Multiplatinum hip hop artist Cardi B smashed through a music industry glass ceiling to become the first solo woman to win a Grammy for best rap album. She proved once and for all that a woman could do it on her own. She got support from hip hop legends like Missy Elliott, Lil Kim and Salt N Pepa.
Cardi B also inspired emerging talent like Hood Celebrityy. Her hit “Walking Trophy” became a popular pro-female anthem. Hood Celebrityy’s new single “inside” showcases her unique style, seasoned with reggae and dancehall flavor. It also gave her a chance to show a softer, more vulnerable side.
Nowhere has the progress of women been more visible than in politics. For the first time, more than 100 women were elected to Congress, making the public face of government more closely reflect the diversity of the United States.
Women have long been the glue holding families, organizations and neighborhoods together. Now in increasing numbers, they’re taking that concern and caring for others beyond the personal to leadership roles, and empowering others.
—LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers
The code of the streets says you don’t talk to police or the feds. But the no-snitching rule seems to be changing. Are there still lines you don’t dare cross?
Tekashi 6ix9ine exploded on to the music scene and within two years acquired millions of loyal fans, a multimillion-dollar record deal, and a gang affiliation flaunted in videos. He enjoyed an unprecedented meteoric rise.
Equally unprecedented was his indictment on federal racketeering, drug conspiracy and weapons charges. Key evidence came from photos in his own Instagram account.
The shock effect continued after it was revealed that Tekashi made a secret plea deal as a cooperating witness, and admitted to being a member of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods set. He told a judge he was involved in shootings and drug dealing with other alleged gang members, according to court records. The charges carry a potential sentence of 47 years to life.
Many called him a snitch.
Tekashi is behind bars awaiting sentencing, which will depend on his level of cooperation and how much information he gives federal prosecutors. He is also in protective custody, separated from other inmates due to death threats.
LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers
There are many songs about marijuana in hip hop but now superstar Snoop Dogg is turning his passion for pot into big business, raising $45 million for his Casa Verde investment firm.
“As build brands, as you look at the ancillary businesses, there’s tremendous money to be made,” International Cannabrands CEO Steve Gormley said. “And will only really realize the scope of that when prohibition is actually repealed.”
Marijuana’s popularity is spawning many businesses, like the Emerald Farms Tours in San Francisco. With recreational use legal there, the seed-to-dispensary tours are like a wine country tour for weed lovers. Las Vegas is considering pot lounges at the airport. It’s full steam ahead towards legalization, according to Evan Nison of NORML.
“Now you pretty much have a bipartisan Congress that is looking very seriously at the issue, so the momentum over the last 10 years I’ve been involved has picked up much quicker than I would have hoped,” Nison said.
In tandem with the legalization momentum is drive for decriminalization, especially after studies showed that black and Latino males were disproportionally prosecuted.
But that is confusing people, according to Phillip Hamilton, a criminal defense attorney.
“It has not yet been decriminalized, the conversation is ongoing, we are having a lot of reform measures that are being put out,” Hamilton said. “But right now, as we speak, marijuana is still illegal in New York.”
Excessive use of marijuana and the impact on public safety was on the mind of Police Commissioner James O’Neill when I sat down with him recently for an exclusive interview.
“As far as legalization for marijuana, I know it’s coming, NYPD knows it’s coming, but there are a number of things that I’m concerned about,” O’Neill said. “Driving under the influence of narcotics, it’s a real issue for us, there’s no instantaneous test for it like dui, driving under the influence.”
Street Soldiers is celebrating a major milestone: 100 episodes and counting. Lisa Evers and her team looked back into the archives and compiled their favorite moments in this all-celebrity special. Check out these highlights featuring:
DARRYL “DMC” MCDANIELS
THE LADY OF RAGE
A-BOOGIE WIT DA HOODIE
“Thanks to all of you who watch Street Soldiers,” Lisa said. “You’ve helped us reach the 100-episode milestone.”
Millions of students rely on our public schools for their education. While systems often get blamed for not measuring up, the fact is many educators and teachers are going above and beyond.
The “I Know I Can” hook in Nas’s classic song applies to Dr. Marcia Lyles, the first female African-American superintendent of Jersey City public schools. Armed with an Ivy League doctorate, she learned how to overcome stereotypes in her own career.
Under her leadership, graduation rates rose, and she initiated new interactive learning programs. She also insisted that her staff place high expectations on every single child in the diverse school system.
At P36K in East New York, Brooklyn, the more than 400 special-needs students range in age from pre-kindergarten to 21 and are facing a wide variety of life challenges. Principal Kevin Lenahan says the attitude of his dedicated staff is always “You can do it.”
Dr. Chris Emdin, the founder of Hip Hop Ed, uses hip hop beats to close the science and math education gap that can trap urban students. His programs produce measurable results and change lives. Emdin is also a professor at Columbia University Teachers College.
LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers
The countdown clock is ticking. Big changes are ahead for the New York City Housing Authority. But will the changes bring improvements for long-suffering residents?
I sat down with HUD Regional Administrator Lynne Patton for her take on recent developments. Patton is known for talking directly to residents and seeing conditions first hand. The disturbing images that scream neglect—no heat, lead and mold, and rats running wild are all too familiar to her and fuel her determination to make positive changes.
Patton’s boss, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, toured the Queensbridge Houses in advance of a meeting with Mayor Bill de Blasio and a congressional delegation. The mayor needs HUD on his side to convince federal judge William Pauley that NYCHA can climb out of a multibillion-dollar budget hole and give residents what they deserve. The mayor sounded hopeful after the meeting.
If Carson declares NYCHA in default, it triggers a housing law from 1937 that allows him to put the city agency in federal receivership, hire and fire, and even choose who runs it. It would be a political embarrassment for the mayor.
Patton said the U.S. attorney for the Southern District is still conducting criminal investigations into NYCHA employees and management. Some have been arrested for embezzling tenant rents and falsifying repair records, and more are expected.
—LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer
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