Category Archives: Celebrities

Jay-Z’s $200-million Clothing Battle Could Be Game Changer for Black Lawyers The World Over

MMIMMC has not infrequently gleaned from the hustle of hip hop gods – most recently we deciphered Notorious B.I.G’s hit 10 Crack Commandments for the 21st century entrepreneur – for business advice. Shawn Carter, aka Jay-Z, net worth $900 million in 2018, has to be the el patrón when it comes to rappers turned entrepreneurs. But as the following article reminds us, staying at the top of the game is a constant battle.

BY  Gbenga Oduntan, University of Kent

Millionaire rapper Shawn Carter, aka Jay-Z, has proved yet again why he is larger than life. He is embroiled in a contractual dispute over the US$204m (£159m) sale of his clothing brand to Iconix Brand Group a decade ago.

In a twist that has now thrown the world of arbitration into a frenzy, Jay-Z recently won a temporary decision from a New York court to halt the process on the grounds there aren’t enough black arbitrators to settle it fairly within the terms of the contract. If this argument ultimately carries the day, it will require a severe reorganisation and opening up of the arbitration profession, one of the most cliquish corners of the legal business – and not just in America, but around the world.

Like many business contracts, the original Jay-Z/Iconix deal agreed that any disputes would be settled by a commercial arbitration process. The contract stipulated that the parties would use arbitrators provided by the American Arbitration Association (AAA).

But as part of a dispute over intellectual property rights, Jay-Z’s lawyers are arguing that the arbitration clause is invalid because they could not “identify a single African-American arbitrator on the ‘Large and Complex Cases’ roster” provided by the association. Even when the AAA went through its expanded list of 200 potential arbitrators, it could only identify three African-Americans – one of whom was ineligible to come on board because they work for the law firm representing Iconix.

Jay-Z’s lawyers argued before the New York Supreme Court that white arbitrators exhibit “unconscious bias” towards black defendants; and that the AAA’s lack of racial diversity consequently “deprives litigants of colour of a meaningful opportunity to have their claims heard by a panel of arbitrators reflecting their backgrounds and life experience”. The procedure, they went on, “deprives black litigants … of the equal protection of the laws, equal access to public accommodations, and mislead consumers into believing that they will receive a fair and impartial adjudication”.

The New York Supreme Court’s decision to grant a stay on the back of these arguments is unprecedented and will become legendary within the profession. And unlike traditional courts, where judges are usually only bound to follow decisions within the same jurisdiction, arbitration is essentially one global system. If New York decides that these are the rules, the effects will be felt around the world.


Know The 21st Century: Learn From Icons


THE EXCLUSION PROBLEM

What the case has highlighted is that arbitrators in the US, but also in most Western societies, are disproportionately white, male and aged. The same is true of courts, but more is arguably expected from arbitrators as the field of recruitment is wider – with less emphasis on legal training and professional qualifications.

This situation is hardly surprising given that big law firms are the incubation beds for commercial arbitrators. The chances of being appointed by businesses to settle highly complex matters like Jay-Z’s case increase exponentially if the arbitrator works in the so-called golden circle of law firms, and this is where the shortage begins.

Not what enough lawyers look like.
BCFC

Don’t tell anyone this, but the law firm representing Jay-Z, Quinn Emanuel, itself has a big diversity deficit at partner level, with only three African-American partners listed in a list of almost 300. Even if the firm were allowed to supply black arbitrators to handle Jay-Z’s case itself, it wouldn’t be able to. If black partners are this scarce, you might as well look for black unicorns to fill arbitration panels.

The shortage is just as problematic in complex international arbitrations. In 2013, around a third of the parties to the International Chamber of Commerce Court of Arbitration were from Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Since then, just 15% of appointees were from those regions. Meanwhile, appointments of African arbitrators at the Permanent Court of Arbitration and black judges at the World Court are proportionately very low.

There are few renowned non-white arbitrators in international petroleum negotiation – despite the fact that nearly 60% of petroleum is produced outside Europe and North America. There are even fewer developing-world experts in international boundary disputes. Arguably developing countries are constantly shortchanged in international justice as a result.

WHAT TO DO (RATHER, WHAT WOULD JAY-Z DO?)

How do we address this issues? We could throw the burden back on the likes of Jay-Z by saying he should have fought for diversity in arbitrators at the drafting stage of his sales contract. That may well be what the court ultimately does in his case, but what then?

It is generally accepted that contractual specifications about arbitration cannot violate national laws. These would include race discrimination laws, though the limits of this were shown in a relatively recent UK judgement, Jivraj v Hashwani (2011). Here, the contract stipulated that arbitrators had to be respected Muslim members of the Ismaili community. When challenged as racial discrimination, the Supreme Court decided that the relevant UK laws only applied to employees and not to arbitrators because they were not employees.

But if that left the likes of Jay-Z free to push for African-American arbitrators as part of business contracts, there is still the problem of a general dearth of them. If he does ultimately lose his case in New York, it will still have highlighted this gap in the market. Perhaps in future, black dealmakers will insist on any arbitration taking place somewhere with more black arbitrators.

The bottom line is that we need recruitment programmes to encourage black arbitrators now, and to recognise that those in place should be more frequently offered for appointments so that they are experienced enough to handle large complex cases. And to fix the current shortage, we also have to address the diversity issues in the legal profession as a whole.

The Conversation

Too often at present, we’re kidding ourselves. The American Arbitration Association has a programme to mentor diverse young arbitrators, and promises lists of arbitrators of at least 20% diversity, for example. But it is only able to offer this proportion by lumping together all diversity including gender, age and ethnic background – and 20% is hardly a great achievement anyway. If demand for more black representation rises and centres for arbitration like New York and London don’t offer enough people, new rivals may well step up to the plate.

Gbenga Oduntan, Reader (Associate Professor) in International Commercial Law, University of Kent

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Know. Own. Be. Live the African Century. Everyday Tips on Life, Style, Entrepreneurship and Careers for the 21st Century African


BUJU BANTON BE STROLLING INTO TOWN A FREE MAN: The Very Best Your Favorite Buju Songs, Free!

As Buju Banton walks free, in such like situations, I guess, the question is always going to be: How much does prison change a man? We’ve had numerous accounts of how extraordinary men like Nelson Mandela, Jomo Kenyatta, Christopher Owiro aka Karl Max turned mythical following imprisonment. How much of Buju Banton will we recognize in his music? How much of his being, after almost a decade of time in federal prison, will be familiar?

Prison can be traumatizing not just on myself, but on my family as well as emotionally draining,” he explained, “For me, I drew strength from immersing myself in my situation. Do not live in yesterday but live in today. And education was the only thing that kept me up and alive. I immersed myself in reading so much – theology, philosophy and other subjects.

Buju Banton

A More Sober Buju Banton Then?

Writing for The Daily Nation – before the big divorce – on how prison changed Mandela, respected Kenyan political satire commentator/writer/journalist Kwamchetsi Makokha chose this Mandela quote

There is nothing like a long spell in prison to focus your mind and bring to you a more sober appreciation of the realities of your society.

Nine years it was for Buju Banton? That’s a lot of time to focus one’s mind. I mean, even short stints – days to weeks – has made men find their mien. We saw it recently with Uganda’s Bobi Wine. To date, the symbol of young Uganda’s disaffection struggles to define his question: Where’s the meat in the #PeoplePower_Our Power movement?

Closer home, Dr. Ouma Oluga’s , lone voice often, continues to articulate with clarity fixes to the fucktangular Kenyan health system. Admirably so, we tilt our hat to him,  years after the infamous incarceration of the #CBA7. Listening to the Secretary General of the doctor’s union, you have to appreciate his sober appreciation of the realities of society. Maybe it’s that overnight stay at Kamiti Maximum Prison that’s getting him to level zien in local and global health circles.


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New Buju Banton Album?

But when it comes to Buju Banton, you’d be hard pressed for more soberness. His music already spoke from such a place full of empathy and conscientiousness. Still on the eve of his release Buju’s UK producer Blacker Dread says he has a new album full of Buju songs. I’d expect polished up releases of previously unreleased studio stuff. Possibly collabos here and there to get him to speed (Pray-God something with Chronixx, Stephen Marley, Damian Marley or Tarrus Riley).

As we anticipate the unknown, lets rock to

Buju Banton Open Musical Letter on Tidal

Ruan Legend: Best of Buju Banton – Dancehall Session

One part of the Caribbean DJ group that’s one of the ill-est on the internet goes solo in this one

Ruan Legend : Best of Buju Banton – Reggae Session

Black Talons 357: Buju Banton Living Legend (Part 2) mix

DIY Mix

Not entirely a Buju Banton mix, but one of his most recognizable hits that traversed beyond reggae features as the icing on this cake. Enjoy!

Chronixx~ Skanking sweet
Tarrus Riley~ Don’t come back
Morgan Heritage~ put it on
Gramps Morgan~ wash the tears
L.M.S~ Never
Jah Cure~ Pressure we hard
Winky Dee~ Gombwe
Stephen Marley~ rockstone
Sizzla~ Mama
Culture~ Jah Rastafari
Buju Banton~ hills and valleys
🔥🔥

— Mbizi 🇿🇼 (@DobbieTt) November 27, 2018


Know. Own. Be. Live the African Century. Everyday Tips on Life, Style, Entrepreneurship and Careers for the 21st Century African


[Photo] This Most Luxurious House In Kenya Belongs To A Musician

Madam boss, step aside! Akothee, even you would love this one. We love the internet as it has this joyful habit of dropping the unexpected on our laps ever so often. Much to my chagrin, leading UK publication, The Independent, described this magnificent beauty in the most modest terms as – inspiring! I get it, their standards might be off the park. But still, describing what surely must be a contender for the most luxurious house in Kenya as ‘inspiring’ is such a travesty.

I am convinced now more than ever, that Kenya is ripe for its own version of celebrity cribs. What Kenya offers, as detailed by this post on top 25 Kenya’s most luxurious houses, alongside what I realize now to be hitherto less known luxurious living spaces as manifest by this house, should make for more interesting TV. We’ve had enough of those Naija movies or Latin America soaps that hog our screens.

What’s more? This living space deserves to be among top 10 celebrity houses in Kenya, more than any on this list. Really, if you were to ignore the gravitas of the names claimed to own the houses on that list, this has to be somewhere top of the pile as the most luxurious house in Kenya.


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A Candidate For The Most Luxurious House in Kenya, But What Could It Have Been Better?

If the architects had been Kenyan. Thankfully, the owner of the house persisted with sourcing most of the building materials locally. Kenyan or not, we love the streak of patriotism exhibited here by the owner: Buy Kenyan, Build Kenya.

If the author of the article this most luxurious house in Kenya had made it known to us is the owner musician was Kenyan. Lots of aspiring Kenyan musicians battle with doubts if their efforts can put food on the table. Kenya is the wild west when it comes to grinding out a hustle. Maybe this is the reason why The Independent labeled this house inspiring. As creative or entrepreneurial effort in Kenya can be unforgiving for those who dare to do.

It would be nice for them to have a role model. For us the consumers of their art, it would have been extra nice to get to know of productions that bake in the in house recording studio that’s part of the niceties packed on this house built on a rock. Talking of niceties, lets not even get started on the views. For more photos on the architectural genius on display, delectable play with water that’s at the heart of our protest that this must be contender for most luxurious house in Kenya, check out this article on The Independent.


Know. Own. Be. Live the African Century. Everyday Tips on Life, Style, Entrepreneurship and Careers for the 21st Century African


Why Lupita Nyong’o “Your Dreams Are Valid” Oscars Speech Wades into 21st Century Cold War

Can an Oscar speech have geopolitical ramifications? With close to 100 Academy Awards ceremonies, we’ve come to anticipate Oscar  winners speeches. Sobbing and thank yous to mothers. But that was before Lupita Nyong’o. The movie that earned Lupita her Oscar, 12 years a slave earned plaudits for not being revisionist.

Lupita Nyong'o

The role of Hollywood in modern cold war propaganda is set in stone. But what the Mexican born, Kenyan actor did with her acceptance speech is all her though. She must as well gone with the norm: thanked people, sobbed and leave it at that. Maybe, it’s Musambwa. Luhya speak for  it runs in the blood. The straight talk, not to be bowed , people champion talk Kenyans have come to know and respect her politician father for.

By its own merits, Steve McQueen’s flick represented another step for 21st century global citizens of African descent to reconcile with their dark past. I reckon Steve had no way of telling the geopolitical environment at the time of 12 years a slave greatest moment. Neither had he a way of knowing that such an otherwise innocuous statement by Lupita Nyong’o could reverberate across the world. This wasn’t in any way a Black Swan, but significant nonetheless. To understand the ramifications, we travel halfway round the world to the land of Putin.

The Stalled Russian Dream

Sochi came and its wake we had the Ukraine crisis. The heated conversation around humanity’s ever most expensive games revealed that modern games are actually a not so sporty affair. Major sporting events were once hailed as a civil way for nations to placate a bad case of blue balls. Through dignified acts of aggression- sports- nations were able to compete and exert soft power.

Putin didn’t hide this new found power, proclaiming that Sochi was Russia’s show of its virility. A showpiece event to let the world know that phoenix had arisen from the ashes of the Berlin wall.  And as if to rubber stamp this chest thumping, barely a fortnight after Sochi, the world was grappling with Russia in Crimea. We don’t expect a full carte blanche flex-your-muscle-show here; but just like Syria, you never know.

What is for sure is that the with Russia annexation of Crimea, the wars of deception upped. Propaganda to win allies came into full swing. In other words, the cold war never ended!


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What next that the cold war never ended?

This most likely is a long drawn diplomatic ‘situation’. With posturing and all sorts of diplomatic jingoism flying around. Moreover in the 21st century, with the image, functioning and interests of nations increasingly depending on what happens in cyberspace, expect war. Cyber wars.

Lupita Nyong'o with her speech exhalting the American dream may have done as much damge as this sophisticsted Russian cyber attack scheme involving cheap thumb drives sold unwittingly to servicemen that infiltreted secure servers when plug in high security installations

All considered, the gravity of the seemingly innocuous, Lupita Nyong’o 86th Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress acceptance speech hits home. A home run for America in this war of perceptions. At the biggest showpiece event for America’s greatest export: Hollywood (its equivalent is what Christian mission work was for The Great Britain in the conquest of its colonies) an African princess articulated The United States of America ultimate sales pitch so brilliantly.

Lupita Nyong’o Oscar Acceptance Speech: All Hail The American Dream

For a nation built by immigrants, never has been the American Dream been so beautifully captured:

Thank you to the Academy for this incredible recognition. It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s. And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance.

And for Solomon, thank you for telling her story and your own.

Steve McQueen, you charge everything you fashion with a breath of your own spirit. Thank you so much for putting me in this position, it’s been the joy of my life. [Tears, applause.]

I’m certain that the dead are standing about you and watching and they are grateful and so am I.

Chiwetel, thank you for your fearlessness and how deeply you went into Solomon, telling Solomon’s story.

Michael Fassbender, thank you so much. You were my rock.

Alfre and Sarah, it was a thrill to work with you. Joe Walker, the invisible performer in the editing room, thank you.

Sean Bobbitt, Kalaadevi, Adruitha, Patty Norris, thank you, thank you, thank you — I could not be here without your work.I want to thank my family, for your training [laughs] and the Yale School of Drama as well, for your training.

My friends the Wilsons, this one’s for you. My brother Junior sitting by my side, thank you so much, you’re my best friend and then my other best friend, my chosen family.

When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.

Thank you.

Little wonder then, that America is in love with Lupita Nyong’o. How significant is this speech in the grand scheme of things? Probably fleeting. But we sought to come as close to the truth as we could. Charity begins at home and so we head to Kenya in an attempt to answer this.

Rise of Lupita Nyong’o

To be honest, a section of Kenyans were unmoved by the early proclamations of Glory! Glory!

They dismissed local media talk as just another case of Kenyan’s infamous sense of entitlement. Besides, skeptical Kenyans had learn a lot from the Obama experience. Just as they were about to press the next button, Lupita Nyong’o got herself a couple of selfies with famous people. Then Nyar Kisumo bagged a bunch of movie awards most Kenyans had never heard of. Before long,  paparazzi were tripping over themselves just to get a shot of Lupita Nyong’o. And now an Oscar!

On the morning following the 86th Academy Awards night, every damsel in Nairobi pulled a Lupita Nyong’o. Donning a blue flowing dress, though not Prada, irrespective if it fit the occasion or the weather! I am reliably informed that Nairobi HR mangers, for their sanity’s sake, let it go since it was the unofficial Lupita Nyong’o day.

On the Prada thing, these Kenyans! Give them a week and Pradah/Praada/Plada/Praba made in Taiwan et.al will be selling for an arm and a leg in them boutiques, on the street and in the ceramic-tilled shopping malls. I am sure there is already a matatu wearing her graffiti and a “local”; Smokey neighborhood tavern named: “Lupita Nyong’o Bar & Restaurant.” Wait. We aren’t done yet, there is even a tribute song done in her native Benga style

Granted, her home country is in jubilation as should be. I wonder though how the air is like in Mexico, her birth county. Nonetheless, a cursory look at google trends  reveals that besides Kenya Lupita’s words strung the hearts and stirred the minds of millennial world wide.The cardinal rule in any contest of rhetoric is that it’s imperative not to let your opponent have the headlines. The Lupita Nyong’o Oscars speech had this effect. It diluted the makeup work of the Sochi games on Russia in the eternal race for minds and souls.


Know. Own. Be. Live the African Century. Everyday Tips on Life, Style, Entrepreneurship and Careers for the 21st Century African


Life in the 21st Century is a Celebration of Wanton Self-indulgence

Ellen DeGeneres broke the internet with a singular photo. A single tweet. She isn’t the first celebrity nor will she be the last to break the internet. But there is a deep social message here. Social commentators have labeled the 21st century  the age of the pop culture. A culture characterized by the ubiquity of immediacy. The microwave culture whose untold story is the sacrifice of the collective at the altar of a pervasive self-first mentality.

Little wonder it is then that noble humans, gone and present, who’ve shunned obnoxious, exhibitionist, narcissist  self indulgent behavior rot in the back pews in the modern cathedrals of fame.

We are talking about social media platforms where toddlers who’ve contributed zilch to humanity command thousands, even millions, of fans and followers. The 21st century is the age where the sages, masters and gurus ceed the pulpit and the preaching to the gods. You might wonder, gods? We are talking of the #babiesofinstragram and the likes.

So when the epitome of this ‘me’ worship, the obnoxious selfie,  stole the 86th Academy Awards headlines ahead of Lupita Nyongo’s inspiring speech or “12 years a slave” director Steve McQueen’s wisdom, I was reminded of the Swahili proverb: Skio la kufa haliskii dawa. The English equivalent: “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it .”


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Ellen DeGeneres Gives us the Oscar’s best photo ever

Enough of this party pooper business. Five reasons why this selfie is the best photo ever

  1. You  can tell that guys are having genuine fun. No celebrity bull crap airs to sullen the mood. Everyone’s comfortable no sourpuss here!
  2. No selfie stick? Why would Ellen DeGeneres wish for Bradley’s arm to be longer? This is the art of the original selfie per-excellence. Finding a way to get everyone into the photo while getting your arm out of the way.
  3. Bradley isn’t a superstar.
  4. The star of the moment (Lupita Nyong’o ) took the back seat.
  5. President Frank Underwood

It is safe to say that this Ellen DeGeneres photo tweet of a selfie with the 12 Years a slave crew is the world’s most famous photograph having been retweeted over 2 million times occasioning a twitter breakdown at the time. Now it’s been retweeted over 3 million times and liked by over 2.4 million tweeps!

Nonetheless, a picture is worth a thousand words which brings. This selfie brings to focus the power of a 21st century tool: the mobile phone (and others forms of portable computing power); and its sister the internet, which just celebrated its 25th birthday. In effortless fashion, in barely no time, the story of the 86th Academy Awards had been told by that Ellen DeGeneres tweet. There is all probability, having gone viral, that it is the most consumed version of the tale of the 2014 Oscars.


Know. Own. Be. Live the African Century. Everyday Tips on Life, Style, Entrepreneurship and Careers for the 21st Century African