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What’s The 411 Episode 107: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Tupac

Freddie Jackson gives an extended interview, Ridley Scott hopes Idris Elba will be James Bond, stars come out for Dress for Success and more

On this episode of What’s The 411, we are talking about former US First Lady and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and US Senator Bernie Sanders are coming to Brooklyn to give separate commencement addresses. Hillary Clinton will give a commencement address at Medgar Evers College, while Senator Bernie Sanders, who was born in Brooklyn, will speak at Brooklyn College’s graduation ceremony.

Minnesota courts have whittled down the number of heirs to the estate of the deceased pop star, Prince.

Film director, Ridley Scott, told BBC Radio One that he hopes that actor Idris Elba would be the next James Bond.

Ifeoma White-Thorpe, a senior at Rockaway High School in Morris Hills, New Jersey. Ms. White-Thorpe received acceptances to all eight Ivy League colleges and Stanford University.

Dress for Success, an international not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life, held its annual fundraising gala at Cipriani Wall Street.

Popular rapper, Snoop Dogg, gave a heartfelt tribute to deceased rapper Tupac Shakur who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

We also have an extended interview with R&B singer Freddie Jackson, who has a new album, LOVE SIGNALS, with an expected release date in June. The album’s first single, One Night, will be released on May 1st.

Theatre Review: HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME, The Music of Tupac Shakur

HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME is the Broadway musical based on the lyrics of the legendary rap artist, poet, and actor, TUPAC SHAKUR.

If you're looking for the Tupac story, this is not the one. HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME is a social commentary on the plight of black men, particularly those from low-income communities. Tupac's lyrics and music undergirds the story.

When Tupac was alive he was revered by many and reviled by some. In HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME, you get to see that Tupac Shakur was a rebel with a cause and HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME amplifies his message magnificently.

The principal cast members of HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME are: Saul Williams; Christopher Jackson; Saycon Sengbloh; Ben Thompson; John Earl Jelks; Joshua Boone; Dyllon Burnside; and Tonya Pinkins.

Kudos to director Kenny Leon. From the lead characters to the supporting cast and chorus, they bring their "A" game; you feel their passion and emotions. You will care about some of the characters, and dislike and feel sorry for others.

In HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME, as in real life, we meet young men who are seeking guidance for ways to navigate the world. They are looking for direction from their peers and from older people whose navigational compass should be intact but has gone awry. This is evidenced by examples of the misguided use of sexuality and bravado masquerading as real manhood.

The music will have you at times wanting to dance in the aisles. If you're a purist and want to hear the lyrics as much as the music, well you might be disappointed on that score. The sound system periodically precludes you from hearing the clarity of the singer's voice.

As good as the production of HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME is, there is one element missing.

Star power.

Sure, Broadway has transformed many unknowns into stars. However, when you have a production built on the music of a larger than life figure, the production deserves star power.

The book could have been written with a cameo appearance by a rapper that has street cred that we don't see or hear from every day. There are several rappers that fit this bill and any one of them would have gladly taken on the role. Hey for that matter, a long-standing hip-hop radio personality would have also worked and they could have helped with the marketing. Just ask the founders of FUBU and other urban clothing lines.

As for marketing, I'm still amazed at the number of people who don't know about HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME. It's clear that there were missed opportunities and marketing miscues unless of course, the producers were just trying to reach the traditional Broadway theater audience. The HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME logo is very unappealing. Although HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME is not Tupac's biography, it is a perception of his life through his music. Consequently, the red carpet opening should have featured high-profile friends of Pac and those who worked with him and held him in high esteem, such as Jada Pinkett Smith, Snoop Lion, Malik Yoba, and director John Singleton; not to mention various hip-hop and urban radio and TV personalities, as well as influencers within the New York City urban community.

HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME makes a profound statement and it would be sad if it were to leave the Broadway scene too soon because the marketing plan doesn't match the level of intensity coming from the cast and musicians.

Moreover, the legacy of Tupac Shakur deserves better.

HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME!

  • Published in Theatre
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