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Author Archives: Naomi Bonman

Freestyle Rappers Bring the Heat in Verizon’s 2nd Annual #freestyle50 Challenge

By Naomi K. Bonman

Freestyle is culture. Free style is art. And art and culture is Hip-Hop. On Tuesday, August 29, at Play House Nightclub in Hollywood, eight freestyle rappers from across the Nation battled it out at Verizon’s #freestyle50 challenge where they competed for a debut produced by London On Da Track, an opening slot in the upcoming 300 Artist Development Tour, and $10,000. The challenge was hosted by Sway Calloway (former MTV VJ) and Smack White. Nine were chosen from over 9,000 entries submitted through Instagram and Twitter. However, out of the nine finalists only eight performed, due to one being from Houston and having to deal with unfortunate weather conditions which prevented him from attending the finals.

“We’re looking for energy,” London On Da Track stated when asked what skill set that the judges would be looking for. Producer Kevin Liles added to the statement, “Two words, Beast Mode.”

And that is what the finalist brought, energy! The energy was felt throughout the club in the battle between the last two standing, Damond Blue and Y.K Supe went head to head for the grand prize. It was a close call with both rappers staying on cue with a smooth style. Y.K Supe from Chicago took home the grand prize.

The judges of the night included Tuma Basa, Spotify; Carl Chery (Apple Music); and Big Boy, radio host and actor. Other special guests that were in the house and that performed was rising stars Tee Grizzley, OMB Peezy, Cyhi the Prince. Last year’s winner, Tre Da Kid also came on stage and did a quick freestyle. He recently released his debut single, “Run it” which has over one million streams on music streaming platforms. World Renowned Hip-Hop artist, Redman, made a surprise debut and hyped the crowd up before the last two finalists took the stage for the prize.

#freestyle50 was inspired by Verizon’s 8GB for $50 prepaid offer available exclusively at Walmart.

Photo highlights (Photo Credit: Kristina Dixon/11:One Visuals) 

Olympic Athlete on the Rise: Jordyn Grady

Jordyn Grady displaying her medals and ring that she won in the AAU Junior National Olympics. (Photo Credit: Naomi K. Bonman)

Jordyn Grady displaying her medals and ring that she won in the AAU Junior National Olympics. (Photo Credit: Naomi K. Bonman)

By Naomi K. Bonman

Great athletes always start young and stay focus on perfecting their craft. Upland High School freshman, Jordyn Grady, is one of those athletes. In her course of running track for six years, her perfection of her craft has paid off in the AAU Junior Olympic Games which were held from July 30 to August 5 in Detroit, Michigan.

Grady, who regularly runs the 100 and 200 hurdles as well as the 100 and 200 meters, took first place in the 14-year-old girls division while running the 100 and 200 hurdles. Her time in the 100 hurdles was 14.26 seconds and 26.66 seconds in the 200 hurdles. She was the only San Bernardino and California native that competed in those races.

While being a stellar athlete, she is also able to maintain an A and B average in school. “I know that school comes first and then sports,” Grady states of how she manages to balance both sports and her studies.

After high school, she wants to continue to run track, as well as to study to become a Veterinarian because she loves animals.

Artists Stay Loyal to Fans During LA Soul Fest Despite Financial Discrepancies

By Naomi K. Bonman 

Summer time is the time for good food, good company, and good music. This is the experience that many are hopeful for when attending the LA Soul Fest. After a successful year, last year during the 1st annual LA Soul Fest, concert goers were amped for this year’s show and line-up. Despite Sunday’s cancellation, many still made the most of the first two-days.

This year the festival was held at a new location closer to Downtown Los Angeles at Exposition Park, and with a new location came several changes. The first change was within the staffing. There seemed to be miscommunication between event staff, the public relations crew, and the promotion company, Airborne Tickets. For press, checking-in was a bit confusing on Friday where some of us kept getting the run around prior to picking up credentials. Guests also said stated that they had difficulties when claiming their VIP, The passes at the “box office”. 

“Friday and Saturday for us Florida tourist was nice,” Tanya Hurt explains. “I’m very disappointed they canceled Sunday’s show…well I guess seeing how they were disorganized with VIP tickets on Friday should have been a foreshadow of what was to come.” 

Despite the confusion with check-in everything seemed to run smoothly on Friday, even regarding some of the talent skipping the red carpet due to not getting their full pay. Each artist performed and put on a great show in order not to disappoint fans.

Saturday night was a different story. The evening was more hectic with artists not showing up due to no payment. Tyrese went on a rampage via social media about his pay. He was supposed to close out Saturday night’s show as the main headliner. BJ the Chicago Kid was due to open the show, but he dropped as well. However, Anthony Hamilton and Slick Rick & Doug E. Fresh saved the show by doing extended sets. 

After Saturday night’s disappointments, it was excepted that Sunday would run much smoother, but due to unforeseen circumstances the show was pulled. The news came at the last minute when guests was already lined up waiting for the gates to open. Several traveled distances and booked hotel fares for the festival, and felt as if they wasted money and that their vacation turned into a disaster. Guests were told via email that they would receive full refunds for Sunday’s show, although some also believed that they should also receive a partial refund for Saturday night since some of the artists did not perform as hoped for.

“Thank you for your support and patronage over the last two years,” Mark Douglas, CEO of Airborne Tickets/Director of LA Soul Fest, explained. “We apologize for your experience regarding Sunday’s event cancellation. We did everything in our power to make this show a success, but fell short financially. We ask for your patience in this matter, as we work to deliver the best possible service to all our customers during these circumstances.”

This is one of those unfortunate situations where you just scratch your head and ask, “Now how do we recover from this?” Hopefully in the future the promoters can rethink and re-manage things to have a successful event like the first year. They may have to go back to the original venue and layout plan, and invest in acquiring sponsors because vendors alone can’t cover all the expenses and payouts of an event that is this massive with A-list talent. 

Photos by Kristina Dixon/11:One Visuals