Sunday, August 30

the beautiful struggle: ta-nehisi coates

book info: published in 2008 by Spiegel & Grau
author info: Ta-Nehisi Coates is a writer hailing from Baltimore, Maryland. He is the son of Paul Coates, founder of Black Classic Press.

In his memoir, The Beautiful Struggle , Ta-Nehisi Coates eloquently captures the struggles of coming of age in Baltimore in the late 80s and early 90s. The story begins with Coates and his brother Big Bill finding themselves surrounded by a neighborhood posse on their turf. A microcosm of life during the times, Coates explains the perils of life under his father's unorthodox method of raising children, his non-traditional family, and acquiring the "knowledge" in West Baltimore. A cultural gem, this story remembers the genesis of hip-hop, the black nationalist movement (with which is father was involved), and the crack epidemic and response. Supported by their father's burgeoning Black Classic Press, Coates' family was unique in that his father and seven children by four women, yet all of his siblings were a part of his life. Coates also remembers his education both within public school and the African community, as he was initiated into Ankobea in Washington DC. The long road to manhood for the Coates clan would end up in DC, at the Mecca (Howard University), where Paul Coates was able to send them for free as a result of his employment at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.


"To be a black male is to be always at war, and no flight to the county can save us, because even there we are met by the assumption of violence, by the specter of who we might turn on next. I was ravaged by the plague of my fallen old town and reengineered. They took my wings, handed me a blade. I lost so much of myself out there. My dreams shrank into survival and mere dignity and respect. But in my djembe, I found art and my lost imagination, and now from heavy hands to making a drum sing--what more was out there? How far did it all really go?"

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video: the foreign exchange's "house of cards"

The Foreign Exchange video for "House of Cards". One of my favorite songs off the album. If you are on the West Coast, this group has a myriad of shows coming up near you.
Sep 11, 2009 : Someday Lounge, Portland OR
Sep 12, 2009 : Yoshi's, San Francisco CA
Sep 13, 2009 : The Roxy, Los Angeles CA
Sep 14, 2009 : The Roxy, Los Angeles CA
Sep 15, 2009 : Nectar Lounge, Seattle WA
For ticket info: visit their website.

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Wednesday, August 19

video: dwele's "traveling girl"

Dwele official music video for "Traveling Girl".

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Tuesday, August 18

"all night long": john legend, estelle, & ludacris

John Legend + Estelle + Ludacris "All Night Long"

Apparently there is some confusion among the blogosphere about who's track this actually is. We'll just enjoy it til they sort that out. Luda's verse. No comment just a Wow.

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live tonight 8/18: yahzarah and brandon hines at dc's station 9

DC's own Yahzarah and Howard's own Brandon Hines to rock DC's Station 9. TONIGHT! August 18th.

Wine, Dine and Enjoy Great Live R&B Music!

R&B Live DC, a live monthly performance showcase highlighting national, independent and local R&B talent, presents nationally renowned singer Yahzarah August 18th. Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Yahzarah attended the Duke Ellington School of Arts before beginning her career singing backup for Erykah Badu. For more information on Yahzarah, please visit

The evening's lineup will begin with a special performance by Patrice Jones of Glenarden, Md., before "Mr. Howard University 2006," Brandon Hines takes the stage. House band Standard will accompany the performers and DJ Bee will be spinning throughout the night.

Doors open at 8 p.m.
Performances start at 9 p.m.
$10 Cover
For dinner reservations or to RSVP for VIP seating call (202) 667-1661

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"if you could see me now" (1946): sarah vaughan

Sarah Vaughan's musical career is one worthy of the highest praise. The "Sassy One" blessed the world for over 47 years with her "wondrous, contralto voice". Her contributions to not only jazz, but music are enduring. Her future legendary status was evident when she recorded this Tadd Dameron-arranged "If You Could See Me Know" in 1946. A Newark, N.J. native, Vaughan captivated the audiences at Harlem's Apollo Theater before captivating the world the rest of her life. This is a timeless classic because it is captivating us to this day. For an in-depth look at her life, please check out Sassy: The Life of Sarah Vaughan:

Sarah Vaughan "If You Could See Me Now" (1946)

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video: miles davis' "human nature"

The homie Monique put me on this last night. I had to share. Miles + Michael. Good stuff.

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Thursday, August 13

"cruisin": usher

Usher "Cruisin'"

This Usher track was recently leaked to the internet. No word on whether or not this will be on his upcoming Monster. Shouts to pinboard for the drop.

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listen to: 88 Keys' Born to Rock Playlist

Imeem recently partnered with 88 Keys to share a playlist featuring some of his influences. Some pretty good tracks on it, including A Tribe Called Quest, Slum Village, and Bilal. Listen to it here .

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video: mpho skeef's "box n' locks"

I hadn't heard of Mpho Skeef until recently. As a recent visitor to South Africa, she reminds me of what I saw while walking around in Cape Town. Anyway here's some more information about here courtesey of Afripop Mag:

"Last I spoke to Mpho Skeef she had an independently released EP called Documented in the cut. For three whole years to have passed and for there to be this much buzz upon her return is unheard of.

Clearly it was time away well spent for the 33-year-old who got hitched, popped a second child and got on with constructing POP Art, her debut disc, which is one out of a five album deal, and an assured first step towards mainstream acclaim. Especially considering its first single Box N Locks produced by Switch (M.I.A) and using the sample for Martha and the Muffins’ 80s new wave number Echo Beach (Martha approves).
Last I spoke to Mpho Skeef she had an independently released EP called Documented in the cut. For three whole years to have passed and for there to be this much buzz upon her return is unheard of.

Clearly it was time away well spent for the 33-year-old who got hitched, popped a second child and got on with constructing POP Art, her debut disc, which is one out of a five album deal, and an assured first step towards mainstream acclaim. Especially considering its first single Box N Locks produced by Switch (M.I.A) and using the sample for Martha and the Muffins’ 80s new wave number Echo Beach (Martha approves)."

I dig. Shouts to blackgirl LAWst for the heads up.

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Wednesday, August 12

video: yahzarah "tickler"

Sexy. According to Yahzarah also known as Purple St. James, this video was leaked by director Tchaiko Omawale today, so she shared it to the world via Twitter. "Tickler" is from the upcoming album, The Ballad of Purple St. James.

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video: eric roberson "she"

We do a lot of spotlights on HU alum, but Eric Roberson is a talent that deserves mention regardless of that fact. Here's his a commercial for the song "She" from his upcoming release, Music Fan First. Out on August 25th and available for pre-order now .

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ledisi is ready to turn it loose

Good news, people. Ledisi is back! Following her 2007 release, Lost and Found which got a 4.5 star rating from, is the album entitled Turn Me Loose. This beautiful album is set to be released on August 18th, and features soulful vocals, creative production, honest lyrics, and positive messages. Her name, Ledisi, is Yoruba meaning "to bring forth", and Ms. Young has brought forth an amazing album. The first single is "Goin Thru Changes". This album features the production of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis as well as Rex Rideout, Chucky Thomson and Raphael Saadiq. Ledisi shows her constant ability to interpose genres and sing from the soul with messages about love and preservance, doing so with an irresitible southern charm. Come next Tuesday, we hope you support this wonderful artist. The album is available for pre-order now.

Preview some of the tracks here:

Ledisi "Higher Than This"

Ledisi "Say No"

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bloody lowndes: hasan kwame jeffries

book info: published in 2009 by New York University Press
author info: Hasan Kwame Jeffries is a professor of history at Ohio State University. He is the nephew of Dr. Leonard and Rosalin Jeffries.

During the mania that was the election of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, the euphoria was adamantly expressed by members of the new generation. The energy of young, liberal-minded Americans was felt throughout the country. Some young college-aged African Americans said that they suddenly felt a
sense of entitlement here in America. However very few acknowledged the sacrifice, plight, and struggles of the first African Americans in this country who raised to say "Enough!" and sought political power. This began the moment Africans set foot in the New World. In the contemporary era this was characterized by the Civil Rights era and Black Power movements. An important area of this struggle began in little known Lowndes County, Alabama. In this excellent work, Dr. Hasan Jeffries, recounts the story of the quest for self-determination of the African people living in Lowndes County. Those well-versed in the history of the Black Power movement will remember the story of the Lowndes Country Freedom Organization, aided by Kwame Ture (aka Stokely Carmichael) in the 1960s. This party had as its emblem, the black panther, and was the original Black Panther Party, running a political campaign in Lowndes County. In this book, Jeffries talk about that struggle but gives a succinct history of the region going back to Reconstruction.
The struggle for humanity waged in Lowndes County was characterized by much sacrifice, and we must continue to acknowledge those elders and and ancestors who put their lives on the line for a much greater cause than the election of a Black president. For them, the struggle encompassed a greater aim.

"Thus the obstacles that African Americans sought to overcome in the civil rights era were neither new or short-lived. These harsh restrictions, however, failed to extinguish the desire of African Americans to live autonomous lives. Although the limitations that whites imposed on African Americans, influenced the timing, tactics, and goals of the Lowndes Movement, they were not solely responsible for shaping its contours. Equally important, was the unique understanding of freedom that African Americans developed during slavery, which served as the basis of their post-emancipation political agenda." (pg. 9)

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Tuesday, August 11

the hip hop generation: bakari kitwana

book info: published in 2002, Basic Citivas Books
author: Bakari Kitwana is a journalist, activist and political analyst. For more check out

Hip-hop fans, writers, intellectuals, but most importantly the next generation of torch-bearers...this book is for you. Read it. Understand it. Bakari Kitwana's The Hip Hop Generation is an excellent foray into the world of hip-hop. It chronicles the history of those who influenced the movement, according to him those who were born from 1965-1984. It is framed in two parts. Part one discusses the conditions that caused the crises in African-American culture. While part two, is about confronting these crises. Not merely a narrative about music, Kitwana discusses hip-hop from a standpoint of its social, political, and economic foundations. If we understand all these factors, we get a better understanding of hip-hop. Maybe Oprah and others should take a look as well.


"Both rappers (Notoroius B.I.G. and Tupac) like their peers who saw promise in their short lives, were hip hop generationers--those young African-Americans born between 1965 and 1984 who came of age in the eightes and nineties and share a specific set of values and attitudes. At the core are our thoughts about families, relationships, child rearing, career, racial identity, race relations, and politics." (pg. 4)

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Monday, August 10

the destruction of black civilization: chancellor williams

book info: published in 1974, Third World Press
author: Chancellor Williams (1898-1992) was a historian,scholar, professor, and defender of African humanity.

This treasure is by far one of the most important pieces of scholarship ever. It is the seminal work and foundational contribution to the study of African civilization. In this volume, former HU professor Chancellor Williams chronicles the genesis of African civilization and explains how we got from here.
Discussing not only the ancient kingdoms of Kush and Kemet, but of Axum, Mali, Songhay, Ghana, Monomopata to Kuba, Zimbabwe, and eventually Kongo. Williams covers important events in the history of African people, such as the drying up of the Sahara, the forced migrations (evolutionary as well as oppression-driven), the introduction of Islam and Christianity, and the assault of the maafa. In this work we are re-introduced to important figures such as Candace, Shabaka, Pianki, Shyaam, and Queen Nzinga. Williams puts into context some of the 'missing pages of world history'. We also learn about the origins of the Arab, the Semitic people, and the European as it relates to their dealings with Africa. Also included is the African Constitution, which goes back to Diop's cultural unity of Africa thesis. Williams' work was the culmination of 16 years of field study in Africa. It is important because like works previous to it, such as Dubois' The Negro, it links the African in America with their history to the beginning of time. Williams ends with his all important solution based alternatives for the worldwide African people to explore in response to knowing this history. This timeless classic must reside in your library. This provides unassailable truth and historical clarity that is much needed.


"The necessary re-education of Blacks and a possible solution of racial crises can begin, strangely enough, only when Blacks fully realize this central fact in their lives: The white man is their Bitter Enemy. For this is not the ranting of wild-eyed militancy, but the calm and unmistakable verdict of several thousand years of documented history." (pg 310)

(videos after the jump)

These will expand your mind...

This book is available from black-owned Third World Press

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"dreams:" j.cole featuring brandon hines

J. Cole featuring Brandon Hines "Dreams"

New music from J.Cole, from Jay-Z's Roc Nation. This track appears on the mixtape, The Warmup (free download here). Many are people are ready to crown J. Cole the next big thing in non-dance hip hop. Are you convinced? Featured on the track is Brandon Hines, who many of us HU folks know very well.

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video: t.i. featuring john legend 'slide show'

New vid from T.I. and John Legend. From the album, Paper Trail in stores now.

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Saturday, August 8

video: janelle monae performs "sincerely, jane"

Janelle Monae in this funky version of her hit "Sincerely, Jane". This is from her performance at the Highline Ballroom at the Roots Jam Session.

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video: messiah's "in the AM"

Official video from the new project by Messiah (HU stand up!). One of the best lyricists/poets walking. Support his new project.

from liberator magazine:

Ever since his [Live From Planet Earth Volume 1] contribution and those four Apollo Theatre victories in a row, we've been paying close attention to Messiah Ramkissoon (yes, that's his real name, not his ego). This video (produced + directed by LFPE partner Ron Brodie/DonoR Media) for his new track "In The AM" says much more than I can say. Messiah does a excellent job of blending his personal narrative and perspective with a bit of something that we all can feel. It's important to accept that, because once you do you'll see his gift to tell various stories in one, regardless if you personally relate to each story. And you'll really hear that the track, the chorus... are just magical.

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"million dollar bill": whitney houston

Whitney Houston "Million Dollar Bill"
(produced by Swizz Beatz)

This release from Whitney Houston's new album, I Look To You, due out August 31. Written by Alicia Keys and produced by Swizz Beatz, this utempo groove will be available on August 17th.

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Friday, August 7

slave culture: nationalist theories and the foundation of black america: p. sterling stuckey

book info: published by Oxford University Press (1987)
the author: P. Sterling Stuckey, professor of History University of California, Riverside. Other books include American Nation (series), Want to Be African: Paul Robeson and the Ends of Nationalist Theory and Practice, 1919-1945, and The Ideological Origins of Black Nationalism, among others.

Most studies of slavery in the academy are often marked by a serious disregard for the culture and humanity of people of African descent: the enslaved. We know better, and African-American scholars such as P. Sterling Stuckey have begun the process of looking at the history of slavery in a new way. In Slave Culture Stuckey examines the identity and culture of the enslaved. Taken from many parts of Africa, Stuckey explains how these Africans utilized their commonalities to survive enslavement and forge an identity. Central to his discourse is how nationalism was the by-product of this coming together. Stuckey believes that the Africa antecedent was essential in achieving this unity, a far cry from other theories that scholars have utilized to explain how Africans of seemingly different cultures, languages, and nationalities came together. Stuckey's contribution in this volume is his explication of the "ring shout", a spiritual dance originated in Africa but popularized in the New World that survived generations on this continent. He explains how this dance was the beginnings of a new national identity brought about by the conditions of slavery. Stuckey also devotes much time in this work into discussing figures such as David Walker and Paul Robeson, and how they fit culturally into the discussion. This work remains an important piece to challenge any doubters about the African-ness of Blacks in America and the rest of the world. The cultural unity of Africa can and should be the rallying cry for world-wide unity. This title should be taught in classrooms across America.

(more after the jump)

quote: “Wherever in Africa, the counter-clockwise dance was performed--it is called the ring shout in North America--the dancing and singing was directed to the ancestors and gods, the temple and revolution of the circle quickening during the course of movement. The ring in which Africans danced and sang is the key to understanding the means by which the achieved oneness in America.”(p. 12)

This work was only the beginning, check out Exchanging Our Country Marks by Michael Gomez, for an even more detailed account.

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video: jill scott "he loves me (lyzel in e flat)" live in paris

Probably one of the best performances of Jill's classic from her debut Who is Jill Scott? From the band to the vocals to the crowd. Great vid from the Live in Paris project.

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tour dates announced: maxwell + chrisette michele+ common

I'll be at either the Oct. 2 or the Oct. 3 show!
via soul bounce

After two hugely successful sold-out tours last fall and this summer, and the release of his acclaimed and chart-topping new album BLACKsummers'night, Maxwell is hitting the road again this fall. And he's doing so with Chrisette Michele and Common in an arena tour that will hit major metropolitan cities. If the response to his recent live appearances are any indication, this tour should be as smoldering as humanly possible. Check out the dates for a concert near you after the bounce!

Friday, September 25 - Toronto - Air Canada Centre
Saturday, September 26 - Detroit - Joe Louis Arena (without Common)
Monday, September 28 - New York - Madison Square Garden
Wednesday, September 30 - Richmond - Richmond Coliseum
Friday, October 2 - Washington DC - Verizon Center
Saturday, October 3 - Philadelphia - Wachovia Spectrum (without Common)
Monday, October 5 - Atlanta - Phillips Arena
Tuesday, October 6 - Charlotte - Time Warner Cable Arena
Thursday, October 8 - Chicago - United Center
Friday, October 9 - St. Louis - Scottrade Center
Monday, October 12 - Dallas - TBA
Tuesday, October 13 - Houston - Toyota Center
Friday, October 16 - Los Angeles - Hollywood Bowl
Saturday, October 17 - San Francisco - TBA

And if you don't see your city just yet don't worry. There are still some dates to be announced.

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Thursday, August 6

zo! tribute to MJ, Baatin, and J. Dilla

Zo! is a phenomenal artist.

From honey soul

It’s safe to say I’m a fan of Zo. We’ve talked to him and about him on the site for quite a while. I also consider my fellow Virgo a friend. He is such a down to earth guy that you almost forget just how talented he really is, almost. We get a reminder in the form of two video tributes. One to Michael Jackson and a more recent one to Baatin and J. Dilla, two of the founding member of Slum Village who’ve passed away.

You know if Zo is on a project it’s golden. Check out several of his noteworthy releases on his myspace page. He is currently touring with Foreign Exchange and working on more of his own projects that will be released through 2010.

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Wednesday, August 5

audio: preview of originals by dj premier

Primo is back to sprinkle a lil' heaven for ya ears. This collection of hits, samples, and Primo classics is the ultimate must-have for any jazz, soul, funk, or hip-hop fan. So much so, that I am tempted to call it a timeless classic already. Music fans, new school and old school, will be appreciative of this. I can sit at home and listen to this all day. It comes without a tracklisting but I hear some Aretha, some James Brown, just to name a few. It features over 200 cuts. Here's a snippet of the project due out in nine days and available for pre-order today!

DJ Premier "Originals Part 3"

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video: maxwell's "bad habits"

In my opinion, one of the best cuts from the album, BLACKsummer's Night, in stores now . Maxwell does it again. Looking forward to parts 2 and 3 of the trilogy.

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"summertime" (1958): miles davis

Miles Davis "Summertime" (1958)

Its about time...right? We have been meaning to get some jazz in the rotation. While in the near future we will be exploring some hidden gems in jazz, why not start off with a known classic? Miles Davis' rendition of "Summertime" lives on because it features the steady, consistent, soul of Miles' horn. Featured on 1958's Porgy and Bess , this rendition is absolutetly spectacular. Jazz historians agree. When Davis implemented this new style of improvisation, it changed everything. Yep, Miles Davis' "Summertime" lives on...

This is what timeless classics are all about.

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"green eyes" (2000): erykah badu

Erykah Badu "Green Eyes" (2000)

In 2000, Erykah Badu released her second studio album, Mama's Gun. It featured Grammy-nominated gems such as "Bag Lady" and "Didn't Cha Know", as well as the ballad "Orange Moon". However perhaps one of the most impressive feats on the album was "Green Eyes". It has been described as a "three-part epic exploring the contradicting emotions of a woman trying to cope with a breakup". I have yet to meet a woman who doesn't feel Erykah on this song. We'll just leave it at that...

A timeless classic indeed.

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Tuesday, August 4

"one love":trey songz

Trey Songz "One Love"

New music from Trey Songz. Off the upcoming album, Ready, available September 1st. Finally a ballad from Trey, after all that Gucci/Soulja Boy collaboration foolishness. We are grateful.

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audio: "film" by nas

Nas "Film"
produced by C-Sick)

A nice track from Nas, came out around 2 months ago. However, I know some Nas heads haven't heard it yet, so I thought I'd share. I wish I knew who that was on the hook, maybe I should research it. Nasir FTW.

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"tonight": joi starr featuring kid sister and estelle

Joi Starr featuring Kid Sister and Estelle "Tonight"

New music from Joi Starr , famous for being Kanye's back up vocalist. Nice song for the ladies. Joi Starr is on the come up, and many out there are saying this track doesn't showcase her soulful voice. If that's true we can only hope for more.

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Monday, August 3

"to hell with it": teedra moses

Teedra Moses "To Hell With It"

Our fave Teedra Moses returns with some more heart-wrenching music. Definitely feeling the Young Lioness on this track. Ready for the album!

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video : new promo vid

Special thanks to Ralph Da Rula and my man Artic. We appreciate the love so far...we gon' take it up another notch!!

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dj houseshoes tribute: titus 'baatin' glover (1974-2009)

We continue to honor the legacy of Baatin. This tribute was put together by DJ Houseshoes...check it:

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"stronger": mary j. blige featuring chris brown

Mary J. Blige featuring Chris Brown "Stronger"

This track will be featured on the new LeBron James documentary, "More Than A Game", which is due to be released on October 2nd. The song is also featured on the upcoming album of the same title from MJB. Good stuff.

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video: goapele's "milk and honey"

Been waitin' on this one for a while. Goapele is as talented as they come. This video is from her first single from the album of the same title, "Milk and Honey", which is set to be released in 2010. Thanks to pinboard for the drop.

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Sunday, August 2

audio: chrisette michelle sings "if i had my way" and does impressions of the top artists

Chrisette Michele channels her inner John Legend, Erykah Badu, and Anita Baker

We recently shared with you a clip of Chrisette Michele doing her Ella Fitzgerald. This clip is from July 25th at the Foxwoods Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut. Shouts to Miss Chrisette herself for the drop. If you haven't seen her live yet, you're missin out.

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"eyes on me": the clipse featuring pharrell and keri hilson

The Clipse featuring Pharrell and Keri Hilson "Eyes on Me"

New music from The Clipse. From the upcoming album Till The Casket Drops.

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"marty mcfly": lupe fiasco

Lupe Fiasco "Marty McFly"

New music from Lupe. The Lasers album coming in December.

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Saturday, August 1

black august: soledad brother by george jackson

book info: published by Coward-McCann (1970)
the author: George Jackson (1941-1971) freedom fighter, prison inmate

Freedom was an uncompromisable objective for George Jackson. Sadly many of us either do not know, do not recognize, or ignore the struggles of people like him. Born in Chicago, Jackson faced the realities of urban life in America. He found himself in San Quentin Prison at the age of 18, after being sentenced to one year to life in prison for robbing a convenience store of approximately $70. While in prison, Jackson underwent a transformation that, like others such as Malcolm X, catapulted him into the international scene as an outright advocate for black freedom. For Jackson, his life experiences cast a light onto the struggles for all urban youth like himself. While still in prison, Jackson published the work, Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson, which shows the struggles of prison, as well as being a black man in the United States of America.


"Black men born in the US and fortunate enough to live past the age of eighteen are conditioned to accept the inevitability of prison. For most of us it simply looms as the next phase in a sequence of humiliations" (p. 4)

For more on the life of the late George Jackson, check out this article from the late, scholar-activist Walter Rodney.

View the trailer from Black August, the movie starring Gary Dourdan:

Black August was began in 1979 as a commemoration of the life, death, and contributions of several freedom fighters who were assassinated at the hands of the racist and reactionary United States government apparatus known as the California Penal System. These Freedom Fighters include George &Jonathan Jackson, William Christmas, Fleeta Drumgo, W.L. Nolan, Alvin Miller, Cleveland Edwards, Khatari Gaulden, James McClain, and John Cluchette. With the exception of Jonathan Jackson, (who was the leader of the Marin county court rebellion) they were all prominent and
respected leaders of the resistance movement inside the prison walls.

The struggle lives on. There are currently hundreds of political prisoners left in US prisons today. Most notably, Mumia Abu-Jamal. For more information about Black August activities in Washington DC, email my man Naji @ or see this pdf.

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audio: baatin tribute

Baatin of Detroit hip-hop group, Slum Village has passed. This comes 2 years after, SV member J. Dilla made his transition. We honor their legacy by sharing these Slum Village classics.

Slum Village featuring Dwele "Tainted"

Slum Village "Get Dis Money"

Slum Village featuring John Legend and Kanye West "Selfish"

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felt like honoring black women
audio: q-tip "request"

This is for you: Black women. Love you all.

Q-Tip "Request"

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