How one song formed a rally cry for my side of town

It was the year 2000, and Atlanta’s rap scene transitioned into crunk from its bass origin. People went from doing the Bankhead Bounce and the Yeek in the clubs to bowing each other and jumping around in packs. Back then, there were a few songs and CDs that everyone played, from the Hot Boyz to Master P, but my parents were pretty protective. The only album I could listen to was the BackStreet Boys’ Millennium. My parents controlled what I listened to at home, but I caught up on what songs and albums people talked about between classes and…


My favorite artists are walking contradictions, but I don’t want to stop listening to them.

Photo Credit of Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Every few days we get a news report telling us about a scandal involving a celebrity. Sometimes it is someone we admire and sometimes it isn’t, but what comes up daily is whether we can separate the actions of the person from the person. Those who say we can often yell about how “cancel culture” is destroying the fabric of society by not allowing people to have flaws or make faux pas. Still others say that certain actions reflect that person’s character which we may judge and then hold them “accountable” for it.

I always find myself stuck in the…


The duo’s hit single gave voice to a forgotten part of the city

To this day, I can’t tell you what “U-Way” means. But I can tell you where I was when I heard it and how it made me feel. I was a fourth-grader living in East Atlanta, Kirkwood, to be exact, looking for a way to fit in with my classmates. Many of them grew up in the East Lake Meadows Project, where Charles R. Drew Elementary was located, and lived a different life than I did. I couldn’t understand what they saw and how they lived, but I could say “U-Way.”

Catchy and straightforward, it embodied the mindset we had…


YZ was New Jersey’s rap ambassador years before anyone else came on the scene. He’s influenced everything in rap from business to its sound. He deserves his flowers.

Rap unlike other genres puts a premium on youth, discarding anything and anyone who doesn’t fit into what’s booming then. There are a few older rap figures who’ve felt slighted by the culture, taking to various platforms and sites to air their grievances. There are others though who instead take every chance they can to give props to the sound of the youth, choosing not to bring attention to their accomplishments despite all they’ve done. YZ would be in the latter group.

By the age of twenty-five, YZ, born Anthony Hill, accomplished everything a musician could, launching a successful…


The influx of movies being made on famous revolutionaries is feeling like a way for Hollywood to dilute their impact.

Like many people, I was too excited when I saw that Ryan Coogler was producing a film on Fred Hampton and the FBI spy William O Neal, who helped Cointel Pro assassinate him in December 1969. The trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah had me amped, and the soundtrack had me excited too, especially when I saw that Nipsey Hussle and Jay-Z had a song together. But when I actually got to the movie and heard the song, I realized that something was off. It felt good to see Fred acknowledged, but the victory felt hollow. Like we won…


Kevin Samuels is getting a lot of heat for his comments, but his thoughts on male and female dynamics are insightful.

Image consultant Kevin Samuels has gotten a lot of smoke for his relationship advice ever since his You’re Average at Best video hit social media a while back. Almost overnight, men and women responded to the display with mixed feelings as women on social condemned him for telling black women they needed to change themselves. Normally, I’d put on my best Derrick Jaxn impression and condemn him too, but I can’t. Samuel’s criticism doesn’t take away from the valuable advice that he gives to both sexes. On the other side of his delivery is truth and honesty, like the kind…


I Believe in Pan Africanism, But I Can Admit I Struggle With Seeing Non Black Americans Telling Our Stories

Photo by Josh Hild from Pexels

If he has a Pan-Africanist spirit, I have no problem.But if he’s just a black British coming over here making some money, playing black heroes, I have a problem.” Dr. Umar Johnson

Normally, I’d avoid opening with a quote by someone as universally problematic as Dr. Umar Johnson, but his video triggered this entire article. During one of his streams of consciousness, Dr Umar spoke about his thoughts on the new film, Judas and the Black Messiah, and offered mainly praise for the cinematography and acting ability of the cast. …


In 1997, Michael Lewis was convicted of murder and sentenced to life. Decades later, the impact of his imprisonment still exists.

Wise people have made powerful statements about how we reflect on our mistakes only after we have committed them. We take for granted how caught up we can be in the times. In the 1990s, violence was rising due to crack, and many politicians saw this as a chance to advance. President Bill Clinton’s 1994 Crime Bill fought crime with mass incarceration. Although we give him grief for it, black people too conformed to the ideas of our kids being super-predators. Politicians and authors alike embraced the idea of black males being inherently violent. Names like Robert “Yummy” Sandifer became…


The Gym Class Heroes broke the sound years before and haven’t received enough credit for it.

Rap has memorable years like 1994 and 1998. But what came out of that time period from 2005 to 2009 was a rise in rap and rock-infused music. B.O.B., Kid Cudi, and groups like the Gym Class Heroes popularized the sound. Gym Class Heroes’ music drew from the sounds of groups like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Blink-182. Drawing on the rock influence, they fused it with the sound of groups like Fall Out Boy to help the culture advance. Travie McCoy spoke about the group’s impact in a 2011 interview with the Chicago Tribune, saying, “I feel Gym…


What do you do when you find yourself unable to fit into a set box academically and socially?

Photo by Collis from Pexels

In a time where what you believe determines your career, it becomes important to know how to think or how to hide what you think. Sociologists and academics from Jonathan Haidt and Jordan Peterson to social critics like Thomas Chatterton Williams and Coleman Hughes have described the intellectual chasm we are. Some of us struggle collectively to justify our existences and inherent privileges. No longer can we ignore concepts like intersectionality because it’s no longer safe to. Where do you go when you are seeking haven? What do you do when you insist on having a black nationalist mindset and…

Solomon Hillfleet

Avid reader, writer. Man of Alpha. Educator. Coach. Wisdom of Solomon. Follow me @samuelhwright.com

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