Archive for the Fade To Black Category


Posted in Fade To Black with tags , , , , , , , on April 1, 2009 by joelle blackstarr

dmx-01“Dog Man X’ is what it stands for, and when they “let the dogs out”, Earl Simmons was there.  His music  began to climb the charts with the release of “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot” (1998), which included “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem”.  The CD sold more than four (4) million copies.  He was immediately compared to the inimitable Tupac (by all but yours truly – no one . . . we’ll tackle that some other time), even to the point of his early arrests and most notably, being accused of raping a stripper.  DNA evidence later cleared him of the rape charges.

The hits kept coming, and his popularity continued to rise.  “Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood” was released in the same year and it went three (3) times platinum.  He became the second rapper to have two (2) albums released the same year and have them both debut at number one.  Oh, btw – the first to do it was Tupac.

Now – try to keep up, please:

” . . . And Then There Was X” (1999) debuted at number one (his 3rd straight CD to dmx-02do so).  It went six (6) times platinum!!!  It was, most certainly, his best selling CD.

“The Great Depression” (2001) debuted at the top of the charts.  It quickly gained platinum status and was not only his 4th CD to debut at number one, but his 4th straight CD to do so!

“Grand Champ” (2003) became his 5th straight CD to debut at number one on the charts.  With the advent of this CD, he made history: the ONLY artist to ever have five CD’s debut at number one!  His next CD, “Year Of The Dog . . . Again” (2006) missed being number one by a mere few thousand sales.

DMX has more arrests on the books than Carter has little liver pills.  That is usually the only impetus that a rapper needs to boost record sales.  If that theory held true, then DMX should still be “alive and well” in the music business and still kickin’ some mad a$$.  Not so.  Two (2) CD’s, “Walk With Me Now” and “Fly With Me Later” were slated to be released in the latter part of 2008.  They got pushed back, scheduled for release in 2009 along with a  . . . get this  . . . gospel CD!! So . . . where did the dog man go wrong?  Beats me.  What I do know is that, in my book, he should be listed alongside the others in “Where Are They Now?” (besides incarcerated, that is).  I sadly witness his fade to black and say “OK, then, bye-bye.” Peace.

copyright  ©  2009  freedom

“Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” by DMX (explicit lyrics)


Posted in Fade To Black with tags , , , on February 25, 2009 by joelle blackstarr


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – today’s music listeners are fickle, if nothing else. They’ll love you today and hate you tomorrow.
In 1990, the group En Vogue consisted of Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones, Dawn Robinson, and Terry Ellis.

En Vogue sold over twenty (20) million albums and singles worldwide. They have won seven (7) MTV Video Music Awards – more than any other female group in MTV history. The group spent 2800 weeks on various BILLBOARD charts, and were nominated for five (5) Grammy Awards. Their debut album, Born To Sing, was released in 1990, with the single Hold On reaching number two (2) on the Billboard’s Hot 100. Lies and You Don’t Have To Worry went to number one (1) on Billboard’s R&B Chart. Later, Don’t Go made it to number three (3). The album finally became platinum certified.

1992 gave us Funky Divas, which went multi-platinum, selling more than three (3) million copies. The album produced five (5) noteworthy singles: My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It), Giving Him Something He Can Feel, Free Your Mind, Give It Up Turn It Loose, and Love Don’t Love You.


From 1994 to 1996 the Funky Divas had a lot of downtime, recording only alongside other artists including Salt N Pepa and with numerous other female vocalists on a song entitled Freedom for the soundtrack of “Panther”. In 1995, Terry Ellis recorded her solo album Southern Gal. Was this the beginning of the end? Not ones to be counted out so easily, they returned in 1996 with the song Don’t Let Go (Love), which was recorded for the soundtrack of “Set It Off”. The single reached number two (2) on the Hot 100, number one (1) as an R&B single, and went on to become platinum certified. Unfortunately, it was the last album featuring Dawn Robinson. The group’s third album, EV3, bombed. Despite their failure, a world tour was planned. It was soon canceled after poor ticket sales. As a result of bad sales on their fourth album, Masterpiece Theatre, the group was dropped by Elektra Records. Maxine Jones left the group in 2001 to put a better focus on her family. She was replaced by Amanda Cole, who was soon after replaced by Rhona Bennett. In 2003, Cindy Herron went out on maternity leave and while on tour, the group replaced her with original member Maxine Jones. By 2005, it had been eight (8) years since Dawn Robinson left the group. Re-enter Ms Robinson. Later that that year: re-exit Ms Robinson. Dawn Robinson actually returned once more in 2008 alternating lead singing with Rhona Bennett while on tour.


Aside from the public’s fickle-heartedness attitude, I believe that one of the things that hurt them more than anything else was their frequent personnel changes. I adored En Vogue from day one – as a group of hot vocalists, as well as a menage of beautiful, sexy women. Their music lives on in my heart and I continue to play their music. Despite my loyalty, we still managed to witness their fade to black. Peace.

copyright © 2008 freedom

“Right Direction” by En Vogue


Posted in Fade To Black with tags , , , , , , on December 9, 2008 by joelle blackstarr

eve-05 I met E.V.E. about “two minutes” before she fell head-first into her “fifteen minutes of fame”.  I was cruising down The Avenue and I spotted her and a girlfriend walking in the opposite direction.  I took a quick snap of a shot with my CANON, then waited until she neared to get her attention.  I told her that I had snapped a shot and wanted to take another of her and her girlfriend.  She agreed and I told her that I would find her.  How?  No digits.  No e-mail address.  No exchange whatsoever.  Heaven knows how, but, I did.

A few weeks later, I was at the mall in a semi-upscale clothing shop, frontin’ about buying some shirt from this absolutely fabulous chocolate-brown hottie.  While in mid-sentence about how delectable she was, in walked E.V.E. She walked into the back room, and returned, sans pocketbook and jacket.  Apparently she worked there, as well.  As it turned out, this hottie and E.V.E. were BFF‘s and I asked if she (the hottie)  would intro me to E.V.E, as I had some photos of her that I promised to get to her – some way.  I ran to the car, retrieved the photos, and returned.  I showed them to E.V.E and she was delighted and also wondered if I could keep in touch as she had “something big” coming up over the horizon.  I agreed.  That intro turned out to be an outro, as well, because that was the last that I saw or heard of E.V.E. short of T.V. and live performances.


“Something big” was more on the scale of “SOMETHING BIG!!!”.  In 1999, E.V.E. became the female front for the Rough Ryders with her debut CD “Let There Be Eve – Rough Ryders’ First Lady”.  It went double-platinum.  The “pitbull in a skirt” had taken the world by storm.  In 2001, her second CD, “SCORPION”, went platinum, with the cross-over hit “Let Me Blow Your Mind” ( a duet with Gwen Stefani). From there, she skyrocketed in stellar proportion, going from vinyl to silver-screen, and finally on to television.  On the silver-screen, she debuted in the film “XXX”, starring Vin Diesel.  It was later that year, after being tapped for “Barbershop”, that Hollywood really began to pay attention.  UPN decided that the time was ripe for a new television star, thus, the sitcom “EVE”, and thusly so, nothing less than total success.  On the show, she owned one-third interest in a fashion boutique.  In 2002, she dropped her third CD, “EVO-LUTION”.  Shortly thereafter, E.V.E. launched her clothing line “FETISH”.  In the year 2004, she returned to the silver-screen with “Barbershop 2”, “The Woodsman”, and “The Cookout”.  So . . . how do YOU spell “success”?!

eve-03Fast-forward to the year 2007 and we anxiously await the arrival of album four, “Here I Am”.  And we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Even given the success of her previous CD’s, movies, and semi-successful clothing line, not even a megastar like E.V.E. can survive an hiatus from an already “long-term-challenged” generation which proclaims that “I love you today, but, can’t say what tomorrow will bring”.  The album finally dropped and so many, myself included, thought for certain that the release of the singles “Tambourine”, and “Give It To You” (featuring Sean Paul ) would be the fire that would rekindle her vinyl career.  Not so much, it would seem.  The “pitbull in a skirt” had sold her rough words and street demeanor for  a dose of haute couture and etiquette nouveau.  Although the singles cried comeback, the CD sales screamed “NOT!”.

I have nothing but love for my Philly girl.  I speak her name with pride, knowing that she has been one of the greatest success stories to ever arise from the City of Brotherly Love.  Unfortunately, nobody gets a pass – not even the beautiful, sexy, and talented E.V.E. MC LYTE got it right.  She took it into another direction.  She even wrote a song about it before her own “fade to black” entitled “TRG (the rap game)”, in which she warns that you need to know when to fold.

I ain’t mad at cha, baby girl.  We are only entitled to fifteen minutes of fame.  Take heart in the fact that you’ve been on stage for an hour and a half already.  Peace.

copyright  ©  2008  freedom

FADE TO BLACK 1: Macy Gray

Posted in Fade To Black with tags , , , , , on December 3, 2008 by joelle blackstarr

macy_gray-04If ever there was a woman whose beauty was underrated, Macy Gray would certainly qualify.  While others spent countless hours drooling over the fabulous B.K. (now Mrs. B.K. Carter), my joy came from the sensuality which emanated from Ms Gray.  They say that as you reach the top, the air gets thinner, making it difficult to breathe, but, that is one mountain that I would climb each and every day!  That is one BIG, BAD, b . . . woman!  Beauty aside, I have loved the sound of her scratchy voice with each new song that hit the airwaves.  Beyond both beauty and musical ability is her inimitable way with song lyrics.  I can cite the Beatles, The Stones, Sly and the Family Stone, and many others as living proof that there was some type of mind-enhancement going on back in the day.  I can’t say for certain that Ms Gray has been a partaker of the goods, but, if she hasn’t been, then, perhaps she is a tad bit touched.   On the other hand, it could very well be that she is just that great a lyricist.  Nonetheless, her lyrics have been something from another dimension altogether.


“Here in this moment to myself,

I’m gonna vibe with no one else”,

which comes from A Moment To Myself, (from her debut offering How Life Is – 1999), is typical of the “nonsensical” lyrics that she has scribed.  As much as I loved that song, the ultimate example of the weirdness of her poetry (and one of my favorites) is Do Something:

” . . . that was just a dream I had,

last night in my bubble bath,

next to my wishing well”.

Macy!  Whatup wit dat??  I wouldn’t even attempt to decipher the depths of those words.  As the years went by, the music just got better and better.  Even given my love for her beauty and sensuality, I nearly missed a song entitled “She Ain’t Right For You” from The Trouble With Being Myself (2003).  It is a typical siren song, lamenting the loss of one’s greatest love, in which she begs her lover to take her back.  Then, I saw the video for that very same song:  humina, humina, humina!!!


As she fades to black, I reiterate – that’s is one mountain that I would climb each and every day!  Peace.

copyright  ©  2008  freedom

Photos from , , and