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    It might be about that time for Jay Z fans who pay their $10 monthly Spotify subscription to cancel it and move on over to Tidal. Fans who were looking for the rapper’s acclaimed Reasonable Doubt album discovered it was yanked from Spotify. Does this mean the music of the other artists who attended the Tidal relaunch will soon be pulled, too?

    Tidal has its pluses and its negatives. Those who enjoy Jay Z’s music would be pleased to discover that his entire discography is available on his new streaming service.  Users can also find country-pop singer Taylor Swift‘s catalog, as well as exclusive content from several popular artists, especially those invested in the venture, such as Beyoncé and Rihanna.

    One downside is that a monthly subscription is $20, whereas Spotify, the most popular streaming service of the moment, only costs $10 monthly. Also, Spotify, like many of their competitors, offers a free version of their service that includes advertisements. Tidal has no free version.

    But there is a principled method to Jay Z’s latest project. He and the artists who partnered with him believe that everyone who is involved in the production of these songs that are played on streaming services should be paid a fair amount. During a Q&A segment at NYU, he mentioned the unfair situation of Aloe Blacc, whose song “Wake Me Up” was played 168 million times on Pandora, but he was only compensated $4,000.

    “You guys may have seen some of the stats like, Aloe Blacc had a song that was streamed 168 million times and he got paid $4,000,” Jay Z said. “For us, it’s not us standing here saying we’re poor musicians. If you provide a service, you should be compensated for it. And not just artists — just think about the writers and the producers.”

    Blacc revealed this to the world in 2014, the same year that Swift pulled her music from Spotify, citing unfair pay.

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    Carson speaks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland

    Likely GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson blames hip-hop for African Americans’ societal ills. On Sunday morning, Carson did an interview with New York radio station WBLS and announced that he would confirm his 2016 plans at the beginning of May. During the course of the interview, he targeted hip-hop as the culprit for the erosion of family values and unity in the Black community.

    “We need to reestablish faith in our communities and the values and principles that got us through slavery, that got us through Jim Crow, and segregation, and all kinds of horrible things that were heaped upon us,” Carson said said. “Why were we able to get through those? Because of our faith, because of our family, because of our values, and as we allow the hip hop community to destroy those things for us, and as we grasp onto what’s politically correct and not what is correct, we continue to deteriorate.”

    The radio show host took some offense to the comment, stating, “When you said hip-hop, my antennae went up very quickly because I said, ‘Wait a minute, that sounds like an old argument they used to make about rock n’ roll/R&B back in the fifties.’ That’s what they used to say.”

    Carson attempted to clarify his statements, but it seemed more insulting than the first remark. “When I talk about the hip-hop community, I talk about the aspect of modern society that pretty much dismisses anything that has to do with Jesus Christ. That’s what I’m talking about.”

    Carson is known as a staunch conservative who has fans among the Tea Party. He has been toying with a presidential bid and is currently making a tour through the swing state of New Hampshire.

    Despite his public hedging, he does have a presidential exploratory committee who have announced that they raised $2 million from around 36,000 supporters in under a month. Although seemingly impressive, it is much less than other possible contenders Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.


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    Uptown_Azealia Banks-billboard

    Azealia Banks seems to be making headlines more for her controversial comments than her music, and now she’s taking some action for it. The Harlem native recently raised eyebrows when she admitted she wanting to have sex with President Barack Obama.

    “He’s so fine. Those big-ass white teeth and ears hanging off his head? I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I want to f— the president,'” she told Billboard.

    Azealia took to her Twitter account to respond to her critics and explain her remarks. “The part about the prez was not supposed to be in there I really wish I could take it back omg I was only joking. Why can’t I just stop being a hot mess? Like just for once ?!?! I always try and keep it cute then something clicks in my brain and just makes me say crazy things #Geministruggle.”

    Azealia suggested the comment wouldn’t have caused such a fuss had it been shared within its full context. She’s apparently learned from this experience and will be taking steps to ensure her words aren’t misused again.

    “I said so many other interesting things during that interview. I’m seriously going to start bringing a tape recorder to interviews. Just so people can hear the context in which I say things because these magazine just want me to be some over sexual thing….When its so much deeper ……. Sex is like one of the LEAST important things I talk about. I don’t think the media gives readers enough credit for actually being smart and intelligent. I think Michelle Obama just put a hex on me cause I’m sick as a DOG right now.”

    On Monday, Azealia said she won’t be granting interviews to media outlets for the remainder of 2015. She claimed that the interview “was not my favorite. Lots of things I said got taken out of context. This whole interview was about a few raunchy jokes I made… when I really spoke about so much more. Maybe it was the journalist, maybe it was the editor. Who knows, don’t care. I’m not doing anymore interviews this year.”

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    Ever since news broke that Trevor Noah was selected to be the new host of The Daily Show in place of Jon Stewart, many have showed their praise, as well as overwhelming criticism. Although many have negative things to say about the young new host, Jon is finally sharing his own thoughts on Trevor, and what kind of job he thinks the Comedy Central newbie will do on the comedic political talk show.

    “Trevor Noah will earn your trust and respect — or not — just as I earned your trust and respect… or did not. Or sometimes earned it and then lost it. And then kind of got it back,” Jon said. “I do hope you give him an opportunity to earn that trust and respect because my experience with him is that he is an incredibly thoughtful and considerate and funny and smart individual, and man, I think, you give him that time, and it’s going to be well worth it.”

    Jon has waited this long to speak out on Trevor, due to the fact that The Daily Show went on break last week, preventing him from having a platform.

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    has never been one to hold her tongue when it comes to her thoughts on a matter, and this time she’s making sure the entire state of Indiana hears her out. While performing during the March Madness Music Fest in the state this past weekend, the 27-year-old Bajan beauty debuted her new song “American Oxygen,” which dives into the pride behind America’s controversial history. After performing the inspirational song, RiRi spoke out on the new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which is a controversial law that the government is in the process of trying to pass.

    Reports say that the Act will make it possible for business owners to turn down service to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender customers if they cite faith as the justification for their refusal. The controversial law has certainly ruffled some feathers, leading Rihanna to share her raw thoughts with the crowd. She said to the audience at the concert while on stage, “Who’s feeling these new bulls–t laws that they’re trying to pass over here? I say f–k that s–t. “We’re just living our mother–king lives, Indiana!”

    Rihanna encouraged the crowd to chant “f–k that s–t” along with her, in hopes that it would be heard by those in attendance who may have power.

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    Erica Campbell, one half of the gospel sister duo Mary Mary, is no stranger to controversy from the religious community. From her original album cover picture of the her dressed in a fitted white dress, Kanye West and then girlfriend Amber Rose cameos in her “God in Me” video, to now her latest single, “I Luh God,” dubbed “trap gospel,” a hybrid of secular, trap music and gospel, Erica’s likely used to the criticism. The 42-year-old, who also stars in WeTV’s Mary Mary reality TV show alongside sister Tina Campbell, stopped by The Tom Joyner Morning Show to address the big fuss over the song:

    “Everyone doesn’t speak properly. Everyone doesn’t live in a well-maintained manicured neighborhood. People live in rough neighborhoods and they speak how they speak. No matter where you are, you have to acknowledge that you’re blessed. Everybody don’t like it. Some people are upset about it, but they’ll be all right. God don’t live in a box. Why should I?”

    The California native also dished on her new church she and husband Warryn founded in North Hollywood:

    “There was literally a line outside the door. The building is small; it seats about 130 people, but there were literally lines outside and around the door. We said if you’ll stay we’ll have another service and the people stayed. We were very, very blessed. It’s different from someone buying a ticket to come. They came to celebrate Jesus and the Resurrection.”

    Check out Erica’s performance of her controversial single. Are you feeling it?

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    Being called two of the Most Influential Teens by TIME Magazine would be a huge honor for any young adult. First Daughters Sasha and Malia Obama were amongst the prominent honored teens, but mom Michelle Obama admitted that she doesn’t know why her girls were given the honor.

    During an interview on Live With Kelly and Michael, who are currently reporting from the White House, the First Lady joked about her daughters’ newfound accolade:

    “They’re not influential; they just live here. They have done nothing to gain any influence.”

    Michelle went on to celebrate her teenagers, calling them “pretty self-motivated” and incredibly responsible.

    “We’ve always had rules… no screen time during the week, no phones. Now that Malia is older she is pretty much independent because I want her to be prepared for college when I’m not there. But they get their stuff done. They handle their business.”

    Although TIME’s list included the First Daughters, the magazine came under fire for adding Kendall Jenner and Kylie Jenner of the Kardashian clan in the mix.


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    If you haven’t already signed up for Jay Z’s TIDAL music streaming service, you just may be missing out on exclusive material, including Beyoncé’s exclusive “Die With You” track released only on TIDAL and Rihanna‘s “American Oxygen” video. Erykah Badu is the latest star to debut exclusive material. The “Call Tyrone” singer debuted a short Black western titled, They Die By Dawn, featuring an all-Black cast of some of Hollywood’s favorite actors on April 4.

    Jeymes “The Bullitts” Samuels directed the film which portrays real-life experiences of African-American cowboys and cowgirls, set in the first Black settlement post-slavery in Langston, Oklahoma, in the 1800s.

    The 50-minute film stars Michael K. Williams, Rosario Dawson, Jesse Williams, Isaiah Washington, Nate Parker, Bokeem Woodbine, and Karry Lennix, alongside Badu.

    Badu, who most recently appeared at the 2015 Black Girls Rock! celebration, has also starred in other films, including Dave Chappelle’s Block Party and as Queen Mousette in 1998’s Blues Brothers 2000, but this is her first leading role.


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    Uptown_westbrook_carOklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook received a Kia Sorrento for winning MVP at the NBA All-Star game in February–something he certainly doesn’t need. So, he decided to give his prize to a young single mother.

    The basketball star surprised 19-year-old Kirsten Gonzalez with the car on Monday. Westbrook said she had been recommended by Sunbeam Family Services. They felt she was deserving because of all the hard work she’s put in to graduate from high school while raising her 2- and 4-year-old sons.

    “She’s in the process of graduating this year and I think when you see somebody working hard towards a goal and finding ways every day to keep everything afloat for her two boys and her family you can’t do nothing but help them out,” Westbrook said.



    Gonzalez went to the Sunbeam offices on Monday thinking that she was there for a meeting. She was stunned when Westbrook tapped her on the shoulder. Her jaw dropped when he shared that she would be receiving the vehicle. Gonzalez says she was so shocked that she thought it was a joke.

    “I have no ways to say thank you or to even show the appreciation but it’s so amazing,” she said.


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    A South Carolina police officer has been arrested and charged with murder after video surfaced of him shooting 50-year-old Walter Scott eight times as he ran away.

    Officer Michael Slager, 33, was booked in the Charleston County Jail on Tuesday afternoon after the State Law Enforcement Division looked into whether the shooting was justified. In a news conference, Mayor Keith Summey said Slager was arrested for his “bad decision.”

    “When you’re wrong, you’re wrong,” Summey said. “When you make a bad decision, don’t care if you’re behind the shield or a citizen on the street, you have to live with that decision.”

    Slager — using both his own and a police department attorney — originally claimed that Scott tried to gain control of his Taser, and he was shot in the ensuing struggle. According to the Post and Courier:

    A statement released by North Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor said a man ran on foot from the traffic stop and an officer deployed his department-issued Taser in an attempt to stop him.
    That did not work, police said, and an altercation ensued as the men struggled over the device. Police allege that during the struggle the man gained control of the Taser and attempted to use it against the officer.

    The officer then resorted to his service weapon and shot him, police alleged.

    However, Slager’s version of events were disproved by a cell phone video of the incident. The footage captures the tail end of Saturday’s confrontation between Scott and Slager. The three-minute video starts off shaky, but shows Scott and Slager in close proximity to each other. Then, Scott turns and runs away. Slager immediately shoots seven rounds before pausing and shooting one last shot that drops Scott to the ground.

    Slager yells, “Put your hands behind your back!” before moving to put handcuffs on Scott’s unmoving body. Another officer arrives at the scene, but neither administer aid to Scott, although the other officer does check for a pulse. He died at the scene.

    Deputy Coroner Brittney Martin has yet to confirm the number of times Scott was shot.

    Scott was reportedly stopped for a broken brake light. However, he was wanted for arrest on a Family Court warrant, according to Maj. Eric Watson. He had a history of unpaid child support that had led to arrests in the past.

    Ed Bryant, the president of the North Charleston chapter of the NAACP, said, “If he was running away, how does that pose the need for deadly force?” Bryant said. “If he’s leaving, they should just pursue him. But shooting him? That’s another story.”

    Slager’s attorney, David Aylor, said on Tuesday that he was no longer representing the officer. “I’m no longer involved in form or fashion,” Aylor said.

    The captured footage is below, but be advised that it is graphic and unedited content.


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    A Georgia woman shot into a crowd in an attempt to break up a fight on Saturday, but wound up shooting and killing her 15-year-old son. Latoya Tilson, 33, shot a .25-caliber handgun several times into a feuding crowd outside of her apartment complex after being hit in the face. One bullet hit a 17-year old boy in the buttocks, but the other struck her son, Pierre Tilson, in the head. The teen was reportedly trying to protect his little sister from the other victim when he was shot.

    “The mother went out there allegedly to break it up.” said Master Sergeant Jeff Hightower on Monday, adding: “During the altercation, someone hit her in the face.”

    When first responders arrived, Pierre was laying unconscious on the ground, not breathing and with the bullet still in his head. His mother was alleged to have fled the scene. Pierre was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital. He remained in intensive care for two days before succumbing to the wound on Monday.

    Stacey Marshall, a witness on the scene, says it was clearly an accident. “It wasn’t on purpose at all. It was a mother trying to protect her kids, it just went wrong.”

    Prior to Pierre’s death, his father, Wayne Jones, said he forgave Tilson for accidentally shooting their son. He also claimed that she was on suicide watch. “She’s very distraught at this point,’ Jones said. “If she’s looking or listening, I forgive you.”

    Pierre and his sister actually lived with their father, but were visiting their mother for the Easter weekend.

    The teen was a freshman at Southwest Dekalb High School and reportedly a good drummer. His band director, James Seda, said he was heartbroken when he heard the news. He drove to the hospital to visit his student and played one of his drum solos for him, hoping it would revive him.

    Tilson was arrested on Saturday night on several charges, including aggravated assault, cruelty to children family violence, reckless conduct and use of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Those charges are expected to be upgraded now that her son has died. The other unnamed victim is believed to have been successfully treated in the hospital.

    The mother waived her first court appearance on Monday, but is expected in court on April 20. The investigation is ongoing.

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    c mili lil wayne
    Singer Christina Milian stopped by L.A. radio station 92.3 and unintentionally dished that she’s in love with 32-year-old rapper Lil Wayne.  Photos of the Milian and Wayne holding hands at the BET awards surfaced a few months back, but neither party admitted to a relationship.

    “He’s the sweetest. I love him. Oh, sh**!,” she exclaimed right after catching her slip of the tongue, but once the cat left the bag, Milian continued to roll with it. “I do. I do love him,” she said.

    The hosts then grilled the “Dip It Low” singer on the suspicious rock on her left hand, but she clarified that wedding bells aren’t ringing just yet. “This is not an engagement ring,” said Milian. “It was just a sweet little gift.”

    The romance between Milian and Lil Wayne is interesting, considering they often deemed serial daters. Wayne, a father of four, has been linked to many women over the course of his career, including a mysterious woman named Dhea Sodano to whom he was recently engaged. Milian was not long ago engaged to music executive Jas Prince and was briefly married to singer/producer The Dream. The two share a daughter named Violet.

    Their romance has come under scrutiny since Milian’s ex-husband, The Dream, has a child with Nivea, one of  Weezy’s exes. Some, including Nivea and Wayne’s ex-wife Toya Wright, have expressed concern that the relationship between Milian and Wayne might confuse the young children of the blended family.

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    uptown unarmed black men shot 2015 bw

    As 2014 came to a tense and weary end, I wrote an article that detailed the tragic deaths of unarmed Black men and women who were killed in officer-involved incidents. Many people told me they couldn’t make it through the entire list because they were so sick and tired of being sick and tired. Whether we were actively conscious of it or not, the events from Ferguson to Cleveland to Long Island (and many other cities in between) had taken a serious toll on our collective souls.

    Many became hyper aware of their Blackness and the system of oppression that blanketed their lives in America. In a country that sidesteps having a serious conversation about race, it seemed as if there was absolutely nowhere to run or hide and that made people exhausted.

    But as we enter 2015, the worst thing those of us who believe Black Lives Matter could do is allow our spiritual fatigue to regress into apathy. Between January 1st and March 31st, almost 300 Americans (of all ethnicities) were killed by the police which is a truly staggering statistic. Of course, not all who got shot were unarmed, innocent victims, as that number includes people who attempted to shoot, stab, or run over police officers. But, there definitely were cases that we, the individual Black community and the overall society focused on improving policing as a whole, should be informed about. Now that the DOJ’s Ferguson report has confirmed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that systemic racism is alive and well in American policing, it’s a must that we remain vigilant in our efforts to expose bad officers and hold them accountable, as is happening in the SC shooting of Walter Scott.

    Please keep in mind that this list represents killings from the just first quarter of 2015.


    Jeremy Lett (28, male, Tallahassee)

    On February 5th, unarmed Jeremy Lett was shot and killed by off-duty TPD officer David Stith, who was responding to a burglary at the Shadow Ridge apartments. When the officer arrived on scene, he spotted a man who he believed matched the description of the suspect and approached him. An altercation then ensued and Lett was shot to death.

    What makes this particular case so troubling is that while Stith has had a long, documented history of disciplinary actions for erratic behavior, which include screaming obscenities in a Girl Scouts office and using excessive force on a suspect, Lett did not have a criminal record at all.


    James Howard Allen (74, male, Gastronia) 

    Days before 74 year old James Howard Allen was shot to death, he was in a hospital bed recovering from open heart surgery. After being sent home, a member of his family called police to his house to do a welfare check,  a standard procedure to ensure that the person in question is doing fine. When police arrived at the Army Veteran’s house, they received no response when they knocked on the door, so they entered the house and claimed they found Allen standing there with a gun trained on them. The officers then shot Allen to death.


    Desmond Luster, Sr. (45, male, Dallas)

    On February 9th, Desmond Luster, Sr. was shot to death by an off-duty police officer after dispatchers mistakenly identified him as a suspect. Luster, whose home had been broken into numerous times, learned that his house had been broken into again. He raced home and chased the suspects he believed to have robbed his place. His mother called the authorities to report the break in and inform them that her son was attempting to apprehend the robbers, but the dispatcher allegedly misunderstood and stated that Luster was the suspect.


    Lavall Hall (25, male, Miami Gardens)

    One week after returning home from a mental hospital where he was getting treated for schizophrenia, Lavall Hall was shot by police after his mother, Catherine Daniels, called police to assist her with restraining her son. Cases like these are becoming far too common, highlighting the need for new protocols to help mentally unstable people get the help they need – not excessive force.


    Calvon Reid (39, male, Coconut Creek)

    “They’re gonna kill me!” are the last words witnesses heard Calvon Reid frantically scream before he died. When Reid appeared inside the Wynmoor Village retirement community bloody and frantic from an earlier incident, residents called the police to get him some help. He was aggressive towards paramedics which prompted the police to intervene to restrain him. They began savagely beating him.  At some point, Reid yelled they were going to kill him. He was then shocked with a 50,000 volt taser up to three times and died.

    The four arresting officers are now under investigation for violating state law by not having proper certification to use Taser guns. Police Chief Michael Mann retired early in light of the incident.

    Charley Leundeu Keunang aka “Africa” (43, male, Los Angeles)

    Charley Keunang, a 43-year old homeless man, was executed by police on March 2nd and it was all captured on video and widely shared on social media. This entire incident was symbolic of how important it is for many police regulations to be reshaped to deal with different people. With that many officers present, did an unarmed homeless man need to be shot to death?

    Naeschylus Vinzant (37, male, Aurora)

    In 2012, a man named James Holmes shot up a theatre showing the new Batman movie, killing 12 and injuring 70 in a brutal execution of innocent civilians. In the same place, 3 years later, Naeschylus Vinzant, a felon on parole who absconded by removing his ankle bracelet, had committed an act of domestic violence. Holmes, the white domestic terrorist with literally a bag of weapons on him, was taken alive. Vinzant, the Black criminal, was shot to death while unarmed.


    Tony Robinson (19, male, Madison)

    When police responded to a call of “disturbance”, many of Tony Robinson’s friends were hoping that they would restrain the unarmed young man who was allegedly high on different drugs. While details are still emerging, what is known is that Robinson was unarmed and that an estimated 18 seconds elapsed between the time the officer appeared on the scene and when the first shots rang out.


    Anthony Hill (27, male, Dekalb County)

    On March 9th, mentally ill Anthony Hill was reported for acting very erratically – knocking on residents’ doors and crawling on the ground naked. Once police responded, Hill allegedly charged the officers and was shot and killed.

    Phillip White (32, male, Vineland)

    As details emerge about the circumstances that lead to White’s arrest, one thing for sure is that the brutality he suffered at the hands of the police lead to his death. Witnesses say that the police severely beat the suspect before pulling the dog out and allowing the canine to further assault him. The police dog continued to maul and bite White’s face while he lay on the ground unconscious – which is not police protocol. The dog should be restrained once the subject was subdued, which White clearly was as the video shows.

    What’s also disturbing is that the officer made an unlawful attempt at stealing the phone with the evidence on it. It’s one thing to brutalize a man, but to cover it up is to double-down on the horrific nature of their actions.

    Unfortunately, at this current pace of police murder, there will be over 1,200 murders by the end of the year. In a civilized society, there is no way we should collectively accept that.


    Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site, he’s an author of the book “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer” and a weekly contributor for UPTOWN Magazine. He can be reached via Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at This Is Your Conscience.

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    <> on November 5, 2014 in New York City.

    Disgraced football star Ray Rice is planning a career comeback after surveillance of him punching his now wife Janay Palmer in an elevator went viral last year. The video, where Rice is seen knocking Palmer out cold and dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator, was so horrifying that the Baltimore Ravens fired him immediately and the NFL Commission suspended him. Rice, who was considered one of the best running backs in football, has been eligible to return to the NFL since December; however, no team has picked him up.

    In a campaign to repair his tarnished image, Rice sat down for an exclusive interview with New York Magazine and revealed that the public has the wrong idea about him. “The hardest part for me is people who don’t know me at all were writing about me or talking about me,” Rice said. “I understand the seriousness of what I did, but I’m like, ‘Man, they just don’t know who I am.’”

    Rice and Palmer were married six weeks after the incident took place. Palmer came under heavy scrutiny, not only for choosing to stay in the relationship, but for defending Rice by accepting part of the blame for the assault. It is unclear whether Rice’s personal controversy or dwindling athletic skills are the reason for his delayed return.

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    A California mother was arrested for allegedly pouring gasoline over her 7-year-old daughter. She miraculously survived the vicious attack.

    Porche Latric Wright, 27, has been charged with attempted murder with premeditation and aggravated mayhem. No word on what prompted the abuse.

    Wright was arrested at her Sacramento home Saturday afternoon after a friend noticed the severe burn marks on Wright’s daughter. The friend called the police before the daughter, whose name has not been released, was rushed to the hospital for treatment.

    Other neighbors noted they frequently witnessed Wright yelling at her daughter.

    Wright is being held without bail, facing life in prison if convicted. This isn’t the first time Wright has been in trouble with the law. She completed a “batterer’s treatment program” as part of a settlement last year for a felony domestic violence charge. She also has previous charges of disorderly conduct and prostitution.

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    Lil Wayne Birdman Beef

    Rapper Lil Wayne hasn’t kept his frustration with longtime label Cash Money a secret. Wayne became so fed up with the delayed release of his anticipated album The Carter V, he took the issue to court, only to later drop the suit. Now, it’s being reported that Wayne is still planning to refile the $51 million lawsuit – only this time it will be in his home base of New Orleans. 

    The release of The Carter V album has been delayed for months now. While the album has been in limbo, Wayne set Twitter on fire by tweeting his anger about the stalled project.

    lil wayne tweet

    The lawsuit Wayne is filing not only asks for unpaid advances he claims he’s owed, but also requests a percentage of profits from both Nicki Minaj and Drake, whom he discovered and signed.

    Wayne’s former partner Birdman currently heads up the label and the two shared a close friendship leading up to the Cash Money rift. Wayne is not the first artist to jump the Cash Money ship. Rapper Tyga also claimed his creativity was being imprisonment by the beauocracy over at the label and that he planned to move forward independently.

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    The U.S. Postal Service unveiled a limited edition ‘Forever’ stamp honoring the late poet Maya Angelou at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. The honorary stamp included a smiling headshot of Angelou, alongside the quote: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

    Those words may recall the title of Angelou’s 1969 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, but children’s book author Joan Walsh Anglund says the quote was originally written by her, not Angelou.

    “Yes, that’s my quote,” Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems “A Cup of Sun,” published in 1967.

    Mark Saunders, postal service spokesman, responded in an e-mail, “Had we known about this issue beforehand, we would have used one of [Angelou’s] many other works. . . . The sentence held great meaning for her and she is publicly identified with its popularity.”

    Although the quote is widely associated with Angelou, who died last May at the age of 86, should the Postal Service change the quote on Angelou’s stamp?

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    After they performed at the Stellar Awards together, the first time since Beyoncé‘s 2013 Super Bowl performance in New Orleans, rumors of a Destiny’s Child reunion tour are heating up.

    Group members Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams and Beyoncé Knowles may be reuniting for a worldwide tour, the first since their last reunion tour in 2005, which grossed $70 million in the U.S. alone. But there’s one problem that may be preventing the pop stars from touring.

    “Although Destiny’s Child is made up of the three ladies, Beyoncé’s father and former manager Mathew Knowles owns one-fourth of the group as well. Anytime they do anything under the name Destiny’s Child, he has involvement in it and money from it,” a source close to the group revealed to Daily Mail Online. None of the members of Destiny’s Child want any involvement with Mathew, who once managed each of their individual careers, as well as the group. To prevent Mathew from profiting off the group’s name, the ladies are said to now go simply by their individual names, as they were introduced at the Stellar Awards.

    The trio wanted to record a 10-year follow-up album and launch a tour, knowing the album and tour could a huge seller and break tour records.

    ‘The problem is they can’t figure out how to nix Mathew from the deal. They all want more than anything to give the fans one last run of the group, especially since they all have their own individual success, but don’t want to deal with Mathew,” the source explained.

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    Suge Knight was back in court this week.  This time, he was wheeled in on a chair that appeared to double as a stretcher.  Both Knight and his lawyer were upset that he was forced into using the wheelchair, with his attorney even saying it was a result of the court trying to make Knight “look like a fool.”

    Knight, who was recently charged with murder, attended a preliminary hearing Wednesday relating to a robbery case that involved him and comedian Katt Williams (co-defendant) allegedly stealing a camera from a female paparazzo.  Knight pleaded not guilty. He initially fired his old lawyer handling the case and said he wanted to represent himself, but the judge prohibited his request, so his lawyer from his murder case, Matthew Fletcher, stood in as Knight’s lawyer.

    Fletcher expressed outrage that Knight was placed in the special chair and explained to reporters that he likened the wheelchair to that of the one in a famous Anthony Hopkins movie.

    “They took him up to the 8th floor, stopped, then strapped him down in the ‘Silence of the Lambs’ chair and then walked him through the hallways in front of the cameras,” Fletcher said after the hearing ended, according to NY Daily News. “(They’re) trying to make him look like a fool, make jokes about him. I’ve never seen anyone else strapped to the safety chair.”

    Even Knight himself spoke up to the judge about his displeasure that he was placed in the wheelchair.

    “I’m being chained to some type of chair and they’re pushing me…I walked perfectly fine from county jail to the bus and from the bus to here,” Knight said to Judge Ronald Coen while in court. “It makes matters worse.”

    The judge assured that the chair was the result of trying to prevent another fall, such as the one Knight took in March when he suddenly collapsed in court, hit his head, and was rushed to a hospital.

    “Apparently you mentioned to the deputy personnel that you were paralyzed on one side. They were concerned that you might fall,” Judge Coen said. “If you can walk, you can walk. It won’t happen again.”

    Knight and Fletcher will be in court next week to resume proceedings in his murder case, in which he pleaded not guilty.  He ran over two men with his truck in January, and one of the men died.  Knight insists that he did not intentionally run over the men, but was only fleeing because he feared for his life, as the men were apparently armed.

    Fletcher says he may bring in a witness to the incident at next week’s hearing.

    “If I have to save (Knight’s) life, I will,” the witness reportedly said.


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    Representing parts of St. Louis County where Michael Brown grew up, Missouri State Rep. Clem Smith (D-85) always found it odd that white cops were driving hours from far-flung places to patrol black neighborhoods.

    “It sort of hit me one day,” Smith tells UPTOWN. “Why are they going through all of this for a $12-an-hour job?”

    It’s a fairly common phenomenon in and around St. Louis. In certain parts of Smith’s district, 95 percent of a community could be African American, yet over half the first responders will be white. The reality has forced a discussion since Michael Brown’s death and the ensuing chaos, with many black elected officials, community activists and residents looking a bit more closely at their local police and fire rescue teams.

    That worries Smith, a keep-it-hundred legislator who’s been pushing hard for real political change since it all hit the fan in Ferguson, Mo. Annoyed that protest organizers have not yet staged a recall election to immediately replace the small black city’s white mayor and nearly all-white city council (something the Show Me State law explicitly offers on a gold platter), Smith wonders out loud if many white St. Louis-area cops are in it for the passion of public safety…or in it because it’s like playing Call of Duty where “you can live out your fantasy.”

    “Remember the look in some of those guys’ faces when they were confronting protesters?” asks Smith describing those sticky, violent August summer days last year along Ferguson’s West Florrisant Avenue. “A lot of us do. A lot of these cops had a wild look in their eyes like they were really amped up. Like ‘wow—this tear gas and these military grade weapons have been on the shelf gathering dust for years. And now, finally, we get to use them!’”

    eric garner held down

    The racial demographics of public safety personnel in places like Ferguson pose complex and compelling questions about much more than just police brutality and excessive use of force. It’s a paradoxical cause-and-effect dilemma between the need for police departments to staff up and an ideal world where they hire people who look like the communities they protect.

    Of course, Ferguson revealed that while the field of law enforcement has talked itself up as a universally proud purveyor of “community policing,” that’s not really the case in many situations. Like the St. Louis suburb, there are black communities across the nation patrolled almost exclusively by white cops. In Ferguson, the city is about 70 percent black—but, the police force is over 90 percent white. In Cleveland, where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed in a playground by police who stupidly mistook his toy gun as the real thing, the city has a black mayor and a black population that’s nearly 54 percent—yet, the police force’s racial ratios are all out of whack to that: only 25 percent black, and 65 percent white.

    But what’s much more striking is how the nation’s political map appears to inform that to a large degree. White cops patrolling black neighborhoods in places like New York City, Los Angeles, Cleveland and elsewhere make daily commutes from very white places. Hence, it contributes to a disastrous recipe where white police officers are rather detached from black communities and view them within the prism of routinely hostile interactions.

    “The biggest problem is that white officers don’t understand the black experience,” argues retired Oakland, Calif. police officer Horatious Petty who is now a board member of the National Black Police Association.

    Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams agrees. “Here in New York, we’re made up of five boroughs,” Adams, himself a former black NYPD officer explains.

    “And I’m concerned that too many of our officers who patrol those boroughs don’t live in them. Instead they commute from Long Island or other counties. They should live where they patrol.”

    In the New York state legislature, lawmakers such as current U.S. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), pushed aggressively for that. “Residency requirements incentivize officers to protect the communities they police,” Jeffries tells UPTOWN. “One of the great tragedies of the police officers who died in Brooklyn is that they were living and raising families in Brooklyn. These are the type of officers we want.”

    Exacerbating that problem is the fact that many of the white officers are commuting from congressional districts and communities that, for the most part, look entirely like them, limiting the degree of positive interface with African Americans.

    “I believe in the fundamental that a city is better off when a police force lives in that city,” says former New Orleans Mayor and current National Urban League President Marc Morial tells UPTOWN. As mayor, Morial pushed for what he called ‘domicile ordinances’ or residency requirements for police and fire employees.

    “As a matter of course, domicile ordinances are generally a good thing. You keep payroll in that city, tax revenue in that city.”


    As a new year brought in a fresh 114th Congress, observers see an increasingly polarized political landscape shaped by huge pockets of red and shrinking blue as Republicans have dramatically expanded their numbers in the House of Representatives and retaken the majority in the Senate. Closer examination will find seas of very white Republican Congressional districts surrounding heavy concentrations of African Americans in urban cores or, now, situated in suburban rings as city gentrification rapidly displaces people of color.

    Since Trayvon Martin’s fateful encounter with zealous gun-toting neighborhood watch guy George Zimmerman, it’s these same Republican districts or communities where either unarmed black men have been gunned down or the white men who’ve killed them—mostly police officers—hail from. And the states where these tragedies occur just so happen to have majority white Republican or conservative elected officials dominating the political institutions that run them.

    There have been six widely publicized killings of unarmed black men over the past two years: Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner. Four of those killings—Martin, Davis, Crawford and Garner—happened in Republican-held Congressional districts with majority white populations.

    Five of those killings—Martin and Davis in Florida; Crawford and Rice in Ohio; and Brown in Missouri—happened in states with GOP majorities in state legislatures. Four—Martin, Davis, Crawford and Rice—happened in states with Republican governors. The two killings that occurred in districts represented by black members of Congress—Brown and Rice—were committed by white males living in Republican and largely white districts. Take Trayvon Martin. Killed in a gated Sanford, Fla. community in 2012, Martin was staying with his father at the time, who lived in the majority white 7th Congressional district represented by Rep. John Mica (RFL). Up until Florida state Republicans captured huge majorities in the state’s legislatures—capturing the power to redraw the political map to their favor—the district was long held by Democrats. Jordan Davis also lived in Florida and was shot by a white man who happened to be armed that night during a deadly encounter at a Jacksonville, Fla. gas station. That was in Rep. Ander Crenshaw’s (R-FL) 4th Congressional district—but, interestingly enough, Davis’s killer was from Brevard County in Florida’s 8th Congressional district represented by Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL). John Crawford, shot and killed by white police officers at a Beavercreek, Ohio Walmart, was in Rep. Michael Turner’s (R-OH) 10th Congressional district at the time. Michael Brown was shot and killed in majority black Ferguson, Mo. in black Rep. Lacy Clay’s (D-MO) 1st Congressional district. But the city is controlled by leftover post-white flight politicians in a district that is 45 percent white (just a GOP redistricting panel away from being turned into a majority-white pick-up for Republicans).

    Officer Darren Wilson, the cop who shot Brown, was commuting every single day to Ferguson from the 94-percent white Crestwood, Mo. – a place where the black population is just 1.6 percent. It’s also represented by conservative Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) in Missouri’s 2nd Congressional district. Tamir Rice, 12 years old, was tragically shot in Cleveland, Ohio in then Congressional Black Caucus chair Rep. Marcia Fudge’s (D-OH) 11th Congressional district. But, the troubled white police officer who killed him hailed from nearby Independence, Ohio where the population is 0.4 percent black. That’s also in Rep. David Joyce’s(R-OH) 14th Congressional district. And there was Eric Garner who died in a chokehold in Staten Island – a 70 percent white community that is also New York City’s lone Republican district and is widely-known as a residential destination for first responders. That district was represented by controversial Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), who had already announced he was resigning his seat after pleading guilty to federal tax evasion charges by the filing of this story.

    Again, 50-year old Walter Scott joins the growing list of unarmed black men shot by trigger-happy white police. This time, it’s in South Carolina. And as striking as the various tragic technical similarities to other shootings are the political ones: it’s another grisly shooting (this time fully caught on tape) of racial dimensions in a Republican district.  North Charleston is the third largest city in the state of South Carolina, but it’s also among the larger cities in former disgraced Governor and now Rep. Mark Sanford’s (R-SC) district.  Before, it was Rep. Tim Scott’s (R-SC) district until he became the first black Senator elected to a Southern state since Reconstruction.  While all signs show the 48% black town won’t explode into another Ferguson, the political landscape may be, once again, indicative of a larger issue in American political polarization that is exacerbating the nation’s race problem.

    While the correlation is not as blatant, the pattern is worrisome enough to consider how the divisive state of modern American politics has created a de facto state of racial segregation whereby the complexion of communities is determined by political affiliation, representation and ideological leaning.

    Redistricting plays a large role in that. A generations-old political game in which both political parties on the state level bitterly negotiate the shape, size and demographic composition of legislative and Congressional districts, redistricting is as complicated and obscure as it is antiquated.  Yet, it is arguably the most consequential element of a political Game of Thrones, playing a large role in expanding the GOP’s majority in the House from 234 in the last Congress to 247 currently.

    “There is no doubt that the last round of redistricting showed us that political polarization and packing or fracking and Balkanization of black and white votes is taking us down a bad path,” argues Morial.

    “I’ve always had a concern about turning this process over to these Blue Ribbon redistricting commissions because they can be as polarized as possible.”

    Still, some legal experts disagree there’s a relationship between redistricting and racial animus.

    “I’m quite skeptical that the two are connected,” Loyola Law School, Los Angeles professor Justin Levitt tells UPTOWN. “I’m skeptical that there’s a connection between them that’s as tidy as noting that the killings happened in majority-white congressional districts.

    “It may well be that police are not residents of the communities they police, and that’s a very real problem. But Congressional gerrymandering doesn’t have much to do with that—members of Congress have vanishingly little responsibility for local law enforcement. County or municipal government is going to drive police practices (including recruiting, hiring, and assignment policy).”

    UC Irvine’s Rick Hasen, a redistricting expert, agrees. “On the other hand, I do think that there is a real connection between low voter turnout in communities like Ferguson and the role of the police,” Hasen adds.

    “With increased voting in local elections, residents can have more input into the political process generally and about the role of the police in the community in particular.”

    Congressman Jeffries is cautious, as well, on the question. “The polarization that emanates from gerrymandered districts in America should be confronted,” adds the Congressman. “But there are many different factors that contribute to the racial tensions that exist, including the legacy of Jim Crow and segregation that we’ve been forced to overcome.”

    Several members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat (including those representing districts where unarmed black men were shot), were contacted by UPTOWN for their views on this question. With the exception of Jeffries, all declined.

    “That’s a very, very thorny and tricky question few want to be on record talking about,” says one former senior Congressional aide talking on condition of anonymity. “In a big way, redistricting ensures their political survival.”

    But the Urban Institute’s John Roman observes that “you get very homogenous districts—that’s the point, that’s what they are trying  to achieve.”  “So you get neighborhoods that are entirely black, neighborhoods that are entirely white because voting patterns reflect racial composition  so closely.”

    Both parties use it to maximum effect when they can. Neither is innocent. In Democratic-controlled Maryland, for example, observers point to some of the most ridiculously-designed Congressional districts in the country. But since the early ’90s, Republicans have been particularly skillful at accumulating power at the state level as a way to craft power for the federal level. Many longtime political observers attribute consistent Republican control of the House since 1994 to that process. More power in state houses means more leverage to create GOP districts. More GOP districts typically means more like-minded white residents packed into the same community and sharing the same political ideologies, miles away from any constructive or meaningful cultural interaction with people of color. As Republican strategists creatively engineer lasting majorities, they may be underestimating or completely ignoring the impact it has on race relations. Given the very competitive dynamics of politics and the urge to win at all costs, missing those finer social or cultural details is, to a degree, understandable. But the active isolation of groups from one another through what amounts to political landscaping can take an ugly turn for the worse when dealing with public safety.

    “It’s a lot less simple than just where people live,” Jason Johnson, a political scientist at Hiram College, tells UPTOWN. Johnson explains that today’s Cleveland, Pittsburgh and St. Louis are the result of second wave “massive resistance” that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s.

    “First you just had oversegregation. But once you had the conservative white populations starting to realize that these municipalities were gaining sizeable black populations and becoming a major political force, then there were specifically targeted efforts to make mayors, police, fire and medical services less black and under greater control of white patronage.”

    “Redistricting and racial animus are absolutely connected, especially when considering the level of ideological purity in these districts,” says former NAACP president Ben Jealous, now a partner at Kapor Capital. “It encourages a type of politician that’s not interested in the common good, but is engaged in political narcissism. If you’re a Republican or Democrat in a politically and culturally heterogeneous district, you go the extra mile to understand and be sensitive to those diverse interests. We have to encourage that.”

    Jealous, who once oversaw national voting registration and advocacy efforts for the nation’s largest civil rights organization, describes Congressional districts that are typically gerrymandered or clustered according to race. He believes these communities are oftentimes more segregated than they’ve been before, especially in the Rust Belt states, pointing out how the death of Crawford happened a short distance away from House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) doorstep.

    “We have this resegregation of our communities followed by the re-polarization of our politics and policies. That leads to a stagnation of the process towards achieving equal protection under the law.”

    Does that mean we need to just abolish redistricting? “I don’t think we need to abolish redistricting, because if you have a district full of farmers, you need a farmer who understands farmers,” says Johnson. “But, I don’t think redistricting should be controlled by a political process or majority in the state legislature. It needs to be done in a different way.”

    “The redistricting process in states has been the most undemocratic thing that’s happened in the United States,” counters Roman. “It’s polarizing. It leads to a lot of the events that we’re talking about. You don’t see this kind of racial segregation in other countries with diverse populations and you don’t see these shootings happening on this scale.”

    CHARLES D. ELLISON is a veteran political strategist and Chief Political Correspondent for UPTOWN Magazine. He is also Washington Correspondent for The Philadelphia Tribune and a frequent politics contributor to The Root. He can be reached @ellisonreport.


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