Sunday, February 28, 2010

reflection of the Class Part II

How has your personal poetry changed over time (use examples from your page on the Ning from your poems)?
I have learned so much about my style of my poetry over time. I feel that I have learned how to take a very large or vague idea into something precise and concise that still has the same power that my previous embellished wordy poems had. For example, reflecting back on my "I Wish" poem I realize that if Brooks were to boil it down it would be much more free and less fabricated. Then as time went on I wrote my event poem from January 26th that was much more concise and precise.

How has your perspective of poetry changed?
I honesty never saw that poetry could be as powerful or more powerful than music or other art forms. I now have a much better ability to read deep inside poetry to find the double or deeper meaning. Now when I hear the word poetry my ears raise and my mind clears to interpret the words of the soul.

Reflection of the Class

After reading all of the reflection posts of my peers I must say that there is not one of I disagree with. This class was absolutely fantastic. I have to say is what I love most about, besides Ms. Lewis, is the efforts to creating an untraditional class atmosphere. I feel as though many of times we as students become so systematic with the traditional ways of academic learning that we are actually learning nothing but the information we must to get good grades. When in actuality we could be learning so much more by trying out new ways of learning information that could increase our motivation and teach us how to learn a different and possibly more efficient way. The fact is, everyone learns differently. So how could everyone possibly learn if the class was only taught in one way?

Like I said before I can say so much after reading and agreeing with the reflection posts of my peers. I will always remember Poetry class and will use the untraditional educational techniques used in this class as a basis for my classes if I ever become what I'm thinking of being now, a teacher!

Reflection of importance in inspecting the Black Arts Movement

So I spent a lot of time trying to think of something to write about in my final blog and I finally decided that I write about the importance of inspecting the Black Arts Movement. By examining the Black Arts Movement I was abel to discover some of the key concepts of African American Art that has not been brought to my attention before. I had never before thought about how revolutionary hip hop and rap must have been when they first came out. Music like that had never been attempted until and after the Black Arts Movement. Our somewhat single minded culture must have thought so differently to this new wave of experimentation. Additionally, it is sad to say, but even today racist American's reject the idea of blacks beginning the new era of music. Hip hop and rap are seemingly growing year by year and our culture seams to be moving in its favor.

Blacks Celebrate Their Creation

It is impossible to ignore the energy and excitement that hip hop and rap artists bring to the table. Many artists celebrate and glorify where they come from and what they stand for through their music. Wether it is vulgar or honest is for the listener to decide. However, I know that these bold artists are not afraid to take art wherever they please. I absolutely admire the dignity that they have for their co-artists. Many hip-hop and rap groups have done work together resembling their respect for each others music. Additionally, the excitement they bring together or solo is especially admirable. Ever since the beginnings of hip hop and rap, artists have been unleashing a special kind of energy that in my onion can not be duplicated. Wether it is the beat, bass, keyboard, guitar, or vocals that are expressing this extreme energy throughout the movement of a song, the audience is always in for a mind-blowing experience. A few months back I saw two hip hop concerts that absolutely changed my outlook on hip hop. I never thought that energy achieved on the recorded album could ever be matched by a live show. However, I was in for a surprise when I discovered that somehow the live show conveys even more energy than the album! Check out this show that I saw a while back with Lil Wayne.

Black Arts Movement impact and reflection

Reading up on some articles of the Black Arts Movement impact and reflection to hip hop I've drawn some conclusions. Hip hop and rap can be considered the radical steps of blacks claiming their integrity and individuality among art. "Hip hop and rap were born of the anger toward and disaffection with the uptight boundaries of Western art and culture" the article claims. That statement to me says it all. Blacks rejected the previous standards that the culture has made and instead started something new and revolutionary. Regardless wether culture would accept it, blacks brought hip hop and rap to the stage with great dignity. They stood proud of what they represent and didn't care what people might have thought of them. Speaking of their hard times and their good times, their lyrics tell a story of life in their shoes. In fact, even contemporary hip hop and rap contain lyrics that express their feelings towards any of discrimination they have encountered or reflecting back on discrimination their ancestors may have encountered.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Looking Back At Seventh Bell Poetry

So, I'm supposed to post my reflections on our WONDERFUL 7th bell poetry class and I have no where to start because there is so much to say. Coming into the class on the first day of the term, I thought nothing of it. I was thinking the class would be fun, but I had no idea what kind of an impact it would have on me. Every T day, other kids were dreading class, however I was excited because it meant 50 minutes of poetry. When I look back at my time at Sem, poetry class will be one of my favorite memories.

How has my poetry changed?
Well, I am definiatly more comfortable writing about deeper, more personal subjects. I started the class writing poetry suited for a juvenile audience, just take a look at "What Is Poetry?" and "King of the Jungle." But, as the class progressed I developed a voice more suited for a mature audience often reflecting on the choices that we make in life such as, "By 25 I Will Not Be This Version Of Me" and "I Remember" (our group poem.)

How has my perspective of Poetry changed?
I respect poets so much more than I ever have. I also opened up to a different interpretation of poetry, it has no rules. I think now I can see a poem in an everyday act or location and I seem to be more inspired, which stems from my new found love for poetry. I also love that some of the poets we studied started young, while others just wrote as a therapeutic exercise. I now know that poetry is anything and everything.

Friday, February 26, 2010

My Reflection

7th bell Poetry class is by far the best class I have ever had in my life. Mrs. Lewis made everything possible for us and she let us experience the freedom of poetry with no rules. I really wish we could have had more time together, a poetry 2 class would be SO FUN! I think we should all go talk to Mr. Gordon about it...

How has your personal poetry changed over time?

Well at first I was not comfortable writing and sharing my poetry with a class I was unfamiliar with, but with a wonderful teacher such as Mrs. Lewis she made it possible for me to become comfortable with writing poetry and sharing it with a library full of people at the Poetry slam. I feel like my poetry has gotten a lot better after this term and much more personal. I will not think of poetry as a class anymore, I will think of it as a learning experience that I will continue to grow throughout my future. 

How has your perspective of poetry changed? 

My perspective of Poetry has changed tremendously. At first I was not even very interested by the subject, and I feel like it there was any other teacher I still would not enjoy it as much as I do. Mrs. Lewis taught us to write poetry with no rules, we could write about whatever we were feeling and it was the only class to let loose in. I have learned to love poetry, I always will after this class. All thanks to Mrs. Lewis :)

Jeff Donaldson

Jeff Donaldson was an African American Artist during the black arts movement. He graduated with a MFA from the Institute of Design of the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Donaldson studied African-American art history and discovered his love for art. After studying famous african american artists for so long he decided he wanted to make art his career. He has had a passion for art ever since his brother started drawing when he was three, and he would start to draw cartoons and comic books. This was only the beginning of his momentous future, Donaldson participated on over 200 exhibitions all over the world (Africa, Europe, South America, the Caribbean and the United States). Donaldson also became the vice president of the Barnes Foundation and board of the National Center for Afro-American Artists.  During his involvement with the Organization of Black American Culture, he organized the visual arts workshop that held "Wall of Respect" in 1967. This painting "celebrated the significant African Americans and set in motion a movement  of outdoor murals painted in the United States cities throughout the 1970's. The link below is a link to the mural of "the Wall of Respect"

This mural had a huge impact on the people during this time period because it conveyed a message full of his love of African History. 

My Reflection

So this blog has been assigned for me to tell you about what I learned and how I feel about my Poetry class this Winter Term Bell 7. (Get ready for this...)

Where do I start about our bell 7 family? I've never shared my poetry before with anyone besides my small blog that I don't advertise to anyone. Just last week, I read a poem of mine in the Poetry Slam AND our group also got third place. In the beginning of this term I would have never imagined participating in a poetry slam let alone reading a poem in front of my classmates.

But that is just it, we weren't just a class we began to build a trust and bond between one another. We did not judge one another. I can't say that before poetry I didn't know I had a voice in writing, I always had that. However before poetry I never let that voice out, it was always trapped in my personal cage because it was too scared to show itself.

Now-- I'm not scared at all and my voice is completely out of that cage.

My voice in poetry, however, gained many new qualities. Reading poetry by Brooks and Whitman made me reflect their style on mine. Realizing that breaking down my poems to the simplest of text does not take away from the meaning of the poem made me try to cut out "unnecessary" words.

I'm truly and incredibly going to miss my bell 7 poetry class. We were like our own little breakfast club. Now we just need "dont you forget about me" playing...

The Late Great Michael Jackson And The Hip Hop Generation

When looking at the connection between the Black Arts Movement and the Hip Hop Movement in dance, it is pretty apparent that one man merged the gap between the two, Michael Jackson. Though Michael himself would not be considered a part of the Hip Hop movement, he inspired many of the dancers we now know as the Hip Hop greats. One of the moves that led to Jackson's extreme influence is the moonwalk. (If you've never seen the move before, it takes place at 3:51.) Jackson brought great attention to this move on March 25, 1983 during a performance of "Billie Jean" on Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever. It took Jackson two seconds to complete the move, however its impact will live on forever in the dance world. Michael was taking moves from the streets and including them in his videos and performances to embrace the culture from which he came. I would personally recommend you check out these videos to see Jackson's killer moves: "Billie Jean," "Thriller," and "The Way You Make Me Feel." Just remember anytime you watch a show like America's Best Dance Crew, Michael Jackson brought street dancing to the mainstream.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lil' Kim (The Notorious K.I.M)

So this one... is for the ladies. Without generalizing too much-- Lil' Kim was a huge part of the male dominant realm of Hip Hop. However, we finally have a rapper that has a stage name relevant to her own, Kimberly Jones.

Lil' Kim was the only female rapper in the rap group Junior M.A.F.I.A (representin') Formed by the one and only Notorious B.I.G., this rap group opened the door to her very successful solo rap career. And when I say she was representin'; I mean just that. Lil' Kim was the first female rapper to express the ghetto attitude as a female. She was the voice of all the women living in the ghetto regions also knows as "the hood."

However Kim was a tough, strong, independent woman from the start. At the young age of 9, Kim's parents separated and she was raised by her father until he expelled her from the family home. She struggled, as most of us do through life and came out with an strong attitude and a lot to say. To say the least, however, this was the root of her inspiration to write many future rap songs.

This blog can't be for the ladies unless it includes a love story...(Oh and believe me, it does.)

During these struggling times, Lil' Kim met boyfriend Notorious B.I.G. If you don't know him by now, please come out from under your rock because you're completely missing out. Biggie was a key factor in Kim's live personally and artistically. The awesome boyfriend that he was, he helped get Kim's foot in the door in the rap world and invited her to join the Junior M.A.F.I.A (Biggie was a keeper--must be nice! *sigh*)

After a year of being in the Junior M.A.F.I.A, Kim launched her solo career with her debut album Hard Core. But, was the first lady of the Mafia successful? To say the least! It debuted number #11 on the billboard charts (Huge deal!) #3 on the Billboard Rap/R&B albums chart (Huge deal!) and went double platinum. That is-- 2, count em' 2 MILLION copies. (HUGE DEAL!)

Kim became a popular fashion, hip-hop icon. (We'll let Kim off the hook for the infamous pasty outfit at the VMA's)

Without a doubt, Kimberly Jones or Lil' Kim, was a proud female hip-hop icon with an attitude, and we love her for that.

Monday, February 22, 2010

"Ease On Down, Ease On Down The Road"

Alright, let's ease on back to The Wiz. (Sorry for the pun. I've been spending too much time with Mr. Lewis.) This time, rather than talking about the differences between The Wizard of Oz and The Wiz, I'm going to talk about the choreography and its relation to the Black Arts Movement. It's honestly just a reason for me to boast about the great choreography in this movie. (THANK YOU, Louis Johnson!) Johnson was the choreographer for the film and, let me tell you, he had some great dancers to work with. (Cough, Michael Jackson, Cough) Along with the four primary actors, Johnson had a cast of 120 dancers at his disposal, every choreographer's dream. Although "Emerald City Sequence," "You Can't Win," "Slide Some Oil To Me," and "He's The Wiz" have really great dance sequences, "Brand New Day" stands out as the greatest dance number in the film. (I've been looking for a video of it to link, however I can't find a video or pictures, so you'll have to deal with my visual imagery. It's really great though, so you should rent The Wiz.)

Although you can look at "Brand New Day" as just choreography, it means so much more. "Brand New Day" represents the liberation of the African American community. The dancers begin the piece in costumes that represent the enslavement that occurred in the United States. They dance in unison transmitting the idea that after their liberation, they were still unsure of the way to lead their lives, since they had spent years enslaved. Throughout their time in these outfits they slowly begin to separate from each other, marking the embrace of liberation by the African American community. About half way through the number, the dancers strip out of their costumes and reveal very small golden underwear. This costume change along with multiple groups dancing different choreography simultaneously denotes the acceptance of the African American community from the rest of the world. I know it's hard to imagine, but you should definiatly check out The Wiz, because the choreography is mind blowing. It also might give you a different view on the Black Arts Movement and the effect it had on culture.

The Notorious B.I.G.

Christopher George Latore Wallace was born May 21, 1972 and was murdered March 9, 1997. Christopher, however, was much better known as The Notorious B.I.G., an American rapper. Biggie (his nickname in case you didn't catch on) was the core and the central figure of the East Coast hip-hop scene. What is so significant about this, though, is all the mainstream rappers were coming from the West Coast. This started a HUGE controversy. (Known as the East Coast-West Coast Feud)

As most great rappers do, B.I.G. gathered a group of his friends and started the rap group Junior M.A.F.I.A. Their debut album was titled Conspiracy. Some of these rappers later emerged into solo artists, a popular rapper is Lil' Kim. The album, was considered successful in the rap world and later went gold.

During this time, Biggie exploded. He was considered the best rap selling artist of the year and even won a billboard award. This was really insane considering that Biggie was from the east coast.

He became very involved in the East Coast/West Coast feud with Tupac Shakur. (who by the way was his former associate) However their friendship turned around when Shakur accused Uptown Records' founder Andre Harrell, Sean Combs, and Wallace of having prior awareness of a robbery that resulted in him being shot repeatedly and losing thousands of dollars worth of jewelry on the night of November 30, 1994. This added fuel to the fire.

In June 1996, Shakur released Hit em' Up a song in which he disses and explicitly claims to have had sex with Wallace's wife, and that Wallace copied his style and image. I guess you can probably guess that Biggie wasn't really happy about that...

Shakur was later shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on September 7, 1996. He would die six days later of complications from the gunshot wounds. Rumors of Wallace's involvement with Shakur's murder were reported almost immediately. However there was never evidence and Biggie had an alibi that he was in a New York studio.

A vehicle pulled up alongside Wallace's truck when leaving an event one night and came to a sudden stop. Then someone rolled down his window, drew a 9 mm blue-steel pistol and fired. Four bullets hit Wallace in the chest. However, Biggie didn't make it.

So who killed Biggie? Who killed Tupac? We don't know, no one does. To be honest, I don't think we ever will.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Short Life, Big Impact

A young artist so talented living in NYC went from a graffiti artist to and exhibition at the Whitney museum. Jean Michele Basquiat's work can still be seen at the Museum of Modern Art. He was born in 1960, His father was Haitian and his mother was puerto rican. As a young struggling artist living with his friends, after quitting during his last year of high school, he sold hand made post cards when he was not spray painting city buildings and subway cars. He was befriended by many very well known artists such as: Andy Warhol, Barbara Kruger, Julian Schnabel (Who directed the biographical film "Basquiat" in the 1996). This movie was a reenactment of Baquiat's life and encounter with Andy Warhol and Julian Schnabel. The link below is an excerpt from the movie "Basquiat".

Basquiat was once described as "The Radiant Child" by poet/artist Rene Ricard in 1981. Unfortunately like many creative geniuses his misguided creative passion led to his demise. In 1984 his close friends became concerned about his use of heroin. In1986, Basquiat was one of the most famous NY artists traveling to Africa, Paris, and back to NY for an incredible publicity tour. In 1988, He returned from Hawaii claiming to be drug free in the month of June; In August he died from a heroin overdose at age 27. To truly experience his work go to the following link.

Basquiat was a young energetic passionate soul during the Black Arts Movement. He had an honest approach to art as an anti corporate vehicle, driving his message home to his hoi palloi. The movie "Basquiat" has an unknown actor playing Jean Michel Basquiat, but the part of Andy Warhol is brilliantly done by David Bowie. Basquiat, just like Micheal Jackson is best described as "An abstract painting"(Colleen Ayers). It is emotional, at times disturbing, but with the proper method of inquiry, embraced for is originality and execution. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

"He's The Wiz And He Lives In Oz"

Sweet thing, let me tell you about The Wiz. It's an African-American musical adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum, that is set in New York City in the 1970's. Its great use of funk music, inspiring themes, and wonderful choreography makes it a feel good time for all. The musical was so well received, 7 Tony Awards, that after just three years on Broadway a film adaptation was released. The film starred Diana Ross as Dorothy, the late Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow, Nipsey Russell as the Tin man, and Ted Ross as the Cowardly Lion. At first glance, The Wiz is just another adaptation of the famous Oz story that has been told through many medians, but it represents so much more. The Wiz takes a story that is primarily associated with the white community and gives it an African-American spin. The movie, as well as the musical, are artworks inspired by the Black Arts Movement.

So what, might you ask, are the differences between the beloved Victor Fleming adaptation of The Wizard of Oz and Sidney Lumet's The Wiz? Well, let's start with Dorothy. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is a Kansas farm-girl around the age of 16 played by Judy Garland. In The Wiz, Dorothy is a 24 year old kindergarten teacher from Harlem played by Diana Ross. Munchkinland is also represented very differently. In The Wizard of Oz, the munchkins are rather sweet and very reserved compared to the munchkins in The Wiz. The munchkins in The Wiz, much like those in The Wizard of Oz, are liberated from the Wicked Witch of the East, however in The Wiz the munchkins are physically liberated because they were turned into graffiti by the Wicked Witch. As you might have guessed, the setting of Oz differs in both movies. The Wizard of Oz shows Oz as country side that leads to the Emerald City. However, The Wiz depicts Oz as a less privileged part of a city, modeled after NYC, that leads to a grand, elegant Emerald City, filmed at the World Trade Towers. With the use of a city setting changes some of the plot of the movie, such as the poppy field. In The Wiz, the poppies are not flowers, instead they are represented as prostitutes.

But, the differences don't end there. I'll blog about the others later. But, in the mean time, check out the movie trailer.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Romare Bearden

As mentioned in my last post, Romare Bearden was a successful artist in displaying the image of Black America during the Black Arts Movement. His art was displayed in the MOMA in 1971 making him a well known abstract expressionist. Romare Bearden was the most successful post modern collage maker of that decade. As Early as 1790 realists proclaimed that an artist should only paint hat they observe in front of them. Romare Bearden painted as a response to the need to define his own experience. He was born in Charlotte NC, moved to Pittsburgh and then to Harlem. He earned a degree in mathematics at NYU in the early 30's, He started to paint seriously around 1935. It is important to point out that it was the "Harlem Renaissance" that helped Bearden view himself as a professional painter. He would never want to be called an African American (even though he was), he just wanted to display Afro Americanism in his work. In his piece "The Dove" it shows harlem in 1964. Crowded into this small pictoral space are images of everyday life, there is a fist showing black power, a man pulling a hat over his eyes, and an oversized hand with a cigarette; this was his view of the street. Bearden mentioned that the neighborhood he was constructing was overpopulated to the bursting point. The dove centered in the top of the composition is symbolic of the presence of christian faith. This collage creates patterns and forms and the contrasts of this pattern, color, and subject matter created harmony for his definition of life. This is a picture of "The Dove" by Romare Bearden.

All of my information came from a book called "Art Since 1940 Strategies of Being" Second edition by Jonathan Fineberg 

There was a Growing fascination in the 70's with the work of black and female artists, such as Betty Saar and Faith Ringgold. The intense, contrasting patterns and the elegant abstraction of facial expressions drew from west african textiles and sculpture. It was a direct reference to african roots; a lineage that helped build America. The African American traditions on which these new works of art of the 70's offered and authentic excitement to the mainstream American culture. Romare Bearden, a major African American master of the abstract expressionist generation remarked in 1964 that; "What I have attempted to do, is establish a world through art in which the validity of my Negro experience could live and make its own logic." (Art Since 1940 Strategies of Being). In other words he wanted people to feel his blackness not see it. This was a time where each artist could do what they thought they ought to do. This art movement was for any person and open for everybody. 

Culture is never a nice neat package, but a combination of what settles in the mind. It consists of all the ideas and influences that people have as a reaction to different art experiences. This diversity is what defines the Black Arts Movement. 

Ice-T (Rapper Turned Actor Part II)

So... where are all my Law & Order SVU fanatics at? If you've watched SVU, which I know you all have and you can't deny it, you've probably noticed the detective with attitude always putting a criminal in their place? Well, that'd be Ice-T and oh yes, the opening credits introduce him as just that (But I know you're dying to know his real name which is Tarry Marrow).

However Ice-T didn't start off playing hard ass detectives, he started off in the other realm, the hip-hop world. If there was one thing Ice-T wanted, it was to be a hip-hop icon. He did, in fact, get just that.

Ice-T played a major role in the creation of the gangsta incarnation of hip-hop music and was a colossus of the West Coast hip-hop scene. He got his inspiration from many political controversies such as racism. In that sense, Ice-T was well known as not only a Gangster Rapper, but a Political Rapper. He was reffered to once as "The Bob Dylan of Rap".

As far as we know, we're not really sure why exactly it is that Ice-T began to act. However, I do know that then next time you're bored and there isn't anything interesting on T.V. besides a Law & Order SVU marathon, you'll look at Ice-T much, much differently.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Salt-n-Pepa were formed in 1985, Queens, New York, NY. They were the first all-female rap crew (even their DJ's were women.) These girls brought fun, excitement, and energy to the stage like no other. While dancing and running around, the souls of these girls come together to form an outstanding power that other rap artist will strive to compete with. Their outfits are appropriate, real, and genuine to their image and to the image of rap. Unlike modern women rap artists, theses girls refuse to look bimbo's and instead bring a definitive sense and respect to their attire. With big coats, tight pants, and exciting hair styles, these girls are ready to rap. I found it to be much more meaningful to see them preform at a concert as opposed to just hearing their songs. This is because the outstanding fun they have on stage influences and encourages the audience to have as much fun as they are. I encourage those who are interested in seeing power, fun, and excitement to watch videos of Salt-n-Pepa live. Check out this video of "push it" one of their most famous songs being done justice on stage!

"Don't Just Stand There, Bust A Move"

No, I don't plan on writing about "Bust A Move" right now, but I figured it's a catchy title. I do plan on writing a post about the Young MC song later though. So, stay tuned! I do want to talk about another man who could definiatly move, Alvin Ailey. Ailey was born on January 5, 1931 (the same year as Etheridge Knight) in Rogers, Texas to working class parents. Nothing special, right? Wrong. Ailey was one of the most influential dancers and choreographers of his time. But, more importantly, he was one of the most influential African-American dancers and choreographers ever. His introduction to dance came when his mother moved him to Los Angeles in 1942 after his parent's divorce. Seven years later his future dance partner, Carmen De Lavallade, introduced Ailey to Lester Horton's Hollywood studio and he immediately fell in love with dance. Ailey poured his heart and soul into developing his already athletic body into a well trained machine. In 1953, Ailey took over Lester Horton's study pending his death. His niche for dancing developed rapidly and by 1954 he was performing on the Broadway stage with Carmen De Lavallade in "House of Flowers." But, Broadway was far from Ailey's greatest accomplishment. In 1958, Alvin Ailey founded his own dance company, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

With his dance company, Alvin Ailey led the black arts movement in dance. The company began with 7 principal dancers, trained in modern technique, dancing pieces inspired by the life of African-Americans, just as Gwendolyn Brooks and Etheridge Knight's poetry was inspired by the lives of African-Americans. One of his first great pieces was "Blues Suite," which premiered in 1958. The conception of the piece was inspired by Ailey's boyhood in Texas. It depicted the joys and aspirations of African-Americans living on the edge, struggling with the poverty in their lives. I personally love Ailey's use of male dancers, because his male company dancers are always so strong and they create such a great presence on the stage. If you check out the video, which is the link that says "Blues Suite," you are able to see the strength and determination he wanted to show in the piece in one movement, the unison back attitude turn. It's my favorite part of the clip. (I am also insanely jealous of how athletic the Ailey's dancers always are, so I think that could be why I love the attitude turns.) So check the video out and while you're there, check out some of the other pieces Ailey choreographed, such as pieces from his larger piece "Revelations." "Revelations" is a collection of pieces set to slave spirituals and gospel selections. The piece is the most recognized piece that Ailey choreographed and probably the most powerful. ("Wade In the Water" and "Fix Me Jesus" are personal favorites of mine. Check them out.) I don't want to say "I'm not being biased, but..." because the truth is I am very biased. Alvin Ailey is one of the great choreographers of the 20th century (and a personal favorite of mine), but that's not the only reason he is amazing. Alvin Ailey did for the dance world what Brooks and Knight were doing for the poetry world, celebrating the life and history of African-Americans. If you ever get a chance to see an Ailey tribute or the company perform, take it. Dance was meant to be seen and if it has accomplished it's purpose it will be both an emotional and rewarding experience.

If you are interested in learning more about Alvin Ailey I would recommend checking out this bio from PBS, it's really great. There is also a really great article from NPR that talks about the 45th anniversary show and it has a really great audio recording on the page too. Check it out.

Ice Cube: Rapper turned actor (Part I)

If you've seen any of the Friday movies (which I hope you have and if you haven't, you're missing out,) then you are quite familiar with Ice Cube. Ice Cube was the lead singer and co-founder of the hip-hop group N.W.A (Niggaz With Attitude) in the 1980s. If you aren't familiar with N.W.A you should definitely consider checking out their first album Straight Outta Compton. It is considered to be one of the most influential rap albums of all time. They were the start of "Gangsta Rap". N.W.A consisted of many rappers that you may be familiar with such as Dr. Dre (Who helped discover the controversial Caucasian rapper Eminem) and Ice-T who also is also a rapper turned actor. You can catch him on an episode of Law & Order : SVU .

Later on Ice Cube put out some of his own solo albums, which were just as successful as any of N.W.A's. ( Amerikka's Most Wanted, Lethal Injection and War & Peace, vols. 1 and 2)

However Ice Cube searched for a little taste of something else when he stepped into the acting world in his debut film, Boyz N the Hood. This film focuses on the troubles in inner-city Los Angeles socially and as three friends with different dreams grow up together and try to reach their goals.

Boyz N the Hood was just the start of Ice Cubes acting career and began to be his main focus of a career. Ever since the release of Boyz N the Hood Ice Cube has starred in over two dozen films. However Ice Cube is one of the very many rappers to step foot into the acting world.

In a later blog, I'll tell you all about Ice T.

Ice Cubes Career : Rap singer, producer, actor. Member of and writer for rap group N.W.A., 1986-89; solo artist, 1989-; solo albums include: AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, 1990; Death Certificate, 1991; The Predator, 1992; Lethal Injection, 1993; War & Peace, Vol. 1 (The War Disc), 1998; War & Peace, Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc), 2000; formed record production company, Street Knowledge, 1990; produced for rapper Yo Yo; formed record production company, Lynch Mob, 1992; directed music videos, 1993; films include: Boyz N' the Hood, 1991; Trespass, 1993; CB4, 1993; Higher Learning, 1994; Friday, (also writer) 1995; Dangerous Ground, (also executive producer) 1997; Anaconda, 1997; Players Club, (also writer and director) 1998; I Got the Hook Up, 1998; Three Kings, 1999; Next Friday, (also writer) 2000; Shadow Man, 2000; Ghost of Mars, 2001; All About the Benjamins, 2001; formed movie production company, CubeVision.

Sources: &