Showing posts from 2011

Dwight “Heavy D” Myers, 1967 – 2011.

Hip-Hop performer and actor Heavy D died on Tuesday, November 8, 2011, in Los Angeles, California. Another Hip-Hop icon passes away that I never got to see perform live in person. I’m not sure when I first heard his music. Circa 1986 – 87, when his first singles and debut album, Living Large, came out, I was in the eighth grade. I remember a classmate making a passing mention of somebody with a record out called “Mr. Big Stuff”. I didn’t have cable at home, so BET (and, whenever it premiered, Yo! MTV Raps) was out. When it comes to the Chicago radio stations that were my frame of reference for new music, I’m not sure if they were playing the records.

I’m thinking that I finally caught on to 'Hev' with the second LP, Big Tyme. A classmate sold me his cassette of it, and it was one of the first rap albums I managed to pick up in my school years (mainly, I settled for taping songs of the radio with blank cassettes.) By the summer of …

On Friday, October 14, 2011, protesters from various parts of Metropolitan Detroit and beyond gathered in Downtown Detroit, Michigan for the "Occupy Detroit" event. Speakers began the march at the Spirit of Detroit statue in front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center in Detroit. The event was a parallel of the recent "Occupy Wall Street" events in New York City and similar public demonstrations in cities across America and now even foreign countries like Italy (where demonstrations turned violent.)

The march went up Woodward Avenue to stop at the nearby Grand Circus Park. Some of those camped out in the area (with permits) plan to live there for up to 60 days. With the Detroit Tigers' Comerica Park and the Detroit Lions' Ford Field in the background, activists held up signs expressing their displeasure with the events of recent years. Speakers spoke out against bank bailouts, home foreclosures, foreign war, lack of jobs for the public,…

Miami-based rapper Rick Ross was recently hospitalized twice in the past 24 hours, relating to unreleased health issues. In both cases, Ross suffered from a seizure, which left him temporarily unconscious. much as I have a problem with his overall image and themes, I wish him the best during this crisis.

I also hope it prompts him to take whatever his health situation is more seriously, and take steps to address it. It's definitely missing the point to just write this off as nothing, or just an isolated episode of "exhaustion" or whatever.

Who knows whether he has a health insurance plan. He definitely should have the money to afford one. If he can blow "a million" on strip bars, high-end cars, clothes and jewelry, I really hope he's got some comprehensive coverage..

Medicaid information-

On this, the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, many people have been pondering the meaning of the attacks and the legacy that they have left the country.

This author has many conflicted feelings about the events of that fateful (and fatal) day. Waking up like any other day, this author saw the spectacle unfold on national television (mostly Good Morning America) before heading to work. Work was at an office building (converted from a defunct small hospital) near downtown Detroit. Everyone in the office was abuzz about what the events meant: the unpredictability, the "prophecy", and whether there would be a local analog to the chaos that was expanding in New York City, Washington, D.C., and rural Pennsylvania.

This author's college classes were canceled for that day.
This author felt deep anger at those responsible, a coiling frustration at trying to comprehend the depth of depravity that could compel someone to concieve of, let alone exe…

On Monday, September 5, 2011, funk music grandmaster George Clinton brought the latest incarnation of Parliament-Funkadelic to the stage of the 14th Annual Arts, Beats and Eats festival. The festival showcases local and national artisans of various kinds, in conjunction with hip restaurant booths and both local and nationally prominent musicians. Clinton and his original collaborators are rightfully considered godfathers of hip-hop, as many of their records have directly or indirectly influenced the legions of hip-hop MCs and producers in the years following the funk ensemble's heyday. Several of the band's seminal albums were recorded forDetroit-based indie label Westbound Records, and so Detroit usually shows up en masse to see Uncle Jam and company when they perform locally.

The crowd gathered in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak was shoulder-to-shoulder as far as the eye could see by the time the concert got going. The eclectically-dressed multi-piece b…

Gucci Gucci, Louis louis, Fendi Fendi, Prada
The basic bi*ches wear that sh*t, So I dont even bother
I put that on my partner, I put that on my family
Oakland city representer, address me as your majesty
Kreayshawn, "Gucci Gucci"

Over the 30+ years of its wax-based recorded history, hip-hop has birthed a number of artists with unusual motifs. Afrika Bambaataa, Digital Underground, and Cee-Lo Green/Gnarls Barkley, come to mind. One of the genre's current stars is Nicki Minaj, whose performance-art/cartoon-inspired outfits and antics easily make her a hip-hop analog to Lady Gaga.

Where it concerns racial and gender diversity, the white female rapper has, surprisingly, been starkly rare stateside. Over the years, several mainstream pop and rock artists have dipped their toes into hip-hop based rhythm tracks for singles (Debbie Harry, Madonna, Paula Cole, ChristinaAguilera) and others like Fergie and Ke$ha have integrated…

Currently, Detroit Public Schools are under the control of a governor-appointed Emergency Financial Manager, former General Motors executive Roy Roberts. Plans are underway to merge the lowest performing 5% of statewide schools into a single district, targeting reform until academic standards/graduation rates are raised. Roberts has only been in office since approximately May of 2011, but his tenure has been controversial. Among the complaints against him are a recent announcement of an across-the-board 10% wage cut for teachers in the system, as well as a recent voiding of all contractual based services pending a re-evaluation. Labor interests such as the Detroit Federation of Teachers are promising to fight Roberts' reform efforts in court. This week, controversy struck again, but from a different corridor.

Just the other day, a new federally funded pilot program has been announced for this fall. All children in the …

On August 8, 2011, radio hosts and political commentators Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West's "Poverty Tour" of the United States came to Detroit, Michigan. The event was hosted at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center (Detroit City Hall), in an upper-level auditorium.

In recent years West and Smiley have come under fire for their harsh criticisms of President Barack Obama. Within the past year alone, both men have had on-air arguments with National Action Network president and radio host Rev. Al Sharpton.

There was a contingent of local protesters who came to voice their dissent with West and Smiley as they spoke at the event.

A blog site has uplifted the counter-protest as sensible Detroiters standing up for themselves:

(Incidentally, I really hope their use of 'refudiate' was with ironic intent, since, well, it's not a word)

I'm of the opinion that not all criticisms are created equal. It tak…
Tulane professor Melissa Harris-Perry guest-hosted the Rachel Maddow Show, and featured a segment highlighting the cities of New Orleans and Detroit. She compared the current plight of President Barack Obama to that of African-American mayors in America, particularly focusing on current Detroit mayor Dave Bing. "The Hollow Prize" refers to black mayors being elected to oversee cities that have already slid into economic decline-- which in the case of Detroit, has been ongoing since its first black mayor-- the late Coleman Young-- was elected in 1973. This week Mayor Bing has announced the beginning stages of his administration's "Detroit Works" initiative, where certain specific neighborhoods will be identified for particular attention from city services to maintain their quality of life, while other neighborhoods will get a minimum of police, fire and garbage patrols, but mostly public service attention will amount to blighted structures be…

Captain America: The First Avenger is the first major motion picture based on the venerable Marvel Comics superhero character that first debuted in print over 70 years ago. Since then, there have been largely forgettable cross-media interpretations, including a 1940s movie serial and an aborted attempt at a television series in the late 70s that left two telefilms in its wake. With the power of Marvel Studios (now wholly owned by Disney and partnering with Paramount Films for distribution), Marvel attempts to return the luster to its onetime flagship hero that matches his mighty shield.

Here, Chris Evans (Fantastic Four, Cellular) plays heroic shrimp Steve Rogers, who in 1942 wants to enlist in the military but is determined to be a 4-F. Still, the little guy has heart, as displayed when he keeps confronting local bully. His gumption impresses military scientist Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) and gruff Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones).…

(Photograph) I don't want your /(Photograph) I don't need your /(Photograph) All I've got is a photograph (Photograph) /But it's not enough...
Santana w. Chris Daughtry, “Photograph”, 2010

Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-New York City) has for 13 years built up a reputation as a liberal lion of the House of Representatives, frequently offering a staunch counter-point to Republicans on political television during the George W. Bush years. Even as the tenure of Bush ended and the Barack Obama presidency began, Weiner maintained his status as a voice of progressive interest: As policy was developed such as the stimulus packages, health care reform and financial law reform, Weiner warned against premature compromise with Republicans and stumped for such statutes as a public option for health care and stiffer penalties for stock-market manipulators. Hated by the opposition party, and in some circles resented by the centrists of his own, Weiner…

A group of men and women graduated from Detroit/Wayne County’s 3rd Circuit Court Adult Drug Court program on Monday. The program is a creation of the aforementioned court, and administered by the Salvation Army of Detroit, whose downtown Detroit main headquarters (a converted warehouse) also hosted the commencement ceremony. Eight of the 25 graduates were present for the noontime commencement (others had work commitments), dressed in caps and gowns.
The origins of the program were to offer non-violent substance-addicted offenders an alternative to imprisonment. Entrance into the program is at the discretion of the presiding judges in the defendant’s case. Once accepted into the program, participants are put through an intensive 12-step drug/alcohol rehabilitation, and also including educational instruction/GED, life-skills training, job-readiness training and placement.
R&B singer Kem, a Detroit native, was present at the event as a keynote s…

Artist: MC Ren
Release: Kizz My Black Azz
Label: Ruthless/Priority/EMI
Year: 1992

“Kizz My Black Azz” is the first solo EP from former N.W.A. member MC Ren. Quiet as it's kept, Compton, California native Lorenzo "MC Ren" Patterson allegedly signed on to Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records as a teenager with the intent of being a solo artist. So the story goes, a fateful opportunity presented itself when N.W.A. founding member Ice Cube took a leave of absence from the group to attend an architectural-drafting vocational college in Arizona. Eazy allegedly asked Ren to contribute to ghostwriting raps for Eazy and making guest-appearances on recordings like “Ruthless Villain”. By the time tech-school grad Ice Cube came back into the fold, Ren was a full-fledged member of the group.

While N.W.A. as a group managed to change hip-hop and pop-culture forever with their groundbreaking and controversial music, unfortunately, Ren’s solo d…
NBC'S MEET THE PRESSNBC's David Gregory and this week's roundtable on national politics; New York City's mayor Michael Bloomberg makes an intriguing suggestion about immigration policy and the city of Detroit:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Mariah Carey's Twins: Gives Birth To Boy, Girl

congratula­tions to Mariah and Nick, many blessings to the both of them..
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
THEATER REVIEW- FORGIVING JOHN LENNON When:Sundays : 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (ends May 22) Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays : 8:30 p.m. (ends May 22) Saturdays : 3 p.m. (ends May 22) Except April 24 Writer: William Missouri Downs The play explores intercultural relations, through a lens of interactions between an American married couple and a Somali national who is of the Muslim faith. The couple, who are both college professors, are both interracial and intercultural themselves-- Joseph (Benjamin Williams) is African-American and Katie (Leah Smith) is Caucasian and England born and raised. Asma (Yolanda Jack), the guest, is a poet who has lived in several countries, and has been brought to America for a performance sponsored by two colleges, including the one that the couple works for- A misunderstanding places her in their care for the evening, and thus begins the narrative. The title is a flip reference to the Vatican's official newsletter, L'Osserva…
DETROIT MEDIA PARTNERSHIP'S IDEAQUEST 2011 The two major Detroit newspapers (Detroit News and Detroit Free Press) are having a free contest on how the newspapers can better serve the Metro Detroit and Michigan communities. They started an online contest where people were given an open-ended solicitation to come up with ideas that both the News and the Free Press can potentially take on as real initiatives or policies. From content delivery to editorial content and coverage to supporting charity initiatives, "the sky's the limit" in the words of the promotion staff. This author came up with a pitch that would involve both newspapers bankrolling a charter school for urban Detroit school-age children, providing a quality education with a lean towards media-skills instruction that would prepare them for an eventual career in that industry. The "Media Academies" pitch can be found here-;topicseen#msg96The …
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder sat together for a joint interview at WXYZ-TV 7 studios in Southfield (Detroit), Michigan. The live broadcast included questions lifted from emails, a chat-room, and video questions submitted through the Web. This author appears at the 3:15 mark--

Question to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, for a planned live interview with constituent questions, collected by Detroit's WXYZ TV-7.


Playlist: KRS-One” is a compilation album featuring the pioneering hip-hop artist KRS-One of Boogie Down Productions. The 14-track set includes songs from his long tenure on Jive Records during the 1980s and 1990s. KRS and the B.D.P. crew were initially lauded as part of the late 80s new-wave of hip-hop performers, bringing updated musical and lyrical styles-- among other things, KRS is credited with weaving a reggae sensibility into many of his works. In particular with B.D.P., KRS-One alternated between stage personas: One was ‘The Blast-master’, given to relentlessly fierce battle rhymes that sought to energize fans and intimidate his rivals (“I’m Still #1”, “Step Into a World”, “Rappaz R.N. Dainja”); the other was “The Teacher”, incorporating everything from Malcolm X quotes to the Bhagavad Gita in social commentary cuts like “Love’s Gonna Get’cha”, “My Philosophy” and “Black Cop”.

Nearly every Jive album that KRS recorded is represented here, but the …

Hip-Hop Culture website HipHopDX.Com interviews "Freeway" Rick Ross, the Los Angeleno who spent years in federal prison on drug-charges, and who became legendary in the 1980s for the cocaine/crack epidemic that hit throughout inner-city America. The interview touches on Ross's experiences, including an ongoing lawsuit against popular rap artist 'Rick Ross' (whose real name is William Roberts). The elder Ross is suing his namesake for undisclosed damages. He is also pursuing the creation of a biographical motion picture based on his life-- claiming to have the acclaimed actor Nick Cassavetes onboard as a screenwriter/producer.

I grew up in the inner-city, but I didn't grow up idolizing the "street dudes" a.k.a. the dope-pushers of the neighborhood, the gang-bang guys, etc. I just had other things on my mind, like school,…

Regarding the recent U.S. – China leadership summit in Washington, D.C., there are lessons that local leadership can learn from this concerning developing a redevelopment plan for the future. Michigan governor Rick Snyder’s recent comments about attracting immigrants with college degrees to Michigan can play a part in this as well.

An initiative that needs to happen is to seek out and incentivize entrepreneurs and companies from global regions (Africa, China, India, Middle East, South America) to set up shop in Wayne County/Detroit, renovate abandoned buildings and hire locals to work at these new businesses. Our region should be taking the initiative to benefit from globalization and not be left behind by it.

Next, when it comes to getting a rail system going here, Chinese consultation on this could prove invaluable since China already has a vast network of mass-transit trains. Building off that thread, when it comes to the proposed Detroit Rive…

Michigan governor Rick Snyder has just delivered his first 'State of the State' address, given at the state Capitol building in Lansing: A transcript of the speech follows-

The speech mostly dealt in generalities, which surprised some political observers who felt that some specifics would be announced on how to handle the state's current $1.5 billion budget deficit.

Some of the parts of the speech I found intriguing were:

An office of urban affairs that will deal with the issues confronting several major urban centers in Michigan, including Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, and Saginaw.
Openly supporting the Detroit Riverfront International Crossing, a project that would create a joint- U.S. and Canada-owned bridge going spanning from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario. Currently, a high volume of international trade between the U.S. and Canada goes through the Ambassador Bridge-- desp…

On January 8, 2011, Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D- 8th District) was one of nineteen victims of the shooting at a Safeway grocery store near Tucson, Arizona where she was meeting publicly with constituents. She was taken into emergency surgery, in critical condition from a gunshot wound to the head. At the time of this writing, after the surgery a physician treating the congresswoman said that he was optimistic about her chances for recovery. The gunman, a Jared Loughner, has been taken into custody. The nation should rightfully be mourning this tragic incident and be supportive of law-enforcement efforts to bring this investigation to closure. However, there are some issues that can be examined from a policy level that can hopefully curb outbursts of violence such as this.

Mental Health- The 2010 Health Care Act must be defended against repeal efforts by those in opposition to it. In particular any statutes concerning mental health coverage should be sc…
STATE OF DETROIT 2011, part 2:
Hypestyle's Manifesto

Local Detroit television station WXYZ TV-7 has an intriguing new initiative called 'Detroit 2020' ( The station says that this will be an ongoing news saga to highlight the state of Detroit (and vicinity) for the next ten years. In particular the station wants to hear from the greater community about good things going on as well as the challenges that are still in place.

This author has spoken on these individual issues to varying degrees (and I have written to any number of elected officials and media outlets), but based in part on the challenge issued, I have prefaced my statements with questions that have come up in various community meetings, such as those initiated by mayor Dave Bing's Detroit Works Project (

What parts of your local economy are working or thriving? What businesses and sectors are expanding and hiring?

Some of the moderate growth industries in the …
STATE OF DETROIT 2011, part 1: Coming of the Nerd If this author hasn't indicated so already, happy new year! Of course, despite the popular saying this time of year of "out with the old, in with the new", the City of Detroit and southeast Michigan are still facing plenty of old issues in the new year. A new governor is now in office in the person of Rick Snyder, the GOP candidate and self-described "tough nerd" who was a dark-horse candidate that surprised even those in his own party, capturing the governorship in a landslide victory over Democratic opponent Virg Bernero. Having had a wide advantage in voting polls vs. Bernero, Snyder opted to only have one official debate, and in comparison to Bernero, Snyder spent scant time campaigning in Detroit. Governor Snyder has promised to have a two-year budget prepared for vote in the Michigan state legislature by July of this year. Among his stated policy priorities are revising Michigan's tax structure, elimi…

More to come....