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AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER? The Untold Story of the Dungeon Family. PART TWO

Atlanta’s Dungeon Family put the Dirty South on the map. But as their rap empire grew, OutKast battled internal strife while Dungeon Daddy Rico Wade battled drug and money worries. With Big Boi and Andre 3000 preparing solo projects and Rico facing foreclosure, family ties are being put to the test. LINDA HOBBS investigates.

 

Rico Wade bites off the tip of his fingernail and stares at the tape recorder. The founding father of the Dungeon family remembers the day in 1992 when he first met OutKast like it was yesterday. A white girl named Bianca who went to Tri-Cities a visual and performing arts high school with Antwan “Big Boi” Patton and Andre “3000” Benjamin brought them up to Lamonte’s Beauty Supply to rap for Rico, who was then 19-years-old. Big Boi’s aunt lived up the street from Lamonte’s.

After she passed away, Big used to sleep on Dre’s bedroom floor. They both had baldies and rocked to the instrumental from A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario.” their lyrical style clearly inspired by New York rap. Rico’s longtime friend and production partner Sleepy Brown, who was up at Lamonte’s Beauty Shop that day, estimates that their verses clocked in at “35, 45 minutes apiece,” adding that “Rico saw the talent in them first, which kind of made us all believe.”

He brought the boys to LaFace Records co-founder Antonio “L.A.” Reid in 1992, who was introduced to him by Reid’s then-wife Perri “Pebbles” Reid, who at that time managed TLC. Rico and his group the UBoys auditioned for Pebbles back in the day. She advised them to stick to producing. “Rico was the gateway to a music culture I wasn’t familiar with,” says L.A., now chairman and CEO of Island Def Jam Music Group. “He was the guy who came into my office and said, ‘Okay L.A., you need to grow LaFace now.’ And he brought me OutKast, and he brought me Goodie Mob… Rico is one of my ‘sons.’”

But according to Island Def Jam Senior Vice President of A&R, Kawan “KP” Prather—a former member of the Dungeon Family group Parental Advisory, who was also OutKast’s A&R rep at LaFace—when Rico first brought OutKast, “L.A. said he wasn’t interested.” Rico recalls L.A. telling him to join the group and make OutKast a trio because “They wasn’t stars.”

But OutKast’s hit 1993 single “Players Ball” changed L.A.’s mind. Sean “Puffy” Combs loved the song—a ghetto Christmas tale—and ended up directing the video with Rico, who was just beginning a long, lucrative, groundbreaking career.

Yet currently, Dre and Big are both going their separate ways, whether pursuing solo stardom or just taking a break. “It’s going to be interesting to see what they can do,” recently returned Goodie Mob member Cee-Lo says by phone from his Atlanta condo. “I hope all goes well. But doing another OutKast album is something they need to do,” he says. “But then I don’t know the entire story...”

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Malcolm X’s Daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, Speaks On His Legacy And Netflix Docuseries

In commemoration of the 55th anniversary of his assassination, Malcolm X’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, spoke out on her father’s legacy and the popular Netflix documentary, Who Killed Malcolm X? 

Speaking with Democracy Now on Friday (Feb. 21), Ilyasah praised the filmmakers behind the six-part docuseries for their work in attempting to uncover, “Who killed our father? Who took the life of a very young man who challenged the moral compass of world nations.”

Ilyasah was just two years old when her father was assassinated in front of her, three of her sisters and her mother, Betty Shabazz, who was pregnant with twins at the time. A week before Malcolm’s murder, the family’s home was firebombed.

Ilyasah has no memory of her father’s assassination which took place on Feb. 21, 1965, inside Harlem's Audubon Ballroom. Malcolm was preparing to give a speech in the venue and invited his family to sit in the front row.

“I’m really grateful that I don’t have memory as my older sisters I’m sure can recollect, being 6 years old and 4 years old, the trauma and chaos and understanding that our father never came home,” she said. “And especially to my mother who was a young woman that actually saw bullets just tear my father’s body apart.”

The interview details the days leading up to Malcolm's death, including France banning him from entry into the country three weeks before his assassination. Malcolm who was only 39 years old when he died, traveled to Europe during the first week of February in 1965. He was turned away at the airport in France without explanation and subsequently forced to fly back to London where he delivered what would become one of his final speeches at the London School of Economics.

“He realized this was bigger than the Nation of Islam,” Ilyasah explained of Malcolm being banned from France. “The Nation of Islam itself did not have the power to keep him [out of France] and France did not want history to include that Malcolm was assassinated on their land. And so that speaks volumes, and my father understood that his life was not just challenged by the Nation of Islam. It was much bigger than that.

“It’s important to look at the work that he was doing,” she added. “Challenging world powers, challenging world nations for taking control of an [unequal] distribution of the world’s wealth.”

Ilyasah also dismantles the notion that her father “miraculously became Malcolm X” after he went to prison by detailing how his upbringing shaped his interest in political activism.

“He was always a leader,” she said. “He was always compassionate, he was always a learned young man. His parents instilled specific values in him and his siblings. The importance of self love, compassion, [and] care.”

Watch the full interview in the video above (Ilyasah’s portion begins at 12:17).

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Gregg DeGuire

Jhene Aiko Reveals Release Date For ‘Chilombo’ Album

Jhene Aiko announced the release date for her third studio album and what appears to be the album artwork on Friday (Feb. 21). The album titled, Chilombo, after Aiko’s sur name, is slated to drop on March 6 and promises to be some of her “realest” work to date.

“Just typed out all the lyrics to the free flows that are #CHILOMBO #phew realest s**t I ever wrote,” the Grammy-nominated tweeted on Monday (Feb. 17). Aiko described the album as an compilation of her previous work. “If sailing soul(s), sail out, souled out and trip had a baby #CHILOMBO.”

just typed out all the lyrics to the free flows that are #CHILOMBO 👏🏼 #phew realest shit i ever wrote....

— Chilombo (@JheneAiko) February 17, 2020

if sailing soul(s), sail out, souled out and trip had a baby #CHILOMBO 🌋

— Chilombo (@JheneAiko) February 17, 2020

Last month, Aiko dropped the track “P*$$Y Fairy (OTW),” which is expected to be on the album. Aiko’s last album, Trip, was released in 2017.

See the Aiko's latest album artwork below.

 

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"Chilombo" March 6th 🌋

A post shared by Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo 🌋 (@jheneaiko) on Feb 21, 2020 at 6:00pm PST

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Jojo Announces ‘Good To Know’ Album And Tour

Jojo has a new album, Good to Know, dropping this spring and will be hitting the road for a headlining tour kicking off in April, the singer announced on Friday (Feb, 21).

The album title encompasses all that Jojo has learned “in the past few years,” she explained in a statement. “Every piece of feedback, criticism (internal or external), whatever it is — it’s all just information. And it’s all good! I’ve been lucky to have the space to reflect on my own journey up to now, and I hope people can take comfort in the fact that I am not anywhere near perfect, and I will never sugarcoat anything. We're all constantly living and learning and that’s what makes this life fun.”

The 'Good to Know' tour launches at Seattle’s The Showbox on April 21, and wraps May 30, at First Avenue in Minneapolis. Presale tickets will be available beginning Monday, Feb, 24. Additional tickets go on sale to the public on Friday, Feb. 28.

Click here for more information.

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