The Blackest Questions

The Best of The Blackest Questions Pt. 1

Episode 53
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We’ve had a year filled with amazing conversations, lots of learning, and endless laughter. In this special episode of The Blackest Questions, we mash up some of our favorite guests, including Stephen A. Smith, Ashley Blaine Featherson-Jenkins, Chef Jernard Wells, Gina Yashere, Baratunde Thurston, Cullen Jones, and Josh Johnson, to play an epic game of trivia. 

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Panama Jackson: You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified.

[00:00:05] Dr. Christina Greer: Hi, and welcome to The Blackest Questions. A trivia game show meant to teach us more about Black history. I’m your host, Dr. Christina Greer, politics editor for theGrio, and currently a Moynihan Public Scholars fellow at the City College in New York.

[00:00:17] In this podcast, we ask our guest five of the Blackest questions. So we can learn a little bit more about them and have some fun while we’re doing it. We’re also going to learn a lot about Black history, past and present. So here’s how it works. We’ve got five rounds of questions about us. Black history, the entire diaspora, current events, you name it.

[00:00:35] And with each round, the questions get a little tougher and the guest has 10 seconds to answer. If they answer correctly, they’ll receive one symbolic Black fist and hear this. And if they get it wrong, they’ll hear this. But we still love them anyway. And after the five trivia questions, there will be a Black bonus round just for fun, and I like to call it Black Lightning.

[00:00:58] Usually, we have one or two guests join, but as we wrap up 2023, we wanted to revisit some of our most memorable guests. So, each round, you’ll hear from a different guest. Five rounds, five unique personalities. We still have the Black Lightning round, which will feature two more guests. So let’s get to it.

[00:01:17] We’re playing the Blackest Questions with one of my favorite journalists, Stephen A. Smith. This daytime soap opera was the first to feature a predominantly Black cast. It premiered in 1989 and ran for only two seasons, but included familiar faces like Vivica A. Fox, Debbie Morgan, and Christophe St. John.

[00:01:35] What was the name of this soap opera?

[00:01:38] Stephen A. Smith: I need multiple choice because I remember the soap opera. I just don’t remember the name until I hear it. I need a multiple choice. Can I get a multiple choice?

[00:01:45] Dr. Christina Greer: No multiple choices. Let’s go.

[00:01:46] Stephen A. Smith: Oh my Lord. Oh my goodness. And I like, listen, I’m on General Hospital. I have a recurring role.

[00:01:52] I’m friends with the stars, Sonny Correntos, and I’m friends with Victor Newman, who’s Eric Braden in real life for Young and the Restless. These are my buddies. I know my soaps that presently I used to watch all my children in one life to live. Um, I can’t remember the name of the soap opera. I can’t remember the name.

[00:02:11] Dr. Christina Greer: You ready?

[00:02:12] Stephen A. Smith: Go ahead.

[00:02:12] Dr. Christina Greer: It’s called Generations. Generations was centered around two Chicago families, one Black, the other white, and many of the conflicts stemmed from race. And old versus new money. The show was watched by about 2 million households per day, which for soap operas is considered low ratings.

[00:02:29] The show was canceled after executives realized more Black viewers were watching the Young and the Restless and Days of our Lives. Now I was a young, the restless fan, um, and initially Days of our Lives. But whenever we switch babysitters, we would switch soap operas.

[00:02:40] Stephen A. Smith: I just think it’s unfair to question. You can’t give me a soap opera question that was around for two years. I mean, when you got General Hospital and young and the rest has been around for 50, I mean, my God.

[00:02:52] Dr. Christina Greer: We know that you are a huge fan of General Hospital. Oh, as you said, you’ve been on several episodes, playing the character

[00:02:57] General Hospital: .

[00:02:57] I trust you with my life. Trust goes both ways. You know that.

[00:03:03] Dr. Christina Greer: But we know that, um, people don’t watch soaps the way they used to, but I will say Stephen A, I’ve got some friends who still DVR Young and the Restless every day and they still watch soaps. Well, first of all, you’re looking at one of them. Okay? Now, if Young and arrested, that’s because my buddy Eric Braden, but Attivo General Hospital at Attivo General Hospital, DVI, General Hospital, because I have a recurring role on a soap opera.

[00:03:25] I’m a part of it, and I’ve been watching the soap for, for 40 years. Um, listen, I will tell you this, if people are not watching, couldn’t fool could’ve fooled me. I literally am obviously synonymous with the world of sports. There isn’t a city that I go to where I don’t get stopped. As Brick as Brick, you know, as Bricks, the surveillance expert for the mob, I’ve had old white men come up to me and say to me, I don’t mean to bother you, but my wife is scared to come over.

[00:03:52] She’s a huge fan and she loves Brick. I don’t know what the hell that is, but she does. And she loves Brick who’s Brick. And I was like, of course, no problem.

[00:04:04] Walk me through how you, Steven A., who we can talk about the Knicks, we can talk about the Cowboys, we can talk about every single aspect of sports.

[00:04:11] How does one stumble into a reoccurring character on General Hospital?

[00:04:17] Stephen A. Smith: I made a cameo appearance in 2007 because they heard I was a fan. I didn’t like that because I was only on for 10 seconds and I never got to meet Maurice Bernard who plays Sonny Corinthos fast forward to the year 2016. And they asked me back on because somebody’s watching this new executive producer, Frank Valentini, uh, asked me to come on, make a, make an appearance.

[00:04:44] I did a scene with Maurice Bernard. Maurice Bernard is sitting there with his. Eyes, just like bug eyed looking at me. And he was like, that was sensational. And I’m not thinking anything of it. And the next thing I know, the executive producer, Frank ends up coming downstairs and he says, Oh my God, that was phenomenal.

[00:05:05] You did great. He said, let me ask you a question. He said, do you have time to do this? I said, what do you mean? Do I have time? He says, I want to know if, if, if. If I put some more lines in there, could you come back and do some? I said, I gotta check my schedule, but I said, it shouldn’t be a conflict for me to get to LA to do some scenes for you.

[00:05:25] He said, no, we want to make this a permanent, recovering role for you. Whenever you could come out here, we want you to be Brick. Sonny’s right hand dude, and I was like, done, no problem, you know, and, and it was really, really that simple. Now, Sonny, uh, you know, Maurice Bernard and them, they tell me I can act and stuff like that.

[00:05:49] I don’t want to give myself that much credit because I have such profound respect for actors and actresses and for the art, because to experience it, to know that you can’t mess up lines, that you hold up an entire crew when you don’t get your lines, right. And stuff like that. There’s just so much profound respect that I have for them.

[00:06:05] I would never call myself an actor, at least not yet, but I know that I know the role because I know the soap because I watch it all the time. And so as a result of that, I like, I know what this role is supposed to be working for Sonny Corritos and I just make sure. that I adopt that. And then I just can’t give enough.

[00:06:26] Laura Wright, who plays Carly and Sonny Corinthos played by Maurice Bernard and Steve Burton, who left General Hospital to go on Young and the Restless before he came back to General Hospital. I give out those three names more than anything.

[00:06:42] Dr. Christina Greer: Okay.

[00:06:42] Stephen A. Smith: Because They literally at one time or another have coached me through scenes and they don’t have to do that, but they couldn’t be more kind, more generous with their time.

[00:06:57] And it’s just, it’s, it’s, it’s a real family in that regard. And I just can’t say enough about how grateful I am that they’ve exhibited and displayed the level of kindness and sincerity that they’ve given me throughout the years and helping me grow in the role. I love them all.

[00:07:16] Dr. Christina Greer: Listen, I know that so many sports fans. Who are listening to The Blackest Questions know you from ESPN. But I don’t know if they haven’t picked up your, your new memoir just yet. I don’t know. They know that you are such a soap opera fan. And I love this new piece of trivia. Um, do you have any sights on any other acting you want to kind of dip?

[00:07:37] Stephen A. Smith: You know what I’ve decided I’ve decided to take it a little bit more seriously. I’m literally just, I’ve got a lot to do right now, but. Probably sometime this summer, I’m going to, I’m going to start taking acting lessons because what I find fascinating about it is that you can be anything. The role says you are, and it’s one thing to know it because that’s acting.

[00:08:02] It’s another thing to experience it. It’s another thing to go out there and try to fulfill one’s depiction of what a role should be. And so when I think about some of my all time favorite movies, when I think about Gladiator, when I think about Glory with Denzel or Crimson Tide with Denzel, cause he’s my all time favorite, when I think about various movies with, with, with Morgan Freeman and Shawshank Redemption. For example, when I think about a Tom Hanks with Forrest Gump, uh, you know, Gene Hackman, who was a all time favorite of mine as well, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in Heat, the list goes on and on, you know, what I marvel at and what I Denzel, of course, and Malcolm X, which had to be a dream come true, despite the pressure that obviously came along with it.

[00:08:53] Cause you had to do that. Right, right. Just, just. To, to fantasize about being able to marry, and engulf yourself and ingratiate yourself with a role, and you don’t have to apologize for it because that’s the role, you know, I think that there’s a level of freedom that comes with it. If it’s a role you want to play, if it’s something you want to do, you can do it.

[00:09:21] And it’s like, you don’t have to apologize to anybody because you’re acting. And so for me. Over the last few years, strictly from doing General Hospital, and of course I’m going to be in Creed as well and stuff like Creed 3 and stuff like that, I have fantasized about doing more acting. And so I love Jamie Foxx and Law Abiding Citizen with Gerard Butler, stuff like that.

[00:09:47] It’s like, you see this stuff and you’re like, yeah. Or Wesley Snipes in New Jack City. You know, you look at this kind of classic. Yeah. It’s like, yeah, I can see myself doing something like that. If I’m worthy and I don’t think I’m worthy yet. So I’m going to go take some acting classes and see what I can pull off.

[00:10:07] Dr. Christina Greer: Oh, I love it. I’m so excited to see what you do next. We’re going to take a quick commercial break. I’m here with Brick, a. k. a. Stephen A. Smith. You’re listening to The Blackest Questions and we’ll be back in just a moment.

[00:10:20] Ad: Y’all come look at what Michael Harriot just posted. Black Twitter. Come get your man’s. It’s his podcast episodes for me. I was today years old when I found out Michael Harriot had a podcast. Subscribed. I’m world famous white peopologist Michael Harriot and this is the griot daily. That’s right. The Black Twitter king has a podcast.

[00:10:42] theGrio daily with Michael Harriot every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on the griot Black podcast network and accessible wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

[00:10:50] Dr. Christina Greer: Okay, we are back. I’m talking to Ashley Blaine Featherston- Jenkins. Ashley, thank you so much for joining us on this special edition of The Blackest Questions. Are you ready to play?

[00:11:00] Ashley Blaine Featherson-Jenkins: Thank you for having me, Christina. I’m ready.

[00:11:02] Dr. Christina Greer: Okay. I love it. I love it. Vanessa Williams made history in 1984 when she became the first Black woman to be crowned Miss America. She ultimately had to resign her title, but she rebounded and had major success as a singer and an actress.

[00:11:18] In fact, one of her songs was a number one hit. And earned her a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year in 1992. Can you name the song?

[00:11:27] Ashley Blaine Featherson-Jenkins: Yes. Um, oh my goodness. And I’m looking at my Vanessa Williams book right now. I love her. What is the name of the song? Um, are there Hints?

[00:11:39] Dr. Christina Greer: No hints, man.

[00:11:40] Ashley Blaine Featherson-Jenkins: Um, I can, I’m like literally singing in my head and I cannot come up with the name.

[00:11:46] Dr. Christina Greer: It’s Save the Best for Last.

[00:11:48] Ashley Blaine Featherson-Jenkins: Save the. Save the best for last.

[00:11:51] Vanessa Williams: Save the best for last. See, and I wouldn’t dare sing it because I lip sync in church. That’s how bad my voice is. Save the best for last.

[00:12:04] Ashley Blaine Featherson-Jenkins: Yeah, 1000%. That’s it.

[00:12:06] Dr. Christina Greer: So it was the third single from her, from Vanessa Williams second album, The Comfort Zone.

[00:12:11] The song was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks. As I mentioned, the song was nominated for Song of the Year at the Grammys, but it was also nominated for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Performance. Vanessa Williams has also had success as an actress on screen and stage, starring in TV shows Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives.

[00:12:28] Now, I just think Vanessa Williams is just beautiful on the inside and out. So talented. We know that you mentioned Vanessa Williams as someone you’ve admired in the business. Why does she, in particular, stand out to you?

[00:12:40] Ashley Blaine Featherson-Jenkins: Oh, my goodness. I, uh, in Bad Hair, Justin Simien’s film, I actually got to play her assistant, which was such a dream come true to play, to, like, act with her.

[00:12:50] Um, but I really love and admire Vanessa Williams because I feel like she has a career and a trajectory that I really aspire toward. Like, to me, she’s done it all, and I admit, and And I just love that she’s had her hands on almost every area of the business and really thrived and excelled and had such a full career.

[00:13:13] Um, and that’s what I want. I mean, she’s done music, she’s recorded albums, she’s been on Broadway, she’s in movies, she’s on your television screen. She just. Does it all. And I think she’s amazing and she has a family and just all of the things, uh, that I want for myself and she’s had such a long lasting career and she’s well respected in the business and extremely talented.

[00:13:37] And I just think she’s It’s marvelous.

[00:13:39] Dr. Christina Greer: I would love to hear her on your podcast because, you know, when I’ve heard her talk about the post Miss America and what it meant for her as a Black woman feeling as though she let Black America down and then to have this amazing career. I mean, everyone who listens to this podcast knows that this is a Queen Latifah Stan podcast.

[00:13:56] Like I think Queen Latifah is on the Mount Rushmore of dynamic, beautiful, amazing, multi hyphenate women. But I’m going to, and I put Missy Elliott up there too on the Mount Rushmore. Love your you are, you are making a serious case. For Vanessa Williams to be right there next to them as far as just a dynamic, brilliant Black woman who is Sort of crossing so many different genres.

[00:14:16] Um, and over time, I mean, like, you know, I think about her movies with, like, Arnold Schwarzenegger, but also in, like, Black movies and, like, you know, um, sort of always keeping her feet really grounded in Black American culture as well, even when she’s mainstream.

[00:14:31] Ashley Blaine Featherson-Jenkins: Yeah, it’s so the vibe. Yeah, for sure.

[00:14:37] Dr. Christina Greer: Our guest for this episode is award winning chef, Jenard Wells. This actor, filmmaker, playwright, and entrepreneur opened the country’s first Black owned film studio. And it has no proprietary partners or corporate backing, making it the first of its kind. Who is the man responsible for this historic accomplishment?

[00:14:57] Chef Jernard Wells: Would that be Tyler Perry?

[00:14:59] Dr. Christina Greer: You are correct. You’re two for two, chef. So Tyler Perry Studios opened in 2019 and the 330 acres houses 12 different sound stages making it the largest film production studio in the United States. Located in Atlanta, the studio is larger than Walt Disney Studios, the Warner Brothers, and Paramount Studios combined.

[00:15:20] And just up the road in Macon, Georgia, an exhibit dedicated to Perry is being featured at the Tubman African American Museum. It will run through 2025, and it tells the life story of Tyler Perry, including childhood photos, and even some of the performance costumes he wore as a child. So, Chef, I know you’ve worked with Tyler Perry in the past.

[00:15:40] Tell us about that and what his work means to you and to Atlanta.

[00:15:44] Chef Jernard Wells: You know, it was truly an amazing experience to garner the opportunity to work with Tyler Perry. One of the things is I believe in speaking things into existence that aren’t as they were. And when I saw Tyler Perry on the rise and really achieving so much, I look at it as look at it as not only is he achieving greatness for himself, but he’s paving the way for us and for others that come behind him, that desire to do what he’s doing or anything in our own facet, this shows us that it is possible, especially when you grow up in a world or surround that would tend to look like it’s not possible.

[00:16:23] And I remember. Uh, Tyler Perry, I got, I heard on the radio at the time I was in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that Tyler Perry was coming to do a play, Madea’s Big Happy Family. I reached out to the team at the auditorium where he was because I had no way of reaching out to Tyler and his team and I told him, hey, I hear Tyler’s coming here to do a, do a, do a show.

[00:16:45] I would love to cook for Tyler Perry because I said, Oh, this would be an amazing. Amazing accolade to have on my resume one day and who knows where this man is going because he’s on fire. So those are as they always say it’s about synergy. If you attach if you put yourself in a room for successful people, guess what you can be fifth successful because it’s a synergy. So I reached out to them, told them I wanted to provide this free meal for Tyler Perry.

[00:17:13] I said, but I need you all to vouch for me. So I want to cook for you all for free. And if you like the food and you enjoyed the meal, could you please reach out to his team and tell them I want to provide the same courtesy? So I did that, they enjoyed the meal, they reached out to him. It was about a month later, I get a call from Tyler’s road manager.

[00:17:32] He said that, hey, we’ve heard, we heard that you wanted to provide this free lunch for Tyler Perry and his team. I said, yes, that’s true. He said, but before granted that, do you know how many people is that Tyler Perry’s group? I said, no, but this is something that I want to do. He was like, well. There’s a hundred and fifty people.

[00:17:55] There are three tour buses, because he has actors, he has people that build the stage, that breaks down the stages. Oh, now I’m thinking to myself, oh my goodness, what have I gotten myself into? But I want to do it, because I believe in seeing things through. He said, great. Tyler was hoping that you say yes, because people tend to reach out and want to do things for Tyler and they always want to charge, they always, some kind of monetary gain.

[00:18:21] I said, no, I don’t. I just want to be, I want to cook, I want to provide my services for you to experience my aids. He said, great. Tyler said, not only would you accept your free lunch, but Tyler would like to purchase breakfast, dinner, and a snack. So I’m thinking, oh my goodness. This is a blessing within itself, and I wasn’t even expecting that, and after that, I may always say treat every opportunity as it’s last.

[00:18:48] Look, we did our thing at the end of the day, they enjoyed the meal. So they came back to us and said, Hey, how would you like to travel with us? So when Tyler was doing ways in the Southeast, they would give me the location. I built a team out. We can show up at the auditorium, transform a room into a food dining experience for his, for his entertainment and for his team to come in and eat the whole night and it ended up turning into something bigger than what I envisioned it would. That’s why I always say, never be afraid to think outside the box. Just get out the box.

[00:19:26] Dr. Christina Greer: Okay, we are back. Baratunde, are you ready for question number four and The Blackest Questions?

[00:19:31] Baratunde Thurston: Let’s go.

[00:19:31] Dr. Christina Greer: Okay. This public library has a massive and impressive online catalog of Black history. They also house historical maps, newspapers, census records and documents, known as the Slavery Pamphlet Collection.

[00:19:45] What’s the name of this library? And here’s a hint. It’s located in the Northeast, part of the country.

[00:19:52] Baratunde Thurston: Hmm. Um, this is going to be a wild guess, but I’d like to show my work and my process, which I didn’t do on that first question. Um, Northeast, pamphlets, a lot of freedom stuff, a public library. Did you say it was public?

[00:20:08] Okay, then I’m going to hazard a guess that it’s the Philadelphia Free Library.

[00:20:15] Dr. Christina Greer: No, it is the Brooklyn Public Library.

[00:20:18] Baratunde Thurston: No!

[00:20:19] Dr. Christina Greer: And we’ll get to read, and our listeners will know why Baratunde is having.

[00:20:24] Baratunde Thurston: I’m literally wearing the t shirt right now for the Brooklyn Public Library.

[00:20:27] Dr. Christina Greer: Yes, yes he is. Uh, so for, for those of you who are listening to this podcast, not only is Baratunde wearing the t shirt, he also serves on the board of said Brooklyn Public Library.

[00:20:36] Baratunde Thurston: I used to, apparently. I used to serve on the board as of this moment because I think I just got booted off. That’s ridiculous. How did I, man, when you started, no, just, I gotta, I gotta like get out ahead. When you started and you talked about just free access to resources, my first thought was like, oh, BPL.

[00:20:57] Of course. And just the way they’ve opened up stuff like Books Unbanned, which is the shirt I’m wearing right now for those states that are banning and burning books again. Brooklyn Public Library is providing virtual access. So I’m like, oh, Brooklyn Public Library. But then I was like, oh no, that’s just like, I’m not going to rep my library.

[00:21:13] And so I overthought it. Classic Harvard alumni move. Uh, I’m like, well, it’s freedom. It’s the free, it’s the free library. They have a free program with the slavery papers. Man, this is a real moment. Look at that. Okay.

[00:21:27] Dr. Christina Greer: We can try and scrape this episode, at least this question, you know, when you go to your next board meeting.

[00:21:32] But Brooklyn Public Library is one of the largest public libraries in the country. It’s in the top ten of the most visited public libraries. It was established in 1852 as the Brooklyn Antheneum and Reading Room and was a private subscription library for men only. It took nearly 30 years for it to be, to be changed into a public library in 1878.

[00:21:53] And today it houses more than a million items, including many on African American history. And as Baratunde mentioned, they’re doing amazing work providing access to. Uh, library, um, subscribers and also young people across the country who are getting books banned in their communities. Um, they’re, they have a great library card program for high school students, which makes me so proud to be a member and a donor to the public library.

[00:22:17] And so, you’ve written several, you know, books, uh, one of your books was the New York Times bestseller, How to Be Black. Tell us how you got into, uh, your work with the Brooklyn Public Library and just, you know, put in a plug, I know you travel across the country, um, you know, in New York we’re dealing with sort of defunding of our libraries and they serve as such crucial institutions for all different types of people, but especially our young people.

[00:22:42] Baratunde Thurston: So, I got involved with the Brooklyn Public Library first as just a Brooklyn resident and doing events at the library. Um, to connect that history point, you know this well, many, uh, listening will, some will not, Frederick Douglass, essentially one of the founding, you know, voices of this country, uh, issued a famous speech, What to the Slave is the Fourth of July.

[00:23:08] I did a dramatic kind of reenactment, remixing, and reading of that at the Brooklyn Public Library in the Dweck Center in the basement there. And it went off really well. I’ve hosted other authors and Q& As there. I’ve done at least four events at the Brooklyn Public Library. And at some point during that run, uh, they reached out and said like, Hey, live in Brooklyn.

[00:23:30] You love the library and books. We think you’re good for words and whatnot. Do you want to, you know, serve? And I was appointed as a trustee by then mayor, um, Oh, I so erased this dude’s name from my memory. DeBlasio Bloomberg. I mean, you know, I was like, it’s not Koch, it’s not Dinkins. I definitely don’t think it’s Giuliani.

[00:23:53] It was the last one. It was the last one. Oh my goodness. I’m gonna blame COVID on that. So, um. Yeah. And then I got an inside view of the funding of the services of the program for people who are incarcerated and those who love them and want to connect with them and reading hours for kids and the number of languages and communities like the Brooklyn Public Library is one of the biggest employers in Brooklyn.

[00:24:16] Most residents live within walking distance of a branch. And, you know, I do this podcast, How to Citizen, where we take the word citizen as a verb, and we just are in our fourth season right now. And one of the things that I love about all libraries is that they are places where democracy still happens as a practice.

[00:24:36] This is accessible to everybody, regardless of your legal citizenship status. There’s a lot of citizening activity that goes on, passport photos, English as a second language, wifi. So man, yeah, it’s just amazing public service, amazingly representative, amazingly inclusive. And, uh, and it’s one of the few institutions that’s still truly, you know, of, by, and for the people.

[00:24:59] Dr. Christina Greer: Yeah, I love a good library. And, you know, I’m so worried that, you know, in our funding struggles in so many cities, you know, the first things people think to cut are the public library systems. And so for all of our listeners out there, whatever city you live in, please support your local public library.

[00:25:15] Baratunde Thurston: The libraries catch people, you know, it’s just like Folks who are unhoused have a place to go and look for jobs. Folks who are trying to learn a language have a place to go. Folks with kids have a place to go. When it’s raining outside, you got a place to go. And books are expensive. You know, the core process, like to be able to, to be able to lend a book out and then return it.

[00:25:40] Like that’s just, that’s a beautiful concept. I grew up in libraries in D. C. Um, and so yeah, I echo your call. Wherever you are right now, there is a library near you, that could use your help and that you could probably benefit from. I’m gonna, I’m gonna double check what’s going on in the L. A. libraries right now after this.

[00:25:55] Dr. Christina Greer: Thank you. Oh, good. Excellent.

[00:26:01] Our guest for this episode is comedian, actress, and writer, Gina Yashere. This song by rapper Coolio was the top selling song in the U. S. back in 1995 and was the second best selling single in the U. K. that same year. What is the name of this track?

[00:26:17] Gina Yashere: I’m gonna say Gangsta’s Paradise.

[00:26:21] Dr. Christina Greer: You are correct. So this song won Coolio a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance and was originally made for Dangerous Minds, the movie soundtrack.

[00:26:29] But once Coolio saw how popular it was, he added it to a second album. But that wasn’t originally the plan.

[00:26:35] Coolio: I’m the kind of g little homies want. He’s in the night, prayers in the street light.

[00:26:47] Dr. Christina Greer: So the song was a hit in the US and the UK. But also in places like Ireland and Denmark and in Australia, it held the number one spot on the charts for 14 weeks, which was a record held by Coolio for 22 years. The song was sampled from Stevie Wonder’s song, Pastime Paradise. And because Stevie didn’t want his song used with any profanity, it’s the only song by Coolio that has zero foul language.

[00:27:09] And so I know that you’re a music lover, and I know you actually hosted a British music award show called Music of Black Origin with Coolio back in 2007. Tell us a little bit more about that experience and how you bridge music and comedy, actually, because we oftentimes see those two in congruence together.

[00:27:27] Gina Yashere: I mean, yeah, I hosted with him back in 2007, but I loved it. He was such a lovely guy. We had such a good time. He gave me a load of, uh, hip hop and Hollywood gossip, which I cannot share on this podcast, but

[00:27:41] Dr. Christina Greer: Come on, it’s just us. It’s just us.

[00:27:44] Gina Yashere: And we had such a great time. We had a really fun time. I mean, on the day of the show it was crazy because when we did rehearsal, because this show, the Mobile Awards, Music of Black Origin Awards at the time was broadcast live around Europe.

[00:27:56] Live, so millions of people. Oh. So we were rehearsing it for two weeks beforehand and he was brilliant in rehearsal. We were doing all the stuff. We bounced off each other. It was great on the day, I dunno what he took before the show, but on the day live, he was just like this. And I was like, and I was doing my line and he was like, and then I had people shouting in my ear going, do his lines, do his lines.

[00:28:22] So I had to basically, I had times where I was supposed to go up and do outfit changes. I couldn’t do any of them because I had to take over parts of the show that he was meant to be doing while I was changing because he was out of it. Uh, but we had a wonderful time. We met up at the after party afterwards and we, we had a blast and it will always be one of my favorite experiences.

[00:28:46] Dr. Christina Greer: Oh, listen, and he gave you a great, a great story to remember him by, and that’s for sure. Time for a quick break. We’ll be right back.

[00:28:57] Toure: I’m Toure. Join us for crazy true stories about stars who I really hung out with like Snoop, Jay Z, Prince, Kanye, and the time I got kidnapped by Suge Knight. Don’t miss my animated series Star Stories with Toure from theGrio Black Podcast Network.

[00:29:24] Dr. Christina Greer: I’m with Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones, and we’re playing The Blankest Question. Okay, so before I let you out of here, We’re going to play the Black Lightning Round. Now this, Cullen, there’s no right or wrong answer. You just tell me the first thing that comes to your mind and to your heart. You ready?

[00:29:38] Cullen Jones: Yes.

[00:29:39] Who is your favorite all time athlete?

[00:29:42] Michael Jordan.

[00:29:44] Dr. Christina Greer: One of these shows has to go. Martin, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Jamie Foxx show.

[00:29:48] Cullen Jones: Come on now.

[00:29:51] Dr. Christina Greer: I didn’t say it was going to be easy, Cullen.

[00:29:53] Cullen Jones: Uh, I’m sorry because I met him and he is such a good guy. But sorry, Jamie. I can’t let go.

[00:30:03] Dr. Christina Greer: What’s your favorite race to swim, or maybe your favorite stroke?

[00:30:07] Cullen Jones: Uh, 50 freestyle is definitely my favorite. Okay, I used to love the backstroke. I’m sorry? I used to love the backstroke. Oh, I love watching it. It just, and I started off as a backstroker, but, and I love watching Butterfly. I love watching it.

[00:30:25] Dr. Christina Greer: Butterfly gives me agita. I don’t enjoy watching Butterfly. It’s too much for me.

[00:30:29] It’s like too much water.

[00:30:30] Cullen Jones: It’s the core.

[00:30:31] Dr. Christina Greer: You know what? That’s my spirit. It’s like, girls, too much work. Get out of there. Okay. Last question. Do you actually eat Wheaties?

[00:30:39] Cullen Jones: Do I actually eat Wheaties? I used to. Yes. I used to actually eat Wheaties.

[00:30:46] Dr. Christina Greer: Oh, Cullen Jones. I am so Is this why you’re asking?

[00:30:48] Cullen Jones: Hold on. Is this why you’re asking?

[00:30:51] Is that it?

[00:30:51] Dr. Christina Greer: I mean, I just, you know, for our listeners to the podcast. Um, when you show up on a Wheaties box, I gotta be curious as to whether or not you eat the Wheaties, right? I mean, not everybody is on a Wheaties box.

[00:31:07] Hi, you’re listening to The Blackest Questions. I’m Christina Greer. I’m here with Josh Johnson, comedian and podcaster.

[00:31:13] Josh, are you ready for the Black Lightning Round?

[00:31:16] Josh Johnson: Uh, yeah, yeah. Let’s do it.

[00:31:18] Dr. Christina Greer: Here we go. There are no right or wrong answers. I just want you to tell me the first thing that comes to mind once I ask the question, okay? If you could go back and perform in one of these stages, Are you picking Deaf Comedy Jam or Comic View?

[00:31:32] Josh Johnson (2): Um, I think Comic View, because Deaf Comedy Jam had such high stakes. It really was, like, if you go back and watch it now, you’ll see the people that bombed. And you’re like, oh, oh no! I didn’t even realize that was an option. When I was little, I felt like I only saw people kill. And so, I feel like Comic View is a way to be just as funny and get people just as hyped, but not have the, ooh, the stakes of like, it took them too long. Yeah, like, because sometimes there’ll be stuff that’s not even quite your fault. Like, maybe it takes them so long to load in the second audience that they’ve been waiting for hours and they’re, and they’re like, And not in a good way.

[00:32:11] Yeah. Yeah.

[00:32:13] Dr. Christina Greer: Who would you rather have a drink with? Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, or Kevin Hart?

[00:32:18] Josh Johnson: I think, I think Chappelle. Because I think Chappelle has clocked more hours of doing comedy than anybody working that I know of. And I think his perspective on comedy and, and his thoughts on how to And when to make people laugh would be, would be incredible.

[00:32:41] Like I think, I think you go to Kevin Hart for, you know, advice about jokes and, and business advice especially. And then you go to Rock for writing and, and for, you know, creating a sort of motif that people can follow, that they can fall in love with. But I think Chappelle’s, because of the amount of time that he’s been doing it, not just in years, but my man will just stay at the show doing his set for, like, over two hours, you know?

[00:33:11] Dr. Christina Greer: And stay present.

[00:33:11] Josh Johnson (2): And very few people do that, yeah.

[00:33:14] Dr. Christina Greer: Okay, last one. Chicago deep dish pizza. Are we gonna eat it or no?

[00:33:20] Josh Johnson (2): I definitely used to eat it, and I cannot. Anymore, because I really want to live a long time. I want to live for decades. I just want to be an old Black man, preferably rich, but just very old.

[00:33:35] Very, very like, but still spry. Like, you know, those people that you’re surprised they’re so old. I want to be one of those old guys where you’re like. How is he 70 right? And you’re like, uh, you know, I’m just chilling, just eating my vegetables, you know, keeping the antioxidants high and stuff and then then be 90 and people like, huh, he’s 90.

[00:33:53] He’s still walking. I’m like, yes, and I can hear you.

[00:33:56] Dr. Christina Greer: Yeah, the key is water stretching, right? Um, You know, I can’t wait to be one of those 90 year olds that just gets to say whatever I want. Like, what if, you know, cause they’re like, oh, well, she’s 90. What are you going to do? And I want to thank you all for listening to The Blackest Questions.

[00:34:10] This show is produced by Sasha Armstrong and Geoffrey Trudeau, and Regina Griffin is our director of podcasts. If you like what you heard, subscribe to this podcast so you never miss an episode, and you can find more at theGrio Black Podcast Network on theGrio app, website, and YouTube.

[00:34:29] I’m Toure. Join us for crazy true stories about stars who I really hung out with like Snoop, Jay Z, Prince, Kanye. And the time I got kidnapped by Suge Knight. Don’t miss my animated series, Star Stories with Toure, from theGrio Black Podcast Network.