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#NYC Celebrates #TheNotoriousBIG on His #50th Birthday with Series of Special Events!

Notorious B.I.G. Metrocard

Notorious B.I.G. Metrocard
Photo of a limited edition MetroCard commemorating the Notorious B.I.G.’s 50th birthday.

If it’s one thing that you’ll learn while listening to a song by The Notorious B.I.G., it’s exactly where he was from. The late Brooklyn legend made sure that whomever was listening to his music knew that Brooklyn, N.Y.C. was his home! May 21st marks the 50th birthday of Christopher Wallace known to the world as The Notorious B.I.G. and known to many as the greatest rapper of all time. To commemorate the Hip-Hop giant on his Golden 50th, his hometown will host a series of special events.

On Friday, May 20th, the Empire State Building will host a lighting ceremony to honor the iconic rapper. Visitors will be able to take pictures with a life-size photorealistic avatar of Biggie on the building’s 80th floor conservatory. The lighting ceremony will also include appearances by singer Faith Evans, rappers Lil Kim, Jada Kiss and Lil Cease as well as Biggie’s daughter T’yanna Wallace. Well known protégé of The Notorious B.I.G., Lil Kim also announced via Instagram that she will be hosting her 2nd annual B.I.G. Dinner Gala on Friday, May 20th to honor her late mentor.

The Barclays Center wil display images of Biggie’s records on their screens throughout the weekend. Finally on Saturday May 21st, shortly after sunset, the Empire State Building will light up with the colors red and white with a rotating crown and the number “50.” The colors red and white will symbolize the colors of The Notorious B.I.G.’s 1994 debut album Ready to Die.

Cover art for The Notorious B.I.G’s 1994 debut album Ready to Die.

In addition to all of this, the MTA will be releasing a limited edition MetroCard to commemorate the Hip-Hop giant. The MetroCard will only be available at three Brooklyn train stations including Lafayette Avenue; Clinton-Washington Avenue and Atlantic Avenue on the A, C & G train lines. So while fans are traveling to all these special events, they can also have a little piece of Christopher Wallace with them!

The Empire State Building representing for The Notorious B.I.G. bay-bay-bay-bay!

What a way to celebrate the greatest rapper to ever grace the microphone. #BrooklynGirlCode™ will be celebrating privately like we do every year for The Notorious B.I.G’s birthday by turning up the volume on our speakers as high as it can go and blasting Biggie’s timeless hits all weekend long. That’s how we show our love for Biggie because it’s the Brooklyn way! -xoxo #BrooklynGirlCode™ <3

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#BrooklynGirlCode™ Event Recap #NYCMenTeach Presents: A #HipHopCypher !!!

NYC Men Teach: A Hip Hop Cypher official event flier.

It was a star-studded event this past Friday when NYC Men Teach presented: “A Hip Hop Cypher.” Everyone bought their best rhymes and poetry to the cypher while some of today’s top Hip-Hop artists and influencers stopped by to drop some beautiful gems for the next generation of Hip-Hop artists. Celebrities who were in attendance included Big Tigger of BET’s Rap City, the lovely Free (formerly of 106 & Park), Philly’s own Freeway who was celebrating 19 years of his debut album Philadelphia Freeway; News anchor/activist Dr. Marc Lamont Hill who dropped tons of Hip-Hop knowledge on us, DJ Whutever and Umar Bin Hassan of legendary spoken word group The Last Poets who served as the elder for the evening’s festivities.

Everyone bought their A-game to this successful and positive event. What a way to cap off Black History Month 2022! Thank you to the moderators Nathaniel Smith, Vincent Deas and DJ Faro who kept us dancing to the hits all night! Special shoutout to all the great people over at NYC Men Teach for putting together such an informative and insightful event! Keep educating! -xoxo

Event moderator Vincent Deas as well as famous rappers Freeway, Big Tigger and Free were all in attendance!
Featured Poet for the night Umar Bin Hassan of The Last Poets and Event Moderator Nathaniel Smith.
Miss Free Marie giving some insight on the music industry.
Big Tigger holding it down for the Hip-Hop pioneers.
Philadelphia’s finest, rapper Freeway showing some love in the cypher.
News Anchor/ Activist Dr. Marc Lamont Hill spreading all of his Hip-Hop knowledge!
What a fun night shared with family and friends!
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#CoachFranke Celebrates 50 Years of Coaching Division I Women’s #Fencing at #TempleUniversity

Coach Franke and former Temple Fencer and #BrooklynGirlCode Creator, Aziza Hassan pose at the 2021 Temple Open in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Nikki Franke celebrates fifty years of coaching the Division 1 Women’s Fencing Team at Temple University this year!

Coach Franke and former Temple Fencer and #BrooklynGirlCode Creator, Aziza Hassan pose at the 2021 Temple Open in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Coach Franke (right) and former Temple Fencer and #BrooklynGirlCode Creator, Aziza Hassan (left) pose at the 2021 Temple Open in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

I was a young inexperienced teenager when I walked into Coach Franke’s fencing room in McGonigle Hall for the first time. Looking back now, I didn’t know anything (competitive-wise) about my weapon, Sabre. Coming from Brooklyn, New York and fencing only on a recreational level at the Peter Westbrook Foundation, I had only one national tournament under my belt. But, Coach Franke was still willing to take a chance on me.

This is what makes Coach Franke the great coach that she is, the chances that she’s willing to take on young inexperienced fencers. After transitioning over to Sabre from Foil the previous year at the suggestion of my then coach Mika’il Sankofa, I had to sharpen up my skills asap to prove to Coach Franke that she wasn’t just doing me a favor. Along with the help and support of Zoila Palacio who was the Sabre & Epee coach at Temple University, I went on to become a three-time NCAA Championship competitor as well as an All-American fencer for Temple University. Compared to my teammates back home who were already going on to compete at the 2000 Summer Games in Athens, I was far behind.

However, with the support of Coach Franke and Coach Palacio, I was able to go on and compete and gain high results in several international senior world cups all over the world between the years of 2006 and 2015.

This year makes 50 years that Coach Franke has been coaching up the young ladies at Temple University. I’m so glad that I chose Temple University as my school back in 2000. This is definitely a decision that I never regret. Here’s to 50 more years Coach Franke! Hoot! Hoot! -xoxo #BrooklynGirlCode <3

Update: Coach Franke will be inducted into the 2022 class of the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.
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A Night w/ Umar Bin Hassan @ Petra’s!

Poet Umar Bin Hassan of The Last Poets
Poet Umar Bin Hassan of The Last Poets
Official Petra’s event flier for Poet, Umar Bin Hassan of legendary spoken word group The Last Poets.

Umar Bin Hassan of legendary spoken word group, The Last Poets will be performing at Petra’s bar in Charlotte, North Carolina on August 21st, 2021. Special guests performing on August 21st include Bluz Rodgers, Tony McCullough, Antonio Diaz plus other invited guests to be announced. Should be a night filled with some beautiful people! When I asked my dad for a quote about him performing at his upcoming show on the 21st, he replied:

“Yeah, I’m excited about it. I’m excited about it. Okay?” -Umar Bin Hassan

For more information about this show please contact Jibril Hough @ 704.258.0304. -xoxo #BrooklynGirlCode <3

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#Women In #Music: Art Vs. Business

Rapper Cardi B Performing at the 2021 Grammy Awards.

In today’s monetized music business, women are pushing the envelope and shattering traditional glass ceilings that were once set in place to keep men on top. With so many women in the industry currently making moves both in front and behind the camera, it’s becoming more and more obvious that music may be the surest way to skip all the loop holes and go straight to the top in corporate America. But who gets taken advantage of now that the women are becoming the leaders?

One of the main discussions in the music business today is the over-sexualization of women. From Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion‘s racy “WAP” performance at this year’s Grammy Awards receiving FCC complaints to Rihanna and Beyonce respectively showing off their bare bodies to promote their clothing lines, there’s no doubt about it, sex in the music business is “a thing.”

Rappers Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B give a racy and controversial performance at the 2021 Grammy Awards.

I guess the real discussion might be, can you succeed in the music business while staying true to yourself? Especially in today’s industry when it seems the female artists are often baring it all with hopes to become a household name. It actually still may be very possible. Ethiopia Habtemariam, a music executive who was recently promoted to Chairman & CEO of classic American imprint Motown Records is proof of this.

After joining Motown Records just seven years ago in 2014, Ethiopia Habtemariam rose through the ranks of corporate America while overseeing some of today’s most popular artists like Lil Baby, City Girls and Vince Staples. Habtemariam made it to the tippy top of the music industry where the bosses reside and she didn’t have to be overly sexual or twerk anything in front of any camera.

Motown Records CEO & Chairman Ethiopia Habtemariam.

Then you have Mona Scott-Young, a Haitian-American television and music executive who is responsible for creating the popular reality television series Love & Hip-Hop that has garnered a lot of attention over the years for perpetuating a bad image of hip-hop artists. Mona Scott-Young recently made the news for claiming that she gets way more criticism than her white male counterparts (i.e. Ryan Seacrest, Andy Cohen) due to the fact that she’s the only Black woman in her position. The interesting thing about Mona Scott-Young’s story is that her Love & Hip Hop show actually creates a platform for up-and-coming music artists to be seen. It was Love & Hip-Hop that introduced Cardi B to the world right before the sex-driven, Bronx-born rapper took the music industry by storm. So, can we be that mad at Mona Scott-Young for the image that Love & Hip-Hop portrays? Cardi B is undeniably one of the most successful hip-hop artists in history to date. Who knows if she would have reached this pinnacle without being featured on Love & Hip Hop? It’s almost like a double-edged sword.

Success is success is success! However, it’s harder for the older generation of music lovers to accept this brand new world of music. They’re the ones who grew up watching Lauryn Hill do it with such grace and class.

Lauryn Hill was and still is a beautifully talented artist who sold millions of albums and made a lot of money while keeping all her clothes on — a true gem in Hip-Hop. Still whether behind the camera, in the office or on stage at The Grammys, women in music, both the artists and the executives are raising the bar for many generations to come. And we definitely love to see it! -xoxo #BrooklynGirlCode <3

Singer/Rapper/Songwriter/Actor Lauryn Hill.

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#PopSmoke’s New Album #Faith Is On the Way!!!

Pop Smoke 'Faith' cover art

Just when we thought summer couldn’t get any hotter🔥🔥, Pop Smoke‘s management team recently announced that the late Brooklyn rapper has another posthumous album dropping for our listening pleasure! The new album, appropriately titled Faith after the tattoo on the rapper’s left eye has a star-studded lineup to boot! All-star features on Faith include Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Chris Brown, Dua Lipa, Tory Lanez, Quavo, Kodak Black, Tyga, Swae Lee, Takeoff, Youngboy Never Broke Again and several others.

Faith is the follow-up to Pop Smoke’s chart-topping 2020 release Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon. Faith is set to be released on July 16th, 2021 and we are ready! Congrats to Pop Smoke’s family on all his recent success. Check out our exclusive interview with Pop Smoke’s mother Audrey Jackson that we featured on #BrooklynGirlCode back in April. Long live Pop Smoke! 💫💫💫

Rapper Pop Smoke
Photo of Rapper Pop Smoke courtesy of Complex Instagram.
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Congrats to #ZailaAvantGarde on Winning the #Scripps National #SpellingBee!!

Zaila Avant-garde shows off her pretty new hardware after winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee on July 8th, 2021. Photo courtesy of Scripps National Spelling Bee Instagram account.

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the word “Murraya” is defined as a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees (family Rutaceae) having pinnate leaves and flowers with imbricated petals. However, to a young 14-year-old girl from New Orleans, Louisiana by the name of Zaila Avant-garde, the word “Murraya” means a whole lot more than that!

On July 8th, 2021 Zaila Avant-garde made history by becoming the first African-American (Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica was the first Black contestant to win the title in 1998) to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the competition’s 96 year history. The event which was televised live on ESPN on Thursday evening drew a VIP crowd including First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden who was there to witness Avant-garde become a national champion! In addition to her spelling talents, Avant-garde also enjoys playing basketball and holds three Guinness World Records for dribbling the most basketballs at one time. She’s amazing! With everything going on in the world right now, it’s little victories like these that are so special.

Congrats to Zaila Avant-garde and all the contestants of this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee. Watch the video of Avante-garde becoming a national champion by spelling the word “Murraya” below. It was the twirl at the end for us! -xoxo #BrooklynGirlCode <3

Zaila Avant-garde is the winner!!
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Good Luck to the #PeterWestbrookFoundation at the #Tokyo2020 #Olympics Next Month!

Olympian Peter Westbrook speaking to his Fencers at the Fencers Club in New York City.
Olympian Peter Westbrook speaking to his Fencers at the Fencers Club in New York City.
Olympian Peter Westbrook speaking to his Fencers at the Fencers Club in New York City.

“This is a lily white sport. Make no bones about it.” – Peter Westbrook

Peter Westbrook knows all about the sport of fencing. The six-time Olympic bronze medalist has been sending African-American fencers to the Olympic Games for the past two decades. I, myself started fencing at the Peter Westbrook Foundation when I was eleven-years-old and I’ve had the opportunity to know Peter Westbrook not just as an Olympian but as a human being. And trust me — they don’t make them like him anymore!

Next month for the Tokyo 2020 games, the Peter Westbrook Foundation will be sending a quarter of Team USA’s men’s fencing team to compete. This is something no other organization has done to date. Check out the cool news special CBS New York recently did highlighting the Peter Westbrook Foundation below. Good luck to my PWF fencing family at the Tokyo 2020 games next month. I’ve been knowing these Good Men all my life!! -xoxo #BrooklynGirlCode <3

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Audrey Jackson Is Making Sure the Legacy of #PopSmoke Continues Through His #ShootForTheStars Foundation!

#BrooklynGirlCode creator, Aziza Hassan (left) with Audrey Jackson, mother of rapper Pop Smoke in Brooklyn on April 10th, 2021. Photo courtesy of #BrooklynGirlCode.

It’s hard to believe it’s been one whole year since Brooklyn rap phenomenon Pop Smoke (born Bashar Barakah Jackson) passed away. The young, talented rapper was just getting his feet wet and becoming a huge force to be reckoned with in the music world when he was taken away from us during a home invasion in Los Angeles, California on February 19th, 2020. Popular for his slick dance moves and unique rap voice, Pop Smoke was gaining traction and fame all over the world and he wasn’t letting his foot off the brakes. Although his passing was a huge loss to Hip-Hop and his family and friends, of course, Pop Smoke’s mother Audrey Jackson is making sure that her son’s legacy lives on through his Shoot For The Stars Foundation. The foundation created by the late rapper is a non-profit foundation that aims to inspire inner-city youth to reach their goals despite living in difficult circumstances.

Audrey Jackson, mother of rapper Pop Smoke poses in front of a portrait of her son in Brooklyn on April 10th, 2021. Photo courtesy of #BrooklynGirlCode.

On April 10, 2021 #BrooklynGirlCode along with Renayssance Entertainment got the opportunity to speak with Pop Smoke‘s mother Audrey Jackson and discuss her plans for her son’s foundation. The event held at popular Brooklyn spot, The Brooklyn Estates was apart of a full spa weekend hosted by Miss Jackson for mothers of hip-hop artists who lost their children to violence. The private event turned out to be a huge success drawing popular media outlets like News 12 Brooklyn and Fox News. Audrey Jackson is a very kind woman on a serious mission to keep her son’s legacy alive and she won’t stop until her mission is complete! Check out the full exclusive interview with Jamel Oakman of Renayssance Entertainment below.

For more information on the Shoot for the Stars Foundation visit shootforthestars.org. Long Live Pop Smoke!

Jamel Oakman for Renayssance Entertainment interviewing Audrey Jackson at The Brooklyn Estates in Brooklyn on April 10th, 2021. Photo courtesy of #BrooklynGirlCode.
Audrey Jackson, mother of rapper Pop Smoke getting ready to speak with the media in Brooklyn on April 10th, 2020. Photo courtesy of #BrooklynGirlCode.
Fun times in Brooklyn with friends! -xoxo #BrooklynGirlCode <3
At this year’s 2021 Billboard Music Awards, Pop Smoke won several awards for his posthumous album Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon. Pictured above is Pop Smoke’s mother Audrey Jackson at the BBMA’s on May 23rd, 2021 along with a family member holding all her son’s trophies.