Spike Lee Talks 'She's Gotta Have It,' 'BlacKkKlansman,' Brooklyn Gentrification

Just days before veteran director Spike Lee would win his first competitive Oscar for the acclaimed biographical crime drama BlackKkKlansman, Hollywood’s most outspoken, singular, and at times maddeningly mercurial visionary was in a surprisingly philosophical mood. This, of course, goes against type for the button-pushing filmmaker who took on Hollywood’s majority white establishment and beat them on his own terms with such bold and unapologetically black statements as School Daze (1988), Do The Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991), Mo’ Better Blues (1990), Malcolm X (1992), Crooklyn (1994), Clockers (1995), 4 Little Girls (1997), and He Got Game (1998).

So, on a crisp February morning, Fort Greene, Brooklyn’s uncompromising 5’6” Superman was seemingly at peace at his own Fortress of Solitude—the instantly recognizable 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks townhouse, which doubles for a production headquarters and unofficial retrospective of all things Spike Lee and beyond, from classic movie posters to memorabilia.

“[It’s] an Academy Awards campaign,” the 62-year-old auteur said, describing the minefield-like run-up to his euphoric Best Adapted Screenplay triumph alongside Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, and Kevin Willmott. “That’s like you’re a politician. There’s a lot of similarities. A lot of selfies. The days of Woody Allen wouldn’t even show up and still getting an Oscar, that doesn’t happen anymore. People want to see you.”

Breaking through with the sobering retelling of the 2014 Ron Stallworth memoir Black Klansman, an absurd but true-to-life story about the first Colorado Springs black police detective who infiltrated the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, may not have made up for Lee’s past side-eye worthy Academy Awards snubs. But damn it, it felt good. Following a brief string of missteps between 2013 and 2015 (Oldboy, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, Chi-Raq), Spike Lee’s epic comeback was complete.

But what do you do after you finally achieve much deserved Oscar reverence? How do you follow up delivering one of the most memorable speeches of the event’s 91-year existence, passionately extolling the meaning of the win on Black History Month as you praise your beloved grandmother, the daughter of a slave, who put you through Morehouse College and NYU grad film school with 50 years of social security checks? What’s next after capping it all off with a heartfelt call to arms to vote in the upcoming pivotal 2020 presidential election (“Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing…you know I had to get that in there!”), which managed to piss off Trump and his MAGA hordes?

“I’m on a plane to Thailand to shoot the next film,” said Lee of his next project, a Netflix war drama titled Da 5 Bloods, starring the Black Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman, along with acting vets Clarke Peters, Delroy Lindo, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., and Giancarlo Esposito. “What did Jay-Z say? On to the next.”

But that’s later on down the line. More pressing is the May 24 release of Season 2 of Lee’s Netflix hit She’s Gotta Have It, the sexually audacious series based on his provocative debut black and white romantic dramedy from 1986.

When we last left our ambitious, bold, polyamorous Brooklynite artist Nola Darling, played with joyful ease by DeWanda Wise, she was hosting an uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner with her three lovers: the smile-inducing Afro-Puerto Rican man child Mars Blackmon (Anthony Ramos), the serious (and still married) Jamie Overstreet (Lyric Bent) and laughably vain biracial photographer Greer Childs (Cleo Anthony).

There’s an existential discussion on Nola’s flip of the male-dominated “player” trope; a holy sh*t artwork reveal (a painting displaying the penises of all three men…awkward); and a surreal dance sequence to Prince’s 1985 majestic, joyous pop gem “Raspberry Beret.”

This next go around, however, Lee raises the stakes. Nola’s romantic relationship with stunning business owner and mother Opal Gilstrap (Ilfenesh Hadera) has entered the leaving-my-toothbrush-at-your-crib phase, which has our free-spirited heroine freaking out. Meanwhile, Mars, kicked out of the apartment by his sister, is forced to finally grow up.

Jamie has to deal with the painful aftermath of his divorce, Greer is still Greer, and Nola D is blindsided by the political and corporate realities of the art world. She’s struggling to hold on to her artistic integrity as well as her bond with girlfriends Shemekka Epps (Chyna Layne) and Clorinda Bradford (Margot Bingham) under the racial and class backdrop of Brooklyn gentrification.

It’s all a wonderful, intense and, at times, cringe-worthy mess. Spike wouldn’t have it any other way. “Our goal is to have five seasons,” Lee laughed. “So in order to achieve that goal, you gotta mix it up. You have to let it be interesting. [Nola] is trying to navigate life. To me that makes her a much more interesting character because she’s not perfect.”

But Lee isn’t content with just revisiting the indelible characters that launched a 30-plus-year cinematic journey that has been both prophetic (his 2000 criminally-underrated satire Bamboozled, an unfiltered reckoning of white America’s blackface obsessions) and unpredictable (the riveting 2006 heist thriller Inside Man, which diverged from his blueprint but still stands as the highest grossing flick of his career with more than $184 million worldwide). He is also embracing the new.

He is the producer of protégé Stefon Bristol’s intriguing time-traveling sci-fi Netflix drama See You Yesterday (May 17), which follows two high school science prodigies who attempt to stop the murder of an unarmed black man by police. All this and Lee still finds time to keep an eye out for the future prospects of his beloved New York Knicks.

“If certain things happen we are going to rocking like the old days at the Garden,’ he said, flashing an optimistic smile. “We got room for two cap players. We are going to have a chance to get the top pick Zion [Williams] from Duke.”

And there’s more. Spike Lee can’t stop, won’t stop.

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Kid Cudi Announces Eminem Collaboration, "The Adventures Of Moon Man And Slim Shady”

Kid Cudi and Eminem are releasing a new single, "The Adventures of Moon Man and Slim Shady,” scheduled to drop this Friday (July 10).

Cudster’s daughter, Vada, announced the news in an adorable video posted to his Twitter account on Wednesday (July 8).

And now a word from Princess Vada the chosen... pic.twitter.com/xmgIMkUntz

— The Chosen One (@KidCudi) July 8, 2020

Besides working with Eminem, Cudi collaborated with Kanye West on an upcoming Kids See Ghost animated series. Additionally, the Ohio native is gearing up to debut an animated Netflix series, Entergalactic, based off his upcoming concept album of the same name. Cudi will executive produce the series along with Kenya Barris.

The 36-year-old rapper and actor will also appear in the HBO mini-series, We Are Who We Are. The coming-of-age story centers around two teenagers living on an American military base in Italy.

Watch the trailer below.

 

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Jason Connolly / AFP via Getty Images

'New York Times' And FX Team For Breonna Taylor Documentary

The New York Times is producing a Breonna Taylor documentary, set to air on FX and Hulu later this year. Taylor’s story will be the focus of an installment of The New York Times Presents, a 10-episode Friday-night series, with each episode covering a different topic.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, NYT writer Rukmini Callimachi and director Yoruba Richen will explore Taylor’s story, including the investigation into her death.

The 26-year-old EMT was shot and killed in March by Louisville Metro Police officers while sleeping in her apartment. LMP Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, officer Myles Cosgrove, and Brett Hankison, have yet to be charged or arrested for killing Taylor. Hankison was fired from the police department last month.

The no-knock warrant that police claim they were executing at the time of the fatal shooting, was a part of a larger gentrification plan, lawyers for Taylor’s family argued in a legal complaint filed last week in connection with an ongoing lawsuit against the officers.

Taylor had no criminal history. According to the legal papers, narcotics investigators were “deliberately misled”  to her home by a police squad. A spokesperson for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has denied the allegations.

While it’s unclear when Taylor’s story will be featured on The New York Times Presents, the first episode in the series, premieres on Friday (July 10). The episode covers the doctors and nurses working in New York at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak. Episode two, which follows 24-year-old recording artist, Dominic Fike, premieres on Friday, August 7.

 

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Young Thug Blasts Pusha T For Dissing Drake On Leaked Pop Smoke Song

Young Thug isn’t mincing words when it comes to his opinion on Pusha T dissing Drake on a leaked song that was set to appear on Pop Smoke’s posthumous album, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon.

After the song, “Paranoia,” surfaced online this past weekend, Thugger made it clear that he didn’t know King Push was going to diss Drake on the track, which features him and Gunna.

“I don’t respect the Pusha T verse on the song with me and Gunna [because] I don’t have [nothing] to do with ya’ll beef nor does Gunna, and if I knew that was about him I would’ve made changes on our behalf..the rapper s**t so gay,” Thugger wrote on his Instagram Story early Tuesday (July 7).

“Don’t feel bad, NOBODY knew what the verse was [about],” Pusha responded in one of multiple posts accusing Drake of snitching to the record label to get the song pulled from Pop Smoke's album. “The label heads that stopped it didn’t even know. They ONLY ASSUME because HE [Drake] TOLD them! The same way HE TOLD [about] the Ross ‘Maybach 6’ verse. And if HE’LL TELL record executives [about] rap verses, God only knows what else HE’LL TELL! I don’t deal in police work, police rappers or police n**gas!!!!"

AYO PUSHA T IS SNAPPINNN ON YOUNG THUG RIGHT NOW 😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/3VHgeg9xFp

— King Wow (@wowthatshiphop) July 7, 2020

Thugger went back on Instagram and blasted Pusha for having a “weak” verse.

“First of all your verse is 7 days…that muthafucka’ weak,” he said. “Second of all, you already went crazy the first time...it an’t nothing but a sucka [move]... going on double takes, triple takes, and quadruple takes. You should’ve just got all of it out when you put the first song out.

“You didn’t even have to do all that. You just felt like you wasn’t gonna get enough views on your own s**t so you came and put some bulls**t on a n**gga' who’s resting in peace’s music. Trying to f**k up a n**ga' a whole vibe. Why the f**k you ain’t do that s**t on your own song?” ”

Young Thug responds to Pusha T for Dissing Drake on Pop Smoke Song pic.twitter.com/7KNMbiU535

— Kollege Kidd (@KollegeKidd) July 8, 2020

On “Paranoia,” the Virginia MC goes at Drake for making “empty threats,” and his tendency to rap in different accents.

“You know reality bites, it’s chess, not checkers,” raps Pusha. “Those empty threats only sound good on your records/If the patois is not followed by a Blocka/It’s like Marked for Death Screwface, without the choppa/Let ’em rush the stage when you made like Sinatra/Only to hide the blade flyin’ back through LaGuardia/I might even buy a home out in Mississauga [Canada].”

Pusha previously dissed Drake on 2018’s , “The Story of Adidon,” where he revealed to the world that the Toronto rapper had a son. Drake later admitted that he had a son on the track “Emotionless” off his Scorpion album.

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