Tagged with "corne"
Don Cornelius on Black Men Rock!
Category: Black Men Rock!
Tags: don cornelius black men rock word life production new quality entertainment feautred blog

American television icon Don Cornelius created and hosted Soul Train, which spent more than 30 years on the air.

Don Cornelius, born September 27, 1936, started out in the insurance business before going to broadcasting school in 1966. He worked as a substitute radio DJ and on TV’s A Black's View of the News before pitching his idea for a music television program aimed at young African Americans. Soul Train, inspired by American Bandstand, quickly became popular, and spent more than 30 years on the air.

Born on September 27, 1936, in Chicago, Illinois, Don Cornelius is an American television icon, having created Soul Train, a music show made for African-Americans by African-Americans, which spent more than 30 years on the air. A natural salesman, Cornelius started out in the insurance business in the 1950s. He went to broadcasting school in 1966, looking to break into the field. To realize his dream, he worked as a substitute DJ, filling in for other on-air personalities, and in the news department of WVON radio in Chicago.

Switching to television, Cornelius became a sports anchor and the host of A Black’s View of the News on WCIU in 1968. He got to know the station owners, and pitched them his idea for a music television program. Using $400 of his own money, Cornelius created a pilot for Soul Train, which was named after a promotional event he put together in 1969. Inspired by American Bandstand, the show featured teenagers dancing to the latest soul and R&B music as well as a performance by a musical guest. “Almost all of what I learned about mounting and hosting a dance show I learned from Dick Clark,” Cornelius later told Advertising Age.

Premiering on August 17, 1970, Soul Train quickly became popular. It aired on Saturday mornings, attracting a lot of children and teenagers off from school. An early supporter, businessman George Johnson of the Johnson Products Company, helped Cornelius make Soul Train a national television program. It was syndicated in 1971, but it was initially difficult getting stations sign up for the show. In addition to Chicago, stations in Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Francisco were among the first to air Soul Train.

With his deep voice and distinguished good looks, Cornelius was the ideal host. Over the years, he presented many famous performers to his television audience, including Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson, Lou Rawls and Aretha Franklin, among others. The show was not always wedded to its soul and R&B focus. Rock acts, such as David Bowie, Robert Palmer, and Duran Duran, also made appearances on the show from time to time as did jazz and reggae stars.

In 1987, Cornelius started the Soul Train Music Awards. Dione Warwick and Luther Vandross served as hosts of the first ceremony, which honored Stevie Wonder with the Heritage Award for outstanding career achievements. Whitney Houston, LL Cool J, and Run DMC were among the night’s performers. Over the years, other music stars appeared on the show, including Michael Jackson, Patti LaBelle, Usher and Ciara, and more awards were added.

Changing the Show

When American Bandstand went off the air in 1989, Soul Train was still going strong. But Cornelius continuously looked for ways to freshen up the show. In 1993, he gave up his duties as host and brought in guest hosts. “I had come to believe . . . that the era of the well-spoken, well-dressed Dick Clark, Don Cornelius-type in a suit and a tie was over ... I am just convinced that people want to see people on TV who are more like themselves,” he explained to The New York Times.

In 1995, Cornelius launched the Lady of Soul Awards. The first honorees were Debbie Allen, who received the Lena Horne Award for outstanding career achievements in the field of entertainment, and Salt-N-Pepa, who received the Aretha Franklin Award. Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, and Brandy performed during that first ceremony. Later on, both Brandy and Queen Latifah won the Aretha Franklin Award.

The Fate of Soul Train

Getting performers for the show, however, was sometimes a challenge for Cornelius. In 2001, he complained about MTV’s booking practices for its own award shows, which call for acts not to appear on competing programs within 30 days of the event. “It’s anti-competitive behavior that needs to be addressed at the Federal Trade Commission level,” he told the Los Angeles Times. He thought the tactic was especially egregious because of the cable music channel’s early history of not showing videos by African-American artists.

By 2005, Soul Train was being seen in 105 cities, reaching an estimated 85 percent of black households, according to the show’s website. Unfortunately, recent events have put the show’s future in question. In December 2007, the program lost its distributor when Tribune Entertainment closed that division in its company.

Cornelius' Final Years

After the end of Sould Train, Cornelius told the Los Angeles Times that he was in discussions to create a movie based on the famous franchise. "It wouldn't be the Soul Train dance show, it would be more of a biographical look at the project," he said. "It's going to be about some of the things that really happened on the show."

But life took a dark turn for Cornelius in 2008, when he was arrested and charged with spousal battery, dissuading a witness from making a police report, and assault with a deadly weapon.He pled no contest to misdemeanor domestic violence, and was sentenced to three years probation. The incident led to a bitter divorce battle between Cornelius and wife, Viktoria, in 2009. During their feuding, which lasted for over a year, Cornelius was also suffering from multiple health issues, including a stroke and several undisclosed ailments that required brain surgery.

The legal proceedings took an emotional toll on Cornelius, who made the statement within his divorce documentation that, "I am 72 years old. I have significant health issues. I want to finalize this divorce before I die." In 2010, Cornelius was granted his divorce. But the savvy businessman never quite recovered from the turmoil. On February 1, 2012, at approximately 4 AM, police officials discovered Cornelius' body at his California home. He had suffered a gunshot wound to the head that officials later stated was self-inflicted. He was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead later that morning.

Cornelius is survived by two sons, Anthony and Raymond.


Source: Biography.com

IN THIS MONTH'S LEGENDARY CORNER WE'RE HONORED TO PRESENT EARTH, WIND, AND FIRE Tags: earth wind fire legendary corner word life production feature

During the 1970s, a new brand of pop music was born - one that was steeped in African and African-American styles - particularly jazz and R&B but appealed to a broader cross-section of the listening public. As founder and leader of the band Earth, Wind & Fire, Maurice White not only embraced but also helped bring about this evolution of pop, which bridged the gap that has often separated the musical tastes of black and white America. It certainly was successful, as EWF combined high-caliber musicianship, wide-ranging musical genre eclecticism, and '70s multicultural spiritualism. "I wanted to do something that hadn't been done before," Maurice explains. "Although we were basically jazz musicians, we played soul, funk, gospel, blues, jazz, rock and dance music...which somehow ended up becoming pop. We were coming out of a decade of experimentation, mind expansion and cosmic awareness. I wanted our music to convey messages of universal love and harmony without force-feeding listeners' spiritual content."

Maurice was born December 19, 1941, in Memphis, TN. He was immersed in a rich musical culture that spanned the boundaries between jazz, gospel, R&B, blues and early rock. All of these styles played a role in the development of Maurice's musical identity. At age six, he began singing in his church's gospel choir but soon his interest turned to percussion. He began working gigs as a drummer while still in high school. His first professional performance was with Booker T. Jones, who eventually achieved stardom as Booker T and the MGs.

After graduating high school, Maurice moved to the Windy City to continue his musical education at the prestigious Chicago Conservatory Of Music. He continued picking up drumming jobs on the side, which eventually lead to a steady spot as a studio percussionist with the legendary Chicago label, Chess Records. At Chess, Maurice had the privilege of playing with such greats as Etta James, Fontella Bass, Billy Stewart, Willie Dixon, Sonny Stitt and Ramsey Lewis, whose trio he joined in 1967. He spent nearly three years as part of the Ramsey Lewis Trio. "Ramsey helped shape my musical vision beyond just the music," Maurice explains. "I learned about performance and staging." Maurice also learned about the African thumb piano, or Kalimba, an instrument whose sound would become central to much of his work over the years.

In 1969, Maurice left the Ramsey Lewis Trio and joined two friends in Chicago, Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead, as a songwriting team composing songs and commercials in the Chicago area. The three friends got a recording contract with Capitol and called themselves the "Salty Peppers," and had a marginal hit in the Mid-western area called "La La Time." That band featured Maurice on vocals, percussion and Kalimba along with keyboardists/vocalists Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead.

After relocating to Los Angeles and signing a new contract with Warner Bros., Maurice simultaneously made what may have been the smartest move of his young career. He changed the band's name to Earth, Wind & Fire (after the three elements in his astrological chart). The new name also captured Maurice's spiritual approach to music - one that transcended categories and appealed to multiple artistic principals, including composition, musicianship, production, and performance. In addition to White, Flemons and Whitehead, Maurice recruited Michael Beal on guitar, Leslie Drayton, Chester Washington and Alex Thomas on horns, Sherry Scott on vocals, percussionist Phillard Williams and his younger brother Verdine on bass.

Earth, Wind & Fire recorded two albums for Warner Brothers: the self-titled 1970 album Earth, Wind And Fire and the 1971 album The Need Of Love. A single from this album, "I Think About Lovin' You," provided EWF with their first Top 40 R&B hit. Also in 1971, the group performed the soundtrack to the Melvin Van Peebles film 'Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song'.

In 1972, White dissolved the line-up (except he and brother Verdine White) and added Jessica Cleaves (vocals - formerly of the R&B group The Friends of Distinction), Ronnie Laws (flute, saxophone), Roland Bautista (guitar), Larry Dunn (keyboard), Ralph Johnson (percussion) and Philip Bailey (vocals, formerly of Friends & Love). Maurice became disillusioned with Warner Brothers, which had signed the group primarily as a jazz act. Maurice, in contrast, was more interested in combining elements of jazz, rock, and soul into an evolving form of fusion, a truly universal sound.

A performance at New York's Rockefeller Center introduced EWF to Clive Davis, then President of Columbia Records. Davis loved what he saw and bought their contract from Warner Bros. With Columbia Records, debuting with the 1972 album Last Days And Time, the group slowly began to build a reputation for innovative recordings and exciting, live shows, complete with feats of magic (floating pianos, spinning drum kits, vanishing artists) engineered by Doug Henning and his then-unknown assistant David Copperfield. Their first gold album, Head To The Sky, peaked at number 27 pop in the summer of 1973, yielding a smooth tangy cover of "Evil" and the title track single. The first platinum EWF album, Open Our Eyes, whose title track was a remake of the classic originally recorded by Savoy Records group the Gospel Clefs, included "Mighty Mighty" (number four R&B) and "Kalimba Story" (number six R&B).

Maurice once again shared a label roster with Ramsey Lewis, whose Columbia debut Sun Goddess, was issued in December 1974. The radio-aired title track was released as a single under the name Ramsey Lewis and Earth, Wind & Fire. It went to number 20 R&B in early 1975. The Sun Goddess album went gold, hitting number 12 pop in early 1975. Maurice had also played on Lewis' other high-charting album, Wade in the Water; the title track single peaked at number three R&B in the summer of 1966.

The inspiration for "Shining Star" (one of EW&F's most beloved singles) was gleaned from thoughts Maurice had during a walk under the star-filled skies that surrounded the mountains around Caribou Ranch, CO a popular recording site and retreat during the '70s. The track was originally included in the 'That's The Way of the World' movie that starred Harvey Keitel and was produced by Sig Shore (Superfly). "Shining Star" glittered at number one R&B for two weeks and hit number one pop in early 1975. It was included on their 1975 multi-platinum album That's The Way Of The World that held the number one pop spot for three weeks in Spring 1975 and earned them their first Grammy Award. The title track single made it to number five R&B in summer of 1975. It also yielded the classic ballad "Reasons," an extremely popular radio-aired album track.

The multi-platinum album Gratitude held the number one pop album spot for three weeks in late 1975. On the album was "Singasong" (gold, number one R&B for two weeks, number five pop), the Skip Scarborough ballad "Can't Hide Love" (number 11 R&B), and the popular radio-aired album tracks "Celebrate," "Gratitude," and the live version of "Reasons." In 1976, Maurice decided he wanted to record a spiritual album. The multi-platinum album Spirit parked at number two pop for two weeks in fall of 1976 and boasted the gold, number one R&B single "Getaway" and "Saturday Nite." Spirit is remembered as one of EWF's best albums and sadly for also being the last project of Producer Charles Stepney. He died May 17, 1976, in Chicago, IL, at the age of 45. Charles was a former Chess Records arranger/producer/session musician/multi-instrumentalist/songwriter and Maurice's main collaborator on his EWF projects. The multi-platinum album All 'N All peaked at number three pop in late 1977, won three Grammy's, and had arrangements by Chicago soul mainstay Tom Tom Washington and Eumir Deodato. The singles were "Serpentine Fire" (number one R&B for seven weeks) and "Fantasy." The group's horn section, the legendary Phenix Horns (Don Myrick on saxophone, Louis Satterfield on trombone, Rahmlee Michael Davis and Michael Harris on trumpets) became an integral part of the Earth, Wind & Fire sound.

During this time, Maurice produced several artists such as The Emotions (1976's Flowers and 1977's Rejoice which included the number one R&B/pop hit "Best Of My Love") and Deniece Williams (1976's This Is Niecy which included the Top Ten R&B hit "Free"). In the late seventies, in association with Columbia Records, Maurice also launched a record label, ARC.

The multi-platinum greatest-hits set The Best Of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. I included a cover of the Beatles' "Got To Get You Into My Life" went to number one R&B and number nine pop in Summer 1978. The group performed the song in the 1978 Bee Gees/Peter Frampton movie 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'. Another single, "September," made it to number one R&B, number eight pop in early 1978. On the flip side was the enchanting popular radio-aired album track "Love's Holiday" from All 'N All.

Their live performances were stellar as well. Sellout crowds were spellbound by the band's bombastic performances. Their performances blasted a cosmic wave of peace, love and other happy vibrations to audiences using a combination of eye-popping costumes, lights, pyrotechnics and plain old good music. Sometimes they even threw in magic illusions. Earth, Wind & Fire's message was one of universal harmony, in both musical and cultural senses. "We live in a negative society," Maurice told Newsweek. "Most people can't see beauty and love. I see our music as medicine."

The multi-platinum album I Am hit number three pop in Summer 1979 on the strength of the million-selling single "Boogie Wonderland" with The Emotions (number two R&B for four weeks, number six pop) and the phenomenal gold ballad "After The Love Has Gone," written by David Foster, Jay Graydon and Bill Champlin that stayed at number two R&B/pop for two weeks. Their Faces album peaked at number ten pop in late 1980 and was boosted to gold by the singles "Let Me Talk" (number eight R&B), "You" (number ten R&B), and "And Love Goes On."

The million-selling funked-up "Let's Groove," co-written by The Emotions' Wanda Vaughn and her husband Wayne Vaughn, was the track that re-energized EWF's career, parking at number one R&B for eight weeks and number three pop, causing their Raise! album to go platinum (hitting number five pop in late 1981). Their next gold album Powerlight made it to number 12 pop in spring 1983 and included the Top Ten R&B single and Grammy-nominated "Fall In Love With Me." Their 1983 Electric Universe album stalled at number 40 pop, breaking the band's string of gold, platinum and multi-platinum albums.

In 1983, Maurice decided he and the band needed a break. During this hiatus, Maurice recorded his self-titled solo album Maurice White and produced various artists including Neal Diamond, Barbra Streisand and Jennifer Holliday. Reuniting with the band in 1987, EWF released the album Touch The World and scored yet another number one R&B single, "System of Survival" and embarked on a corresponding nine-month world tour. This was followed by the 1988 release The Best Of Earth, Wind & Fire Vol. II.

In 1990 the group released the album Heritage. Two years later, Earth, Wind & Fire released The Eternal Dance; a 55-track boxed set retrospective of the band's entire history. The appearance of such a project after a prolonged period of relative inactivity signaled to many listeners that the band was calling it quits but that did not turn out to be case. In 1993, EWF released the album, Millennium that included the Grammy-nominated "Sunday Morning" and "Spend The Night."

Earth, Wind & Fire kept recording and in 1996 released Avatar and Greatest Hits Live; followed by 1997's In The Name Of Love; 2002's That's The Way Of The World: Alive In '75; Live In Rio which was recorded during their 1979 "I Am World Tour;" 2003's The Promise, which included the Grammy-nominated "Hold Me" and 2005's Illumination, which included the Grammy-nominated "Show Me The Way."

In 2000, the nine-piece '70s edition of Earth, Wind & Fire reunited for one night only in honor of their induction into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. In 2001, Eagle Rock Entertainment released the documentary 'Earth, Wind & Fire: Shining Stars', which contains rarely seen historic video footage along with in-depth interviews with the band members.

Even though Maurice is no longer a part of the touring group, he remains the band's heart and soul from behind the scenes as composer and producer. Maurice reflects, "I wanted to create a library of music that would stand the test of time. ‘Cosmic Consciousness' is the key component of our work. Expanding awareness and uplifting spirits is so important in this day. People are looking for more. I hope our music can give them some encouragement and peace."

IN THIS MONTH'S LEGENDARY CORNER-THE FREESTYLE KING, SUPER NATURAL Tags: legendary corner super natural freestyle king hip hop featured artist word life production

 Reco Price (born April 23, 1970), better known by his stage name Supernatural (aka Super Nat or MC Supernatural) is an American rapper best known for his "on-the-spot" freestyle and battle rap abilities[1][2] He has been a regular performer and host of the Rock the Bells Music Festival since its beginning in 2004. Born in Marion, Indiana, Supernatural began rhyming at the age of 10.[4] Moving to New York City at the age of 19, Supernatural began to make a name for himself on the hip hop scene rhyming in local night clubs. By 1993, he had landed a radio-show on 98.7 Kiss-FM where he met KRS-One from the group Boogie Down Productions who became not only a friend but his business manager.[5] Supernatural signed with Elektra Records in 1995 and recorded an album titled "Natural Disasters". He reportedly had a dispute with Elektra and was subsequently dropped from the label, leaving the album unreleased until 2000.

His freestyle rapping battles with MC Juice and Craig G are highly regarded. Using a line that simultaneously revealed Supernatural's origin and referenced pop culture ("When you go back home to Indiana, get Mike Tyson out the slammer"), Craig G. delivered Supernatural the first major loss of his career as a freestyle battle rapper at the New Music Seminar in 1994.

Supernatural later arranged a rematch with Craig G. The outcome of this competition was inconclusive though decisively in Supernatural's favor, due to emotional distress on the part of Craig G, who ended the battle. Supernatural's story and performances are reported in the documentary film Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme, which contains clips of his and Craig G's battle. The film also contains clips of a notable battle between Supernatural and MC Juice, another popular freestyle rapper who was featured on the Wake Up Show. In this competition, Supernatural defeated MC Juice in two of three freestyle rounds, although, reportedly, there were disputes over the legitimacy of this conclusion.

Supernatural released several singles prior to 1997. He has also released 2 full-length albums, including "Natural Disasters" and "S.P.I.T. (Spiritual Poetry Ignites Thought)" (2005, Up Above Records), which features Raekwon (of the Wu Tang Clan), B-Real (of Cypress Hill), and Chali 2na (of Jurassic 5). A compilation of previously-recorded tracks entitled "The Lost Freestyle Files" was released in 2003.[6]

On August 5, 2006, Supernatural successfully set a new world record for the longest continuous freestyle rap while hosting the Rock the Bells festival in San Bernardino, CA. The nine-hour and fifteen minute session earned him a place in the Guinness World Records., [7] breaking Canadian rapper D. O.'s record of 8 hours and 45 minutes. On September 12, 2009, Supernatural's record was broken by the Brooklyn-based rapper DJ Green Arrow, whose record of 9 Hours and 57 minutes was set at St. Mark's Church. DJ Green Arrow reported, on the True School Radio show, that Supernatural inspired him to take freestyle rapping seriously.

 

IN THIS MONTH'S LEGENDARY CORNER-THE BEAUTIFUL ERICA BADU Tags: erica badu legendary corne word life production underground network

 There is perhaps one story that explains Erykah Badu’s cyclical outlook on her new album, New Amerykah Part Two:Return Of The Ankh, and it involves a visit to a Santeria priest in Cuba in 1999. Dressed for the occasion, Badu wore an all-white dress and, despite the humid weather, her signature towering head wrap. As she sat on the dusty sidewalk waiting to enter the house of Ifa, a young man who could best be described as curious looking barreled down next to her, popped open a can of beer, lit a cigarette, and began making small talk to another guy who Badu assumed was also waiting for a reading. Soon after, the house door opened and a charming old lady welcomed her; the young man, dressed in white cut-off denim shorts and a faded American sportswear jersey, followed them into the house. Uncertain of his reason for being there, Badu became reserved and uncomfortable with the idea of someone else sitting in on her reading.And then it dawned on her: This young manwas the priest. He came from a long line of respected priests. He didn’t have to wear fancy garments, or signal his faith with outward expressions. He just was. From that moment on, Badu’s head wrap came off — both figuratively and literally.

When Badu says “return of the ankh,” she doesn’t mean she’s returning to wearing the head wrap or any other accessory that evokes 1997’s Baduizm epoch. She means much more. The return of the ankh is the return of a feeling, what makes her creative, what makes her passionate, what makes her Badu.

Born Erica Wright on February 26, 1971 in Dallas, Texas, Erykah Badu inherited a taste for music from her mother Kolleen Wright, who introduced her to multiple genres of music (Joni Mitchell, Parliament-Funkadelic, Pink Floyd, Phoebe Snow, Chaka Khan). At the tender age of four, Badu began singing and dancing in productions at the local Dallas Theatre Centre. It wasn’t until her acting debut in the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreational Center’s musical production of “Really Rosie,” directed by her godmother Gwen Hargrove, that Badu realized she was a natural performer. “I played Alligator,” Badu says, “and at 6 years old, I got my first standing ovation. I knew I wanted to bring people to their feet from that point on.

Badu stayed true to her artistic leanings and enrolled at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts in the late ’80s. Tomboyish and a bit of a class clown, Badu devoted most of her time to perfecting her dance form, studying the techniques of Martha Graham and Katherine Dunham, as well as practicing ballet, tap, and modern dance. Badu also sharpened her Hip-Hop skills, freestyling on the Dallas radio station 90.9 FM KNON under the name Apples the Alchemist until she eventually changed the spelling of her name from “Erica Wright” to “Erykah Badu,” “kah” being Kemetic (Egyptian) for a human’s vital energy or “inner-self” and “ba-du” after her favorite jazz scat-sound. But later, Badu would discover that her chosen name holds a far deeper meaning.

Badu enrolled at Grambling State University, where she majored in theater and minored in Quantum Physics. She left in 1993 to pursue music full-time. During the day, she taught drama and dance at the South Dallas Cultural Center and worked as a coffeehouse waitress. At night, she recorded and performed songs like “Appletree,” produced by her cousin Robert “Free” Bradford. In 1994, her 19-song demo caught the attention of aspiring record executive Kedar Massenburg by way of the SXSW music festival. Massenburg signed her to his upstart label Kedar Entertainment. The company eventually merged with Motown/Universal and Badu started opening for D’Angelo, prepping the world for the massive Neo soul movement to come.

The New York Times described Badu’s groundbreaking debut, 1997’s Baduizm, as “traditional soul vocals, staccato hip-hop rhythms and laid-back jazzy grooves.” Yet, hindsight reveals that Badu’s debut was more than just an album, it was the introduction of a new lifestyle. The music evoked speakeasies, incense, head wraps, and boho coffee shop culture all in one easy breath. Propelled by the lead single “On & On,” the album went multi-platinum, winning her two Grammys for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Album. Badu topped Rolling Stone’s Reader’s poll for Best R&B Artist, and Entertainment Weekly named her Best New Female Singer of 1997.

The year yielded more blessings as Badu gave birth to her first child, Seven Sirius, whose father is the legendary Andre Benjamin of OutKast on the same day that her second LP, 1997’s Live, was released in the U.S. Live rode the wave of Baduizm’s success, going double-platinum. On the album, Badu showed that she could not be categorized, as the improvised “Tyrone” became a megahit, peaking at No. 1 for six weeks straight.

In addition to reinforcing her reputation as a dynamic live performer, Badu’s big screen debut as Rose Rose in the 1999 film The Cider House Rules added another credit to her brown bag of artistic miscellany. And in 2000, she opened her trophy cabinet once again to welcome a Grammy award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for her appearance on “You Got Me” by The Roots.

These checkpoints only heightened anticipation for Badu’s second studio album, 2000’s Mama’s Gun. A rich assembly of soul, funk, and organic Hip-Hop textures, Mama’s Gun achieved platinum status and topped the R&B charts for seven weeks bolstered by the album’s lead single “Bag Lady.” The song’s video paid homage to Ntozake Shange’s award-winning play, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf,” with Badu presenting a “choreopoem” performed by herself and four other dancers. The album also marked the beginning of her collaborations with the late J Dilla, who produced “Didn’t Cha Know” and “Kiss Me On My Neck (Hesi),” and to whom Badu pays tribute on a track called “Telephone” from 2008’s New Amerykah Part One: 4th World War. Capped off with the emotional hit “Green Eyes,” Mama’s Gun packed a graceful combination of potent lyrics and stirring melisma, surpassing Baduizm’s first week numbers with more than 190,000 copies sold.

In the three years between Mama’s Gun and Badu’s next release, 2003’s Worldwide Underground, the singer-songwriter went on her affectionately dubbed “The Frustrated Artist” tour to inspire new material for the album. On the CD—which was recorded in Badu’s mobile recording studio on her tour bus and features guest appearances by Lenny Kravitz, Caron Wheeler, and Zap Mama—Badu would also debut her new production team, FREAQuency (Badu, James Poyser, Rashad “Ringo-Tumbling Dice” Smith, and R.C. Williams). By September 2003, Worldwide Underground, an experimental, atmospheric jam session, was ready for release. In keeping with her track record for collaborating with Hip-Hop’s finest, Worldwide Underground found Badu enjoying critical acclaim for the crunk “Danger” and “Love of My Life Worldwide,” which featured femcees du jour Bahamadia, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, and soul singer Angie Stone.

Badu also kept busy outside of the lab. In 2003, she founded her non-profit group, B.L.I.N.D. (Beautiful Love Incorporated Non-Profit Development), which is geared toward creating social change through economic, artistic, and cultural development. She also transformed the legendary Forest Theater in South Dallas into a headquarters for live shows and charity benefits. “When I came home, I saw the bad condition the building was in,” says Badu. “I felt like it was my job to reestablish music there, to reformat the whole thing and refit it.” Among B.L.I.N.D.’s many accomplishments, the organization has provided arts, crafts, and dance classes to children displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

In 2004, Badu gave birth to her daughter Puma Sabti, who she describes as a “mini-me.” In September of that same year, Badu appeared in the Brooklyn-based concert documentary Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, performing an animated set that included the hits “Back in the Day (Puff)” and the Grammy-winning smash “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop).” Along with Queen Latifah andJill Scott,Badu also founded a successful summer festival tour called Sugar Water. Also in 2004, Badu’s charitable efforts helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the scholarship fund at St. Phillips School and Community Center in Dallas, Texas.

Badu flexed her entrepreneurial muscles with the launch of her own label, Control FreaQ, in 2005. The label, whose mission is to “free the slaves and the slave masters” by allowing signed artists to own their own masters in a 10-year conversion deal, operates primarily as a production house. Control FreaQ’s first project is developing New Orleans-born MC/Lyricist Jay Electronica. The label also produces remixed records and supports Badu’s side projects such as The Cannabinoids, the group she founded with Dallas-based DJs, musicians and beatsmiths, which is an improvisation production akin to a live “remix” set.

In 2008, as the U.S. engaged in the Iraq War and the nation prepared for an historic presidential election, Badu presented her own offering for the evolving times with New Amerykah Part One: 4th World War. Badu’s fourth studio album and the first installment of the two-part New Amerykah series kept Badu’s Hip-Hop spirit kindled. New Amerykah Part One boasts beats from the best soundsmiths in the game — including Madlib, 9th Wonder, Shafiq Husayn (for Sa-Ra Creative Partners), Sa-Ra, Karriem Riggins, Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson of The Roots, James Poyser, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Mike “Chav” Chavaria. With the singles “Honey” and “The Healer” generating significant cyberspace buzz, Badu reclaimed her cherished throne as a soul music phenom. New Amerykah Part One debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart and Rolling Stone named it one of the year’s best albums.For the once self-proclaimed “analog girl,” Badu is now pushing the limits of the digital world. On February 1, 2009, Badu and boyfriend Jay Electronica blogged about the birth of their daughter Mars Merkab in real-time on the micro-blogging site Twitter, thus becoming the first celebrity couple to ever Tweet the birth of a child.

In 2010, Badu announced yet another new arrival: New Amerykah Part Two: Return Of The Ankh. Whereas Part One was social and political in tone, Part Two taps into the more romantic and emotional side of Badu. “It reminds me of the days of Baduizm,” she says. “It’s just about beats and rhymes in a cipher.” 

Indeed, diehard fans of Badu will love New Amerykah Part Two: Return Of The Ankh and newcomers to Badu’s world will be curiously intrigued by the mystique and authenticity of an artist who is totally comfortable in her own skin. Whether directing a dope music video or exposing her vulnerabilities in rhyme, Badu transcends image. Just like the Santeria priest she met in Cuba, Badu no longer tries to be, she just is.

For more information, please visit:
www.BaduWorld.com and www.ErykahBadu.com


 

IN THIS MONTH'S LEGENDARY CORNER THE SPOTLIGHT IS ON ERIC B & RAKIM Tags: eric b rakim real hip hop music legendary corner word life production feature


While Eric B dazzled listeners with his turntable techniques, Rakim pointed the way toward the easy-rollin' style of the '90s with his laidback raps, though forceful in content. Each of the duo's first three albums achieved gold status, and they even managed the Top Five R&B hit "Friends" in 1989.

While working as a mobile DJ for New York's WBLS during 1985, Eric Barrier met William Griffin, a top MC who had grown up on Long Island. The two began recording together and emerged with "Eric B Is President."

The single appeared in 1986 on Harlem's Zakia label, and became a street sensation. Signed to 4th & Broadway the following year, Eric B & Rakim released their debut album, Paid in Full.

The LP's success led to a contract with Uni/MCA in 1988, and their second album, Follow the Leader, was released that year. Two more albums followed, Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em (1990) and Don't Sweat the Technique (1992), after which the duo broke up. By the mid-'90s, Eric B. had emerged as a solo act on his own 95th Street label. — John Bush

Review: Eric B. and Rakim - Follow the Leader - LP (MCA - 1988)

 

After coming out with one of the most impressive and successful debut albums in Hip-Hop history, Paid In Full, there had to be serious pressure on Eric B. and Rakim to beat the dreaded sophomore jinx with the release of their second LP. Not only did the duo beat the odds with Follow the Leader, they also expanded their range with dope original music and beats and also with precise lyrics delivered by Rakim that had many MCs and fans on his nut-sack. The atmospheric title track (with its menacing keyboard accompaniment) gave Rakim the room to spit imaginative lyrics that showcased his original approach to rocking the mic while taking the listener on a musical journey - an instant classic track.

But wait, the second track is just as dope, "Microphone Fiend." Over Average White Band’s funky "Schoolboy Crush" Rakim explains his addiction to kickin’ lyrics that started at an early age: "’Cause I grab the mic and try to say yes y’all/They try to take it, they say that I’m too small/Cool ’cause I don’t get upset/I kick a hole in the speaker, pull the plug, then I jet."

The rest of the LP is consistent with this level of achievement, if not as stunning, which means it still was way above most of the competition. The bottom line is that this team has secured a permanent place in rap history, and way after all the wannabe gangstas and marijuana bandwagon-jumpers have been forgotten, albums like this will still have heads bobbin’.  

RSS
Spread the word
Search

This website is powered by Spruz