New Levels – New Devils – RIP PnB Rock

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“My city needs something” – PnB Rock
Rakim H. Allen, who went by the rap name PnB Rock, quickly rose to fame following his 2016 hit single “Selfish.” On Monday, the 30-year-old Philadelphia native was shot and killed at a restaurant in Los Angeles. Police believe he was targeted for his jewelry after sharing his location in an Instagram post.

Allen joins a list of other relatively young rappers to be slain in recent years, including Nipsey Hussle, Pop Smoke, King Von and Young Dolph. Obviously, no situation is the same, but it’s not a stretch to say that the higher a rap artist climbs, the more of a target they become. Especially with the visibility and access that social media brings.

“To be a rap artist is the most dangerous job in the world,” New York rapper Jim Jones told the Rap Radar Podcast in 2019. “It’s more dangerous than going war in Iraq. Because you’re always on defense. You don’t know who’s who. People get right up on you and try to do something to you.”

Despite that tragic news, there’s still been some recent positive developments in Black Culture. At the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards we saw actresses Sheryl Lee Ralph, Quinta Brunson and Zendaya, as well as music artist Lizzo, take home hardware. Especially powerful is the story of Ralph, who’s been an actress since the late 1970s and won her first major award this week—an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. In the sports world, we saw Black tennis players Serena Williams and Frances Tiafoe help generate some historically strong TV ratings for the US Open. (Both Ralph and Tiafoe spoke with For(bes) the Culture in May about the two year mark of George Floyd’s murder.)
In Forbes coverage, we’ve got a vivid and insightful story by my homie Jabari Young about the Washington Commanders president Jason Wright and his task of turning around one of the NFL’s most brand-damaged teams. And my buddy Alex Konrad has a cool story on Kapor Capital, which recently raised $126 million and is now one of the largest Black-led VC firms. We’ve also got an update from yours truly on HBCUs, many of which saw a record fundraising year in 2021 and are doing their best to keep that funding momentum going.

Lastly, I’ve got to share with y’all that newsletter is taking a break for now. But it’ll be back. In the meantime, you can keep up with my coverage by hitting the “Follow” button on my author page. You should also subscribe to our Daily Dozen newsletter, which does a great job highlighting Black business stories produced at Forbes.

Be safe out there!
Funding For Black Colleges Remains Higher, But They May Never See Another Year Like 2021. HBCUs have a long history of being underfunded, so the deluge of the last few years has been like blessed rain to parched fields. About one-third of the nation’s 107 historically Black colleges and universities, or HCBUs, received the largest gifts in their history between July 2020 and December 2021.
Jason Wright Channels Darth Vader In His Struggle To Redeem The NFL’s Washington Commanders. The league’s first Black team president — a big ‘Star Wars fan — still has cleanup to do after the Commanders paid a $10 million fine in 2021 for a toxic work environment under owner Daniel Snyder.

Kapor Capital, Black-Led VC Firm Focused On ‘Impact,’ Raises $126 Million. Oakland-based Kapor Capital recently raised $126 million to invest in early stage startups, making it one of the largest Black-led VC firms by assets. The fund, which began investing last year while still in progress, has made 15 investments so far—all in companies with a cofounder who identifies as an underrepresented person of color.

Thanks To Serena, Frances, Carlos And Coco, U.S. Open Audience Up 50% From 2021. Thanks to Serena Williams, Frances Tiafoe, Carlos Alcaraz and Coco Gauff, the 2022 U.S. Open on ESPN averaged 1.21 million viewers over the two weeks, up 50% from last year and the third-best for ESPN, the network announced.

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