Wednesday, 28 September 2011

'HOLLYWOOD' CALLING: Usain Bolt challenged to speed-walking showdown by NBC's Billy Bush

CHAMPS UNITE: Bolt poses with the boxer Laila Ali (daughter of Muhammad Ali) at the NBC studios.

No rest for the talented. On Tuesday, The World's Fastest Man flew to the States to conduct a clinic and share tips with aspiring athletes of the Mount San Antonio College in California. But the bonafide highlight of Bolt's overseas trip had to be his visit to the lavish studios of NBC for a taping of Access Hollywood Live, where he vibed with affable hosts Billy Bush and Kit Hoover.

The Puma spokesman, who will be honoured by the University of the West Indies with an honorary doctor of laws degree (LLD) in November, was in for a real surprise when Bush later challenged him a to a..... speed-walking race!

Catch the highlights below:

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OVERHEARD: What people are talking about right now

I SHALL SING: Chantal 'Tash' Lamont gets a scare.

Did gunmen attempt to rob Rising Stars winner, Tash, at her home in Yallah’s, St. Thomas earlier this week? That appears to be so true. Reports have surfaced that not even a day after her win on the televised talent show Sunday night, the 17-year-old singer was at home with her folks when gunmen were spotted circling her house. Lordy. Alert neighbours reportedly raised an alarm, and the police were summoned, sending the suspicious-looking characters scampering in different directions.

In the meantime, Tash wants the curious folks out there to know that she may be a millionaire now, but it’s the useless cardboard cheque that’s actually in her house!

I RESIGN: Golding (right), with China's Hui Liaugyu.

“And I Am Telling You I Am Going” is PM Bruce Golding’s new theme song, as the embattled JLP boss has confirmed to his party that his recently revealed decision to step down as leader and Prime Minister in the coming months is final. And no pleading, wailing and gnashing of teeth will sway him from his decision.

Now, the million-dollar question remains: who will step up to fill Mr. Golding’s size 7 shoes? The lineup: Audley Shaw, Chris Tufton, Ken Baugh, Andrew Holness..... or Everald Warmington.

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REGINA BEAVERS (Part II): The actress talks body image and her rewarding new stage role

CAREER WOMAN: Beavers channels her alter ego Hope Sinclair.

In the second part of our exclusive one-on-one with media personality and rising actress Regina Beavers, we hear how she feels about everything from her physical appearance to her burgeoning career success:

On how she really feels about her body:
“I am very conscious of my image because [on TV] the camera puts on 10 pounds. So I’m thinking that you have to be 10 pounds lighter than you normally would be. People think I’m a lot bigger than I normally am. I get a lot of ‘But you’re not that big!’ And it bothers me because I am a big girl, but in my mind I’m very dainty, you can pick me up and throw me in the air. (Laughs)”

On “the perfect age”:
“I want to be 32; I think that’s the perfect age. It’s like you are more sophisticated, and people will start taking you more seriously. (Laughs)”

On playing high-powered attorney Hope Sinclair in October’s A Gift for Mom:
“I like that [the character] has different layers. You’re not gonna quite understand her at first when you see her. But she is human, she is not perfect. And I like that she’s real. She’s always had to be this tough, sophisticated and focused individual. But she’s been so busy that she’s missed out on the little things in life.”

On her newfound professional success:
“I know it’s a bit corny, but it’s all God’s work. It’s never really understandable. But for me, this is just the beginning, and I’m looking forward to the future. I still have a lot to learn and more to do. I’m interested in writing and producing scripts, and hopefully becoming a part of the local film industry.”

>>Regina’s Inspiration:
*BOOK: Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen. “It makes you think about life positively.”
*SONG: Beyonce’s “1+1.” “I love, love, love that song. It speaks to so many things.”
*ICON: Oprah Winfrey. “I admire the charity work that she does. I like that she gives back, and that’s where I want to be. The more she gives, the more she gets. That’s how it works.”

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RING THE ALARM: Sizzling tracks set Cherine’s 9.25 mixtape ablaze

COLOUR ME RHYTHMIC: The singer drops a first-rate new mixtape.

One thing that has always struck me about Cherine is the rich layering and unpredictable contours that continue to jointly define her musical output. Although the dancehall-soul pioneer has earned renown for appealingly groovy radio hits, more than ever she is demonstrating that she’s a woman now and can deliver a song hard and heavy like her most versatile contemporaries in the industry. After years of swallowing a lot of good-girl pills, Cherine is saying exactly what’s on her mind. And this newfound religion is stamped all over her stellar and varied new mixtape, JA 9.25, which shares the date of her birth. Packing 15 tracks, the release is equal parts mesmerizing alternative reggae and scorching, if melodious, dancehall fire.

Among the most arresting cuts is the forceful “We Don’t Stop,” which usually gets a terrific live performance from the singer. And staying on that hard-hitting trend, she calls out the sheep in wolves’ clothing on “Fade 2 Black,” which boasts some solid production work. The acoustic gem “How We Living,” meanwhile, allows Cherine to cast a compassionate eye over the heart-rending socio-economic landscape with sympathetic lyrics. "Eagles and Doves" also has its heartfelt moments.

Yet the pint-sized artiste seems to excel most whenever she is celebrating good men, as she does stunningly on the relationship hits “20 to Life” and “Real Love,” which particularly delivers a range of gorgeous melodies. Then there’s the mixtape’s real highlight, “Makeup Sex,” which gets a fascinatingly edgy remix without dimming Cherine’s wattage as a woman in full control of a confrontation with a possibly unfaithful lover. In the meantime, listeners are in for a delightful treat thanks to a trio of standout collabos with DI (the egocentric “Honorebel”), Natel (the sexy “You Turn Me On”) and Chuck Fendah, who makes a sterling contribution to “Call on Me.”

In short, JA 9.25 finds Cherine in tip-top shape while giving her adequate room to explore unconquered territory without compromising an ounce of the class and urban appeal that has always characterized her sound. If there’s one thing that the mixtape reaffirms it’s the fact that in the universe of dancehall-soul, Cherine is where sweet meets street. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

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BIG, BOLD & BEAUTIFUL: Miss Kitty lashes out at media’s obsession with “stick-thin figures”

LARGE & LOVELY: Representing for the big girls (Photo: Buzzz)

Popular radio star Miss Kitty has always been outspoken on issues that hit close to home, but never is she more vocally passionate than when airing her concerns over the shabby treatment of plus-sized women like her, whom she believes have been largely ignored by mainstream media and culture for far too long in favour of skinny size twos. And she’s had enough. The fluffy queenpin makes ample use of the platform of the latest issue of Buzzz Magazine to voice her concerns.

She tells the magazine, “Society is sometimes a bully: it tells you what to do, what to wear, what to eat, how to look and how to feel. It often relegates certain people, pushing them further into caves where they’re not visible, and stifles their voice.”

Taking it a step further, the 29-year-old radio personality argues that what many fail to realize is the fact that not every woman harbours a secret desire to look like Chanel Iman or Kate Moss. “We have gotten so comfortable seeing stick-thin figures dominating our media that young girls starve to emulate models on a runway and undergo immense pressure to remain a size two,” she says. “Realistically, not every woman can or wants to be that thin. There are some powerful, exuberant women who appreciate being plus-sized; they are successful in their careers and are living extraordinary lives.”

Do you agree with Miss Kitty?

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ON THE SCENE: Rising Stars season finale + Yohan Blake hits up CVM + Bolt visits Guadeloupe + Daryl Vaz is a yogi

THE MAN IN BLACK: Information minister Daryl Vaz is seen here among several government employees participating in a yoga session at Jamaica House last Friday. The session was an initiative of Infotech Caribbean Limited and Shakti Yoga Centre in observance of International Yoga Week.

EMBRACEABLE YOU: CVM at Sunrise co-host (and October's cover girl) Regina Beavers gets close to star sprinter Yohan Blake, who was a special guest on the morning-time show last week. Cute pic!

FRIENDLY DUEL: Fierce competitors they are, but Latty J (left) and Tash played nice during a joint performance on the Rising Stars grand season finale on Sunday night. Loving Latty's stunning blond 'do. Get it, girls!

UP IN THE AIR: Nothing tastes better than sweet victory, and St. Thomas native Chantal 'Tash' Lamont is living proof. Congrats to the talented 17-year-old singer (and new millionaire!), who walked away as the winner of Rising Stars' eighth season last Sunday night. TALLAWAH was secretly rooting for the foxy diva Latty J -- but Tash is just as deserving of the win.

IN BOLT'S CORNER: The World's Fastest Man went island-hopping with sponsors Digicel over the weekend, and the sprint superstar's eventful voyage included a stopover in Guadeloupe, where he caught up with some of his French-speaking supporters. Fun times.

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Monday, 26 September 2011

'HAVING IT MY WAY': Regina Beavers gets candid about chasing success, her Wayne Marshall phase, and the big stage debut that might change her life

SITTING PRETTY: "I know love exists because I have it now."

The eye-catching, multi-coloured walls inside the wonderfully ventilated studios of CVM Television go perfectly with Regina Beavers’ lovely three-piece outfit and her mood. Infectiously upbeat and resembling a fresh and tasty confection, she is a sight for sore eyes on this postcard-perfect Tuesday afternoon. The pep in her step and vivacious energy in her speech suggest a woman in a good place – perhaps in the physical and emotional sense.

In truth, for the 27-year-old Beavers, Miss Jamaica World 2001 and a sprightly stage talent on the come-up, CVM has become that place, since 2009, where the twin worlds of work and education intertwine daily. “When I first got [here], I was lost because school and the real work world are two different things. Nothing applied. It was completely new to me,” Beavers reveals of her days fresh from film and TV studies in the States. “But I wasn’t discouraged. I’ve learnt a lot here, producing, editing, and writing scripts for television. And I’ve grown immensely. When you’re thrown in the deep end, you either sink of swim. And I told myself I was gonna swim.”

By all appearances, the lessons have served her well, as a talented and super-confident swimmer has emerged, performing all manner of breaststrokes and freestyle kicks. On TV, as in person, she is an engaging presence, bringing a spark and an affability that ever shine through. And the learning never stops, as Beavers subscribes to the belief that when one stops learning, one stops growing. “Even though I’ve been growing steadily,” she concedes, gazing out from the sizeable office couch where we’ve planted ourselves, her deep purple nails momentarily attracting my attention, “I’ve still got a long way to go.”

Raising a six-year-old son also ranks high among the diurnal experiences that provide Beavers with moments both challenging and utterly cherishable, while chock-full of valuable lessons. As for the balancing act that work and mommyhood usually demands, she’s found her solution in the never-fail practice of timely organization. Besides, as Beavers tells it, the well-mannered boy is a mother’s dream. “Gio has been in training since he was a baby. He knows when Mommy is being serious, when it’s time to behave, when it’s time to play,” she says. “But time management is still the most important thing.”


There’s no shortage of ‘assistants’ pitching in either, from reliable relatives to Giomar’s own father, the dancehall artiste Wayne Marshall, with whom Beavers shared a relationship for nearly six years, starting in 2003. “Wayne is great. But to be honest, Tami (Wayne’s wife) and I have way more communication. We do all the pick-ups from school, the buying of shoes. There are more hands to help me. And it works. I need her all the time. (Laughs).”

When it comes to Marshall and what they had back in the day, it’s a chapter of her past that Beavers is not timid, let alone hesitant, to recall. A megawatt smile covers her face, indicating that she sort of cherishes those memories. They met on the occasion of Spring Break in 2003, and the connection was immediate. “It was instant sparks. An instant connection. And even when I went back to school [abroad], we kept in touch. And from there it started,” she reveals. “I went all over the world with him. Anywhere him go, him take me. We had a great time.”

So what led to the break-up? “We said we wanted a family. We planned everything. And I got pregnant, and Gio comes – and then things changed. We have a baby now,” says Beavers, who was barely in her 20s at the time. “We planned it, but we didn’t quite know what it meant. We liked the idea of family and baby, but when it happened it was a little difficult. The reality of it was difficult for us.”

And now, seven years later? “We work better this way. We get along, and we are able to plan Gio’s life without arguing. This way we don’t have to deal with what we don’t agree on. We do our own lives, and still raise our son together. That’s what we’ve agreed to do.”


By her own admission, the union Beavers had with Wayne Marshall wasn’t destined to last. Real love is eternal, she affirms, but she was meant to find it with someone else, who might very well be the new, older boyfriend who has swept her off her feet. “I know love exists because I have it now, and I wouldn’t have found it if I had stayed with Wayne,” she gushes. “I have it now, and it’s goosebumps. It’s amazing. It has changed my life. A lot of great things have been happening since.” Just don’t ask her to reveal Mr. Wow’s identity. She is hiding him from the press – at least for now. “It’s like how everything just comes together when you find the right person. We are very similar in terms of how we think about life. We do everything together.”

These days, Beavers’ good fortunate is not limited to her love life. Professionally – and artistically – things are also looking up, as she’s set to make her commercial stage debut as the female lead in an upcoming revival of the award-winning 2003 drama A Gift for Mom, adding to her list of acting credits that also include small parts in the Jamaican indie films One Love and the yet-to-be-released Goathead.

“I have to thank Basil Dawkins for giving me this opportunity. He is a legend, and for me to be able to do this for my first play is incredible,” says Beavers, who will portray a tightly wound young lawyer at a crossroads named Hope Sinclair, opposite Alwyn Scott and Ruth HoShing under direction from Douglas Prout. “I like [Hope] because even though she is struggling and hasn’t been able to experience love and the simpler things, she’s confident in ensuring that whatever she’s going to do she’ll do it to the best of her ability.”

In some respects, that’s a parallel to Beavers’ own life as she strives to morph into a more successful version of her fabulous and happy self. “For me, happiness is being content with yourself and having peace of mind,” she philosophizes, “And believing that you’re here for a purpose and working towards that purpose, whatever it may be.”

PART II: Beavers on body image and what's next

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THE TROUBLE WITH TEACHA’S PET: Vybz Kartel’s ill-conceived reality series is both horrible and horrifying

TRUE COLOURS: Teacha's Pet cast members let it all hang out.

I know two things about Teacha’s Pet, the new looking-for-love reality series from dancehall’s controversy king, Adidja ‘Vybz Kartel’ Palmer, which airs Fridays at 10:00 pm on CVM; first, that Jamaicans will see it in droves; second, that it’s not worthy of us.

Taking cues from some of cable television’s widely watched shows of its kind and featuring some 20 relatively young women seeking to embed themselves in the entertainer’s affections, Vybz Kartel and his production team seem bent on presenting a programme that’s mired in activities that are not only distasteful and shocking, but fuel a dangerous fallacy that love and romance is all fun and games.

That said, there are those who will readily identify with the shenanigans onscreen, seeing pieces of themselves in some of the women (who were culled from locations as disparate as Brooklyn, Chicago, Australia and Salem, St. James) and find humour in the scandalous charades. But as the opening episode clearly demonstrates, Teacha’s Pet is an ill-conceived mess that boils down to a sad depiction (the violent fighting, the crass dialogue...) of women, Black and non-Black.

There’s no shame in undertaking a reality dating show, but is it too much to ask that it be done with something resembling a modicum of class? Personally, I had hoped that the programme would have fared better. Unfortunately, what Teacha’s Pet delivers is ineradicably unacceptable – and it’s not worthy of our TV screens. Tyrone’s Verdict: D+

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Sunday, 25 September 2011

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS: The Seven Habits of Happy People

GLEE! Is there a secret to lasting joy? Experts help TALLAWAH uncover the true source of emotional wholeness, by explaining what happy people already know and showing us how to tap into our own bliss:

> Make commitments – and then practise keeping your word. The greatest dreams will not be accomplished without discipline and daily effort - and that process brings joy,” says the Reverend A.R. Bernard of NYC’s Christian Cultural Centre.

> End each day by recalling three moments that made you feel grateful – anything from a gorgeous sunrise to a loved one’s smile. Practise sitting in quiet contemplation or prayer, recommends Valorie Burton, life coach and author of Listen to Your Heart (WaterBrook Press).

> East nourishing food and get six to eight hours of sleep nightly. And exercise regularly – the endorphin boost adds to your feeling of well-being and may help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other illness. “Research shows that exercising three times a week for 30 minutes each session has the same effect as some of our most powerful drugs for alleviating depressions,” notes Harvard lecturer Dr. Tel Ben-Shahar, who also recommends that we give ourselves permission to be human. “When we accept emotions such as fear, sadness and anxiety as natural, we are more able to overcome them.”

> Be intentional in building strong bonds with other people. “Social relationships are a powerful predictor of happiness, much more so than money,” writes Daniel Gilbert in Stumbling on Happiness (Vintage). Indeed, a 2002 University of Illinois study shows that participants who reported the highest level of happiness also reported the strongest ties to friends and family.

> A 2006 Pew Research report revealed that those who attend weekly church services – or any faith-based events – indicate that they feel much happier than those who attend once a month or less.

> Experts agree that holding on to anger and resentment is an emotional weight that robs you of your joy. Let it go. “Happiness is spiritual peace – peace with God, with yourself and with others,” explains Reverend Bernard. In similar ways, generosity makes us feel as if we’re making a difference by creating an environment of connection and love.

> We need positive interactions for every negative, according to psychologist John Gottman, in order for us to consider a relationship a happy one. The point is: Surround yourself with people who support and encourage you, and give a wide berth to those who criticize and deplete you.

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FANTASTIC FOUR: A powerhouse quartet of theatrical releases comes centrestage

IN THE SPIRIT: Father HoLung laughs it up.

Each year, as awards season draws nigh, the offerings in local theatre take on an increasingly fascinating tone, characterized by a surfing of genres from intense drama and witty comedy to delightful musical. As the last quarter dawns, it seems safe to conclude that theatergoers are in for much of the same in 2011. October alone, buoyed by a quartet of hot-ticket productions, provides reason for audiences to rejoice.

Leading the fantastic four is the buzz-worthy gospel drama God’s Way, written and directed by Dahlia Harris (Judgement) and starring Gracia Thompson, who heads a cast that also includes Trudy Campbell, Sabrena McDonald and Ainsley Whyte. With a foundation rooted in a recognizable mix of spirituality and struggle, the play should attract sizeable crowds for its nearly two-month run at the Theatre Place. Those in the market for a high-energy production that combines the dramatic word with rousing music, should make a date to see Acts of the Apostles, the latest from Father HoLung & Friends, which runs at the National Arena for two weekends, starting Oct. 1.

Also returning to the theatrical marketplace, playwright and director David Tulloch (White Witch) brings together a reputable batch of stage stars for the dramedy If Walls Could Talk, set for a stint at the Pantry until mid-Nov. Many will be thrilled to witness veteran actress Rosie Murray back in action (after a too-long self-imposed hiatus) alongside Chris McFarlane and Winston ‘Bello’ Bell, fresh from the success of the cinematic release Ghett’a Life. Finally, A Gift For Mom, Basil Dawkins’ award-winning examination of work and love, is slated to enjoy a brief revival at the Little Theatre with a cast comprising Alwyn Scott, Ruth HoShing and TALLAWAH cover star Regina Beavers.

Former beauty queen Marsha-Ann Hay continues to lengthen her list of acting creds with a meaty role in the eagerly awaited David Tulloch production, If Walls Could Talk. Hay, who has appeared in such acclaimed stage pieces as The University Players’ Appropriate Behaviour, is yet to land that captivating breakout role to nudge her into the pantheon of genuinely emerging Jamaican actresses to watch. This time around, many are saying she might just hit the jackpot.

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DOWN MEMORY LANE: A new exhibition taps into the artistic bounty of Albert Chong’s past

BLACK GOLD: "Trespass" by Albert Chong.

Steeped in nostalgia and fueled by a meditation on identity, family and human evolution, a new career retrospective at the Mutual Gallery takes viewers deep into the world of Albert Chong. Testifying to the profound eye and visual style of Chong, a Jamaican-born artist who makes a living as an educator at the University Colorado at Boulder, the exhibition offers a range of spellbinding images – unforgettable photos and conversation-starting installations – that challenge one to ponder issues rooted in race, gender and class. At its core though, Chong’s work, which spans some 30-odd years, compellingly captures his own journey of self and family history.

“I decided to go down memory lane and take images of people of my past and put them in one large collection,” said Chong, 53, of his photos, during a recent session at the gallery. “People sometimes react funny when you put a camera in front of them, but sometimes the images of family and friends are very rewarding.”

Yet Chong’s gaze is far from limited to random people and places, however familiar. Over the course of his career, he has also explored themes as riveting as human civilization, mass extinction and colonialism. Among his most provocative and memorable creations to emerge from this phase is his 1979 piece “Self-Portrait of the Artist as a Victim of Colonial Mentality,” which depicts a shirtless Chong as a native surrounded by foliage. Whatever his message, its clearly enveloped in the heart and mind concerns he has for his homeland.

Still, by his own admission, Chong, who is of African and Chinese heritage, finds joy and real fulfillment in the ordinary. “I’ve always had a fascination with objects,” he remarks, citing his penchant for heavy use of the tiling technique and his habit of finding inspiration in cinema. “Sometimes I’m watching a movie and I’ll pause the frame and take a photo of an object that grabs my attention and then look for something from nature to combine it with.” As always, the result is an image that’s nothing short of unforgettable.

PERSONAL HISTORY: Chong's “Self-Portrait of the Artist as a Victim of Colonial Mentality.”

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ON THE HOUSE: The Spot brings a fresh twist to campus lifestyle

PLACE TO UNWIND: A new campus hotspot opens at Mona.

“We pretty much realized that this place has a lot of potential to become a great sports bar and grill with lots of offerings,” says Ibrahim Konteh, half of the vibrant entrepreneurial duo behind the The Spot, the latest hangout spot on the UWI Mona Campus. Though the location of The Spot has formed part of the campus’ Students’ Union from the start, Konteh and business partner-in-crime Jason McLeish (the brains behind Jamrock Entertainment and former UWI guild execs) are taking a meticulous approach to restoring the place.

For starters, they are giving it a stylish update with appealing delights that run the gamut from reasonably priced meals and fantastic lunch specials (pasta, stir-fried dishes) to regular entertainment events, including a soon-to-be-launched weekly karaoke session. “We are thinking of making the place really appealing to the students, and the demand is already great.”

At the same time, the far-thinking duo’s plans for the business are ambitiously long-term. “Our main goal is to maintain a standard and offer a brand that people will look forward to,” Konteh says. “We want to market it well, and maybe even start a franchise across the island.”

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IN THE GROOVE: We assemble an eclectic playlist of jazz, rap and soulful reggae

SINGIN' AND SWINGIN': Bennett leads an all-star lineup.

Tony Bennett may be 85 years old, but age ain’t on his page if his new collaborative album, Duets II, is something to go by. Wonderfully appealing as ever, Bennett laces his music with regular spurts of exuberance and consistently impeccable phrasing befitting the legendary status of this iconic singer. In celebration of the milestone of Bennett’s 85th, Duets II brings together some of music’s biggest contemporary names to share billing on what is a scintillating follow-up to 2006’s multi-platinum Duets: An American Classic, which picked up three Grammys.

Very much like its predecessor, the new album is teeming with refreshing cuts with a vintage bent that redefine the concept of easy listening. On closer analysis, however, it becomes evident that the album delivers songs that are alternately groovy and mistily brooding. Stunning highlights include Norah Jones’ smoky vocals on the slow-burning “Speak Low”; the showstopping John Legend-assisted “Sing, You Sinners,” full of horns and other big-band instruments; and the wistful Amy Winehouse collabo “Body and Soul.” Also look out for appearances from Carrie Underwood, Michael Buble, Mariah Carey and Lady Gaga, who guests on the snazzy opener “The Lady is a Tramp.” If anything, Duets II provides ample proof that in spite of of his senior age, Bennett still takes ‘em to school. Tyrone's Verdict: A


REGGAE & DANCEHALL: To serve as the appetizer for her forthcoming as-yet-untitled full-length debut, singer Cherine releases the mixtape JA 9.25 (the date of her birth), which features a mix of her current radio anthems and new hits waiting to be discovered. Meanwhile, fans of dancehall vixen Ce’Cile are dying to sample the offerings of her latest release, Jamaicanization, spiked with a signature blend of sass and truth-telling. And fresh from the critical success of his recently-released mixtape, Konshens now turns his attention to his highly anticipated studio effort, Mental Maintenance, which should pick up where the Sextape left off.

HIP-HOP & RAP: After biding his time on the sidelines, Roc Nation rapper J. Cole is finally set to get his due with the release of his buzzed-about debut Cole World: The Sideline Story (out Tuesday). Not that he really needs the aid, but the 26-year-old gets assists on the record from Trey Songz (the flirty “Can’t Get Enough”) and mentor Jay Z, who lends a verse on “Mr. Nice Watch.”

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