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Posts Tagged ‘Diddy’

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Based on what we’ve seen this past week, Sean Combs may have been on to something when he named his music cable network REVOLT. In keeping with his concept, unarmed demonstrators have taken to the streets all over the world to raise their collective voice in protest of injustice and police brutality. Twitter has been a beehive of first person citizen accounts, photos, posts that give the time and place of protests and links to mainstream media coverage. Just as during the Arab Spring uprising of a few years ago, Twitter has been essential for anyone interested in accurate information about the upheaval that has been simmering since last summer.

Combs gave us early signs of his vision, twenty-five years ago when as a rookie A&R executive working at Andre Harrell’s Uptown/MCA Records he guided young Mary J. Blige to the heights of the Urban Music World when they collaborated on her debut “What’s The 411”. Because of that record and the two Notorious B.I.G. Projects he did on his own Bad Boy imprint, Combs established himself as the model for every Hip Hop/R&B A&R man to follow, and MJB has become the most important Black Music artist of her generation. While others have come and gone she remains funky. With all the stress and strife in the world, her voice provides comfort in trying times.

“The London Sessions”, her thirteenth studio recording was released last week while the world was in turmoil. The record features collaborations with some of Britain’s most exciting new songwriters and the pop/house production team Disclosure. It is a breathtaking return to form for the diva after a recent period of mixed commercial results. Her churchy, street and soulful vocals are surrounded by Disclosure’s rich layered synth work that simultaneously accomplishes the retro feel of late eighties and early nineties club music, and infuses the songs with enough melodic and lyric content to elevate the project to the level of worldwide smash contender.

Of special note: The gospel/doo wop direction of “Therapy”, the introspective modern day blues, “Whole Damn Year”, a look at domestic abuse, the standout dance track Follow”, “Right Now” and “Long Hard Look”.

If you didn’t know before now; Charles Barkley didn’t just become ignorant, Chris Rock did not just become insightful, The New York Post did not just become racist, cops have literally been getting away with murder and Mary J. Blige has been dope since day one.

insideplaya

For Diddy

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I’d been to Florida on a business trip, and right before that, to New York for the pre-party stuff for that year’s MTV Awards. Def Jam was still being run by Lyor Cohen and Russell Simmons. Rick Rubin had returned to the fold via a label deal, and The Bowery Bar was a location where they held a welcome back Rick launch party. I went with a date, and the Hollywood billionaire, Ted Field. On the way in, we stopped and chatted with an exiting Chris Rock who mentioned that the party wouldn’t have been real if I hadn’t shown up – nice guy that Rock.

We stayed briefly, and then jumped into the back of a limo and headed to a party that Diddy was throwing at Tao, the Asian fusion joint on the East Side of Manhattan. They were all there; Pharrell, Ice-T, Sylvia Rhone, Dame Dash, Rush, Gary Gray – a strong slice of the Urban entertainment player community. If a bomb had gone off in that room that night, Jim Jones would have run shit for a decade. Just another night of fun and networking in the Apple.

I had to get up and catch a plane the next morning. I went to Orlando to meet with the soon to be disgraced kiddie mogul, Lou Pearlman and signed an act that he’d developed. The next day, I took a train to Miami and signed a couple of Dirty South MC’s called No Good. I spent the night on South Beach at The Tides, woke up and got a plane home.

I was living here in Charlotte, and preparing to move to New York to run the East Coast office of ARTISTdirect Records. I slept well, and early the next morning, I got a call from a friend in New York who told me to turn on the television, “A plane just flew into the World Trade Center.”

I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, followed her instructions, and turned on the TODAY Show. I was barely awake, but I saw one plane jutting out from the building it had attacked, and smoke coming from the hole it had created. Moments later, another plane crashed into the other tower and the in studio announcers lost it. So did I. Tears streamed down my face as I watched in disbelief and horror. It’s been thirteen years, but I will never forget the day that terror became more than something that you watched on television. It became a reality show that changed the city I love forever.

For Rebecca, Sylvia, Summer, Caress and the fallen

insideplaya

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