Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Makes Rap Debut In Tech N9ne’s ‘Face Off’

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson became famous as a wrestler and an actor. Now he’s also adding rapper to his résumé. 

The 49-year-old actor made what he calls his “historic rap debut” with a feature in Tech N9ne’s song “Face Off,” released Friday. The song, which also features rappers Joey Cool and King Iso, is part of the Kansas City rapper’s newest album “Asin9ne.” 

“Made my historic rap debut (thankfully I didn’t suck) Huge shout to all the hip hop & music fans for your HYPE reactions,” Johnson tweeted Friday. 

Johnson lays down the last verse of “Face Off” rapping about “drive” and “power.”

“We stay hungry, we devour / Put in the work, put in the hours and take what’s ours / 

Black and Samoan in my veins, my culture bangin’ with Strange,” he raps referring to Tech N9ne’s record label Strange Music Inc. 

In an interview with Variety published Friday Johnson said he doesn’t see a long-term career in rap but would think about giving it another go in the future. 

“I would love to do a repeat with Tech N9ne and Strange Music. If I had the opportunity to collaborate with another artist out there — hip hop artists, blues artists, outlaw country artists — then let’s talk and let’s figure it out,” Johnson said. “If I could rap about the right words that feel real and authentic to me, then I’ll be happy to break out that Teremana, take a few big swigs and jump back into the studio.”

“THANK YOU to my brother, the GOAT @therealtechn9ne for coming up with this big crazy idea of wanting me to drop some Rock gasoline bars on the fire,” Johnson wrote on an Instagram video with a clip of his verse. 

Source: USA Today

Godfrey On Being Asked To Be More Like Kevin Hart And Chris Rock During Casting Auditions

Famed comedian Godfrey opened up to VladTV about the media seemingly choosing to focus on one black comedian at a time. He explained that it definitely seems that way in the industry, and Godfrey added that he’s even asked to be more like Kevin Hart or Chris Rock when he goes out for auditions.

During the conversation, Godfrey also spoke about black female comedians not getting any respect in the industry, and being tired of people saying that black comedians are bitter.

To hear more, including growing up in Chicago, hit the above clip.

The Women Who Brought Down Burger Records – Culture Of Sexual Abuse In SoCal’s Indie Rock Scene That Has Remained Largely In The Shadows

Casey Redd was 14 when she began going to shows put on by popular indie-rock label Burger Records. The concerts, featuring contemporary garage and punk bands, were often all-ages, and a swell of excited teenage girls would be in attendance.

Three years later, when Redd was 17, she says Phil Salina, the then-29-year-old singer of the Portland-based goth-pop duo Love Cop, had sex with her in the back seat of her car. He told her to meet him at the far corner of the parking lot at the Burger Records store in Fullerton, she says, then instructed her to drive a few blocks away to a darkened neighborhood where she alleges the statutory rape took place. (The age of consent in California is 18.)

A few days later, they again had sex outside of a house show in Pomona, she says.

“I felt confused and violated,” she says, adding that it took time, reflection and therapy to come to terms with what happened to her in 2013. “For years, many years, I didn’t really talk to anyone about it — I felt really ashamed — I felt like it was my fault for engaging with him in the first place.”

She did tell one of her close friends about her sexual encounters with Salina. That friend, who regularly attended Burger Records shows with Redd, corroborated Redd’s story to The Times in a phone interview.

The Times, however, reviewed texts that Salina sent to Redd after she went public with her accusations. In them, Salina apologizes and expresses remorse, writing, “I won’t ever be allowed to play music again and that is fair.” He also wrote that he didn’t think of their relationship as abusive at the time but that he now understands that it was wrong.

Redd went public with her experience last summer, sharing her story on her personal Instagram page and soon after on a page she created called Lured_By_Burger Records, which posted accusations about men in the Burger scene from other female fans and artists. The page quickly accumulated thousands of followers, spurring online outrage, national media coverage and public apologies from many of the accused musicians.

Within a week, the label ceased operations completely, prompting a long-overdue reckoning about the prevalence of sexual abuse in Southern California’s underground/DIY music scene.

One of Burger’s owners, Sean Bohrman, declined to be interviewed for this story. The other, Lee Rickard, did not respond to a request for comment. But Bohrman acknowledged in an interview with Seattle radio station KEXP after Burger’s collapse that the label — which published recordings by nearly 1,200 bands during its 13 years in existence, in addition to hosting concerts and festivals and running a record shop in Fullerton — did not scrutinize the personal behavior of the musicians with whom it worked. And it’s not clear that management was paying attention to the exploitative sexual dynamics of the scene Burger fostered.

As the allegations emerged, the label issued a statement that read in part: “We extend our deepest apologies to anyone who has suffered irreparable harm from any experience that occurred in the Burger and indie/DIY music scene.”

But the problems did not involve Burger musicians alone. The Times interviewed nearly two dozen women who detailed varying degrees of sexual abuse and harassment by musicians in Southern California’s indie rock scene during the past 15 years.

A number of women spoke on the record; others chose to remain anonymous, either because they feared reprisal or had already experienced it after posting their experiences online.

Burger Records was founded in 2007 by Bohrman and Rickard, in part to release music from their own band at the time, Thee Makeout Party. Burger championed catchy, homemade power-pop, surf-rock and bubblegum punk. It opened a record shop in Fullerton in 2009 and Bohrman and Rickard lived there, washing their hair under a spigot in the alley and running the label out of the back. The shop soon became a popular gathering spot for music fans.

As Burger grew, the label hosted a slew of popular shows and festivals around Southern California including Burger-a-Go Go, which paid tribute to all-female-fronted bands, and the two-day Burgerama, which annually drew thousands of fans and featured eclectic lineups of dozens of underground garage bands and indie rock giants including Weezer, Ariel Pink, Fidlar, the Spits, Ty Segall, Roky Erickson and Gang of Four.

Burger’s reputation was burnished internationally in 2014 when fashion design house Yves Saint Laurent featured the label’s music in Paris runway shows.

An all-ages ethos was key to Burger’s identity. Young fans, including those in high school, often mingled with older fans and musicians. Many women interviewed by The Times described rampant drug and alcohol use, even at shows where alcohol was not for sale.

The label did not follow a traditional business model. It didn’t sign bands or negotiate contracts. It just reached out to bands it loved and released mostly limited-edition runs of cassette tapes, leaving it to other labels to court the musicians it championed. It also made money from the concerts and festivals that it convened.

At first, Redd felt at home among Burger fans and bands, and in the spaces they occupied. All-ages shows were held in warehouses, the record shop and a large venue called the Observatory in Santa Ana. The Fullerton store was painted a bright key-lime green and featured a highly cultivated sense of graphic design characterized by a zany, cut ‘n’ paste punk aesthetic in bold primary colors (Bohrman minored in graphic design and cranked out the labels’ merch). The store was filled with buttons (“I’m a Burger Girl,” was one), stickers and posters, many featuring vintage-inspired, punk-themed cartoons. There was a back room where musicians, staff and customers sometimes gathered. It felt, say many of the women who hung out there, like a high-school clubhouse.

“In their marketing, they described themselves as perma-teens,” recalls Redd of Burger Records.

Redd says she began to regularly receive messages from some of the men in bands whose accounts she had followed on social media.

When Love Cop’s Salina first reached out to Redd, she was 17. Salina was working as a mental-health counselor in Portland specializing in addiction. Redd’s family had a troubled history with drugs and addiction, and she came to trust Salina. She says they talked nearly every day.

“He knew the trauma that I carried and … my age and vulnerability. It was definitely a grooming relationship,” Redd says, recalling how lonely, depressed and anxious she was at that time. “We would talk about cats and music. He was one of the very few adults I felt seen by.”

Months later, Salina came to Orange County to play a Burger show and invited Redd. It was her first time driving on the freeway when she crossed county lines from her hometown of Corona to Fullerton where she says their first sexual encounter took place.

Afterward, Redd alleges, Salina messaged her often, asking for nudes and sexual photos. For the most part, she ignored him but sometimes she engaged with him, not fully understanding how inappropriate the situation was.

Redd stopped going to Burger shows when she was 18, but at that point she says she already knew several other underage teenage girls who had been abused by adult men in the scene.

Redd is now 24 years old. She is a longtime vegan and animal rights activist with a soft but firm voice and a thoughtful, straightforward way of speaking. She says that over the years, not a day went by that she didn’t think about the fact that she was not alone in her experience.

That fact became painfully clear during the summer on July 15 when Clementine Creevy, the frontwoman of Cherry Glazerr, which released its debut album through Burger, posted a statement on Instagram accusing Sean Redman, the bass player of another Burger-affiliated band called the Buttertones, of starting a sexual relationship with her when she was 14 and he was 20. That relationship, she wrote, was also emotionally abusive.

Similar stories from dozens of women soon began pouring into Redd’s direct message box, she says. Many of the accusations of rape, sexual assault, abuse, harassment and grooming were about Burger bands, and many were about the local underground music scene in general. Redd found herself spending up to 18 hours a day on the site, fielding comments, posts and allegations. She says the experience was emotionally and physically overwhelming.

As scrutiny of Burger intensified, other women spoke out and bands began to fall. Lydia Night, the singer of The Regrettes, accused SWMRS drummer Joey Armstrong (son of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong) of sexual misconduct and coercion, beginning when she was 16 and Armstrong was 22. SWMRS released music through a variety of labels, including Burger. Armstrong posted an apology on Instagram, adding that he didn’t agree with some of the things Night said about him, but that, “it’s important that she be allowed to say them and that she be supported for speaking out.”

On July 21, Burger co-founder Lee Rickard stepped down from his role as label president and divested all interest in the label.

The label issued a statement that read in part that it was “deeply sorry for the role Burger has played in perpetuating a culture of toxic masculinity.”

Five days after Redd’s first Lured_By_Burger_Records post, Burger folded completely, taking with it the operation’s entire digital footprint. Bohrman capped his announcement of the company’s dissolution to a Pitchfork reporter with a Porky Pig GIF: “That’s all folks.”

Source: LA Times

The Dual Album Design Of Kendrick Lamar’s Major Label Debut Offers A Glimpse Into An Alternative Future

The two albums’ early 90s photographs are highly personal to Lamar, but have a familiarity to the beholder as well

In 2012, good kid, m.A.A.d city brought hip hop’s finest new storyteller to the attention of the masses. Kendrick Lamar’s major label debut tells the story of a kid growing up in Compton, Los Angeles, circumnavigating the pitfalls of gang life, whether by accident or design. The cover art meanwhile provides two stories, perhaps offering us a glimpse into an alternative future. 

It’s a cinematic roman-à-clef that comes at you out of sequence—memory isn’t linear, after all—and the two photographs chosen for two editions of the album conjure up different but connected memories from the immediate past: one is a family scene from a kitchen, and the other, a van sitting in the driveway of Lamar’s old house. While personal to the artist, these pictures from the early ’90s have a familiarity to the beholder too, even if they’re not our own memories.

Exhibit one, for the initial 12-track release, is a picture we’re to assume is of the baby Kendrick surrounded by three older figures who may be relatives. According to Marcus J. Moore’s excellent new biography The Butterfly Effect: How Kendrick Lamar Ignited The Soul Of Black America, that is indeed Lamar in diminutive form, with two teenage uncles and his grandfather sitting to his left. In an interesting visual twist, the eyes of these other figures are blacked out with identity-obscuring oblongs, while the toddler—who you’d expect to be the protected party here—stares into the lens. A few years after this photo was taken, Kendrick, aged just five, would witness a teenage drug dealer gunned down before his eyes, and the year before, he’d seen mass rioting in the streets following the infamous attack on Rodney King by LAPD officers. 

On closer inspection, the photograph is communicating dangers via signifiers, such as a bottle of alcohol sitting on the table—something he’ll addressed on ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)”; meanwhile, the uncle whose lap young Kendrick is sitting on is throwing a surreptitious gang sign with his left hand. Potential downfalls are hiding in plain sight in a picture as symbolically rich as Holbein’s The Ambassadors. “That photo says so much about my life and about how I was raised in Compton and the things I’ve seen,” said Lamar. 

Exhibit two, mounted on the cover for the deluxe version of good kid, m.A.A.d city, is not as easy to read. Lamar’s mother’s van, parked on the street in front of their family home, appears on the cover, shot through a fisheye lens. Intriguingly, while this photo offers less in the way of visual portents, the house itself has become a shrine to fans. Type “Good Kid M.A.A.D City House” into Google Earth and you’ll find the rapper’s childhood home in Compton, and pictures of fans assembled outside like they’re at Graceland. Furthermore, scrawled under the battered Chrysler are the words “a short film by Kendrick Lamar,” adding to the hauntological vibrations.  

“I fought not to have that on the cover!” says designer Don Clark on a Zoom call from his Seattle office. Clark set up the design agency Invisible Creature with his brother Ryan in 2006. “At the beginning I felt a photo of a minivan wasn’t worthy of an album cover, but I’m not always right. Because then his art creates this thing that becomes greater than any of us. That’s the sweet spot I love when working with other artists, when it takes on a life of its own.” 

Clark was initially reluctant to talk about good kid, m.A.A.d city because of his lack of conceptual input into the design. Invisible Creature took 4×6 photos supplied by Lamar and scanned them, adding crease marks to the corners to give the packaging a more distressed appearance, and then superimposed the pictures onto various textures until they found a background that most resembled an old Polaroid. But otherwise, the direction all came from Lamar himself. Within the space of a five-minute conference call, the musician, who was just making a name for himself at the time, had laid out exactly what he wanted in fine detail. His objectives were clear for every inch of good kid, m.A.A.d city, visually and audibly.

There are ten polaroid photos laid out across the deluxe gatefold edition, again all chosen in sequence by Lamar. Clark also disapproved of the graffiti-style font at the base of the sleeve, but he’s willing to concede that that cover has become a fan favorite, and that it has an enigmatic quality, too: mystery, after all, is in short supply these days as cover art becomes utilitarian and avatar-like, a one inch box on a tiny smartphone screen to click on or swipe away. 

The alternative 12-track cover still makes more sense to Clark though, and a couple of serendipitous details add to its ability to communicate: the Parental Advisory sticker is analogous to the photo’s message, and use of the black strips across the eyes of the adults was actually at the insistence of the label. “That was more of a legal thing,” says Clark. “Interscope and the family wanted to do that to obscure their likenesses.” 

Other than obfuscating the identities of the grownups in the room, Interscope was happy to allow their new signing complete artistic freedom to unleash his vision, a gamble that obviously paid off given that Kendrick Lamar is one of the most acclaimed rappers of all time, a state of affairs that really began with good kid, m.A.A.d city

“From the beginning they let him do what he wanted,” says Clark. “He was also [Dr.] Dre’s guy and I think that had a lot to do with it. That’s another amazing thing about him in that he doesn’t care what people will think and his art speaks for itself, and I appreciate that audacity.”

Source: AIGA Eye On Design

One Of A Kind | The Rob Van Dam Story (Full Career Documentary)

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s there were few wrestlers on the planet more popular than Rob Van Dam. His innovative in ring style combined with his unique laid back character touched a nerve with many fans, leading to him becoming a main event player in pretty much every promotion he ever worked with. Even today, 30 years into his storied career, RVD continues to be a big name in the industry; after having his most recent run with Impact. So, how has he managed to maintain such longevity, and what has kept him going this whole time. Well, join us today as we take a deep dive into his entire career journey in, One Of A Kind: The Rob Van Dam Story.

The Notorious B.I.G. Gets Inducted Into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

The Notorious B.I.G. was made a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame tonight during an induction ceremony broadcast on HBO. Biggie Smalls was inducted by Diddy, who signed the rapper to the then-fledgling Bad Boy Records in 1993, and was also honored by JAY-Z, Nas, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, in addition to his family: his mother Voletta Wallace, daughter Tyanna Wallace, and son C.J. Wallace.

“Big just wanted to be biggest, he wanted to be the best, he wanted to have influence and impact people in a positive way, and that clearly has been done all over the world,” Diddy said. “Nobody has come close to the way Biggie sounds, to the way he raps, to the frequency that he hits. Tonight we are inducting the greatest rapper of all time into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Notorious B.I.G. representing Brooklyn, New York, we up in here!”

Nas discussed how Biggie opened doors for New York rappers. “Rap music is all about who’s gonna be the king,” he said. “The West Coast, they was sellin’ millions of records, and before Big, I felt like there was only so far New York rap could go as far as sales. Biggie changed all of that.”

The segment closed with Biggie’s children—daughter Tyanna and son C.J. (who has previously worked as an actor and released his own music for the first time in August). “Our father was one of the founding fathers of hip-hop. He helped revolutionize what was a young art form for the Black community and the world,” C.J. said. “I’m honored to share his name and his dedication to Black music, creativity, self-expression, and Black freedom. I love you, Meemaw. Thanks for teaching us who Christopher Wallace was as a son, friend, poet, artist, and father. We love you Meemaw. We love you dad. Brooklyn, we did it!”

Biggie is joined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2020 by Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Whitney Houston, T. Rex, the Doobie Brothers, and Ahmet Ertegun Award winners Jon Landau and Irving Azoff. The in-memoriam segment included a tribute to the late Eddie Van Halen.

Source: Pitchfork

Chris Rock Explains Why He Hates Civil Rights Movies: ‘They Make Racism Look Very Fixable’

Chris Rock sounded off on films that deal with Civil Rights struggles and said the issue with the majority of these films is that they “make racism look very fixable.” Rock said the stories his mother used to tell him about the Civil Rights Movement era make it clear these films should be “dirtier,” if they want to be accurate.

“I hate all Civil Rights movies,” Rock said. “Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the effort and they should exist. The problem is they only show the back of the bus and the lunch counter. They actually make racism look very fixable. They don’t get into how dysfunctional the relationships were in the ’40s and ’50s, white men would just walk in your house and take your food… it’s a predator-prey relationship. Do you think when it was time to rape, [white men] were raping white women? No. They would go and rape the women they could actually rape without going to jail for.”

“This shit is so much dirtier than any movie ever shows,” Rock continued. “My mother used to get her teeth taken out at the vet because you weren’t allowed to go to the dentist. No movie shows you that.”

Rock did not call out any Civil Rights movies by name, although his argument that such films “make racism look very fixable” were the same criticisms thrown at Best Picture winner “Green Book.” 

Source: IndieWire

Mark Henry on Stepping to WWE Writers to Stop Racist “Silverback Gorilla” Storyline

In this clip, Mark Henry speaks about dealing with racism in all aspects of his life, including when he was working with the WWE. He went on to share a story of addressing writers who wanted to push a “silverback” gorilla storyline about him, which Mark said was racist. He added that he spoke to WWE CEO Vince McMahon about his thoughts on the situation, and Vince told him that he should tell the writers that he wasn’t going to tolerate the storyline. When asked about the most foolish purchases he made during the beginning of his career, and Mark joked about putting a lot of dancers through college. You can hear more above.