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Street Soldiers TV: Hip Hop’s Family Feud: Old School vs. New School with Funk Flex

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Some call it hip hop’s family feud—old school vs. new school. But is the divide real or fake? I spoke exclusively to one of hip hop’s most powerful people: Funk Flex. At the Hot 97 studios, Flex said that hip hop is evolving—no question.

“The minute it all starts sounding the same—it’s not going to be cherished, it’s not going to be respected,” Flex said. “Are artists’ styles like Nas and Snoop and Biggie and Jay going to come back in style? Probably not.”

The so-called clone zone factor is a concern for Diddy.

“I’m not knocking anybody’s dream,” he said in an Instagram video. “I just don’t want the culture to get diluted, you know, where it gets so mass produced it doesn’t mean anything.”

Lil Xan ignited a controversy when he went on RevolTV and rated Tupac a “2” on a scale of 1 to 9 and called him “boring.” Waka Flocka went on Twitter to say he should be banned from hip hop.

“I may say a lot of things about Pac—boring is not one of them,” Flex said.

Lil Yachty set off another “new school¬–old school” controversy when he called Biggie “overrated” and then apologized.

Flex said that riled up the young kids and the old guys, too. He admitted he went hard on Yachty, but they started talking. Lil Yachty recently did a freestyle for him, and they turned a corner.

“That means you are studying the craft, ’cause you’re going home and trying to figure it out,” Flex said.

Flex said too many of today’s rappers are using social media gimmicks to get followers and mistaking that for a real career.

“If you’re doing all of that and you have no talent, there’s an expiration date for you, already written in stone,” Flex said.

Flex does has many favorites among new rappers. He said the argument has been that new artists don’t pay respect to the greats of the past. But he doesn’t let the old school off the hook, either.

“The veterans of the music business need to share more information with the up-and-coming young talent,” Flex said.



LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers

FUNK FLEX, Hot 97 Host, DJ, Producer https://twitter.com/funkflex

DREWSKI, Hot 97 DJ and Host https://twitter.com/SoDrewski

LORD JAMAR, Hip Hop Legend, Brand Nubian https://twitter.com/lordjamar

JAQUÁE, Hip Hop Artist and Entertainer https://twitter.com/JAQUAE

Street Soldiers TV: Women Breaking Barriers: Progress and Pushback

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Women in the music industry are thriving. Cardi B’s “Finesse” remix sent Bruno Mars’ song skyrocketing up the charts. Hood Celebrityy’s self-empowerment anthem “Walking Trophy” is burning up radio airwaves.

Hip hop artist Justina Valentine says they’re all doing it carrying a burden man don’t have.

“Women in the entertainment industry, I feel like, face pressures to physically look perfect, be perfect, have the ideal body, always have every hair in place, makeup on fleek,” says Valentine, an MTV host.

Former Michelle Obama modernized the role of First Lady. We’ve even had the first female presidential candidate. Three women sit on the Supreme Court—Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is part of a growing trend. More women are running Fortune 500 companies than ever before.

“I believe we are progressing—we are making progress in the area of just having more women in leadership roles and leadership positions,” says Marline Francois, a therapist.

While “Black Panther” portrayed black women in powerful roles, in reality, women of color face special challenges. “When you look at the economic gap or educational advancements for women of color, it’s very different,” Francois says. “You have to fight harder.”

Latina superstars like Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek, and Sofia Vergara show you can be proud of your culture and be successful.

“What I see is there are two things going on—there’s progress and there’s pushback,” says Raquel Cepeda, a filmmaker and author.

Cepeda tracked the lives of Latina teens in a suicide prevention program in her new documentary, “Some Girls.”

“One thing that alarmed me was the fact that they felt the need to have to live up to the images they see on TV in order just to get by in mainstream society,” Cepeda says.

With more women like Cepeda behind the camera, more untold stories are coming to light.

“I do feel like the tide is starting to change and shift more in favor for women,” Valentine says. “There still aren’t as many opportunities, but I feel like a lot more opportunities are opening up.”



LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers

JUSTINA VALENTINE, Hip Hop Artist and Host, MTV’s Wild ‘N Out https://twitter.com/JustinaMusic

RAQUEL CEPEDA, Author and Director, “Some Girls” https://twitter.com/RaquelCepeda http://somegirlsdoc.com

HOODCELEBRITYY, Pop and Reggae Star https://twitter.com/HoodCelebrityy

MARLINE FRANCOIS, LCSW, Therapist and Executive Director, Far More Precious https://twitter.com/MarlineFrancois

DONSHEA HOPKINS, Actress and Singer https://twitter.com/DonsheaH


Street Soldiers TV: Can School Shootings Be Stopped? Teen Activists Rise Up

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Yet another mass shooting tragedy tore at the soul of our nation. But this time the aftermath is different. Many students who survived the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida are vowing to make sure it never happens again. Can they succeed where so many others have failed?

“Every single person up here today, all these people, should be at home grieving,” Stoneman Douglas senior Emma Gonzalez said in a speech. “But instead we are up here, standing together because if all our government and president can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to seek.”

The brave speech by Gonzalez struck the conscience of the country and ignited the Never Again: March for Our Lives movement created by her and fellow students.

The teens took to the streets, the statehouse and anywhere people would listen—all this in between funerals for the 17 students and staff murdered at their school in Parkland, Florida. This is a healthy response, according to Dr. Randy Sconiers.

“At that age group, they’re very resilient, those kids that were talking out were very strong, they were tough, they were using that trauma and turning it into something that could actually help change,” Sconiers said. “And I call that transformational pain—when you experience pain then use it to change things in your environment.”

Teen actress Donshea Hopkins played the daughter of Ghost on the hit series “Power.” Her character Raina was gunned down outside school. She sees the debate over the Florida teens’ strong anti-gun stance as a positive.

“I think they’re doing an amazing job and they’re doing what they have to do. It’s like controversy causes action,” Hopkins said. “You can’t just set down and say ‘I don’t want this to happen anymore,’ you have to stand up and you have to try and make a change, you have to talk to your local politicians, you do have to go to Washington and talk to these really important people.”

For younger children, unavoidable images of the tragedy can be overwhelming and impossible to ignore. So the experts say that parents should encourage conversation.

“Be really careful about the information they share based on their age of the kids as well,” Sconiers said. “You don’t want to scare your kids but you want to educate them.”

“I let them know there’s people out there who try to do harm sometimes, here’s what to look out for, here’s what to do in these type of situations, here’s how to react, here’s how to respond,” said Patrick McCall, the CEO of McCall Risk Group and a father of four. “So that way they’re prepared, they’re not deer in the headlights, ‘Oh my god, what’s going on?'”

While the current generation of teens is sometimes seen as too passionate and unwilling to listen to adults, it could be their key to success as they take on the NRA, the White House, and anyone in their way, Sconiers said.

“Because they have those attitudes, they’re willing to go against the grain, and ‘If we have to, we’ll go against the adults who are not making changes,'” he said. “So that same thing that was considered the bad parts of this generation, we’re saying now this is actually the strength.”


FEATURED CAST: LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers

RANDY SCONIERS, DSW, LCSW, Clinical Therapist, New Steps Counseling https://twitter.com/NewStepsCounsel

DONSHEA HOPKINS, Actress and Artist https://twitter.com/DonsheaH

PATRICK MCCALL, CEO, McCall Risk Group, Security Consultant https://twitter.com/mccallriskgroup

DARRIN PORCHER, PHD, Former NYPD Lieutenant, Criminal Justice Professor, Security Consultant https://twitter.com/DrDarrinPorcher


Street Soldiers TV: The Black Panther Phenomenon

By | Fox 5, Street Soldiers | No Comments

Marvel’s Black Panther is in movie theaters now. Black Panther the superhero is here to save the world but he represents so much more than that.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the comic book character in 1966—and predates the Black Panther Party, according to Chuck Creekmur, the CEO of AllHipHop.com. The character is a king, warrior, and scientist—an alpha male on another level, Creekmur says.

Black Panther is king of a fictional technologically advanced African country that hides its riches and intellectual wealth from the world until the Black Panther must fulfill his destiny.

The movie has great action, strong female characters, a multi-layered plot and a predominantly black cast. It is groundbreaking in many ways.

“You have a $200 million budget given to a person of color, Ryan Coogler, 31 years old, has only directed two other films prior to this—Fruitvale Station and Creed,” says Clayton Davis, a film critic and the editor in chief of awardscircuit.com. “And he’s given the keys to a big franchise like Black Panther.”

The film’s positive portrayals of a black civilization untouched by racism or colonialism can have a profound effect, especially on children.

“We’ve all been conditioned to see Africa and Africa’s children, whether they be in Africa or in Brooklyn, in a negative light,” says Brian Favors, an educator with the Nate Parker Foundation. “And I think this is going to be something that’s going to help defy some of those stereotypes.”

“Any time an individual can see themselves in a positive light, that can only increase their self-esteem,” says Dr. Elisa English, a clinical therapist.


FEATURED CAST: LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers

CHUCK CREEKMUR, CEO, AllHipHop.com https://twitter.com/chuckcreekmur https://twitter.com/AllHipHopcom

CLAYTON DAVIS, Editor in Chief, AwardsCircuit.com https://twitter.com/ClaytonDavis_Jr https://twitter.com/AwardsCircuit

BRIAN FAVORS, Educator, Nate Parker Foundation https://twitter.com/NateParkerFdn

DR. ELISA ENGLISH, clinical therapist https://twitter.com/AskDrElisa


Street Soldiers TV: Love and Loyalty: Taking Back a Cheater

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Sade sang about love on the front lines. Now for celebrities, their love lives are increasingly on front street.

Mega-hot Cardi B was still celebrating her engagement to Migos rapper Offset when other women posted their sex tapes with him. Cardi responded that cheating happens to everyone so why start over with someone else?

Celebrities can influence our relationships, according to Essence Magazine senior editor Charreah Jackson, a relationship expert.

“We know that people are watching what celebrities do more than ever so it definitely has an impact to see what are favorite celebrities, your favorite singer, your favorite actor,” Jackson says. “What’s happening in their home can definitely normalize things that happen in your home.”

Cheating scandals (think Tiger Woods) used to mean shame and divorce court. But no more. Actress Gabrielle Union went on to marry NBA star Dwayne Wade even after he confessed he had a baby with another woman. Lala Anthony is estranged from husband Carmelo after he reportedly fathered a child with his alleged mistress.

And it is not just celebrities.

“Believe it or not, nine times out of ten, the people are staying around,” says private investigator Patrick McCall, CEO of McCall Risk Group. “You’re presenting them with some pretty good evidence, some solid facts that this occurred, and they’re basically just saying, ‘I’m already invested, I have nowhere to go.'”

He says a lot of clients rationalize staying by saying they must have done something.

Jay-Z and Beyoncé may be the most high-profile couple to stay together through the tough times and make chart-topping albums and millions of dollars along the way—first Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and then Jay’s “4:44.”

Jackson believes if the couple gets to the root cause of the cheating, they can rekindle their love.

But McCall disagrees.

“My honest opinion is, ‘Once a cheater, always a cheater,’ never going to change,” he says. “The possibility of that person doing it again is pretty high.”


FEATURED CAST: LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers

CHARREAH JACKSON, Senior Editor, Essence Magazine https://twitter.com/Charreah

JACK A. DANIELS, Psychotherapist and TV Host https://twitter.com/jackAdaniels

ANAIS, Star, “Love and Hip Hop: New York” https://twitter.com/therealanais

PATRICK MCCALL, CEO, McCall Risk Group https://twitter.com/mccallriskgroup


Street Soldiers TV: NYCHA Town Hall 2.2.18

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The New York City Housing Authority provides affordable housing for nearly half a million New Yorkers. But with a no-heat crisis and other ongoing health and safety issues, can NYCHA turn it around before it is too late?

This has been a rough winter for tens of thousands of rent-paying NYCHA residents who found themselves without heat and without help on some of the coldest days in decades. Residents told us it was nothing new, but it was also never this bad.

From Throggs Neck to Far Rockaway, one end of the city to the other, resident council leaders told us they were running high on complaints and low on results—a pattern all too familiar from the lead paint scandal and safety issues like crime, lighting, and security cameras.

Aging buildings, boilers breaking down, lack of staff, and lack of funding—despite NYCHA’s $3 billion annual budget—are the reasons we kept getting. Another frustration was no real timetable for repairs. So we put it to NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye in a rare interview on a recent Street Soldiers episode.

Some elected officials want her to step down. They accuse NYCHA management of incompetence, covering up problems, and not caring about residents.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and City Comptroller Scott Stringer called the situation an emergency.

Public Advocate Letitia James called for new leadership at NYCHA that recognizes the priorities of the residents, particularly the most vulnerable and marginalized.

Days after announcing a $13 million emergency fund, Mayor Bill de Blasio told Good Day New York that he is sticking by his NYCHA chair, period.

So we took it to the people of NYCHA housing in a ground-breaking town hall in the Bronx. Voices were united as residents demanded permanent fixes to the problems. Residents and resident council leaders from more than a dozen public housing developments came out with local youth and concerned elected officials to talk about ways to solve the persistent problems facing NYCHA residents.

Residents have complained about no heat or hot water, urgent repairs not being made, broken promises, and dangerous health issues like lead and mold exposure.

Street Soldiers invited the mayor and NYCHA to attend or at the very least send representatives but they were all no-shows.

Our panelists who grew up in public housing say it is time to take the issues to NYCHA and City Hall. Joining our panel was hip-hop artist Ja Rule.

We had a lot of support for the town hall from Hot 97, which helped us get the word out and provide refreshments, to the hit web series “Project Heat,” which is based in the Pink Houses, to our event host, the Bronxworks Community Organization, which empowers Bronx residents to live their best life possible.

The mayor has pledged more than $200 million for new boilers and repairs, but many are skeptical about the timeline and the amount, which they say is a drop in the bucket.



Street Soldiers TV: Urban Web Series

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Urban web series are exploding in popularity. The shows attract millions of viewers. Themes of life and death in the streets, often on the edge of the law, made by self-taught filmmakers. Is this real-life street cinema or is the ‘hood going Hollywood?

“Mayhem” claimed the title as best popular web series in the first Urban Web Series Awards. It took off so fast that creator Andre Keys never looked back. He quit his job to work on the series full time. In fact, he is launching a spinoff series soon.

“Home of the Hittaz” is based out of Brooklyn, the Bronx and Far Rockaway with familiar themes of the drug game and violence and with characters as addictive as crack.

TV and film critic Clayton Davis says viewers can’t get enough. If there is a Hollywood for web series, it has to be Brooklyn. “Project Heat” makes filming on the streets an event for the neighborhood.

The incredible thing is that most of these web series creators are self-taught filmmakers and use friends and family members as actors, which makes scheduling a challenge. As they sign major distribution deals, they’ll be able to have a payroll.


FEATURED CAST: LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers

TIFFON “POP” DUNN, Creator, “Project Heat” and Founder, Urban Web Series Awards https://www.instagram.com/popshowup/

DOUG “KD” APPARICIO, Producer and Cowriter, “Project Heat” https://www.instagram.com/kdshowup/

BOOM P., Creator and Director, “Respect Life” https://www.instagram.com/boompacino/

CLAYTON DAVIS, Editor-in-Chief, AwardsCircuit.com https://twitter.com/AwardsCircuit

ANDRE KEYS, Creator, “Mayhem” https://www.instagram.com/mayhem_driz/

SHAKIM HINES, Creator, “Home of the Hittaz” https://www.instagram.com/ceo_sha_hom…



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From Twin Parks West in the Bronx to Farragut Houses in Brooklyn to Redfern Houses in Far Rockaway, we heard the same story. When residents of public housing complained about no heat or hot water, they were given a repair order ticket, but nothing happened.

“The tickets are being closed out literally minutes, some even seconds after they’re making them,” said Glenn Collins, the president of the Redfern Houses Tenant Association. “Two, no one is coming to check on these residents.”

Conflicting reports about actual heat outages and NYCHA’s accounting are raising serious questions among lawmakers.

“It’s a little ludicrous,” City Council Member Donovan Richards Jr. said. “Do you really count an apartment that has partial heat as fully resolving the issue? I don’t think so.”

City Council Member Ben Kallos said, “It makes me angry to know that New York City Housing Authority is actually a bad landlord because that’s the city government.”

NYCHA Chairperson Shola Olatoye is already on thin ice with the City Council. A Department of Investigation report found she was aware her agency lied about lead paint inspections. Sources told me the same DOI is looking into NYCHA’s response to the cold crisis.

She insisted that proper protocol was followed. She said that NYCHA workers go and take random apartment temperatures when heat is restored after a systemwide outage.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams told me that NYCHA’s accounting didn’t match up with reality at the Farragut Houses.

“NYCHA was stating that buildings have heat and customers were stating there was no heat,” Adams said.

He added that NYCHA should embrace simple technology like Heat Seek to accurately track apartment temperatures.

“It’s a small device, about the size of your thumb, you place it in your apartment–it monitors the heat,” Adams said.

Lawmakers also said they’d like to see NYCHA complaints run through the city’s central 311 system so they can be independently documented.

Adams said NYCHA needs to have performance accountability like the NYPD’s CompStat and the Sanitation Department’s GPS tracking for snow removal.


FEATURED CAST: LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers OYESHOLA OLATOYE, Chair and Chief Executive Officer, NYCHA https://twitter.com/SholaOlatoye DONOVAN RICHARDS JR., City Council Member, Queens https://twitter.com/DRichards13
GLENN COLLINS, President, Redfern Houses Tenant Association https://twitter.com/GlennCollins718


Street Soldiers TV: Mastering the Music Business

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Cardi B’s Grammy-nominated mega-hit “Bodak Yellow” made her an overnight superstar. You don’t need to have an album anymore to reach that level, according to XXL Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten.

“We’ve seen more than ever, more recently than ever, artists blow up and have a huge amount of success off of just one song,” Satten said.

Because of that, Cardi now has a major endorsement deal with Steve Madden shoes. And she is not alone.

DJ Khaled is the new spokesperson for the Weight Watchers Freestyle Program.

Lil Yachty parlayed his popularity into Sprite commercials and his Nautica clothing line.

The marriage of music and marketing is generating millions of dollars for everyone when it works, according to James Cruz, a marketing expert and entertainment manager.

“There’s no real algorithm created yet, but what you look at is authenticity, what makes sense,”

Cruz said. Cruz knows this well. He has played a major role in the careers of hip hop’s biggest names, from Nicki Minaj to Diddy to Busta Rhymes. Cruz shaped 50 Cent’s groundbreaking endorsement deals with Vitamin Water and Reebok’s G-Unit sneakers.

“50 cent and Vitamin Water makes sense—he was healthy, he had a great body, he looked great,” Cruz said. “Puffy owns the nightlife, so alcohol made sense, Ciroc, and its astronomical success, makes sense. We look at a Jay Z, a marketing genius, he created a Roc Nation because he’s a businessman.”

Some never make it to the level of a Cardi B or 50 Cent because they get mired in legal and music ownership issues. There are simple ways to avoid them, according to entertainment attorney James McMillan.

“The main thing to do is to protect yourself,” he said. “Go to uspto.gov and go to copyright.gov and copyright your song. That’s the best way to do it.”



LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers

VANESSA SATTEN, Editor-in-Chief, XXL Magazine https://twitter.com/VSattenXXL

JAMES CRUZ, CEO, Cruz Control and Founder, 1-2-3 Uno Dos Tres Entertainment https://twitter.com/JamesCruz1

JAMES MCMILLAN, Founder, GothamCityESQ.com https://twitter.com/Gothamcityesq

ANTWAN ‘AMADEUS’ THOMPSON, Founder, Platinum Boy Music https://twitter.com/produceramadeus