Saturday, April 21, 2007

Saturday Soul: Stephanie McKay

From The Cocoa Lounge

Saturday Soul: Stephanie McKay

If the arts were a sport, Stephanie McKay would be something like a heptathlete. The Bronx native studied dance at the prestigious Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; contributed her vocals to artists ranging from The Brooklyn Funk Essentials, Talib Kweli and Mos Def to Tricky; and as if that weren't enough, she's even played lead guitar in Kelis' band.

Please enjoy Stephanie McKay's music video, "Take Me Over:"

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Don't Worry, Be Nappy!

From The Cocoa Lounge

We were going to try to let the storm of the whole Don Imus controversy blow by without getting our hair mussed, but...

Black Womens' Response to The Imus Controversy

Now that we've officially washed this situation out of our hair, let's get on to celebrating it!:

Don't Worry Be Nappy
Fabulous Fros: 1. Singer, Janelle Monae 2. Model, Jordan Richardson 3. Singer, Erykah Badu 4. Singer, Lizz Wright 5. Singer, Georgia Anne Muldrow 6. Rapper, Ms. Lauryn Hill.

For further reading:

"Nappy-headed? Now those are fighting words," by Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Nigeria's Next Top Model

From The Cocoa Lounge

Nigeria's Next Top Model Contestants
African models have been successful on the American and European fashion scene for years. From Somalia's Iman to Ethiopia's Liya Kebede, Ugandan-born Kiara Kabukuru, Alek Wek of the Sudan, and Nigeria's own, Oluchi, African models have helped to define and re-define black beauty for the last several decades.

So seeing a spin-off of Tyra Banks' popular America's Next Top Model head to the motherland is not only fitting but just plain dope.

Nigeria's Next Top Model Contestants

" The overriding aim is to nurture, encourage, develop, fashion, mentor young ladies into that which they were born to be – superb flag bearers and ambassadors of the great ‘Heart of Africa’ Nigeria!"

We're not sure what stage of production this series is in, or if it will even make it to air, but we'll be watching to see what happens.

For more info about Nigeria's Next Top Model visit:

Related Posts: South Africa, Stand Up!

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Cocoa Lounge Remembers: Calvin Lockhart

From The Cocoa Lounge

We were devastated to learn of the passing of Calvin Lockhart, and it is with great sorrow that we remember this legendary actor, one of our all-time favorites...

The Cocoa Lounge Remembers Calvin Lockhart (1934-2007)

Before Denzel Washington, and slightly after the reign of Harry Belafonte, there was Calvin Lockhart. During his nearly 30 year film career, his acting talent was upstaged only by his tremendous good looks. Though his skill and physical assests surpassed many of his caucasian contemporaries, Hollywood failed to capitalize on the ball of fire that was Calvin Lockhart. Despite the limitations of the film industry for black actors of the time, his contribution to film remains etched on celluloid; showcasing a talent unbound by continent, genre, or race.

The Cocoa Lounge Remembers Calvin Lockhart (1934-2007)Calvin Lockhart was born Bert Cooper on October 18, 1934 and raised in Nassau Bahamas, moving to New York City at the tender age of 19. The story goes that during this time, he was so disturbed by people's fascination with his looks that he attempted to disfigure his face with scissors. He later moved to London where many of his early films were produced, and would also become the place he called home for 13 years. The looks that he resented so much in his youth would come to work to his advantage; in 1971 he was declared "The World's Sexiest Man" by the British public. Much of his early work can not be seen on video in the U.S., though he worked extensively in America during the 1970's. His most memorable available work can be seen in 1973's Cotton Comes to Harlem opposite Cocoa Lounge Legend, Judy Pace and the Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier comedies Uptown Saturday Night and Let's Do It Again in which he played characters "Silky Slim" and "Biggie Smalls" respectively, roles that later influenced members of the hip-hop community, most namely, the Notorious B.I.G.

Though Calvin Lockhart's appearances would diminish in number and acclaim over the years, he left an indelible mark in the hearts of filmgoers the world over. He is perhaps one of the most beautiful men of African descent ever to inhabit a film frame and beyond that, a captivating presence to watch onscreen.

Mr. Lockhart died March 29th, 2007 of complications from a stroke. He was reportedly filming a movie titled "Rain," one of his first screen roles in over 10 years. For Lockhart fans, the film may provide one last look at a man who was instrumental in opening doors for African American leading men. He will be truly missed.

The Cocoa Lounge Remembers Calvin Lockhart (1934-2007)The Cocoa Lounge Remembers Calvin LockhartThe Cocoa Lounge Remembers Calvin Lockhart (1934-2007)

More information on Calvin Lockhart:

Related Posts: The Cocoa Lounge Remembers Tamara Dobson

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Return of The Female Hip Hop Crew???

The Cocoa Lounge
Emerging Female Hip Hop Group, J'AR.

In our never-ending quest to find new female voices in hip-hop music, we stumbled upon the LA based trio, J'AR. What we saw was promising: Three stylish chicks + a couple of cool write-ups....? Was this the second coming of JJ Fad or--better yet--Salt N Pepa?

A quick myspace visit and a couple demo tracks later proved us wrong...and left us utterly confused. We still don't know whether to take this girl group seriously, or to dub them the female, hip hop version of Weird Al Yankovic.

Those who enjoy the lyrical stylings of the southern rapper Khia will certainly appreciate what J'AR has to offer. Their sound is 80's retro and rhymes are peppered with references to their signature "door knocka" earrings. The fun, yet oh-so-grimy, "We Rockin Doorknockaz" is an anthem for hood chicks everywhere and "(Boyz) I Think They Like Me," a send-up of Dem Franchize Boyz' 2006 hit. But as the songs fade out, you can't help but ask yourself, "Are these girls for real?"

And just in case you were wondering why one of the rappers looked familiar: Surprise! It's R&B songstress Res turning over a new leaf.

HBIC We certainly can't report that strong, empowering female voices in hip hop are back on the rise, but with the recent formation of groups like J'AR and "hip hop supergroup" Head B****es In Charge (left: Jacki-O, Remy Ma and Shawna) there's definitely strength in numbers...or is there?

Related Posts: Fresh Face [#004]: Fallon