Posts Tagged ‘oprah winfrey’

Oprah helped change my life

May 16, 2011

Video: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-605180

From teaching me the true joy that comes from giving to inspiring me to get my own TV show to continue her mission, Oprah has truly inspired me to live my best life and help others do the same. I’ve been in her presence twice: at the Oscar After Party in LA and at her “Live Your Best Life Weekend” in NY. I would love to just meet her and say thanks but until then (and after), i’ll keep working to improve humanity and make people feel good about themselves, just like she did.

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No Child Left Behind (a poem)

September 21, 2010

I’m the child left behind so I rhyme

Didn’t pass the test so I dropped outta line

Outta sight into crime just tryin’ to get paid

They cared more for my braids than they did for my grades

Didn’t quite look the part plus they didn’t have art

No foreign languages no music, not even head start

So when the shotgun went off I didn’t run I stayed

School was just daycare so I ran and played

Acted a fool in school and I thought I was cool

Made a point to act stupid and not follow the rules

Till I got held back and the joke was on me

Some other brothers hauled off to Special Ed see

Supposed to be case by case but too many black males

Make up Special Ed, it’s like a school jail cell

They say the first shall be last and that’s true in class

Original man at the bottom of education class

They don’t care about us (a poem on education)

September 20, 2010

They don’t really care, we can’t compare

Educational system should have everyone scared

2010 MJ lyrics still ring true

From what he dropped back in the 1990’s dude

Tired of being the same victim of shame

They still throwin’ me in the class with the bad name?

Special Ed ain’t dead in fact it’s livin’ and  thrivin’

Black and brown kids packed in class like slaves no lyin’

Do they really care when the parents don’t

Do they really even care when society won’t

Hell nah lock em up in the corner of a school

Prepare ‘em for prison life they got same rules

But I’m remixing this song so I can reach out to you

To take a hard look at the kids bein’ lost in our schools

Fail me, sell me, no matter what you tell me

It’s all really lies ‘cause what I really know see

Is I’m tired of seeing my name in the same old books

Next to convicts, slaves, other types of crooks

Didn’t I come from greatness from Martin and Medgar

From Malcolm, Chavez, Mcleod I beg ya

To see me not as I am but as what I could be

I’m more then the ideas that you preconceive

So many strong roots livin’ in my ancestry

But when you look at me you see the branch of a dead tree

I’m tired of being the victim of you

Destroyin’ my self esteem like you love to

I wish you’d really just learn how to teach me

Reach me, preach me, teacher I beseech thee

Don’t label me special less it’s specially gifted

To go and save the world get humanity lifted

I can be great if you see the greatness in me

Just teach me like a prospect and not a suspect please

See you later…

September 12, 2010

25 years

25-plus million lives touched

Born to bring peace

Piece by piece

Daily delivering deeds of dignity

From America to South Africa

From Mississippi to Kinshasa

A life lived for others

A million daughters, one mother

A voice for the voiceless

Bringing hope to the hopeless

A gift from above harpo-oned into our hearts

Like Mattie and Mandela, a bridge builder through love

The next 25 will simply save more lives

Educate more young girls, heal more husbands and wives

If we like she could just live our OWN lives

With no fear, no regrets, no compromise

Then a life well-lived will for all be our prize

Until that day we will just say “thank you”

For leading by example, for giving us direction

So many lessons and so many blessins

We’re not saying “goodbye”

Just “see you later”

Because,  as you want for us all

You’re just on to something greater

Oprah & Gayle King: hypocritical on hip-hop

August 16, 2009

I listened to a recent radio interview with Gayle King and Oprah Winfrey (listen here). In the interview, Oprah was speaking about how she feels like she made a new best friend in Jay-Z. They argued over who had a bigger crush on him as well. As usual, Oprah stated that she disagrees with some of his lyrics, but that obviously means that she can still talk with him. No disagreements here. The problem came when Gayle King stated emphatically that she “loves Jay-Z’s lyrics.” Oprah asked if she meant the beats or some of the songs and Gayle King clearly said she loves the lyrics. This is hypocrisy at its best and truly unfortunate for us positive rappers.

Oprah and Gayle have arguably done more to raise the self esteem of girls around the world than anyone. Whether it’s Oprah’s school for girls in South Africa or the countless projects they have going on across this country like “O Magazine”, they have been consistent in their mission to give girls a positive view of themselves. So why does Gayle love Jay-Z’s lyrics? I have a great deal of respect for Jay-Z as a businessman and humanitarian. As a rapper myself, I obviously respect the way he puts his words together. He’s the best at that in my eyes. But how can I love lyrics like:

I came in your Betley back seat, skeeted (ejaculated) in your jeep
Left condoms on your baby seat
And since you infatuated with sayin’ that gay shit
Guess you was kissin’ my dick when you was kissin’ that bitch

Is this the embodiment of Jay’s work? Of course not. He’s also dropped classic lines like:

See Martin, see Malcolm
See Biggie, see Pac, see success and its outcome
See Jesus, See Judas
See Caesar, see Brutus
See success is like suicide, suicide, it’s a suicide
If you succeed, prepare to be crucified

Like any artist or even any individual, Jay’s work reflects a range of emotion. However for people like Gayle to say she loves his lyrics wholeheartedly is not only a complete endorsement of all of his music to young girls (and boys), but it is also a smack in the face of those of us who practiced what Oprah preached. Everyone from Oprah to Bill O’Reilly has preached that we should have cleaner music but they never endorse artists whose music is clean. Every rapper from Common to Diddy who Oprah has had on her show or in her magazine has used misogynistic lyrics at some point. Conversely, so many positive rappers I know have to work second jobs or are forced to move back in with their parents because of the economy. Oprah can singlehandedly change the direction of some of this by helping to celebrate these artists. Just as her book club has helped the careers of others, a positive music club could do the same thing.

As a positive rapper myself, I was saddened by Gayle’s comments for two reasons. One reason is that it’s rappers like me and others who have been actively out there supporting Oprah when many in the hip-hop community attacked her for asking for clean music. You can read one of my blogs on this written 3 years ago right here. Despite this fact, she still sees it fit to bring on people who have dismissed her or her message. That’s her prerogative but when will we get our shot? When will those of us who actually do what she asked for get our say on her show? Many of us positive musicians are active parents, pursuing academic degrees, and are avoiding trouble with the law. We don’t rap about sex, drugs, or violence. These are all the things she claims she wants to see but does not actively support.

Lastly, it is we positive rappers who are going into schools, community centers, and even prisons to combat the negative music that is shown to youth around the globe on a daily basis. We are doing the groundwork on this. Much of what we may try to accomplish gets shot down in a 3-minute video on BET or MTV. The messages we try to spread will now get quicker dismissal from our youth with Oprah giving these artists more validation. It’s like in her earlier days when she decided to stop having racists on her show because she felt she was helping them grow their audience. She then focused more on people who were race healers and not race haters. Is it not the same with only having rappers on who have a history of misogyny? Why not support those who uplift women as opposed to condemn them? Who’s next to appear on the show or in the magazine? Lil’ Wayne? What about those of us who got it right the first time?

At the end of the day, I am glad that I listened to people like Oprah and became a positive artist. I like the fact that my music does not disgrace my sisters, my mother, my wife, or my daughters. I enjoy the fact that though some may not agree with my messages on social issues, they at least don’t feel like they have to go home and detoxify their daughters of the negative words I used to describe them. Whether people like Oprah choose to acknowledge or even support guys like us who are not going to get record deals or mass exposure is now irrelevant to me. I can’t wait for that. I’ve learned that this whole movement for clean music was a lie. I’ve learned that many in the media can make their careers talking about what they are against as opposed to what they’re for. This is not entirely true for Oprah, but I just wish she would stop making our job harder.

Black Male Musicians: Cowards on the Chris Brown/Rihanna Drama

March 16, 2009

All over television and radio, I hear and see female celebrities from Oprah and Tyra Banks to Robin Givens and Free expressing either support for Rihanna or at least warning her of the potential danger of staying with Chris Brown. It has indeed been quite impressive to see people like Oprah and Tyra sharing the stage and talking to young people about domestic violence, particularly since the media often speaks of those two as being competitors. If this was indeed the case, they’ve come together for an important cause. While women, particularly Black female entertainers have stood up for Rihanna, the unequivocal support of Chris Brown from Black male musicians has been downright disgraceful and cowardly.

From P. Diddy and Akon to Usher and Suge Knight, Black male musicians have either showed 1000% (no typo) support for Brown, or have backtracked on any critiques they may have given to Brown’s post alleged assault activities. Said Suge Knight:

 

Chris Brown is a lil’ homie…I got more love for Chris Brown than anybody. One of the things Chris Brown did before at the time my daughter was turning 14 years old, it was her birthday, and they were having a concert. He put her on stage, sang happy birthday, he didn’t have to, showed a lot of respect and I respect him for that. So therefore, I’ma ride with him a thousand percent on whatever it is, period.

 

Hey Suge, he didn’t have to nearly kill Rihanna either! Maybe this isn’t a surprise for someone who just pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery against his girlfriend in February. As long as you sing to Suge Knight’s daughter, you can go ahead and allegedly nearly kill someone.

            Snoop Dogg offered to have Brown and Rihanna on his variety show “Dogg After Dark” to talk about their relationship. In a great gesture towards healing their situation, he jokingly offered to also have Dr. Phil or Dr. Dre on his show to talk about it. Singer Akon said he would “absolutely” work with Brown because he doesn’t mix business with personal lives. He could have at least said he would work with him if he got help but not even that. P. Diddy offered his home for them to come work it out, when the most important thing they need right now is distance. They both threw out the obligatory “no one should hit women” but after that, it’s just business as usual. It’s sad when people who haven’t demonstrated high regard for women themselves throughout their career now know what’s best for Rihanana.

            Singer Usher has also proven to be most disappointing on this case. Usher criticized Chris Brown for going out on a jet ski while at Diddy’s house with Rihanna. Miraculously, Usher later apologized for criticizing Brown! Usher stated that he apologized “if anyone was offended. The intentions were not to pass judgment and we meant no harm. I respect and wish the best for all parties involved.” So basically the black male community of musicians has taken a hands-off approach to Chris Brown.

            To be fair to these artists, most men in the public eye have taken a hands-off approach to Brown, with the exception of Roland Martin, who had a panel of Black males talking about this on CNN, though no musicians. Michael Baisden and Warren Ballentine has always spoken about domestic violence so this wasn’t new for him. Overall though, if there were no females in the media like Oprah, Ellen, and Campbell Brown, I fear that this story would no longer be in the news. My main issue is personal for me because I have spent time and money listening to many of these artists. While I was proud to see many of them get involved in politics for the first time with Hurricane Katrina and then the election, there was no real risk in supporting President Obama. Taking a hard stand against domestic violence can indeed be career-ending.

            Black male musicians for the most part have yet to demonstrate the ability to take a prolonged stand on serious political and community issues. The Rihanna-Brown situation is a classic opportunity for these artists to step up to the plate and they are not evening picking up the bat. As we continue to follow this story, all of us who have been fans of many of these artists (including myself), should really become more mindful of who we listen to, particularly if we work with or have kids. With serious issues like domestic violence occurring and no one taking a stand, we can no longer have the philosophy that we can listen to whomever because “it’s just entertainment.” For me, it’s a matter of life and death.