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10 Things We Learned From The 'Watch The Throne' Listening Session

You should know a few things before I begin. My last Hov listening session was Blueprint. Ten years ago. Small studio on the West side. The Source’s Mind Squad—Carlito Rodrigiez, Erik Parker, Kim Osorio, Boogie and myself—were in the building. Jay wasn’t quite the showman he is now. Mr. Carter was much more of an introvert. His descriptions of those classic cuts were measured. No wasted words. He never broke character. The new issue had dropped and that was really his focus. The reviews in particular. He knew what he had in Blueprint so there was no need for him to oversell. The only time he cracked a smirk was when “Takeover” played. The notorious line dropped: “Ask Nas he don’t want it with Hov.” He laughed (you know that signature cackle). That was as far as the record went that evening. Not sure if he was holding back or the verse hadn’t been recorded yet.

Ten years later hip-hop’s commander in chief works a room at the Mercer Hotel like a politician. He’s a jokester. Yet never offensive. Slight jabs. All in fun. He’s ready to play Watch The Throne. A room full of journalists are eager to hear it. Here’s what I learned about the album and Shawn Corey Carter last night (in no particular order of importance):

1 → I’m a fan of obnoxious, stuntastic hip-hop. Always have been. So “Italian Life,” (All titles are tentative, BTW) where both Jay and Ye flow majestically over an “Ave Maria” sample was grand. It’s not for everyone. Purists will probably puke. But if this album comes out this summer you will hear that record out of several automobiles. Drops, preferably. I forget if he said the song was inspired by the two having penne pasta one night. Anyhow, it’s rich. Maserati drop-top rich (one of Ye’s references to many luxurious toys).  

2 → You didn’t like “Ham?” Well guess what? They two titans got the memo. So they stripped back on making everything sound stadium-ready. Surely it’s an outstanding performance record that rocks stages, but, as Jay said, “No one is trying to go Ham in the house.”

3. → “Ottis Redding” is fantastic. Throwback to College Dropout in terms of production. High replay value. Great lines, one being “I made Jesus walk so I ain’t never goin’ to hell.” There’s humor: “I’m about to call paparazzi on myself.” For all the standout lines, none outdo the track. The production on “Otis Redding” is that good.

4. → Kanye’s candor has no bounds. He’s aware of his shortcomings. When he talks about the wisdom he would pass down to his son** it’s so unapologetically honest. He warns don’t be like your dad; says he would never have his seed have an ego; and warn the child to never let his mom move to LA. Jay’s equally open. He starts of by admitting that he’s ruined it for his son as he would “literally be born with a spotlight on him.”

** Not sure what this song was called

5. → Who cares what people think at a barbecue? Jay doesn’t. This is not Watch the Throne related but still a worthy anecdote. Ye was adamantly against “Run This Town” as a single because when the song played at a barbecue no one put their chicken down to head nod like possessed humans. He wanted Jay to go with “New York” first. Thought it was a bigger record. Jay, however, understood that “New York” needed to be set up. Long story short, Jay went with his gut. It all worked out. What’s telling is that Ye was willing to sacrifice a song that he clearly shines on in order for what he thought was the greater good. If you can’t respect that your whole perspective is wack.

6. → Nothing was dialed in on this record. Whether it was NY, LA, Paris, Australia, the two recorded the entire record together.

7. → Frank Ocean has a mean pen. And the pen is Jay-Z approved. Not only does Frank appear on this album but he will also be on Jay’s next solo project. The song is already in the can.

8. → RZA made the album. I mention this because I was told the most hilarious story about RZA and this project. It’s one of those that I’ve gotta keep in the vault, but nonetheless, happy RZA made the cut.

9. → Jay wants to surpass the Beatles’ record for most #1 albums. They’re at 16. He’s at 11.

10. → The expectations for this album are insane. And if Jay and Ye delivered the Holy Trinity of rap records people would still find flaws. But they do this for the culture and the record isn’t done yet. What I will say is I heard some great material last night. And goodnight. —Jermaine Hall, VIBE Editor-In-Chief

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Sarah Duncan

South Carolina High School Students May Soon Take A Personal Finance Class

High school students in South Carolina may now have to pass a personal finance class in order to receive their diploma.

According to reports, Republican lawmakers Luke Rankin and Horry County Senator have filed a pre-bill that will require high school students to take a class that will aim to help students learn how to better budget their money.

"You can really put yourself in a really bad hole that you're gonna be digging yourself out of the rest of your life," financial planner Dr. Christopher St. John said.

The course will cover insurance, taxes, retirement planning, budgeting, banking, and how to avoid too much debt.

Finance website Make Lemonade reports there are more than 44 million borrowers who owe more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt within the United States. Student loan debt has become the second highest debt among consumers followed by mortgage debt.

The class of 2016, reportedly has $37,172 in student loan debt.

If the bill is passed, it would go into effect for the 2020-2021 school year. The course would be required and student who take a test at the end of the year prior to graduation.

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Matt Winkelmeyer

Cardi B Obliterates Tomi Lahren's Public Taunt With Just One Line

Cardi B is a mother, sister, rapper and now a Grammy-nominated artist, yet in her spare time, she moonlights as a political correspondent.

The "Bodak Yellow" artist took to social media last week to comment on the partial U.S. government shutdown that's now rolled into its 30th day. While Belacalis admittedly didn't have a solution, she expressed remorse for the more than 800,000 federal employees who've been ordered by a judge to return to work without pay.

Cardi B's clip quickly went viral and caught the attention of right-wing commentator Tomi Lahren who took to Twitter to poke fun.

Looks like @iamcardib is the latest genius political mind to endorse the Democrats. HA! Keep it up, guys! #MAGA2020

— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) January 17, 2019

The "I Like It" rapper saw the tweet and with just one line, offered her own scorching retort.

Leave me alone I will dog walk you . https://t.co/FjqIzpUbvp

— iamcardib (@iamcardib) January 20, 2019

Lahren then called Cardi B's political comments "moronic," to which Cardi called her a "sheep."

You’re so blinded with racism that you don’t even realize the decisions the president you root for is destroying the country you claim to love so much .You are a perfect example on no matter how educated or smart you think you are you still a SHEEP! https://t.co/khRpoOt16B

— iamcardib (@iamcardib) January 20, 2019

The partial U.S. government shutdown is now the longest shutdown in U.S. history. The impasse has come by way of Donald Trump's demands for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and new elected Democratic Congress refusing to give in to the request.

 

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Kentucky Catholic School Faces Backlash After Students Berate Indigenous Peoples March Protesters

Representatives from Kentucky's Covington Catholic High School have confirmed plans to look into their student body after several of their students appeared in a viral video harassing and mocking protesters at an Indigenous Peoples March.

The viral video above spread around the web Saturday (Jan. 19) a day after the protest that took place in Washington, D.C. Teens in the video were rocking "Make America Great Again" to support President Donald Trump and the anti-abortion March for Life demonstration that was also taking place on Indigenous Peoples Day.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports  Laura Keener, the communications director with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, released a statement about the video: "We are just now learning about this incident and regret it took place. We are looking into it."

In the video below, Indigenous elder Nathan Phillips of the Omaha tribe was reportedly performing a song meant to calm down the crowd when the large group of teens surrounded him, with one eye to eye as he and another elder chanted.

https://twitter.com/2020fight/status/1086476619877765120

In tears, Phillips recalled the incident, calling for an apology and that the teens would "put that energy into making this country really great." The teens also got their messages mixed up when they also screamed "build that wall" toward him.

"I heard them saying 'build the wall, build that wall,'" he said.  "This is indigenous land. We’re not supposed to have walls here. Before anyone came here there were no walls, we never even had prisons. We always took care of our elders, we took care of our children. We taught them right from wrong."

 

View this post on Instagram

 

#ipmdc #ipmdc19 #indigenousunited #indigenouspeoplesmarch #indigenouspeoplesmarch2019

A post shared by KC🇬🇺🌴🌴 (@ka_ya11) on Jan 18, 2019 at 4:42pm PST

Speaking to The Enquirer Vincent Schilling shared how Phillips has been attacked in the past for standing up for indigenous peoples. Schilling, who is a member of the Mohawk tribe, said Phillips was pelted with trash just a few years ago by Eastern Michigan University students who hosted a Native American-themed party.

"As a Native American journalist, I find this to be one of the most egregious displays of naïve – I can’t even say naïve. It’s racism. It’s blatant racism," Schilling said.

"The guy has just been through a lot. To see Mr. Phillips treated this way is an incalculable amount of disrespect, and it's absolutely unacceptable in Native culture. As a Native man, I’ve got it countless times myself I’ve been mocked, I’ve been teased, my culture has been ridiculed. This is just another brick in the wall. I wanted so bad to walk up to those kids and say, 'You know this is a Vietnam veteran, right?'"

Director Ava DuVernay slammed the teens for their behavior as well as a number of indigenous social justice figures.

Thank you to @VinceSchilling of @IndianCountry and many others who identified the proud Native man who is being harassed. He is Mr. Nathan Phillips. I’m reposting this video from “ka_ya11” on IG. This man’s words pierce my heart. The grace. The wisdom. The hope. pic.twitter.com/BKOA40SVq5

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 19, 2019

Thank you for the kind shout-out @Ava

Nathan Phillips and I have shared in a sacred pipe ceremony to honor Native American veterans.

He is a Vietnam veteran, such behavior is terrible.

Again, thank you for your support. https://t.co/RRaQeEJFku

— Vincent Schilling (@VinceSchilling) January 19, 2019

The teens in the video haven't been identified.

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