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'Boomerang' Episode 9 Recap: Us Too

Marcus Graham’s player ways have caught up with him and the Graham Agency is shut down. Will Simone stand by her father or will her feminist views make her hate him?

It’s a somber day at the Graham Agency. It’s practically a ghost town. After years of silence, the #MeToo movement has finally caught up with the company, leaving Bryson and Crystal on the unemployment line for the first time in their lives. Bryson understands how the climate was different back then; It was difficult for women to come forward about sexual assault or misconduct in the workplace. But Bryson can’t help but think, “What about us?”

The awkward tension isn’t just at the office. Simone is being cold towards everyone and Bryson tries to figure out why. The girl is refusing plantains while braiding Tia’s hair; she needs to eat. With her blank stares and one-word responses, it may not appear that way; Simone likes everyone around. A phone call from her father makes the reason for her sadness obvious: Marcus is the center of these allegations.

Disappointing? Yes, but as Tia points out, Marcus Graham (Eddie Murphy) acted a whole fool back in the day. Y’all seen Boomerang? Of course y’all did. Do you remember when Marcus approached Jacqueline (Robin Givens) with a “Hey Boss,” and then after she reminds him that they are colleagues working on a Strange ad, he replies that he was just trying to hit her with his “Mack Daddy vibe?” Yeah, he’s been a playa and he's crushed a lot. These allegations are not farfetched. As much as Ari feels it's old news, Tia strongly disagrees. The hurt from those situations never go away and if women keep quiet, men will keep feeling that this despicable behavior is okay. Women are cat-called, groped, and harrassed by overly persistent men on a daily basis. You can’t even go to the local Dolla Tree without some foolio calling out, “Yo, ma, can I talk to you for a second?” It’s annoying. It’s unwarranted. And in some cases, it’s scary. Ari and David are just not understanding the point. To them, this is just another case of women not knowing what they want from men. For those of you who think similarly, let me break it down to you, according to Tia: “A man calling a girl ‘cuteness’ that ain’t his girlfriend ain’t okay. A man staring at a woman’s titties while she’s at an audition for a lotion commercial ain’t okay. A man that tilts his head every time a cute bi**h walks by ain’t okay.”

Simple, right?

Not all of the women are standing in solidarity on this one. A now-jobless Crystal thinks it’s pretty coincidental how all of these accusations surfaced right before a potential merger slated to make the company some hefty coin. In her eyes, no one was actually raped, so why make it such a big deal? To make it (dare I say it) crystal clear for her, Tia stresses that just because he didn’t force himself onto anyone doesn’t make it okay and, in her opinion, the Graham Agency should be shut down.

Pastor David offers up the Good Word, reminding them all that it is no one’s place to judge. “What about my mother?” Simone quickly snaps back. A generic “God wouldn’t put her through anything she can’t handle” is all he could muster up as an adequate response. Recognizably, the church isn’t perfect but Pastor David disagrees with the group's consensus that religious folk are the most judgmental ones. Tia could never date a pastor because sex and the Holy Ghost don’t go together and a vino-sipping wine blows up his own spot with a cheeky, “Says who?” Crystal’s head twisted towards him quicker than the exorcist. They’ve been divorced since he began a relationship with Jesus, so how would he know?

When we speak about celebrity perpetrators we have to speak about the cancel culture. As much as we loved to step in the love, R. Kelly (allegedly) pees on underage girls, and for that, no music of his shall ever be played again. Them is the rules. Ari tries to justify still playing “12 Play” despite the numerous documentaries proving Kelly’s guilt by asking if any of them have actually seen the tape.

One, who would want to see that tape? And two, who would make that up? To Tia, that’s no different than Bill Cosby drugging women (whether they were white or black doesn’t matter.) R. Kelly can definitely be canceled but Cliff Huxtable is a touchy one for some of the fatherless men of the crew. They looked up to him. Like many who grew up on the Cosby show, Ari felt a bond and connection through this television family that he couldn’t find anywhere else. It had a major impact on his life. Bill Cosby’s mistakes shouldn’t affect Ari’s childhood but he is quickly reminded that they affected the lives of his victims. The show is no doubt iconic but those women have experiences and flashbacks that don’t begin with a catchy theme song.

If this crushes anyone, besides Simone, it’s Marcus. Finding out Marcus Graham is presumably the black Harvey Weinstein is like finding out Superman can’t fly to him. He looked up to the man and always aspired to be just like him. Marcus’ generation was different, and as millennials, they all can agree that they need to get on the same page of where their line is, you know, the one that can’t be crossed. The men are beginning to understand what Tia has been passionately trying to explain: Treat a woman how you’d want someone to treat your mother, assuming that you love your mother. In retrospect, Simone feels her dad took advantage of her mom. Take that Strange ad I mentioned earlier, for example. In Simone’s opinion, Angela (Halle Berry) would not have had the opportunity to work on it on her own had she not been dating Marcus. It probably still would’ve been Jacqueline's. Sometimes it could be mutual but often times, it’s the man who applies that pressure.

Throughout the night, Crystal’s position remains the same, “It ain’t that bad.” 20 years ago or 20 days ago, wrong is wrong to Simone and she feels Crystal is just deflecting because of an incident that happened to her. In Crystal’s case, she didn’t say anything because the assumed rape was also her fault but Simone calls bullshit. Crystal didn’t report him because he was black. She said, “No.” That’s all that mattered. Offended that Simone called her out, Crystal storms out giving her friend a minute to just calm down. Towards the end of the night, the group stands on different positions on how they think everyone should move forward. Marcus may have been trash, but he is married to Angela now who is a boss baddie and a bomb mom. Tia disagrees with Simone, feeling like no one can move on until the victims can which might be asking for a lot. A few of them have looked up to Marcus as a father but out of everyone, he has one biological daughter and that’s Simone. As unbothered as she’s been presenting herself, the battle going on in her mind between the love for her father and being a feminist is still going on. As far as what she’s going to do next? She has no idea. But she needs to process all of this.

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Ludacris Announces Netflix Animated Series ‘Karma’s World’ Inspired By His Oldest Daughter

Ludacris has an animated series in the works. Karma’s World, which is inspired by his oldest daughter, Karma Bridges, is in development at Netflix, the rapper announced on Tuesday (Oct. 13).

“I’ve had a lot of accomplishments in my life, but everything that I’ve experienced seems to have led up to this point to where I can leave a legacy for all my daughters,” Luda said in a statement. “Karma’s World is one of those legacies. I hope this series will show kids that there are many ways to overcome difficult situations.

“This show is going to move hip hop culture forward, and show young girls that they have the power to change the world,” he added. “This project has been a long time in the making and I can’t wait to bring Karma’s World to the entire world.”

The series follows 10-year-old Karma Grant, a smart, resilient, and “deeply empathetic” aspiring singer and rapper with “big talent and an even bigger heart.” Karma pours out her deepest feelings and channel her emotions into the music that she hopes will one day change the world. The animated show chronicles how Karma begins to recognize the true power of music, and will tackle issues such as self-esteem, body positivity, friendship, family, and celebrating differences.

Karma’s World has been a decade in the making, Luda revealed in an  Instagram post.

 

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10 years in the making. THIS IS HOW LEGACIES ARE BUILT! • I’m pleased to announce that I will be joining the @netflixfamily, and bringing my new animated series #KarmasWorld which is inspired by my oldest daughter in partnership with @9storymediagroup and @BrownBagFilms to @netflix for the world to see! • It was important to me to provide a positive @StrongBlackLead to show our youth that there are many ways to overcome difficult situations, and that their dreams no matter how big are possible! I’m looking forward to finally being able to share what I’ve been working on behind the scenes for so many years! Welcome to Karma’s World! Click the link in bio RIGHT NOW!!! • #Ludacris #Netflix #AnimatedSeries

A post shared by @ ludacris on Oct 13, 2020 at 11:03am PDT

Besides creating the series, Luda is also executive producing alongside Vince Commisso, Cathal Gaffney, Darragh O’Connell, Angela C. Santomero, Wendy Harris and Jennie Stacey from 9 Story Media Group.

Karma’s World is a partnership between 9 Story Media and Luda’s production company Karma’s World Entertainment.

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‘Coming 2 America’ Sequel Reportedly Heading To Amazon Studios

The Coming 2 America sequel may not be hitting theaters as expected. Paramount Pictures is reportedly on the brink of selling the film to Amazon Studios in an apparent $125 deal, Variety reports.

Although the deal is still being finalized, the reported acquisition will include marketing tie-ins with McDonalds and Crown Royal. Murphy, who is also a producer on the film, has to approve the sale.

The film is reportedly slated to begin streaming on Dec. 18.  It’s unclear if it will also be released in theaters.

The star studded cast includes Arsenio Hall, Shari Headley, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, Jon Amos, Wesley Snipes, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Garcelle Beauvais, Kiki Layne, and Luenell.

“I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out,” Murphy said of the film during an interview with Ellen DeGeneres last year. “A lot of people have this expectation, like people would say to me when they found out I was doing it, ‘Don’t f*ck that movie up.’ So we’ve gone above and beyond what anybody would think. I’m really, really happy with it.”

Amazon has other big releases in the works including Regina King’s One Night in Miami and a Borat sequel.

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Radha Blank (Writer, Director) as Radha.
Photo by Jeong Park/Netflix

How Radha Blank’s '40-Year-Old Version' Found Its Beat

Radha Blank is a modern classic, fresh yet familiar. A 2014 flyer from her debut stage show features a very Illmatic-esque, sepia-toned image of a young Radha, presumably in kindergarten or first grade, peering into the camera like she can’t wait for recess. That April night at New York City’s Joe’s Pub, the celebrated playwright from Brooklyn was literally and figuratively transforming into one of her many monikers—an MC named RadhaMUSprime—a brash and witty boom-bap barista pouring all of her pain into tall, hot cups of “f**k it.” Her truth spills over in lines like “Why my skin so dry? Why I’m yawnin right now? Why them AARP ni**as sending sh*t to my house?” on “This Is 40,” one of several treats from the live mixtape that manifested into a Youtube series and is the foundation for her feature film of the same name: The 40-Year-Old Version.

“With RadhaMUS Prime, I had gotten fired off a film, my first professional screenwriting gig, and I was really frustrated,” says the forty-something whose writing and producing credits include The Get Down, She’s Gotta Have It, and Empire. “I just needed to create something that was mine and I decided to write a web series about a playwright who was down on her luck who wanted to make a mixtape as a way to get through her problems and it just made sense."

Like a true Gen-Xer, 1986’s Transformers: The Movie served as a muse for her reinvention. “My name is Radha, I grew up in the time of The Transformers so it made sense that I would be RadhaMUSprime. You know that scene in the movie when Optimus Prime goes on to the great Robot Heaven in the sky but still kind of communicates with Hot Rod, who is fighting Galvatron over The Matrix of Leadership? The Matrix is kind of shaking and all of a sudden you hear Optimus say ‘Arise, Rodimus Prime’ and it’s how I open all of my live shows. That’s the one that stuck with me.”

The Forty-Year-Old Version is the culmination of a dream that began that night on the stage at Joe’s Pub. It is RadhaMUSprime’s origin story. Having already achieved critical acclaim for her plays like SEED, Radha fell into a rut of sorts, which was compounded by the passing of her mother, a visual artist and a free spirit who named her after a baby elephant. So she sought to tap into her days of banging on lunchroom tables at Murry Bergtraum High School, spitting bars that would leave her classmates in awe. Shot in black and white, FYOV feels like an A Tribe Called Quest video, so much that it literally opens with “Electric Relaxation,” but set in the present day. There is also a very Hollywood Shuffle feel as she skewers the white theater establishment hellbent on pushing poverty porn as art.

The Netflix-streamed original film boasts the acting debut of New York lyricist Oswin Benjamin playing her producer, D, who says more with his eyes than his mouth. And he’s joined by a guest list of emcees that reads like the ingredients in the best bag of Rap Snacks you’ve ever tasted. Forty-Year-Old Version is overflowing with the kind of tension, humor, and creativity that made songs like her provocative Big Daddy Kane remix, “Hoteps Hoteppin,” so unforgettable.

VIBE spoke with Blank, Benjamin, music director Guy Routte, MC Mickey Factz, and producer Mr. Walt of Da Beatminerz about crafting the soundtrack to the best hip-hop movie of 2020.

VIBE: There is so much great music in this film. How did you go about making the musical decisions for this?

Radha Blank: I made this film for New Yorkers who really love the culture and who might be a little nostalgic about it, too. One of the big compliments I’ve gotten about the film is that people think it takes place in the ‘90s. We all famously call it the Golden Era, but a lot of the videos from the ‘90s like Tribe, Latifah, and Digable Planets were part of my digital look book. I was listening to a lot of that music as I came of age, but I was also listening to it as I made the film. And I wanted the new beats, the beats that came from D [the character], to feel like it came from that time. So, I got to work with Guy Routte who is not only my music supervisor, he’s one of my closest friends, and he would go out and find this stuff for me. I said I wanted it to feel like D produces music for Sean Price or Heltah Skeltah and he knew just who to get—Da Beatminerz and Khrysis. I’m not saying a 22-year-old hip-hop producer couldn’t make these sounds, but these sounds have fat on them. They’re thick and they’re grown. We were in the studio for hours just listening to track after track and the sign that it was the right beat is when I started free-styling. If my impulse was to start rhyming, we knew that was the one. Since D is such a non-verbal character, he had to have beats that spoke.

Guy Routte: I met her in 2015 at Black Star Film Festival and we have mutual friends, Shawn Peters, in particular, an incredible cinematographer who worked on a lot of Pharoahe Monch videos, and I was telling Shawn that I wanted to get into the film world. He said he was going to Black Star and I jumped on a bus and met Radha there and we instantly clicked. She’s a big hip-hop head and a fan of the kind of music I’ve been involved with.

She was very, very clear about what she wanted. There were songs already in the script. A lot of jazz stuff. Her father was a jazz musician so she knew she wanted to use one of her father’s pieces. We ended up using two in the film. She knew she wanted this Quincy Jones song “Love and Peace” and this artist Courtney Bryan. A lot of the music was already baked into the pie but we knew that there were some things we needed to create.

It’s a dense film in terms of music but there’s a lot of bits and pieces. The song “Harlem Ave,” Radha wrote that. She already had it, she wrote the rhymes, melody, and hook and worked on it with Luqman Brown who used to be in a group called Funkface. He’s been working on scoring pieces. She’s so musically inclined.

Oswin, this is your first acting role. How did you prepare for it?

Oswin Benjamin: I got the dialogue and I read it over. It was like memorizing a verse but things don’t gotta rhyme so it was easier. I would run the lines with my wife and I’d call my friend Chris Rivers [youngest son of the late Big Pun] and run lines with him. Then I’d memorize the last two lines of what Radha would say so I know where I come in. I didn’t want her to say something and then I miss my cue.

RB: You hear how he just dropped that name on us? Because you know all his best friends are the best MCs in New York. “My friend Chris Rivers…”

OB: Shout out to Chris Rivers, I love him.

RB: Actually, it was Chris Rivers that brought Oswin to my attention because there was another MC I had in mind but he wasn’t available. So I went to Google search and typed in "New York Rappers” and this video pops up with Chris Rivers. I knew I saw it a few years ago but I was like who is this other dude? And it was this guy named Oswin Benjamin and then I went down this rabbit hole of watching all his music videos and I kind of just knew in that moment that this person has all the energy. They look like a New Yorker; they can convey a certain emotion with their facial expressions. He was a gift to the cast.

How much of your MC experience did you bring to playing D?

OB: As far as playing a producer, coming from my hip-hop background, I’m around producers all the time. So just taking up mannerisms from producers I like to work with, [how they act] when they’re around people that aren’t good and people that are. The energy in the room, how that shifts between the talented people and the people who might not be as talented, being able to zone in on those things.

Radha, how did you decide on the great cameos?

RB: I just made a list of all my favorite New York MCs that kind of span a certain era, people who are still out there rhyming. Not only are they ear candy but have a particular presence on screen. One actor stayed in character and insisted that we call him “Mr. Bus Driver.” He would not let us call him by his name because he was taking his role so seriously. It’s a hug. It’s the movie hugging you. It’s saying that the culture is still very relevant and we’re having fun with it.

That vendor on the train, I used to do an imitation of them in my teen years because, for me, hip-hop is not just about the pen, it’s about sonics and that’s one of the most distinctive voices the culture has, between him and Guru [of Gang Starr]. I just wanted to have that moment.

There is a really dope rhyme cipher scene. How did that come together?

GR: She started filming and said she wanted to do a cipher so I got Mickey Factz and Kemba.

Mickey Factz: We shot that at Arlene’s Grocery. It looks like a bodega from the outside but on the inside, it’s an actual club. That’s in the Lower East Side, off Houston. We shot that scene downstairs where the coat check and the bathrooms are. So we’re just on the steps rhyming. Oswin was there and he wanted to rhyme so bad. He was angry that he couldn’t rhyme but between takes, we would rhyme just to make him happy. She was like I want Mickey to set this off. As she’s walking in, I’m already rhyming and I’m just kicking this rhyme and I end it with: “Inverted triangle on the overcoat, I feel like Forest Gump when he lost polio/ That was too straight forward, let me space out/ I’m glad that I had the gumption to break out/ If you ain’t catch that bar, it’s time to OD/ brace yourself, Gump’s shin is what broke free…” When I first said that rhyme everybody broke character and we had to shoot again. Then Kemba rhymed and then Kemba made all of us break character. You know Kemba gives you that soul-spiritual tirade.

RB: I know how hard it was for Oswin to sit back in scenes where Kemba and Mickey Factz are tearing in. He’s sitting back playing the producer. We might have some BTS footage of him getting in there. He was so good at staying focused on his role as producer speaking through music.

There is a hilarious song called “Pound The Poundcake” that plays throughout the movie. Who is responsible?

MF: Radha and Guy reached out to me about doing a song for the movie so I’m thinking I’m gonna put together this “lyrical miracle” record. So he sends me the record produced by Da Dreak and it’s this trappy, tongue-in-cheek parody. There’s a lot of curses in it and it felt like satire. What a lot of people don’t realize is that I enjoy trap music and I have a fanbase that enjoys trap music and a lot of trap artists reach out to me to be featured. So I know how to make mumble rap.

I sent it to them and they loved it. I thought they were trolling until I showed up to the movie set to do my cipher scene. There were kids who came up to me after we wrapped [up] and Radha said, “This is the guy that made ‘Poundcake’ and they were like, “You made ‘Poundcake’? We love ‘Poundcake’!”

I’ve done a lot of stuff like that. When College Humor was around, I did a lot of their rap stuff like "Galactic Empire State Of Mind” so it’s not too far fetched.

D’s studio setup looks pretty legit. This isn't a Juice situation where the turntables aren’t plugged in.

GR: When they were setting up the studio, they asked me to get a rundown of what he should have in the studio so I called up Raydar Ellis, who is a producer and MC and also a professor at Berklee College of Music. He teaches hip-hop production at Berklee and he told me what should be in there. They wanted to make sure the producers of the world would watch it and see he had what he needs. They knew how to get the theater situation in an authentic way so they wanted to make sure they had the hip-hop minutia. There is a scene in Arlene’s Grocery where we had Organized Konfusion posters on the wall. We wanted it to feel like a hip-hop space.

The closing credits feature a flip of Quincy Jones “Love and Peace” and you have some other beats placed throughout the film. Were those tracks what you had in the stash?

Mr. Walt of Da Beatminerz: The majority of them were beats I had, but the Quincy Jones flip I made specifically for the movie. Guy hit me and he said, ‘Can you do something with this Quincy Jones thing?’ I already had the record. I said, ‘It’s not in my BPM range,’ but I said, ‘Walt, you’ve been trying to get into movies, take that shot.’ He said he wanted something like what we did and I never really changed my sound. I just made it more 2000 and whatever. Me and my brother [DJ Evil Dee] were never ones to follow trends. We always stay true to the Boom Bap sound.

Radha: I’m really proud of the people who showed up for this film. We were at Sundance and we did very well there, but a lot of the people covering it made no mention of these cameos and it was very obvious to me that they weren’t of the culture. That’s why having this conversation with you means so much because I made it for us.

The Forty-Year-Old Version is in select theaters and streaming now on Netflix.

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