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Showing posts from 2010
REAP THE WHIRLWIND

Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and four others stand newly indicted by a federal grand jury. The others charged include Kilpatrick’s father Bernard Kilpatrick (currently a local political consultant), ex-official of the Detroit Water Department Victor Mercado, Kilpatrick mayoral aide Derrick Miller and local construction businessman Bobby Ferguson. A six-year investigation preceded the 38 total indictments—some of the charges include extortion, bribery and racketeering. The junior Kilpatrick is already in prison regarding a parole violation earlier this year.

According to articles in the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press, Kwame Kilpatrick's entry into ethically questionable practices stretched as far back as his stint in the State of Michigan legislature where he represented Detroit from 1996 to 2001, the year that he was elected as the youngest mayor in the city of Detroit (allegedly there were secret payoffs to allow Kilpatrick to become the Democratic …
COMMUNITY CRIME SUMMIT IN DETROIT

In Detroit Michigan at Second Ebenezer Church there was a community town hall meeting held. The subject was crime prevention in the city of Detroit. Hosting pastor Bishop Edgar Vann was in attendance, as was Detroit city council president Charles Pugh, who served as official moderator of the event. There were about 20 or so individuals on the panel, mostly representing different aspects of law enforcment. Among them were members of: Detroit Police Dept., Detroit Public School Police, Michigan DEA, Michigan ATF, Homeland Security, Michigan Dept. of Corrections, Wayne County Sheriffs, and Michigan State Police. Kym Worthy of the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office was present, as was the US Justice Dept.'s Barbara McQuade. John Broad, the Presidnet of anonymous tip-line CrimeStoppers Michigan was there, as was an executive of the Skillman Foundation and representaives from local non-profit social-work agencies/Community Development Coalitions. The …
PUBLIC ENEMY'S BOXED SET HITS HARD http://totalboxmusic.com/store.html Artist: Public Enemy
Release: Greatest Sites and Sounds: Bring the Noise, the Hits, Vids and Doc Box
Label: Slam Jamz/Total Box Music

Greatest Sites and Sounds (Bring the Noise, the Hits, Vids and Doc Box) is the first boxed set release from the storied hip-hop band Public Enemy. Subtitled Chapter 2: 1999 – 2009, the collection focuses almost exclusively on the group’s post-Def Jam era of recordings, released through Chuck D’s Slam Jamz label. The set’s content is split up into no less than six parts: three music CDs and three DVDs.

The CDs are loaded with 20 tracks each, featuring ten years worth of singles, album cuts, live performance excerpts and remixes from the six studio albums, remix compilations and solo recordings that the band has collectively logged since the tail end of the Clinton presidency. The core lineup of Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff and DJ Lord (who replaced Terminator X as the b…
GOP SWEEP... IS DETROIT IN THE DUSTPAN?

Never discount the political schizophrenia of the American electorate. In Michigan, largely self-financed and self-described ‘tough nerd’ GOP candidate Rick Snyder has beaten back Lansing mayor Virg Bernero in the gubernatorial race. Bill Schuette, a former 4th District Michigan Court of Appeals judge, beat Gennessee-County area prosecutor David Leyton in the race for attorney general, and current Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson beat Wayne State law professor Jocelyn Benson in the race for Secretary of State. Snyder is considered by his supporters to be a moderate Republican, and he was the surprise winner in the Republican primary earlier this year, beating out traditional GOP idealogues such as western Michigan congressman Pete Hoekstra, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard and current Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox. Snyder managed to snag votes from the Republican base of right leaners as well as the conservative Independents, and also so…
FAT BOYS ARE BACK

This week pioneering hip-hop act the Fat Boys have been profiled on TV-One's documentary series, "Unsung". Think of it as a version of VH-1 Behind the Music, but exclusively focusing on urban music acts. Check the TV One website at http://www.tvoneonline.com to see the entire episode stream online, as well as to see when it will be aired again. In the meanwhile, this author penned a review of the group's greatest hits compilation, originally released in 1997- an updated hits set can be found on Itunes and Amazon.com.

Fat Boys

All Meat, No Filler - The Best of the Fat Boys

label- Rhino
As of 2003, despite there being over 20 years of recorded hip-hop and rap music, the genre still has a relative dearth of archival collections. Part of the problem is most rap acts have not sustained careers beyond one or two albums.

Another is that many early rap acts recorded for independent - and now defunct - labels, which make it that much harder to assemble a proper c…
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DETROIT MARCH FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE

On Saturday, August, 28, 2010, a gathering of several thousand participants took place in downtown Detroit, Michigan. Coinciding with the Michigan Democratic Party's nomination convention, the rally was headed up by activist Rev. Jesse Jackson and recently elected United Auto Workers union president Bob King.
The march was held on the anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s march on Washington in 1963. The march and rally were organized by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the United Auto Workers union.
Along the way, the march grew as convention goers and others joined in, culminating in Campus Martius Park downtown, where a stage was set up. Among the other notables who participated in the march were Mayor Dave Bing, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., state Sen. Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero, and his running mate Brenda Lawrence.
Conyers, for his part, reminded t…
THE HATE THAT HATE PRODUCED

“Whatever happened to the Gods and the Earths/ They thirst for a pot of gold God worth his birth/ Knowledge is worth more than diamonds/ When the mind is shining, surprise us”
Poor Righteous Teachers, “Gods, Earths and 85-ers”, 1996

So, a group of developers plan to build a house of worship in an urban area. As it so happens, this house of worship—combined with a cultural center and recreation gym (open to anyone)—would be built mere blocks from where a terrible crime was committed. Not necessarily a big deal. Considering that houses of worship are generally considered to positively add to the color and appeal of a community, the furthest thing that building such a center should inspire would be accusations and counter-accusations of hate and intolerance? Right?

Wrong.

In New York City, plans are currently in limbo for an Islamic community center (including dedicated rooms for prayer and religious activities) to be potentially built just a few city blocks from t…
IGNORANCE 2010

“I’ma put it in hard, help these kids…”
Shyne, XXL interview. Professional wrestling has more in common with hip-hop than most folks are willing to admit. Most popular rappers tend to have some kind of don’t-test-me attitude. They give proud speeches about how they're going to roll over the competition. Ask them whether all of this is 'fake', you might get a verbal beat-down, or worse. If the mainstream press buzzes about a real-life violent incident with a connection to rap (say, a shooting before, during or after a concert), the favorite retort is, "Hey, it's entertainment, don't blame us." Vince McMahon would be proud. Atlanta native Young Jeezy, interviewed in XXL, maintains that he should be given the crown of authenticity compared to other rappers whose past lifestyles allegedly don’t match up to the themes in their songs.

Native Belizean Shyne was recently released from a 10-year prison bid following a trial involving himself and for…
'DETROIT 187'
IN THE CROSSHAIRS

Detroit City Council recently has had a public hearing about the upcoming television drama Detroit 187 (http://tinyurl.com/25okbjp). The series, due to air on the ABC network this fall, is filmed in and set in Detroit, focusing on a group of police detectives and officials and the crimes they solve. Michigan's nascent tax-incentives for the film industry played a role in the TV show coming to Detroit; the pilot for the show was filmed in Atlanta, Georgia.

Considering how the Law & Order and CSI franchises have long been TV staples, I'm somewhat surprised that it took this long for someone to come out with a Detroit answer to the typically New York-and-Los Angeles-centric police shows. Likely hundreds of people will end up getting direct or indirect jobs as a result of the show's presence. Not only the featured actors and the film production crew benefit, but also local caterers, clothiers, paid extras and various small businesses w…
SYSTEM OF SURVIVAL

The City of Detroit is still embroiled in a public debate on whether to dissolve the currently existing Detroit Public Schools system and reform it under mayoral control-- in this case, current mayor Dave Bing. Most members of Detroit City Council have publicly opposed mayoral control. A ballot initiative was presented to council last month, but council routinely waffled on voting on whether to allow for a ballot initiative to be given to Detroiters this fall that would give citizens the chance to vote on the proposal. http://www.freep.com/article/20100730/OPINION01/7300343/Mayor-must-step-up-on-schools-where-council-failed City Council meetings have turned into depressing gripe-fests, with those opposed to mayoral control being the loudest commenters. One commenter compared the idea of mayoral control reverting Detroit Public Schools to almost a slavery-era state of being. Most polarizing is the suggestion that mayoral control would, by default, rob Detroit citizens o…
DETROIT ON TRACK FOR RAIL SYSTEM

In a press conference hosted by Detroit mayor Dave Bing and US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the federal government has just this past week authorized a year-long study into the implementation of a light-rail line in the core of urban Detroit. This would be the first major transit development in the city since the mid-1980's unveiling of Detroit's People Mover downtown elevated rail service. http://tinyurl.com/2bzocv8

I think that it's about darned time that this project got going. No, it's not what it really needs to be, which is a fully comprehensive transit system for the entire metro area.

I feel that since the US taxpayers are majority owners in General Motors and minority stakeholders in Chrysler, both these companies should be forced to get on board with manufacturing for the transit industry- rail cars, hybrid/electric buses, train tracks, etc. Re-open those factories that were shut down. Open new factories, especially in pr…
REQUIEM FOR THE 'HIP HOP MAYOR'
"Out goes his hand and I cough, he once stole from me, now I wanna cut it off" Public Enemy, "Nighttrain", 1991
Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced today to do a minimum of 14 months and a maximum of 5 years in state prison, as ordered by Judge David Groner (http://tinyurl.com/27pptgx). The ex-mayor, 39, was the youngest elected mayor of Detroit when he took office in 2002. His youth, flamboyant charisma, snazzy attire, stud earring, and musical tastes led him to be called 'the hip-hop mayor' by many, an unofficial title that he embraced for his first term in office. Kilpatrick cultivated the image of a conscientious, spiritually-grounded family man who was all about spearheading Generation X's leadership role in turning changing the fortunes of a long-embattled city.

However, beginning with his reelection bid in 2005, things began to unravel for the married father of three. Local television and newspa…
KEEP TRANSIT ALIVE

On May 22, in downtown Detroit's Hart Plaza, there was a rally organized by a public transit worker's union in support of greater federal help in appropriating funds to develop and bolster improved mass transit opportunities in Detroit and greater Southeast Michigan. Metropolitan Detroit is one of the few major urban centers in America without a comprehensive mass-transit system of high-quality bus service, light rail, and other transit options. If one lives in urban Detroit, they are almost surely paying high-end costs for automobile insurance, let alone the annoying cost of gasoline. Urban Detroiters also face a lack of mainstream-quality grocery options. The city government's belt-tightening has cut back on some bus-line services, as the Bing administration attempts to design a comprehensive plan on how to 'right-size' overall city services to a shrinking population. Despite the federal government-initiated taxpayer bailout of General Moto…
Detroit Turning Over a New Leaf?
http://tinyurl.com/2u643pa

Looks as if there are potential proposals in the Michigan state legislature that would clear the way for a ballot proposal to legalize possession of marijuana in the city of Detroit (Medical marijuana is already legal in the state, but laws are fuzzy as to who can produce it). Well, we know what Snoop Dogg might say.. Among the disparate array of individuals interviewed in favor of decriminalization or legalization are Democratic state rep Lamar Lemons, former Republican state rep Leon Drolet and prominent Detroit-based businessman Pete Karmanos. The coalition of professionals involved with the proposal, as well as advocacy organizations like the non-profit Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, go against the cliche' of pro-legalization efforts by aging ex-hippie activists like actor Tommy Chong, or even the fallen-academic example of the late Timothy Leary and his "tune in, turn on, drop out" philosophy.

This autho…
LGBT Activism and the Black Community

On April 30, 2010, the Freedom Institute think tank, led by Rev. Wendell Anthony of the Detroit NAACP organized a town hall meeting as part of the Institute's "Freedom Weekend" string of events leading to the annual Detroit NAACP dinner. During the convention weekend there were seminars focusing on employment and educational opportunities, social assistance agencies, and more. This evening's town hall meeting focused on LGBT activism and urban communities of color, in particular African-Americans: Where do these groups have common ground, where do they differ, what can be mutually learned? Footage from said event can be viewed here:










DETROIT RALLY FOR WORKERS' RIGHTS
On Saturday, May 1, 2010, a multicultural gathering of people from Metro Detroit gathered in the Southwestern district of the city, to participate in a march for workers' rights and a reform of American immigration policy.

The March took several thousand participants down West Vernor street, where they finally coalesced in Clark Park for a rally where speakers exhorted the crowd to push for a repeal of the recently passed legislation in Arizona that places undocumented immigrants under extreme scrutiny, giving local and state law-enforcement broad powers to stop and question anyone who looks suspicious-- they must produce the proper ID and/or paperwork or risk being jailed and ultimately deported.

Speakers at the rally spoke in Spanish and English. Attendees were told to advocate for workers' rights, including union workers, also for a moratorium on home foreclosures.



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IN MEMORIAM: KEITH 'GURU' ELAM



Rap musician Keith ‘Guru’ Elam has died (born July 17, 1961). Long considered an elder statesman of hip-hop music, Guru was a founding member of the hip-hop group Gang Starr (above right, started in the 1980s), as well as having had a parallel solo career of importance from the 1990s forward. According to a recent article by his brother, Elam was 48 years old, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse who veered into rap music where other family members became attorneys or joined academia.

As a lyricist, Guru joined contemporary ‘street intellectuals’ of hip hop, delivering a mixture of MC battle-aggression on certain songs as well as thoughtful moral observations on the contemporary music industry and social conditions in the inner-cities of America . On his solo albums, Guru eased off of cursing and invited an assortment of veteran and contemporary musicians to collaborate on his Jazzmatazz offerings. Some of the collaborators include…