Happy 71st Birthday to The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin

Today is the 71st birthday of the undisputed Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin!

Not much to say about Aretha that hasn’t already been said. The woman is a force of nature. Arguably the greatest voice in the history of popular music, Franklin’s vocal chops are legendary and her impact on rock and soul untouchable.

Back in 2008, Rolling Stone named Aretha Franklin the no. 1 Greatest Singer of All Time. Mary J. Blige wrote a wonderful editorial for the feature:

From Rolling Stone:

You know a force from heaven. You know something that God made. And Aretha is a gift from God. When it comes to expressing yourself through song, there is no one who can touch her. She is the reason why women want to sing.

Chicago Nightclub Shooting: What Was 13 Year-old Rapper Lil’ Mouse Doing There?

Yesterday morning, the city of Chicago was shocked to learn of a shootout at a record release party on the city’s South Side that left at least 7 people injured.

Even crazier, it seems controversial 13 year-old rapper Lil’ Mouse was among the featured performers at the event.

His manager claims Mouse performed and left before the shootout.

Still, what was a 13 year-old doing at a nightclub on a school night?

Common Discusses His Efforts to Give Back to His Hometown

Rapper/actor/activist, Chicago native, and BYP supporter Common recently wrote an editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times about how he plans to continue to give back to the youth of Chicago.

In a time when the news about Chicago’s youth seems devastatingly bad, it’s nice to know that celebrities are giving back in various ways and that they are using their resources to provide services to youth who need it most.

In his article, Common discussed his goals for his Common Ground Foundation:

Rhymes & Reasons Interviews Yoli Zapata About the Hip Hop Songs that Changed Her Life

Rhymes & Reasons presents Yoli Zapata.  

When hip-hop is fun, our interviews are fun; when hip-hop is powerful, we never forget. Artist and advocate Yoli Zapata talks to Rhymes & Reasons about the four songs that got her through the toughest of times.

She discusses R. Kelly featuring Nas with “Did You Ever Think?”, 2Pac’s “Can U Get Away”, Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)”, and  Aaliyah’s “One in a Million.” This is testimony.

Check out the interview below:

Lupe Fiasco Releases ‘Jonylah Forever’ (Jonylah Watkins Tribute)

Chicago emcee Lupe Fiasco has released a song dedicated to Jonylah Watkins, the 6 month-old infant gunned down on Chicago’s South Side earlier this week.

The track – “Jonylah Forever” – tells the story of a young girl growing up in Chicago who goes on to be happy and successful; a future Jonylah will tragically never realize.

Check out the emotional tribute below:

N.J. Cops Under Investigation for Making Gangsta Rap Videos

Four New Jersey police officers are under investigation by their department for making gangsta rap videos.

Their lyrics contain homophobic slurs and violent threats. The videos show them rapping inside of luxury vehicles and brandishing firearms.

Their department says they hold their officers to on and off-duty standards of behavior, and that their antics may have violated those standards.

Meanwhile, one of the rappers – Gat the Great – says these songs are harmless, and the controversy is a result of bias against Hip Hop music.

Rhymes & Reasons Interviews Speech About the Hip Hop Songs that Changed His Life

Rhymes & Reasons presents a recent gem in our series of interviews with hip-hop heads on the songs that matter most to them: Speech of Arrested Development.

In 1993, A.D. was named Band of the Year by Rolling Stone and won two Grammy awards. Their singles “Tennessee,” “Everyday People,” and “Mr. Wendal” are landmarks in the history of real, radio-friendly conscious hip-hop. Maybe the Atlanta-based group was ahead of its time.

Speech talks about Public Enemy’s “Rebel without a Pause,” De La Soul’s “3 Is the Magic Number,” and what KRS-One had to say on his voicemail ten years later


Check out the interview below:

Kelly Rowland Talks Learning to Love Her Brown Skin

The absolutely gorgeous Kelly Rowland recently opened up about her struggles with colorism and european standards of beauty.

She was once ashamed of her complexion; even afraid to be out in the sun too long for fear of getting darker.

Over time – and with the help of Tina Knowles – she came to embrace her color, and realized that beauty comes in all shades.

‘Smoking Gun’ Email Revealed in Michael Jackson Wrongful Death Suit

A potentially damning email will serve as the core of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Michael Jackson’s mother and his children.

A judge recently unveiled text of an email from the CEO of AEG Live, the concert promotion company behind Jackson’s This is It tour that was scheduled to begin in the summer of 2009.

A portion of the message released implies that Dr. Conrad Murray – who was Jackson’s doctor and is serving a prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter – was pressured into getting Michael Jackson to rehearse in spite of concerns regarding the singer’s health: