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Bow Wow and Crew Make Their Broadcast Debut on WE tv’s ‘Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta’

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Last night was the series premiere of Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta. However, I was given a sneak peek of the program, when WE tv invited me to the exclusive screening of the highly anticipated reality show, which took place Tuesday, May 16 at the iPIC Theater in New York City. Let’s just say, I’ve found my new favorite reality TV binge show.

A Recap of the Private Screening Event for Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta

As described in the press release, the series “chronicle[s] the perks and perils of being born into hip hop royalty, in the city that the New York Times called ‘hip hop’s center of gravity.’”

The statement continues:

“The rich history of the Atlanta hip hop scene has fostered a unique sense of pride and closeness among the artists that resembles a family. But like any family, Atlanta’s next generation of hip hop stars do not always get along. Growing up together in the shadow of their legendary parents has established tight bonds and bitter rivalries, as everybody fights for their chance to push their way into the spotlight.”

Shad “Bow Wow” Moss, the celebrated child hip-hop phenomena, not only stars in the series, but he is also executive producer of the Atlanta branch of the franchise. In addition to following the life of Moss, the program also showcases Shaniah Mauldin, daughter of Jermaine Dupri; Zonnique Pullins, daughter of Tameka “Tiny” Harris and T.I.; Reginae Carter, daughter of Lil Wayne and author Toya Wright; Ayana Fite, daughter of DJ Hurricane; and Brandon Barnes, the younger brother of Waka Flocka Flame and son of infamous hip hop manager Ms. Deb Antney.

NEW YORK, NY: Zonnique Pullins, Shad Moss, Reginae Carter, Shaniah Mauldin, Ayana Fite, and Brandon Barnes attend the WE tv’s Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta premiere screening event on May 16, 2017, in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for WE tv)

Jermaine Dupri, Da Brat, DJ Hurricane, Ms. Deb, Toya Wright, and Kristinia DeBarge, daughter of R&B singer James DeBarge and featured cast member on the original Growing Up Hip Hop, also came out to support the show’s launch. DeBarge even gave attendees a sneak peek of season two of the drama filled inaugural series, which is set to debut later at a later date. After the screening, cast members of Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta answered questions on a Q&A panel moderated by Sway Calloway.

Initially Hesitant, but Pleasantly Surprised

Although reality TV is among one my favorite guilty pleasures, I was initially unsure about how the series would measure up to my expectations. In my opinion, the current reality TV market has become so oversaturated with stories told from the perspective of attractive, wealthy, and entitled young adults, that the plotlines are just too predictable. Could Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta bring something fresh to the table, breaking ratings records with its authentic capture of sincere moments of vulnerability, or would it be another formulaic “unscripted” show featuring fabricated drama?

This skepticism only further increased in the wake of the highly trending #BowWowChallenge incident.

After all, Moss was on his way to New York City for the Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta press tour when he made the rookie mistake of posting an uncredited stock image accompanied by a vague caption on his Instagram that gave followers the wrong impression about his travel accommodations.

(Screenshot Source: Twitter/Al_Khee)

Was this careless publishing of “alternative facts” karmic foreshadowing of what audiences could expect from the show? Though hesitant, I did my best to keep an open mind and not allow any preconceived judgments cloud my own.

As it turns out, Bow Wow’s lack of fluency on “the gram” wouldn’t be the only thing to surprise me that week; the premiere episode of Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta was a lot more interesting and entertaining than I had originally anticipated. I actually really enjoyed it! Of course, the show had its fair share of classic reality TV plot devices that err on the side of inauthenticity—such as first-person green screen “confessionals,” or frequent “impromptu” visits to practically deserted boutiques and restaurants. However, in the case of Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta, these moments were often overshadowed by a number of unexpected twists and moments of organic sincerity.

So, without giving away too many spoilers, these are three things that surprised me about Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta:

1. Yes, They Actually Grew Up Together

Although most are aware of past professional and creative collaborations between the celebrity parents of the featured cast, many probably underestimate the extent of how deep these relationships really are. As a result of their parents’ relationships, Pullins, Moss, Carter, Mauldin, Fite, and Barnes have actually known each other for years, with history dating so far back, their friendships are more reflective of familial bonds. There was even a point where Carter and Pullins sang together in the girl group The OMG Girlz. And since everyone has known each other since back in the day, the chemistry between cast members is not only genuine, it’s dynamic.

NEW YORK, NY: Sway, Reginae Carter, and Zonnique Pullins speak at the WE tv’s Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta premiere screening event on May 16, 2017, in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for WE tv)

2. Though Born With a Silver Spoon, These Kids Know How to Hustle

Although I walked in assuming that, other than Bow Wow, these kids were simply the spoiled beneficiaries of nepotism and extreme privilege. However, I could not have been more wrong. Sure, they may have moments of bratty-seeming soundbites on the show, but in actuality, each one was very humble and down to earth.

Carter, Fite, and Mauldin, in particular, didn’t even appear all that interested in pursuing a career in the music industry. A former member of OMG Girlz and the daughter of rapper Lil Wayne, Cater mentioned that she was currently working with her mother to pen her first novel.

NEW YORK, NY: Reginae Carter and her mom, Antonia Wright, attend the WE tv’s Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta premiere screening event on May 16, 2017, in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for WE tv)

Fite, who can be seen discussing how she quit her job as a retail manager within the first few minutes of the episode, clarified during the panel that she didn’t quit her job because she didn’t enjoy working. Rather, at that time, she was also trying to develop her own clothing line, so she took a temporary hiatus from her retail position to focus on her designing aspirations. She also mentioned that, now that her line is complete, she has since returned to the former retail gig.

NEW YORK, NY : Ayana Fite, daughter of DJ Hurricane, playfully gives her father style advice, while attending the WE tv’s Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta premiere screening event on May 16, 2017,  in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for WE tv)

Meanwhile, Mauldin, whose status as music mogul Jermaine Durpi’s daughter would theoretically allow her to transition into any facet of the music industry with ease whenever she wanted, is in school pursuing a college degree. Perhaps the most reserved of the bunch, it’s clear that, much like her father, Mauldin’s no-nonsense work ethic will lead her down a successful career path of her own making.

NEW YORK, NY: Shad “Bow Wow” Moss, Jermaine Dupri, and Shaniah Mauldin attend the WE tv’s Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta premiere screening event on May 16, 2017, in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for WE tv)

3. Is Bow Wow Really Ready to Retire?  Not Without J.D.’s Seal of Approval

Contrary to previous reports about Bow Wow’s  “retirement from hip hop,” I don’t think he will ever actually be done with recording music—at least, not until mentor Dupri is finally satisfied with the well-rounded, mature quality of his send-off album. Dupri certainly didn’t seem all that impressed by Bow Wow’s most recent album, Ignorant S***, which he impulsively recorded with Soulja Boy in one night.

You can find out how everything unfolds on Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta every Thursday night at 10/9c on WE tv!

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Black Celebs and Leaders Calling to #ImpeachTrumpNow

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Long before Donald Trump was elected president, his career was defaced by multiple lawsuits and scandals accusing him of racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and marital affairs. So, it’s no wonder that the Trump’s checkered past and questionable character managed to follow him into the White House. Since day one, his administration has been torpedoed by lies (also known as “alternative facts”) and corruption, but nothing has cast a dark shadow on the Trump administration like his alleged ties to Russia.

As a result, Democrats have been calling to impeach the embattled president for months over evidence that, during his campaign, he colluded with Russia in ways that resulted in his electoral win. Although the push to oust the president has gained traction and support from the left-leaning resistance movement, the hope that Trump would be actually indicted was far from reality—until now.

On Tuesday, Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey, who was in charge of leading the investigation into his alleged ties to Russia. The president says that Comey was dismissed because, according to reports from NBC News, he was “not doing a good job.”

Skeptics believe this abrupt dismissal seemed fishy, and many suspect that this was Trump’s attempt to prevent Comey from revealing incriminating information about him. Nonetheless, as the scandal continues to unfold, cries from the left to #ImpeachTrumpNow have become increasingly louder, especially across social media channels.

Here are a few black social influencers who have shared their support for the movement on Twitter and Instagram:

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African American(P)

Black Celebs and Leaders Calling to #ImpeachTrumpNow

no thumb

Long before Donald Trump was elected president, his career was defaced by multiple lawsuits and scandals accusing him of racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and marital affairs. So, it’s no wonder that the Trump’s checkered past and questionable character managed to follow him into the White House. Since day one, his administration has been torpedoed by lies (also known as “alternative facts”) and corruption, but nothing has cast a dark shadow on the Trump administration like his alleged ties to Russia.

As a result, Democrats have been calling to impeach the embattled president for months over evidence that, during his campaign, he colluded with Russia in ways that resulted in his electoral win. Although the push to oust the president has gained traction and support from the left-leaning resistance movement, the hope that Trump would be actually indicted was far from reality—until now.

On Tuesday, Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey, who was in charge of leading the investigation into his alleged ties to Russia. The president says that Comey was dismissed because, according to reports from NBC News, he was “not doing a good job.”

Skeptics believe this abrupt dismissal seemed fishy, and many suspect that this was Trump’s attempt to prevent Comey from revealing incriminating information about him. Nonetheless, as the scandal continues to unfold, cries from the left to #ImpeachTrumpNow have become increasingly louder, especially across social media channels.

Here are a few black social influencers who have shared their support for the movement on Twitter and Instagram:

read more
African American(P)

Black Celebs and Leaders Calling to #ImpeachTrumpNow

no thumb

Long before Donald Trump was elected president, his career was defaced by multiple lawsuits and scandals accusing him of racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and marital affairs. So, it’s no wonder that the Trump’s checkered past and questionable character managed to follow him into the White House. Since day one, his administration has been torpedoed by lies (also known as “alternative facts”) and corruption, but nothing has cast a dark shadow on the Trump administration like his alleged ties to Russia.

As a result, Democrats have been calling to impeach the embattled president for months over evidence that, during his campaign, he colluded with Russia in ways that resulted in his electoral win. Although the push to oust the president has gained traction and support from the left-leaning resistance movement, the hope that Trump would be actually indicted was far from reality—until now.

On Tuesday, Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey, who was in charge of leading the investigation into his alleged ties to Russia. The president says that Comey was dismissed because, according to reports from NBC News, he was “not doing a good job.”

Skeptics believe this abrupt dismissal seemed fishy, and many suspect that this was Trump’s attempt to prevent Comey from revealing incriminating information about him. Nonetheless, as the scandal continues to unfold, cries from the left to #ImpeachTrumpNow have become increasingly louder, especially across social media channels.

Here are a few black social influencers who have shared their support for the movement on Twitter and Instagram:

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African American(P)

Download the BE Events App to Stay Connected at Entrepreneurs Summit

WHEN: Wednesday, March 17 – Saturday, March 20

WHERE: Houston, TX

Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Summit is where entrepreneurs gather to take their business ventures to the next level. Network with powerful executives, decision-makers, influencers, and leaders. Receive cutting-edge information; participate in hands-on workshops; and learn from some of the best in a variety of industries.

To stay on top of all things Entrepreneurs Summit, go to iTunes or Google Play to download the BE Events app.

This app will allow you real-time access to the Summit including schedule updates, speaker information, networking, social engagement, registration, partnerships, Black Enterprise exclusives, and so much more. Download today to remain in the know.

After downloading, tap your desired conference, accept the push notifications, click register, enter your info, and enjoy the event!

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African American(P)

Download the BE Events App to Stay Connected at Entrepreneurs Summit

WHEN: Wednesday, March 17 – Saturday, March 20

WHERE: Houston, TX

Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Summit is where entrepreneurs gather to take their business ventures to the next level. Network with powerful executives, decision-makers, influencers, and leaders. Receive cutting-edge information; participate in hands-on workshops; and learn from some of the best in a variety of industries.

To stay on top of all things Entrepreneurs Summit, go to iTunes or Google Play to download the BE Events app.

This app will allow you real-time access to the Summit including schedule updates, speaker information, networking, social engagement, registration, partnerships, Black Enterprise exclusives, and so much more. Download today to remain in the know.

After downloading, tap your desired conference, accept the push notifications, click register, enter your info, and enjoy the event!

be-eventslockup

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African American(P)

Download the BE Events App to Stay Connected at Entrepreneurs Summit

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WHEN: Wednesday, March 17 – Saturday, March 20

WHERE: Houston, TX

Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Summit is where entrepreneurs gather to take their business ventures to the next level. Network with powerful executives, decision-makers, influencers, and leaders. Receive cutting-edge information; participate in hands-on workshops; and learn from some of the best in a variety of industries.

To stay on top of all things Entrepreneurs Summit, go to iTunes or Google Play to download the BE Events app.

This app will allow you real-time access to the Summit including schedule updates, speaker information, networking, social engagement, registration, partnerships, Black Enterprise exclusives, and so much more. Download today to remain in the know.

After downloading, tap your desired conference, accept the push notifications, click register, enter your info, and enjoy the event!

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African American(P)

The Best Twitter Reactions to the Uproar over DeVos’ Commencement Speech at B-CU

Betsy DeVos (Image: Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos during her commencement address at Bethune-Cookman U. | Source: Twitter/BetsyDeVosED)

We all saw this coming.

Petitions and protests emerged the moment that it was announced that U.S. Secretary of State Betsy DeVos would be delivering the keynote address at Bethune-Cookman University’s commencement ceremony. Students at the historically black college were outraged that DeVos, a billionaire Republican lobbyist and advocate for the privatization of schools, was chosen to speak at the HBCU—and for good reason.

Earlier this year, DeVos tried to whitewash the legacy of historically black colleges and universities, claiming that they were a prime example of “school choice.” She also said that teachers should be allowed to bring firearms into classrooms to protect their students from grizzly bears. Plus, she hired high-level officials connected to predatory for-profit schools to work for the Department of Ed.

In an open letter released Monday, the NAACP demanded that Bethune retract its invitation to DeVos, arguing that giving her a platform to speak at the school’s commencement was a slap in the face to the university’s founder, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.

When it comes to the future of education, Betsy DeVos has vowed to dismantle public education in favor of privatization and charter schools, to bring more guns and police into our schools, has ended federal programs that encourage diversity in public schools and is in the process of developing a student loan repayment plan that would make it harder for 97 percent of the current student body of Bethune-Cookman University, and millions of students across the country, to pay back their loans. Betsy DeVos referred to HBCUs as “pioneers of school choice,” a sign of how tone deaf she is to the history and needs of Black communities. This weekend, Trump announced that a program that helps ensure equitable financing to HBCUs “may be unconstitutional.”

Still, the college president, Edison O. Jackson, decided to proceed anyway. And, this is what happened in return.

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In addition to graduates heckling and turning their backs on DeVos, the hashtag #BackstoDeVos began trending on Twitter. Here are a few of the best reactions.

This display of public outrage should serve as a wake-up call to DeVos and the Trump administration: It’s going to take a lot more than photo ops and empty speeches to win over black students. Black institutions deserve protection, more federal funding, and better public schools that prepare students of color for college. Anything less is unacceptable.

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82 Girls Have Reportedly Been Released By Boko Haram

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Boko Haram

82 of the hundreds of girls abducted by Boko Haram in 2014 have been released, according to officials.

The girls were released via negotiations between the Nigerian government and the terrorist group, reports Reuters. An official told the AP that the girls were located near Banki in the state of Borno.

The number of girls hasn’t been officially confirmed, however multiple outlets are reporting that they were turned over to the Nigerian military. Bashir Ahmad, an assistant to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, tweeted yesterday (April 6), “Alhamdulillah! This is a very very good and exciting news. More victories for Nigeria. Huge numbers. #OurGirls!”

In exchange for their release, five detained and suspected commanders of Boko Haram were freed, according to the Nigerian government.

The dozens of newly-released girls are among the 276 (aging from 16 to 18) who were taken from their beds at a boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria in April of 2014.

Last October, 21 of the girls were freed, also a result of negotiations. Some of the others kidnapped broke free and were found. Currently, there are 113 girls who still remain missing.

 

 

This article was written by Paul Meara and originally appeared on BET.com.

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iONE Digital Acquires Madame Noire, Bossip.com and Hip Hop Wired Websites

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(Image: iONE Digital)

 

In a move that solidifies iONE Digital as one of the largest players in the African American media space, the company has acquired the websites Madame Noire, Bossip.com, and Hip Hop Wired. The sites are now 100% owned by iONE Digital and acquired as part of a push to build a portfolio of brands that are rooted in black culture with strong millennial audiences, according to a recent press release about the acquisition.

Detavio Samuels, president of iONE Digital, a division of Urban One Inc. (a Maryland-based BE 100s company formerly known as Radio One and ranking No. 9 on 2016’s Industrial Services Companies list with $451 million in revenues) said that his choice behind this decision was rooted iONE Digital’s overall strategy to build a portfolio of “meaningful brands.”

“The brands we are acquiring have great recognition amongst consumers, clients, and agency partners,” he said in the press release. “In today’s ever-changing media landscape, it is imperative that we build a portfolio of brands with distinct voices and engaged audiences across multiple distribution channels. These three brands fit that strategic filter and we look forward to working with the existing teams to catapult these brands to the next level.”

Detavio Samuels, iONE Digital President (Image: iONE Digital)

 

Samuels, named one of BLACK ENTERPRISE’s Top Executives in Marketing and Advertising in 2011, also noted that the acquisition offers the brands a larger audience while offering advertisers all of the top digital-first brands in the black culture space under one roof.

“There is simply no competition,” he stated.

Prior to the acquisition, the three brands combined to make Moguldom Media Group the third-largest black digital content provider, behind iONE Digital and BET, respectively, cited the release.

The newly acquired brands will now be packaged under the moniker, “BHM Digital.” It will stand alongside existing iONE Digital brand properties, HelloBeautiful, NewsOne, GlobalGrind, and the company’s new site and master brand, CASSIUS, a self-proclaimed urban millennial lifestyle platform that touts that black culture is pop culture and is on a mission “to confront the appropriation game.”

The combined BHM Digital brands boast an audience of 6 million monthly unique visitors with little overlap with iONE Digital’s current audience. BHM Digital will operate as a separate division within the company with dedicated editorial, marketing, and sales teams. There are plans to fully integrate and maximize synergies among the brands for better solutions for clients, stated the release.

iONE Digital has transformed itself within the digital media space in the past six months. Under Samuels’ leadership, himself a millennial, he has led the company to see its highest traffic and direct sales year since its launch by Radio One in 2008.

He stressed iONE Digital’s expanding influence and impact in the digital media realm.

“Whether brands are looking to grow their share of the 1.3 trillion dollars blacks spend every year or grow their total market dollars by tapping into the power and influence of black culture, iONE Digital is the dominant player in the digital space,” he noted.

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