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Shock G Reflect's on Tupac's Legacy; Breaks Down His Classic Records

On what would have been Tupac Shakur's 40th birthday, VIBE revisits producer Shock G's personal and heartfelt memories of his fallen brither-in-spirit and colaborator. From Pac's earliest wild and crazy days as a roadie for Shock's Digital Underground outfit to the stories behind some of Pac's most indelible musical works, it's all here. Happy Birthday, Pac.—Keith Murphy




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This Is An EP Release--Digital Underground (1991)

“Tommy Boy wanted another album right after the tour, but I told them I couldn’t have an album out that fast…We wasn’t Public Enemy…we didn’t have a Bomb Squad in the studio making our beats. We made all our own shit so we had to start on it when got home. Tommy Boy heard me freaking out, so they said, ‘Okay…just put an EP out to hold people over.’ It was their idea to include ‘Same Song’ on the EP as well as a couple of remixes. That’s why the EP didn’t have a concept, which to me was a sin. ‘Same Song’ was originally featured in this Dan Aykroyd movie called Nothing But Trouble.

This was also 2Pac’s introduction to the public. But there’s one misconception that I want to clear up. Pac was never a Digital Underground dancer. He was our roadie. And out of all the roadies we ever had, he was the best. You never lost anything on his watch. The only thing you could say about Pac was how wild he was. It was later that he started performing onstage with us. Pac would probably get us arrested in every other city because he would pop shit at the police quick [laughs].

Sometimes he would get us in unnecessary fights. He would never back down even if he were in the wrong. But if they were fucking with us and we were innocent, which happened most of the time, we would support 2Pac 100 percent. But a lot of times he was just wrong [laughs]. Our first meeting with 2Pac was set up through Antron. He wanted me to be the ears for him and tell him whether or not he should sign Pac. From there, 2Pac became our label mate. He had presence when he rhymed. But Pac began to become restless so Antron called me in a panic and asked if we could take him on tour with us because he had a feeling that he was losing him. He just got offered a position with the Black Liberation Army at this college in Atlanta.

Pac was ready to take that job and say fuck it because the music was taking too long. So, Pac took Money B’s brother place on our tour with Public Enemy and Big Daddy Kane. He did some dancing onstage, but he was mainly our roadie. At first I didn’t want to disrespect him because I knew Pac was a serious MC. I didn’t want to ask him to dance or be our roadie. I thought it was beneath him, but 2Pac calls me back and he’s like, ‘Hell yeah, nigga…I’ll do that!’ He never acted like he was a member of Digital Underground. We all felt like D.U. was a humorist band and Pac’s message was very serious. But we had already been around the world with Pac on tour and he was ripping up the after parties when we passed the mic around. So we asked him to be on ‘Same Song.’ Even my mother saw that there was something special inside Pac. She walked over to me during the ‘Same Song’ video shoot and asked, ‘Gregory, who is that right there?’ She hadn’t even heard of Pac yet. I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s 2Pac.’ And she said, ‘Watch him…he has that quality. I don’t know what he sounds like. But he looks like he’s a star.’

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Don Cheadle as Mo in 'Black Monday,' Episode 4 ("295")
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'Black Monday' Recap: Mo Feels The Weight Of Playing God

Another week, another dive into Black Monday. In this week's episode, “295,” Mo tries to salvage his plan to get the Georgina company’s shares after Blair and Tiffany Georgina’s surprise breakup in the previous episode threw a wrench in that plan. By the end of this week’s episode, Mo gets what he wants but it doesn’t go as planned. Don Cheadle told VIBE that Black Monday was “insane...in a good way,” and this episode shows just that, starting with Mo’s God complex.

Stop Trying To Be God

You need a certain cocktail of self-aggrandization and delusions of grandeur to walk around with a God complex. Mo has that cocktail coursing through his veins. The entire episode revolves around Mo’s attempt to control the actions of humans by placing them in certain situations he is sure will yield his desired results. Only someone blinded by their obsession with being right wouldn’t see having to fix a “foolproof” plan makes him a fool.

The writing expertly showed that when you play God your creation is your reflection, especially in the tense scene at Mo’s dining room table with Blair and Dawn. He turned Blair into a cocaine-addicted party animal to show him how empty life is without having someone you love. Then, in one scene, Dawn exposed how all Mo did was build Blair in his image without realizing that part of his plan was to inadvertently show Blair just how miserable Mo really lives.

Even ostensibly innocuous details carry a huge emotional weight thanks to Black Monday’s writing and Cheadle’s consistently engaging performance. The writers literally had Mo on the outside looking in at forces out of his control at the end of the episode when he’s looking into the bar. It’s at this climactic moment of the show that Mo realizes his own mortality by getting what he wants but missing out on what he knows he needs.

It’s also at this moment that the show’s most boring lead character grew into someone worth watching.

Blair Is Here

For the first three episodes, Blair was as interesting as paint on the wall; always in front of your face but in the back of your mind. Before a single character utters a word in this episode, Blair is chain-smoking cigarettes, snorting coke and dressed like a Saturday Night Fever extra. He died “for a song and a half” and was electroshocked back to life, all in the first minute of the new episode. Blair has finally joined the Black Monday party and the show is better for it.

Mo molding Blair into his image allowed Blair to tap into a new level of confidence.  Blair’s exchange with Dawn about the implicit racism and sexism in 1980s films like Teen Wolf was rewind-worthy hilarious and ends with Blair remarking, “My favorite line from the movie is, ‘I’m not a f*g, I’m a werewolf. Oh, Michael J,” easily one of the funniest 1980s critiques on a show full of them.

The episode also entangled Blair in the show’s first love triangle, ensuring that Blair’s character growth is probably not done. With Blair now being compelling, following Dawn and Keith’s character-defining performances in the previous episode, Black Monday has set up its four most accomplished actors to be able to carry entire story arcs without relying on each other. But, the Black Monday world got bigger than those four in this week’s episode.

The Wall Street Mythology

There’s not enough time in a 30-minute episode to flesh out every character’s backstory and fully formed personality. The most surprisingly funny part of episode “295” was the story arc of Jammer Group traders Keith and Yassir (Yassir Lester) trying to stop Wayne (Horatio Sanz) from completing a “The LaGuardia Spread”. The arc showed that Black Monday has an ingenious way of speeding up character development: mythologize Wall Street.

On Black Monday, “The LaGuardia Spread” is when a trader takes a huge position on a stock, goes to LaGuardia Airport and waits to see if they made a huge profit or debilitating loss. If you guess right, you come home. If you guess wrong, “you don’t come home ever. You get on a plane and you f**king disappear,” according to a frantic Keith. Wayne was nothing more than a bumbling joke punchline of a trader before this episode. In only a few minutes of screentime we find out Wayne slept with his wife’s sister, has some weird dislike for The Howard Stern Show’s weekly guest Jackie Martling, and is so money hungry that he’d be giddy at the news of a mad cows disease epidemic and it’s positive effect on his “LaGuardia Spread” trade.

A similar result happened before on Black Monday. In the series premiere, the Lehman twins (Ken Marino) laid out the Georgina Play, the foundation of Mo’s plans to get all the shares from the Georgina company from Blair after he marries Tiffany. That Wall Street myth led to their grandfather setting himself on fire. That myth also showed that at any moment any person you see on screen become valuable because of what they about know how this fictionalized world works. As long as Black Monday continues to use the inherent absurdity of Wall Street as a machine for character development, this show could begin entering the conversation for one of the best ensemble casts on television.

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Cardi B Says Jussie Smollett May Have "F**ked Up Black History Month"

Many people are split on the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett. The Empire actor claims he was attacked by two MAGA supporters in late-January, who doused him in an unidentified liquid while shouting racial and homophobic slurs at him.

Cardi B, who is often vocal about issues in society on her social media platforms, spoke out against the reports that Smollett potentially orchestrated the attack.

"I'm really disappointed in him," she said in an Instagram Live video. "I feel like he f**ked up Black History Month, bro. Like, damn. I'm not gonna say, yet. Until he say it out his mouth that it was fake and the sh*t was staged, I don't want to completely blame him, because somebody I was talking to they said police in Chicago are racists..."

She continues by stating that there's a possibility that the police may be trying to frame the actor, who maintains his innocence amidst damning reports. However, she said that it's "f**ked up" if he is indeed lying to the public.

"Then you gave Donald Trump immunity to f**kin' laugh at n***as and sh*t. Make mothaf**kas look bad," she concluded.

Watch her comments.

Cardi B gave her opinion on the Jussie Smollett case on Instagram live. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/6AYU7cT5nL

— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) February 18, 2019

Cardi B gave her opinion on the Jussie Smollett case on Instagram live. (2/2) pic.twitter.com/c9CdhEB3sN

— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) February 18, 2019

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Reports Emerge Claiming Jussie Smollett "Rehearsed" Alleged Attack

TMZ reports that Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who claimed in late-January that he was attacked by MAGA supporters, reportedly rehearsed the alleged assault with the two men involved. According to prosecutors, his alleged racial and homophobic attack will be headed to a grand jury next week.

Per the site, "Abel and Ola Osundairo told cops they got in a car with Jussie and scouted a location, settling on the one right outside the actor's apartment. The brothers said Jussie chose the spot because he believed a camera would have captured the action."

The sources close the the situation said that Jussie reportedly wanted to make the attack a "physical thing," but did not want to be seriously injured. While Jussie left the scene with just a scratch, the brothers- who are Nigerian, and not white- did not know they left a mark on him, as that's not what they had rehearsed.

"On the night Jussie says he was attacked, the brothers claim they showed up at the scene but were extremely nervous because, just as they played out the scene, a car drove by and they were worried they'd be ID'd," the site continues.

Smollett released a statement through representatives vehemently denying the allegations that he orchestrated the attack, maintaining his original story.

 

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