like gunplay and fancy cars in his shockingly deep baritone as he struts in a pink polo shirt and fanny pack. The video went viral — it currently has 105 million views — likely because of the transgressive incongruity between Brian’s appearance, his voice, and his lyrics, and the spectacle of seeing hip-hop distorted in his irreverent and foreign lens. But it also courted controversy for Brian’s use of the N-word, his rap name, and, in some eyes, his cultural appropriation.

Miyashiro’s response was to bring together a number of up-and-coming and established hip-hop artists to film a series of videos at South by Southwest. The most successful of the bunch featured the artists reacting to “Dat $tick” and Rich Brian as they watched the video live. Among others, Cam’ron, 21Savage, the Flatbush Zombies, and Ghostface Killah feature in the video, which has more than 18 million views. For the most part, the artists respond positively, if incredulously, to Brian’s style and flow.

Later that year, Ghostface Killah recorded a remix of the track. It has more than 13 million views in its own right.

The video was a savvy move. By putting the question of “Dat $tick” directly to hip-hop’s artists, Miyashiro recontextualized the conversation around Brian’s cultural appropriation and get him rubber-stamped as an artist who could be taken seriously.

Brian dropped the Rich Chigga moniker in favor of Rich Brian at the beginning of this year, shortly before releasing his debut album “Amen.” The album, for the most part, eschews the gangster-rap and trap cosplay for songs both autobiographical and introspective about what it’s like to live Brian’s strange life. He began as an outcast and an introvert using Twitter and Vine as an outlet for his sometimes offensive humor before producing his own music and hip-hop.

Miyashiro maintained that Brian came to the decision to pursue more personal music on his own, adding that 88Rising’s artists are self-directed when it comes to their art. But it seems likely that Miyashiro — and by extension Brian — were influenced by the internet conversations around cultural appropriation. Other 88Rising artists have drawn similar criticism.

“He hasn’t done anything remotely similar since. He’s grown as a person and as an artist, and now has a much more global point of view,” Miyashiro said of “Dat $tick” and Rich Brian. “None of our artists are talking about anything that they don’t do.”

88Rising’s big sell is that it can bring new brands to its audience and new audiences to its brand

The 88 Degrees & Rising Tour show in New York.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

What makes 88Rising unique, aside from its focus on Asian stars and entertainment, is its business model.

While Miyashiro started his career with a number of music-related jobs, he made his first real mark at Vice. In 2013, electronic dance music was blowing up and he, along with several friends who managed EDM acts, persuaded Vice to let them set up a new media platform dedicated to the genre. By covering dance music and nightlife from an insider’s perspective, Thump quickly gained the respect of both established and up-and-coming artists and a dedicated following among the larger underground dance-music culture.

Miyashiro helped build Thump from the ground up. He said the experience helped shape his blueprint for how to launch a media property. Tom Punch, Vice’s chief commercial and creative director, told Bloomberg that Miyashiro had a talent for pulling in advertisers, like Anheuser-Busch InBev, that wanted to capitalize on the EDM boom.

It’s easy to see the parallels between 88Rising and Vice. Miyashiro doesn’t shy away from them.

“There are a lot of differences from our business to theirs, but the one core aspect that might be similar is that Vice has an incredibly strong brand,” Miyashiro said. “They’ve been able to take that brand and what it stands … and they’ve been able to expand their brand into all these different opportunities.”

As of right now, the music label is the most fully fledged and well known, thanks to Rich Brian, Joji, and the rest of 88Rising’s roster. But it’s hard not to think that it’s Miyashiro’s keen eye for working with big brands that persuaded global advertising firm WPP to invest a reported $4.5 million of a total $7 million that the company has raised so far.

In January, the company worked with the ad agency Ogilvy to come up with the concept for a Sprite commercial in China featuring MaSiWei, one of the members of Higher Brothers. The ad, which began airing just before the Lunar New Year, China’s biggest holiday, features MaSiWei visiting his family for the holidays. The family asks him the usual prying questions about his girlfriend and his salary, which MaSiWei deflects with an ice-cold Sprite and rhymes from his single “Refresh,” the video for which also doubles as a Sprite commercial.

“We were actually pitching against all of these legacy agencies in the market that have been there forever and we won,” Miyashiro said. “We’ve never even made a television commercial before.”

The ad and the song are the kind of intermingling of editorial and advertising that brands crave and Vice has often been criticized for. But whereas Vice must adhere to the standards of a news organization, 88Rising has no such obligations. It’s an entertainment company committed to raising the profile of its artists and its own brand. The symbiotic leveraging of brands — using big-name ones to introduce 88Rising and its artists to more people and the use of 88Rising’s brand to confer street cred on those brands — is the point.

It’s more or less what Miyashiro has already done in music, partnering with the hip-hop press-approved artists that have been featured on 88Rising’s songs. Playboi Carti, Ghostface Killah, Famous Dex, and Wacka Flocka Flame — all of whom have been featured in 88Rising songs or remixes — give 88Rising’s artists credibility while 88Rising introduces those artists to its fan base.

Though the ad was successful, Miyashiro maintains that, nine months later, 88Rising is onto the next evolution of its business model. Whereas the Sprite commercial came out of a standard ad-industry process — brand produces brief, creative teams pitch ideas, brand selects winner — Miyashiro is after what he calls “true partnerships.” Miyashiro doesn’t want 88Rising to be subject to selling ad impressions against its audience or erecting content paywalls, like most digital-media companies, or responding to briefs like an advertising firm.

Members of the Higher Brothers, a Chinese hip-hop group perform at the 88 Degrees & Rising Tour show in New York.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider
Members of the Higher Brothers, a Chinese hip hop group perform at the 88 Degrees & Rising Tour show in New York City.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider
Members of the Higher Brothers, a Chinese hip-hop group perform at the 88 Degrees & Rising Tour show in New York.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Instead, he wants 88Rising to create projects that, by virtue of their premium nature, brands simply want to help fund and be associated with.

“When we get into any type of brand conversation or any type of partnership conversation, we already have the ideas for things that we, as 88Rising, want to make,” Miyashiro said. “We’re not looking to ask [brands] what they want and then make it for them.”

The first fruit of this approach is 88Rising’s upcoming collaboration with the clothing brand Guess, set to drop on November 8. The 14-piece collection features clothing pieces costing up to $148 and all designed in colorful, psychedelic tie-dye, a nod to the company’s recent compilation album, “Head in the Clouds.”

Guess has a long history in hip-hop. Last year it worked with rapper and fashion icon A$AP Rocky on a clothing line. But, Miyashiro said, this is the first time Guess has collaborated with an Asian company.

Miyashiro maintains that the collaboration came out of creatives at 88Rising and those at Guess wanting to work together, not Guess asking them how to enter the Asian market.

“It’s more like we’re going to come together and our brand is going to be amplified through this and their brand is going to be amplified through this,” Miyashiro said. “When this comes out, this is another thing that elevates us.”

At the concert in New York, the 88Rising employees I met were already dressed in Guess x 88Rising T-shirts. The S’s are turned into 88s with an the company’s signature arrow. It’s likely only a matter of time before 88Rising’s artists are decked out in the swag too.

88Rising is already looking to get to the next level

88Rising’s offices in Manhattan.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

This year 88Rising nearly doubled in size, from 24 to 45 employees, and has opened new offices in Los Angeles and Shanghai. But as I visited its headquarters in Chelsea, it feels like 88Rising is notable for what it could be rather than what it is. And right now that’s a scrappy young company and CEO making it up as they go.

The way Miyashiro talks, I’d be forgiven for imagining the company’s headquarters akin to Vice’s now famous swanky Williamsburg hipster warehouse. In reality, it’s a workmanlike room with exposed brick walls on the fourth floor of a doormanless building that holds maybe a dozen or so people crowded around laptops and iMacs where video editors cut the brand’s latest YouTube videos.

Miyashiro’s office is in the back. Decorated with a glass table, a velvet sofa, and large neon sign featuring an 88 and the Chinese character for “rising,” it appears to double as a conference room. Framed album covers of 88Rising’s artists hang on the walls.

As we wait to start the interview, Miyashiro seems a bit self-conscious about the office’s startup-standard wood tables and chairs and starts quizzing one of his employees about when she could upgrade the furniture to something more “dope.”

88Rising’s offices in Manhattan.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Miyashiro’s eyes always seem set on the next evolution of his vision.

“You might look at us right now and say, ‘Hey, 88Rising is the leading Asian label. They have a great collective,’ Miyashiro said. “But in a year or two from now, we’d like to have films that have been made and brought to the world … Three years from now, we might have our own TV channel.”

Getting to that point will largely rely on 88Rising’s artists continuing to execute and Miyashiro and his team continuing to find ways to get its audience hooked on new artists. In a lot of ways, the team had it easy with 88Rising’s first generation of artists. Before Miyashiro began working with them, Keith Ape had already come out with his career-making single “IT G MA”; Rich Brian had already gone viral with “Dat $tick”; and Joji was already a bona fide star on YouTube, albeit for his comedic antics. He invented the “Harlem Shake” meme when three costumed friends danced along to the Baauer hit.

With artists like Indonesian singer Nikki and August 08, the company’s first African-American artist, Miyashiro is more or less starting from scratch. And that’s before you get into the difficulty of getting an Asian-led film or TV show made in Hollywood, with or without the box-office success of “Crazy Rich Asians.” But none of that scares Miyashiro.

“We like doing things that nobody else has done before,” Miyashiro said. “We want to be a part of that conversation.”

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Outcry After U.S. Police Shoot African-American Security Guard ‘Hero’. He Was Protecting a Night Club and Holding a Suspect Down

Jemel RobersonImage copyright CBS
Image caption Jemel Roberson hoped to become a police officer himself, friends say

An armed security guard at a bar in suburban Chicago was killed by police as he detained a suspected gunman, according to officials and witnesses.

After gunfire erupted around 04:00 local time on Sunday, Jemel Roberson, 26, chased down an attacker and knelt on his back until police arrived.

Moments after police came on the scene, an officer opened fire on Roberson, who was black, killing him.

Friends say Roberson was a musician who had dreams of joining the police.

“The very people that he wanted to be family with took his life,” Patricia Hill, the pastor of Purposed Hill church in Chicago, told WGN-TV.

Roberson worked as a gospel musician at several nearby churches, and also had found work at Manny’s Blue Room in Robbins, Illinois, where the shooting occurred.

How did the shooting occur?

Sophia Ansari, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Sheriff’s office, said police were called to the scene after a fight broke out in the bar and four people were shot.

Witness Adam Harris told Fox32 that Roberson, who was armed with a legally owned firearm, then chased down and caught one of the attackers.

“The security guard that got killed, he caught somebody and had his knee on him the whole time,” Mr Harris said.

“Just waiting on the police to get there. I guess when the police got there, they probably thought he was one of the bad guys, cause he had his gun on the guy and they shot him.”

“Everybody was screaming out ‘security, he was a security guard'”, Mr Harris added, “and they still did their job and saw a black man with a gun and basically killed him”.

Images on social media show a chaotic scene outside the bar as witnesses shouted at police.

“He was protecting the club and holding a suspect down,” Mr Harris told CBS.

The chief of the Midlothian police, whose officer fired the fatal shot, said in a statement: “Upon arrival officers learned there were several gunshot victims inside the bar.”

Chief Dan Delaney continued: “A Midlothian officer encountered a subject with a gun and was involved in an officer-involved shooting.”

Illinois State Police’s Public Integrity Taskforce have been asked to investigate the shooting, Ms Ansari told the BBC.

She added that the other four who were shot – including the offender” – suffered injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening.

What is the reaction?

Acquaintances say Roberson was a spiritual man, who played organ at several churches in southern Chicago.

“How in the world does the security guard get shot by police?” New Spiritual Light Baptist Church Pastor Walter Turner told ABC7 News.

“A young man that was literally doing his job and now he’s gone.”

An online fundraiser set up for Roberson’s burial expenses had raised over $12,000 (£9,300) as of Monday.

“Jemel was a gifted basketball player and musician, and his love for God and his family were at the forefront of his life,” according to the GoFundMe page.

“Sadly, Jemel’s life was tragically and unexpectedly cut short this morning as he tried to save others from senseless violence.”

According to FBI data, a disproportionately high proportion of police shootings in the US involve black people.