Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Friday, September 28, 2007

    Jamie Foxx returns in his first movie since Dreamgirls, the slightly political but more violent Hollywood thriller, The Kingdom. There were so many bombs, grenades and flamethrowers, I thought someone was going to jump in the theatre and shoot the person next to me just for visual effect!


    After suicide bombers strike an American housing compound in Saudi Arabia a team of FBI agents, which include Jamie “Keep ‘Em Laughing” Foxx and Jennifer Garner, trek to the desert to solve the crime (well, actually it’s just on location in Arizona with a few scenes filmed in Abu Dhabi!). Saudi Arabia has a complex history of colonization, war and oil that dates back nearly eight years. In the beginning, The Kingdom feels like a thought-provoking political thriller that could give Syriana a hot battle. However, within thirty minutes the producer, Michael Mann (Ali, Miami Vice…yeah, exactly!) disintegrates The Kingdom to the film version of The House of the Dead, with Jamie and the crew blowing up the wicked Arabs at every turn. Forget the politics—we want to show these Arab bastards who rules, especially in the movies!

    The Kingdom is unruly with the violence: wild fight scenes, car chases and horror movie-ish blood. Still, the ornamental violence isn’t enough to save a lackluster plot…evil brown people attack and the FBI hunts down the bad guys, but instead of gunning down brown folks on American soil we just destroy them on their homeland—Americans never lose! They should’ve just had Captain America play Jamie Foxx’s role.

    Between the blood and guts, the film also tackles gender constructs (those misogynist Arabs!), racial/ethnic jokes that comes with every Jaime Foxx character and les we forget branding a fear of people from the Middle East for every American watching. When a suicide bomber cried, "Glory to be Allah!" and blew up an entire soccer field, a black woman next to me gasped, placed her hand to her bosoms, threw her head back and cried, “Those people scare me!” I said, “Lawd, she sounds like a white woman during Jim Crow watching Birth of a Nation!”

    Is the movie enjoyable? Yes! The teenage boy in me loved every millisecond of the murderousness. Meaning, after you dumb yourself down The Kingdom is one of the better action flicks of 2007. It’s fast-paced, high-octane, not one long monologue in the entire 110 minutes and leaves the audience proud to be an American. Hell, I’m sure they’ll even get some new Army recruits out of this movie!

    No complaints with the acting, considering the roles weren’t three-dimensional and there was no emotional investment in any of the American characters. Still, Foxx was believable and the usually irritating and waspy Garner was fun to watch as the butch, but yet sassy agent. On the other hand, the scenes with the Arab actors were powerful and memorable. Ashraf Barhom was riveting as Colonel Faris Al Ghazi and some of the other Arab actors seemed to have been pulled straight from Riyadh.

    Toward the end, The Kingdom attempts to go back to the social commentary that fit perfectly in the beginning by juxtaposing the children of America with the children of Saudi Arabia. We both want to murder, we both hate and the last line in the movie is “Kill them all.” It was an interesting, morbid moment that would have felt more impactful if this message, or theme, was injected throughout the entire film.

    The Kingdom is not a bad movie, but they definitely missed the target when the morphed a political thriller into a bang-bang flick. Maybe President Bush would’ve been a better director…

    3.5/5 stars

    The Kingdom is in theatres today.

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 3 comments

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    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Big thanks to everyone who submitted their questions for my interview with Queen Latifah. I only had a limited amount of time so I wasn't able to get in all of the questions. However, when I asked her about the state of female MCs she opened up with a fierce passion in her voice about this art form she helped created -- it is a must read. As she said, "I am hip-hop and I will always be hip-hop." **SWINGS MANE**

    I absolutely loved interviewing this woman. She has that rare quality of seeming absolutely genuine. She even remembered my name at the end of the interview...hell, half the time they don't even remember what outlet they are doing the interview for! Between her and my March 2006 interview with Jodie Foster I don't know who is my favorite interview of all time...hmmm, Jodie...Latifah, it figures I would -- NEVERMIND!

    Here are some excerpts...

    Latifah demands homage be paid:


    "The same way we treasure Eric B. & Rakim, we should treasure Salt N' Pepa because they helped break this thing open and take it to a level it hadn't been to. I remember Salt N' Pepa being the first act to play Russia when the Iron Curtain was still up, or had just barely not even fallen down yet. That was monumental. I remember Lyte being the first rapper to play Carnegie Hall. I have the ultimate respect for my female counterparts and I think that it could've been larger had the guys not had such egos and been so controlling. A lot of the females, it's like one girl per camp and the guys want to be so territorial and fight over whose balls are the biggest, but they're using us as a pawn. Not me, I'm not managed; I own my own company and I always have, but I noticed that about a lot of the different camps. There should've been a lot more collaborations between a lot of the female rappers that are out."


    Latifah lays the law:

    "Radio just took a nosedive in terms of the kind of things you could get away with saying. I don't know who said that was okay, or who felt that was cool. I never felt that was cool. I never felt that cursing, just to curse on a record, was hot. That's not really creative to me, and I come from an era of extremely creative rappers. Eric B and Rakim, Public Enemy, Heavy D and the Boys, Big Daddy Kane, Fresh Prince, Salt 'N Pepa, MC Lyte - I'm coming from that! You know what I mean? Mad reggae artist, mad R&B artists... you wanted to not be like the next person. Somewhere along the line everybody wanted to be like each other. For me, we've always been able to police ourselves. You just have to have the balls to do it. That's all it's been about."

    SHE BETTA' PREACH!
    Latifah's new album
    Travel'n' Light is in stores now. Click below for the full interview:

    The House that Queen Built

    If for some reason you are unsure about buying the Queen's new CD check out one of the excellent songs from the album!


    Labels: ,

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 5 comments

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    Wednesday, September 26, 2007

    Congrats to "QD" from Arlington, Texas for winning the College Hill Season Three giveaway! There were several hilarious captions, but this one had that certain je ne sais quoi! Oh, the "chocolate starfish" was a lil' extra I added.

    College Hill Season Three: Virgina State University is in stores now!

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 9:34 AM :: 1 comments

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    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    According to PrideCityGuide.com there is new event in December called “HIV – UB2” —love that acronym, which was obviously inspired from Adam4Adam.com and Men4Now.com! The New York City social gathering calls for HIV-negative people only to attend and it’s being coined a “first of its kind". The listing on PrideCityGuide.com reads (I didn’t change any of the grammatical errors):

    “The nations FIRST HIV- monthly social ‘happy hour’ event! For HIV- GLBT or straight people to meet other HIV- people in a social (bar / nightclub) enviornment."

    The listing continues:

    “In response to the recent upward trend of new HIV infections in our city, the time has come to support HIV- people who wish to meet other HIV- people. To offer support, empowerment, awareness and understanding so HIV- people can create the same support network that HIV+ people have. For us to win the war against HIV, we must understand that HIV- people are the future. If you are HIV- and wish to meet other HIV- people, join us. It's time to move forward and to reach our goal - the END OF HIV.”

    The verbiage of the listing is frightening, especially the last line, “We must understand that HIV- people are the future.” The language is the equivalent to Eugenics and the "master race" dogma. As if to "win this war” on those dirty, contaminated HIV-positive people, they should all be sent to a compound in a land far, far away while we wait for them and all of their HIV-positive children to die off. Whenever the “future” is claimed and excludes a particular group of people (think Native Americans who were considered to be disease-ridden cockroaches), regardless of their circumstance, is ridiculous on a practical, social and human level.

    Sure, we all want to live in a world without HIV and encourage prevention, but how is that achieved through an event like “HIV – UB2” or even the ideology? The idea actually reinforces stigma, which will make more people feel unsure (and unsafe) about being honest with their status. “HIV – UB2” is as useful as bombing Iraq for “peace in the Middle East”.

    Yes, I do understand where this idea is coming from, which is fear. Maybe the person, or the people, who thought of the group met too many people who lied about their status. Still, this gathering is not going to "protect" negative people from positive people. Also, how will the participants know the people they are talking to are definitely HIV-negative? Will they have a notarized, lamented HIV-negative card that's updated daily?

    On their message board it states, “Heck, if HIV+ people can do this, so can HIV- people.” HIV-positive people having a support group, or a dating night, is the equivalent? This argument is as asinine as “reverse racism” or “heterophobia”. HIV-negative people are not taking several pills a day, suffering extreme side effects, battles with their health insurance companies, enduring stigma and so much more.

    We, especially LGBT people, are not going to live in a world free of HIV anytime soon. HIV/AIDS is part of gay and American history. The disease helped to solidified LGBT people as a political force, snatched away privilege from many closeted men in the ‘80’s who looked down on openly gay men, united many sectors of the lesbian and gay male communities—it let LGBT people, Haitians (recorded cases of HIV simultaneously hit Haiti along with gay men in New York and San Francisco) and many others across the globe know that your lives are not valuable.

    I completely understand if someone does not want, or cannot handle, dating someone who is HIV positive—that is their choice. But, in every way imaginable this "social gathering" is counterproductive to the epidemic of HIV. We are in a crisis and to see "HIV - UB2” sprout by other gay people is a deplorable state of mind.


    Sadly, I think many people would actually attend.

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 20 comments

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    Monday, September 24, 2007

    Check out my interview with the legendary icon Chaka Khan. This interview is a syndicated piece and will appear in several LGBT magazines across the country.

    Chaka gives her take on current R&B ("I think they missed their calling!"), possible Rufus reunion, shouts the gays ("You all have been my most solid fan base and that's the truth!") and much more.

    Click on the link below to hear Chaka Khan shout out all of the Clay Cane readers and followed by the hot new track "Disrespectful" featuring Mary J. Blige!

    CLICK HERE

    Chaka's new album Funk This is in stores tomorrow!


    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 7 comments

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    Friday, September 21, 2007

    It's sad that we have predicaments like the Jena 6 (with OJ stealing the spotlight but we expect OJ to be crazy) and dumb Negroes like Sherri Shepherd on television on a daily basis! Whoopi Goldberg attempted to make Sherri Shepherd see the sense in believing in evolution and God; she asked if she believed the world was flat. Lowering the bar Flava Flav low, Shepherd gave a shuck n' jive Negrees response, "I'se dun't knuh."

    Missy Hassleback was more than welcomed to chime in as they both gave Biblical reasons why God trumps evolution. When I heard Shepherd vomit that babble I cringed...this is the type of stuff that would make my Grandfather yell, "Now why would you say that in front of white folk? Lawd—white folk heard that!"

    It amazes me how some people are so entrenched in religion they cannot form an independent thought. Furthermore, when are people going to stop referencing the Bible like it's a historical document?

    For the complete madness, check out the clip below.




    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 19 comments

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    Thursday, September 20, 2007

    This picture is from 1935 and it is quite possible the little white girl who is smiling in this pic is still alive -- so are these ideologies.

    The Jena 6 are six young black men who after a school yard fight were charged with second degree murder and conspiracy, and face up to 100 years in prison without parole. Recently, an all white jury was the first to convict Mychael Bell and now he faces twenty-two years in prison. While we like to shout racism for Janet Jackson, OJ Simpson, Don Imus or other pointless moments, this is a real issue that deserves real attention.

    Here is how you can protest:

    African-Americans are being asked to wear BLACK on September 20th to protest Un-Equal Justice wherever you are.

    Find a March and Rally Near You (For my Angelino's it's @ Leimert Park)
    Here is a video explaining Jena 6.


    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 1:40 PM :: 7 comments

    ---------------oOo---------------
    Whoever thinks of the best caption for one of the two pictures below will win an advanced copy of College Hill Season Three: Virginia State University, which hits stores Tuesday, September 25th. This season includes Ray Cunningham, the first openly gay personality in BET's 25 year history. And, no, the guy on the front cover who looks like a Cocodrom model is not the gay one!

    Email claycane@gmail.com by 9pm EST time today with your caption. You can also leave your caption in the comments but be sure to post your email. Be creative, fun -- and anything goes!


    Leon and Boris


    OR

    Pharrell and Mr. Janet

    There is just too much to work with...

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 3 comments

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    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    Check out my interview with the legendary Babyface! We discuss his new album, being single again, the current state of R&B and more.


    Some of the interview was heavily edited, but I wanted to share two of the questions that didn't make the cut. I thought he gave interesting, honest and real responses--a rarity in some interviews.

    You've been doing this for over 20 years. Are record sales still important to you?
    It’s nice if you sell a lot of records, of course, but these days the way a lot of record sales are, you’re fortunate if you can break half a million to a million. I don’t pay as much attention to it. I think that initially, you just want people to hear the music. Ultimately, you want to get in front of people and perform. You want people to know the words to your songs; you want to know that you’ve influenced people and touched their lives. It’s interesting, you can try and put it on record sales, sometimes you can, but the reality is that there are a lot of people who may know your songs, may know your words, but didn’t buy the record. Obviously, yeah, you want to sell as many records because you can make a good living off of it. At the same time, it’s not everything at this particular point. Of course I’m in a better position to talk like that! [Laughs] Prior to it, obviously it was far more important. Today, I would say that it’s important, but not so important to where you tweak the creative process. Meaning that you don’t take a risk in doing an album like this where some people would say—you’re switching up, you’re an R&B guy, you should be totally R&B. These songs may come from a pop folk kind of area, but I think there’s very much a soul feeling that comes with it. Soul music is heartfelt; it’s all about the feeling.

    Is there anything you've done that wasn’t received well by critics or audiences, but you were really proud of?
    I think the Face to Face album was certainly one where I went far more—not quite hip-hop, but definitely more younger urban. Definitely kind of going at it, which I was basically told to do, so I did. Parts of it I felt really good about it, but some of it I was like—I’m not sure about this, but I’ll do it. Interesting enough, I think image wise it wasn’t so much received well, as it was the music was received really well. The song I wrote and produced with Pharrell, it’s still played in clubs, which is kind of funny to me. It’s not like I couldn’t do the music in some cases, I did find a way to try to make it work. That still wasn’t necessarily who I am or who I’ve been as an artist so it wasn’t anything I wanted to return to. I was glad that I did it. To some people it was well-received for the artistry part of it, the musicality of it. As a whole, as an image, I think it could’ve been somewhat questioned.

    Babyface's new album Playlist is in stores now!

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 4 comments

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    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    In case you missed it—The View is officially integrated! After going through over a year of "Negro Day," which brought Mo'Nique, Brandy, Gayle King and others to the lily white show, Barbara Walters and the crew have moved beyond a token, like Star Jones, officially hiring two black women. Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd are Babs’ latest play things, and we all know she loves the blacks!

    Let's not forget those cherished segregated moments of The View, which included Barbara Walters pulling Tanika Ray's hair and flat out asking if Brandy's hair was real. Or, the true gem, when Babs and Joy Behar treated Mo'Nique like she was Hottentot Venus questioning her unshaven legs and calling her children “creatures”.

    Check out the clips below!



    Labels: ,

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 9 comments

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    Friday, September 14, 2007

    The Brave One Movie Review

    The Brave One is the story of the most unlucky woman in New York City turned gun-totting vigilante, played by the legendary Jodie Foster. Her character Erica Bain, a radio host who has been robbed, beaten, held at knife point, nearly raped and her husband, played by Naveen Sanders was murdered—oh and les we forget her dog was stolen! Having had just about enough, Foster purchases an illegal gun and as if she were Luke Skywalker who was just handed the “force”, she suddenly becomes '70's Pam Grier without the big hair and bouncing bosom. Terrence Howard is Detective Sean Mercer; the most useless and unintuitive cop since Dragnet, dedicated to hunting down the vigilante who is taking the law into their own hands.

    The Brave One is a film you desperately want to like. Naveen Sanders, Terrence Howard and the two time Oscar-winner Jodie Foster feels like a fool-proof movie. However, take away the stunning performances and The Brave One is just a cowardly script with such extreme suspensions of disbelief that even Britney Spears wouldn't be convinced to perform in it.

    The movie starts with a punch and gives the expectation of, wow; this is going to be another Jodie Foster classic. However, as the first hour goes by you begin to cock your head to the side and go, "Huh?" Or, turn to the person next to you and say, "What the hell is going on?" Not in that "what the hell is going on" this is so deep English Patient way, but more in that "Oh God please stop the madness" Halle Berry's last five movies way.

    First, we have the plot of Foster’s character being a crime victim wherever she struts in New York City--convenient stores, subways or parks...granted, New York City can be a violent place, but Lawd you would think she was walking through Baghdad! When Jodie starts blowing away these savage criminals due to her unlucky life, Terrence's character gets wind of this and he, like everyone else, is on the hunt for a man...here is the gender twist. The cap bustin' vigilante is a woman!

    The Brave One sets itself up to be a thought provoking journey of what the human spirit will do to protects itself and its community, but morphs into a deadpan babble fest that is only mildly saved by the incredible actors. Terrence Howard is the king of making a bad script work (Get Rich or Die Tryin', Pride), but even with Foster by his side, the film does not pack enough emotionality mixed with reality.

    Fortunately, we get a great performance from Zoë Kravitz who plays an unconscious drug addict and Dennis White (formerly of Weekend Vibe) as a rough and tough thug. In addition, the film is filled with ethnic and racial diversity; finally Hollywood managed to show what the real New York City looks like on a daily basis…just in a below average flick.

    Jodie Foster only does one film every one or two years...if this is the quality work Foster is throwing to her fans (Flight Plan!) then let's hope she goes back to three films a year like the early '90's and delivers award-winning performances...I can't take another Foster let down this time next year!

    Even with all the flawless cast choices, the only thing courageous about The Brave One is the commitment to act in it.

    2/5 generous stars...
    The Brave One is in theatres nationwide today.

    Labels: ,

    Posted by Clay :: 12:04 AM :: 8 comments

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    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    I'll be interviewing Oscar nominee and Covergirl, Queen Latifah, tomorrow afternoon for her new album Trav'Lin' Light, which hits stores September 25th. Feel free to submit your questions and I'll see what I can squeeze in. Be creative and I'm NOT asking that pointless question so don't even ask. But, you know I'll be thinking it!

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 1:22 PM :: 9 comments

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