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

WorldStarHipHop founder dies

Lee ‘Q’ O’Denat was 43

12:30 PM

Lee “Q” O’Denat will never get the credit he deserves. The creator of WorldStarHipHop died in San Diego while visiting a massage parlor, according to the Los Angeles Times. Fittingly, TMZ first reported his death. He was 43 years old. He’s no longer with us, but the impact of the website he created, while measurable in clicks and page views, cannot be overvalued from a culture standpoint.

Among a certain cadre of people who consider themselves tastemakers, WSHH was an ugly duckling that grew into not a beautiful swan, but a hulklike mutant that permanently realigned the balance of power in hip-hop and, to an extent, black culture altogether. For every absurd fight video, there might have been a reasonable mixtape to listen to. For all the random montages of women with few clothes on, there was some kid dancing his face off in a living room that made you wonder when they’d be famous.

By balancing the boom of the internet as an independent distribution platform and a proverbial renaissance of ratchet, WSHH embodied everything about a world that wasn’t ready to accept it as a major player in the game. You didn’t have to like it, but the site had legit exclusive content. It’s particularly sad because WSHH had just inked a deal with MTV2 to create a television series.

There’s speculation that heart failure, brought on by obesity issues, was the cause of death for O’Denat. If so, it’s another reminder of how maintaining healthy habits is something that so many black men have difficulty doing in many parts of America. You can scream “Worldstar!” next time you go to the doctor. It just might save your life.


The site has no plans to shutter, and his loss created shockwaves around the hip-hop world.

Ice Cube’s Hollywood takeover continues

The rapper-turned-actor’s production company gets major investment from Hong Kong-based company

1:00 PM“Yeah, I’ll check out a movie, but it’ll take a black one to move me.”

That’s what Public Enemy’s Chuck D said on the 1990 single Burn Hollywood Burn, an uptempo track that highlighted the history of negative portrayals of black characters in film and television. Nearly 30 years later, the man who penned the second verse on that track, Ice Cube, is still fighting that cause.

This week, Cube Vision signed a film deal with AID Partners, reportedly in the eight-figure territory, which basically allows the company to develop projects as it sees fit, with its own people, and not be subjected to the foolishness that is the studio development process. And last month, Cube Vision signed a two-year deal with 20th Century Fox to create television projects for both on-air and streaming platforms.

“It’s hard to think of a more multidimensional artist than Ice Cube, whose influence on the culture and enormous talent is virtually unrivaled. He’s a performer, a songwriter, a recording artist, an actor and a filmmaker, and his work speaks to a broad, multigenerational audience,” Fox Television Group chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman told Deadline at the time.

Don’t look now, but Cube’s made almost 20 movies. You can say what you want about the quality of said films, but there’s no denying at this point that his moves away from the music game are now far enough away from just being a foray designed to cash in on his popularity as a rapper. Cube is a filmmaker and one who’s been as productive as almost any other in the black community in the past 15 years. He’s not just beating people up on camera, he’s creating opportunities for people of color in the film world to create.

Then again, we knew he was one of the smartest people in Los Angeles when he walked away from N.W.A. in the first place.

Daily Dose: 1/24/17

It should be an interesting year at the 89th annual Academy Awards

12:30 PMMonday night’s episode of The Bachelor was the best of the season so far. Slowly, but surely, we’re going to get Domonique Foxworth to watch the show. Right now, he’s just got fire takes about who should actually win.

The nominees for the Academy Awards are out. By the way, let’s not forget that the creator of #OscarsSoWhite is April Reign. That said, the Academy is apparently trying to change things on that front, and this year, in the best picture category there are three films that are primarily dealing with black folks: Moonlight, Fences and Hidden Figures. Also, O.J. Made in America made the list for documentaries. There were some rather surprising snubs, mostly in the animated movie realm. Here’s the full list.

The White House has a loose relationship with the truth. Press Secretary Sean Spicer is clearly not a guy who plans on doing anything other than President Donald Trump’s bidding, which while it is his job also affects him personally. If you’re wondering, by the way, it’s not like the chain of command at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is super stable. Spicer is having trouble understanding why so many people are constantly critical of the administration he’s a part of. He’s also doing a really bad job of explaining why their propaganda game is so ineffective.

Losing games to computers is nothing new. Every night when I play FIFA 17 on my Xbox, I’m likely to lose to the system at least once. But back in the ’80s, chess masters started playing against computers as a way to test their abilities, which is a totally different monster than me sitting on my couch. Now it appears that the machines are coming for the latest televised nonsport game that has taken over the nation: poker. For someone who doesn’t play poker, I can’t imagine this will improve the television product, but as a stunt, it is intriguing.

The Washington Wizards want so bad to be relevant. They’ve managed to pull that off in the past few weeks in the NBA, ascending all the way to fifth in the Eastern Conference. They’ve developed a little thing with the Boston Celtics, which is cute. Regular-season rivalries are always a tad awkward when neither team is particularly good otherwise. Now, the Zardos are saying they plan to wear all black to their game Tuesday night. Cool, guys. Good to see the squad is focused on what matters.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Over the years, MTV has rolled out a variety of shows that changed the course of pop culture. My Super Sweet 16 is one of them. If you don’t recall, it was basically Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous for teenagers looking to celebrate their birthdays. Now, MTV is bringing it back. This is going to be excellent.

Snack Time: It never ceases to impress me which parts of the globe hip-hop stretches to, often as a voice for those who otherwise are silenced. Check out this story about how the Iranian diaspora is now in the game.

Dessert: Post Malone’s new video with Quavo for Congratulations feels like it was a lot of fun to shoot.

Daily Dose: 1/23/17

‘Star Wars’ announces new title

3:30 PMThis week’s show was a good one on The Morning Roast. Mina told a pretty incredible story about meeting the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown when she was at a group dinner and ended up in a pretty awkward sitch.

We’ve got a new name for the next Star Wars film. It’ll be called The Last Jedi, which is apparently super controversial to people who don’t understand that the plural of Jedi is “Jedi Knights.” Seriously, people are going insane over this, which is beyond bizarre to me. It’s just a title, kiddos. That said, it is an intriguing one. The obvious question is: Who is that going to be? It also sets up a clear path in which the universe we know as Star Wars changes fundamentally going forward if Jedi Knights are no longer involved. It’ll be out just before Christmas.

The Women’s March on Washington was a huge deal. Its crowds dwarfed the actual presidential inauguration by a wide margin and was a major success not just in the capital but also across the country, too. People were protesting and supporting as far as Anchorage and Antarctica, which is wild on many levels. Perhaps most importantly though was the response the march received worldwide. The current situation with the commander in chief is one that is of international importance. Here’s why people across the globe decided they wanted to join in.

Donald Trump is off and signing these days. On Monday, he banged out a couple of executive orders, one of which pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and put a hiring freeze on federal workers. There’s something particularly odd about the smug look on his face when signing these papers, as if the act of being able to do it is more important than what the actual piece of paper says. Seriously, what is the point of holding up a piece of paper you just signed? He also has a “I’m writing with a pen” face, which is kind of funny.

If you had to watch the Super Bowl in one city, which would it be? Houston? Because that’s where it’ll be. But I imagine that watching the game in Atlanta will probably be a blast, too. This matchup is also somewhat politically loaded. Everyone knows about the New England Patriots’ relationship with the president and we all remember how Trump decided to diss Rep. John Lewis, whose congressional district spans parts of Atlanta. All that aside, this game is likely to be a major shootout.

Free Food

Coffee Break: If you want to get a good idea of how pervasive the concept of race is when it comes to law enforcement, check out this story about two police officers who tasered an official race relations adviser because they thought he looked like a wanted criminal. Unreal.

Snack Time: Don’t ever forget that Joe Biden is a savage in these political streets. My man cold punked Mike Pence to his face and didn’t even break stride. The former vice president’s photo-op game is next level.

Dessert: By the way, if you want to leave a comment for the White House, you must have internet now.

Draymond Green looks to raise racism awareness

The Golden State Warriors forward continues efforts with the R.I.S.E. initiative

6:00 PMIt’s been a pretty typical week in the life of Draymond Green. On Tuesday, he continued his time-honored tradition of finding a reason to flagrantly foul LeBron James, then antagonized folks about it on the way out. Draymond being Draymond, to an extent.

Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors celebrates after making a three-point shot against the Phoenix Suns during an NBA basketball game at ORACLE Arena on December 3, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors celebrates after making a 3-point shot against the Phoenix Suns during an NBA basketball game at Oracle Arena on Dec. 3, 2016, in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

But there’s another side to the physical Golden State Warriors forward. This week, he’s been wearing signature shoes to raise awareness against racial discrimination. The effort is in conjunction with Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ initiative, R.I.S.E. (Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality), which according to its website is “harnessing the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress.”

Green rocked the shoes, which feature the words “sideline racism” on them, during a game against the Phoenix Suns in the first week of December. That was the same week that many NFL players were allowed to wear custom cleats as part of the “My Cause My Cleats” program, which was created in conjunction with The Players’ Tribune. At the time, the Arizona Cardinals’ Tyrann Mathieu wore a pair of gold cleats that also read “sideline racism.”

Green originally wore his shoes in conjunction with MLK Day, but will continue his message Friday night against the Houston Rockets. The game airs at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN.

Sam Moore sings at Donald Trump inaugural concert

After much controversy, the R&B legend opened the musical acts

12:30 PMWhen Donald Trump began his inaugural concert on a gloomy Thursday night in Washington, D.C., a black man welcomed in the proceedings, from a musical standpoint. It was Sam Moore, half of the duo Sam & Dave, famous for their hits Hold On, I’m Comin and Soul Man from 1966 and 1967, respectively. After being introduced by actor Jon Voight, Moore sang America the Beautiful with a choir.

The performance was stirring, particularly for an 81-year-old man. But the real story came from looking at his backup singers, none of whom seemed able to manage a smile during the entire performance. As the camera panned across the stage, while they hit their notes with grace, very few appeared to be enjoying themselves. Overall, the entire vibe of the concert was a far cry from what we saw eight years ago, when Barack Obama was headed to the Oval Office.

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Moore’s performance was not without controversy as his route to getting on the bill directly involved another performer who backed out. After Jennifer Holliday decided she no longer wanted to be a part of the “Make America Great Again Welcome Celebration” after receiving death threats and other backlash, Moore asked if he could take her place, citing the criticism against her as unfair.

“I am not going to let them, the left side, intimidate me from doing what I feel is the right thing to do for the country and that [presidential] seal,” Moore told The New York Post‘s Page Six this week. ““He’s got a big mouth, like me. Whether you agree with him or not, he’s going to say what’s on his mind.”

Not everyone had a problem with it. Moore is an octogenarian from the Deep South, so it’s not entirely surprising that he would lend his talents to a conservative effort. Public disdain for his efforts was certainly far less visible than that reserved for Chrisette Michele, who was publicly rebuked by filmmaker Spike Lee for trying to defend her goal of performing at the event, on the grounds that she wanted to help unify the nation.

Michele did not end up performing Thursday night, but is reportedly going to be a part of the official inaugural ball Trump is holding Friday night. In a statement on her website, she channeled Martin Luther King Jr. “This country has had great moments. God has shined His light upon us,” she wrote. “Today, I hope that Great Moments begin in peaceful & progressive conversation. I am willing to be a bridge. I don’t mind ‘These Stones,’ if they allow me to be a voice for the voiceless. I am here. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about what matters.’ I am here, representing you, because this is what matters.”

Meanwhile, Kanye West was never asked to perform, because rap isn’t traditionally American enough, apparently. Welcome to 2017.

Daily Dose: 1/20/17

Donald Trump set to be sworn in as the president of the United States

10:00 AMIf you haven’t seen I Am Not Your Negro, it’s worth your time. I’ll have a review next week, but in the meantime, you can check out the official trailer of the Raoul Peck-directed film, that’s due out on Feb. 3.

Today, Donald J. Trump will become president of the United States. Over the past few days, I’ve gotten a lot of personal messages saying things to the effect that people can’t believe it’s actually real. No matter what you think of his politics or behavior, it’s still rather wild to think that someone with exactly zero political experience has been elected to the highest office in the land. There are guaranteed to be quite a few protests, but to give you an idea of where this administration is starting, Trump has asked at least 50 of President Barack Obama’s top appointees to stay.

Let’s not forget, the Women’s March is Saturday. According to most reports, there are far more people in Washington, D.C., for that event than there actually are for the man who’ll be taking up office at the White House. What’s interesting is that this event was created in direct contradiction to Trump. Basically, it’s the large portion of the people who would have been here had Hillary Clinton been elected. It’s made for an interesting mix of people on the ground already. Here’s everything you need to know about this weekend’s proceedings.

When it comes to the White House, it’s about more than just the president. At some point, it was speculated that Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, might actually take up the formal duties of first lady, but it’s going to be his wife, Melania. Judging from her time with the media so far, it doesn’t apparently seem like this is a role she is going to relish, which is a far cry, at least publicly, from Michelle Obama. Take it from someone who wrote a book about the job, the former Slovenian model is going to have to do it, whether she wants to or not.

Expect to see a lot of athletes speaking up about politics today. Now that the line between politics and sports has been blurred again in many parts of the athletic landscape, it’s not a career killer to say how you feel anymore. One such person who’s never held back is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. On Thursday, he wrote a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, analyzing what he thinks about the man who, at least nominally, is moving in to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Check it out.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Supreme’s global dominance continues to advance. Oh, you didn’t think you needed to see another one of their collaborations with an otherwise legacy fashion brand? Because you did. This time, it’s Louis Vuitton, which is hilarious on many levels. Here’s how you can blow your cash on said wears, if you’re into that.

Snack Time: Don’t forget, Aziz Ansari is going to host Saturday Night Live this week and Big Sean will be the musical guest. Ansari is the first South Asian man to ever do it. The latest promo for the show is rather funny.

Dessert: Gorillaz dropped a new track for the first time in years. It’s well apropos to 2017.