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Today In Women's History Month: Creator Of 'Let's Stay Together,' Other Popular Sitcoms Gives Young TV Writers Tips

What do you want people to take away from the show in general?

That not all relationships are about strife and trouble and that there’s a lot of fun to be had and it’s definitely worth trying to stay together.

People seem to be responding well to it so will there be a season two?

I see a season two. We’re already talking about where we take it from here but we’re not in danger of running out of stories to tell. This season, we had the younger sister taking a “mancation,” she’s doing it to get more in touch with herself and what she really wants in a relationship so after we come back we’re gonna see her exploring that whole world and defining relationships and who she wants to be with.

What lessons did you learn from working on other shows that you were able to apply to Let’s Stay Together?

On the creative side I think how to have strong, well-defined characters. Obviously on Martin and Moesha, we definitely had those characters. You also want to have those characters that people can relate to. I think we’ve achieved that as well. And then on the business side, to have a tight knit team and make sure that everyone has a good experience working together—the casting crew—it’s a comedy, so we always want to keep it light hearted and fun and I think that spirit comes through, through the camera to the audience.

Going back to the lack of diversity on TV, why do you think TV execs aren’t quite responsive yet to black programming after all these years?

I had an interesting e-mail dialogue with a TV critic about that a couple of years ago because when I was growing up, there was Sanford and Son, there was The Jeffersons, there was The Cosby Show and it’s not new. Those were all on NBC, TBC—major networks—they were nominated for Emmys and so what happened was that white people stopped finding black people entertaining [laughs], it has never happened before. And I think as the TV universe has expanded, the mainstream networks are almost becoming dismissive because networks like MTV and Disney, you have diverse programming and you have diverse casting so for some reason the network executives are ignoring the piles of money that African Americans and Latinos have to spend and that’s good for BET and Univision and Telemundo to pick it up but I don’t understand the short sightedness of the networks. And like I said, I had this dialogue with a movie critic and he didn’t get it either but he put it very well, which was, most of the executives at these networks are not people of color and when they are, I know that they have trouble translating to their bosses and the decision makers why this programming will be successful.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers and other creative minds when it comes to breaking into TV?

It’s a very difficult business to break into in general so I would say just strive to make your product as excellent as you can and that means take courses, read books, read your TV history and the different types of TV programs and the different genres. You have to know this stuff inside and out, you have to understand the aura very well before you can play around with it so you should aspire yourself to understand the different forms of TV programming and then once you got that down put your spin on that. That’s what the executives and decision makers who get to read your stuff will respond to.

Lastly, what else are you working on?

My husband and I have a faith based film production company and we are developing three film romantic comedy genre for features. And so we’re hoping to—in between Let’s Stay Together—get those off the ground throughout 2011. That’s another space where there’s a huge audience for family related films that the whole family can enjoy and we’re gonna work to fill in that gap.

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Big Sean Shares How Therapy Helped Him Find Clarity

Big Sean has reached a new point in his life and career that provided a much-needed moment of clarity. The Detroit native shared personal news on Instagram that he sought therapy in order to re-center his focus. The revelation arrived a day before his 31st birthday (March 25).

In a trio of Instagram video messages, the "One Man Can Change The World" rapper explained his stance and what he was missing from his life that led him to contract professional assistance. "I got a good therapist," he said. "I was blessed enough to talk to some super spiritual people, and they made me realize one thing that I was missing in my life, one thing I was missing was clarity...clarity about who was around me, what I was doing. Even the music which is my happiness, my joy, that was always an escape for me, was starting to feel like a burden. It was starting to feel like a job."

 

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my thoughts (2/3) 🗣 CLARITY

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my thoughts (3/3) 🗣 UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

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In a previous interview with Billboard, Big Sean revealed his battle with not only depression but also anxiety. "I never really took the time out to nurture myself, to take care of myself. It took me a lot of depression having a lot of anxiety to realize something was off," he said. "I've been getting myself together, getting my mind right, so I have been taking better care of myself," he continued before stating he was working on music.

That sentiment was echoed in Sean's recent revelation, assuring fans that he's still nurturing his passion for music. The last full-length project, Double or Nothing with producer Metro Boomin, was released in 2017.

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Battle Rapper Tech-9 Remembered By Hip-Hop Community For Comedy, Commentary

While many rappers enter the game with goals of fame and superstardom, many lyricists do so with hopes of getting respect from their peers. Tech-9 had exactly that. When the news of his death surfaced on Monday morning (March 25), elite wordsmiths like Kendrick Lamar, Lupe Fiasco, Joe Budden and Lloyd Banks all tweeted their condolences and shared their appreciation for the gifts of the Philadelphia-bred battle rapper, who was known for his sense of humor and his lively on-stage personality.

“The MCs giving him props, they’re lyricists. They appreciate what we do because the basis of our platform is lyricism. It’s about being in a hostile situation and using your skill set to secure the victory,” said Eric Beasley, co-founder of Ultimate Rap League (URL), on a phone call with VIBE. “He expressed himself in a way that was so dynamic and original that anybody who watched him or listened to him would appreciate his contributions to the MC battle culture and helping to keep the art form alive.”

Beasley said that Philadelphia battle rapper Buttahman broke the news of Akhiym “Tech-9” Mickens’ death (not to be confused with Kansas City, Mo. indie phenom and Strange Music co-founder Tech N9ne) around 2:30 a.m. after confirming the news with Mickens’ father. His father has reportedly said that there’s no suspicion of foul play, and that he died peacefully in his sleep. He was reportedly 32 years old, and is survived by a daughter.

Tech-9 earned his stripes in Philly in the early 2000s, according to videographer Donnell Regusters. He shot Tech on a DVD series called Back 2 Basics Real Rap TV, and he remembers him building his name along with other underground Philly MCs like E. Ness, Gillie Da Kid, and Cassidy.

“Tech was one of those dudes that had bars, flows, and energy. He was making his bones spitting heat on the cameras,” Regusters told VIBE via Twitter direct message. “Those early DVD days laid the foundation for him to go on to battling and then really making a name for himself. I liked his flow and sense of humor that he used well in delivering certain lines.”

Beasley still remembers the first time he saw Tech-9 perform. He had already built a name in his hometown, but Beasley said that Tech found his first real audience in September 2008 at an event called the World Series of Hip Hop, an event that was a partnership with URL before it had grown from its SMACK DVD series. The event had notable names like Mysonne, E. Ness, Lady Luck, Murda Mook and Young Hot, and Tech-9 squared up against Harlem battler T-Rex.

What made Tech-9 different was his ability to make viewers laugh. Even though battle raps are usually nonviolent, the tone can still be on-edge. Tech integrated comedy and animated mannerisms, Beasley said, that inspired the showmanship that battlers would use in the years after him.

“Most of the time we were out on the streets, out on the corner, record stores, clothing stores. The vibe was always really intense and serious,” Beasley said. “To see Tech-9 command a room and make people laugh in a tense environment, was really unique. People would laugh in other people’s battles, but not the way that he had it. … His delivery and his theatrics combined made him so entertaining to watch. He could say some of the simplest things, but the way that he moved his face and his neck and his body language and everything else, it just brings everything that he says to life.”

Some of his must-see battles include his bouts with Arsonal, Rich Dolarz, and Midwest Miles. The latter is one of Beasley’s favorites. He remembers it like it was yesterday: the battle was during Summer Madness, which he says was the first battle rap event to truly have a massive stage. Around 1,600 people were packed inside Webster Hall in New York City. “The energy in that room was on a thousand,” Beasley recalled. The storyline: Midwest Miles (who was then known as Young Miles) had battled Shotgun Suge months earlier, and whoever lost would have to quit battling for a full year. Some fans thought that Miles was on the losing end of the previous battle.

Tech-9 pounced on the drama early in the first round. “First of all, before we start this battle, I want to get some things clear. You said that if you lost to Shotgun Suge, that you would take off for a year. Is this motherf**ker deaf? Can this motherf**ker hear?” he said, holding his hand behind his ear. He then repeated himself, with the crowd chanting along with him. “You said that if you lost to Shotgun Suge, that he would take off for a year.” He then stepped up to Miles, inches away from his face. “So why the f**k are you standing right here?!”

“If you watch that, it’s magic. Webster Hall just erupted. It was like no other. And then he just stood there, grilled his face up, it was a magical moment,” Beasley said. “He eloquently puts together this masterpiece of a rhyme scheme together in a way that’s just so masterful and entertaining, it drove the room crazy.”

Fans on Twitter also heavily quoted his battle against Arsonal, in a battle from the late 2000s. He had the crowd in the palm, fluctuating between harsh bravado and lighthearted jabs with perfect comedic timing, miming his actions along with his words. “You only speak when you spoken to, these ni**as is breaking the code. I guess I gotta choke a ni**a, twist his arms, break up his nose,” he raps, before stomping on the ground and folding his arms. “Stomp his a** with dress shoes, Kenneth the Cole!”

“That was probably the funniest battle ever. If you watch that you’ll be in tears,” Beasley said. “I’ll show that battle to people who don’t even watch battle rap, and they don’t even know what he’s talking about, but he’s so sincere about what he’s saying, you can’t help but be pulled in.”

“He had a perfect mix of toughness and realness, with his raspy voice and screwface delivery, and then the way he'd be cutting someone down was hilarious,” said hip-hop radio veteran and vlogger Jay Smooth. “Perfect stage presence and ‘crowd control,’ as they say in the culture.”

Along with being a pioneer as an actual battler himself (Beasley said he had another battle himself as recently as summer 2018), Tech-9 also contributed to the culture in a different way: as a commentator. He and Jayblac hosted Champion, a YouTube show that keep viewers up to date with the latest battle rap news. Same way that athletes provide insight into the game on sports commentary shows, Tech-9 and JayBlac built a set, donned suits, and spoke about the ins and outs of the battle scene, upcoming matchups, and storylines. If he was excited about a battle, he’d famously say “this is a microwave stopper.” If a battle wasn't too promising? "I'm not stopping the microwave for this one."

“He was one of the best batters of his era, and then built a whole second life as a commentator on the culture, and arguably became even more important in that role,” Jay Smooth said. “[Champion] set the standard for this whole generation of battle rap vloggers, and led the way on them becoming a vital part of the scene in their own right. Where others were basically doing vlogs, Jayblac and Tech really made a show. They set a whole different bar for polish, professionalism and dope entertaining commentary. Champion became the place to go for battlers or league owners.”

“I saw Tech's evolution kind of like George Foreman, where in the ring he was so intimidating but as a commentator we saw this whole other cool, self-effacing side,” Jay Smooth continued. “Except I always felt like Foreman was just sorta putting that on to get paid. With Tech, it felt totally real.”

Outside of his contributions to the culture, Beasley remembers Akhiym Mickens as being just as funny off the stage, and someone who put a lot of importance in his role as a single father of a middle school-aged daughter.

“Just a real good guy at all times,” he said. “He was a great guy, a great spirit, he was an innovator, a legend and icon. He was someone who everybody respected and love, and the battle rap community is hurt by his loss.”

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Sheck Wes Won't Be Charged In Alleged Assault Of Justine Skye

According to reports, Sheck Wes will not face any charges for allegedly beating his ex-girlfriend, musician Justine Skye. TMZ reports that the rapper’s case is being thrown out by the L.A. Country D.A.’s office due to a “lack of evidence.”

In February, Skye tweeted that the “Mo Bamba” MC and a group of his friends reportedly stalked her and attacked her friends and boyfriend. In her tweet, she also called Sheck her “abuser.”

“Taking a walk with my friends and my man and Sheck Wes (my abuser) and his friends decide to STALK US and attack my friends,” she wrote. She wrote. “Two cars full of n***as while he sat in the car like a b***h. You’re pathetic sheck and you beat women. You hit your girl before me and you’ll do it again.” Wes denies the claims, and Justine was granted a restraining order against him. The rapper was also pulled from a campaign for Major League Soccer in light of the allegations.

“The model, actress and singer claimed Sheck once threw her phone across a hotel room at the Montrose, slapping her in the face with a wad of cash and berating her,” TMZ reports.

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