The Last Word: Usher and Beyonce Talk Obamatics, TLC Returns Individually, and Akon Hustles With Lionel Richie

How’s life, everybody? Five days gone and history made with Barack Obama capturing the US presidency as the first African-American Commander-in-Chief. Was there anything bigger than this? Am I the only one that saw Jesse Jackson cry after Obama’s victory speech? Stay tuned for an interesting four years.   Condolences go out to former Motown […]

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How’s life, everybody? Five days gone and history made with

Barack Obama capturing the US presidency as the first African-American

Commander-in-Chief. Was there anything bigger than this? Am I the only one that

saw Jesse Jackson cry after Obama’s victory speech? Stay tuned for an

interesting four years.


Condolences go out to former Motown Records president and

CEO Jheryl Busby, who died Tuesday (Nov. 4) and Obama’s grandmother, Madelyn

Dunham, who passed away the day before her grandson won the election. But not

without putting her vote in for him before leaving this world via an absentee

ballot that will be counted.


Shout out to President-Elect Barack Obama for being living

proof that anything is truly possible, everybody that took time out to make

their voice heard by voting, and the sounding boards for doing their part for

the cause.


And so with change (“Yes we did!”) comes…the Last Word for

the week ending Nov. 7, 2008.


1. Usher and Beyonce Weigh in On Obama Presidency


With a clear victory over John McCain under his belt and a

predominately-Democratic Senate to work with, life is good for Barack Obama.

World leaders and the general public have made their joy known as they wait for

the President-Elect’s inauguration on Jan. 20. And celebrities are no different

as Usher reveled in the moment by calling Obama’s historical victory



“This will go down in history, in Black history for all of

the sacrifices that the great Joseph Lowery and Martin Luther King made; this

actually pays off for their sacrifice. The great Rosa Parks… So many people

sacrificed for us to have a voice,” the singer told Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush. “I’m proud to be an American right

now,” Usher added.


The moment also wasn’t lost on Beyonce, who got emotional

over Obama. “I fell asleep crying and smiling at the same time. I woke up with

mascara running and a smile on my face!” she told The Associated Press as she postponed an Election Night appearance in

Japan to remain stateside for the election results. And with the Presidency,

Obama inherited a willing volunteer in Miss Knowles.


“I’m there. I can’t wait. I feel like all of us, we’re ready

to do whatever we have to do. Whatever they want – if they need me to

volunteer, they need me to sing, I’m there, and I’m ready,” Beyonce said.


I’m cool with all these entertainers being happy for Barack,

but the one person I haven’t heard from is Obama girl. The work that went into

that “I Got a Crush on Obama” video just can’t be ignored. I’m sure many folks

took notice of the Chicago Senator once his player card was revealed.


Where are you Obama girl? Stand up for yourself. Give credit

where credit is due!


2. TLC Members Prepare for their Solo Close-Ups


Although it’s been a while since we’ve heard from TLC

members Chili and T-Boz, the women have kept themselves busy with music

projects. Chili is preparing to release her debut solo album. But after the

project’s original release date in August was scrapped for an October, Chili’s

rep tells Entertainment Weekly “Her solo

album project has been moved back.”


“We should have a second single out before the first of the

year,” the rep said without mentioning a solid timeframe for the album to hit



What first single?! Is it me or did that song come and go

real quick?


While we try to leave a light on for that Chili album, T-Boz

is hard at work on her solo project. But like her groupmate, no date has come

out as far as when that album will be released.


In the meantime, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes is coming to the

rescue as the late entertainer’s family has partnered with Mass Appeal

Entertainment to forge ahead with the release of a compilation of Lopes’

unreleased solo material. The album, titled EYE-Legacy, will include collaborations with Tupac Shakur

(“Legendary”) and Boyz II Men’s Wanya Morris (“Tampered With”).


Look for EYE-Legacy

to hit stores on Jan. 27.


3. Halle Berry Comes Clean About Body Role Model;

Exercises Nudity Demons


As if she needed somebody to look up to in terms of her

body. But Halle Berry does have a role model she admires that fully enjoys what

God has blessed her with.


So who is Halle’s body image role model? The answer may come

as a bit of a surprise.


“Kate Winslet is always naked, sitting on a toilet, running

buck-naked. She’s free,” Berry told Elle

magazine. “I want to be the kind of actress who can really be comfortable with

my body like that.”


Winslet’s influence seems to be working as Halle managed to

work through her “real demons” about on-screen nudity when she flashed her

breasts at Hugh Jackman in the film Swordfish.


“I knew it was the Halle Berry breast scene and I knew it

was gratuitous and I knew what I was getting out of it,” recalled the actress,

who credited the experience for setting her up to do Monster’s Ball and its infamous sex scene with Billy Bob Thornton.


“Usually when I’m scared of something, that means I have to

walk right into the flame,” Berry shared. For Monster’s Ball director Marc Forster, the sex scene triggered a

unique reaction during filming.


“It was the only time in my life as a director that I

suddenly got shivers over me,” he said. “I felt like I was watching these two

people almost like a voyeur, like I was witnessing real life.”


4. Akon Hustles With Lionel Richie; Goes Euro for New



Akon is a busy man. Hit albums and collaborations with

everyone that’s anyone in music provide a lot of job security for the guy who

was once locked up.


So I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s working with

‘80s hitmaker Lionel Richie. According to Billboard, Akon and Ne-Yo are writing songs for Richie’s

forthcoming album Just Go. Other

people on board for the project include the-Dream, Christopher “Tricky”

Stewart, Stargate and Johnta Austin.


Just Go, which

includes the just released single “Good Morning,” arrives in stores on Feb. 17.


And if you’re wondering if Akon has time left for himself,

the answer is yes. The crooner is working on his upcoming album Freedom, which is slated for a Dec. 2 release. Those

expecting the usual Konvict sound will be in for a change, Akon revealed as he

alluded to bringing “bringing the whole Euro-club sound. That’s where we’re

headed with it.”


Look for Akon to embark on a 10-to-12 city promotional tour

a week prior to the release of Freedom

in addition to an official concert tour in February.


Think that’s enough work for Akon? Not quite as the vocalist

prepares to launch his Konvict clothing line in February and an upscale apparel

line called Aliaune, in the fall of 2009. Akon is currently working with a

watchmaker out of Switzerland to design two exclusive watches. The first one

will be called the Marinello while the other watch, which is currently unnamed,

will be a wrist watch/phone combo.


With all these these things, it seem like Akon is trying to

be the ‘08/’09 version of Hustleman. Anything to make a dollar.


5.  Joss

Stone Gets Political With New Song; Shares the Real Definition of Beauty


Whether your candidate won the Presidential race or not, you

can’t knock seeing folks express a desire to get involved. Case in point: Joss

Stone, who became inspired by all the election talk as she performed her new

song “Governmentalist” during a sold-out concert for the voter registration

group known as HeadCount.


Media sources report the tune was written in response to

criticism Stone received from a U.K. government official after speaking against

poor medical care of Iraq War veterans. Look for “Governmentalist” to appear on

the 21-year-old singer’s upcoming album, which she described as being “very,

very raw.”


And while Joss uses her power of celebrity for good, she’s

also letting people know what her meaning of beautiful is. The vocalist

recently broke down her definition while talking about, “Love Has Made You

Beautiful,” a song she donated to the Hard Rock Café London’s “Imagine There’s

No Hunger” campaign.  The track,

which Stone wrote when she was 15, is included on a CD promoting the campaign.


“I think that as a young girl when you’re growing up you

think, ‘I want to look like this and I want to be loved.’ You read these

magazines and you see these pictures and they’re not real…And you get upset

with yourself for not looking like that,” Stone told People. “But [this song] is about the things that you do

with yourself and your life that make you beautiful. If you do something good

for the world, you’re a beautiful person. It’s not about the hair and the

makeup. That’s all bulls—.”


6. Samuel Jackson Remembers fellow Soul Man Bernie Mac


It hasn’t been too long since Bernie Mac died, but the

comedian’s presence has been sorely missed. Memories of Mac will once again be

triggered with the release of his last film Soul Men.


Mac stars alongside Samuel L. Jackson as former bandmates

who reunite to travel cross-country to perform at a memorial concert for their

deceased lead singer, who is played by John Legend. News of the comedian’s

death came as a shock to Jackson, who mentioned how “weird” it is that Mac

didn’t see his latest and final film. Nevertheless, Jackson feels Soul Men

encompasses everything people loved about his friend.


“If you had to pick a perfect way to be remembered for an

artist, especially a guy like Bernie – the joy that this film has in it,

and the kind of love and adoration that people had for him, and the kind of joy

he brought people is evident in this film,” Jackson shared with CNN. “[The

audience] will discover that he can do things that they didn’t know he could do

like sing, dance and carry this dramatic arc.”


Soul Men arrives in

theaters today. Be sure to stick around for a dedication to Mac and the late

Isaac Hayes that appear at the end of the film. Footage from the dedication

includes Mac doing an impromptu stand up routine for movie extras as well as an

interview featuring him talking about his career.


“It’s a, you know, perfect way to say goodbye to somebody

that we all know and love,” Jackson said about his collaboration with Mac.


R.I.P. Bernie. Know that your work will always keep us

laughing and smiling with everything you did on the big and small screen.



In Other Words…


*  If you are

looking for Keri Hilson to release her debut album this year, think again. The

Zone 4/Mosley Music Group/Interscope release, titled In a Perfect World, was originally scheduled to hit stores this summer,

but got pushed back to the end of the year. Media sources are saying the album

is now slated for an early 2009 release. If it does see the light of day,

expect to find appearances from Lil Wayne and Timbaland, who also doubles as

one of the producers on the project with Polow Da Don, Roy Hamilton, Royal

Court Danja Handz and Tank.Return The Favor – Keri Hilson Feat. Timbaland


* I should’ve known it was too good to be true. Just as soon

as I mentioned that the Jackson 5 would reunite in 2009, Michael backs out.


“My brothers and sisters have my full love and support, and

we’ve certainly shared many great experiences, but at this time I have no plans

to record or tour with them,” the King of Pop said in a statement. “I am now in

the studio developing new and exciting projects that I look forward to sharing

with my fans in concert soon.”


Where is Joe Jackson when you need him to lay the strap

down? You know Randy and Tito can only do so much.