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Mike Mpofu

Gift Ngoepe Makes Baseball History

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South African born, Gift Ngoepe has made history by being the first African player to play Major League Baseball the USA.

Ngoepe was recently contracted to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He was raised in Randburg where he developed his love for the game.

His mother, Maureen worked at one of the few baseball club houses – Randburg Mets – in the country as an attendant. They lived in a tiny room attached to the club house.
This meant that Gift and his younger brother Victor were always surrounded by the game.

Given the various challenges in South Africa, and Africa in general, baseball is one of the many sports that suffers due to the lack of resources – unlike the more prominent codes like rugby or cricket.

Despite this setback, Ngoepe – who represented his country and spent some time playing in the US minor leagues – eventually realised a life-long dream of playing major league ball.

Gift has not only made the continent proud, it seems Pittsburgh is also pleased to have him on board:

Making his debut on the same day that South Africa celebrates the release of Nelson Mandela from prison – Freedom Day – Ngoepe has this to say:

“South Africa has come a long way as a country”.

“I know we still battle with racial issues, but we’ve come a long way with Freedom Day and everything that has happened and knowing that Nelson Mandela opened doors for people and united us as a country.

“To have it (my debut) on that day… it couldn’t be scripted any better than that.”

You can follow Ngoepe’s progress on the official Pittsburgh Twitter page, or his personal Instagram Page.

We wish the superstar all the very best – here’s to many home runs to come!

And hopefully this paves the way for many more to follow in his footsteps.

(New Music) DJ Khaled – I am the one

DJ Khaled has released another single in the lead up to his upcoming album.

The latest track, I am the one, features Chance the Rapper, Justin Bieber, Quavo and Lil’ Wayne.

He also recently dropped Shining featuring the superstar couple Jay Z and Beyoncé.

Khaled has been working on his new album for months now. And as always, it will have several collaborations – in true Khaled style.

One of the most anticipated collaborations will include Drake. On his Instagram page, Khaled has frequently posted videos of himself asking those around him: “have the Drake vocals come in yet?”

This has become an internet phenomenon and the subject of hundreds of memes.

The track, I am the one is what you expect from a Khaled collaboration. Very upbeat and energetic with Justin leading the song. It will easily become one of the 2017 party anthems. It is a feel good song and very easy listening.

The VEVO page of the video has over 40 million views in just three days.

We can’t wait to see what other collaborations feature on the album. Khaled is also yet to announce a date for the official album release.

You can download ‘I am the one’ on iTunes.

(New Music) Frank Ocean drops new singles – ‘Lens’ and ‘Biking’

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Frank Ocean has released two new singles, Lens and Biking

The singer premiered the Lens on his new online radio show on Beats 1, called blonded RADIO. The show – launched in late February and already has two episodes under its belt – is a much welcome platform for all the Ocean fans out there, who spent over two years without hearing from the superstar.

Lens is simply a beautiful track with Frank Ocean’s voice as the main instrument.

There is definitely some auto tune in the mix, but nothing over bearing, if anything it adds to the vibe of the song.

It is one of those tracks that you can have playing in the background while working, having dinner or to add to the ambiance.

Following the release of Lens, which you can download on iTunes and other platforms, Ocean has also released a remix of the song featuring Travis Scott – Lens V2.

You can check it out on SoundCloud.

Meanwhile Ocean released the other single featuring the great Jay Z and up and coming Tyler, the Creator- Biking.

It opens with Jay on the rap in the style we are familiar with. It’s also a beautifully mellow track and worth a download.

It is also reported that Ocean will be returning to the stage for the first time in two years when he performs at the Hangout Festival in Alabama, U.S. with other engagements planned for the rest of the year.

This is good news for people who have been waiting for years now.

We can’t wait to see what Ocean has in store of the rest of the year – hopefully more music!

TIME’s 100 most influential people in the World 2017

TIME magazine has released its list of the 100 most influential people in the World for 2017.

This list is always exciting and insightful for the most part – comprising of people placed in different categories: pioneers, artists, leaders, titans and icons.

As usual, a short profile is written for each individual by someone who is considered to be prominent or equally  influential.

For example, under Pioneers, Chance the Rapper is featured in a short profile, penned by rapper Common.

Some of our favourite and most notable names on the list include:

1.       Chance the Rapper

Common writes a lovely profile about how he once gave Chance a call, before he blew up – after a request from his grandmother to make contact with one of her friend’s grandchildren – just to encourage him to pursue his music dream.

Common says he forgot about the call, until many years later, Chance reminded him about it.

It’s fairly obvious why Chance is listed under “Pioneers”.

If you need a lesson – have you been living under a rock? (For real).

2.   Donald Glover

Easily one of the most talented individuals on the planet right now.

Donald’s profile is written by Tina Fey, who recalls Glover’s rise to fame, from his days as a writer at 30 Rock.

­Fey recalls how Glover a.k.a. Childish Gambino approached her and a co-producer informing them of his desire to pursue acting.

And the rest is history. Glover is everywhere you turn and dominating in every aspect.

It’s no surprise he made it onto the TIME 100 list.

3.  Narendra Modi

Mr Modi is a very interesting leader to watch.

In fact, we hope someone is writing a book on him – if it isn’t out there already.

A quick lesson: he is India’s current Prime Minister. He is credited with getting India’s economy on track and booming. It is now considered one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It is also considered to be one of the world’s best start-up incubators.

That tells us that he is doing something right and we would like to know how he is doing it.

He is definitely a world leader worth looking out for.

Other prominent names feature NBA and Cleveland Cavaliers superstar, Lebron James, Actress and icon Viola Davis, among others.

This list is worth an in-depth perusal.

Reading through the profiles is always a treat.

Take a look at the full list and let us know who your favourite picks are!

(NEW MUSIC) Kendrick Lamar drops new album – DAMN.

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Hip Hop artist Kendrick Lamar has officially released his much-anticipated album – DAMN.

It’s been two years since fans have had to wait since his last album release.

The latest offering comprises of 14 solid tracks and features artists including Rhianna and the legendary band U2.

It is written in true Kendrick fashion – raw, bold, and for the very loyal Hip Hop heads out there.

The album also contains the single Humble.

Rolling stone’s track-by-track guide is a good place to start in understanding the thought process in piecing the project together.

While Lamar is yet to announce an official tour, it goes without saying that this will be the next step.

Meanwhile after his recent performance at Coachella, rumours were circulating that Kendrick would be releasing another album anytime soon.

At the time of writing, this was yet to happen.

Kendrick isn’t new to the element of surprise. He released the project untitled unmastered literally out of the blue – no announcement, no prior warning.

And yes, the actual project had not been mastered or given a title.

Whether the latest album is hot or not, is a little too early to call.

Download the album and give it a listen.

You can also check out the video for the single Humble on Vevo.

Kanye West makes platinum history

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Kanye West has officially become the first artist to reach platinum status from music streaming alone.

Def Jem Records recently announced the artist’s achievement – after The Life of Pablo was streamed over 3 billion times around the world.

We guess Kanye wasn’t kidding when he said all he needed was “the infrastructure”.

The album was also the first streaming-only album to hit the top of the Billboard 200 chart.

This is an incredible achievement, especially in an industry that is becoming increasingly digitalised by the day, through streaming and online purchasing and other hosting platforms like Soundcloud and others.

Kanye is not showing any signs of slowing down musically, anytime soon.

He has featured in Drake’s latest album More Life, which isn’t doing too badly and he also recently dropped a new song – Love yourself – with R n B sensation Mary J Blige.

Apart from that we are yet to see what this year holds for the artist, who hasn’t given as much as a tweet in over two months.

It still remains to be seen when he will drop his much-anticipated album, Cruel Winter – the upcoming follow-up to Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music compilation album Cruel Summer, set to be released sometime this year.

Last year, Kanye dropped the single Champions, which will more than likely feature on the new album.

Whatever happens, don’t keep the people waiting for too long Ye.

 

Tupac inducted into Rock n Roll Hall of Fame

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Last week, the late rapper Tupac Shakur was inducted into the revered Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.

Shakur who many dub as “the greatest rapper of all time”, including his dear friend Snoop Dogg, was gunned down in LA in September 1996, at the age of 25.

At the time, Tupac had only been a recording artist for about 5 years, but made an indelible mark on the rap industry.

During the induction ceremony, Snoop Dogg collected the award on his friend’s behalf.

Paying tribute to Tupac, Snoop Dogg said:

“To be human is to be many things at once: strong and vulnerable, hard-headed and intellectual, courageous and afraid, loving and vengeful, revolutionary and, oh yeah… gangsta!”

Snoop Dogg also reflected on how young Tupac was, when he was “taken from all of us” – referring to his age at the time (25), saying (Tupac) was the same age as his eldest son.

Tupac is not the only rapper to be associated with “hall of fames”.

Later this year, Jay Z will also be inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.

The rapper and businessman is the first rapper in history to do so.

One cannot help but notice the irony of Jay Z being inducted into the song writing hall of fame, since he does not physically “write” any of his songs.

Other artists also inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of fame in addition to Tupac include Pearl Jam and 1960s protest singer Joan Baez.

[Series] Greenleaf Season 1

Oprah Winfrey has delivered an incredible first season of the new drama series Greenleaf.

The show, which is now available to view on Netflix, focuses on the plight of the Greenleaf family who lead the Calvary Fellowship World Ministries in Memphis Tennessee.

Based on the traditional concept of black American Pentecostal churches, the show takes a twist as scandals are uncovered.

It plays on the stereotypical concept of the “family that has it all together”.

Oprah Winfrey makes several guest appearances, as she plays Mavis – the sister of the head of the church, Bishop James Greenleaf.

The show is definitely worth a try for anyone who is interested in ‘drama’.

The cast is exceptionally talented.

Some of the notable names include Keith David who plays Bishop James Greenleaf. He is also featuring in the upcoming film Nice Guys, starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe.

Other actors include Merle Dandridge portrays Grace “Gigi” Greenleaf, estranged daughter of the powerful Greenleaf family. She has featured in several shows including Sons of Anarchy, 24, Criminal minds, among others – Lamman Rucker portrays Jacob Greenleaf, son of the powerful Greenleaf family.

He has featured in films such as The Man in 3B, Black Coffee and Where’s the Love?

You can find out about the rest of the cast here.

After a very successful first season, there are indications that Season 2 is on the way, for Netfilx viewers.

It appears to be available on the Oprah Winfrey Network already. The challenge remains that Africa generally gets content like this, a little later than the rest of the developed world.

Anyhow, It’s a great show and we highly recommend it.

Check out the season one trailer:

(LISTEN) Mary J Blige and Kanye West drop new track

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Mary J Blige and Kanye West have combined forces and dropped a single – Love Yourself.

The single is part of Blige’s upcoming album Strength of a Woman.

Kanye features on the new track, dropping a few bars.

In a discussion with Power 105.1, Blige explains the concept behind the song:

“Love Yourself’ is hardcore hip-hop soul,” Blige said. “It’s me talking to myself when I was in it. ‘Don’t give up. Love yourself.’ When you hear the words, you’ll hear it…I’m a fan of Kanye. I’ve always loved Kanye. I’ve always wanted to work with Kanye. I reached out to his manager, got a number on him, began to text him back and forth about how I really wanted him on ‘Love Yourself.'”

Kanye speaks directly about the power and responsibility he has to forward his community.

“I decided not to use my colour as a handicap,” he raps, “I cannot be complacent / In my job, be courageous.”

This is also Kanye’s second feature this year. West also features in the also recently released Drake album More Life.

During the half hour long discussion, Blige talks about current affairs including Hillary Clinton, among other things. She also discusses her divorce to her husband of 12 years.

You can view the full interview here.

Soon after the release of Love Yourself, Blige uploaded a lyric video on her VEVO page on YouTube.

In just under a week, the video has gained over 230 000 views (at the time of writing).

If you’re a hard-core Mary J fan, you’ll enjoy the track – and probably the album as well.

Why not check out the lyric video and pre-order the album at the same time.

The UK begins official Brexit

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UK Prime Minister, Theresa May has officially begun the process of making Brexit a reality.

Last week, in the UK House of Commons, Mrs May triggered article 50 – a notice to the European Union that the United Kingdom would like to leave the body.

It has been a relatively uphill battle for May and her new government who took over from David Cameron who was the Prime Minster responsible for calling a referendum on whether the UK should leave or stay in the EU.

Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon gives any EU member the right to quit unilaterally, and outlines the procedure for doing so.

Through the agreement, the leaving country has two years to negotiate an exit deal and once it is set in motion it can’t be stopped except by unanimous consent of all member states.

No country has ever left the EU before, and there was no way to legally leave the EU before the Treaty of Lisbon was signed in 2007.

Brexit is easily one of the biggest political moves of the 21st Century – in the free world at least.

While the Telegraph described it as “the greatest disaster to befall the European Union (EU) in its 60-year history”.

As it stands no one, including the British, can predict exactly how this process will affect the rest of the world.

This includes travel, the economy, immigration rules, property rights and trade among other things.

Meanwhile, the UK is still reeling from a recent possible terror attack on Westminster Bridge.

The attacker plowed a car through crowds in central London before attempting to storm the Houses of Parliament in what police believe was an act of Islamist-inspired terrorism.

One wonders whether an incident like this will affect the kind of exit deal the UK will pursue and what effect it will have on changes to immigration legislation.

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