By: Kevin Clark With the fifth pick during the 1999 NBA Draft, theToronto Raptors selected Jonathan Rene Bender. Bender, a 7-foot-tall prospect from Picayune Memorial High School, was a college prospect to play at Mississippi State. He was then traded to the Indiana Pacers for Antonio Davis. Bender’s size, athleticism, and skill complimented the Pacers style of play. This never progressed to stats, as Bender proved disappointing. At the end of his career, Bender totaled out at 1,335 points and 530 rebounds (combined offensive and defensive). Having never averaged double digits in scoring and plagued with injuries, Bender sat out most of the 2004-2005 season after playing only seven games. At the end of his playing career, Bender was waved by his team and retired on February of this year. Never one to be counted out, the 25-year-old Mississippian is building himself into a powerful brand. He sits down with HipHopCrack as he talks about his retirement, his upcoming projects, and why people nowadays don’t really respect a daily grind. HHC: You were drafted straight out of High School, although, you had a verbal commitment to Mississipi State. Why did you think that it was more beneficial for you to go to the League, instead of going to college? JB: Actually, I did the verbal commitment when I got out of High School to get the press off of my back. You have to look at things like you’re playing chess. Especially, when you’re indecisive about going to college, the press will try and pinpoint it. Then after that, they’ll make it a focus and I really didn’t want that type of attention. So, it was all a strategy that I had planned. HHC: Do you think that Mississippi is underrated as a basketball state? JB: Yes, I really think that it is. In Mississippi, there are a lot of athletic guys down there that have skills. They just don’t have anything down there that’ll put that spotlight on them. They really struggle down there because they can’t get the right showcase. Right now, I’m in the works, trying to put together a foundation so that attention can be focused on the guys down there back home who have that potential. HHC: Scouts felt that you were the perfect fit with the Raptors and the Pacers for your size, athleticism and just plain skills. Although, your career was plagued with injuries, your high school accomplishments were lauded. Do you think the transition from high school directly into the League left you somewhat unprepared? JB: I was prepared it was just that training and practicing that I was doing in High School had a long term affect on my body. I am glad that I got out of the league before anything serious could happen. The type of training that we were doing wasn’t beneficial good for me during my growth spurt. We were doing a lot of jumping drills and running on the hardwood. That meant a lot of pounding on the knees. Even outside of basketball, when we would get finished with practice, we would continue to ball on the street. So, you’ve went from an inside court to running up and down on concrete. That wears after awhile. Plus, growing up… and even still, you don’t have anyone in your early stages that is there to help you train efficiently. HHC: In the final days of your NBA career, you were waived by the Pacers in 2006 after previously being limited to seven games during the 2004-05 season. Do you think that you were “forced” into retirement by your former team? JB: Nah, I wasn’t forced at all. The team was behind me 120%. After that first year when I came back, I decided to keep my sanity and I had got myself back together. But I had the same pains. Then, I took a couple of MRIs and it showed that my knees weren’t getting any better. The doctor kept asking me what I wanted to do. At the time, I told him that I wanted to keep going. So, we kept trying but it became progressively worse. HHC: But you have yet to file retirement papers. Why? Are you still collecting checks from the team? JB: No, I didn’t sign the papers because you never know. I’m really just taking a year or two off to really try and heal up. If you sign those papers, you’re not allowed to come back. I would make a return if I’m mentally and physically prepared for it. If I can maintain on the court then I’ll continue to try. HHC: Having moved on from professional basketball, you’ve dabbled into real estate and entertainment. What should we expect from you with “Retired at 25”…? JB: The show is basically just about me; it is about me and my life. I was always into music before I played ball. I have a label called Akright Records. A lot of athletes get stereotyped because they have some sort of boutique label. They try to say that they don’t know what they’re doing. But “Retired at 25” is just to show that I have a deep passion for all of the things that I do. I work really hard, despite what others may think of athletes. My daily grind is serious – from boxing to the real estate company to my recording label, I oversee everything that goes on. HHC: You also have a Hip-Hop cooking show? Obviously, Hip-Hop is the selling point, but what else should viewers be looking forward to with this show? JB: The cooking show is more original and looser. The chefs dance and really have a great charisma on screen. Personally, it’s on some New Orleans type stuff. We have a lot of Deep South recipes. On the show, we try to switch it up as much as possible. For instance, we’d fry some oyster and mix it in with greens and pepper it with some spices. These guys have a lot of imagination and they use it to the benefit of the show. We’re finishing up the pilot and we’re getting ready to shop it around to networks. HHC: It seems that Hip-Hop and the NBA have a love-hate thing going on, yet, the players seem to all cool within the culture. You, yourself, have a recording label called Akright Records. Do you see this as a successful venture even after failed attempts by Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant as rappers and even Shaquille O’Neal as a label head? JB: Nah, I don’t like people who just take it as a hobby. I work hard everyday with everything that I do. My daily schedule starts off by me going to the gym. Then from there to the studio; I have credibility with all that I do. It is hard to pick out the real from the fake because there are people out there who have a like for what they do and then there are those who have the love. I’m not one of those lackluster homeboys. I’m into this for the gusto. I have the love for this. I get up at around 7 or 8 in the morning, eat breakfast, I stop to talk with my boxers – we’re putting an album together, so we’re getting the credit sheet together. I stay in the office to work on getting sample clearances with the lawyers. After that, I go to work out. I go to [producer] KLC’s studio in Baton Rouge. At the end of the day, I come home. Even there, I still check on the real estate. I figure out what states I have to be in to shoot for the shows and try to finish up with the pilot for the shows. HHC: For you record label, you’ve concentrated your attention on your hometown and Louisiana, why? What is it about these rappers that you feel they have what it takes to be put out in the national spotlight? JB: I focused on home because that’s where I’m from. Plus, I believe that there is untapped talent that doesn’t get the attention that it deserves. I think that all of the artists signed to Akright bring their own flavor. They’re all going to appeal to the ladies. But I think that Young A, Shawt, and Nosa have a strong future ahead of them. All we have to do is grind hard for us to have something to shock the world with. HHC: For such a young guy – even though you’re older than me [laughs] – you’ve been able to dabble into a lot of things including real estate. What is it about that next level of professionalism that opens up so many opportunities? JB: It just shows that you’ve laid a foundation. That you’ve worked hard for something. Being a professional is like having a stamp, a mark of approval from your peers. It means that you have credentials. It really takes time to achieve that. Once you get that stamp, people respect you because they see you doing your thing. When people are following you they understand that you have a movement behind you. HHC: Why don’t more Black athletes school the youth to the alternatives instead of seemingly encouraging kids to pick up a ball? JB: Because a lot of people like fast money and don’t respect a daily grind. It’s instant money if you have skills. We have a lot of athletic brothers who can make that jump into football and basketball, but not a lot of consciously forward thinking people. There are some people who decide to go into real estate. Other wait until their career is over to try and branch out to create another business. So, a lot of people have the ingenuity, but a lot of others haven’t. Those who haven’t really have the entourages and are really materialistic. They just aren’t taking hold of the opportunities. It’s sad.
By: Rizoh The music industry gears up for bad news as Atlanic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun has been reported critically ill, following his fall at a Rolling Stones concert in October. Doctors say the 83-year old’s chances of "meaningful recovery" are very slim. The accident responsible for Ertegun’s current state occured at a Rolling Stones concert on Broadway in New York City; Ertegun slipped while coming out of a rest room, and fell down a flight of stairs. He has been in an intensive care unit ever since. "His situation is very critical….His recovery, speaking medically, does not look possible. He may be able to live for a while on support units. But his will does clarify that he does not want to live this way. The final decision, however, will have to be made by his wife Mica." Mice Ertegun, meanwhile, has said that when her husband dies, she wants to bury him in Istanbul‘s Uskudar neighborhood, where his family already has a large plot in a cemetary there. Ertegun, the son of a Turkish diplomat, has worked with Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Herbie Mann, the Rolling Stones, Otis Redding, Eric Clapton, Bette Midler, John Coltrane, Led Zeppelin, Tori Amos, and many others. Atlantic is home to rappers T.I. and Lupe Fiasco.
By: Hot Gossip Gal Well it looks that way. I heard that the Long Island Princess went out and bought a wedding dress for $20,000. I mean obviously the BJ (Beyonce/Jay Z) nuptials didn’t go down this weekend, so forget them for a minute, although Beyonce has been getting a lil vocal about relationships, something that she has failed to do over the last four years. But anyway talks are that a Spring wedding may be in the works for Nelly and Ashanti who have been together for nearly three years. That could be a very interesting wedding.
By Quibian Salazar-Moreno Looks like 70’s dare devil Evel Knievel is not feeling Kanye West at all. The 68-year old Knievel filed a lawsuit against West claiming infringement on his trademark name and likeness in West’s video for “Touch The Sky.” In the video Kanye poses as “Evel Kanyevel”, a parody of Knievel (parodies are legal under copyright laws), and sports similar clothing and rides a rocket over a canyon similar to the vehicle Knievel used in his failed attempt to jump over Idaho’s Snake River Canyon in 1974. "That video that Kanye West put out is the most worthless piece of crap I’ve ever seen in my life, and he uses my image to catapult himself on the public," Knievel told the Associated Press. “The guy just went too far using me to promote his filth to the world. I’m not in any way that kind of a person." Knievel is mostly offended by Pamela Anderson’s appearance and the funny bit done by Nia Long (Love Jones, Best Man) and Tracee Ellis Ross (Girlfriends). The lawsuit seeks damages and also a halt to distribution of the video. Kanye had no comment on the lawsuit.
By: Hot Gossip Gal We told y’all reading The Wire that Brit had failed to show up to a studio session with Pharrell Williams a couple of weeks ago as she partied all over LA with BFF Paris Hilton. But one producer that has definitely got her to put in some studio time is future super producer JR Rotem. The two have been spotted exercising their tongue muscles together lately. Perhaps now working on Brit’s next album comes with a bonus.
By Quibian Salazar-Moreno Lil Boosie has partnered with several radio stations to offer child care to its listeners. Listeners can write in to participating radio stations explaining why they need help taking care of their children. Listeners with the best stories will be awarded with child care tuition, a Pampers care package and a copy of Boosie’s new album Bad Azz. " I’m just trying to give back to my community especially during this time of year,” Boosie said. “It’s hard on parents and I should know; I got 3 of my own… got to give from one Bad Azz to another." Boosie has been making some noise with his single, “Zoom” featuring Young Joc. The Baton Rouge is also heavily promoting his DVD along with his album, which looks at his childhood, the death of his father, his battle with diabetes and how he got into the game.
By: Rizoh The first annual Urban DVD Awards was held at New York‘s Club Avalon. Over 3000 hip-hop fans witnessed the event. Rapper and co-producer of the award Littles used the event as a launcpad for his ‘Artist to Watch Movement’ campaign. The initiative was designed to urge embrace untrodden hip-hop talent with their airwaves. To further drive the point home, the Urban DVD Awards featured performances by fledgling rappers Jae Millz, Uncle Murder, Saigon, Tru Life, Maino, Stack Bundles, Grafh, Consequence, and Red Café. Here’s a full list of winners at the DVD awards: Who’s Next Award Sub-Zro Best DVD Documentary Kirk Fraser For "The Life Of Rayful Edmund The Pusher Awards (Most Consistently Released DVD Magazine) The Come Up DVD Best Music Video Blend DVD DJ Juice For "R&B Mixtape Video Blends The Hottest Urban DVD Drugs On Music For "Cocaine City" Most Consistent Artist On A DVD Maino Finest Booty DVD Sunkist For "Battle 4 The Bottle And The Bubble" Best Celebrity Booty DVD Award The Drama King" DJ Kay Slay Hottest Graphics On A DVD Surgeon/Dolten Brothers For Chamillionaire: The East Coast Shakedown The Peoples Choice Award (The Most Extreme DVD) Underground Riders Best Underground DVD Whatz Really Hood The Independent Retailer Award Pop Blackstar Music
By: Hot Gossip Gal That’s what the rumor is. The Diamond Princess is supposed to be taking the place of Remy Ma on the so called Bronx based collective. Anyone know if Trina has any Bronx ties? Hopefully Remy will move on to bigger and better things anyway, she deserves it. May not respect your sense of style here at The Wire Rem, but we mos def recognize your talent.
By Quibian Salazar-Moreno Last year wrestler Diamond Dallas Page filed a lawsuit against Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella Records claiming trademark and copyright infringement for the use of his trademarked “Diamond Cutter” hand gesture without permission and using it as their own. Now Page has successfully added Roc-A-Wear Clothing line to the lawsuit saying that earlier this year he discovered that the clothing line was also using the “Diamond Cutter” image on its products. Page is seeking an injunction (meaning Jay-Z can’t use the symbol anymore) and unspecified monetary damages. Page came up in the mid-90’s working the WCW circuit and used the “Diamond Cutter” hand gesture during matches. Apparently, he’s still using it for his new DVD series “Yoga for Regular Guys” and his motivational audio book, “Own Your Life.”
By: Hot Gossip Gal Yes apparently in an interview with The Doctors Advocate, when deciding who was going to feature on the One Blood remix, Game and manager Jimmy Henchman (the dude who got loud outside the mixtape awards on Thursday) hollered at Chris Lighty (Violator Management) about his artist 50 Cent jumping on the joint. Of course Lighty thought the duo were joking and when he actually realised they were serious, he answered with an emphatic no. Game then said he asked 50 as a joke….yeah right.
By: Rizoh Foxy Brown has landed into more legal fuss. The Brooklyn rapper, previously accused of assaulting a manicurist amongst several other legal disputes, now faces possible jail time for violating probation. Brown was slapped with three years of probation back in October for charges related to a fight in a nail salon in 2004, but allegedly failed to honor appointments with probation officers, submit to drug tests and show up for anger management classes. Shawnda Weinberg, city Department of Probation lawyer, says Brown is flouting the court-ordered probation. "She’s asked for special treatment. She’s told us, `I’m not like them (others on probation),’" said Weinberg. Weinberg also recommended that the 26-year old femcee be put in jail for violating probation. Judge Melissa C Jackson, who sentenced Foxy Brown (real name Inga Marchand) in October, suggested that Brown remain silent until her next court hearing when her lawyer is present. Earlier in November, word got around that Foxy’s label Def Jam was ready to dump the sassy rapper. Foxy’s long-brewing album Black Roses has been plagued by her hearing loss, nonstop legal woes and subsequent negative publicity. She also lost a publishing deal with Simon & Schuster and has been shopping her book, "Broken Silence," to other publishers.
By: Hot Gossip Gal Dumb is going to the once hottest commodity in pop/R&B, that is when she was married to Tommy Mottola, the Diva of all Divas under 40, Mariah Carey. With so much time on her hands it appears she decided to file papers against porn star turned politician Mary Carey who is hoping to trademark her name. Now for those of you not in the know about Mary Carey, she attempted to run for Governor of California and boy oh boy was she ready to make changes in how things got done out west. On her agenda were things like ‘Make lap dances a tax deductible business expense,’ and ‘I will recruit fellow performers from the adult video industry as ambassadors of good will.’ Sounds like a plan Mary lol. But anyhow Mary has ruffled Mariahs feathers and to be honest there is no reason for Mariah to be concerned. Unless Mariah was thinking of running for President of Cali herself perhaps and i doubt that very much…but then again maybe Mariah is concerned about similarities in their apparel..who knows Dumber is going to Weezy. How can a man who publicly kisses another man who he calls Daddy first of all have the audacity to talk about being better than Jay Z. How can a man who borrowed jewelry for a video shoot from a dude who wrote for him (Gillie) go and diss Gillies people (The Clipse) and not expect some form of rebuttal? I am sure this running of the mouth encouraged sales of Complex and I am certain there will be a response from Malice and Pusha beyond them calling him a Fa**ott on a radio show in Va. Real dumb Weezy, real dumb.
By: Rizoh Def Jam rapper and Wu-Tang veteran Ghostface Killah is set to release his biography, tentatively titled "Iron Man: True Reflections from the Soul of the Wu-Tang Clan." Earlier this year, Harper Collins, the publisher that took on Ghostface Killah’s auto-biographical book, ordered the rapper to return the $200,000 advance, following the rapper’s failure to hand in a manuscript of the book since it’s January 2002 deadline. The book is now slated for release on February 27, 2007 via Regan Books, a division of Harper Collins. More Fish, Ghost’s follow-up to the critically-acclaimed Fishscale, is set to drop on Tuesday December 12, 2006.
By:Hot Gossip Gal Now for all y’all waiting to read the memoirs of Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah, that book isn’t even written yet. And the report of it being released on February 27th was totally denied to me by the man himself over the weekend. Ghost said ‘Nah that book hasn’t even been written yet, it will be out sometime at the end of the year, maybe November.’ Well we all know that is guaranteed better reading that the tell all books of Carmen and Karine.
By: Rizoh Mos Def’s long-awaited third solo album, Tru3 Magic, will now hit shelves on January 9, 2007, according to a statement on the rapper’s website. Despite the album’s postponement, Mos is up for a Grammy nod in the Best Rap Solo Performance category with Tru3 Magic‘s first single, "Undeniable." Tru3 Magic is the follow-up to 2004′s The New Danger, which shifted 445,000 units in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Below is the tentative track list for Mos Def’s Tru3 Magic 1.)"Tru3 Magic" 2.)"Undeniable" 3.)"U R the One" 4.)"Thug Is A Drug" 5.)"Crime & Medicine" 6.)"A Ha" 7.)"Dollar Day" 8.)"Napoleon Dynamite" 9.)"There Is A Way" 10.)"Sun, Moon, Stars" 11.)"Murder of A Teenage Life" 12.)"Fake Bonanza" 13.)"Perfect Timing" 14.)"Lifetime"
iHipHop Blog Team