Monthly Archives: September 2011

Naturi Naughton Discusses The Playboy Club

By Toyin Alaka

Playboy has been an institution in American culture since its inception in 1953. With a loyal legion of fans, the company followed up in 1960 with its next venture, the Playboy Club. This week (September 19), NBC is taking viewers back to the time of the satin bodices, fluffy tails and satin headbands with ears with its new series The Playboy Club.

This past May UnRated Urban got the chance to talk to actress Naturi Naughton who will be featured in the series as Bunny Brenda. Naughton is best known as a former member of the R&B group 3LW and for her portrayal of rapper Lil Kim in the bio-pic Notorious, based on the life and death of rapper The Notorious B.I.G.

UUM: So I understand that you are in the upcoming Playboy Club series, can you tell me a little bit about it?

Naughton: Yes, we started shooting in March and I will be coming back in July to finish it up, it will air on NBC on Monday nights and I’m so excited because I play one of the few African American playboy bunnies and it’s in 1963.

UUM: That’s awesome and so great for you!

Naughton: I think it’s going to be really special, this show is going to take people back to when the playboy club first started in 1963 as well as other things going on like the civil rights movement, the feminist movement and so many things that the show is going to make people more aware of.

UUM: Tell us a little bit about your role in this series and what it’s like to be an African American woman who is a bunny back then?

Naughton: I play Bunny Brenda, a young ambitious, sassy girl who knows what she wants and is not afraid to go after it. My character is a fighter who if the world tells her that something is not possible, she believes that it’s possible.  It’s hard being a bunny period, however if you are an African American woman in the 60’s you have more challenges to overcome and I think I channeled in on some of those challenges.  Going back and talking to some of the women who were original playboy bunnies made me realize that they just worked extra hard and were very confident and they were able to get to where they are today.  At the end of the day it’s about being a woman who knows what she wants and I believe we can all achieve that.

UUM: We are so happy for you and with how your career is taking off so nicely

Naughton: I feel blessed with opportunities to get to this point, from playing Lil Kim in Notorious to Fame and Lottery Ticket and now I’m one of the lead roles on a prime time NBC show The Playboy Club. So I feel really honored & I’m excited.

UUM: That’s great, how are you enjoying Chicago?

Naughton: I love Chicago, even though it’s the windy city and it’s cold and it’s raining tonight actually.  However, it’s such a great city with a beautiful skyline and when I go out and attend different things and I see the amazing culture and atmosphere of the city I feel at home and I love Chicago!  I can’t wait to come back and resume shooting.

VH1 Follows Multi-Platinum Rapper T.I. in New Series

VH1 is teaming up with multi-platinum recording artist rapper T.I. as he re-adjusts to life as a free man after being incarcerated for nearly a year in a Federal prison in Arkansas.  In the new untitled T.I. series premiering December 5 at 10 p.m.*, viewers will get a behind-the-scenes look at the most private and personal moments of one of today’s hottest, most sought after Grammy winning artists as he is reunited with his wife and kids and thrust back into society at this crucial juncture in his life.

The half hour 10-episode series follows the “King of the South” at his most vulnerable state, as he is released from an 11 month Federal prison term, his second stint in three years.  Along the way we will see T.I. re-acclimate back into his life as a father, husband, son and friend, as well as a musician, a clothier, a businessman, and an actor (he last starred in and produced Sony’s film TAKERS which opened number one at the box office the weekend prior to his arrest).  We will also witness T.I. behind the scenes in studio as he goes about recording yet another likely Grammy-award winning album.  All the while with T.I. needing to abide by a new set of restrictions and obstacles due to his probation terms.  Can the King stay on the straight and narrow while juggling the chaos of his kingdom?

Viewers will also get a glimpse into the very loving and always fascinating relationship between T.I. and his wife Tameka (aka “Tiny”), who has faithfully stood by T.I.’s side through it all and who herself was a former member of 90’s Grammy winning pop group Xscape.  Tameka and T.I. are passionately in love, but both know that this previous incarceration has to be his last.  The mother of two of T.I.’s children, along with her own fifteen-year-old daughter, Tameka was forced to hold down the fort while T.I. was behind bars.  Viewers will also be introduced to the OMG GIRLZ, a sizzling new up-and-coming pop group that Tameka manages.  With T.I. back on his throne, we will watch as he reclaims his kingdom, rebuilds his businesses, and reconnects with his family and friends.  Most importantly though, we will see T.I. adjusting to life with a new set of rules, so as to never again repeat the devastating mistakes of his past.

Summer Stage Salute to Hip-Hop Show

By David Whitely

August 21st 2011 was New York City’s Summer Stage “Salute to Hip Hop” concert in Central Park.  The show was headlined by “The God Emcee” Rakim, and featured performances by famed duo Eric Sermon and Robert Parish, known by their stage name EPMD, and Hot 97’s Funk Master Flex. 

Scheduled to start at 3:00 p.m. patrons were still filling up the main stage space twenty minutes prior to showtime, making sure they found a good spot to see historical figures in Hip-Hop perform.  Some were worried about the coming sun shower to hit the area, but still did were not trying to pass on this opportunity: seeing these major players in Hip-Hop history perform for free.

Facing a crowd of several hundred people, Funk Master Flex kicked off the show at 3:10 p.m.  Jumping on the 1’s and 2’s, and dropping his signature bombs, Funk Flex began to take concert goers on a history trip through Hip-Hop history playing classic cuts from the 80’s and early 90’s.  Most in the crowd were rocking with Flex as he played joints, but a few in the crowd were still upset about his Tupac rant he made earlier this year, and heckled him through his set in screaming out “Tupac” and “west coast.”  The Brooklyn born DJ did not let the hecklers stop his history lesson as he went through records like UTFO’s “Roxanne Roxanne,” Salt n Pepa’s “My Mic Sounds Nice,” Slick Rick’s “Bedtime Story,” and Lisa Lisa’s “Take You Home” to name a few.  Flex didn’t stop there, he went to one of the early Hip-Hop beefs in playing Mc Shan’s “The Bridge,”and KRS-One’s “The Bridge is Over.” 

Keeping the crowd the largely 35+ crowd rocking, Flex didn’t regionally discriminate in playing the legendary record “Straight Outta Compton” by N.W.A.  Funk Flex was taking the largely older crowd down memory lane in continuously saying to the crowd “If you’re 35 and older, get your hands up right now.”  But at the same time was schooling the younger people there on early Hip-Hop records.  The crowd was definitely rocking with Flex as they answered him back when he asked them questions, singing along to the records, yelling out “That was my jam back in…” dancing along to familiar records, and asking him to play extra records as an encore.

Most of the younger Hip-Hop fans nodded their heads as they couldn’t sing along because they didn’t know most of the records Flex played.  They didn’t have to worry too long because Dj Scratch took to the stage next and played some more recent records like The Throne’s “Otis,”  Freeway’s “What We Do,” and a few others before EPMD graced the stage.   

Eric Sermon and Parish Smith took to the stage and performed hits like “You Gots to Chill,” “You’re a Customer,” and “So What You Saying.”  Keeping towards the older crowd, Sermon took time throughout the show to say who and Smith are to younger audience members in case they did not know.  Sermon even stopped halfway through the set to jump into a freestyle where he spits, “I’m from the Golden Era, an 80’s baby//way before T.I//way before Shady//way before Luda//way before Baby//I rock now for those who can’t lately//I’m from the New York C-I-T-Y//Now ya’ll see why we fly//I rocked bells with L//did tours with Run//I did this for fun, years before Pun.”  The crowd went crazy after this due to the name dropping and supposed jabs at the mentioned artist.

Next up was the main event, Rakim’s performance.  The crowd was already in a frenzy seeing the earlier performances from Funk Master Flex, and EPMD, but this was different.  The energy of the crowd was at an all time high in anticipation of the God Emcee to come on and bless the stage.  Despite the coming clouds over the main stage, no one moved.  For many there, Rakim is the reason why they fell in love with Hip-Hop, so to leave before his set due to a little sun shower would be an act of blasphemy. 

 To introduce Rakim, Dj Ralph McDaniels and Technician the DJ came to the stage to get things started for the upcoming performance.  In commemorating the 25th anniversary of the classic album, Rakim went right into hits from 1986’s “Paid in Full.”  The crowd erupted when he performed “I ain’t No Joke.”  The crowd went along with every word that Rakim rapped, while flashing pictures and video recording the performance.  From there he performed other hits like “Holy Are You,” “How to Emcee,” “Eric B. Is President,” “Move the Crowd,” and “The Ledge.”  Halfway through his set it began to rain.  Instead of going home, audience members pulled out umbrellas and rocked with Rakim to the end of his set.  This was a real demonstration of appreciation by true Hip-Hop fans in that not one person left the area.  If they didn’t have an umbrella, they had on a poncho, if not a poncho, they were underneath someone else’s umbrella, if not that, they just got wet in the rain, no one was walking out on Rakim.  During his set, Rakim brought a few guest stars to perform classic cuts.  Peter Gunz came out and performed “Deja Vu” (Uptown) for his hometown crowd, and Cormega hit the stage and recited “Affirmative Action.”  Rakim closed out the show in jumping on the 1’s and 2’s and did some mixing and scratching himself.  The crowd was amazed by how nice he is as a DJ.         

 Audience members went home satisfied in enjoying a great show with Funk Master Flex, EPMD, Rakim, and the surprise guest.  Both the younger and older crowds of attendants were very happy with the turnout of the show, even with the rain, they wouldn’t trade the day and experience for anything.