Swizz Beatz and Music Unites Launch Power of One Music-Versity Series in NYC

Swizz Beatz is using his passion for music to empower New York City students.

Partnering up with Music Unites--a non-profit organization that helps fund music programs in inner-city schools--the Grammy Award-winning producer hosted the kick-start event of a series of music workshops entitled Power of One Music-Versity: Bronx Edition at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on Jan. 17. Rallying for the addition of the arts in at-risk cities, Swizz has helped fund The Bronx Charter School of the Arts and has devoted his time to Music Unites endeavors.

"I think that a lot of people just don't understand creativity. I feel that music is a global language and I know that more kids can express themselves through art better than they can academically," he told VIBE. "Like with my son, he was going through a little bit of problems in school, then I put him in a college program for building video games--which is 10 times harder than the courses he was taking--and he came out an A student."

The Music Unites Music-Versity program showcased the talents of students in schools that have benefited from the organization's efforts, including Bronx Charter and the Women's Academy of Excellence. Students ranging from elementary to middle school grades performed various musical numbers including a guitar ensemble, a drum line, dance and a chorus. Enacting the mantra "The sky is not the limit, it's just the view," student ambassadors Candace Lee Camacho and Kyle Alfred also did a special performance of MU's theme song. Music Unites founder and director Michelle Edgar pointed to the importance of music as well as the program for students.

"There's an even greater need for the work we're doing where we provide free after-school programs in the schools because there is no support system right now," she said. "Our Bronx students never had a music education program. They never even had an after-school program. They don't even have a proper auditorium to have these programs.

Swizz Beatz also sat down with Billboard's editorial director Bill Werde for an intimate interview at the Music-Versity program to discuss his childhood connection to music and his early career. Chronicling everything from his early life in the South Bronx to his early days as a DJ in Atlanta, the producer encouraged the audience of students and pointed to music as a constant outlet in the midst of his struggles.

"I was facing certain problems getting to school and it was turning into certain altercations," he told Werde. "But even with the negativity I was facing, I'd always go right back to creating, whether it was art, whether it was music, and that's how I would vent my frustrations rather than going out there and doing something that's going to get me in more trouble."

Swizz also spoke on the incarnation of his fame with the Ruff Ryders. Recalling his need to prove himself as a viable producer among his family-run label, Swizz Beatz pointed out that his success had not come easy, and reminisced on the day he realized the level of his clout.

"You know, I never did music for money. I did music to hear myself in the club, and to hear my creation on the radio. For instance, when "Stop, Drop" came out, I was on 125th Street...and every car was playing the Ruff Ryders anthem," he said to Werde. "I thought I was able to retire right there. My job was done in my mind. It was like 'Wow, everybody can appreciate my work,' and it took me so long to get there. And that was in '98. So hearing every car driving pass, playing your song, that was my Grammy."

Swizz expressed to Werde that he hopes to make Music Unites a global effort to help fund music programs for children all over the world. He also talked with VIBE about his upcoming art gallery to showcase his own talents in the visual arts, as well as endorse some new faces.

"I'm working on my first exhibit now. I'm taking my time with it because it needs to be right. I'm also featuring a couple of new up-and-coming artists, painters and photographers because I feel like if I can use my announcement of my first show to also introduce new artists that people would never hear about, then that justifies me doing my show," he said. "Instead of me keeping my art a personal thing, we can use it to save lives, change lives and inspire."

For more info on Music Unites, visit its official website here.

Photo Credit: Martin Roe

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Issa Rae To Star Opposite Kumail Nanjiani For 'Lovebirds' Romantic Comedy

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The film focuses on an interracial couple (Nanjiani and Rae) who are on the brink of separation but become enthralled in a bizarre murder mystery to clear their names and solve the case. While the couple is on the strange adventure, the pair will figure out if their characters and their relationships can survive this predicament.

The script comes by way of  Aaron Abrams, Brendan Gall and Martin Gero, with Tom Lassally, Oly Obst, Todd Schulman, Jordana Mollick and Gero serving as producers for the movie.

Rae, who is the co-creator, writer, producer, and actress on the HBO series Insecure, will be executive producing the film with her co-star, Nanjiani. Rae, known for her role in the film, The Hate U Give will also be starring in the Little comedy premiering April 12.

The Lovebirds will go into production at the end of January. There is currently no release date for the forthcoming movie.


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Cardi B Defends "Twerk" Video Against Conservative

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Some loved the videos, others not so much. One naysayer conservative Washington, D.C. video columnist took to Twitter to challenge Cardi b and other liberal women on how the provocative video will help during the #MeToo movement.

In the Era of #meToo how exactly does this empower women? Leftists, @iamcardib , feel free to chime in. THX ..

— Stephanie Hamill (@STEPHMHAMILL) January 21, 2019

Cardi B saw the tweet and responded to Hamill directly telling the former Trump national diversity coalition advisor that what a woman wears has no bearing on how much respect she should be given.

"It says to women that I can wear and not wear whatever I want. do whatever I want and that NO still means," the "I Like It" rapper tweeted. "So Stephanie chime in..If I twerk and be half naked does that mean I deserve to get raped and molested? I want to know what a conservative woman like you thinks."

It says to women that I can wear and not wear what ever I want. do w.e I want and that NO still means NO. So Stephanie chime in..If I twerk and be half naked does that mean I deserve to get raped and molested ? I want to know what a conservative woman like you thinks 🤔

— iamcardib (@iamcardib) January 22, 2019

Cardi B has been making ground in the political arena after commenting on the U.S. partial shutdown. However, since then the "Bodak Yellow" artist admits she's received negativity ever since. She insists she's not trying to change anyone's political preferrance.

All these conservatives been harassing me and telling me the most disgusting things these past few days.Listen I’m not telling ya to turn liberal all I’m saying is to admit that your president is fuckin up this country right now! Liberal or conservative we ALL suffer as citizens.

— iamcardib (@iamcardib) January 22, 2019

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Woman Denies Chris Brown's Involvement In Reported Rape

A woman has come forward to clear Chris Brown's name after he was reportedly detained in Paris on a rape accusation.

On Monday (Jan. 21) a woman by name of Kim Ford shared several messages on her Instagram story, denying claims that Brown and his security guard abused an unidentified woman. Ford says "nothing happened" but she was hit by a man who wasn't the "Undecided" singer. Ford also denies being the one who accused the artist of sexual assault.

"I am not the person who said Chris Brown raped them," she said. "I was there but nothing happened and the man who hit me had no relation to Chris Brown."

Earlier reports claimed an unidentified woman alleges that she met Brown at a Parisian night club in rue de Ponthieu, near the Champs-Elysées, on the night of Jan. 15 into Jan. 16, before heading back to his room at the La Mandarin Oriental.

Brown was recently spotted taking in the festivities of Paris Fashion Week, and smooching rumored flame, Ammika Harris. The “Undecided” singer shared video from dance rehearsal in the French city over the weekend.

VIBE has reached to Ford about her comments.

He has not commented on the reported rape allegation.

See Ford's claims below.

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