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This monthly podcast looks back at the pop culture of Generation X, from an African-American perspective.

Mar 1, 2020

Topics: Rodney King, Boyz II Men / Jodeci, Boyz In the Hood, Roc - Sitcom (Bonus Artist: Luck Pacheco)

1991 General Snapshots

1.    President: George H. W. Bush

2.    January - Gulf War: The Congress of the United States passes a resolution authorizing the use of military force to liberate Kuwait. 5 days later, Operation Desert Storm begins with airstrikes against Iraq.

3.    January - Whitney Houstondelivers her now legendary rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner"

4.    February - Gulf War: U.S. President George H. W. Bush announces that "Kuwait is liberated".

5.    February - Tim Meadows and Adam Sandler join the cast of NBC's Saturday Night Live.

6.    March - An amateur video captures the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles, California police officers.

7.    July - Boxer Mike Tyson is arrested and charged with raping Miss Black America contestant Desiree Washington in Indianapolis, Indiana.

8.    July - Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is arrested after the remains of eleven men and boys are found in his Milwaukee, Wisconsin apartment. Police soon find out that he is involved in six more murders.

9.    August - Nickelodeon introduces its series of Nicktoons, with Doug, Rugrats and The Ren & Stimpy Show the first three to air.

10.    August - The Super Nintendo Entertainment System is first released in the United States.

11.    October - The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee interviews both Supreme Court candidate Clarence Thomas and former aide Anita Hill, who alleges that Thomas sexually harassed her while she worked for him.

12.    October - Jennifer Lopez joins the cast as one of the Fly Girls on the Fox sketch comedy series In Living Color (she would leave the show after the next season). Other cast additions include future Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx.

13.    November - Los Angeles Lakers point guard Magic Johnson announces that he has HIV, effectively ending his NBA career.

14.    November - Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury dies from AIDS at 45 years old, one day after making his diagnosis public.

15.    December - The Cold War ends as President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev resigns and the Soviet Union dissolves.

16.    Open Comments

17.    Top 3 Pop Songs

18.    #1 - "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You", Bryan Adams

19.    #2 - "I Wanna Sex You Up", Color Me Badd

20.    #3 - "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)", C+C Music Factory

21.    Record of the Year: "Unforgettable" performed by Natalie Cole with Nat King Cole

22.    Album of the Year: Unforgettable... with Love performed by Natalie Cole

23.    Song of the Year: "Unforgettable" performed by Natalie Cole with Nat King Cole

24.    Best New Artist: Marc Cohn

25.    Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female: Lisa Fischer for "How Can I Ease the Pain" & Patti LaBelle for "Burnin'"

26.    Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male: Luther Vandross for Power of Love

27.    Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: Boyz II Men for "Cooleyhighharmony"

28.    Best Rhythm & Blues Song: "Power of Love/Love Power" performed by Luther Vandross

29.    Best Rap Solo Performance: LL Cool J for "Mama Said Knock You Out"

30.    Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group: DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince for "Summertime"

31.    Top 3 Movies

32.    #1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day    

33.    #2. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

34.    #3. Beauty and the Beast

35.    Notables: The Silence of the Lambs, New Jack City, The Five Heartbeats, A Rage in Harlem, Thelma & Louise, Jungle Fever, Point Break, and House Party 2

36.    Top 3 TV Shows

37.    #1 60 Minutes

38.    #2 Roseanne

39.    #3 Murphy Brown

40.    Mea Culpa: Family Matters originated 9/22/1989 on ABC

41.    Notables: The Party Machine with Nia Peeples, The Jerry Springer Show, The Montel Williams Show, Hammerman, & Roc.

42.    Economic Snapshots

43.    Avg. Income: 29.9k (29K)

44.    New Home: 120k (previously 123K)

45.    Avg Rent: 495 (465)

46.    New Car: 16.8k (16K)

47.    Harvard: 14.5k (13.5k)

48.    Movie Ticket: 4.25 (3.50)

49.    Gas: 1.12 (1.34)

50.    Stamp: .25 (.25)

51.    Social Scene: Police Beating of Rodney King

52.    Early Life: Rodney King (@ 26 yrs. old), born in Sacramento, CA, was an American taxi driver who is best known for the 1991 police beatings and the 1992 riots as a result of the officers’ trial.

53.    Prior Record: In 1987, he pleaded no contest to a charge of battery. In 1989, King was imprisoned for robbery after robbing a store; he served one year of a two-year sentence.

54.    1991 Arrest: Rodney King attempted to outrun a police patrol car in March 1991. King had been drinking and feared he would be over the limit, driving under the influence charge would have seen King return to jail. King refused to pull over for the police and a high-speed chase ensued. Eventually, King was cornered, and he and the other occupants of the car were ordered to leave the vehicle and lie face down on the ground. King refused and was forcibly removed from the car. While on the ground the police beat and abused the three men. The Los Angeles Police Department then arrived on the scene; the original officers on the scene had been highway patrol. Rodney King resisted arrest and was tasered. King was then viciously beaten repeatedly while on the ground by police wielding batons. King continually attempted to stand up only to be met with a further hail of baton blows from the four police officers. King suffered from thirty-three baton blows and six kicks before having his arms and legs cuffed. Eight officers were involved in his arrest. George Halliday, a man who lived near the sight of the arrest, had filmed the arrest from the time that King was tasered. Halliday contacted the LAPD about his videotape, but the police department showed no interest in the footage. Halliday next presented the footage to a local TV station which aired the footage. It caused a sensation across the media. The footage made Rodney King’s arrest a lightning rod for a more comprehensive discussion about police brutality against minorities.

55.    Legal Proceedings: Rodney King had suffered facial fractures, lacerations and a broken ankle from his arrest. The city awarded King damages amounting to 3.8 million dollars as well as covering his legal costs which totaled to close to two million dollars. He was also not charged with drink driving or evading arrest due to the time between the incident and the start of legal proceedings. Four LAPD officers were charged with using excessive force. The legal case against the officers was mired in controversy from the start as the initial judge, Bernard Kamins was removed, and the trial received a change of venue. Warren Christopher also began a commission to investigate accusations of police discrimination. Three of the officers charged were acquitted, and the fourth faced a no verdict. The court’s decision shocked the nation. The mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley, and the President of the United States of America, George Bush, both declared they could not understand the verdict and condemned the officers involved. Many African Americans considered the trial a whitewash and were incensed. Following the 1992 Riots, the officers were tried in a federal court, and two were found guilty and sentenced to thirty months in prison.

56.    Rodney King Riots: Following the court's verdict and the release of the officers, widespread civil unrest erupted in North America. The worst of the rioting was confined to LA, but Las Vegas, San Francisco, Atlanta and even Toronto in Canada experienced violence. The 1992 LA Riots became known as the Rodney King Riots due to their link to the court case. King appeared on TV during the riots to appeal for calm. Before the verdict was announced the police, force had been expecting trouble, money for overtime and a delay in the reading of the verdict were granted to give police time to prepare. Rioting started at a liquor store in Normandie. LAPD officers attempted to make an arrest a hostile crowd surrounded them and forced them to retreat. TV coverage of the violence encouraged more people to take to the streets, and the police communications proved wholly inadequate to deal with the spread of the violence. The rioters began destroying property and attacking people going about their business. Over a thousand firearms were looted, and some fires were started as night set in. The riots spread throughout the city and emergency workers came under gunfire as they attempted to tackle the fires and help the wounded. A curfew was declared, and the National Guard began deploying. Despite this the second day of looting and arson took place. Rioting spread to Hollywood, Inglewood, Long Beach and Compton. Police was criticized for focusing their attention on defending the wealthier areas of LA such as Beverley Hills. Other minority neighborhoods were forced to form militias to protect their property. Korean shopkeepers were involved in a shoot-out with rioters in Koreatown. On the third day of rioting, the Federal government took direct control of all military in the area and began overseeing the response to the riots. Troops and police officers from other regions of California started pouring into the city. On the fourth day, over thirteen thousand soldiers were deployed on the streets of LA, and the rioting was slowly quelled. The riot was spread over six days, but troops remained in the area for weeks afterward. Fifty-five people died during the riots and over two thousand hospitalized. A billion dollars’ worth of damage had been done; the worst affected were the Korean community. Eleven thousand people were arrested during the rioting, but because of the sheer volume of prisoners, police were unable to prosecute the majority.

57.    King After the Riots: Rodney King continued to have run-ins with the law and was sometimes arrested after the 1992 Riots. In 2007, King was shot in an attempted robbery. King appeared in a reality TV show, Sober House, which covered celebrities in rehab. 2012 saw King publish his memoirs, The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption. Rodney King fathered a daughter with Carmen Simpson when they were both teenagers. In 1985, he married Daneta Lyles, and they had a daughter together. The pair divorced in 1988. King then married Crystal Waters, with whom he also had a daughter. They divorced in 1996. King had been arrested for assaulting both his wives. In 2010, King began living with Cynthia Kelly, and it was she who found him in the swimming pool on 17 June 2012. King was pronounced dead by medical staff, and plenty of drugs and alcohol were found in his system.

58.    The King beating began a wave of reforms for the Los Angeles Police Department, including tighter rules on when officers can use force, more minority officers, and stricter term limits for police chiefs.

59.    Question: What is the lesson to be learned?

60.    Question: What do we teach the children about dealing with cops?

61.    Top Black Songs from the top 40

62.    #2 - "I Wanna Sex You Up", Color Me Badd

63.    #3 - "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)", C+C Music Factory

64.    #4 - "Rush Rush", Paula Abdul

65.    #8 - "I Like the Way (The Kissing Game)", Hi-Five

66.    #9 - "The First Time", Surface

67.    #11 - "Motownphilly", Boyz II Men

68.    #12 - "Because I Love You (The Postman Song)", Stevie B

69.    #13 - "Someday", Mariah Carey

70.    #16 - "All the Man That I Need", Whitney Houston

71.    #18 - "I Adore Mi Amor"    , Color Me Badd

72.    #19 - "Love Will Never Do (Without You)", Janet Jackson

73.    #20 - "Good Vibrations", Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch

74.    #21 - "Justify My Love", Madonna

75.    #22 - "Emotions", Mariah Carey

76.    #24 - "Romantic", Karyn White

77.    #25 - "Hold You Tight", Tara Kemp

78.    #26 - "I Don't Wanna Cry", Mariah Carey

79.    #28 - "Every Heartbeat", Amy Grant

80.    #29 - "Sensitivity", Ralph Tresvant

81.    #30 - "Touch Me (All Night Long)", Cathy Dennis

82.    #31 - "I've Been Thinking About You", Londonbeat

83.    #32 - "Do Anything", Natural Selection

84.    #34 - "Coming Out of the Dark", Gloria Estefan

85.    #35 - "It Ain't Over 'til It's Over", Lenny Kravitz

86.    #36 - "Here We Go", C+C Music Factory

87.    #38 - "Summertime", DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

88.    #40 - "P.A.S.S.I.O.N.", Rythm Syndicate

89.    Vote:

90.    Top R&B Albums

91.    Jan - I'm Your Baby Tonight - Whitney Houston

92.    Feb - The Future - Guy

93.    Feb - Do Me Again - Freddie Jackson

94.    Mar - Business as Usual - EPMD

95.    Apr - Ralph Tresvant - Ralph Tresvant

96.    Apr - Hi-Five - Hi-Five

97.    Apr - New Jack City - Soundtrack / Various artists

98.    Jun - Power of Love - Luther Vandross

99.    Jul - Make Time for Love - Keith Washington

100.    Aug - Jungle Fever - Soundtrack / Stevie Wonder

101.    Aug - Cooleyhighharmony - Boyz II Men

102.    Sep - Boyz n the Hood - Soundtrack / Various artists

103.    Oct - Can You Stop the Rain - Peabo Bryson

104.    Oct - Good Woman - Gladys Knight

105.    Oct - Different Lifestyles - BeBe & CeCe Winans

106.    Nov - As Raw As Ever - Shabba Ranks

107.    Nov - Forever My Lady - Jodeci

108.    Nov - Apocalypse 91... The Enemy Strikes Black - Public Enemy

109.    Dec - Diamonds and Pearls - Prince and The New Power Generation

110.    Dec - Death Certificate - Ice Cube

111.    Vote:

112.    Featured Artists #1: Boyz II Men is the most commercially successful R&B group of all time. They've sold millions of records and produced three of the longest-running No. 1 pop singles in music history. The pioneering R&B group is known for their flawless blend of four-part harmonies, and their influence is still felt to this day.

113.    Formation: Boyz II Men formed in 1988 at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts. Nathan Morris and Marc Nelson founded the group, originally known as Unique Attraction. Other members came and went due to graduation, but Morris and Nelson eventually met Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockmanand Michael McCary, and the group stabilized. They took inspiration from the popular R&B group New Edition and renamed themselves Boyz II Men after their song "Boys to Men." They got their big break in 1989 when they snuck backstage at a concert to sing for New Edition and Bell Biv DeVoemember Michael Bivins. They sang an a cappella rendition of the New Edition song "Can You Stand the Rain." Bivins was impressed and agreed to help them get signed. Marc Nelson left the group not long before they started working on their debut album, allegedly due to personality differences. Boyz II Men became a quartet—with Michael McCary, Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris and Shawn Stockman—that would soon find international fame.

114.    Early Career: Bivins helped produce Boyz II Men's first album, Cooleyhighharmony, on Motown Records in 1991. The new jack swing style was characteristic of Bell Biv DeVoe's music, but Boyz II Men's classic, soulful vocals offered something different that was eventually dubbed "hip hop doo wop." Since the very beginning, Boyz II Men has featured all members equally as lead vocalists, going against the typical R&B group set up of one lead singer/front man and a handful of nameless backups. Their arrangement became a sort of trademark for the group. Cooleyhighharmony was a major success, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and winning them a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. The singles "Motownphilly" and "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" both became No. 1 R&B hits.

115.    Commercial Breakthrough: After their debut, they abandoned the new jack swing style to focus on creating a more mature, pop-infused sound. They released the wildly successful single "End of the Road" in 1992. The song spent a record-breaking 13 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became the year's most popular song. Just like that, Boyz II Men has transformed from R&B up-and-comers to mainstream superstars.

116.    Legacy: Boyz II Men was instrumental in bringing R&B back to the mainstream, where it had not appeared since the '70s. With a staggering 60 million albums sold worldwide; they hold the distinction of being the best-selling R&B group of all time. For more than 20 years they have created a catalog of massively successful songs known for rich, smooth harmonies and timeless subject matter.

117.    Open Comments:

118.    Featured Artists #2: Jodeci, one of the premier '90s R&B acts, were a quartet notable for successfully marrying gospel-esque harmonization’s with a sexier-than-thou style.  Also, they were the first act that future hip-hop superstars Timbaland and Missy Elliott were involved with.

119.    Biography: Jodeci was an R&B group formed from two sets of two brothers, the Haileys and the DeGrates. All four of them were brought up in the Pentecostal church in North Carolina, the DeGrates' father was a minister. As young boys, they sang in gospel choirs which recorded albums and had their songs played on the radio, but they weren't destined to meet until they were teenagers. Their girlfriends introduced them. However, when they did meet, K-Ci was with a girl Dalvin had been dating, and a fight nearly broke out. The Hailey brothers and DeVante started hanging out together, partying and talking about making R&B records together, coming up with the name Jodeci at this time. At age 16, DeVante ran away to Minneapolis to get a job in Prince's organization but was refused. He returned to Charlotte, where he wrote a song and recorded JoJo singing it. The two planned on going to New York to shop the demo around by themselves, but both K-Ci and Dalvin decided to tag along at the last minute. By the time they got to New York, they had demo recordings of 29 songs, which they brought to the offices of Uptown Entertainment. They were almost rejected, but rapper Heavy D overheard the tape and talked Uptown president Andre Harrell into hearing the group. Harrell was impressed, and just like that, Jodeci signed a recording contract. In 1991, they recorded Forever My Lady, which featured the gold single "Come and Talk to Me" and went on to sell over three million copies.

120.    Jodeci Albums: 1991: Forever My Lady (3x platinum) / 1993: Diary of a Mad Band (2x platinum) / 1995: The Show, The After Party, The Hotel (platinum)

121.    Open Comments:

122.    Track vs Track Album Battle: Cooleyhighharmony vs Forever My Lady

123.    Movie Scene: John Singleton / Boyz In the Hood

124.    John Singleton’s 1991 feature film debut, Boyz n the Hood, garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Singleton followed-up with Poetic Justice in 1993 and Higher Learning in 1995. Subsequent works include 1997's Rosewood, 2000's Shaft remake and 2001's Baby Boy. In 2005, he produced Hustle & Flow and directed Four Brothers. The filmmaker died on April 29, 2019, after suffering a stroke.

125.    Profile: He grew up in South Central Los Angeles and studied screenwriting at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. During his four-year studies there, he won three writing awards.

126.    These achievements in writing earned Singleton a contract with the powerful Creative Artists Agency during his sophomore year at USC, and in May of 1990, his agent sent the script for Boyz N the Hood to Columbia pictures. The response was immediate: “I thought John’s script had a distinctive voice and great insight,” Frank Price, chairman of Columbia Pictures, said in an interview excerpted in the New York Times. “He’s not just a good writer, but he has enormous self-confidence and assurance. In fact, the last time I’d met someone that young with so much self-assurance was Steven Spielberg.” Columbia wanted to make the picture, but at first wanted someone else to direct it. Singleton believed only he could do it. “They asked me if I would consider anybody else directing it,” he recalled to Interview’s Steven Daly. “And I said, Hell, no, I’m not gonna let somebody from Idaho or Encino direct a movie about living in South Central Los Angeles. They can’t come in here and cast it and go through the rewrites and know exactly what aesthetics are unique to this film.” In 1991, Columbia Pictures bought his script for Boyz n the Hood and budgeted it at $7 million. The film portrayed life in crime-ridden South-Central L.A. and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director in 1991, making Singleton the first African American and the youngest person ever nominated for the award. The film also garnered a nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

127.    Legacy: Regina King, Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube, Nia Long, Angela Bassett, Morris Chestnut, Tyra Banks, Tyrese Gibson, Taraji P Henson

128.    Open Comments:

129.    Boyz In the Hood Summary: Follows the lives of three young males living in the Crenshaw ghetto of Los Angeles, dissecting questions of race, relationships, violence and prospects.

130.    Major Themes: (1) the power of family and black culture in the ghettos, (2) effects of capitalism to American citizens especially the Negros living in harsh environments, (3) the power of temptation and (4) more so juvenile and gang associated delinquencies that are usually influenced by peer and social pressure (5) gentrification, (6) living in a bad neighborhood, and (7) gangs.

131.    Question: What themes stood out for you?

132.    Television Scene: Roc (3 Seasons) Comedy, Sitcom

133.    Summary: Garbageman Roc Emerson and his wife shared their Baltimore home with his outspoken father and apathetic brother. In an unusual move, the sitcom's entire second season was performed live. Series star Charles S. Dutton won a 1993 NAACP Image Award for his portrayal of Roc. The show deals with real life issues such as gang violence, local politics, drugs, teens and sexually transmitted diseases. Roc reminded you of a typical family with normal problems such as parenting and dealing with live in relatives. The series gaining momentum in the last season could not make its presence felt on Tuesdays, the networks worst night for ratings. The struggle eventually led up to the series cancellation.

134.    Awards: 1992: GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comedy Episode, 1994: NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Charles S. Dutton

135.    Question: Has anyone ever watched this?

136.    Vote: Most impactful item/event from 1991?