HBO Is Adapting Lydia Diamond’s Broadway Play ‘Stick Fly’ For The Screen (Alicia Keys Producing)

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Interesting…

An screen adaptation of Lydia R. Diamond’s play Stick Fly has been ordered by HBO. You’ll recall that a recent Broadway run of the play was produced by Alicia Keys and Reuben Cannon, with Kenny Leon directing, and a cast that included Ruben Santiago-HudsonDulé HillMekhi PhiferTracie Thoms, and Condola Rashad, who was nominated for a Tony Award (Best Featured Actress) for her performance.  As I recall, the play was met with mixed reviews, opening on December 08, 2011, and closing on February 26, 2012. Stick Fly chronicles the a weekend of secrets, prejudice, hypocrisy and adultery that are exposed during a well-to-do African American family’s weekend stay at their home in Martha’s Vineyard. And now the family dramedy is headed to the small screen, in what will be an hour-long drama, adapted by the playwright (Lydia Diamond), with Alicia Keys and Nelle Nugent executive producing along with HBO. Word is that HBO has only committed to a script, so a lot of work still has to be done before we see this fully realized on our TV screens.

No word on whether the stage cast will follow Diamond, Keys and the play to the screen.

Stay tuned…

Trend of the Year: Alt R&B

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From its late-’70s and ’80s catwalk of flamboyance, eccentricity, and innovation with Michael Jackson, Prince, and Sade, to its years in the wilderness as hip-hop’s hook-supplyin’ weed carrier, R&B is alive again! Cherry-picking the past while exploding conventions and taboos, an array of compelling artists have reinvented the genre as perhaps the only cool-yet-sane refuge for music fans in 2012.

The sheets of cheers coming from the first seven-or-so makeshift rows at Frank Ocean’s Lollapalooza performance this past summer were practically the Beatles at Shea Stadium. It was the closest to an unbridled can’t-hold-it-in embrace of a musician by his or her fans that I’ve ever witnessed. Ocean’s nighttime set began with an acoustic cover of Sade’s “By Your Side,” moved through songs from last year’s debut free download Nostalgia, Ultra and then the newly-released channel ORANGE, at his own deliberate pace. He stopped to praise the city of Chicago’s architecture, warned mind-altering newbies that they should take it easy, and held up one of the green-friendly cardboard cartons of water that were scattered all over the festival grounds and said they were “something else.” Then he worried aloud if that qualified as an endorsement.

The set ended with the 10-minute “Pyramids,” which conflates Sun Ra, Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions, Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time” pop-Egyptology video, plus R. Kelly’s or T-Pain’s stripper jams, and is the centerpiece of Ocean’s album channel ORANGE (released in July), SPIN’s best of the year. While channel ORANGE undoubtedly signifies as R&B, it deftly bobs and weaves around the genre’s traditional expectations. Performing just a couple of hours before Ocean was fellow R&B boundary-pusher the Weeknd, a.k.a., Abel Tesfaye, who presented his risqué, heretofore anonymous R&B on one of the festival’s main stages — where, later in the night, the Red Hot Chili Peppers would unleash their weathered dude-funk.

Ocean’s performance came just a month after the singer-songwriter, 25, detailed his first love (to another man) in a Tumblr post, deading whispers about the loaded “he” pronoun on the channel ORANGE track “Bad Religion.” At Lolla, every song, every self-conscious joke, even a coy reference to the infamous first-love note, brought screams from Ocean-obsessives who had pushed to the front of the stage earlier in the evening to ensure a spot. CONTINUE READING..

THE 50 GREATEST DEBUT ALBUMS IN HIP-HOP HISTORY

First impressions are everything and few have greater impact than a hip-hop artist’s debut album. Part of the reason why rap debuts are so revered is because they present the first opportunity to judge an artist’s singular body of work. But there’s also an unspoken pressure here. Historically, so many rap debuts are so damn good, and anyone looking to make their first foray into a career within the genre has a lot to live up to.
Whether it’s Dr. Dre changing the sound of hip-hop production with The Chronic or Clipse ushering in a new era of urgent lyricism on Lord Willin’ two decades later, time has shown that many do, in fact, live up to these pressures. A rapper’s initial offering can often have a massive influence on subsequent releases, and culture in general. Sometimes that first album is the most significant of an artist’s career. If it seems like the scales of appreciation are tipped in favor of debuts, it’s because they are. There’s a reason whyJay-Z calls Reasonable Doubt his “baby.” There’s a reason why Raekwon still can’t escape the shadow of OnlyBuilt 4 Cuban Linx. Rappers essentially have their entire lives to make their first album, and it shows—in some releases more than others. We decided to get to the bottom of the never-ending discussion about rap’s greatest debuts. It was tough, like any list of this scope, but we got it down to 50 surefire classics, from past and present, and we’ve ranked them as well. Is Illmatic No. 1? Which artists who dropped their first LP in the past decade made the cut? Read on to find out all of that, and more. These are The 50 Greatest Debut Albums in Hip-Hop History.

CONTINUE READING

Alicia Keys: Unlocking Alicia (2012 Cover Story)

The first thing you see when the elevator doors open at the Oven recording studios is Alicia Keys’ face, painted floor to ceiling, next to a rendering of the Empire State Building. Her portrait is part of a mural—a kind of musical Mount Rushmore commemorating great New York artists. It’s fitting for a recording studio located on Manhattan’s far west side—not far from the Hell’s Kitchen apartment on 43rd and 10th where Alicia grew up with her mother. To the right are Lennon in his NYC period, Kool Herc, and Jay-Z dressed in his Reasonable Doubt finery. To the left are the O.G.s—Sinatra, Ellington, Gillespie, and Billie Holiday. Alicia will tell you the mural wasn’t her doing, that it was commissioned by her engineer, Ann Mincieli, with whom she rebuilt the studio over the past couple of years. She doesn’t like to seem immodest. These artists are legendary. Then again, so is she. When Alicia made her debut at age 19 she talked about how she would study the greats: Marvin Gaye, Roberta Flack, Nina Simone. “My dream is to be that good someday,” she said in 2001, and she’s still as focused as ever. “I’m competitive with myself in the sense that I want to get better,” she says now. “It’s not that I’m obsessively dissecting myself, but there’s a critique that happens. I am very driven. I’m not comparing myself to other people. I don’t wanna be like her or him. I want to be my best.” CONTINUE READING…

Open Letter About Nina Simone Doesn’t Mince Words

Aaron Overfield, the website content manager of NinaSimone.com, delivers a scathing criticism of Cynthia Mort (who’s leading the upcoming Nina Simone biopic),an appeal to the public to put discussions of Zoe Saldana’s“blackness” behind them, and a “talk-to-the-hand” rebuke to anyone who espouses the “don’t judge/wait and see/shut up about it” stance on the casting issue. Says Overfield: The most frustrating people are the ones who imply everyone should just shut up and “wait and see” or “leave them alone.” That kind of attitude and oppression is not in the spirit of Nina Simone whatsoever. Quite the opposite. Nina was vocal, defiant, a warrior, an activist. She would not have simply shut up and sat down. She would’ve shown up at the studio with a shotgun to speak with Ms. Mort and slapped the makeup off Zoe. So let’s get that straight first. We’re going to talk about this and those of us with strong, impassioned opinions are going to express them. He goes on to state that, though the film’s production can’t be stopped, its more problematic notions should continue to be highlighted. Among those is the “straightfacing” of an out gay male, Clifton Henderson, who has been previously reported to be written as Nina’s love interest in Mort’s script: It is also the first instance of Cynthia’s script exploiting a marginalized identity by essentially putting “straightface” on an out gay man. This is rather curious since Mort herself is a lesbian and you’d wonder how she’d feel being rewritten as a heterosexual woman under the guise of someone else’s “artistic license.” Would Cynthia Mort be pleased with someone rewriting her own history to the point where her sexuality becomes a trivialized inconvenience? I guess someone would have to ask her that. I won’t bother.

Read it at Clutch.

‘Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation’ Pushes the PS Vita to its Limits (Review)

ImageThe PS Vita’s hardware is impressive, but tons of gamers are nevertheless still waiting for a must-have game to justify the purchase of Sony’s latest handheld. Today, I must regretfully report that Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation is probably not that game.

Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release date: Oct. 30
Price: $39.99

✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✩✩✩ Score: 7/10

I wanted to love it. I really did. I already love the way the PS Vita feels and looks, the way its dual sticks allow for decent controls, and the way its touch mechanics can be subtly integrated with traditional controls. And I love the Assassin’s Creed series—including Assassin’s Creed 3, my review of which is coming later this week. Liberation isn’t a bad game. Aesthetically, it’s superb, for a portable. And it’s got plenty of good ideas. But many of them, like the “personas” system, are marred by major flaws. As a result, it’s just not the best game that it could have been. Continue Reading…

 

Anti-Black Sentiment Up in US Poll Shows

A new poll conducted by the Associated Press shows that Americans have an increased prejudice against African Americans. Researchers from Stanford University, the University of Michigan and NORC at the University of Chicago gathered the data, and experts aren’t surprised by the results. “We have this false idea that there is uniformity in progress and that things change in one big step. That is not the way history has worked,” Jelani Cobb, professor of history and director of the Institute for African-American Studies at the University of Connecticut, told AP. “When we’ve seen progress, we’ve also seen backlash.”

These findings may negatively impact President Obama’s re-election campaign.

“Racial prejudice has increased slightly since 2008 whether those feelings were measured using questions that explicitly asked respondents about racist attitudes, or through an experimental test that measured implicit views toward race without asking questions about that topic directly. In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell. “As much as we’d hope the impact of race would decline over time … it appears the impact of anti-black sentiment on voting is about the same as it was four years ago,” said Jon Krosnick, a Stanford University professor who worked with AP to develop the survey.”

The poll also highlights anti-Hispanic sentiment as well, showing that 52 percent of non-Hispanic whites displayed anti-Hispanic feelings. SOURCE: http://www.theroot.com/buzz/anti-black-sentiment-us-poll-shows?wpisrc=root_more_news

Read more at the Associated Press.