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Meet Mike Taylor, West Philly’s Electrifying Fresh Prince

The up-and-coming musician chopped it up with VIBE about his sound, style and influence.

The stage is set for the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, and for Rostrum Records signee Mike Taylor, the opportunity to be invited to the most famous venue in the world, Madison Square Garden, is a feeling that is surely indescribable for someone who was just signed earlier this year.

Taylor, who was nominated at this year’s ceremony for “Best Electronic Video” thanks to his contributions on Afrojack’s hit “SummerThing!” saunters down the white carpet with a smile brighter than his pink-colored duster coat, which could barely reach the ground due to the singer’s towering appearance.

“I don’t think I’ve ever missed a VMA on TV, and now I’m here!” he gushes. “It’s really crazy.”

Born and raised in West Philadelphia, Taylor like most musicians developed his love for music at a young age. Big names from the Motown era such as Earth, Wind & Fire, Rick James and Michael Jackson are listed at the helm of his inspirations.

“I think Motown, Berry Gordy, Rick James are some of the best to do it, ever,” he grins. “Rick James is my favorite rockstar on the planet still!” I note that I can see a little bit of Rick James in him because like James, his hairstyle is both exciting and eccentric.

After moving to Los Angeles in 2011 and becoming a nightlife staple, he was able to work with DJ Vice for his song “World Is Our Playground” in 2013, and was featured at Mad Decent’s Block Party. In 2015, “SummerThing!” landed in the top 10 on Billboard’s dance charts, and success has continued to come Taylor’s way.

His newest single “Electric Church” fuses a thumping bass with a gospel, pop and electronic feel. “Let the spirit into your soul, let this music into your body,” he sings right before a feel-good drop that basically warrants a dance party.

His flavor comes from styles he was brought up on, such as soul and gospel, and to keep the energy going for fans of his sound, he weaves in elements of EDM and pop.

“I’m always grounded in soul music, because I think that most music and its elements come from soul,” he notes. When creating songs like his Gladius- produced joint “Body High,” Taylor reveals he uses personal experiences and perspective to come up with feel-good tunes for everyone to enjoy.

One of the biggest goals for Taylor is to make music that transcends genre and race, especially in this tough times, because he believes all we need to achieve togetherness is commonality.

“The first thing that we do is to bring people together, to have a collective consciousness and conversation,” he explains. “So you bring people together, and then we start talking about action and moving forward as a community and as humanity. That’s where we can start- we can make something that starts that really healthy conversation amongst different kinds of people through all walks of life.”

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Freeway Reveals Death Of 20-Year-Old Son, Jihad

Freeway is mourning the death of his beloved son, Jihad Pridgen.

The Philly native shared the devastating news on Instagram on Thursday (Oct. 29). “God knows I try my best to be strong, but this right here is a pain like I never felt,” he captioned a graduation photo of his son. “Please cherish your time and your [loved] ones because we’re not [promised] the next breath. I Pray Allah forgives my son for all of his sins and I pray that Allah grants him the highest level of paradise.”

The Muslim rapper did not go into detail about how his son passed away. In closing, he asked fans to make dua (an Islamic invocation) for his son and family. Jihad, 20, was following in his father’s footsteps in becoming a rapper. He went by the stage name “Snowhadd.”

 

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God knows I try my best to be strong, but this right here is a pain like I never felt. Please cherish your time and your love ones because we’re not promise the next breath. I Pray Allah forgives my son for all Of his sins and I pray that Allah grants him the highest level of paradise. Ameen 😢 Please make dua for him & my family.

A post shared by Freeway (@phillyfreeway) on Oct 29, 2020 at 3:28am PDT

New’s of Jihad’s death follows the death of the son of fellow State Property member and former Roc-A-Fella rapper, Oschino Vasquez.  “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. Devastation at its finest,” the grieving father wrote on Instagram revealing that Freeway attended his son’s funeral last week. “Then I got that bad news. What [are] the chances that [we] both lose our sons. F*ck rap beef that’s fake sh*t. This is real life. I’ve never been depressed before but I [am] now.”

The cause of death is unclear, but according to varying reports, Oschino’s son and his son's pregnant girlfriend may have passed away in a car accident.

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Kenya Barris To Make Directorial Debut With Richard Pryor Biopic

Kenya Barris has signed on to write and direct a forthcoming biopic on Richard Pryor for MGM. The movie studio acquired the film in a heated bidding war, Deadline reports.

The biopic will mark Barris’ directorial debut. In addition to directing and penning the script, the Black-Ish creator will also produce the film through his company, Khalabo Ink Society. Additional producers include Pryor’s widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor, through her Tarnished Angel imprint, and Tory Metzger for Levantine Films.

“The way Pryor did what he did — with truth and specificity that was somehow self-aware and self-deprecating, and said with an unmatched level of vulnerability – that was the power and impact of his work,” Barris said in a statement. “Pryor had a voice that was distinctly his and, in many ways, comedy since then has been derivative of what he created. To me, this is a film about that voice, the journey that shaped it, and what it took for it to come to be.”

There have been several attempts to bring Pryor’s story to the big screen, including in 2016 when The Weinstein Company teamed with Jennifer and Lee Daniels on a script by Oscar-winning screenwriter Bill Condon. Mike Epps was slated to start as the comic legend, and Oprah Winfrey was going to play his grandmother, Eddie Murphy as his father, and Kate Hudson at Jennifer.

Pryor began his comedy career in the early 1960s playing local clubs around New York. By the following decade, Pryor rose up the ranks to become one of the most popular Black comedians in the genre appearing in films like Lady Sings the Blues, The Mack, Uptown Saturday Night, Car Wash, Harlem Nights, and The Wiz. Pryor was also a talented writer and producer (he wrote his stand-up comedy specials as well as other shows such as Sanford & Son, The Richard Pryor Show).

The 65-year-old comedian passed away from Parkinson’s Disease in 2005.

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Beenie Man Speaks Out After Fainting At Mother’s Funeral

Beenie Man broke his silence amid rumors that he was hospitalized after fainting at his mother’s funeral. Footage of the dancehall icon passing out in front of his mother's casket began circulating the web last weekend.

In a heartfelt message posted on social media on Wednesday (Oct. 27), the dancehall star thanked well-wishers, and poured out his grief. “One Sunday, October 25th I laid my Mom to rest. It was by far and still is the most difficult thing I have ever had to do,” he explained. “Leading up to the day of the funeral I was [physically] involved in every aspect of the planning an execution.”

Beenie’s mother, Lilieth Sewell, suffered a stroke in July. Her health began declining after she was released from the hospital.  She passed away in September at age 63.

“I kept telling myself, maybe if it remained active I will be able to function,” Beenie said. “Unfortunately, when it came down to that very last moment, it hit me and hit very hards. This would be the last time I would see my mom. Despite the noise, the singing, the mourning, all I could hear was silence while watching my mom’s body being lowered into the tomb.

“My heart broke and I blacked out for a few minutes,” he continues. “When I revived, I saw my closet friends and family were around me.”

The Grammy winner added that he was not “hospitalized,” but was comforted by friends and family. “Please continue to pray for us as we heal and moved forward.”

Read his full statement below.

pic.twitter.com/frzvivfDse

— Beenie Man (@KingBeenieMan) October 27, 2020

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