First Presbyterian Church to host special music program

Soprano Randye Jones and pianist Marlys Grimm will present a program of arias and songs by American composers at 4 p.m. Aug. 27 at First Presbyterian Church in Newton as part of the church’s Sundays at Four program. The program includes works by American composers Scott Joplin, George Gershwin, Samuel Barber, Robert MacGimsey, Hall Johnson, Florence Price, Betty Jackson King, Hale Smith, Moses Hogan, Margaret Bonds, Mitch Leigh, Charlie Small and Richard Rodgers.

Randye Jones holds her Bachelor of Arts degree in music education from Bennett College, Greensboro, N.C., and her Master of Music degree in vocal performance from Florida State University in Tallahassee. She is currently a doctoral student in vocal literature at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Jones has gained recognition for her research of and published writings on African American vocalists and composers and as a performer and lecturer through her projects, “The Art of the Negro Spiritual,” “Afrocentric Voices in ‘Classical’ Music” and “The Spirituals Database.” She regularly presents lecture-recitals and concerts or has served as a panelist at events such as the Research, Education, Activism and Performance (REAP) National Conference on Spirituals, African American Art Song Alliance Conference, the National Association of Negro Musicians conference, and the Phenomenon of Singing International Symposium VIII. Jones currently coordinates the media collections for the libraries at Grinnell College, Grinnell.

Newton resident Marlys Grimm attended Sheldon High School, Sheldon, and Central College in Pella, where she studied piano with Donald Gren. She has collaborated at Dordt, Northwestern, Grinnell and Central colleges in student and faculty recitals. Grimm has accompanied high school, college, community and professional singers, instrumentalists and choruses throughout Iowa and at National Association of Teachers of Singing competitions. She has played for numerous conference, district and regional choral festivals. Grimm is currently the accompanist for the Grinnell Oratorio Society, Grinnell Singers, and the Central College Community Chorus.

The concert at First Presbyterian is free and open to the public. A reception will be held following the performance.

Jones and Grimm will be performing this program again a week later, on Sept. 3, as part of the inaugural Iowa Stock Music and Art Festival in Saint Charles. They will be part of Iowastock’s McLaughlin Investment Dr. Simon Estes Opera Showcase, a series of concerts featuring vocalists across Iowa. The duo will perform immediately before the concert to be presented by Iowa native and internationally renowned bass-baritone Simon Estes.

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Zinzi Clemmons

About five years ago, Zinzi Clemmons’s mother’s health worsened dramatically, and doctors told her she didn’t have much longer to live. Clemmons, who was away studying, returned home to Philadelphia – a detail she says “is highly relevant because of what’s going on right now [with healthcare in the US]”, as it was partly an economic decision: “I acted as her primary caretaker, and my family wouldn’t have been able to afford that unless I had done it. And we’re not badly off in any way.”

At that point, Clemmons was working on a story about HIV, exploring illness and its politicisation – themes that remain in her mesmerising debut novel What We Lose – but she didn’t have “enough direct experience”, and it wasn’t working. At the same time, she had started writing vignettes about illness and anticipatory grief, born from “the idea that I would have to go through this process very soon”. At the encouragement of her agent, she turned them into the skeleton of her first novel.

What resulted was a transgressive and moving study of grief. Centred on a young woman, Thandi, who is dealing with the illness and subsequent death of her mother from cancer, What We Lose is highly experimental, told in intimate vignettes including blogposts, photos, hand-drawn charts and hip-hop lyrics. Jumping from Philadelphia to Johannesburg, Portland and New York, Clemmons’s debut is also a meditation on identity, race, politics, family and love.

Clemmons’s mother died around the time she started writing it. “I think it’s maybe better that way,” she says. “It’s a difficult thing writing about your family – I probably would have held back … and I think that’s why I’m proud of it, because I didn’t hold anything back.”

The clear emotional insight with which she maps Thandi’s grief is remarkable. She says she wanted to focus on the surprising complications that come with grief – as, for instance, with sex: “You think, when you’re going through grief, that everything else in your life stops. And [sex] is one of the areas where you feel conflicted, because it’s self-indulgent on a very basic level and you’re giving yourself pleasure when someone has just gone through a lot of pain.” She says she gets asked about this “almost uniformly” by women journalists: “I think it’s because a lot of the bad writing we read about sex is written by men, but when women can talk about sex honestly, it tends to look much less objectionable.” She laughs. “I’ve always written about sex. I think I’m kind of gonzo in that way.”

Thandi has been raised in an upper-middle class, majority white neighbourhood in Philadelphia by a South African mother and an African American father. She often goes back to the affluent Johannesburg suburb where most of her family lives (and Oscar Pistorius attended school down the hill). Much like Clemmons’s experiences growing up as mixed race and between cultures, she doesn’t feel as if she belongs in South Africa – where the violence terrifies her – nor in the US, where she is trying to fit in but is reminded by her peers that she isn’t “like, a real black person”. In the book, Thandi muses: “I’ve often thought that being a light-skinned black woman is like being a well-dressed person who is also homeless.”

Growing up in a similar suburb of Philadelphia to Thandi, Clemmons spent many summers in South Africa. “I never felt like I had a tribe that I could belong to without some qualification – ‘you are this, but’.” But this cultural situation has turned out to be useful for her fiction: “That kind of experience is what makes you a writer … I think all writers are outsiders, for some reason … They’re the people who kind of stand off to one side, they’re not participating, they’re observing.”

What We Lose distils how racism pervades relationships between women, in ways that can often be hard to articulate. Thandi has a conflicted relationship with her mother, who forces her to have her hair chemically straightened and cautions “that I would never have true relationships with darker-skinned women. These women would always be jealous of me.” Clemmons wanted to fictionalise her own complicated relationship with her mother; the last few years have been a “journey, through writing and otherwise, to understand my mother more.”

The novel’s experimental form works as a kind of stream-of-consciousness, almost as if the reader were reading her journal. Clemmons began writing “with very few ideas about what I should be doing, which allowed me a lot of freedom to approach it in my own terms. I didn’t see books as gospel.” Inspired by an index-card method she had read Jenny Offill used for Dept. of Speculation, she printed out the manuscript, cut it up and took it with her to residencies, spreading it on the floor and “moving the pieces around”. Much like Offill’s book, the fragmentary form works to concentrate the emotional potency. Best read in immersive, long sittings, What We Lose has a lingering, almost hypnotic effect.

Clemmons cites Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely as a big influence, alongside Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye – two fellow debuts. Of the latter, Clemmons says: “It works as a first novel because it is limited in scope and achieves a lot of what it sets out to do in a pretty innovative way; I wanted to do something manageable but also that I felt like it could let my talents shine.” She’s not afraid to sell those talents: just before the book came out in the US, Clemmons wrote an essay about how America’s concept of the literary avant garde omits black artists. “I wrote it to put it on people’s radars and to sort of clear room for myself, and say: this is a problem, and hopefully by the time of reading my book they’ve changed their minds!” She laughs. “Perhaps that’s Machiavellian of me, but I also think it’s cool and subversive, in a way.”

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Critically acclaimed YA Author Jodi Baker to make Main Stage Appearance at Leimert Park Village Book Fair

Jodi Baker will take a spot on the main stage alongside New York Times Bestselling author Steve Barnes and multiple Emmy Nominated producer and author Deborah Pratt this Saturday.

Jodi Baker, Author of the YA Between Lions Series

Jodi Baker, Author of the YA Between Lions Series

SANTA MONICA, Calif.Aug. 15, 2017PRLog — This fall, the 11th Anniversary Leimert Park Village Book Fair returns to Leimert Park and has selected YA Author Jodi Baker to be on a panel at the event. Jodi received praise by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. Ms. Baker will participate on the panel: Sci Fi and Fantasy R Us: The Rise of Afro-futurism – From Octavia Butler to Black Panther. LPVBF attracts hundreds of fans and readers every year with their selection of celebrities, authors, poets, speakers, storytellers, performers and educational exhibitors. Baker has been fascinating critics with her Between Lions series and has captivated audiences across the nation and internationally. The Arriviste Publication has called Baker “America’s Answer to Harry Potter.”

“Loved the mysticism and magic…..world building made me want to jump in the fight alongside Anna… must read YA”- USA Today

The Leimert Park Village Book Fair is Saturday, August 19, 2017 in Los Angeles. The book fair will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the grounds of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (BHCP), located at 3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The family-oriented event is held in the heart of Leimert Park, which is considered the center of the African American arts/intellectual scene in LA. Jodi’s Panel starts promptly at 1:00 p.m.

“Trust, Book I and II are the perfect companions. We need more books like this that take a strong young woman who is faced with many obstacles and comes out shinning on the other side…. Truth took me on a real journey as if I was there, ingenious! This series should be on every young woman’s bookshelf. I can’t wait until I’m covering the film adaptation at Cannes!”- The Los Angeles Times.

“Between Lions is the series to follow!”- The New York Times.

As a child, the only punishment Jodi ever feared was not being allowed her weekly visit to the library.  Ms. Baker is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and she spent several months performing plays on the island of Cyprus, which was where she fell in love with mythology. When she returned to the U.S.A. Jodi lived in New York City. After a summer of working as a tour guide for the Natural History Museum, Jodi developed an addiction for wandering through all of NYC’s incredible Museums –in particularly, The Met. She also spent many hours sitting between the infamous library lions dreaming up the kinds of books she wanted to create. She happily lives in Los Angeles in a house lined with books instead of wallpaper. In addition to this series, Jodi is working on a middle grade fiction fantasy series.  Subscribe to her blog and on follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  Jodi Baker is represented by Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger Literary Agency in New York City and Publicist Miranda Spigener-Sapon at MS Film PR Literary in Los Angeles.

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Survival of the Softest Means Curtains for The Classical

click to enlarge The Classical's Survival of the Softest.

  • The Classical’s Survival of the Softest.

Juliet Gordon wrote most of the songs on Survival of the Softest, The Classical’s third album, after splitting with her creative and romantic partner Britt Ciampa. This prompted her to dwell on how vulnerability predisposes some people to destruction. “I went through so many endings,” she said. “The way we survive as people who are soft, who open ourselves up to pain — that deserves merit.”

This theme of perseverance, though, belies another significant detail about the album: Survival of the Softest is the final release by The Classical, which will perform for the last time Friday, August 11, at Eli’s Mile High Club in Oakland.

Gordon, 27, says that Survival of the Softest features less of the literary melodrama on Diptych, which the Express dubbed the finest local release of 2014, yet it’s a difference of degree, not kind. The songwriter, whose background is in theater, still thrives on dramatic distance, embodying characters both mythical and contemporary.

Opener “Theme for a Gorgon,” a smoky dirge, suffused with degraded vocal samples, is inspired by the tale of Medusa — a woman brutalized for her beauty, and transformed into a monster. “Uh Oh,” based on dancehall’s diwali rhythm, is a bright mélange of piano and handclaps. It takes up a sturdy pop theme: good-feeling yet ultimately unhealthy relationships. This highlight, lighter and brighter than anything before, perhaps reveals Gordon’s creative inclinations post-Classical.

“The last album, I was trying to do Scott Walker and Death Grips,” she said. “Now, I’m just trying to go in the direction of bouncing rhythms off people’s bodies.”

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The Classical started in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and in 2013 Ciampa and Gordon moved to San Francisco. Ciampa’s stuttering, jazz-inflected drumming leant swing to Gordon’s electronic arrangements; their songs assumed shapes befitting the elastic contours of Gordon’s voice. The Classical evinced comic severity and serious play, and Gordon’s winking diva gestures distinguished live sets.

Gordon, who’s since moved to Berkeley, reformed the lineup following Ciampa’s departure last year with the three members of Be Quiet. They wear cut-off black hoodies and headlamps on stage, playing drum pads and midi-controllers like technicians. Gordon remembers reassembling a band as nightmarish, uncomfortably like her administrative day-job. So, when one member decided to move, she opted to dissolve The Classical.

Gordon offered few details of her next band, insisting only that his columnist refer to it as a “super group.”

• • •

Days after administrators at Mills College reversed their plan to dismiss Roscoe Mitchell, the seminal composer and improviser released a two-disc set of bold new music, Bells for the South Side.

In 2015, Mitchell performed a concert series at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians — a pioneering collective of Black artists that elevated the philosophy and practice of improvisation.

Mitchell and a fleet of players — Mills colleague William Winant, disciple Tyshawn Sorey, and longtime collaborator Tani Tabbal, among others — used instruments, on display in the galleries, that once belonged to members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, which the 76-year-old luminary cofounded in 1969.

Yet their performances, captured on Bells for the South Side, reflect none of the nostalgia suggested by the retrospective occasion. Instead Mitchell leads the ensembles through eleven disparate pieces — alternately austere and ecstatic, swarming and spare to the point of disappearance.

Opener “Spatial Aspects of the Sound” is ascetically restrained, with just clusters of notes at listeners’ aural periphery, while “Six Gongs and Two Woodblocks” marshals monstrous intensity. The latter piece pits James Fei’s dour, droning electronics against Mitchell’s wavering saxophone sustain, which relies on his circular breathing skills.

The title track, a reference to Mitchell’s hometown of Chicago, is a reverie of sleigh bells and chimes, evoking a gust of wind through a rustic neighborhood at dusk. “Panoply,” a spirited and skittering highlight, is also the title of an abstract painting by Mitchell, printed on the back of Bells for the South Side’s CD booklet. It’s all earthy, warm colors and kinetic lines, suggestive of teardrops, masks, and outstretched hands.

The fiftieth of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians meant ample opportunities for Mitchell to perform and discuss his legacy, and Bells for the South Side proves a timely reminder — not least because of his employer’s austerity measures — of his ongoing role as a mentor and vanguard artist.

So did last week’s people of color-centered punk fest The Universe is Lit, considering the organizers adopted an old AACM slogan: “Great Black Music, Ancient to the Future.”

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Netflix nabs Shonda Rhimes, commencing total TV takeover

Image: mashable composite/netflix

If you had any doubts that the future of TV is streaming, then let network television queen Shonda Rhimes explain it; On Sunday, Rhimes signed a multi-year deal with Netflix to produce new and original Shondaland shows.

“Shonda Rhimes is one of the greatest storytellers in the history of television,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, Netflix. “Her work is gripping, inventive, pulse-pounding, heart-stopping, taboo-breaking television at its best. I’ve gotten the chance to know Shonda and she’s a true Netflixer at heart — she loves TV and films, she cares passionately about her work, and she delivers for her audience. We’re so excited to welcome her to Netflix.”

One Netflix spokesperson stated pointedly that the company wants to be a home for black artists pushing the boundaries of visual storytelling:

Shonda joins so many of the best black creators in the game that have chosen to call Netflix home, including Spike Lee (Director: She’s Gotta Have it), Ava DuVernay (Director: 13th, Central Park Five), Justin Simien (Director: Dear White People), Dee Rees (Director: Mudbound), Yance Ford (Director: Strong Island) and Marlon Wayans (Producer: Naked).  

Netflix offers creators like these something that other networks don’t: complete creative freedom. You can watch pure, unfiltered #BlackGirlMagic / #BlackBoyJoy whenever you want, wherever you want, and on whatever device you want with Netflix.

Netflix currently streams Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and How to Get Away With Murder from the Shondaland world, but working with Netflix means Rhimes and her colleagues aren’t restricted by schedules, ratings, or — most importantly — standards and practices. That means Shondaland with swears, Shondaland with uninhibited sex scenes and probably a lot more of that murder everyone gets away with.

It’s going to fantastic.

Current Shondaland shows on ABC will continue to air there, but Rhimes was likely already on her way out of ABC, with a year left in her deal with the network. Last year, she expressed an interest in leaving “traditional TV” with large-batch episode releases or varying episode running times. It was reported in 2016 that ABC was also hunting for more procedurals and live shows rather than traditional scripted drama, which are Rhimes’ specialty.

“Shondaland’s move to Netflix is the result of a shared plan Ted Sarandos and I built based on my vision for myself as a storyteller and for the evolution of my company,” Rhimes said in the release. “Ted provides a clear, fearless space for creators at Netflix. He understood what I was looking for — the opportunity to build a vibrant new storytelling home for writers with the unique creative freedom and instantaneous global reach provided by Netflix’s singular sense of innovation. The future of Shondaland at Netflix has limitless possibilities.”

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Detroit Museums Examine the Riots That Changed the City

Detroit’s riots began early on the morning of Sunday, July 23, 1967, set off by a police raid on a “blind pig,” local terminology for an illegal club. A combination of tensions, from employment, discrimination, police brutality and increasingly crowded living conditions finally boiled over. Parts of Detroit burned for nearly a week, leaving 43 dead.

“It’s like 9/11,” said Mr. Stone, a Detroit native. “Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing in 1967 in Detroit.”

The historical museum’s exhibition, “Detroit 67: Perspectives,” has three sections: before, during and after the riots. In the first, timelines, photographs, movies, newspaper clippings and other ephemera plot the growth of Detroit’s black community during the Great Migration, with earlier examples of racial tension highlighted.

In addition to timelines and placards, visitors are exposed to the riots through more immersive displays, including a midcentury living room with TV sets blaring ABC News, and a mock-up of looted 12th Street businesses, including Joe’s Record Shop.

A mock tank is around the corner, its side split open, displays graphic-novel-style montages of residents recounting the riots. Tanks are a common theme. Sounds from the looted shop fronts and TVs compete for attention, a cacophony of smashing glass, crackling fires and panicked news coverage that brings a heart-pounding sense of confusion.

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Tanks are a common theme in the exhibition “Detroit 67: Perspectives” at the Detroit Historical Museum. Credit Morley Companies/Detroit Historical Society

The historical society has also created programming outside the museum, including at the site where the riots began. It has dedicated a historical marker in Gordon Park, which is built over the site of the long-gone club. Curators from all three museums put together the program of events with input from focus groups of locals, academics and activists. The society also coordinated with Brothers Always Together, known as the BATs, a group of African-American men who were children at the time of the riots and have long held a commemorative neighborhood festival on their anniversary.

Aspects of the exhibitions at the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Wright Museum align. Their exhibitions share artists, including Jason H. Phillips, Jeff Donaldson and Wadsworth Jarrell, reflecting the museums’ collaboration. For the institute, that cooperation was an important component in seeking closer ties with African-Americans in the city, a goal of the museum director, Salvador Salort-Pons.

Looking beyond Detroit, the institute’s exhibition, “Art of Rebellion: Black Art of the Civil Rights Movement,” examines the civil rights movement’s artistic impact. Some pieces are influenced by African traditions, and are grouped by various African-American art movements, including Spiral, the Kamoinge Workshop and the Black Arts Movement. The exhibition curator, Valerie Mercer, said she hoped that museum-goers learn how, from the 1960s on, “artists participated in their own way in the civil rights and black power movement.”

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Rita Dickerson’s “1967: Death in the Algiers Motel and Beyond” makes links between the incident and people recently killed by police. Credit Detroit Institute of Arts

Recent works by Detroit artists exemplify this, including Mario Moore’s 2015 “Queen Mother Helen Moore,” painted on shimmering copper and portraying his grandmother, protectively holding photos of her sons. “1967: Death in the Algiers Motel and Beyond,” by the Detroit artist Rita Dickerson, who was 21 during the riots, features the cherubic faces of the three young black men killed in the incident, which is dramatized in Ms. Bigelow’s movie. In Ms. Dickerson’s work, the names of young black men recently killed by the police are juxtaposed with the names of the victims from 1967.

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“Patriot” (1975), by Jeff Donaldson. Credit Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Taking its name from a James Brown song, and with indoor and outdoor components, the Wright’s exhibition, “Say It Loud: Art, History, Rebellion,” is the most conceptually difficult of the three shows in Detroit. Groupings of artworks also highlight contradictions for African-Americans who might fight alongside whites to protect American freedoms, yet still have trouble reaching full equality, according to Erin Falker, an assistant curator at the museum.

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Jason H. Phillips’s “Weight” (2001). Credit Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Ms. Falker said that they chose to place “Flag for the Moon: Die Nigger” by Faith Ringgold, a distortion of the United States flag from 1969 that spells out the racial epithet in its stripes, across from the khaki-colored “Patriot” by Jeff Donaldson, from 1975, and “Weight” by Mr. Phillips, from 2001. Ms. Falker said the grouping highlighted the remembrance that, on the night of the raid that sparked the riots, the club was having a party for African-American soldiers returning from Vietnam.

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Sanford Biggers’s “Laocoön” is one of the more uncomfortable images in the exhibition “Say It Loud: Art, History, Rebellion,” at the Wright Museum of African American History. Credit Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

One of the most uncomfortable works at the Wright is Sanford Biggers’s 2015 “Laocoön.” The cartoonish, bulbous black male is made from inflatable vinyl and is clothed in a bright orange shirt and bluejeans. He resembles a sleeping Fat Albert, but the museum placard suggests that the work depicts Eric Garner, the black man who died in 2014 after being restrained with a chokehold by the New York City police.

Today’s Black Lives Matter movement is reflected in all three shows. The institute’s final piece is a room almost entirely filled with Adam Pendleton’s 2015 work “Black Lives Matter #3.” The historical museum examines Black Lives Matter and that movement’s use of new media. At the Wright, in Mr. Phillips’s 2015 work “Uneven Fight,” “Black Lives Matter” is tattooed across the chest of a black boxer surrounded by menacing white police figures.

In a Detroit area with changing demographics, the Wright’s collaboration with the institute allows “people to see a much broader perspective of ’67 than they would have if they had just seen one or the other,” the Wright’s president and chief executive, Juanita Moore, said. She said she hoped it might also encourage more white visitors to her museum.

Another goal at all the museums is teaching millennials and other young people to make connections between the past and present. The Wright’s curator of exhibitions, Patrina Chatman, a Detroit native who was a teenager during the riots, said art with Black Lives Matter elements mixed with earlier civil rights references reminds young people that “history is repeating itself.”

Ms. Chatman added, “This occurred and pay attention, because it can happen again.” The question she wants all museum visitors to ask themselves is “how can we move forward” in racial understanding, in Detroit and throughout the United States?

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Some of hip hop’s most memorable moments: From Obama’s shoulder dust off to Kanye’s rants

Google has unveiled a new doodle on its home page commemorating the birth of hip hop 44 years ago, this had us thinking of someone of hip hop’s most memorable moments. 

Live Nation to be sued by family following drug overdose death at a festival

August 11 marks the 44th anniversary of 18-year-old Jamaican-American DJ known as Kool Herc throwing a back-to-school jam in the Bronx.

At the party, DJ Herc did something different with his turntables that had a ripple effect on music as we know it – and from there a large subculture was born.

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Hip hop is not only about the music – it’s a lifestyle that has impacted many lives across generations for the past 4 decades. From DJ-ing, break dancing, graffiti art, streetwear and language hip hop continues to have a huge social impact.

At the centre of African-American culture in the 70s and 80s, hip hop has come so far and become a global phenomenon still dictating culture today.

Over the years hip hop has provided us with some very memorable moments, from Kanye West’s outburst to Barack Obama’s presidential hip hop references to the global mourning of fallen legends like Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls.

We asked some of our readers for their most memorable hip hop moments…

‘How Sway?!’: When Kanye West Created A Brand New Phrase

The most popular mentioned moment from our readers? The time Kanye West unwittingly coined the phrase ‘How Sway?!’

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Kanye, aside from his master lyricism and epic beat-making, has become well-known for his rants and, well, interrupting Taylor Swift’s moment that time at the 2009 VMAs.

Some of hip hop's most memorable moments: From Obama's shoulder dust off to Kanye's rants
Kanye’s famous ‘Imma let you finish moment’ with Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs (Credit: GIFY)

In an interview with hip hop journalist Sway Calloway, the 40-year-old can be heard flipping out when he disagreed with Sway’s suggestions on how to avoid being marginalised as a black artist in the mainstream media.

According to Urban Dictionary, ‘How Sway?’ is a reaction to someone doing or saying that is either completely impossible, unheard of unrealistic or difficult to understand.

Since the line was uttered in 2013, it has yet to leave popular culture.

Flipping out is not Kanye’s only legacy. His debut release of College Dropout in 2004 made hip hop a lot more accessible to hip hop fans who struggled to relate to the popularised gang references in the majority of records that landed on mainstream charts.

Henry, 28, a music professional, told Metro.co.uk: ‘It is refreshing to see and hear an album that didn’t follow the gangster narrative. Definitely impacted hip hop for the long term.’

When Jay-Z  Teamed Up with Linkin Park

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Michael, a hip hop editor, told Metro.co.uk the collaboration was ‘historic’ art.

When hip hop artist Jay teamed up with the rock band for Numb/Encore we saw something that we felt we had never seen before.

The 2004 single went on to win a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration in 2006.

Michael said: ‘let’s stop pretending that wasn’t historic af (sic)’

Ether: That Massive Jay-Z and Nas Beef

Ether is a song recorded by hip hop veteran from his 2001 critically acclaimed album Stillmatic and was a direct response to Jay-Z’s Takeover, a hard core diss track directed at Nas.

Between 1997 to 2005, the rap titans were at each other’s throats.

‘Nas and Jay-Z’s war made hip hop interesting, even though we just wanted them to get along it gave us some of the greatest songs for almost a decade. No one can do it like them,’ said Becky, 25, who works in fine art.

It all started off with subliminal jabs and then quickly moved up to full blown body shots.

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The well-publicized beef is considered to have brought us hip-hop’s greatest diss tracks.

Some of hip hop's most memorable moments: From Obama's shoulder dust off to Kanye's rants
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Thankfully their rivalry didn’t end with a bitter ending. Fans will remember the time Jay-Z and Nas were seen in public together for the first time officially squashing their beef.

In October 2005, Jay Z headlined a comeback concert dubbed I Declare War.

Rather, he declared peace as he invited Nas on stage.

Obviously, history had been made and despite some recent attempts by Drake and Meek Mill there has not been a rap beef like it since. Don’t @ us.

When Kendrick Lamar Had The World Shook

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Sarah, 32, a teacher described the moment Kendrick performed at the 2016 Grammy’s as ‘colossal.’

The Compton performed The Blacker The Berry at that year’s ceremony in chains as an ode to the Black Lives Matter movement. Rapping in the midst of a fire, some viewers considered it controversial and others commented that it was ‘what hip hop is about’.

‘We already knew Kendrick was the business but when he got up on that world stage it was colossal,’ Sarah gushed to Metro.co.uk. ‘And he basically told the world that black lives have to matter, in such a bad-ass performance.’

She continued: ‘That is what hip hop is about. It’s about the message.’

That Time Hip Hop Became Political

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Obviously, there are so many more memorable moments, like the time Barack Obama get’s ‘the dirt of his shoulder’.

During his 2008 Presidential campaign, the future President of the United States made a direct reference to Jay-Z’s song Dirt Off Your Shoulder.

That moment was so important to hip hop fans because it proved that the culture could be respected.

Monster: That Time Nicki Minaj Bodied EVERYBODY In One Verse

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Another popular suggestion from our readers and we understand why.

Nicki Minaj’s verse on Monster, a 2010 Kanye West track, overshadowed every single artist on the track including Jay-Z, Rick Ross and Bon Iver.

This was such a huge moment as the feminine presence in hip hop had been lacking lately so to have a woman dominate on a song whilst featuring with the biggest male names was … everything.

The Monster verse is still one of Nicki’s greatest work.

Did somebody say ‘Girl Power’?

MORE: History of hip hop: Where and when did it begin?

MORE: Drake, Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar help hip hop become the most popular music genre overtaking rock

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The power of black art

The art world’s response to the birth of Black Power is being highlighted at a major new exhibition at the Tate Modern.

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power explores what it meant to be black – and to be a black artist – in the USA from 1963 to 1983 as cultural identity was shifting and reforming.

Image copyright The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
Image caption Muhammad Ali by Andy Warhol

Some of the pieces on show at the London gallery take direct inspiration from some of the key black figures of the day, as in Andy Warhol’s Muhammad Ali.

Image copyright Barkley L Hendricks
Image caption Icon for My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved any Black People – Bobby Seale) by Barkley L Hendricks

Barkley Hendricks, who died earlier this year, told the Tate: “I’m just trying to do the best painting of the individuals who have piqued my curiosity and made me want to paint them.”

His work Icon for My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved any Black People) was inspired by political activist Bobby Seale’s statement that “Superman never saved any black people”.

Image copyright Carolyn Lawrence
Image caption Black Children Keep Your Spirits Free by Carolyn Lawrence

Curator Mark Godfrey told the BBC: “We’ve done shows about American art for decades – it was a question of why hadn’t we done one on African-American art?

“And there was every reason to do it as these are great artists making important work. We felt it was important to tell the story of this 20-year period when they were asking questions about the black aesthetic and what it means.

“It’s a cohesive set of questions and a varied set of answers.”

Image copyright Wadsworth Jarrell
Image caption Revolutionary by Wadsworth Jarrell

Wadsworth Jarrell – whose work Revolutionary is above – formed AfriCobra (the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists) with fellow artists Jeff Donaldson, Jae Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Nelson Stevens and Gerald Williams in the late 1960s.

They were the only group to devise a manifesto for black art at this time.

Image copyright Frank Bowling
Image caption Texas Louise by Frank Bowling

Frank Bowling, born in British Guyana before moving from London to New York, was a key player in the Black Art movement, arguing that it could be abstract and did not need to be overtly political.

One of his other works, Middle Passage, is travelling outside of the US for the first time – and Bowling himself has not seen it since it was exhibited in 1971.

Image copyright Benny Andrews
Image caption Did the Bear Sit Under a Tree by Benny Andrews

On that note, Godfrey said that many of the works – of which there are more than 150, by more than 60 artists – are being shown in the UK for the first time.

Some they wanted proved impossible to locate, including Phillip Lindsay Mason’s The Death Makers. But its importance is being marked at the exhibition all the same.

Godfrey explained: “Even the artist doesn’t know where it is. So we wanted to acknowledge its absence with a blank space.”

Image copyright Emory Douglas
Image caption We Shall Survive Without a Doubt by Emory Douglas

As well as such iconic artworks as Warhol’s portrait of Ali, the exhibition also looks at how art was reflected on the streets of America.

The Black Panther Party’s culture minister Emory Douglas said that “the ghetto itself is the gallery” and was behind posters like the one above.

Image copyright Betye Saar
Image caption Eye by Betye Saar

Betye Saar is one of the female artists whose work looks at the black feminism movement and its impact on the two decades, increasing the visibility of black women.

Image copyright Emma Amos
Image caption Eva the Babysitter by Emma Amos

Emma Amos once said in an interview that, in her opinion, “artists are extremely influenced by whatever is going on at the time they’re coming into their powerful vision”.

As the Tate said itself in its description of the show, it is a “timely opportunity to see how American cultural identity was reshaped at a time of social unrest and political struggle”.

Soul of a Nation is at the Tate Modern from 12 July to 22 October


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Analysis: ‘Detroit’ Touches Raw Nerve but Tells an Important Story

It’s been 50 years since footage of tanks mounted with machine guns thundering through Detroit neighborhoods and blocks of buildings billowing with flames were broadcast into American homes.

But in Academy-Award winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s riveting new film, “Detroit,” these events feel fraught with the same tension they did back then.

More than 150 riots — or rebellions, as many historians, and to their credit even Bigelow and her cast have called them — struck American cities between 1965 and 1968.

In 1967 alone, 83 people died and 1,800 were injured — the vast majority of them African Americans living in major cities where a racially-charged encounter between Black citizens and police led to state-sanctioned violence against U.S. citizens. With a total of 43 deaths, Detroit’s five-day uprising that year one of the deadliest race riots of the 20th century.”

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It was perhaps even more jarring because the polished, apolitical crooning of Motown portrayed a city not just manufacturing most of the nation’s cars, but often producing bubblegum pop that was safe for mass consumption.

When Detroit went up in flames, so did Motown’s illusory version of it.

Related: OpEd: ‘Detroit’ is Going to Hurt, But It’s Worth It

The film’s lofty goals are admirable: to show how closely tied our past is to our present, and the historically unmitigated trauma that police brutality and the injustice of the American court system inflict upon Black America.

Given the film is directed by a white woman and written by a white man — Mark Boal, Bigelow’s collaborator on both “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” — it succeeds incredibly well at these tasks, despite occasional moments where white guilt invades the narrative in arguably anachronistic and potentially historically inaccurate ways.

Image: detroit 4

Still, Bigelow deserves real credit for even making this film.

Sadly the only female director to ever win an academy award for best director (for “The Hurt Locker”), she also deserves credit for dispelling the biggest myth that persists about the 1967 Detroit Riots, as they remain most commonly known.

The myth, retold incessantly, is that the riots led to the city’s infamous decades of decline.

The truth: by 1967, Detroit had already lost 130,000 manufacturing jobs in 20 years. Many companies had already relocated to the suburbs, and the highways that destroyed cramped, inner-city Black neighborhoods were making it convenient for whites to live outside the city.

But this persistently repeated falsehood that the ’67 riots are what destroyed Detroit conveniently places blame in the wrong community’s lap, and strips even current injustices damaging the lives of tens of thousands living there today, such as the ongoing tax foreclosures and water shutoffs, of their historical context.

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Bigelow’s film instead opens with a beautiful, eerie montage of text, crackling sound and animations based on artwork by Jacob Lawrence, a renowned African-American artist who chronicled the Great Migration from the South to the urban ghettos of the North.

Condensing into minutes what the award-winning book “The Origins of the Urban Crisis” documents best, the montage serves as a critical historical corrective by informing the audience that even as Detroit was peaking at nearly two million people in the 1950s, the city’s eventual jaw-dropping decline had already begun.

Among the main culprits: automation, white flight to the suburbs subsidized by the first federally-backed mortgages, and ironically, urban renewal, an Orwellian term for even vibrant Black neighborhoods being destroyed to make way for the construction of some of America’s biggest interstate highways.

From there the film segues swiftly from the police raid on an after-hours club that sparked the uprising to the war-like cauldron of chaos Detroit quickly devolved into. When a National Guardsman mistakes a little Black girl for a sniper — a four-year-old did become the riots’ youngest victim when the Guard fired after her uncle struck his lighter near a window — the film matches historical records almost verbatim.

Image: detroit 3

Likewise, the real murder of a Black man carrying groceries out of a looted store by a white police officer (a composite character played brilliantly by the young, British actor Will Poulter), includes another officer joking about what a “physical specimen” the victim was.

Police records indicate one of the real-life officers the film did not depict said exactly that. This kind of attention to even the rawest details is what makes the film for the most part unflinching.

In the end, the 45 terrifying minutes the film spends at a seedy prostitution-haven known as The Algiers Motel with a handful of cops and their victims are what make the film so riveting.

Three black youth died there and numerous others were badly beaten, including several members of the up-and-coming group The Dramatics (the film places only one former member in the motel, although in reality several members fled there for respite from the riots).

Frequently, just like the characters, the audience spends long moments unsure who is alive and who is dead, as police use guerrilla interrogation tactics in an attempt to elicit confessions.

Police originally suspected sniper fire from the now long-gone Algiers. The real crime there in the end: several groups of Black men fraternizing with a pair of white women. A starter pistol was fired from the motel in horseplay, leading to the police siege, but no gun was ever found.

Still, when the film fictionalizes moments no definitive account exists for, it sometimes veers briefly into what feels like inauthentic terrain.

Related: Detroit at Crossroads 50 Years After Riots Devastated City

When Larry Reed, a badly-beaten member of The Dramatics, escapes the night of terror at the Algiers, a white cop on the street comes to his aid, asking “Oh my God, who could do this to someone?”, whisking his “brother” off to a hospital. C’mon now.

The film also portrays the National Guard and state police as hands off when Detroit cops get too bloody at the Algiers.

The truth is a presidential commission later established by Lyndon B. Johnson found most of the deaths that occurred were due to these forces collectively going out of control. The Detroit Police were directly tied to 18 deaths, the National Guard, 11 deaths. Only 10 of the people who died were white, even though Detroit was more than 60 percent white at the time.

Image: detroit 1

Still, while a litany of coverage of the 50th anniversary of the ’67 Detroit Riots resurrects the tragedy in at times dry and academic terms, Bigelow’s directorial style — tight shots, hand-held camera work, the deft use of explosions, slamming doors, gunshots and other ear-shattering sounds — does anything but.

The film finally leaves the motel for a police precinct and courtroom drama that aren’t perfect.

Scenes include senior detectives who anachronistically disparage the police who raided the Algiers as “racists.” A key Black character, Melvin Dismukes, — a security guard working nearby who tried to minimize the carnage at the motel — was portrayed as the central character in the film’s first trailer. Played deftly as man navigating the Black/white divide by John Boyega early in the film, after Dismukes is charged with murder along with the police in an apparent set up he becomes increasingly lineless, and how he got off absent white privilege is never explained.

Image: detroit 5

In an interview before the “Detroit” premiere, Bigelow defended the film’s fictionalized take on an actual historical event. She noted that “court documentation and research… really informed the script,” and defended the portrayal of several non-racists in the police department as verified by FOIA’d documents.

In the end, three policemen and effectively the entire police department were cleared from murder, felonious assault, conspiracy, and conspiracy to commit civil rights abuses. While none of the real officers involved at the Algiers ever served as beat cops again, the city settled civil suits for paltry amounts, and no authorities ever were convicted of any crimes, although thousands of Blacks were arrested and convicted.

Related: ‘Detroit’ stars tell TODAY about their critically acclaimed new film

Today, many of Detroit’s commercial and residential corridors have remained vacant since being burned down in 1967. Also today, as we all know, things akin to the Algiers Motel “incident” still happen all the time — a point Bigelow is obviously trying to make, to her credit.

In a rousing introduction at the film’s Detroit premiere, celebrity academic and Detroit native Michael Eric Dyson, whose father moved to from Georgia in search for factory work decades ago, called Bigelow a “straight-up genius” and hero for “calling into question a culture of complicity” toward police brutality in America.

“She has the gall and the courage and the unabashed temerity to tell the truth about what’s going on,” Dyson said.

Image: detroit 2

Bigelow’s electric new drama is the third in a trilogy of war films, both of which received widespread acclaim: “The Hurt Locker,” set in wartime Iraq, won six Academy awards, including best film, and “Zero Dark Thirty,” which focused on the assassination of Osama bin Laden, was nominated for five Academy awards. “Detroit” deserves similar recognition at next year’s Academy Awards, even if it’s far from perfect.

An interesting historical footnote: John Hersey, one of the most acclaimed American novelists and journalists of the 20th Century, never got clear answers to key questions even though he interviewed numerous Black survivors and all of the white police officers charged with murder at the Algiers for his book, “The Algiers Motel Incident.”

That may be why Hersey agreed once more at his death to never allow his book to be made into a film.

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Bunny the elephant

Born in 1952 and captured in the wild in Burma, Bunny the elephant arrived at Mesker Park Zoo in 1954 as a 450-pound, 4 foot tall infant. This photo shows Bunny, age 12, having her nails filed by zookeeper Bonnie Conway. Bunny proved a popular attraction at the zoo for many decades, eventually growing to 7,800 pounds.

Discussion for Bunny’s retirement began in the 1990’s, largely due to the changing standards for animal welfare that began to recognize problems with holding elephants in captivity alone. In 1999, after much controversy, the Evansville Parks Board unanimously voted to retire the elephant.On Sept. 29, 1999, after a public going-away party featuring an elephant-sized cake from Donut Bank Bakery for spectators and grape leaves for the elephant, Bunny was retired to “The Elephant Sanctuary” in Hohenwald, Tennessee. Bunny passed away at the sanctuary on May 14, 2009, after nearly 10 years with other retired elephants.

History Lesson is a pictorial history of Evansville compiled by Daniel Smith, local history and digitization librarian at the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.

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