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Ashanti, Ja Rule, Wu-Tang Clan, and Redman Make History at Staten Island Peace and Unity Festival



On Saturday, July 10, hip-hop made an illustrious impact on Staten Island, one of New York City’s most underestimated boroughs. The inaugural Staten Island Peace and Unity Festival took place this Saturday with Ashanti and Ja Rule as headliners alongside Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, Cappadonna, and Redman. Sponsored by community organizations The Water Team, Uncle Chase Entertainment, Wakeem Entertainment, and 3J’s Creation Entertainment. Spearheaded by Kay Woods, CEO of The Water Team, the objective of the event was to encourage unity among New Yorkers after the aggressive limits of the now year-long pandemic, especially Staten Islanders.

At the top of the show, Kay Woods disclosed the mission of the festival. “The main purpose of this concert is about peace and unity. It ain’t about nothing else,” Kay Woods disclosed to the audience. “We ain’t doing this for the gram.”

Ja Rule and Ashanti kicked off the concert with their signature team dynamic and ran through their most favored hits in the likes of “Mesmerize,” “Always on Time,” “Down Ass Chick,” “Happy,” “Livin’ It Up,” and more. The festival marks Ashanti’s first time visiting Staten Island, a borough of New York where Murder Inc’s music played a role in the coming of seasoned trends.

Ja Rule Staten Island
Ja Rule performs at the 2021 Staten Island Peace and Unity Festival
Ashanti Staten Island
Ashanti performs at the 2021 Staten Island Peace and Unity Festival

Catching up with the R&B princess, she shared that she did not have any expectations about performing on Staten Island for the first time, and all she wanted was energy and love. The promising borough certainly fulfilled that desire as their outpouring of love was on full display.

“I really didn’t have any expectations. I didn’t know what we were coming into,” said Ashanti. “I felt like I wanted it to be energy and love and it definitely was.”

The Grammy award-winning singer highlighted her induction to the Class of 2022 Hollywood Hall of Fame during her performance and was moved by the response she received from Staten Islanders.

“You know what really surprised me, the reaction that I got when I said that I am getting a star on the Hollywood Hall of Fame,” said Ashanti. “That felt like family.”

Cappadonna Staten Island Peace and Unity
Cappadonna performs at the 2021 Staten Island Peace and Unity Festival

Staten Island is known for its role as being the birthplace of the Wu-Tang Clan. In return, the legendary group has managed to play a chunky role in the global recognition of the “forgotten” borough. New York City boroughs such as Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx are places where voluminous hip-hop events are known to take place and Staten Island is on the verge of joining the lineup.

Ghostface Killah Method Man Staten Island Peace and Unity
Ghostface Killah and Method Man perform “Ice Cream” at the 2021 Staten Island Peace and Unity Festival

In what is considered a legendary performance, Wu-Tang Clan members Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, and Cappadonna took to the stage alongside the funk doc himself, Redman. From Cappadonna’s slaying of his hit “Slang Editorial” to Ghostface Killah and Method Man’s nostalgic “Ice Cream” verses and even down to Young Dirty Bastard taking to the mic to the parts of his father, the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard, the festival brewed a moment that will go down in Staten Island’s hip-hop history, as such shindigs are rare.

In a sit down with Ghostface Killah, when asked about his stance on Wu-Tang’s iconic status on Staten Island, the “Mighty Healthy” emcee explained that he rarely thinks about it, but when he does he is humble about his role in putting Staten Island on the map.

Ghostface Killah Staten Island Peace and Unity 1
Ghostface Killah performs at the 2021 Staten Island Peace and Unity Festival

“I know what we did and whatever I do is just regular,” said Ghostface Killah. “I’m humble to it and I’m grateful that the most high has aligned me with who he has aligned me around, to be on that one team to spread this to the world.”

Staten Island rapper Yah-Sin, who also happens to be the nephew of Method Man, finds importance in Wu-Tang performing on “the island” as the presence of such legends “remind islanders that legends and great legacy can be created right here and reach out to the entire world.”

Chatting with Method Man, he shared that while he knows and understands Wu-Tang’s prominence on Staten Island, he poses the question as to what figures of his stature can do for their hometown communities:

“You have to give back more than just give back. Your presence alone is sometimes good but it ain’t good enough. Especially in situations where people are hungry, people are starving,” said Method Man.

“You can come around and give turkeys on thanksgiving, but once that turkey is gone, what they got to eat next?”

Redman Method Man Staten Island Peace and Unity
Redman and Method Man perform at the 2021 Staten Island Peace and Unity Festival

He continued, “There are people out there who will work for what they want. They are ready to work now. It’s just that the opportunity has passed them because they are not in a position or in a place where they can be seen and heard and be put into those places where they can provide for their families and take care of themselves. So what we do is, we put these festivals together hoping to inspire somebody to want better for themselves.”

Inspectah Deck Staten Island Peace and Unity
Inspectah Deck performs at the 2021 Staten Island Peace and Unity Festival

The Wu-Tang Clan also used the festival as an opportunity to publicly present Staten Island legends, the Force MDs with the platinum plaque they earned from their contribution to Ghostface Killah’s debut album Ironman.

The festival was a Staten Island affair that introduced a new tone to the borough’s hip-hop status. As the theme affirms, “peace and unity,” its historic reputation is mostly due to the social fellowship of rivaling local towns such as Stapleton and Park Hill, both stomping grounds of the Wu-Tang Clan. Originally, the event was set to take place for two days with Lil Durk slated to headline day two, July 11. However, day two was postponed due to matters that were beyond the control of the organizers.

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Dre A.M. Is All “For The Music” In His New Single



Queens, NY native Dre A.M. drops a new single for the culture “For The Music” available on all DSPs.

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Black Trans Ex-Netflix Employee Speaks Out About Being Fired



Robyn Mowatt

Robyn Mowatt is a staff writer at Okayplayer where she…

Netflix Walkout

Photo Credit: Frederic J. Brown for AFP

“First and foremost, I am the person who was fired,” said B. Pagels-Minor in an interview. “Before I left Netflix, my actual title was game-launch operations program manager.”

B. Pagels-Minor, a former Trans leader at Netflix who is Black is speaking out about the public-facing weeks the streaming platform has been facing and being fired.

Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special The Closer has been in the news cycle for weeks, and it’s been brought into question due to the inflammatory transphobic banter that was prevalent in it. Immediately following its release there was backlash externally, but also internally within Netflix. Three employees were suspended for joining a conference call scheduled for company leaders, including Terra Field, a trans software engineer. Each of these employees has since been reinstated. 

Employee resource groups including Black @Netflix and Trans* at Netflix led discussions that eventually turned into a walkout. Here’s where Pagels-Minor comes in, as a Black trans nonbinary person who uses pronouns they/them, Pagels-Minor says they were fired hours after announcing the walkout that directly addressed how Netflix was publicly supporting Chappelle. They were the co-lead of both employee-resource groups.

Netflix denies the claims above. Per Vulture, the former employee says they were not the leak that disclosed confidential information. They have decided to step forward and speak for themselves publicly. In regards to the special, they shared, “We’re not asking you to take down the content.” They added, “We’re asking you to potentially put a trigger warning on that content but also to look into investing time and money in creating content that shows the other side of the story.

Pagels-Minor shares additional thoughts on the special:

“The problem is not necessarily about the special. It’s about this ongoing conversation that felt false. There’s gonna be content that people disagree with. There’s no question about that. But how do you create parity in content? How do you create another story, another documentary, another show, another film that combats the story that Dave Chappelle is putting forward. Why aren’t you investing in that?”

On being fired:

“First and foremost, I am the person who was fired. Before I left Netflix, my actual title was game-launch operations program manager. And I was the co-lead of Black@ Netflix and Trans* at Netflix. Not only that, I was the face of Netflix for several external campaigns to help with recruitment. The internal comms team that deals with PR would come to me and say, ‘We’re thinking about doing something. Would you be interested in representing?’ I’ve been in tech since 2010. I’ve been in a lot of toxic tech companies.” 

They go on to express that Netflix was a company that made them feel like themselves and that colleagues did not misgender them. “I chose Netflix because it was going to be the place that I was not going to have to worry about any of this.”

On the leak:

“I created publicly viewable Google documents and things that people could use, and I shared this information broadly. Ultimately they think that I facilitated the leak by creating these folders of information.”

Pagels-Minor also shared that they’re currently 33 weeks pregnant and do not need the stress that’s been in their life surrounding their firing from Netflix. They say the company believes they facilitated a leak despite an explanation explicitly stating that is false. Following back-and-forth communication between Pagels-Minor and Netflix, the company opted to send an investigator to their home to pick up their devices that were owned by the company.

“Now I feel like I have to talk to the press in order to defend myself and hopefully come to an amicable resolution over all of this,” they said. “I really want to see Netflix have some movement on the demands from the Trans* employee-resource group. I think that everything that has been asked for will actually make the company better and prepare the company for attitudes and how gender is changing over time.

B. Pagels-Minor is also hoping that speaking publicly about the last few weeks will lead to a reasonable solution from a severance perspective.

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NEW VIDEO: Moneybagg Yo feat. Lil Durk & EST Gee – “Switches & Dracs”



Moneybagg Yo Lil Durk EST Gee Switches & Dracs videoTo celebrate the release of his A Gangsta’s Pain: Reloaded project, Moneybagg Yo has premiered the official video for the song “Switches & Dracs” featuring Lil Durk and EST Gee.

Watch the visuals below:

The post NEW VIDEO: Moneybagg Yo feat. Lil Durk & EST Gee – “Switches & Dracs” appeared first on Fresh: Hip-Hop & R&B.

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