Kofi Black Talks Putting Staten Island Back On The Map and Linking With Raekwon Kofi Black Talks Putting Staten Island Back On The Map and Linking With Raekwon

Kofi Black Talks Putting Staten Island Back On The Map and Linking With Raekwon

When news broke that rap pioneer and Wu-tang member Raekwon signed R&B act Kofi Black to his label, the music blogosphere was spiked with curiosity on this young talent. Well, VIBE.com recently sat down the with Staten Island native to disseminate his musical style, relationship with Raekwon, and his ambitious, hustle-driven goals for the future. --Tanya Chen

VIBE.com: What kind of role did music play when you were growing up? Were you always around it or was it something you picked up yourself?

Kofi Black: I was always around it. My mom said I was always singing something. I don’t know what it was, just noise. My mom used to sing and my father produced. The house was always full of jazz and African music. I was banging on pots and pans, and my dad bought my first drum set when I was 4 years old.

And what about your R&B sound? Where did that influence come from?
My mom and my pops, there was definitely a balance. I grew up around R&B through my mom and it was pretty much on her side of the family. My uncle had ties to Al Green--he used to sing with Al Green back in the day—we had R&B influences throughout our family so there was no escaping it.

Who were some idols or music role models that helped shape that sound?
It’s a lot of old school like Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Smokey Robinson. I just try to capture that substance that they had and translate it to today, so I also like contemporary artists like Andre 3000 and Timbaland.

So how did you link up with Raekwon?
Raekwon and I used to live in the same neighborhood, exactly across the street from each other. His mom used to babysit me and I knew his brother Don. We went to high school together and everything. My family knew his family, both families are from Brooklyn and everyone moved to Staten Island together.

How did you guys start working together on music?
Basically, I had to prove myself. I was already working as far as singing background for Joe, Carl Thomas, and Raheem Devaughn. I then started traveling overseas back-and-forth to China, Korea, Italy, wherever, but you start hearing about what’s going on back in your hometown. I already knew [Raekwon’s] brother but I never went up to him and gave him my demo because I wanted to do my own thing. Later on—literally like 10 years later—after graduating high school, he was like 'Kofi, you’re working hard. If you’re interested, let’s work.' By then I had offers on the table and a lot of people were looking, but of course he had the edge being he’s like my older brother, so the industry being the way it is, you don’t really get that family sense, and you want someone who always wants your best interest.

Has the dynamic changed since between you guys, given that you're friends and family, and now you all have a professional relationship?
So the [record] company has three brothers: you got Raekwon, you got Kareem and you’ve Don. Being a little brother in the business aspect, there’s a time for that relationship, telling me 'Alright Kof, it’s time to talk business now.' What it all comes down to is we all have families to feed, I have my own kids, so we’re all on the same page.

What’s the soundest advice or some words of wisdom that Raekwon has given you?
Rae would tell me all the time to just never ever be satisfied. You’ll always be good, but always stay hungry and your table will be full. The whole point is to stay hungry, don’t be lazy, there’s never a time to get comfortable, don’t get too cocky.

What kind of projects are you working on right now? Is there an album in the works?
I’m working on another mixtape and my album. I’m writing and working for a lot of people like Ryan Leslie, Sean Kingston, 9th Wonder, Busta Rhymes, and Rick Ross.

From here, where are you looking to go in terms of your music?
My thing is to do the unthinkable. I want to bring Staten Island back on the map. It’s not all about Wu-Tang, though Wu-Tang definitely put us on the map. There’s a lot of talent coming from New York but really no singers out here. It’s time for us to start rubbing our elbows again. I love rap and hip hop—I mean, I’m signed to a hip hop label—but as a singer, I’m looking for that good music with substance, that good talent. And what I want to do is represent my town really well. Like Staten Island, we’re in here too. ‘Cause when you think of Staten Island, you think of Shaolin, and we respect that—we gotta respect Wu, the pioneers—but Staten Island has a future too, and that’s my push.

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Trina is taking things “one day at a time,” following the death of her beloved mother, Vernessa Taylor, last month. The Love & Hip-Hop: Miami star took to social media  with an emotionally honest update, and to thank everyone for their “continued prayers” and “sweet messages.”

“Taking it all one day at a time. Appreciative for the continued support and sweet messages,” she wrote.

Missy Elliott, who was among the many replies to Trina’s tweet, left heart emojis and prayer hands under the post.

🧡🧡🙏🏾

— Missy Elliott (@MissyElliott) October 15, 2019

Taylor died from cancer in early September. Trina broke her silence on her mother’s passing a month later, sharing an Instagram post similar to her recent tweet. The message included special shoutouts to Elliott, LaLa Anthony, Lil Wayne, Trick Daddy, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, K. Michelle, Megan Thee Stallion, Tamar Braxton, Angie Martinez, Killer Mike and more who reached out to her after her mother died.

“All I can give and take is day by day, moments by moments right now and I am just asking for everyone to please understand that. We all grieve differently and this is the hardest loss I’ve endured to say the least! In this phase, I may even stumble a bit but I can’t let up on what I’ve built as a woman and as an entertainer,” she wrote. “Thank you to my team who has held me down during this time, I know things have not been easy on your end but I’m grateful to have you in my darkest moments!”

Read the full post below.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I can write a two—page letter on how appreciative and grateful I am for all of the love, prayers, gifts, calls, texts and more that I have received during this time. And I thank you all. I wish I can name every single person that has been in my corner during this time, but I can’t even imagine how I would put them all in just this one post. I am so thankful for my Rockstarrs globally who have sent me prayers and who continue to support me: it gives me motivation day by day. All I can give and take is day by day, moments by moments right now and I am just asking for everyone to please understand that. We all grieve differently and this is the hardest loss I’ve endured to say the least! In this phase, I may even stumble a bit but I can’t let up on what I’ve built as a woman and as an entertainer. Thank you to my team who has held me down during this time, I know things have not been easy on your end but I’m grateful to have you in my darkest moments! Thank you Finger Licking, Sunday’s Eatery, StrongArm IMG, GMGPrints, and Dwight Richardson of Richardson Funeral Home. To my city, Miami and Mayor Francis X. Suarez, I was humbled and honored to receive the plaque you presented to my family for my mother and her commitments in the city. Ted Lucas (Slip N Slide Records) words aren’t enough to express on how you showed up and helped me so much, I am thankful to have started this journey under your wings as a music legend! EClass, home team always, and I am so grateful for your respect and love given to my family and I during this time. Thank you to Cheneka Chambers of Outrageous Events and your team for bringing the celebratory vision we envisioned for my mother alive. Special thank you to these beautiful ppl who have been reaching out, checking on me and sending condolences as well: LaLa, Missy Elliott, Lil Wayne, my brother Trick Daddy, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Seven Streeter, Rick Ross, K. Michelle, DaBrat, Meg Thee Stallion, Kandi, Kelly Price, Tamar Braxton, Angie Martinez, Killer Mike & Shay, Betty Wright and so many more..... 🧡🙏🏽

A post shared by katrina (@trinarockstarr) on Oct 2, 2019 at 12:39pm PDT

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Travis Scott May Need Surgery After Dislocating Knee On Stage: Report

After falling during his performance at Rolling Loud New York last weekend, Travis Scott could be going under the knife. The “Sicko Mode” rapper reportedly dislocated his knee from falling on stage and may have to undergo surgery.

According to TMZ, Scott visited an orthopedic doctor in Los Angeles this week where he learned of the injury. Scott was given the option of surgery, or waiting to see if his knee heel on its own. Reportedly, the 28-year-old rap star and sports fan would rather have surgery so that he can go back to playing basketball comfortably. In 2018, the Houston native played in NBA player James Harden’s celebrity basketball game, and collaborated with Jordan Brand to introduce the Air Jordan XXXIII sneaker, with help from a group of high school ball players.

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“[It's] really affecting when u see false things said about you,” Scott wrote. “Once again these false stories about me cheating are just simply not true. Focusing on life, music and family at this moment is what's real.”

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Cyntoia Brown Talks Redemption In First Interview After Prison

In her first TV interview since being released from prison, Cyntoia Brown sat down with NBC News to open up about her incarceration, the moment that she was finally freed, and the feeling of redemption.

“It's an honor that God has put me in this position. I feel like it's a great opportunity,” Brown told NBC's Lester Holt. “I fully intend to step into that and to share my experiences as often as I can, with whoever I can, in the hopes that it can bring about more understanding about what goes on in the system with young girls who find themselves in the situation that I did.”

Brown, 31, spent 15 years in prison on a murder conviction. A victim of child sex trafficking, Brown was granted clemency after her story caught worldwide attention, which included rallying for her release from the likes of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and other celebrity figures.

In the interview, Brown admitted that she had grown to expect violence from men. Brown, who survived multiple rapes, detailed the deadly encounter with Johnny Allen, a 45-year-old man who solicited her for sex. Brown was convicted of Allen’s murder in 2004. “I'm so much more than the worst thing that I've done. I'm so much more than that moment,” Brown told Holt.

Despite being forced into prostitution by an ex-boyfriend and pimp nicknamed “Kut-Throat,” Brown didn’t initially see herself as a sex trafficking victim. “You meet these young girls who are in these situations, and they don't view themselves as being pimped. They don't view their trafficker as their trafficker. They think, ‘This is my boyfriend.’ And that's exactly what I thought with Kut,” she explained. “I thought, ‘This is my boyfriend. I'm in a relationship. I'm his Bonnie, he's my Clyde.’”

Brown pointed out that her story is not unique. “There's nothing special about me. I can't tell you how many Cyntoia Browns still in prison. The women who helped me get to this point, they're still in prison for 51 years and up with ridiculous sentences. And they don’t have hope right now.”

While in prison, Brown received two college degrees. The Nashville native also recently tied the knot with Jamie Long, a Christian recording artist and entrepreneur.

Brown has been making the media rounds in promotion of her memoir, Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System, released on Oct. 15.

Watch her full interview below.

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