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Street Soldiers TV: Teen Summit Town Hall

By | Fox 5, Street Soldiers | No Comments

Teens in the East Harlem community face many of the same issues teens do everywhere but here they have the added challenge of avoiding the lure of the streets. Luckily for them there are some programs working to guide them in a positive direction.

Getting money is always a goal, and the temptation is to get it fast any way you can is always there. But Harlem teens also grow up seeing the price some pay for breaking the law. Harder to avoid is the social media beefing between youth in different housing developments.

Lawrence Birthwright, known to the community as Brother Jay or Mr. Jay, grew up in housing, and came up with a plan. Based out of the Stanley Isaacs/James Weldon Johnson Center, the S.A.F.E. Program features sports, leadership training, field trips and educational support for boys and girls. But most of all it’s about the ongoing dialogue and guidance.

We were invited by community leaders to do a special teen summit town hall to give the teens a chance to speak out. You might be surprised by what they have to say.

–LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers

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Street Soldiers TV: Hip Hop and God Featuring Fetty Wap & David Banner

By | Fox 5, Street Soldiers | No Comments

Acknowledging god and giving back are becoming more common in hip hop than ever before. We got an exclusive first-hand look how hip hop superstar Fetty Wap is sharing the love with his own community.

“God blessed me to be a little fortunate now so I try, especially the main thing I try to do is give back to Paterson,” Fetty said.

He teamed up with the new Price Rite supermarket, the Gray Firm and RFG Productions to give more than 1,000 Paterson, New Jersey, families a very happy holiday weekend. He gave out $25 gift cards so they could make a nice Easter Sunday dinner, something he rarely had himself growing up.

“To be able to live a different lifestyle, it kind of just really empowered me to try to help as many people as I could,” Fetty said.

Hundreds of people waited on line for hours as much to be inspired by his success in defying the odds as to receive his generous gift.

“I got kids, too. To make people happy—that’s what I’m all about,” he said. “I try to do my best.”

The heart of hip hop has never been bigger, more spiritual, and more outspoken about god. In the video “God’s Plan,” Drake gives away nearly a million dollars to people in need. The song set a record for most streams of a single in a day—more than 18 million—and set off the God’s Plan Challenge.

“All over social media you could see fans literally tearing up, getting emotional and also being inspired,” music journalist Sowmya Krishnamurthy said. “The God’s Plan Challenge was basically to do good deeds.”

Snoop Dogg’s first album was called “Doggy Style” and now some fans are crying “Holy hip hop!” over his latest work—a new No. 1 gospel album called “Bible of Love.”

Could Fetty have his own gospel album in the works? Anything is possible for this super-talented artist. For now, he is content to help others and accept dinner invitations.

“If I continue to be blessed, I’m going to always bless my city and make sure they got them plates for me,” he said. “Fetty Wap’s coming through—yeah, baby!”

–LISA EVERS

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

FETTY WAP, Hip Hop Superstar https://twitter.com/fettywap

SOWMYA KRISHNAMURTHY, Music Journalist https://twitter.com/SowmyaK

OSWIN BENJAMIN, Hip Hop Artist https://twitter.com/OswinBenjamin

DAVID BANNER, Hip Hop Artist https://twitter.com/davidbanner

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Street Soldiers TV: Ending Gun Violence: NYC Youth Stands Up for Change

By | Fox 5, Street Soldiers | No Comments

Gun violence is one of the biggest issues facing our country. And there seems to be no solution. A new generation of student activists is vowing to change that.

New York City students walked out of class in solidarity with hundreds of thousands around the country over gun violence, one month after the Parkland massacre. Nupol Kiazolu, whose father was shot and killed when she was 8, was among them.

“I’m still not fully there when it comes to healing and dealing with my father being killed,” said Kiazolu, a senior at Nelson Mandela School for Social Change. “But I’m using the pain that I’ve experienced and am still experiencing over his loss to help me and push me forward.”

Students from the city and suburbs gathered at an after-school rally organized by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. More blacks are killed by guns than whites. And their murders are often ignored. But Adams believes the students may be helping to right old wrongs.

“I think that Parkland was an awakening for many that finally heard the cries of those in the urban centers across America,” Adams said. “And now that connection is allowing a mass movement that I believe finally we’ll see a movement in the gun reform conversation.”

While students in low-income communities of color are often exposed to gun violence at an early age, it was a new experience for many of the Parkland students. Yet students from diverse backgrounds are now standing together for change.

“The face of gun violence looks a lot different than the people who are actually dealing with it,” City Council Member Jumaane Williams, a candidate for lieutenant governor, said. “And so my hope is that this bridge does occur.”

Assault rifles, like the one used in Parkland, are the main focus of the gun reform conversation. Adams, a former NYPD captain and a gun owner, said he hopes that focus is expanded.

“The urban problem are 9mm handguns, .380s, .38s—no one is having a conversation about that,” Adams said. “And so our legislators cannot be lost in the emotion of the suburban and rural problem and ignore the urban problem.”

The students seem certain that this time enough really is enough.

“This is something that is going to result in generational impact,” Kiazolu said. “So for future generations to come, we won’t have to experience anything like this.”

–LISA EVERS

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

NUPOL KIAZOLU, Activist, Student, and President, Black Lives Matter NY Youth Coalition https://twitter.com/nupol_justice

JUMAANE WILLIAMS, City Council Member https://twitter.com/JumaaneWilliams

JERMEL HOWARD, Actor https://twitter.com/JermelHoward

ERIC ADAMS, Brooklyn Borough President and former NYPD Captain https://twitter.com/BPEricAdams

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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

FEATURED CAST:

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

FEATURED CAST:

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