July 1, 2014 |
THE BET Awards are the most casual of the awards shows (anything but black tie goes), the most self-promotional (rare was the presenter who didn't a push a TV show, movie or album) and the most sponsored. It seemed as if not a minute went by without seeing a logo or hearing a product placement. Strong on music (auto-tuning and backing tracks allowed) and spectacle, the BET Awards suffer from some of the same problem as the Grammys: In attempting to lure younger viewers, the show makes it seem as if there are no black entertainers over 40 - no singers who don't come out of rap and hip-hop.
June 6, 2014 |
Despite all its pomp and circumstance, Baz Luhrmann's 2013 movie The Great Gatsby was hardly the most innovative iteration of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 masterpiece. Unlikely as it seems, that honor may well belong to Power (9 p.m. Saturday on Starz), a contemporary crime drama that counts Curtis Jackson, a.k.a. rapper 50 Cent, as one of its executive producers. Created by Courtney Kemp Agboh, the Emmy-nominated writer/producer of The Good Wife , and fueled by a powerful yet understated performance by Omari Hardwick, the series captures the spirit of Fitzgerald's novel while telling a story that's very much of our time.
June 6, 2014 |
The word is ratchet . It's a slang term, derogatory, for a person or activity that is considered distasteful. To Grammy award-winning songwriter and producer Carvin Haggins, the words demeaning, destructive, disrespectful, derogatory, defamation , and debauchery come to mind when defining it. He believes ratchet , or rather the world of bad values from which it arose, is taking over our airwaves. Haggins is founder of the Ethical Music Entertainment record label.
May 25, 2014 |
With the flagship listing, it is all hands on deck over at Urban Outfitters Inc. Even the boss' wife has joined the bucket brigade. How bad are things? Well, the iconic purveyor of hip just completed its fifth straight quarter of slipping sales. For the record, that's Urban Outfitters, the brand. The overarching company of the same name - No. 20 on the Philly50 - saw sales up, thanks to Anthropologie and Free People, the firm's other major brands. Still, that success hardly ameliorates the disappointment in the missteps of the company's firstborn.
May 25, 2014 |
In January of 1998, I was at home sitting down to dinner when my pager went off. It was the medical resident on call, saying that she needed me to come to the hospital and look at an abnormal test result on a newly admitted patient. He was an African American man in his late 40s, who had been born in Philadelphia and had never left, with hemoglobin SC disease, a type of sickle-cell disease. Due to this inherited abnormality of his red blood cells, he had undergone removal of his spleen.
May 5, 2014 |
One in a continuing series spotlighting real estate markets in the region's communities. The year was 1992; the place, Northern Liberties. The median price of a house, mostly the two- and three-story brick row variety, was $26,600. A northward trek from Old City was underway - artists first, then restaurants and other businesses looking for space and cheap rents. There was some building of what one neighborhood activist called "homes of the future" - listed at $200,000 in a city in which the median price was struggling to top $60,000.
April 16, 2014 |
Jose James mixes it up. And he's bringing that great mix to World Cafe Live Tuesday evening. His first independent release, 2008's The Dreamer , was filled with sauntering originals and Rahsaan Roland Kirk covers. James also has done collaborations with jazz pianist Junior Mance and drummer Chico Hamilton. In his work, the 33-year-old singer summons the earthiness of hip-hop, the lofty swing of jazz, and contemporary recording techniques for a bold, individual sound. And he will not be pigeonholed.
January 21, 2014
THE GUYS from Hip Hop Fundamentals don't look like the performers who used to show up at my school assemblies. They arrive in fly Kangol bucket-style hats and mock turtlenecks. On their feet, they rock Adidas Gazelle sneakers or Clyde Frazier basketball shoes, by Puma. And if I say they dance their butts off, I'm not exagerating. Trust me. These dudes can pop lock, head spin and floor rock with the best bboys around. Watching them perform on YouTube videos, I couldn't help but wonder why they aren't big stars doing their thing on VH1 or Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" instead of leading school assemblies.
January 18, 2014 |
When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the 20th century's saint of civil rights, told the world about the dreams he had, the list didn't include being lionized alongside American presidents such as Lincoln and Washington. It didn't include a holiday bearing his name on which all Americans, of whatever race, would celebrate the freedoms that only racial equality provides. While most of the MLK Monday holiday is dedicated to events humble, honorable, and often tinged with spirituality, there are parties throughout the weekend that include the sort of respectable dance-centric festivity worthy of King's potent message.
December 21, 2013 |
Mainstage Center for the Arts presents its annual Holiday Concert & Family Festival this weekend at the Dennis Flyer Memorial Theatre at Camden County College. The two-day festival will feature performances by the Harmony and Encore Show Choirs, members of the Mainstage Dance Company (and the School of Dance), and the Mainstage Hip Hop performance group. Featured vocalists will be opera soprano Robin Wilson, who has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera, and country recording artist Sherry Lynn, who has performed with Crystal Gayle.