Category Archives: Special

AFROPUNK Madness!!!!

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Having started out as a free, small-scale music festival in 2003, Afropunk has grown into a conduit for black activism and community action. From that initial output, the little black punk festival that could has grown from 100 attendees to 60,000. One of the organizer’s established relationships with brands and big-name artists, such as last year’s headliner, D’Angelo, helped boost the festival’s profil and attendance. This year’s two-day outdoor festival, the 11th, boasts that same high-caliber bang, with headliners Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lenny Kravitz and Kelis, but for the first time it will cost to get in.

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Erina 38Harlem2Nippon’s self-proclaimed fearless reporter, Erina shared her Aropunk experience.

Erina 34We Can All Get Along

Reported by Erina

The Event: Afropunk Fest

The Dates: August 21 to 23, 2015

The Dig:    Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, New York

Erina 30If there is any music festival where black men, women, boys and girls can be their carefree, cool and creative selves, it’s at AFROPUNK Fest. You can find a wide assortment of skin tones, hairdos, makeup, body jewelry and clothing styles.

Erina 33When I reached the Commodore Barry Park the line was stretched a block from the general admissions entrance and it took me an hour and half to get in. Fortunately while we were waiting a friendly young security guy kept us laughing with his jokes.

Erina 4Once inside I was trying to figure out which one was the main stage (there were 3 stages). No event maps or instructions were handed out…….. On the first day, the main stage — a.k.a. the green stage — was set for girl power with acts ranging from newcomers Lion Babe to Grace Jones, a headliner, so I was told later. OK, first things first, I have to quench my thirst. Yes, beer sounds good. Then I got a chance to walk around. When it comes to food, there were plenty of options, from Indian to Belgian, but what caught my eyes was Café Habana from Brooklyn. I got myself this baked corn.

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I looked around. So many people……. The vibe was so friendly and laid back. Very chill and a sense of togetherness.  Yes, it’s the people. The energy of the people throughout the event is so positive. It was my first time I felt so good among ocean of the people, talk to someone you never thought you would, and leave with the sense that you were just a part of something that really mattered.

Lauryn Hill - afropunk-festival-2015-42I waited faithfully for Ms. Lauryn Hill to grace the stage at Afropunk, and when she finally arrived I felt like the wait was rather short, even though it was almost an hour later than scheduled. Darkness had set over Brooklyn by the time the legendary rapper sat centerstage, guitar in hand. Her set was totally acoustic just like her NY Tour in 2014.

She moved through tracks from her Unplugged album. Us fans anticipated hearing cuts from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and she didn’t disappoint us singing my favorite “Doo Wop (That thing).” Everybody seemed to love Lauryn and I’m the biggest fan.

It was so beautiful and peaceful after dark and tall skyscrapers in the backdrop. Quite impressive.

Erina 23I first came to notice Grace Jones from a famous photo in the fashion magazine. All I know about her back then was that she was Andy Warhol’s muse and she revolutionized everything in fashion, in music and in art. But I have never seen her live performance until now.

One thing I found out yesterday was that she was 67! For real??

By the time Grace Jones were to perform, the crowd situation created a level of mayhem like none other. I was squeezed in to the passage connected to the stage. I can’t move………

grace jones afropunkfashion-4Maybe she would act like a diva just standing and sing…….. so I thought. “Ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Grace Jones,” said a robotic voice over as she appeared atop an elevated stage dressed in a billowing black cloak and a gold metal skull mask with a halo of pointy sun rays encircling it.

Then SHE came!!!! She came out!!

With fabulous costume changes — as unique as they could get — and fearless energy, Ms. Jones is one of the most vibrant performers you can ever see live.

Clad in white and black body paint, she also wore a hooded skeleton mask head dress as she showed out for the crowd.

grace_jones_078It was so socking that I couldn’t believe my eyes!! At age 67. Still topless…..!!!!

I don’t think she is human. Maybe she is a superwoman came from the outerspace.

Erina 27I was blown away by Queen Grace’s over-the-top live show then the group of people passed me by. What…….? Lauryn Hill and her entourage proceeded to V.I.P. tent designated for main performers. She joined her kids waiting there. I was happened to be by the passage to VIP Tent!! Lucky me!!!

Erina 28Erina 26I really can’t focus either Lauryn or Ms. Grace. I was looking at both back and forth. While I was distracted Grace suddenly appeared from a close range. She was wearing a silver sparkling wig riding on a man! I could see her shinning breast with white body paint.

grace-jones-in-a-hula-hoop-at-afropunk-concert-in-new-york-cityMs. Grace started to twirl a Hula Hoop as she launched into her smash hit song “Slave To The Rhythm.” Her longtime fans might be familiar with her act that once she started she won’t stop!! To my surprise she didn’t stop spinning her Hula Hoop until the end of her song. Where did she come from………???

Damn, I haven’t seen anything like this before!!

Then, something unthinkable happened. After the show, Ms. Hill walked towards me with her family. I couldn’t help but screamed “Lauryn, I love you!” She heard me and turned around and her raspy voice said, “Thank you,” and she reached out for me and shook my hand!!!

Erina 22Never in a million years did I dream that my favorite Lauryn Hill would shake my hand……!! My dream came true!!!! It felt flaky when she touched my hand just because it happened so quickly. I wasn’t prepared.

Thank you, Lauryn.

Erina 18The best part of my Afropunk experience was that I walked away feeling like I had learned something and seen something through an entirely new perspective.

I will cherish this precious memory till the day I die.



August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand premieres Friday, February 20 at 9 p.m. on PBS

August Wilson - PBS


American Masters — August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand premieres Friday, February 20 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Wilson’s birth, the 10th anniversary of his death and Black History Month.

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LL Cool J Returns As Host Of 57th Annual Grammy Awards



For the fourth consecutive year, LL Cool J will host The Grammy Awards on February 8, 2015 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The two-time Grammy winner from New York City has served as the MC for over 10 Grammy shows, tributes, and specials. He also produced The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown To Music’s Biggest Night, and A Very Grammy Christmas television special.

“I’m thrilled to again be part of music’s biggest night,” says Cool J. “The performances and moments you see on the Grammy stage are nothing less than amazing throughout the years, and this year’s show is shaping up to be one you will never forget.”

“As both a Grammy-winning recording artist and an accomplished actor, LL Cool J’s wide range of talent, dynamic personality, and charismatic energy make him the perfect choice to host the Grammy Awards,” says Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. “His unique expertise allows him to set the right tone for the show and connect with everyone — from his musical peers to fans at home. We are honored to have him back.”

pharrell-williams-a-paris-le-24-fevrier-2014-11103328wzjefThe performers for the 57th annual Grammy Awards include Madonna, Pharrell Williams, John Legend and Common, Usher, Sam Smith, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, Miranda Lambert, AC/DC, and Eric Church.

56th GRAMMY Awards - Press RoomWilliams, Smith, and Beyonce lead all artists with six nominations and will compete for Album of the Year. Last year. Williams won four awards: Album of the Year for Random Access Memories with Daft Punk, Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Get Lucky” (also with Daft Punk), and Producer of the Year-Non-Classical.

Whitney Biopic Directed by Angela Bassett on Lifetime Tonight



Angela Bassett has taken a brief pause in her acting career steps behind the camera to direct biopic ‘Whitney’ a movie that airs Saturday (Jan. 17) at 8 p.m. on Lifetime.

Cissy Houston, Whitney’s mother publicly spoke out the film was being made against the family’s objections. “No one connected with this movie knew Whitney or anything about her relationship with Bobby,” she said. “We are exhausted by the continuing misinformation and comments offered by people who did not know her. Please please let her rest.”

whitney-houston-bobby-brown-at-vh1-divas-duets-post-concert-party-in-2003“We all know how it ends,” Bassett says. “And we all make mistakes. Most of us get to make them in private. Whitney and Bobby had to make them in public.”

“We’re looking at a five-year moment in time,” Bassett says — the late ’80s and early ’90s, before things spun way out of control.

Houston and Brown finally divorced in 2006 and Houston died Feb. 11, 2012, at the age of 48.

Even as Houston was achieving professional success no one can imagine, even when the country saw her as America’s Sweetheart, a golden voice inside a calm, beautiful, poised and elegant woman, there was trouble in paradise.

There were drugs. Lots of drugs, Houston later admitted. In the film, she’s having fun with cocaine back when Bobby was still saying no.

Their relationship eventually slid into mistrust and physical abuse, on both sides. Houston’s short run on Bobby’s reality TV show at times portrayed her as snappish and impatient, with a mouth like a sailor.

It was those small personal moments — some surprising and many charming — with which Bassett says she tried to fill out the picture.

Whiteney“Whitney” isn’t based on any one source, and it wasn’t made with the cooperation of any key people in Houston’s life. Nor does it use Houston’s own voice, though it features four of her songs: “The Greatest Love of All,” “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” “I’m Every Woman” and “I Will Always Love You.”

While Houston is played by Yaya DaCosta, the songs are sung by Deborah Cox. Cox also sings bits of a few other songs, mostly gospel.

Bassett says her goal with the movie was to “play it down the middle, just try to tell the story as factually as we could.”

Bassett says she also drew extensively on the autobiography of Clive Davis, the music mogul who signed Houston and set much of her musical direction.

Bassett is well known herself for playing Tina Turner, another internationally famous singer who had serious issues in her marriage.

“What you need to remember about Whitney is that no one had the success she did. We make that point right at the beginning. In four years she had seven straight No. 1 hits and sold 30 million albums. That’s more than the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. In four years. And she was 23 years old. How do you deal with that? How does anyone deal with that?

“I hope we’ve shown that we need to have compassion for the journey she and Bobby were on — and the choices they made.”