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Video: Rock Keeps The Heltah Skeltah Flag Flying High For Sean Price

15 years later, Rockness is still representing for Brooklyn's most rugged

The B65 bus squeals to a halt as the MC known as Rockness Monsta laughs into a phone that has just been handed to him. A hot piece of fried shrimp dangles in his free hand, as he stands on the corner of Bergen Street and Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, talking to “Eric The Barber” from high school. What looks like a padlock ring on his hand is actually a brass knuckle of the ‘80s hit cartoon Transformers' evil crew Decepticon logo. The likeness of his late rhyme partner, in DuckDown Records’ duo Heltah Skeltah, Sean Price overlooks the scene, guarding one of the last ungentrified corners in Brooklyn. The mural by artist Meres One lives on the side of the fish-n-chips spot, Git It N Git. The shop sports an “A” rating on the window but the satisfied look on Rock’s face is evidence enough of how good the food is.

“My last conversation with P was over the phone,” Rock recalls. “We had did a feature for somebody and dude paid me all the money, the whole deposit or whatever and [Sean] had to come and get his half of the bread. I needed change for a hunned, but I needed my bread. He said ‘I’ll get you tomorrow.’ He know just like I know that it was safer with me. We brovas, we know. But he was in the cab and I made the hasty decision and I gave him the whole hundred. Of course I ain’t see him the next day. When I call [him] he’s on a boat with Sadat X fishin’. I cursed this nigga out and he was laughing at me the whole time. He gave no fucks.”

It’s been a little more than two years since the untimely death of Sean Price, one half of Heltah Skeltah and a foundational part of the ten-man outfit The Boot Camp Clik. His posthumous album Imperius Rex has been out for about a month, but 43-year-old Rock is still adjusting to life without his friend, both personally and professionally. He has distilled his grieving process into his music, finally completing his long awaited solo project, Rockness, A.P. (After Price).

“Originally I was working on another album, [it] had a completely different title and then P passed. My whole world changed,” says Rock. “That album wasn’t a proper representation of me at that time. So I decided that this moment needed its own picture frame.”

The mood on the corner is elevated because his first single and video “Good Weed, Bitches And Guns” has been making the rounds. The hook alone gives a snapshot of his life from sin to kin over a smoky guitar loop.

“I’m struggling like a motherfucker with a clean version of that song. Dudes is like ‘Yo, I need a clean.’ But how do you clean it up? The filth is in the title!”

While the Crown Heights locale has shown love to Rock and P, to truly appreciate what inspired Rockness A.P. you have to go a few train stops away back to the Seth Low Projects in Brownsville.

Seth Low was a Mayor of Brooklyn from 1881 to 1885 who, among other achievements, integrated Brooklyn schools and became President of Columbia University in 1890. The campus’s Low Memorial Library is named for his father. However, the housing projects named after him did not benefit from his goodwill or his fortune, comprised of four high-rise buildings containing 536 low-income units. Sitting in the middle of the most densely concentrated area of public housing in the nation, the area has been crippled by generational poverty.

Parked on his Sackman Ave block Rock, born Jamal Bush, points to P.S. 150 “The Christopher Ave School” noting that he only went there briefly as a child for Kindergarten but, “The Principal there now is rithickulous.” He’s lived in other places when “times were better” but has called these buildings home for most of his life.

“I first came here when I was four months old,” he says. “The Boot Camp was basically built here. Sackman street is my block. Steele’s [of Smif-N-Wessun] building is right on the other side of this school across the street. I used to walk home from school down Belmont and walk past Steele’s window. His uncle Guy introduced us. This was before we were Boot Camp. Once we started running with each other it started growing. It became two sides of the family. Everybody who came in came in through either me or Steele; Ruck, Starang and Louieville came in through me. Little Rock came in through me. Tek, Buckshot, Preeme and Top Dog came in through Steele. DJ Logic is Smif-N-Wessun’s DJ but he’s from my building. Only those who proved themselves to be elite came into the Boot Camp fold.”

Rock’s rapping aspirations kicked in before he was in Middle School and he had assembled a crew with his cousin and some friends in his building.

“The dudes in my building wasn’t on some rap shit. So my squad [was] my man Ike and my two dancers Hot Rod and Dish Nigga Ron. These two niggas was the two flyest in the crew. They were my Scoob and Scrap. My man Derick was gonna be my DJ and Ike was my right hand man. He knew how to play the keyboard and he was my curve ball. That was my special niche, but these niggas was not about that life. My dancers had no routines, my DJ was trash and all Ike had was jokes. So when I found Steele I said I’m fucking with THAT. He was moving like a well-oiled machine so I positioned myself and me and son always rocked. It was an unspoken bond. Of all the Boot Camp me and Steele is the only ones that met off of rap.”

Jamal met Sean through their mothers, making them officially “play cousins” who’d run into each other on the 3 train on the way to school. They wouldn’t become a rap group until High School, performing under a name that Rock will take to his grave. “But one day we were walking from Bristol Park in Brownsville and he told me our new name was Heltah Skeltah. It means utter confusion. It was that simple.”

As Heltah Skeltah the two friends also known as “Sparkskie and Dutch” released their debut album Nocturnal in 1996. Devoid of Black Moon’s jazzy aesthetic and Smif-N-Wessun’s Jamaican Dancehall influences, Heltah Skeltah were pure menace. Their dark and bellicose tracks like “Operation Lockdown” and “Soldiers Gone Psycho” fully fleshed out the Decepticon narratives that their brothers only hinted at.

“It’s just my family. It’s not the fact that it’s iconic or anything. These dudes helped make me who I am,” he says of the notorious Brooklyn street gang named after the Hasbro toys and cartoons that kept residents looking over their shoulders through most of the 1990s. “A lot of what goes into my rap is from that school of thought. I can write a hot 16 that’ll tear the town down without thinking. It’s gonna sound disrespectful, I’m gonna smack the shit out of a couple niggas, I’mma kick somebody down a flight of stairs, talk about how they sweatpants ain’t got no pockets. And part of that comes from my Decepticon life. The level of disrespect and violence and the style of it, and the way I say it, it comes from that.”

Life in Seth Low left permanent marks on Rock, namely the trademark scar he wears on his cheek.

“I had a fight with a grown ass man when I was 16. He was losing so he cut me. Grown ass dude. It’s funny because I’m older than he was now. He was like 32 but he was grown to me then. If I had half the speed I had then now I’d be side hustling in the MMA. I boxed him poom pap pin. At some point when the fight got sloppy and tussly he cut me. I don’t know what he did it with but it definitely wasn’t his finger.”

Heltah Sketlah would release one more album in 1998, Magnum Force before the deal between their label Duck Down and Priority expired in 2000. In a strange twist, all of the artists were being given their release papers except Rock, who details the ensuing drama on the title track to his album.

“At that time, our distro / production deal with Priority expired, and they had a clause in the contract where they could pick one act from our roster and continue the deal for that particular act under same terms we were already in,” says Duck Down Records Co-CEO Drew “Dru Ha” Friedman. “Priority chose Rock --- not Heltah Skeltah --- and while we didn’t appreciate the way they went about it, as they discussed and negotiated directly with him verse us, we didn’t have alternate distribution set up to offer a better option. Rock and I have reflected on this in recent years. While we didn’t respect the situation we were put in, looking back I’m glad that he had a chance to pursue his solo career on that level, without the resentment of thinking we held him back from a potential opportunity.”

While Dru gave his blessing, Rock was still a little unclear on how his partner Ruck would take him staying with the label, despite Sean’s own verbalized desire to record solo material.

“Me and Ruck used to talk about everything but I can’t remember a specific conversation we had about it. I took Ruck to Cali with me working on the solo album. I won’t lie, there was a moment that I got a sign that he was unhappy with what I was doing on some level. I did a song and I wanted him with Starang, Little Rock, Preme and Doc Holiday. And I remember Ruck asking me ‘When we gonna do a song just me and you?’ That was the only sign I got cuz niggas is prideful. If you feel a way how can you say that when you was the nigga who started the solo album train? So I was just trying to take the lead. There’s three different versions of a "Heads Ain’t Ready Part 3" that was supposed to be on my solo album. I wasn’t trying to leave nobody behind! I was just trying to take the lead. Nothing more nothing less.”

Rock went on to record his solo debut on Priority, titled Planet Rock, but found that they couldn’t deliver on his grandiose vision for the project, which included cameos from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. With Priority “dragging their feet” he sought out a new situation almost immediately.

During a trip to Cali Rock was chauffeured by Tha Alkoholiks’ weedman, who brought him over to DJ Lethal’s house to meet them. After a few meetings Rock signed to Lethal’s label Lethal Dose Records, bringing most of what he recorded at Priority with him. But unforeseen politics threw a monkey wrench into his plans.

“Fred Durst starts beefing with Eminem and Lethal gets caught up in it,” he says of the early 2000s feud between Limp Bizkit and Slim Shady where they offered and then reneged on recording a diss track to Everlast, who had been going back and forth with Em. The clincher was DJ Lethal appearing on MTV stating that, while Em was the better MC, that Everlast would whoop his ass in a fight. Em countered with the diss track “Girls,” a hidden song on D-12’s Devil’s Night album.

“Eminem was throwing shots at Lethal specifically and Fred. He was on Lethal neck. So I was like ‘Fuck, we gotta write bars for Eminem now? I fucking love Eminem,’” Rock says letting out his trademark deep chuckle. “If they coming at the boss they gonna come at the soldiers eventually.”

But before it came to that Lethal lost his deal at Interscope. Rock doesn’t say that it was because of the beef with Em, but he says the timing seemed to imply it. With two deals now come and gone Rock fell back.

“I wasn’t starving so it wasn’t killing me that I wasn’t putting out music. I learned a lot but I still wasn’t able to put together a situation on my own where I could finance putting out an album of the magnitude I believed I deserved. I think highly of myself and my rap. My product is too important to be bullshitted with. I come from an era where packaging mattered. You had a system; video, radio, shit like that. I know shits changed but certain things remain the same. I don’t give a fuck how the game is now. If your song is playing regularly on daytime radio, your life is different. That hasn’t changed.”

Over the years Rock would put out mixtapes and perform, but held back on putting out a new album until that morning of August 8th 2015 when the world was rocked with the news of Sean Price passing in his sleep. The very notion of him going peacefully manifested in the track “The Streets Want Blood,” which was less of a tribute than the musical version of throwing yourself on the casket at a funeral. “I cheated because I was masking my sad with mad,” he says.” For me Heltah Skeltah is my brand. As a solo artist I’m not a proven commodity. My company is over. I have to move. I’m a rapper to my bones so I needed to rap.”

So his friend Neph, aka The Last American B-Boy, linked him with both Phil Anastasia at Digital Deja Vu records and North Carolina producer Ford Tuff to work on Life After Price.

“A lot of Dropboxin, phone calls, FaceTime, and trips but we got it done,” Ford Tuff says of the year-long recording process. “Once we did our first record called "G Real" I realized that Rock was back like he never left. Very skillful guy, you can hear it in his bars. He's definitely a real MC, always has been. And yes these records we crafted are from the mud, sample free. I had the honor of creating these with some talented musicians like Pascal Zumaque & Ron Browz.”

The album is Rockness leaving it all on the field. There are no surprises but many revelations. Even the guest list is curated to include MCs who have experienced the same loss that he has: Koniva of D-12, Wu-Tang Clan and Young Noble of The Outlawz are all members of a very exclusive club.

“With the exception of Ras Kass and M.O.P --- and they’re really fam. So it’s like a support system. The guest appearances is more like a therapy session.”

The “exclusive club” theme came courtesy of an episode of The Flash, a show that Rock didn’t really watch until after Sean P died. But it held one last message from his friend. Sean would write the words “Niggleeshus The Grodd” in his special personal hieroglyphics, but Rock never knew what it meant.

“Ruck always had tons of useless information in his brain. So I’m not gonna waste his time asking him about shit. So I never asked him what it meant. But then when I’m sitting on the plane I see Grodd show up and I see that he’s a Gorilla and I cried. That’s your nigga talking to you. I never watched none of this shit before. So when I got home I started watching The Flash and I became a binge watcher. So there’s this dude Harrison Wells. The first one we see in season one said it to Flash’s stepfather, a black dude. They were having the conversation saying “We belong to an exclusive club.” At the moment it made all the sense in the world so I jacked it. I wrote it down in my phone and said I’m gonna use it at some point.”

A few weeks later a nightclub in Manhattan’s Lower East Side has become a colony of Brooklyn as celebration begins for the impending release of the album. At 9pm sharp “GWBag” rings off but Rock is still en route, posting a photo of himself crossing the Williamsburg Bridge on his Instagram page. “I’m on the way!” His friends and fam, including Sean Price’s widow Bernadette, two-step to his track with drinks in their hands. Rock finally enters wearing a custom t-shirt of his album cover accented with a blingy Decepticon chain. It’s hugs for the honeys and pounds for the rough necks as he makes the rounds taking photos and soaking in the moment. Fifteen years is a long time to wait, but this makes it more than worth it.

“I’m such a critic on myself. I’m nervous a little bit,” he says when asked how he thinks the crowd will receive the album. “Most artists we’re our own worst critic. The whole party could be rocking and all we’ll hear is the mistakes. But I feel the difference in the street already. People run up on me and not asking ‘Are you still doing music?’ The conversation is changed now. ‘I seen the new shit, that shit is crazy.’ I notice the difference. “

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Carmen Mandato

Lil Kim Talks '9' Album, Biggie And Rick Ross Comparisons, And Celebrates City Girls' JT's Freedom

This past July, Lil Kim canceled two interviews, citing that the outlets wouldn’t “put respect on my name” and “wanted to be messy.” But the rap legend known as Queen Bee has had plenty of blessings this year. At a dinner honoring their friend Notorious B.I.G.’s birthday on May 21, she and Lil Cease reconciled their strained relationship after not seeing each other in person for 13 years. In September, she received the I Am Hip Hop Icon Award at the 2019 BET Hip-Hop Awards and gave a nostalgic performance with surprise appearances by Junior M.A.F.I.A., Musiq Soulchild and O.T. Genasis.

The year’s worth of positivity culminated with the release of 9, Lil Kim’s long-awaited fifth studio album that pairs her raunchy, street-oriented bars her fans love with guest appearances by Rick Ross, City Girls and Rich The Kid. While Kim has released several mixtapes over the past decade, 9 is her first studio album since 2005’s The Naked Truth, which she released days within beginning a prison bid. And her fans were patiently waiting: the day of the release of 9, Lil Kim was trending nationwide on Twitter.

In a conversation with VIBE, Lil Kim speaks about her new album, weighs in on comparisons between Biggie and Rick Ross, and rejoices the City Girls’ JT newfound freedom.

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VIBE: Your last official album was The Naked Truth, and you had a lot to say on that album because of what you were dealing with. What made you decide to make a new album now?

Lil Kim: Why not? I’m a beast, I love music. Why not? I love music, I’m good at what I do, and my fans want it. As long as my fans want it, I’m going to keep giving it to them and doing what I want to do.

Your fans definitely want it. You were trending worldwide today on Twitter when the album dropped. What’s it like to see the interest that high so far into your career?

It’s amazing. Not only was I trending, but I was number one in so many different countries. Number one, number two. Number 16 on all genres since last night, before the album even officially dropped.

 

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You guys are doing EXCELLENT! 🙌🏾 Beehive don’t let the devil deter you from the greatness that is happening and the history that is being made. Ya’ll keep going because there’s so much history to be made and we’re just getting started. ❤️ We outside fr, the streets have spoken 🔥 #9️⃣

A post shared by Lil' Kim (@lilkimthequeenbee) on Oct 21, 2019 at 5:52pm PDT

The album sounds current, but it still sounds like you. Was there a dedicated effort to make it sound current and like what's already out there?

It was actually a dedicated effort to do what I wanted to do. To be the classic Kim I am, and be in the now and to be in the future.

One of my favorite songs on the album is “Pray For Me.” How did that come together?

That’s one of my favorite songs, too. I wrote that song right in my kitchen. I thought about it when I was going through a lot of things. I’m a very spiritual person, I’m big on energy and spirit. The energy I was feeling when I heard that beat, that’s where I wanted to release the energy and the things I was going through in that song. The song came like that, we didn’t add that in the beat in there. So I felt like the beat was laid out for me. I already saw Rick Ross, and I already saw Musiq Soulchild, and I saw myself setting the song up.

A lot of people, I believe including Diddy, have said that Ross reminds them of Biggie. Do you agree with those comparisons?

I think he has some similarities, yeah. You can tell that Biggie’s influence is there, and that’s amazing. There will never be another BIG, period. But I don’t think necessarily that Ross is trying to be BIG or anything like that. I think that he just has big love for BIG, and he has a lot of similarities, and I love it. His style is super dope. I’ve always loved him, and I think he expressed that from the moment he came out.

Another favorite is “Auto Blanco.” On that record you said, “BIG and Pac be alive if you niggas ain’t gas shit up. If I knew who did it, I’d personally wrap their caskets up.” It’s been a while, but are you still actively mourning?”

All the time I’m mourning his death. All the time. But as far as trying to go to the end of the world to find out who did it, no, I just let God work that out. Because sooner or later, everything from the dark will come out. But at this point, all I can do is live for him.

Tell me about the significance behind the number nine as this album's title.

Nine is my spiritual awakening number. There were nine members in Junior Mafia, my baby was born June 9, Biggie passed on March 9. It is 2019. My birthday is 7/11, seven plus two is nine. When you get a spiritual awakening, you have to act on that moment. And there you have it… Something that’s a spiritual awakening can’t be negative. With every rise, every level you go to, with every win when God is working on your life, the devil’s gonna come. But nine is all positive.

The Naked Truth is an angry record, and you had plenty of reason to be upset. After you got out, how did you get to the point where you were able to grapple with what happened and move forward with your life?

Because it wasn’t what people thought. I met some of my best friends inside. I got a lot of rest the first two weeks, I was tired because I was working. I learned a lot. It was like going to a very, very, very, very bad boarding school. (laughs) I learned a lot, and I got to get closer to God. It wasn’t as bad inside as it was when I came home, the things I had to go through, to be honest with you. I had worse times outside of prison than I did in prison. I had to go through some really really dark, deep things.

JT of City Girls just got out of prison, and you had them on your album on the song "I Found You." Do you have any advice for JT?

I haven’t spoken to her yet, but we’re trying to set up a call so I can talk to her. That’s my girl, I’m so happy that she’s home. I know that feeling. Ain’t nothing like your freedom. I love that girl, I love them, I love Miami…I think everybody who just comes home renewed with how they move and live at that point, because you’re free. You use your own discrepancy. Everybody has their own different climb that they’re going to.

At the Biggie dinner, you were reunited with Cease. What has it been like to have that relationship mended?

It’s a beautiful thing. As you can see, nothing but greatness and beautiful things have come out of that. Look at the BET [Hip-Hop] Awards! That shit was fucking nostalgic! That shit was fucking amazing. Junior M.A.F.I.A. came out and the crowd went nuts. Sometimes when people realize things they have done and they apologize sincerely, that is worth more than gold. That’s a family member. Family fucks up, that’s it. We do that in our family and relationship. But when it’s family, especially for someone like Biggie, we have to come together and we have to let Biggie live the way he’s supposed to. That was my way of mending his broken heart.

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For Us By Us: 8 Things To Know About The Black News Channel

A network for us by us is heading to a television near you. The Black News Channel, a network dedicated to quality news and original content for African-Americans, will see the light of day next month.

BNC has been over a decade in the making thanks to J.C. Watts, the former Oklahoma congressman who wanted to create a platform similar to CNN with only news and insight by people of color. Networks like BET and TVOne have respectfully released similar programming in the past with BET Nightly News and News One Now hosted by Roland Martin, but this new network plans to run on a 24-hour news cycle while tying in programs that will benefit teens, women, and HBCUs.

It was recently announced that Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan made up a large part of the investment pool, with many wondering just how the network will be run. Khan has reportedly voted for President Donald Trump but has continuously slammed his tenure as commander-in-chief.

According to BNC's website, their mission statement is "to provide intelligent programming that is informative, educational, inspiring and empowering to its African-American audience." They also hope to "preserve a proud black American heritage" and inspire viewers with uplifting and spiritual content daily.

The network will launch across over 30 million households on Friday, Nov. 15. In the meantime, here's everything you should know about the Black News Channel.

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1. The BNC Was Co-Founded by J.C. Watts, A Former Athlete Turned Republican Congressman

Watts has worn many hats in his life with most of them existing in the business space. Some of his endeavors include a public affairs consulting company as well as director seats at companies like retail giant Dillard's, CSX Corporation and ITC Holdings.

Before jumping into the business world, Watts played college football for the Oklahoma Sooners and later, the Canadian Football League. After becoming a Baptist minister in the early '90s, he ran for Congress and served four terms.

During that time, Watts worked alongside Capitol Hill with former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush. During the late '90s, he was elected to the chair of the House Republican Conference. He also co-founded the Coalition for AIDS Relief in Africa and helped develop legislation with Congressman John Lewis to establish the Smithsonian Museum of African American history.

The idea for BNC came in 2004 with the intent to provide quality news and original programming to African-American households. "The Black news channel is culturally specific to the African-American community," he told The Street earlier this month.

"You've got 200 plus stations on any cable system. We are the one location that you can come and find out about wellness culture, current affairs as it relates to African-American communities." He also stressed the need to provide a safe space for black wellness earlier this year on Power 105.1's The Breakfast Club.

2. The BNC Was Almost Based On FAMU's Campus

Before setting up shop in Tallassee, Florida, Watts was interested in filming on the campus but decided against it. Instead, the network will work closely with Ann Kimbrough in the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication at Florida A&M University and other Historical Black Colleges & Universities across the country.

3. It Will Serve Over 30 Million Households

BNC will operate as a 24/7 news channel and will launch to an estimated 33 million households. A reported 23 million are satellite owners while the other 10 million are from cable TV households in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta. A studio was also built this year for the network in New Orleans.

In the early stages of the network, the company created "on-air programming trials" that served 8 million people. The project helped the company with the type of content they wanted to create and the content viewers wanted to see.

4. Religion And Faith Might Play A Role In Programming

Under the site's goals for the Black News Channel, the company notes how they've built strong relationships with African-American figures from the clergy, media, and politics. While it isn't known just how faith will play into BNC's ideology, there seems to be something there.

5. One of Their Biggest Investors Has A Fickle Relationship With President Donald Trump

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan wants Black News Channel to reflect the views of African-Americans but critics aren't thrilled about his political ties. Khan reportedly voted for Trump and donated $1 million to his inauguration. During an interview at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit this month, Khan explained his appreciation for Trump's economic retort but a distaste for his social policies around immigration, religion and civil rights.

Khan was one of the first NFL owners to famously lock arms with players in solidarity for Colin Kaepernick who was slammed for kneeling during the National Anthem. “Those were human causes that [the players] brought a lot of attention to," he said.

"And since then, the league has done a lot. We’d need a special program with you to go through all the stuff. And the players have done a lot. That was the time for talk and symbolism; since then, it’s been time for action. And there’s been a lot of action. Local communities, prison reform, a lot of those things that impact not only minorities but other people.”

But when it comes to his investment in BNC, Khan wants to change the narrative in media about black lifestyles. “I believe there is an undeniable calling for everything the Black News Channel will deliver to African-American television audiences, who have historically been underserved, in an era where networks have otherwise successfully targeted news to specific demographic groups and interests,” Khan told WJCT, adding, “My decision to invest is an easy one, because we get to answer that call.”

6. Original Programming Will Cater To Black Women and Teens

An estimated 12 hours will be dedicated to the news while the rest will focus on content dedicated to women and teens. Other programs will also shed light on alternative sports like MMA, Muay Thai and the NBA on a global level.

Some standout program synopses include:

Being a Woman

This daily one-hour hosted talk show is dedicated to topics of interest to women of all ages. Show topics will range from childbirth to caring for elderly parents, business to politics, and entertainment to hair care. No topic is too big or too small for this woman-to-woman discussion. The show host will select distinguished women from the vast array of academic experts and alumnae professionals associated with our Historical Black Colleges & Universities to co-host each day’s program.

Getting Ready With Jane: Today's Teen

In this show, family therapist Jane Marks gets real with teens and speaks a language they can understand. With more than forty years of experience helping families and young people in crisis, Marks offers helpful and timely advice to young African Americans about coping in today’s world. This one-hour weekly program is family-friendly and offers a message of hope. Today’s Teen Talk series is definitely “must see TV.”

My Money

This daily half-hour business show will examine best practices for wisely making and managing your money, as well as news and information about what is happening in the financial markets at home and around the world. This format will include a host and financial experts as studio guests.

7. HBCU's Will Have A Great Influence On The Black News Channel

BNC's relationship with Historical Black Colleges & Universities will run deep. Not only will aspiring journalists have an opportunity to work at the network but they will also have exposure to media training and state of the art production.

The series Living Social at HBCUs will also explore life on HBCU campuses and the intersection of education and cultural development.

8. Larry Elder Will More Than Likely Ruffle Feathers

Everyone loves a wildcard and BNC has found one in Larry Elder. The radio staple and attorney has over 25 years in the industry from news programs on NBC and ABC News & Talk. He also starred as a judge on Moral Court, an early production by TMZ creator Harvey Levin in 2001.

Elder's views have been seen as conservative but he reportedly identifies as a Libertarian. After walking away from the news show sector, Elder made his way to digital radio and podcasting where he's led conversations on topics like "Unwed Fathers" in the NBA, education, and criticism of the early presidential candidates of the 2020 election. He's also a frequent user of the #HillaryUnhinged hashtag that criticizes the former presidential candidate.

Larry Elder NEW Video: Why Won't The 'Woke' @NBA Take On The 800lb Elephant On The Court--UNWED FATHERS?!?https://t.co/Tbtqmcz25c#FathersMatter pic.twitter.com/I8oOAOcKIx

— Larry Elder (@larryelder) October 21, 2019

School Choice, Pt. 2

Larry Elder VIDEO: Black and Hispanic Democrats WANT Choice in Education--White Democrats DO NOT!https://t.co/ghQQMNS4iV#SchoolVouchers

— Larry Elder (@larryelder) October 20, 2019

A program hasn't been shared on BNC's website but Elder is listed as a "Show Host/Commentator." We're sure many will tune in to hear about today's culture from his perspective.

Learn more about the Black News Channel here.

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Josias Valdez

SAINt JHN Brings Unwavering Confidence To New York's Experimental Rap Sound

SAINt JHN’s amalgamation of primal energy and eager mosh pits at Rolling Loud are unmatched. A hazy sunset would’ve been a fitting pairing for his rage session, but his early set at New York’s Citi Field Saturday (Oct. 12) gets the job done. While a few curious eyes from VIP are studying the vibes, the trenches are full of fans screaming lyrics to “5,000 Singles,” "94 Bentley” and “Trap” (feat. Lil Baby)—all standouts from his sophomore project, Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs.

The diverse crowd isn’t a surprise to the Brooklyn artist. JHN’s musical ancestry has allowed his vines to branch out to artists like Usher, dvsn and Beyonce; all artists he’s earned co-writer credits for respectively. But then there are those who discovered him through Fortnite or his work on “Brown Skin Girl.” No matter how Ghetto Lenny crossed fans' path, he’s grateful listeners are making the pit stop.

“It's better than anything I could ask for, that’s what I wanted,” he tells VIBE. “I just wanted people to hear the sounds and fall in love and not overthink it. You get a 12-year-old and you'll get a 55-year-old standing next to each other in the audience. They’re from different eras of music but they’ll feel the same way.”

JHN calls his presence at New York’s first Rolling Loud “good timing” in light of his appearances across the traveling festival’s Miami, L.A. and Bay Area staples. But the moment feels kismet since JHN is one of the few surviving New York performers who were able to hit the stage.

Just 24 hours before the festival kicked off, fellow rising Brooklyn acts like Casanova, Sheff G, 22Gz, and Pop Smoke as well as Bronx rapper Don Q were banned at the request of the NYPD because of their alleged affiliations to recent “acts of violence” citywide. While fellow NYC natives like A$AP Rocky, Desiigner, Jim Jones and Fat Joe took the stage, JHN was one of the few acts to represent New York’s new sound.

“Those artists come from the places I come from,” he said of the ban. “In instances like this, you have to separate the art from the incident. Clearly these artists come from different pasts—they talk about it in their music. But the point of the music is to transition out of that.” Many of the artists like Cassanova and Don Q spoke out against the NYPD’s influence in the festival.

"I’m at war with my past and the scars that they still leave on me every day," Casanova said on Instagram. "I will continue to fight against biases and advocate for those facing this same issue."

“You have to give them the opportunity to tell their stories or you further entrap them,” JHN adds about the group of rappers. “They end up stuck in the same positions they’re trying to escape by making a concrete wall around their history.”

JHN’s history is a mix of the power of attraction and community. His early years comprised of creating the building blocks of his label GØDD COMPLEXx and his fashion line Christian Sex Club. While making his dreams a reality, the grind led him to genuine friendships with future superstars like Jidenna, Skrillex and Ski Mask The Slump God. Last year, JHN released his debut album Collection One paired with head-bashing shows across the country.

Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs takes his sound to the next level with melodic punches on tracks like “I Can Fvcking Tell” and the Lenny Kravitz-assisted “Borders.” With punk and rap flowing effortlessly from JHN, the artist can only attest his glowing confidence to the game of life.

“My journey is where I'm at right? It's the monopoly board of my life, and I'm making my rounds,” he says. Being confident grows every year. So me saying "too lit to be humble" [On “5,000 Singles”] that just means I'm not gonna call it nothing else, I'm just gonna tell what it is. This is who I am, fuck with it. If you don't like it, you can turn left. You can turn around if you want, but this is happening.”

On his collaboration with Lenny Kravitz, JHN looks back with a big smile and several words. “Iconic, outrageous, Ignorant. Three o'clock in the morning of Paris,” he says. “Checkered floors. Space. Leather fixtures, Dark rooms. Lenny Kravitz. SAINt JHN. My nigga, I can tell you anything. I can tell you it smelled like cigars, whiskey, rum, and the Bahamas because in my mind, all that shit happened.”

But in all seriousness, the moment was an indication for JHN that his journey in music is paved with golden intentions.

“It was reinforcement,” he says. “The first time I worked with Usher, I learned that I belonged in the room. You know the first time you get invited into a room you have never been in and you almost feel like you lied your way in? The second time, you don't feel like you lied your way in.”

JHN's IGNORANt FOREVER Tour kicks off Nov. 11 in Miami with stops in Toronto, Los Angeles and New York. See the dates here.

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