Four Corners artist promoting a home for black artists in his neighborhood

Dorchester-based artist Mfalme Kenyatta has no qualms about assigning eyebrow-raising value to his own art. The painter/sculptor/fashion designer, who compared himself to Picasso and Basquiat in an interview with the Reporter, has priced some of his paintings at millions, even tens of millions of dollars on his website.

By way of explanation, Kenyatta offered an example of a painting he saw at a contemporary art museum — a canvas painted solid red — that sold for $30 million. Why shouldn’t he treat his own art the same way?

“I don’t really feel that anyone can tell you what something is worth,” he said. “Not an appraiser, not a curator. It’s like, I made it, I know how long it took, I know what type of paint this is, I know how long it’ll last…as an artist, that comes from us.”

It’s a bold stance, but Kenyatta believes the truth inherent in his artwork supports his confidence. He considers each of his paintings to be “one of one,” trusting that their value comes from their uniqueness. “I look at it like every painting is like a piece of my soul. That’s how I approach it. And I’m always met with like, oh, you have to famous or dead to do that [with pricing]. But you know, fame doesn’t change your artwork.”

Photo credit Earnest X.

At the moment, Kenyatta is concerned less with fame and more with sparking a renaissance of black artists in his neighborhood. He works from his studio in the basement of the Erick Jean Center for the Arts in Four Corners, a space that is quickly becoming the new center for black art in Boston, according to Kenyatta. He describes the property, which is shared by the Afro-Caribbean Museum and the Dorchester Arts Collaborative, as “the heart” of the local creative black community.

“For black artists, there’s not really too many options. They just closed AAMARP,” he said, referring to Northeastern University’s African American Master Artist-in-Residence Program, which had been under fire since last summer when the university threatened to force the black arts collective to vacate its premises due to safety concerns in the warehouse that housed it. With safe spaces for black artists imperiled elsewhere in the city, Kenyatta sees his home base as a welcoming, if under-the-radar, sanctuary.

“Something important that people need to realize is that there’s not too many options for us. That’s why here we’ve really been trying to cultivate that culture.”

The artistic presence at the Four Corners hub is growing, notably in the form of the “Indigo Regime,” a contingent of roughly fifteen artists from the area who gather in the museum to work and host shows.

Kenyatta stressed the crucial role of the arts center in “making sure that there’s a platform for black artists, because there’s a lot of artists around here, and I feel like if it wasn’t for this space, we wouldn’t even know. Me, personally, before this opened, I used to just walk around, pretty much. I had the talent, but I didn’t have the platform. And when I started thinking about it, there’s probably a lot of people like me who have talent but no outlet for it.”

Thanks to his Four Corners outlet, Kenyatta has spent the last several years honing his craft. He will present his second solo show at the museum’s gallery on May 2 as part of ArtWeek, a statewide creative festival.

When he’s not painting, Kenyatta is often out scavenging along the sidewalks of Dorchester for scraps of metal and plastic that he then uses to create found-object sculptures. Lawnmowers, bicycle wheels, and tires are all candidates for artistic repurposing.

One of Kenyatta’s found object sculptures.

“With the sculptures, sometimes it came from a place of lack,” he said. “You know, like not having. Sometimes I didn’t have materials to paint canvases or maybe didn’t have the particular paint or colors I wanted, so I just switched over to that.”

Another medium Kenyatta has crossed over to is clothing design. In that process, he usually begins by purchasing clothing wholesale. “If you buy clothes wholesale, it’s not really branded, you know what I mean? You can brand it yourself. I look at it like canvases. That’s really how I look at clothes, like a walking canvas.”

He often adorns his “walking canvases” with historical and religious symbolism, flicking splotches of paint at jackets and t-shirts until they become works he can call his own.

One of Kenyatta’s “walking canvases.”

Elsewhere, residents can spot Kenyatta’s brushstrokes at public art murals in Four Corners, Grove Hall, and on Dudley Street, as well as on a trio of painted mailboxes in the neighborhood.

Currently, artists of the Indigo Regime are exploring fundraising efforts in addition to their creative endeavors. Some crucial donors to the arts center recently pulled their funding, says Kenyatta. Those cuts mean a constant struggle to make ends meet for the nonprofit, but he dismissed any threat of closing as an impossibility.

“This place – you can’t close it. That’s not an option.”

Mfalme Kenyatta will host his ArtWeek solo show, “Mind of an Introvert 2” on Thurs., May 2, from 7 p.m. to-11 p.m. at the Afro-Caribbean Museum, 155A Washington St. $10 admission.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Afrofuturism in the Age of

African American Studies conference offers cross-section of movement: film, authors, comics, more

Afrofuturism steps into the spotlight at BU on Thursday, in the wake of the successes of Black Panther and Jordan Peele (Get Out).

Wait. Afrowhat?

The term “Afrofuturism” was coined by critic Mark Dery in 1993 to describe the use in African American culture of science fiction tropes to explore the condition of black people in the world—and to imagine the destinies they could shape for themselves.

“So much of black cultural production and thinking and politics is rooted in the traumas of the past,” says Louis Chude-Sokei, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of English, the George and Joyce Wein Chair in African American Studies, and director of the African American Studies Program. “Afrofuturism has allowed people to reimagine that past through the lens of possibility and the future.”

The African American Studies Program presents Afrofuturism & Black Speculative Arts: Expo and Symposium, on Thursday, April 18, from noon to 6 pm, at the Photonics Center. The event, free and open to the public, is cosponsored by the BU Arts Initiative.

Long before there was a word for it, African American artists created sci-fi and fantasy tales through the lens of the African diaspora, finding new freedoms and dangers in imagined futures, from the early science fiction of authors Samuel R. Delany and Octavia Butler to the astro-jazz of Sun Ra (Space Is the Place).

“Someone said science fiction writers capture the astonishment that black Americans live,” says Reynaldo Anderson, executive director and cofounder of the Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM), who will speak at the event. Consider, he says, the transatlantic slave trade as a form of alien abduction. “Using that type of genre to examine history has been a useful tool.”

Genre fiction also can fly under the radar while examining issues that would have been inflammatory if confronted directly. “Maybe the FBI wouldn’t come knocking at your door if you did it as a tall tale,” Anderson says.

And now, with Black Panther, actor, comedian, and filmmaker Peele’s horror flicks Get Out and Us, and the android feminist funk of Janelle Monáe, the genre seems to be moving into the mainstream. But putting a person of color in the spandex hero suit is only part of it.

As writer Jamie Broadnax put it in the Huffington Post, “A narrative that simply features a black character in a futuristic world is not enough. To be Afrofuturism, it must be rooted in and unapologetically celebrate the uniqueness and innovation of black culture.”

That means that mainstreaming can have its perils. “There is in fact a growing tension between those who have long been engaged in what’s now called Afrofuturism and those who are new to it due to its increasing cultural visibility,” Chude-Sokei says. “For the early adopters of Afrofuturism, there has been a stronger political and cultural content, where for many of the newcomers, it becomes hard to see beyond style and fashion.” That’s less a problem than it might seem, though, he says, because it’s simply how movements and cultural phenomena work.

AFROFUTURISM and Black Speculative Arts Expo and Symposium Thursday, April 18, 2019, 12-6 PM Photonics Center, Room 906, 8 St. Mary's St, Boston, MA 02215 BSAM, African American Studies Program, BU Arts Initiative, Arts Grant from the BU Arts Initiative - Office of the Provost

Thursday’s event will offer a modest cross-section of the movement, including representatives of Boston’s Comics in Color collective, filmmaker David Kirkman, who’ll screen his short film Static, several authors, and some merchandise tables. Don’t be surprised to see a few Black Panther cosplayers, too, Chude-Sokei says.

BSAM is currently the largest Afrofuturist organization, with satellites in Africa, Europe, and the United States. But it also deals with a variety of adjacent disciplines, from digital humanities to comics, says director Anderson, a Harris-Stowe State University associate professor of communication and humanities department chair.

“We refer to it as Afrofuturism 2.0 because this is the second wave, different from the earlier connotation, which focused on the digital divide for African Americans,” Anderson says. And as smartphones have greatly narrowed that divide, he says, 2.0 is more global, while social media and climate change know no borders.

Anderson, too, wonders whether mainstreaming in the wake of Black Panther could be a double-edged sword. “I suppose some people will try to co-opt it,” he says. “Everything is co-optable, but people who actually read and do scholarship will know what that is. That’s just a side effect of capitalism, I suppose.”

But Black Panther is itself a product of Hollywood capitalism, he says with a chuckle, and thus hardly perfect. “A CIA guy is the hero in Africa? We had a good laugh about that. They had to find one white person who was a hero to get the film made, probably. But you don’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good.”

The conference is the third one centered on new-generation ideas about race and diversity and sexuality that Chude-Sokei has organized for the African American Studies Program. It’s his effort to rebrand the program as cutting-edge, and he says it’s been a boon for student interest.

The idea of this week’s event is “to introduce people to Afrofuturism not just as this cool thing that’s done in pop culture,” he says, “but how it actually can work in redesigning our futures.”

The African American Studies Program presents Afrofuturism & Black Speculative Arts: Expo and Symposium on Thursday, April 18, from noon to 6 pm, at the Photonics Center, Room 906, 8 St. Mary’s St. The event is free and open to the public; tickets are available here. The event is cosponsored by the BU Arts Initiative and funded in part by an Arts Grant from the BU Arts Initiative—Office of the Provost.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Beyoncé’s Netflix doc captures icon at her radical peak

Beyoncé performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018 in Indio, California.



Beyoncé could have just come to the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and played the hits.

She didn’t.

The artist instead opted to conceptualize a performance that paid tribute to Black culture, and championed — and even challenged — her Black fans. The concert’s creation was painstakingly captured for “Homecoming,” a film Beyoncé directed and produced for Netflix that began streaming on Wednesday.

What made Beyoncé’s Coachella showing so radical was her mission to celebrate the Black art that has long influenced popular culture even though its architects — especially the female ones — haven’t always been given their due from White America.

It was audacious for a performer whose celebrity has increasingly transcended her music to stand onstage at the holy grail of music festivals and perform with such specificity. The move could have been divisive if it hadn’t been such a jubilant affair.


In “Homecoming,” the performer lifts the veil on the grueling planning and rehearsals that went into mounting the ambitious set. You might not have been at Beychella, but you most certainly heard of it.

The nearly 2 1/2-hour film is a replay of the exquisitely choreographed and visually grand performance from dozens of perspectives — the way she intended it to look, Netflix executives explained before a private screening on Monday — while also providing a rare look into her personal orbit she’s so carefully kept at bay.

Both a traditional concert documentary and the manifesto of a superstar artist no longer bound by convention, the film shows her Coachella performances through a tapestry of rehearsal footage, home videos, archival pieces and voice-over.

“Instead of me pulling out my flower crown, it was important that I brought our culture,” Beyoncé says over grainy footage of the cadre of Black dancers, singers and musicians she recruited.


It’s a clever jab at the inherent whiteness of a festival that waited nearly 10 years before having a lack artist top its bill and let another 10 go by before a Black woman headlined. “Ain’t that ’bout a bitch,” Beyoncé famously said onstage.

The performance was explicitly an homage to the spiritual experience and rich culture of homecoming celebrations at historically Black colleges and universities, and the sight of Beyoncé, clad in a sporty hoodie with her own sorority insignia, posed atop a pyramid stuffed with a drumline, orchestra, steppers, majorettes, breakers and dancers, was instantly iconic.

The first 15 minutes of “Homecoming” is a straight-ahead concert experience, with the opening salvo — she sandwiched two of her biggest hits, “Crazy in Love” and “Formation,” with the Black national anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” — playing out from a flurry of angles.

And then we step back to nearly a year before she was set to perform, shortly after giving birth to twins, a pregnancy that was fraught with complications — and resulted in her postponing her Coachella appearance for a year.


She’s been generous with behind-the-scenes footage throughout her career and made a documentary about her life and career for HBO back in 2013, but it’s not often she lets us in on the moments when she’s feeling insecure or unsteady. We see her fail to perfect a routine and cut others that she can’t execute.

Beyoncé is at her most vulnerable when she’s juggling the rigors of building a performance of this scale with motherhood, but the tension in the film comes from her commitment to perfection in her craft.

Every artistic decision is made by her, and her only — not that it comes as a surprise, particularly for those who can recall the famous clip of her detailing to a lighting director why a particular hue of blue would never work for black skin.

Nearly every moment of the eight months of rehearsal was captured on film, from the grueling first workouts and rehearsals to selecting the hundreds of dancers and musicians that appeared with her to costume creation to mapping the show and traipsing between the three soundstages.

It’s far more action than necessary for anyone just wanting to watch the concert, but it’s a revelatory — and celebratory — look at the boldest statement she’s made yet.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Beyonce drops surprise live Coachella album alongside Homecoming Netflix doco

Posted April 18, 2019 16:58:45

You might not have known it was coming, but that seems to be Beyonce’s style.

Key points:

  • Homecoming: A Film by Beyonce was released on Netflix worldwide this week
  • The film and its accompanying soundtrack centre on Beyonce’s now-iconic performances at Coachella in 2017 and 2018
  • The documentary captures the human side of the singer, and features the voices of Nina Simone and Maya Angelou

The US singer announced the release of a surprise live album to coincide with the launch of her Netflix documentary, Homecoming: A Film by Beyonce.

And it’s already all over the internet.

While Netflix had been dropping not-so-subtle spoilers about the documentary all week, fans were in the dark about a potential album until hours before the announcement.

That’s when speculation surfaced the singer was preparing to drop a new album.

Nothing had been confirmed until Beyonce herself took to Twitter to announce the live soundtrack, called Homecoming: The Live Album, which features mainly tracks performed at her 2017 Coachella performance.

But it also includes a new studio recording, a cover of Maze’s 1981 hit Before I Let Go, which plays over the closing credits of the film.

The film premiered on Wednesday and captures the human side of the superstar singer with intimate, behind-the-scenes moments from Beyonce’s headlining show at the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

The show has already become one of the most iconic musical performances of all time, marking the first time a black woman headlined the famed festival.

It was also just the third time a woman scored the gig, behind Bjork and Lady Gaga.

But the film takes the performance a step further to showcase what was happening to get Beyonce to this historic moment, including the birth of her twins and her tributes to black college culture and black art.

The documentary also includes audio soundbites from popular figures to help narrate the story: Nina Simone speaks about blackness, Maya Angelou talks about truth, and Tessa Thompson and Danai Gurira explain the importance of seeing people who look like you on large screens.

Beyonce speaks too, saying the importance of her performance was to bring “our culture to Coachella” and highlight “everyone that had never seen themselves represented”.

Her performance is an homage to the culturally-rich homecoming events held annually at historically black colleges and universities.

It also showcases Beyonce’s own homecoming — her return to her roots, and how she’s found a new voice by reinterpreting her music through the lens of black history.


Topics: music, arts-and-entertainment, united-states

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Review – Beyonce’s Homecoming doco shows how she changed Coachella, forever

REVIEW: Beyonce is extremely private, and only lets you know what she wants you to know, when she wants you to know it – typically, in a surprise post be it on her website or Instagram.

But throughout the years, she’s slightly cracked open her door to reveal parts of her life and personality – apart from what she gives through strong singing and extraordinary dance moves – to help remind us that though she is epic and flawless, she is still mortal.

HOMECOMING: A film by Beyonce, which premiered Wednesday (Thursday NZT) on Netflix, captures the human side of the superstar singer with behind-the-scenes, intimate moments of a mother, wife and artist tirelessly working on what’s already become one of most iconic musical performances of all-time: Beyonce’s headlining show at the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Beyonce at Coachella.


Beyonce at Coachella.

The performance marked the first time a black woman headlined the famed festival and made Beyonce just the third woman to score the gig, behind Bjork and Lady Gaga.

* Adele can’t wait for Beyonce’s Coachella Netflix film
* Coachella at 20: How Beyonce forever changed the famous festival
* Netflix documentary to offer inside look at Beyonce’s ‘Homecoming’ at Coachella
* Solange pulls out of Coachella
* Beyonce’s Coachella performance wasn’t just pure entertainment, it was a historic cultural moment

Beyonce took on the role seriously – as she does all live performances – giving the audience a rousing, terrific and new show highlighted by a full marching band, majorette dancers, steppers and more that is the norm at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Beyonce's Coachella was widely lauded.


Beyonce’s Coachella was widely lauded.

The film takes it a step further to showcase what was happening to get to the historic moment: you see a mother bouncing back from giving birth to twins via an emergency C-section; an African American woman embracing her family’s history and paying tribute to black college culture and honouring black art; and the world’s No. 1 pop star defying the odds yet again and pushing herself to new heights, creating an even wider space between herself and whoever is No. 2.

Simply put, Beyonce changed Coachella – forever – and performing after her is like trying to out-ace Serena Williams or dunk better than Michael Jordan: You won’t win.

Woven into the film are audio soundbites from popular figures to help narrate the story: Nina Simone speaks about blackness, Maya Angelou talks about truth, and Tessa Thompson and Danai Gurira explain the importance of seeing people who look like you on large screens.

Beyonce speaks, too, saying that she dreamed of attending an HBCU, though she explains: “My college was Destiny’s Child.”

She also says the importance of her Coachella performance was to bring “our culture to Coachella” and highlight “everyone that had never seen themselves represented.”

So many people were represented during those performances last April – her stage was packed with about 200 performers, from dancers to singers to band and orchestra players. Beyonce kicked off the performance dressed like an African queen, walking up the stage as the jazzy, soulful big band sound of New Orleans is played. After letting her dancers and backing band shine, she emerges again, this time dressed down – like a studious, eager, hopeful college student.

The musical direction and song selection flows effortlessly and was purposely crafted to tell a story: the first song is 2003’s Crazy In Love, a massively successful No. 1 hit and her first apart from Destiny’s Child. It also was Beyonce’s first of many collaborations with Jay-Z. But then comes Freedom, representing the Beyonce of today, unconcerned with having a radio or streaming hit, but more focused on the art, and the message.

And her message was loud and clear on HOMECOMING: Her performance is a homage to the culturally rich homecoming events held annually at HBCUs, but also showcases Beyonce’s own homecoming  – her return to her roots, and how she’s found a new voice by reinterpreting her music through the lens of black history.

Young, gifted and black, indeed.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

‘Minding the Gap,’ ‘A Dangerous Son’ Among 2019…

A Dangerous Son,” “The Facebook Dilemma,” “Independent Lens: Dolores,” “Independent Lens: The Judge,” “The Jazz Ambassadors,” “Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart,” “Minding the Gap” and “POV: The Apology” have been selected as the documentary winners at the 2019 Peabody Awards, Variety has learned.

The Peabody Awards Board of Jurors also named Kartemquin Films the winner of an Institutional Award for the company’s commitment to “unflinching documentary filmmaking,” as well as telling an “American history rooted in social justice and the stories of the marginalized.”

Related stories

Kartemquin was founded as a non-profit collective in 1966 and has served as a home for filmmakers to develop their craft and produce films that promote dialogue and democracy ever since. The company is behind projects such as “Hoop Dreams,” in addition to this year’s Peabody winner “Minding the Gap.”

The eight documentary honorees, part of the Peabody 30, highlights stories centered on women, mental illness, social media and the legacy of African-American artists.

“A Dangerous Son,” from HBO Documentary Films and Moxie Firecracker Films, is a view into “the myriad challenges parents face when raising children with mental health issues,” shining a light on the link between mental illness and recent mass school shootings.

“The Facebook Dilemma” from Frontline and PBS, is an in-depth investigation into the Silicon Valley giant that reveals how the corporation “ignored warnings and shirked responsibility as it reveled in global success, exploiting user data and sowing social and political unrest in the process.”

“Independent Lens: Dolores,” A Carlos Santana Production, in association with 5 Stick Films, and The Dolorest Huerta Film Project LLC for PBS, is a portrait of activist and community organizer Huerta, designed to serve as a reminder of “the power of collective action in service of social justice.”

“Independent Lens: The Judge,” a co-production of Three Judges LLC, Idle Wild Films Inc., and Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) for PBS, chronicles the day-to-day challenges of the Middle East’s first female Sharia law judge, Khloud Faqih. Filmmaker Erika Cohn created a rare glimpse into an “oft-misunderstood culture and faith through the eyes of a strong Muslim woman, and demystifying fallacies around both subjects.”

“The Jazz Ambassadors,” from Thirteen Productions LLC, Antelope South Ltd., Normal Life Pictures, in association with the BBC and ZDF in collaboration with Arte for PBS, looks at the contribution of jazz music and musicians to Cold War diplomacy, American race relations, emerging black identities and newly independent third world nations around the world. The film is designed to be an “inspiring tribute” to jazz masters Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Dave Brubeck.

“Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart” is from Lorraine Hansberry Documentary Project LLC in co-production with Independent Television Service and Black Public Media, in association with The Film Posse, Chiz Schultz Inc. and American Masters Pictures for PBS/WNET. It is meant to be a tribute to Hansberry’s life and career, mining her “rich archive” of writing from diaries to essays to letters and personal effects, in order to create an “intimate and powerful portrait” of the artist and activist.

“Minding the Gap,” presented by Hulu in association with Kartemquin, American Documentary | POV and ITVS (Hulu/PBS), follows filmmmaker Bing Liu and his skateboarding friends as they transition from boyhood to manhood.

“POV: The Apology,” from the National Film Board of Canada, American Documentary and POV for PBS, follows the journeys of three surviving “comfort women” — women who were forced into institutionalized sexual slavery during World War II — as they seized a chance to set the future generation on a course for reconciliation, healing and justice. It was written and directed by Tiffany Hsiung.

The documentary winners will join the previously announced Peabody Career Achievement Award winner, Rita Moreno, at Cipriani Wall Street in New York for the May 18 celebration. Ronan Farrow will host the event sponsored by Mercedez Benz. Variety is the exclusive media partner.

Winners in the entertainment, children’s and youth, news, radio, podcast, web and public service categories will be announced later this week.

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Thousands Say Goodbye to Slain Rapper Nipsey Hussle in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – Thousands of people lined the streets of Los Angeles on Thursday to bid farewell to American rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was shot dead late last month.

However, the public memorial service followed by a procession to honor the 33-year-old popular musician was marred by a shooting that left one dead and three injured.

“We must stop this senseless violence,” Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore tweeted after the incident.

The 21,000-capacity Staples Center, where teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers play, was the venue chosen by Nipsey Hussle’s fans to bid adieu to him and remember his artistic and philanthropic legacy.

Legendary black artists including Stevie Wonder and Snoop Dogg were among those who paid tributes to the rapper at the memorial.

Former United States president Barack Obama also sent his condolences in a letter that was read at the funeral service.

“While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and see only gangs, bullets and despair, Nipsey saw potential. He saw hope,” Obama wrote in his message.

After the service, Hussle’s casket, draped in the flag of his father’s native country, Eritrea in East Africa, departed from the Staples Center, located in the heart of LA, and moved through the streets of south Los Angeles, an area known for its poverty and violence and where the artist grew up.

Proud of his humble roots, Ermias Asghedom, his real name, was not only one of the most prominent rappers of the west coast in recent years but also known for his social and philanthropic work to uplift his community.

After several years of releasing singles and mixtapes, Nipsey Hussle released his debut album “Victory Lap” in 2018, which was nominated for best rap album at the 2019 Grammy Awards.

Hussle was killed on March 31 outside his clothing store “Marathon Clothing” in Los Angeles.

Two days after the crime, the authorities arrested Eric Holder, of Los Angeles, as the suspect in the killing.

The circumstances of the murder – Holder allegedly shot Hussle and then fled to a waiting car – led the authorities to initially believe that the killing was related to gang activity (Nipsey Hussle was a member of the Crips).

However, the police now believe that the murder was due to a personal dispute and not gang violence.

Many American rappers have died a violent death throughout the history of rap music, including XXXTentacion and Jimmy Wopo, who were killed in separate shootings last year.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Startup Diary: ‘Startup weekends can be just the break your firm needs’

Deal or no deal: Choosing what sales channels you will use, from your own website, to finding partners who already have customers, is a key element for any startup
Deal or no deal: Choosing what sales channels you will use, from your own website, to finding partners who already have customers, is a key element for any startup

I was very privileged to participate as a mentor in the Startup Weekend event that took place in Waterford this weekend past (Google will find the details for you easily enough). I was pretty jealous of the participants, I can tell you.

When I started my first online business in 2003 there wasn’t half as much support as there is now, and certainly very little in the way of a startup community to help you overcome self-doubt and rookie mistakes.

If you read this startup diary and are thinking about starting your own company, then participating in these kinds of events can be very helpful for getting your thoughts in order, and living the startup experience, if only for a weekend.

The way it works is as follows. You have Friday evening and one weekend to create an idea, form a team, build a prototype, develop a business model, and then do an ‘investor’ pitch at the end of it all. They do feed you, in case you’re wondering.

The Startup Weekend in Waterford was supported by Techstars – one of those global startup incubators.

These very early stage investors run events like this to give themselves something known in the trade as ‘deal flow’. Finding good startups is something of a black art, and this is one of the ways it is done. That means that if you do decide to participate, you should be prepared to take it seriously – your team-mates certainly will.

The main space for the event was provided by Bank of Ireland, which has kitted out its branches more like co-working spaces these days. Again, it couldn’t be more different to the perception of startups even 10 years ago.

The thing that makes Silicon Valley work is the ecosystem – everybody buys into the value of creating new, large-scale, businesses.

You never dismiss anyone, even if, or perhaps especially if, they are wearing a ragged old hoodie. You could be speaking to the next Mark Zuckerberg.

Although these days, startup chic has been very much gentrified, and ‘startup hoodies’ can set you back hundreds of dollars.

There’s even been a startup that tried to launch a range of such designer hoodies – now sadly (or perhaps thankfully), deceased. is once again free if you want to try your hand.

At the Waterford event there were five teams in total, of about five people each. I got to meet three teams. My session was on the Sunday morning of the final day, so I got to hear and see the nearly complete concepts.

To say that they were streets ahead of my thinking when I had put money down to start an actual business in 2003 would be an understatement.

It would not be fair to say that I had no guidance (I went through an earlier incarnation of the New Frontiers Programme), but a Startup Weekend exercise would have been so useful. You really don’t know what you don’t know.

There is no formula to building a successful business, and especially not a tech startup. But there are many mistakes that are easy to avoid – and these are often what kill you.

The benefit of the startup weekend exercise could clearly be seen in the great teams that I was able to work with.

By Sunday morning they already had pretty solid pitches, and had moved beyond many common misconceptions.

I was still a little mean to them (the real world is much nastier, and in any case, there’s was no time to waste on the stuff they got right).

After each pitch I went straight to my favourite startup question: but how do actually make money?

It can be surprisingly difficult to articulate why people will give you money.

The fancy term for this is called the ‘Value Proposition’ of your business.

The next question I asked is how will you get your product in front of customers? The fancy term, again, is ‘Distribution’.

Just build a better mousetrap and you will most assuredly sit there looking at tumbleweed blowing past your empty shop.

This is a tough one for people to come to terms with. If you’ve build a great product, or at least come up with a great product concept (all the teams had), then you can get stuck answering this question by talking about how great the product is – it’s a no-brainer to buy it.

This may be true, but if there’s no one in your shop then you still make no sales.

The answer isn’t ‘Marketing & Sales’. It’s all in the details. What sales channels will you use? Your own website, or partners who already have customers?

Will you use events as part of your marketing mix? (Yes).

Can you and your team sell, or do you need to find someone who can?

And most importantly, what do your ‘unit economics’ look like?

If you’re buying apples for €2 and selling them for €1 (like, say, Uber) then you better spend far more time on your pitch deck than your product – because you’ll have to explain how you get to billion-dollar valuation in under a decade at most.

The teams struggled with the distribution problem the most, because it is a really hard problem.

One team would need to spend a fortune on Facebook ads, another would have to displace powerful market incumbents, and another would have to find a way into airport retail – all really hard problems. When I left them, they were all still looking for an angle on this one, which was great. In startup, even a weekend startup, you always need an angle.

Search engine statistics: Technology conferences are at a count of 2,238, and we have 6,146 speakers, 4,953 exhibitors, and 980 venues.

This week we will start the process of migrating and refactoring this data into our second-generation data schema so that it is fully integrated into our system, and so that we can start accepting conference descriptions directly from our users.

We estimate that there are at least 12,000 technology conferences globally that have a few hundred attendees each.

We’ve only captured data on about 15pc of those, and we’ll need the help of one group of our users, conference speakers, to help fill out this data. We’ve built some great conference planning tools to encourage this and reward the effort. We shall soon see if this particular strategy works.

Marketing update: speakers newsletter – 6,009 subscribers, open rate 17pc. What a fabulous week. When you’re building a startup, all the little wins help to keep you going. This milestone was truly a team effort and worth celebrating.

We’ll now apply the same efforts for other newsletters to grow their subscriber numbers. It’s easier to grow absolute numbers at the start when things are still small, so for now we’ll more to focus more effort on the new newsletters. This should give us the highest overall subscriber numbers. EventProfs newsletter – 5,573 subscribers, open rate of 31pc. The podcast is at 114 downloads for the week – our best ever. As noted last week, this is a proxy for the true number of listens, which we’ve not yet figured out how to measure directly. Still, a growth trend is a growth trend.

Richard Rodger is the founder of Voxgig. He is a former co-founder of Nearform, a technology consultancy firm based in Waterford

Indo Business

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

‘Soul of a Nation’ honors the work of black artists

Wadsworth A. Jarrell’s “Revolutionary” depicts a young Angela Davis in the prime of her activism in the ’60s and ’70s. It’s one of over 200 works by over 60 artists in “Soul of a Nation” at The Broad. (Sam Begun/Daily Trojan)

“Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” which debuted March 23 at The Broad, highlights the works of black artists between 1963 and 1983. Since its debut at London’s Tate Modern organized the show, the exhibit has been on display at multiple American museums before coming to Los Angeles. The multimedia exhibit incorporates painting, drawing, sculpture and even performance. The show isn’t organized chronologically, rather focusing on artistic movements and collectives like the Africobra Movement and Just Above Midtown Gallery.

“Soul of a Nation” starts by introducing viewers to the Spiral Group, a New York-based artist collective that worked from 1963 to 1965. It then moves on to highlight works from the Black Panther Movement, displaying political pamphlets and posters. These pamphlets provide social and political context for the works of art on the wall, helping viewers engage with their history as they view the gallery.

While not every work in the show is overtly political, many of the artistic movements grew out of systemic exclusion. Many of the artists in “Soul of a Nation,” like Roy deCarava, whose black-and-white photos captured everyday life in Harlem, were traditionally excluded from museums and gallery spaces. Thus, they came together to form their own groups.

“Couple Walking” is one of the many deCarava photographs in the exhibit that attempts to capture the most intimate everyday moments. The photo shows a couple embracing as they walk down the street, seemingly unaware of the photographer behind them. By representing the lives of black people in America, artists like deCarava seem to fill a void in the traditional Western cut history canon.

The Broad’s presentation of “Soul of a Nation” also devotes an entire section to the works of Los Angeles-based artists, from Noah Purifoy and Betye Saar. The exhibition also provides examples of how black artists responded to mainstream artistic movements. One is a selection of paintings by Sam Gilliam and Jack Whitten, which shows how different their works are from other abstract expressionist artists like Jackson Pollock.  

The exhibit’s core strength lies in how much ground it manages to cover without cutting any corners. The show highlights artists from across the U.S., and includes over 200 works of art from more than 60 different artists. Still, the show is sectioned into nicely sized rooms, which helps viewers feel less overwhelmed by the sheer number of pieces in the exhibit.

“Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” runs at The Broad Museum until Sept. 1. The show costs $18 for adults and $12 for students. However, admission is free on Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

African American artist learns art through a cracked door in segregated Mississippi

(MENAFN – PRLog) Door Ajar – The M.B. Mayfield Story is a documentary that tells the little-known story of M.B. Mayfield, an African American living in segregated Mississippi, a struggling roadside artist who hones his trade through a rather unusual and daring method with the help of Stuart R. Purser.

Mayfield was discovered roadside in 1949 by Purser, who was interested in his sculptures and was the head of the art department at the University of Mississippi. At the time, the University of Mississippi was described as one of the last bastions of segregation in the South. In a risky move, Purser gave Mayfield a job as a janitor in the art department and set up a workspace in the broom closet of his classroom. Mayfield would sit in on his lectures, learning the art trade through a cracked door.

Listening in on Purser’s lectures, Mayfield learned to become a prolific landscape painter, often depicting African Americans in rural settings and their place in society at the time. Through patronage from Purser and Southern author William Faulkner, and with sheer perseverance, Mayfield would eventually make enough from his work to support himself.

Mayfield was studying art in a closet 13 years before James Meredith integrated the University of Mississippi amidst the deadly Ole Miss riot of 1962. The riot was a culmination of Southern segregationist hatred against desegregation of the school, and rioters would face nearly a third of all United States marshals. 70 years later, the University is still working through civil rights issues such as relocating glorified confederate statues from campus.

70 years ago, African Americans were barred from entering college with whites. Today, systemic socio-economic realities still pose a barrier for many people of color from getting a higher education. M.B Mayfield’s story is a stark reminder that every step towards social and racial equality is a step towards a better and brighter future.

In February Door Ajar won Best Mississippi Feature at the 2019 Oxford Film Festival which is Mississippi’s premiere film festival.

In April Door Ajar was invited to open and close the Tupelo Film Festival.

Director of Door Ajar, John Reyer Afamasaga will continue to engage with the community and has begun production on two new films to explore inter-societal connections.

About the Director

John Reyer Afamasaga is a New Zealand born expat currently living in the American South. Afamasaga moved to Oxford, Mississippi in 2017 with his wife, and almost immediately began volunteering at the Oxford Film Festival. In 2018 he began working on the documentary films The Yard (2018) and Door Ajar. The common threads between his films and his life are the similarities between his homeland and the American South. He believes capturing these stories are more important than ever in the current backdrop of American politics. Afamasaga believes in confronting issues raised in The Yard and Door Ajar in creative and exploratory methods and hopes to continue learning from the community and contributing in positive ways.


The Yard (2018) – Documentary

A history professor in Memphis Tennessee discovers the parking lot of the church he attends used to be a slave yard belonging to a general in the Confederate army.

Included with Amazon Prime:

Door Ajar – The M.B. Mayfield Story (2019) – Documentary

From inside a broom closet through a cracked door, an African American janitor listens and learns art in a segregated Mississippi university.

Currently showing at film festivals


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