Monday, 21 April 2014

Complex Magazine celebrates Vic Mensa....

Image by Simon Jones

Title: Who Is Vic Mensa?
Dated: Feb 6, 2014

Timing, they say, is everything. When it's on an artist's side, he can ride that wave effortlessly upward; when it isn't, he's thrust to the sidelines, marginalized instantaneously. It makes or breaks careers. You could fill 200 iPhones with the music of rappers who couldn't deliver on their promise, no matter how substantial their talents. All because of timing.
At least, that's what they say.
Maybe it's time to rethink the old cliches. Hip-hop fans have always focused on measuring success. It's no surprise; after all, you're talking about an art form where something was created from nothing, unheard voices alchemized experience into therapeutic autobiography, speculative fantasy, and floor-filling entertainment. This is why the gold chains make sense; the fruits of this invisible labor have to be substantial, or it may as well never have happened. There's an irrational, contradictory logic to this arrangement. On the one hand, if an MC records great art in a forest, does it make a sound? And on the other: whose fault is it that the rapper's art is in a forest in the first place?

Vic Mensa visited Complex the morning after headlining a workout of a show at the Knitting Factory last November. It was one of those lineups that only makes sense in New York, where three rising artists with substantially different fanbases—in this case, Deniro Ferrar, Ty Dolla $ign, and Vic Mensa—perform for the benefit of the media. Vic was supporting Innanetape, his celebrated 2013 solo record, his first since the break-up of acclaimed hip-hop band Kids These Days. In Kids These Days, he was the rapper and frontman.

Innanetape was produced primarily by Cam Osteen from Justice League, Peter Cottontale (best known for his work with Chance The Rapper), and Vic himself. The tape suggests Vic has a strong sense for songcraft, with smooth neo-soul hooks and beats rooted in an '80s funk/R&B tradition. It's shot through with experimental flavors (like the drum'n'bass-style groove on "Lovely Day") and features guests like L.A. experimental jazz-fusion bassist Thundercat and Neptunes-affiliated pop eccentric Kenna.

Despite some adventurous choices, Innanetape is musically tasteful, even serene—cuts like "Hollywood LA" and "Orange Soda" are relaxed and comfortable moments of family barbecue-friendly positivity. But Vic's live performance, at least at the Knitting Factory that night, had a serrated edge, amplified by stage dives, rock guitars, and a mosh pit. Going back to the tape after seeing him perform, the restlessness under the surface became more apparent; a barbed, nervous energy surfaced in his lyrics. On "Orange Soda": "Know when you want it, but just can't have it?/Especially as an artist, don't that shit make you mad/Just breathe... breathe... breathe, it's all in your head/Know these labels wanna sign me for an arm and a leg."



There's an elephant in the room here, and that elephant is Chance The Rapper, Vic's good friend and a recent Justin Bieber collaborator who has been propelled from Chicago's vibrant music scene to the top of the major labels' most-wanted list. For national listeners, unfamiliar with Chicago's deep bench, there's a perception that he did so in a lane that is a little too similar to Vic's own; as if there can be only one conflicted, thoughtful, skilled-yet-streetsmart backpacker.

Sure: Vic's a kid from the South Side who came up on rock music and hip-hop, and whose parents had high expectations—his father has a PhD in economics, and his mother is a physical therapist in the Chicago Public Schools. And like Chance, Vic gripped perfectionism, becoming one of Chicago's most lyrically creative teenage rappers, even as he bucked his parents' prescribed route in favor of an independent path.

Vic created this path, even before Chance The Rapper released a song. Before Chief Keef was signed by Interscope, Vic was 16 with a solo mixtape and being sought out by the major labels.

As a member of Kids These Days, he played Lollapalooza a year before Keef and two before Chance. But while Chicago was having its biggest moment since the arrival of Kanye West a decade earlier, Vic was caught up in the turmoil surrounding Kids These Days, the hip-hop band to whom he'd thrown his loyalty and several years of his life. While they spent a year gearing up to breakthrough within the proper industry channels, they felt the strain of internal tensions about the band's direction. While numerous Chicago hip-hop stars capitalized on the buzz, one of its most talented, most promising voices was on the sidelines, his group in stasis. But his story isn't anything like Chance The Rapper's—even though, to a national audience, he still has to prove it.

When Vic first arrived at Complex, he seemed tired and withdrawn—likely because of the previous night's late performance. As he spoke with Complex, while his friend fell asleep face down on the table beside him, he opened up considerably; he had a lot to get off his chest. An hour and a half later, when he left, it seemed like a weight had lifted. Open and honest about the internal turmoil that led to the break-up of Kids These Days, his frustrations, and his confident personal and musical philosophies, the conversation felt as much like a therapy session as an interview.

If timing is everything, though, Vic might have some hurdles in front of him. He is a prodigal talent; give him a space to create, and he'll fill every inch of that canvas, and do it with more color and more creativity and a stronger sense for an emotional truth than anyone around him. He's used to being the best in the room. But what happens if he's in the wrong room at the wrong time?
As Vic left Complex, the reality of an uphill climb was still ahead. But if anyone can find his way out of that forest, it's Vic Mensa.

What was your life like as a kid?My neighborhood is mad diverse and also divided. It’s called Hyde Park. On one hand, you have the University of Chicago. That’s a community in and of itself. And on the other side you have Hyde Park, which I separate. People classify Hyde Park based on the side they’re looking at.

My dad used to work at University of Chicago and I was born over there. Hyde Park—I grew up around a lot of different races and a lot of different types of people. My first friend was a Jewish kid, I went to a Jewish pre-school, but it wasn’t all Jewish kids. It’s just like that in Hyde Park. Now, I live in a cul-de-sac of townhouses that’s one block away from gigantic houses, four or five blocks from Barack Obama’s house. And it’s also a block away from section 8 [affordable housing], and four or five blocks away to what would be the equivalent of the projects. So that’s how Hyde Park is and I’m somewhere in the middle of it all.

What expectations did your parents have of you growing up?All parents have expectations. My dad especially, he’s from Ghana—super educated man. So education has always been huge to him. I never was too much into school, but I didn’t have problems getting good grades. School was easy for me. I always did well, but I always got in trouble, and as I got older the trouble just multiplied.

From the first time I got suspended in sixth grade, I just kept getting suspended, at least once a year until I graduated high school. It’s easy to cheat in school. And it’s also not hard to do the shit you have to do.

My parents wanted me to go to college and a lot of things that didn’t happen, but at the same time as those things were falling to the wayside, music was steadily rising. And it was something they could see and recognize. So they were understanding in some ways, but less understanding in others. They weren’t ever super rigid, like "We’re going to kick you out the house if you don’t go to college."

What are your earliest memories of music?I was heavily into rock and roll. That and African drums. I remember my father used to play African music all the time. The Beatles are probably some of my earliest memories from my mother, and Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis.

Backstreet Boys in first grade, I remember Backstreet Boys and N'SYNC and Spice Girls and shit like that. I wasn't really into the Spice Girls, but I was definitely into the Backstreet Boys. When I was in grammar school, up until like 5th grade, I didn’t really vibe with hip-hop. I just didn’t understand why niggas was so mad.

I think some of the first rap I liked before I started liking rap was Eminem, just because there was an African kid I knew that was older than me who knew my sister, who told me Eminem was cool. When you’re a little kid and someone tells you something’s cool, you just go with it.

I was really into Guns N' Roses and AC/DC and all of that classic hair-rock shit. And then I found out about Nirvana, and I was a gigantic fan of Nirvana around 5th grade. I found out about hip-hop through skateboard movies, because I had been skating since I was like 10. I really started fucking with rap off this Zoo York VHS tape. KRS-ONE, “Step Into A World,” that was the first rap song I remember finding myself, and being like, "I fuck with this heavily." And then I got put onto 106 & Park by my homie, so at the same time watching that—when Westside Connection and Destiny’s Child were on TV.

But I really got into hip-hop through skateboarding and breakdancing and graffiti. Me and my man Nico [Segal]—he plays the trumpet—we used to go to the hip-hop shop in his neighborhood. It was called The Bassment, and we would buy paint markers to write on shit. They sold spray paint under the table too. We would go there and get Run-DMC albums and fuckin' old shit like Grandmaster Flash and breakbeat records, and we’d set up linoleum in his basement. He would DJ and I would breakdance, or he would DJ and I would spit.

Do visit:  to read the interview in its entirety....

For more info about Vic Mensa visit:

Fashion & Culture: Yasiin Bey, the artist formerly known as Mos Def wears Kente wrap and causes uproar.......

Paulina says: If Mos Def is going to wear a skirt I think its best its Kente –don’t you?

I missed the mass hysteria surrounding conscious rapper, Yasiin Bey, the artist formerly known as Mos Def's decision to wear what many perceived as just a ‘skirt’ in March, –and had to dig deeper when I saw the above photo and read some of the rumours and comments flying around!!!

The thing is………….. many believe there’s some sort of ‘Gay Agenda’ going on in the Land of Hip-Hop-Hooray, and while some can accept the likes of Puffy (or Diddy or what-have-you), Trinidad James, actor Omar Epps or Kanye –even, wearing the ‘dress’ or the ‘skirt’, many were not having it with much beloved rapper –Mos Def.

Anywayssssss, regardless of ‘whatever’ –I truly believe that Yasiin Bey, the artist formerly known as Mos Def –who now resides in South Africa, was wearing a Kente wrap, not just because it is comfortable but because of its cultural significance. Some people need to get a grip!!!!

Beauty: Omenaa Mensah

 Credit: MUA by Koleta Gabrysiak  

Paulina says: How gorgeous does Ghana Rising fave, Omenaa Mensah look in the above beauty shoot photos? My baby brother is getting married very soon and its been all about wedding fever and make-up ideas for the big day!!! The make-up artist did a fabulous and I'm loving the pop of blue on the eyes -what do you think? Anywaysss for more info about TV presenter and style icon Omenaa Mensah visit:

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The State of the Union: Nigeria's High Flying Diezani Alison-Madueke

House Of Reps Uncover Second Aircraft Maintained By Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke

by John Ameh

Fresh revelations indicated on Tuesday that Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, maintained a second jet.

The jet, a Global Express XRS plane, is allegedly chartered specifically for her private and official trips overseas.

A return trip on the XRS plane is said to cost taxpayers €600,000.

The jet is different from the Challenger 850, which the House of Representatives said gulped N10bn in the last two years to fly the minister.

Investigation by The PUNCH showed that the House Committee on Public Accounts stumbled on the second jet in the course of the ongoing probe into the N10bn expenditure on Challenger 850.

Findings also showed that the owners of Challenger 850 might have fled the country shortly after the House ordered an investigation into the transaction between them and Alison-Madueke.

It was gathered that the aircraft owners reportedly became jittery after the committee declared its plan to summon them to assist in the investigation.

The PUNCH had reported exclusively last Sunday that the committee would summon the owners of the plane to testify before it.

Asked to comment on the issue, the Chairman of the committee, Mr. Solomon Olamilekan, told our correspondent that he was “shocked by the latest information.”

“We have heard that the owners of the Challenger have hurriedly left the country. The information is just reaching the committee; but, we are still holding our preliminary meetings,” he stated.

Olamilekan, who confirmed that the committee had uncovered a second jet, added that they were trying to establish how many trips it made outside the country.

“We are still holding our preliminary meetings. We have to put all the facts together and agree on the mode of the hearing first.

“The question on when to invite the minister will come after the meetings. We are still meeting.”
However, a document our correspondent obtained in Abuja on Tuesday, indicated that Alison-Madueke flew in Global Express XRS on two occasions in 2011.

She chartered the same jet twice in 2013 on a return trip bill of €600,000 per trip.
For example, on March 21, 2011, she flew to London with the jet from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

On board the jet with her were two people, Imotimi Agama and Haruna Momoh.

The aircraft returned to Nigeria from London on March 23, conveying the same passengers.
Another trip on March 9, 2013 departed the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos en route to London.

The passengers were Alison-Madueke, Abubakar Fari and Momoh. The jet returned to Nigeria on March 13 with the same passengers.

In Abuja, lawmakers are asking how a serving minister raised the money to charter jets for overseas trips at the expense of the taxpayers.

One of them, who asked not to be named said, “Nigerians deserve to know which law authorises this type of extravagance.

“Under which budgetary sub-head has she been chartering jets for her personal use?

“Where is the law that authorises a government minister to be flying around the world in chartered private jets?

“You are going to London, why did you not not use the British Airways or any other international airline?”

The PUNCH further learnt that those who accompanied Alison-Madueke on the trips would also be invited by the committee to assist with the investigation.

Alison-Madueke is accused of spending about €500,000 monthly to maintain the first aircraft.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had on Monday denied the allegation but said it had the legal right to own or charter an aircraft for its operations.

“This practice is common and acceptable in the local and international business environment in which it operates. There is nothing prohibiting the NNPC from owning or chartering an aircraft,” the NNPC had said in a statement by its Acting Group General Manager, Public Affairs Division, Omar Ibrahim.

There was however a new twist to the N19.7bn Police Equipment Fund on Tuesday as the Police denied receiving the money from the suspended Central Bank Governor, Mallam Lamido Sanusi.
Sanusi, while defending allegations of financial recklessness levelled against him by the Financial Reporting Council, had listed the sum among funds he released to the Ministry of Police Affairs to procure a helicopter and other equipment.

But the police high command, which appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts in Abuja, denied knowledge of the money.

The Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Air Wing, Mr. Ilesanmi Aguda, who stood in for the inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, simply replied “no knowledge” when the committee sought to confirm the payment.

Although he advised the committee to refer the inquiry to the Ministry of Police Affairs, the Chairman of the committee, Mr. Adeola Olamilekan, informed his colleagues that the said ministry had earlier denied the payment.

Olamilekan expressed surprise over the development, noting that it would appear that the money was missing since the supposed recipients had denied knowledge of it.

He said, “If the IG and the police ministry deny receipt of the said N19.7bn, then the committee can rightly assume that the money is missing, until proven otherwise.

“All the major actors involved in the alleged transaction, including the CBN have a case to answer.”
In ruling on the controversial money, the committee said it would summon Sanusi and the IG to hear from them again before taking a final position.

In a separate case, the committee summoned the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla; the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Dr. Bright Okogu; and the CBN to explain the whereabouts of the N59.6bn released to the NNPC as subsidy claims.

The committee acknowledged submissions by the NNPC, which indicated that it did not receive the money.

For it to dig into the matter further, the committee directed the corporation to write a formal letter denying that it received the money.

Ruling on the issue, the committee chairman said, “You (NNPC) will do us a formal letter explaining to the committee that at no time did you receive N59.6bn. The Deliotte accounting firm, in its report, claimed the fund was disbursed.

“Towards this direction, this committee hereby summons the CBN, AGF and budget office to explain why such sum of money was disbursed without any documentary evidence.

“The NNPC for now cannot be indicted until otherwise proven when the AGF and the budget office come out with evidence that the money was disbursed and cash backed


Happy Easter Folks..................

Paulina says: Today has been a day of new beginnings. I now understand priority, family and love. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Risen Lord for his Blessings, for the miracles and for this new way of being -I am a different person.

Lots of Love to my family, especially my mummy for this deliverance -Amen. The prodigal son has returned -and has faced no judgement -Amen. Freedom, freedom, freedom  -thank God I'm free at last.

I pray new beginnings into your life. Be Blessed and at peace -Amen.. xxx  

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Engineers & Planners' Plane-gate

Iran Gets an Unlikely Visitor, an American Plane, but No One Seems to Know Why

President Obama has warned that Iran is not open for business, even as the United States has loosened some of its punishing economic sanctions as part of an interim nuclear pact.
Yet on Tuesday morning, Iran had an unlikely visitor: a plane, owned by the Bank of Utah, a community bank in Ogden that has 13 branches throughout the state. Bearing a small American flag on its tail, the aircraft was parked in a highly visible section of Mehrabad Airport in Tehran.
But from there, the story surrounding the plane, and why it was in Iran — where all but a few United States and European business activities are prohibited — grows more mysterious.
While federal aviation records show the plane is held in a trust by the Bank of Utah, Brett King, one of its executives in Salt Lake City, said, “We have no idea why that plane was at that airport.”
He said that the Bank of Utah acted as a trustee for investors who have a financial stake in the plane and that the bank was investigating further.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it had no information about the investors in the aircraft or who was operating it. Officials waiting at the gangway at Mehrabad Airport said only that the aircraft was “V.I.P.”
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the federal government’s primary enforcer of sanctions against Iran, declined to comment on the plane’s presence there. Under United States law, any American aircraft would usually need prior approval from the department to go to Iran without violating a complicated patchwork of rules governing trade.
In the case of this particular aircraft, powered by engines made by General Electric, the Commerce Department typically would have to grant its own clearance for American-made parts to touch down on Iranian soil.
Iranian officials also declined to comment on the purpose of the plane’s visit or passengers’ identities. A spokesman for Iran’s United Nations mission in New York, Hamid Babaei, said: “We don’t have any information in this regard. I refer you to the owner.”
The tracking of planes has become a kind of global sport, as largely amateur photographers post thousands of images showing arrivals and departures in their attempts to chronicle flight paths. In the case of this plane, for example, one spotter spied it leaving an airport in Zurich around the time of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, held in January. Another photographer tracked the plane, identified by its call letters N604EP on the tail engines, departing a London-area airport for Ghana last October.
But this week’s spotting by a New York Times reporter in Tehran carries particular intrigue because it involves Iran, a country still effectively shunned by the global financial system.
Even some former federal officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the very presence of an American-flagged aircraft parked in broad daylight suggested its flight had been approved as part of a legitimate business trip. What is more, they said, the easily identifiable plane was not likely to be part of a covert diplomatic mission.
The secrecy surrounding the plane is compounded by federal aviation regulations that can make it virtually impossible to determine who was flying it.
The private plane, like thousands of similar ones, is owned through a trust — a complex legal structure often established to help foreign individuals or corporations invest in planes that can fly freely within the United States. Aside from that benefit, the structure enables investors and operators to remain largely anonymous to the public. The trustee — in this case, the Bank of Utah — is the sole entity recorded as owner in a vast database maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Bank of Utah is listed as a trustee for 1,169 aircraft, ranging from Boeing 747s to single-engine Cessnas, according to a review by The New York Times of the database. The Bank of Utah acts as a trustee for more planes than just about any other bank, the review shows.
Mr. King, who helps run the bank’s trust services business, said the bank had no “operational control” or “financial exposure” to any of the planes.
He said he was not allowed to disclose the identity of the plane’s investors. “As fiduciary, we must keep information confidential when it comes to the beneficiary,” Mr. King said.
While the trusts allow celebrities and corporate executives to travel discreetly, they also help obscure who is operating vast fleets of aircraft and why.
The shadowy role of American banks in private aircraft ownership has grown even as financial regulators work to shine a light on Wall Street’s activities, a legacy of the 2008 financial crisis.
Bank dealings with Iran in particular are subject to extraordinary scrutiny by the United States government, part of a broader crackdown on the flow of money to foreign countries and individuals that American officials say is tied to terrorism.
The British bank HSBC, for example, reached a record $1.92 billion settlement with federal authorities in 2012 to resolve accusations that it funneled billions of dollars on behalf of Iran and enabled Mexican drug cartels to move tainted money through its United States subsidiaries.
Even before the current sanctions, American aircraft rarely landed in the country. The animosity between the two countries has grown so intense that even the occasional emergency landing by a United States commercial airliner sets off a flurry of speculative news reports.
For his part, Mr. King said Thursday in an interview that he was trying to get to the bottom of the aircraft’s presence in Tehran. “The Bank of Utah is very conservative, and located in the conservative state of Utah,” he said. “If there is any hint of illegal activity, we are going to find out and see whether we need to resign” as trustee.


A Better Ghana: Mystery of N604EP plane is solved

The mystery of a US-registered plane spotted at a Tehran airport this week and reported on by the New York Times has apparently been solved.

The US-registered Bombardier corporate jet, carrying the registration number N604EP, is owned and operated by a Ghana-based engineering firm, an aviation expert said Friday. The visitors it bought to Iran last week were senior Ghanaian officials, an Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman said Friday.
The plane was chartered by Ghanaian officials, no American was on board, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told Iranian media Friday, journalist Mojtaba Mousavi and Shargh newspaper reported.

Tyler Bowron, an aviation expert at Cerretanni Aviation group in Boulder, Colorado, told Al-Monitor that the company that in fact owns and operates the plane is called Engineers and Planners, based in Accra, Ghana.

The Ghana firm “owns and operates” the plane, Bowron told Al-Monitor. Bank of Utah, which is listed on Federal Aviation Agency records as the trustee for the 22-seat corporate jet, “is just the trustee,” Bowron said. “They have nothing to do with it.”

The New York Times first reported Thursday on the mystery of the US “N-registered” plane seen by the paper at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport on Tuesday. The Blaze first reported Bowron’s identification of the Ghana firm that owns and operates the plane.

A Bank of Utah spokesperson said the bank was solely acting as a trustee for the airplane’s real owner.

“Bank of Utah… acts as trustee for aircraft of behalf of the beneficiary,” Scott H. Parkinson, senior vice president for marketing at the Bank of Utah, told Al-Monitor by email Friday. “The Bank has no operational control, financial exposure and is not a lender for this transaction.”

“The Bank’s trust agreements do not allow aircraft be used in any illegal activity,” Parkinson said.
International law experts said the US-registered plane, even if owned by a foreign entity, would have probably required a temporary sojourn license from the US Treasury Department Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) to legally visit Iran. US officials declined to comment Friday on the specific facts of this case.

“We can’t comment on license applications or requests,” a Treasury Department spokesperson told Al-Monitor Friday.

U.S. Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (“ITSR”) prohibit the exportation of goods, services or technology directly or indirectly from the United States or by a U.S. person to Iran, and would generally prevent U.S.-registered aircraft from flying to Iran.

“A determination as to whether a violation of the ITSR has occurred is fact specific,” a source familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity, said.

The Ghana firm said to own the plane, Engineers and Planners, “was formed in 1997 to provide mining, construction and engineering services to the many mining companies that were setting up in Ghana at the time,” the firm said in a 2012 statement  concerning a plane it had acquired and would offer for lease.

“Recently, the company has entered into an agreement with an American Company to provide it with air services using a challenger 600 aircraft,” the company statement continued. “The arrangement makes the aircraft commercially available for rental by mining companies, oil service companies and other corporate institutions when not in use by Engineers and Planners.”

The company press statement identified its CEO as Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, the younger brother of Ghana’s then-Vice President H.E. John Dramani Mahama, who became Ghana’s president in July, 2012.

Engineers and Planner’s listed executive director, Adi Ayitevie, previously served as procurement manager at a Maryland-based firm, MNM Communications, that received several U.S. government contracts to provide construction services at US embassies abroad and domestic facilities, including the FBI academy at Quantico, according to his Linkedin bio and the firm’s client list.

Iranian and Ghanaian officials have in meetings over the past year proclaimed mutual interest in cooperating on mining and other economic development projects, media reports show.

It is common for foreign entities to acquire US “N-registered” aircraft, using trusteeships such as those provided by the Bank of Utah, that conceal the owner’s identity, aviation and legal experts said.

(Photo of a US-registered corporate jet at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport last Tuesday by Thomas Erdbrink, the New York Times.)


Paulina says: I am tired!!!!!