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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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Will Smith Is Working On A ‘Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’ Spin-Off Series: Report

An updated installment of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air could be making its way to TV with Will Smith in the driver's seat. According to the The Hollywood Reporter, Smith is working on a spin-off series based on the '90s sitcom.

The series will be developed through Westbrook Inc., a cross-platform holding company launched last year by Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith. According to the company’s website, Westbrook's mission is to “be the leader in global family entertainment.”

THR's story outlines how Smith, 51,  used social media to revamp his career, and whether or not his digital popularity has directly improved his box office stats. The feature details a number of Smith's upcoming projects, as well as other business ventures, which include his and Jaden Smith's JUST Water brand.

It's unclear if the Fresh Prince spin-off has a projected premiere date, but next year may be the perfect time to premiere it since the original series will celebrate its 30-year anniversary in 2020.

Last week, Smith announced a new Fresh Prince-inspired clothing line. Bel-Air athletics line — which is named after the fictional school that his character attended on the show —  includes hoodies, tees, sweatpants, socks, and a reversible track jacket.

The items are for sale on willsmith.com until Oct. 14.

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Fan-Made Trailer Imagines Aunt Viv's Return To Bel-Air In 'Auntie'

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has been the center of various fan-made movie plots with its most recent one gaining the attention of its star Will Smith. Now, another visionary is taking a chance at promoting a new take that centers on the original Aunt Vivian Banks.

According to Shadow And Act, the trailer is shot from the inspiration of Jordan Peele's Us and Get Out, placing Aunt Viv as the central character who returns to Bel-Air, Los Angeles after a stint at a mental facility. Created by Bobby Huntley, Auntie takes a look at the aforementioned character's life after their role has been recast.

"Our goal isn't to pit the two real-life actresses against each," Huntley said. "They both did an amazing job bringing that character to life in their own unique way. We love every actor and actress affiliated with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. It's just human nature to contrast and compare.

"For people to still debate over 25 years later is really a testament to their talents and longevity. We are just simply asking the question, 'What If?'" Originally played by Janet Hubert, her role was later filled by Daphne Reid.

Upon Aunt Viv's return home, she realizes her family has no idea who she is "and every evidence of her existence has been erased. She must find out who was behind the hostile takeover before it is too late to reclaim her family and her home," the plot outlines.

Other storylines that are featured include Claire Kyle from My Wife and Kids, and Family Matters' Judy and Harriet Winslow. 

Watch the trailer above.

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Lil Kim performs onstage at the BET Hip Hop Awards 2019 at Cobb Energy Center on October 5, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.
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BET Hip Hop Awards 2019: Watch All The Performances Here

There were awards given out at the 2019 BET Hip Hop Awards, but this year's festivities were all about the performances. Hip-hop's biggest up and comers (Megan Thee Stallion, DaBaby, YBN Cordae, Saweetie), more established names, (Rick Ross, Rapsody, Chance The Rapper), and flat out legends (Lil Kim) all blessed the stage.

This year also saw the return of the annual Cyphers and connected with URL to integrate battles into the show for the first time. Look below for the performances from the 2019 BET Hip Hop Awards.

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Lil Kim Performs Medley Of Hits with Junior M.A.F.I.A., O.T. Genasis, and Musiq Soulchild Megan Thee Stallion And DaBaby Perform "Hot Girl Summer" And "Cash Shit" Lil Duval, TOM. G, And KaMillion Team Up For City Boys Performance YBN Cordae And Anderson .Paak Perform "RPN" Saweetie Performs "My Type" With Lil Jon And Petey Pablo Rapsody Performs "Nina" And "Serena" Chance The Rapper Performs "Sun Come Down" DaBaby Performs "Intro" And "Baby Sitter" With Offset Rick Ross and T-Pain Perform Medley Lil Baby and DaBaby Perform "Baby" T-TOP Vs. Shotgun Suge – Battle DNA vs. Geechi Gotti – Battle
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