*Actress Kat Graham co-stars in the new film “Cut Throat City” directed by RZA.
In the film, she stars alongside T.I., Shameik Moore, Terrence Howard, and more. It’s the story of four young men who began robbing casinos as a result of trying to survive after hurricane Katrina.
The movie is set in the 9th ward if New Orleans, the area hit hardest by Katrina and the least assisted. Graham talks about what it was like filming in the area. After nearly 15 years post-Katrina you can still see how the storm damaged the neighborhood.
“It was amazing and also difficult. It was amazing because we had all these young kids come out and watch the process,” says Graham
She also describes the sense of pride she could feel from the locals in the 9th ward. Those living in the area experienced the worst part of the devastation from the hurricane but stayed and figured out a way to survive even without the help of FEMA and the state. That seems to be the message of the movie. A community that refused to give up on themselves when everyone else did.
In the film, Kat plays Demyra the wife of Shameik Moore’s character Blink, who’s involved in the casino robberies. Blink is a talented artist/painter who is trying to get ahead in life. He isn’t the stereotypical thug from an impoverished neighborhood, but a young educated black man who is still viewed as the before mentioned.
As his wife, Demyra shows her support by using some of her own resources to get them out of the trouble that has come their way.
Graham also shared her own pride in working on a project that was meaningful.
“No matter what, everything that I touch from this point on has to be about integrity,” she says.
It is admirable when actors and directors like Kat Graham and RZA make the decision to mostly take on projects that have meaning in life especially when it comes to black lives.
Make sure to check the “Cut Throat City” Instagram page @CTCMovie for updates on the film’s release.
Former MLBer Micah Johnson Wants His Paintings to Inspire Black Kids (Watch)
*Micah Johnson, a former second baseman and outfielder for the White Sox, Dodgers, Braves and Rays, has indulged in his longtime passion and is now a professional artist of critically acclaimed and highly sought-after fine art paintings.
His latest work, which opened at Art Angels over the summer, was inspired by an overheard question posed by his nephew: “Mom, can astronauts be Black?”
Per MLB.com’s Michael Clair:
Many of his paintings feature real subjects wearing an astronaut’s helmet, while they paint or draw or learn the cello or simply play hopscotch. The helmet represents the dreams Black kids have and the opportunities that are hopefully open to them. He uses colors and images that children can relate to. He wants Black children to see themselves in a fine art world that is historically dominated by white artists and subjects.
“My whole mission is to inspire children,” Johnson told MLB.com. “But I try to have that looseness to it. And that’s just how I am. I work a lot with just my hands. Sometimes I don’t even have a paintbrush in my studio. I try to do these really bold lines and have that perfect blend of whitespace and also color. That’s how I’d define my style now.”
“If I try to really, really focus on the eyes, make the viewer feel this connection — and if they feel that connection — then maybe it will change their perspective on something,” Johnson said.
“In the beginning, it was all inspired by my nephews because I just wanted to inspire them. And that’s how my approach is — I tried to focus on inspiring one person,” Johnson said. “So, a lot of my subjects are real subjects. And I think that’s a message for everybody else — just focus on impacting one person and you’ll really impact the world. So, for me, it’s my nephews, and they’re young, and maybe when they grow up, and they start looking at this, maybe they’ll feel inspired.”
The theme is present in his most recent work, “sä-v(ə-)rən-tē” (pronounced sovereignty), but the presentation is drastically different from anything Johnson has done before.
This piece is a digital artwork available to view on Apple TV or on a billboard at 901 W. Olympic Blvd. in Los Angeles from Dec. 7 through Jan. 10. It features two young children (Jacque, 8, and Rayden, 7), who have experienced tragedy in their lives staring at a closed door in a field, with an astronaut standing on the other side.
Unlike a painting, viewers can watch “sä-v(ə-)rən-tē” change in real time. The light shifts from day to night and with each passing year, the door will swing open a little wider, giving Jacque and Rayden a wider glimpse at the astronaut who awaits them on the other side of the door. A QR code connected to a bitcoin wallet also appears on the children’s birthdays, allowing viewers to donate directly to them.
Watch a trailer for sä-v(ə-)rən-tē below:
Watch a July 2020, CBS Los Angeles report on Johnson below:
‘Tyler Perry’s Ruthless’ on Paley Front Row – Brand New Discussion with the Cast TONIGHT
*New York, NY – The Paley Center for Media today announced the latest selection to its acclaimed Paley Front Row Presented by Citi series: BET+’s Tyler Perry’s Ruthless.
This exciting program will publish just in time for the midseason premiere of the smash-hit series on the Paley Center’s dedicated channel on Verizon Media’s Yahoo Entertainment starting tonight at 8:00 pm EST/5:00 pm PST.
“When Tyler Perry and BET present a television series you know it’s going to be riveting, entertaining and addictive,” said Maureen J. Reidy, the Paley Center’s President & CEO. “Ruthless once again proves why Tyler Perry is continuously recognized and praised for his trailblazing work.”
Ruthless follows the story of Ruth Truesdale who finds herself and her daughter entangled in the dangerous Rakudushis cult. At first an enthusiastic member, Ruth soon sees the cult for what it is, but must continue to play along with ways of Rakudushis until she can find a way to free herself and her daughter from this dire situation. The Paley Center will present a conversation with the cast ahead of the show’s midseason premiere on Thursday, November 26 on BET+. Joining in the conversation will be series stars Melissa L. Williams (Ruth Truesdale), Matt Cedeño (The Highest/Louis Tyrone Luckett), Lenny Thomas (Dikhan), Blue Kimble (Andrew), Yvonne Senat Jones (Tally), and moderator Tonja Renée Stidhum, Staff Entertainment Writer, The Root.
Paley Front Row Presented by Citi brings televisions fans all the best behind-the-scenes stories of today’s top television shows.
For more information, please visit paleycenter.org.
About The Paley Center for Media
The Paley Center for Media, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with locations in New York and Los Angeles, leads the discussion about the cultural, creative, and social significance of television, radio, and emerging platforms. Drawing upon its curatorial expertise, an international collection, and close relationships with the leaders of the media community, the Paley Center examines the intersections between media and society. The Paley Center’s premier programming sponsored by Verizon can be viewed through Verizon Media’s distribution channels, including being featured on the Yahoo Entertainment channel, as well as [email protected] presented by Citi on the Paley Center’s YouTube channel and the Paley Center’s Facebook page. The general public can access the Paley Center’s permanent media collection, which contains over 160,000 television and radio programs and advertisements, and participate in programs that explore and celebrate the creativity, the innovations, the personalities, and the leaders who are shaping media. Through the global programs of its Media Council and International Council, the Paley Center also serves as a neutral setting where media professionals can engage in discussion and debate about the evolving media landscape. Previously known as The Museum of Television & Radio, the Paley Center was founded in 1975 by William S. Paley, a pioneering innovator in the industry. For more information, please visit paleycenter.org.
The Lippin Group/Los Angeles
U of Kansas Professor’s ‘Groove Theory’ Explores Blues Foundations of Funk
*LAWRENCE. KS — What makes funk different from soul, R&B or rock music? Why is it worthy of academic study? And how do you write about it seriously while still capturing its musical vitality and humor?
Tony Bolden, University of Kansas associate professor of African & African-American studies, answers all those questions and more in his new book, “Groove Theory: The Blues Foundations of Funk” (University Press of Mississippi).
Bolden riffs on the etymology of “funk,” the epistemology of blue funk and examines avatars of what he calls “black organic intellectualism” from Duke Ellington to Gil Scott-Heron to D’Angelo. Funky women like Chaka Khan, Betty Davis and Meshell Ndegeocello finally get their due, too.
While he discusses the musical forms involved — such as James Brown’s groundbreaking rhythmic concept of being “on the one,” i.e., emphasizing the first beat of a measure — for Bolden, funk is a cultural aesthetic as much as a musical style. Contrarianism – obstinate opposition to conventionality, even within the confines of the Black community – is one of its most important characteristics, he asserted. So, too, are honesty and authenticity. And of course, there is the party-hearty “pleasure principle” propounded perhaps most notably by George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic fame.
“Funk is the outlaw among outlaws,” Bolden said.
In “Groove Theory,” the author also places great importance on the physical elements of funk, particularly dances like the Funky Four Corners and Funky Broadway.
“Whereas conventional Western philosophy has normalized the notion that the mind and body are polar opposites … sensuality is intrinsic to the epistemology of funk,” Bolden wrote.
As per the book’s subtitle, Bolden draws a direct line from an early form of African American vernacular music – the blues – to funk.
He writes in the introduction that “my central argument (is) that blues and funk are not just musical forms; they are interrelated concepts. And blues is ‘like the nucleus’ of rock as well as rhythm and blues, which includes soul and funk.”
Bolden said “Groove Theory” needed writing because no one had previously explored the roots of the concept of funk. He credits Rickey Vincent’s 1996 book “Funk: The Music, The People, and The Rhythm of The One” and a couple of others, but he felt more work needed to be done.
“My question is why?” Bolden said. “How do we explain the fact that the music came to be known as funk? And in exploring it from the standpoint of intellectual history, I’m exploring the history of the concept itself. And in the midst of that, I find out … the extent to which the term was controversial and there were real stigmas attached to it.”
Things changed during the Civil Rights Era, said Bolden, who is editor of the KU-based Langston Hughes Review.
“It’s not until the stigma of Blackness gets questioned that the stigma attached to funk is questioned enough,” he said. “The term is embraced by Black youth culture, and it’s the dancers who do it — and the people. It’s a street thing that happens.”
If funk was presaged by jazzers like Horace Silver (“Opus de Funk”) and Donald Byrd (“Pure D. Funk”) in the 1950s and early ’60s, it came into full, glorious flower in the 1970s with Parliament-Funkadelic topping the charts and filling stadium concerts. “Groove Theory” charts funk’s rise, along with the music’s continuing influence on contemporary Black music makers.
Sure, early rap sampled plenty of classic funk recordings. But funk’s ongoing influence is even deeper, Bolden wrote.
“Kendrick Lamar, Esperanza Spalding, Trombone Shorty, Bruno Mars, Janelle Monáe, Childish Gambino, Lizzo, Anderson Paak and other contemporary artists have engaged the concept in recent years,” he said. “This raises the question: Why? Given the precepts of funk — unvarnished truth; contrariety; unabashed pleasure; and implicit predilection for reciprocity—such interest may exemplify, on some level, dialectical responses to troubling conditions.”
KU News Service
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