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Grammy Award-Winning Rapper, Lupe Fiasco, to Teach at MIT

Photo Credit: Instagram @lupefiasco
Call him Professor Fiasco.

Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, the Grammy Award-winning rapper better known by his stage name Lupe Fiasco, will be teaching at one of higher education's most famed institutions next year.

The backpack rapper's backpack rapper, who rose to hip-hop prominence in 2006 behind the breakout success of his debut album "Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor," will be part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's MLK Visiting Professor Program for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Fiasco broke the news himself Friday on social media.

“I been holding this for a while,” he tweeted. “I’ll put together something more sophisticated later that really captures the nuance and gravity but for now I’ll just say it straight and raw: I’m going to teach Rap at @MIT.”
MIT confirmed the news that the Chicago rapper, who was previously a visiting artist from 2020-2021 and who also ran the “Code Cypher” programming competition — teaching rapping cyphers in a “computational way” alongside Professor of Digital Media Nick Montfort —at the school would be one of three new teachers provided by the program this year along with theater teacher Eunice Ferreira and documentary maker Louis Massiah.
As for what he will be teaching at the school, Fiasco said his syllabus was not yet complete but offered a possible synopsis in a since-deleted tweet.

“Syllabus isn’t built yet but I’m thinking its fruit to be had in looking at neuromorphic computation through the lens of Rap as a lossless data compression model with a dash of energy efficiency via refining Landauer’s principle applied to cytoarchitectonics,” Fiasco wrote. “And some rapping…”

The announcement is the second time Fiasco has made headlines this month. The artist announced that his next album "Drill Music in Zion" will drop on June 24 just days before signaling his move to MIT. It is his first LP release since 2018's "Drogas Wave."

Bernard Wright, Jazz and R&B Musician and Godson of Roberta Flack, Dead at 58

Photo Credit: Instagram @nardynardd
Bernard Wright, the acclaimed funk, soul and jazz musician who rose to national prominence in the 1980s with the release of his trademark hit "Who Do You Love," is dead at 58.

A statement shared Friday (May 19) on Facebook on behalf of Wright's family by former Jamaica Boys bandleader Billy “Spaceman” Patterson confirmed the death.

“On behalf of the family of Bernard Wright (Nard), we are saddened to announce that yesterday Bernard has been called home to the Most High,” Patterson wrote. “Many thanks for everyone’s support, encouragement, and prayers for Nard throughout the years. Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers through this difficult time."

He ended the post with, "Our hearts are heavy and our faith is strong. To be absent from the body is to be present with The Lord! LOVE! Rest In Power, Nard.”

The cause of his death has yet to be disclosed, but Wright's impact on the music world is undeniable.

In addition to finding his own success on the charts with albums like 1985's "Mr. Wright," which reached No. 25 on Billboard's U.S. R&B Albums chart — helped in part by the aforementioned lead single "Who Do You Love," which peaked at No. 6 on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart, Wright's music was heavily sampled and inspired some of rap's biggest hits of the '80s and '90s.

LL Cool J's 1995 hit single, "Loungin'" prominently sampled "Who Do You Love." Skee-Lo’s 1995 hit “I Wish,” sampled Wright’s 1981 single “Spinnin'" from his debut album "'Nard." And Snoop Dogg and Tupac both borrowed from the track “Haboglabotribin',” off the same album, for their songs “Gz & Hustlas” and “Lie To Kick It" respectively.

Born in Queens, New York, in 1963 Wright was the godson of legendary R&B singer Roberta Flack. Wright, who attended the High School of Performing Arts in New York, was a music prodigy. He was offered a touring slot with legendary jazz drummer Lenny White at the age of 13, and when he was 16 he played with trumpet impresario Tom Browne.

"Nard," released in 1981 when Wright was 18-years-old, reached No. 53 on the Billboard U.S. R&B Album chart and No. 7 on Billboard's U.S. Jazz Album chart, setting the table for his success as both a solo musician and a featured contributor on the hits of other artists such as Miles Davis, Bobby Brown, Doug E. Fresh, and many others.

In the '90s Wright made the transition to gospel music after the release of his first three albums and matched his secular output with three releases in that genre, before eventually moving to Texas where he became a fixture in the Dallas music scene.

Playing keyboards at popular jazz and funk venues across the city, and regularly popping up to make cameos alongside the city's younger generation of jazz, hip-hop and R&B performers, Wright was known as a mentor as well.

Grammy Award-Winning Singer, Benjamin Moore Jr., Dead at 80

Ben Moore (fourth from left) was a member of the Blind Boys
of Alabama for 14 years, following a successful solo career.
Benjamin Moore Jr., an R&B and gospel singer whose lauded career spanned more than five decades, died May 12 at 80.

The Blind Boys of Alabama, the mutli-Grammy Award-winning gospel group he joined after losing his eyesight following a successful solo career — and of which he spent 14 years as a member — confirmed the death.

"The Blind Boys of Alabama are heartbroken to report that our beloved brother and co-singer Ben Moore has passed away," the group posted on its official Instagram account.

Bandmate Ricky McKinnie added, “The Blind Boys family is deeply saddened by Ben’s passing. He was an integral part of our group, not just as a talented singer but as a kind and dependable friend. Although he will be sorely missed, I’m grateful for the years of memories.”

The group said Moore died of natural causes at a hospital in Santa Fe, New Mexico, ending an era that began in 2008 when he joined the group, whose original members met in the 1930s at the Alabama Institute for the Blind, after glaucoma obliterated his vision.

He sang on five albums with the band, including 2008’s "Down in New Orleans" which won the Grammy for Best Traditional Gospel Album. In 2010, Moore performed at the White House for an event celebrating music from the Civil Rights movement, and he was still touring with the group when it wrapped up a tour with Mali-based pop duo Amadou and Mariam earlier this month.

Prior to joining the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Atlanta native (born Aug. 7, 1941) had been a gospel and R&B music mainstay for decades.

He was singing and playing guitar by the age of 14 and often toured and performed with his father, Benjamin Moore Sr.'s gospel group Echoes of Zion. In the late '60s and early '70s, he was a member of various groups including Jimmy Tig and the Rounders and Ben and Spence.

He replaced the “original” Bobby Purify in the soul duo James and Bobby Purify in the mid-seventies and released two albums for the group which continued to tour together in the eighties. During this time he also recorded as a solo artist, sometimes as Bobby Purify and under his own name at others.

He released an R&B album and three gospel records. In 983, his song, “He Believes in Me,” lost to Al Green’s “Precious Lord" for Best Soul Gospel Performance — Traditional at the Grammys.