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Sesame Street explores Autism with new character, ‘Julia’

Naomi Ludlow | Staff Writer

While realizing the changes of media and technology, it is evident that our youth are the most impacted. The youth rely heavily on what they see on television or through other mediums to gain knowledge. The incorporation of children with disabilities in popular programming has recently increased which should encourage other networks to partake in this too.

Sesame Street has introduced a new character named Julia who has autism. This is a groundbreaking moment because it allows children with disabilities to have that representation. Not only will the children with disabilities be represented, but children without them will know that disabilities exist. They will look at their television screens and realize that when they see something like this in person, that it is normal. The mannerisms that Julia performs are typical of an autistic child, and recognition will, in some part, help an autistic child blend in more.

Stacy Gordon, the veteran puppeteer to play Julia, said, “Man, I just wish that kids in my son’s class had grown up with Sesame Street that had modeling [of] the behavior of inclusion of characters with autism.”

Gordon has a background of doing therapeutic work for people with autism and her son is on the autism spectrum. She is excited that children will now have an early understanding of what to expect from people with disabilities.

The character Julia is a 4-year-old girl who echoes what she has heard from her friends and has a low attention span. The other Muppets on the show normalize her actions to reflect the normality of having autism.

Julia will make her television debut on April 10 on various platforms where the show is aired, including PBS Kids, HBO, and YouTube. She will initially appear in English and Spanish in the U.S., Australia, the U.K. and Mexico and will subsequently appear in more languages in countries throughout the world later in the year.

The character was first introduced last year in books and other digital offerings. The company saw this as an opportunity to endorse the “See Amazing in all Children” campaign. The material is posted on a dedicated site.

There was a study conducted by Georgetown University to show the impact of Sesame Street’s new character. The study shows that the character helps families with autistic children feel more comfortable in community activities, and families without autistic children are more accepting with those that do.

All in all, Sesame Street has set the bar for introducing disabled children and should influence other stations/shows to do the same.

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“Real Estate” revisits familiar sounds with “In Mind”

Aaron Worley | Arts & Entertainment Editor

Indie rock band Real Estate has undergone a variety of changes since their debut album, “Real Estate.” In the beginning, their sound was more focused on a beachy and calm tone that carried some of their most popular guitar patterns they continued to implement on later projects. It was glorious, and set the mood for “Days,” their sophomore effort. It had much more of a subliminal psychedelic tone than “Real Estate,” and opened up a gateway for repeating sounds that featured more production overlays than previously implemented. Their following album, “Atlas,” was monumental in that it carried such raw emotion that they had never shown before. The album was sad, deep, and explored personal relationships sung by Martin Courtney, the lead vocalist of the band. This new content was interesting to hear and became one of their more critically lauded projects. The latest album by them, “In Mind,” exhibits a lesser amount of emotion, favoring a balance between their iconic sound that made them popular and more upbeat songs. While this isn’t necessarily bad, it does feel redundant at times and hearing about long nights does not compare to Atlas’s broad range of emotion and feelings suggested.

The opening track, “Darling” paints a picture of Courtney in either a grassy or suburban house, waiting for his love to come back. With a soft and hopeful tenor he sings, “The night surrenders softly/The moon retreats from sight/The darkness that surrounds me/The sun cuts like a knife to shine.” Though the lyrical content is not varied and is often limited, it can be sensed that the narrator is wishing for something to actually happen with his relationships. He feels that the days have been turning into nights quicker than he thought, and is growing tired of letting life pass without his love interest.

The fifth track, “Two Arrows,” stands as one of the highlights of the project, explores a vivid description of a dark town, and the journey of walking through it with someone. The guitar work is fantastic and gives the mood an actual sound. It is reminiscent of “All The Same,” which was the final track on “Days.” The repetitiveness of the guitar added a ‘loop’ pattern that most users of psychedelics tend to experience, where a visual element or sound repeats itself, hence the name. The ending of “Two Arrows” starts to become much more raucous than how it started, before it almost abruptly cuts off to lead into “White Light.” This could be taken as a symbolization of the narrator’s decaying state of mind as he plunges deeper into darkness.

On “Diamond Eyes,” there is a country influence, as was the case for “How Might I Live” on Atlas.” While this may be a departure from their iconic sound and may confuse some, it is a showcase of the band’s experimental qualities and their desire to broaden their sphere of influence. Courtney sings, “I will not go quietly” in the dialect of a southern gentleman, and draws empathy for the situation he is dealing with. “Saturday,” which is the best showcase for the band’s guitar work, is fantastically driven by an opening piano, as well as the later guitar tempos that bring the album to a satisfying close.

While it may not attract a good amount of fans who have not heard of the band before, “In Mind” stays true to what original fans hoped for in a new release, though to an amount that offers less catchiness and replay ability than their previous efforts.

Marvel’s “Iron Fist” misses every punch

Aaron Worley | Arts & Entertainment Editor

Here’s a great plotline on paper: Daniel “Danny” Rand is a superhero who engages in martial arts techniques and special ‘chi’ summoning to defeat enemies. After over a decade-long stretch of being missing, he finds himself wanting to reclaim his family’s company. This sounds decent in theory, but he soon realizes that he is oblivious to one crucial bit of information: everyone thinks he’s dead, and seeing some man that comes out of nowhere who claims to be the presumed-dead individual surprisingly does not sit well with them. This is the start of the first episode of Marvel’s “Iron Fist,” which premiered on Netflix last Wednesday. The show serves as a blunder in the comic franchise’s Netflix adaptations, to say the least. Dissimilar to the fantastic “Luke Cage,” which was driven by both Blaxploitation and humor, “Iron Fist” shows neither one of those capabilities. Of course, no one expects the former element to be present, but there could have at least been a vintage Asian element added to the show, taking away from the fact that most fans argued for the character to be portrayed as an Asian-American.  This is only the surface of the cornucopia of issues regarding the series, however.

From the beginning, Danny Rand, played by actor Finn Jones, is not a likeable character. The homeless garb he wears can be overlooked, but he simply does not have anything in his voice, tone, or manner to give him likeable capabilities. When he first realizes that people are tentatively recognizing him as the lost man whom they believed to have died (who would have thought?), he stalely begs them to “Just listen.” There is not a personality behind this request, only a cheap delivering of lines through a boring and bland character. He does not add anything fresh to the superhero, and comes across as needy and completely devoid of drawing empathy from others. It would not be surprising if any viewers, who are, of course, already aware that he is telling the truth to start questioning it because they are not convinced by his acting. This can be forgiven by most people, though, but it does not take away from one of the most disappointing components of the series: the fight scenes.

Yes, there are fight scenes. No, they are not entertaining, exciting, or even properly executed. They feel slapped together and choppy, not flowing well together at all. With a closer look, it seems like the villains Jones encounters simply remain stationary while he proceeds to twist their already-outstretched arms or limbs. It really looks like they want to be attacked and overcome. There is no precision in their attacks, no swiftness, and no creativity in how they want to ‘take him out.’ “Luke Cage” was not reliant on fight scenes (if a comparison is drawn), but the story and background was gripping enough to lead onto those action sequences, making them all the more exciting. With “Iron Fist,” the character and baddie movements are thrown in there, only taking up time in the series in the most uninspiring manner.

Nonetheless, there are good moments on the show. Rosario Dawson plays an excellent role as a nurse-turned-martial artist, gripping the show with her stern dialogue and the ability to throw herself into the character’s role. Carrie-Anne Moss is fantastic as attorney Jeri Hogarth as well, adding to her acclaim from the other Marvel series “Jessica Jones.”

All being said, “Iron Fist” is a downright blunder in Marvel’s Netflix string. It is boring, repetitive, mind-numbing, and will ultimately make you question why you actually want to watch all ten episodes of the first season halfway through the first two.

How Somniis plans to diversify the fashion industry

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Hampton University senior Stanton Ridley has been designing clothes since he was in high school. Now, during his senior year at Hampton, his clothing brand Somniis has become promising. (Phillip Jackson//The Hampton Script)

Phillip Jackson | Web Editor

It was during his freshman year when Stanton Ridley (also known as Stanton Jordan) started strategically establishing the quality of his clothing brand Somniis.

Now, at at the age of 22, and working as the creative eye and leader of the luxury Menswear and Womenswear clothing brand, his interest in various types of fabrics have allowed him to become a young, but innovative designer during his senior year at Hampton University.

The four scratches in the Somniis trademark design was started by Ridley while in high school. He found it as a way to describe who he is as a designer. “It’s a reminder to myself, to keep myself humble, and to remember where I started,” Ridley said. “I want people to feel a certain way about it, I want them to have their own interpretation to it. But, at the same time, keep in mind who I am as a person, and as a designer.”

The clothing brand is contemporary and simple. It’s crafted in a way to converge street wear clothing and haute couture into one style. Ridley has successfully set a standard for his brand at an early on is his design career.

The summer 2012 launch of the brand was when Ridley began getting experience in the art of design. His website and look book that showcases the Somniis clothing highlights the quality of the brand.

Not only does he focus on crafting sweatshirts, classic t-shirts, or jackets—he also includes projects for Kite and A-line dresses in his recent work. Ridley said he really started to see the brand having potential during his sophomore year in college.

He had a lot of requests from his hometown in the State of New York. Once his work began to cultivate more traction, everything became more promising. “That kind of validated me. Now it’s a matter of capitalizing on it,” Ridley said.

Ridley also knows the environment he is getting himself into. In 2015, a New York Times’ story on “Fashion’s Racial Divide,” reported that of the 260 designers at New York Fashion Week that year, only 4 percent of them were black.

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Stanton Ridley, creator of Somniis menswear and womenswear clothing. (Phillip Jackson//The Hampton Script)

Listen below:

Consistency is the foundation behind Somniis.

The simplistic lettering, the creation of the clothes and the distribution of the brand is Ridley’s way of trying to help his customers understand who he is as a designer.

“Well that’s one of the most important things with a brand, is to be able to have an aesthetic,” Ridley replied. “So, as a designer and as a creative director, of anything not just fashion, but art in general, it has to be parallel like people have to be able to see.”

With his collections, Ridley’s product is a reflection of what he sees himself wearing. It’s specific to his eye and creativity, which helps his brand stand apart from many other young aspiring designers.

“I always keep what I like in collections and in pieces that I drop,” he said. “I just wanted to be experimental, I didn’t want to bring anything that people are already doing. I like to push the envelope when it comes to the design itself.”

Ridley works as a fashion designer similair to how a painter works as a creative director. He says that in order to be a great designer, with a quality product, “You really have to live in that field,” and that he spends a lot of times looking at thousand of images a day on the computer.

He describes fashion and creative directing as a “psychological game.” His brand and how it is distributed to local students and other customers is what he believes has helped his clothing business stand alone. As the brand of Somniis continues to expand, Ridley believes that his talent will also.

“What I don’t want to happen is, God to give me a gift to design stuff, and I’m dormant with it,” Ridley replied. “I want to bring quality clothes, with strong messages behind it.”

Three must-see shows on Netflix right now

(cbsnews)

(cbsnews)

Nyaa Ferary | Features Editor

The semester is gearing up but there is still a lot of free time to do nothing before it gets intense. In addition, to the Hampton weather bringing a lot of rainy, gloomy days, there’s just a vibe that makes you want to stay inside and catch up on your favorite shows. Whether you choose to stay by yourself or with others, put on those comfy sweatpants, order some pizza and Netflix and chill. Here are three shows perfect to watch on those lazy days spent inside.

1. Black Mirror. This British science fiction series is themed around the harsh reality that technology and social media run people’s lives. Every episode has it’s own storyline that has a satirical way of portraying the same lesson.

Majority of the stories seem extreme and unrealistic at first. However, by the end of the episode it’s clear to see how some of these situations can actually happen in the future. Just an example, the first episode involves a sex scene between the prime minister and a pig and another takes “having receipts” to another level. The thought provoking series is now in its third season and bound to have you obsessed.

2. The Series of Unfortunate Events. For those of us who were bookworms as a kid, might remember this 13 book series written by Lemony Snicket. It was about the three Baudelaire children who became orphans after their parents died in a fire. Many might remember the movie that came out back in 2004 with Jim Carrey and how heartbroken they were that only the first three books were covered and never followed up on.

Netflix put us out of our misery with their original series picking up where the movie left off. Many people who have seen the series’ debut season say they were disappointed with the character portrayals of Count Olaf and that it was too comical. On the other hand, it does give a detailed account of all the unfortunate events within the book that would often get opted out in a movie. See if it lives up to the hype and check it out.

3. Chewing Gum. This is another British Netflix original. It is a raunchy comedy, much different than the other two picks. The show is about 24 year-old Tracy who grows up in a religious household and is now dealing with the stresses of trying to lose her virginity. Each episode Tracy discovers something new within the world of sex and ends up in extremely awkward situations as she attempts to get it on. The show has one season on Netflix, which would be great for a quick binge watch.

A lot of the time it is hard to find something to watch on Netflix especially when you’re looking for something particular. Netflix originals are starting to gain a good reputation for the variety of content its producing so here are just a few of the good ones to get you started.

Philly rapper PnB Rock releases his first album

 

(XXL)

(XXL)

Aaron Worley | Arts and Entertainment Editor

Trap music remains an important part of the music culture because of its distinctive sound. The content of the songs included in this genre is typically the same as other niches of rap, with drugs and money being the prime bragging points and Philadelphia rapper PnB Rock does nothing to make himself dissimilar during his latest project.

His first studio album, “GTTM: Goin’ Thru the Motions” fails to bring the insightful glimpse into his perspective that should be expected from a new rapper. The songs here aren’t anything special; they rely on the distinguishable sound of music that is trying to be singles, and are just made to be infectious amongst listeners.

The meaning of ‘infectious’ is probably not the definition expected. However, in this concept, the songs are mainly ones that will garner a reputation for being played at parties just because of the popularity.

“Attention,” the opener of “GTTM” starts the album off on a weak note and feels forced with a mechanical techno beatThere is nothing to learn from PnB in this track; it does not come off as something that would be replayed, but as a bragging song for him to get the chance to brag about his material possessions. Wiz Khalifa is featured on this track but does not save the song, despite his best efforts. The chemistry is odd; it never existed to begin with, and pairing two artists who sound as awkward as ever together usually never works out.

The ignorance and excessive simplicity of the lyrics in this project are also a low point. Lines like “Off weed off lean/I don’t ever stay sober” and “Diamonds dancing/you can see my s*** like blu ray” on “New Day” feel like a backwash of everything trap music has ever been, and the three topics they love to include.

The other problem with this track is that it does not even sound pleasing and even irritates at times. The point of the track was to generate hype around it as a song that would be catchy and ‘hard’ so it is confusing what route or audience Rock wanted to attract with his method for accomplishing this.

There are a few moments when the album shines, nonetheless. “There She Go” serves as a rhythmic track that makes great use of auto-tune to describe a woman Rock is supposedly chasing. “Selfish” actually draws empathy out of Rock’s situation, as he wants a girl all to himself. The vocals work here, make their purpose clear, and give Rock interesting material to work with.

If someone listened to this

project all the way through, they would very quickly notice that a majority of the songs revolve around love and heartbreak, but not in the traditional sense. The times where this actually comes off as genuine end up sounding fresh and unorthodox compared to rappers like Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz.

While not a groundbreaking album by any means. “Goin’ Thru the Motions” is sure to please people who could really care less about subject matter. Maybe after all, that was Rock’s purpose from the start.

The Demise of #OscarsSoWhite

HOLLYWOOD, : US actor Denzel Washington (R) and US actress Halle Berry (L) share a laugh while holding their Oscar statues after winning the award for best actor in a leading role (for "Training Day") and best actress in a leading role (for "Monster's Ball") 24 March, 2002 at the 74th Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, CA. Washington is the first African-American actor to take home the statuette in the top actors category since 1963 when Sidney Poitier won for "Lilies of the Field" and Berry is the first African-American actress to ever win the top award in a leading role. AFP PHOTO/Mike NELSON (Photo credit should read MIKE NELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

HOLLYWOOD, : US actor Denzel Washington (R) and US actress Halle Berry (L) share a laugh while holding their Oscar statues after winning the award for best actor in a leading role (for “Training Day”) and best actress in a leading role (for “Monster’s Ball”) 24 March, 2002 at the 74th Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, CA. Washington is the first African-American actor to take home the statuette in the top actors category since 1963 when Sidney Poitier won for “Lilies of the Field” and Berry is the first African-American actress to ever win the top award in a leading role. AFP PHOTO/Mike NELSON (Photo credit should read MIKE NELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Naomi Ludlow | Contributing Writer

The African American Film Critics Association believes that 2016 has been an amazing year for black actors and films. This year’s black films are the start to potentially put an end to #OscarsSoWhite. The co-founder and president of AAFCA, Gil Robertson, said, “The studios and major film distributors really gave it to us this year.” 2016 represents an all-time high in success for black cinemas, and all cinemas in general.

The success ranges across genres including comedy, drama, romantic thrillers and documentaries. Films include “Ride Along 2,”starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, “When the Bough Breaks,” and unexpectedly “Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween.” Success is expected for films “Fences” and “Hidden Figures.” The stars of “Hidden Figures,” Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae, are all possibilities to landing a nomination for high honors.

Co-founder of AAFCA, Shawn Edwards, said, “It has truly been an unapologetically black year in the industry as filmmakers brought to life some of the culture’s most fascinating stories and subjects with bold storytelling perspective.” Amplifying the stories of the black community contributed to the outcome for this year’s film success.

The hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite, originated on Twitter by April Reign. Reign is a former attorney and managing editor for BroadwayBlack.com. The hashtag was used to call out a need for diversity industry-wide. As a result, the film academy has invited the largest amount of diverse people for membership.

This simple hashtag has an incredible amount of power, for it leads to eminent black films. The co-founders of AAFCA are sure that the recognition will be given to the actors and directors for this year, but aren’t sure whether the diversity will stick for years to come. Also, they are concerned whether the diversity will extend to other minority communities. They are hopeful, though, and are aware that change will soon come.

Finally, more J. Cole music is on the way

(XXL MAG)

(XXL MAG)

William Ricks | Staff Writer

It might’ve felt like years since we’ve heard a complete project from MC superstar J. Cole. Well, it has been, almost two years to be exact. Cole has stayed busy though, making rounds on his tour and dropping his talents as a feature artist on many tracks, more famously his self-titled interlude on DJ Khaled’s Major Key album. He also dropped a project with his other Dreamville collaborators, Revenge of the Dreamers II in 2015.

That satisfied his fans for the moment, but the more heat J. Cole has been dropping, the hungrier his fans become for a complete project from the superstar rapper. He announced at the 2016 Meadows Music and Arts Festival in New York City that this would be his “last show for a very long time.” so fans had the expectation that Cole was in the studio working on a platinum worthy album.

Many followers of Cole have had his last album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive on repeat for the last couple years, which isn’t a problem as that album was great, going platinum with no features. (With no awards to show for it, which is ridiculous.) Fortunately today fans have gotten the wish they’ve been asking for, a J. Cole project is on the way.

Via iTunes, J. Cole’s project is up for pre-order. The project titled 4 Your Eyez Only, has 10 tracks with no titles or any info on possible features on the tracks. (I mean does he really need features?) This album is expected to drop on December 9, 2016, the two-year anniversary of his last solo act 2014 Forest Hills Drive. J. Cole has high expectations for this upcoming album but if anyone could meet or exceed these expectations, Jermaine Cole is your guy. The reaction to the news is generally the same, excitement.

Twitter has exploded, everyone placing the fire emojis in their tweets resembling how hot each track will be, and some fans believe this is the Christmas miracle they’ve been asking for. As we countdown until the clock strikes midnight on December 9, it’s best for every other rapper to call it a year, as J. Cole took over the month of December in 2014, and he plans to do it again ending what seems to be a quiet year for him with a huge and much needed bang.

From the books to the Billboards: 3 stars who made it big

Jordan Parker| Contributing Writer

 

You can find “Soundcloud artists” throughout your Twitter, Facebook, and, sometimes, Instagram inboxes. It takes time and dedication to get your name and work out there, and even more hard work to make sure your notability lasts.

With a surplus of Soundcloud artists, musicians with actual talent must work even harder to get their sounds heard.

To some serious artists it has become evident that it takes more than just twitter promotion to make music your profession. Here are some artists who successfully planned and executed their journey into the music profession:
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Lil Uzi Vert

Not long ago, Uzi was working as a stock boy. He found that his rapping friends were getting a lot of attention in high school, and that he could in turn do the same. Uzi started his rap career freestyling over beats he found via YouTube, and uploading them to Soundcloud.

In the beginning, Uzi would average a couple hundred streams. Not long after, his work got the attention of DJ BuzzWorthy. Buzzworthy introduced Uzi to producer Charlie Heat and Power 99 DJ, DJ Diamond Kuts. Another very important preliminary co-sign was from the late A$AP Yams. Yams took to Twitter, telling his followers that one day Uzi would be a star. By this point, Uzi had developed a more professional sound and was able to get his song “Uzi”, produced by Charlie Heat, played on the radio. That radio play opened the floodgates of music professionals ready to work with Uzi. From there his life of stardom began.

Uzi has now worked with artists like A$AP Rocky, Wiz Khalifa, and Young Thug who inspired his come up. In 2016, Uzi signed with Generation Now and Atlantic Records, adding a nice sum of cash to his pocket.

 

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Metro Boomin

In high school, Metro Boomin played bass guitar in a band and also dabbled with piano. However, he was most passionate about making bangers. In his high school years, Metro produced an average of 5 beats a day. Metro credits his lack of a social life for his ability to produce so much content and keep his grades ‘boomin’ at the same time.

He would send beats for free via MySpace and Twitter to any artist that would take them. Metro’s favorite artists coming up were Gucci and Young Jeezy. In turn he met an audio engineer named Caveman who introduced him to OJ the Juiceman. Juiceman liked Metro’s work so much that he was invited to meet him in Atlanta.

From there he was introduced to Gucci Mane who linked him with recording artist Future. Future’s track “Karate Chop” landed Metro his first Billboard Top 100. 

 

 

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Jay Z
Sean Carter, aka Jay Z, is one of hip-hop’s most influential figures. Jay Z was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. In high school, he even shared halls with Notorious B.I.G, AZ, and Busta Rhymes. Jay earned a gig on Big Daddy Kane’s tour in the late 80’s. As he tried making a name for himself in the rap game no labels were giving him any attention. Jay then took matters into his own hands and established his own record label, Roc-A-Fella Records. He eventually sold the company for $11.5 million. Jay now has a reported net worth of about $600 million, making him and his wife Beyoncé a billion dollar couple. Can you say “black excellence?!”

 

There’s no guarantee to fame in the rap industry, so it’s important to constantly plan and work towards your goal if it’s something that you truly want.

Where ‘Power’ and ‘Empire’ collide: The Battle in Black Television

Naomi Ludlow | Contributing Writer 

The hit shows “Empire” and “Power” have been compared since each of their beginnings. Rarely are there fans who support both shows, since the series appeal to different types of audiences.

Taraji P. Henson, the female lead of “Empire,” responded to a comment from producer and actor for “Power,” 50 Cent. He took jabs at the rival show saying that their ratings have fallen during the premiere of the third season. Although it seems subtle, he is hinting at the success of his show, whose third season ended with a bang. He says that he is starting a show that will replace “Empire” very soon.

Henson uploaded a picture to Instagram with a comment saying that she doesn’t understand why 50 Cent compares the shows when they are equally successful. 

Hampton students have a wide variety of opinions on the rivalry between the shows.

Stephanie Smith, a freshman, theater major from Philadelphia, said, “Empire incorporates a lot of issues from today and power is about money.”

She continued by explaining how in both shows, the characters live complicated lifestyles where greed, love, and stardom collide. 

Sophomore Levar Harris, a psychology student, from Washington, D.C., said, “Empire always has something new happening as far as beef.” He likes that there’s something fresh about “Empire” compared to other shows on television.

Veronica Wells, a freshman psychology major from Richmond, Virginia, said, ‘“Power” has more raw material, especially for the city that they are in.” .

The disagreements between the shows are ongoing but one thing remains, “Empire” and “Power” are both great shows that are look to draw in the black community.