DJ Drama has earned respect in the music industry for boosting the careers of numerous rappers such as Lil Wayne, T.I. and Young Jeezy through his popular mixtape series, “Gangsta Grillz.”
The success of the mixtapes helped ignite Drama’s popularity too: He is one of the few DJs in hip-hop to land a record deal, releasing his debut album, “Gangsta Grillz: The Album” in 2007.
Now, Drama returns with his fourth offering “Quality Street Music,” a 15-track album filled mostly with hard-thumping, high-energy street anthem songs. The album features a cast of rappers and singers that includes Drake, Common, Wiz Khalifa, T-Pain and Llyod.
Drama makes it all work with his uniquely assembled combination of artists meshed alongside solid production work. This is clear on the album’s singles, “My Moment” featuring 2 Chainz, Meek Mill and Jeremih, and “We In This Bitch” with Young Jeezy, T.I., Ludacris and Future.
One of the album’s highlights is the Cardiak-produced “Never Die,” featuring Jadakiss, Cee Lo Green, Nipsey Hussle and Young Jeezy. With Cee Lo singing chorus, each of the rappers talks about how they were able to survive their own gritty streets.
Other standout songs are the V12: The Hitman-produced tracks “Clouds” featuring Rick Ross, Miguel, Pusha T and Curren$y, and “Same ‘Ol Story,” with Kid Ink, Schoolboy Q, Corey Gunz and Childish Gambino.
There are some downfalls here, but overall Drama delivers another respectable album. He continues to show he’s one of hip-hop’s top curators, creating a musical platform for artists so they can all flourish together.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: On “Monique’s Room,” rapper Fred The Godson seeks revenge toward an untrustworthy former mate. — (AP)
The Supreme Court term that began Monday holds the prospect for major rulings about affirmative action, gay marriage and voting rights.
A look at cases the court already has agreed to hear and other top cases in the pipeline:
RACIAL PREFERENCES — In Fisher v. University of Texas, to be argued Oct. 10, the court will weigh Texas’ limited use of race to help fill out its incoming classes. The outcome could result in a major cutback in the use of racial preferences at the nation’s colleges.
ACCOUNTABILITY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES — The justices will consider whether American courts may be used by foreign victims to sue over human rights violations abroad. The case of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, to be argued on Monday, concerns claims the oil giant Shell was complicit in atrocities committed by the Nigerian government against its citizens in the oil-rich Niger delta.
DRUG-SNIFFING DOGS — Two disputes involving drug-sniffing dogs will be heard by the court on Halloween. In one, the question is whether a dog brought to the front door of a home to sniff for marijuana amounts to a search. In the other, the court will consider a dog’s reliability and qualifications as a drug-sniffing animal in a case involving a traffic stop and a warrantless search that found the ingredients for making methamphetamines in a pickup truck.
FIGHTING TERRORISM — The government is trying to shut down a constitutional challenge to a law that lets the United States eavesdrop on overseas communications. Lawyers, journalists and human rights advocates filed a lawsuit that objected to the latest version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The issue at the high court, to be argued Oct. 29, is whether the law’s challengers are entitled to make their case in federal court.
The following issues probably will be heard this term:
GAY MARRIAGE — The justices are expected to take up gay marriage in at least one of the many appeals pending at the high court. Several lower federal courts have struck down as unconstitutional a provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal benefits, including favorable tax treatment and health benefits, among many others, to legally married same-sex couples. The court almost always has the last word when federal laws are struck down. A separate appeal involves California’s ban on gay marriage, ruled unconstitutional by federal courts.
VOTING RIGHTS ACT — Several appeals ask the court to invalidate a cornerstone of civil rights era legislation, a provision of the Voting Rights Act that requires all or parts of 16 states, most in the South and all with a history of past discrimination, to get approval from the Justice Department or the federal court in Washington before instituting any changes affecting elections and voting. Some justices expressed skepticism about the need for this measure in a 2009 decision that sidestepped a definitive ruling. — (AP)
A trade school founded in 1899 to provide vocational training to Black workers has been evicted from its publicly owned building in Philadelphia after falling years behind on rent and utility bills, state officials said.
The Berean Institute's failure to make lease payments has been "willful and outrageous," according to an eviction letter sent last week by the Pennsylvania Department of General Services.
"We felt we could not allow it to go on any further," agency spokesman Troy Thompson said Tuesday Sept. 11.
The letter ordered cash-strapped Berean to vacate the premises by Friday Sept. 14. However, Thompson said the state will give the school 30 days to find a new location, so as not to disrupt classes for tuition-paying students.
School president Lorraine Poole-Naranjo told the Philadelphia Daily News that Berean will move to a new space and continue to operate. A Berean representative did not immediately return a message left by The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Berean has occupied the building near the Fairmount neighborhood since 1973. The state also had threatened eviction in 2008 after the institute failed to pay rent for two years, an amount totaling more than $310,000 at that point.
The school never closed — and never paid the back rent, state officials said.
Thompson could not explain why that eviction did not go through, noting the attempt came under a previous administration.
The new eviction letter dated Sept. 6 alleged that Berean had been subletting parts of the building — a violation of its lease — and collecting rent from those tenants while stiffing the state.
The school also had a $40,000 unpaid city water bill, according to state officials, who added they could not find any records of Berean paying for electric and gas service, either.
Berean was founded to provide Blacks with vocational and business skills, and many of its early students were new arrivals from the segregated South.
According to the school's Web site, it currently offers only barber and cosmetology classes. Thompson did not have any enrollment figures. – (AP)
NEW YORK — Eleven years after terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, the new multibillion-dollar World Trade Center once again dominates the lower Manhattan skyline. Hundreds of construction workers are at the 16-acre site every day, and tourists snap thousands of photos of the two towers that are nearing completion.
The status of the trade center's major components, according to developers:
- Most of the 8-acre memorial quadrangle at the World Trade Center opened last year on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. Since then, some 4.5 million people have visited the memorial, with its twin reflecting pools where the towers stood. But a museum being built in a cavern beneath the plaza is still incomplete. Work all but stopped last fall because of a funding dispute between the memorial foundation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Joseph Daniels, president of the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum, said that once construction resumes it will take more than a year to finish the job, meaning the museum might not open until 2014.
- One World Trade Center, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, will open in 2014 on the northwest corner of the trade center site with 3 million square feet of office space. Tenants so far include magazine publisher Conde Nast and the federal government's General Services Administration. The spire atop the 104-story building will reach the symbolic height of 1,776 feet. There will be observation decks on the 100th, 101st and 102nd floors. The building without the spire has reached its full height of 1,368 feet. It is expected to cost $3.9 billion by the time it is finished.
- The first office building to open will be the 72-story 4 World Trade Center at the southeast corner of the site. It has reached its full height of 977 feet and is scheduled to open in October 2013. Tenants will include the Port Authority, the bistate agency that owns the trade center site and lost its headquarters when the twin towers were attacked.
- Just north of 4 World Trade Center is 3 World Trade Center, which is now an eight-story stub but will reach 80 stories and 1,150 feet when it's complete. Developer Larry Silverstein is required to lease at least 400,000 square feet of space before finishing the building. Silverstein's team is projecting a completion date of 2015 or 2016.
- At the site's northeast corner, 2 World Trade Center is up only to street level. The building is planned as an 88-story skyscraper but will not be built until the commercial real estate market picks up enough to fill it.
- The new transportation hub at the trade center will connect 13 subway lines and PATH trains to New Jersey when it opens in 2015. It will replace the temporary PATH station that was built after the Sept. 11 attacks. Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the station will serve 250,000 travelers a day. There will be two levels of retail space. None of the tenants has been announced yet. The cost of the transportation hub, originally pegged at $2.2 billion, is now expected to exceed $3.5 billion.
- A performing arts center planned for the site has been in limbo for years. A board of directors was named this year and was given the task of raising money to build the center, which is to include a 1,000-seat theater.
- An underground vehicle security center and bus parking facility just south of the main trade center site will open in 2013. — (AP)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Democrats beckoned Americans to return Barack Obama to the White House despite the agonizingly slow economic recovery as they opened their national convention, casting the president as someone who understands the struggles of ordinary Americans while depicting Republican rival Mitt Romney as privileged and out-of-touch.
The opening of the three-day convention on Tuesday was effectively a rebuttal to last week's Republican convention in which Obama was depicted as driving down the U.S. economy by favoring a welfare state over private enterprise.
The star speaker, Michelle Obama, played up her husband's strong suits, declaring that after nearly four years as president, he is still the man who drove a rust-bucket car on early dates, rescued a coffee table from the trash, and knows the struggles of everyday Americans because he lived them in full.
"I have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are, it reveals who you are," the first lady said to huge cheers Tuesday night in a deeply personal, yet unmistakably political testimonial highlighting the Democratic National Convention's opening night.
Bill Clinton, the last president to preside over sustained economic growth and a balanced budget, gets the star turn Wednesday night in a speech placing Obama's name into nomination — a high point in a checkered relationship between two men who sparred, sometimes sharply, in the 2008 primaries, when Clinton was supporting wife Hillary's campaign for the Democratic nomination.
Romney, a businessman and former Massachusetts governor, appeared nowhere in Mrs. Obama's remarks. But there was no mistaking the contrast she was drawing when she laid out certain values, "that how hard you work matters more than how much you make, that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself."
Such subtleties were otherwise missing from the stage as speaker after speaker blasted Romney and the Republicans. The party's up-and-coming Julian Castro, mayor of San Antonio, Texas, captured the tone in branding Romney a millionaire "who doesn't get it." Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said, "If Mitt was Santa Claus, he'd fire the reindeer and outsource the elves."
Delegates cheered as a parade of speakers extolled Obama's support for abortion rights and gay marriage, for consumer protections enacted under his health care law and for the successful auto industry bailout he pushed through Congress in his first year in office.
Polling gives Obama a consistent advantage over Romney as the more empathetic and in-touch leader. But the sputtering economy is the topmost voter concern and Obama's toughest mountain to climb after more than 42 months of unemployment surpassing 8 percent, the longest such stretch since the end of World War II. No president since the Great Depression has been re-elected with joblessness so high.
A new report found manufacturing activity declined for a third straight month. The Treasury Department announced Tuesday that the government's debt passed $16 trillion. And the latest unemployment report, coming Friday, offers more potential fodder for Romney's case against his rival's stewardship unless it shows marked improvement. Romney took a few days off from the campaign trail, preparing in Vermont for three fall debates with Obama that could prove pivotal in this close election.
Mrs. Obama described a marriage of kindred spirits, built from humble roots, and said the president's work on health care, college loans and more all come from that experience. "These issues aren't political" for him, she said. "They're personal."
"Barack knows what it means when a family struggles," she said. "He knows what it means to want something more for your kids and grandkids."
The first lady took the stage as the most popular figure in this year's presidential campaign. Michelle Obama earns higher favorability ratings than her husband, Romney, his wife, Ann, or either candidate for the vice presidency, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll. And views of Mrs. Obama tilt favorably among independents and women, two focal points in her husband's campaign for re-election.
Democrats looked to use the convention and its national television coverage to help Obama recapture the hearts of Americans once drawn to his message of hope and change, but now weary after years of economic weakness and political squabbles.
Castro's selection to deliver the prestigious keynote address during prime viewing time was a sign of his rising stardom in the party and the increasing importance of the Hispanic vote, which Democrats are relying on to win several battleground states in the West.
After highlighting the humble roots of his Mexican-born grandmother, Castro ridiculed the advice Romney gave at a campaign event that students could borrow money from their parents to start businesses.
"Gee, why didn't I think of that?," Castro said. "Some people are lucky enough to borrow money from their parents, but that shouldn't determine whether you can pursue your dreams."
The president closed a pre-convention tour of battleground states in Norfolk, Virginia, summoning a crowd at Norfolk State University to resist apathy and make sure to vote.
Republicans are "counting on you, maybe not to vote for Romney, but they're counting on you to feel discouraged," he said. "And they figure if you don't vote, then big oil will write our energy future, and insurance companies will write our health care plans, and politicians will dictate what a woman can or can't do when it comes to her own health."
Obama later returned to the White House to watch his wife's speech with their two daughters, two nights before his own convention-closing speech in the 74,000-seat Bank of America football stadium.
That speech will seek to recreate some of the grandeur of Obama's acceptance address in a Colorado stadium four years ago. At the time, the United States was in the midst of a devastating financial crisis while unpopular wars were dragging on in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama — young, magnetic and eloquent — captured the imagination of many Americans as the first black nominee of a major party. He promised a fresh start after eight years of George W. Bush's presidency and new hope for the economy.
Obama did withdraw U.S. combat troops from Iraq and the United States emerged from the recession. But economic growth has been tepid. Though he stepped up drone strikes on suspected terrorists and gave the order that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, Republicans cast him as a weak leader. He won congressional approval of an overhaul of the U.S health care system, but his plan remains largely unpopular.
The two conventions highlight the contrasting visions of government that voters will face in the Nov. 6 election. Romney's Republicans, increasingly guided by the anti-tax tea party movement, want to minimize the role of government, which it sees as an obstacle to enterprise and liberty. Obama's Democrats see government as a potential force for good, helping the downtrodden and providing the education and infrastructure needed to help the country prosper.
Candidates traditionally get a bounce in the polls from political conventions, though there is little sign that Romney improved his standing after the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida. Once dramatic events for selecting candidates and debating issues, political conventions are now carefully scripted shows put on by the parties, making them less compelling television programming. -- (AP)