On February 26th, 2012, George Zimmerman shot unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin as he walked through a subdivision to his father’s fiancée's home. The shooting occurred in Sanford, Florida, a city that holds a population less than 60,000 and has a crime rate higher than both its state and national average.
After walking to a 7-Eleven convenience store to purchase a sweet tea and some Skittles, Martin headed back to his father's fiancée's townhouse. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator at the time, noticed Martin walking and reported that he saw "a suspicious person" to Sanford 911; he was instructed not to get out of his SUV or approach the person. Refusing to comply with instructions, he subsequently trailed Martin, which led to a verbal exchange and physical altercation between the two. In the end, Zimmerman fired a single shot into Martin's chest, killing the teen.
Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder with the option of manslaughter for the shooting. He argued that he shot Martin in self-defense. In July 2013, a jury found him not guilty for the murder.
It's now been two years since Martin was killed. And it's presumable that the emotional wounds that his family and friends suffered from the occurrence are still as fresh as they were the day it happened. His murder brought forth a blitz of community outrage and support. People across the globe rallied and protested in his honor while sporting similar hooded sweatshirts as the one he wore the night he was killed. President Barack Obama even commented on the incident, stating if he had a son, "he'd look like Trayvon."
Ultimately, justice, in the eyes of many, wasn't served. The person responsible for Martin's murder is free and the media frenzy surrounding his death has ceased. Nevertheless, Martin's memory still lives on, and although his life was ended before he could reach his full potential, the movement that his death brought forth will forever be a part of history.
Worth noting, Martin was killed during Black History Month, a period set aside for African-Americans (and other races) to reminisce and/or learn about the sacrifices that black people have made throughout the years, the hardships they've experienced, the life-threatening circumstances they've overcome, and the contributions they've provided to the world.
Martin's story is another part of that extensive historical catalog, despite the fashion it was added to it. It's imperative that we all learn from his unfortunate and untimely death. And it's equally important that we do what we can to help limit similar occurrences in the future.
Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph is doing big things on and off the court. This afternoon, Randolph donated $20,000 to Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA), which the organization will use to pay utility services for 100 homes on the verge of service disruption.
The hefty contribution is a part of Randolph's newly-formed Zach Randolph Community Assistance Fund initiative. Through the fund, Randolph plans to provide goods, services and other resources to local families and organizations in need.
An event was held at MIFA's headquarters (910 Vance Avenue) Monday, February 24th, to launch the fund and recognize Randolph's donation to MIFA's Plus-1 program. The program helps provide assistance to individuals who have trouble paying their Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW) utility bills.
After brief speeches provided by representatives from MIFA and MLGW, Randolph expressed his happiness to be able to help out those underserved in the community.
"It's always a blessing to give back," Randolph said. "This is home to me. This is my community, so I'm just giving back."
Following the gathering, Randolph and others traveled to the homes of a couple families that will benefit from his financial contribution. This is Randolph's fourth $20,000 donation to MIFA's Plus-1 program, but the first under his new community assistance fund.
Boundary-breaking group The Sidewayz has released the latest installment of their monthly EP series. On Planet: Kill Time, the duo takes a different approach than their January EP, Life Or Death, requiring fans to explore an imaginary world where a lonely, romantically distraught vampire resides. The EP examines what happens when he travels to planet earth and comes into contact with a mortal woman named Chelsea. His objective is to influence her to embrace the supernatural lifestyle and become his new love.
"It's a bit more conceptual, grounded around the story of a vampire and his time with one girl," said Havi, one-half of The Sidewayz. "The EPs really allow us to get pretty vivid for a few songs without entirely adapting to one set style of music. It's pretty refreshing."
Stream and download Planet: Kill Time below. And check out an interview I did with The Sidewayz here.
Up-and-coming emcee Marco Pavé is a passionate lyrical prodigy that breathes fresh air into the local hip-hop scene.
The North Memphis representative is a force to be reckoned with and he showcases why on his new song "The Devil Is A Lie." On the track, Pavé unleashes insightful bars about his will to refrain from falling into worldly snares while striving for prosperity. He also gives a brief history lesson on the track.
Stream and download "The Devil Is A Lie" below.
Don Trip's Randy Savage is filled with clever wordplay, bass-ridden production, and memorable excerpts of one of pro wrestling's most sensational stars.
The 10-track mixtape's opening track, "Randy Savage Entrance," finds Trip showcasing the lyrical prowess that garnered him a spot among XXL's Freshman Class of 2012. Following a sample of Macho Man's legendary entrance, Trip puts listeners up-to-date on what brought forth the delay of him releasing solo efforts over a Lex Luger-reminiscent track produced by Yung Ladd.
The forceful introduction is followed by the Juicy J-assisted "Still in the Trap," a song that'll be perfect for both the clubs and subs; and the high energy, upbeat "Mojo Jojo," which pays tribute to the supervillain from Cartoon Network's famed animated series "The Powerpuff Girls." I personally think the chorus could've been more creative, but Trip doesn't disappoint lyrically on the track.
On "Road Warriors," Trip connects with his comrade Starlito to passionately spew lines about their challenging upbringings. Common collaborators, the duo released their joint effort Step Brothers 2 in late 2013.
Another solid track on the mixtape is "New Blinds," which features fellow Memphis spitter Young Dolph and highlights the paranoia one experiences from hustling. On "Cream of the Crop,” Trip vents about the trials and tribulations he experienced from signing with Interscope; the Macho Man excerpt at the beginning of the song is priceless.
The remaining tracks on the installment, "Neil Armstong," "Proof" and "Macho Madness," are all solid songs as well.
In my opinion and ears, Trip shines bright, primarily from a lyrical perspective, on Randy Savage. The East Memphis native's lyrics are fairly flawless, the production is dope, and the concept is creative. Some of the choruses could've been a little stronger and Trip's adlibs can get annoying at times, but other than that he produced an ill mixtape.
Aside from the music, I think it’s impressive how Trip managed to keep the project centered on Savage's wrestling persona. Every song starts with Macho Man’s signature catch phrase, "Oooh yeah!" or an excerpt of an interview he did. For those like me who were big wrestling fans during the 90s, you can't forget the eclectic appearance and personality of Macho Man. Noting that, I applaud Trip's decision to help preserve Savage's legacy.
On the morning of May 20th, 2011, Savage, real name Randy Mario Poffo, died of cardiac arrhythmia. While driving with his wife in Seminole, Florida, he experienced a sudden heart attack and became unresponsive. He subsequently lost control of his Jeep Wrangler and crashed into a tree. He was 58 years old.
Stream and download Randy Savage below.
Yo Gotti takes it back to where it all began in his visual to "Cold Blood," a somber track off his album I Am. The song features lyricist J. Cole and singer Canei Finch.
I personally think it's one of the most meaningful songs off the album. Both Gotti and J. Cole deliver stories about underprivileged youth who fall victim to crime-filled lifestyles over a soulful track that samples The 24-Carat Black's "Poverty's Paradise.”
Check out the visual to "Cold Blood" below. And peep a review I did on Gotti's I Am here.
Musicians are banding together once again to raise funds for Le Bonheur Children's Hospital. Since the 1950s, the establishment has provided care to young patients no matter their financial status.
Justin Jaggers, owner of Angry Nerd Productions, launched Musicians for Le Bonheur, a project that calls on local artists from various genres to contribute songs for compilation albums, in 2010. All of the proceeds benefit the hospital.
Last year's project was a double-disc installment that boasted 40 songs and managed to raise more than $6,000. Artists featured on the album included Chinese Connection Dub Embassy, FreeWorld, Deering and Down, and Rice Drewry. Some of the artists featured on the album performed at several local venues, such as Hard Rock Café, Minglewood Hall, and Newby’s.
Back for another year, Jaggers is looking for more artists to submit music for the 2014 compilation. He said the only requirements for artists is that their songs are original, family-friendly, and studio-quality.
"We’re going to try to make bigger events this year," Jaggers said. "Hopefully, word of mouth spreads and we can raise more money for Le Bonheur. And of course, [we want to] raise more awareness for Memphis music."
Artists interested in submitting songs can email email@example.com or visit musiciansforlebonheur.com for more information. The deadline is July 1st. Artists will also have the opportunity to perform for children at Le Bonheur.
The compilation is scheduled to be released in September. Among the artists already committed to the project include country singer Frankie Hollie, songwriter Rice Drewry, and bands like Chiral Theory, Crashing Broadway, J is for James, and This Glorious Cause.
More than one million people across the country aged 13 and older were living with HIV at the end of 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Furthermore, it's estimated that approximately 50,000 new infections of HIV are recorded each year.
African-Americans—primarily gay and bisexual men—are among the pool of people significantly impacted by the disease; black men and women are estimated to have an HIV incidence rate nearly eight times as high as the rate among whites, according to the CDC.
In 1999, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was established to educated people on the disease and how it affects the black race, and to also encourage people to get tested and/or treated. It's recognized each year on February 7th.
For this year's National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, The MED Foundation is presenting “The Getting to Zero Campaign" to help raise money for hospital-based strategies that combat the prevalence of the disease in Memphis. The event will take place Friday, February 7th in the FedEXForum's Fly Lounge and feature WMC-TV’s Konji Anthony and Memphis Grizzlies player Quincy Pondexter. It will last from 5:30-7:30pm.
According to the CDC, nationally, blacks account for an estimated 44 percent of the individuals 13 and older diagnosed with HIV. The statistics locally are also alarming. There were 7,922 people living with HIV in the Memphis Metropolitan Area at the end of 2012; 82 percent of those individuals were black.
The Ryan White Program, a local entity that provides financial support to individuals with HIV/AIDS who are uninsured or underinsured, is one of the campaign's sponsors. Dorcas Young, the program's administrator, said raising awareness of HIV/AIDS within Memphis is significant in seeing the amount of people affected by it lowered.
"As we’re more aware of the disease and more educated about the disease, we break down barriers and end the stigma of HIV," Young said. "When people feel stigmatized and feel like people are in fear of them, they won’t go and get the help that they need. There are a lot of people out there who are HIV positive but won’t get care."
To read more about HIV/AIDS in Memphis, check out my story in next week's issue of The Memphis Flyer.
New Orleans-born/Memphis-bred emcee PreauXX illuminates lyrically on his project Die Winning.
Over the course of 12 tracks, PreauXX gives listeners exclusive access into his eccentric and optimistic lifestyle. On songs like "Vibe," "Metropolis" and "Daze Remix" (which also features Memphis artist Skewby), he showcases his ability to deliver clever wordplay and catchy choruses over crisp production.
On the track "SOB," he sheds light on police brutality while "Whatevers" allows him to express the hardship of balancing a rap career with personal/family relationships. He also pays tribute to the late Pimp C on the chorus of his trunk-rattling song "E.W.B.," which features Russ P and Jo'zzy.
Those are just a few joints on the project that are worth checking out, but Die Winning is a solid effort overall. Stream and download the mixtape below. Also, check out the visual to "VIBE" off the project.