Archive for the ‘Pop Culture’ Category

After 10 years on air, The Michael Baisden Show is coming to an end.

The tenth anniversary of the Michael Baisden Show was abruptly cut short on Wednesday. Baisden announced via his Facebook page not only was his show being taken off the air, he says he and his crew were “locked out” of their studio, owned by media company Cumulus. Apparently, the two sides couldn’t agree on a deal, and when Baisden went public with that info, they decided they would use pre-recorded material to fill his 3-4 pm timeslot until March 29.

I remember listening to Baisden in the car with my mother my senior year of high school and laughing at some of the discussions he engaged in with his guests. As time when on, he evolved from talking about dating, relationships and sex to confronting issues such as domestic abuse, bullying and sexual assault. He has also been vocal on social and political issues such as the Jenna Six, the election (and re-election) of Barack Obama, and the Trayvon Martin Case. He also organized a campaign to get more people involved with mentoring young people and has invested time and attention to small business owners.

Baisden is one of those figures in Black America that folks either love or hate. Whatever you think about him and his opinions,  you have to admit he has a powerful voice. By no means am I a Michael Baisden Stan. I disagreed with his views on more than one subject. But I appreciate his willingness to talk about politically sensitive, potentially explosive topics. He was one of the few minority voices in mainstream talk radio with a sizable audience, and that number is steadily shrinking.

Baisden will be okay. He’ll land a gig on satellite radio or end up on MSNBC with Al Sharpton every day.  My larger concern is that we still need shows like the MB Show, if not that show itself. The Rush Limbaughs of the world aren’t going anywhere, but how many mainstream radio shows featuring minorities are there out there that actually address substantive issues at least on a semi-regular basis?

One less more than we started with this week.

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According to a recent report, four of the 11 worst graduation rates in public institutions belong to HBCUs.

Evening people. I’m sure you’re getting tired of my excuses as to why I’ve been away from you for a while, but if you love me, you’ll get over it. For those of you who navigated to this page looking for Part III of Why Women Have Sex, you’ll be comforted in knowing that the rest of the series will be featured on What Black Men Want. You can find it and all my posts under The Fly Young Intellectual.

Also, if you didn’t know, June is Black Music Month. This means you are obligated to check out my blog R&B Essentials. If you don’t, it means you’re racist. Or you harbor a deep self-hatred…..Ok, not really. But please check it out. I put a lot of my heart and soul into that site and I think it shows in the level of content. Besides, it’s heavy on videos, light on words.

Continuing with the Randomness of this post, I want to bring your attention to two stories I came across on the internet today. The first one is a sobering one, dealing with a subject near and dear to my heart: Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). The article named four HBCUs, including Southern (LA) University at no. 1,  in the 11 Worst Public University Graduation Rates. Luckily, my beloved Winston-Salem State University was not among them, but it still made me cringe. I know the original purpose of these schools is to provide a chance at higher education for those who would not otherwise have the chance, probably myself included. But somewhere along the line, we’ve got to find a balance between finding opportunities and meeting higher standards. I could go on, but it’s a Monday night, so I won’t.

So let’s end this on a positive note. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen multiple stories about Black women and weightloss/exercise, most of it non-flattering. I wrote about this topic a few weeks ago on What Black Men Want. Well, meet Earnestine Shepherd. This 75-year old from Baltimore was recently inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest female bodybuilder in the world. Check out her story.

Gerald Walker's new mixtape, "Believers Never Die," gives us a glimpse of what hip-hop's future could be.

Some time during college, I realized that I had pretty much given up on hip-hop. The new-school stuff anyway. Save for pretty much Kanye West’s entire discography, the majority of my iTunes was filled with 80s and 90s R&B and Hip-Hop.It was cool for awhile, you like what you like, right?I mean it’s not like I grew up on rap.

My parents didn’t believe in allowing my brothers and I to listen to music with explicit lyrics as a kid, so most of the hip-hop of the day was off limits. They kinda relaxed the rules once we got to high school. Pretty much as long as they didn’t hear it, we were cool. That’s when I discovered classics like Illmatic, Doggystyle, The Chronic, etc. This was also the time of The Blueprint, College Dropout and Get Rich or Die Trying, Stankonia etc. so at this point I had high expectations for hip-hop. Needless to say watching it devolve into Snap Music and Trendy Dances was a big downer.

Every now and then, though, I find a rapper who resonates with me. In 2009-2010, it was J. Cole. Last year, I came across this kid from Milwaukee named Gerald Walker. His mixtape The Other Half Of Letting Go was engagingly mellow, his flow somewhere between Krazy Bone and a young J. Cole. A few weeks ago I saw he had a new mixtape, Believer’s Never Die. I downloaded it, put a few tracks on my iPod, and let it sit for a few days.

Lot of good joints on this one. I really dig his athletic references (My personal favorites: It’s me hoe/Rap Tim Tebow/In this game full of sheep, I’m a shepard like Lito” and “Trying to ball like Kobe/But you niggas Rodney Stuckey) My favorites include the title track, Zero to Sixty87 Corvette Wishes (featuring a sick guest spot by Phil Ade) and Um, Excuse Me Miss. But Walker really shines on the Some Things Never Wash Out, where he references Boo Radley, Eminem and Michael Jordan in the same song and makes it sound coherent. Here’s a sample:

“Not every nigga smoke weed/Not all niggas are in jail/Not every man has a gun/Not every mother does her job/Not every father is a bum/Not every old man is wise/ Not every foolish nigga’s dude is young/Not every priest is a saint/Not every blonde chick is dumb/ It’s like I’m fighting battles that I’ve already one.”

If a guy as talented as Gerald Walker doesn’t blow up in the next year or so, hip-hop is in more trouble than I thought it was a few years ago. Seriously.

The Miami Heat show support for Treyvon Martin in a rare political statement for professional athletes.

Over the past week, no story in the country has been discussed, dissected and analyzed like the Trayvon Martin case. Dozens of rallies and vigils where held over the past week in memory of the 17 year-old who was gunned down by neighborhood watchman-turned-vigilante George Zimmerman. Other than a few crass comments from right-wingers like Geraldo Rivera and Sean Hannity, most folks have expressed their outrage over his death and support for the young man’s family.

Thousands gathered in New York on Wednesday for a Million Hoodie March in honor of the Florida teen who was wearing a hoodie at the time of his death. The past few days millions have donned hooded sweatshirts in their Facebook Profile Photos and Twitter Avatars as a sign of support.

Despite the national outcry over the case, the sports world and the athletes that inhabit it, went on with business as usual. Games were played. Interviews were conducted. Checks were cashed. And no one was surprised. Why? Because that’s just what athletes, especially African-Americans, are expected to do. Play the game, smile for the camera and keep your opinion to yourself. That’s been the status quo ever since Michael Jordan’s “Republicans buy sneakers too,” comment.

But Friday we were all surprised when two-time NBA MVP LeBron James Twitpic’d a photo of he and his Miami teammates wearing black hoodies. During their game against the Pistons that night, James scribbled “RIP Trayvon” on his sneakers. After Teammate DeWayne Wade told reporters “I think the only thing we want is we just want to make sure that we shed some light on the situation and let (people) know this is not just something happening in the community where it happened. “This is worldwide. We want to be a part of it until justice is served.”

In a world where silence is expected and speaking out is risky, those small statements said a lot. The fame and money of superstar athletes like James and Wade sometimes insulate them from the outside world. Most things that affect the average person like high gas prices or unemployment just don’t factor very much into their daily consciousness. Earlier this week, in column for What Black Men Want, I said that any Black man who looks at Martin’s face and ignores the cries of his blood is out of touch with reality.

It’s good to know that, at least this time, the athletes are with us.

When it comes to entertainment,  I’ve always had peculiar tastes. I’ve always been into things that feed my brain. As a kid I spent most of my time reading sports biographies and the encyclopedia. Even as an adult I generally keep my TV on ESPN, CNN, MSNBC or The History Channel and I really love documentaries.

With that being said, I’ll definitely be watching VH1 tonight at 10 p.m. as the network premieres Planet Rock: The Story of Hip-Hop and The Crack Generation. I hadn’t heard about it until today but I’m hopeful that this will be an insightful and entertaining documentary.

I was born at the beginning of the crack epidemic, and although I wasn’t directly effected by it, I know many of my peers who were and still are. Millions of black men were incarcerated, black women exploited and black children left to fend for themselves as a result of this twisted phenomenon.  Listening to today’s music and interacting with people of my generation, it’s clear that the crack era not only had a huge impact on the entertainment world, but also on the children that grew up in it.

 

Remaking a classic is a tough task at best, and most of the time it’s better left as an idea. And in my book, few things are more “classical” than the 1980s cartoon series, Thundercats. The original series debuted the same year I did (1985) and has retained a cult-like following for over 25 years, despite only lasting two full seasons.

In my opinion, it is the greatest action cartoon ever.  A group of half-cat, half-human superheros are forced from their imploding home planet and find there way to an earth-like planet (aptly named “Third Earth”). Led by a young ruler with a knack for getting himself into trouble they attempt to exist in peace while battling a host of formidable villains.

I vaguely remember seeing the reruns of the original series as a kid and my parents renting the seminal “Thundercats-Ho” set on VHS. Many 20-somethings may remember that Cartoon Network also picked the show up in syndication in the late 1990s. My brothers and I watched the show faithfully and were crushed when the network later stopped broadcasting it.

When I found out a few weeks ago that the series was being remade, I was anxious to see the results. After watching on the premiere, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The animation speaks for itself. The characters generally stay true to the original, but not so much that they look outdated. And the storyline on the premier was superb. It even included the reappearance of my favorite villain from the original, Grune The Destroyer. I can’t wait for next week’s episode.