Colorlines

Spike Lee Testifies About D’Angelo’s ‘Black Messiah’

As part of the Afropunk-led rollout of D’Angelo’s surprise album “Black Messiah,”* folks are testifying on Instagram about what the project means to them. Using the hashtag #BLACKMESSIAH, notables like longtime D’Angelo collaborator Questlove and writer Michaela Angela Davis have added their voices to the chorus praising the album’s execution and message.

Here’s Spike Lee, who said the 14 year wait was well-worth it for fans:

TESTIFY! @sheltonjlee Film your own and upload with hashtag #BLACKMESSIAH

A video posted by AFROPUNK (@afropunk) on

Music critic Nelson George, who did a live onstage interview with the singer earlier this year in Brooklyn, said:

TESTIFY! @315nelsongeorge Film your own and upload with hashtag #BLACKMESSIAH

A video posted by AFROPUNK (@afropunk) on

And Questlove, who worked with the singer through some of his toughest private moments and produced parts of the new album:

TESTIFY! @questlove Film your own and upload with hashtag #BLACKMESSIAH

A video posted by AFROPUNK (@afropunk) on

Watch Lauryn Hill Perform ‘Ready or Not’ Live in Ghana

Lauryn Hill performed for the first time in Accra, Ghana, recently. Okayafrica stumbled across this six-minute clip from that show, which was shot by the Sierra Leone-based magazine Swit Salone. The show looks pretty incredible. Watch below.

(h/t Okayafrica)

The Queer Women of Color Video Streaming Service That’s Cheaper Than Netflix

The Queer Women of Color Video Streaming Service That's Cheaper Than Netflix

Tired of searching and searching for more queer women of color representation on Neflix? Well, stop looking there. There’s a new indie effort called Sistah Sinema underway that will offer a wide selection of films by and about queer women of color.

From Elixher:

Sistah Sinema decided to team up with IndieFlix after exploring other platforms. IndieFlix - like Sistah Sinema - focused on indie filmmakers and creating a conversation about cinema. According to Scilla Andreen - IndieFlix’s CEO and one of the few women CEOs in tech - niche marketing and community-brand marketing is key to IndieFlix’s future growth. Partnering with Sistah Sinema is part of a larger effort to showcase cinema that highlights global diversity.

The films include selections like Cheryl Dunye’s important 1997 film “The Watermelon Woman” and Kourtney Ryan Ziegler’s look at black transmen, “Still Black.” Take a look at the films and learn more here. Memberships are only $5 a month.

Ferguson Decision Prompted Early Release of D’Angelo’s ‘Black Messiah’

Ferguson Decision Prompted Early Release of D'Angelo's 'Black Messiah'

D’Angelo surprised the world on Sunday night when he dropped his long-awaited third album without any warning. The album, “Black Messiah,”* has since earned the number-one spot in more than 20 countries. Now, a new story from Joe Coscarelli at the New York Times details just how much the police killings of unarmed black men inspired the often reclusive singer to say something with his music. From the Times:

After a grand jury didn’t indict a Ferguson, Mo., police officer last month in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, D’Angelo called his co-manager Kevin Liles. “He said: ‘Do you believe this? Do you believe it?’ ” Mr. Liles said. “And then we just sat there in silence. That is when I knew he wanted to say something.” (D’Angelo declined to be interviewed for this article.)

RCA had planned to release “Black Messiah” in early 2015, but its reclusive singer was done waiting. “The one way I do speak out is through music,” D’Angelo told his tour manager, Alan Leeds. “I want to speak out.”

The story also details how big of a role Afropunk, the creative group that hosts its annual music festival in Brooklyn, played in the album’s art and marketing.

Afropunk’s work on “Black Messiah” often went until 4 a.m., including time spent deciphering the dense, distorted vocals for a lyric booklet. That was still too late to make the CD, but it will be included in the forthcoming vinyl version.

“We were able to put six months’ worth of work into two weeks,” said Jocelyn Cooper, Afropunk’s co-founder and D’Angelo’s music publisher, who signed him as an unknown teenager in 1993. D’Angelo is “a bit of a vampire,” she added. “It’s easier to get ahold of him at 2 a.m.”

It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at one of the most important albums in years. Read the whole thing at the Times

 

*Post has been updated since publication to indicte that the album is named “Black Messiah” not “The Black Messiah.”

 

Watch Kendrick Lamar Debut New Song on ‘The Colbert Report’

Stephen Colbert is getting ready to say goodbye to his alter ego, but not before welcoming Kendrick Lamar onto “The Colbert Report.” Lamar debuted an untitled new song from his upcoming album. Watch it below.

(h/t Pitchfork)

Why America’s Comics Are More Diverse Than Ever

Why America's Comics Are More Diverse Than Ever

Society has changed, and so have its superheroes. Captain America is black, Thor is a woman and Ms. Marvel is Muslim. Jesse Holland tries to explain what it all means over at the Associated Press:

“Roles in society aren’t what they used to be. There’s far more diversity,” said [Alex] Alonso, editor and chief at Marvel Comics, who has also shepherded a gay wedding in the X-Men, a gender change from male to female in Thor and the first mainstream female Muslim hero in Ms. Marvel.

The change to a black Captain America is already having an impact outside of comics.

Even before the publication of the first issue, unauthorized images of the black Captain America were shown at a town hall meeting in St. Louis following the funeral of Michael Brown, who was 18 and unarmed when he was killed by a white police officer. This Captain America had his hands up saying “Don’t Shoot,” a slogan protesters have used to highlight the number of African Americans killed by police.

Read more.

Jean Grae’s New Video Features All of Your Favorite Things

The only thing that’s better than the fact that Jean Grae teamed up with a band called “The Everybody’s Pregnant” for a new EP is the new video for their single “underneathu.” The video for the song is a hilarious ode to public television, featuring award-winning author Adam Mansbach in a bonkers intro and Ms. Grae herself slithering around on stage. This isn’t quite what we’ve come to expect from the longtime MC, but it looks like so much fun.

(h/t Okayplayer)

Lupe Fiasco Dedicates New Song to Mothers in the ‘Hood

Lupe Fiasco is gearing up for the January 20 release of his fifth album, “Tetsuo & Youth.” Here’s one of the first singles from the new album, “Madonna.” It features singer Nikki Jean and looks at just how hard it is to eat in working-class neighborhoods of color.

David Oyelowo to Star Opposite Lupita Nyong’o in ‘Americanah’

David Oyelowo to Star Opposite Lupita Nyong'o in 'Americanah'

The film adaptation of Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel “Americanah” is underway. Last summer, Lupita Nyong’o signed on to play the lead character, and now David Oyelowo is slated to star opposite her as the film’s male lead. From Time:

Brad Pitt is producing through his Plan B production banner along with Nyong’o and Andrea Calderwood. Plan B produced “Selma” and after having such a good experience working with them Oyelowo jumped at the opportunity to board another project they were producing.

The film is now looking to attach a writer and director with no production start date set yet.

(h/t Jezebel)

Cast of ‘Selma’ Wears ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Shirts to NYC Premiere

Just one more reason to love Ava DuVernay and the cast of “Selma:”

Here’s David Oyelowo, E. Roger Mitchell, Wendell Pierce, Omar Dorsey, John Lavelle, Stephan James, Kent Faulcon, Lorraine Toussaint, Andre Holland, Tessa Thompson and Colman Domingo standing on the steps of the New York Public Library, wearing shirts that read “I Can’t Breathe.” They held up their arms as a sign for “don’t shoot.”

Read more

Marcus Mariota Becomes First Polynesian Heisman Winner

University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota became the first person of Polynesian descent to win college football’s most coveted prize. Mariota walked away with the Heisman trophy on Saturday night, the annual award that honors the best players in the college game. 

The Hawaiian-born Mariota gave a heartfelt acceptance speech:

Mariota told Polynesian children to use his Heisman win as motivation and to “strive for greatness.”

Read more at NFL.com. 

D’Angelo Dedicates New Album to Resistance in Ferguson, Occupy Wall Street

It’s been less than 24 hours since D’Angelo dropped his long-awaited new album “D’Angelo and the Vanguard: Black Messiah,” but it’s already a classic. It’s the first project from the singer in nearly 15 years and, as reported in GQ a couple years ago, is the culmination of years of hardship in the singer’s life. During a listening session for the album last Friday, a lyric pamphlet laid out the album’s inspirations:

[“]Black Messiah[“] is a hell of a name for an album. It can be easily misunderstood. Many will think it’s about religion. Some will jump to the conclusion that I’m calling myself a Black Messiah. For me, the title is about all of us. It’s about the world. It’s about an idea we can aspire to. We should all aspire to be a Black Messiah.

It’s about people rising up in Ferguson and in Egypt and in Occupy Wall Street and in every place where a community has had enough and decides to make change happen. It’s not about praising one charismatic leader but celebrating thousands of them. Not every song is politically charged (though many are), but calling this album “Black Messiah” creates a landscape where these songs can live to the fullest. “Black Messiah” is not one man. It’s a feeling that, collectively, we are all that leader.

You can stream the album below:

Three Takeaways from Remezcla’s Best of 2014 Lists

Three Takeaways from Remezcla's Best of 2014 Lists

Remezcla has published a series of lists illustrating 2014’s best songs, best music videos, best music trends, best Instagram accounts and best breakout artists. That’s a lot of bests—but well worth the look.

The first pick is gonna require an explanation for those of us who don’t speak Spanish or aren’t familiar with the most hilarious of song requests in 2014. The hook to Corona’s 1993 hit song is: “This is the rhythm of the night.” The thing is, those lyrics could easily sound like, “Esas son Reebok o son Nike?” in Spanish, which translates to, “Are those Reeboks or Nikes?” At some point this year, a Spanish-language listener called the song request in to a station—thinking the song was about a pair of sneakers. His misheard lyrics song request was honored with a good chuckle.

“Son Reebok o son Nike?” went on to live a life of its own in music. So Remezcla included it on its list of favorite music trends of the year. Here’s one remix from Los XL:

No Reeboks of Nikes on the best song list—but check out Princess Nokia’s “Bikini Weather Corazón en Afrika” from the list:


And finally, don’t forget muralist Alexis Diaz’s gorgeous Instagram account:

acrilico y tinta china sobre canvas 2x2 metros para #current @arsenalmontreal Montreal, Canada.

A photo posted by Alexis Diaz (@alexis_diaz) on

Check out all of Remezcla’s 2014 lists—which feature nearly 100 songs, videos and artists you should know about—on their site. It’s seriously worth it. 

Watch J. Cole Perform ‘Be Free’ on Letterman

J. Cole, fresh off of the release of his third album “2014 Forest Hills Drive,” paid a visit to “The Late Show With David Letterman” last night. He treated the audience to a live performance of his song “Be Free,” the track he recorded and dedicated to Mike Brown. The song doesn’t appear on the new album, but it was timely nonetheless given all the recent protests for Brown and Eric Garner. Watch.

(h/t Okayplayer)

A Visual Guide to Global Outrage Over Mike Brown and Eric Garner

Twitter recently released this geotagged map that showed the where, and how often, people across the globe tweeted #BlackLivesMatter, #ICantBreathe and #HandsUpDontShoot. Those phrases became the rallying cries for millions of people who went online — and took to the streets — in anger after the failures to indict police officers in the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner.

See more at HuffPo.

First Black Woman Nominated for Best Director Golden Globe: Ava DuVernay

The accolades just keep coming in for Ava DuVernay and the cast of “Selma.” The director was just nominated for a best director Golden Globe. “We’re very, very thrilled that the film was recognized,” she told ABC in an interview after learning of the nod. “What a morning!”

And, as Tambay Obensen pointed out at Shadow and Act, she’s making history:

I should note that, with her nomination, Ava DuVernay makes history, becoming the first black woman director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director in the Motion Picture category. She’s on her way to doing the same, when the Oscar nominees are announced next month. Previous nominees of African descent in this category include Steve McQueen for “12 Years a Slave,” and Spike Lee for “Do the Right Thing.” It’s painfully incredible that between the years of 1990 to 2014 (24 looooongyears), there wasn’t a single black director (male or female) nominated for Best Director in the Motion Picture category! 

“Selma” also earned a nomination in the best motion picture drama category. See a full list of all the nominations here.

Shonda Rhimes: ‘I Haven’t Broken Through Any Glass Ceilings’

Shonda Rhimes: 'I Haven't Broken Through Any Glass Ceilings'

Shonda Rhimes spoke at The Hollywood Reporter Women in Hollywood Breakfast on Wednesday about being black and female in Hollywood. Her comments were later published on Medium and, in her speech, she declared that she hasn’t broken through any glass ceilings to get to where she is:

If I’d broken the glass ceiling, that would mean I would have made it through to the other side. Where the air is rare. I would feel the wind on my face. The view from here — way up here where the glass ceiling is broken — would be incredible. Right? So how come I don’t remember the moment? When me with my woman-ness and my brown skin went running full speed, gravity be damned, into that thick layer of glass and smashed right through it? How come I don’t remember that happening?

[snip]

How many women had to hit that glass before the first crack appeared? How many cuts did they get, how many bruises? How hard did they have to hit the ceiling? How many women had to hit that glass to ripple it, to send out a thousand hairline fractures? How many women had to hit that glass before the pressure of their effort caused it to evolve from a thick pane of glass into just a thin sheet of splintered ice?

So that when it was my turn to run, it didn’t even look like a ceiling anymore. I mean, the wind was already whistling through — I could always feel it on my face. And there were all these holes giving me a perfect view to other side. I didn’t even notice the gravity, I think it had worn itself away. So I didn’t have to fight as hard, I had time to study the cracks. I had time to decide where the air felt the rarest, where the wind was the coolest, where the view was the most soaring. I picked my spot in the glass and called it my target. And I ran. And when I hit finally that ceiling, it just exploded into dust.

Read more

 

Watch the Only Live Recording of John Coltrane Playing ‘A Love Supreme’

Watch the Only Live Recording of John Coltrane Playing 'A Love Supreme' Play

From Esquire:

John Coltrane recorded A Love Supreme 50 years ago, December 9, 1964, with Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Jimmy Garrison. The album, a four-part suite widely considered to be one of the greatest in jazz history, was released in 1965. As NPR notes, Coltrane presented this record as “a spiritual declaration that his musical devotion was now intertwined with his faith in God.” Coltrane performed the album in its entirety but a single time, in Antibes, France, on July 26, 1965. Watch the first 14 minutes of that performance below.

Sikh Cartoonist Stars in Facebook Video, Racists Go Wild

Cartoonist Vishavjit Singh, known to many as Captain Sikh America, was recently featured in a Facebook Tips video.

But in just 28 seconds, his brown skin seems to have infuriated some users, who spewed plenty of hate in the comments.

facebooktips01.jpg

Singh wrote a thoughtful response at Salon in which he “share[d] with [Facebook users] the brief arc of my life, which might help lay to rest our simplistic judgment of people at first sight.” Read more

(h/t Angry Asian Man)

TAGS: Facebook Sikhs

SAG Surprises? ‘Selma’ Shut Out of Nominations

SAG Surprises? 'Selma' Shut Out of Nominations

Amid all the praise for “Selma,” not one actor from the film was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award. The list of nominees was released on Wednesday, and while no one from Ava DuVernay’s latest film is up for a prize, there are several actors of color who’ve got a chance.

From Shadow and Act:

- Cicely Tyson picked up a nomination for her performance in the Lifetime movie, “The Trip to Bountiful,” which was adapted from the play - Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

- Viola Davis is nominated for her performance in “How to get Away With Murder” - Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series 

- Uzo Aduba picked up a nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, for “Orange Is the New Black”

- And “Get on Up” is nominated in the Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture category

See the full list of nominees here

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