A scene from WE THE PARTY, a film by Mario Van Peebles. Picture courtesy XLrator Media. All rights reserved.
- Roger Gold
- Bill Gerber
- Michael McLean
* Most external filmography links go to The Internet Movie Database.Home/Social Media Links
We the Party (2012)
Opened: 04/06/2012 Limited
|AMC Empire 25||04/06/2012 - 04/12/2012||7 days|
Trailer: Click for trailer
Rated: R for for sexual content, language and brief drug use - all involving teens.
WE THE PARTY is a colorful, cutting-edge, multicultural comedy about a group of teenagers coming of age during America's first black presidency. "Teenagers are at the center of a seismic cultural shift," says writer/director Mario Van Peebles. "Their world is changing fast, from their music to their dancing, jerking, twerking, skateboarding, dating and facebooking. Thug life is old school now and, for some, smart is the new gangsta!"
Filmed on location in one of Los Angeles' tougher areas, the fictional "Baldwin Hills High School" comprises a broad cross-section of teens from different races and backgrounds -- from gang-bangers sagging, to the skinny jeans and skateboard swag crowd, to the upper-class entitlement kids of Baldwin Hills.
The movie chronicles the adventures of five tightly-knit friends as they plot to up their game, lose their virginity, out-maneuver the school bully, and take the girls of their dreams to prom. Tensions mount when it's suspected one of the students stole the prom money. With prom about to be cancelled and police on the scene, the students turn on each other...only to learn things are seldom what they appear.
Set against the backdrop of the latest music and dancing, WE THE PARTY features Snoop Dogg, YG, The New Boyz, The Rej3ctz, The Pink Dollaz, Mario Van Peebles, Michael Jai White, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Tiny Lister, Melvin Van Peebles, Mandela Van Peebles, Simone Battle, Moises Arias, Orlando Brown and Quincy Brown.
"WE THE PARTY is the real deal, not necessarily how adults want us to be but how we are," says 16-year-old Moises Arias of "Hannah Montana" fame.
"Mario's kids were fans of our music," says the New Boyz. "He wanted to make a legit movie about today's teenagers with all the new music style and swag, and he put us in the film."
"It's not the car you drive or the clothes you wear, the real party is inside. WE THE PARTY," says Melvin Van Peebles who does a cameo in his son's film.
"It's been almost 20 years since we've had a good House Party or Breakfast Club," says Michael Cohen, Mario's executive producing partner. "WE THE PARTY is going to surprise a lot of people."
"I have not felt this kind of intense street energy behind a film since New Jack City. I wouldn't have known what today's teenagers are experiencing if I didn't have teens myself," says Mario Van Peebles.
A while ago I was writing a new script -- or rather trying to write one -- but my teenagers were upstairs blasting music with the volume at "11.". I went up to have them dial down the fun but was quickly entranced by the new dances they and their friends were doing. It was like nothing I had ever seen (The Dougie, the Jerk, the Catdaddy, etc.). My curiosity was piqued. Sensing an opening, my wild bunch started begging me to let them go to some all-age underground clubs. Their reasoning was that only then would they truly be able to show me all the "new stuff" that was happening. Naturally I said what any filmmaker father would say, "Hell no! Unless of course you take me with you." They balked. My old soul son Makaylo tried to break it down to me diplomatically. He explained that rolling into a party with your dad was akin to bringing the cops and a sure-fire way to never get invited again. They tried their best emotional jujitsu and teen logic on me but I held fast to my Van Peebles family values. Finally, my cool two-slap son Mandela offered up a possible solution. "How about you go not as our father but as a member of our entourage, like our head of security?" Silence... and then my eldest sweet talking daughter Maya piped in, "Yeah, kids our age probably won't recognize you as much, plus you were 'Sonny Spoon,' NBC's detective and master of disguise right?" We could put you in a baseball hat real low and swag you out in some skinny jeans and we're good." She flashed that Maya smile and the deal was done. I would drive, as long as they and their friends were safe. They could totally be themselves. They could talk like they talk, and party how they party. I would go INCOGNEGRO.
The next few weeks were incredible. Not only did I get to know my kids in a whole new light, but I got a crash course in today's teen culture. Everything seemed different somehow. Kids of all colors were using the N-word as a term of endearment. One of the most popular kids was an openly gay black boy who could kick your ass with style. Gangster rap is considered old school now. Slow dancing looks more like safe sex on the dance floor. You can't listen to their music without putting a condom on. Racial lines are blurring while economic ones are becoming more pronounced. They tweet and Facebook at lightening speed. These are the trendsetters that are bombarded daily by hyper-materialism. They are, simultaneously, incredibly informed and yet often woefully ignorant. While some are dropping out, others see "smart as the new gangsta." This is the first generation to come of age during a black presidency, and for them, it's not historical. It's just the norm! For this generation, anything seems possible, both good and bad.
It quickly became clear to me that these teens are experiencing a seismic cultural shift. If I didn't have kids myself and truly hang out with them, I would have had no idea. I soon forgot all about my other script. Taking advantage of my interest, my kids maneuvered me into letting them throw an "epic" party at our house. This monster kick back became the basis for WE THE PARTY. They had over four hundred teens of all colors partying hard at our crib. My boys quickly tripled their birthday money. I walked around like a middle-aged paparazzi videotaping and taking notes like a madman.
I believe kids come through you and not from you. You really don't know what soul you'll get. As a parent, it's up to us to guide them and help them be the best version of them that they can be. As a filmmaker, the metaphor continues; good stories, good films, come through us. You can start out thinking, this one is going to be my action franchise or my political thriller. But, I feel that some of my best work comes when I get out of my own way and let the piece speak to me. I had not planned this movie. It was just literally happening all around me.
WE THE PARTY was made in the same spirit in which I ventured into underground teen-land. Early on while work shopping the project, I allowed the teenage actors to be authentic to who they are, not who adults want them to be. One of our actors, 16-year-old Moises Arias from "Hannah Montana," said "this is how we really are. Our lives are not PG." There is a scene in the film where Que, a cool white skateboarder tries to pick up one of the black girls from the rap group "Pink Dollaz." I called action and Que handed her a bouquet of flowers. She and her crew ad-libbed back in amazement, "now what's this nigga tryna do?!" The social flip on that was crazy. The sista from the hood was referring to the wigger from Venice beach as the "N" word. I knew I wanted to keep it in the movie but there would be political blowback. Even though the film had heart, we would not be PG. In good faith we tried a censored second take but it was far less interesting. This was only one of many examples where the truth of their language was better than fiction.
Twenty years ago, when I directed my first feature "New Jack City," it was a "push" business. The studio or record company could push an artist on an audience. Now it's a "pull" business. The kids are downloading what they want. Using social media, we are able to track the bands teens were downloading. "The New Boyz" had fifty million hits on YouTube. When we shot the film, "Cat Daddy," which the Rej3ctz perform in our prom scene, was not even a single yet. Now, it has more than sixty million hits. YG, who plays our bad boy in the film, was all ready performing on stage with hip hop dogfather "Snoop." So, it was natural to pair him up as Snoop Dogg's younger brother. Salli Richardson was my love interest in "Posse" and Tiny Lister was my sidekick and enforcer. Interestingly, Salli had also played Michael Jai White's love interest in a film. Michael does a lot of work with youth. When I reached out to him about the project, he understood its "edutainment" heart organically.
Casting real teens instead of Hollywood teens meant that we would be using a lot of fresh faces (and rehearsal time) in addition to teen pros like Moises and Orlando Brown from "That's So Raven." Our casting director Anessa Williams is super plugged in to the cutting-edge youth culture. She had been casting my kids in various projects for years. She brought in multi-culti kids from everywhere, including the LA club underground, to see who had the acting skills and the flavor.
My pops Melvin let my sister and I act in several of his projects, which basically meant that we had to work twice as hard as everyone else. True to the "Van Peebles" Family Tradition, I let my kids play the roles they helped create (at a family discount of course). In our family, we try never to confuse people we love, with people who are actually good at what they do. In other words, Daddy loves you but it doesn't mean you can act for shit. The MVP kids worked hard; they worked for less; and they were respectful. On set, I was not their "incognegro" Dad anymore. I was their director. I also reached out to my old man for a cameo, and the original "Baadasssss!" happily agreed.
The truth is doing a teenage-centric film authentically without PG-ing it down is a risk. Casting it legitimately with a lot of first timers took a leap of faith. In the end, it meant I had to do it independently. "Old school," the way I did "BAADASSSSS!" and my dad did "Sweetback."
My running buddy Michael Cohen and I funded it ourselves. We'll either be ok, or we'll be selling oranges and tube socks on Crenshaw Blvd. Either way on some level, it's already a win. I believe there are three loves in your life: love what you do, love who you do it with, and love what you say with it. With WE THE PARTY, we were lucky enough to do all three.
-- Mario Van Peebles, Writer/Director
Mario Van Peebles
Mario Van Peebles believes there are three loves in your life: Love what you do, love who you do it with and love what you say with it. With his new coming of age film, WE THE PARTY, Mario gets to do all three. In addition to directing and acting in features, Van Peebles is passionate about supporting education and eco-consciousness through media. With his reality show, Mario's Green House, Mario got to team up with his kids and his filmmaker father Melvin Van Peebles. The show chronicled the Van Peebles family's often-humorous attempts to raise their eco-consciousness as they try to go green in Hollywood. "We never got to the full green, more like Olive green," jokes Van Peebles.
With BRING YOUR "A" GAME, Van Peebles encourages young brothers to resist the pop culture of anti-intellectualism and educate themselves beyond conventional academics. His documentary FAIR GAME?, explores such topics as the prison industrial complex as a form of modern day slavery, and eco-apartheid.
A graduate of Columbia University with a B.A. in Economics and recipient of an honorary doctorate from Hofstra University, Van Peebles worked for two years for New York's Department of Environmental Protection before moving to Hollywood to act, write, and direct.
"It's called 'show business' not 'show arts.' I needed the business savvy to turn what I love into a career," says Van Peebles. After three years of saving and sleeping on a kitchen floor, Van Peebles got his first break acting in HEARTBREAK RIDGE opposite Clint Eastwood. He took that money and funded his first short film. Soon after he was directing episodic TV including his own series for NBC produced by Stephen J. Cannell called Sonny Spoon. His theatrical directing debut was the urban gangster hit NEW JACK CITY, which became Warner Brothers' most profitable movie of 1991. Van Peebles followed up with his multi-cultural western, Posse.
Van Peebles then directed and produced PANTHER, while his father wrote and produced it. PANTHER is the story of the Black Panther Party's rise to power. The film became a political classic, earning both controversy and awards including the Lacarno Film Festival's Silver Leopard award.
BAADASSSSS! Van Peebles' odyssey about the making of his father's groundbreaking film SWEET SWEETBACK'S BAADASSSSS SONG was one of Ebert and Ropert's ten best movies of the year for 2004.
Recently, Van Peebles directed and acted in ALL THINGS FALL APART alongside 50 Cent and Ray Liotta. He also directed REDEMPTION ROAD, about two men on a spiritual journey with Michael Clarke Duncan and Tom Skerritt.
Van Peebles received critical acclaim for his portrayal of political icon Malcolm X alongside Will Smith in Michael Mann's ALI. When not doing features, Van Peebles directs award winning shows like Damages, Lost and Boss.
Salli first garnered public attention with her breakout role in POSSE, opposite Mario Van Peebles (who also directed), Stephen Baldwin, Billy Zane, and Blair Underwood. A string of features followed including A LOW DOWN DIRTY SHAME, ONCE UPON A TIME WHEN WE WERE COLORED, ANACONDAS, THE GREAT WHITE HYPE, BIKER BOYS and the upcoming PASTOR BROWN. She starred opposite Will Smith in I AM LEGEND, Michael Jai White in BLACK DYNAMITE (which she also produced), Bill Cosby in I SPY, and Denzel Washington in ANTWONE FISHER. She recently starred in the independent feature I WILL FOLLOW, award winning writer/director Ava Duvernay's first narrative feature. Salli starred for the past five season on cult hit EUREKA and has recurred on CRIMINAL MINDS, NYPD BLUE, CSI MIAMI, and was a regular on FAMILY LAW and GARGOYLES, the animated series.
After spending years in front of the camera, Salli stepped behind the lens and directed episodes of Eureka. GRACE marks Salli's first narrative film. She recently has formed a new production company to produce and develop projects as an actor and director.
Mandela Van Peebles
He doesn't see being named after Nelson Mandela, and following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather before him, as pressure. Instead, he sees these things as something that he is determined to live up to.
Mandela Van Peebles possesses something that a lot of up-and-comers don't have at the tender age of seventeen--lush and varied world experiences. He's spent a school year in Costa Rica, a summer working on a farm in Panama, volunteered with children in South Africa, and astutely observed at nine years of age that the children playing in the rice patties in Thailand appeared happier than some of his American friends did--the ones who had all the toys and privileges the world could offer, yet still complained, whereas the Thai children had no possessions, but could still find joy in the small things.
With this keen power of observation and a burgeoning awareness of human psychology, it's always been assumed that Mandela would be a third generation director. After all, he's grown up on his father's sets, and although he'd acted with his family in Judgment Day and had co-starred with Dita Von Teese in a short film in which he kissed her, Mandela had always thought that he'd find his place solely behind the camera. All that changed with WE THE PARTY. For the first time, he was able to experience the whole process of making a film. Not only was his interest in directing intensified, but he was also surprisingly bitten by the acting bug in a big way, and learned the ins and outs of producing.
Mandela is now well on his way. He's just finished shooting a role in the film American Battleship, and co-produced music videos for two singles featured in WE THE PARTY by MVP Boyz, a rap duo he and his brother formed together.
Born in Windsor Hills, Los Angeles Simone Battle developed a love for music and the arts at an early age. The second of three children, she had anything but "Middle Child Syndrome," as she seized every chance to be the center of attention. Simone's passion to sing led her to join the church Cherub Choir when she was four. She soon branched out into dance, taking ballet and tap lessons at Colburn School of Performing Arts in Downtown LA.
Despite humble beginnings, Simone's mother made a way for her to attend private school in Studio City, where she immersed herself in every performance outlet from cheerleading to jazz band, even theater. Spotted at a community talent contest, Simone was offered agency representation and began doing commercials and TV shows. She scored roles on CW's Everybody Hates Chris and Nickelodeon's Zoey 101.
Fresh out of high school, with Cum Laude status, Simone auditioned for will.i.am, who tapped her to be on the Black Eyed Peas Pepsi World Tour where she sang and danced backup in over 30 countries.
She also performed background vocals on both will.i.am's Songs About Girls, and Michael Jackson's Thriller 25th Anniversary albums.
After touring for a year, Simone went back to school to earn her degree in Music Industry at USC. A full time college student, Simone still made time to follow her dreams. In 2010 she booked the lead in WE THE PARTY, a feature film directed by Mario Van Peebles, scheduled to release April 2012. She also wowed the judges of X Factor, especially Simon Cowell, who championed the young starlet during her stint on the show, calling her a "witty" and "fearless" "star."
Perhaps the most fearless thing about Simone is the way she used her final moments on the show to remind the world that she's not done yet. While other contestants mourned their departures, Battle announced the release of her debut single "He Likes Boys," which she wrote about her malfunctioning "gaydar." The song took the Internet by storm, making Simone Battle a trending topic on Twitter and a monetized Youtube artist. Simone describes her style as a threesome between a cheerleader, a hipster, and a drag queen. Her amazing wit, and pop culture influence is characteristically heard in her 20 plus written and ASCAP published songs. Battle combines eclectic pop style with her unforgettable voice and unstoppable swagger. Fearless, fierce, and fresh, Simone Battle is ready to conquer the music world by storm.
Kennon Jackson (YG)
For the past few years, rapper YG has had the West Coast on lock. His music is played on every radio station and his hit records, "Toot It and Boot It", "B*tches Ain't Shit" and "Up" are go-to records in all of the hottest clubs. YG's latest mixtape, "Just Re'd Up", is in the streets coast to coast. He has transitioned from a popular street rapper from Compton, CA to becoming a certified hit maker and a leader of his movement "Pusha Ink" with an aura and a sound reminiscent of the 1900's label, Death Row. Ask YG his next plan and it's straight to the point, "The plan is this: put out more mixtapes, make more songs, Internet campaigning, music videos, touring, selling out shows, and then I'll put out an album." The execution has been precise with a cover feature on XXL magazine, rocking stages with Hip Hop icons 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, and Chris Brown. His "Just Re'd Up" tour visited 20 cities across the country and he's already landed a lead role in a film directed by Mario Van Peebles titled, WE THE PARTY. "I'm currently signed to Def Jam but I'm focused on building myself as an artist and as a brand. I'm also building my label, Pusha Ink. It's a lot of work but this is what the music business is about and I want it all." [YG]
Moises Arias was Born in New York 1994. He was raised in Atlanta, GA and moved to LA at the age of 10 to start a career in the entertainment industry. His parents are from Colombia. He has a younger brother, Mateo Arias, who is also an actor and is currently working on a Disney XD show ("Kickin' It"). He has also an older sister, Marcela Arias. Moises speaks fluent Spanish. Moises is currently working on THE MIDDLE, an ABC show; he has a recurring role as Matt.
His first job was a commercial for Burger King and the movie: Nacho Libre.
Moises is known for his role as Rico on the sitcom "Hannah Montana."
Moise Arias has made guest appearances on shows such as "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody" and "Everybody Hates Chris" and "Wizards of Waverly Place." He had a recurring role as Rico on "Hannah Montana," and became a series regular in the show's second season. In 2009, he played Andre in the Disney Channel Original Movie Dadnapped. As a regular on the Disney Channel, Moises participated on the first and second Disney Channel Games on the red team. He also participated in the third Disney Channel games on the Yellow Team (Comets).
He has also appeared in music videos for Pearl Jam, Jonas Brothers (SOS), and Parmalee, and the movie Nacho Libre. He participated in the Guadalajara Film Festival (2009) during the presentation of the movie The Perfect Game together with Eva Longoria. He and his brother also directed a series of YouTube films under the user name "Moiswashere."
Moises Arias appeared on the ESPN family of networks as a reporter conducting interviews with fans and players at the 2009 Little League World Series. Moises also starred in the film Beethoven's Big Break in 2008. Moises appeared in "Wizards of Waverly Place" and played Max (Jake T. Austin)'s conscience.
Patrick Cage II
You may know the face, or maybe it's the smile; or perhaps you've seen him on Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network as you channel-surfed, but you will soon be seeing a lot more of this rising star.
Patrick Cage II will grace the silver screen this spring 2012 starring in Director Mario van Peebles' latest project, WE THE PARTY: a coming of age film focusing on the trials and triumphs of today's youth as they skyrocket with self-confidence under the Obama presidency.
Patrick, a natural born actor, caught the bug at the tender age of eight, and has focused on his first love ever since. His favorite actor and professional role model is Will Smith. In addition to acting, Patrick is currently in production on a web project he developed, wrote and produced and is hoping to catch HBO's eye to take his creativity public.
An adept self-taught musician, Patrick plays 10 instruments, including the drums, guitar, ukulele, guitarron, and tenor saxophone. Adding to his uniqueness, Patrick is also a Samoan fire knife dancer, a skill he learned a couple years ago when his mother was performing with a Polynesian dance group.
In his spare time, Patrick is a youth advocate for Falling Whistles, a non-profit organization bringing awareness to the war over minerals in the Congo, and campaigning for peace in that region.
Fasten your seat belts...Patrick Cage II has arrived!
Makaylo Van Peebles
Makaylo Van Peebles was born in 1994 to Yoga Guru Chitra Sukhu and Actor/ Director Mario Van Peebles. Growing up in a household where film-making was ever-present in conjunction with spiritual teachings, Makaylo has had a unique view that sets him apart from most. Having lived in many parts of the world -- including Switzerland, Thailand, Cambodia, India, and Costa Rica -- Makaylo has experienced a wide variety of culture and language. Dabbling in the world of acting since childhood, Makaylo has played small roles in several movies: Judgment Day; Los Locos; The Hebrew Hammer; and Love Kills. Suddenly becoming an Actor didn't seem too far of a stretch. Seeing his father Mario Van Peebles act, direct, and produce also inspired Makaylo to continue in the field of Acting. Affter participating in the TV One show "Mario's Greenhouse" for eight episodes, Makaylo decided to try out for the upcoming movie, WE THE PARTY. He landed the 'Cool-Nerd' role as 'Cedric a.k.a Obama.' He had to prepare for his first major role in a theatrically released movie. After successfully taking on this huge task in the acting world, Makaylo and his brother produced three singles to be released on the WE THE PARTY soundtrack, including: "She's a Vegan"; "Forever"; and "Light at the End of the Tunnel." They produced these works under the name "MVP BOYZ." Makaylo has continued his musical aspirations by writing, recording, and performing two new songs. He plans to release these on his upcoming album he produced while in India.
While spending the latter-2011 living throughout Asia, volunteering to teach Thai children English, and supervising at orphanages -- it is clear there are many quite admirable layers to Makaylo. With the heart of a Humanitarian and the credentials of an up-and-coming Actor, Makaylo is determined to leave his mark in our World in the most favorable and inspirational way he feels called to accomplish.
Michael Jai White
Michael Jai White reprises his role as Marcus from the popular Why Did I Get Married? movies in the new TBS series, For Better or Worse, debuting this Fall. He first garnered audience and critical attention with his portrayal of controversial boxing giant Mike Tyson in the HBO special, Tyson. With more than two decades years of experience as a martial artist, he holds a black belt in six Karate styles and over 26 titles, including U.S. Open, North American Open, and New England Grand Champion. His well-honed skills have been employed to choreograph complex stunts in films such as On Deadly Ground.
In addition to Tyson, his feature credits include Spawn, in which he played the title character based on the Todd McFarlane comic books, 2 Days in the Valley, Breakfast of Champions with Bruce Willis Thick As Thieves with Alec Baldwin, Universal Solder: The Return with Jean Claude van Damme, Exit Wounds with Steven Seagal and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.
Television credits include the NBC movie Mutiny, based on factual events during World War II in which he played the lead character. The film was directed by Kevin Hooks and produced by Morgan Freeman. He also appeared in the TNT original movie Freedom Song, starring and executive produced by Danny Glover; the short lived NBC drama Wonderland; and episodes of NYBD Blue, JAG, Living Single, and Renegade.
Most recently, he has starred in Undisputed 2, Batman (The Dark Knight), the box office smash Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married 1 & 2, Black Dynamite, which Michael wrote, and co-produced and he directs and stars in the upcoming remake of Never Back Down 2.
White was born in Brooklyn and as a pre-teen was relocated to Bridgeport, Connecticut. At age 14, he was mostly on his own; and at six feet tall and weighing in at 190 lbs, he was easily mistaken for an adult. Having started karate lessons at age eight, he was a black belt by age 12, and later taught karate at the local YMCA in Bridgeport.
He graduated high school with honors and went on to college without a clear idea of the direction he wanted to steer his life. He jumped from university to university (UCONN, S.C.S.U.) and major to major (political science, communications, engineering) while also squeezing in an acting class or two--at the HB Studios in NY, Yale University, and Howard University -- but never had considered acting as a career choice.
White discovered he had a gift for reaching troubled children when he taught grades five, six, and seven at a junior high school for three years. That experience is what he says is his proudest achievement. Though reluctant to follow acting, he felt he had to get it out of his system. He began auditioning for roles in nearby Manhattan. He eventually landed commercials, theater roles, and bit parts on soap operas. Faced with the difficult decision to leave teaching, he finally did so with the blessing of his students. In 1992 he moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting.
Last year, The New Boyz taught the world how to jerk. What was once a minor Southern California trend went international when Ben J and Legacy created "You're A Jerk," the song that did for jerkin' what Chubby Checker did for the "Twist." From the Fox Hills Mall to Paris, France, teenagers in skinny jeans and tropically-colored t-shirts began filming videos of themselves jerkin': a dance craze that combined the best of break-dancing, krumping, and the Running Man.
The New Boyz were the face of the movement, next-generation avatars of style, skills and swag. Boasting an unforgettable video that racked up over 60,000,000 views on YouTube and other video-on-demand platforms, the pair were the focal point of articles in the LA Times, LA Weekly, The New York Times and Vogue Japan. The group also became one of the biggest selling hip-hop groups ever at the popular retail chain, Hot Topic.
It was an incredible feat for two 17-year olds, particularly considering they had only been making music for a year. While their success engendered its share of haters, the doubts were instantly quelled upon the release of their debut album, Skinny Jeanz & A Mic. A critical and commercial success, the LA Times praised Ben J and Legacy's innate "catchiness and charisma," while XXL magazine hailed the Boyz as "the breath of fresh air that rap needs."
While the world may have initially known them as jerks, the group's second smash single, the Ray J-aided slow jam, "Tie Me Down" went multi-platinum and was the groups second Top 5 record at rhythmic radio. Revealing their pop gifts and versatility, the collaboration still dominates radio even a year after its initial release. They were up for a BET Award for best group and even snagged a Teen Choice Award nomination. Subsequent tours with Chris Brown and Sean Kingston revealed the hysterical fervor of the group's fan base. Several mall performances even worked the crowd into such a frenzy that law enforcement had to shut them down.
But it's 2011, and rather than rest on their laurels, Ben J and Legacy are back with their sophomore album, Too Cool To Care for a May 10th release on Shotty/Asylum/Warner Bros. Records. The new album reflects the group's continued evolution, as they harness different genres (electro, alternative rock, R&B) and blend them with their hip-hop roots and trademark wit and confidence. As they said from the start: New Boyz do new things.
"We still support the movement, but we wanted to show our creativity without being tied to jerkin'," Legacy said. "Too Cool to Care is about how we've always gotten criticism from those who want to hate on our fashion or our style. But we've always done our thing. The album has crazy pop tracks, rock songs, and electronic songs. We're testing our boundaries."
"Break My Bank" combines the best of both worlds: fluid raps layered atop island crooner and labelmate Iyaz's instantly memorable hook. The result is a summer jam that conjures palm trees, white sand beaches, fluorescent waters and pink drinks with umbrellas in them. An instant smash, in just two weeks the single was added to 50 radio station playlists and closed in on pace to be Asylum's fastest record to #1 on any airplay chart.
Their first single "Backseat" is their attempt to bridge all these influences. Produced by indie-dance duo The Cataracts and featuring their starlet Dev, the song marks the group's foray into pop territory while keeping roots in hip-hop inspired fun. The "Escalade-based banger," described by Entertainment Weekly on its rise up the charts, "is how dance parties start--and how babies accidentally get made."
Elsewhere on the album, the group proves they can step away from the house-party functions and into a glitzy nightclub, concocting electro-club bangers like "Zonin." But don't be misled by the eclecticism. Even hardcore hip-hop heads, who view skinny jeans as the sign of the apocalypse, will be converted by the DJ Khalil-produced "Tough Kids" with its rapid-fire raps, raw boom-bap drums and Hendrix-style guitars.
Like most 18-year old males, the New Boyz have their minds heavily focused on the opposite sex. "Meet My Mom" finds them serenading a female over a churning pop-punk assault. Meanwhile "Your Boyfriend Is A Lame" finds Ben J and Legacy trading effortless boasts in the vein of a young LL Cool J.
"We wanted to show that we've grown up a little bit. It's not something out of left field, but want to show the world that we're the New Boyz and we always do new things," said Ben J. "The first album was more jerkin' oriented. It let the world know who we are. This album is focused on expressing ourselves to the girls. We're always trying to get the ladies."
Their first album made them voices of their generation, but their second explains exactly who the New Boyz are. They're children of the iPod age, able to switch styles as easily as they switch their skinny jeans. The notions of traditional hip-hop mean nothing to them. They're dedicated to pushing past genre and aesthetic boundaries. They're perennially on the quest for the new. And if you don't like it, that's all good--they're Too Cool To Care.
The Rej3ctz (MoWii, Pee W33, Bounc3)
Billboard Hot 100 charting hip-hop trio the REJ3CTZ, individually MoWii, Pee W33, and Bounc3, are the underground force behind the new generation of music, style and dance emerging from the West Coast and influencing youth culture across the globe. Already proven as viral phenoms and trendsetters, the REJ3CTZ have now also achieved undeniable mainstream success with their hit single "Cat Daddy" which has independently sold over 400k singles and gained more than 70M views online. The song and dance craze has officially become a part of pop culture with sightings of impromptu performances by everyone from pop stars Justin Bieber and Ciara to talk show hosts Ellen Degeneres and Regis and Kelly to the victory celebrations of NFL and NBA players like NY Giants Steve Smith, Celtics Glen Davis, and Redskins Kieland Williams. Born and raised in Los Angeles (Compton, Inglewood, and South Central respectively), the REJ3CTZ are also known as the creators behind another worldwide dance craze known as the "Rej3ct" which ignited the Jerk movement worldwide in the summer of 2009.
In latest breaking news, REJ3CTZ have proclaimed "SWAG is dead" and have announced the birth of "C.R.E.E.Z." which stands for "Creativity Rules Everything Everywhere in the Zodiac." Already a trending topic on Twitter, the REJ3CTZ have been spotted picketing the streets of LA, New York and Miami as part of their campaign to retire "SWAG" and inspire people to rethink that concept. Their new hard hitting anthem-style track called "CREEZ" will also launch the "Swag is Dead" Mixtape hosted by the LA Leakers, DJ SourMILK and Just-N-Credible of Power 106 LA, which will feature hot new music from the REJ3CTZ and features from Travis Porter, Ray J, and more. In 2011 the REJ3CTZ performed on the 2011 DUB Show Tour across the US with Waka Flocka, DJ Quik and Travie McCoy.
The group hit the music scene in 2008 with their underground hit "Rej3ct Stomp," describing the "function" aka party circuit in inner city Los Angeles as well as their signature footwork dance the "Rej3ct." The movement spread like wildfire, spawning thousands of YouTube videos imitating the style, and a new generation of music and other artists like the New Boyz with their hit song "You're a Jerk." Their next record "I'm Fitted" flipped the high-energy Kris-Kross favorite "Jump" and the corresponding viral video showcased their eccentric style, comedy and individual characters. "Cat Daddy" launched in late 2010 from their debut mixtape "theFUNKtion" and quickly took over Los Angeles grass-roots style, eventually making it to radio airplay at Power 106. With a strong underground following, the REJ3CTZ were requested at radio nationwide achieving airplay in over 50 cities and major markets including San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, and Philadelphia. The record went on to achieve a coveted spot on the Billboard Hot 100 which covers all music genres, in addition to over 12 weeks on Billboard's Top 100 Hip Hop and R&B and Top 25 Heatseekers charts.
The REJ3CTZ made their TV debut on the BET 106 & Park 10th Anniversary Special with Chris Brown, who also appears in the official "Cat Daddy" music video. The video attracted an impressive 8M views in just 48 hours after release on WorldStarHipHop.com and became an instant audience favorite on MTVJams, MTV2, MTVu, BET and Music Choice. The REJ3CTZ dynamic live show has taken them to over 200 venues nationwide, from high school and club tours, to major radio shows and arenas, to exclusive events for pop icon Madonna and hip hop mogul Diddy. Their TV performances include BET's "The Mo'Nique Show," FOX Sports "Ball Up!" and ESPN2's "Elite24," as well as 2 episodes of MTV2's "The DUB Magazine Project." Their journey has been featured in various major press outlets including XXL Magazine, MTV News, TMZ, and the Los Angeles Times.
As Renaissance Artists they are all-around creators who rap, write, dance, act, style, direct, and continue to evolve and trailblaze. Their comedic acting chops and on screen charisma hit primetime when the REJ3CTZ appeared in the premiere episode of the new hit sketch comedy show "In the Flow with Affion Crockett" on FOX. The REJ3CTZ can be seen in the upcoming films WE THE PARTY directed by Mario Van Peebles alongside Sallie Richardson, Michael Jai White, New Boyz, and rapper YG in theatres in Spring 2012 and "High School" with Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa. Fans can go behind the music and into the Rej3ctz lifestyle in their new TV mini-series called "Rej3ctz Takeover" currently available on Comcast On Demand.
Pink Dollaz (Cammy B, CeCe, Nilla, Reese)
Straight out of Inglewood a fly ass group named Pink Dollaz poised to make the girls go crazy and the boys holla. Not since the legendary likes of N.W.A. has a rap group male or female generated such a massive buzz as Nilla, Cammy B, Cee Cee, and Reese who comprise the multi talented foursome known as Pink Dollaz. Born and raised in Inglewood, California an area made popular by the blockbuster film "The Wood" served as the rearing site for Marisa Monique Williams aka Nilla, Camera Walker aka Cammy B, China Walker aka Cee Cee, and Lashonda Roby aka Reese four exceptionally gifted teen rappers whose talent and creativity knows no limits. More like sisters than friends Pink Dollaz showcases twins Cammy B and Cee Cee along with close friends Reese & Nilla who met while attending the world renowned Hamilton High School in west L.A. responsible for birthing the hit jerk movement that's sweeping the nation.
Beautiful, brass, undeniably talented, and fearless in their quest to even the playing field between male and female Mc's is the badge of honor so proudly worn by a group considered by many as the west coast best chance at reclaiming Hip-Hop dominance. Strong words maybe, but then again one need only look, listen, or merely observe the dynamic foursome enter a room to know talent this extraordinary comes only once every few decades.
The torch bearers of west coast Hip-Hop Pink Dollaz is ready to add to the legacy of greatness established by rap icons such as Ice T, N.W.A., Easy E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Too Short, DJ Quick, King Tee, Xzibit, and The Game. Unapologetic in their writing of sexually explicit lyrics and the real life everyday struggles of living in a community more like a third world country than an American city is the appeal that is sure to separate Pink Dollaz from all other female rap groups in recent memory.
Having performed more than a thousand shows throughout the west coast region has afforded the group an unparallel following of dedicated fans who flock by the hundreds to see the girls as if they were already signed to a major recording label. Proof of the group's immense status is most evident in their nearly three million hits on MySpace, sold out concerts, and performing alongside some of the biggest names in Hip-Hop to include but not limited to: Dorrough, Mac 10, Twister, Dub C, Paul Wall, Snoop Dogg, New Boyz, The Rejects, Lil B, Young YC, and Mannie Fresh. Fortunate to have not one but four totally unique superstars blessed with the rare ability to paint with words the joys and pains of generation next is and always will be Pink Dollaz' recipe for success. Rarely in Hip-Hop's thirty plus years existence has a new group hit the scene more talented or prepared than the incompreable Pink Dollaz are.
Although still very young Pink Dollaz are the consummate entertainers giving one hundred percent whether in the studio on stage, or during radio interviews where they are known to freestyle a cappella at a moment's notice. As close behind the scenes as they are in front of the cameras is the genuine camaraderie that Nilla, Cammy B, Cee Cee, and Reese possess that's sure to make them fan favorites for years to come. Free spirits of the highest kind Pink Dollaz are as different as they are close a winning formula that allows the girls true personalities to shine on every song they record.
Inspired most by music icons 2pac, Biggie Smalls, Lauren Hill, Lil Wayne, Jay Z, TLC, Erica Badu, Janet Jackson, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, all pioneering west coast Mc's, and the late great Michael Jackson represents the level of success sought by Pink Dollaz. Prominently featured in the upcoming motion picture WE THE PARTY starring and directed by highly acclaimed actor Mario Van Peebles that also includes an all star cast highlighted by superstars Michael Jai White, Snoop Dogg, Salli Richardson Whitfield, and Orlando Brown is further proof of the groups incredible star power. Drawing strong comparisons to the 1990's cult classic "House Party" starring Kid N Play is what makes WE THE PARTY a can't miss box office hit and Pink Dollaz bonifide triple threats as rappers, song-writers, & actors. Awarded female breakthrough artists of the year at the annual California Hip-Hop Ladies Awards is a honor well deserved by a group whose ground breaking mix tape cd entitled Pink Dollaz Volume 1 that features the smash hits "Never Hungry," "Tasty," "Dru," and the earth shattering club song "Drip Drip Drop" destined to be the new dance craze is proof that west coast rap... is back.
The Young icon/entrepreneur Quincy Brown, Also known as "International Quincy."
Before telling you where he's going in his career. Let's first catch you up on where International Quincy has been. Quincy is known to the world as a musical artist, model, TV host, and actor. Being step son to one of the world's most established moguls Sean Diddy Combs, Quincy has proven that success definitely runs in his family. Along with his many accolades, Quincy's first TV experience, MTV honored Quincy by showcasing his 16th birthday party on "My Super Sweet 16" which he renamed, "My Stunna 16", and was the highest rated Sweet 16 episode to date. Since then, Quincy has been owning and perfecting his craft as an artist and is set to release his first single in February titled "Stay A While."
Quincy is also featured in an upcoming Mario Van Peebles Film titled, WE THE PARTY which is set to release this april.
Along side with his theatrical and musical works, Quincy takes time to give back to the community; he's participated in multiple youth leadership summits, intervention programs for youth at risk, sat down on panels, "Read A Louds" programs at public schools, and also has spoken in front of the mayor of Columbus, GA.
As you can see Quincy was born ready to excel and reaching out to the community. He continues to be a progressive role model that has a knack for business, entertainment and humanitarism.
22 year old Carlos "Carlito" Olivero hails from the windy city of Chicago. Singing in English and Spanish from the age of 5, he had aspirations of making singing and performing his career.
In 2007 responding to a Craigslist ad, Carlos auditioned for a lead vocalist role for the Latin Pop group Menudo. Later that year, an MTV reality television series titled Making Menudo premiered with 15 contestants competing to land a slot in the new band. Besides a return to the original name, this 2007 lineup would be the first to live under the new age cap of 20. Carlos Olivero, Chris Moy, Emmanuel Velez Pagan, Jose Bordonada Collazo, and Monti Montanez became the new Menudo and helped revive one of the most successful Latin teen bands of all time. With an album planned for release, Menudo signed to Sony/Epic Music, and with a top 40 record on billboard and Latin billboard, Menudo toured in support of their debut singles "Lost" and "More Than Words." The group disbanded the following year and Carlos relocated to Los Angeles to continue to pursue his singing career and move into the acting area.
Upon his arrival in Los Angeles, Carlos filmed a national Starbucks commercial (now airing) as well as a lead in the forthcoming Mario Van Peebles directed teen based film entitled WE THE PARTY.
Carlos has continued to grow his songwriting skills collaborating with numerous industry pros. His Urban based Rhythmic Pop flavored with occasional Spanish language have created a unique sound which sets him apart from the male vocalists in the current pop landscape.
With an album planned for release Menudo Signed to Sony/epic Music, and with a top 40 record on billboard and latin billboard Menudo toured in support of their debut singles "Lost" and "More Than Words." The group disbanded the following year and Carlos relocated to Los Angeles to continue to pursue his singing career and move into the acting area.
Maya Van Peebles
Although still a teenager, Maya has already lived a life to be envied by many. She's traveled the world extensively and is fluent in French, thanks to her multi-cultural family makeup, and two years spent at boarding school in Paris.
Yes, she's been afforded certain opportunities, and being born into a filmmaking family has exposed her to yet more--in her first feature film role Maya's big scene was opposite Will Smith in Michael Mann's Ali, in which her father, Mario Van Peebles, played Malcolm X. Quite impressive in and of itself, what is most impressive, however, is what this teen takes away from her varied experiences.
Not one to rest on her laurels, Maya is all about giving back. An atypical kid, her idea of an enjoyable summer has been to help those that haven't been as fortunate as she. At fifteen, Maya spent the summer in Ghana volunteering at an orphanage. The following year she was in Harlem, working at a non-profit as a counselor to underprivileged Black and Latino youth. During Maya's junior year she was an emergency room volunteer, and the list goes on. A proponent of 'paying it forward,' this fuels much of what she does.
"Part of why I wanted to be in WE THE PARTY is the hope that it will give me a platform." A freshman studying broadcast journalism at Howard University, she adds, "I want to parlay my acting experiences into something great; I want to host a talk show, I want to disseminate information to communities that might otherwise not have access to what is pertinent to them. Really, I want to be a cross between Oprah and Soledad O'Brien."
Morgana Van Peebles
Morgana Van Peebles has had the privilege of being surrounded by film making her entire life. Morgana went from having her first role in "Judgment Day" when she was just a baby, to acting as Malcolm X's daughter in "Ali."
Morgana spent two years in Switzerland, where she was first introduced to the French language at the age of five. Once returned to the States, Morgana proceeded to take all her courses in French at Le Lycee Francais, making her fluent in the language. She became the first sixth grader in the history of the school to become president of the entire middle school (sixth, seventh and eighth grades). lthough Morgana didn't have time to audition, and take so much time off of school, she still found a way to let her creative side shine. In fifth grade, Morgana joined the drama club and Debbie Allen Dance Academy, were she discovered a passion for Plays, Musicals, and Dance.
Morgana spent the next few years focusing on her education during the day, and being fully indulged in Plays and her Dance at night. She stared in "The Big Bad Musical," as well as "Little Red Riding Hood." And she even played Cleopatra in "Night at the Wax Museum." As Morgana is maturing so evolves her taste in Plays. She did "Macbeth," and played Nick Bottom in "Midsummer Nights Dream."
It wasn't long before Morgana's family was ready for a new experience. In 8th grade, Morgana packed up and spent a year in Costa Rica, where she first started to learn Spanish. During her stay in Costa Rica, she participated in Beach Nuts Theatre Productions. She performed as Snow White in "Snow White" and as Olga in "The Wizard of Oz." That summer, Morgana also participated in the Fringe Festival in Canada, along with a small group from Costa Rica. They put on a play called, "To My Amazement," written by Chitra Sukhu.
Shortly thereafter, Morgana decided to give back to children less fortunate than herself. She spent part of her Ninth Grade Year in Thailand, teaching English to children at a local school, in a small town called Surin. Morgana soon moved on to spending her next period of time in India, where she resided in Bangalore, and Kerala. This period has been "intensely inspiring and enriching."
Morgana was very excited when the opportunity to act in WE THE PARTY came along. She thoroughly enjoyed working with the Cast and Crew, along with her family. "Everyone on set had now become our family." Morgana described going to Set almost as if it were like going to her second home. She is very excited to see the finished product, and would Love to work with everyone again.
Melvin Van Peebles
Actor, director, writer, composer, producer and editor Melvin Van Peebles redefined Hollywood's approach to Black audiences with his revolutionary film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. This 1971 independent feature remains one of the highest grossing, independent films ever made, and is credited with ushering in the subsequent wave of soul cinema. The journey to this most significant contribution curiously began with a "closed door," when the late 1950's Hollywood proved entirely unreceptive to three shorts submitted by Van Peebles in his desire to become a bona fide filmmaker.
Van Peebles then moved to Holland in 1959, pursuing an interest in astronomy while also acting in the Dutch National Theatre. Later, the same shorts passed over Hollywood came to the attention of French cineastes who sought Van Peebles out and encouraged him. He then decided to move to France to pursue a film career. Van Peebles lived in Paris for almost a decade, first performing as a street entertainer, then writing newspaper articles and novels in French. In 1967, he adapted his book La Permission into the film, Story of a Three Day Pass. The French submitted this 1967 feature to the San Francisco Film Festival where it garnered the Critics Choice Prize and the attention of Hollywood.
Columbia Pictures hired Van Peebles to direct the 1970 racial satire Watermelon Man, the story of a bigoted white man who wakes one morning to discover that he is black. The film was extremely well received by audiences. Columbia Pictures then offered Van Peebles a three-picture deal, which he turned down in favor of pursuing his next project, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. Using his Columbia Pictures salary and a loan from comedian Bill Cosby, Van Peebles shot this racially and sexually charged film in 19 days with non-union actors, including his son Mario as the 12-year old Sweetback.
There was no mistaking the confrontational tone of the film, which follows Sweetback as the protagonist on the run from corrupt cops. When the film was released, only two theaters in the United States would show it. Undaunted, Van Peebles then launched an innovative publicity campaign using the film's soundtrack as a promotional tool. Sweetback went on to achieve unprecedented box office success. Not only did the film give rise to independent film credibility, but it spurred Hollywood's blaxploitation era, (which spawned the hit films Shaft, Cotton Comes to Harlem and Superfly). Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song stands as an inspiration to Spike Lee, the Hudlin Brothers, John Singleton, his son Mario Van Peebles and countless other filmmakers.
"Yep, Sweetback managed to break a bar or two in what I considered to be one of the formative places -- subliminally or not so subliminally -- where the cages that enslave us a made, and where we go to understand ourselves -- the movies," said Melvin Van Peebles.
In the nineties, Van Peebles produced, directed and co-starred in the film Identity Crisis and appeared in the film Posse and Panther (both directed by his son, filmmaker/actor Mario Van Peebles). He later cameo appearances in Hollywood fare, including Boomerang, True Identity, and The Last Action Hero.
In 1998, Van Peebles produced and hosted the critically acclaimed documentary, Classifed X for BET Movies/Starz! (now Black Starz!). Classifed X explores the history of African-American images and the legacy of stereotyping in Hollywood films.
In 2004 Mario Van Peebles wrote, produced, directed and starred in the film Baadasssss!. This towering tribute to Melvin Van Peebles examines his stuggle to create his groundbreaking masterwork, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song.
But this "godfather of black cinema" experimented with many forms throughout his career. Van Peebles blazed a trail through the world of theater with two Tony nominated musical successes during the 1971-72 Broadway season. The first, Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death, is a hard-hitting compendium of street-life vignettes played out in a form of talk-singing that prefigured rap by almost a decade.
Next, Van Peebles created the vibrant gospel and blues comedy Don't Play Us Cheap. This musical about life in Harlem was later made into a feature film that took the top prize at the Belgian International Film Festival. Off-Broadway, Van Peebles wrote and produced the thoughtful and dynamic Champeen, a musiacal based on the life and times of blues singer Bessie Smith.
Without any formal musical training, Van Peebles has also created several albums that strikingly fuse the many influences from his very adventurous life. German song stylings, operatic backing vocals, gospel, blues, R&B, funk and later hip-hop have all been tapped to serve Van Peebles' singular vision on the recordings Brer Soul, As Serious As a Heart Attack, What the **** You Mean I Can't Sing?, Ghetto Gothic and others.
The medium of television proved to be another natural fit for the creative dynamo with three successful specials, an Emmy award-winning teleplay on censorship and the historic 1981 mini-series The Sophisticated Gents.
No matter the medium, Melvin Van Peebles has made his mark.
An active interest in the financial community led Van Peebles to add the mantle of options trader to his long list of accomplishments. He started a municipal bon company in the 1980's, later parlaying his successful experience into the very popular business book, Bold Money.
Born on the south side of Chicago, Illinois on August 21, 1932, Van Peebles earned a B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1953. He then served as an officer in the United States Air Force as a navigator/bombardier/radar operator with the Strategic Air Command. After the military, Van Peebles moved to Mexico and later to San Francisco, where he worked as a cable car operator. He is the father of three: Mario, Megan and Max.
A true citizen of the world, Melvin Van Peebles divides his time between homes in New York City, Los Angeles and Paris, France.