Kevin Powell in awkward spot over Tupac movie
Former journalist says his work from ‘Vibe’ magazine was lifted
7:34 PMThings did not get off to a great start for All Eyez On Me, the Tupac Shakur biopic that had been hotly anticipated for years. Ever since the death of Shakur’s mother, Afeni, last May, there were concerns about how her son’s legacy and likeness would be used. She was the main gatekeeper of his message and identity after he was killed. The main concern was that the movie would either just be awful or, perhaps worse, counterfactual or ahistorical. Turns out, it was a bit of both.
Now, Kevin Powell, a former hip-hop journalist who is now an author and public speaker, says he plans to sue the producers and writers of the film, effectively for lifting his work with no compensation. He issued a statement Friday on Facebook.
This is nothing short of a deathblow to this film, from a credibility standpoint. When it was first released last week, the debut was marred by the fact that Jada Pinkett Smith, Pac’s longtime close friend, basically said that most of the on-screen relationship in the movie was a lie. She was understanding and graceful about her misgivings, but everyone understood that without her cosign, nobody could take it seriously.
Which was unfortunate more than anything. We all wanted to love this film. It many respects, it was more important than some of these other biopics because of, obviously, the subject of the film. No one wanted to know that the actual people involved in his life didn’t respect it or like it.
To follow that up, legendary movie director John Singleton said the biopic was worse than Lifetime’s attempt to document Aaliyah’s life, career and death — widely considered a complete mockery of her history. Mind you, Singleton was supposed to direct this Tupac movie, so his shade comes with a tad more bias than most. Nonetheless, it’s been one thing after another for director Benny Boom on this flick. All Eyez On Me earned $27 million its first weekend and is in theaters now.
But along with this accusation came an admission that fundamentally affects the overall lens through which we see Tupac’s life. In his complaint, Powell basically admits that he made a decent portion of those stories up, including a central figure who appears in the film named Nigel. Talk about awkward. No one wants to see their work get stolen, but to basically say the reason you knew why is because they passed on a lie that you created has to be a sinking feeling.
Whether or not Powell wins this case I don’t know, but if one of the central pieces of canon in the legacy of one of our most celebrated artists is based on a lie that even he didn’t know about, what are we to believe overall? Now we know why Afeni fought so hard to keep her son’s truth in the forefront.
Daily Dose: 6/23/17
Bill Cosby is taking his show on the road
11:19 AMIt’s officially summer. That means you’ll have a lot more people randomly taking Fridays off. And for that reason, I’m filling in on The Dan Le Batard Show today with Ryan Hollins. Should be a fun one.
LAVAR JUST RENAMED OUR SI KIDS REPORTER LAMAX pic.twitter.com/om1i8Ja1PG
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 23, 2017
Johnny Depp needs to chill. Thursday at the Glastonbury Festival in England, he intimated that he might want to assassinate President Donald Trump. Not only is this not cool at all from an obvious human standpoint, but this can also turn out to be a pretty awful career move. Just ask Kathy Griffin. Of course, Depp is rich beyond belief, but he apparently also has issues handling money, so he might want to be able to continue to work for a while. This is not going to end well for Depp.
Bill Cosby has no shame. The man who openly admitted to drugging women to have sex with them, managed to get a hung jury in a sexual assault trial, then had his handlers openly brag about his restored power is really craven. He’s planning public speaking arrangements about how to avoid sexual assault accusations. The plan is to focus on speaking to young athletes and married men. They’re going to have to pay people to show up to these things. Simple lesson: Assault is the problem. Not the accusations.
When I was a teenager, I skated a lot. Not like, let me go to the skate park and learn tricks, but more of a “I need a faster and more fun way to get around town” type. So I never really got good enough to do anything that would impress anyone, but I could ollie well enough to hop a curb from the street if I needed to. Whether I can still actually do that or not, I have no idea. But I will be covering the X Games later this summer, so maybe we’ll see. Anyway, one reporter tried to pick up skating as a grown-up and, well, it wasn’t quite what she expected.
The White House is affecting the New York Jets. If owner Woody Johnson is confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the U.K., that means his kid brother Chris is going to have to take over daily operations of the team. I love the idea of the Jets falling apart because of the owner’s excessive political aspirations. Woody Johnson screaming about some butt fumble situation with a cup of tea on the table is an image I won’t get out of my mind anytime soon. I really hope the U.S. Embassy in London is lame enough to fly a Jets flag too.
Coffee Break: I admitted to myself the one thing in life I know I’ll regret is not being able to be around when the numbers game simply changes in the U.S. That will be when there are just too many people of color to allow unfair practices to rule our land. Here’s a great story on how interracial love is saving the nation.
Snack Time: Keep telling yourself that everything is fair in America, kiddos. Check out these two photos and you’ll get a real good look at how we are treated versus everyone else.
A white kid in America illegally selling lemonade VS black kids in America illegally selling water. Who can spot the difference ? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/GUH2qwydZP
— Allie Jay (@AllieJayBabyy) June 22, 2017
Dessert: Vince Staples’ new album is out. It’s got many sounds and is perfect for a party to run all the way.
Daily Dose: 6/22/17
Milwaukee is the latest city to protest the verdict in a police shooting
1:40 PMI’m back from New York, and it was a whirlwind week. I did my best to create a complete radio show for the podcast, so I hope you like it. The whole thing has been a work in progress, but I think we’re getting closer to what we want.
Octavia Butler would have been 70 today.
— playboi canti (@itskindred) June 22, 2017
It feels like every day of summer is going to deliver another terrible verdict. This time it comes from Milwaukee, where an officer killed a man after a chase. The victim in this case appeared to have gotten rid of a firearm during the pursuit, which was a critical point for the verdict in the end. It might be worth noting that the officer was black, but that doesn’t change the fact that another man lost his life at the hands of law enforcement, which is such a troubling trend that it’s hard to keep up. There will be protests in Wisconsin today, for sure.
We now have a new proposed health care bill. Nobody’s seen it, few lawmakers have any idea what it actually is, but Senate Republicans drafted it behind closed doors and refused to reveal any details about it until it was time to vote. As far as legislative shenanigans go, this definitely qualifies as doing the most. Democrats have been going all over the country asking constituents what they think of repealing the Affordable Care Act, but no one knows what’s in it. Now, we have what they’re calling a “discussion draft,” which is rather underwhelming.
The doctor’s office is stressful. There’s just no way around that. Whether it’s the wait time, the paperwork, the cost or the obvious situation of learning about one’s health, in general it causes major anxiety. So if you walk into a medical facility with a strong bent of racism on your mind, things are not going to go well. That’s exactly what happened in Canada recently when a woman decided she was going to start yelling at people in order for her kid to see a white physician. Then, she claimed she was being discriminated against. Can’t make this up.
Yasiel Puig is my favorite L.A. Dodgers player. He has been so ever since he joined the team and brought his Cuban flavor to the diamond, hotdogging and bat flipping his way all over the big leagues. Of course, because MLB is full of curmudgeons who don’t like fun, this was not well-received. This time, he upset the New York Mets because he took too long to get around the bags after a home run. Now, everyone’s saying he doesn’t have respect for the game, which is absurd. This charade from big leaguers only gets more annoying with each passing pitch. Get over it.
Coffee Break: Speaking of baseball, some people go to incredible lengths to be able to play. For example, if you have only one hand, it’s not easy to do. But in the mold of Jim Abbott, the legendary one-handed pitcher who once threw a no-hitter, there’s a catcher doing the same thing. Check this kid out, he’s awesome.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 22, 2017
Snack Time: George Clooney’s won the life lottery in so many ways. Aside from being exactly the type of guy whom Hollywood casts for everything, he apparently also just falls into money when he isn’t even trying. What a life.
Dessert: DeMario Jackson is back on Bachelor In Paradise. This franchise is totally out of control.
All Day Podcast: 6/22/17
A trip around New York City, with a twist
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Remember back when I mentioned that the All Day Podcast was going to become a lot more personal? Well, that day has come. This week, I traveled up to New York to talk to a couple of people about their connection to the basketball and sports world, with the NBA draft set to go down Thursday night in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center.
Basically, I grabbed my recording equipment and hit the streets, hoping to capture some stories and give you an idea of what interests me beyond the obvious stick and ball sports that we cover so regularly here. It was a fun ride, and I hope after listening you’ll get a better idea of exactly what makes me tick.
To begin with, I sat down with Porter Braswell and Ryan Williams, the co-creators of Jopwell. It’s a firm that places minority candidates in tech jobs, started by two black men who met while working in finance on Wall Street. I met them at their downtown offices in Manhattan to talk about what prompted them to leave the money world and try to help others in a field that neither of them had much experience in.
Braswell, who played basketball at Yale, talked about what it was like to bring his athletic persona into the corporate world once he was done with hoops and how it helped shape his business strategy. Williams pointed out this was not a popular career decision in his household, but it certainly has paid off at this point in terms of what he’s getting out of it. Then, I got crushed at pingpong.
Later that afternoon, I made my way to midtown to check out the unveiling of Nike’s new REACT technology, featured on the Hyperdunk and Jordan Super.Fly 2017s. The event was held at a place called Terminal 23, which holds invite-only open runs for people in the business and youth players looking for more than the average gym experience. I played horribly, but I did get to talk to three Nike execs who were responsible for creating the new shoes, one of which Golden State Warriors center Draymond Green wore in the NBA Finals. He was there, too.
Lastly, I took a trip to Queens to decompress after hearing the news of the death of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy. He was only 42 years old, making him the latest in a long line of hip-hop greats who have died before 50, which is just really sad. He was a force on the rap scene since “Shook Ones Pt. II,” and his presence in the game as a ’90s artist will never be forgotten.
I talked with K-Sise, a lifelong friend and family member as far as I’m concerned, about what his impact meant to the borough. K is a semiretired recording artist who grew up in Queens, so I thought his input on this subject would be valuable. We sat down at his place and talked about the crazy day that was and how it affected us as fans of the culture, never mind him as a Queens native and New Yorker. I think you’ll find it interesting.
Overall, it was a pretty exhausting Tuesday, but I did my best to make it sound good. With any luck, you’ll get an idea of where this show is looking to go, because although this episode isn’t perfect — none are — it’s as close as I’ve gotten to something that best represents what this blog is really about.
Daily Dose: 6/21/16
The justice system isn’t equipped to convict officers
12:14 PMTuesday was a heck of a day. Three interviews with three entirely different types of people, all in New York. This week’s All Day podcast is going to be a look at how I navigated a wild trip around NYC. Coming Thursday.
why…why are all the new Ken dolls youtubers pic.twitter.com/x7DDeJf9bN
— Erin Burr, sir (@erinscafe) June 21, 2017
Our judicial system is not designed to consider police officers as criminals. It just isn’t. On a systemic level, this is not really news. But on a visceral one, it’s a difficult reality to come to grips with when you’re faced with things like video evidence. The fact is, for most Americans, a black person is a threat simply by existing. So even if they are law-abiding and, say, in possession of a handgun, they are still scary to many. Including officers who are trained to handle threats. The video of how Philando Castile was killed in Minnesota is truly horrifying.
The concept of streetwear is fascinating to me. For us from a certain generation, those were just known as “clothes.” But over the years, the concept of garments for people who don’t have to wear suits or dress like they are at a country club has evolved from a niche to a lifestyle. It’s not uncommon to see people who outfit their whole lives in streetwear. Bobby Kim is one of the guys who created The Hundreds, and he’s got a new documentary out about how all this came to be in his life.
Here’s the definition of terrorism: The unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims. And when a guy decided he wanted to shoot up a baseball practice with lawmakers before the Congressional Baseball Game last week, after specifically making the point of targeting them, you’d think that fit the bill. But no — and we’re guessing this has something to do with what the man who shot Rep. Steve Scalise looks like — the FBI says it’s not terrorism. I guess that precedent would be too much to set.
I just became Dwyane Wade’s new biggest fan. In an era in which people are steadily hating on athletes for doing anything they can and want to do to succeed as human beings, the Bulls guard just pulled a high-quality flex on people who act like pros should put their teams above themselves — as if the teams would ever do that for them. When asked about why Wade chose to pick his player option for next year, which would pay him $24M, he said straight up “24 million reasons.”
Coffee Break: It’s the first day of summer, which means you are officially allowed to indulge in debauchery and act idiotic in the name of the season. Personally, I plan on being heavy in the tank tops and headbands streets, myself. But if you need a playlist to kick off your rose-splashed garden parties, here you go.
Snack Time: Wednesday is Go Skateboarding Day. Which means that if you have a chance, grab a skateboard and go do it. I’ll be at the X Games this summer, too, so that should be fun. Here, watch this video to get yourself in the mood.
— Vans Skate Team (@vansskate) June 21, 2017
Dessert: Look at the NHL making news during the summer. Good for you, guys.
— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) June 21, 2017
Mobb Deep’s Prodigy dies at 42
The Queensbridge rapper had long battled sickle cell anemia
3:43 PMHe had you stuck off the realness from day one.
Albert “Prodigy” Johnson, half of the seminal 1990’s rap group Mobb Deep, has died at the age of 42, according to Nas’ Instagram account. Known as P, P Double and The HNIC, based on his series of albums by the same name, he had publicly battled sickle cell anemia for some time. He becomes the latest in a line of many rappers of his era to die before age 50, a trend that’s becoming more the norm than the exception.
More specifically, Prodigy was a personal favorite. Ever since he burst onto the scene with the head-cracking anthem “Shook Ones (Part II)” in 1995, captivating a generation of fans looking for a hardcore East Coast aesthetic that accurately portrayed the absurd and pointless violence of the streets, he was an instant legend. That album, along with the subsequent offering from him and his partner and producer Havoc, established them in a long line of greats on the hip-hop scene from the Queensbridge Houses project in New York.
When he branched out to make his solo move, he still held on to that in-your-face bravado mixed with street wisdom that for a certain type of rap head was impossible to let go of. Here are my favorite verses of his, from a time when rapping about killing people was still something that people did with some level of seriousness.
Here are my five Prodigy faves.
Honorable mention: “I Shot Ya” (remix)
But anyway, back on the real side of things/
My n—-s sling cracks and wear fat diamond rings/
Not only is it inside the songs that we sing/
Everything is real not just a song that we sing
A more recent selection:
5. “G.O.D. Pt. III”
Horror tales in Braille, for vision-impaired/
You looking for P, well you can find him everywhere/
In a project near you, I’ll be right there
4. “Eye for An Eye”
Life is a gamble, we scramble for money/
I might crack a smile but ain’t a damn thing funny/
I’m caught up in the dirt where your hands get muddy/
Plus the outcome turns out to be lovely
3. “Mac 10 Handle”
Forget the lyrics — this video is completely insane and a true testament to just how creative this man was.
2. “Shook Ones (Part II)”
While many will call this the best, and I won’t argue with them, it’s still not my favorite. The first time I heard it, I had it memorized. It truly changed the world, and when I was 19 I sang this song louder than any I ever have in my life. It’s a classic, and it always will be. I won’t be forgetting this verse until I’m in a casket.
1. Keep It Thoro
When you see me in the streets soldier, salute me/
You just a groupie, oh, you gangsta, then shoot me
This is easily the best “don’t start nothing won’t be nothing” song of all time for my money. The beat bangs viciously, and the line “I’ll throw a TV at you” is still an all-timer. I still play this when I’m ready to get hype to do random stuff like fold clothes.
Rest in peace, Prodigy. A real legend.
Daily Dose: 6/20/19
Kamala Harris has the heat for your cookout jam
11:36 AMI’m in New York this week for the podcast, meaning the show has literally been taken on the road. Turns out the summer is going to be PRETTY eventful, so get ready for that, kiddos. Got this content creation battleship officially moving.
— DO NOT CONGRATULATE (@russbengtson) June 19, 2017
Sen. Kamala Harris does it for the culture. After her recent string of star turns in Senate committee hearings, her internet stardom has risen back to fame, putting the junior California senator from Oakland on a lot more people’s radar. Now she’s dropping a mixtape. Seriously. She just released a playlist to honor African-American Music Appreciation Month on Spotify. And she ain’t playing around, either. This thing is a banger that’ll have the dad rap crowd and your aunties moving at the cookout.
Fads are fun. I would consider myself a fad person. Not like I need to buy every single thing that people like in these streets, but I certainly have an appreciation for anything that can carve its way into the cultural consciousness for a small period of time. But every now and again, something comes along that completely passes you by. For me, that’s fidget spinners. I’ve seen them on TV. I’ve seen them made fun of, but in real life? I have yet to run into one in the wild. I guess I need some kids. Alas, they’re already over. Oh, well.
The homey Chance can’t lose. Between his fire music, active political involvement and tremendous magazine covers, my man is doing a lot and doing it well. Now, he’s got another commercial for the streets, this time for Twitter. Every time I see this guy do something new, I think about how he basically jump-started all this by getting suspended from school. Even when they try to hold us down over some nonsense, we can find a way to make the best of life. Lil Chano is the best.
Any requests? Real instruments? No problem.
— Twitter (@Twitter) June 19, 2017
Tiger Woods needs help. After his latest incident, in which police officers caught him sleeping behind the wheel after a night out at his restaurant, it became clear his issues had to do with a lot more than golf. Ever since that fateful Thanksgiving Day in 2009 when his whole world fell apart, it’s been one thing after another, with a solid season on the course mixed in. Now he’s telling the world that he’s enlisting the aid of a professional, which from the sound of it, is something that would have benefited him quite some time ago. Good luck, Eldrick.
Coffee Break: It’s the season of people doing studies to confirm things that people of color have been telling you for years. In the latest episode, a new study informs us that black and Latino drivers are more likely to be cited and arrested during traffic stops than white people. You don’t say! Thanks for clearing that one up, guys.
Snack Time: Reason No. 2 of the millions why I’m terrified of surgery is that I’ll accidentally get the wrong thing operated on, changing my life for the worst. This story is particularly, well, nuts.
Dessert: This is a fun game. #FirstGifComesUpForYourName
— Fungo Velo (@clintonyates) June 20, 2017