The sketch show revolutionized network comedy and birthed a new generation of stars. You know we had to play that.

Photos: Fox Broadcasting Co.

On January 26,1992, In Living Color changed television. “We decided to do a live episode during halftime of the Super Bowl in 1992,” recalled the show’s creator and host Keenen Ivory Wayans in a 2019 Hollywood Reporter oral history of the landmark series. “Before we did our halftime special, it was just marching bands. That was the time during the game when everybody went to pee. But after our special, the next year, they hired Michael Jackson.”

Indeed, Fox’s idea to present TV’s most dangerous sketch comedy series as savvy counter-programming opposite America’s most watched sporting event woke up sleepy…


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

These flips are even sweeter than Patti’s pies!

Patti Labelle performing in 1996. Photo: Paul Natkin/Getty Images

7. “Soul Sister,” Finesse & Synquis (1988)

Interpolation: “Lady Marmalade,” LaBelle (1974)

It’s a testament to the durable greatness of LaBelle’s signature anthem that the song has managed to become an indelible part of the great American songbook, despite its head-turning subject matter about a prostitute looking for prospective Johns. The delightfully outrageous trio of Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx, and Sarah Dash broke empowering ground and would go on to inspire a plethora of covers and revisions, including the Lefrak City Queens, New York hip-hop duo Finesse & Synquis’ synth-heavy interpolation of funky, and an Allen Toussaint/Vicki Wickham produced jam. …


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

All hail the Empress of Soul!

Gladys Knight performing in 1985. Photo: Lester Cohen/Getty Images

7. “Pick Up,” DJ Koze (2018)

Sample: “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye),” Gladys Knight & The Pips (1972)

The primary hook on this underground 2018 club hit is the majestic, buttery voice of the icon herself, Ms. Gladys Knight. It’s enough to make you miss the Pips. Well, almost.

6. “Way To Go,” Skyzoo & 9th Wonder (2006)

Sample: “The Makings of You,” Gladys Knight & The Pips (1974)

As beats go, this is pretty much meat and potatoes, boom-bap hip-hop. 9th Wonder surgically chops up Gladys Knight & The Pips’ inspired cover of Curtis Mayfield’s gorgeous “The Makings of You.” …


Photo sources: Comedy Central

Three seasons. Twenty-eight episodes. Untold cultural impact. It’s all here.

By the time comedian Dave Chappelle was a 14-year-old prodigy turning heads in Washington, D.C.’s stand-up clubs, he was already building the foundation for what would become the most groundbreaking sketch show of the 21st century. The skinny minister’s kid was not yet ready to tackle adult-themed humor in 1987, but he wasn’t afraid to explore the dangerous minefield of race that would fuel much of the success of his genre-shifting series, Chappelle’s Show.

“Jesse Jackson was running for president, so I used to do jokes about that,” he told NPR’s Fresh Air back in 2005, alluding to the Black…


Photo illustration. Source: NBC/Getty Images

There may be only 20 of them in the show’s 45-year history, but all deserve their flowers

“I felt robbed.” That’s how Garrett Morris summed up his tenure as a Saturday Night Live performer. When the sketch comedy show first hit the airwaves in 1975, critics and audiences heralded it as a counterculture breakthrough — but as Morris admitted in the 2017 documentary Live From New York!, he struggled to fit in with the majority-White cast and felt like he was denied opportunities to shine.

While cast members like John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and Chevy Chase enjoyed the spotlight in many sketches, Morris found himself typecast in flagrantly stereotypical roles, or left out altogether. “Anything for Garrett?”…


Murphy’s Law

Don’t judge me

Photo: I love Photo and Apple./Getty Images

My name is Keith Lamar Murphy, and I am a Black man with a tiny dog.

Like most Black men, I was taught that dogs are an extension of our manhood and the contract with our canine companions was all about mutual protection. I grew up with a German shepherd named Heidi. Heidi technically belonged to my grandmother, but we knew she loved us all. And my late old man, God bless him, owned a comically intimidating Doberman pinscher named Bonnie who took commands — in German, no less!

For decades, the image of the powerful, imposing dog breed has…


Murphy’s Law

How revisionist history saved Eddie Murphy’s 1989 all-star gangster flop

Jasmine Guy And Eddie Murphy In ‘Harlem Nights’. Photo: Archive Photos/Getty Images

A few weeks ago, I aired a few controversial takes on Twitter. Nothing crazy, but also stuff you’d imagine would meet with some pushback. Derek Jeter was overrated. Scarface is really a comedy. Steph Curry didn’t deserve two MVP Awards. Beyoncé did not have a legit across-the-board classic album until Lemonade. 1999 > Purple Rain.

Weirdly, most people just agreed or disagreed. No rage, no caps lock ranting. It was downright civil in there.

At least until I mentioned that Harlem Nights was a disappointment. You would’ve thought I said Vanilla Ice was better than Rakim.

Thing is, I pulled…


Murphy’s Law

Posthumous praise from the music establishment is too little, too late

Prince performs along with Tom Petty at the 19th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in New York City, 2004.
Prince performs along with Tom Petty at the 19th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in New York City, 2004.
Prince performs along with Tom Petty at the 19th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in New York City, 2004. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images

As a Prince stan, I’ve gotten used to people questioning his pedigree. There’s a certain kind of social-media rock critic — usually White — who can go on and on about how Prince is overrated. It’s a flawed opinion, but an opinion nonetheless, so I let it go. Most of the time.

But after going back and forth with one guy, he went too far. He said that songs like “Raspberry Beret” and “When Doves Cry” couldn’t compete with songs from Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, The Beatles — and Elvis.

Elvis?!

But my man couldn’t let it rest there. He…


Prove there’s someone more capable of taking on Trump

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden visits with guests at Detroit One Coney Island Restaurant. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

For so many black Americans, even after all the mud has been slung, Joe Biden is still the man for the job.

Even after all the allegations of inappropriate touching, even after his flip-flop on the Hyde Amendment, even after he endured a pummeling at the hands of Kamala Harris in the first debate, Biden remains African Americans’ preferred candidate. In fact, the latest Economist/YouGov survey, released this week, finds 33% of black voters citing the former vice president as their 2020 frontrunner. (Elizabeth Warren came in second with 13%.)

It doesn’t take the world’s most sophisticated analysis to figure…

Keith Murphy

Mr. Murphy’s work has appeared in such publications and online sites as VIBE, The New York Post, Billboard, ESPN’s The Undefeated, OZY, and Esquire.

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