Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Looking Ahead: 2009 is MINE!

Sitting in the dumpster filled with contents from my home.

I had a great 2008, despite a few temporary setbacks.

It's at the end of the year when you look back and reflect on all that you've been through.

No regrets here. I've stayed on track no matter what obstacles were thrown before me.

I was really tested down the stretch and perhaps my biggest test was dealing with the loss of my home. (click here to read the blog about the pre-Thanksgiving house fire)

What doesn't kill me will only make me stronger and after this year I can say that I am indeed stronger and better than I was before. And I will most definitely continue to grow in 2009.

In the New Year, I will certainly have a new home. Yeah, there will be some new challenges and obstacles, but there will be no mountain that I can't climb. No wall that I can't break down. No odds that I can't overcome.

Thank you to all those who supported me and my family in what was a very tough time for us. I can't even express how much your calls, text messages and cards have meant. The generous nature of some had me in tears. I couldn't believe it.

I thought I lost it all when I saw thick dark smoke billowing out of my house, but it was all the support from friends (old and new), co-workers and some strangers that made me realize I didn't lose quite everything. I still had many people who cared for me and my family. For that, I'm forever thankful.

I've always tried to live my life to fullest and not take anything, anyone or any day for granted. I will continue to live in such a way. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone.

I'm going hard in 2009. I know a new chapter will be written in the New Year with new accomplishments and triumphs. I'm ready to fill the pages. I can't wait.

It's only a matter of time before 2009 is MINE!

See you at the TOP!

-M. Feenz

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Year Ends on a Musical High Note

Over the last several weeks I've been picking up a number of REALLY good albums, which would lead me to believe this year is ending on a musical high note.

Common's "Universal Mind Control" would perhaps have to be my favorite of the bunch. His album is like the epitome of what hip-hop/rap is supposed to be in 2008. It really displays how hip-hop/rap has evolved. Common has been in the game for a minute and this is his eighth album and some of his best work, in my opinion. I saw him perform a lot of these tracks from this album earlier this year and I was impressed then. If you don't have this album, you need to pick it up. The exeuctive producer of the album is Pharrell Williams and it's safe to say he and Common make an excellent team. This album is a masterpiece, to say the least.

FAV TRACKS: "Universal Mind Control," "Make My Day" and "Everywhere"

MUST HEAR TRACK: "Everywhere"

Jamie Foxx's "Intuition" was the shocker of the group and I was REALLY pleasantly surprised by this album. I mean, I could listen to the whole thing without skipping a track. Almost every song on there is very radio friendly. "Blame It" featuring T-Pain is one of my favorites. I know this song is already getting played on New York radio and could be the anthem of the New Year. The album is also enjoyable because of the special guests that include T.I., Lil' Wayne, The Dream, T-Pain, Ne-Yo, Fabolous and Marsha Ambrosius of Floetry. Talk about a who's who!! And I have to admit when I first heard he was releasing another album at the American Music Awards I openly said that I was NOT purchasing this album. However, I kept hearing about how good it was and had to see for myself. I can honestly say that I was not disappointed with this album. Good job to Mr. Foxx!!

FAV TRACKS: "Blame It," "She Got Her Own," "Just Like Me," "Freak'in Me"

MUST HEAR TRACK: "Freak'in Me" features the sultry songstress Marsha Ambrosius of Floetry. Jamie and Marsha really go in on this song. You gotta hear it!!

Beyonce's "I Am...Sasha Fierce" doesn't need much analysis. It is, well, Beyonce. But despite what many think about this release, I would have to say this double-disc effort is pretty good. I think Beyonce really shines on her ballads [i.e. Hello and Halo]. Obviously, "Single Ladies" and "Diva" are the catchy party-hard Beyonce tracks that everyone has come to anticipate. However, Beyonce does it all and she's great at -- bottom line.

FAV TRACKS: "Halo," "Hello," "Sweet Dreams"


Keyshia Cole's "A Different Me" is more than a just a sexy album cover. It's the sophomore effort of the modern-day Mary J. Blige. Yeah, I compare Keyshia to Mary because both have been known to sing about heartache and pain and really make you feel it. But on this album Keyshia shows she can deliver by making some feel good tracks that aren't just about sour relationships. It's no secret that Keyshia had it tough growing up. We've seen her struggles live and on front street on her TV reality show. On the opening intro for this album, Keyshia says, "I would like to introduce a sexier side of me." While I didn't feel this album was overly "sexy," it certainly was a different Keyshia. But I have no complaints. Old Keyshia or "different" Keyshia, I'll take either. One thing this album did do is solidify Keyshia as an artist who will be around for quite some time.

FAV TRACKS: "Please Don't Stop," "Playa Cardz Right," "Trust" feat. Monica

MUST HEAR TRACK: "Playa Cardz Right" features 2 pac. Enough said!

Brandy's "Human"
is the much anticipated release from this former teenage singer who we've watched become a mother and woman. On this album she teamed up with old friend Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins to give fans just what they'd been waiting for. "Departed" was the comeback single, which I don't especially care for. But thanks to a good friend -- who played this album for me to hear -- I actually like some tracks on this album. On "The Definition," Brandy says, "I dropped all that baggage / Let go of that habit / The pain you can have it / 'Cause now I'm content with me." She went on to say, "Been through it, you name it / The heartache and break / And the shame / Played that game but I / Can't seem to win." It's really a good song about some of the struggles she's been through after lying about being married. Not to mention, she was involved in a fatal car accident. Brandy is all grown up, there's no denying that, and this album is a great example of how much she's grown as an artist and as a woman. B-Rocka is back!

FAV TRACKS: "1st & Love," "Warm It Up (With Love)," "The Definition"

MUST HEAR TRACK: "1st & Love"

Musiq Soulchild's "Onmyradio" is the latest from the soul singer from Philly. I feel like this release got lost in the shuffle somewhere. I think it's probably not getting much attention. Although everyone else may be sleeping on this album, it's actually a really good album. The best track is "Ifuleave," a duet with Mary J. Blige

FAV TRACK: "Ifuleave"

MUST HEAR TRACK: same as above

John Legend's "Evolver" is yet another R&B album released late in the year that seems to have flown under the radar. Good album with some good features including Andre 3000, Kanye West, Brandy and Estelle.

FAV TRACKS: "Green Light," "Quickly" and "No Other Love"

MUST HEAR TRACK: "No Other Love"

Almost Home for the Holidays

Finishing breakfast on Christmas morning with my mom and brother.

I spent Christmas in a house, not my house, but my new temporary home away from home.

As most know, my house caught on fire about a month ago [Nov. 26, to be exact -- the day before Thanksgiving].

My mom, brother and I had been staying at hotels since the fire, but thanks to insurance we were able to move into a temporary house a week before Christmas.

The house was fully furnished and even exceeded the expectations of my mother who texted me as the furniture was being brought in and assembled. She was so thrilled and even boasted about the bed sheets, bath towels, dishes and paintings that was also provided.

Because we had been staying in hotels and dealing with going through damaged belongings at our house we really didn't take the time to realize Christmas we approaching.

We didn't have a traditional Christmas tree. I bought my mom some nutcrackers, which she collects, a Santa figurine that moved and lights up and the Isley Brothers Christmas album [ughh -- nothing to brag about].

It wasn't until Christmas Eve when she picked up a couple of small Christmas trees that she placed on the coffee table. Not to mention, she got some stockings and 'Santa hats' for my brother and I. She even decocrated the area with Christmas lights and garland.

Our new temporary home was finally starting to look like Christmas, sort of.

We watched 'This Christmas' with Chris Brown -- which was actually a pretty good movie.

On Christmas day, the presents were under the two mini Christmas trees and we opened them up as we played Musiq Soulchild's Christmas album -- this was also pretty good. We would traditionally listen to the Jackson 5 Christmas album, but that was likely thrown away along with the other damaged items in our home.

Christmas this year was a little different, but the greatest gift is having a family wrapped with lots of love. My family gathered in Bronx and we did the usual family thing.

The theme this year seemed to be Barack Obama as my 93-year-old grandmother procclaimed this was a 'Barack Christmas.' Everyone was getting Barack books, t-shirts, posters, figurines, you name it!! It was Obama overload, seriously!

Nonetheless, Christmas away from home was cool. It sure beat staying at a hotel. But I quickly realized no one would be making up my bed. Oh well....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Joe Budden TV touches down in Englewood, N.J.

Jersey City rapper Joe Budden is making some noise now-a-days.

He's anticipating dropping a new album in the New Year and leading up to that release "Mr. Pump It Up" is getting some attention for his new reality YouTube videos.

"Joe Budden TV" should just be called "Just Your Average Joe" because what you see is what you get. Budden comes off as a grinding rap artist, who is hard-working, funny and surprisingly pretty entertaining.

"Joe Budden TV" could potentially grow into a show. Who knows!? If you get a chance check out his YouTube page.

Yesterday, I checked out his page and watched his most recent posting called, "fab wont diss another rapper for shit!!!"

Well, I watched the video and quickly recognized the Englewood, N.J. barber shop where the video was being shot -- The Shop, located at 496 Curry Avenue. I made the connection right because I've sat in that shop many times to make the transformation from scruffy to sexy.

Budden was joined by rapper Fabolous, who the video was primarily about.

Check out the video below:

Coming in 2009: Joe Budden's "Padded Room" --- Jersey's here, again!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Knicks top Nets; Fat Joe courtside

Al Harrington had a lot to smile about as the Knicks topped the Nets last week / Photo: M. Feenz
I attended another Nets game last week and this time they were playing their rivals from across the Hudson River, the New York Knicks.

I went to the game with a good friend of mine who is a diehard Knicks fan. In fact, to this day he still boasts and celebrates the "John Starks dunk on Michael Jordan." [real sports fans know that was not quite the case]

I would talk about the game, but it's more than a week old now and no one really cares. In a nutshell, the Nets jumped out to the early lead in the first half, but the resilient Knicks roared back in the second half. The Knicks went on to top the Nets 121-109 at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford on Dec. 10. And I must admit, I was pretty surprised because the Knicks are really a troubled team with a lot of problems. I had my money on the Nets, but good thing I'm not a betting man.
Devin Harris and Vince Carter couldn't stop Harrington who had 39 points / Photo: M. Feenz

Al Harrington lead the way for the Knicks with 39 points -- a pretty good homecoming for the native of Orange, N.J. Ten years ago he was drafted right out of St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, N.J. by the Indiana Pacers.

The last time I went attended a Nets game they were playing the Cleveland Cavaliers in front of a star-studed crowded, which included Jay-Z.

Well, there was no Jay-Z sitting courtside this time around.

Instead we had to settle for Bronx rapper Fat Joe, who I just happened to spot while taking pictures of the game. After all, he's a big guy and not too hard to miss.

When he wasn't on the phone, Fat Joe was clapping for his team and stayed around until the very end. I'm not sure who he was sitting with. But it wasn't anyone worth mentioning.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Solange: More than Beyonce's little sister

What I'm about to say may catch some of you off guard, but watching Solange Knowles perform at Terminal 5 in New York City on Friday night made me think of Janet Jackson.

I know it sounds crazy but let me explain.

Solange is the younger sister of a superstar singer Beyonce, who has hands down taken the music world by storm since breaking out from Destiny's Child. Beyonce went from being a part of a cute girl group to becoming a superstar solo performer. Beyonce is probably one of the best and most popular performers/singers out right now, love her or hate her.

How can Solange step out from being the younger sister of such superstar? Maybe she should ask Janet Jackson, who shared a similar story trying to break into music despite having some very talented big brothers -- specifically Michael Jackson.

Janet faced some difficulty emerging on to the music scene in the early 80's. How could she have a promising music career when most people just looked at her as being Michael Jackson's little sister? Well, it took some time. Two albums to be exact.

Janet released a self-titled debut album in 1982 and then tried her luck again two years later with "Dream Street." Neither turned many heads. In fact, most people don't even acknowledge those albums. It was her third album, "Control," where Janet finally brokethrough.

Solange's first album, Solo Star, was released in 2003 and barely sold 100,000 copies. Pretty disappointing start for being the little sister of a multi-platinum selling artist.

After five years, a marriage, a baby and a divorce, Solange returned with her second effort entitled "Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams." This time around she takes the old sounds of Motown and slapped a "modern twist" on it.

On Friday, I watched her perform a few tracks from the album -- including "Sandcastle Disc," "I Decided" and "Dancing in the Dark" -- and I was pretty impressed by her ability to singer live and really command the stage. She's a solid performer and a pretty good singer. Just too bad she's the sister of Beyonce because she'll always be compared to her.

She even tried her luck performing Kanye West's "Love Lockdown." I wasn't really pleased with this portion. I would have rather she performed something else, perhaps "T.O.N.Y." from her album. I was pretty surprised she didn't perform "T.O.N.Y." during her quick 20-minute set. But she was opening for the London pop singer Natasha Bedingfield and it was quite clear the crowd was there for Natasha. Although I did not stick around to see her.

Overall, in the short time Solange was on stage she made a believer out of me. This latest album may prove to be just another learning experience for the singer struggling to break out the shadows of Beyonce. But there's no doubt Solange is talented. Not only is she an exceptional singer and performer, but she's also a song writer that has penned songs for many, including her big sister.

Solange may have it hard because of her sister but if she keeps doing what she is doing maybe her big break will come.

Maybe Solange will hit it big on her third album. The third time was a charm for Janet and she managed to maintain a successful 20-year career. If Solange plays her cards right I think it's possible for her to do the same. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful for Life

It was my worst nightmare.

As a reporter, I carry a pager -- yeah, I know it sounds old-fashioned -- but I carry what is known as the "Breaking News Network" pager. It beeps or buzzes as information is entered by a group of people who listen to police scanners.

The pager can come in handy when alerting reporters to a serious accident on a major highway, a fatal shooting or a wayward bear taking a stroll through the suburbs.

But this morning around 10:30 a.m. the pager showed me something I never wanted to see.

The pager displayed: "Teaneck > *Working Fire*> 537 Chestnut Pl > Fire is in the 1st floor of a private dwelling."

My mouth dropped. My heart raced. And I grabbed my camera and left the office as quickly as I could. I called my mom to alert her that there was a fire on our block.

I was hoping that she was home. But she was not.

I had a feeling that the pager was inaccurate and that the fire was actually at my house -- which is 53X Chestnut Place (not 537). When I arrived I saw the street was blocked off. I asked the police officer where the fire was located and he pointed in the direction toward my house.

I raced around the corner and my worse nightmare came true.

My house was on fire.

My twin brother -- who is mentally challenged -- was home alone. Was he OK?

I heard my neighbor yellilng to me, "Michael, Anthony is over here. He's OK."

But my cat of 13-years was also inside the house. Did she make it out? I was assured by firefighters that cats usually escape and run outside. Unfortunately, Freddi did not. She died from smoke inhalation. I watched as the firefighters carried her out in a comforter that she always slept on.

I couldn't hold the tears.

My house was filled with smoke and although the flames were contained to the kitchen area, the damage had been done.

I couldn't believe this was happening just a day before Thanksgiving.

The house was declared uninhabitable and it would probably take months to repair the damage. It seemed as though the already bad situation just kept getting worse. However, I quickly realized one thing -- everyone was safe.

My mom, my brother and I were all unharmed.

I'm thankful the firefighters responded quickly and possibly saved my brother, who was still standing inside the house filled with smoke when they arrived. There's no telling if my brother would have left the house.

The cause of the fire, which started in the kitchen, was not immediately determined by the fire department, but it appears accidental in nature.

I'm thankful for opportunity to see tomorrow.

And I'm thankful for all those who have texted, called or e-mailed me during this tough time.

I've covered a lot of fires, but being a victim of one is truly devastating.

I'm just thankful it wasn't worse.

I've been told this many times today: Things can be replaced, but people can't. For that, I am thankful.

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone and be thankful for what you have today because it could all be gone tomorrow.

Peace and love.

M. Feenz

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Album Review: Kanye West bombs on 808s & Heartbreak

I picked up Kanye West's latest effort -- "808s & Heartbreak" -- yesterday afternoon at Target. And man, I wish I would have saved my money [$10] for something else.

I drove around and listened to the whole album and I just wasn't feeling it. Clearly, this album is nothing you could compare to his three earlier releases [College Dropout, Late Registration and Graduation]. Maybe I was wrong for thinking this album would be similar to the earlier projects.

Mr. West, who seemed to be in a trance throughout the album, makes an honest effort to re-invent himself and his musical sound, but it just didn't sit well with me. It's like food you swallowed, but threw back up because something didn't taste right.

"Say You Will," the first track, felt like a really long interlude that wouldn't end. It even included a long three-minute plus instrumental midway through the six-minute track. I think he was trying to put people to sleep with that. Next song, please.

"Welcome to Heartbreak" is the equivalent of another long interlude. "My friend showed me pictures of his kids / And all I could show him were pictures of my cribs / He said his daughter got a brand-new report card / And all I got was a brand-new sports car," he said in the opening verse.

Young Jeezy's feature is the only bright spot in the dry and lifeless track, "Amazing." That's assuming you can sit through it for more than two-minutes before Jeezy joins in.

Throughout the album, Kanye relied on the Auto-Tune sound that T-Pain has put his stamp on. For the record, the Auto-Tune sound works for T-Pain. I don't think the glove fits for Mr. West. Let's try something else. (Note: Auto-Tune is a pitch-correction software that gives off the robotic vocal effect. Just listen to any T-Pain song.)

It did take me awhile to actualy like "Love Lockdown" when it first came out. And I even enjoy his second single "Heartless," but that's about it. "Paranoid" gets honorable mention because I kinda like the 80's sounding uptempo beat. Kanye West and Lil' Wayne at Summer Jam in New Jersey / Photo: MFEENZ

Without question Kanye has endured quite a bit personally, including the death of his mother last year and break up from his fiance. "Coldest Winter" is a song about his late mother. It's possible creating this album was therapy for Mr. West. He certainly seemed upset on "See You In My Nigtmare" featuring Lil' Wayne. "Tell everybody that you know / That I don`t love you no more / And that`s one thing that you know / That you know / That you know," West says.

Or maybe Kanye got too cocky and started feeling himself a little bit too much. Maybe he thought he could take a risk with this album and it would pay off.

Overall, listening to "808s & Heartbreak" made me feel like I was listening to a homemade album that some disturbed kid recorded in his attic or basement. Then the kid brings the album out to his friends and says, "Listen to what I created." Everyone tells the kid it was good because they didn't want to hurt his feelings, but in reality the recordings are not all that great. That's how I feel about Kanyeezy's "808s & Heartbreak."

Will Kanye be able to rebound from this train wreck? I think so.

After all, this is the same guy who outsold 50 Cent when the two released albums on the same day.

Kanye is still capable of making great music, however, "808s & Heartbreak" just was not it, for me.

This is my message to Kanye -- comes courtesy of his second album, Late Registration: "Wake up Mr. West!"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

LIVE BLOG: American Music Awards 08

Alright folks, I was watching the American Music Awards and I felt like blogging about it as it happened....

So following me as I talk about what I like and dislke...


The 36th annual awards show kicks off with Jimmy Kimmel who does a great job of opening the show with jokes about everyone, especially the Jonas Brothers.

The first award -- for best female Soul/R&B -- was given out by Jamie Foxx who shamelessly plugged his upcoming album. Who knew he had a new album coming out? I don't think I'll be purchasing it. Sorry, Jamie.

Nominees included Rihanna, Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige.
The winner is Rihanna. No surprise. She's been dominant and apparently this year the winners are voted by the fans. And I must add Rihanna looked amazing. (See pics above)
The second award -- for best male pop/rock -- was presented by Paris Hilton and T-Pain. The nominees: Chris Brown, Kid Rock and Usher (who? Usher Raymond? who? lol). Chris Breezy wins his first American Music Award and it was definitely well-deserved. This guy is new Michael Jackson. He's going to be around for quite awhile. Let's just hope he stays away from the skin cream, plastic surgery and little boys!

In another award -- for best rap/hip-hop album -- the nominees were Jay-Z, Kanye West and Lil Wayne. Kanye West picked up his first American Music Award. No temper tantrum this year [Jimmy Kimmel joked about this earlier]. Kanye didn't thank fans or industry executives, instead he decided to give a quick speech about the music industry. He mentioned the up and coming artists and how the industry is changing. He concluded by talking about how people are told they can't be who they want to be. Kanye disagreed and said, "I want to be Elvis" and walked off. Another Kanye moment. Nice job.

Performances in the first hour:
Christina Aguilera got the AMA's started. She performed a medley of her hits. You name it, she did it. She closed out of her performance with "Survivor." As I watched her, I couldn't help but think -- she's grown now. She doesn't look the same, obviously she gained some weight, but that's expected since she just had a baby. Overall, decent performance but I could have used someone else to start off the show. [note: she did MUCH better than Brittney Spears when she returned]

New Kids on the Block performed their new song and their old stuff. I can't believe they came out 20 years ago. Wow. I couldn't stand them as a kid and I really don't care much for them now. However, they have a decent new song, but Ne-Yo shouldn't have let them sing it. (Yes, Ne-Yo wrote that song)
Pink performed "Sober." I never heard this before. But nice vocal performance. Pink has come a LONNNG way. She transformed quite a bit. I like her.

Ne-Yo performed a few of his current songs, including "Closer." When I watch him I just always think, "This guy thinks he's Michael Jackson or something. But he's not." He's a good performer though...can't hate.

Leona Lewis peformed "Better in Time." I like this song and actually downloaded it earlier today. She's a good singer. Nice job to Leona.

End of first hour
(come back for more)

Today is the 16th birthday of Miley Cyrus. She performed. Not a fan, at all. But she did her thing. I'm sure the younger viewers enjoyed this.
Alicia Keys wins for best pop/rock album. She beat out Coldplay and the Eagles. A-Keys looked great. (see pic above) "As I Am" was a great album, although I think her debut album "Songs In A Minor" was her best work. She deserved to win.

So far, I'm pretty pleased with the results of the AMA's. In the past these award shows make you want to throw things at the TV. Not this year. [hope I didn't speak to soon]

Jimmy Kimmel sits in the audience with members of the Wu-Tang Clan for a funny skit. He asks Wu-Tang Clan members to name members of the Jonas Brothers. Of course, they can't. It was funny.

Terrence Howard introduces Mariah Carey.
She performs "I Stay in Love." She's helped down a few steps by Nick Cannon, her new husband. [whatta joke] Let's cue the left-hand. Those who know Mariah Carey know that she'll use that hand throughout this performance and she does not disappoint. Nice vocal performance, I couldn't tell if she was lip-syncing or not. She held on to her "special bling-bling microphone" and appeared to hit those notes. Nothing spectacular about this. The highlight -- or joke of the performance -- was Nick Cannon helping her and kissing her hand. He looked like a servant or something. Pretty amusing.

The next award is a big category -- favorite Pop/Rock female artist - and the nominees are Alicia Keys, Rihanna and Mariah Carey.

Rihanna wins! wowww!! I'm pleased with the results. She deserves it. Mariah Carey probably isn't too pleased though. I mean, she just finished performing. Oh well, Mariah better get used to losing. I'm sure Rihanna will continue her dominance if she's nominated in other categories.

The sometimes annoying Jordin Sparks and Enrique Igleais (sp?) present the next award -- best rap/hip-hop artist. The nominees are Flo-rida (why!?), Kanye West and Lil' Wayne.

The winner is Kanye West, who wins his second award of the night -- sort of. After being presented the award, he flips the script and announces he giving the award to Lil' Wayne. "I'm going to give this award to Wayne," he said. What the hell!? I guess the AMA's don't mean too much to him. This is the same guy who threw a fit for not winning awards at other shows. Something is clearly not right with this guy. One thing is for sure, he certainly knows what to do to keep people talking about him.

The Jonas Brothers win the T-Mobile award -- it's the fans award. No surprise. Big up to them because they're from Bergen County, New Jersey. Okay, let's move on to more important things.

The Dream introduces Beyonce.
He wrote the song "Single Ladies" and she performed it. No flashy set or anything to take the attention off Beyonce and her two dancers. The performance was nearly identical to the video. The dance routine the same. They even had the ramp for the trio to run up [if you've seen the video, you know what I'm talking about]. The dancers were a little distracting to me...especially the blonde girl. She just looked awkward. Maybe it was just me. I don't know. Great performance. Beyonce [or Beyonce-Z as Jimmy Kimmel referred to her earlier] held up her pony-tail at the end. Not sure what that was supposed to mean.

Next award: Best Soul/R&B album. Nominees: Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige.

Winner is Alicia Keys. That's two for her. She dedicated the award to all the "Superwoman."

Jonas Brothers perform and close out the second hour.


Pussycat Dolls perform. Hot performance. These girls are 10 times better than the Spice Girls. They were wearing bodysuits in the beginning of their performance for their first song. They quickly took them off, however, one girl had a little trouble getting out of her outfit. Kinda funny. They proceeded to swing around stripper poles in their performance of "When I Grow Up." Say what you want about them, but these girls can perform and Nicole Scherzinger is an excellent singer. I ain't mad at them.

Rihanna performs. Of course, she has on some sort of creative outfit draped with silver accessories. She even had an eye patch over her right eye. It came off midway through her performance of "Rehab." It's a slow song. I would have perferred the uptempo "Disturbia," but I guess she's performed that too much. Overall, this performance was nothing to brag about. C'mon Rihanna, let's give the people something to talk about!! Maybe next time perform with Chris Brown or something.

Kanye West performs. I've seen Kanye live before and he always gives his all in his performances. He always displays a lot of emotion and really makes you feel his performances. He does this again as he performed "Heartless" from his upcoming album. Solid performance from Kanye.


THE WINNER: CHRIS BROWN!! Wow. A big win for the kid from a small town in Virginia. Barack is president, C-Breezy is artist of the year. Proof that you can do anything you set your mind to. I'm sure five years ago Chris Brown would have NEVER imagined he'd achieve this. See what a difference a few years can make. He accepted his award in absolute shock. (I also should point out he was sitting next to his girlfriend Rihanna all night. Both were big winners tonight.)


The show closed with a performance from Alicia Keys, who had two special surprise guests.

In typical A-Keys fashion she performed "Superwoman" on her piano.

The first surprise was someone she had been sitting next to all night, Queen Latifah. (How THEY doin!? lol) The Queen showed she can do it all --rapping and singing. She was the first person of the night to mention Jennifer Hudson and her nephew and sister who were tragically killed.
The other surprise was opera singer, Kathleen Battle, who joined Latifah and A-Keys. It was a nice way to close out the show.

Overall, great show. And I didn't have to throw anything at the television this year. Surprisingly, and unlike previous years, I was pleased with this award show.

Friday, November 21, 2008

LeBron slams the Nets; Celeb sightings

LeBron James scored 31 points in 36 minutes to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 106 to 82 victory over the New Jersey Nets at the IZOD Center on Tuesday night.

James scored 15 points in the first quarter. But it wasn't until the second half when the Cavs put the game out of reach for Vince Carter and the Nets.

Meanwhile, there was plenty going on inside the East Rutherford, N.J. arena to keep things interesting as the Cavs cruised to victory.

Aaron Ross, of the New York Giants, sat court-side with an unknown woman. Clearly, it wasn't his finance' and Olympic track star Sanya Richards. Ross, wearing a purple jacket, didn't shy away from fans. He signed autographs and took a pictures. A real class act.

Ahmad Brashaw, also of the New York Giants, sported stunner shades as he watched the game court-side with another man. He wasn't as interactive with the fans as his teammate.

Others, such as hip-hop artist Teyana Taylor, weren't fortunate enough to score celebrity court-side seats.
If you don't know who she is, you're probably not alone. It didn't seem as though anyone recognized Taylor, who is signed to Pharell Williams' label, Star Trek Entertainment. Perhaps if you want to know more about her, you can just google her. Her first single released earlier this year was entitled, "Google Me." She reached a large audience when she was featured on MTV's Sweet Sixteen.

In other non-sports related news, R&B singer Donnie Klang kicked off the night with his rendition of the National Anthem. He returned at halftime to perform his single, "Take You There." It was a pretty lame performance, to say the least. Good thing he had two dancers to take your attention off of his singing. There was probably one fan screaming at the top of her lungs for Donnie, but for the most part the crowd was dead.

Klang, signed to P. Diddy's Bad Boy label, is most known for his role on MTV's Making the Band 4. Klang has struggled to see the same success as labelmates Danity Kane and Day 26, whose albums both debuted at the top of the charts. Klang's debut album, "Just a Rolling Stone," debuted at #19 on Billboard 200.
Jay-Z, who is good friends with James and co-owner of the New Jersey Nets, was apparently in the building for Tuesday's game, according to news reports and photos. (Note: His wife, Beyonce', dropped her latest album on the same day.)

Unfortunately, despite being able to spot Super Bowl champions and C-list celebs, I was unable to spot the biggest star: Jigga man. From the pics, it looked like Jay could benefit from a trip to a barber. LOL. Guess I missed that photo-op. It won't happen again.

Until next time...

(PHOTO CREDITS: All photos taken by M. Feenz, except Jay-Z photo, courtesy of ConcreteLoop.com)

Where were you when history was made?

I was working when history was made.

Barack Obama won the 2008 presidenital election and I was covering the story for The Record newspaper. I was in Teaneck, N.J. at Fairleigh Dickinson University talking to students as the results were announced.

Once Barack Obama was named declared the winner my cell phone began buzzing off the hook. I was receiving text message after text message from friends. History was made and everyone was excited to be a part of it.

They say you always remember where you were and what you were when something monumental happens.

So I asked some people to tell me about what they were doing when the result were read.
Here's what they had to say:

Chris Stevens, lives in Great Mills, Maryland:

"I was sitting in my apartment, watching the results come in state by state, and then when he took California, Florida and Ohio, my mom called me and we just kinda cried on the phone for a few minutes.

History was definitely made Tuesday night, proof positive tha if you believe in something strong enough and if you want it bad enough, you can achieve it."

For more, check out Chris Stevens' Obama post on his blog:

Jennifer Harold, lives in Harlem, New York:

"I was alone on election night, my boyfriend had gone home to Philly to vote. But I kind of wanted to be alone, so i could really be in the moment of the historical night. Once Obama won PA I knew he would win. Barack appeals to all generations and all races. He is exactly what America needs. When he won, I was overjoyed.

The moment that made me cry was when CNN showed Jesse Jackson on screen crying. At that moment I knew he was thinking about that day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. died and how he wishes he could see this day. I kept crying until after Barack made his speech. I still cry when I think about what all our people have gone through, and what my own parents went through in the time of segregation. I cry for those who got killed for the right to vote, and made it possible for me to have all things I have today.

I will always remember this day. I will tell my children that I voted for the first African-American President so they know they can be anything in this world they want to be. Barack Obama also taught me at 23-years-old that I can be anything too and from Tuesday night I will never let myself believe I can't make my dreams come true."

Niama Malachi, lives in Toledo, Ohio:
(witnessed Barack's post-election win speech)

"I was in Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois watching President Barack Obama give his speech. Words can not say how I felt, what I saw, or what I experienced. It is an emotion that has not been given a name as of yet...it is an overwhelming emotion that I can still not speak on or write about without tears.
I can say however, that I came out proud of this nation as a whole!!!!! I have never been prouder to be an AFRICAN-AMERICAN FEMALE...and prior to this event I would just use the title black, but I have embraced American to the most honorable extent now! I love our country, I love this nation, and I love President Barack Obama, Michelle, Malia, and Sasha as well!!!"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

2008 Presidential Election: Obama wins

It's been more than 24 hours since the world received the news: Barack Obama has been elected the 44th president of the United States.

I was at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck covering the election results from a watch party in the Student Union Building.

More than 100 students filled a multi-purpose room to watch two big screen projectors showing the results coverage.

The crowd clapped when Obama was declared the winner of New Jersey.

They cheered when he won Ohio, a key swing state. They roared when he was declared the winner in Virginia.

It was almost 11 p.m. EST and the polls in California were getting ready to close.

The countdown to the polls closing began as the students screamed, "Five-four-three-two-one!"

And at that moment CNN declared Barack Obama the winner of the 2008 presidential election. At last, America has its first African-American president.

The students absolutely errupted, jumping up and down, hugging, screaming, cheering and some even crying. Others started dancing and began doing the electric slide.

Meanwhile, graduate students Ingrid Bien-Aime and Kibret Boreland wiped away tears.

"I never thought my eyes would see this. This is not for me," said Boreland, 22, referring to those leaders -- Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks -- who couldn't see the historic win. "I just played my part. I can't believe it," she said.

It was a moment many had waited for, but still couldn't fathom.

"I was waiting for them to say it was a mistake," said Bien-Aime. "I just started crying. I don't know where it came from."

Dara Jones, a senior accounting major, said this victory gives hope to the elementary student who tells his class he wants to be the president when he grows up.

"This tells people you can be anything you want to be regardless of race," said Jones, 20, of Prince George's County, Md.

I snapped a quick photo of Boreland, Jones and Jones' twin sister hugging after the results were announced. That photo was published in The Record along with the story I contributed to on the African-American reaction to the election.

It was a historic moment for the country and I covered it. Wow! They say newspapers are the first draft of history and I was delighted to have been a part of the coverage that night.

The toughest part was not getting caught up in the emotion. I kept my cool. There was no celebrating on my part. I was working. I couldn't express myself. But as a journalist, I took the opportunity to observe. I collected quotes from students. I shot photos and video of their reactions. I captured history in an instant.

I worked a double-shift that day, and although it was tough, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I was up at 6 a.m. to vote and speak to voters at the polls, which were unusually crowded for that time of morning. It was apparent everyone wanted to get out early and vote.

I talked to two college students who made the trip to Teaneck from their Historically Black Colleges -- Delaware State University and Howard University -- so they could vote. And I can't blame them. I did the same thing four years ago. Although they could have done an absentee ballot, but it's just not the same feeling.

I worked at the newsroom until about 1 p.m. and took a break before I went to FDU for the watch party, which started around 7 p.m.

But during my break, I made sure I joined my mother as we took my 93-year-old grandmother to the polls to vote. She had been dressed and ready to go.

My mom texted me to tell me to get home because my grandmother was getting antsy.

My mom had already made two trips to our polling site at the American Legion in Teaneck. She voted around 7 a.m. and later took my twin brother, who was born mentally challenged, to cast his vote.

My grandmother, using the assistance of her walker, rolled into the polling location to the delight of the poll workers who were in awe of this 93-year-old voter. I must note, there was no line at 2 p.m.

She neatly signed her name and quickly hurried into the booth. She was out in seconds.

My grandmother, who grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, predicted Obama would win and she was right.

When I finally got home aroud 1 a.m, I wasn't feeling good. I felt like I was coming down with a cold. I had some orange juice and tea before hitting the bed. After all, I had to wake up the next morning for an 8 a.m. start.

I was really covering this election from start to finish and then some. But to be honest, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.