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Interview: Dom Kennedy Breaks Down California's New Rap Kings

“I was a kid that bought [Ice Cube’s] “It Was A Good Day” on cassette single,” proudly beams Dom Kennedy. “I bought [Notorious BIG’s] Ready To Die four or five times in my life.” The Leimert Park, Los Angeles, California rapper is embracing his inner hip-hop geek. Kennedy, who drops his latest studio album Get Home Safely today, is talking about the inspiration behind why he continues to side-step musical trends of the day. “It really revolves around OPM, which is my crew,” he explains to VIBE. “We are more of a lifestyle clique. The music is just the soundtrack to what we do in our everyday lives. I’m original because of the history…legacy. I never want to disappoint myself. So regardless of what anybody tells me, I’ve seen West Coast hip-hop at its best. I was there.”

Continues Kennedy: “I know that you can write lyrics that actually mean something and be the star that you want to be and still be respected. If I hadn’t seen and heard those things it probably would be easier for me to fall into whatever trend that’s happening. But all that stuff fades away. [Nas’] Illmatic and [Snoop Dogg’s] Doggystyle still sound good today.”

While he’s been in the game since 2008, Kennedy—who captured the hip-hop nation’s full attention with his 2012 critically acclaimed effort Yellow Album—believes Get Home Safely represents the barebones spirit of the aforementioned landmark releases. The set exhibits the laidback MC at his most personable. “This is the most honest I’ve ever been musically,” he adds. “Nothing on Get Home Safely can be duplicated by anybody. I’m describing true situations that have happened to me in my life when I was 10 or 12-years-old. Nobody else can tell you those stories from that perspective. You just had to be there.”

But Dom Kennedy is not the only Cali artist moving hip-hop forward on his own terms. From Kendrick Lamar to Odd Future, VIBE sat down with enterprising artist and label head to breakdown the current landscape of West Coast hip-hop. Westsiiide!—Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)

Kendrick Lamar/Top Dawg Entertainment (Compton, California)

They just bring that realism back to rap. TDE is coming from a real place; a very sincere place. Kendrick brings an attention to detail to his work. He is drawing on emotions that people haven’t felt for a long time in hip-hop, which is just authenticity. That’s how rap music and hip-hop started. It needs days and times for people to feel like the music is coming from concerned minds and people that are really walking it and living it, and not just coming from the first class seat on an airplane. You are hearing real stories from Kendrick and TDE.

Nipsey Hussle (Los Angeles, California)

Nipsey is more like the streets, and I don’t want to say gang bang, but he represents that mentality. But his thing has always been coming from that life and trying to make something of yourself. I think it was great when he [sold his Crenshaw mixtape for $100]. That’s something we had talked about. It was him just making a statement like, “You know what? Nobody is forcing y’all to do anything.” Obviously we know that as soon as one person gets the CD they are going to put it up online, but if it’s quality and if you support it you understand that whatever you want to hear and see out of an artist, all that shit cost money. So if you want to see Nipsey Hussle come back and do something even better than he is doing now—his fans like me—I’m on the tape and I still bought it. I have seven Nipsey Hussle tapes that I’ve never paid for. Because I’m a fan of Nipsey.

Odd Future (Los Angeles, California)

People just represent different things and are being brutally honest and true to that. That’s what it really comes down to with Odd Future. I’ve been around Tyler and them. My studio is on Fairfax where their store is at and where they hang out at. I’ve seen them and known them for years now before they did their thing. I knew them when some of them were just working in stores on Fairfax. What they represent and the way they move is completely authentic to how they are in real life. I think that no compromise attitude that Odd Future has is great. Everybody has found a core fanbase in LA to sustain what it is they truly want to represent, and not be afraid to be like, “You know what? I got enough fans to where we can get through this door. I got enough fans where I can be this person and not have to water it down.” That’s Tyler and Odd Future.

YG (Compton, California)

YG is the like O-Dog from Menace II Society [laughs]. He represents the young, do-it-first-and-worry-about-it-later mentality. And that’s authentic to LA to what I know and definitely to Compton. That’s why YG is who he is because the kids identify with that. YG is part of that giving back and sharing stories that are maps to people’s lives. These are young adults that are making music that’s real and at times extreme.

Problem (Compton, California)

Problem’s overall hustle is nonstop. I feel like everybody brings something unique to the table. But Problem came in and just reclaimed his position. He had been around for a while. He’s that missing link in our culture. He’s street, but with a different point of view. Everybody is not going to go the same way as a Dom Kennedy and make a certain song. People definitely are not going to be as artistic as Kendrick. Like I said, we all bring something special to the table. I think the West Coast is everything now.

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Eddie Murphy Announces Return To Stand-Up Comedy

Eddie Murphy is the next comedian to sit on Jerry Seinfeld's passenger side for the upcoming season of the latter's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee show on Netflix. In a sneak peek provided to The Hollywood Reporter, Murphy revealed he's making a comeback to stand-up comedy. Longtime fans are in for a treat since the legendary comic hasn't been on stage in a while.

"I'm going to do it again. Everything just has to be right," Murphy said when Seinfield asked about his return to the stage. "You have to get up there and start working out."

Murphy also revealed that the late comic Don Rickles encouraged him to return to the stage. He teased Seinfeld about buying the Comic Strip, a popular New York City comedy club so that he could perform there. "You should buy the Comic Strip, and I'll come and work out there," Murphy gushed. "If you want to do that, I'll do it. I'll call it Jerry Seinfeld's Comic Strip," Seinfeld cheekily replied.

We're sure Murphy's fans are delighted to see him return to the stage, considering the milestones he's been though like welcoming his tenth child last year with Australian actress Paige Butcher.

For nostalgia's sake, check out an old clip of Murphy doing stand up in 1983's Delirious below and watch his announcement with Seinfield above.

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UK Drill Rapper Unknown T Appears In Court Following Murder Charge

UK-based rapper Unknown T appeared in court Thursday (July 18) after he was arrested and charged in the murder of Steven Narvaez-Jara.

The Evening Standard reports Uknown T, born Daniel Richie Lena, appeared at the Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court in London to hear the charges against him. Other defendants included Raman Boreland and Mohammed Musse, all three from Homerton. Lena and Boreland are charged with the murder of Narvarez-Jara. Lena also holds an additional violent disorder charge.

Narvarez-Jara, who was an aspiring pilot was stabbed on January 1, 2018 during a party. The 20-year-old was a physics and aerospace student studying to be a pilot at the University of Hertfordshire. He was was one of four men who were stabbed to death just within 15 hours of each other during the new year period, The Guardian reports.

A friend described Narvaez-Jara, as "loved amongst his family and peers and as the Ecuadorian young man he was, he was full of life and loved a great party."

Met Police confirmed the rapper's chargers to Metro.co.uk, in a statement.

"Detectives investigating the murder of 20-year-old Steven Narvaez-Jara in Islington on New Year's Day 2018 have charged three people," a spokesperson stated. "All were bailed before being released under investigation in November 2018."

Unknown T's rap career skyrocketed in the summer of 2018 with his single "Homerton B" that reached No.48 on the UK charts. He also appeared on stage with Drake at London's 02 Arena.

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Melyssa Ford attends the Culture Creators 4th Annual Innovators & Leaders Awards Brunch at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on June 22, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.
Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Culture Creators

Melyssa Ford Shares The Importance Of Emotional Healing Following Traumatic Car Accident

Television personality and model Melyssa Ford has found a new appreciation for life following her near-fatal car accident last year. As her fight to a full recovery continues both physically and emotionally, Ford spoke to Essence about her healing journey.

The series, which highlights women who have survived tragedy in various ways, focuses on Ford's brave journey back to a normal life. In June 2018, the media maven was en route to a bridal shower when an 18-wheeler truck clipped the back of her vehicle. The car flipped three times, leaving Ford with a skull fracture, bleeding on the brain and severe cuts and bruises.

Friends like Claudia Jordan and Rosci Diaz were by her side throughout her healing journey, with Jordan opening up a GoFundMe to help with Ford's extensive medical bills. Ford had to relearn cognitive skills like walking and her memory which she still struggles with to this day.

 

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As a Scorpio, we think about Life and Death a lot. Being the sign of Death and Rebirth, we contemplate our mortality frequently, which is why I think we also seem to constantly search for a deeper perspective, in the hopes of transforming to reach our higher Selves. Having an experience that brought me as close to death as I have ever been, I’ve spent the months in recovery thinking A LOT. About the way I want to live the rest of the life God spared and what I have to offer, having been given this chance by Our Creator to discover a greater purpose. But it’s also made me think about LOVE. The outpouring of LOVE I’ve felt the last few months, not just from friends and family but the ways total strangers have supported me in messages left in email and DMs and comments; sharing their own painful stories as a way to create a sense of solidarity with me... man, I don’t know what else to say other than my birthday wish is for YOUR peace, happiness, safety, health and abundance. The pic I chose is an example of LOVE. My two Scorpio Sisters @iamalesharenee and @rocsidiaz in my hospital room trying to raise my spirits with some pampering. I ❤️ them and I ❤️ all of you.

A post shared by Melyssa (@melyssaford) on Nov 7, 2018 at 7:51am PST

 

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#tbt I’m normally a pretty private person but if you don’t celebrate your own victories, why would anyone else? This was a month after the crash that almost took my life. I needed to support of a walker from the symptoms of post concussive syndrome. My speech And cognition was affected, I was constantly disoriented and I was scared. But what ended up happening over the next few months of recovery was intense self discovery: things that no longer fit within the realm of who I was or what I could accept or be a part of. Certain relationships fell apart due to the glaring fact that, at my worst moment, ppl I loved and would have done anything for couldn’t seem to muster the same energy for me and made excuses for their lacking. You live and you learn I guess 🤷🏽‍♀️Now that I’m better, my energy will be focused on projects and endeavors that are more reflective of the real me... at the helm of my own ship, charting my own course. Thank you to everyone who has cheered me on and rooted for and prayed for me.

A post shared by Melyssa (@melyssaford) on Dec 6, 2018 at 2:07pm PST

“It comes back in dreams—the sounds of metal scraping on the pavement, which is one of the most horrible sounds in the world,” she says.“I had to walk with a walker for about a month."

The 42-year-old also spoke to her battle with her ongoing severe depression and active thoughts of suicide. Not in favor of sharing her journey on social media, Ford saw being transparent to her followers as another form of coping and healing.

"I've spent the better part of my life hiding when I was in pain," she tells Essence. "I had this mantra that I used to repeat to myself ever since I was young: 'Never let them see you shook-- never.' That did not work anymore. I was up against something I wasn't prepared for."

Since the unfortunate accident, Ford is confidently glowing on her Instagram feed with positive posts and daring model pics.

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It’s taken awhile to get back to some semblance of normalcy; some things I’ve had to accept as “my new normal” after the car crash. But every time I thought about giving up, I thought about the strong women, both in my life & those I’ve admired from afar, and the perseverance I’ve witnessed them exhibit. It was the motivation I needed to give it ‘just one more day’. Happy #womanshistorymonth Queens! ❤️💕❤️💕 #machinegunmelly #friday #love 📸: @vizualmatt

A post shared by Melyssa (@melyssaford) on Mar 1, 2019 at 7:20am PST

"It's taken a while to get back to some semblance of normalcy; some things I've had to accept as "my new normal" after the car crash. But every time I thought about giving up, I thought about the strong women, both in my life & those I've admired from afar, and the perseverance I've witnessed them exhibit. It was the motivation I needed to give it 'just one more day'. Happy #womanshistorymonth Queens!"

The next story in the five-part series will appear in the July/August 2019 issue of Essence. 

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