Black Stars On The Rise

By Jasmin Wells

Black Stars on the Rise

Entertainers are doing more than just rapping and singing nowadays. They have branched out to doing more amazing things everyday including branching out into Television. 

  Nicki Minaj, one of the only platinum selling female rapper’s, has been given the opportunity to star and produce in a series about her life with the television network ABC. After revealing the accomplishment via Twitter, the Barbie’s, aka Nicki’s followers and fans, went haywire with excitement. The pilot will be coming soon, which will also give fans the opportunity to learn a little more about the artist.

Snoop Dogg has been no rookie to reality Television. Snoop and his family have graced our screens, letting us into their everyday lives, while gaining a little more fan base. We learned that Snoop is a family man and has always put his family first. Now, Snoop is heading to the big screen to broadcast another accomplishment that he is passionate about. Snoop created a little league football team in 2005 and has been making an impact in the business ever since. Snoop has teamed up with AOL for an eight episode series as he travels with his team to document various games and other players.

Jay-Z has always been a mogul in the music business and hasn’t stopped yet, even after he’s supposed to retire, the star is still proving that he is someone to be reckoned with. With his title also comes rumors, and since Jay-Z keeps his life so secret, it isn’t hard to wonder what the star is up to behind closed doors. Rumor was that Jay-Z was down with Tidal, a high fidelity music streaming company, and what better way to crush rumors then to simply tweet. The star recently tweeted about Tidal hitting a million followers and how he was going to celebrate on the twentieth of October in Brooklyn, New York. All three artist prove everyday that they are more than just entertainers, but entrepreneurs that refuse to be ignored. Congratulations guys on your continued success.

straight outta compton

Straight Outta Compton’s Going Straight to the TOP

Straight_Outta_Compton-movie-posterIt’s not everyday that a major studio backs a predominately black movie, with almost no name actors in the lead role, carry a movie about one of the most influential and controversial rap groups of all time. It may also help that two of the producers, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre are power players in the music and film industry, and two of the core members of the group that this film is about.

The film is about the five members of N.W.A., but mainly focuses on the core three, Eric ‘Eazy-E’ Wright (played brilliantly by up and coming actor Jason Mitchell), O’Shea ‘Ice Cube’ Jackson (played by Ice Cube’s actual son, O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) and Andre ‘Dr. Dre’ Young (played by Non-Stop’s Corey Hawkins), who solidified the group’s power as the face, the rapper and the producer, with Lorenzo ‘MC Ren’ Patterson (played by former Leverage actor Aldis Hodge) and Antoine ‘DJ Yella’ Carraby (played by Battle: Los Angeles’ Neil Brown, Jr) supporting the three leads on the stage and in the studio.

At the beginning, Eazy is in his early twenties, selling dope on the streets of Compton, trying to get by, slowly getting tired of the lifestyle. Cube is a high school senior, yearning to use his gift of writing rhymes and rapping to better his life. Dre is a twenty year old musical genius, but a struggling DJ and

beat maker, trying to establish his own sound and make an impact in the music world. Each of them deal

with police brutality on a daily basis, due to the racism shown by the police department and the gang

violence and crime in their Compton neighborhood. One day, Dre gets the idea of starting a group,

knowing Eazy has money after bailing him out of jail due to a fight he got in protecting his younger

brother Tyree (Keith Powers). Eazy is skeptical, especially when Dre asks him to be a rapper in the group

while Dre and Yella take care of the music aspect, and Cube would be the main writer with some

assistance from Ren. When Eazy begins enjoying the feel and attention he gets as a rapper, he quickly

becomes the face of the group. Eazy then meets rich record producer and manager Jerry Heller (played by

the always great Paul Giamatti), who helps the group book shows and get their records off the ground.

Quickly, the group becomes well known and controversial, taking hip hop beyond break dancing and

glamour rap of the early 80’s. The more popular the group gets, the more tension begins to rise. After the

success of their first two albums and Eazy’s solo album, Cube begins noticing that Eazy and Jerry are

making more money then the rest of the group and after an argument with Jerry over his contract, Cube

leaves the group to start his solo career. After a heated feud begins between the group and Cube, and

Cube easily winning with his hit song No Vaseline (one of the best scenes in the movie by the way), Dre

begins realizing Eazy and Jerry have been taking advantage of them, and after getting assistance from the

intimidating and notorious record producer Suge Knight (played by R. Marcus Taylor), leaves Eazy’s

label to join Death Row Records where he helps make the label huge, creating his masterpiece The

Chronic, and make stars out of Snoop Dogg (played by Selma and Dope’s Keith Stanfield) and Tupac

Shakur (played by newcomer Marcc Rose). A few years pass and Eazy realizes he needs to cut ties with

Jerry and yearns to get the group back together, making amends with Cube and Dre (Ren and Yella never

left Eazy’s side) but soon finds out that he has AIDS and a few months later dies, being named ‘The

Godfather of Gangsta Rap’. Right after Eazy’s death, Dre leaves Death Row to start his label Aftermath

where he makes superstars out of Snoop Dogg, Eminem and 50 Cent, also being named one of the biggest

and richest music producers of all time. Ice Cube has become a star player in the film industry, being an

actor, producer and writer, and still continues to rap to this day. MC Ren continues to rap only locally in

Compton but still a name in the industry. DJ Yella switched his endeavors and became a director of porno

movies, shooting almost 200 of them.

This film hit me hard. I am a struggling screenwriter/actor/filmmaker myself, and the yearning

they wanted to provide for their families and make an impact is exactly how I feel having come so close

with screenplays of my own in the industry and to continue being rejected, this film shows that anything

is possible. F. Gary Gray already has a great filmography, but he already knows these streets after

shooting the classic Friday and Set It Off. He captures the essence, the grit, grime, glamour, all of the

elements that needed to be put in this film to make it work. It speaks to the audience, regardless of the

background, but obviously more relatable in the black and hip hop communities, but in the theater I was

in it was very mixed with a lot of white collard, middle aged white man who sang the songs in the theater

with everyone else and I thought that was great. The police brutality scenes were hard to watch with

everything going on now with cops shooting black people in communities around the country. Almost

like 1988 was still happening, but sadly, it never went away. That was a point F. Gary Gray was trying to

make I think. The music pulsated and was just another character in the film. Capturing 1986-1996, they

did that on point. It’s almost like going back in a time warp.

In the end, my only negative thing to say about the movie is that it had to end. I am a huge fan of

biopics as well as films dealing with the hood and great character dramas. This takes the cake. To be a rap

group that was hated by everyone damn near including the government, to have a biopic come out 25

years later is a huge accomplishment. I am proud to say that I’ll pay the money I have to, to see this film

again. May this inspire not only rappers and filmmakers, but people in general who have a dream,

regardless of the color of their skin. Number 1 at the box office this weekend.



Mike E. Winfield Talks Comedy, His Career & Life

mike winfield


Mike E. Winfield in minutes will describe what has happened in your life that very day. Many often leave his show saying, “Does he live with us?” Strikingly brilliant comedian Mike E. has not slowed down since his debut on The Late Show with David Letterman and then winning a reoccurring role on NBC’s The Office. Whether its hardships or love, you’re going to get it served honestly from this charismatic Baltimore native who got his comedy start in California’s state capitol. When asked, why Sacramento? He says, “If they want you, they’ll find you.” And they have, his success is rapidly rising and you may have seen him on Showtime’s Comics Without Borders, Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham, and the Arsenio Hall Show.

Mike E. Winfield has set down to talk to Young Urban Voices to talk about his comedy career and his plans for the future.

Young Urban Voices: Why did you decide to get into comedy?
Mike: Like many comedians, I thought I was funny. I still do, unless things aren’t going right in my life and I lose some confidence. I never wanted to have a boss, and I like to laugh, and that played a huge role in pursuing comedy. When I realized you could have a career performing stand up, it seemed like a better idea than using my bachelor’s degree in English.
YUV: What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far in your career?
Mike: Quitting my day job at the grocery store has easily been the greatest accomplishment. Anyone can quit a job, but I had to quit so I wouldn’t have to lie anymore as to why I was calling in sick. One time I called in sick from the Amtrak, then the conductor came on the intercom and I hung up really fast. When my manager called back, I didn’t answer the phone. He was the lowest manager on the grocery pole and he didn’t have the authority to make any severe moves concerning my grocery career.
YUV:  Where do you want to be in the next five years of your life?
Mike: Alive would be nice. It doesn’t always end well. Hahahaha. Ok, that was dark. In five years, I’d like to end racism. I’m working on doing that as we speak. Once I end racism, I’ll probably go back to personal about jokes about my relationship.
YUV: What advice would you give to other aspiring comedians or actors hoping to break into entertainment?
Mike: If you’re going to do it, pursue it 100% because if you don’t, you’re just in the way. Be prepared to lose everything you have and love. Advice… Aim for originality, don’t write material while watching comedy on television. That’s subliminal joke theft. Do whatever you think is funny, and run away from anyone trying to offer you advice. If you’re attractive, sleep your way to the top, if you’re not be prepared to struggle.
YUV: How are you different from other comedians?
Mike: I just am. I can’t personally answer this because I’ve never tried to be different, it just happened. Find someone who knows me and is not my family and they’ll tell you how I’m different. My family is a little upset with me lately, so I’d stay away from them. I hope that changes.
YUV:  Where can your fans catch you next? Any comedy shows coming up soon?
Mike: Visit my website for current updates: I’m actually performing in San Francisco April 10th and Sacramento April 15th.
YUV: How can we follow your work?
Mike: Find me on my website: Mike E. Winfield – Official Site — You don’t steal the cake mix if you ain’t stole the bowl! I’m on twitter @MikeEWinfield
YUV: Is there anything you’d like to add?
Mike: I mean well. I love most everyone, and I like it when people approach me to pray with me. I love what I do, and I’m very grateful all these amazing opportunities keep coming my way. If I’m doing something right, I just hope I keep doing it. I’m afraid because the selfish side of me was more ambitious, but now that I respect and cherish the love and people around me, it’s not about “me” anymore. I like results, and my approach to get them is different now. I hope that made an ounce of sense.
YUV: How did you land a role on The Office and The Late Night Show?
Mike: I auditioned for The Office and I had an amazing audition, but I believe in my heart that the director was a fan of mine, and he pulled some strings. I was a Warehouse Worker starting on Season 8. I want to write a show about my life as a Warehouse Worker and the balance of life with my wife who is successful in corporate America, who I can’t get to just be the wife I want her to be.
YUV: How was appearing on the Arsenio Hall show?
Mike: Appearing on the Arsenio Hall Show was wild partly because before I walked on stage, earlier that day, Arsenio walked to my dressing room in slippers that were given to him by Snoop Dogg. I could also hear R. Kelly singing from the other room. There are experiences in my life that no one will ever be able to relate to. R. Freaking Kelly was in the dressing room next to mine, and I’m still deciding what jokes I want to perform in a few minutes.