The UK Corner

Urban Entertainment from a British perspective

The UK Corner event preview: RnB superstars 2 SWV, Ginuwine, Dru Hill and Silk in Super Gig

Sisters With Voices AKA SWV, are back with a new single Co-sign taken from their upcoming album I Missed Us set to be released on April 10 via eOne Music and Mass Appeal Entertainment. The RnB trio from New York who formed in 1990 as a gospel group are one of the most successful RnB groups of that era. They had a string of hits such as Weak, Right Here/Human Nature, I’m So Into You, and You’re the One. Though the group disbanded in 1998 to pursue solo projects, they  reunited in 2005. Their most recent UK performance was alongside Faith Evans in December 2010 at indigo2.

The RnB superstars will be joined by Ginuwine who has multi-platinum and platinum-selling albums and singles, and became one of RnB’s top artists in the same period.  He formed a supergroup with H-Town and Playa and his sexy performances have always been a hit with his female fans. His most recent album was 2011’s Elgin. His most recent UK performance was alongside J Holiday at indigo2 last June.

Dru Hill and Silk will also join the line up at HMV Apollo London on Sunday 12 February. Dru Hill recorded seven top 40 hits in the UK, and is best known for the hits In My Bed, Never Make a Promise, and How Deep Is Your Love. Their most recent album was 2010’s InDrupendence Day which they promoted in the UK that same year

Silk are best known for their hit singles Happy Days and Freak Me from their debut album Lose Control.  The album reached double platinum. They made a popular come back in the UK at the indigo last February alongside Kut Klose.

In a pre-valentines day special presented by S & C MEDIA LTD, this eclectic old school line up will be delivering musical gifts for RnB lovers. With comedy from Choice FM DJ Kojo and Slim, this is an event not to be missed.

14s and under to be accompanied by an adult. Tickets range from £28.50 to £50.00. Show starts from 7pm and ends at 11pm.

For more information visit: http://venues.meanfiddler.com/apollo/full-listings/featured/5908

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The UK Corner Book review: I didn’t ask to be born (but I’m glad I was) By Bill Cosby

From its title, you may assume that New York Times Bestselling Author Bill Cosby’s latest book is another social commentary. However, surprisingly, it is more a collection of humorous tales of varied lengths about his observations of family and friends. Insightful, Cosby writes about everything from romance to religion. He introduces us to the characters in his life from a young Peanut Armhouse who he grew up with in a Philadelphia housing project, to his Godzilla-loving grandson, and his first love Bernadette.

The latter is my favourite part of the book. I laughed out loud as Cosby recalled being a fifteen-year-old boy in the tale of cologne and catastrophe that even a Miles Davis LP cannot soothe. The Missing Pages is another great story focusing on what simply must have been edited out of Genesis and the story of how God created the world. Cosby even traces Adam and Eve’s DNA to marriages in 2011. With hilarious illustrations by George Booth, the book is full of charm and charisma.

Cosby is loved as a comedian, producer, musician, activist, educator and actor. His first humor book since Cosbyology does not disappoint. Only Cosby can tell a story with so much vibrancy from emphasizing the pronunciation of names (Peee –Nut), to subtly exuding the characteristics of the bygone era from which he came where voice mails were not on the horizon!

Reflecting on technological advances, Cosby notes that he had no TV and grew up in the radio age, while enjoying trips to the movie theater to watch Westerns. With his great imagination Cosby has conquered the multimedia age and fans are lucky to experience his comedy and wisdom on multiple platforms.

Read an excerpt

Cosby deals with the title of his book as a subject, dispensing more of the fatherly advice he has become associated with since The Cosby Show from single children, to handling demands for toys and manipulative advertising. There is even a seasonal story about his grandchildren’s encounter with Santa Claus’ assistant.

This quirky book is a gift that inspires you to indulge in all the other gifts Cosby has bestowed on the world from his TV shows, to his comedy albums, to his other books. But the biggest gift was from his mother who birthed his genius.

I didn’t ask to be born but I’m glad I was by Bill Cosby is out now published by Hachette Book Group.

For more information visit:

http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/books_9781455505944.htm

posted by The UK Corner in Books and have Comment (1)

The UK Corner DVD review: Black Power Mixtape 1967 – 1975

Swedish Filmmaker Göran Hugo Olsson has produced a fascinating documentary that anyone interested in black history should see. From the outset it juxtaposes the equalities of America with the inequalities and exposes the injustice, which lived just a few, miles from justice; the distance between the two was measured by race.

The archival 16mm black and white and colour footage shot by Swedish filmmakers, was unearthed from a basement of a TV station after 30 years. The film primarily focuses on Howard University Alumni Stokely Carmichael, who later changed his name to Kwame Ture, the Trinidad-American black activist. Carmichael was the leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and became the ‘Honorary Prime Minister’ of the Black Panther Party. Affiliated with Black Nationalist and Pan-Africanist movements, he popularized the term ‘Black Power’.

In the film which was co-produced by the actor Danny Glover, Olsson presents the eloquent orator Camichael making rousing speeches about Dr Martin Luther King and the bus boycott to largely white audiences. Carmichael analyzes the effectiveness of Dr King’s non-violence approach at the time.

The historical evidence is put into context be a series of interviews with musicians such as Erykah Badu, actors such as Melvin Van Peebles, poets such as Abiodun Oyewole and Sonia Sanchez, and professors such as John Forté and Robin Kelley, recorded in 2010. Rapper Talib Kweli is heard assessing Carmichael’s strengths, personality and legacy as we see Carmichael traveling around Europe. Kweli also tells an interesting tale about Carmichael inspiring one of his records and being investigated by the FBI/CIA after studying him; highlighting the threat that Carmichael’s ideas are sill perceived to be.

Olsson does a great job contextualizing the American Civil Rights movement amid the broader political scene with reference to the backdrop of the Vietnam War. The film reminded me of how much I love history. It is amazing to watch Carmichael interviewing his mother and hearing about growing up in poverty due to the discrimination is father faced. There are many revealing moments with footage of Carmichael singing in his hotel room and doing regular things.

Stokely Carmichael

The DVD takes each year between 1967 – 1975 in turn. By 1968 The Roots Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson, who produced original music for the soundtrack alongside Om’Mas Keith, notes that Dr King’s assassination was no accident; as he moved towards a more militant anti-war position. Desegregation was one thing but economic power was another.

Actor Harry Belafonte provides insight into how Dr King felt in the last days of his life when he did not fear for his life, but instead for the quality of it. He aimed to fight new battles not on race but education, health and welfare. The DVD includes a clip from Dr King’s speech in Memphis the night before he was killed. It also shows Dr King in his casket. It highlights the deaths of other prominent black people in 1968 such as Civil Rights Activist Medgar Evers and Fred Hampton, as well as key moments in black history that year such as athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ 1968 Olympics Black Power salute at the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City, and incidents of policy brutality in America.

The DVD is moving in showing such palpable moments in history. A clip from Malcolm X’s 1964 Oxford Union debate is precious. Vox pops from black people on the streets of America of losing heroes such as John F Kennedy, Dr King and Robert Kennedy, and footage of poor mothers with multiple mouths to feed are just as meaningful. It is all the more moving to see such despair in the late sixties and look at where things stand today.

The film also features moments with Black Panthers, Bobby Seale and Kathleen and Eldridge Cleaver, and Huey P Newton who declares that new leaders are born and made, and highlights the important work the Black Panther party did introducing free clinics and free breakfast clubs – an initiative the American Government was to adopt. It can be disturbing to hear kids singing about guns but commentators such as Erykah Badu put into context the realities of self-defense and the extreme circumstances. The film charts the progress of the Black Panther Party as more members are arrested or killed; and the party in general moved towards socialism.

Political Activist and author Professor Angela Davis, the first woman on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, is another great commentator who contributes to the film on top of an intimate, candid and exclusive interview from her prison cell as a 26-year-old woman in 1970. With her trademark afro, wearing a red polo neck, brown skirt and red tights, Davis vividly recalls the scenes she witnessed as a youth including being stopped and searched by the police and her ties to one of the four little girls killed in the 1963 Birmingham Alabama church bombing.

The film is empowering and audiences can only thank the team, past and present, for being brave and passionate enough to tell this story, especially considering that in 1970, America’s TV Guide lambasted Swedish and Dutch TV for being anti-American in presenting an alternate interpretation of history.

The film highlights the advancement of the early seventies where black was beautiful and knowledge was power. It features an interview with Lewis H Michaux in 1973 at his iconic Harlem African National Memorial Bookstore, where Malcolm X spoke, and a year before it closed down.

By 1974 when Nixon resigned, Watergate was overshadowed in black communities by heroin, which the Government flooded the neighborhoods with. Even Vietnam Veterans returned with drug problems. Angela Davis aligns the influx of narcotics with the decline of military and revolutionary impulses. A few years after man had conquered the moon they struggled to combat earthly highs. A young female drug addict tells a particularly harrowing tale of abuse and prostitution; one can only hope she has beaten her demons.

As inner cities became gentrified, new leaders emerged such as the nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan who is also featured in the film. The story comes full circle analyzing the legacy of the black power movement; its rationale, radicalism and rhetoric, which has been referenced for other human rights movements. Erykah Badu notes the importance of black people documenting their history, though it is a Swedish team behind the production. It is important for people to document their history but when resources such as this are so valuable it matters less who produced it, and more who can benefit from it.

Black Power Mixtape 1967 – 1975 is out now from Soda Pictures priced £9.99.

The satirical special documentary feature, This Film Is Meant To Be About Stokely Carmichael about Carmichael’s British cousin and National Film and Television School alumni Isis Thompson’s struggles with identity, featuring Dami Akinnusi and Darcus Howe, will divide opinion.

The film premiered in UK cinemas during Black History month in October. It has already toured cities across America.

For more information visit: http://blackpowermixtape.com/

posted by The UK Corner in Film, DVD and TV and have Comments (2)

The UK Corner Book review: My Story so far by Tinie Tempah

At 23, Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu Jr, AKA Tinie Tempah, has admitted that it is a bit early for an autobiography, but as the title suggests, this book is more of an insight into the journey that has led him to become one of the UK’s most successful recording artists. His youth means that the book is largely comprised of photographs representing the key moments of the last two years.

For fans, the book traces Tempah’s roots in South London and life with his Nigerian family with childhood photos to make the tales of Jollof rice and extended family more vivid. He reveals that he was creative from an early age creating animated characters. As the oldest child he was also responsible, and this marriage of maturity and creativity are key to his career successes.

His passion for music was one of the main reasons he avoided the perils of the streets which some of his school friends fell victim to that, and his vigilant parents. It was his mother who encouraged him to work with his cousin Dumi who was to be come his manager.

Dumi saw the potential in his young cousin who diligently studied the emerging grime scene and began to make mix tapes and do PAs and appear on pirate radio stations alongside the MCs he idolized. Tempah worked hard while studying at school and college, and worked to pay for music videos. With confessionals about early insecurities and doubts, the book provides great inspiration for those keen to break into the music industry and any one with a dream.

Tinie Tempah

Tempah’s main message is to seize the day and follow those dreams. He explicitly analyzes the dreams, which have been realized for him including his number one singles such as Pass Out and Written in the Stars (the official theme song for Wrestlemania 27), and his double platinum-selling debut album Disc-Overy, his music videos, life on tour including life backstage and his non-controversial rider and experiences in America (he appeared on Jay Leno and David Letterman and played Coachella), and his relationships with the artists, producers and famous faces he has met and worked with such as Prince William, Labrinth, Snoop Dogg, Pharrell Williams, Adele, Kylie, Diddy, Wiz Khalifa, Usher and Lindsay Lohan who messages him on Twitter! Famous names such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Jay-Z and Jessie J are also quoted.

Having joined the ranks of those big name, MOBO and Brit award winning Tempah is not afraid to show his cards as he talks about the way fame has affected him and those around him. Tempah’s voice is definitely recognizable in the book. Known for his insightful lyrics and clever word play, readers can be confident that his intellect comes across.

The self-assured comfortable in his own skin persona is what has made Tempah so well received. His character comes across in the book and you get to know him, from his crushes and musical tastes, to his hobbies and passion for fashion. The story so far is only the beginning and if it is anything to go by, the next chapters can only get bigger and better.

My story so far by Tinie Tempah is out now, published by Ebury Publishing, priced £14.99. For more visit: http://www.eburypublishing.co.uk/viewbook.asp?isbn=0091945232

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The UK Corner Book review: Modelland by Tyra Banks

From the outset, Modelland overpowers your senses. A form of literature candy, it gives a sugar rush with its metaphors and flamboyant world. Initially trying to acclimatize to the characters such as the De La Crèmes, the places such as Peppertown, Metopia, and the unrelenting alliteration, is almost too much. Yet it is worth the effort to fully immerse oneself into this fashionable fictional world.

In Modelland, the exclusive, mysterious place on top of the mountain, some recognizable facts are worn. Banks skillfully takes the reader through a fantastical journey reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In this book Smizes not chocolate bars are key to life changing adventure.

15-year-old whipped cream loving Tookie De La Crème is the female Charlie; though she comes from a less loving family. A lonely Forgetta-Girl, she longs to become memorable. But not even her untamed hair, mismatched eyes, large forehead and gawky body can make her stand out from the crowd. Surprisingly on the Day of Discovery or T-DOD, she, not her perfect sister Myraccle, is chosen to become a Bella and a potential Intoxibella (supermodel).

The plot echoes a series of America’s Next Top Model, the show former supermodel and Talk Show host Banks created, which is now shown in 170 countries. The worldliness of Banks’ personal experience is also evident in the book with a plurality of cultures featured.

In this luminescent world of Thigh High Boot Camp, Catwalk Corridor, CaraCaraCara, The OohAh! Spa; Flashback Females and Manattack; where Teachers are Gurus, Servants are Mannecants, Nurses are Purses on skates, and time is told by shades of colour, there is much to learn and experience. This includes first love for Tookie who encounters the charming Bravo.

But it is not all fun in the Dorms and M Building; there is the threat of Ci-L and the Belladonna, and the danger of the Diabolical Divide and diabolically bitchy Bellas such as Zarpessa. Not once will Tookie and her new found friends bid to escape ironically while her mother and sister try to break into Modelland via the Pilgrim Passage.

But the challenges Tookie faces are worth it; they make her into a Rememba-girl rather than breaking her. Banks uses Tookie as an exemplar of teen angst and no doubt builds on her experience running the TZONE Foundation to highlight teen insecurity, self-harming, and eating disorders.

Tyra Banks

Though aimed at teenagers, the book has wide appeal with its insight into the world of fashion, and keen observations on the world’s obsession with fashion and limited conceptions of beauty, a cause that Banks has dedicated herself to redefining. Indeed, fans will see a lot of Banks’ personality in the book as well as fashion iconography in the form ‘Evanjalinda’ and ‘Bevjo’.

Havard Business School graduate Banks has crafted a greatly detailed story with believable characters and a far from predictable plot. Modelland would make a great film and with Bankable productions, Banks’ production company, it may be on the cards. In the meantime, the sequel in this trilogy is one to watch out for.

Modelland by Tyra Banks and published by Delacorte press, is out now.

posted by The UK Corner in Books and have Comments (3)