Monthly Archives: August 2011

Kanye West Headlining Call of Duty® XP

In his first public performance since the release of his fifth #1 album, the global smash “Watch the Throne,” Kanye West is set to close Call of Duty® XP , the only full-immersion fan experience for Call of Duty® gamers. West will take the stage at 8PM on Saturday, September 3rd, capping an impressive roster of firsts for casual and hardcore Call of Duty fans alike, including the world premiere of Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 3 multiplayer, the first public hands-on with the title, the finals of the Call of Duty® $1 Million tournament sponsored by Xbox 360®, Call of Duty-inspired live action-experiences and much more.

Call of Duty XP will take place at the Call of Duty compound in Playa Vista, located at 5600 Campus Center Dr., Los Angeles, Calif., 90094.  Activision Publishing, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) will donate 100% of the sales to The Call of Duty Endowment, a non-profit, public benefit corporation that seeks to help returning soldiers transition back to civilian life, find work and establish careers. For more information about Call of Duty XP, please visit

Janet Jackson to be featured in “What Becomes a Legend Most?” Campaign

Blackglama announced that Janet Jackson will be the first legend to be featured for the second year consecutively in the brand’s iconic “What Becomes a Legend Most?” advertising campaign.

Unquestionably a legend in the world of entertainment, Janet Jackson’s albums, including Control, janet, All For You and Number Ones, have sold over 100 million copies worldwide and her most recent “JANET JACKSON Number Ones; Up Close And Personal” World Tour broke box office records making her one of the best-selling female artists of all time.  

She is the only recording artist to have Grammy™ nominations spanning the categories Dance, Pop, Rap, Rock and R&B. Janet is also an accomplished actress, with starring roles in television and film including Poetic Justice, Nutty Professor, Why Did I Get Married?, Why Did I Get Married Too? and For Colored Girls.

Last year’s campaign thrust Janet Jackson amongst some of the world’s most legendary entertainers who have starred in the popular Blackglama “What Becomes a Legend Most?” campaign. The initiative was revived by noted advertising agency Laspata DeCaro, and ads were photographed by Rocco Laspata.

The first ad debuts in the September issue of W Magazine.

University of the Streets Open Mic Jam Session

By David Whitely

For Jazz enthusiasts looking for a place to listen to or perform great music, University of  The Streets at 130 E. 7th Street, Manhattan, New York, is where you want to be.

Since its creation in 1969 by Muhammad Salahuddeen, University of the Streets, a non-profit organization aiming to “address the educational, vocational, and cultural needs of the community,” have been continuing this effort through weekly jazz jam sessions held at 8:30 p.m. Friday nights.

The Jam Sessions, hosted by internationally known jazz sensation Okaru Lovelace, are open to jazz patrons and performers. For five dollars, audience members can hear the different styles of jazz music such as ragtime, bebop and scat to name a few and singers and musicians can perform for the same price.  Not just singers and musicians perform here during the Friday night jam sessions, but dancers, and spoken word artist also.

I was recently invited to and attended one of the Friday jam sessions, and had the opportunity to experience some of whatNew York City’s jazz circuit has to offer.  The set up of the event was a small, intimate setting, inviting the audience to experience the music and vibe of jazz culture on a personal level. 

With a full house of close to 30 people, the amount of patrons and performs was large enough to make the room appear to be crowded, yet small enough to maintain its intimate feel.  Performers have been involved with Jazz as an amateur and professional for many years.  The room was a mixture of middle aged and younger people (teens and twenty something’s), showcasing the mass appeal of jazz music and culture to reach beyond usual confining things such as age.  The space had the tools usually seen in a jazz club: cello, piano, drums, lively performers, patrons with the look of anticipation on their faces, and of the course the talent.


Ms. Lovelace opened the evening with a few words for the crowd outlining the format of the event before the first performer June, took to the microphone.  With a very soothing and lovely voice, June demonstrated her love for Jazz through her singing.  Her passion for the culture and craft became apparent as soon as the Japanese born singer opened her mouth.  Along with the passion for the music being shown in her singing, it was also clear in her body language; June’s body language was captivating in not the usual intense form of performance, but by sheer enjoyment and love of performing Jazz. 

The next performer performed two songs, the first an up-tempo song, followed by a slow, crooning ballad.  This performer was different to that of June due to a much louder, thunderous voice, particularly on the up-tempo song.  Singing original songs, she gave the sheet music to the musicians and took command after telling them to follow along.  Sitting there listening her brought about visions of being in Harlem’s legendary Cotton Club during the 1940’s.  The audience moved from tapping their feet along to the tunes, to almost breaking into a dance number.  It was a very energetic performance to say the least. 

The next artist, another regular, Jim West took to the mic stand and brought about a swinging style with his rendition of the famous style of Scat.  Despite being overpowered by the sound of the band at times, Mr. West still kept it cool and funky with his laid back style.  What was really great about this performance is that the band broke into a solo and really started to jam.  The Cello player let loose on base, and the piano man followed suit on the keys.  The crowd was nodding their heads in a motion to the band to play with more ferocity because they were so into it. 

Overall, it was a solid event put together by Universityof  The Streets, and hosted by Okaru Lovelace. For more information on the Jam Session, visit For more information about Okaru Lovelace, visit her MySpace page at

One on One with Jennifer Williams (Basketball Wives)

By Tamara Jenkins

VH1’s reality series Basketball Wives has sparked high ratings and high criticism. Focusing on the lives of the women behind some of the worlds most admired and idolized men, the show has become a goldmine for the cable channel and made the wives featured household names.

Having just concluded the third season that included physical altercations, verbal attacks and international travel, one of its stars, Jennifer Williams, is ready to step away from the shadow of her soon to be former husband and the life as a basketball wife and move into a new, independent chapter.

Recently in Chicago for a meet and greet at the Glam Luxe Boutique, for which she serves as the company’s spokes model, Williams spoke to UnRated Urban about the show, her projects away from the show and her future goals.

How did you get involved with the show?

JW: Shaunie O’Neal, one of the show’s executive producers, had this idea to do the show, talked to Evelyn about it, then we all got on the phone and that’s how it came about. It’s not like we were cast to do the show. We all had a connection to Shaunie and it took on a life of its own.

Are you surprised by the success of the show?

JW: At first I was, probably like season one, because I was like wow people are really interested in our lives. But after season one I sort of got use to it.  But everyday something does kind of surprise me. It really surprises me how interested people are and how invested they are in our lives.  I think everything has its pros and cons and it’s a good thing but sometimes it can be a little overwhelming.

How do you feel about the negative criticism the show has received?

JW: I think there does need to be more of a balance because I feel like a lot of our show is focused on drama and I get that drama sells and people want to see that but I feel like we can come to some type of balance because there are so many things that we do outside of the show and its not just fighting.

We film for almost four months and a lot of stuff they don’t use because they focus on what the audience wants to see. I know Shaunie is fighting with VH1 and Shed Media which our production company to get more of a balance and show us doing other things besides arguing and fighting because there’s so much more to all the women than just that.

How does your family feel about you being on the show?

JW: My family is very supportive. I don’t really get on the show and act crazy. I’m a calm person, I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not on camera, I’m definitely not confrontational so I feel like I don’t really embarrass my family on TV. So they are supportive of me.

Would you consider doing your own reality show?

JW: I would consider doing my own show. I would definitely have to be an executive producer and have some creative control, but I would definitely be open to that.

Which reality shows do you watch?

JW: I don’t get a lot of time to watch TV but I try to watch a lot of the Housewives shows, NeNe Leakes is a great friend of mine so I definitely watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Once in awhile I’ll catch the Kardashians but I really don’t have much time.

If you could do it all over again, would you have signed up for the show?

JW: I would definitely do it all over again. I don’t live with regrets and the show has opened up some doors for me that, if I wasn’t on the show, it might not have been as easy, I might have had to knock a couple extra times and now they kind of open, so I would definitely do it again.

Let’s talk about your ventures outside of the show, like your lip gloss line, Lucid?

JW: I started working on it second two and it was actually a long journey for me, I just thought I want to make lip gloss  because that’s one beauty product I don’t leave out of the house without and I thought it would be easy.

I didn’t partner with anyone and I did everything myself down to the containers, the packaging, the colors, I’m working on the display now for retail stores, so its been a long journey and I’ve learned a lot of lessons but I always say nothing good is easy. Its finally out there, I’ve launched and I have big dreams for Lucid.

I don’t want to stop at lip gloss, I definitely want to take it and make it a full cosmetics line. Its slowly coming along, its like my little baby, its crawling right now, I’m watching it grow and I’m just really excited about it because it’s a new chapter in my life and its all about independence and Lucid is something I’m very proud of.

What are some of your other ventures?

JW: I’m a principle owner of Flirty Girl Fitness and we have a location here in Chicago and one inToronto. I have a nonprofit foundation called Project Save the World, myself, my friend Heather and my manager co-founded. We just feel like we live this extremely blessed life and we wanted to give back. We couldn’t decide what cause we wanted to support, so we called it save the world and we do whatever’s in our hearts. There are so many different causes that need our time, money and just so much stuff people don’t even know about. That’s something I’m very proud of.

 I’m working on a book, I’m writing a hand book for women and I’m working on a workout DVD.

What will the handbook be about?

JW: Just about general life. When I first started writing it, I was basing it on beauty and fashion because I had so many people sending me messages on facebook and twitter asking questions like what kind of foundation do you use, where did you buy this, and what do you for that, so I was like, I’m going to write a handbook for women about diet, exercise, skincare, wardrobe and as I started writing it, I thought I should have a chapter about self esteem, I should have a chapter about love. So, it’s an all around handbook for women.

Because your marriage issues were so relevant on the show, do you get a lot of messages from women asking for relationship advice? Have you thought about writing an advice column or a relationship book?

JW: You know what, just recently I have. I feel like when people feel their going through a divorce it’s the end of the world and its not. When I first started getting messages about relationships, I would think to myself, do they really watch the show, because they would know I’m not the one to give advice.

If I can be an inspiration, I would love to do that. There’s definitely life after divorce and I think you have to go through that healing process and once you do, it’s okay to start over and it took me a long time to recognize that because I’m a victim of divorce, my parents got divorced and it was something I never wanted for myself. I always felt like if I get a divorce, I’m going to be a failure. I had to heal and I had to learn and if I can teach that to other women I would welcome that.

I must say, going through something like that with a camera is not easy because it’s very personal. But when I signed up to do the show I knew I had issues going on in my relationship and it was sort of a struggle because I’m a private person and I said to myself, if I do this show, I’m going to have to be real about my relationship because it’s a reality show and if you’re trying to be something you’re not the camera picks up on that.

But I’m happy that I did it because if I wasn’t on the show and wasn’t to talk about it I might still be in that same situation and I wasn’t happy.

Do you have any acting or musical aspirations?

JW: I can’t sing, so you won’t find me singing. I’m open to getting into acting. I’m use to being in front of a camera so that would be an easy adjustment for me. I want to get into hosting and doing special correspondent stuff. I’m open to dabbling into a couple of different things, so we’ll see what happens.

Would you ever date an athlete again?

JW: I’m not going to say never but if you date an athlete, you know what goes along with that and right now that’s definitely not something I’m looking for and I would say an athlete is probably last on my list.

What advice would you give to the cast of Basketball Wives L.A.?

JW: That cast is a little interesting. The only thing I can say is when the camera’s there, you have to be real and just stay true to yourself.











One on One with Travis McCoy

By Toyin Alaka

A mash-up of cool, colorful cups and cold slurpee concoctions combined with the sounds of We Are The In Crowd and Gym Class Heroes greeted those lucky enough to snag a ticket to 7-Eleven’s MixMaker Concert Series held July 25th atChicago’s Lincoln Hall.

Gym Class Heroes, currently on the 2011 Vans Warped Tour, detoured to the windy city for the MixMaker series and before the show, UnRated Urban Magazine got a chance to speak with the band’s front man Travis McCoy.

What is the inspiration behind the new Gym Class Heroes album The Papercut Chronicles II?

McCoy: The inspiration…um, I would say that in going into this record… it was kind of a conscious decision to go back to the essence of what Gym Class Heroes is and was and always will be, and it’s kind of us putting our antennas up and trying to bound these sounds that we like and enjoy.

We feel that calling the album The Papercut Chronicles II, um it’s kind of going back to the urgency and the kind  of naiveté of the first album, you know we were kids and they say you have your whole entire life to write your perspective and after that you lose that mind and all that, so there’s a kind of sense of urgency and also an innocence from our first album (The Papercut Chronicles) that we want to bring to this album without re-creating the first album and taking everything we’ve experienced and learned since the first album and kind of expressing that. 

For me it kind of sets the bar pretty high as far as expectations for this album because our first record means a lot to us and was written from the time I was seventeen to age twenty-one, so there were a lot of growing pains in there you know and for me it’s like my little baby and we definitely took a lot of time to nurture a lot of these songs and lyrically I was very, very conscious about touching on a lot of things that was touched on the first album, so there are some reoccurring themes and anyone who is a fan of the first album will pick out the tiny nuances that are on the new album and go wait a minute was…. that.. like the drum feel from Simple Living? You know there are little surprises and little treats in there.

Did you guys draw from any of your musical influences while creating The Papercut Chronicles II?

McCoy: For sure, we always do.  I think anyone who says that their music is completely original is a f***ing liar, you know what I’m saying.  Like I think that originality is just the evolution of influence.  We listen to all types of music so at the end of the day our product is an amalgamation of everything that we listen to and everything that we are inspired by so us having such an eclectic and wide palate for music makes us end up with a hard to slap a label on genre.


McCoy: Yeah!  It’s been a blessing.  I love it when people ask me so what would you call your band and I look at them and say what would you call it?  And they can’t answer and I can’t answer.

Right!  I think that’s the beauty of what you guys do, it’s the fact that you blend so many genres together and it makes it so appealing to a wide audience.

McCoy: And it gives us the freedom to tour with bands like Fall Out Boy or The Roots or whomever we want.

So how did the first single Stereo Hearts come about and the collaboration with Adam Levine?

McCoy: Well I was working with my boy Benny Blanco (music producer), and he played this beat and it was a skeletal beat.  Whenever we work with producers they will come up with a skeletal frame of a song and then we will build around it if we are not writing the song ourselves, you know what I mean.  Umm, so he had this idea of a song Stereo Hearts and there’s a reference that his boy Amir had sang and I was like this is cool and we both felt like man, Adam Levine would really kill this. 

So we made the call and Adam happened to be a fan of Gym Class, which is very funny because when we first signed to our label they asked if there was anybody that we would want to collaborate with in the future and who would it be and the first person I said was Adam Levine and that was around the time that I was absolutely in awe of the album Songs About Jane that was like my record at the time that I was playing non-stop and so I said Adam Levine. 

It’s crazy how things come full circle and we actually get to have a song with him but umm watching that dude like go into the booth and belt out that hook so effortlessly, that like made me want to go home and rethink my whole career, cause he was like cutting takes that were like beautiful. He was like naw, naw, naw do it over.  I’m like what are you talking about do it over! Are you serious?!! It was crazy!! That dude’s an animal and he’s a nice guy too!

Are there a lot of guest appearances on The Papercut Chronicles II?

McCoy: We are trying to keep this album not so feature heavy, we’ve worked with a lot of artists in the past that we admire. Artists who are really good friends of ours, the first album had no guest appearances with the exception of Patrick Stump, so in that sense we are trying to keep it light on the feature side, for me it’s always a little disheartening when you are into an artist and you go buy their record and you go to the back of the record and it just says featuring, featuring, featuring…. And you’re like wait a minute who the f***’s album is this? You know what I’m saying?


McCoy: and in going back and making this the sequel of one of our monumental albums we kind of wanted to make sure that you get the Gym Class thing as opposed to a party, you know!

Let’s talk about your solo projects and how the solo projects in anyway made it hard or easy to come back together and work on this album and do what you guys do musically.

McCoy: The thing is that we’ve been a band since 1997, so I guess when you’ve invested almost half of your life into one thing it kind of becomes like breathing in a sense.  For me, Lazarus was kind of like recess, like yay, I can go play for a little while. We had been touring non-stop and umm for me it was just another outlet and umm Lazarus wasn’t like the first side project or musical venture outside of Gym Class for any of us. 

Since the beginning of Gym Class we’ve all had other projects outside of the band, I mean musicians get bored easily, not that any of us are bored with Gym Class but we kind of get our rocks of doing other things as well.  For instance: I paint and I have like 5 or 6 other musical projects and Lazarus just happened to have a couple of smash hits on it and kind of picked up some steam and got some label backing; Matt’s in a side project called Kill the Front man; Eric and Tyler have a side project and Disashi’s side project is Soul and all of them are like cousins of Gym Class Heroes but at the end Gym Class is the priority.  I think one hand washes the other and every project or whatever we do musically all it can do is help Gym Class Heroes.

Great, thank you!

 McCoy: Thank you! Great interview!   

 Photo by Tamara Jenkins

Will He?…Will She?

By Wendy Simmons

Adultery is a headlining story in almost every gossip magazine and has always been a steamy subject to display on film. Well, here’s yet another movie about the temptation of the opposite sex and wonderment of whether the faithful will give in to that temptation.

‘Last Night’, starring Eva Mendes, focuses on a married couple that appears to be happy however when both are confronted with the option to indulge in affairs we are taken on a ride to witness if he will or will she.

Sounds tantalizing, right? Wrong!  This movie was a bore.  It teases you, heightens your expectations only to bring you back down.

The performances were worthy however, I expected so much more because cheating is usually a hot button issue but this didn’t push my buttons at all.

If you’re not fully alert you’ll snooze on this snoozer.

I give it $$