Archive for the ‘Hollywood’ Category
James Baskett (February 16, 1904 – July 9, 1948) was an American actor known for his portrayal of Uncle Remus, singing the song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” in the 1946 Disney feature film Song of the South, for which he was given an Honorary Academy Award, making him the first male performer of African descent to receive an Oscar.
Uncle Remus as portrayed by James Baskett in Song of the South
After abandoning his studies of pharmacology for financial reasons, Baskett supported himself as an actor, moving from his home town of Indianapolis, Indiana to New York City, New York and joining the company of Bill Robinson, better known as Mr. Bojangles. As Jimmie Baskette, he appeared on Broadway with Louis Armstrong in the all-black musical revue Hot Chocolates in 1929, and was announced for Hummin’ Sam in 1933, although it failed to open. Baskett also acted in several all-black films made in the New York area, including Harlem is Heaven (1932) starring Bill Robinson. He went to Los Angeles, California and had a supporting role in Straight to Heaven (1939), starring Nina Mae McKinney, and bit parts in the films Revenge of the Zombies (1943) and The Heavenly Body (1944). He was invited by Freeman Gosden to join the cast of the Amos ‘n’ Andy radio show as lawyer Gabby Gibson, whom he portrayed from 1944 to 1948.
In 1945, he auditioned for a bit part voicing one of the animals in the new Disney feature film Song of the South (1946), based on the Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris. Walt Disney was impressed with Baskett’s talent and hired him on the spot for the lead role of Uncle Remus. Baskett was also given the voice role of Brer Fox, one of the film’s animated antagonists, and even filled in as the main animated protagonist, Brer Rabbit, in one sequence.
Baskett was unable to attend the film’s premiere in Atlanta, Georgia because he would not have been allowed to participate in any of the festivities in what was then a city racially segregated by law. On March 20, 1948, Baskett received an Honorary Academy Award for his performance as Uncle Remus. He was the first black man to win an Academy Award, albeit a non-competitive one.
On July 9, 1948, Baskett died of heart disease at the age of 44 and is survived by his wife, Margaret. He is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.
Samuel Leroy Jackson (born December 21, 1948) is an American film and television actor and film producer. After becoming involved with the Civil Rights Movement, he moved on to acting in theater at Morehouse College, and then films. He had several small roles such as in the film Goodfellas before meeting his mentor, Morgan Freeman, and the director Spike Lee. After gaining critical acclaim for his role in Jungle Fever in 1991, he appeared in films such as Patriot Games, Amos & Andrew, True Romance and Jurassic Park. In 1994, he was cast as Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction, and his performance received several award nominations and critical acclaim.
Jackson has since appeared in over 100 films including Die Hard with a Vengeance, The 51st State, Jackie Brown, Unbreakable, The Incredibles, Black Snake Moan, Shaft, Snakes on a Plane, as well as the Star Wars prequel trilogy and small roles in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 2 and Inglourious Basterds.
He played Nick Fury in Iron Man and Iron Man 2, the first two of a nine-film commitment as the character for the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise. Jackson’s many roles have made him one of the highest grossing actors at the box office. Jackson has won multiple awards throughout his career and has been portrayed in various forms of media including films, television series, and songs. In 1980, Jackson married LaTanya Richardson, with whom he has one daughter, Zoe.
In October 2011, Jackson surpassed Frank Welker as the highest grossing film actor of all-time.
Early lifeJackson was born in Washington, D.C. He grew up as an only child in Chattanooga, Tennessee with his mother, Elizabeth Jackson (née Montgomery), who was a factory worker and later a supplies buyer for a mental institution, and his maternal grandparents and extended family. His father lived away from the family, in Kansas City, Missouri, and later died from alcoholism; Jackson had only met his father twice during his life. Jackson attended several segregated schools and graduated from Riverside High School in Chattanooga. Between the third and twelfth grades, he played the French horn and trumpet in the school orchestra. Initially intent on pursuing a degree in marine biology, he attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. After joining a local acting group to earn extra points in a class, Jackson found an interest in acting and switched his major. Before graduating in 1972, he co-founded the “Just Us Theatre”.
Civil Rights Movement involvementAfter the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Jackson attended the funeral in Atlanta as one of the ushers. Jackson then flew to Memphis to join an equal rights protest march. In a Parade interview Jackson revealed: “I was angry about the assassination, but I wasn’t shocked by it. I knew that change was going to take something different — not sit-ins, not peaceful coexistence.” In 1969, Jackson and several other students held members of the Morehouse College board of trustees (including a nearby Martin Luther King, Sr.) hostage on the campus, demanding reform in the school’s curriculum and governance. The college eventually agreed to change its policy, but Jackson was charged with and eventually convicted of unlawful confinement, a second-degree felony. Jackson was then suspended for two years for his criminal record and his actions (although he would later return to the college to earn his Bachelor of Arts in Drama in 1972).
“I would like to think because of the things I did, my daughter can do the things that she does. She barely has a recognition that she’s black.”
—Jackson reflecting on his actions during the Civil Rights Movement.While he was suspended, Jackson was employed as a social worker in Los Angeles. Jackson decided to return to Atlanta, where he met with Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, and others active in the Black Power movement. Jackson revealed in the same Parade interview that he began to feel empowered with his involvement in the movement, especially when the group began buying guns. However, before Jackson could become involved with any significant armed confrontation, his mother sent him to Los Angeles after the FBI told her that he would die within a year if he remained with the Black Power movement.
Acting career1970s–1980s”Casting black actors is still strange for Hollywood. Denzel gets the offer first. Then it’s Danny Glover, Forest Whitaker and Wesley Snipes. Right now, I’m the next one on the list.”
—Jackson reacting to his new fame in 1993.Jackson initially majored in marine biology at Morehouse College before switching to architecture. He later settled on drama after taking a public speaking class and appearing in a version of The Threepenny Opera. Jackson began acting in multiple plays, including Home and A Soldier’s Play. He appeared in several television films, and made his feature film debut in the blaxploitation independent film Together for Days (1972). After these initial roles, Jackson proceeded to move from Atlanta to New York City in 1976 and spent the next decade appearing in stage plays such as The Piano Lesson and Two Trains Running, which both premiered at the Yale Repertory Theater. At this point in his early career, Jackson developed alcoholism and cocaine addictions, resulting in him being unable to proceed with the two plays as they continued to Broadway (actors Charles S. Dutton and Anthony Chisholm took his place). Throughout his early film career, mainly in minimal roles in films such as Coming to America and various television films, Jackson was mentored by Morgan Freeman. After a 1981 performance in the play A Soldier’s Play, Jackson was introduced to director Spike Lee who would later include him in small roles for the films School Daze (1988) and Do the Right Thing (1989). He also played a minor role in the 1990 Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas as real-life Mafia associate Stacks Edwards and also worked as a stand-in on The Cosby Show for Bill Cosby for three years.
1990sWhile completing these films, Jackson’s drug addiction had worsened. After previously overdosing on heroin several times, Jackson gave up the drug in favor of cocaine. After seeing the effects of his addiction, his family entered him into a New York rehab clinic. When he successfully completed rehab, Jackson appeared in Jungle Fever, as a crack cocaine addict, a role which Jackson called cathartic as he was recovering from his addiction. Jackson commented on the transition, “It was a funny kind of thing. By the time I was out of rehab, about a week or so later I was on set and we were ready to start shooting.” The film was so acclaimed that the 1991 Cannes Film Festival created a special “Supporting Actor” award just for him. After this role, Jackson became involved with multiple films, including the comedy Strictly Business, dramas Juice and Patriot Games, and then moved on to two other comedies: National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1 (his first starring role) and Amos & Andrew. Jackson then worked with director Steven Spielberg, appearing in Jurassic Park.
After a turn as the criminal Big Don in the 1993 Tarantino-penned True Romance directed by Tony Scott, Tarantino contacted Jackson for the role of Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction. Jackson was surprised to learn that the part had been specifically written for him, “To know that somebody had written something like Jules for me. I was overwhelmed, thankful, arrogant — this whole combination of things that you could be, knowing that somebody’s going to give you an opportunity like that.” Although Pulp Fiction was Jackson’s thirtieth film, the role made him internationally recognized and he received praise from critics. In a review by Entertainment Weekly, his role was commended: “As superb as Travolta, Willis, and Keitel are, the actor who reigns over Pulp Fiction is Samuel L. Jackson. He just about lights fires with his gremlin eyes and he transforms his speeches into hypnotic bebop soliloquies.” For the Academy Awards, Miramax Films pushed for the supporting actor nomination for Jackson (although he had about the same screen time as Travolta, who was nominated for best actor). For his performance, Jackson received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In addition, Jackson received a Golden Globe nomination and a BAFTA Best Supporting Actor award win.
After Pulp Fiction, Jackson received multiple scripts to play his next role: “I could easily have made a career out of playing Jules over the years. Everybody’s always sending me the script they think is the new Pulp Fiction.” With a succession of poor-performing films such as Kiss of Death, The Great White Hype, and Losing Isaiah, Jackson began to receive poor reviews from critics who had praised his performance in Pulp Fiction. This ended with his involvement in the two successful box office films A Time To Kill, where he depicted a father who is put on trial for killing two men who raped his daughter, and Die Hard with a Vengeance, starring alongside Bruce Willis in the third installment of the Die Hard series. For A Time to Kill, Jackson earned a NAACP Image for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture and a Golden Globe nomination for a Best Supporting Actor.
Quickly becoming a box office star, Jackson continued with three starring roles in 1997. In 187 he played a dedicated teacher striving to leave an impact on his students. He received an Independent Spirit award for Best First Feature alongside first-time writer/director Kasi Lemmons in the drama Eve’s Bayou, for which he also served as executive producer. He joined up again with director Quentin Tarantino and received the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the Berlin Film Festival and a fourth Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of arms merchant Ordell Robbie in Jackie Brown. In 1998, he worked with other established actors such as Sharon Stone and Dustin Hoffman in Sphere and Kevin Spacey in The Negotiator, playing a hostage negotiator who resorts to taking hostages himself when he is falsely accused of murder and embezzlement. In 1999, Jackson starred in the horror film Deep Blue Sea, and as Jedi Master Mace Windu in George Lucas’ Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. In an interview, Jackson claimed that he did not have a chance to read the script for the film and did not learn he was playing the character Mace Windu until he was fitted for his costume (he later said that he was eager to accept any role, just for the chance to be a part of the Star Wars saga).
Jackson’s handprints in front of The Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park.
Jackson at the 2005 Cannes Film FestivalOn June 13, 2000, Jackson was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame which can be found at 7018 Hollywood Blvd. He began the next decade in his film career as a Marine colonel put on trial in Rules of Engagement, co-starred with Bruce Willis for a third time in the supernatural thriller Unbreakable, and starred in the 2000 remake of the 1971 film Shaft. Jackson’s sole film in 2001 was The Caveman’s Valentine, where he played a homeless musician in a murder thriller. The film was directed by Kasi Lemmons, who previously worked with Jackson in Eve’s Bayou. In 2002, he played a recovering alcoholic attempting to keep custody of his kids while fighting a battle of wits with Ben Affleck’s character in Changing Lanes. He returned for Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, seeing his minor supporting role develop into a major character. Mace Windu’s purple lightsaber in the film was the result of Jackson’s suggestion; he wanted to be sure that his character would stand out in a crowded battle scene. Jackson then acted as a NSA agent alongside Vin Diesel in xXx and a kilt-wearing drug dealer in The 51st State. In 2003, Jackson again worked with John Travolta in Basic and then as a police sergeant alongside Colin Farrell in the television show remake S.W.A.T. A song within the soundtrack was named after him, entitled Sammy L. Jackson by Hot Action Cop. Jackson also appeared in HBO’s documentary Unchained Memories, as a narrator along many other stars like Angela Bassett and Whoopi Goldberg. He uses terminology such as paddy rollers (which can be seen on the slave patrol page) when reading his narration.
According to reviews gathered by Rotten Tomatoes, in 2004 Jackson starred in both his lowest and highest ranked films in his career. In the thriller Twisted, Jackson played a mentor to Ashley Judd. The film garnered a 2% approval rating on the website, with reviewers calling his performance “lackluster” and “wasted”. He then lent his voice to the computer-animated film The Incredibles as the superhero Frozone. The film received a 97% approval rating, and Jackson’s performance earned him an Annie Award nomination for Best Voice Acting. He then went on to do a cameo in another Quentin Tarantino film, Kill Bill, Vol. 2.
In 2005, he began with the sports drama, Coach Carter, where he played a coach (based on the actual coach Ken Carter) dedicated to teaching his players that education is more important than basketball. Although the film received mixed reviews, Jackson’s performance was praised despite the film’s storyline. Bob Townsend of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution commended Jackson’s performance, “He takes what could have been a cardboard cliche role and puts flesh on it with his flamboyant intelligence.” Jackson also returned for two sequels: XXX: State of the Union, this time commanding Ice Cube, and the final Star Wars prequel film, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. His last film for 2005 was The Man alongside comedian Eugene Levy. On November 4, 2005, he was presented with the Hawaii International Film Festival Achievement in Acting Award.
On January 30, 2006, Jackson was honored with a hand and footprint ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theater; he is the seventh African American and 191st actor to be recognized in this manner. He next starred opposite actress Julianne Moore in the box office bomb Freedomland, where he depicted a police detective attempting to help a mother find her abducted child while quelling a citywide race riot. Jackson’s second film of the year, Snakes on a Plane, gained cult film status months before it was released based on its title and cast. Jackson’s decision to star in the film was solely based on the title. To build anticipation for the film, he also cameoed in the 2006 music video “Snakes on a Plane (Bring It)” by Cobra Starship. On December 2, 2006, Jackson won the German Bambi Award for International Film, based on his many film contributions. In December 2006, Jackson starred in Home of the Brave, as a doctor returning home from the Iraq War.
Jackson in July 2006On January 30, 2007, Jackson was featured as narrator in Bob Saget’s direct-to-DVD Farce of the Penguins. The film was a spoof of the box office success March of the Penguins (which was narrated by Morgan Freeman). Also in 2007, he portrayed a blues player who imprisons a young woman (Christina Ricci) addicted to sex in Black Snake Moan, and the horror film 1408, an adaptation of the Stephen King short story. In 2008, Jackson reprised his role of Mace Windu in the CGI film, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, followed by Lakeview Terrace where he played a racist cop who terrorizes an interracial couple. In November of the same year, he starred along with Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes (who both died prior to the film’s release) in Soul Men. In 2008, he portrayed the villain in The Spirit, which was poorly received by critics and the box office. In 2009, he again worked with Quentin Tarantino when he narrated several scenes in the World War II film, Inglourious Basterds. In 2010, he starred in the drama Mother and Child and portrayed an interrogator who attempts to locate several nuclear weapons in the direct-to-video film Unthinkable. Alongside Dwayne Johnson, Jackson again portrayed a police officer in the opening scenes of the comedy The Other Guys. He also co-starred with Tommy Lee Jones for a film adaptation of The Sunset Limited.
Throughout Jackson’s career, he has appeared in many films alongside mainstream rappers. These include Tupac Shakur (Juice), Queen Latifah (Juice/Sphere), Method Man (One Eight Seven), LL Cool J (Deep Blue Sea/S.W.A.T.), Busta Rhymes (Shaft), Eve (xXx), Ice Cube (xXx: State of the Union), Xzibit (xXx: State of the Union), David Banner (Black Snake Moan), and 50 Cent (Home of the Brave). Additionally, Jackson has appeared in four films with actor Bruce Willis (National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1, Pulp Fiction, Die Hard with a Vengeance, and Unbreakable) and the actors were slated to work together in Black Water Transit before both dropped out.
Television and other rolesIn addition to films, Jackson also appeared in several television shows, a video game, music videos, as well as audiobooks. Jackson had a small part in the Public Enemy music video for “911 Is a Joke”. Jackson voiced several television show characters including the lead role in the anime series, Afro Samurai, in addition to a recurring part as the voice of Gin Rummy in several episodes of the animated series The Boondocks. He guest-starred as himself in an episode of the BBC/HBO sitcom Extras. He voiced the main antagonist, Officer Frank Tenpenny, in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Jackson also hosted a variety of awards shows. Thus far, he has hosted the MTV Movie Awards (1998), the ESPYs (1999, 2001, 2002, and 2009), and the Spike TV Video Game Awards (2005, 2006, and 2007). In November 2006, he provided the voice of God for The Bible Experience, the New Testament audiobook version of the Bible. He was given the lead role because producers believed his deep, authoritative voice would best fit the role. He further expanded his audio book legacy by then reading the Audible.com production of the number one Amazon.com best seller Go the Fuck to Sleep. For the Atlanta Falcons 2010 season, Samuel L. Jackson portrayed Rev. Sultan in the Falcons “Rise Up” commercial to help improve tickets sales.
Jackson gave his approval for Marvel to use his likeness for the Ultimate Nick Fury. In 2008 and 2010, he portrayed the character in the Iron Man series of movies
Jackson has several upcoming film projects between 2010 and 2012. In 2001, Jackson gave his consent for Marvel Comics to design their “Ultimate” version of the character Nick Fury after his likeness. In the 2008 film Iron Man, he made a cameo as the character in a post-credit scene. In February 2009, Jackson signed on to a nine-picture deal with Marvel which would see him appear as the character in Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers as well as any other sequels they would produce.
He will appear in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming film, Django Unchained. Jackson is involved in another project, titled The Samaritan. He is also set to produce a live-action movie of Afro Samurai, and is assuming the role of Sho’nuff in a remake of The Last Dragon.
Box office performanceJackson has said that he chooses roles that are “exciting to watch” and have an “interesting character inside of a story”, and that in his roles he wanted to “do things [he hasn’t] done, things [he] saw as a kid and wanted to do and now [has] an opportunity to do”. Throughout the 1990s, A.C. Neilson E.C.I., a box office tracking company, determined that Jackson appeared in more films than any other actor which grossed $1.7 billion domestically. For all the films in his career, where he is featured as a leading actor or supporting co-star, his films have grossed a total of $2.81 to $4.91 billion at the North American box office, placing him as the seventh (as strictly lead) or the second highest-grossing movie star (counting supporting roles) of all time; behind only that of voice actor Frank Welker. The 2009 edition of The Guinness World Records, which uses a different calculation to determine film grosses, stated that Jackson is the world’s highest grossing actor, having earned $7.42 billion in 68 films.
Jackson with his wife LaTanya Richardson in 2005In 1980, Jackson married actress and sports channel producer LaTanya Richardson, whom he met while attending Morehouse College. The couple have a daughter, Zoe, born in 1982. In 2009, they started their own charitable organization to help support education. Jackson and Richardson live in Los Angeles, California.
Jackson has revealed in an interview that he sees every one of his movies in theaters with paying customers claiming that “Even during my theater years, I wished I could watch the plays I was in — while I was in them! I dig watching myself work.” He also enjoys collecting the action figures of the characters he portrays in his films, including Jules Winnfield, Shaft, Mace Windu, and Frozone. He is a comic book and anime fan.
Jackson is bald, but enjoys wearing unusual wigs in his films. Jackson has reflected on his decision to go bald: “I keep ending up on those bald is beautiful lists. It’s cool. You know, when I started losing my hair it was during the era when everybody had lots of hair. … All of a sudden I felt this big hole in the middle of my afro, I couldn’t face having a comb over so I had to quickly figure what the haircut for me was.” His first bald role was in The Great White Hype. Jackson usually gets to pick his own hairstyles for each character he portrays. Although he did poke fun at his baldness the first time he appeared bald on The Tonight Show, explaining that he had to shave his head for one role, but then he kept receiving more and more roles afterward, and had to keep shaving his head so wigs could be made for him. Laughingly, he ended the tale by lamenting to Jay Leno, “The only way I’m gonna have time to grow my hair back, is if I’m not workin’!”.
Jackson enjoys playing golf, a game he has been reported to have become very proficient at. Jackson has a clause in his film contracts that allows him to play golf during production. He has played in the Gary Player Invitational charity golf tournament to assist golf icon Gary Player raise funds for needy children in South Africa. He stated that the golf course is the only place where he “can go dressed as a pimp and fit in perfectly”. Jackson is also a keen basketball fan, and especially favors the Toronto Raptors and the Harlem Globetrotters. He also became a Liverpool F.C. fan after filming The 51st State in Liverpool. Jackson, a known lover of Ireland, also supports a Dublin based football team Bohemian F.C.
Jackson campaigned during the 2008 Democratic Primary for then Illinois Senator Barack Obama in Texarkana, Texas. He said “Barack Obama represents everything I was told I could be growing up. I am a child of segregation. When I grew up and people told me I could be president, I knew it was a lie. But now we have a representative… the American Dream is a reality. Anyone can grow up to be a president.”
Damon Kyle Wayans ( /ˈdeɪmən ˈweɪ.ənz/; born September 4, 1960) is an American stand-up comedian, writer and actor, one of the Wayans family.
Early lifeWayans was born in New York City, New York, the son of Elvira, a homemaker and social worker, and Howell Wayans, a supermarket manager. He has five sisters, Elvira, Vonnie, Nadia, Kim, Diedre, and four brothers, actors Marlon Wayans, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans, and Dwayne Wayans. He had a clubbed foot as a child. This attribute would also be given to his character in My Wife & Kids and his character on the cartoon series Waynehead. Wayans attended Murry Bergtraum High School.
 CareerDamon started doing stand-up comedy in 1982. His earliest film appearance was a brief cameo as an effeminate hotel employee in the 1984 Eddie Murphy film Beverly Hills Cop. He was briefly on Saturday Night Live as a featured performer, before getting fired for playing his character as a flamboyant gay cop instead of a straight cop. He went against the script during the live performance. In the SNL book Live From New York, it was stated that Wayans did this largely due to growing frustrations that his sketches were not being considered for the show and increasing stress. He also appeared in the syndicated TV series Solid Gold during the 1980s as a stand-up comedian. After that, he went on to co-create and appear in the TV-show In Living Color from 1990 to 1992, part of a team that was nominated for Emmy Awards all three years.
After In Living Color, he starred in films such as The Last Boy Scout, Major Payne and The Great White Hype and wrote and starred in the film Blankman. He also appeared in Janet Jackson’s video “The Best Things in Life Are Free” and was considered for the role of The Riddler in Batman Forever (the role went to Jim Carrey, his co-star from In Living Color and Earth Girls Are Easy).
In 1996, he produced Waynehead, a cartoon for the WB, loosely based on his own childhood growing up in a large family, starring a poor boy with a club foot. The show only lasted a season due to poor ratings. From 1997 to 1998, he was the executive producer of 413 Hope St., a short-lived drama on the FOX network starring Richard Roundtree and Jesse L. Martin.
In 1998, he starred in a short-lived comedy titled Damon, in which he played a Chicago detective. It aired on FOX. In 1999, his New York Times bestselling book Bootleg with co-author David Asbery was published; it is a humorous compilation of his observations about family.
In 2006, he began starring in The Underground, a sketch comedy series on Showtime. His son, Damon, Jr. also stars on the show. He hosted the 2006 BET Awards which was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California on June 27, 2006.
For his outstanding role in the ABC comedy series My Wife and Kids, Wayans earned four International Press Academy “Golden Satellite Award” nominations and four Emmy awards nominations for his acting and directing in the 1990s’ series In Living Color. He also added author of a serious fictional novel to his credits this past year with “Red Hats” which is the story of a suicidal 65-year-old woman who finds friendship and happiness when she joins The Red Hat Society.
 Personal lifeWayans was married to Lisa Thorner, however they divorced in 2000. He has four children, sons Damon Wayans, Jr., Michael Wayans and daughters Cara Mia Wayans, and Kyla Wayans. He is the uncle of Damien Dante Wayans, Chaunté Wayans and Craig Wayans.
Wayans is a close personal friend of both NBA legend Michael Jordan and fellow In Living Color star Jim Carrey.
He won the People’s Choice Awards for Favorite Male.
Christopher Brian Bridges (born September 11, 1977), better known by his stage name Ludacris, is an American rapper and actor. Along with his manager, Chaka Zulu, Ludacris is the co-founder of Disturbing tha Peace, an imprint distributed by Def Jam Recordings. Ludacris has won a Screen Actors Guild, Critic’s Choice, MTV, and several Grammy Awards during his career.
Born in Champaign, Illinois, Ludacris moved to Atlanta, Georgia at age nine, where he began rapping. After a brief stint as a disc jockey, he released his debut album Back for the First Time in 2000, which contained the singles “Southern Hospitality” and “What’s Your Fantasy”. In 2001, he released Word of Mouf, followed by Chicken-n-Beer in 2003. He took a more serious approach with his next three albums, The Red Light District (2004), Release Therapy (2006), and Theater of the Mind (2008). His latest record, Battle of the Sexes, was released in 20
Ludacris was born Christopher Brian Bridges in Champaign, Illinois, the only child of Roberta Shields and Wayne Brian Bridges. He is of African American and Native American descent. Bridges wrote his first rap song at age nine when moving to Atlanta, and joined an amateur rap group three years later. He attended Banneker High School in Atlanta, Georgia and graduated in 1996. From 1998 to 1999, he studied music management at Georgia State University.
 Music career Radio DJ, Timbaland collaborationBridges served as an intern and then as a disc jockey at Atlanta’s Hot 97.5 (now Hot 107.9) under the name “Chris Lova Lova”.
Ludacris collaborated with Timbaland on the track “Phat Rabbit” from his album Tim’s Bio: Life from da Bassment. This song was a hit in many countries. It was later included on Ludacris’s debut LP album Back for the First Time. In Ludacris’ early music career he collaborated with Dallas Austin and Jermaine Dupri.
 Incognegro (1998−1999)Main article: Incognegro
In 1998, Ludacris began to record his debut album “Incognegro”. It featured a unique style for southern rappers, with his wild rapping. Timbaland handled part of the production. Despite it’s poor sales, it was never deleted and is still sold today. Ludacris also appeared on Timbaland’s 1998 debut on “Phat Rabbit” a track that would later be used on his re-issue of “Incognegro” called “Back For The First Time”.
 Back for the First Time (2000)Main article: Back for the First Time
Ludacris released his major label debut, Back for the First Time, in October 2000. This album was actually a modified re-release of the album Incognegro, made in 1999. It was produced with the help of the underground producer Sessy Melia, whom he dated for a short while. The album reached as high as #4 on the U.S. Billboard 200, and was a major success. Ludacris made his mark on the industry with singles such as “Southern Hospitality” and “What’s Your Fantasy”, along with his first ever single the “Phat Rabbit”, from two years prior. Guest appearances included 4-Ize, I-20, Shawnna, Pastor Troy, Timbaland, Trina, Foxy Brown, UGK, and others. Ludacris stated in an interview on MTV’s hip hop program Direct Effect that he came up with his stage name based on his “split personality” that he considered “ridiculous” and “ludicrous”.
 Word of Mouf (2001)Main article: Word of Mouf
Ludacris promptly completed his next album, Word of Mouf, and released it at the end of 2001. The video for the lead single, “Rollout (My Business)”, was nominated for a 2002, and Ludacris performed it live at the awards’ pre-show. He released singles “Saturday (Oooh Oooh)” with Sleepy Brown, “Move Bitch” with Mystikal and I-20, and “Area Codes” with Nate Dogg.
 Chicken-n-Beer (2003)Main article: Chicken-n-Beer
During the spring of 2003, Ludacris returned to the music scene after a brief hiatus with a new single, “Act a Fool”, from the 2 Fast 2 Furious soundtrack. At around the same time, he released the lead single from his album Chicken-n-Beer, called “P-Poppin” (short for “Pussy Poppin'”). Neither of his new singles were as well received by either the urban or pop audiences as his previous songs had been, and both music videos received only limited airplay. Chicken-N-Beer opened strongly, but without a popular single, the album fell quickly. Guest appearances include Playaz Circle, Chingy, Snoop Dogg, 8Ball & MJG, Lil’ Flip, I-20, Lil Fate, and Shawnna.
In the fall of 2003, Ludacris rebounded with his next single, “Stand Up”, which appeared on both Chicken-n-Beer as well as the soundtrack for the teen hip hop/dance movie, You Got Served. Produced by Kanye West, “Stand Up” went on to become one of Ludacris’ biggest mainstream hits to date, hitting the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 garnering heavy airplay on mainstream pop, rhythmic, and urban radio stations, as well as on MTV, MTV2, and BET. Ludacris was sued by a New Jersey group called I.O.F. who claimed that “Stand Up” used a hook from one of their songs, but in June 2006, a jury found that the song did not violate copyrights. “I hope the plaintiffs enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame,” Ludacris said after the verdict.
The album’s next single, “Splash Waterfalls”, was released in early 2004. A huge pop hit (despite its steamy video and explicit, adult-oriented lyrical content and themes), it subsequently became a success at urban radio and BET, and is the only time he has produced two consecutive top 10 singles from a solo album, except for Release Therapy (an unedited version of the video could only be viewed on BET’s Uncut program). It was Ludacris’ most sexual video yet, an R&B remix that featured Raphael Saadiq and sampled Tony! Toni! Tone!’s “Whatever You Want”. Ludacris received his first Grammy Award with Usher and Lil Jon for their hit single “Yeah!”. Ludacris next released “Blow It Out”, which was accompanied by a low-budget music video.
 The Red Light District (2004)Main article: The Red Light District
Ludacris during a 2011 New Year’s Day concert in a Miami Beach nightclubChris Bridges took a more mature approach to his fourth album, The Red Light District. Sohail Khalid helped produce this album with various artists such as T.I., Lil Flip and Bun B. Ludacris openly boasted that he may be the only rapper able to keep the Def Jam label afloat on the opening track. Ludacris filmed and recorded the single “Get Back” in which he was featured as a muscle-bound hulk who was being annoyed by the media and warned critics to leave him alone. He first appeared on Saturday Night Live as a special guest performing with musical guest Sum 41 on a season 30 episode hosted by Paul Giamatti. He then recorded “Get Back” with Sum 41 to make a rock crossover single. The follow-up single was the Austin Powers-inspired “Number One Spot”. It was produced by New York City’s Hot 97 personality DJ Green Lantern. It used the Quincy Jones sample of “Soul Bossa Nova” and sped it up to the tempo of Ludacris’ rap flow. Featured artists on the album include Nas, DJ Quik, DMX, Trick Daddy, Sleepy Brown, and Disturbing tha Peace newcomers Bobby Valentino, Dolla Boi, and Small World. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard charts.
 Release Therapy (2006)Main article: Release Therapy
In an issue of XXL, Ludacris was placed in the number nine spot for the most anticipated albums of 2006, for Release Therapy. The album Release Therapy was released on September 26, 2006. Ludacris formatted the CD to have two sides: a Release side and a Therapy side on a single CD. Guest appearances include Pharrell Williams, R. Kelly, Young Jeezy, Mary J. Blige, Field Mob, Bobby Valentino, Pimp C, C-Murder, and Beanie Sigel. The first single, “Money Maker”, which features Pharrell Williams, was released to U.S. radio outlets on July 17, 2006. “Money Maker” reached number one on the BET program 106 & Park. It then went to become the rapper’s second number one single after 6 years. His second single, “Grew Up a Screw Up”, featuring Young Jeezy, dispels rumors that the two are or ever were in a dispute. His third single, “Runaway Love”, soon peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot Rap Tracks and won Best Collaboration in the 2007 BET Awards. His album then reached number one on the Billboard 200 album charts with sales of 309,000 in its first week. With the release of this album, Ludacris marked a change in style in his career with his musical style. The new album itself features a departure of the lighthearted mood of his previous albums, and introduces a darker side. A change of hair accompanied this as he cut off his trademark braids for a more conventional “fade” cut. To promote the album, Ludacris returned to Saturday Night Live (as both host and musical guest) on November 18, 2006.
 Theater of the Mind (2008)Main article: Theater of the Mind
The Preview, a mixtape to preview the album was released on July 28, 2008. Theater of the Mind, released on November 24, 2008, and in April 2008, the single “Let’s Stay Together” appeared on xxlmag.com; supposedly from the new album (“Let’s Stay Together” was expected to but was released as a bonus track on the CD). A song with Small World called “Pinky Shinin” was expected to be on the album, but it was dropped. In an interview with Complex Magazine he stated that Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, T.I., Plies, Common, T-Pain, Jay-Z, Nas and The Game will be on the album; Game is featured in a track with Willy Northpole titled “Call Up the Homies”. T.I. was on the album on a track called “Wish You Would” squashing the long feud between them. The album debuted at number five on the Billboard 200 with 213,493 sold first week. The album was released the same day as Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak, which took the number one spot. His first single “What Them Girls Like”, featuring Chris Brown and Sean Garrett, peaked at #33 on the Billboard 100. His second single, “One More Drink”, featuring T-Pain, peaked at #24 on the Billboard 100. The third official single is “Nasty Girl”, featuring Plies. He confirmed a “sequel” titled Ludaversal due to be released in 2012.
 Battle of the Sexes (2010)Main article: Battle of the Sexes (album)
Ludacris’ seventh studio album was released on March 9, 2010, with his first promotional single for the album being “Everybody Drunk” which features Callum Smith, originally featuring Shawnna. The first concept idea of the album was to have Ludacris and Shawnna battle it out on the album back–to–back, but this was later axed upon Shawnna’s departure from Disturbing tha Peace, ending her contract on Ludacris’ label and joining T-Pain’s Nappy Boy Entertainment label. The first official single released from Battle of the Sexes was “How Low”, which was released on December 8, 2009. The follow–up single was “My Chick Bad”, released on February 23, 2010. The third single is “Sex Room”, peaking at #69 on the Billboard 100. Ludacris’s Battle of the Sexes entered the chart at No. 1, with 137,000 sales in the first week. The album is currently certified gold.
 Ludaversal (2012)On August 15, 2010, Ludacris tweeted that he is currently back in the studio with The Neptunes working on his eighth studio album, Ludaversal, his “sequel” album to Theater of the Mind. On July 7, 2011, according to his Facebook, he recently went to Paris, France to work on Ludaversal.
Ludaversal will be released in May 2012.
 Personal lifeLudacris has a daughter named Karma Bridges from a previous relationship.
In February 2007, Bridges lost his father to cancer. He is the co-owner of Conjure Cognac liquor and soul headphones
John Roger Stephens (born December 28, 1978), better known by his stage name John Legend, is an American singer-songwriter and actor. He is the recipient of nine Grammy Awards, and in 2007, he received the special Starlight award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Prior to the release of his debut album, Stephens’ career gained momentum through a series of successful collaborations with multiple established artists. Stephens added his voice to those of other artists, assisting in them reaching chart-topper hits. He lent his voice to Kanye West’s All of the Lights, on Slum Village’s “Selfish” and Dilated Peoples’ “This Way”. Other artists included Jay-Z’s “Encore”, and he sang backing vocals on Alicia Keys’ 2003 song “You Don’t Know My Name” and Fort Minor’s “High Road.” Stephens played piano on Lauryn Hill’s “Everything Is Everything.”
Life and career 1978–2009: Early life and career beginningsStephens was born on December 28, 1978, in Springfield, Ohio. He is the son of Phyllis, a seamstress, and Ronald, a factory worker and former National Guardsman. Throughout his childhood, Stephens was homeschooled on and off by his mother. At the age of four, he began playing the piano and at the age of seven, he performed with his church choir. When he was ten, his parents divorced, causing his mother to suffer a breakdown. At the age of 12, Stephens attended North High School, from which he graduated four years later. He graduated salutatorian.
According to Stephens, he was offered scholarships to Harvard University, Georgetown University and Morehouse College. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied English with an emphasis on African American literature. While in college, he helmed Counterparts, a co-ed jazz and pop a cappella group as president (1997–1998) and musical director (1998–1999). Stephens’ lead vocals on the group’s recording of Joan Osborne’s “One of Us” received critical acclaim landing the song on the track list of the 1998 Best of Collegiate a Cappella compilation CD. Stephens was also a member of the prestigious Sphinx Senior Society while an undergraduate at Penn. While in college, Stephens was introduced to Lauryn Hill by a friend. Hill hired him to play piano on “Everything Is Everything”, a song from her album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
During this period, Stephens took time to hold a number of shows around Philadelphia, eventually expanding his audience base to New York, Boston, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. He finished college in 1999, and thereafter began producing, writing, and recording his own music. He released two albums independently; his self-titled demo (2000) and ‘Live at Jimmy’s Uptown’ (2001), which he sold at his shows.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Stephens began working as a management consultant for the Boston Consulting Group. During this time, he began working on his demo and began sending his work to various record labels. In 2001, Devo Springsteen introduced Stephens to then up-and-coming hip-hop artist Kanye West; Stephens was hired to sing during the hooks of West’s music. After signing to West’s label, he chose his stage name from a nickname that was given to him by poet J. Ivy, due to Stephens’ “old-school sound”. Stephens’ vocals can be heard on several tracks including Alicia Keys’ “You Don’t Know My Name”, Jay-Z’s “Encore”, Kanye West’s “Never Let Me Down,” also featuring Jay-Z and J. Ivy, Dilated Peoples’ “This Way” and Slum Village’s “Selfish”.
 2004–2005: Get LiftedStephens released his debut album, Get Lifted, in December 2004. It debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200, selling 116,000 copies in its first week. It went on to sell 2.1 million copies in the United States and was certified Platinum by the RIAA. It has sold three million copies worldwide. The album produced two singles: “Ordinary People” (US and UK top 30) went straight to number four and “Used to Love U” (US top 100, UK top 30).
 2006–2007: Once AgainThe first single from his second album, Once Again, was “Save Room”. The album was released October 24, 2006, and boasts production from Kanye West, Raphael Saadiq, and will.i.am. In an interview with MTV, he said that this album contained his favorite song that he had written to date, entitled “Again.” He said he came up with the idea for the song and wrote some of it while sitting on a subway. He stated that the song was also the inspiration for the album’s title.
In August 2006 Stephens appeared in an episode of Sesame Street. He performed a song entitled “It Feels Good When You Sing a Song”, a duet with Hoots the Owl. He also performed during the pregame show of Super Bowl XL in Detroit and the halftime show at the 2006 NBA All-Star Game.
 2008–2010: EvolverStephens released his third studio album Evolver, in October 2008. Rapper Andre 3000 of OutKast is featured on the first single of the album on a song titled “Green Light”. “It’s going to be a surprise for a lot of John Legend fans, because it is a lot more upbeat than John is — than people think John is,” Andre insisted. “I was actually happy to hear it. This is a cool John Legend song”. The next single from Evolver was confirmed as “Everybody Knows”.
Speaking in July 2008 to noted UK R&B writer Pete Lewis of the award-winning “Blues & Soul”, he explained his reasons for titling the album ‘Evolver’: “Well I think people sometimes come to expect certain things from certain artists. They expect you to kind of stay in the same place you were at when you started out. Whereas I feel I want my career to be defined by the fact that I’m NOT gonna stay in the same place, and that I’m always gonna try new things and experiment. So, as I think this album represents a manifestation of that, I came up with the title ‘Evolver’.”
In 2009, Stephens performed in The People Speak a documentary feature film that uses dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans, based on historian Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”.
 2010: Wake Up!John Legend and The Roots teamed up to record a collaborative album, Wake Up!, which was released on September 21, 2010. The first single released off the album was “Wake Up Everybody” featuring singer Melanie Fiona and rapper Common; a video for the song has been released. “Hard Times” is the second single.
In February 2011 John won three Grammy Awards (one by himself and two with The Roots) at the 53rd Annual Grammy Music Awards Ceremony. Legend won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song for “Shine”, and he and The Roots won Grammy Awards for Best R&B Album (Wake Up!) and Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for “Hang On In There”. In March 2011 Legend and the Roots won two NAACP Image Awards – one for Outstanding Album (Wake Up!) and one for Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration.
 2011–present: tour & work on new albumLegend is currently on a 50-date tour as a guest for British Soul band Sade. In the San Diego stop, Legend confirmed that he is working on his next studio album, and played a new song called “Dreams”.
 Plagiarism lawsuitOn July 5, 2011, songwriter Anthony Stokes filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against John Legend in United States District Court, in the District of New Jersey, alleging that Legend’s song “Maxine’s Interlude” from his 2006 album Once Again derives from Stokes’ demo “Where Are You Now.” Stokes claims he gave Legend a demo of the song in 2004 following a concert at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Legend has denied the allegations, telling E! Online, “I never heard of his song until he sued me. I would never steal anyone’s song. We will fight it in court and we will prevail.” Nearly 60,000 people took a TMZ.com poll that compared the two songs and 65% of voters believed that Legend’s “Maxine’s Interlude” is a rip-off of Stokes’ “Where Are You Now.”
The 2007 video for his single, “P.D.A. (We Just Don’t Care)”, features Alexandre Rodrigues and Alice Braga from the critically acclaimed film, City of God.
Songs attributed to John Legend have appeared in feature films, as follows:
“Shine” was written for the end credits of the 2010 film Waiting for Superman.
He has a supporting, singing-only role in the 2008 movie Soul Men, where he plays the deceased lead singer of a fictitious soul group that includes Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac. Although he has no real dialogue in the film, he only sings a song called “I’m Your Puppet” along with Jackson and Mac.
The Show Me Campaign google , through which his fans are encouraged to donate funds toward improving the living situations and prospects of victims of extreme poverty in Mbola, Tanzania, is another example of Stephens’ charitable involvement. In early 2008, he began touring with Professor Jeff Sachs of Columbia University’s Earth Institute to promote sustainable development as an achievable goal.
Stephens returned to his hometown of Springfield, Ohio on Christmas Eve 2007 for a “Coming Home Christmas Benefit Concert” in the auditorium of North High School. The performance featured several local talent from Springfield, including Legend’s younger brother Vaughn Anthony Stephens, who helped organize the concert. The performance also featured a tribute to Jason Collier, and proceeds went to a scholarship fund set up in his name for local high schoolers.
After reading Professor Jeffrey Sachs’ book, The End of Poverty, Stephens was inspired to visit Ghana to learn more about making life better for the people who live under the poverty line. This is when he started his “Show Me Campaign” in 2007. With this campaign, Stephens called on his fans to help him in his initiative for those who reside in Bossaso Village[where?] and non-profit organizations that the campaign partners with.
Legend returns to his hometown of Springfield, Ohio, to give a free benefit concert in support of Barack ObamaIn 2007 Stephens was the spokesman for GQ Magazine’s “Gentlemen’s Fund”, an initiative to raise support and awareness for five cornerstones essential to men: opportunity, health, education, environment, and justice.
In May 2007 he partnered with Tide laundry detergent to raise awareness about the need of families in St. Bernard Parish, (Slidell, LA) one of the most devastated areas hit by Hurricane Katrina. He spent a day folding laundry at the Tide “clean start” mobile laundromat and visited homes which Tide is helping to rebuild in that community.
In October 2007 he became involved[clarification needed] with a project sponsored by The Gap, a retail clothing store chain in the United States. Through their “project red campaign” (also called “2 WEEKS”), The Gap’s contribution to their global fund from the sale of each (2 WEEKS) t-shirt is equivalent to the average cost of 2 weeks of anti-retroviral medicine in Africa, which enables people living with HIV to lead healthy, normal lives.
In 2009 Stephens gave AIDS Service Center NYC permission to remix his song “If You’re Out There” to create a music video promoting HIV/AIDS awareness and testing.
Stephens claims to have contributed a share of the proceeds of some tickets for his August 13, 2009, concert at Madison Square Garden to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Stephens is also the National spokesperson for and has performed benefit concerts for “Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT). MLT is a national non-profit organization that has made ground-breaking progress assisting the next generation of African American, Hispanic and Native American leaders in major corporations, non-profit organizations and entrepreneurial ventures.[clarification needed]
On January 22, 2010, he performed “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” on the Hope for Haiti Now telethon show.
On September 8, 2010, John Legend joined the national board of Teach For America. Legend also sits on the boards of The Education Equality Project and the Harlem Village Academies, and serves as co-chair (with Rupert Murdoch) of the Harlem Village Academies’ National Leadership Board.
On September 9, 2010, he performed “Coming Home” on the Colbert Report as a tribute song for the end of combat operations in Iraq, and for the active troops and the veterans of the United States Armed Forces.
In 2011, he contributed the track “Love I’ve Never Known” to the Red Hot Organization’s most recent album “Red Hot+Rio 2.” The album is a follow-up to the 1996 “Red Hot+Rio.” Proceeds from the album sales will be donated to raise awareness and money to fight AIDS/HIV and related health and social issues.
 EndorsementsStephens is currently a spokesperson for the Baileys line of alcoholic beverages. He also spoke on behalf of The Polka Dotz at Milwaukee’s 2008 German Fest.
He performed and spoke at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, on behalf of the Barack Obama Presidential campaign in April 2008. He later performed “If You’re Out There” from the album Evolver and a duet of Will.i.am’s “Yes We Can” at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. Also, he performed a half-hour set list in support of Barack Obama in his hometown of Springfield, as well as at The Ohio State University and Wright State University campuses on September 29, 2008.
 Private “Fan Appreciation” EventsOn July 26, 2007, Stephens hosted a John Legend Network Members Only Party and Concert called “The Kings & Queens Bash” at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. There were 500 participants in attendance and he introduced the acts from his new label, Homeschool Records to his John Legend Network fans: Estelle, his brother, Vaughn Anthony Stephens, Lucy Woodward and The James Gang. Harmonicist Frederic Yonnet performed as a special guest.
On July 25, 2008, at the Highline Ballroom in New York City, John Legend planned another annual private event for his fans who are members of the John Legend Network called “John Legend Unplugged”. Legend performed a 21-song set list, including several songs from his Evolver album. This allowed John Legend Network members to be the first to hear the new songs. After the party, John greeted each individual on their way out and took pictures with fans.
On February 8, 2011 John Legend performed and spoke at Arizona State University’s Gammage Auditorium in Tempe, Arizona for a Black History Month event presented by the Undergraduate Student Government of ASU.[
James Dewitt Yancey (February 7, 1974 – February 10, 2006), better known by the stage names J Dilla and Jay Dee, was an American record producer who emerged from the mid-1990s underground hip hop scene in Detroit, Michigan. According to his obituary at NPR.org, he “was one of the music industry’s most influential hip-hop artists, working for big-name acts like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes and Common.”
Renowned producer Pete Rock placed J Dilla on his list of the top five producers of all time, while the editors of About.com ranked him #15 on their list of the Top 50 Hip-Hop Producers. Andy Kellman of Allmusic stated that—by 2004, after being active for well over a decade as a producer—J Dilla had accomplished enough to be considered “an all-time great.” J Dilla made the “Elite 8” in the search for The Greatest Hip-Hop Producer of All Time by Vibe. Also, The Source placed him on its list of the 20 greatest producers in the magazine’s twenty-year history.
Yancey’s career began slowly. He has now become highly regarded, most notably for the production of critically acclaimed albums by Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Common, Busta Rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, and Erykah Badu. He was a member of Slum Village and produced their acclaimed debut album Fan-Tas-Tic (Vol. 1) and their follow-up Fantastic, Vol. 2.
In the early 2000s, Yancey’s career as a solo artist began to improve; A solo album Welcome 2 Detroit was followed by a collaborative album with California producer Madlib, Champion Sound, which catalyzed the careers of both artists. Just as his music was becoming increasingly popular, Yancey died in 2006 of the blood disease TTP.
Following J Dilla’s death, the hip hop community became centered upon his music and image. Many of the artists with whom Yancey worked and performed with recorded tributes, and a large group of followers voiced their support for the late musician. Yancey’s music experienced a rebirth as the producer gained many times more listeners than he had during his life, partly due to media exposure. Though several posthumous albums have been released and others are planned, the amount of unreleased recordings by the producer remain somewhat undetermined. Yancey’s estate has also been controverted.
James Yancey was the oldest of four children including a younger brother (Earl), a younger sister (Martha) and a younger brother, John, also a rapper/producer known as Illa J. The family lived in a house situated near McDougall and East Nevada, off E. 7 Mile in Detroit. He developed a vast musical knowledge from his parents (his mother is a former opera singer and his father was a jazz bassist). According to his mother, he could “match pitch perfect harmony” by “two-months old”, to the amazement of musician friends and relatives. He began collecting vinyl at the age of two and would be allowed to spin records in the park, an activity he enjoyed tremendously as a child.
Along with a wide range of musical genres, Yancey developed a passion for hip hop music. After transferring from Davis Aerospace Technical High School to Detroit Pershing High School, he met classmates T3 and Baatin, and became friends with them through mutual love of rap battles. The three formed a rap group called Slum Village. He also took up beatmaking using a simple tapedeck as the center of his studio. During these teenage years he “stayed in the basement alone” with his ever-growing collection of records, perfecting his craft. He later told Pete Rock when they met years later that “I was trying to be you.”
 Early careerIn 1992, he met experienced Detroit musician Amp Fiddler, who was impressed by what Jay Dee was able to accomplish with such limited tools. Amp Fiddler let Jay Dee use his MPC, which he learned quickly. In 1995, Jay Dee and MC Phat Kat formed 1st Down, and would be the first Detroit hip hop group to sign with a major label (Payday Records) – a deal that was ended after one single when the label folded. That same year he recorded ‘Yester Years EP’ with 5 Elementz (a group consisting of the late Proof, Thyme and Mudd). In the year 1996, he formed the group Slum Village with T3 and Baatin, and recorded the groups debut, Fan-Tas-Tic (Vol. 1)in his home studio. Being released in 1997, the album quickly became popular with fans of Detroit hip hop, as well a gaining the attention of Q-Tip, who hailed the group as successors to A Tribe Called Quest. However, J Dilla felt uncomfortable with the comparison and often voiced it in several interviews.
“It was kinda fucked up [getting that stamp] because people automatically put us in that [Tribe] category. That was actually a category that we didn’t actually wanna be in. I thought the music came off like that, but we didn’t realize that shit then. I mean, you gotta listen to the lyrics of the shit. Niggas was talking about getting head from bitches. It was like a nigga from Native Tongues never woulda said that shit. I don’t know how to say it. It’s kinda fucked up because the audience we were trying to give to were actually people we hung around. Me, myself, I hung around regular ass Detroit cats. Not the backpack shit that people kept putting out there like that. I mean, I ain’t never carried no goddamn backpack. But like I said, I understand to a certain extent. I guess that’s how the beats came off on some smooth type of shit. And at that time, that’s when Ruff Ryders [was out] and there was a lot of hard shit on the radio so our thing was we’re gonna do exactly what’s not on the radio.”
By the mid 1990s Jay Dee was known as a major hip hop prospect, with a string of singles and remix projects, for Janet Jackson, Pharcyde, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip’s solo album and others. The majority of these productions were released without his name recognition, being credited to The Ummah, a production collective composed of Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest, and later Raphael Saadiq of Tony! Toni! Toné!. Under this umbrella, Jay did some of his most big name R&B and hip hop work, churning out original songs and remixes for Janet Jackson, Busta Rhymes, Brand New Heavies, Something For the People, trip hop artists Crustation and many others. This all came off the heels of Jay handling the majority of production on The Pharcyde’s album Labcabincalifornia, released in the holiday season of 1995. Jay Dee’s largest-scale feat came in 1997 when he produced Janet Jackson’s Grammy winning single “Got ’til It’s Gone” from The Velvet Rope. The song-writing credit and subsequent Grammy were both given to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
 Performing career2000 marked the major label debut of Slum Village with Fantastic, Vol. 2, creating a new following for Jay Dee as a producer and an MC. He was also a founding member of the production collective known as The Soulquarians (along with Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, D’Angelo and James Poyser amongst others) which earned him more recognition and buzz. He subsequently worked with Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, and Common – contributing heavily to the latter’s critically acclaimed breakthrough album, Like Water for Chocolate.
His debut as a solo artist came in 2001 with the single “Fuck the Police”, followed by the album Welcome 2 Detroit, which kicked off U.K. Independent record label BBE’s “Beat Generation” series. In 2001, Jay Dee, began using the name “J Dilla” (an attempt to differentiate himself from Jermaine Dupri who also goes by “J.D.”), and left Slum Village to pursue a major label solo career with MCA Records.
2002 saw Dilla producing the entirety of Frank-N-Dank’s 48 Hours, as well as a solo album, but neither record was ever released, although the former did eventually surface through bootlegging. When Dilla finished working with Frank-N-Dank on the 48 Hours album, MCA Records requested a record with a larger commercial appeal, and the artists re-recorded the majority of the tracks, this time using little to no samples. Despite this, neither versions of the album saw the light of day, and Dilla expressed he was disappointed that the music never got out to the fans.
Dilla was signed to a solo deal with MCA Records in 2002 and completed an album in 2003. Although Dilla was known as a producer rather than an MC, he chose to rap on the album and have the music produced by some of his favorite producers such as Madlib, Pete Rock, Hi-Tek, Supa Dave West, Kanye West, Nottz, Waajeed, Quebo Kuntry (J.Benjamin) and others. The album was shelved due to internal changes at the label and MCA folding into Geffen Records. In a 2007 video interview, Dilla’s friend DJ House Shoes alluded to the possibility of the MCA album finally seeing an official release through Stones Throw Records in the future. In April 2008, the album, called Pay Jay, began circulating. BBC Radio 1Xtra DJ Benji B played songs from it on his April 18 show, saying that the album is coming out, and people on the internet privately shared and discussed the album.
While the record with MCA stalled, Dilla recorded the uncompromising Ruff Draft, released exclusively to vinyl by German label Groove Attack. Although the album was little known, it signaled a change in sound and attitude, and his work from this point on was increasingly released through independent record labels. In a 2003 interview with Groove Attack, Dilla talked about this change of direction:
You know, if I had a choice, skip the major labels and just put it out yourself man… Trust me. I tell everybody it’s better to do it yourself and let the Indies come after you instead of going in their [direction] and getting a deal and you have to wait, it ain’t fun, take it from me. Right now, I’m on MCA but it feels like I’m an unsigned artist still. It’s cool, it’s a blessing, but damn I’m like, ‘When’s my shit gonna come out? I’m ready now, what’s up?’
 Later life and deathLA-based producer and MC Madlib began collaborating with J Dilla, and the pair formed the group Jaylib in 2002, releasing an album called Champion Sound in 2003. J Dilla relocated from Detroit to LA in 2004 and appeared on tour with Jaylib in Spring 2004.
J Dilla’s illness and medication caused dramatic weight loss in 2003 onwards, forcing him to publicly confirm speculation about his health in 2004. Despite a slower output of major releases and production credits in 2004 and 2005, his cult status remained strong within his core audience, as evident by unauthorized circulation of his underground “beat tapes” (instrumental, and raw working materials), mostly through internet file sharing. Articles in publications URB (March 2004) and XXL (June 2005) confirmed rumors of ill health and hospitalization during this period, but these were downplayed by Jay himself. The seriousness of his condition became public in November 2005 when J Dilla toured Europe performing from a wheelchair. It was later revealed that he suffered from thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, a rare blood disease, and possibly lupus.
J Dilla died on February 10, 2006, three days after his 32nd birthday and the release of his final album Donuts, at home in Los Angeles, California. According to his mother, Maureen Yancey, the cause was cardiac arrest.
 Posthumous musicUpon his death, Dilla had several projects planned for future completion and release.
The Shining, “75% completed when Dilla died,” was completed posthumously by Karriem Riggins and released on August 8, 2006 on BBE Records.
Ruff Draft was reissued as a double CD/LP set in March 2007 and is sometimes considered his third solo album. The reissue contains previously unreleased material from the Ruff Draft sessions and instrumentals. Most notably, it was also released in a cassette tape format, paying homage to Dilla’s dirty, grimy sound (he was known for recording over two-tracked instrumentals).
Jay Love Japan was announced in 2005 as his debut release on the Operation Unknown label. The official release remains shrouded in mystery, as various legitimate and illegitimate versions of this mini-album can be bought online and in stores.
Champion Sound, J Dilla’s and Madlib’s collaborative album, was reissued in June 2007 by Stones Throw Records as a 2CD Deluxe Edition with instrumentals and b-sides.
He also produced three tracks on the 2007 Stones Throw Records 2K Sports NBA 2K8 soundtrack, B-Ball Zombie War.
Dillagence, a mixtape of previously unreleased tracks featuring Busta Rhymes over Dilla’s production, was released in November 2007. Busta was one of Dilla’s most passionate supporters; on the mixtape, Busta says that, although Dilla’s name is not listed in every Busta album, he did in fact contribute to every solo Busta album. The compilation was made free for download from MickBoogie.com.
“Modern Day Gangstaz” (also known as “The Ugliest” and “Dangerous MCs”), a song produced by Dilla featuring vocals from The Notorious B.I.G., Busta Rhymes, and Labba, which originally appeared in its original form on a mixtape in the late ’90s, eventually surfaced in full-length form in 2007. This version, however, is a cut-and-paste job using verses recorded for Biggie’s posthumous Born Again album, for which a new beat was used from Nottz.
In 2008, Q-Tip used one of Dilla’s beats for his song Move off of The Renaissance.
Yancey Boys, by J Dilla’s younger brother John Yancey, was released in 2008 on Delicious Vinyl Records. It is produced entirely by J Dilla and features rapping by his brother, under the name Illa J. Stones Throw Records released a digital instrumental version of the album in 2009.
An album titled Jay Stay Paid (aka J$P) was released in 2009. Despite well-known collaborators rapping over Dilla’s music, the involvement of Pete Rock in mixing, and the endorsement of J Dilla’s mother, this is the second posthumous J Dilla release whose legitimacy is not fully known. It does not appear in J Dilla’s official discography.
In 2009, Mos Def used one of Dilla’s beats on his album The Ecstatic. The song, entitled “History”, also featured Talib Kweli. Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon also used Dilla beats for his songs “House of Flying Daggers”, “Ason Jones”, and “10 Bricks” which are all on his critically acclaimed album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II.
In 2010, unreleased production and vocals from J Dilla will be featured on Slum Village’s sixth studio album Villa Manifesto, the first album with all five members.
In December 2011, Jonathan Taylor, CEO of the Yancey Music Group (founded by Dilla’s mother Maureen Yancey), told the UK’s Conspiracy Worldwide radio show that the album Rebirth of Detroit is ready for a May 2012 release. 
 LegacyJ Dilla leaves behind two daughters. In May 2006, J Dilla’s mother announced the creation of “The J Dilla Foundation,” which will work to cure people affected by lupus.
Dilla’s death has had a significant impact on the hip hop community. Besides countless tribute tracks and concerts, Dilla’s death created a wealth of interest in his remaining catalog and, consequently, Dilla’s influence on hip hop production became more apparent.
Dave Chappelle gives a special dedication to J Dilla in his movie Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, which includes the statement “This film is dedicated to the life and memory of Music Producer J Dilla, aka Jay Dee (James D. Yancey)”. The film focuses mostly on members of the Soulquarians, a collective of hip hop musicians of which Yancey was also a member.
J Dilla’s music has been used in various television programs. Cartoon Network’s late night programing block, Adult Swim, has played the songs “Waves”, “Welcome to the Show”, and “Mash” during the commercial bumpers in between shows. In May 2010, UK mobile network 02 used Jaylib’s “The Red” instrumental in their ‘Pool Party’ ad. A recent BBC documentary inspired by the olympic runner Usain Bolt, contained two J Dilla-produced songs – “So Far To Go” by Common and “Runnin'” by The Pharcyde.
In February 2007, a year after his death, J Dilla posthumously received the Plug Award’s Artist of the Year as well as the award for Record Producer of the Year. In Dilla’s hometown of Detroit, House music veteran Carl Craig has fronted a movement to install a plaque in honor of J Dilla in Conant Gardens (where the artist grew up and initiated his career). A resolution for the proposed plaque was passed by the Detroit Entertainment Commission in May 2010, and is currently awaiting approval by the Detroit City Council. J Dilla continues to be remembered as one of the most important figures of the hip hop generation.
Outside of Hip Hop, Dilla has proven to be highly influential to the works of bands and producers within the United Kingdom. Jack Barnett of These New Puritans has been seen occasionally wearing a “J Dilla Changed My Life” t-shirt. The band subliminally honored Dilla by replicating the notable minimal driving drum pattern of ‘Jungle Love’ from “The Shining” on “InfinityytinifnI” which is found on the album ‘Beat Pyramid’. Southend-on-sea shoegaze-punk band The Horrors, London pop bands The xx, Golden Silvers and Mystery Jets alongside electronic producers Joy Orbison, Darkstar and Micachu & Kwes have all cited Dilla as a major musical influence.
Despite these accolades, there have been documented conflicts between his mother and the executor of his estate Arthur Erik regarding future Dilla releases. In an interview with LA Weekly, Erik described how difficult it was for the estate to “protect his legacy” due to bootlegging and unofficial mixtapes. He stressed how important it was for the estate to gather all possible income related to Dilla’s name, as Dilla had to borrow money from the government due to mounting medical bills at the end of his life.
A few weeks later Dilla’s mother, who has appeared on such unofficial mixtapes such as Busta Rhymes’ Dillagence, gave her take on these issues. In addition to stating that Arthur Erik and Dilla’s estate has chosen not to communicate with his family, she has stated that he has barred anyone from use of Dilla’s likeness or name.
One of the things Dilla wanted me to do with his legacy was to use it to help others, people with illness, kids who were musically gifted but had little hope due to poverty. I wanted to use my contacts to help people out and it was squashed because we weren’t in compliance with the state and there was nothing we could do about it. I’m Dilla’s mother and I can’t use Dilla’s name or likeness, but I know that I still can honor him by doing his work.
Mrs. Yancey also has mentioned that Erik was in fact Dilla’s accountant and not his business manager in his lifetime, and that he fell into his position because she and Dilla were first and foremost concerned about his health and not with getting paperwork in order. She also stated that Dilla’s friends in the hip hop community, such as Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, Madlib, Common and The Roots, have contacted her personally for future projects with Dilla beats, but the estate has vetoed all future projects not contracted prior to Dilla’s death. She also implied that Dilla would not support the estate’s practices, such as their persecution of bootleggers and file sharers.
Dilla was about love in many formats and for his estate to have done the exact opposite is not having any respect for him or who he was.
Due to Dilla’s debt to the government, the family receives no income from projects. Dilla’s children are being supported by the social security their mothers have drawn Likewise, Mrs. Yancey is also still paying off Dilla’s medical bills that she helped finance, leaving her also in tremendous debt. She still lives in the same Detroit ghetto, is still a daycare worker at Conant Gardens and also suffers from lupus, the same disease which killed Dilla. To help pay the cost of medication and keep her household afloat, Delicious Vinyl donated all proceeds of Jay Dee – The Delicious Vinyl Years to Mrs. Yancey in 2007. In 2008, Giant Peach created a donation paypal account for her and RenSoul.com released a charity mixtape. Despite these actions, it would appear that little income has been generated, as Stones Throw has just released a charity t-shirt on its website.
In a recent article on the family’s troubles in Vibe magazines, his mother revealed that the family lost their old home in Detroit due to her taking care of Dilla in his final days. The mother of one of Dilla’s children, Monica Whitlow, also broke her silence on the issue of the estate and his legacy:
It pisses me off, everything that’s going on with this estate. It’s ridiculous ’cause it’s been three years, and my baby has not seen anything from this estate.
On January 24, 2010, an announcement was made on j-dilla.com, regarding the J Dilla Estate and the Yancey family.
“The family of late music producer James “J Dilla” Yancey is extremely pleased to announce the appointment of West Coast probate attorney Alex Borden as administrator of Yancey’s estate, and also to announce the establishment of the official J Dilla Foundation. The developments mark a new chapter in preserving and enhancing the legacy of the legendary artist and secure a means of future prosperity for his mother, Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, daughters Ja’Mya Yancey and Ty-Monae Whitlow, and brother, John “Illa J” Yancey.”
The J Dilla Estate will be working with the Yancey family in all business dealings of J Dilla’s catalog of music…
Irving Rameses “Ving” Rhames (born May 12, 1959) is an American actor best known for his work in Bringing Out the Dead, Pulp Fiction, Baby Boy, Don King: Only in America, and the Mission: Impossible film series, and the Syfy movie 2012 Zombie Apocalypse.
Rhames was born in New York City, New York, the son of Reather, a homemaker, and Ernest Rhames, an auto mechanic. His parents were raised as sharecroppers in South Carolina. Named after the late NBC journalist, Irving R. Levine, Irving Rhames grew up in Harlem.
He entered New York’s School of Performing Arts, where he discovered his love of acting and also one of the most important life lessons he would learn, “Gunz…and Butta”. After high school, he studied drama at SUNY Purchase. His fellow acting student Stanley Tucci gave him his nickname “Ving”. Rhames later transferred to Juilliard, where he began his career in New York theater.
 CareerRhames first appeared on Broadway in the play The Winter Boys in 1984. Ving continued his rise to fame through his work in soap operas. He found work as a supporting actor, and came to the attention of the general public by playing the role of Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction (1994). Rhames also was getting public exposure on television as Peter Benton’s brother-in-law on the medical drama ER, a recurring role he filled for 3 seasons. Not long after, Rhames was cast with Tom Cruise as the ace computer hacker Luther Stickell in Brian De Palma’s Mission: Impossible (1996). With solid performances in two of these highly popular productions, his face was now known to moviegoers, and the work offers began rolling in more frequently. In 1997, Rhames portrayed the Character of Nathan ‘Diamond Dog’ Jones in the popular film Con Air.
Rhames won a Golden Globe in 1998 for best actor in a TV miniseries for his performance in HBO’s Don King: Only in America. At the ceremony Rhames gave his award to fellow nominee Jack Lemmon, saying “I feel that being an artist is about giving, and I’d like to give this to you.” Lemmon was clearly touched by the gesture as was the celebrity audience who gave Lemmon a standing ovation. Lemmon, who tried unsuccessfully to give the award back to Rhames said it was “one of the sweetest moments I’ve ever known in my life.” The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced later that they would have a duplicate award prepared for Rhames. That moment was #98 on E!’s 101 Awesome Moments in Entertainment. The New York Times lauded Rhames for the act, writing that in doing so he “demonstrated his capacity for abundant generosity”.
But Gary Dauphin, writing in Vibe, described Rhames’ effort to give away his Golden Globe Award as “a grateful Negro happy to be invited to the party”. Sacha Jenkins, in his 2002 book Ego Trip’s big book of racism, called it “Best Example of a Negro Thinking Awards Grow on Trees”. Riché Richardson wrote in Black masculinity and the U.S. South: from Uncle Tom to gangsta (2007) that the Spike Lee 2000 movie Bamboozled alludes to the 1999 Golden Globes ceremony incident. Richardson writes that when the character “Delacroix” tries similarly to give his own award to his white liberal boss in the movie, he is both reflecting on the Golden Globes Award ceremony incident and epitomizing the submissive-to-white-people Uncle Tom stereotype.
Rhames contributed attention-grabbing performances in Striptease (1996 as the wisecracking bodyguard Shad), Bringing Out the Dead (1999), reprised his Luther Stickell role for Mission: Impossible II (2000), playing Johnnie Cochran in American Tragedy (2000), as the ex-con boyfriend of Jodie’s mother in the John Singleton film Baby Boy, portraying a gay drag queen in the television movie Holiday Heart, contributed his deep bass voice for the character of Cobra Bubbles in Lilo & Stitch (2002) and the subsequent TV series, and played a stoic cop fighting zombie hordes in Dawn of the Dead (2004) and the Day of the Dead 2008 “remake.” Rhames has also appeared in a series of television commercials for RadioShack, usually performing with Vanessa L. Williams.
In March 2005, Rhames played the lead role on a new “Kojak” series, on the USA Network cable channel (and on ITV4 in the UK). The bald head, lollipops, and “Who loves ya, baby?” catchphrase remained intact, but little else remained from the Savalas original.
Rhames voiced the part of Tobias Jones in the computer game Driv3r.
In 2006, Rhames reprised his role in Mission: Impossible III, making him the only actor besides Tom Cruise to appear in all four Mission: Impossible films, and was announced that he would have a role in the Aquaman-based show Mercy Reef. In the integrating of The WB and UPN for the new network, CW, Mercy Reef was not picked up. It is an early contender for a midseason replacement, but currently no plans to air the series have been announced. Rhames played a homosexual, possibly also homicidal, firefighter who comes out of the closet in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. He narrates the BET television series American Gangster.
In the 2008 film Saving God he played an ex-con who is released from prison a changed man looking to take over his father’s former church congregation in a deteriorating neighborhood. Rhames also stars in Phantom Punch, a biopic of boxer Sonny Liston released directly to DVD as well as The Tournament portraying a fighter out to win a no-rules tournament.
Rhames makes an appearance in Ludacris’s song “Southern Gangstas” on his album Theater of the Mind. Rappers Playaz Circle and Rick Ross are also featured on the track.
He is engaged in a lawsuit with the producer of a film titled Red Canvas.
He filmed the movie Submission with Ernie Reyes, Jr. and UFC lightweight contender Gray Maynard and Randy Couture.
Rhames has a cameo appearance in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the fourth installment of the series of movies.