Allison Samuels

Unchained Melody

IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, IN the middle of a storm, in the middle of an ocean, 53 Africans break out of their chains and slaughter the crew of a Cuban slave ship called the Amistad.

Death Of A 'Hero'

BILL AND CAMILLE Cosby made a point of keeping their five children out of the meat grinder that can chew up the children of the rich and famous. But it's not like America didn't know their only son, Ennis.

Last Tango In Compton

EVEN IF YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT the man, Dr. Dre's ""Been There, Done That'' is a video strange enough to freeze a channel-surfer's thumb: a Busby Berkeleyan ballroom-full of sleek couples in evening dress, all of them black, doing the tango in subtly infernal light, to violin music as eerily insistent as the soundtrack to a fever dream.

Strutting His Stuff

LOS ANGELES IS NO PLACE FOR THE shy, and Shaquille O'Neal feels right at home. Here he is one recent evening onstage at a Sunset Strip club, celebrating the launch of his new record label, T.W.IsM. (This World Is Mine).

Man Of Peace

SNOOP DOGGY DOGG DOES NOT RUN with the pack. After he and his bodyguard were charged with the 1993 killing of an alleged L.A. gang member--both were acquitted earlier this year--the rapper decided to stay out of trouble for good.

From Boys To Men

IT'S BEEN 10 YEARS SINCE BOBBY Brown and New Edition worked together, but some things never change. On a Friday evening, the other five members of the most popular R&B group of the '80s -- Ronnie DeVoe, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill -- are gathered at a Hollywood recording studio, waiting for Bobby.

Will O.J. Get The Kids?

THERE MAY BE A GAG ORDER IMPOSED on O. J. Simpson for his upcoming civil trial, but you would have hardly known it last week. Sure, he didn't say anything substantive about the trial (set to begin Sept. 17).

Box Office Prince

WILL SMITH BATTLES ALIENS IN ""Independence Day,'' but that's nothing. Right now he's battling his own bodyguard. Tron is a 6-foot-4, 300-pound superhuman life force, and he has something Smith wants very badly: a newspaper.

Party Of The Century

THE TAN LEATHER SWIVEL CHAIRS were still at the bar -- the same bar at which Det. Mark Fuhrman parked Kato Kaelin while he went rooting around out back for some evidence.

The Nutty Career

REGRETS, HE'S HAD A FEW, but fewer than you'd think. ""I regret not making "Ghostbusters','' says Eddie Murphy, 35. It's a Sunday evening in San Francisco, a couple of weeks before the release of his new comedy, ""The Nutty Professor.'' The actor's on the set of ""Metro,'' sporting baby dreadlocks and a small hoop earring, and lounging in a trailer full of peach-scented candles. ""We had just finished "Trading Places','' Murphy remembers, ""and Dan said, "How about making a movie about fighting...

Ms. Lonelyhearts

THE STORY OF TONI BRAXTON'S hair is the story of triumph over tragedy. In 1993, she launched a trend with her short pageboy cut after an overheated curling iron burned off a chunk of her hair.

One For The Sistas

By the millions they have descended on the malls and multiplexes of America, women who paid their dues, women who have been down hard roads and encountered life at its lowliest.

Out Of The Groove

R Kelly is a changed man. It's 1 a.m. deep in the mountains in Canyon Country, Calif. The R&B superstar--best known for graphic pillow talk like "Your Body's Callin'" and "Freak Dat Body"--is shooting a video for a new ballad called "You Remind Me of Something." The video is meant to showcase Kelly's sensitive side, and it finds him lounging comfortably in silk pajamas on a gold-plat-ed chair while a young woman in black lingerie feeds him grapes. "You remind me of my Jeep," he sings. "I wanna...

Pop Music: A One-Man Soul Revival

With his smooth, jazzy R&B hit single "Brown Sugar," singer D'Angelo has thrown the world of hip-hop a long-overdue curve- and earned a reputation as the new "son of soul." That's just fine with D'Angelo. "When you listen to Marvin Gaye, Prince or Curtis May-field, all you can do is just shake your head at how smooth their stuff was," says the corn-rowed 21-year-old. "I get my inspiration from listening to those guys and just grooving." D'Angelo's own groove has seduced the fickle but hugely...

They Won't Back Down

For a couple of guys who were taking on Bob Dole, the far right and a major media conglomerate, Daz and Kurupt of Tha Dogg Pound sure were enjoying themselves.

The Soul Revivers

The soul train arrived in St. Martin on Memorial Day weekend, kicking reggae off the West Indian island for a few days. During Sinbad's '70s Soul Music Festival, a five-day extravaganza of concerts, street fairs and grooves deeper than the ocean, Pelican Bay Beach looked like a giant, open-air house party.

Absolutely Not Fabulous

Michael Gross got his first close-up look at modeling back in the '70s, when he was writing about what, at the time, seemed like the most overindulged creatures on earth: rock stars.

No Faking The Funk

Between dodging bullets in manhattan last November and entering prison on a sexual-abuse charge, rapper Tupac Shakur found time to release his third album, ""Me Against The World.'' As in ""2Pacalypse Now'' and ""Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z . . . ,'' Shakur takes the angst of young urban black males and sets it to a funky ""old school'' beat.

It Must Have Been The Mistletoe

Holidays. relatives. ugh. still, a few big names decided to throw caution to the wind and acquire some new in-laws in time for Christmas. Christie Brinkley, 41, may have been Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl," but the supermodel mommy ascended yet further to marry her new husband, developer Ricky Taubman, 46.

Hall: Not Going Peacefully

THE MAN ONCE DUBBED ""Obsequio'' for his fawning demeanor won't have to worry about that nickname anymore. In his final week on the air, Arsenio Hall invited media execs to ""kiss my black ass'' and stridently told ""Empty Nest'' star Park Overall that racism rages unabated.