Principal targets Black children in Chicago suburb accuses them of gang activity

The principal of Homewood Flossmoor High School located in the South Suburbs of Chicago is currently under scrutiny for a letter sent home with students claiming they are in gangs or have been associated with gang activity.

A letter was sent home with about 70 students after an e-mail was sent to their parents saying “Your child,______, has directly or through association been involved in what is considered ‘gang activity’. The letter penned by principal Jerry Lee Anderson required parents to come to a series of different mandatory meetings on Saturday morning to address the accusations. If they did not show their children would be “excluded” from the school.

In a statement made to the Chicago Sun-Times Dr. Lee Anderson said “We have some who believe that violence is not part of what happens in the suburbs, that we are somehow immune. We are not. We need informed, empowered parents to be part of the solution.”

As one of the father’s who received one of these letters with regards to his children it is important for me to speak to the insensitive and incendiary way this message was delivered.

Living as a Black man in America it is understood at an early age that you are targeted and under attack. It could be in the form of micro aggressions, as blatant as the public school to prison pipeline or as irresponsible as calling the police on Black men sitting in a coffee shop. The attacks are real and measurable.

According to the NAACP Criminal Justice Fact Sheet nationwide African American children represent 32% of children who are arrested, 42% of children who are detained and 52% of children whose cases are judicially waived to criminal court.

These numbers are problematic. African Americans make up 32% of the United States population and 56% of the prison population IN 2015 according to the NAACP fact sheet.

There is already a well oiled engine working against our children in this world and to selectively single out any child of color without definitive proof of anything and basing a list on pictures and visits to the Dean is irresponsible and dangerous. Threatening to “ “exclude” a Black child from his or her education because of speculation in itself is criminal and resembles an aid an assist to a system that is already stacked against our children.

I understand that there have been isolated incidents with former students of the school that have raised the level of awareness and that it is your duty as an educator to ensure the safety of the children you are entrusted to provide a quality education to. However; to single out any group of students in this manner is essentially adding a log to the fire of
intolerance and racism that is consistently burning out of control and tends to burn Black children the most.

Many of the parents who are currently living in this suburb are not naive to violence in any shape or form. It is for this reason that they have sacrificed and scraped to create a better life for their children. Violence can happen anywhere, no one is immune to it. When it does happen the community should be addressed and solutions should be shared.

The letter that was sent home with those students was most likely intended to nip a problem in the bud, but what you have done is make the bullseye bigger on the backs of these specific children.

An apology is in order for each one of the students and parents who received this letter. The student body should be addressed as a whole when it comes to any issues have to do with the gang violence and how the school views it.

Lastly, I understand that you are the mother of a young Black man. I’m a very sure you are aware of what it means to be a young Black man in this world. It is for this reason that I ask that whenever you decide to make a decision similar to the one you have made with regards to this issue to take into account how you would feel about how your child would be viewed or treated if someone singled him out in the manner that you did with our children.

-Precise

Here’s the letter that was sent:

Dear Parent/Guardian of ___ ,

Your child, ___ , has either directly or through association been involved in what is considered “gang activity”. Because I am concerned about your child’s safety and the well being of all of the students and staff at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, I am requesting that you and your child attend a mandatory meeting on Saturday, October 20, 2018 in Room 101 in the North Building at 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. At the parent/student meeting, you will receive more specific information about your child’s involvement.Failure to attend this meeting will cause your child to be excluded from Homewood-Flossmoor High School.

Information has been gathered through Deans’ investigations of conflicts that have occurred in and out of school over the last few months that have negatively impacted the environment and safety of our students and staff.

As a concerned parent/guardian, you need to be aware of what we have observed that could potentially endanger your child and your family. Your child’s success at Homewood-Flossmoor High School is important. I hope by meeting with parents/guardians and students, we can come to a resolution that will support the success of your student and ensure the safety of everyone.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jerry Lee Anderson
Principal

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The top 5 rap songs that sampled Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin’s rap influence (Artwork by Eddy “Precise” Lamarre)

The world is celebrating Aretha Franklin because of who she is and what she represents to music and Black culture. Her talent has stretched across many genres of music and affected many soundscapes. Rap music is not absent from that discussion. Many of the driving rhythms and melodic music of Franklin’s have added to the tapestry of this art form we call rap and the culture of hip-hop. Let’s take a look at the top five rap songs to sample The Queen of Soul.

While the world is singing “Respect,” arguably Aretha Franklin’s greatest hit, the song that resonates with this writer is “Rock Steady.” The rhythm is timeless and has made for one of the perfect breakbeats for rap.

EPMD sampled “Rock Steady” on their classic release Strictly Business in the song “I’m Housin.” The funk is preserved and still remains hip-hop.

 

Ms. Franklin’s song “One Step Ahead” is an ode to avoiding heartbreak and preserving a love.

Ayatollah produced “Ms Fat Booty” which contains elements of “One Step Ahead” for Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, and appears on his album Black On Both Sides. This song is arguably Yasiin’s biggest hit. The song tells the story of a young brother shooting his shot to a beautiful woman.

The way Aretha addressed the subject of love you can tell that it comes from a heartfelt and emotional place. Her song “Call Me” is a song of anticipation, a song where you find a woman yearning for her love just by asking for a phone call.

The Kanye West-produced “Selfish” borrowed a bit from “Call Me” for Slum Village’s album Detroit Deli. Slum approaches their song as a moment to praise all the beautiful women they love. Kanye makes sure not to miss out on this dope production with his own verse. “This one here is a heat rock spit like a beat box the way the beat rocks new version of Pete Rock.”

On “Young Gifted and Black” we find Aretha steeped in her gospel roots. She celebrates the beauty of Blackness at time when Black Power was the mantra of the culture.

DJ Premier sampled the song for Gang Starr’s Daily Operation album on a 30-second joint called “92 Interlude.” I always felt like that would be an awesome song. Most recently you can find the vibe on the 9th Wonder-produced “Laila’s Wisdom.” It appears on Rapsody’s debut project by the same name.

“Oh Baby” is yet another song where we find the Queen lamenting over love.

The producer Ski skillfully plants her vocals across the production of Jay-Z’s song “In My Lifetime (Big Jaz Radio Mix) from The Streets is Watching soundtrack. This is rap at its essence, and the soul was able to traverse the genres effortlessly.

 

-Precise

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What do Kanye and Wyoming have in common?

After the all the rants, drama, racial tension and MAGA hats dozens of influencers and media have descended upon Wyoming to listen to Kanye’s newest project. The release is also being streamed on an app called WAV. The stream started at 9pm CST. If you were expecting music you were disappointed. The stream focused on the Wyoming landscape with horses in the background while you listened to crackiling a campfire.

Chris Rock introduced Kanye with a few jokes and mentioned that hip-hop is the first art form created by free black men. He also said that Kanye has taken full advantage of his freedom and to listen to the project without prejudice.

The name of the project is Ye and the first lyric you hear behind a brooding vamp is “The most beautiful thoughts are beside the darkest. Today I seriously thought about killing you. Premeditated murder.” The production is classic Kanye and lyrically it plays like a journal he has been keeping for the past few months. A few well placed lines speaking on current issues lace the project. “Russell Simmons wanna pray for me too. But imma pray for him cause he got #metoo I wonder what if that happened to #metoo”

The inspirational Kanye that we all know and love enters with a Slick Rick sample assisted by the unmistakable vocals of Charlie Wilson. The campfire is LIT literally and figuratively and all of the people who flew out to hear the project seem pleased and content under the Wyoming sky.

Considering that Kanye has spent the last year in Utah and Wyoming it makes more sense why he has been espousing these middle America sentiments. He doesn’t get a pass for it, it just makes sense. When it all comes down to it when it comes to Kanye its all about the music and always has been.

After two listens it is safe to say Kanye delivered once again. He has captured the attention of the world and given an insightful heartfelt and honest project. Fresh off of Pusha T destroying Drake the G.O.O.D music wave continues rise with the release of Ye. Cudi and Kanye are up next. Lets see how he will top this release.

-Precise

Why is Rhymefest mad? What did Kanye say about the youth?

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Photo source: instagram @rhymefest

The internet is a blaze once again. Per usual Kanye West finds himself in the middle of the heat. His Good Music CEO and artist Pusha T recently dropped his 7 track album Daytona. The project is a solid effort, but just like anything else these days a few lines are chosen and become the focal point of the project. Pusha takes a jab at the streaming king Drake on his song “Infared” “Niggas beats is bangin’, nigga, ya hooks did it The lyric pennin’ equal the Trumps winnin’ The bigger question is how the Russians did it It was written like Nas but it came from Quentin”

That specific lyric alludes to the fact that Drake has a few hired pens out here helping him write his verses. Drake in true champagne papi fashion responds with “Duppy Freestyle” where he goes in on Push and Kanye equally. “Must’ve had your Infrared wrong, now your head in the beam Y’all are the spitting image of whatever jealousy breeds Don’t push me when I’m in album mode You not even top 5 as far as your label talent goes You send shots, well, I got to challenge those But I bring Calicos to the Alamo I could never have a Virgil in my circle and hold him back ’cause he makes me nervous I wanna see my brothers flourish to their higher purpose”

Drake managed to become the newest trending topic on twitter and all of his loyal fans have claimed victory. This is great for hip-hop, but something else has arisen from this battle.

Rhymefest, Kanye’s estranged friend and co-writer of “Jesus Walks” from Ye’s college drop out chimed in to the battle because he feels that Kanye has abandoned Chicago and the not-for-profit created in the name of Kanye’s late mother Donda’s House.

In response to Drake saying in his battle that he will send Kanye and invoice. He actually did send him an invoice by the way. Rhymefest had this to say.

Then in a tweet that has since been deleted Rhymefest shares what Kanye thinks about Chicago youth.

This has definitely opened up some doors and is shining the light on a foundation that was created to showcase the best of Chicago and add value to the lives of the youth. Donda’s recently put out a statement asking for people to not confuse Kanye’s statements with the mission of the foundation.

-Precise

Why Malcolm X is not Killmonger

When I was growing up I would hear the name Malcolm X and immediately think radical revolutionary, “By any means necessary” and that he was the total opposite of Dr. King. What many of us fail to see is that Malcolm X is an example of growth and spiritual awareness. His journey was public and he was brave enough to share it with the world.

We do a disservice to the legacy of Malcolm when we liken what he has done or his stance to fictional characters. In the spotlight of the Marvel blockbuster Black Panther there are those who liken the anti-hero Killmonger portrayed by Michael B. Jordan as a representation of Malcolm. Killmonger may have a passion for his people but he is fueled by vengeance and is a murderer. That was not Malcolm.

Upon his return from Mecca, Malcolm became enlightened and recognized that spiritually we are one under the umbrella of the creator. This did not make him less adamant about fighting for freedom for our people, it provided insight and made him aware that this fight for freedom is for ALL people.

50 years ago Malcolm X was murdered in Harlem. We remember this day with reverence and insight. Physically he is not with us but the spirit of his enlightenment, his courage to challenge the status quo and stand by his ideals will always be with us. We honor him for this. Thank you Malcolm.

-Precise

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Chicago rapper Fredo Santana dead at 27

Fredo

Fredo Santana – (Photo source: instagram – @fredosantanassr)

Chicago rapper Fredo Santana has died at the age of 27. In October of 2017 Fredo whose real name is Derrick Coleman announced on Instagram that he was hospitalized due to kidney failure.

“Been in here since Friday doctor say a n***a had kidney failure an liver failure,” he wrote. “I’m getting back to normal sorry to all my fans turbo bandana will not be dropping tomorrow due to my health issues thanks for everyone who prayed for a n***a I wouldn’t wish this on my worse enemy.”

Fredo is the cousin of fellow rapper Cheif Keef and rose to prominence in 2012. Fredo was in the process of recording and dropping his latest effort Walking Legend 2.He released his latest mixtape Fredo Kruger 2 in the fall of last year.

TMZ reported that Fredo was found dead on the floor of his LA home by his girlfriend. News of Fredo’s death has swept social media.

Lil B the Based God had this to say via Twitter

“Let one off in the air for fredo santana !! For life they cudnt stop that man SSR for life CHICAGO for life Chief Keef chop durk Reese Gino sd the whole Chicago what it do joe we living it up joe Chicago joe for life too fredo”

There is speculation that the drug known as “Lean” which has been known to cause seizures was the source of Fredo’s health problems. Fredo eluded to his drug use and mentioned that he may go to rehab because of it. “Hopefully I can be the face to sho n***as to slow down an we got our whole life ahead of us fuck being rock stars gettin high I got ptsd,” he said. “I was running from my old life tryna get high didn’t want to face them demons…I’m getting help I might just go to rehab.” he said on Twitter

Fredo is survived by his son Legend who was born last year.

-Precise

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My Top 5 Rap Albums of 2017

This year was great for the culture of hip-hop via rap music. We witnessed the emergence of women who rap, an increase in social commentary and an all-out assault on depression with an emphasis on living your best life. The five projects that made the top 5 best rap album list for 2017 encompass all of that and more. Check out the list. Let me know what you think.

1. Jay-Z – 4:44

Jay-Z continues to hold the torch and consistently moves into space where it can be argued that he is the best to ever do this rap thing. 4:44 is viewed by many as Jay’s response to his wife Beyoncé’s telling release Lemonade. Jay mentioned in an interview with Elliot Wilson on Tidal that they were working on both projects at the same time and Beyoncé’s took precedent. Regardless of how it happened, 4:44, in this writer’s humble opinion, is Jay-Z’s best work. He speaks clearly to his peers. He challenges his own sensibilities and is as vulnerable as a bragging rapper can be. The production provided by Chicago native NO ID provides a bed of lush samples and rhythms that pull the listener into the insightful bars. The most ingenious aspect of the project was the rollout. Every week a new visual was attached to one of the songs on the album tackling racism “The Story of Oj” and Black men’s mental health witnessed in the title track “4:44.”

2. Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom

Rapsody is nobody’s female rapper. She an emcee’s emcee and her project Laila’s Wisdom forces you to take notice. The 9th Wonder produced project is a Golden Age nod with a millennial vision. Her project has been nominated for “Best Rap Album Of The Year” at the 2018 Grammys and she has a legitimate chance at winning. Rapsody does everything right. She can be miss rappity rap, give you a love song and a complete story filled with irony and metaphors. Her song “Ridin” featuring GQ feels like a ride through your nearest hood on a beautiful day. As the song rides along, Busta Rhymes comes out of nowhere to continue with the feel-good vibe. The Jamla artist has been prevalent in recent years on many of her peers’ releases and she always represents solidly. Her wordplay and the way she can stretch out a metaphor is uncanny.

3. Tyler The Creator – Flower Boy

Odd Future impresario Tyler the Creator delivered a project in Flower Boy that is sonically above his peers and musically continues to stretch the boundaries. This is not new to Tyler; however, this project feels like a culmination into what could possibly be his magnum opus. The gritty song “Pothole” featuring Jaden Smith on the chorus harkens back to the original odd futuresque style that is irreverent and bold. The song “Boredom” that was featured on Issa Rae’s hit show Insecure opened a door into Tyler’s production skill. The track takes its time and allows Tyler’s gravely deep voice to live between the sounds. The song itself is inspirational in that it compels the listener to get off their ass and get busy doing something. Live your life.

4. Kendrick Lamar – Damn 

Kendrick followed up his undeniable revolutionary classic with an introspective, honest and highly personal release in Damn. He has firmly held his ground as the thought leader of his generation. He boldly tells his peers to be humble and gives insight into his deepest thoughts when it comes to religion and love. “Element” stands out as a song where he just let’s loose and makes it clear who he is and where he comes from. “DUCKWORTH” is the most telling song on the project, as it basically tells the story of Kendrick’s life before his conception. It speaks to how life can conspire in your favor when you pay attention.

5. Big Sean – I Decided

Big Sean has been able to deliver witty bars since his emergence in rap. His project I Decided is a spiritual experience. The album starts off with an elderly man lamenting on his life and feeling like he should have taken another direction in his life. Big Sean open on “The Light” saying, “I spent my whole life trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel / I should have realized that it was inside.” Chicago crooner Jeremih fills up the space of the sparse track with a falsetto soul reminding all that no one can stop your shine. Out of all the projects that made this list, this is probably the one (with the exception of 4:44) that spoke to me the most. The Metro Boomin produced “Bounce Back” is a reminder to keep pushing even after taking a loss. Big Sean is about shining that light and spreading that positivity, and that’s what’s up.

That’s my list. It’s dope, right? What are your top 5 for 2017? Share in the comments

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Hip Hop trailblazer Reggie Ossé host of Combat Jack podcast has died at 48

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Photo source: instagram @reggieosse

Hip Hop trailblazer and host of the popular podcast the Combat Jack Show Reggie Ossé has passed away at the age of 48. Ossé shared his cancer diagnosis just a few months ago via social media.

Born of Haitian parents in Brooklyn NY Ossé entered the world of hip-hop as a music attorney and executive after graduating from Cornell University. His clients represent a list of hip-hop greats. Jay Z, Dj Clark Kent and Capone, and Noreaga were clients he represented. Ossé was also the former managing editor of the once so-called hip-hop bible The Source Magazine.

Ossé helped to lead the explosion of the podcast game with the launch of his show in 2010. His show focused on interviewing “legacy” artists such as Chuck D of Public Enemy, Ice Cube and Ice T. His focus on legacy artists was prominent however he still interviewed more contemporary artists like J Cole, Ace Hood, and G Herbo.

His show became the flagship of the Loudspeakers network and led the way to a podcast revolution. He recently did a special on the life and death of hip-hop mogul Chris Lighty who passed away under suspicious circumstances in August of 2012. The special was called “Mogul” and took into account the life of Chris Lighty leading up to his final days.

Ossé’s history as an attorney and executive created an atmosphere where his interviews were open and honest and the listener would always leave with more insight with regards to whomever he was speaking with.

The news of Ossé’s passing has sent shockwaves through the internet.

 

-Precise

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Tyler The Creator performs for NPR’s Tiny Desk series and its DOPE

Tyler The Creator has been having a stellar year. His Grammy-nominated Album Flower Boy has launched him into a new space. The always eccentric and creative Tyler approached this Tiny Desk with a bit more creativity than most. Pun intended.

-Precise

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Jaz O and Jay Z dead their beef

Jay Z and his mentor Jaz O have reunited after years of feuding. Jay Z’s 4:44 tour made its way to Chicago’s United Center and the historic moment was captured backstage. Jaz O, NO ID and Jay Z stand side by side fully aware of the moment that they were creating.

Jaz O rose to prominence in the 90’s when he released a song called “The Originators” featuring a young Jay Z. Both artists collaborated on early Jay Z releases.

The legendary feud between them started when Jaz O decided not to sign with Roc-A –Fella. Rumors of Jaz O assisting Nas during the battle he had with Jay Z swirled around for a bit and added to the bad blood between mentor and protégée. After many years of back and forth diss songs and their careers going in different directions it would make sense that this beef would continue way into the future. However; as with most things in life time heals all wounds.

This reunion is significant because of what it means for the culture. Arguably we can say without Jaz O there would be no Jay Z. If this was the case hip hop and rap music would not be what we know today.

-Precise

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