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EXCLUSIVE: Wale Pens Personal Letter About His Powerful "Sue Me" Video: "There Are Two Different Americas"

Wale

 

Photo: J Visuals

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Wale Pens Personal Letter About His Powerful "Sue Me" Video: "There Are Two Different Americas"

To highlight the urgency and underlying message of change within the timely visual, the GRAMMY-nominated rapper calls out the "two different Americas" and explains why he continues "rooting for my people" in his own words

GRAMMYs/Aug 19, 2020 - 06:12 pm

On May 21, four days before the police killing of George Floyd and the subsequent wave of nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality, GRAMMY-nominated rapper/actor/poet Wale released the eye-opening video for "Sue Me." Directed by Kerby Jean-Raymond and starring Oscar-nominated actor Lucas Hedges, the provocative and powerful clip portrays an alternative reality in which the everyday struggles and experiences of living as a Black person in America are flipped. To highlight the urgency and underlying message of change within the timely video, Wale wrote a personal essay in which he calls out the "two different Americas" and explains why he continues "rooting for my people."

First and foremost, I'm really proud of the video for "Sue Me." This one was just a little more special. I'm very hands-on, but I let Kerby guide me on it. We talked about it for a while, and I let go and followed his vision, for real. He comes from our culture. He's one of us. He didn't need anybody to explain it.

This is as honest as it gets for me. This sh*t's been happening forever, and we know it's going to happen again. It's a part of our lifestyle and has been for too long. So with the video, I wanted to provide a narrative we needed. 

We've always needed this narrative, but we really need it right now …

There are two different Americas. Some people who don't look like us are with us. Some people just aren't with us. I think the 2020 protests emphasize that there are two different Americas. A lot of us Black people live in fear because we know this fact, while a lot of people are completely oblivious. 

They'll say, "We hear you, we stand with you, and we're donating." Those are just words. They're generic phrases and platitudes to alleviate inconvenience and discomfort. To truly understand us, you have to walk in our shoes. The "Sue Me" video essentially places you in our shoes.

I didn't want to play myself in the video. It wasn't about me—it's about the message. Catch the subtleties and see what it's like if you're not one of us. If you are one of us, remember things aren't easy, but we still have to make sure you hear our message loud and clear.

I want you to see that America has two sides. I want you to see that there's a difference between ignorance and arrogance. Some people are ignorant because that's how they were brought up. They never took the time to truly think about this situation. Some people are just arrogant, and this doesn't bother them. It doesn't deter them, it's not their business, and it's "All Lives Matter" for them. 

Kerby Jean-Raymond (L) and Wale (R) on the set of the "Sue Me" video | Courtesy Photo: Kerby Jean-Raymond

I'm really passionate about my people and my culture. Being truly seen and actually heard matters to me. When I say, "I'm rootin' for everybody who's Black," understand what I'm saying. I'm still rooting for my people because I'm rooting for my culture. 

Why do we always have to start the game 15 points down? 

We really have to do double the work to get equal respect.

I need this video to be seen by as many people as possible. I want to get it in the hands of those big politicians and gatekeepers. I know that would make a huge difference.

I'm grateful to have helped one group who needed it with this video. We included the Facebook Live video by Mr. Aaron DeShawn Campbell. He was locked up at Elkton in Ohio, and he faced the worst circumstances imaginable during the pandemic. We got his story out there and it made an impact. Those men in the prison received the help they needed—that's what it's all about. 

It's not that we predicted this racist world with "Sue Me," because it's been happening for years. We just highlighted it before the sh*t really hit the fan a couple of months ago. Right now, it seems like, as Black people, we are learning to love ourselves a little bit more. I'm reminding myself that I'm good enough. It's been crazy for so long. We lost a lot of hope and too many people. At the same time, a lot of human beings are finally coming together now. That's one thing I am grateful for.

I'm still rooting for us.

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Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

Rotimi

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Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'

GRAMMYs/Jul 8, 2019 - 10:04 pm

In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.

"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.

Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.

"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."

Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American. 

"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

 
This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.

Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Brittany Howard

Photo: C Brandon/Redferns/Getty Images

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Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Proceeds from the event will be go toward loans to small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses, via Accion Opportunity Fund

GRAMMYs/Jun 16, 2020 - 04:13 am

This Saturday, June 20, artists including Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz and more will come together for Small Business Live, a livestream fundraiser event for small businesses facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Proceeds from the livestream will go to Accion Opportunity Fund to support small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses.

“Entrepreneurs of color are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses. We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential,” Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia said. “We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild. This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia and oppression.”

Tune in for Small Business Live Saturday, June 20 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EDT on smallbiz.live. The site also provides a full schedule of programs and links to watch the livestream on all major digital platforms. To learn more about Accion Opportunity Fund, visit the organization's website.

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Rolling Loud Festival Los Angeles Reveals 2019 Lineup

Doja Cat

Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

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Rolling Loud Festival Los Angeles Reveals 2019 Lineup

Find out who's bringing the heat to the hip-hop fest returning to L.A. this December

GRAMMYs/Oct 2, 2019 - 12:11 am

Today, Rolling Loud revealed the massive lineup for their final music festival of 2019, Rolling Loud Los Angeles, which is set to take over the Banc of California Stadium and adjacent Exposition Park on Dec. 14–15.

This iteration of "the Woodstock of Hip-Hop," as the all-knowing Diddy has called it, will feature Chance the RapperLil Uzi VertJuice WRLDYoung Thug and Lil Baby as Saturday's heavy-hitting headliners. Sunday's headliners are none other than Future, A$AP Rocky, Meek Mill, YG and Playboi Carti.

L.A.'s own Blueface, Tyga and Doja Cat, are slated to perform, as well as representatives from the diverse rap scenes across the country, including Wale, Juicy J, Lil Yachty, Megan Thee Stallion, Gunna, Tyla Yaweh, Machine Gun Kelly and Yung Gravy.

The lineup announcement follows the successful wrap of Rolling Loud Bay Area in Oakland this past weekend. The event's flagship Miami event took place in May this year, and the New York and Hong Kong debut editions will both take place later this month.

Tickets for Rolling Loud L.A. go on sale this Friday, Oct. 4 at 11 a.m. PST. The complete lineup and more info on this event and their other fests can be found here.

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