On this day in hip-hop history, Eminem files for divorce from his wife Kimberly Mathers, Queen Ramonda celebrates a birthday and Organized Konfusion drops their classic album, Stress: The Extinction Agenda.
1958 - Angela Bassett Is Born
Angela Bassett was born on On August 16, 1958 in Harlem. The Award-winning actress is a Yale graduate and was recently was awarded an honorary doctoral degree in fine arts from her alma mater. Bassett’s acting career spans nearly three decades. She has appeared in classic films like Boyz n the Hood, Malcolm X, Waiting to Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back and What's Love Got to Do (where she portrayed the iconic soul icon Tina Turner), just to name several.
However, most people will remember Bassett for her role as Ramonda, the Queen Mother of Wakanda and the mother/adviser of Prince T'Challa and Princess Shuri in Marvel’s blockbuster film Black Panther. The comic book flick is the third movie ever to make $700 million in the U.S. and has earned $1 billion worldwide.
“I never thought I was going to see that in my day, to get to portray a queen,” she told EW.com. “I always joked around and said that I would like to portray a queen one day, but I didn’t really think that would happen. I thought, ‘Hey it’s got to be possible in some mythological, mystical, make-believe world.’ And finally, it’s here — I guess you think these things and sometimes they come true.”
Bassett says she’s ready to show off Queen Ramonda's fighting skills in the Black Panther sequel. "When we come back for [Black Panther 2], she's going to really get into the game,'" she told ABC News. "You're gonna see some of her skills and [Black Panther will] say, 'That's my mama.' She's going to throw down."
1964 - Charli Baltimore Is Born
On August 16, 1974, Tiffany “Charli Baltimore” Lane was born in Philadelphia. Her rap nom de plume was inspired by Geena Davis’ character in the 1996 movie The Long Kiss Goodnight.
The Notorious B.I.G. discovered Charli Baltimore in the summer of 1995 and they reportedly became romantically involved shortly after. She made her first appearance playing Biggie's wife, Faith Evans, in the video for Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s "Get Money." Soon after, Charli, under the tutelage of Biggie, signed with Undeas Recordings, a label run by record producer Lance "Un" Rivera.
Baltimore recorded one album with Undeas, Cold As Ice, but was never released due to her issues with the record label. In 2002, she left Undeas and signed with he signed Irv Gotti's Murder Inc. Records. While on Murder Inc., she nabbed a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rap Solo Performance for her single "Diary" in 2003.
In addition, Baltimore performed songs by fellow Murder Inc. artists Ja Rule ("Down Ass Bitch") and Ashanti ("Rain On Me" [remix]).
Today, Baltimore is watching her daughter follow in her footsteps. The 23-year-old Siaani Love is an aspiring rapper and DJ. (Oh, and her Instagram page is lit!)
1994 - Prince Releases Come
Prince released his fifteenth album Come on this day in 1994. The album was the final album under his name with Warner Bros. For the rest of his contract, the late Purple One would change his name to a glyph, also known as the Love Symbol, and start releasing projects at a rapid rate to free himself from contractual obligations. On the cover, the title reads “Prince: 1958–1993," which suggests that Prince (the name) had "died” with the album. Although Prince refused to promote Come, it eventually reached gold status. The iconic musician rarely talked about the album in interviews as he was ready to move on to bigger projects. In a July 1994 interview with Q magazine when asked if "Come" was about an orgasm, Prince played coy with the question. "Is it? That's your interpretation? Come where? Come to whom? Come for what?" he asked. "That's just the way you see it. It's in your mind."
1994 - Organized Konfusion Drops Stress: The Extinction Agenda
After the success of their self-titled debut album, Organized Konfusion (members Prince Po and Pharoahe Monch) released their second album Stress: The Extinction Agenda on August 16, 1994. The LP is considered a hip-hop classic by both rap purists and critics alike. The collection boasts guest appearances from Diggin’ In the Crates affiliate O.C. and A Tribe Called Quest rapper Q-Tip with production assists from Rockwilder and fellow DITC member Buckwild.
The set's first single was "Stress," which represented the duo's frustration with racism in New York.
"I gravitated to the beat because I felt like we needed to get out our aggression. I just wanted to yell and scream," said Monch in a 2014 interview with Nah Right. "Being who we are, I felt we needed that vibe and color for the album, and that beat set that tone."
"There was racism in New York...[and] people always say it’s about the color green, but that’s where the frustration came," added Prince Po. "We had money. But the money couldn’t buy the trust of a cab driver to take us home. So it was like, 'We’ll pay you up front.' But it didn’t matter. The racism was that thick in New York. But being a native New Yorker, that was very stressful, because sometimes you don’t want to take the train or the bus."
Overall, the duo is proud of the album and are humbled by the platitudes from fans who deemed the album a classic.
"This is our record of perseverance. We were going through a lot, pushing through, and we kept fighting, it’s one of the apexes [of our career]," said Prince Po. "This album is a blessing, not just from a personal standpoint, but for the people going through things all over the world trying to push through and persevere."
"It’s looked at as a classic album, but I’m humble and grateful about it," he continued. "I’m just happy if it touched one person, and helped them get through college and find the right job. Then our job is done, and my heart is happy."
1999 - Tricky Releases Collaborative Project Juxtapose
On this day in 1999, trip-hop rapper-producer Tricky released Juxtapose, a collaborative album with Cypress Hill producer DJ Muggs and hitmaker Dame Grease. Muggs and Grease handled the beats while Tricky and special guest handled the subject matter. The album sounds murky as he raps in a sinister monotone throughout. During his career, Tricky garnered a reputation of being a bad boy. The U.K. artist blames the media for distorting him as an evil guy. "I could be a better person, definitely," he told The Guardian in 2000. "But I don't shoot people or kill anybody and I ain't selling crack, so I'm quite good. I could be a lot worse, you know."
2000 - Eminem Files for Divorce from Wife Kimberly Mathers
Eminem has tormented and tortured his ex-wife, Kimberly Mathers, through two multi-platinum albums (The Slim Shady LP and The Marshall Mathers LP), but in real life, they were high-school sweethearts who were married in 1999. On this day in 2000, Em filed for divorce from Kim, citing irreconcilable differences. The Detroit rhymer requested a divorce after Kim attempted suicide at their Warren, Michigan home, while he was performing on the Up in Smoke Tour. Apparently, Kim was fed up with Eminem humiliating her by performing hateful songs about her in front of thousands of people every night.
But it appeared Eminem had enough of the marital fights. Before filing for divorce, he was arrested for allegedly pistol-whipping a man he caught kissing Kim outside of a bar. Em was charged with felony weapon and assault charges following the incident. He was later sentenced to probation and had to pay $100,000 to the victim he assaulted.
"In early June the couple separated and since then, Eminem has come to the decision that a divorce is unavoidable," said Interscope rep Dennis Dennehy to MTV News.
Meanwhile, Kim’s attorney, Neil Rockind, told the Chicago Tribune newspaper that his client knew that Em was preparing divorce papers but had no idea that he was filing them.
"After talking with her, I think that she recognizes that this is an opportunity to remove herself from a relationship that has been holding her back," he said. "This is no reason for her to shed too many tears over a relationship with somebody who obviously does not want her around."
2005 - Pras Drops Win Lose or Draw
Prakazrel Samuel Michél (aka Pras) had a nice run as a member of the now-defunct rap group the Fugees. As for his solo career, that’s a different story. On this day in 2005, Pras released Win Lose or Draw, the follow-up to his 1998 album Ghetto Supastar, which included the title track featuring Ol' Dirty Bastard and Mýa. For the second project, Pras and Wyclef Jean handled production duties and enlisted Sean Paul, Spragga Benz, Akon and Sharli McQueen to assist on vocals. The only single released from the LP was “Haven’t Found,” a flip of U2’s chart-topping pop hit “I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.” In the end, the album sold poorly in the marketplace.
Today, Pras has hanged up the microphone and is an entrepreneur in the tech world. Recently, the 45-year-old techie and his company Blacture has teamed up with Zippy to create the first blockchain-powered smartphone for the U.S. market. The phone – called Motif – utilizes blockchain technology in tandem with a monetary incentive program. The device is expected to arrive in stores by the fall.