PRESS RELEASE: 1Hood Media’s Blak Rapp Madusa Returns to Ladyfest 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
info@1hood.org

1Hood Media’s Blak Rapp Madusa Returns to Ladyfest 2017

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 19, 2017) — Socially-conscious rapper, poet, activist, and historian Blak Rapp Madusa of 1Hood Media performs at Ladyfest Pittsburgh on Saturday, June 24, 2017 at Cattivo in Lawrenceville, located at 146 44th Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201. The performance begins at 10pm.

Ladyfest Pittsburgh is a three-day, DIY, and community-based music festival in Pittsburgh, featuring lady-fronted and lady-dominant acts. The annual festival highlights artists who are underrepresented and active in the vibrant arts and music communities around the world. Ladyfest Pittsburgh aims to bring all underrepresented populations of the community together, as well as to create an inclusive, safer space for people of all backgrounds/identities to enjoy music and the arts.

Featured among the performers is 1Hood’s Blak Rapp Madusa. Through spoken word and melodic lyricism, Blak Rapp paints a vivid picture of her culture via social and political justice interwoven with spiritual inspiration. With a degree in Africana Studies from the University of Pittsburgh, M.A.D.U.S.A., whose name is an acronym for "Making A Difference Using Skills and Activism", uses her vast knowledge and experiences to relate to the masses. collective of socially conscious artists and activists who utilize art as a means of raising awareness about social justice matters affecting people around the world. 1Hood offers performance, written and visual art to connect communities and amplify messages.

“I am super excited about playing LadyFest this year,” says Blak Rapp. “Last year it was amazing and powerful to see other sisters throwing down in solidarity. This year I plan to perform a couple tracks from my upcoming mixtape, Mary's Daughter.”

She continues, “Mary's Daughter is about my life. It's about the trials and tribulations that I faced as a black female hip-hop Artivist (artist and activist). What inspired me [to create Mary's Daughter] was making a transition from Islam to a different spiritual awakening. By being unapologetic about my blackness, my queerness, and femininity, I hope to inspire other women and girls to be great.”

Tickets and more information about Ladyfest Pittsburgh can be found on their Facebook page here.

Event Details
Ladyfest Pittsburgh
Blak Rapp Performance @ 10pm  // Doors @ 7pm
Cattivo
46 44th Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Tickets $10
Ages 21+

No Justice for Philandro Castile

Another day, another injustice.  Another murderer in blue free to go on with his or her life.  Philandro Castile, murdered in callous cold blood, will not see justice through the courts.  I don't often quote religious texts, but Genesis 4:10 is applicable here: "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground."  What have you done, America?  Because Philandro's blood cries still, its voice mingled with that of untold numbers of others killed by a coven of predators masquerading as protectors.

We were all there.  We sat in the claustrophobic confines of that car with him and we saw his murder through the unflinching eye of his girlfriend's camera as she recorded his last breaths.  It was one of the clearest cases of murder yet, and even then, some knew that it would all come to naught.  Foolishly, I was one of the ones that hoped, hoped as never before that for once the preponderance of clear evidence in this case would be enough.  That for once, one of us would see justice.  But nope.  The thin blue line has held, and this young man, this young man that did everything right, did everything the respectability hordes of the internet say should keep you safe, will not see justice.  Not him, not any of those before him, and not any of those that will surely come after.

Another long awaited verdict came down today also.  It was for a terrible crime, where a young girl sent a series of indescribably cruel texts to her young boyfriend, encouraging him to kill himself, until one day he did just that.  The court found her guilty of involuntary manslaughter.  Do not mistake me here -- I feel this is just, and hope that she is sentenced as harshly as possible.  But how surreal is it to hear this verdict on the very same day that that an officer of the law, who snuffed out a life like it was nothing at all, is to walk free, cleared on all charges.  This man, who held an instrument of death and deliberately pumped seven bullets into another man is somehow not guilty of murder.  Other charges were also brought against him, but he won't even be held responsible for endangering the lives of the other two innocents in the car, Philandro's girlfriend and her daughter, lives he physically endangered in that moment,  but psychologically endangered for the rest of their lives.  Yet, a girl that sent words -- not bullets -- is guilty of manslaughter.  Our society can see the clear wrongness of what she did and set in motion the wheels of justice, but cannot see fit to punish a murder caught on video.  If you knew nothing at all about the two dead men at the center of these cases but the outcomes, would you be able to guess their respective skin colors?

Another day, another injustice, another checkmark in the column that says that for most in this country, Black lives don't matter.  Rest in power, Philandro.  Your blood cries out to us still.

This Black Panther Trailer Tho'....

So the other day I'm watching game 4 of the NBA Finals (hoping Golden State finally puts Cleveland out of their misery) and a teaser trailer comes on for Marvel Studio's upcoming Black Panther movie. It starts off with an interrogation scene with two white guys discussing the fictional nation of Wukanda, and I'm thinking I'm in there store for a typical run of the mill movie trailer, but once it got past the introduction and got to the meat of the sandwich, consider my wig totally flipped!! This was hands down, the most impressive trailer for a superhero movie I have ever seen. And I've watched alot of superhero movies and trailers. I totally hope that the overall mood of the final cut of the film was captured in that trailer. The colors, the action, the acting, the atmosphere, the conflict, and overall feel of this movie teaser had me screaming at the TV "Shut up and take my money, Marvel!!" And this wasn't just because I'm some comic book nerd/man-boy. What I potentially see with this film, or what I think I'm seeing with this film, I just have never seen done before: a superhero movie with a black hero, black supporting cast, set in a black country, but designed for a mainstream audience. Sure, we've seen movies with black superheroes before (Spawn, Blade and Hancock come to mind), but with those films, the heroes still existed and operated in a majority white world, and in most cases had a white love interest playing opposite to the main character. I don't know what will be laid out in the Black Panther movie, but in the comics he marries Storm. We've also seen black superheroes in superhero movies, but they've often been relegated to sidekicks and background characters (See: Falcon in Captain America, Bishop in X-Men Days of Future Past, or the ill-fated Darwin in X-Men: First Class) who bite the dust early or are an afterthought. We've also seen movies with black protagonists and black supporting casts, but these films could be classified as blaxpoitation films in their earliest stages in the 60s and 70s and even though modern films with those descriptors have shed the "blaxpoitation" label, it is pretty clear that they were made with the intent of only (or at least a majority) black people seeing these movies (See: Meteor Man, Black Superman, Shaft, Dolemite). They also fell victim to being creatively and artistically lazy and falling back on stereotypical characters of what white mainstream audiences assumed black people acted like and talked like. With this Black Panther movie, what I assume I'm seeing is a movie with a strong, super intelligent, super rich, black protagonist operating in a black setting in the world, interacting with other strong, black characters both good and bad. I also assume I'm seeing black African culture being embraced and featured in a positive and progressive light as opposed to the usual image of a bunch of poor, culturally bankrupt savages who need a white savior or saviors to elevate them out of the stone age. This is what I think I'm seeing. For all I know T'Challa's love interest in the movie may be a Kardashian or a Jenner and the studio is doing their best to keep that mess a secret until the movie drops, but if what I see in this teaser is any indication of how awesome the film will be (or the soundtrack, I peeped that Run The Jewels playing in the commercial), then my expectations are super high. Look out Meteor Man, black America may have a new official superhero sitting on your throne soon!

So the other day I'm watching game 4 of the NBA Finals (hoping Golden State finally puts Cleveland out of their misery) and a teaser trailer comes on for Marvel Studio's upcoming Black Panther movie. It starts off with an interrogation scene with two white guys discussing the fictional nation of Wukanda, and I'm thinking I'm in there store for a typical run of the mill movie trailer, but once it got past the introduction and got to the meat of the sandwich, consider my wig totally flipped!!

This was hands down, the most impressive trailer for a superhero movie I have ever seen. And I've watched alot of superhero movies and trailers. I totally hope that the overall mood of the final cut of the film was captured in that trailer. The colors, the action, the acting, the atmosphere, the conflict, and overall feel of this movie teaser had me screaming at the TV "Shut up and take my money, Marvel!!" And this wasn't just because I'm some comic book nerd/man-boy. What I potentially see with this film, or what I think I'm seeing with this film, I just have never seen done before: a superhero movie with a black hero, black supporting cast, set in a black country, but designed for a mainstream audience.

Sure, we've seen movies with black superheroes before (Spawn, Blade and Hancock come to mind), but with those films, the heroes still existed and operated in a majority white world, and in most cases had a white love interest playing opposite to the main character. I don't know what will be laid out in the Black Panther movie, but in the comics he marries Storm. We've also seen black superheroes in superhero movies, but they've often been relegated to sidekicks and background characters (See: Falcon in Captain America, Bishop in X-Men Days of Future Past, or the ill-fated Darwin in X-Men: First Class) who bite the dust early or are an afterthought. We've also seen movies with black protagonists and black supporting casts, but these films could be classified as blaxpoitation films in their earliest stages in the 60s and 70s and even though modern films with those descriptors have shed the "blaxpoitation" label, it is pretty clear that they were made with the intent of only (or at least a majority) black people seeing these movies (See: Meteor Man, Black Superman, Shaft, Dolemite). They also fell victim to being creatively and artistically lazy and falling back on stereotypical characters of what white mainstream audiences assumed black people acted like and talked like.

With this Black Panther movie, what I assume I'm seeing is a movie with a strong, super intelligent, super rich, black protagonist operating in a black setting in the world, interacting with other strong, black characters both good and bad. I also assume I'm seeing black African culture being embraced and featured in a positive and progressive light as opposed to the usual image of a bunch of poor, culturally bankrupt savages who need a white savior or saviors to elevate them out of the stone age. This is what I think I'm seeing. For all I know T'Challa's love interest in the movie may be a Kardashian or a Jenner and the studio is doing their best to keep that mess a secret until the movie drops, but if what I see in this teaser is any indication of how awesome the film will be (or the soundtrack, I peeped that Run The Jewels playing in the commercial), then my expectations are super high. Look out Meteor Man, black America may have a new official superhero sitting on your throne soon!

PRESS RELEASE: 1Hood Media Performs at 2017 Three Rivers Arts Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
info@1hood.org

1Hood Media Performs at 2017 Three Rivers Arts Festival

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 6, 2017) — 1Hood Media performs at the 2017 Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival (TRAF) on Thursday, June 8, 2017 from 6 – 6:30 p.m. at the Dollar Bank Main Stage in Point State Park.

Now in its 58th year, the outdoor festival, produced by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, is one of the largest and most-celebrated free arts festivals in the world. TRAF offers 10 days of free music, performances, theater, dance, public art installations, gallery exhibitions, a visual artist market, creative activities, food, and more.

Featured among the performers is 1Hood, a collective of socially conscious artists and activists who utilize art as a means of raising awareness about social justice matters affecting people around the world. 1Hood offers performance, written and visual art to connect communities and amplify messages.

"I'm glad Hip Hop is being given space at the Three Rivers Arts Festival,” says 1Hood activist and hip-hop artist Jasiri X, “Particularly artist's who are speaking truth to power, which is needed now more than ever. We are honored to be back on the main stage and look forward to performing."

Event Details:
2017 Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival
1Hood Performance @ 6 - 6:30 p.m,
Dollar Bank Main Stage
Point State Park
101 Commonwealth Pl, Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Free
All Ages

More information about the festival can be found on TRAF’s website here.

Concept Albums Worth Checking Out part 2

This is a continuation of the first piece I wrote on the dying art and production of the hip-hop concept album. The very format and DNA of rap music makes room for great story-telling and imagination, especially when put that story telling in the hands of a truly gifted MC. So here's a few more hip-hop concept albums (albums that stick to unifying story or theme throughout) that I personally feel true hip-hop heads would appreciate if they have not check them out already:

TheUnseenalbumcover1.jpg

1. Quasimoto- The Unseen (2000 Stones Throw Records) Oxnard, California MC/Producer and master beatsmith Madlib steps out from his group Lootpack to bring us into the bizarre, spacey, dusty, boom bap world of Quasimoto. Madlib's alter-ego is a helium voiced, aardvark-like monster/creature that we assume is from another planet but resides on earth to smoke mad weed, crate dig for beats and loops, look under girls' skirts, hit people in the head with a brick, stab dudes with pitchforks, and rob rich people for "making his ancestors eat swine". Quasimoto engages in all types of violent and vulgar hi-jinks on this album but you can't help but laugh and kind of wish you kicked it with him in real life. This album is also one of the best produced albums of all time, in my humble opinion.

2. Masta Ace- Long Hot Summer (2004 M3 Music) Brooklyn veteran MC Masta Ace returned 3 years after dropping the classic Disposable Arts with it's prequel Long Hot Summer. LHS lays out the story of how the main character ends up in prison in the first place, which is where Disposable Arts starts out. As a grinding, up and coming MC, he looks within himself to find what he's going to rhyme about, deals with living in an increasingly violent neighborhood, copes with a shady, reckless music industry, and tries his best to keep his criminally minded tour manager/partner on a leash. All the skits and songs connect to tell the story of a summer he won't forget.

3. Mr. Lif & L'Orange- The Life & Death of Scenery (2016 Mello Music) Boston MC Mr. Lif and producer L'Orange join forces on this stellar effort of an album. Lif tells the story of a not too distant future world where music, books, and the arts in general are outlawed, asserting your independence in any way is punishable by death, and man seems to have handed over all power to a faceless ruling class that works it's subjects like slaves. At least until the uprising. Some real interesting story telling goes down over L'Orange's haunting, jazz infused, murky beats, but the whole album's run time is less than a half-hour, so the story progresses quickly.

Vaudevillevillain.jpg

4. Viktor Vaughn- Vaudeville Villain (2003 Sound Ink Recordings) NYC veteran lyricist MF Doom can be described in a lot of ways: zany, orginal, imaginative, weird...but never wack. On this album he fully takes on the persona of one his alter-egos Viktor Vaughn, who I assume was the insane villain who eventually became "DOOM". Dark, atmospheric, minimalist beats accompany Vik as he brings us into his world of forbidden science experiments, time travel, and weaving clever and dazzling rhymes together like a wizard. This album also made Pigeons & Planes' top 30 underground albums of all time list. Not too shabby.

5. Handsome Boy Modeling School- So...How's Your Girl? (1999 Tommy Boy Records) Left field producers Prince Paul and Dan The Automator take on the personas of Chest Rockwell and Nathaniel Merriweather on this truly inventive and entertaining LP that shows rap can be goofy and enjoyable at the same time. They play the founders (or deans, or teachers maybe??) of the Handsome Boy Modeling School, which is exactly what it sounds like it is. The skits bring the theme together throughout the album and both producers' stellar, true school production gets treatment it deserves with contributions from MCs like J-Live, Del The Funky Homosapien, De La Soul, Grand Puba, Sadat X, Encore and others. By the time you finish the album, you're still not sure what you just listened to exactly, but you'll know it was dope.

 

Jason Whitlock Is A Sad Sack Of Crap Who Needs To Kill Himself

If you're not familiar with ESPN's resident Uncle Tom, Jason "Uncle Ruckus" Whitlock (as I like to call him), let me brief you for a minute. He's a sports commentator that has bounced in between ESPN and Fox Sports who does what most commentators do- talk about sports and athletes. Except with this human manifestation of Dr. Robotnik, he seems to have a knack for turning a lot of issues racial, and not in a good way. He always rushes to criticize, demean, and out right lie on black athletes in most cases for simply taking a stand on very relevant and timely social issues.

He's criticized Serena Williams for, get this...being "fat" and insinuated she's a slacker because her "natural ability" allows her to dominate the game of tennis, but she could be "so much more". As if she's not already thoroughly kicking the behinds every opponent she comes across, including the ones who are doping to gain an edge over her. He's criticized Colin Kaepernick for his recent stance against police shooting unarmed blacks by referring to him as "Martin Luther Cornrow" and suggested Kaepernick's political awareness was a insincere act since he was also online working on his abs and connecting with IG models. As if a person cannot like young pretty women, care for their personal appearance (Whitlock clearly doesn't care about his), and be socially awake at the same time. And he was the first to run to the defense of Kristine Leahy against that mean ole' Lavar Ball when they had their dust up on TV.

And now, Jason Whitlock has really shown himself to be a self-hating, boot-licking, Uncle Tom-ing, unaware, un-woke house nigga. Recently, in the wake of NBA superstar Lebron James' Los Angeles home being vandalized during a hate crime and having "Nigger" spray painted on the side of it, Whitlock came out and claimed that James "played the victim role" simply because he issued a public statement about the incident, and that because he's rich, this act didn't count as an act of racism. He said that this was all a big "inconvenience" for James because he has enough money to just have the word removed in a hurry. He said that racism only effects "poor black people" and because no one's kids were denied access to a school or no one was denied access to live in a certain neighborhood, this episode at James' home could basically be chalked up as random act of tomfoolery in so many words. He completely ignored the psychological and emotional damage this incident could've had on James or on any one of his family members. He ignored the fact that the media was already talking about this story even before Lebron James chose to issue an official statement.  He even brought up how rich people like Oprah don't have to deal with racism, allegedly, because they have so much money, as if racists see black folks' green before they see their black.

I watched the video of Jason Whitlock doubling down on his comments as fellow sports analyst Chris Broussard had his turn playing the role of the lightest-skin-brother-in-the-room-who's-woke-but-nobody-wants-to-listen-to-him-cause-he-light-skinned-and-likely-trying-to-prove-something, and Broussard seemed honestly flabbergasted and confused by Whitlock's assertions.

Jason Whitlock is one of the worst kinds of Negroes. He criticizes and demoralizes those who take a stand on racial and social issues for the flimsiest reasons. He believes money is the answer to black people ultimately overcoming. And he seems to think that as long as we as black people aren't literally being sold as property on an auction block and being lynched en masse, that we're somehow not experiencing real racism. He pushes the idea that all micro-aggressions we experience are just a natural facet of life that us uppity negroes need to get over. He's nothing but a paid mouth piece for racist (or at the very least, racially insensitive) white people to say what they know they can't say to black people under the disguise of "keeping it real", "straight talk", and telling fellow black people "what they need to hear". People like Jason Whitlock do just as much harm as outsiders who keep us marginalized, segregated, and cut-off from opportunities, equality, and social justice. He's the nigga that conservatives can point at and go "See, that guy gets it. Why can't the rest of you people be like him?!" And the worst part is that I think he knows it. He has to. But I believe he's so consumed in his own self-loathing to even care. He looks lonely. He looks like he has no friends. He looks like he's one Big Mac away from his organs quitting on him under the weight of supporting and keeping his sad, fat behind alive day after day. And now I'm kind of wishing his obvious snack fetish would cause him to blow up one day like that one guy from Big Trouble In Little China, and put him out of his misery and save us a lot of headaches.

Concept Albums Are A Dying Art, Here's A Few You Should Check Out

A concept album can be defined as an album with a unified theme. In other words, it could be an album where a story is told from the first song to the last, or contain a few songs connecting a particular theme or story. Or it could an album where the performing artist(s) delve into a whole different personality or persona and pretend to be such over the length of the album.

In today's day and age, with so much emphasis on hot singles, concept albums (especially hip-hop concept albums) are quickly becoming an endangered species. Albums as a whole have grown less important with the mixtape revolution that began to spawn circa 2002, allowing artists to stay connected with their fan base by dropping material as frequently as they wanted as opposed to having to wait for some record label A&R telling them when their album was finished and they could have it released. Most recently, we've seen the newer format of the "playlist" being released by artists which have been loosely defined as a "soundtrack to one's life"??!!? Whatever. Sounds like a cop out just in case the body of work is disappointing, it can struck from the official discography. Music consumers as a whole seem to have shorter attention spans and don't want to invest 60+ minutes hearing out an artist lay out a theme/story, unless that artist already has a lot of equity built up with that listener; and sometimes even then it works extremely well, and at other times it can fall flat (see: Kendrick Lamar & J.Cole). And to be honest, it is a lot easier creatively and artistically, for a performer to put out an easy-on-the-ears single accompanied by album filler, as opposed to a body of work of 10+ songs that's meant to be consumed as a whole. 

So here's part one of a list of hip-hop concept albums that are personal favorites of mine (in no particular order) that I feel any fan of hip-hop would enjoy and be thoroughly entertained by:  

1. Prince Paul- Prince Among Thieves (1999 Tommy Boy Records): Legendary hip-hop sampling pioneer Prince Paul employs the services of Breeze Brewin' of the Juggaknots and his buttery, smooth flow to tell the tale of an ambitious MC on the rise who gets caught up in the treacherous trap of the streets. Breeze effortlessly pushes the narrative over an array of dope, diverse beats and highly amusing skits. Other legends' contributions are sprinkled throughout the project such as De La Soul, Kool Kieth, Chubb Rock, Killa Sha, Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane, Everlast, Sadat X, Xzibit, and others.

 2. Little Brother- The Minstrel Show (2005 ABB Records): For the sophomore LP from North Carolina trio of Big Pooh, Phonte, & 9th Wonder, they seemed to want to exorcise some demons and vent some frustration with their experience in the entertainment industry (Google "Little Brother BET controversy" or "Little Brother The Source album rating controversy"). What resulted was a masterfully crafted album that used satire to skewer the collective modern black entertainment industry Bamboozled-style. Various sub-genres of rap, "black" television channels, black shopping habits, even the format for the modern R&B single at that time found themselves in the group's cross-hairs with hilarious, but thought provoking results. If you haven't already, please check out the "greatest colored show on earth"!

3. Masta Ace- Disposable Arts (2001 JCOR Records): Juice Crew alum Masta Ace comes back from a seven year hiatus to bless us with this gem of a concept album and just a great hip-hop album, period. Using his simple, straight forward flow and signature vocal tone clarity, Ace lays out a detailed story of a young man released from prison who has to get acclimated again in the streets and neighborhood he left behind while he was in prison for some time. He engages with old, familiar faces who are pulling him in different directions and he ultimately decides to do something constructive with his life while the cast of characters around him eventually meet less than desirable outcomes.

4. The Streets- A Grand Don't Come For Free (2004 Locked On Records): British rappers have never been my cup of tea (no pun intended), but UK wordsmith The Streets lays out a musical page-turner of a plot involving a shady friend, a shady girlfriend, and a missing $1000. His suspicions and reactive nature take him down some twists and turns over the course of the album/story, but it all culminates into a feel good conclusion that doesn't seem too Hollywood nor too iconoclastic.

5. Mr. Lif- I Phantom (2002 Definitive Jux Records): Boston MC Mr. Lif went all out and deep on niggas with his full length debut LP I Phantom. Lif guides the listener into and through the world of a young man coming of age who falls victim to all the trappings of young adulthood before finally repressing his rebellious spirit to go to school, get a 9 to 5 job, and settle down with a wife. Little does he know, the straight and narrow, corporate life comes with its own variety of evils and pitfalls as well. On top of that, Lif also narrates mankind's descent into madness and self-destruction in the most literal way, aided by technology. This album is not for the casual hip-hop listener.

6. RZA- Bobby Digital In Stereo (1998 Gee Street Records): Wu Tang Clan producer and unofficial leader RZA came out the gate on the conceptual tip with his debut solo LP, fully immersing himself into his alter-ego of Bobby Digital. This character seems to be part superhero, part bionic man, part pimp, and part space age rapper. RZA lets his hair down with polished, keyboard and synth driven beats accompanying raps about weak MCs, getting drunk, and chasing women. I admit, that may not sound too left field for a rapper, but it's not what you do, it's how you do it. The flow of the album, guest appearances, and next level production all made for an entertaining trip into one of hip-hop's greatest minds.   

Part 2, coming soon...

PRESS RELEASE: Jacquea Mae Performs at TEDxPittsburgh

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
info@1hood.org

PITTSBURGH, PA (Friday, June 2, 2017) — Local singer, actress, and creative artist Jacquea Mae performs at the 2017 TEDxPittsburgh conference on Sunday, June 4, 2017 at the Byham Theater in Downtown Pittsburgh. The event begins at 11:30 a.m.

TEDxPittsburgh partners with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust this year, to present the theme, “Awakening: Ideas on the Rise.” The annual conference, held in Long Beach, California, has given rise to multiple TEDx events held nationwide. These events aim to provide a platform for people to share transformative and thought-provoking ideas on a local level. A TEDx program formed in Pittsburgh in 2013 as TEDxGrandview, as a way to celebrate the people of innovative and creative spirits in the city.

1Hood Media’s Jacquea Mae has graced the mic at several open mics, theatrical productions and has featured as an artist at many venues, festivals, open mics & more, throughout the city of Pittsburgh and beyond. Ms. Mae continues to rave reviews for her powerful, soulful and from-the gut performances.

“I’m so thankful to be a part of Tedx Pittsburgh with Jeremiah Marcel,” says Mae. “To celebrate the amazingness of black girl magic in Wilkinsburg, giving to the world, that’s what I do.”

She has also starred as Alberta 'Pearl' Johnson with actress Julie Beroes in Black Pearl Sings, under the direction of New Horizons Theater in 2013 and again as Bessie Smith in Queens Of The Blues last year. In 2016, Jacquea Mae released her first EP, 'The Makings Of Me'. When she’s not creating or performing, she works to inspire and instruct young artists in the area.

Tickets and more information about TEDxPittsburgh can be found here.

Event Details:

TEDxPittsburgh
Sunday, June 4, 2017 @ 11:30 a.m.
Byham Theater (Downtown Pittsburgh)
101 6th Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Can We Talk About Conductor Bae?

Conductor Bae conducting. (RoderickCox.com)

Conductor Bae conducting. (RoderickCox.com)

Look, I know I'm late on this, but this is your fault, Internet.  See no one ever showed me footage of Conductor Bae until my Facebook stream did this morning, and now that footage is 5 months old.  Five months!  It has been 5 whole months since Roderick Cox, Conductor Bae, made his subscription debut with the Minnesota Orchestra as Associate Conductor, a position he just signed to extend through the 2017-2018 season, and I ain't even know.  Shameful. 

 

Check this brother out:

The man's skill is immense, his passion unmistakable.  For those who didn't do the high school orchestra or band thing, the conductor's job is to keep the ensemble on tempo, and to cue in sections of the orchestra that might not be playing anything for large stretches of a piece.  This is necessary because when you're sitting in the middle of an orchestra, you can't always hear well, and may well lose track of when you need to come in, and also because folks daydream during longer pieces (Just me? Oh... awkward.).  In order to do this, he has to follow the written music for the entire orchestra, which is thick as a book and referred to as a score.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is hard as hell. 

For example, for this one line the first violins are playing: 

First Violin excerpt for Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, Finale. (Google Images)

First Violin excerpt for Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, Finale. (Google Images)

The conductor is looking at all of this:

Orchestral Score, first page of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, Finale. (Google Images)

Orchestral Score, first page of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, Finale. (Google Images)

...And this one page takes just a few seconds for the orchestra to fly through.  Conducting is an intellectually difficult business, and because it requires such intense mental concentration, it typically isn't such a physical one.

Suddenly pertinent Google search. (Google)

Suddenly pertinent Google search. (Google)

Conductor Bae turns this on it's head, as this man is bopping like me 3 drinks in and Kendrick Lamar's "Humble" playing.  But he is On Point with it.  This is not a situation where guy is showboating, being all extra just for the sake of being extra.  Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony almost invites those who play it to get lost in the exquisite tension of the piece, and the pace of the music.  I imagine it must be incredibly difficult to rein in the individual sections of the ensemble to keep them from careening all over the place and getting off tempo, especially as a successful conductor must always be literally one beat ahead, anticipating what the orchestra is going to do before they do it.  Yet, as the orchestra hurtles full speed towards the conclusion of this piece with all the power of a mack truck, he is keeping all these individual elements on track with the mechanical precision of a metronome, though the music clearly has his mind and his body engaged.  This is Black Excellence operating at some of its highest levels, and this guy is at the beginning of his career!  It is phenomenal to watch, and has Geechee Anne googling some thangs.

Netflix's Dear White People Is A Totally Awesome Show I Think Everyone Should Watch

A few months ago, when a 30 second trailer dropped for the new Netflix series Dear White People, and stuck in the craw of so many alt-right trolls, my expectations for this show were immediately set pretty high. I was a fan of the 2014 film this show is based on, and while I enjoyed the movie, I felt it left a lot of meat on the bone as far as other topics and issues that were touched on and that effect black people, but weren't explored as deeply as they could've been. One can only delve so far into so many issues within the parameters of a 2 hour movie when you have to introduce characters, set up a conflict, and wrap that conflict up in a nice neat conclusion. This show, however, addresses those issues and then some and make for some pretty interesting TV! Despite the title (which some out there would argue encourage white genocide), a lot of the show centers on the internal conflicts of the black community. It examines what it truly means to be "woke" in this day and age. Is it holding on to an ideology and methods that have proven to be somewhat outdated? Is it bringing about change from within the "system"? Is it wearing your hair a certain way? Do any of these things matter when you can't affect the kind of change you want to see? How woke can a black person be when they fight against and look down on fellow black people who happen to disagree with them? The series also boldly confronts the issues of interracial dating, colorism, homosexuality, racial profiling of police, the hedonistic side of college life, white appropriation of black music, even how the media trains people to go after certain stories while avoiding others. All while sprinkling in scenes depicting a lot of the unfortunate happenings we see in the news everyday reminding us that we don't live in this paradise-like, post-racial, all accepting world that was birthed on Election Day, 2008. The show balances poignant scenes with just the right amount of humor and characters that you feel you know or even see yourself in. Many characters are what-you-see-is-what-you-get throughout the series, but some characters go through some serious arcs as the episodes play on. And I like watching complex characters with many sides to them showing that they are neither all good, nor all bad. Or in these cases, all woke or all sellout. My expectations for this show were high, and while it is not perfect, it does not disappoint either. I strongly recommend this show for anybody out there looking for a new series to binge on, no matter how old they are or what color they are. Can't wait for season 2...

A few months ago, when a 30 second trailer dropped for the new Netflix series Dear White People, and stuck in the craw of so many alt-right trolls, my expectations for this show were immediately set pretty high. I was a fan of the 2014 film this show is based on, and while I enjoyed the movie, I felt it left a lot of meat on the bone as far as other topics and issues that were touched on and that effect black people, but weren't explored as deeply as they could've been. One can only delve so far into so many issues within the parameters of a 2 hour movie when you have to introduce characters, set up a conflict, and wrap that conflict up in a nice neat conclusion.

This show, however, addresses those issues and then some and make for some pretty interesting TV! Despite the title (which some out there would argue encourage white genocide), a lot of the show centers on the internal conflicts of the black community. It examines what it truly means to be "woke" in this day and age. Is it holding on to an ideology and methods that have proven to be somewhat outdated? Is it bringing about change from within the "system"? Is it wearing your hair a certain way? Do any of these things matter when you can't affect the kind of change you want to see? How woke can a black person be when they fight against and look down on fellow black people who happen to disagree with them?

The series also boldly confronts the issues of interracial dating, colorism, homosexuality, racial profiling of police, the hedonistic side of college life, white appropriation of black music, even how the media trains people to go after certain stories while avoiding others. All while sprinkling in scenes depicting a lot of the unfortunate happenings we see in the news everyday reminding us that we don't live in this paradise-like, post-racial, all accepting world that was birthed on Election Day, 2008.

The show balances poignant scenes with just the right amount of humor and characters that you feel you know or even see yourself in. Many characters are what-you-see-is-what-you-get throughout the series, but some characters go through some serious arcs as the episodes play on. And I like watching complex characters with many sides to them showing that they are neither all good, nor all bad. Or in these cases, all woke or all sellout.

My expectations for this show were high, and while it is not perfect, it does not disappoint either. I strongly recommend this show for anybody out there looking for a new series to binge on, no matter how old they are or what color they are.

Can't wait for season 2...