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Happy 30th Anniversary, “Juice”

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On January 14, 2022, BET took it back to the 90’s with the music and baggy clothes by bringing back the classic crime drama series New York Undercover on TV at 9:00 PM. The series starred Malik Yoba as Detective J.C. Williams and Michael DeLorenzo as Detective Eddie Torres, two undercover detectives in New York City’s Fourth Precinct who were assigned to investigate various crimes and gang-related cases occurring in Harlem. It was nostalgia for me because as I watched the first two episodes they aired and saw New York City in its 90s glory all over again with the fashion, music and energy.

The first episode titled, “School Ties,” was about a young Hispanic woman’s claim that she was raped by four football stars from a rival school. J.C. and Eddie have to investigate and determine the truthfulness of the woman’s story. The late great Teddy Pendergrass was the musical guest on the show.

The second episode was the “Pilot” and it was directed by legendary Hollywood director Bill Dukes. This episode was about two African-American teenagers working for an auto-theft ring stole the car of a Gambino mobster’s mother; J.C.’s ex-wife wants to send their son to a private school. Clarence Williams made a quest star appearance. He was killed at the end of the show by a hitman played by Bill Dukes.

                I’m glad that New York Undercover is back on TV every Friday nights on BET. The show has always been one of my favorites crime drama series to watch, and it is a thrill to relive all the emotions and moments of the show.

By Gianni Shamari

Black History, Review

“New York Undercover” Back On TV

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Black History, Music, News

Music Legend James Mtume Dead at 76

On January 9, 2022, James Forman known professionally as James Mtume died in South Orange, New Jersey at the age of 76. He was an American jazz and R&B musician, songwriter, record producer, activist, and radio personality. This music legend came to prominence as a jazz musician, working with the late great Miles Davis between 1971 and 1975. Mtume — which means messenger in Swahili was also the name of his R&B group that was known for the hit singles “You, Me, and He” and the timeless “Juicy Fruit”, which has been sampled by many musical artists. One of those artists that sampled that song was the late great Notorious B.I.G. for his gold-selling classic joint “Juicy” in 1994, which most rap fans considered the greatest rap song of all-time.

As a songwriter, James Mtume scored one of his biggest hits with the Flack and Donny Hathaway songs “The Closer I Get To You” in 1977 and 1979’s “Back Together Again.” He won his Grammy Award for Stephanie Mills’ hit single “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” for which he was honored for Best R&B Song Writing and Producing in 1980.

“I am saddened to hear of the passing of my dear friend and producer #JamesMtume.” Stephanie Mills tweeted. “He was so brilliant and an amazing music mind. The work chemistry we had was second to none. I will continue to lift you up through our music.”

James Mtume continued to work as a producer in the ’90s and 2000s, earning credits on recordings by R. Kelly, Mary J Blige and K-Ci & JoJo. He served as the music supervisor for the very popular ’90s television series “New York Undercover” (producing the music for scenes at the fictional nightclub Natalie’s). He was also an on-air personality for NYC’s Kiss-FM radio station, a platform that he continued his activism by co-hosting the community talk series Open Line, a role he served for eighteen years.

James Mtume is survived by his wife Kamili Mtume; brother Jeffrey Forman; sons Faulu Mtume, Richard Johnson; daughters Benin Mtume, Eshe King, Ife Mtume, Sanda Lee; grandchildren Sukari Mtume, Yamani Mtume, Craig McCargo, Mazi Mtume, Aya Mtume, Jhasi Mtume.

By Gianni Shamari

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