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'The Chi' Recap: Ep. 8 Prisons Can Be Made Out Of Homes, Schools And Chicago Itself

Anywhere can be a prison, depending on the circumstances. The job with the salary that keeps your kids fed but comes with a racist boss can be a prison. The gang-riddled neighborhood you’ve never left because your family lives there can be a prison. This week’s episode of The Chi, makes some of the characters come to terms with the metaphoric bars they’ve been held captive behind this whole time.

The most depressingly unfair prison is usually the one made out of your own home. When your shelter makes you a target, you become imprisoned by your own livelihood, and that’s no way to live. Watching community members in Jerrika’s house recall grievances of being evicted for minor infractions carried the episode’s heaviest emotional weight. One woman was evicted because she let her spouse stay with her for a few weeks while he stayed overtime at work. Another woman was evicted because of a family member’s arrest for later dismissed drug selling charges. All they did was live and without other knowledge or consent became prisoners of forces beyond their control.

Jerrika mentions how she’s heard of unjust evictions from a real estate organization known as CHC. In reality, a recent report from local housing advocacy organization Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing concluded landlords in majority-African American neighborhoods filed evictions four times as much as landlords in mostly white neighborhoods. In The Chi, the CHC possibly is evicting people in order to not pay to relocate all of the tenants of buildings they wish to renovate and sell to private developers. In reality, real estate company Pangea has filed more than 9,000 evictions in Chicago since 2009, under the duplicitous guise of revitalizing neighborhoods wrecked by the recession. These people on The Chi and in the Chicago we all know have done nothing wrong but live in circumstances where existing in their homes is a hindrance to a faceless company’s economic gain.

One person from The Chi who can attest to feeling trapped by someone else’s economic gain is Brandon, who is a prisoner of his ambition and a circumstance he unwittingly put himself in with Otis “Douda” Perry (Curtiss Cook), the head of the 63rd Street Mob. He accepted Perry’s offer to invest in his taco truck business, an offer similarly deceptive as the CHC’s evictions. Once Brandon realizes Douda is connected to the gang (and by extension, so is he), he tries to cut ties before the mob boss informs him in doing so, Brandon would have to pay back six-figures he knows he doesn’t have yet. Money and ambition is, to an extent, a prison of our own making but, The Chi explores how the city itself can force people to walk into those prisons even after confronting them.

Douda offers to expand Brandon’s taco business from a few trucks to a brick and mortar restaurant across the street from Brandon’s old boss. Similarly to the new truck and $50,000 Douda gifted Brandon in previous episodes, the restaurant would more than likely be another way to help Douda launder his illegally obtained money. Then, just as you can see Brandon’s morality battle with his ambition behind his concerned eyes, Douda asks if he wants to be on a taco truck in February in Chicago. Using the same Chicago weather that killed three people during this year’s polar vortex as a way to make the offer seem like a lifeline for his ambition is one that could ensure Brandon never leaves Douda’s insidious grip.

But, not everyone succumbs to their circumstances. Some on The Chi break out of their cells. Precocious Chicago North Side Academy student Malcolm Whitman (Cayen Martin), who lives in the same south side Chicago neighborhood as Kevin, travels to his prestigious school before the sun rises every morning. Malcolm is what would happen if Kevin had a tethered version in Us that is as eager to discuss shark facts he learned at his school as he is to sell marijuana at that same school, which is largely populated with affluent white students. Malcolm lives in a violent neighborhood and goes to school where he is the only black person, leading him to, admittedly, have no friends. But, he doesn’t succumb to either setback and instead leverages the benefits of both—streets smarts and kids with disposable income—to break free.

While Malcolm traveling miles away to simply go to school is liberating, there’s an inherent depressive quality to the fact a child has to travel that far to get better schooling. Data on more than 24,000 eighth-graders enrolled in Chicago Public Schools in the fall of 2008 demonstrated that 25 percent of those children traveled more than four miles from their home to go to school. In contrast, students from affluent neighborhoods during that same period never traveled more than four miles to school.

As the second season of The Chi near its conclusion, it’ll be interesting to see who remains trapped by their situations, who escapes from them, and who finds themselves in ones they never knew existed.

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‘Red Table Talk’ Inks 3-Year Deal With Facebook Watch

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In addition to a new contract, Westbrook Studios (owned by Pinkett Smith and Will Smith) is expanding the Red Table Talk brand with a spinoff series starring Gloria Estefan.

Red Table Talk: The Estefans, will be produced by Pinkett-Smith, Westbrook Studios and Estefan, with Ellen Rakieten and Miguel Melendez serving as executive producers. The series features the music icon along with her daughter and rising musician, Emily Estefan, and her niece Emmy winner, Lili Estefan. The new show will be based in Miami, where Estefan lives, and will showcase three generations of women having candid conversations about timely topics, social and personal issues with family, in addition to celebrity guests and experts.

“I’m incredibly proud of ‘Red Table Talk,’ and thrilled to build upon this franchise with my family and with Gloria, Emily and Lili,” Pinkett Smith said in a statement. “‘Red Table Talk’ has created a space to have open, honest and healing conversations around social and topical issues, and what’s most powerful for me is hearing people’s stories and engaging with our fans in such a tangible way on the Facebook Watch platform.  I’m excited to see the Estefans put their spin on the franchise and take it to new places.”

Estefan added that she’s “incredibly excited” to carry on the “'Red Table Talk' torch” with her family.

“Jada and I have spoken about this a lot and feel my daughter, niece and I can tackle issues important to us and our fans with a new and fresh voice,” said Estefan. “Jada has done this incredibly and continues to do with her family in their candid, intimate, and groundbreaking conversations at the iconic Red Table.”

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Trailer: 20 Years After His Death, Houston Legend DJ Screw's Life Coming To A Network Near You

There are many stories that define the emergence of styles within the world of hip-hop, yet one of the most influential tales will be told for all to be inspired by, and that story is the life of Houston's legendary Robert Earl Davis, Jr. aka DJ Screw. Known now as the innovator of the "chopped and screwed" style birthed in the 90s of slowing down the speed of hip-hop jams to that of a crawl, where the lyrics drawl out and the beats stretch and your head has no choice but to bob.

The new episodic series, titled All Screwed Up, is directed by producer/filmmaker Isaac "Chill" Yowman and is based on the life of DJ Screw and the happenings of his Screwed Up Click label. The trailer shows the many dramatic points in the young Screw's journey to recognition. From crosstown rivals to police harassment, to building a music empire around talented gangstas, the situations he pushed through created the sound that proved to live on beyond his life.

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Watch the trailer above and be on the lookout for the network that will carry this sure-fire hit of a series. In the meantime, check out one of Screw's original tapes with his Screwed Up Click below.

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‘Bad Boys 4’ Is Reportedly In The Works

Martin Lawrence and Will Smith are reportedly returning for another installment of the Bad Boys franchise. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bad Boy’s 4 is already in the works.

Bad Boys for Life script writer Chris Bremner will return for Bad Boy’s 4, the outlet reported on Friday (Jan. 17). No word yet on when the film will be released, but fans can expect a much shorter wait than the 17-year gap between Bad Boy’s 2 and Bad Boys for Life. The film was delayed due to script issues.

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“The script wasn’t right. And Will, to his credit, refused to do the movie until the script was right. It wouldn’t have been a good movie. We dint’ want that. We wanted to do a sequel where people would go, ‘Oh man, that’s what I’m talking about. It just get better.’”

Bad Boy’s for Life opened on Friday and is expected to bring in more than $67 million in its debut weekend.

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