Insecure. Issa Rae has teamed up with Larry Wilmore to create this new HBO comedy series. Based on her YouTube series Awkward Black Girl, Rae plays Issa, a late 20 something woman trying to navigate her way being one of the few Black women at a L.A. inner city start up, a relationship that’s lost its spark, and her place in life as a whole. Along with her best friend and co-worker Molly (Yvonne Orji), there are plenty of moments of awkwardness that happen at work, dinner, home, and at the club. Rae excels as the main character, who like most women her age is seeking to define and redefine her place in a world determined to keep established parameters for her. It’s a sharp, often biting look at life in the 21st century among Black women in America that rarely gets seen on TV. Insecure premieres Sundaynight on HBO. You can also go to www.hbo.com, HBO Go or HBO Now for extras and more information.
The Birth Of A Nation. It was the bloodiest slave revolt in U.S. history: 60 slave owners and their families were killed and 200 blacks were killed for their involvement or as retaliation. Now, Nate Parker’s brings the life of Nat Turner, the architect of the revolt, to the big screen. Parker wrote, directs and stars as Turner, the slave turned preacher, who, after witnessing the atrocities inflicted on throughout his travels to various plantations, decides to organize and inflict vengeance upon his oppressors. Parker, who initially financed the film himself before it got picked up by Fox Searchlight, leaves nothing to the imagination when depicting the overwhelming horrors of slavery. Parker does add touches of humanity as well, especially when the film explores the courtship and marriage between Turner and his wife Cherry (Aja Naomi King). Religion is also dealt with powerfully both as a means of suppression and, eventually rebellion. A powerful, complex, and probing work that deserves to be judged on its own merits. The Birth Of A Nation opens nationwide this weekend. You can also to go http://www.thebirthofanationmovie.com/ for more information.
The 13th. Ava DuVernay’s (Selma, Queen Sugar) first full length documentary looks at how a loophole with the 13h Amendment has opened the door to mass incarceration (particularly among black men) and a booming prison industry. Whether it was freed slaves getting jailed on false pretenses or mandatory-minimum sentences for even the most petty offenses, DuVernary, along with a array of experts (Angela Davis, Van Jones, Jelani Cobb, Bryan Stevenson, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr, among them) makes the case plain and crystal clear. Her use of archival footage – everything from post Civil War newspaper accounts right up to comments made by both nominees for President hammer the message home even harder: Even more jarring is that prisoners are now used to do many of the same jobs as those on the outside – but for a fraction of the wages. Ava DuVernay has already established herself as one, if not, the best filmmaker today. This film now makes her our most important. An absolute must see. The 13th premieres Friday on Netflix and in select theaters.
Temple Of The Dog – The Deluxe Edition. Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell put together this project as a tribute to his friend and roommate Andre Wood, who had died of a drug overdose. He would recruit members of Wood’s band Mother Love Bone (Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard) guitarist Mike McCreedy, fellow Soundgarden member Matt Cameron to play drums and a recent addition to Ament and Gossard’s new band (which eventually become Pearl Jam) Eddie Vedder to provide vocals. Released in the spring of 1991, the album received solid reviews and sold modestly. After the success of Pearl Jam’s 10 and Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger, Temple Of The Dog got a second life. Anchored by the hit single ‘Hunger Strike’, Temple Of The Dog went on to sell over a million copies. To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the album’s release, a deluxe edition – featuring the original tracks, demos and live recordings -is now available. It’s a seminal work from the ‘grunge’ era featuring some of Cornell’s best vocals and writing and the musicianship overall is on fire. A labor of love that has become a masterpiece. Temple Of The Dog: The Deluxe Edition is available now through Amazon, Itunes and all major music outlets.
Machine Gun – Live At The Fillmore East 12-31-69 (First Show) by Jimi Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix wrapped up 1969 with a series of shows at New York’s Fillmore East that was designed to reflect a number of changes. For starters, he was debuted his new group, Band Of Gypsys which featured Army buddy Billy Cox on bass and former Electric Flag drummer/singer Buddy Miles. He was also showcasing new material, which incorporated elements of funk and R&B on top of a blues based hard rock sound. Though there has been several reissues featuring material from all of the shows, this new album marks the first time an entire Gypsys show has been presented in full. Remixed by long time Hendrix producer Eddie Kramer, the band and songs, while still in its early stages, are tight and making quite a beautiful noise considering that it’s only a trio. It also shows how this short lived group would end up laying the blueprint for which bands such as Funkadelic, Earth Wind & Fire, WAR and Living Colour would follow. A vital reissue in the Hendrix canon. Machine Gun – Live At The Fillmore East is available now through Amazon, ITunes and all major music retailers.
Stop The Moment (Acoustic) EP by Kelvin Jones. This 21 year old English-Zimbabwean singer-songwriter first gained exposure online after a friend posted his song, ‘Call You Home’ on Reddit. It caught the eyes of the producers over at Good Morning America and after airing the song, Sony Music quickly signed him. His full length album was met with strong critical acclaim and led to him opening for acts such as X Ambassadors and James Morrison. This new acoustic driven EP strips away most of the production and places on an emphasis on the songs and his vocals. It works wonderfully as tracks such as ‘Call You Home’ and ‘Closer’ pack as much of a punch as they did in their studio incarnations. Jones has already made a strong impression overseas and it’s only a matter of time before it happens here in the States. Stop The Moment (Acoustic) is available now through Amazon, ITunes and all major music outlets. You can also go to www.kelvinjonesofficial.com for more information.
New York City: PaleyFest: Made In NY. This year’s annual celebration features panel discussions with the creators and stars of TV series that are filmed and produced in New York City. Cast members from such shows as Homeland, Elementary, Madam Secretary, Gotham and The Daily Show are scheduled to appear, and there will as be special preview screenings and clips of upcoming episodes. An excellent opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the best working in TV today. PaleyFest runs through October 19th. You can also go to www.paleyfest,org for tickets and additional info.
Los Angeles: Desert Trip Festival. The same creative that gave us Coachella have put together a three day festival that on paper is a classic rock fan’s dream: Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones on Friday; Paul McCartney and Neil Young on Saturday and The Who and Roger Waters on Sunday. It’s not Woodstock, but The Empire Polo Club will be the closest thing since Live Aid to the ultimate representation of 60s ideals. All the acts involved are still in fine touring form also. Go tohome.deserttrip.com for ticket and more info.