What Had Happened Was Trending stories on the intersections of race, sports & culture

‘Hood Adjacent’ is the show we’ve been waiting for

Comedian James Davis’ new program debuts June 28 on Comedy Central

4:56 PMThe word “adjacent” is everywhere. For example, a big trend in media now is “sports adjacent.” It’s a great descriptor for things that generally fit in one overall category but cannot necessarily be pinned to one thing in particular. For comedian James Davis, his life can best be described as “hood adjacent.” He hilariously describes this existence in his standup set. It’s a funny bit.

Now it’s a Comedy Central show. The series was ordered up during summer of last year, but now it’s got a preview and it’s beyond hilarious. I know all the gang signs but I don’t use ’em/low-key they’re complicated and really confusing is the lyric that probably best describes this ethos.

Davis is from South Central Los Angeles. Without blowing up the entire comedic premise of this program, hood adjacent is something that most black people from big cities know about. ” ‘Hood” is still short for “neighborhood.” Most black folks who aren’t relatively rich have lived in places with other black folks who have suffered similar urban plights. If you didn’t already know, everyone in the ‘hood isn’t participating in gangsta activities. That wouldn’t be remotely sustainable.

That said, I can’t wait for this show. Here’s a more in-depth look at how it was created. Hood Adjacent begins June 28 at 9 p.m. on Comedy Central.

NFL Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy, 48, is dead

1992 NFL Defensive Player of the Year was found in Orlando

3:47 PMFormer Seattle Seahawks defensive end and Miami Hurricanes standout Cortez Kennedy, 48, was found dead in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday, according to TMZ. The Arkansas native was a two-time national champion, eight-time Pro Bowler, NFL Defensive Player of the Year and member of the NFL’s All-1990s team.

For me, Kennedy was a tad before my time in terms of people I really remember well, but I remember him through his media career later in life. He’s one of those guys whom everyone around him had a story about.

“The entire Hall of Fame family is stunned and deeply saddened to learn the news of Cortez Kennedy’s passing,” Pro Football Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker said in a statement Tuesday. “On behalf of the Hall of Fame Board of Trustees, Cortez’s fellow Hall of Famers, and our staff, we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and fans. Cortez will be remembered not only for all his great achievements on the football field but how he handled himself off the field. He epitomized the many great values this game teaches which serves as inspiration to millions of fans.”

A 1992 feature on him from Sports Illustrated is a fascinating read if you have some time on your hands. And here’s an interview with him from before he was inducted.

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John Legend’s ‘Surefire’ video speaks to modern America

Director Cole Wiley’s tale of love lost and found is as timely as ever

3:10 PM

I try not to cry at work.

But I had to make an exception for John Legend’s new video for “Surefire,” off of his Darkness and Light album that was released Monday. Directed by Cole Wiley, it is ostensibly the story of two young people in love who are limited by the various societal constructs we put up to divide each other, be they race, religion, family structure or immigration status. This could be in either California or Texas, but it doesn’t particularly matter.

You don’t need to have a bleeding heart to recognize a tale of commitment and fortitude when you see one, but with the state of this nation today, this video hits every single note possible when it comes to reflecting exactly how phony the notion is of the United States being a melting pot. At every stage, there’s a powerful message to be sent.

Watch it for yourself. Don’t forget the tissues.

Daily Dose: 5/23/17

Bomb blast kills 22 at Ariana Grande concert

11:41 AMYou should probably know that I’ve been listening to Future’s Mask Off every day when I leave the house for about a month now, so when I see that Kendrick Lamar has dropped a verse on the remix, that’s an immediate click, fam.

A lot of girls lost their innocence last night. At an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, a bomb went off toward the end of her set, killing 22 people. As is the norm these days, the way it unfolded on social media was as heartbreaking as the news itself, with people in the English city understandably panicking while looking for their loved ones through any means possible. ISIS is taking responsibility, which means President Donald Trump is talking about it, which means these victims will be immediately forgotten for the sake of American politics. Awful.

Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter spent his birthday posting about his potential status as a political prisoner. So, for a very strange moment, you could go to his Twitter page and see a video of him saying his passport had been taken, with balloons falling all over your screen. If you don’t know, he’s been openly critical of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, calling him a modern-day Hitler, among other things. He was briefly detained in Romania, but now he’s back on U.S. soil, and he talked to Desus & Mero about the experience.

In high school, for some people, getting a job is a rite of passage. Personally, my mom wasn’t really into the idea of me doing just any job, which was rather limiting on many levels but also taught me to really enjoy jobs when I finally did get one. With the way the economy has developed over the past 20 years, the typical haven for said positions is dwindling: the mall. Now, some major retailers are battling with summer enrichment opportunities as a way to snag cheap labor.

The Nashville Predators will be in the Stanley Cup Finals. P.K. Subban and his boys are headed to play for the NHL championship. I told you all last June that his arrival in Tennessee would be a good thing for American entertainment, and I was right. Now, it’s a rock star country concert at every intermission, and Smashville is rocking. This is the best-case scenario for the league. If the Pittsburgh Penguins can top the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night, we’ll have an old power versus everyone’s favorite upstart team. Could be a great series.

Free Food

Coffee Break: As we all know, Black Twitter runs these streets. When it comes to the latest on fashion, slang, music, etc., it typically comes from us. That’s just how it is, and that’s fine. Now, BET is apparently linking up with the social media company in some sort of official capacity, which should be interesting to say the least.

Snack Time: If you think all maps are accurate representations of the land masses they represent, you must not know anything about the Mercator projection. Anyways, count the New York City subway as another distance distorter.

Dessert: Ladies and gentlemen, your tweet of the day.

Just another day for ‘The Bachelorette’

with its first black woman as the lead, the reality dating show avoids any land mines

11:07 AMIt could have been a mess. It probably should have been a disaster. But Rachel Lindsay’s grace, a screaming goofball and one Colombian chiropractor made the season premiere of ABC’s 21st season of The Bachelorette exactly what they wanted it to be: just another episode.

With the first black woman to take the title role of the show, there was a reasonable amount of pressure. This isn’t just some goofball show for girlfriends drinking wine on the couch anymore. It’s one of the network’s premier brands, so much so that it pre-empted its own storyline last season in the flagship show to make sure America knew that Lindsay was its newest star.

But in a country where black schoolgirls are still going to court over how they wear their hair to school, the opportunities for pitfalls were obvious. When it comes to attitudes about so-called traditional standards of beauty, mixed with show business and with a healthy dose of likely toxic masculinity thrown in, having a black woman as the center of attention was a potential recipe for someone to say something really not OK and get checked on camera.

Quite a few longtime watchers of the show were bracing themselves for the usual tropes of Lindsay’s beauty being described as exotic, or an extension of something we saw at the end of The Bachelor last season, when Dean, a startup recruiter, on live television said to a newly introduced Bachelorette Rachel, “I’m ready to go black, and I’m never going to go back.” While it was not an outright racist thing to say, it was certainly cringeworthy, and everyone knew it.

This time, when Dean came out of the limo, his attitude was far more demure and he knew he had an uphill battle to win Rachel’s heart after that stunt. In general, though, her being black is certainly not something she plans on shying away from when it comes to promoting the show, thankfully.

In an interview with espnW’s Katie Barnes, she talked about what that meant to her. “It’s huge. It’s very humbling to be the first. It was something that, I’ll admit, I was scared to do,” Lindsay said. “I have the opportunity to represent myself as a black woman to America, and show them that just because I’m black doesn’t mean my search for love has to be any different. There’s a lot of brave people that have paved the way for me to even have the opportunity to be the first black ‘Bachelorette.’ ”

As for Monday night’s episode, it was every bit the madcap foolishness that we’ve come to know and love. One guy wore a penguin suit, then later claimed he’s both black and white (get it?). Another brought a legit ice block and a sledgehammer and another went so far as to dress up like Steve Urkel on Family Matters, before re-emerging from the limo as Stefan Urquelle.

At this stage of the game, there are far too many personalities to break down each one, but the three standouts were obvious. Aside from my man Lucas, who was only there to sell T-shirts with his catchphrase on it and angered the whole house the entire time with his antics. Don’t hate, I bought one.

The Natural Fit

Josiah is a prosecuting attorney who turned around his life of crime as a youth to become a guy working in actual courtrooms as an adult. He brought a little legal jargon humor to the table as his intro, which was predictable yet adorable. He did refer to himself in the third person a couple of times, which was awkward, and he also used the ultrapossessive terminology of “making someone my wife,” but we’ll have to look past that for now. He seems genuine.


The Playboy

DeMario was one of the guys who appeared after the rose ceremony from last season’s The Bachelor but also was the clear standout after the initial bios were released. He also is a relative pretty boy and was very confident in himself, a trait that Rachel said she enjoyed quite a bit. An executive recruiter by trade, he also seemed like the leader of the cool guy crew, which should be an interesting development as this goes on.

The Family Man

Kenny was one of the contestants who got an extended look in the initial bio segment of the first hour of the show, leading us to believe he’ll likely go relatively far in this competition. He’s a professional wrestler with a 10-year-old daughter, so there’s an automatic soft spot for him. He also did the Deion Sanders touchdown dance on his way into the house, so he scores points with me.

The EgoManiac

In Blake’s initial introduction, he made no fewer than 500 references to his penis. That might be an exaggeration, but it was such a strange way to bring him in. Then, he decided that being a part of a marching band was the way he wanted to make his entrance and initial introduction to Rachel, and he didn’t say one word about his package. Very confusing. He also took it very personally that Lucas, aka Mr. Whaboomski, made the cut, which should make for an interesting scene down the line.

The Lothario

We mentioned him earlier, but Bryan was the one who stepped to the first episode with the clearest game plan of all. He started off by speaking Spanish to Rachel in what we presume was designed to be a seductive manner, then acted surprised when she understood a bit of it, which was a tad condescending. He then went on to point out that because he’s a chiropractor he’s good with his hands, which, again, was rather lame. But, he was also the guy who made the first aggressive move and kissed Rachel. It happened not once but twice, the second time after he received the first impression rose. My man had the full two-hand head grab approach to making out, too, giving the impression that he’s got a decent side career as a soap opera actor should this not work out. He also dropped a “gurl,” which we’ll just take note of for later. Either way, homie is in the lead.

Overall, they avoided the monster storyline of race and got through two hours without too many awkward situations surrounding race. The “Scenes from The Season” portion led to all sorts of speculation about drama down the line, but for the moment, no one here appears to be trying to satisfy a fetish of being with a black woman or out to prove how nonracist he is while simultaneously trying to find love. Maybe we’ll get through this whole thing without incident.

Most people seem to be there for the right reasons, which is either Rachel or Hollywood fame. If they can manage to keep up this facade for 11 more episodes, it should be a good season. But the second that all the brothas decide they want to start boxing out the white guys, things will get interesting. Until then, it’s all daps and backslaps.

Tierra Wilkins contributed to this report.

Biggie mural will not be torn down in Bed-Stuy

Art collective rallies enough support to save painting on Brooklyn apartment building

10:34 AMThe battle for the crown of King of New York in hip-hop is a succession battle as old as the genre itself. But only one person has ever held that title without question: The Notorious B.I.G. The rap legend and Brooklyn, New York, native’s importance to the borough cannot be overstated from a cultural standpoint, but with the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood being taken over by gentrification, the fate of a popular mural of the slain rapper was up in the air. Now, it will not be destroyed.

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Thank you Brooklyn! And a very very special thanks to the landlords for recognizing the importance of Biggie in this neighborhood! First we would like to thank both the Mayor's and congressman Jeffries offices for reaching out and offering all kinds of support to keep this iconic mural where it is! We also would like to thank every single local organization for coming forward with their resources . We would like to thank all the companies for offering financial support. ATLANTA has got so much love for Biggie! Thank you TI @troubleman31 for having your team contact us on a daily basis to get the updates. Special thanks to Mr. Guevara from @brooklynnets for the daily phone calls to make sure we get all the needed resources. We would like to thank all of you who have stood besides us! PLEASE if you see the landlords, THANK them for this generous gift to our community!! ! Happy Belated Birthday, King!!! 🎂@tyanna810 @cjordanwallace @therealfaithevans #spreadloveitsthebrooklynway #spreadartnyc #bedfordandquincy #20bigyears #biggiemural #biggie #biggiesmalls

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The details of the situation felt like a violation at first glance because the owner wanted to renovate the apartment building and add new windows. His name is Samuel Berkowitz. So when the group Spread Art NYC put the word out that he wanted it down, reaction was intense. Add that to the fact that he then claimed neighbors were complaining about the crowd it attracted, and then turned down $5,000 to keep it up — countering with an offer of a $1,250 monthly charge — it was a gut punch.

Do we really live in a world where an art collective is coming up with rent money to keep its popular murals for local legends? That’s not a reality anyone wanted to face. So a lot of famous people, including elected officials and other artists, got involved. It’s not going anywhere in the short term. They persuaded the building owner by simply explaining who Biggie was.

Before that, though, all the headlines were similar. Something along the lines of “iconic mural threatened” typically populate the page, with the misleading assertion about the painting itself. It only went up in 2015. The two artists who did it are Scott “Zimer” Zimmerman and Naoufal “Rocko” Alaoui. It’s 2 years old, which is hardly iconic.

What’s iconic is the image itself, a photograph by Barron Claiborne. It was shot for Rap Pages magazine. Three days after that shoot in 1997, the artist, nee Christopher Wallace, was shot and killed. It appeared on the cover and for the two decades since has been bastardized. While the painting added to the original image, the facial expression, the pose, the crown (which has been changed) were all already burned into the brains of most hip-hop fans.

Photo by Barron Claiborne

Photo by Barron Claiborne

Complicating matters even more was that an online petition going around titled #LandmarkBIG was actually causing a rift between factions looking to save the wall. A representative for Claiborne said they get requests to use the likeness of the image almost monthly, so they can’t recall whether this was an authorized usage or not.

The removal of the image would have been unfortunate and sad, but hardly a travesty. If you want a full history of the image and the immediate aftermath of what it meant to Brooklyn at the time, the story is interesting. The story of when the portrait was made, why it was shot and how it spread an image of personality from that shoot is what the essence of B.I.G. was. Besides, that photo isn’t even the best one from the contact sheet.

The Lupita/Rihanna buddy movie might be real

and we can barely contain our excitement

5:16 PMNever underestimate the power of a solid meme.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the not-so-wacky idea of Lupita Nyong’o and Rihanna starring in a buddy movie where they pull scams on old white guys is actually somewhat closer to happening. Black Twitter is the best. If this movie happens, you can expect crazy numbers.

More selfishly, there’s something particularly satisfying about watching the development of this scenario. So often material that is created by young black people on social media gets co-opted or appropriated for some other function, with the original creators getting boxed out from a credit and monetary compensation standpoint.

But even if this incredible all-star conglomeration puts this out, there is one person who absolutely must be involved for this to work.

Can’t. Wait.

NBA social media, we need to talk

because that Dave Chappelle tweet wasn’t funny at all

3:51 PM

Let’s be clear: This ain’t funny.

In this world of internet jokes, intentional misdirections and obvious sight or word gags are nothing new, but sometimes you can miss badly if either the intent doesn’t seem genuine or the result doesn’t land well enough to warrant the risk. In this case, it was some level of both.

There is no world in which Dave Chappelle isn’t a gazillion times more famous, recognizable, funny and important than Amy Schumer. Not one. So, if you’re going to make this joke, it goes as follows: Dave Chappelle and a fan. To make things even more annoying, Chappelle actually lives in Ohio, so this is so easy. Not to mention he is frequently at NBA games, often on the sidelines getting photographed.

This violation is a flagrant 2.

Daily Dose: 5/22/17

Sasheer Zamata exits ‘SNL’ with zero fanfare

12:56 PMIf you missed The Morning Roast on Sunday, Mina Kimes was back from Korea, and we talked about the NBA and where we are in the playoffs at this point. Also, some more French lessons from your boy.

Here’s a new segment we call: This Week in Racist Nonsense and Terror. We’ll start in Maryland, where a white supremacist decided to randomly kill a black man and we’ve still got to act like there’s some sort of question as to whether this was a hate crime. Moving to Louisiana, a state representative said that lawmakers should be lynched for taking down Confederate monuments in New Orleans. There’s also this woman in Virginia. And, oh, yeah, in case you forgot, the Nazis were highly inspired by the U.S. system of racial oppression.

Saturday Night Live‘s season finale was awkward. In it, Dwyane Johnson was the host and Katy Perry decided she was going to really embarrass herself during her performance of “Bon Appetit” with Migos. For whatever reason, she feels the need to try to act black instead of just being herself. It’s extremely hard to watch, in fact. But, also, Sasheer Zamata is leaving the show, although you never would have known that from the sketches Saturday night. These so-called diversity problems at SNL are more like “we just don’t really want outsiders.”

There are zoos and then there are game reserves. There are also animal parks in certain parts of the world where, when you get to see them, you get a completely different perspective on just how cruel big-game hunting is. Most animals, obviously, are just trying to live out their short lives like everyone else, and idiots with superiority complexes and greedy pockets trying to ruin them really are the worst. So, when a hunter gets crushed to death by an elephant, it’s hard to feel bad on any level.

If you didn’t think the Las Vegas Raiders games were going to be nuts, think again. No. 1, it’s the Raiders. They have one of the craziest fan bases in the NFL, the type of people who would probably find a way to make the trip from the Bay Area for eight weeks a year just so they could dress up in all their black-and-silver glory. But now, the Vegas factor comes into play. You will now be allowed to legally place wagers from inside the stadium on your phone during games. Aka, mobile betting on exactly what you’re watching in front of you. What a world.

Free Food

Coffee Break: At the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night, Diddy took the stage to commemorate what would have been the Notorious B.I.G.’s birthday and also bring his son out to introduce him to the world. He also debuted the trailer for a new documentary he’s got coming out about Bad Boy Records. It looks incredible.

Snack Time: The homey Snoop Dogg is still making music, which makes me extremely happy in general. His new album is chock-full of awesome guests, so you should check it out. You can stream it here.

Dessert: The latest season of The Pengest Munch has closed. Eat lunch first, because you’ll be hungry after.

Daily Dose: 5/19/17

Basquiat is still selling and breaking records

1:18 PMThis has been one of the longest weeks in Washington I can think of in a really long time. Here’s hoping that we make it through the weekend with our democracy intact.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more precarious at the White House, the president takes off on a foreign trip. Obviously, people are a bit worried about how this might go, considering President Donald Trump’s proclivities for bluster and hyperbole, which may play well here with his base, but are a different matter overseas. He’s representing not only himself but also the nation. A misspeak or errant tweet is not going to fly with a foreign audience when you’re on their turf. Let’s hope his aides are armed with what they need to make this go smoothly.

I love dogs as much as the next person, but let’s be clear — they are not human. So when it comes to lives being taken unfairly, I’m pretty much always going to consider those of actual people more important than those of pets. But if you want to get an idea of where we are in America, a woman just walked free for killing a black man while in the line of duty in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, a guy who shot and didn’t even kill a police dog gets 19 years in prison. That is seriously messed up.

Jean-Michel Basquiat is a legend in the game. The street artist turned megastar died in 1988, but his influence on how galleries and subculture began to meld together to create a mainstream genre is still felt today. His work still sells, in some cases for amounts so astronomical that it makes you sad he’s not around to enjoy that money. But his latest is really off the charts. One of his works just sold for $110.5 million, making it only the 11th piece ever to break the $100M mark. I can’t even remotely contemplate paying that much for something.

Under Armour just scored a big league deal. The athletic apparel company will be supplying uniforms to Major League Baseball in 2019, taking over for Majestic and Nike. It feels like those two have been there forever; it’s 1982 for the former, to be exact. It’s a massive score for the Baltimore-based Under Armour, which has been growing consistently since it started in 1996. Now it’s one of the big boys for sure. I do wonder if it’ll do anything drastic to the usually staid, traditional style of MLB, but I doubt it. Why mess with greatness?

Free Food

Coffee Break: As if you don’t have enough things to worry about when buying a house, you can now add “gigantic terrifying honeycomb” to that list. That’s what happened in Georgia, where a woman discovered she had more than 100,000 bees inside her house. That is terrifying.

Snack Time: In this business of show, creativity is required but not always easy to find. So don’t ask me how or why we need a movie about the life of Bubbles, Michael Jackson’s monkey.

Dessert: You know what is good news, though? Lin-Manuel Miranda being involved in a DuckTales reboot. YES.