Meet the Group That’s Been Called the British Version of the Fugees

For those of us still waiting on this Fugees reunion, we may have something to help hold us over in the mean time. Hawk House is a London-based hip-hop and soul trio whose makeup (two male rappers and a female who’s a beast on the mic and can sing) has drawn comparisons to the Fugees. Here’s Zo from Okayplayer:

The group comprises two low-key but powerful MCs in Sam and Eman, and one fluttering vocalist in Demae. “Round We Go” and A Little More Elbow Room (the mixtape what bore it) are laden with the type of sample-heavy, sloppy (in a good way) drums and supper-subby bass licks that allude to serious influence by the one and only J Dilla.

You can download the group’s 2013 free mixtape “A Little Bit More Elbow Room” on their website. Their new EP, “A Handshake to the Brain,” just dropped and is availble on iTunes. You can listen below. 

Lupita Nyong’o Talks About the Beauty of Braiding Hair

Lupita Nyong'o Talks About the Beauty of Braiding Hair Play

When Lupita Nyong’o announced plans to star in and produce a film adaptation of Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Americanah,” she said the book felt intimately familiar to her. Among other things, the book dealt with braiding hair, a subject that the Oscar-winning actress is also passionate about. In this video for Vogue, Nyong’o talks about developing her passion for braiding.

Watch Erykah Badu Photobomb a Reporter on Live TV

Watch Erykah Badu Photobomb a Reporter on Live TV

Pix 11 reporter Mario Diaz got quite a surprise on Friday when he was out reporting on actor Shia LeBeof’s recent arrest. Erykah Badu photobombed Diaz with a series of silly antics before leaning in to kiss him and being pushed away.

Over at Vulture, E. Alex Jung captured the friendly aftermath that followed.

TAGS: Erykah Badu

Laverne Cox Pays Tribute to Slain Black Trans Woman at NYC Pride

Laverne Cox Pays Tribute to Slain Black Trans Woman at NYC Pride

Laverne Cox was one of three grand marshals at this year’s Pride parade in New York City along with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Rea Carey and “Frozen” star Jonathan Goff. Cox made her ride through Manhattan’s West Village memorable by sharing it with with the Dolores Nettles, mother of Islan Nettles, the 21-year-old transgender woman who was beaten to death in Harlem last year. The elder Nettles rode next to Cox and waved to the crowd while holding a photo of her daughter.

Cox’s celebrity has skyrocketed since the debut of the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black,” and she’s long used her high profile to bring attention to Nettles’ case. Nettles, a fashion student, was viciously beaten while walking with friends in her Harlem neighborhood on August 17, 2013. She died days later at Harlem Hospital. Her murder remains unsolved. 

While Pride parades in the United States have become billion-dollar affairs, transgender people of color still face deadly realities. As Tim Murphy wrote at about Nettles’ death:

According to a report last year from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, which tracks and fights attacks on LGBTQ people, half of all fatal hate crimes committed in the United States in 2012 against LGBTQ people were against transgender women, and 73% of all homicides were of people of color. The same report found that transgender women of color were dramatically more likely to experience police violence or discrimination. According to the group Transgender Day of Remembrance, there have been 85 murders of transgender people in the United States between 2008 and 2013. And those are just the reported cases.

Read more of Murphy’s account

New Film Probes the West’s Very Old Obsession With ‘Saving’ Africa

New Film Probes the West's Very Old Obsession With 'Saving' Africa

Remember the viral outrage surrounding the KONY 2012 campaign? It was part of a long, troubling history of the West’s obsession with “saving Africa.” The new film “Framed” looks at the dynamic and asks a simple question: Who exactly are we trying to save Africa from

Cassandra Herman and Kathryn Mathers recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to finish the film. “Why is it that we never see images of African professionals and change-makers in pop culture and the media?,” they asked in a press release. “It’s time to take a second look at the framing of Africa in crisis, to listen to African perspectives and revisit the intention to help in Africa, which, while sincere, might be compounding the inequalities we hope to erase.”

(Africa is a Country)

Watch Questlove and Black Thought Talk About Their High School Antics

Watch Questlove and Black Thought Talk About Their High School Antics Play

It’s a charming part of The Roots’ creation story: how a dorky Questlove met a rebellious Black Thought while both were attending a performing arts high school in Philly. In the aftermath of releasing their 11th studio album, “…and then you shoot your cousin,” the longtime bandmates joined Marc Lamont Hill to talk about what inspires them and reminisce about their high school days.


Muslim Basketball Player Can’t Play Overseas Because She Wears Hijab

Muslim Basketball Player Can't Play Overseas Because She Wears Hijab

Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir is used to lighting things up on the basketball court. She did it as the all-time leading scorer in Massachussetts state history and then as a college athlete at Memphis and Indiana State. But she’s having trouble getting her professional career started overseas thanks to rules preventing her from wearing hijab.

“As of right now I’m really in a holding pattern because of FIBA,” the Muslim-American athlete told MassLive. “I think in many ways the key word in FIBA is international. I think that’s what upsets me most.”

FIBA — the international basketball federation — has rules that prevent women from wearing hijab because it says it wants the game to remain “religiously neutral.”

But Abdul-Qaadir isn’t buying it. “International means everyone, and FIBA isn’t inclusive because of its ban on wearing my hajib,” Abdul-Qaadir said. “People have this impression of Muslims like they’re afraid of us. What some people in the Muslim religion are doing has nothing to do with the rest of us. We’re not all the same, just like any religion isn’t the same. FIBA says it wants to remain religiously neutral but this is discriminatory.”

Back in 2009, Anna North wrote over at Jezebel about the controversey surrounding a Sports Illustrated feature on Abdul-Qaadir. “It is unfortunate that the only way a girl can get “primo real estate in SI” is by being perceived as unusual — and that coverage of Abdul-Qaadir must focus on how she’s different rather than how she’s impressive.”

Here’s an interview from 2009 where the basketball star talks about her dreams for the future. It’s a shame that those dreams are now being put on hold.


TAGS: Hijab Muslim

Yasiin Bey is Working on a Prequel to a Classic Quentin Tarantino Film

Yasiin Bey is Working on a Prequel to a Classic Quentin Tarantino Film Play

There’s a prequel in the works to the 1991 classic “Jackie Brown.” It focuses on the relationship between Ordell and Gara, played by Samuel L. Jackson and Robert De Niro in the original (Quentin Tarantino isn’t involved with the project but gave it his blessing). The new film stars Yasiin Bey, and Shadow and Act has details:

Titled “Life of Crime,” based on Elmore Leonard’s novel “The Switch” (the original 1997 film, “Jackie Brown,” which starred Pam Grier, was also based on an Elmore Leonard novel, titled “Rum Punch”), the dark caper comedy follows the kidnapping of the wife (Aniston) of a corrupt real estate developer (Robbins) by two common criminals (Bey and Hawkes), who intend to extort the husband with inside information about his crooked business and off-shore accounts. But, their plan takes an unexpected turn when the husband decides he’d actually rather not pay the ransom to get back his wife, setting off a sequence of double crosses and plot twists that one would expect from an Elmore Leonard original.

“Life of Crime” will be in theaters on August 19, 2014.

Spike Lee’s Throwing a Bed-Stuy Block Party to Celebrate ‘Do the Right Thing’

Spike Lee's Throwing a Bed-Stuy Block Party to Celebrate 'Do the Right Thing'

Brooklyn, stand up!

For the past several weeks, the Brooklyn Academy of Music has been hosting a Spike Lee restrospective, and now the man himself is getting into a celebratory mood. He’s hosting a block party to mark the anniversary of his 1989 classic, “Do the Right Thing.” It runs from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday on Stuyvesant Avenue between Lexington and Quincy avenues. Producer-writer-director Lee will MC the event.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams is also expected to make Saturday “Do the Right Thing Day.”

(Pix 11)

Chicana Artist Yolanda Lopez to Host ‘Eviction Garage Sale’

Chicana Artist Yolanda Lopez to Host 'Eviction Garage Sale'

Feminist Artist Yolanda M. Lopez, whose 1978 Guadalupe Series offered a modern take on Chicana feminity, is facing eviction in San Francisco. The artist and her family have publicized their fight in an effort to bring attention to the thousands of Ellis Act evictions that are permanently shifting the city’s demographics. Now, the 71-year-old is hosting a second “eviction garage sale” featuring accessories that she’ll have to part with when she moves from her Mission District home of 40 years:

Like many seniors, López survives on Social Security - which, she says, is too little to be eligible for low-income housing. She will be evicted July 12 and, as yet, has nowhere to go. Ideally, she would like to stay in the Mission District.

Recently an area near her home was designated a “cultural corridor.” Ani Rivera, executive director of Galería de la Raza, where López held her first eviction garage sale, says. “There was a whole generation behind making this area what it is today. Where is the city making its investment in the people who made this area a commodity? The mayor needs to consider these artists in redevelopment plans. Additional money to support artists and create affordable housing needs to be raised.”

Read more at the San Francisco Chronicle. The garage sale will take place on June 29 at Red Poppy Art House

Jabari Parker to Become NBA’s First African-American Mormon Player

Jabari Parker to Become NBA's First African-American Mormon Player

Top prospect Jabari Parker is set to become one of the top two picks in today’s NBA draft. The Chicago native spent one year at Duke before declaring himself eligible for pro ball, and while that was a tough decision, what was arguably even harder was his choice not to go on a Mormon mission.

When he’s selected, Parker will become the NBA’s first African-American mormon player. As Alex Thompson writes at the New York Times:

It was through this missionary service that Mormons traveled to the small island nation of Tonga and converted Jabari Parker’s great-grandfather a century ago. Today, Parker, who is also of African-American descent, is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is a regular at its meetings. His brother Christian and his mother served on missions.

Like most high-profile athletes, Parker has decided to forgo his Mormon mission and sees his stardom as a way to serve his church. “I’ve been weighing this question for the past two years,” Parker wrote in Sports Illustrated earlier this year. “After talking with my family, my local church leaders and a couple close friends, I’m at peace with my decision to forgo a mission for now and join the N.B.A. I don’t consider myself an exception to the rule. At this point in my life I know this is the right decision.”

African-Americans have long been a part of the Church of Latter Day Saints, despite the church’s racist past. Famous black Mormons include singer Gladys Knight and former Black Panther Party leader Eldridge Cleaver. 

Glee Star Naya Rivera Welcomes Immigrants to America in New PSA

Glee Star Naya Rivera Welcomes Immigrants to America in New PSA

In her directorial debut, Glee star Naya Rivera offers a multicultural look at immigration in New York City. 


Uzo Aduba Never Thought About Changing Her Nigerian Name

Uzo Aduba Never Thought About Changing Her Nigerian Name

The breakout star of “Orange is the New Black” talked to the Improper Bostonian about whether she ever considered changing her name. Her response is priceless:

When I started as an actor? No, and I’ll tell you why. I had already gone through that. My family is from Nigeria, and my full name is Uzoamaka, which means “The road is good.” Quick lesson: My tribe is Igbo, and you name your kid something that tells your history and hopefully predicts your future. So anyway, in grade school, because my last name started with an A, I was the first in roll call, and nobody ever knew how to pronounce it. So I went home and asked my mother if I could be called Zoe. I remember she was cooking, and in her Nigerian accent she said, “Why?” I said, “Nobody can pronounce it.” Without missing a beat, she said, “If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.”

(h/t Buzzfeed)

Dave Chappelle’s Comeback Doesn’t Include His Most Awful ‘Fans’

Dave Chappelle's Comeback Doesn't Include His Most Awful 'Fans'

Jesse David Fox of Vulture on Dave Chappelle’s triumphant return to the stage in New York City and the diversity of his adoring fans:

When I enter, I’m instantly and surprisingly overwhelmed with emotion. With a jazz trio called Supa Lowery Bros at the top of the stairs, playing an instrumental version of Kendrick Lamar’s oddly appropriate “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” I’m taken by how incredibly eclectic and buzzing the crowd is. I’m not exaggerating when I say it is the most diverse room I’ve ever been in. It looks like the streets of New York City were moved inside. It looks like the cast ofOrange Is the New Black if it were half male and everyone were allowed to wear their cutest outfits (and not just because I eventually sat two seats down from Natasha Lyonne). A young Asian guy wearing a hat with the New Yorker logo on it stands in line in front of a white guy in a Twiztid hat, an Indian guy in a suit, an African-American skater in a Obey hat, and a woman in dreads who was talking to a woman with a feather in her hair. This is why Chappelle’s run of ten shows needed to be here, at Radio City. It’s big enough that I could see how wide-reaching his fan base is, but not so big (like Madison Square Garden would’ve been) that we turned into a faceless blob just moving in and out of passageways. With the band now playing a jazzed-up version of a Kanye West song, it is all reminiscent of Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, Chappelle’s 2006 concert documentary, which the comedian called the “best day of my career.”

He’s back, Fox writes, and he’s finally in control. 

The Heartbreaking Story of Josh Marks, Chicago’s MasterChef

The Heartbreaking Story of Josh Marks, Chicago's MasterChef

Josh Marks rose to fame on the Food Network reality TV show “MasterChef,” but his downfall, as described by Bryan Smith at Chicago Magazine, is familiar to the many people who struggle with mental illness in America. Marks battled against bipolar disorder and was diagnozed with schizophrenia before he took his own life last summer. 

The entire profile is worth a read, but what stands out is the tremendous effort that Marks’ mother, Paulette Mitchell, put into helping her son cope with his illness. Despite the widely held idea that African-Americans are less likely to seek treatment for mental illnesses, there’s evidence that shows how little support is available when they do. I’ve excerpted the part below at length because it spells out just what so many black families are up against when dealing with mental illness and the bureaucracy of America’s broken healthcare system. 

[Mitchell’s] first step was to find out what they were dealing with. “I started Googling it,” Mitchell says. “I bought a book for myself, and I bought a book for Joshua.” Everything she read resonated. People with bipolar disorder, for example, experience dramatic swings in mood and activity levels. They can be bursting with ideas and energy one day and nearly paralyzed by depressive thoughts the next. That was Marks lately. His mother also researched psychosis. The condition, she learned, included a number of symptoms—hearing voices, having hallucinations, experiencing paranoid delusions.

The information was helpful, but it led to the far bigger and thornier questions of how and where to get Marks help—and how to afford it. She set off on what would prove to be a confusing and frustrating search for treatment to address the complex set of long-term psychiatric issues that come with such a diagnosis.

Making matters worse was the fact that funding for mental health services had been slashed dramatically. From 2009 to 2012, Illinois cut $187 million, or 32 percent, from its mental health budget. Only three states—South Carolina, Alabama, and Alaska—axed a larger percentage, says the advocacy group National Alliance on Mental Illness. (Illinois did restore $32 million of those cuts in 2013, blaming an administrative error.) According to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, Illinois’s per capita spending ranked 36th nationally as of 2010 (the most recent year for which figures are available). In Chicago, meanwhile, Mayor Rahm Emanuel outraged the city’s mental health advocacy community in 2012 when he abruptly closed fully half of the city’s outpatient facilities.

Read the rest over at Chicago Magazine

Exclusive: Watch L.A. Artist Low Leaf Explore Her Filipino Roots Through Creating Her Sound

Low Leaf, a Filipino-American musician based in Los Angeles, grew up playing classical music, but didn’t feel like it allowed her to be herself. In the short doc above, exclusive to Colorlines, she describes the path that she took to getting in touch with her cultural roots and the release of her new album, ‘AKASHAALAY.

This post has been updated.

Robin Thicke’s Quest to ‘Get Her Back’ and the Terrifying Reality of Stalking

Robin Thicke's Quest to 'Get Her Back' and the Terrifying Reality of Stalking

Somebody free Paula Patton. The actress has been estranged from her husband, Robin Thicke, for months, but that hasn’t stopped Thicke from going on an embarrassing, full-fledged campaign to “get her back.” He’s named his upcoming album “Paula” and this week released a creepy video for the album’s first single called “Get Her Back.” It’s awful. Humiliating. And, as Jessica Valenti writes at the Guardian, creepy:

None of us know the ins and outs of the Patton and Thicke’s relationship outside of what’s public - they were high school sweethearts and they have a child together. But romanticizing the creepy and potentially harassing efforts of a man obsessed with this ex sends a dangerous message to young men about what “romance” really is. Hint: it has nothing to do with haranguing and publicly shaming us back into a relationship.

Syreeta at Feministing points out that stalking can be deadly:

One in six women in the US have experienced stalking in their lifetime. The majority of victims are stalked by someone they know, and 66 percent of female victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner.

The crappiest part of this hot mess video are that the images reinforce the cultural norms that say this kind of harassment is actually romantic. 

And as the Belle Jar points out, Thicke’s album tracklist is like “reading an abuser’s check-list. She’s his fantasy. He needs to get her back. He’ll isolate her, maybe refuse to let her leave. He’ll lock the door. He’ll do whatever he wants. Because love can grow back. Because it’s a forever love.”

Video: ‘There Would Be No Fashion Without Immigration’

Video: 'There Would Be No Fashion Without Immigration'

Over at Fusion, Jorge Rivas paints a compelling portrait of how immigration has shaped American fashion. From Jewish designers like Donna Karen and Calvin Klein, whose parents worked as sewers and tailors in New York City’s garment industry, to new designers like Alexander Wang and  Jason Wu, immigrants have long helped shape America’s visual culture.

As Thuy Linh Tu, a professor of social and cultural analysis at NYU, says in the above video: “There would be no fashion without immigration in this country.” Later, Tu remakrs, “We take a lot of things that are coded as American for granted. We fail to sort of look behind the label to see who’s actually producing these ‘American’ goods.”

Kenny Leon: 2pac Belongs With August Wilson and Shakespeare

Kenny Leon: 2pac Belongs With August Wilson and Shakespeare

Award-winning Broadway director Kenny Leon is talking publicly about his latest production “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” a stage project that’s based on the work of Tupac Shakur. In Leon’s estimation, the work is important because of 2pac’s outsize influence, which he says should be celebrated among the English language’s best:

“He is a great American artist,” Leon told BET. “He belongs in the army of writers with August Wilson and Shakespeare even.”

TAGS: 2pac Broadway

Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Octavia Butler

Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Octavia Butler

From her distinction as the first science fiction writer to win a MacArthur “genius” fellowship to her stint as a potato chip inspector, Open Road Media just posted a list on Buzzfeed Community of 16 things you probably didn’t know about Octavia Butler. Check it out. 

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