wondaland-review

Review: 'The Eephus’ Is Your Ticket to See Janelle Monáe’s Wondaland Collective Live

After just one listen of their EP...  you’ll want to see the experience go down in person.

Jidenna’s “Classic Man” is almost 2015’s “Fancy.” Before you start huffing and puffing -- hear me out.

Love it or hate it, “Classic Man” has been in our subconscious to the point where it’s virtually impossible to get bored of it. Since dropping in February, Jidenna's breakthrough single quickly received heavy rotation on the radio, and listeners heard it even more once West Coast kingpin Kendrick Lamar blessed the remix. While music critics and fans alike are still trying to crown the Song of the Summer, “Classic Man” is really on “Fancy” levels in terms of conversation. From on the verge pieces to straight slander, the Nigerian-American singer (sometimes rapper) is reveling in his moment anyway.

READ: Notes From Wondaland With Janelle Monáe, Jidenna & Music’s New Cool Kids On ‘The Eephus’ Tour

What the song represents is a fine-tailored lifestyle with an emphasis on looking sharp (and feeling sharp), a musical genre he has called Swank. However, it's just one aspect of the sonic movement Janelle Monáe is creating under Wondaland Records. The Eephus, a baseball term about the game-changing pitch, is a metaphor for the vision in the collective and their mission to move the needle in music. Jidenna may be the rising star with “Classic Man,” but Wondaland’s roster of rockers, multi-instrumentalists and all-around talents are spotlighted in their compilation EP.

The Eephus introduces Deep Cotton, St. Beauty and Roman GianArthur, who all let their eclectic influences do the talking. When this scribe attended their New York City stop of The Eephus tour at Highline Ballroom last week, I witnessed first-hand how those tastes were translated on stage.

Deep Cotton, the duo of Chuck Lightning and Nate “Rocket” Wonder have tons of energy, full of flailing movements, shouts and an irresistible bounce that erupted fans. All of it was surprisingly tamed on EP opener, “Let’s Get Caught.” No worries, though: Deep Cotton serve up an upbeat jam about hitting the town with your bae. Hey, even these punk prophets can turn down for just one night.

St. Beauty, two Atlanta natives named Alex Belle and Isis Valentino, are soul goddesses who prefer chiller vibes than their rambunctious labelmates. On “Going Nowhere,” St. Beauty offers a gorgeous and tender ballad that feature Belle’s emotionally-charged singing. The next track is GianArthur’s “I Know,” whose name you might recognize as the guest feature on “Classic Man.” On his solo work, he lets his R&B roots shine, built over jazz interpretations and smooth grooves. “I Know” fits in line with his earlier work (“I-69”), where his sweet voice will immediately make you gush. Remember his name, ladies.

The Eephus includes Wondaland Records’s biggest songs -- the original and remix of “Classic Man” and “Yoga.” Both these songs have been tearing up the summer, and are perfect lead-ins for Monáe and her collective. If this release is your only means of getting familiar with Wondaland, then let this be your ticket to see them on tour this month because their music is made for a live experience. (Did we also mention it’s free?)

On all fronts, The Eephus steers some attention away from Jidenna in favor of illustrating the talents of Monáe’s other co-signs. And considering Jidenna’s career trajectory just off one song to his name, they’re poise to make their whimsical world of creation the trendy thing to do. -- Eric Diep

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A Florida Deputy Was Reassigned, Not Fired, After Video Shows Him Punching A Teen

A Florida deputy was reassigned, not fired after cellphone footage showed him throwing a teen to the ground and punching him in the head.

Broward County Sheriff's deputies were responding to a fight that occurred between a large group of students in the Tamarac shopping plaza. According to reports, after the group was told to leave, one male teen wearing a tank top was trespassing and arrested.

The violent interaction between the black minor and white officer was caught on cellphone footage and showed Deputy Christopher Krickovich pepper spraying the boy before he was shoved to the ground and punched in the head.

Krickovich said in his statement that he saw the teen in the tank pick up the cellphone of the teen arrested and take an "aggressive stance" toward another member of law enforcement. He claimed he feared the boy would grab one of his weapons from his belt or vest after he was pushed to the ground.

“At this point, his left arm was free and next to him, while he placed his arm under his face," Krickovich's report said. "I struck the male in the right side of his head with a closed fist as a distractionary technique to free his right hand."

Since the video went viral, Krickovich was placed on administrative assignment. Many after seeing the violent encounter took to social media demanding the officer be terminated.

This is police brutality. https://t.co/ldG7rnTVA3

— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) April 20, 2019

https://twitter.com/itsgabrielleu/status/1119721327466668032

Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen released a statement condemning the actions and calling for his termination.

"After being sprayed, the teen held his face and walked away," Bogen said. "If the deputy wanted to arrest the student, he could have easily done so without throwing him to the ground."

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Nuccio DiNuzzo

Jussie Smollett's Brother Pens Op-Ed Questioning "What If Jussie Is Telling The Truth"

Jussie Smollet's older brother, JoJo penned an op-ed letter defending his sibling and begged the question: what if Jussie is telling the truth?

The essay, written exclusively for BET.com tackles the holes of the case, the Chicago Police Department and its years of corruption, the statement from the Osundarios brothers, as well as the role media played in helping to "convict Jussie in the court of public opinion before he even entered a courtroom."

"The fact that these two brothers, who in the final hour confessed to attacking my brother yet say it was Jussie who told them to, is all the evidence that the police and the general public needed to be convinced, should be frightening to everyone," Jojo wrote.

JoJo, who owns a nonprofit aimed at helping disabled people enter the workforce, noted that it was underreported the brothers were arrested for attempted murder but secured a plea deal of aggravated battery.

In late January, the 36-year-old actor was leaving a Subway fast-food restaurant at about 2 AM when he said he was attacked by two MAGA hat-wearing men. They allegedly beat, kicked him shouted racial and homophobic slurs while trying to tie a noose around his neck and pour bleach on him.

Initially, many of the entertainer's friends took to social media to show support. The Chicago PD alleged the former Empire actor staged the attack because of a financial dispute on the show. JoJo said his brother wasn't strapped for cash.

"Jussie had actually begun directing episodes of Empire, which brought additional compensation. He worked out a deal with Fox to own 100% of his music masters, released an album, which lead to a sold-out world tour and he donated every cent of ticket sales to charity. He even signed the group, June’s Diary, to his label...To suggest that he staged his own attack to boost a sagging career is ludicrous"

JoJo, who's the oldest of the Smollett clan, ended his lengthy essay hoping there are some who are willing to give his brother the benefit of the doubt.

"I am simply hoping there are some conscious-minded people out there who, instead of carelessly victim blaming and shaming, want to loudly ask the simple question: “What if Jussie is telling the truth?”

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Christopher Polk

Writer And Director John Singleton Hospitalized After A Stroke

Writer and director John Singleton, famous for his classic 90s films Boyz n The Hood and Poetic Justice reportedly suffered a stroke and is recovering in ICU at an undisclosed hospital.

In a statement from Singleton's family, the 51-year-old director was already at the hospital Wednesday (April 17) when he had the stroke. The statement didn't offer many details but asked for privacy.

Just received a statement from John Singleton’s family: pic.twitter.com/FzKlESvhMe

— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) April 20, 2019

After learning of Singleton's health, many celebrities and fans took to Twitter to offer their support, including Mark Wahlberg, who starred in Singleton's 4 Brothers and Luke Cage's Mike Colter.

https://twitter.com/markwahlberg/status/1119719037284618242?

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In 1991, Singleton's Boyz n The Hood starred an All-star cast of Hollywood actors including Cuba Gooding Jr, Moris Chestnut, Nia Long, and Ice Cube. Famed film critic Roger Ebert referred to Singleton's work as "human drama of rare power."

"Singleton is a director who brings together two attributes not always found in the same film: He has a subject, and he has a style," Ebert wrote. "The film is not only important but also a joy to watch because his camera is so confident and he wins such natural performances from his actors."

The film earned Singleton an Oscar nomination for best director, the first given to an African-American filmmaker.

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