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Friday, September 23, 2011

Lavish Ent Present Snook Da Rokk Starr (Feat. Torica) - Grown Woman Lovin

Troy Davis Is Not Dead



There is yet another great and bloody gash on the soul of America right now, because we allowed a state-sponsored killing of a potentially innocent man to occur in our name, on our watch. Fellow Americans, we must end the uncivilized and inhuman act of the death penalty, of killing people convicted of or believed to be murderers, immediately. If slavery was barbaric and morally wrong in its time, then the death penalty is barbaric and morally wrong in ours. Troy Davis should not be physically dead but, alas, he is.

I feel immense sorrow, was unable to sleep last night, and my very sincere prayers are both with the family of slain police officer Mark MacPhail, and with Troy Davis’ loved ones. We have two tragic life endings on our hands, separated by 22 years, millions of dollars in taxpayer money, and bottomless divisions in how and why a murder case should be handled and judged.

For in executing Troy Davis he has been made a martyr, a symbol of a new movement of awareness about our very busted criminal justice system, of how much race and class come into play when deciding who will be imprisoned, and for how long, who will be executed, and why, and what people are more likely to be executed for killing those not their race. Specifically when Black folks are charged with killing White folks. And, yes, I am aware that a White man named Lawrence Russell Brewer of Texas was executed, coincidentally, on the same day as Troy Davis, for the 1998 truck-dragging murder of a Black man, James Byrd. But, one, it is so rare that a White person is ever convicted (or put to death) for the killing of a Black person, or a Latino person, or an Asian person or a Native American person, in our America. And, second and most important, I am in complete opposition to the death penalty, and that means I did not want Mr. Brewer to be executed either, no matter how apparent his guilt was in the James Byrd death. Neither Lawrence Russell Brewer nor Troy Davis should be physically dead but, alas, they are.

Yet in spite of the racial realities of America, still, a progressive, multicultural army of concerned citizens came together to make our voices heard, in support of Troy Davis, in opposition to the death penalty. I have been an activist of some sort for 27 long years and I can tell you of the numerous movements and mini-movements I’ve ever been a part of, few have been as empowering and uplifting as the work to spare Troy Davis’ life. You could see and feel this online, on facebook, on twitter, in the many email exchanges and forwards. You could see and feel this in the too-many-to-count blogs that have been posted. And I certainly could feel and see it last night at our Brooklyn, New York rally and vigil for Troy Davis, where people of all races, all faiths (or none at all), all avenues of life, came together, in solidarity, for a cause that mattered as much to them as their own lives.


That is why I think it important that well-meaning Americans of whatever background read Michelle Alexander’s astonishing book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” Ms. Alexander is a legal scholar and college professor who painstakingly puts down the facts about America’s “prison-industrial complex,” and how it has disproportionately affected people of color. I visit American prisons regularly and have seen first-hand the legions of Black and Latino males locked up for years, for life, or those languishing on death rows, awaiting their capital punishment. Troy Davis happens to be the most famous death penalty case in American history, but real change will only occur when we begin to understand this is a catastrophic crisis deeply woven into the American social fabric and justice system.

Yes, there should be penalties for crimes in America, but there is something critically wrong when Black males only make up a small percentage of the total American population yet are the highest percentile of American prison inmates, of inmates on death row, or individuals with criminal records which will follow many of them for the remainder of their physical lives.



Indeed I thought of this and so much more as I assembled with that mostly young and very multicultural group at Downtown Brooklyn’s The House of the Lord church for the Troy Davis rally and vigil last night. We had no real structure for the program, no idea what was going to happen, but we were clear, as were thousands of others similarly gathered across America, and the world, that we could not go through this modern-day lynching of Troy Davis alone. So we created spaces for ourselves, we burned candles, we marched, we rallied, we prayed, we cried, we held hands, and we Americans hugged strangers in a way I had not seen since the night Barack Obama was elected president and, before that, not since the September 11th tragedy.

For me personally my emotions and spirit felt twisted in a hurricane, like a thick tree broken at its root, because I could not help thinking that I, a Black male in America, could very easily be in Troy Davis’ position. To be sure, some one hundred years ago, White males summarily murdered my great-grandfather, Baine Powell, from my mother’s side of our Low Country South Carolina family, in his community because they coveted his business independence and his 400 acres of land. His widow was left with three mere acres and children to raise solo. As the story goes the fear and trauma left by the killing of my great-grandfather led many of my kinfolk to flee that community, fearing it could happen to them, too. While others stayed, paralyzed with that fear, the story passed from one generation to another in hushed tones of trepidation and warning.

Thus, for some Americans, there is a painful memory of lynchings, of people watching, celebrating, and smiling when a Black man was executed, in many cases for a crime with untrustworthy witnesses and flimsy evidence, as was the situation with Troy Davis. That is why so many took to the social networks and used the term lynching without apology. And these were not just Black folks saying this either. For all Americans know, even in the quiet spaces of our minds, what America’s shaky history is around justice. Matter of fact, when Larry Cox of Amnesty International came out of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison (yes, that is the real name) after witnessing Troy Davis’ execution last night, he declared, pointedly, "I'm deeply ashamed of my country."

Does not mean that Mr. Cox, or any of us, are unpatriotic. On the contrary patriotism means, for me, that I love America so much, know its history so well, know its soul, heart, and mind so intimately, that I am clear what the potential is for America. But we will never achieve that potential, and will forever be semi-participants in the democracy and freedom social experiment, for ourselves, for the world, as long as things like the death penalty, poverty, ghettos, a dysfunctional public school system, and the absence of real-life economic opportunities for each and every American are alive and well.


So if there is ever a time for a national gut check, it is right here. For example, that means that so many people, especially in the state of Georgia, could have said their political careers are less important than murdering a potentially innocent man. Be it the five people who sit on the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles, or the Chatham County (Savannah) District Attorney, or the judge who signed Troy Davis’ death warrant on September 6, one after another refused to budge, or said they were powerless to do anything further. It makes you wonder how any of these folks can look themselves in the mirror on any given day, how they can, from one January to the next, celebrate the life and teachings of Georgia native son Martin Luther King, Jr., yet casually ignore one of his last lessons about us human beings needing to practice “a dangerous kind of selflessness.” What these officials did, instead, was turn their ears and hearts off from people the world over, hid behind timid statements and telephone and fax busy signals, and either claimed someone else had more power than they, or they simply refused to acknowledge the 7 of 9 witnesses who recanted their stories, the lack of consistent and concrete evidence, and the moral outrage that poured in from Pope Benedict XVI, former president Jimmy Carter, former FBI Director (under President Ronald Reagan) William S. Sessions, Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, six prison wardens, and over one million signed petitions.

We can run but we cannot hide, and I sincerely hope the Troy Davis case also increases voter participation in Georgia threefold, especially among younger voters, and that Georgians vote out of office district attorneys, judges, and any elected official who did not listen to the cries of the people at an hour such as this. If not now, then when? If not for we the people, then for whom do you work? But this is what happens when people with clear and multiple political aspirations and clear and multiple political agendas put their careers and maneuverings for power ahead of the people. All the Georgia officials who, at one point or another over the past 20 years have crossed paths with the Troy Davis case, now have to live, for the rest of their physical lives, with the reality that they all took part in a state-sponsored murder. And did little to nothing to halt it.

Indeed, no one that I know, including me, was even remotely suggesting that Troy Davis should have been freed from jail. No. Just make it a life sentence is what I have stated publicly, especially under that huge cloud of doubt. But there is simply no way to kill the spirit of a man, a human being, who maintained his innocence right to the very end, as that lethal injection ended his life at 11:08Pm on Wednesday, September 21, 2011. As I said in a previous blog, I do not know what happened on the night of August 19, 1989, but I just cannot subscribe to the notion of an eye for an eye. If it was wrong for Officer MacPhail to be killed, then it was also wrong for Troy Davis to be killed. Either we human beings, in America, in the world, are going to practice peace, love, nonviolence, compassion, and mercy toward each other, or we are going to continue down a path toward the destruction of us all, one community after another, one nation after another, one life after another. I am not sure what God you worship, but the one I celebrate does not condone any of this.

Likewise I categorically refuse to walk down that path of despair and hopelessness, for the work for justice is just beginning. Let us see the possibilities created by the short lives of both Officer Mark MacPhail and Troy Davis. Let us pray that the families of Officer MacPhail and Troy Davis one day come together to find the entire truth of what occurred, and become an extraordinary symbol of human unity and human understanding. Let us latch ourselves to that old but reliable mule called history and recall that it took a progressive, multicultural coalition of people power, committed for years, to end slavery in America. That same super-charged energy brought us the presidency of Barack Obama in 2008. So I am convinced that we can come together, stay together, and be together, in this moment, to create a movement to end the death penalty in America and on this planet, once and for all.

And when we do this, Troy Davis’ execution shall not be in vain—



Kevin Powell is an activist and public speaker based in Brooklyn, New York. A nationally acclaimed writer, Kevin is also the author or editor of 10 books. His 11th, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and The Ghost of Dr. King: And Other Blogs and Essays, will be published January 2012. Email him at kevin_powell, or follow him on Twitter @kevin_powell

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The Sugarhill Gang Working On First Album in 10 Years


Legendary hip-hop group the Sugarhill Gang is working on their first official album in over a decade, AllHipHop.com has learned.

The group recently entered the recording studio to begin the process of recording their 5th official album, since the release of their first self-titled full-length, which dropped in 1980.

The group is the subject of a documentary being produced titled “I Want My Name Back,” which debuted at the Urbanworld Film Festival last week.

The documentary is being shot by Roger Paradiso, who has produced flicks like “The Thomas Crown Affair,” “The Manhattan Project,” “City by The Sea,” and others.

“I Want My Name Back” tells the story of the Sugarhill Gang's rise to fame, along with their controversial place in hip-hop history, as well as decades-long legal battle to own their rap names, which they have recently gained control of.

According to Paradiso, the group has finally entered the recording studio to work on the follow up to Jump On It, which was released in 1999.

"They’re working on a new album and have been for a while," Roger Paradiso told AllHipHop.com. "They got so disillusioned during their first experience. If that song [the seminal hit "Rapper's Delight"] happened today, they’d be set for life. But they are living a very modest life."

In addition to the new album, the group was actively involved in making “I Want My Name Back,” which delves deep into the legal battle the group encountered with Sylvia and Joe Robinson, the owners of the legendary Sugar Hill record label.

Songs like “Rappers Delight,” and "Apache," are still played on the radio and in clubs around the world, although the group never saw the majority of their royalties.

"Their recording career came to an end not really because they wanted to, but they were under such a bad contract," Paradiso said, admitting that the Robinson's refused to comment on the documentary.

"They started touring and started learning how they were getting ripped off," Paradiso said. "When their contract came up, they got legal advice, and they tried to negotiate a better contract and the label didn’t want to. They had no publishing control and they certainly weren’t paid correctly on the royalty side."

At press time, there is no release date for “I Want My Name Back,” or the Sugarhill Gang's 5th album.

Exclusive: 50 Cent Wins 'Before I Self Destruct' Copyright Lawsuit


Queens rapper 50 Cent won a major victory in court yesterday (September 22nd), over a copyright infringement claim regarding his hit film and movie Before I Self Destruct.

50 was hit with a lawsuit filed by author Shadrach Winstead in November of 2009, who claimed that the rapper stole the concept for his album and movie from his 2008 book, "The Preacher Son – But The Streets Turned Me Into a Gangster."

50 hired entertainment firm Reed Smith to defend himself against the lawsuit, which was filed in United States District Court of New Jersey.

Yesterday, a federal court in Newark, New Jersey dismissed the copyright infringement case against 50 Cent and his G-Unit record label.

Reps for Reed Smith told AllHipHop.com that they won the case for 50, based on the absence of substantial similarity between the themes and plot of the book and movie.

The judge ruled that aside from the fact that the main character grew up on the streets of Newark and led a life of crime, there was little else in common between 50 Cent's movie and Shadrach Winstead's book.

"With respect to the various specific phrases and lines which Winstead alleged that our client took from the book, we demonstrated that many were misquoted, manipulated or not in the movie at all and that, in any event, they were non-copyrightable short phrases or unpredictable expressions used in the 'street' such as 'get the dope, cut the dope,' a rep for Reed Smith and 50 Cent told AllHipHop.com.

"Lastly, we argued that the pendent State law claims Winstead asserted were preempted by the Copyright Act," the rep explained. "Judge Chesler agreed on all points and dismissed the complaint in its entirety."

The case was handled by Reed Smith attorneys Peter Raymond, Kerren Zinner and Aditya Nagarajan in New York, with able assistance from Dan Mateo and Amy McVeigh in New Jersey.

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Facebook is diving into the world of music with today’s launch of Facebook Music.

The full details of the launch are expected to be announced later today at Facebook’s F8 Conference, which features a number of executive panelists from Spotify, Clear Channel, and Turntable.fm.

Ji Lee, the creative director for Facebook, sent out a tweet yesterday providing a hint to one of the main components of Facebook Music – the “Listen with your friend” feature.

“’Listen with your friend’ in ticker is blowing my mind. Listen to what your friends are listening to LIVE,” tweeted Lee.

Facebook is expected to announce an integration between themselves and a variety of music services such as Spotify, MOG, Rdio, Deezer that will result in a feedlike-display of music a user is playing on these services.

So, when one of your friends is listening to a track on one of those music services, his or her Facebook page lists the track's artist and title, providing others with one-click access to that song.

Jim Jones Sued Over Track With R&B Singer Ashanti


Hip-Hop and R&B producer Christopher R. Liggio filed paperwork to sue rapper Jim Jones in a New York federal court on Wednesday, for allegedly sampling a copyrighted song with out the producers permission.

The infringement suit claims that the Dipset member and other music companies, including Entertainment One, Sally Ruth Esther Inc., Universal Music Publishing, Songs of Universal Inc. and Pookitoots LLC used the song "Changing the Locks/Disco Rabbit" without the authorization of Mr. Liggio.

While Jim Jones was not available for comment at press time, this is the second case that Jim Jones has faced over the past year.

In February of this year, Jim Jones was sued by several young women who were said to have been featured topless in his video "Summertime" without their permission.

The song "Changing the Locks" consisted of Liggio's composition and the original vocal from Jones and R&B artist Ashanti.

Liggio was given a co-author and producer credit in the liner notes, but he claims that he was never contacted by Jones

Liggio, who has worked with artists like Jay-Z, Ludacris and Mary J. Blige, is alleging copyright infringement and constructive trust. He asks that the court determine the how much money Jim Jones might have made on the song.

Liggio wants $150,000 for the use of the copyrighted composition and $150,000 for use of the copyrighted sound recording, in addition to attorneys' fees and costs

BEYONCE TO LAUNCH HER OWN LABEL!



Being part of the most powerful couple in Hip-Hop, maybe even in music has had its perks. After seeing husband Jay-Z co-found the Roc-A-Fella empire and create his current RocNation label, Beyonce seems to have gotten the mogul itch herself. She told the following to The Huffington Post:

“I am still working on balance and still growing. I am starting my company, my label. I want to create a boy band. I want to continue to produce and do documentaries and music videos. I eventually want to start directing for other artists. Once I know that I have my stuff together and I trust that, I can do it for other artists. I see so many male artists building these empires and passing their knowledge on to other artists and development. I see myself doing the same thing and hopefully other younger artists when they grow up and they have been around for 15, 20 years, they can do the same thing.”

BeyNation anyone?

T.I. Scores Legal Victory In Akoo Clothing Dispute; Sales Of Clothing Line Spike


Atlanta rap star T.I. scored a major victory in court last week in the battle over the trademark to his Akoo Clothing line.

Akoo International filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against T.I. in March of 2010, after a controversial billboard ad in Newark, New Jersey created controversy in the city.

The ad featured a young woman kneeling in front of a man, pulling down his Akoo jeans, with her tongue sticking out.

The racy billboard advertisement was condemned by the city's mayor, Cory Booker and was eventually taken down, due to negative press and pressure from local activists.

On Friday, a federal judge refused to grant Akoo International an injunction against T.I.'s clothing line, which would have barred the rapper from using the name in commerce and immediately halted sales.

The judge ruled that Akoo International has not presented enough evidence to prove that consumers are being confused by the names.

Although the lawsuit is ongoing, the judge allowed T.I.'s Akoo Clothing line to continue to use the Akoo trademark.

The news comes as reps for the rapper revealed to TMZ.com that sales of the clothing line have spiked almost 25% since T.I. was incarcerated in September of 2010, for violating the terms of his probation, by being in possession of ecstasy.

T.I., who served 11 months of a year-long sentence, was released from federal custody on September 15th, and is currently finishing up his sentence in an Atlanta area halfway house.

He is due to be released September 29th, but must still complete a year of probation



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