Charlie Wilson Talks Working On Kanye's 'See Me Now' & 'Monster'

Fresh off his spirited studio sessions with Kanye West, legendary former Gap Band vocalist Charlie Wilson spills the beans on his work with hip-hop’s most unpredictable visionary and his much-anticipated album, Dark Twisted Fantasy

“I received a phone call from the label that said Kanye West wanted to work with Uncle Charlie for his new album. Truthfully, I was like, ‘Yeah right…’ Because once I sang on a Kanye West’s Graduation, but during the sessions he wasn’t even in the studio. He had two or three sessions going on. So we set up some recording dates and I came out to L.A. to the A&M Records studio lot. First, let me just say that I’m a guy who is always punctual. I’m usually a half and hour early. So I get there and I turn my back to talk to the engineer and someone taps me on the shoulder and it’s Kanye! He was already there—and on time! A rapper on time? That was news [laughs]. But Kanye is a true businessman. He’s not that fashionably late guy. He takes care of his business.

We hugged and talked a little bit. Kanye started to play some of his new songs and we were only supposed to do one track, but we ended up doing three that day. We started tripling the vocals, but I told him, ‘This is just day one; I don’t know if I’m finished… we should do more.’ That’s when Kanye told me to come to New York to do some more recording at Electric Ladyland. One of the songs we recorded was 'See Me Now,' featuring Beyoncé. That whole experience was incredible. If you are ever in the studio with Kanye West, to see him work is amazing. He just bounces from room to room because he has a lot of sessions going on and he’s finishing song after song after song. It was awesome to hear the finished song with him and Beyoncé on it. That line where he says Kanye, Beyoncé and Charlie are the Black elite. I was on the floor! He was speaking that from his heart.

Kanye West is a genius. Just listen to a song like 'Monster.' I had no clue that he was going to keep me for the tail end of that track. I was in that session and I was like, ‘I don’t know where I’m going on this song.’ So Kanye told me to do some adlibs… to just be myself. When I listened to the finished record, I was like, ‘Okay… they must have took me off the song.’ But then I heard my voice at the end of 'Monster' and I was totally shocked! When my voice came in the mood suddenly went deep. Kanye is great producer, man. He will take you left sometimes. We ended up doing 10 songs together. A lot of those records will be for other artists as well. I love Kanye West.  He touched my heart and my career."—As told to Keith Murphy

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Barack Obama Discusses Racism And Police Reform During Virtual Town Hall

Former President Barack Obama joined local and national leaders for a digital town hall on Wednesday (June 3). The 90-minute event put on by the Obama Foundation's My Brother's Keeper Alliance was centered around “reimagining policing in the wake of continued violence.”

“Let me start by just acknowledging that we have seen, in the last few months, the kinds of epic changes and events in our country that are as profound as anything that I’ve seen in my life,” said Obama. “Although all of us have been feeling pain and certain disruption, some folks have been feeling it more than others. Most of all the pain that’s been experienced by the families [of] George [Floyd], Breonna [Taylor], Ahmaud [Arbury], Tony [McDade], Sean [Reade], and too many others to mention.”

To the families directly affected by racial violence and police brutality Obama added, “Please know that Michelle and I, and the nation grieve with you, hold you in our prayers. We're committed to the fight of creating a more just nation in the memory of your sons and daughters.”

The ex-commander in chief went on to speak about institutional racism, and what he believes to be the bright side to the recent tragedies, namely in that young people have been galvanized and mobilized into taking action. “Historically so much of the progress that we’ve made in our society [have] been because of young people. Dr. King was a young man, Ceasar Chavez was a young man, Malcolm X was a young man. The leaders of the feminist movement, union movements, the environmentalist movements, and the movement to make sure that the LGBTQ community had a voice, were young people.”

Obama also addressed the “young men and women of color” around the country, who have witnessed too much violence and death. “I want you to know that you matter. I want you to know that your lives matter. That your dreams matter.”

Other town hall participants included, activist and writer Brittany Packnett Cunningham, former Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., Color of Change President Rashad Robinson and Playon Patrick, Ohio State University student and MBK Youth leader for the city of Columbus.

Additional town hall participants included, activist and writer Brittany Packnett Cunningham, former Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., Color of Change President Rashad Robinson and Playon Patrick, Ohio State University student and MBK Youth leader for the city of Columbus.

Watch the full event below.

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Derek Chauvin Faces Upgraded Charge In George Floyd’s Murder, Three Other Cops Charged

Former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin  now faces unintentional second-degree murder for killing George Floyd, Minneapolis Attorney General Keith Ellison announced on Wednesday (June 3). The upgraded charge was revealed along with charges against three more former MPD officers involved in Floyd's murder.

“Today I filed an amended complaint that charges Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin with murder in the second degree. I believe the evidence available to us now supports the stronger charge of second degree murder,” Ellison said during a news conference.

Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kuen, are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder while committing a felony, as well as aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter with culpable negligence.

“This is absolutely a team effort,” added Ellison. “We are working collectively on this case with one goal: justice for George Floyd.”

Minnesota classifies second-degree murder as “intentional” and “unintentional.” A second-degree murder conviction carries a maximum sentence of 40 years.

Chauvin, the officer filmed with his knee in Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes, was originally charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. An independent autopsy determined that Floyd died from “asphyxia due to neck and back compression.”

The other three officers are in “the process” of being taken into custody and could face up to 40 years on the first count and 10 years on the second count, if convicted.

Despite cell phone footage and witnesses, Ellison acknowledged the uphill battle of convicting police officers. “Winning a conviction will be hard. It’s not because we doubt our resources or abilities but history does show that there are challenges.”

Former police officer Mohamed Noor is the first and only cop in Minnesota's history to be convicted of murder for killing a civilian on the job.

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Black Out Tuesday: A Letter From VIBE

These unprecedented times are insightful, intense, infuriating, and inspiring. As Black editors, writers, and creatives, we have the privilege of telling our stories from those within the entertainment industry and to those who consume the Black art that has influenced generations.

Since before the days of Rodney King, this is nothing new. We’ve been here before, one too many times in Black history. Yet, we’ll continue to tell our often overlooked and untold stories within Black culture through the lens of facts and feelings. Although we’ve always made this our mission for nearly three decades, we’ll continue to stand in the fact that Black Lives Matter.

Today, we join #TheShowMustBePaused movement in honor of the one too many sisters and brothers lost to police brutality and systemic racism. Our support includes ceasing the production of content for #BlackOutTuesday. Please take a moment to practice self-care, and find ways to lend your voice and power to make “justice for all” ring true.

Registering to vote is a start. ✊🏾✊🏿✊🏽✊🏼

#BlackOutTuesday. #TheShowMustBePaused. pic.twitter.com/JcuT23la5Q

— Vibe Magazine (@VibeMagazine) June 2, 2020

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