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Talib Kweli Remembers Martin Luther King Jr. and His Impact on Hip-Hop

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, VIBE took time to chat with beloved rapper Talib Kweli about the first time he heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak, hip-hop’s respect for the holiday, as well the influence Dr. King had on him.—Diane "Shabazz" Varnie


VIBE: Can you recall the first time you heard Dr. King speak?

Talib Kweli: The first time I remember Martin Luther King having an impact on me was in ’82. I was six or seven years old and my mother took me to D.C.—they were having a rally to create the national holiday. I know that rally couldn’t have compared to the “March on Washington” rally in ’63, but it’s still a memory from my childhood that sticks through the test of time. I remember hearing speeches from Dr. King, and especially seeing Stevie Wonder perform “Happy Birthday,” which was an incredible experience that I’ll never forget.

Do you think hip-hop still cares about remembering his legacy?

I think hip-hop culture does care. I think Dr. King’s legacy is so great that hip-hop culture is not immune to it. Hip-hop culture does not exist without Dr. King, and I think most people who listen to hip-hop recognize and understand that. I don’t know if most people employ Dr. King’s spirituality, vision and clarity into their everyday lives, but his legacy is certainly respected.

If Dr. King was still alive, do you think he would say that our race has been set back?

I think that The Boondocks did it best when they did the Return of the King episode, which is one of the greatest pieces of television I ever seen. Have you ever seen it?

Yes, and it was great.

Dr. King in that was just spot on, dead on. But you know, I don’t think… just like in Dr. King’s time, just like now, too much reasonability is put on artists because people don’t understand the job of art. It would be nice if all artists were leaders, if all artists were the Bob Marley types, but most artists are regular people with the same problems that you and me have. So that comes out in their art. The fact that their willing to express themselves, for our benefit along with their own personal catharsis, when they can be doing something worse. Would Dr. King as a Christian [be proud] when it comes to all the messages and imagery that’s used in some of the hip-hop, of course he wouldn’t. But I think he understood the need for solidary amongst people and put that ahead of his own personal and emotional preferences.

On Twitter you were talking about an upcoming project with DJ Smallz and how certain artists you would collaborate with would make people mad. How do you think Dr. King would feel about separation amongst the sub-genres in hip-hop?

I mean to be honest with you, as much as the division amongst hip-hop is a great topic for people who love hip-hop, that’s not even a priority on the scale of what we need to do be doing as people. The reason I say that is because, with all due respect, that’s something that the people really know better. The true fans of hip-hop, they don’t give a f**k. They’ll like down South music, they’ll like West coast, East coast, whatever. They like music that’s designed for the strip club, or they like music that’s designed for your headphones – as long as it’s good and the intention is pure. Clearly, from my experience in the business, I mean this year alone I’ve recorded with Quincy Jones, Jean Grae, Chrisette Michele, Gucci Mane, Nelly – twice, you know what I’m saying? Like Kanye West, Strong Arm Steady… you know, I’ve recorded with everybody from the most underground, underground artist, to the biggest, top of the food chain artist. I’ve recorded with everybody. It shows me that the artist, the people who are making the music doesn’t get caught up in that. We just make music.

Do you have any plans for Martin Luther King Day this year?

My celebration is going to come from just being with my family. I’m not really a holiday person. I do the Christmas thing with my family, but other than that, holidays is just another day for me because I try to celebrate in life.

Can fans expect any MLK inspiration on your upcoming album, Gutter Rainbows?

Dr. King… what he was talking about, was the “gutter rainbow.” When he’s talking about the mountain top—he’s talking about rising up. When he’s talking about the dream, he’s talking about that dream that exists inside of the struggle that allows you to get past the struggle. That’s what art is. I retweeted a quote that Omar Epps took from Russell Simmons where he said: “Art allows you to dream your way out of struggle.” That’s what I’ve been able to do with Gutter Rainbows and that’s what I think Dr. King’s ultimate goal was, to allow people to let their minds envision something more beautiful. That’s what the best part does, and that’s what I try to do with my music.

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Ja Rule Vows To “Stop Engaging” In Feud With 50 Cent

Ja Rule says he’s done “engaging in anymore back and forth” with 50 Cent. In a lengthy Instagram rant posted Friday (April 19), Ja blasted his longtime nemesis as a “parasite” and a “cancer to the culture.”

“THIS is why me and 50 will NEVER co exist,” he captioned a video of a Min. Louis Farrakhan speech. “He’s a parasite, a cancer to the culture and our [people]. He comes out with music takes shots at me Kanye etc. Comes out with liquor takes shots at Diddy, comes out with his show [Power], takes shots at Taraji [P. Henson].”

Ja added that Fif is “always downing his own [people],” and “always running his f**king [yuck] mouth until the smoke gets thick then you wanna make anonymous calls to the Feds and NYPD talking about you scared for your life... lmao smh.”

He continued, “Then when the minister [Farrakhan] called for both of us to sit with him for [hip-hop] unity you gave this man your a** to kiss… definition of a SUCKER.”

In closing, Ja announced that he is walking away from the beef. “I’m saying all this to say I will not be engaging in any more back and forth with this goofy a** n**ger Curtis Ratson!!! #BootlickingkneekissingCOON#cloutchasingclown you can have all the money in the world, can’t buy class.”

The 43-year-old Queens born rappers have been going at it for more than a decade.  Earlier in the week, Fif took to Instagram to make fun of Ja's newly reported tax debt. He has yet to respond to this latest roast but last year, Fif promised to continue feuding with Ja until one of them dies.

Read Ja’s full Instagram post below.


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THIS is why me and 50 will NEVER co exist he’s a parasite a cancer to the culture and our ppl... he comes out with music takes shots at me Kanye etc. comes out with liquor takes shots at Diddy comes out with his show takes shots at Taraji always downing his own ppl... always running his fucking yuk mouth until the smoke gets thick then you wanna make anonymous calls to the Feds and NYPD talking about you scared for your life... lmao smh then when the minister called for both of us to sit with him for hip hop unity you gave this man your ass to kiss complete definition of a SUCKER... I’m saying all this to say I will not be engaging in any more back and forth with this goofy ass nigger Curtis Ratson!!! #BootlickingkneekissingCOON #cloutchasingclown you can have all the money in the world can’t buy class... 🤷🏾‍♂️ #Iconn 12.XII.Twelve

A post shared by JaRule (@ruleyorkcity) on Apr 19, 2019 at 6:40am PDT

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Cardi B Turns Down Plea Deal In Strip Club Assault Case

Cardi B will be heading to trial after rejecting a plea deal in her assault case. The 26-year-old rapper, who is accused of ordering an attack on two bartenders at a strip club last year, made a brief appearance in Queens Criminal Court Friday (April 19).

The Grammy winner faces misdemeanor assault and reckless endangerment charges. During Friday’s hearing, prosecutors reportedly offered Cardi a deal to plead guilty to third-degree misdemeanor assault, with a conditional discharge and no jail time. The case would have eventually been dismissed, provided that she abided by the terms of the plea agreement.

Sisters Jade and Baddie Gi accuse Cardi of being involved in an attack against them at a New York strip club last August. The women claim Cardi accused Jade of sleeping with her husband, Offset.

"Cardi B ordered and committed violent assaults against my clients and is being called to justice for her crimes,” a lawyer for the women said last year. “Apparently, she thinks her celebrity status puts her above the law, since she has bragged to multiple people and on social media that she orchestrated these vicious attacks. But reality is setting in, as justice does not care whether her name is Cardi B or Carly B, and she will now answer for her crimes."

Cardi surrendered to NYPD last October, for her alleged role in the brawl. Her trial date is scheduled for May 31.

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Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018 in Indio, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)
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Beyoncé Makes $60 Million In Netflix Three-Project Deal

Beyoncé's Netflix deal proves to be another successful business move by the entertainer. The multihyphenate reportedly earned a hefty $60 million from the streaming site for three projects.

Variety reports Beyoncé's deal included the release of Homecoming a documentary and visual treasure that features a breakdown of her legendary 2018 performance at Coachella. Each project appears to be worth $20 million each with the next two projects carefully under wraps.

It makes the current debate about her earnings for her Coachella performance almost laughable. On Thursday (April 18) it was also reported by the publication that Mrs. Knowles-Carter earned a mere $4 million for her set–a stark difference from Ariana Grande's reported $8 million paycheck. While other reports claim the two were paid equally, Bey's choice to release the documentary in addition to a live album reminds us all that the singer is always ten steps ahead.

Beyonce’s nor Netflix have confirmed the numbers on the deal, but the streaming site is known for paying entertainers shiny coins for their projects.

Dave Chappelle was famously paid $60 million for his stand-up projects The Age of Spin: Dave Chappelle Live at the Hollywood Palladium, Deep in the Heart of Texas: Dave Chappelle Live at Austin City Limits and Dave Chappelle: Equanimity. Meanwhile, Chris Rock was paid $40 million for his two-stand up specials. The first being the 2018 release of Tambourine and a second yet to be released.

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