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Street Soldiers

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Street Soldiers TV: Changing Marijuana Laws

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We see it, we smell it, and it seems to be everywhere. The push is on to legalize recreational marijuana. But is it a solution or just the start of new problems?

The humor in Afroman’s hit song “Because I Got High” drives home the deeper message that getting high can be so good you don’t want to do anything else. More than two-thirds of Americans have no problem with it, according to recent Gallup Poll.

But Bishop Jethro James of Paradise Baptist Church foresees trouble ahead because good employers may ask people to be drug-tested. So if you can’t work, you will have other problems.

Popular culture and music are full of smoking celebrities, and weed images and references, especially in hip hop.

Bishop James is concerned legalization and increased use will make it even more difficult for young African Americans in economically disadvantaged communities to get ahead.

Recreational use is legal in eight states plus the District of Columbia. But not in New York City. Possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized and overall arrests are down, but racial disparities in enforcement remain. A recent report says you’re still about eight times more likely to get arrested for smoking marijuana if you’re black or Latino, despite the fact that blacks, Latinos and whites smoke at comparable rates.

Chris Alexander, the policy coordinator at the Drug Policy Alliance, said his group wants to remove marijuana as a “tool for criminalization” and advocates for legalization.

Former prosecutor Charles Tucker Jr., the founding partner of Tucker Moore Law Group, said making marijuana legal would take away the tool of racial profiling and will slightly level the playing field.

A marijuana conviction on your record is an automatic disqualifier for many jobs and educational programs. Tucker believes that legalization must also rectify the damage already been done. That means any new law or measure must also expunge convictions and “right the right the wrongs and put these individuals back on solid ground.”

Bishop James acknowledges the racial disparity with law enforcement but said his main concern about legalization is with the social impact in neighborhoods where resources are scarce.

–LISA EVERS

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

CHARLES TUCKER JR., Founding Partner, Tucker Moore Law Group https://twitter.com/sirchase27

CHRIS ALEXANDER, Policy Coordinator, Drug Policy Alliance https://twitter.com/DrugPolicyOrg

BISHOP JETHRO JAMES JR., Pastor, Paradise Baptist Church, and Chaplain, New Jersey State Police https://paradisebaptistchurch.org

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Street Soldiers TV: ‘Yo! MTV Raps’ & Hip Hop’s Golden Era with Fab 5 Freddy, Roxanne Shante, Kool DJ Red Alert

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In 1988, the show “Yo! MTV Raps” debuted on television. Host Fab 5 Freddy traveled the country, bringing hip hop to millions of people for the very first time. He interviewed artists in their own environment—Tupac, Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Flava Flav, Run-DMC, Jam Master Jay, and many more.

Today, Fab 5 Freddy says back then hip hop wasn’t on the radio. “Yo! MTV Raps” showed fans who these guys were and where they lived. He would go into basements where the music was recorded. He met N.W.A in Compton and the Ghetto Boys from the 5th Ward in Houston.

During this golden era, legendary female artist and battle rapper Roxanne Shante was part of hip hop’s national explosion. Her life story is now a Netflix film.

“Yo! MTV Raps” evolved when Ed Lover and Doctor Dré took over hosting duties. The duo and Lisa G went on to become a top-rated morning show on Hot 97.

For Kool DJ Red Alert, who broke many records on Hot 97, what’s good never goes out of style.

In some ways, the qualities you need to make it big in the music industry have stayed the same. In other ways, major changes have happened.

—LISA EVERS

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

KOOL DJ RED ALERT, DJ and On-Air Personality, WBLS https://twitter.com/KoolDJRedAlert

ROXANNE SHANTE, Pioneering Hip Hop Artist and Battle Rapper https://twitter.com/ImroxanneShante

FAB 5 FREDDY, Artist, Filmmaker, and Original Host, “Yo! MTV Raps” https://twitter.com/FABNEWYORK

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Street Soldiers TV: The Best of Street Soldiers Town Halls Starring Ja Rule, Papoose and Jaquáe

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Street Soldiers hosts special town halls in various communities. Lisa Evers has hosted events in Harlem, Brooklyn, The Bronx, and even Rikers Island. Special guest panelists have included Ja Rule, Jaquae, and Papoose. Watch this special episode that recaps the best moments from those town halls.

FEATURED CAST

LISA EVERS https://twitter.com/LisaEvers

JA RULE https://twitter.com/Ruleyork PAPOOSE https://twitter.com/Papooseonline

JAQUAE https://twitter.com/JAQUAE

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Street Soldiers TV: Chinx’s Murder 3 Years Later: Journey for Justice

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Hip hop star Lionel “Chinx” Pickens was murdered on May 17, 2015. He was shot 11 times at point-blank range while in his Porsche, according to the NYPD.

This time of year is tough on Janelli Caceres-Pickens, his widow and the mother of their three children.

“It’s hard,” Caceres-Pickens said. “No matter how much time passes, you constantly have to relive those images.”

The NYPD said that the alleged murderers stalked Chinx and picked the perfect location—boxed in by construction barriers and no video cameras.

“This was targeted and he was hunted,” said Lt. Richard Rudolph, the commanding officer of Queens South Homicide.

After a two-year investigation and with grand jury indictments in their hands, homicide detectives arrested Quincy Homere and Jamar Hill last December. Lt. Rudolph believes they have the right guys.

“Extremely convinced—my detectives worked extremely hard, day and night,” Lt. Rudolph said. “And they compiled a mountain of evidence built against these defendants.”

Before the arrests, Janelli said she ignored speculation and gossip, never gave up hope, and cooperated with detectives, who kept her informed every step of the way.

The court appearances for the two suspects, both charged with second-degree murder, are underway. Every time, Janelli comes within feet of the men who allegedly took away the love of her life.

—LISA EVERS

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

JANELLI CACERES-PICKENS, Owner, Nelli’s Kitchen, and Chinx’s Widow

LT. RICHARD RUDOLPH, Commanding Officer, Queens South Homicide https://twitter.com/NYPDQueensSouth

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

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Street Soldiers TV: Education Town Hall with Papoose

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The Brownsville section of Brooklyn is one of the most economically challenged communities in America. But something amazing is happening at P.S./I.S. 284.

Brownsville has two juvenile detention centers, but no traditional four-year high school. For the 481 students who attend P.S./I.S. 284, that is no excuse for failure.

“Success is for everyone, and it hits home,” Principal Keva Pitts-Girard said. “As long as you want it, and want to strive for it, even if you don’t want it, we try to expose you to it.”

Pitts-Girard and her staff do their best to make sure the children are not negatively impacted by their parents’ lack of resources.

“We provide eyeglasses, we have a dental clinic that comes in,” Pitts-Girard said. “We do all sorts of things to motivate students to ensure that they want to be here.”

They also structured the school day so being hungry won’t interfere with the learning for the pre-kindergarten to 8th graders.

“We open our school at 8 a.m. so that they can have a breakfast program. The good part of us being a renewal school is that we also provide a second meal before they go home,” Pitts-Girard said. “So they have breakfast, they have lunch, and then they get another meal.”

Some of the teachers and staff grew up in Brownsville and bring a personal passion to their work.

“I’m everybody’s parent, I’m everybody’s dad—so I lend my myself to everyone, each and every one of them,” Dean of Students Trevor Glover said. “Discipline does not come from bullying. Discipline comes from service.”

Some estimates put the number of adults in Brownsville who never finished high school at more than 40 percent, so the teaching strategy is to incentivize education. The students are constantly reminded that extra effort and doing well academically brings rewards.

“We have over 100 students that are going skating in Long Island on Saturday just to reward them for taking a step towards their education,” Pitts-Girard said. “They didn’t have to choose to come on a Saturday or during recess, but they came.”

–LISA EVERS

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

PAPOOSE, Hip Hop Artist and Father https://twitter.com/Papooseonline

STATE SEN. JESSE HAMILTON, Democrat of Brooklyn https://twitter.com/SenatorHamilton

LA SHAWN PAUL, LCSW-R, ACSW, Founder and Lead Clinician, Social Work Diva http://www.socialworkdiva.com

QUARDEAN LEWIS-ALLEN, Founder and CEO, Made in Brownsville https://twitter.com/khwar_deen http://madeinbrownsville.org

KEVA PITTS-GIRARD, Principal, P.S./I.S. 284 http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/…

TREVOR GLOVER, Dean of Students, P.S./I.S. 284 http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/…

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Street Soldiers TV: New York vs. Atlanta: Rivalry for the Capital of Rap

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It’s hip hop’s dirty little secret: the love-hate relationship between New York and Atlanta and the constant competition over which city reigns supreme as rap capital of the world. There may be more to it than just the music.

No one disputes that hip hop started in New York City—breaking new ground as New York artists broke new beats. Hot 97 DJ Funk Flex told me it is really about perspective. He sees Atlanta as very good but not the new capital.

In the 1990s golden era of hip hop, artists from New York and Los Angeles dominated the charts and the culture. But in 1999, a new artist called Lil Wayne turned all eyes on the South.

A few years later, Gucci Mane and T.I. launched the trap music movement. For more than a decade, Atlanta artists dominated the charts.

The emphasis of Atlanta artists like Young Thug, Future and Migos on catchy beats and their flamboyant style resonated with millions of new hip hop fans, taking trap mainstream.

For a while there was a strong belief that Atlanta wasn’t showing New York artists love but that may not have been the full story. New York artists get played in Atlanta—and they go there to party.

Cardi B is leading the charge of New York artists making their mark, according to Atlanta’s DJ Infamous, who is also a tour DJ for Ludacris. Infamous said that another reason city rivalries and boundaries are disappearing is the digital revolution, which means new music is streamed instantly around the world and it doesn’t matter where it comes from.

And as Flex says, ultimately, the fans determine the hits, regardless of where they’re from.

–LISA EVERS

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

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

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

CHUCK CREEKMUR, CEO allhiphop.com https://twitter.com/chuckcreekmur

TAP, Hip Hop Artist https://twitter.com/1TapiaSGB

SOLO, Streetz 94.5 https://twitter.com/USofSOLO

DJ INFAMOUS, V 103 https://twitter.com/DJInfamousATL