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Past, present, and future

Hip-hop music continues its amazing odyssey  

Gregg Reese OW Contributor       | 6/28/2018, midnight
Initially dismissed as a “flash in the pan,” hip-hop’s hypnotic blend of rhythmic rhyming and..
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“Meech, who else we don’t like?”

Shakur was intent on speaking his mind about any and everyone who crossed or otherwise offended him.

“Everybody gotta know nobody is safe,” he declared.

By the time the Death Row entourage made plans to hit Las Vegas to attend the Sept. 7 boxing match for the WBA heavyweight title between Bruce Seldon and Mike Tyson, Shakur decided to ramp hostilities up a notch by premiering “Toss It Up” before the fight. Recording artist Jewell aka “Ju-L,” the “First Lady of Death Row, had a premonition of foreboding as the event approached. 

Later “Meech” presided over a recording session with Jewell Caples, aka “Ju-L,” The First Lady of Death Row.” Working to the point of exhaustion, she fell into a deep sleep during which she dreamed of Tupac Shakur’s demise. She was wakened by a call from the superstar just before him and rap impresario Suge Knight left to attend the heavyweight fight in Las Vegas between Bruce Seldon and Mike Tyson. Shakur ignored Ju-L’s pleas not to go, and would be gunned down afterwards, on Sept. 7, 1996.

Shipp was shocked “…to see the streets come back and snatch the rug out from under me.”

The murder traumatized him so much that he asked Suge Knight not to release “Toss it Up.”

His salvation came via an invitation by gospel music executive Vickie Mack Lataillade to fellowship with her at Inglewood’s Faithful Central Bible Church. Reinvigorated, he continues his career with renewed confidence.

“Give me a shell of a beat, and I’ll rap over it,” he declares.

Most recently his son, Demetrius Junior, was cast as Tupac Shakur in the biopic, “All Eyez on Me.”

Confident in the future, he points to his life as a cautionary lesson.

“You exploit the streets and the streets will come back to exploit you.”

 On her own two feet: The journey of Lyric Michelle

“I’m African by blood and heritage, American by endurance and strength.”

—Lyric Michelle

It is an annual rite of passage for expatriates from around the globe to seek a better life within the fruited plain of America. For Nigerians, the last few decades have seen them prosper to the point where they are considered the most successful of any new comers to the United States. As with anything however, this path is dotted with trial and tribulation.

For up and coming rapper Lyric Michelle, her quest for fulfillment has been hampered by the well meaning concerns of her parents, and the natural resistance to foreigners in this, the land of “the free.” Born in Chicago to Nigerian immigrants, her family relocated, seeking sanctuary from that city’s historic legacy of violence, specifically to Houston, Texas.     

Even then, the transition was rocky, in part by the expectations set by the grown ups in contrast to the artistic sensibilities of their daughter.

“They dreamed of doctors and lawyers as children-winding up with a rapper wasn’t the easiest pill to swallow,” she remembers.

“Across the world, the darkest of us have been the most looked down upon,” she says.