5 Best Lyrics from Common’s Remix to Jay-Z’s ‘Open Letter’

Jay-Z’s “Open Letter” continues to inspire other rappers to give their take on the issue. Common is the latest emcee to give his take on the issue with the remix to “Open Letter.”

Common “Open Letter” remix

“The same way she said she was a shooter, Assata Shakur, they tried to execute her, I went to Cuba to see her, We should free her, like we should Mumia”

Common did visit Cuba years ago and sat down with Assata Shakur. Shakur was a former Black Panther who was convicted of murder and escaped prison. She now has political asylum in Common. Common released a song dedicated to her, “Assata,” after his visit.

“Y’all seen how Fox News tried to do me, They say I’m too black, like it’s lights out
Might not get invited back to the White House”

In 2011, Common was invited to the White House by Michele Obama who put on an event for poets. Several Republicans spoke out against Common’s visit because of lyrics that suggest he would kill a police officer. Common still performed, but the backlash may prevent him from getting another White House invite.

“Still with the Obamas I ride, I’ll meet the president on the Southside”

Common didn’t let the experience deter his feelings for the Obama family. He’ll meet with President Obama once he returns home to the South Side of Chicago.

“March the streets, parade for peace, Shorties keep shooting, they need a release
Tryna eat in the belly of the beast.”

Common addresses the violence that has plagued Chicago’s youth.

“Y’all gon’ learn today, Like you’re listening to Malcolm and MLK, Media sayin’ shit that ain’t there
But we fall down and get back up – Kevin Ware”

Common pays homage to Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. He also gives a shout out to Louisville’s Kevin Ware.

–amir shaw, source: rollingout.com

France's former first lady Carla Bruni sings a new song

France's former first lady Carla Bruni who enjoyed life, pre-politics, as a model and a singer having recorded Quelqu'un M'a Dit (2003), No Promises (2007), and Comme Si de Rien N'Etait (2008). This week, she releases her fourth project Little French Songs, which includes a tribute to her husband former president Nicolas Sarkozy, titled "Mon Raymond."

"He is fun! ... definitely dynamite," she says in a recent interview.

Check out the video below, courtesy of Verve Music Group.

Usher and Shakira bring a new flavor to NBC's 'The Voice'

Pop sensations Usher Raymond, 34, and Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, 35, have taken over the helm as mentors for rising stars on NBC's popular singing competition "The Voice." They are occupying the judge's seats that were once assigned to Christina Aguilera, 32, and Cee Lo Green, 38, for the NBC show's fourth season.

The show opened with a performance by the coaching foursome: Blake on guitar, Usher and Shakira on vocals and Adam Levine on drums, performing The Beatles "Come Together."

During the banter, Usher had a "Real Housewives of Atlanta" Porsha Stewart 265 days-a-year moment when he said "...Nashville is a state." A city in his actual home state of Tennessee.

The energy among the judges was good and absent the "American Idol" bickering – how refreshing.

Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter pay tribute to Miles Davis

Miles Davis alums and jazz greats Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter are paying tribute to Davis in a performance that before now has only been played in Europe. The pair were members of his Second Great Quintet.

Directed by Marcus Miller, who also collaborated with Davis, the trio will explore Davis' musical career in conjunction with drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and trumpeter Sean Jones at Walt Disney Concert Hall on April 23, 2013.

For more information, visit laphil.com.

History of Rap: Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon perform

Late night host Jimmy Fallon and pop singer Justin Timberlake step out of their respective career boxes and pose as rappers. They do quite a good job at it, even covering female artists like Missy Elliot, Lauryn Hill and Nicki Minaj. It begs the question, does white-boy rapper Eminem have singing, dancing or comedic chops? Jimmy and Justin have proven Eminem isn't the only white boy who can flow.

As their rap show closed, Jimmy and Justin ran upstairs performing their version of Em's "Lose Yourself." Em, holla back!

Jimmy's house band The Roots performs the medley. Enjoy.

History of Rap, Part 4

History of Rap, Part 2 and 3

History of Rap, the Beginning, Part 1

Jay-Z to Executive Produce ‘Great Gatsby’ Soundtrack

Mr. “Suit and Tie” will show fans a few things. Grammy Award-winning artist Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter has been tapped to perform and contribute to the original music on the The Great Gatsby soundtrack. Collaborating with writer/producer/director Baz Luhrmann, Carter “will bring the modern 'Jazz Age' energy of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel of 1920s America original text to the big screen, procuring, performing, producing and arranging for a soundtrack featuring some of the world`s top musical artists,” according to Warner Bros.

Following an introduction by Leonardo Di Caprio to Jay-Z, Luhrmann says, this collaboration "a credible and natural fit. Fitzgerald was a pioneer, famed and controversial for using the then-new and explosive sound called jazz in his novels and short stories-not just as decoration, but to actively tell story using the immediacy of pop culture. He coined the phrase ‘the Jazz Age.’ So, the question for me in approaching Gatsby was how to elicit from our audience the same level of excitement and pop-cultural immediacy toward the world that Fitzgerald did for his audience? And in our age, the energy of jazz is caught in the energy of hip-hop. Not only is Jay-Z a great artist, full stop, but I heard he was a great collaborator. Leonardo and I were lucky enough to be present in a recording session over two years ago as Jay-Z was recording 'No Church in the Wild,' and the collaboration grew from there."

"As soon as I spoke with Baz and Leonardo, I knew this was the right project. The Great Gatsby is that classic American story of one's introduction to extravagance, decadence and illusion. It's ripe for experimentation and ready to be interpreted with a modern twist. The imagination Baz brought to Moulin Rouge made it a masterpiece, and Romeo + Juliet's score wasn't just in the background; the music became a character. This film's vision and direction has all the makings of an epic experience," offers Jay-Z in a press statement.

The soundtrack of the film, which opens on May 10, will be released on Interscope Records.

Me'Shell Ndegeocello to perform Langston Hughes' epic poem at Apollo Theater

Revered bassist and singer Me'Shell Ndegeocello will bring her smooth groove to the Apollo Theater to perform alongside actor Roger Guenveur Smith, soprano singer Jessye Norman and jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon. The all-star cast will offer a symphonic performance of Langston Hughes’ epic poem, “Ask Your Mama.”

Ndegecello’s rich and warm sound is sure to be a harmonious complement to this sonic tapestry of music, film, and spoken word by Emmy Award-winning composer Laura Karpman.

The “Ask Your Mama” performance will take place at the world famous Apollo Theater on March 23, 2013, and will feature the Manhattan School of Music Chamber Sinfonia led by conductor George Manahan.

Check out the new music video for Me'Shell Ndegeocello's cover of the Nina Simone classic, "Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair," off her new album Pour une Âme Souveraine: A Dedication to Nina Simone.

Is Prince the living incarnation of James Brown? You decide

Of course, I do realize that Prince was born while "Soul Brother Number One” was becoming a soul phenomenon. But it cannot be disputed that the ’Purple One’ (a nickname from his Purple Rain days) most definitely channels James to some extent. To hear the depth of soul that pours from every note that Prince sings or plays, one has to feel the angst, happiness, soul and funk that made James a musical legend.

James Brown was a Georgia native who began his musical career at the age of 21: a career that included a string of hits and lasted over the fifty years – staying-power that is unheard of in any entertainment form. During his career, he garnered an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as the Songwriters Hall of Fame. This underscores just how prolific an artist James was. One of his many hit records, "I Feel Good," became an anthem for people even in the midst of hardship.

Prince Rogers Nelson, aka ‘"the Artist", a Minneapolis native, began his career at the age of 18 as a singer and musician, exhibiting a unique vocal range, as well as the ability to master several musical instruments: most without formal training. With a career that has spanned nearly 40 years, Prince has proven to be a testament to staying power similar to James; but that’s not the end of the similarities. Prince is also known for his combination of funk, pop and rock – just like James.  Prince has been recognized, not only for his performances, but for his writing – just like James. And Prince has continued to be a mainstay in Black American culture – just like James, the Godfather of Soul.

Obviously, Prince is his own man, with his own unique talents, but I like to think that all of carry pieces of those that have come before us, and made significant contributions to our lives and lifestyles. In carrying pieces of these predecessors, we honor our unique history . –mark anderson

A musical dynasty survives in the person of Stephen Marley, son of Bob

Stephen Marley, son of Bob Marley

In 1972, Stephen Marley was born to Rita and Bob Marley in the tiny state of Delaware. It’s reasonably safe to assume that most are extremely familiar with his dad whose music is to this very day regularly heard in movies, radio and television. But for those who are not so familiar with the younger Marley, allow me to shed some light.

Stephen Marley is a winner of multiple awards including five Grammys and is the genius behind a number of hits, that you may have no idea bear his name. This includes the album Welcome to Jamrock that Stephen produced for his younger brother Damian. Keeping it in the family, Stephen has also performed as a member of Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers – bearing the name of his sibling, Ziggy.

Now, a solo performer, Stephen Marley has amassed a string of hits on his own, that includes guest performing with a who’s who list of artists across several genres of popular music. He has performed with the Fugees and Erykah Badu, and with the likes of well-known and recognized rappers Eve, Nelly and Nas. Working with these artists, Stephen has shown that he has a strong range and the ability to appeal to a cross-section of American music lovers.

At the age of 40, Stephen Marley is still going strong, and shows no signs of stealing away to a quiet life in his Miami home. Early in 2012, he accepted his most recent Grammy Award for his album Revelation Pt. 1: The Root of Life. He is actively performing and participating in the success of other artists looking for a little something extra to bring about the fullness of collaborative sound.

The Denzel Washington/Jamie Foxx Paradox Of Making It Look Easy



Denzel Washington is Hollywood royalty: talent, swagger, and public personae that have long been at enigma status and multiple Oscar statues. In the same vein, the multi-talented Jamie Foxx explodes in every medium he touches with a talent so raw that harnessing it seems to be, well – criminal. Each actor has consideration from ‘the academy’ tonight for work released in 2012. Jamie Foxx’s Quinton Tarentino-directed film, Djanjo Unchained, is up in the Best Picture category. (The film also stars the uber-hot actress Kerry Washington of ABC network hour-long drama Scandal.) Denzel Washington might walk away with another Best Actor gold statue for the movie Flight.

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