Can We Honor Whitney Houston by Taking a Stand to End Addictions?

With the sudden and tragic passing of Whitney Houston, there’s no doubt there will be scores of tributes. There was a tribute last night at music executive, Clive Davis‘ famous Pre-Grammy Party. There will be one tonight at the Grammys.. Rumors are singers Jennifer Hudson and Chaka Khan will sing in her honor…

There are already tributes on various radio stations as we can tune in and hear Whitney Houston Music Hours… Many deejays are digging into their grates working on Whitney Houston mixes…

There’s no denying the artistic talents Whitney possessed.. If we had to take a poll and ask who has/had the best voice in music, Ms Houston would no doubt be in the top 10.. Songs like ‘I Will Love You‘ and  ‘Greatest Love of All‘ best personify her greatness.  She was a giant among giants who will surely be missed.

With that being said, as great as her singing has been. As inspiring and as jaw dropping as her songs have been.. As engaging as she’s been on screen and in concert we will have to do a lot more than a mixtape or Grammy tribute to honor Whitney Houston. We will have to do lot more than induct her into the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame or grant her a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.. . Our honoring Whitney will be us taking some decisive action and making a long-term commitment to end the scourge and dirty little secret that has long plagued this entertainment/ music industry-Drugs and substance abuse. It’s hard pill to swallow. It’s an ugly truth.. But we all have to step up to the plate.

Atthe time of this writing, I along with most of us have no idea as to what ended Whitney’s life so suddenly at age 48.

Sadly as people came out of their initial shock, speculation of drug abuse was on many people’s minds and tongues’.  CNN’s Don Lemon said during his breaking news broadcast yesterday that we have to talk about Whitney’s addictions because it was such a big part of her…Correction Don.. Addictions have been a big part of American society. I’m gonna come back to that in a minute..

During various broadcasts about Whitney’s passing, we heard discussions about her losing her voice and making a comeback. A comeback from what? Her demons.. Eventually all conversations about Whitney came back to that infamous interview with 20/20’s Dianne Sawyer where she talked about drugs and how crack is wack

Whitney & Bobby

Today everyone wants to honor Whitney, but yesterday she was the butt of jokes and comedic routines. While everyone pointed fingers at Whitney and acted all righteous about her abuse, many of us were ADDICTED to watching the train wreck that her life had become. We were addicted to the reality show with her and former husband Bobby Brown. We were addicted to the gossip around her. is she still dating Bobby? is she dating singer Ray J? Was she drunk or high at the last party?  How many times did we wake up and turn on some urban radio station to hear  a host getting their clown on about Whitney Houston..Now many of those hosts wanna lead the way to doing tributes for someone they routinely

She became the poster child for drug abuse and addiction in an industry that is chock full of people dead and alive who have all succumbed at one time or another to some sort of addiction. Over my 25+ years in this music industry I’ve seen a whole lot of ugly truths we like to keep hidden behind the glitz and glam. Anyone in the music/ entertainment industry can tell you stories of  executives & shot callers who routinely do lines of coke, pop pills, do speed, take ecstasy or drink themselves under the table while ‘moguling‘. Those abusive habits are far too often shared with the talent/ artists.. In a business where egos are massive and insecurities shallow, taking a ‘lil something something‘ to get amped up or ‘get you open’  is all too commonplace. People don’t wanna talk about it, but its true.

Even the King of Pop had addiction problems

If we look at the pantheon of great Black artists hooked on drugs of one type or another the list is long.. Billy Holiday, John ColtraneJimmy Hendrix, Dorothy Dandridge, Dinah Washington, Richard Pryor, Ole Dirty Bastard, Sly Stone, David Ruffin, George Clinton, Frankie Lymon, DJ Screw, James Brown even the King of Pop Michael Jackson and that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Keep in mind these are just Black artists. If I start adding names outside our community like Amy Whinehouse, Kurt Cobain, River Phoenix , Elvis Presley and Jim Morrison to name a few, the list gets substantially longer…

Why are we not doing anything about addictions  in our community?

During the pioneering days of Hip Hop which is the generation many of us are a part of, many of those early pioneers who paved the way had serious bouts with an array of drugs.. cocaine, angel dust, freebase, sherm, alchohol etc..If you really look at the history you see by the mid 80s, many pioneering figures disappeared for time. Many had to deal with those demons. Some returned to the fold, many didn’t.  Many are still struggling 30 years later.

By the time the crack era hit in the early 80s all the way up to the 90s.. if folks weren’t hooked on taking it, they were hooked on selling it…A lot of that is outlined in the VH1 Documentary Planet Rock the Story of Hip Hop and the Crack Generation .

Our collective pride and addiction to looking good and being cool in the face of danger has not allowed us to even talk about this in any sort of honest way.. It’s not a pretty picture. But we lost another star way before her time and she was apart of that legacy-whether it was directly related to her cause of death or not..

Addictions are prevalent… They’re all around us and underscore the hypocrisy of America.. We got folks clowning Whitney for substance abuse problems while they sip syrup, shoot up, snort cocaine, do meth or literally sell their souls and their mamma’s soul for 15 minutes of fame..

Daughter Bobbi Kristina Lost Her Mother-Are we thinking about that?

So many of us our addicted to gossip, celebrity culture, living the fast life or a version of it. We’re addicted to money, cheating on spouses, material possessions. Many of us are addicted to high drama and raucous discourse. We’re addicted to shouting down one another, being vicious vs compassionate.  We’re addicted to pushing each others buttons. We’re addicted to wanting to know more about the drama behind Whitney’s death more than we are the state of her daughter Bobbi Kristina who just lost her mother. How many of us took a moment to say a prayer or reflect on what she might be going through?

Hell many of us are addicted to our iphones, ipads  and other gadgets that we feel we must have at all costs even as they make us go into debt to own them or give us brain tumors to use them..

Someone said Whitney represented a generation of people. Yep she sure did .. She repped the good, the bad and the very ugly and painful.. She was not alone in her addictions.. We all share them. Some minor some major.. In honoring Ms Houston will we talk about that or remain addicted to painting rosy pictures and acting like we aren’t touched by the scourge of addictions that’s systemic in our society? And if you don’t think our addictions are systemic, I suggest we take a long hard look at the so called war on drugs and the current carnage taking place South of the border in Mexico and Columbia.. Who do you think is the economic incentive for all the drugs being shipped into this country from those places? It’s us… Who do you think was the one behind funding secret wars ala Iran-Contra through the sale of cocaine?  Us again..

Heck if we really wanna get deep, lets talk about what our troops are dealing with on the battlefield and how they cope after 3 or 4 tours  and what many wind up doing to deal with life on their return.. No we don’t wanna talk about those addictions.. We wanna act like there’s no such thing..

In 2012 if the best we can do is a mixtape and few tribute songs then we missed the mark

If we wanna really honor Whitney, how about helping put an end to the demons that plagued her and so many others? If we wanna honor Whitney, how about us having a honest, impactful and earnest discussion about addictions and mental health so we can spare future generations of this pain.

Something to ponder..RIP Whitney Houston

Davey D

Rest in Peace Heavy D-A True Renaissance Man for Hip Hop

RIP heavy D

Needless to say this has been a tough week.. I don’t care what anyone says or how hard they act death takes a toll especially when its unexpected..That’s been the case all this week as we lost 3 iconic figures.. and while I understand that commentator Andy Rooney, boxing great Joe Frazier and golden era rap star Heavy D weren’t family members or folks in our immediate circles, they were important backdrops to our world.. For many they help define it. Their deaths can’t easily be shook, nor should they be.

Heavy D was a big part of Hip Hop. He helped shape it… Prior to Heavy D overweight men both in Hip Hop and the world in general for the most part were depicted as cartoonish..I think back to the days of the Fat Boys and recall when they first came out in the mid 80s it was all about them being comedic.

Heavy D flipped the script redefined what being big meant.. He made the big man sexy.. He made the big man fashionable.. He made the big man someone who can get on stage and dance with the best of them…Say what you will, but Heavy laid the ground work for artists like Biggie and Big Pun to bless the mic while being large and in charge while having much flava.

Heavy D opened doors…First he put his hometown Money Earnin’ Mt Vernon, which is right outside the Bronx, on the map. He helped bring his cousin producer Pete Rock to national prominence..

He did a song w/ which I think was the only in studio collabo w/ the late 2Pac and Notorious BIG called Let’s get It On..

Also as was pointed out by the tribute to Heavy D penned by AllHipHop, Heavy was the first to feature Biggie in a 1993 classic cut called A Bunch of Niggas.

Heavy was one of the first rappers to ever spit verses with the King of Pop Michael Jackson on his song Jam

Heavy opened doors on the acting tip being one of the first rappers outside of Fresh Prince (Will Smith) to have recurring role on a TV show..Him and Tone Loc were featured in the series Roc back in the early 90s..Later Heavy would have a recurring role in the TV series headed up by Queen Latifah called ‘Living Single‘. of course all of Heavy D’s acting opportunities came in the wake of him doing the theme song for the hit variety show In Living Color

Some note that Heavy D and his crew helped bring serious shine to a new fledging Coca Cola clothing line when they wore it in their debut video Mr Big Stuff. As was noted in this article HERE

The Murjani family who were the licensee of Coca-Cola apparel at this time, should really thank Heavy D & The Boyz for this free commercial and Product Placement spot. During the Golden era of hip-Hop this song and video helped mold the image of streetwear fashion of the time as well as helped propel Coca-Coal apparel to a $250 million dollar company.

What a lot of people didn’t know was the head men’s wear designer for the apparel licensee was a young man by the name of Tommy Hilfiger. After the brand dissolved due to poor management, brand quality control and the families rumored exuberant lifestyle. Tommy went to start his own brand named after his self a year later in 1988. Now the rest is history.

In his sudden passing,which reports are saying was due to respiratory failure, I think folks will rediscover his catalogue and have new appreciation for his body of work and him as a performer. We listed some of our favorite cuts and videos below..

In closing the few times I met Heavy D he was a cool dude..Very humble, smart and peaceful. I recall back in 89 how many of us in the Bay Area got upset with him because of a huge riot that broke out at a concert at the Oakland Coliseum…

Heavy D was opening for MC Hammer and he refused to perform until the they dimmed the lights. After some back and forth with him again stressing his refusal to perform, about 30 cats rushed the stage and started what would wound up being one of the worse concert fights in Bay Area history..It was total mayhem that lasted more than hour. When all was said and done, folks were mad at Heavy D and blamed hi for the drama..

It was an incident he was deeply sorry for. He later noted that he wanted to give the fans a good show and thought the sound people were trying to short change the audience. He was attempting to side with the people and had no idea that the lights were kept on to weed out trouble makers..

Seeing him evolve over the years as an actor and performer has been a gift for all of us in Hip Hop..

May Heavy D Rest in Power.

Overweight Lover’s in the House

Mr Big Stuff

U Cant See What I can See

Blue Funk

Don’t Curse

Black Coffee

Somebody Who Loves Me (Arsenio Hall show)

Let’s Get It On w/ 2Pac, Notorious BIG & Grand Puba

On Point w/ Big Pun and 8Ball G

Jam w/ Michael Jackson

Jam Session w/ Notorious BIG

Living Color Theme Song

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Skin-Lightening Cream is Making a Comeback-Do We Really Hate Our Dark Skin?

I’m not sure if this is a resurgence from a bygone era or something thats always been around in some shape or form. But it looks like skin-lightening cream is making a comeback. Its obviously big business in India if Vaseline is making a special product for folks in that country. But even here at home we heard stories about prominent figures like Beyonce lightening their skin. We seen magazines frequently do this.. Of course we all know about Sammy Sosa and before him Michael Jackson.

Is being Black really that bad? Along with the skin-lightening do we bring with it an attitude that sees someone dark as inferior? Does this mean folks are gonna stop going out and getting tans? Next thing you know folks are gonna start straightening their hair and speaking with funny aristocratic accents to try and distance themselves from their roots… What a strange world we live in..

-Davey D-

Vaseline launches skin-whitening Facebook app for India

NEW DELHI (AFP) – Skincare group Vaseline has introduced a skin-lightening application for Facebook in India, enabling users to make their faces whiter in their profile pictures.

The download is designed to promote Vaseline’s range of skin-lightening creams for men, a huge and fast-growing market driven by fashion and a cultural preference for fairer skin.

The widget promises to “Transform Your Face On Facebook With Vaseline Men” in a campaign fronted by Bollywood actor Shahid Kapur, who is depicted with his face divided into dark and fair halves.

“We started campaign advertising (for the application) from the second week of June and the response has been pretty phenomenal,” Pankaj Parihar from global advertising firm Omnicom, which designed the campaign, told AFP.

Indian cosmetics giant Emami launched the first skin-whitening cream for men in 2005, called “Fair and Handsome” and advertised by Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan. It came 27 years after the first cream for women.

Baseball star Sammy Sosa Reminded us a couple of years ago there are many who can't stand to be dark-skinned

Since then a half dozen foreign brands have piled into the male market, including Garnier, L’Oreal and Nivea, which promote the seemingly magical lightening qualities of their products in ubiquitous advertising.

In 2009, a poll of nearly 12,000 people by online dating site, revealed that skin tone was considered the most important criteria when choosing a partner in three northern Indian states.

“More and more, there’s an anxiety in the mind of men about having fair skin,” sociology professor T. K. Oommen at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi told AFP.

“Indians believe that if you have fair skin you belong to the higher caste, the Brahmins,” he added, explaining that a succession of light-skinned colonisers in India reinforced the association of fairness with power.

“The Aryans, who came from central Asia, in addition to the Portuguese, the French and the British colonisers ruled over the country and probably contributed to this negative perception of dark-skin.”

original article:

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