american soul recap episode 8 season 1 bet
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‘American Soul’ Episode 8 Recap: The Crossroads

This week, our younger American Soul characters decide which road to take next in their lives, and the older characters confront the impact of their past choices.

Tessa is back, and not only do we finally get the tea on her backstory, but it’s also a full tea party.

Still focused on reclaiming her dance career before she’s too old, Tessa prepares for an audition and comes face to face with her former best friend and former fiancé—the very people who drove her away from dance years ago. We learn that she didn’t just lose her dance career, she lost an entire life—including a baby. And then, she met Patrick. Over the course of the episode, Tessa has long overdue conversations with Prescott, her former fiancé, and Evelyn (Nikeva Stapleton), her former friend. Even though Evelyn played Tessa back in the day, she drops some gems and asks her if she’s really moving forward, or trying to hold on to what was. Tessa ponders the question and, in response, delivers a final audition routine she created during her old dance life in Germany, updated with moves influenced by the Soul Train Gang—a reflection of her new life. After finally having an honest, vulnerable conversation with Patrick, it seems Tessa is ready to genuinely move forward, whatever that may mean.

JT’s brothers in the Continuous Revolution in Progress offer him a chance to “prove (his) worth,” after Detective Lorraine set him up to look like a snitch (which we still don’t understand). Of course, that means participating in another illegal endeavor. We really don’t like Reggie, nor can we understand why JT feels such a staunch loyalty to him, but peer pressure—and thinly veiled threats—are real.

When JT gets “home,” he faces another course-altering decision. After finding a random street character holding his little sister while his mom is in a mid-drug nod, JT finally makes the difficult call to have her committed. We’d be relieved and excited about what this means for him and his little sister if he hadn’t just become more deeply entangled with Reggie and the CRIPS.

The Clarke siblings are ready to assert their independence. Kendall is taking his John Denver albums and moving out (with Flo? Already?); Simone is bucking up to her mom about JT (Simone, your mama might be right on this one); and Encore gets a surprise half-off deal at the studio to record their demo. We owe JT—who we realize is not a real person—an apology for assuming he was going to lose the studio money. He had it in his sock. Smart man. But holding the money might be the only role JT plays in Encore’s recording. While the Clarke siblings are stanning over Lionel Richie and getting ready to go in the booth, JT is at the hospital with his mom. We have a feeling his path will only take him further away from both Kendall and Simone for the last two episodes of the season.

Brianne comes face-to-face with the old life and dream she buried out of necessity for the life she chose to have with Joseph. At the beginning of the season, Joseph mentioned Brianne’s former singing career to Simone, and Simone was shocked even as her mother deflected. But she clearly never let it go—seeing a reminder of her singing days sends Brianne into a rage. Not because something terrible happened (that we know of, yet), but because she’s still so hurt over sacrificing such a big piece of herself. When Nate asks her if she wants to cut the visit to San Diego and her brother’s nightclub short, she says she needs to do something first. Is Brianne going to let the music back in?

Don already made one choice: Soul Train over his family. Now, he faces a fight for the show to survive against Dick Clark’s Soul Show, which airs on ABC, one of Don’s essential syndication partners. The next decision is whether to trust the protest and boycott methods suggested by his friend Conrad Johnson (Todd Anthony Manaigo) or take a more ruthless route with Gerald. Frustrated when the civil course doesn’t seem to be working quickly enough, Don lets Gerald off the leash to execute an alternate plan. But when he realizes Gerald’s tactic—placing plants at the Soul Show protest to start a fight—Don’s bothered. Especially when Conrad’s method ends up yielding results. Don will always be in conflict because he’s rarely comfortable with his decisions. When he operates in the straight and narrow, he feels like he’s being taken advantage of; when he plays dirty, he worries about his public image. When Don tries to detach himself from Gerald’s antics, Gerald checks him. He’s already peeped Don’s struggle between being the respectable negro and being a street dude when the situation requires. “It ain’t like you didn’t know, you just chose not to.”

Don’s hot-and-heavy relationship with Ilsa has fizzled out, Tessa’s quit, Brooks doesn’t see the big deal about a competitive show, and Gerald’s idea of being supportive is sketchy at best, highly illegal at worst. Don has presumably slayed the Hollywood dragons that tried to take him down and should feel victorious. Soul Train is a hit, is officially greenlit for a second season, and is still his. But Don’s realizing he doesn’t have true, close allies around him (Clarence Avant once said of Cornelius in real life that you could fit all his friends in a phone booth, and still have room). Delores is not only ignoring his phone calls—more phone calls than we’ve seen him make the entire season—she’s busy with plans that involve separate bank accounts. Don calls his wife one more time to plead for their marriage on the brand new answering machine he bought her. As he hangs up and the episode closes, he collapses—an early glimpse of the brain trauma that plagued him for the remainder of this life.

What the episode got right: Conrad “CJ” Johnson represents young Jesse Jackson, who partnered with the “Godfather of Black Music,” Clarence Avant, in successfully pressuring ABC to take Clark’s Soul Unlimited off the air.

What we could have done without: The scene with Gladys and Don in the lounge. While it was great to see Kelly Rowland reprise her role as Gladys Knight, and we recognize that she’s supposed to serve as some kind of conscious/guide/good luck charm/something for Don, that conversation didn’t move the plot forward in any real way.

What we absolutely don’t believe: That a black mother in the 1970s—the old school black mama prototype—let somebody call her daughter an “uppity b**ch,” then let the same daughter get in her face and slam doors in her house without some hands flying, somebody getting cursed out, or that door coming off the hinges.

What we don’t understand: The relationship between Brianne and Private Nate Barker. He’s fine and all, but what’s his purpose? Maybe there’s more to come in the next episodes.

We’re excited to learn more about Brianne Clarke in the next episode; she’s been an underutilized character so far. There’s a lot to cover, still, in the remaining two shows of the season: Is Simone going to pursue a career in NY? Is JT going to get his foolish self arrested or worse? Is Kendall going to end up with another baby he can’t support? (We feel like Flo has more sense than that, thankfully). Is Brianne going to get it poppin’ with Nate? Is Don going to somehow end up on Gerald’s bad side? We do know Don is getting a divorce, we just don’t know when. Let’s see what happens next.

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'The Chi' Recap: Ep. 3 Shows The Effects Of Childhoods Being Stolen By Adults

A child can die and still grow up. A child can die from growing up. In The Chi, where humanity is hustled and children face their mortality, childhood is a luxury few are lucky enough to keep let alone enjoy. Adults traffic in stolen youths, trading in childhoods that never belonged to them. Some use them to make their lives easier, others use them to advance their careers, but they all snatch away the childhoods of young black boys and girls in order for them to navigate adulthood better.

On the insidious side, Ronnie’s lawyer Kimberly Hendricks (Kimberly Hebert Gregory) uses Kevin’s youth to both intimidate and discredit the only eye witness to Ronnie’s murder of Coogie Johnson in Season One. She orchestrates this by employing a white man with a purported history of dealing with black youths testifying in court to tell Kevin’s family about the untold dangers that can arise from his testimony against Ronnie in the courthouse. All the while, Hendricks sits nearby surveying the scene of her own making, knowing the preservation of Kevin’s precious youth would be his mothers’ first thoughts when hearing of these “consequences” and force them to not have Kevin testify.

Not too long after that, Hendricks calls into question the validity of the 12-year-old eyewitness account, since she claims the accounts of adults are typically unreliable and Kevin having experienced trauma from shooting Ronnie makes his account even more shaky. Soon after, we find out Hendricks’ motive for using Kevin’s young age to get a murderer out of jail is not based in some warped view of justice, but instead in her desire to advance her own law career by making partner at her law firm.

The Chi drives home the severity of what Hendricks’ actions could do to the future of a child like Kevin. Before Kevin and his family are intimidated by Hendricks’ flunkie in the courthouse, Kevin mentions how some of his knowledge of the criminal justice system comes from long-running TV drama Law & Order. Mere seconds later, a young black boy, who looks no older than Kevin, is escorted in handcuffs by police officers while wearing grey prison garbs. This idea of adults snatching away black boys’ youth through the legal system is an all too common reality in a city such as Chicago, where judges go against local ordinances banning the detention of children under 12 years of age at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.

Beyond Chicago, adults within the American legal system have had transactional relationships with black youths. Between 2000-2007, judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania received financial compensation from the owners of juvenile detention centers for filling their detention centers with young offenders through excessive sentencing for minor infractions. The ordeal is referred to as the “kids for cash” scandal, a title that could easily be the name of an episode of The Chi.

But, just like in episode two, where Jerrika appeared to sell out of her blackness for the advancement of her career, nothing is ever clearly good or bad in The Chi. In one of the more heartbreaking scenes in the early part of the season, Kevin discovers his classmate Maisha (Genesis Denise Hale) hasn’t been coming to school because she has to watch her siblings while her mother works. Her mother is robbing her daughter of a traditional childhood by having her assume parental roles over her siblings versus focusing on school. As Kevin sits in her living room surrounded by her siblings and their toys, Maisha’s usual calm but condescending demeanor is replaced with irritable fatigue. You can see her face struggle to contort into a smile when joking with Kevin.

Neither Maisha nor Kevin make any mention of Maisha’s father, so it’s safe to assume she lives in a one-parent household, like more than 11 million other American households, according to 2016 Census data. Of those more than 11 million households, more than 80 percent of them are headed by mothers. Those same mothers have to spend upwards of 70 percent of their annual income on child care. Without Maisha sacrificing a piece of her childhood, her siblings may not have one of their own.

When Maisha somberly asks Kevin if she’ll see him tomorrow after school—she’d asked him to bring her each day’s homework—the look in her eyes is one crying out for a connection to her peers’ leisurely, carefree lives. That’s what people see when they look at him: the purity of childhood. It’s the reason why Jake wouldn’t let Kevin be part of his illegal candy resale scheme in episode two. So much of The Chi involves making sure this one black boy doesn’t get swallowed by the streets.

Despondent themes aside, the episode is not without its silver lining. There is a humorous side to children growing up too quickly in The Chi. Papa, Kevin’s best friend and the most mature kid in the show, participates in the school’s candy drive in order to win a flat screen TV for his man cave. But instead of a “man cave,” he calls it a “Papa cave.” Humorous displays of otherwise depressing topics, such as black youths growing up much faster than they should, gives The Chi’s commentary a bit more realism, showing that there’s good in the bad, and vice versa.

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Streeter Lecka

DMX Joins Cast Of Upcoming Film 'Chronicle Of A Serial Killer'

DMX has some major deals lined up. The artist has reportedly signed on to join the cast of an upcoming thriller film, entitled Chronicle of a Serial Killer, according to HotNewHipHop.

The film reportedly follows the story of Henry Brolin, a serial killer who targets women who he thinks will eventually turn out just like his mother. DMX will reportedly portray one of the lead detectives on the case. X joins a cast featuring Tara Reid and Russian Doll's Brendan Sexton.

Steve Stanulis, the film's director said DMX was a "perfect fit" for the role. "When my casting director suggested DMX it immediately resonated with me as a perfect fit," Stanulis said. "I have no doubt he is going bring a different dynamic to the role and I'm excited to have him part of this talented cast. I'm looking forward to working with him and everyone else this summer."

According to previous reports, the new gig is just one of many opportunities that X has in the works. He's also rumored to be working on a several other box office films and a new album.

Chronical of a Serial Killer will reportedly begin filming in New York City in June 2019. It's unclear when it will hit the box office at this time. Stay tuned for more details.

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Beyoncé performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018 in Indio, California.
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Coachella

Homecoming: The 5 Best Moments Of Beyoncé’s Documentary

Once Beyoncé became the first African-American woman to headline in its nearly 20-year history, we knew Coachella would never the same. To mark the superstar’s historic moment, the 2018 music and arts festival was appropriately dubbed #Beychella and fans went into a frenzy on social media as her illustrious performance was live-streamed by thousands. (Remember when fans recreated her choreographed number to O.T. Genasis’ “Everybody Mad”?)

With a legion of dancers, singers and musicians adorned with gorgeous costumes showcasing custom-made crests, the singer’s whirlwind performance honored black Greek letter organizations, Egyptian queen Nefertiti, and paid homage to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Aside from the essence of black musical subgenres like Houston’s chopped and screwed and Washington D.C.’s go-go music, the entertainer performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as “The Black National Anthem,” and implemented a dancehall number, sampling the legendary Jamaican DJ and singer, Sister Nancy, to show off the versatility of black culture.

One year after #Beychella’s historic set, the insightful concert film, Homecoming, began streaming on Netflix and unveiled the rigorous months of planning that went into the iconic event. The 2-hour 17-minute documentary highlights Beyoncé’s enviable work ethic and dedication to her craft, proving why this performance will be cemented in popular culture forever. Here are the best moments from Beyoncé’s Homecoming documentary.

The Intentional Blackness

“Instead of me bringing out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella.”

Throughout the documentary, Beyoncé made it known that everything and everyone included in the creative process leading up to the annual festival was deliberately chosen. “I personally selected each dancer, every light, the material on the steps, the height of the pyramid, the shape of the pyramid,” says Beyoncé. “Every tiny detail had an intention.” When speaking on black people as a collective the entertainer notes, “The swag is limitless.” Perhaps the most beautiful moments in Homecoming are the shots that focus on the uniqueness of black hair and its versatility. What’s appreciated above all is the singer’s commitment to celebrating the various facets of blackness and detailing why black culture needs to be celebrated on a global scale.

Beyoncé’s Love And Respect For HBCUs

#Beychella — which spanned two consecutive weekends of Coachella’s annual festival — was inspired by elements of HBCU homecomings, so it was no surprise when the singer revealed she always wanted to attend one. “I grew up in Houston, Texas visiting Prairie View. We rehearsed at TSU [Texas Southern University] for many years in Third Ward, and I always dreamed of going to an HBCU. My college was Destiny's Child. My college was traveling around the world and life was my teacher.” Brief vignettes in the film showcased marching bands, drumlines and the majorettes from notable HBCUs that comprise of the black homecoming experience. In the concert flick, one of the dancers affectionately states, “Homecoming for an HBCU is the Super Bowl. It is the Coachella.” However, beyond the outfits that sport a direct resemblance to Greek organizations, Beyoncé communicated an important message that remains a focal point in the film: “There is something incredibly important about the HBCU experience that must be celebrated and protected.”

The Familiar Faces

Despite being joined by hundreds of dancers, musicians and singers on-stage, the entertainer was joined by some familiar faces to share the monumental moment with her. While making a minor appearance in the documentary, her husband and rapper/mogul Jay-Z came out to perform “Deja Vu” with his wife. Next, fans were blessed by the best trio to ever do it as Kelly and Michelle joined the singer with renditions of their hit singles including “Say My Name,” “Soldier,” and more. On top of this star-studded list, Solange Knowles graced the “Beychella” stage and playfully danced with her older sister to the infectious “Get Me Bodied.”

Her Balance Of Being A Mother And A Star

Originally slated to headline the annual festival in 2017, the singer notes that she “got pregnant unexpectedly...and it ended up being twins.” Suffering from preeclampsia, high blood pressure, toxemia and undergoing an emergency C-section, the entertainer candidly details how difficult it was adjusting post-partum and how she had to reconnect with her body after experiencing a traumatizing delivery. “In the beginning, it was so many muscle spasms. Just, internally, my body was not connected. My body was not there.” Rehearsing for a total of 8 months, the singer sacrificed quality time with her children in order to nail the technical elements that came with the preparation for her Coachella set. “I’m limiting myself to no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol … and I’m hungry.” Somehow, throughout all of this, she still had to be a mom. “My mind wanted to be with my children,” she says. Perhaps one of the most admirable moments in the film was witnessing Beyoncé’s dedication to her family but also to her craft.

The Wise Words From Black Visionaries

Homecoming opens with a quote from the late, Maya Angelou stating, “If you surrender to the air, you can ride it.” The film includes rich and prophetic quotes from the likes of Alice Walker, Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, and notable Black thinkers, reaffirming Beyoncé’s decision to highlight black culture. The quotes speak to her womanhood and the entertainer’s undeniable strength as a black woman.

Blue Ivy’s Cuteness

Last, but certainly not least, Blue Ivy‘s appearance in the concert film is nothing short of precious. One of the special moments in the documentary zeroes in on the 7-year-old singing to a group of people whilst Beyoncé sweetly feeds the lyrics into her ears. After finishing, Blue says: “I wanna do that again” with Beyoncé replying with “You wanna be like mommy, huh?” Seen throughout Homecoming rehearsing and mirroring Beyoncé’s moves, Blue just might follow in her mother’s footsteps as she gets older.

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