Baller turned analyst Jalen Rose weighs in on the implications of the Donald Sterling trial.

Jalen Rose Talks Donald Sterling Trial: 'Line In The Sand' If He Wins Case

It was just another twist in the wild and crazy saga that is Donald Sterling vs. the NBA. The embattled former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers began the Monday afternoon trial, which will decide who will control the $2 billion team, conspicuously absent. Oh yeah. The cantankerous 80-year-old—who was forced to sell the team by NBA ownership after the fallout from brazenly racist comments he made about African-Americans during a taped April conversation—also attempted to move the case from California probate court through his lawyer. The judge rejected the motion, no doubt marveling at Sterling's sheer Chutzpah. Yes, boys and girls, this trial promises to be a clusterfuck of epic proportions as the man at the center of this riveting sports soap opera is scheduled to take the stand this afternoon. Not surprisingly, everyone has a view on how things will shape up, including NBA player turned star basketball analyst Jalen Rose. VIBE caught up with Michigan's Fab Five college legend and Bill Simmons' outspoken road dog to get his thoughts on how we got to this point, why Sterling's disturbing racial views should be allowed, and what will happen if he wins his high profiled case. Buckle up. —Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)
"If you are the other 29 owners in the NBA, you want Donald Sterling to win in this [trial]. Because he ran the Clippers with incompetence. Sterling's team had the worst record for 30 years in the four major professional sports at 37 percent. For competition sake, you want to keep Sterling around! [Laughs] But let's not forget how we got to this situation. Listening to Sterling talk about blacks was as close to listening to a plantation owner. It's interesting that even through all the legal back and forth that is happening now that no one is talking about the fact that this is an 80-year-old man who grew up in the United States where we have had slavery and segregation. We needed a civil rights bill to be passed in the late '60s because our country treated blacks and other minorities, including women, like second class citizens. In the late '60s, by that math, Sterling was in his 40's. That truly shows you the mentality Sterling has, no matter what he says. But I don't want to put it as an isolated incident that there's a chance that he's the only sports owner that holds racist views—especially at Sterling's age or in their '50s. Of course there's some people who are going to feel like that. It just so happens that one of them owns an NBA team and we heard his views on a recording. Looking back, I think the players deserved more respect for how they handled the Sterling situation. If you stand for nothing you will fall for anything. I want all people who hope for change in any way, shape or form to know that there always has to be some sort of sacrifice for you to be able to benefit from the change that you are able to benefit from in this country. There's a reason why we look up to a sports figures like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who won four championships in high school; three in college; would have had four if you counted his freshman year, but wasn't eligible; six championships in the NBA and six MVP's! Along with Bill Russell—all I got to say is 11 championships in 13 years—these are two Mount Rushmore figures. I look at the picture of them two along with Jim Brown and Muhammad Ali in my office everyday; they were taking a stand for equality. I also look at the picture of Tommie Smith and John Carlos everyday. So there's a reason why we respect them. Civil dignity meant more to them than dollars. That's something we don't see a lot of today. But there's another side to this, and here's the tricky part. If Donald Sterling really dislikes black people, which by the way he does, you cannot be mad at someone for not liking you for your race, your sex, sexuality or your gender. It's okay for an individual to have ignorant views. Our country has come a long way. I appreciate the progress we have made, especially in the NBA. It's a majority black league from the coaches to the GM's. And there is black ownership as well. There is a real diversity; a progressive diversity. We have female refs and female executives. The NBA has been at the forefront of a lot of change. The NBA has embraced international prospects. Even with all that, a person should be allowed to feel how they want to feel. I personally have no problem with someone not liking me because of my height, my teeth, or my race. That's fine. You have to have thick skin out here. The problem is Donald Sterling is in a position of power. But let's not turn our head from the real issue, which is the plantation mentality. If Sterling bought the Clippers for $15 million feeling that way and he's still forced to sell the team for over $2 billion by a judge, he's still profited off the labor by those he talked about. So Sterling's true punishment is not to be in the club anymore; to not be one of the exclusive owners of an NBA franchise and have the label of being the only person banned for life from the league. But if you are keeping score of the game, it's hard to say that Donald Sterling hasn't won. The elephant in the room is what will happen when the new season begins if Sterling wins this case? What happens during the training camp if you are the 450 players, but Sterling is still profiting and owning the team? That right there is the line in the sand we should be watching for."

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Nick Rice

25 Hip-Hop Albums By Bomb Womxn Of 2018

The female voice in hip-hop has always been present whether we've noticed it or not. The late Sylvia Robinson birthed the hip-hop music industry with the formation of Sugar Hill Records (and fostering "Rapper's Delight"), Roxanne Shante's 55 lyrical responses to fellow rappers were the first diss tracks and Missy Elliott's bold and striking music and visuals inspired men and women in the game to step outside of their comfort zones.

These pillars and many more have allowed the next generation of emcees to be unapologetically brash, truthful and confident in their music. Cardi B's Invasion of Privacy and Nicki Minaj's Queen might've been the most mainstream albums by womxn in rap this year, but there was a long list of creatives who brought the noise like Rico Nasty, Tierra Whack, Noname and Bbymutha. Blame laziness or the heavy onslaught of music hitting streaming sites this year, but many of the artists on this list have hibernated under the radar for far too long.

VIBE decided to switch things up but also highlighting rap albums by womxn who came strong in their respectively debut albums, mixtapes, EPs. We also had to give props to those who dropped standout singles, leaving us wanting more.

READ MORE: 15 R&B Songs We Obsessed Over Most In 2018

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VIBE / Nick Rice

10 Most Important Hip-Hop Artists Of 2018

We’ve reached another end to an eventful year in hip-hop. From rap beefs to new music releases and milestones, 2018 has been forged in the history books as a year to remember. But more important than the events that happened over the span of 12 months are the people who made them happen.

While fans received a large dose of music from our favorite artists and celebrated some of the most iconic album anniversaries, there are a few names that stood out as the culture pushers, sh*t starters, and all-around most significant artists of the year.

For your enjoyment, VIBE compiled a list of the top 10 most important hip-hop artists of 2018 based on a series of qualifications: 1) public actions - good, bad, and ugly; 2) music releases; 3) philanthropic/humanitarian work; and 4) trending moments.

Be clear: This list isn’t about the most influential, the most talented, who had the best music or tours. While we are commemorating artists for the work they’ve contributed to this year’s music cycle, we’re looking beyond that and evaluating how these particular artists have shaped conversations and pushed hip-hop culture forward.

READ MORE: 15 R&B Songs We Obsessed Over Most In 2018

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Stacy-Ann Ellis

NEXT: Intent On Impact, Kiana Lede Is Ready To Leave Her Mark

After learning The Alphabet Song as a little girl, Kiana Lede would always “get in trouble” for singing during class. “My mom was like, ‘why can't you focus?’” she laughs while reminiscing on her career’s formative years. “I was like, ‘I don’t know! Songs are just playing in my head all the time!’”

Whilst sitting in a shoebox-sized room at Midtown Manhattan’s Moxy Hotel on a humid September day, the now- 21-year-old Arizona-bred R&B songbird, actress and pianist speculates that she “may have had ADD.” However, she settles down after taking off her white cowboy boots and flops down on the ivory-clothed bed, demonstrating that her fiery Aries energy can be contained. Cool as a cucumber, Lede shuffles between chewing on banana candies and blowing smoke rings after taking drags from a pen, all while musing about her journey to becoming a Republic Records signee.

“I just grew up singing and doing musical theater, and reading a lot of books, and playing piano way too much in my room by myself,” she says, pushing her big, curly brown hair out of her face. Her expressive green eyes widen as she grins. “It was my thing. Nobody in my family does music, just me.”

After winning Kidz Bop’s 2011 KIDZ Star USA talent contest at 14 (which her mother secretly entered her into), Lede was signed to RCA Records. She was released from her contract and dropped from the label three years later. However, thanks to guidance and friendship from the Grammy-winning production duo Rice N’ Peas, (who’ve worked with G-Eazy, Trevor Jackson, and Bazzi), she released covers of songs such as Drake’s “Hotline Bling” while working to get her groove back. The latter rendition resulted in Republic Record’s Chairman and CEO Monte Lipman flying her out and signing her to his label.

“I got a second chance, which a lot of people don't get,” she reveals. “So I'm really happy that that all happened. I wouldn't be here right now in this room if that didn't happen.”

Thanks to the new opportunity she was given, Lede’s sound has evolved into something she’s proud of—equal parts soul, R&B and bohemian. As evidenced by the aforementioned ensemble, glimmers of each aesthetic can be found when observing her personal style as well. She released her seven-song EP Selfless in July, which features the bedroom-ready “Show Love” and “Fairplay,” which manages to fit in the mainstream R&B vein while also showcasing her goosebump-inducing vocals. The remix of the latter features MC A$AP Ferg. What pleases her most is that it not only garnered a favorable response from fans, but that those listeners found it so relatable.

“As an artist, it's really nerve-wracking for someone who writes about such personal things all the time,” she says. “Just the fact that it is my story… It's good to know that other people know that there's somebody on their side, and they're not the only ones going through it. A lot of people obviously feel this way, and have been through this same thing that I've been through. So I think that's cool.”

Although she moved to various places as a Navy serviceman’s daughter, Lede claims Phoenix as home. This means she hails from the same stomping grounds as rockers Alice Cooper, Stevie Nicks and the late Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. However, growing up in a mixed race household gave way to tons of sonic exploration outside of the rock-heavy scene.

“My dad's black, and both of my parents are from the East Coast,” she says of her musical and ethnic upbringing (she’s black, Latina and Native American). “[My parents] listened to a lot of R&B. My mom listened to a lot of SWV, TLC, Boyz II Men. I didn't realize I knew the songs until I got older. I played a charity show with T-Boz, and I was like 'why do I know these songs?'” Lede also says her father was a fan of neo-soul and gangsta rap, but she personally believes the early-2000s was the best time for music.

“[That era] influences a lot of my music subconsciously, and also, singer-songwriter stuff,” she continues. “I listen to a lot of early-2000s music because I played piano most of my life. I listened to Sara Bareilles, John Mayer.”

An open book, Lede details some of her struggles with anxiety and depression with the utmost candor. After being dropped from RCA, her trust in people diminished, and she experienced long bouts of depression after being sexually assaulted by someone in the industry. The track that she feels most deeply about is “One Of Them Days,” which tackles these issues head-on.

“When I'm anxious and depressed, it's really hard to be happy,” Lede says. “Most of the time, I can do it, but there are just some days where I literally can't separate the anxiety, and I can't tell anybody why, because I don't really know why myself… I was feeling very odd that day, didn't even know if I could write a song. Hue [Strother], the guy who I wrote the song with, he was like 'I totally get you. Lots of people go through this.’’’

As we’ve observed in headlines recently, mental health and being honest about life’s trickier situations can help someone going through the same thing, and Lede hopes her music provides encouragement to those who are struggling. As for how she’s learning to push through her mental health roadblocks, she meditates, runs, and is an advocate for therapy, especially in Trump’s America, where harrowing news reports dominate the cycle.

Another hallmark of Kiana Lede’s personality is her bleeding heart for others. She cites women of color, sexual assault victims and the homeless youth specifically as individuals she feels most responsible to help, since she is personally connected to all three. While she’s aiming to create a project that helps homeless youth specifically, she’s working hard this holiday season to ensure that they have a place to stay “at least for the night” after horrific wildfires displaced many individuals in California.

“My passion is really people. Music is just a way that I can get to helping people,” she says with a grin. “Helping people emotionally and physically are both very important. I never want to stop helping people. I feel if other people can respect me, and I can respect myself, then I'll be happy. Happiness is all that we strive for.”

Recently, Lede played her first headlining solo show, a one-night event at The Mint in Los Angeles. While she was thrilled to see that the show sold-out, she was even happier to see the faces of her audience members, who she said ‘looked like [her].’ “Mixed girls, brown girls, black girls, gay boys,” she explains over-the-phone. Even though she wasn’t in person to discuss her latest huge accomplishment, you could hear the pride and joy through her voice.

As for the future of her career, she’s looking forward to more acting roles. You may recognize her from the first season of MTV’s Scream, and after her recent Netflix series All About The Washingtons with legendary MC Rev Run was cancelled, she has been “reading for auditions” and is “negotiating” for a role in a film set to shoot in NYC. While her time with the Run-DMC frontman was brief, she says he taught her about the importance of “not compromising your art for money.”

What Kiana Lede is most excited about, of course, is making music. She hopes to work on a new EP and then release an album after that. The ultimate goal is to fully realize the dreams in her personal and professional life, and she assures she’s just getting started.

“I want to be able to look back on my career and think 'man, I really poured my heart into this music, and made music that mattered, and made music that made people feel a certain way, whether it's bad, good, sad, anxious, whatever it may be.’”

READ MORE: NEXT: H.E.R. Is The Future Of R&B (And Then Some) In Plain Sight

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