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    By Dr. Crystal Moore

    As old man winter has retreated, many of our thoughts wander to warmer weather, outdoor activities, and getting our bodies summer-ready. While focusing on our outer-physique is certainly important, let’s take a moment to make sure we are looking as good on the inside and outside.

    March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

    Colorectal cancer is found in either the colon or the rectum. Affecting both men and women, it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. As a pathologist and member of the College of American Pathologists, I diagnose this condition almost daily. Nationwide, my colleagues and I will diagnose more than 140,000 cases of colorectal cancer this year, and more than 50,000 people will die each year from this condition.

    African Americans have the shortest survival times and highest rate of death from colorectal cancer than any other racial and ethnic group. As a result of this fact, the American College of Gastroenterology recommends that routine screening begin in the African-American population at age 45 rather than 50, as suggested for the majority population.

    The good news is that colorectal cancer is highly-preventable, highly-treatable, and highly-beatable.

    These are four ways you can “be in the know” when it comes to colorectal cancer.

    KNOW YOUR SCREENING OPTIONS: Several screening methods, which will be sent to a pathologist like me for analysis, are available for colorectal cancer. Talk with your health care provider about which of the following may be best for you.

    • Have a Fecal Occult Blood Test every year to test for blood in the stool.
    • Have a virtual colonoscopy every 5 years, if no abnormal results are identified.
    • Have a stool DNA test (FIT) every 1 to 3 years.
    • Have a sigmoidoscopy (a procedure where a physician examines the part of the colon closest to the rectum using a medical instrument) every 5 years.
    • Have a colonoscopy every 10 years, if no abnormal results are identified.

    KNOW POSSIBLE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF COLORECTAL CANCER: Although a patient may not experience signs of colorectal cancer until it is advanced in stage, everyone should be aware of several noticeable symptoms. Be sure to see your health care provider if you ever experience them.

    • Changes in your bowel habits such as diarrhea, constipation or narrow stool
    • Blood in the stool, either dark or bright red
    • Weakness and fatigue
    • Unexplained and/or unintentional weight loss
    • Abdominal pain, cramping, or feeling as if you have not fully eliminated after a bowel movement

    KNOW YOUR NON-PREVENTABLE RISK FACTORS: Certain non-preventable risk factors increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Know your health status and your family history, and be sure to consult with your health care provider for additional information if you have any of the following situations:

    • Increased age (most colorectal cancers are diagnosed in people over 50)
    • Personal history of colon polyps or colorectal cancer
    • Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis
    • A family history of colorectal adenomatous polyps or cancer
    • Inherited genetic syndromes such as Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis

    KNOW YOUR PREVENTABLE RISK FACTORS: There are routine proactive steps that we should all engage in to maximize our health. The following activities are good, not only to decrease our risk of colorectal cancer, but also for our overall health status.

    • Maintain a healthy weight particularly by avoiding weight gain around the midsection
    • Engage in moderate physical activity
    • Eat a healthy, low fat diet rich in lean meats and fresh fruits and vegetables
    • Don’t smoke
    • Limit alcohol consumption

    Controlling preventable risk factors for colorectal cancer will work in tandem with your efforts to get beach-season ready! As you continue to prepare your physique for the quickly-approaching warm weather, remember to tend to your inner body as well. Let’s get your rear in gear. With proactive awareness, screening, and early intervention, colorectal health and cancer prevention is an attainable goal.

    Dr. Crystal Moore is a member of the College of American Pathologists. Follow Crystal Moore, MD, PhD, FCAP at or on Twitter (@DrCrystalAMoore) for more health information and to receive a Prescription For Life (#RxForLife).

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    [Image: Bravo]

    If you thought Charrisse Jackson Jordan was a bougie, stuck up socialite after watching season one of The Real Housewives of Potomac, she wants you to think again.

    The mother of teenagers Jackson, 18 and Skylar, 16, should be cut some slack because she says the person we saw during season one wasn’t truly her. Jackson Jordan was separating from her estranged husband Eddie Jordan and worrying about how it would affect her children. That’s a lot for anyone to deal with, but add in the fact that three of her siblings had passed away before taping and the dissolution of her marriage was playing out in front of a national audience, and it’s understandable why Jackson Jordan seemed sad and defensive at times on #RHOP.

    Now, however, Jackson Jordan is finding her happy with the help of her alter-ego “Cha Cha” and a few tasteful décolletage-baring dresses.

    But that doesn’t mean her life is without drama. Hey, this is reality TV after all. She and fellow cast member Gizelle Bryant are on the outs. Their conflict is where season two begins this Sunday, April 2nd, at 9 p.m. Without giving too much away, Bryant accused Jackson Jordan of calling her a “whore” during the season one reunion, and retaliated by spreading a rumor about Jackson Jordan on Watch What Happens Live during the off-season.

    RELATED: #RHOP’s Gizelle Bryant: ‘If You Said It, You Gotta Own It’

    Despite all this, Jackson Jordan is focused on regaining the aspects of her personality that she lost during her marriage and her path to happiness. We caught up with her to discuss the new season of Potomac, the advice she has for other women going through divorce, whether her relationship with Bryant is reparable, which Housewife she’s actually friends with, and more.

    UPTOWN: What’s new in your life?
    Charrisse Jackson Jordan: Oh, OK. What’s new? I guess the new part is that I’ve come to terms with my relationship. I’m embracing Charrisse and trying to find what makes Charrisse happy. You know, I’m still dealing with my kids and all that good stuff.

    U: It seems you have a new swing in your step, despite going through a divorce. What brought that on?
    CJJ: Well, here’s the thing: Last season, during taping, the whole mindset of divorce was just happening, so I was just in a different space and not really sure what was going to happen. Trying to hold onto my marriage. It was also a scared space because I’m going through this and now I have cameras in my life too. It was a little complex with how to deal with all of it all at one time.

    U: Was it even more difficult being under the public eye at the same time?
    CJJ: Absolutely. First of all, to just go through divorce and not be in the public eye is difficult enough, and to have to have these issues go on in your life and you’re on camera at the same time, it was just bananas.

    U: Not everyone is on a reality show, but do you have any advice for women who are going through the early stages of separation/divorce?
    CJJ: The interesting thing is because I’ve done the show, I’ve been able to see certain things in myself that were lost, and so for women who are going through this, my suggestion would be: To find who you are and what makes you happy. Oftentimes as women, we tend to give up so much of ourselves for our family, for our children, for so many other things that we tend to lose sight of ourselves sometimes. So looking at season one, I just saw that I kind of lost myself. I saw a sad person. And you know, I was just like I have to get my happy back. I have to get to that place where I once was. Now, women come up to me all the time because I’ve been on national television going through it, and they’ll ask me questions and one thing I always constantly have to say is “find your happy.” You gotta love yourself first.

    U: Does your alter-ego “ChaCha” help you find your happy? When do you bring her out?
    CJJ: (laughs) ChaCha is fun! I love her! She’s a little crazy but it helps. Let me just tell you, ChaCha is a name that people started calling me that in college. And when I was ChaCha I was young, I was fun, no responsibilities, none of life’s challenges did I have to worry about. The only thing I had to worry about was good grades and that was it. So now, I’m revisiting ChaCha coming back. You know, let’s have fun again. Let’s embrace life. So yeah, ChaCha helps out a lot.

    U: I’ve noticed in your confessionals, you’ve gone sexier with your dress. What’s spurred that change?
    CJJ: (laughs) You know, it’s funny, I thought my dressing had been consistent … Well, I don’t know. I guess now, I don’t have a husband. (laughs) I don’t have to worry about what I wear. I just wear what I feel good in, you know.
    U: Well, it hasn’t been a bad change. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just a little something I’ve noticed. It’s been interesting to see a little bit of the progression. I wouldn’t say you’ve done a complete 180, but it definitely looks like you’re having fun and you’re getting out there more.

    Instagram Photo

    U: So the first episode, you and Gizelle Bryant are dealing with turmoil in your friendship. What’s the status of your friendship now?
    CJJ: Um … First of all, you do know I haven’t seen the first episode?
    U: No, I wasn’t aware. I thought you guys had seen it.
    CJJ: (laughs) No, not yet. I haven’t seen it. Um, Gizelle and I have a very, I would say, complicated [friendship]. What she did was something in my world that is unforgivable. But we have to work together, so it’s like trying to find some sort of balance to be able to work with somebody. But at the end of the day, is she one of my favorite people? No, far from it.
    U: Gotcha. You all are keeping things as cordial as possible when you can?
    CJJ: Yeah. It’s hard, it’s really hard because when it comes to Gizelle, prior to doing this, we weren’t like besties or anything like that. We were social more than anything. And when you get on a reality show, I think different sides come out of people, and sometimes you have weak and trying to be relevant, and they’ll do anything to be relevant. So you just accept that for what it is and stay focused on your own path, and that’s just where I am with it.

    U: Who would you say you’re the closest with out of your cast members?
    CJJ: Well, I have the longest friendship with Robyn [Dixon]. Robyn and I are actually good friends. We’ve been friends for — I don’t know — 10 years, something like that. I really like Robyn. She’s a very genuine person. I like genuine people. We have a new girl on the team now, Monique [Samuels]. Monique and I are very close. She’s like my younger sister. I won’t say “little sister” because she’s a lot taller than me, so I’m actually beginning to call her my younger sister. She’s from Jersey like me. What you see is what you get, and I like that. I like people who are just genuine, down-to-Earth people.


    [Image: Bravo]

    U: Without revealing too much, is there anything in season two that you’re excited for the audience to learn about you, specifically, and your story?
    CJJ: I just think that last season, people kind of got a bad representation of my personality, and I hope they can see the fun side of Charrisse. I’m not that person. People thought I was this bougie woman or whatever. I’m sure they won’t see that this season because that’s far from who I am. I think more of my real character is displayed this season, as opposed to last.

    U: Do you think you’re just more comfortable this time around? Where do you think the disconnect happened?
    CJJ: Oh well, I think the disconnect happened with the fact that I was going through this turmoil in my relationship and having to deal with the cameras at the same time, and being mother and “How is this going to affect my kids?” You’re constantly thinking of all these things. I was just not in a good space. It really wasn’t a good space. And one thing about when you do these shows, you can’t get the entire picture of everyone’s life. And prior to doing the show, I had three deaths in my family. I lost three siblings within a few years, so I was going through that and then the divorce a year later. So I was just mentally not there last season, to be quite honest with you.
    U: That’s understandable and kind of puts everything into perspective that we saw and what you went through.

    U: I know you all are really sold on living in Potomac, but I’ve always wondered what other city could you see yourself living in.
    CJJ: Oh, I could see myself living in Calabasas (laughs) in California.
    U: Is it the weather?
    CJJ: The weather. It’s just I’m not an LA fan per se, but Calabasas is like its own little world. I have some friends that live over there, so whenever I go I’m like, “I wanna live here!.” Actually, there have only been two places where I’ve had that feeling. When I visited Potomac. I wanted to live here, and eventually I made it here. I thought I would retire here when I was an older person. And then Calabasas. Those are the only two places that I actually really, really wanted to live in.

    U: Do you have any last words for the readers and your fans? Or anything we should look out for this season?
    CJJ: I think they’re really going to enjoy season two. Everybody on our cast has put forth a great effort to give the viewers something to look forward to every time. I know they’ll like it much better than season one.

    Follow Charrisse Jackson Jordan on Twitter and Instagram. The ladies of The Real Housewives of Potomac return to Bravo this Sunday, April 2nd, at 9 p.m.

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    Afeni Shakur‘s estate has filed a lawsuit to prevent Black Heritage Auction from selling Tupac Shakur‘s belongings, including a nose stud, handwritten lyrics, and an autographed Koran.

    The Brooklyn auction house has planned the auction for the same day the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will induct the late rap legend.

    Afeni’s estate claims Black Heritage Auction obtained the items through a third party who didn’t have ownership rights, which would make the auction illegal.

    A representative for Black Heritage Auction says the auction house received the items legally and didn’t have to reach out to Afeni’s estate as a result.

    The company has set the starting bid for the 39 items at $480,000, but hopes to fetch millions.

    The items include:

    • “All Eyez On Me” tracklist: $30,000
    • “All Eyez On Me Book II” CD master: $20,000
    • Nose stud from the cover of “All Eyez On Me”: $7,500
    • New York Prisoner Identification Card: $10,000
    • Personal signed Koran: $30,000
    • Gold and diamond medallion: $38,000
    • Famous Dolce & Gabbana wool jacket: $7,500
    • Lyrics for “Wonda Why They Call U Bitch”: $15,000

    Afeni passed away on May 2, 2016 from a heart attack. Her estate is currently suing another auction house, Moments in Time, for selling Tupac’s passport, driver’s license, and other belongings, that the estate says were also obtained illegally through a third party.

    [Images: Black Heritage Auction]


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    Wiley Day, of Huntsville, Ala., learned the hard way that keeping his phone in his bed while it’s charging via an extension cord isn’t a safe idea.

    Day fell asleep the night of March 22nd with his iPhone charging beside him, as he often does. The phone was attached to an extension cord. He rolled over the next morning, unaware that the phone and cord were detached. The dog tag necklace he was wearing became caught on the prongs from the extension cord. The electricity sent a jolt through Day’s body.

    The electricity went straight to Day’s neck. He told The Washington Post the feeling was “the eeriest, darkest, most demonic thing you could ever experience. I don’t have enough adjectives to describe it.”

    He says he was thrown from his bed and his body immediately went numb. he felt a lot of pressure around his neck, his eyesight faded, his vision turned to black and white, and he became intensely aware of his heartbeat that was thundering in his ear. Day managed to remove his necklace.

    When his adult niece entered the room, after hearing his cries for help, she noticed the extension cord emitting smoke. They took that as a sign that Day had been electrocuted.

    Day went to his doctor, who admitted him to the hospital immediately. He suffered second- and third-degree burns to his hands and neck. The hospital released Day after three days of treatment.

    A Huntsville physician estimated that Day was hit with 110 volts. He said 100 volts can kill a person.

    [Image: Wiley Day via The Washington Post]



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    By Daria Fennell

    “Halfcrazy.” “SoBeautiful.” “Love.” Musiq Soulchild has been turning out consistent hits for over a decade. Recently, he just completed the exciting “Nu Soul Revival” tour that featured Kindred the Family Soul, Avery Sunshine, and Lyfe Jennings. Go ahead and light some Black love incense as Musiq shares his thoughts on his extensive music career, the advice he would give to new music artists, and the ways he’s taking his artistry to the next level.

    UPTOWN: You’ve been incredible and consistent musically since you started. I just want to give you mad props for that.
    Musiq Soulchild: Thank you very much.

    U: No worries. No worries. Congratulations on your twelfth Grammy nomination. It is very well deserved. And I also know that your “Nu Soul Revival” tour with Kindred the Family Soul, Lyfe Jennings, and Avery Sunshine is beginning to wind down. What has been one of your most exciting experiences on this tour? And what are two of your favorite cities on this tour and why?
    MS: Just being on the tour is exciting, to be able to share the space with really cool people, really awesome artists. Two cities that were really cool were Philly and D.C.

    U: I’m from D.C. originally, so thank you. But why do you like those two cities?
    MS: When I came out there, they showed a whole lot of love. And the type of music that soul music is, it really helps when people give us their energy. It kind of contributes to the overall vibe of the show. That’s always cool.

    U: Very nice. Willie Hyn (pronounced Hen), an artist on your new Soul Star Music Company, is on tour with you. What did you see in Willie that made you want to sign him to your new record label? And how did your record label come about?
    MS: We’re still working it out, making it official. He’s a very diverse artist. Most people that hear him or see him, the first thing that they get is the rapper. He’s more than the rapper. Rapping is his first focus, so to speak. There’s a whole lot more to him. He’s an all-around artist and it’s very inspiring being around people like him. They are always motivating you creatively to be a better artist, because you see somebody else trying to express themselves with their artistry — their gift of being creative. He definitely got bars. There’s more to him than just rapping.

    U: How did you actually meet him and connect?
    MS: Through my musical director, Jonathan Troy, aka “J Troy.” He’s also somebody that I collaborate with a lot. I was working on a project for TheHusel and I needed a rapper. And he just called him up and it just fell in place. When I met him, we just connected on the creative level. On the regular level, he’s a cool dude to be around, doesn’t have a whole bunch of crap going on. It made sense. He’s very easy to work with. Not every artist is compatible with every artist, unfortunately, for whatever reason. With him, it was too easy.


    U: I was under the impression that your record label was done, locked, and loaded.
    MS: I think people get that vibe because that’s kind of how we’re rolling with it.
    U: Yeah, how professional you are.
    MS: Yeah, that’s the goal anyway, you know what I’m saying. And that’s a representation of the type of relationship that we have. If I have something that’s going on, like “Bro, let me go ahead and throw you the ball.” You just take it. [J Troy’s] like brother. I’m rolling. He just rolls with it. He gets my intentions. He gets the concept of making progress. He’s not holding back like “OK, but what the bread like? What the paperwork like?” Like “Dude, let’s just try to figure it out first.” And then we can see what can be done. He has a very professional mindset. So that’s probably why a lot of people get this vibe. That’s definitely what it’s going to be anyway. I just want to make it clear for the record.

    U: I am really enjoying “Simple Things,” the new single off your forthcoming album. That joint cranks. What will be the vibe and direction of your new album and how is your approach different creatively from Aijuswanaseing, your debut album?
    MS: Everything is different from Aijuswanaseing. On Aijuswanaseing, I really wasn’t working on an album. I just literally wanted to sing some songs. I wanted to hear myself and play them for people and see what they thought. Now, I am doing things to stay in the game of inspiring people through music. It’s just so much to do and I’m trying to find a way where I can do it all, or at least do more than I’ve done before. And let people know how much there is out there to do versus people just continuously expecting you to do the same thing over and over again. I totally understand the concept of staying in the lanes of what people like from you, and have been exposed to, because you don’t want to push people away and have them not recognize what you’re doing anymore. So I’m definitely going to keep that in mind. However, I feel like it’s kind of impossible to expect an artist to not grow.
    U: You’re constantly evolving.
    MS: Just like anybody else, doing anything else. But unfortunately, in our community of music so many people want you to stay put. I’m kind of working on how to find that space where people who love me can get what they need out of the new project. And people who’ve never even heard of a Musiq Soulchild can be introduced to where I am now in a way where it’s relevant in their lives today. We’re going to be putting out a lot of music. Every song is going be different from each other. And I feel like it’s important because it always gives you something to look forward to so you’re not listening to an album full of songs that sound exactly the same. I feel like that would be kind of cheating people.

    U: Who are some of the current artists that you are listening to and why do you dig them?
    MS: I don’t listen to a lot of stuff when I’m recording. I kind of want to stay out of people’s way. As an artist, sometimes we unconsciously incorporate what other people are doing into what you’re doing. You’re in that space of being inspired. In the past, I’ve had people really come up to me like hey man, heard you did on your project what I did on mine. I’m like dude, I wasn’t really trying to copy you. I kind of put myself in somewhat of a vacuum, not that I really care. Just out of respect that people don’t feel like I’m taking their style. We’re all inspired in the same way. Nobody is doing anything for the first time at all. Like me, for instance, if somebody was doing something that you can see they probably got from me, or heard me do something and they thought it was cool and they want to do it, I wouldn’t feel that way but that’s just me. At the end of the day, if you’re doing something that someone else is doing, that’s publishing. We got to talk about money. It’s really not that deep. There have been a few people that I dig like Willie Hyn which is why I’m working so closely with him. There’s this other artist. Her name is Rae Louise. She’s really dope, I like listening to her a lot. I actually had an opportunity to meet her and will hopefully work with her really soon. I like to creatively stay out of people’s business. You can’t get away from what plays and what you hear on the radio and social media. I don’t actively look for anything when I’m creating and putting together a project. That way I not only stay out of people’s way but also keep whatever it is that I’m doing as authentic as possible.

    U: What suggestions would you give newer artists so that they can have the longevity that you’ve been blessed with?
    MS: I guess I would tell them to do their best to be their best. And not work so hard to try to be like someone else. I think that’s what helped me. When you’re chasing a trend and chasing something that somebody else did and made popping, you’re kind of limited to that success of the thing you’re chasing versus you doing you. And no one will ever be able to do you better than you. So at any point in time, just focus on investing and being a better you, artistically and creatively. It’s doesn’t matter what’s going on because if it’s good, people will dig it.

    U: Musiq, I really enjoyed this. What special message do you have for your fans who are our UPTOWN readers?
    MS: Thank You for your support!

    Don’t forget to download Musiq Soulchild’s sweet single, “Simple Things,” off his forthcoming album to be released later this year. Follow Musiq Soulchild on: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

    [Images: eOne Music]

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    By Joy Ohayia, PhD

    Think about your definition of success. How do you strive for certain goals? When you wake up everyday with a “can-do” attitude, you are more likely to be successful in everything you attempt. The fact of living a purposeful life is that anyone can be a success. This has nothing to do with the amount of money you make, your wardrobe, or even those around you. Success is truly a state of mind. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve greatness.

    When you have a positive mindset, it’s going to allow you to essentially “reach for the stars” in anything you attempt. Know your worth, your contribution will never be overlooked, when you cherish yourself.

    Close your eyes, think of yourself as a success, and picture yourself succeeding and achieving your goals! SOAR!

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    New Jersey teenager Ifeoma White-Thorpe has a tough decision ahead of her after receiving acceptance letters from all eight Ivy League schools.

    Harvard, Yale, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Princeton accepted the Morris Hills High School senior. She also applied to Stanford and was accepted.

    “I was shaking, I was like, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, like this might be eight out of eight and I clicked it and it said ‘Congratulations’ and I was like oh my goodness and then I was like, what did I say?” White-Thorpe said to ABC7.

    She said she chose the schools because she’d like to study biology, and eventually work in global health, and all the schools have excellent research facilities.

    White-Thorpe also won the National Liberty Museum: Selma Speech & Essay Contest in 2015 when she was a sophomore. She’s student government president and aces her AP classes.

    So how is White-Thorpe going to decide which university to attend after she graduates in June?

    Her parents, Andre and Patricia White-Thorpe, are leaving the decision to their daughter.

    However, she said, “At this point none of the schools I’ve applied to said they give merit scholarships, so I’m praying that they give me some more financial aid or some money. Shout out to all of those schools, please give me something.”

    [Image: ABC7]

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    Rolls-Royce takes Winter Park.

    A Rolls-Royce invitation to Orlando is certainly not one to pass up, but I almost didn’t make it. A flight mishap (don’t ask) placed me in the Florida city an hour later, but Rolls-Royce refused to leave me out of the drive, which began upon everyone else’s arrival. Our co-host Elizabeth met me and helped escort me outside the airport, where a beautiful Ghost in jubilee silver awaited. While I am fortunate that two friends have owned a Rolls in the past, making me no stranger to the Rolls-Royce experience, the Ghost, with its $400,00-plus price tag, was still a little intimidating.


    Rolls-Royce Ghost in Silver Jubilee at the airport.

    If you are unfamiliar with the Ghost, it was officially unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2009 and became available in the U.S. in 2010. Drive or be driven was the option, and I opted to be driven first. Of course, I could have been chauffeured but I chose to ride shotgun.

    Being a passenger allowed me to take in the extreme detailing of the Rolls-Royce interior. Every inch is expertly crafted. Is there more incredible stitching in any car? The ceiling even had hand-painted stars. That roof-missing life 2 Chainz raps about is indeed nice, but so is gazing up at your very own stars. And the leather seats could certainly put any insomniac to sleep.

    I was wide awake, however. All that riding got me hungry for driving and, just before lunch, I took the wheel, driving mostly in an area known as Montverde. I actually felt very comfortable and was amazed and how navigable the Ghost was. If the streets were rough, you’d never know because the Rolls just glides.


    Rolls-Royce Ghost parked at Killarney Station.

    For lunch, I pulled over to an area called Killarney Station that had a nice picnic area and appeared to be a big biking area. I had selected the Greek wrap for my boxed lunch, and delicious is such an understatement. With food in my belly, my drive got even better. I hit the turnpike and eventually drove to my home for the evening — the Grand Bohemian Hotel. Making my way through downtown Orlando made me realize that, in all my many travels to Disney, I had never ever been to Orlando, Orlando. And guess what? It is adorbs!


    Art at the Grand Bohemian Hotel.

    Thanks to the sister property in Savannah, I already knew that this Grand Bohemian would be eclectic, artsy, and chic. Art is literally everywhere! And this stay was also sporty, as the March Madness emblem in the elevator let me know. Apparently, Amway Center, where first and second round games were held, is quite close. I even ran into some very happy fans for the moment. Happiness is very fleeting during March Madness season. Now I loved, loved my room and, thanks to Rolls-Royce, I could actually enjoy it with the nice break they scheduled in between dinner. I’m not ashamed to admit that I needed that nap!


    My room.

    [Images: Ronda Racha Penrice]

    Click the next button to continue reading …


    Rolls-Royce Black Badge Wraith outside the Grand Bohemian.

    As I prepared to meet the others in the lobby, horror struck! I had forgotten my iPad. I remembered slipping it into the Ghost’s stylish and snug console, and it was indeed there. If the iPad were alive, it probably would have preferred staying put.


    Rolls-Royce Dawn outside the Grand Bohemian.

    Outside the Grand Bohemian, Rolls-Royce made an impression. It was my first introduction to the Black Badge Wraith and the Dawn. Travel to dinner was chauffeured, so I sunk into the backseat of the Ghost. What can I say? I couldn’t let go! Dare I share how amazing being chauffeured felt? Legroom was crazy but so was the ride. Who knew that Orlando had so much green space surrounded by water and impressive homes? It was a beautiful night and equally beautiful scenery.


    Wine on top of wine on top of wine at Luma on Park.

    Luma on Park , which is known for both its food and wine, in Winter Park was our final destination. Since there was barely a dozen of us, we dined in a private room and were joined by sculptor David David Figueroa and his lovely wife Ivette. Figueroa is a standout artist in the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, which we were also the area to attend.

    Figueroa’s work is massive and very intricate, mixing metals, wood (some from Brazil), and other materials. He and Ivette, both Puerto Rican natives living la vida Florida, got a call out of the blue inviting them to dine with Rolls-Royce and really had no clue why and how. Those answers came at dinner.


    The crew and I with artist David David Figueroa, who is sandwiched between his work in the solid button-down shirt. [Image: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Americas]

    As our main host Gerry Spahn, who heads North American communications for the iconic automaker, explained, Rolls-Royce is a bespoke brand. It isn’t as flashy as others. Believe it or not, Rolls-Royce owners tend to be very low-key. They have an eye for unique and off-the-beaten-path indulgences of the highest quality. They are collectors. They prefer not to follow the crowd.

    That’s one of the reasons we came to Orlando, to Winter Park in particular. The Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival started in 1960 and is considered one of the best in its class, but is not as well-known by the masses as others. But more on that later because Luma deserves its own round of applause.



    “People want to have the cuisine and the service associated with fine dining without the stuffiness,” Luma executive chef/partner Brandon McGlamery told Winter Park Magazine. This year, he was a James Beard Award semifinalist so Luma definitely has fine dining covered. The scallops were great but the mashed potatoes or rather the Yukon gold potato puree, truffle oil, and chives was maybe the best ever. And the wine, even for a casual wine drinker, was pretty darn good. The ambiance was sophisticated yet relaxed and so was the vibe. Just high-fives all around. A beautiful drive back to the Grand Bohemian was the perfect nightcap.


    Kue King and his wire creations. [Image: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Americas]

    The next day was one of art appreciation as our crew navigated the festival. In addition to seeing Figueroa’s sculptures up close, I dug a few other artists. Kue King’s wire creations were particularly alluring, and self-taught ceramist Valerie Walchek’s story behind her work for littleWolf ceramics was inspiring. Those three didn’t even scratch the surface though.

    Plates by littleWolf ceramics

    This Park Avenue was revelatory with its many stylish shops and delectable dining options. There is even a koi pond in a private alcove near Paris Bistro, where public restrooms are also found. It’s just charming. Sadly, though, nothing lasts forever and it was time to bid adieu.

    I was chauffeured to the airport with a friend and colleague in, you guessed it, the Ghost! And we certainly rode it out, sinking into the backseats as Big Sean’s “Bounce Back” and others played on. It was certainly the calm before the Disney visitors’ storm at the airport. But, luckily, Rolls-Royce’s bespoke introduction to Orlando’s fabulous side was fresh on my mind.

    [Images, except where noted: Ronda Racha Penrice]

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    By Chinwe Ugoezi

    Model and actor Mike Merrill, 26, made it a point to change his circumstances and to pursue his passion. The emerging actor made his acting debut back in 2015 as Scott in Je’ Mclain’s stage play The Lies They Told. Ever since, the Detroit native has been determined to make himself a household name. Merrill made the transition into TV with Oxygen’s The Last Quad Standing and BET’s The Quad. UPTOWN caught up with Merrill and discussed his journey thus far, the actors who inspire him, and how he’s used social media to help advance his acting.

    UPTOWN: For those that don’t know you yet, who is Mike Merrell and how did you get into acting?
    Mike Merrill: My name is Mike Merrill and I’m an actor, entertainer, and model. I started in modeling in October of 2015. I went to a casting call for a fashion show and that’s what shot me through the roof for modeling. After I did the show, I transitioned into acting, which was theater. So I started in theater here in Detroit and I was doing that from November 2015 to March 2016. I did a networking trip to Atlanta, New York, and Chicago and ended up moving to Atlanta. That’s when I transitioned over into film. Now I’m on this journey of an up-and-coming successful actor.

    U: 2015, that’s pretty recent. What were you doing before acting, and how did you make the switch?
    MM: I just had a regular job before modeling and acting. One day I just woke up and I guess that was my wake-up call to step into reality like “OK, I’m not doing anything I said I was going to be doing before I hit 25.” That’s when I stepped on a leap of faith and decided I was going to do what I felt comfortable with doing with my life. I had to find it, and I ended up doing that through modeling, which ultimately led me to acting. I always wanted to act, but I didn’t know how to get out there.


    U: That’s awesome. Who would you say are your influences in the industry?
    MM: I look after Kevin Hart, Steve Harvey, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Tyler Perry, and Denzel Washington. They all have a story and they all have something good to say. [The] Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was the show that got me wanting to act as a kid. That’s what made me want to act. I knew that I could be where I am now and more. I’m still going up and I’m not stopping. I took it upon myself to go after what I wanted and not listen to other people. I followed my heart and this is where it led me on my journey.

    U: I saw in a previous interview that you weren’t formally taught to act and used sites like YouTube and Instagram. How did they help you learn?
    MM: Yeah, I wasn’t. I know it’s not good to say, but now I actually have been doing acting classes and acting sessions. I like one-on-one sessions. Whenever I need help I go on YouTube and Instagram. I use them to the best of my ability. Those are my best resources. YouTube basically for anything with auditions, my posture, the way I handle things, and anything business-related in the industry, I would YouTube it. As far as Instagram, I would use it to see who’s face I need to be in front of, who I need to connect with, where they are gonna be in the next month or something like that. That’s what I was using it for. When I went on my networking trip, I used Instagram to know where I needed to be and who to talk to.


    U: We saw you on Last Quad Standing repping for Detroit. How did you get involved in a reality show?
    MM: They actually contacted me about two months before we actually went to film the show. They said they wanted to get me on TV and I said “Who is this?” And they said who they were. They wanted to bring me and my friends on Last Squad Standing. I listened to them and heard them out and liked the show. It wasn’t a show that would separate me from being an actor and make me into a reality TV star, because I’m not a reality TV star. I know that’s what some people are thinking, but I’m an actor. The reality show has taste and that’s the only reason why I took it. It’s a competition show and we were battling for $100,000. I took my friends who were doing something with their lives.

    U: So you also play in the web series Side Chick as James. In season one, we saw you getting messy on there. Have you ever put yourself in a situation in which you were dealing with two women at the same time?
    MM: Noooo, I’ve never been in situation like that. I don’t put myself in a situation that’s hard to get out of. I don’t like being stuck in between the two so you won’t catch Mike Merrill in that situation. Season two is gonna be crazy. We are filming that right now actually and it’s looking real good. My character James is still going on that journey with Kia and Lynn, and he’s stuck in between the two. He’s confused like “I wanna marry my fiance, I still wanna do this, I really love her.” That’s the first time he’s cheated on his fiance [Kia] who was his high school sweetheart.


    U: I know you’re just getting started in the game but I’m sure people are starting to recognize you. Do you remember the first time you were noticed in the street?
    MM: Yes, I do actually. I was going to the mall and a 17-year-old really shocked me. She started crying! I tried to get my phone out, but I didn’t want to get her crying and all that. She was like “Oh my God, Mike!” She told her mom “Oh my God that’s Mike!” She and her mom came over and they wanted to take pictures and I was holding her while taking the picture with them. That kinda surprised me. That’s the type of stuff that I think about when things get hard for me. This industry is not easy and when you think you wanna give up, you gotta remember you got a lot of people that’s rooting for you. When you get a following, when you get a support system, it’s really not just you. You created something where you have to keep it going. It’s not just one person. You got your manager behind you, your agent, your family behind you, your support systems, the people that look up to you. People ask me questions everyday about acting. You have to have tough skin and mental strength. I just focus on where I wanna be and that keeps me motivated.

    U: What can we expect next from Mike Merrill?
    MM: Well, I’m working on some stuff that I can’t name. The things that I can name, you can look towards that TV series that I have coming up with Tier 2 films called Idiots Guide to Manhood, also a movie with Tier 2 films called The Perfect Woman. Look out for Season two of Side Chicks, which is about to wrap up. You can check out my updates on my website, as well as my Instagram.

    Chinwe Ugoezi is a Los Angeles-based blogger and social media marketer. Check out her work here and follow her on IG at @miss_chinchin


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    The fiery drama of Hustle & Soul heats up tonight when Chef Lawrence Page takes his Pink Tea Cup crew to a vineyard, and announces that he’s making Sana Akibu the new bar manager. Wait, hold up! If you’ve been following the series, you know that Candice Roach is The Pink Tea Cup bartender. True to form, Candice starts throwing jealous shade at her “friend” Sana, much to Lawrence’s chagrin.

    The episode is aptly titled “Wine & Dine & Grind,” and will air tonight on WE tv at 10 p.m.

    RELATED: 9 Questions with Chef Lawrence Page of ‘Hustle & Soul’

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    By Kimatni D. Rawlins

    I had a great time exploring the superior off-road and grand on-road capabilities of the new 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD in Arizona last week. The luxury wagon is properly designed and thoroughly engineered. Its physicality is defined by rugged hardware, outstanding go-anywhere capabilities, and advanced technology systems for both safety adherence and driver assistance obligations.

    Let’s face it, Volvo’s reputation for road safety, human interest, and simply making a solid vehicle for the people is beyond reproach. And now that the company has a stable of fresh, innovative vehicles to tout — such as the new S90, XC90, and V90 — there is little room left for strong, silent opinions that fail to compare Volvo to German or Japanese automakers. Since the wagon market in the U.S. has diminished, you can aptly say the V90 Cross Country is currently the best in the business with no formidable opponents. Of course, you have the BMW 3 Series Sport Wagon and Audi’s Allroad, which is based on the smaller A4, but neither are hardcore when you venture away from paved roads. The 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon is right there in size and luxury, but has no competitive Cross Country trim and retails for $62,300. A 2018 Buick Regal TourX is on the way, but again is shorter and not rugged whatsoever. Subaru’s Outback is a road warrior, yet far from fancy and is akin to LaVar Ball comparing his college freshman son Lonzo Ball to Michael Jordan.

    For $55,300 your Swedish go-anywhere transporter is enhanced with 8.3″ of ground clearance, all-wheel drive traction, Active Control System, Hill Descent Control, Electric Stability Control, Continuously Controlled Damping, a supercharged/turbocharged 316-horsepower T6 engine, and a Pilot Assist – Semi Autonomous Drive System w/Adaptive Cruise Control. Additional equipment offers the 9” Sensus Navigation and infotainment system, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a Panoramic Sunroof, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, and much more. Add $3,200 for the amazing 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound System (the metal grilles are a nice touch) with three sound experiences, including Studio and Gothenburg Concert Hall. So of course the serene ride in heated weather was much more enjoyable with the aforementioned amenities.


    If you are going to forgo a sport utility vehicle, then the next best thing is a sports wagon with the dynamics of a sedan. Aesthetically the V90 Cross Country is tall and gorgeous with an ideal 194.4” length for escorting five passengers and their things comfortably. Volvo says it needed to be capable in off-road situations, but still handle public roads with finesse. For example, the chassis was raised by 2.3” to provide greater suspension adjustment to go along with the vehicle’s wider track. Volvo also developed the tires alongside the manufacturer to ensure drive expectations were met, such as better grip for trekking. Pirelli supplies the 19s and 20s. My model was outfitted with stylish 20” alloy rims wrapped in Pirelli Scorpion Zero 245/45 R20 all-seasons that were compliant on the rough terrain. Volvo guided us on a gravel, muddy, rocky, and wet Arizona back-road trail for about an hour, so we could definitively experience the V90’s resources at work. Using the Drive Mode dial, I set the vehicle in off-road mode which automatically activates the Hill Decent Control mechanism. Eco, Comfort, Dynamic, and Individual mode are the other choices depending on weather conditions. If ultimate adventure is a calling then you may want to add the optional $1,200 rear Premium Air Suspension & Active Chassis (Four-C). The vehicle’s architecture makes a front air suspension impossible.

    Click the next button to continue reading …


    “Volvo cars are well known for what we call ‘framkomlighet’ in Swedish — the ability to get you wherever you want to go, regardless of the weather conditions,” said Henrik Green, senior vice president of Research & Development at Volvo Cars. “This is an important part of our heritage and a clear reflection of who we are and where we come from. With the recent addition of electric All-Wheel Drive to our top-of-the-line products we have further refined our performance in this important area.”

    For performance, Volvo has gotten away from bigger, heavier engines for smaller, but diligent packages such as their 8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission and in-line 4-cylinder combination (supercharged and turbocharged). Its power allowed for spirited acceleration from any gear since the turbocharger and supercharger combined, providing consistent power. Specifically, the supercharger runs off the engine at all times and provides low end torque, while the turbocharger is ignited from exhaust gases and works better at higher RPMs. Expect 22 city and 30 hwy MPGs. Though, I would have preferred if paddle shifter were available.


    The Black Walnut interior is elegant and makes one wonder why you would put the vehicle through hell to get to campgrounds or tow boats. Well, that’s the ingenuity of Volvo’s strategy. The 9” Sensus touchscreen, which takes a bit of time adjusting to, is the brains of the vehicle and controls and displays everything from the audio to the vehicle systems to the apps to the 360º Surround View Camera. Moreover using swipe movements. Its vivid and graphical 12.3” Driver Display (Digital Instrument Cluster) shows pertinent driver information such as navigation and telephone. A $4,500 Luxury Package and $1,950 Convenience Package ups the ante on your Cross Country. However, the steering wheel needs thickening because this set-up is too thin.

    Volvo has nailed it with the introduction of the 2017 V90 Cross Country T6 AWD. The driving dynamics of a sedan intermixed with the utility of an SUV is a pleasing scenario for exploratory and thrilling weekend getaways. Since their most affluent customers have a keen sense of adventure, prefer active hobbies, and require top gear for their journeys, the wagon is a perfect companion for the tasks at hand.

    RELATED: Introducing The All-New 2018 Volvo XC60 SUV

    [Images: Volvo]

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    Soul Science Lab’s Chen Lo and Asante Amin

    By Khalil Waldron

    At the top of the New Year, my late night travels brought me to the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAM Café for an evening of live music and soothing energy the likes of nothing I have ever seen. At the epicenter of it all was Chen Lo and Asante Amin, the Brooklyn-based duo known to the world as Soul Science Lab. During a time in which the country seemed it couldn’t be more divided, my 22-year-old eyes saw people — Black and white, old and young, multicultural bliss — moving in rhythmic harmony to the vibrations blasting from the speakers. Strangers from different walks of life engaged in conversations, as the sounds of Soul Science Lab’s album Plan For Paradise provided the backdrop and set the mood. It was a sight to behold and an invigorating experience. Afterwards, similar to the feeling one gets after consuming good food, I was eager to give my praises and compliments to the chefs. It was then when I stood face-to-face with the innovative Afro-futuristic griots. Three weeks later, in Brooklyn, we were finally able to discuss in-full their new album, their origins, and their very own plans for paradise.

    “We were kind of in a situation where if something doesn’t shake in the next four to six months, we’re leaving … He’s going back to Pittsburgh, I’m going back to New Orleans,” explained Asante Amin. “And it seems like in those moments, that’s when we’re forced to reach our deepest.”


    Asante Amin’s and Chen Lo’s differences complement each other like two halves of the same coin. Though the duo is often billed as “Brooklyn-based,” the borough is merely the location where they forged their sound and friendship. Their musical inspiration draws from their hometowns of Pittsburgh and New Orleans rooted in Jazz and East Coast Hip-Hop. Their stories so similar: talented individuals, miles apart feeling that there was more to their lives than just what their beautiful cities could offer them, and subsequently more they can offer the world.

    The daily grind of the 9 to 5 and the possibility of being a victim of circumstance in a violent city can take its toll on the creative mind. Both migrated to New York City with the purpose of pursuing their musical callings. Chen Lo recalled a conversation he had with his mother prior to the move, “My mother actually pulled me aside one day, and she said, ‘You know what? If you don’t leave Pittsburgh, you gonna burn out here.’ She was like, ‘You’re gonna die here, and you have a greater potential than what you’re able to exercise in this environment.’” Of course the Big Apple being one of those make or break cities for a career in music, art, and entertainment, it only made sense for the both of them.


    Asante Amin recalls his own personal journey, as he left New Orleans right before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. “Usually nothing ever happens. You know what I’m saying? Whenever there are hurricanes, I never leave the city, because I’m like, ‘It’s not real, it’s not gonna happen,’” he explained. “I ended up applying to get into the Conservatory of Brooklyn College, and I got in. From there, made history. But it was so ironic. A month after I left, Hurricane Katrina happened in New Orleans.” Drawn to the city, they already felt as if New York energy vibrated through their bodies, since they were never too far away thanks to the power of Hip-Hop and storytelling.


    Now in the New York, they found themselves searching for the same creative energy. They were searching for each other. “Finally, one day both of us were looking for a place to live,” said Asante Amin. “As the universe had it, ended up in the same place at the same time with that long look on the face, like  ‘Yo, what’s next?’”

    When they found each other it was like a portal opened up in space and time, a portal made to access creative energy. This portal, aka their apartment with their self-built studio, would go on to be called The Vortex.


    “It was like, you step into The Vortex, you’re going to another place creatively, you’re going to another place spiritually,” said Asante Amin. “You tap into all kinds of elevated vibrations that end up coming through in the art that we created.”

    I was invited by the group to The Vortex to take in the creative atmosphere and document the process.

    Click the next button to continue reading …

    [Images: Khalil Waldron]



    It’s poetic that after all the feats Soul Science Lab has accomplished they make it a point to stay grounded and keep to their aesthetic and creative processes. Self-made. A studio in the apartment built from scratch, a safe place, with boarded windows to cancel out the distractions from the outside world. All they had was each other and the music. It was in this DIY studio that Soul Science Lab was born. They laughed as I mentioned the group name gave me visions of scientists in white lab coats experimenting, creating, thriving, and how their depiction of The Vortex just reinforced that image even more. I wasn’t far off. Their sound, an interesting fusion drawing from all over the place, their roots from both New Orleans and Pittsburgh sounds, they’re affection for smooth jazz and East and West Coast Hip-Hop, and Negro spirituals. There’s a bounce and a lyricism that draws from all of their predecessors, and I do mean all.

    “You have an underlying, core foundation of Hip-Hop that’s there, but what is Hip-Hop but an amalgamation of these other art forms?” questioned Chen Lo. “I think that’s why Asante is so dope, you can very clearly see the lineage where Hip-Hop came from.”

    It’s not often in Hip-Hop that you hear bands on actual albums. You can more often than not catch a live rendition of your favorite song as the artist preforms on a late night talk show with a band, but not often can you get the old school sound of musical instruments, actually being played in the studio, on the album. Asante Amin the multifaceted instrumentalist who produced the vast majority of Plan for Paradise by himself, informed me that the sound of live instrumentation is very important to who they are as a group.


    The innovative sound features remnants of funk, while tapping into a futuristic feel similar to a dystopian science fiction score. After listening to the two for some time, I realized that whatever they were cooking up in the Soul Science Lab was working, I thought back to the live show that I met them at and it finally made sense. These men with old souls were mixing old school music of all genres with a new school sound. I searched for a comparison, a synonym, maybe Outkast or the Black Eyed Peas, but everything fell short when I came to terms that these men were cut from a different cloth and in a league of their own.

    “We in the lab cooking, figuring out … what combination in these elements … these ingredients … non-GMO, no chemical. You know what I’m saying?” said Chen Lo.

    Their latest offering, the storytelling, vibrant package of energy is a culmination of everything they’ve worked to up to. As Chen Lo tells it, “We had to elevate it. Who are we now? Who have we evolved to? And for us, I think we are studying the science of the soul. This music is all about specifically formulating something to tap into somebody’s soul to make them emote, or to feel, or to reimagine, or to elevate — and we are.”

    The album is empowering and inspiring, speaking from a place of alienation and oppressed prowess, in a way rappers aren’t doing these days. Tracks like “We So Infinite” serve as a reminder to the universe that Black and Brown are not only beautiful, they are very competent and capable.

    “We’ve been under a political and social move for the last four, five hundred years, that doesn’t want us to be … that doesn’t want us to understand that we’re infinite. That we’re global, that we have no beginning or end,” Chen Lo states as we discuss the suppression of the powerful.

    “One of the beautiful things I feel about the time in which we live is we have the repertoire of history, but we’re also in a situation where we can pick and choose and create something really neat out of this time period, depending on where we collectively want to go,” countered Asante Amin.


    It all ties in to the plan for paradise. The need is to strategize for utopia, which entails community, family, and positive reinforcement for one another. Asante Amin explained: “The community is the foundation for the nation, and a large part of the reason is why we’re being taken advantage of by the powers that be is because we don’t talk to each other. Brothers don’t talk to each other. Brothers and sisters don’t talk to each other. Sisters don’t talk to each other. Parents don’t talk to their children about what’s happening.”

    The duo has been and still is heavily rooted in the community with enrichment and activism. Togetherness is a key theme and no song on the album gave me the feeling of togetherness in the romantic sense like “Kingmaker,” an appreciative ode to women. The song talks about the empowerment that comes from women. “You will never as a man unlock your full potential without your A-alike, without your partner,” Chen Lo said. “The song was essential to his depiction of paradise, as love is a crucial to the home and family.”


    The future is what Soul Science Lab is aiming and planning for, and we should all get aboard for the ride. The feel good album interpolates themes and sounds from the past and present to push music forward. We are reminded throughout Plan for Paradise of the best of us as a culture and a community, and are encouraged to bring that with us on our future endeavors in life, love, and family. Whether you are dancing, chanting, or evolving, be timeless in everything that you do, and plan for paradise.

    Keep up with Soul Science Lab via Twitter and Instagram.

    [Images: Khalil Waldron]

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    Subaru isn’t as well-known as other auto brands in the U.S. The Outback and Forester are probably its two most recognizable rides. So it’s pretty safe to assume that I wasn’t the only one unfamiliar with the Legacy. Not only had I not ever driven one, I never rode in one either. But I was game to try it.

    The Legacy is Subaru’s midsize sedan. This one representing the class was the 2017 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Sport in lapis blue pearl. From the outside, it certainly made a respectable impression. If it showed up most places, it would definitely be welcomed. The grille really caught my eye. It had a grounding quality and gave the Legacy a sturdy presence, that sandwiched-in-between-18-wheelers kind of sturdy. And that’s a great thing. In blue, the Legacy actually came across a little Superman-ish.

    As I slipped in to drive it, comfort was one of the first things I noticed. Sitting in the driver’s seat, I felt so relaxed. Most of the times I adjust the seat, but not with this Subaru. The wheel also had a nice grip, which probably had something to do with it being leather-wrapped. Plus, the sound system was hitting on all kinds of right. The Subaru Legacy drove kind of smooth too. I also enjoyed getting out of it and catching a bit of the door because of its super-soft feel.


    Because of “Legacy” in the name, it was a no-brainer to hit Netflix’s preview screening of The Get Down at Atlanta’s Phipps Plaza, in the Subaru. A Q&A with hometown boy Shameik Moore conducted by fellow Atlantan Satchel B. Jester followed the screening. The Get Down explores the early days of hip-hop when it was known as “the get-down.” Moore, who is, perhaps, most memorable as Malcolm from Dope, is DJ and all-around hustler Shaolin Fantastic. In the first season of The Get Down, we learned Shaolin was a disciple of Grandmaster Flash; so how is that for legacy? In the second, also available now on Netflix, he is truly getting his hustle on and, yeah, he’s still a lady-killer.


    Shameik Moore [Image: Paras Griffin]

    RELATED: ATL: ‘The Get Down’ Special Screening


    Shameik Moore & Satchel B. Jester [Image: Paras Griffin]

    “Shao was so different from Malcolm, it makes you wonder who I actually am,” Moore told Jester.

    “I am both,” he answered.

    As far as his approach to both characters, he shared, “You’re not acting, you’re just finding different parts of yourself.”

    His take on The Get Downwas also insightful. “I think it’s a love story in general,” said Moore to Jester. ”For Shao, he’s in love with hip-hop and that transcends to the boys, which creates their love for hip-hop.”


    After the conversation, Moore posed for lots of photos. And Pro Keds came through with The Get Down kicks Oprah-style, gifting everybody! And I got mine as you can see!


    Back to the Legacy, it does have a lot going for it. Fuel economy is good at 25 in the city and 34 on the highway, which averages to roughly 29 combined. Safety features were also on point. How many cars tell you that the car in front of you has moved on if you don’t move immediately? The power moon roof, with tilt and slide, is definitely a winner on a super nice day. Like most vehicles these days, the Legacy has a push-button start system and has a reverse camera. And even with the sports package, this baby is under $30,000, at just $28,910.

    The real question, however, is: Does the Legacy finally have enough gas to really take on the Accord or the Camry, leaders in its class? But it’s one only you can truly answer.

    [Images, except where noted: Ronda Racha Penrice]

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    By Chinwe Ugoezi

    James Monroe Iglehart just came off his dream role playing the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway. But don’t worry, he didn’t leave empty-handed. His show-stopping performance of “Friend Like Me” snagged him both a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award. Now, the actor is getting ready to take on another musical phenomenon with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: An American Musical. On April 14th, Iglehart will be joining the cast playing the dual roles of Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson. UPTOWN spoke with him about his career-changing role in Aladdin, what it’s like prepping for his Hamilton debut, and the roles he would love to play next on Broadway.

    UPTOWN: Did you ever think that you would be where you are now?
    James Monroe Iglehart: This is gonna sound really conceited, but yeah! As my wife likes to say, “We’ve worked hard for this, we sacrificed for this, we better be right here! (Laughs) That was the plan all along. I think it’s always funny when actors are like, “I had no idea this was about to happen.” I used to look at myself in the mirror, when I was broke, interviewing myself saying I will be there someday. The fact that this is happening, I am so happy. I’d be real depressed if I’d worked this long and not have come this far.

    U: You got the Tony Award playing the character of Genie in Aladdin. Walk us through what was going on in your mind at that time.
    JMI: It was going so fast to be honest. I had just got through performing, so part of me just wanted to sit down with my wife at the Tonys because I love it as a fan, but by the time I sat down it was my time to go up. I went up and as I got the award and was walking up, I was like, “Did I write a speech? No, I didn’t. I’ll just be fine.” When it was over my wife reminded me of all the people I forgot. It was the coolest experience ever because I literally dreamed about the Tony Awards since I was 17. That’s when I really started watching it. I was in high school and my teacher was like, “You love Broadway, you should watch the Tonys.” I got to be on the Tonys with Memphis, but to win one — especially with a Disney show. Disney actors don’t win. Only one other actor won a Tony with a Disney show and that’s Heather Headley. So to win one was a shock and honor. My wife and I looked at each other in the car with the Tony going, “Did that just happen?” It was one of the moments. It was so cool.

    U: Let’s go back to 2011 in Seattle when you first transformed into the Genie. I know you have so many different memories. If you had to name your top three greatest moments playing the character, what would they be?
    JMI: I would say the first time I actually got to perform a “Friend Like Me” in rehearsal, and I got to hear the full orchestra play, I started tearing up because I remember listening to that soundtrack as a kid over and over and over again. Now that same music was playing, but I was the guy singing it. Opening night on Broadway was another moment because right before we opened, New York wasn’t exactly friendly with Aladdin. They kind of said we weren’t gonna do well. After opening night, I knew we were going to do well. I felt really good about it. The other moment is meeting some of my heroes and that is the coolest thing. I got to meet Whoopi Goldberg, and she is one of my heroes. For my father to see me in the Tony Award-winning role was awesome. I got to meet people I’m a big fan of. I am huge WWE fan and I’m into wrestling like nobody’s business. I got to meet some of my favorite wrestlers and do so many cool Disney things because of Aladdin. I got to sing at D23, I got to sing for the CEO of Disney, and because of Aladdin I’m one of the voices of the new Tangled animated series that’s on Disney channel.

    U: What are your all-time favorite Disney musicals?
    JMI: My favorite all-time Disney musicals like on Broadway — this is gonna sound really conceited — I LOVE Aladdin. Don’t get me wrong, I love the opening number of Lion King. It’s one of the coolest, most amazing things ever. I love Tarzan. I cried when I saw Mary Poppins, when she flew over me. But as a whole musical, story-wise, music-wise, performance-wise, choreography — I LOVE Aladdin. My wife used to ask me all the time, “If you weren’t in it would you go see it? Would you want to be in it?” I said, “Yeah.” I would be so jealous of the guy playing it. I literally would have beat the door down saying, “I’m gonna be the next Genie!”

    Instagram Photo

    U: Let’s get into Hamilton. How did you get involved in the coveted dual roles of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson?
    JMI: I’m in a group called Freestyle Love Supreme and the founding members are Lin-Manuel Miranda; Chris Jackson; Bill Shurman, who’s one of the producers; Anthony Veneziale; and Daveed Diggs, who won the Tony for Thomas Jefferson/Lafayette, is also a part of Freestyle Love Supreme. We have other members as well. I knew about Hamilton years ago when Lin was part of In the Heights. We did a Hamilton concert around 2011/2012 at Lincoln Center, and I was a part of that concert. I played Mulligan at the time. I went on to do Aladdin and now I’m gonna do this. So I’ve known about the project for years and when the guys called me they were like, “Do you wanna be a part of this?” I told them that I’d love to be a part of it. When they asked me to audition I did, and they loved it. Even though we are all friends I still had to audition, they didn’t just give me the part.

    U: How has the preparation been so far? Is Daveed Diggs helping you? Are you keeping up?
    JMI: When I first got the role, I called Daveed and said, “Hey, talk me through this” and he did. He talked me off the ledge. He said I can totally do this and I’d be great. It’s been a long time since I had to learn a role that I didn’t originate, but it’s been fun and a great process. The group over there is amazing. I mean they are fantastic. They have been working and teaching me the show. There is a little bit of pressure because one of your friends created something that’s fabulous, and you don’t want to mess it up, but also the fans. There are fans of Aladdin that know the words to “A Whole New World” and “Friend Like Me.” With Hamilton, these fans know the words to every song in the show. I have to make sure that I am on it. So far so good and everyone seems to be happy with what I’m doing.

    U: Your one-man show, How the Heck Did I Get Here?, had sold-out success. Do you see yourself doing more solo performances in the future?
    JMI: Definitely. I really enjoy that. I love getting on stage and telling stories and making up stories, whether it be about my life or life in general. I hope to do more of that.

    U: You’re so busy. How do you have time to do TV shows like Disney’s Tangled series and guest appearances on Unbreakable and Gotham?
    JMI: I make time to be honest. I try my best to. If it’s time to work, I’m a workaholic. I’ve wanted this since I was a little kid. To be an entertainer is all I’ve wanted. So, if it’s a good project I’ll make time. There have literally been times where I have filmed in the morning and then went and did the show at night. I would record the Tangled series in the afternoon and then do the show [Aladdin] at night. I will work my schedule around it to do it and get as much sleep as I can when I get home. If I do too much my wife, Dawn Iglehart, of 15 years will tell me to stop. She is a magnificent support system and the smartest woman I know.

    U: What are the top Broadway musicals that you’d love to be a part of?
    JMI: I would love to be a part of The Music Man. (Laughs) I love that show, and I’ve been able to do so many different things in life, but that was a show that stuck with me since I was a kid. I would love to play the character of Harold Hill. If Disney ever decides to do Nightmare Before Christmas, I want to play Oogie Boogie.

    U: What can we expect from you in Hamilton and any other upcoming projects?
    JMI: You can expect Hamilton’s Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson to still have the fire and awesomeness that those two characters deserve, but just with a James Iglehart twist on it. Expect me to bring my swagger to those powerful people, and hopefully the audience will get it. I have a feeling they will. As far as upcoming projects look for Tangled the animated series. My character Lance Strongbow will be on very soon.

    [Image: Joshua Dela Cruz]

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    In anticipation of season five of Orange Is the New Black, Netflix has released the first 60 seconds of the season, which takes place in real time over the course of three days.

    Here’s a recap of how season four ended, according to press materials:

    Season four of Orange Is the New Black left us on the edge of our seats. An explosive riot sparked by Poussey’s untimely death combined with the rage and grief felt by the inmates quickly escalated into utter chaos. In the final moments, it all comes to a head with a determined Daya now in possession of a gun — and it becomes clear that, no matter what the outcome, life at Litchfield will never be the same. Picking up right where we left off, season five takes you back to that contentious moment in the prison’s halls where decisions made will forever affect those inside, and outside the gates.


    This is what you can expect from season five, according to Netflix:

    A riot sparked by Poussey’s death quickly escalates when the inmates gain control of the prison. Once they get a taste of power, chaos erupts in the halls of Litchfield. The unprecedented season will take place in real time and over the course of just three days, leaving the inmates’ lives forever changed as they are emboldened to fight for redemption, resolution and the respect they deserve. The series will debut on Friday, June 9 exclusively in all Netflix territories.


    Season five of Orange Is the New Black premieres on June 9th on Netflix.


    [Images: Netflix]

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    Multi-talented recording artist, actress, and executive producer Kelly Rowland teamed up with her personal OB/GYN Dr. Tristan Emily Bickman (and Laura Moser) to write her debut book, Whoa, Baby!: A Guide for New Moms Who Feel Overwhelmed and Freaked Out (And Wonder What the #*@& Just Happened), which was released today.

    “Dr. Bickman and I wanted to create an answer to what to expect after childbirth,” explained Rowland in a press release. “No one told me what to expect physically, emotionally, or mentally. The purpose of Whoa, Baby! is to comfort the mother and give her knowledge of what’s going on with her. We cover everything!”

    With Mother’s Day right around the corner, Whoa, Baby!, would be a perfect gift for an expectant mom. It’s available from publisher Da Capo Lifelong Books on Amazon,,, bookstores, and more.

    If you’re in the New York City area, stop by the TriBeCa Barnes & Noble (97 Warren St.) at 6 p.m. for a book signing of Whoa, Baby! with Kelly Rowland.

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    Stevie Wonder, 66, is all set to marry his 42-year-old longtime girlfriend, Tomeeka Robyn Bracy. This will be the third marriage for the legendary singer-songwriter.

    Wonder and Bracy are expected to tie the knot in Jamaica on June 17th. Wonder’s nine children, ranging in age from 3 to 42, will participate in the wedding ceremony. Elton John is expected to be among the celebrity wedding guests.

    The couple has been dating for five years. Bracy gave birth to Wonder’s ninth child, a daughter they named Nia, on Dec. 17, 2014.

    Bracy and Wonder have reportedly signed a prenuptial agreement before saying I do. Wonder was previously married to Syreeta Wright from 1970 to 1971, and Karen “Kai” Millard Morris from 2001 until 2012.


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    It’s Wednesday and we bet you could use a distraction from the workweek. Well here’s another look at Demetrius Shipp Jr. starring as Tupac Shakur in the biopic All Eyez on Me.

    Here’s the official film synopsis: “All Eyez on Me tells the true and untold story of prolific rapper, actor, poet, and activist Tupac Shakur. The film follows Shakur from his early days in New York City to his evolution into being one of the world’s most recognized and influential voices before his untimely death at the age of 25. Against all odds, Shakur’s raw talent, powerful lyrics and revolutionary mind-set propelled him into becoming a cultural icon whose legacy continues to grow long after his passing.”

    Danai Gurira stars in All Eyez on Me as Tupac’s late mother Afeni Shakur. Jamal Woolard reprises his role of The Notorious B.I.G. for the film. The biopic also stars Hill Harper, Kat Graham, and Lauren Cohan.

    All Eyez on Me was written by Jeremy Haft; Eddie Gonzalez; and Steven Bagatourian, and was directed by Benny Boom. It will hit theaters on June 16th, and will close the 2017 American Black Film Festival (ABFF) on June 17.

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    Charlie Murphy, comedian, actor, writer, and brother of Eddie Murphy, has died as age 57 after a battle with leukemia.

    His manager told TMZ that Charlie passed away at a New York City hospital. He had been undergoing chemotherapy.

    Charlie had appeared in several TV and film roles, including Are We There Yet? and The Boondocks. He also helped write several of Eddie’s films, including Norbit. Charlie was also a writer on fellow comedian Dave Chappelle’s Comedy Central show, and appeared for his recurring segment “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories.” The Prince sketch, in which the Purple One bested Charlie and his team in a pick-up game of basketball, is likely the most memorable.

    Charlie Murphy – Prince from Neo Suki on Vimeo.

    Charlie’s wife, Tisha Taylor Murphy, died in 2009 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He is survived by his brother Eddie and three children.


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    “Oh, he’s a house nigga for sure. He’s been a house nigga for years, trust me … Look at him. You don’t do a movie like Malcolm X and put yourself in as the jibbering comedy relief. They didn’t do Schindler’s List and say, ‘Hey we’re going to put a little comedy in here.’ They do it for real.”

    — Faizon Love says exactly what he thinks about Spike Lee during an interview on Ebro in the Morning on New York’s Hot 97. Spike hasn’t responded, but he’s currently using an image of himself as Shorty from Malcolm X as his Twitter profile pic, if you want to read into that. Love and DeRay Davis were in the studio to promote their film Grow House. We hope it’s a success because it doesn’t look like Spike will be calling him for a Spike Lee Joint.

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