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

A Different World Sitcom Review

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The sitcom “A Different World,” was in my opinion, the single, greatest African American sitcom that ever aired on network television. Created by Bill Cosby, the show was initially a spinoff from his monumental hit “The Cosby Show,” starring Lisa Bonet. It was to chronicle Denise Huxtable’s trials and tribulations while attending a fictional Historically Black University. The first season starring Bonet was bland and vanilla. It was plain horrible. Luckily, Bonet was pregnant in between seasons one and two. Cosby, upon learning of Bonet’s pregnancy, immediately removed her from the show and hired Debbie Allen to have total creative control of the program. Beginning with season two, the show had a much different look. It had the look of an authentic Black university. It also began the drawn out relationship between the now leading characters of the show, Dwayne Wayne and Whitley Gilbert. With the building of the budding relationship between the two protagonists, the show would throw in social and political issues of the day. It was a formula for provocative television. More

REFLECTIONS ON ALI

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In my lifetime, only three deaths outside my father’s death have affected me: Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and now Muhammad Ali. Ali was the first man other than my father that I idolized. As a child, I marveled at how this man had the ability to say whatever was on his mind without fear. He was an amazing man. A man of the people. A man who loved children unconditionally. Throughout this article, I will give shining examples on why Muhammad Ali was the definition of a Renaissance Man. More

GREATEST R&B SINGERS OF ALL TIME: PRINCE

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I’m still in shock over the sudden death of Prince. He was easily my favorite artist as an adolescent. He was insanely gifted. He played over twenty instruments. He was a gifted songwriter. He had a vocal range that was incredibly overrated. He was a perfect mixture of Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone and James Brown. In this latest installment of the greatest R&B male singers of all time, I will talk about his iconic 80’s run, his very underrated love songs, and why he is the third greatest R&B male singer of all time. More

GREATEST R&B SINGERS OF ALL TIME: MARVIN GAYE

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In the history of music, not too many acts have a catalogue as comprehensive as Marvin Gaye. There aren’t many singers who have not one, but two albums considered among the twenty greatest albums of all time. In the world of soul music, there aren’t many who wrote their own music as unsolicited as Gaye. In this piece, I will explain why the aforementioned is the reason Gaye is the fourth greatest R&B male singer of all time. More

21 MORE QUESTIONS

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1. Why does the public pay so much attention to the Kardashians?
2. Why are young men still getting murdered for their Air Jordans?
3. Why do cable and satellite providers give us so many channels that nobody wants to watch?
4. Why do radio stations play the same five songs over and over again?
5. What day is it no longer ok to say happy new year?
6. Will Tiger Woods ever win another major?
7. How many men have been unjustly convicted of rape because the “victim” lied?
8. Whatever happened to the New York hip hop scene?
9. Remember life before cell phones?
10. Will we ever go a year without a questionable police shooting?
11. Exactly how many women did Bill Cosby sexually molest?
12. Explain to me how Drake can rap about being a drug dealer when he grew up in a middle class neighborhood in Toronto?
13. Will there ever be a gay president of the United States?
14. When will Oprah admit that she’s been sleeping with Gayle King for over 30 years?
15. Can you trust a big butt and a smile?
16. Isn’t it time for Jay-Z to go somewhere and disappear?
17. Isn’t Beyoncé the most overrated singer/performer of all time?
18. Can someone please tell Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh to shut the hell up?
19. Why do so many women nowadays want butt implants?
20. Did you know all these years that Hulk Hogan was a closet racist?
21. What will happen to the world when Donald Trump is elected President in 10 months?

GREATEST R&B SINGERS OF ALL TIME: STEVIE WONDER

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Stevland Morris was the ultimate child prodigy. Musically gifted despite being born blind, he was christened Stevie Wonder by Motown Records founder and CEO, Berry Gordy. At the tender age of 13, he recorded his first major hit, a 1962 song entitled “Fingerprints.” It would be the first of many hit records for the prodigy. It would lead to him becoming the first Motown artist to secure his publishing rights. It would also enable him to establish a career that would land him the sixth greatest male R&B singer of all time.

In 1963, Wonder’s aforementioned “Fingertips” went to number one on both the Pop and R&B charts, making Wonder the youngest solo singer ever to have a number one record. Unfortunately, Wonder didn’t come close to another hit for another three years. Then, beginning with 1966’s “Uptight,” Wonder began a string of one classic album and/or song after another. Like his fellow Motown artist Smokey Robinson, Wonder wrote his own music, leading to him becoming the first artist on the label to secure his own publishing rights. Motown founder and CEO Berry Gordy was notorious for fleecing his artists of their royalties. Wonder, with the guidance of his parents, made sure that his songwriting royalties were secured.

In the spring of 1968, Wonder released the song “For Once In My Life.” This song holds a special place in my heart. I was born in 1968 and three months after my birth, my father was incarcerated. That song helped my mother get through this ordeal. That song hit home to her because, as the lyrics state in the song, “For once in my life, I have someone who needs me.” I, as her infant song, was needed to be loved and cared for. For the first time in her life, she had someone who loved her back unconditionally and would not leave her or let her down, especially at a time when my father was incarcerated. Wonder would continue to write and sing about songs that would not only touch emotions, but fuel them as well.

When it comes to singing and writing ballads, few have been better the Stevie Wonder. Classics like “Lately”, “My Cherie Amour”, “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”, “Isn’t She Lovely”, “As”, “Send One Your Love”, and the Oscar winning song, “I Just Called To Say I Love You.” While Stevie never had the strong vocals of a Luther Vandross or Otis Redding, his love songs were powerful because of the emotions that you could hear in his vocals. “Lately,” was one of the most heart wrenching heartbreak songs ever recorded.

Stevie Wonder is one of the few musical geniuses that recorded messages in his music that were both uplifting and spiritual. Songs like “Higher Ground”, “Living for The City”, “Love’s In Need of Love Today’, and “Village Ghetto Land,” reflected the turbulent racial climate of the 1970’s. Wonder has always been one of the few artists that continues to use his fame and stardom to help social change. He was also one of the first to protest the unjust incarceration of Nelson Mandela.

When you look at Wonder’s career, you cannot be less than amazed at how much he has achieved in his 50 plus years recording music. 25 Grammy Awards, 10 Pop number one hits, 20 R&B number one hits, over 100 million records sold, and a member of both the Songwriters and Rock and Roll Hall of fame. A musical genius who despite being blind, never allowed this disability to get in his way of making beautiful music and uplifting several generations of his fans. That is why he is, in my opinion, the sixth greatest R&B male artist of all time.

GREATEST R&B SINGERS OF ALL TIME: SAM COOKE

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You cannot mention the greatest soul singers of all time without the inclusion of one of the pioneers of modern soul music, Sam Cooke. If it weren’t for Cooke, modern soul music might never had existed. He is one of the greatest innovators in the history of popular music. A career that I will chronicle throughout this article, as he is the seventh greatest male R&B singer of all time. More