Fences Movie Review

imageDenzel Washington is one of the five greatest actors of the last twenty years. His body of work is on par with Pacino, De Niro, DeCaprio, Clooney or anyone else from this era that you could name. His most recent film, “Fences,” is one of his most emotional and captivating performances ever. Just an incredible performance by this acting giant.
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THE GREATEST R&B SINGER OF ALL TIME: MICHAEL JACKSON

imageIn the history of popular music, there has never been an individual who was the total package like Michael Jackson. He had it all; charisma, style, vocal brilliance, stage presence and an innate ability to improvise creative dance moves out of nowhere. It is why he’s the single, greatest R&B singer of all time. More

THE LEGACY OF ALLEN IVERSON

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In the history of the NBA, no player has had a bigger impact on the sport than Allen Iverson. While he’s not among the top ten players in the history of the sport, he’s the definitive greatest when it comes to cultural impact. No one comes even close. Not even Michael Jordan, the consensus greatest of all time. In today’s NBA, his impact is seen throughout the league in his style of play and the way he carried himself.

When Iverson first appeared in the NBA in the fall of 1996, the NBA had been since its inception a very conservative league. Despite being over 80 percent African American, the players all dressed and looked like Madison Avenue picked out their clothes and music. Iverson single handily changed that look. He was, as Chuck D so poignantly pointed out in his autobiography, the first true NBA hip hop star. He brought the hip hop style to to the league. He was the first NBA player to wear cornrows, gold ropes around his neck and tattoos all over his body. Soon, many of his brethren followed. He entered the league right after Tupac Shakur was murdered. It was as though Tupac was reincarnated as Allen Iverson, the “Answer.”

Because he was so unapologetically Black and young, Iverson received a barrage of criticism from the NBA, former players and critics. He was labeled a thug and a disgrace to the league. Yet, even though he played for the Philadelphia 76ers in a city that was notorious for booing their own, the city embraced him like no one before or since. He is without a doubt the most beloved Philadelphia athlete in the history of that great city. Why? Because Philadelphia fans recognize hard work, determination and great heart. Through his entire career, Iverson played through a rash of injuries. At less than six feet tall and 165 pounds, Iverson played with reckless abandon. The Sixer fans saw this and showered him with adulation, despite what outsiders were saying about him. It was his playing style that has had the greatest impact in the history of the sport. An impact that is so prevalent today.

When Iverson entered the league twenty years ago, the league was dominated by big men like David Robinson, Patrick Ewing and Shaquille O’Neal. In 2016, the NBA is dominated by the little men, the point guards who emulate Iverson’s style of play. The list of players who idolized Iverson and copied his style is endless: Derrick Rose, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving and the reigning two time NBA MVP Stephon Curry all have elements of Iverson’s style in their games. Iverson was a point guard when he first came in the league. He was immediately shifted to the shooting guard position, but physically he was in a point guard’s body. The players I mentioned above all grew up idolizing Iverson. Curry and Irving’s signature crossover is a direct impersonation of the move Iverson made famous when he crossed up Jordan in his rookie year. Westbrook and Harden play with a reckless abandonment reminiscent of a prime Iverson. At one time Rose was seen as the successor to Iverson’s style until injuries robbed Rose of his greatness. And Lillard today carries a mediocre team just like Iverson did throughout his career as a Sixer.

Two months ago Iverson was inducted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame as a first ballot induction. Fittingly, he was inducted almost 20 years to the day Tupac died and when Iverson made his NBA debut. He was the best little man to ever play the sport of basketball. He was a cultural icon. A man despite being torn with injuries and criticisms galore, became a legendary ball player, both on and off the court. Who is the single, most culturally impact individual in the history of basketball? “THE ANSWER, ALLEN IVERSON!!!!!”

GREATEST R&B SINGERS OF ALL TIME: JAMES BROWN

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In the history of R&B music, there has never been a more flamboyant artist than the legendary James Brown. No other artist has as many nicknames: “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” “Mr. Excitement,” “Soul Brother No. 1,” and his most famous moniker, “The Godfather of Soul.” Brown has influenced more singers than any artist in the history of music: Prince, Michael Jackson, Rick James, and Sly Stone are just a few of the legendary artists who were influenced by “The Godfather.” More

Golden Age of Television Part 2

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Once again, this column will focus on this new golden era of television. I will talk about “Mr. Robot,” “The Night Of ‘” and “Power.” These shows, all on cable, continue to show just how tremendous this era of television has been. All three shows air on cable, as cable television continues to outdo conventional broadcast television. More

21 More Questions

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1. Why the plethora of super hero movies?
2. Since when not standing for the national anthem meant being anti-military?
3. How many more women will Bill Clinton have sex in the White House once his wife is elected President?
4. Are there any more racist men in America than Rudy Giuliani, David Duke and Donald Trump?
5. When will the American public realize that all sports are pre-determined?
6. Who really killed JFK?
7. Is trap music the worst era of hip hop music ever?
8. Why do radio shows have background music playing while conducting an interview?
9. Why does every republican politician want America to go back to how we were in the 1950’s?
10. Will Vince McMahon ever die?
11. When will baseball allow Pete Rose into their Hall of Fame?
12. Why don’t they just legalize steroid use and make it a level playing field?
13. Has there even been a year in which so many unarmed individuals have been killed by the police than this year?
14. When will Al Sharpton permanently disappear?
15. Has anyone committed heinous crimes while high on marijuana?
16. Why is prostitution illegal?
17. Is the KKK even relevant anymore?
18. Can you believe the unprecedented run of hits Rihanna has had?
19. Exactly how many men currently on death row are innocent of the murders they’ve been convicted of?
20. When Serena Williams retires, will Women’s tennis ever be the same?
21. Who will win this year’s Presidential Election?

CLASSIC DUETS

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Throughout the history of popular music, one of the genres greatest gems is the classic duet, especially with a male/female coupling. It brings an added dimension to a great song when you hear from both the male and female point of view. In this article, I will talk about some of the greatest duets in music history. More

Fresh Movie Review

imageThe greatest fictional drama book ever written, in my opinion, that dealt with the crack epidemic and how it destroyed Black youth was “The Coldest Winter Ever” by Sista Souljah. It is a tremendous read and reminds me so much of the seminal 1994 movie Fresh starring Sean Nelson as a 12 year old ingenue drug dealer who uses chess to bring down his enemies. Many of you have seen this movie. For those who haven’t, I will give a brief summary.

Fresh is a 12 year old drug dealer living in foster care with several of his cousins and his sister. He plays chess in Washington Square Park with his alcoholic father(brilliantly portrayed by the now legendary Samuel Jackson), and through these contests he learns strategy to not only deal with his enemies, but to protect his heroin addicted sister(played in a very realistic passive, non conflicted way by the beautiful NBushe Wright). Nelson’s serious demeanor throughout the movie shows just how grim his current life is. He rarely smiles, and after the girl he has a crush on is murdered from a stray bullet by one of his drug dealing partners, no longer does he attempt to smile. He makes it his goal to not only seek vengeance for the girl’s death, but to protect his sister and to escape from the violent, dead end streets of the crack-ridden streets of early 1990’s Brooklyn. In order to accomplish these difficult tasks, Fresh uses chess as a way to form a strategy. He uses the two drug lords that he works for weaknesses against them(played too damn authentically by the always excellent Ron Brice and Giancarlo Esposito). Brice’s character will do anything to maintain his power, so Fresh creates a doubt in his mind about those who work for him scheming to take him out. Esposito’s character is madly in love with Fresh’s sister, so Fresh cunningly uses Esposito’s adoration of his sister to checkmate him in the end.

Fresh was the most authentic, depressing movie of the 90’s that portrayed the crack epidemic that destroyed an entire generation of Black and Latino youth in NYC and many other urban landscapes. Nelson’s portrayal of Fresh is one of the greatest performances of all time by a child actor. The Williamsburg section of Brooklyn that has crack houses and crack dealers in proliferation back then, is now an upscale neighborhood filled with yuppies and million dollar brownstones. I wonder if these residents today realize just not too long away that their neighborhood was trapped in the crack epidemic. I highly doubt it.

Serena Williams

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In the history of Women’s Tennis; in the history of Women’s Sports, the single, greatest athlete is without question, Serena Williams. Since she won her first Grand Slam at the 1999 U.S. Open, she has been the unquestioned most magnetic and brilliant athlete on the planet. Despite several setbacks, including nagging injuries, the tragic murder of her sister, and a blood clot that almost cost her career, she has dominated a sport like no female athlete ever has. Despite her and her sister Venus being African American outcasts in a historically dominated White sport, the two of them overcame that obstacle to dominate tennis like no other sibling act ever did. In 1997, their father Richard predicted that one day they would be ranked numbers one and two in the world. He also told them that Serena would be the greater champion of the two. The experts in the media scoffed at his predictions. Guess what, he was right. To follow Serena’s career since 1999, you can carefully see unbridled racism among fans, fellow players, and members of the media. Yet, despite the many trials and tribulations surrounding her career, Serena has persevered and remained steadfast in her quest for tennis dominance. I will highlight a few examples. More