Singleton’s impact on the evolution of Black storytelling is unmeasured.
It is with great sadness that we report director John Singleton is dead at the age of 51 after suffering a stroke earlier this month. Though there were conflicting reports throughout Monday, it has been reported that his family has chosen to remove him from life support.
Singleton has been a central figure in creating and promoting stories that dealt with life in South Central Los Angeles.
Prior to the release of “Boyz In the Hood”, many of the fictionalized accounts of life below Wilshire Blvd were filled with stereotypes and worn out troupes of what it is to live in such environments.
From “Poetic Justice” to “Baby Boy” and recently with “Snowfall”, Singleton’s sincere, three-dimensional depictions of black males in troubled circumstances has helped broaden the conversation of what it is to be “America’s Most Wanted” simply for being black and in the ghetto.
Within the midst of his greatest works emerged some of the top acting talent in Hollywood, and he was instrumental in getting Ice Cube mainstream shine beyond hip-hop. Not to mention pictures with Tupac and Janet, he dared cast musicians in leading roles when many still scoffed at the notion.
Cuba Gooding Jr., Omar Epps, Taraji P. Henson, and, of course, Tyrese Gibson the list is continuous.
Singleton is survived by his mother Sylvia Ward and four children, Hadar Busia-Singleton, Cleopatra Singleton, Maasai Mohandas Singleton, and Justice Maya Singleton. In celebration of his life, here are some pivotal scenes from some of his most celebrated works.
Least we forget a crowning achievement in music video that he crafted to bring Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time” to life, which depicted Michael as a smooth talking rogue romancing the Queen, portrayed by supermodel great Iman, and an affront to the King, played by Eddie Murphy. It also featured a cameo from Magic Johnson. It was a cultural shift, not only in filmmaking, but the aesthetics of black cultural ownership over Khemetic imagery in a mainstream context cannot go understated.
Remember the Time featuring Michael Jackson, Eddie Murphy, Magic Johnson, and Iman
Boyz in the Hood Final Scene featuring Ice Cube and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Poetic Justice featuring Tupac Shakur and Janet Jackson
Baby Boy featuring Tyrese Gibson and Taraji P. Henson
Higher Learning featuring Ice Cube, Laurence Fishburne and Omar Epps
Four Brothers featuring Andre 3000, Mark Wahlberg and Tyrese Gibson
These are but a handful of the many works that we’ve been blessed to enjoy from the mind of John Singleton.
Though he hasn’t released a feature-length film in over a decade, his creative energy did not wane as he directed episodic television on such shows as “Snowfall”, “Billions”, “American Crime Story” and “Empire”.
His work and his life will be sorely missed.