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VIBE Cover Story: Django Unchained

Despite the site-unseen criticism of Quentin Tarantino’s latest film rebellion, Django Unchained isn’t a blaxploitation slavery flick. Jamie Foxx, who plays a gun-slinging slave on the warpath, reunites with Kerry Washington for the epic tale, while Leonardo DiCaprio finally puts on his black hat and goes dark. Gathered at a Manhattan studio, the big three explain how they mastered the art of telling this historically hot-button story. —Erik Parker

JAMIE FOXX knows what you're thinking when you see him as a shivering slave in the trailer for his latest film, Django Unchained. This is no Roots. It's not like he didn't know his role in Quentin Tarantino's latest backslap to Hollywood conventions would confuse some and infuriate others. He's smirking atop a horse in a powder blue costume while going all badass on white folks like some Dolomite slave fantasy for goodness sake. But according to Foxx, 45, and key members of the all-star cast–Leonardo DiCaprio and Kerry Washington–they half-expected the verbal lynching.

With Django Unchained, Tarantino adapts his familiar revenge themes (Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds) to the story of a slave gone rogue in the name of love. In this flick, the genre-splicing director tracks Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave who is recruited by a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) who happens to be hunting the men who sold Django's wife (Kerry Washington, 35) to the most wicked of all plantation owners, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

While Tarantino was awarded Screenwriter of the Year for Django by the Hollywood Film Awards in October, black Hollywood had a different take. Nate Parker (Red Tails, Red Hook Summer), who was also considered for the role of Django, called the script ‘‘upsetting.” Tyler Perry, who wrote the Madea series, raised questions about Tarantino's screenplay (more on this later). But the actors in the film, which also include Samuel L. Jackson, stuck to their guns.

‘‘I wanted to go in there and try to embody somebody and an attitude that is so foreign to me and go the distance,” says DiCaprio, 38, who had his own reservations about the language and imagery. While at the photo shoot for VIBE, the most revered actor of our time puffs neat circles of smoke from his electronic cigarette. Not look-at-me plumes. More an absentminded exercise to pass the time and focus his thoughts. ‘‘I think it took me to places I didn't even imagine,” he continued. ‘‘It really took on a life of its own.

When Foxx, DiCaprio and Washington finally sit for a chat about the film, the conversation also takes on a life of its own. Here is the story behind the story.

VIBE: Before Django was even completed, the screenplay and the trailer received criticism from black people who objected to the treatment of slavery, suggesting it is not serious. It is a spaghetti western not a heavy drama like, say, Roots or The Color Purple. Were you prepared for this type of scrutiny?

LEONARDO DICAPRIO: We knew there was going to be controversy. The question is: What is not a realistic depiction? I would argue that it is. It is Quentin's re-creation; this character doesn't exist. There's nobody that is documented to do what Jamie's character has done at the time. But the documentaries I saw went even further.

JAMIE FOXX: Put it this way: I completely understand what you're saying. 'Cause as black folks we're always sensitive. As a black person it's always racial. I come into this place to do a photo shoot and they got Ritz crackers and cheese. I'll be like, ain't this a bitch. Y'all didn't know black people was coming. What's with all this white shit? By the same token, if there is fried chicken and watermelon I'll say ain't this a bitch? So, no matter what we do as black people it's always gonna be that. Every single thing in my life is built around race. I don't necessarily speak it because you can't. But the minute I leave my house, I gotta put my other jacket on and say, ‘‘Hey, Thomas, Julian and Greg.” And I gotta be a certain person.

DICAPRIO: Thomas, Julian and Greg?

VIBE: Those are white people.

FOXX: No some of those people are black. But when I get home my other homies are like how was your day? Well, I only had to be white for at least eight hours today, [or] I only had to be white for four hours. Everything we do is that. When you're talking about the script, of course it's going to be controversy. I remember talking to Tyler Perry about it. [In Perry's very serious voice] ‘‘Ah man, the script, man. Have you read it?” When I finally read it, I called Tyler and we had a conversation. I said, ‘‘I got a different take on it than you did.” And we shared. And I called Tyler while we were shooting it. I said, ‘‘Do you know that Quentin Tarantino knows all of your shit on TV. I don't even watch all of your shit.” He said, ‘‘Really?” The difference is the Quentin Tarantino Effect. I ran into Spike Lee at the BET Awards. You know Spike, he'll let you have it whether it's good, bad or ugly. And he said, ‘‘I'm not going to say anything bad about this film. It looks like y'all are getting it

KERRY WASHINGTON: This is not a doc. This is a Quentin Tarantino film. But I remember there was this one moment in the script where Jamie's character was put in an awful crazy medieval metal mask. I said, ‘‘That's some sick thing Quentin thought up.” And when I went to the production office to meet about my wardrobe, I saw into the research office. Twenty photos of real masks like that. It made me sad. I realized as much as my degrees and everything I've read on slave narratives [should have informed me], I didn't even know that they wore masks like that, that people did that to us. It took a Tarantino movie for me to know that that's not some crazy thing out of his imagination. That's how it went down.

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Frank Ocean Establishes PrEP+ Party In New York City

Frank Ocean has launched a queer nightclub party in New York City titled PrEP+, Pitchfork reports. The party is named after the HIV preventative drug, pre-exposure prophylaxis, which debuted in 2012. Its theme highlights the AIDS epidemic of the '80s and '90s, showcasing what nightlife would've been like if the medication existed then.

PrEP is formed in conjunction with Frank’s "Blonded" brand. The party was also made possible by the popular queer magazine, Gay Letter.

According to the publication's Instagram account, the event will take place tonight (October 17) and will be the first in a series of parties. For those interested in attending, tickets have reportedly been distributed and the location will be announced later today.

 

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This Thursday night a new party from @blonded called PrEP+ in NYC. PrEP+ is the first in a series of nights; an ongoing safe space made to bring people together and dance. PrEP+ will welcome globally celebrated DJs. The night is named PrEP+ as an homage to what could have been of the 1980s’ NYC club scene if the drug PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) -- which can be taken daily to prevent HIV/AIDs for those who are not infected but are at high risk -- had been invented in that era. Ticket links have been distributed and the venue will be announced to ticket-holders on the evening of the night. Club hours are 10pm-late. House rules: No photos or videos are allowed Consent is mandatory Zero tolerance for racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, ableism or any form or discrimination The dance floor is for dancing www.blonded.co

A post shared by GAYLETTER 🌈 (@gayletter) on Oct 16, 2019 at 5:28pm PDT

In other Frank Ocean news, he's reportedly working on an album that will showcase the classic electronic techno sounds of Detroit and Chicago with a French influence.

 

 

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Dave East Speaks On Collaborative Project With Nipsey Hussle

In a recent interview with Revolt TV, Harlem rapper Dave East revealed that he and Nipsey Hussle were working on a project before his untimely death. East said he first met Hussle through their gang affiliation so their relationship was deeper than rap.

"I’m from the [Rolling] 30s [Harlem Crips]," East said. "That’s how we met. I love Nip to death and I’m going to put on for Nip until my death."

In addition to this collaborative project, East is also working on releasing his major-label debut album, Survival, where he tributed a song to Hussle.

"I went mad personal and I wrapped it up with a tribute to my boy," he said about the album’s finishing touch. "Once I said what I said to Nip, I was like, ‘We’re good.’"

According to East, the album nearly approached full-length territory. “We were six songs in," East said. "We were planning a tour and all of that. F**k rap. I’m going to keep it 100. That was my ni**a. Anything we did together or anytime I had to be around that ni**a, I cherish it.”

“It’s wack he went out like that. That ni**a’s a king. Kings ain’t supposed to go out like that. But, that’s the world we’re living in,” he continued. “It’s wack he went out like that, but it sharpened me and a million other ni**as up. He went out like a G."

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Patrick Day stands in his corner before his fight against Elvin Ayala during their junior middleweight fight at Madison Square Garden on October 27, 2018 in New York City
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Boxer Patrick Day Dies From Traumatic Brain Injury After Knockout

On Wednesday (Oct. 16), junior middleweight boxer Patrick Day died from traumatic brain injuries set on by a recent knockout, ESPN reports. During Saturday's bout against Charles Conwell (Oct. 12), Day suffered a trio of destructive blows to the head in the tenth round after enduring previous hits in the fourth and eighth rounds. He fell into a coma while being treated at Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Born in Freeport, New York, the 27-year-old not only had pursuits inside of the ring but also on the outside. Day obtained a bachelor's degree in health and wellness from Kaplan University, adding to his associate degree from Nassau Community College for nutrition. In 2006, he embarked on his professional boxing career, taking home the New York Golden Gloves six years later.

"On behalf of Patrick's family, team, and those closest to him, we are grateful for the prayers, expressions of support and outpouring of love for Pat that have been so obvious since his injury," promoter Lou DiBella said in a statement to ESPN. "He was a son, brother, and good friend to many. Pat's kindness, positivity, and generosity of spirit made a lasting impression with everyone he met."

Conwell took to his social media accounts to share his condolences and expressed remorse for how the match ended. "If I could take it all back I would no one deserves for this to happen to them," he wrote. "I replay the fight over and over in my head thinking what if this never happened and why did it happen to you." The undefeated boxer noted he entertained thoughts of quitting boxing but believes Day would want him to continue on in the sport.

 

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This is my last time speaking on the situation because of this being a sensitive topic not only for his family and friends but for myself and the sport of boxing. Dear Patrick Day, I never meant for this to happen to you. All I ever wanted to do was win. If I could take it all back I would no one deserves for this to happen to them. I replay the fight over and over in my head thinking what if this never happened and why did it happen to you. I can’t stop thinking about it myself I prayed for you so many times and shedded so many tears because I couldn’t even imagine how my family and friends would feel. I see you everywhere I go and all I hear is wonderful things about you. I thought about quitting boxing but I know that’s not what you would want I know that you were a fighter at heart so I decided not to but to fight and win a world title because that’s what you wanted and thats what I want so I’ll use you as motivation every day and make sure I always leave it all in the ring every time. #ChampPatrickDay With Compassion, Charles Conwell

A post shared by Boxings Best Kept Secret 🤫 (@charlesconwell) on Oct 14, 2019 at 3:54pm PDT

The boxing community swiftly expressed their thoughts and prayers for Day's family.

RIP young King Patrick Day All Day! 🙏❤️

— Amanda Serrano 🇵🇷 (@Serranosisters) October 17, 2019

Our deepest condolences to the family, friends and the team of Patrick Day. Rest In Peace Pat.

— Gennadiy Golovkin (@GGGBoxing) October 17, 2019

Another tragic day in our beloved sport. RIP Patrick Day pic.twitter.com/M23grCjHD3

— Carl Frampton MBE (@RealCFrampton) October 17, 2019

A truly heartbreaking situation...

RIP #PatrickDay & thoughts go out to all his loved ones 🙏 - rest easy champ 💔 pic.twitter.com/QmvEWrhBeF

— iFL TV™ (@IFLTV) October 17, 2019

R.I.P. to Patrick Day. 27 years old, he had his whole life ahead of him. Rest easy Champ 🖤✊🏽 pic.twitter.com/KW4eEdLeor

— Ashley Theophane (@AshleyTheophane) October 16, 2019

Another sad day for the boxing world. Our sincere condolences to the family of Patrick Day 🙏 pic.twitter.com/AlaaTKhuPe

— MayweatherPromotions (@MayweatherPromo) October 16, 2019

Devastated to hear the news of the passing of Patrick Day.I met him for the first time last Thursday,what a charming young man with a dream and a smile that lit up the room.Our deepest prayers are with his family, his trainer Joe Higgins,Charles Conwell and promoter Lou DiBella🙏

— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) October 16, 2019

Keep lifting up my brother #PatrickDay we need non stop prayers! For him, his family, and the boxing community. This kid is such a blessing and doesn’t deserve this. I haven’t prayed, cried, or tweeted in so long #LetsGoChamp pic.twitter.com/q4Pmmx2b2H

— Magic Marcus Willis (@MagicMarcusW) October 16, 2019

Rest In Peace.

Patrick Day was always kind, happy and an exceptional good man who was outstandingly passionate about boxing. We will always remember you for all of that. pic.twitter.com/v506g26nmX

— World Boxing Council (@WBCBoxing) October 16, 2019

Damn man, Rest easy Patrick Day. Prayers to your friends and family

— Gervonta Davis (@Gervontaa) October 16, 2019

The last North American boxer to die from brain injuries following a match was Kevin Payne in March 2006 after a surgery to treat the impact. According to the NCBI, 20 percent of pro boxers suffer Chronic Traumatic Brain Injury (CTBI). The condition is similar to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) which has been a recurring topic in sports like football and hockey.

"While we already know that boxing and other combat sports are linked to brain damage, little is known about how this process develops and who may be on the path to developing CTE," said Dr. Charles Bernick, a researcher at the Cleveland Clinic said in an American Academy of Neurology, per CBS News.

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