Monthly Archives: June 2010

Heineken Inspire

By Tamara Jenkins

D-Nice and DJ Jazzy Jeff spinning amid three floors of food, games and a plentiful supply of Heineken all awaited those lucky enough to snag a ticket to the exclusive, invitation only Heineken Inspire event held June 26 in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood.

The two day event featured souvenir silk screened t-shirts, customized Rolling Stone Magazinecover photos, Wii games, movies, Heineken tasting areas and performances (on June 26) by rapper J. Cole and R&B crooner Ryan Leslie.

J. Cole

The day’s first performance was by J. Cole. Cole, the first artist signed to rap mogul Jay Z’s new label, Roc Nation, held his own on the stage, performing with ease amid the humidity; his impressive mic skills kept fans cool during “Lights Please” and “Who Dat” while Leslie gave a soulful performance, backed by a band, he performed a few songs including hits “Diamond Girl” and “Addiction”.







In between performances, brief interviews were granted and UnRated Urban got a chance to speak with DJ Jazzy Jeff and Ryan Leslie.

DJ Jazzy Jeff-

How did you get involved with Heineken Inspire?
I’ve done some events with Heineken in the past and they asked me to do a few (cities); I’m doing Chicago, Philly and Los Angeles. Whenever I work with them, the vibe is always great.

Do you have any upcoming projects, anything you’re working on right now?
Right now, I’m  just in the process of doing a lot of touring, I usually do that into the Fall and then I kinda take a break and go in the studio and figure out musically what I’m going to do next. I’m just going to keep rolling until September, October, then take about a month off, and do some brain time.

Who are some of the artists that you like right now?
I’m weird because I like all kinds of stuff. I would definitely say someone like Drake, I love the Roots, love the Roots new album, Esperanza Spalding, I’m all over the place, I really like J. Cole, it’s funny that he’s here. It’s a refreshing time in music with guys like Drake and J. Cole and the Roots it’s not just the typical things you would (be) use to hearing on the radio; people are starting to stretch like they did in the 70s and 80s. 

Ryan Leslie-

What have you been working on? Can you talk about some of your upcoming projects?
(on the) Production side, I just worked with Ne Yo. (I have a) record with Game featuring Lil Wayne and Bird Man, worked with Keri Hilson, two records with Asher Roth and my forth coming album called Les Is  Moore will be out in the Fall.

What do you think about artists today, like, Lady Gaga or Drake?
I just love artists who aren’t afraid to be expressive and really utilize all of their resources and relationships to make and convey the most powerful messages that they possibly can so as long as artists are doing that, then I respect them.   

Anyone new you really like right now. Someone people may not know about (yet to be discovered talent)?
A kid named Miguel that just opened for me in New York City and (he) has a record with J. Cole; he’s a talented writer and he’s on J Records.

Photos courtesy of  Heineken USA

LisaRaye Teams Up with Essence & Dark and Lovely

By Tamara Jenkins

Chicago’s dark and lovely ladies descended upon the Wit Hotel June 12thfor SoftSheen Carson and Essence Magazine’s Ultimate Fashionista Event.

The event included a casting for the newest Dark and Lovely ad and a panel discussion on how women can achieve a polished look from head to toe as well as tips on how they can look their best everyday.

Tasha Turner, Contributing Editor of Essence Magazine, moderated the panel that featured actress and former First Lady of Turks and Caicos, LisaRaye McCoy, celebrity hairstylist Eric Bland who’s worked with Tyra Banks, Lisa Ling and Star Jones and celebrity stylist/fashion correspondent Carlton Jones whose clients include Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott and Alicia Keys.

Key topics included creating a budget when shopping, befriending store sales associates, shopping sample sales, recycling an older wardrobe with tailoring and experimenting with different styles. Also discussed, things that can kill a look- inappropriate clothing, over accessorizing and bad hair.

Panelists agreed the best look always starts with healthy hair. McCoy divulged her secrets of wearing wigs and weaves to maintain her mane and Bland stressed the importance of trimming which should be done every 3-6 weeks. The discussion concluded with final tips from panelists and audience questions.  

Following the discussion UnRated Urban spoke with LisaRaye McCoy about her upcoming projects and she stated they included the second season of her successful TV One reality series The Real McCoy, launching her social media networking organization B2B (Back to Business) and the VH1 film entitled “Single Ladies” co-starring Stacey Dash and Lauren London produced by Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit Productions.

The winner of the national casting will be announced in the October issue of Essence Magazine.






Photos by Adam Bielawski

Aloe Blacc at the Shrine

Aloe Blacc Show
The Shrine Chicago
Thursday, June 17, 2010

By Toyin Alaka

Right at 12:30 a.m. a band called Grand Scheme does a warm up for Aloe Blacc.  Just the name Aloe Blacc would raise a few eyebrows; however if you watched the HBO series How to Make It In America, then you’ve heard Aloe Blacc in the theme song “I Need A Dollar” and you quite simply as I did, had to find out who he was. 

From the tilt of his hat to the dark jacket’s popped lapel along with a scarf around his neck down to the pants and shoes he could easily be a reincarnation of Marvin Gaye or  from the first wail of his voice could be Bill Withers or easily Al Green.  He gives us all our beloved favorites and yet he is quite simply Aloe Blacc.  

Aloe Blacc is a funky, soulful and passionate singer all is evident as he sang Bill Withers “Use Me”, and then his own song “Hey There Brother”.  He does a rendition of “Love & Happiness” that acts as an intro to a song of his about people who make you smile.  He performed a bluesy rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” before performing “I Need a Dollar”. 

He held the audience in the palm of his hands the entire evening with his storytelling and soulful voice.  He is comfortable with himself and his music.  I cannot wait to hear more when his album entitled “Good Things” drops September 14, 2010.

Fundraiser to Help Chicago’s Youth

The Legacy Initiative (TLI), a non-profit company founded in 2009 and provides mentoring, entrepreneurial and workforce preparation and leadership development for under served youth, hosted a fundraiser on June 19th at Sutton Place in Chicago. The event included students helped by the company and a performance by singer Koku Gonza.

Student members are mentored through their senior year of high school by Legacy Initiative Certified Facilitators. The curriculum is designed to help student make better academic, economic and social decisions; gain admission to 2-or 4-year colleges and technical schools; receive scholarships or job training for those colleges, technical schools and/or apprenticeship programs and receive grants, funding or loans for small business startups. For more information, please visit

Sweet Home Chicago!

By Wendy Simmons

The musical genre known as the Blues, was originated, cultivated and integrated in Chicago. We find out more about the integration process in “White, Black and Blues”, a documentary directed by John Anderson.

A screening of the documentary was held at Columbia College and was host to Blues legends and Blues lovers alike.  We were in the company of Barry Goldberg, Corky Siegel, Harvey Mandel, Sam Lay, and Nick Gravenites, who are featured in the documentary. There was a question and answer portion, after the screening, where we learned more about what the men had been up to over the years.

Presented as a rough cut with more to come, the documentary did a brilliant job relaying the personal experiences of men that helped give birth to an American institution.

The basis of the documentary was to tell the story of young white men from the North side of Chicago, who ventured out to the South and West side of the city to learn, listen and appreciate the Blues in its raw form.  While doing that, they honed their skills and showcased them to a crowd of people that were unfamiliar to them. In most of the clubs they frequented they were thought to be police officers. According to the interview with Blues legend Buddy Guy, the white boys weren’t harassed in African American clubs because they were always thought to be cops. Whites didn’t frequent dives like Big Johns, The Blue Flame or Peppers to hear the great sounds of the harmonica, or the drums, so when whites came, eyebrows were raised.

Other African American Blues legends like B.B. King and Sam Lay were also interviewed about the transition of Blues from a small bar in Chicago to the mainstream media. We also got a chance to hear from Marshall Chess. Chess owned a Chicago based music company that was just made famous to my generation by the movie “Cadillac Records”, which depicted the company and its artists. In the documentary, Chess said the Blues would not be where it is today without the white boys from Chicago.  Charlie Musselwhite, Paul Butterfield, Michael Bloomfield and others made the Blues a household name.

The Blues was seen as an underground black thing, but with the help of the young white men, it was transformed into something that was loved as far away as Europe. It also inspired many rock musicians to incorporate the sound into their music.

This documentary made me appreciate Chicago, the city I call home, even more. With the interviews and snippets of live performances, “White, Black and Blues” is informative, personal, raw and very entertaining.  Although it seems like a finished product to me, I look forward to seeing what director John Anderson has in store to make it complete.

Photo by Dan Locke

Ced’s Urban Circus

By Tamara Jenkins

Roller skaters, gymnasts, dancers, a contortionist and a man on stilts were the backdrop for Cedric the Entertainer’s Urban Circus. The adult themed circus was taped for television on June18th at the Chicago Theatre as part of TBS’s Just for Laughs Comedy Festival held in Chicago June 15-19.

Chicago comedian Lil Rel warmed up the crowd with jokes about his family and poked fun at female in the audience by referencing her “Flavor Flav” sunglasses she bought from the beauty supply store.

A live band brought the noticeably slimmer “ringmaster” aka Cedric the Entertainer dancing to the stage and he went right into jokes about the current recession “American’s went from Gucci to Forever 21”.

The impressive circus talent line up included JB Smoove ( from the  HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm), Sommore ( The Original Queens of Comedy) and Russell Peters.

Standout moments included JB Smoove’s take on self protection by getting the “jump on people” and Sommore’s  desire to pimp the game Queen Latifah style-“who else has a Jenny Craig commercial and a Pizza Hut commercial at the same time?”

Surprise guest Jerry Seinfeld helped recreate Cedric’s driving a space shuttle skit from the Original Kings of Comedy tour. The evening also featured performances by Chicago dance group the Footwork Kingz, street performers Chicago Boys and steppers from the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. The circus will air June 23rd on TBS.

Photos by Dan Locke

Heineken Inspire

Heineken USA will bring its “Heineken Inspire” summer tour to Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood Friday, June 25 and Saturday, June 26.

The invitation only two day event will feature performances from DJ Jazzy Jeff, Los Babasonicos and MezclaSonic DJs on Friday and D-Nice, J. Cole, Ryan Leslie, Cold War Kids, Matt & Kim and DJ Vice on Saturday.

In addition to the musical performances, Heineken Inspire will feature unique on-site experiences including a tasting area where attendees can select from a variety of Heineken refreshments, learn to pour the perfect pint from Certified Cicerone Steve Riley, silk screen their own souvenir t-shirt, get a photo taken for the cover of a customized Rolling Stone Magazine and receive a free guitar lesson courtesy of Fender.

For more information about Heineken Inspire events, exclusive behind-the scenes footage, live performances and interviews with the artists, visit

Kelly Rowland Listening Party

Former Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland recently had a listening party for her soon to be released CD June 16, 2010 at Hudson Hall in New York City.

Attendees included Star Jones, President of Universal Motown Records, Sylvia Rhone and Gayle King who interviewed Rowland during the event.













Photos courtesy of Universal Music

Jay-Z Reigning King During Bonnaroo Music & Art Festival Webcast

By Mozelle Ellis

Jay-Z ripped through a blazing, hit-filled 90 minute set that was webcast during the 2010 Bonnaroo Music and Art Festival. An estimated 70,000 attendees and filled Great Stage Park, a 700-acre farm in Manchester, TN where the festival was held, to see Jay-Z and others.

Jay-Z deserves serious props for his performance as he gave fans more than their money’s worth. Unlike some performers before his set, Jay-Z really connected with the audience hyping them up and encouraging interaction with him. He reigned as the “King of Rap” last night.

He had tweeters pecking out “Hooooovvvvv”and responding like the live audience. Both audiences truly enjoyed his performance and to see the camera give us views of the crowd, swaying bouncing, throwing the illuminate sign with a bounce above their heads was amazing.

When the man breaks a sweat on the stage you know he’s working; but with 90° packed crowd, and lights on open field, you would be sweating too. A little shower poured down during “The Dead Weather” act. His set included: On To The Next One, Big Pimpin’, 99 Problems, Hard Knock Life, “Empire State of Mind, Can I Get A…, Izzo (H.O.V.A.) and Public Service.

Jay-Z cool swagger was unduplicated; I thought “hey, this is not the Jay-Z I see on award shows. This is Jay-Z’s recantation of the Hova persona.”

At one point he picked people out of the crowd and gave them recognition. A very lucky young lady wearing a tank top under a ripped shirt with writing on it that was drenching wet was invited onstage because it was her birthday. He and the crowd sang happy birthday to her.

Though Beyonce was there, this was definitely his moment to show his undisputed skills as one of, if not the best, rappers of all time.

Photo by Dan Locke

Pam Grier Book Signing

Seventies icon Pam Grier visited Border Books on State Street in Chicago to sign copies of her book Foxy: My Life in Three Acts on June 11. Grier graciously spoke and took photos with fans as she signed books.

Photos by Adam Bielawski