Showing posts with label Trending. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trending. Show all posts

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Angela Bofill, Renowned Singer of 'This Time I'll Be Sweeter,' Dies at 70

Angela Bofill, the acclaimed R&B and jazz singer known for hits like "This Time I'll Be Sweeter" and "I Try," died Thursday morning at her daughter's home in Vallejo, California. She was 70.

News of her passing was shared on her personal Facebook account in two separate posts.

"On behalf of my dear friend Angie, I am saddened to announce her passing on the morning of June 13," read the first post. It noted that her funeral will be held at St. Dominick's Church in California on June 28 at 1 p.m.

A follow-up post added, "Just to clear up the confusion. On behalf of Shauna Bofill and her husband, Chris Portuguese, we are saddened but must report that Angela's passing yesterday is indeed true. We thank Melba Moore and Maysa for their early condolences. Thanks for your many posts."

The messages were signed by her friend and manager, Rich Engel.
Bofill, born Angela Tomasa Bofill on May 2, 1954, in the Brooklyn area of New York City to a Cuban father and a Puerto Rican mother, began her professional career in her teens, recording her first studio album, "Angie," in 1978. The album included the chart single "This Time I'll Be Sweeter" and the jazz composition "Under the Moon and Over the Sky." Her second album, "Angel of the Night," released less than a year later, outperformed its predecessor and included hits like "I Try."

Raised in The Bronx, she grew up listening to Latin music and was also inspired by African-American performers. During her childhood, weekends were spent studying classical music and singing in New York City's All City Chorus, which featured the best singers from high schools across the five boroughs.

She attended Hunter College High School, graduating in 1972, and later studied at the Manhattan School of Music, earning a Bachelor of Music degree in 1976.
Bofill faced significant health challenges due to two strokes in 2006 and 2007. She took a five-year hiatus from performing to concentrate on her recovery, making a triumphant return to the stage in 2011.

In a December 2020 interview with Essence magazine, Bofill laughed off rumors of her death that had circulated online months earlier. "Friends calling up, ‘Oh my God, am I talking to the ghost of Angela Bofill?’ Thank God it’s not true," she said.

Reflecting on the tributes that poured in during that time, she expressed gratitude. "You always must welcome love," she said. "I figured, ‘They really like me!’ [I’m just] laughing at it, really. It’s better to have a sense of humor.”
“I feel happy performing again,” she told The Denver Post in 2011. “I need the crowd. It's in my blood to entertain. Any time a crowd comes to see me, I’m surprised. I don't sing anymore, yet people still come. Wow. Impressed.”

In the same interview, Engel recounted Bofill’s career during the 1970s and '80s, highlighting her exceptional vocal range: "She had a rare voice. She could hit low notes and could hit high C. Her pitch was perfect.”

Despite complications from her strokes, Bofill maintained a positive outlook. “But my voice no sing. I'd rather not sing. Awful. It cracks me up! Funny! I laugh about it. But very grateful — still living. Never take things for granted,” she said.

Throughout her career, Bofill released numerous albums and hit singles, including "Something About You," "I'm on Your Side," "Let Me Be the One," and "I Just Wanna Stop." She was one of the first Latina singers to find success in the R&B and jazz markets.

In 2023, Bofill was inducted into the Women Songwriters Hall of Fame, a testament to her enduring influence and contribution to music.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Timbaland Inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame, SZA Honored with Starlight Award

The 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony Thursday night was a celebration of musical legends and contemporary hitmakers, with Grammy Award-winning producer and songwriter Timbaland and R&B sensation SZA taking center stage.

Timbaland was honored for his decades-long influence on hip-hop and R&B. The Virginia native's extensive catalog includes chart-topping hits like Missy Elliott's "Get Ur Freak On," Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin'" and Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River."

Elliott introduced Timbaland, praising his transformative influence on the music industry.

During his acceptance speech, Timbaland acknowledged his late collaborator and friend Aaliyah, stating, "I want to thank baby girl, rest in peace, I hope you're watching." His tribute was followed by a medley of his greatest hits.

SZA was awarded the Hal David Starlight Award, recognizing young songwriters with significant impact. In her acceptance speech, she emphasized the personal significance of songwriting, stating, "Writing is where I felt like a person, that I had value." Receiving the Hal David Starlight Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame, she added, "validates my entire career."
The evening also featured the induction of alternative rock icons R.E.M., with all four original members reuniting for a rare performance of their hit "Losing My Religion." Nashville songwriter Hillary Lindsey and Steely Dan co-founder Donald Fagen were also inducted, with Fagen paying tribute to his late partner Walter Becker. Jason Isbell performed a cover of R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)."
"Footloose" and "Fame" lyricist Dean Pitchford was also inducted, with the Bacon Brothers and Denise Williams performing his iconic hits. The ceremony culminated with a tribute to Diane Warren, who received the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award, and a performance celebrating the 40th anniversary of her hit song "Rhythm of the Night."
    2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductees:
    • Timothy "Timbaland" Mosley
    • Hillary Lindsey
    • R.E.M. (Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe)
    • Steely Dan (Donald Fagen)
    • Dean Pitchford

    Special Award Recipients:

    • SZA (Hal David Starlight Award)
    • Diane Warren (Johnny Mercer Award)

Thursday, June 13, 2024

WATCH: Jay-Z's Surprise Performance Steals the Show at Brady's Patriots HOF Ceremony

Tom Brady's New England Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony received an unexpected jolt of star power Wednesday night when Jay-Z took the stage for an electrifying performance.
In front of 60,000 fans at Gillette Stadium, Jay-Z opened the ceremony with "Public Service Announcement (Interlude)," the song synonymous with Brady's entrance onto the field during his Patriots career. The six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback, who played 20 seasons in New England, was visibly moved by the tribute.
The crowd, which included former teammates, coaches, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, roared as Jay-Z raised his hand and declared, "Put one hand in the air for the GOAT, Mr. Tom Brady, tonight!"

Brady, who retired after the 2021 season, expressed his gratitude to the fans, his former teammates, and coaches, and called Jay-Z's performance a "special moment."

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Juvenile's Iconic Anthem Celebrated with 'Back That Azz Up Day' in New Orleans, Tour to Follow

The 25th anniversary of Juvenile’s iconic hit "Back That Azz Up" will be celebrated with a major North American tour and a special honor from his hometown of New Orleans.

On Tuesday, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell proclaimed June 11 "Back That Azz Up Day" to honor the song's enduring impact on the city's musical heritage. The announcement coincides with the launch of the "Back That Azz Up 25th Anniversary Tour," which kicks off July 7 in New Orleans.
Juvenile, whose real name is Terius Gray, expressed his excitement about the tour and the proclamation. "It's amazing to see it still resonate with people today," Juvenile said. "And I can’t wait for the moment each night of the tour when the song drops."

The tour will make stops in major cities across the U.S., including New York, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, before concluding in New Orleans on New Year’s Eve. Tickets for the tour are available for pre-sale via Ticketmaster with the code CHORD, and general sales will begin on June 15 at 10 a.m. local time.
Cantrell's proclamation highlights the cultural significance of "Back That Azz Up," noting its influence on more than a billion listeners since its release in 1999. The song, a second single from Juvenile's quadruple-platinum album "400 Degreez," was produced by Mannie Fresh and features Lil Wayne. It has been a defining track in the bounce music genre and landed on Rolling Stone’s "Top 500 Songs of All Time" in 2021.

In addition to the tour, Juvenile has had a series of local successes over the past year. He collaborated with Urban South Brewery to create "Juvie Juice," a spiked iced tea and lemonade drink, and released a limited edition of "400 HOT Degreez CheeWeez," a popular New Orleans cheese curl. His 10-song set on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert, featuring performances with Mannie Fresh, Trombone Shorty, and Jon Batiste, has also been well-received.

Back That Azz Up 25th Anniversary Tour Dates:

07/07 – New Orleans, LA @ Essence/Donna Color Explosion
07/20 – San Francisco, CA @ Midway
07/27 – Oklahoma City, OK @ Criterion
08/03 – St. Louis, MO @ The Factory (Chesterfield)
08/09 – New York, NY @ Brooklyn Bowl
08/10 – Washington, DC @ Howard Theatre
08/11 – Harrisburg, PA @ Reverb
08/13 – Columbia, SC @ The Senate
08/14 – Birmingham, AL @ Iron City
08/15 – Memphis, TN @ Minglewood Hall
08/16 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Lawn
08/17 – Chicago, IL @ Radius
08/18 – Grand Rapids, MI @ 20 Monroe
08/22 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren
08/23 – Las Vegas, NV @ Brooklyn Bowl Vegas
08/30 – Myrtle Beach, SC @ House of Blues
08/31 – Asheville, NC @ Rabbit Rabbit
09/01 – Norfolk, VA @ The Norva
09/05 – Columbus, OH @ Temple Live
09/06 – Indianapolis, IN @ Murat Theater
09/07 – Detroit, MI @ The Fisher
09/19 – Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
09/22 – Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
09/23 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
09/24 – Vancouver, BC @ Commodore
09/25 – Edmonton, AB @ Midway Music Hall
09/27 – Louisville, KY @ Palace Theatre
09/28 – Huntsville, AL @ John Hunt Park
09/29 – Little Rock, AR @ The Hall
10/03 – Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
10/04 – Waukee, IA @ Vibrant Music Hall
10/05 – Charleston, SC @ Firefly Distillery
10/06 – Fort Smith, AR @ Temple Live
10/08 – Wichita, KS @ Temple Live
10/10 – Denver, CO @ The Fillmore
10/12 – Reno, NV @ Grand Theatre at the Grand Sierra Resort
10/13 – Boise, ID @ Treefort Music Hall
10/16 – San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
10/17 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Novo
10/20 – Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues
10/31 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theatre
11/09 – San Antonio, TX @ The Espee=
11/10 – Austin, TX @ Stubb’s
11/14 – St. Petersburg, FL @ Jannus Live
11/15 – Miami, FL @ Fillmore Miami Beach
11/20 – Atlanta, GA @ The Eastern
11/22 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore
12/01 – Fort Worth, TX @ Tannahill’s Tavern & Music Hall
12/04 – Montclair, NJ @ Wellmont Theatre
12/05 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore
12/06 – Brooklyn, NY @ Kings Theatre
12/07 – New Haven, CT @ College Street Music Hall
12/08 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues
12/09 – Portland, ME @ State Theatre
12/10 – Montreal, QC @ Beanfield Theatre
12/11 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
12/12 – Rochester, NY @ Water Street Music Hall
12/14 – Cleveland, OH @ Temple Live
12/15 – Cincinnati, OH @ Bogarts
12/19 – Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works
12/20 – Chattanooga, TN @ The Signal
12/21 – Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore
12/31 – New Orleans, LA @ Saenger Theat

Monday, June 10, 2024

High Tension in YSL Trial: Young Thug's Lawyer Held in Contempt

The racketeering trial against rapper Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, took a dramatic turn on Monday when his attorney, Brian Steel, was held in contempt of court. This development stemmed from Steel's revelation of a private meeting allegedly held between Judge Ural Glanville, prosecutors, and key witness Kenneth Copeland.

The situation unfolded when Steel informed the court of his knowledge of the unauthorized conversation. Judge Glanville, visibly upset, demanded to know how Steel obtained this information. Refusing to disclose his source, Steel argued that the meeting violated protocol.

"You're not supposed to have communication with a sworn witness," Steel declared, referencing the potential ethical concerns surrounding such an ex parte communication.

The tense exchange escalated when Judge Glanville threatened Steel with contempt if he didn't reveal his source. Despite the heated exchange, Steel wasn't immediately removed from the courtroom. However, the judge emphasized his seriousness, giving Steel a deadline to reveal his source or face further consequences. The back-and-forth continued, with Steel maintaining his stance and Judge Glanville demanding answers before the lawyer was removed from the courtroom.

Lead prosecutor Adriane Love requested that Steel be allowed to return for the remainder of the day's proceedings. The judge ultimately relented, allowing Steel back into the courtroom but reiterating that the contempt charge remained.

This incident adds complexity to the already lengthy YSL trial. Jury selection began in January 2023, a process that took ten months. Since opening statements in late November, the trial has faced repeated delays and is expected to continue into next year.

Prosecutors allege Young Thug is the leader of "Young Slime Life," a criminal street gang responsible for violent crimes. The defense maintains YSL is simply a record label.

Megan Thee Stallion Unveils Striking New Art After AI Fiasco

The alternate cover for Megan Thee Statllion's upcoming eponymously named album.
Grammy-winning rapper Megan Thee Stallion sparked renewed interest in her upcoming album "Megan" by unveiling striking new artwork over the weekend.

The visuals depict her shedding her skin like a serpent, symbolizing themes of transformation and renewal, offering a fresh perspective on her musical journey. This follows a previous artwork reveal showing her emerging from a butterfly chrysalis, which garnered mixed reactions from fans online.

Set for release on June 28 via her independent label, Hot Girl Productions, "Megan" is a significant milestone for the 29-year-old Houston native, marking her first full-length studio album under her own banner.

However, amid the excitement, Megan faced online harassment after a sex tape reportedly produced by AI went viral. Fans rallied behind her with the hashtag “WELOVEYOUMEGAN,” expressing solidarity and outrage at the attack.

In response, Megan addressed her assailants in a defiant tweet, condemning their actions and asserting her resilience. She wrote, "It’s really sick how y’all go out of the way to hurt me when you see me winning. Y’all going too far, Fake a$$ sh##. Just know today was your last day playing with me and I mean it."

The emotional toll of the cyber attack was evident during her recent performance at Tampa's Amalie Arena, where footage showed her visibly distraught while performing her hit track "Cobra."

This latest ordeal adds to the challenges Megan has faced, including public scrutiny following the 2020 Tory Lanez shooting incident.

The anticipation for "Megan" has been steadily building, fueled by snake-themed singles like "Cobra," "Hiss," and the chart-topping "Boa." Collaborations with artists like Reneรฉ Rapp for the upcoming "Mean Girls" movie and a remix featuring Cardi B have also contributed to the buzz surrounding the album.

In a recent interview with L'Officiel magazine, Megan discussed the album's thematic underpinnings, citing her fascination with snakes as symbols of renewal and spirituality. "We started with the snake because...snakes represent rebirth, spirituality," she explained. "I'm not really a person that's like, Oh my God, sunshine and just super bubbly, happy. I like darker things. I like things that are a little scary. I like things that are unique."

Friday, June 7, 2024

Clean Break: Howard U. Revokes Combs' Degree, Disbands Scholarship, Returns $1 Million

Photo Credit: Facebook/Diddy
In a decisive move, the Howard University Board of Trustees unanimously voted to accept the return of Sean Combs' honorary degree awarded in 2014. This action effectively revokes all associated honors and removes his name from the university's listing of honorary degree recipients.

A statement released by a Howard University spokesperson following a board meeting on Friday cited "behavior, as captured in a recently released video," as fundamentally incompatible with the university's core values. The statement did not specify the nature of the video but emphasized the university's unwavering opposition to interpersonal violence.
Combs, also known as Diddy, reportedly faced recent allegations and a lawsuit concerning assault. These developments likely influenced the board's decision.

The university's actions extend beyond the honorary degree. The board also directed the administration to terminate a 2016 gift agreement with Combs, disband the scholarship program established in his name, and return his $1 million contribution.

An additional $1 million pledge agreement from the Sean Combs Foundation in 2023 was also terminated as no payments towards it had been received.

The Howard University Board of Trustees and administration declined further comment on the matter.

Eminem's 'Houdini' Makes Big Splash, But Lamar's Record Holds Strong

Despite facing initial criticism from some reviewers, Eminem's new single "Houdini" has become a streaming phenomenon, rocketing to the top of the charts. Released last Friday, "Houdini" is not only Eminem's fastest-selling single in over two decades, but it's also projected to secure a spot in the top two of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

This success comes after some early negative reviews. However, listeners have clearly embraced the track, amassing a massive 56.7 million streams on Spotify within its first week. This makes it the second-highest debut for a rap song on the platform, just behind Kendrick Lamar's "Not Like Us."

The accompanying music video garnered 51 million views on YouTube during its opening week, further solidifying "Houdini" as a major success.

"Houdini" serves as the lead single for Eminem's upcoming album, "The Death of Slim Shady," slated for release later this summer.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

50 Cent Defends Boebert Photo, Trump Comments Also Go Viral

Photo Credit: X/50cent
50 Cent defended his viral photos with Rep. Lauren Boebert in a tweet Wednesday night, stating: "Wait, wait, guys I took pictures with everyone and all you seem to care about is Lauren ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿฝ‍♂️what did she do in a dark theater that hasn’t been done, my God!"

The rapper's reference to the "dark theater" likely pertains to Boebert being removed from a production of "Beetlejuice" in September; video footage showed her vaping, dancing, taking photos and groping her male date during the performance.

50 Cent and Boebert had both tweeted pictures of the two posing together following his visit to Capitol Hill, which were viewed millions of times. Boebert tweeted she would "still love you if you flipped burgers at Burger King @50Cent, I used to do that myself!"

The rapper also tweeted pictures of himself with several other representatives last night, including Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.), former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.)—though none garnered as many likes and reposts as his picture with Boebert.

50 Cent, who owns the liquor company Sire Spirits (which sells Branson Cognac and Le Chemin du Roi champagne), made a surprise visit to Capitol Hill on Wednesday alongside civil rights attorney Ben Crump to advocate for more Black representation in the liquor industry. At a press conference following his visit, he stated he met with leaders of both parties to discuss "economic opportunities for everybody, and it’s really exciting. The response I got makes me feel like there are bright days ahead of us."

Addressing a reporter's question about the significance of Black men in the upcoming election cycle, 50 Cent commented on the trend of Black men "identifying with Trump" in the 2024 presidential election "because they got RICO charges." The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law makes it illegal to engage in racketeering activity and was passed to combat organized crime. Trump and 18 co-defendants were charged in August under the RICO law for their efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. 50 Cent mentioned he has not yet decided who he will vote for in the presidential election.

In 2020, the rapper appeared to endorse Trump in a tweet criticizing President Joe Biden’s tax plans, stating: "I don’t care Trump doesn’t like black people." However, less than a week later, he tweeted: "F— Donald Trump, I never liked him." He previously endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Diddy Out, Employees In: Revolt Announces Employee Ownership Model

Photo Credit: Instagram/revoltv
Revolt, the media company founded by Sean "Diddy" Combs, announced a new ownership structure Tuesday. The company revealed that its largest shareholder group is now composed of its employees.

In a historic shift, Combs' shares have been fully redeemed and retired, making employees the predominant stakeholders. 

"This is something we've been looking to do, waiting to do, believing that the people who give this company their blood, sweat, and tears should have some sort of upside opportunity if and when we win," said Detavio Samuels, CEO of Revolt, in an interview with Variety. He added, "All the data suggests that companies with incentive pools for their employees outperform the rest. They perform better financially, they perform better with company morale and culture, and they perform better as it relates to retention."

Revolt celebrated the transition on social media, posting, "It's a new day! REVOLT is honored and proud to announce that, in an unprecedented and historic move in the Black media space, our newly projected largest shareholder group are REVOLT's employees. Our mission to become the largest media company powered by creators and fueled by the culture continues. "

Founded by Combs over a decade ago, Revolt was initially a music industry-focused cable channel aimed at boosting Black representation on television. It has since grown into a significant player in digital media, known for popular video podcasts such as "Drink Champs," "The Jason Lee Show," and "Caresha Please."

Combs' decision to step down comes after a wave of legal challenges, including a lawsuit filed in November by his former girlfriend, singer Cassie, accusing him of years of physical and sexual abuse. Although the parties quickly settled the lawsuit, it spurred additional accusations from other women.

The fallout from these allegations has been substantial for Combs, 54. Besides relinquishing his position at Revolt, he sold his stake in a liquor brand for around $200 million and saw the end of a partnership with a New York charter school network he helped expand.

Samuels declined to disclose the amount paid for Combs' stake. With Combs out, Revolt operates without a majority owner. A representative for Combs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Revolt has distanced itself from Combs in recent months as legal issues and federal investigations into his conduct intensified. Despite the separation, the company has been impacted by the publicized allegations against its founder, including the release of hotel security footage by CNN showing Combs in a physical altercation with Cassie in 2016.
In response to recent developments, Revolt has provided access to individual and group therapists for employees. "Even before the lawsuits, Mr. Combs had little to no interaction with the team," said Samuels, who joined Revolt in 2020. He emphasized that the company's focus is on continuing its mission and supporting its staff through these changes.

Revolt, which has more than 110 full-time employees, continues to adapt to the digital age, with its business now largely driven by digital advertising and a significant presence on platforms like YouTube, where it has 2.8 million subscribers. The company also launched a podcast network in 2022, further diversifying its media offerings.

Monday, June 3, 2024

Pioneering Hip-Hop Artist Brother Marquis Dies at 58 pen_spark

The best-known lineup of 2 Live Crew poses for a promotional shoot. From left are Fresh Kid Ice, Mr. Mixx, Brother Marquis and Luke "Skywalker" Campbell.
Mark Ross, better known by his stage name Brother Marquis, a founding member of the iconic hip-hop group 2 Live Crew, has died at 58.

The news was announced through a social media post on the group's official page, which read: "Mark Ross AKA 'Brother Marquis' of the 2 Live Crew has went to the upper room #2livecrew..." TMZ subsequently confirmed the death with 2 Live Crew's manager. No cause or manner of death has been made public yet.

Born in Rochester, New York, in 1966, Brother Marquis emerged as a pivotal figure in Southern hip-hop, particularly the Miami bass scene. He rose to prominence in the mid-1980s with 2 Live Crew, the group known for its electrifying delivery and unapologetically raw lyrics that explored themes of sexuality and social commentary.

Their 1989 album, "As Nasty As They Wanna Be," became a cultural flashpoint after a legal battle that ultimately established a precedent for artistic expression in music. Beyond the controversy, Brother Marquis's rapping prowess and the group's innovative sound significantly influenced the evolution of Southern hip-hop.

Beyond 2 Live Crew

Brother Marquis showcased his musical versatility beyond 2 Live Crew in the early 1990s. He formed the duo 2 Nazty with DJ Toomp and released the album "Indecent Exposure" in 1993. That same year, he made a notable guest appearance on Ice-T's album "Home Invasion," contributing to the original version of the iconic track "99 Problems," later remade by Jay-Z into a chart-topping hit.
Brother Marquis remained active with 2 Live Crew reunions throughout the late 1990s and 2000s. In 1996, he rejoined 2 Live Crew with original members Fresh Kid Ice (Christopher Wong Won) and Mr. Mixx (David Hobbs) and released the album "Shake a Lil' Somethin'." The group continued recording and performing until Fresh Kid Ice's passing in 2017. Brother Marquis and Fresh Kid Ice released a final 2 Live Crew album "The Real One," in 1998.

Simone Biles Wins Record-Breaking Ninth All-Around Title at U.S. Gymnastics Championships

Photo Courtesy USA Gymnatics
Simone Biles secured a record-extending ninth all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships on Sunday, decisively defeating Skye Blakely. This victory cements Biles' status as the most decorated gymnast in history and sets the stage for her pursuit of a third consecutive Olympic all-around title in Paris.
Biles, a dominant force in gymnastics for over a decade, showcased exceptional athletic prowess throughout the competition. Her score of 119.750 comfortably surpassed Blakely's 113.850. The competition was notably affected by the absence of fellow Black gymnast Shilese Jones, who was sidelined by a shoulder injury. Despite this, the event underscored the depth of talent within the Black gymnastics community, with Biles standing as a beacon of inspiration for future generations.

Beyond her athletic achievements, Biles has made significant contributions as an advocate for athlete safety and empowerment, particularly within the Black community. Historically underrepresented and facing numerous barriers in gymnastics, Black athletes have found a powerful ally in Biles. The "Simone Biles Legacy Act," which mandates increased oversight within the U.S. Olympic Committee, is a testament to her commitment to creating a safer and more equitable environment for future athletes, especially young Black girls who look up to her.

Biles' triumph at the U.S. Championships adds to a career marked by both dominance and resilience. In 2020, at the Tokyo Olympics, she made headlines by prioritizing her mental health and stepping away from competition. This courageous decision sparked a global conversation about the pressures faced by athletes, resonating deeply, particularly among young Black women who identified with her vulnerability and strength.

From her early years in foster care to her rise to international stardom, Biles continues to inspire athletes of all backgrounds. Her routines, known for their technical difficulty and grace, constantly push the boundaries of what is possible in gymnastics. Off the mat, Biles leverages her platform to promote diversity and inclusion within the sport, encouraging young Black girls to chase their dreams on national and international stages.
Biles' latest victory at the U.S. Championships is a testament to her enduring dominance. As she prepares for Paris, she remains a central figure in gymnastics and a powerful cultural icon. To young Black athletes, she is more than a champion; she is a symbol of hope and inspiration, embodying the possibilities of perseverance and excellence.

Reflecting on her win and her journey towards Paris, Biles told NBC, "Today, it was just getting out there and getting comfortable and confident in my gymnastics and hopefully going to Olympic trials and making that next step towards Paris. I couldn't be more proud of how I'm doing this time of the year, just getting that confidence. Over and over, getting myself back in front of the crowd. And just doing what I do in practice."

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Dee Barnes, Hip-Hop Icon and Dr. Dre Assault Survivor, Issues Urgent Plea for Donations

On Saturday, Dee Barnes, the iconic host of the late '80s and early '90s music video show "Pump It Up!", took to social media with an urgent plea. She’s facing financial difficulties and is seeking to raise $3,000 by Monday.

"Hello EVERYONE! I’m trying to urgently raise $3000 this weekend, my deadline is this Monday 6/3/24. If you are able to donate and share. Thank you, I really appreciate you ALL!” Barnes wrote, providing details for donations via CashApp, Venmo, and PayPal.

The next day, she updated her followers, stating, "Still need your help please! $1,800 to get closer to the goal! THANK YOU!!"

Barnes made history as the first Black woman to host her own music video show on a major network, with "Pump It Up!" airing on FOX from 1989 to 1992. However, her career took a dramatic turn after a violent assault by Dr. Dre in 1991. The attack left her with lasting physical and emotional scars, and despite filing charges and settling out of court, Barnes' career and personal life were significantly impacted. In 2019, she revealed she was homeless, leading to a viral response and a successful GoFundMe campaign. Yet, five years later, she continues to struggle.

Beyond her financial challenges, Barnes has remained a vocal advocate for victims of domestic violence. Recently, she spoke out about a 2016 video showing Sean "Diddy" Combs assaulting Cassie Ventura. "Seeing that video is extremely triggering," she tweeted on May 17. "#DrDre punched, slammed, kicked and stomped me out. #Concussion Logging TF off."

Barnes’ advocacy for domestic violence victims has been unwavering. She expressed her disappointment with Combs and solidarity with Ventura and other victims, tweeting, “I’m disgusted and disappointed with Sean Combs. I stand with #Cassie, #KimPorter and all the other victims of his violent abuse.”

Dr. Dre has publicly apologized for his actions, first in 2015 and later in the 2017 HBO series "The Defiant Ones." He acknowledged, “Any man that puts his hands on a female is a fing idiot, he’s out of his fing mind. I was out of my fing mind at the time, I fed up. I paid for it, I’m sorry for it, and I apologize for it.”

While Barnes has accepted Dre's apology, she continues to highlight the long-term impact of domestic violence and the challenges survivors face in rebuilding their lives. Her recent call for financial assistance underscores these ongoing struggles.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Usher to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award at BET Awards; Monรฉt Honored by ASCAP

Usher will receive the Voice of the Culture Award, while Monรฉt, the 2024 Grammy winner for Best New Artist, will be presented with the Vanguard Award at the June 27th ceremony in Los Angeles. (Photo Credit: Bellamy Brewster)
Music industry titan Usher and rising star Victoria Monรฉt are set to be celebrated at upcoming award ceremonies. Usher's enduring impact on music and culture will be recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2024 BET Awards on June 30th.

Meanwhile, both artists will be honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers on June 27th. Usher will receive the Voice of the Culture Award, while Monรฉt will be presented with the Vanguard Award.

"Usher's artistry has transcended generations," said Connie Orlando, BET EVP, Specials, Music Programming & Music Strategy, in a statement. "From his chart-topping hits and electrifying performances to his signature sound and dance moves, he continues to be a force in the industry and a champion of Black excellence. We look forward to celebrating his remarkable career with a truly unforgettable tribute."

He is also nominated for four additional BET Awards this year, including Album of the Year for "Coming Home," Best Collaboration and Video of the Year for "Good Good" with Summer Walker and 21 Savage and Best Male R&B/Pop Artist (an award he shared with Chris Brown last year).

Usher's influence extends beyond the stage. As the founding chairman of the New Look Foundation, he has positively impacted over 55,000 youths globally through education and mentorship programs. This dedication earned him recognitions like the NAACP's 2010 Ford Freedom Award Scholar and Morehouse College's 2014 Candle Award.

The artist's recent achievements solidify his enduring legacy. His ninth studio album, "Coming Home," debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, and his collaboration "Good Good" remains a chart fixture. He also won Outstanding Male Artist at the NAACP Image Awards in March.

Presented to ASCAP members who have had a major influence on music and culture, the Voice of the Culture Award recognizes Usher's lasting impact.

“Artistic development is a lifelong journey of experimentation that requires risk for reward, embracing unknowns, trusting your intuition, and believing in your creative vision and God given talent. It means the world to me that my peers, this community of passionate and distinguished songwriters, composers, and authors are inspired by my execution of the craft,” Usher said in a statement.

Monรฉt, a rising star with a voice that's both powerful and intimate, is a three-time Grammy winner this year, including the prestigious Song of the Year award. She is being recognized by ASCAP for her innovative spirit and influence on the future of music. Her artistry extends beyond her own performances, as she's also a talented songwriter who has contributed to the success of other artists.

"Victoria Monรฉt has proven herself not only as a luminous songwriter but also as a flourishing artist who consistently pushes boundaries," said Paul Williams, chairman of the board and president at ASCAP, in a statement.

The 2024 BET Awards will air live on the East Coast on Sunday, June 30, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Rare Wu-Tang Clan Album 'Once Upon a Time in Shaolin' to be Exhibited in Australia

Once Upon a Time in Shaolin in 2015, photo by Luke Fenstemaker and courtesy of Luke Fenstemaker, Pleasr, and the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)
The enigmatic Wu-Tang Clan album "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin" will be displayed for public listening at the Museum of Old and New Art on the Australian island of Tasmania from June 15 to 24, offering a rare opportunity for fans to experience this exclusive piece of hip-hop history.

Recorded secretly over six years, only one physical copy of the album exists, and it has been heard in its entirety by only a few individuals. The album's display is part of Mona’s "Namedropping" exhibition, which explores rare objects believed to possess mystical properties transcending their material circumstances.

“'Once Upon a Time in Shaolin' is more than just an album,” said Jarrod Rawlins, Mona's director of curatorial affairs. “When I was considering status and what a transcendent namedrop could be, I knew I had to include it in this exhibition.”

The album is bound by a legal agreement preventing its commercial exploitation until 2103, though it can be played at private listening parties. Free tickets for curated private listening sessions will be available for a limited number of visitors.

An Album Shrouded in Mystery
Wu-Tang Clan announced in March 2014 that they would produce a single copy of "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin," to be sold to the highest bidder. The album, housed in a hand-carved box with a leather-bound book of lyrics and its backstory, was a protest against the devaluation of music in the digital age, said Wu-Tang member Robert “RZA” Diggs in a 2014 interview with Forbes.

In 2015, Martin Shkreli, the notorious "Pharma Bro," purchased the album for approximately $2 million, making it the world's most expensive music album at the time. However, U.S. federal authorities seized the album when Shkreli was convicted of securities fraud and conspiracy in 2017.

From Shkreli to Cryptocurrency Collective
In 2021, the U.S. Justice Department sold the album to an undisclosed buyer to satisfy part of Shkreli's $7.4 million forfeiture order. Later that year, digital art collective PleasrDAO confirmed they had acquired the album, reportedly for the equivalent of $4 million, using cryptocurrency. PleasrDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization and early adopter of NFT digital art, announced their intent to make the album more accessible to fans.

“This beautiful piece of art, this ultimate protest against middlemen and rent-seekers of musicians and artists, went south by going into the hands of Martin Shkreli, the ultimate internet villain,” said Jamis Johnson, PleasrDAO’s Chief Pleasing Officer, in an interview with Rolling Stone. "We want this to be us bringing this back to the people. We want fans to participate in this album at some level."

Wu-Tang Clan's Legacy
The Wu-Tang Clan, originating in Staten Island, New York, in the 1990s, has a storied history in hip-hop. The group's influence extends beyond music, as they have become cultural icons. Their decision to produce a single-copy album was a bold statement about the value of music as an art form.

As the album makes its way to Mona, fans and art enthusiasts alike have a unique chance to engage with a piece of modern music history, even if only for a brief moment. The limited exhibition underscores the album's status as both a rare artifact and a significant cultural statement.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Double Trouble: Sean Kingston and Mom Arrested in Fraud Case

Sean Kingston and his mother Janice (left). Photo Credit: Instagram/seankigston
Broward Sheriff's deputies raided a Southwest Ranches property linked to singer Sean Kingston in Florida on Thursday. The raid resulted in the arrest of Kingston's mother, Janice Turner, 61, on multiple fraud and theft charges.

The months-long investigation, led by BSO's Dania Beach District deputies in collaboration with other units, targeted Kingston's alleged failure to pay for a $150,000 entertainment system, including a 232-inch television, from Ver Ver Entertainment. The company filed a lawsuit against Kingston in February for non-payment.
Attorney Dennis Card, representing Ver Ver Entertainment, alleged outside the raided property that Kingston used his celebrity status to acquire goods and services without paying. "He lures people using his celebrity into having them release things without having him pay for it, and then he simply never pays," Card said.
Kingston, 34, known for hits like "Beautiful Girls" and "Fire Burning," has a history of legal troubles, including previous allegations of assault and theft. In 2011, he sustained critical injuries in a personal watercraft accident in Miami Beach, requiring emergency heart surgery.

Authorities apprehended Kingston later that same day in Fort Irwin, California. According to a news report, he cooperated during the arrest and is expected to be booked into the San Bernardino County Jail.

In an Instagram statement seemingly brushing off the incident, Kingston reassured his followers, saying, "People love negative energy! I am good and so is my mother!.. my lawyers are handling everything as we speak."

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill' Named Apple Music's All-Time Greatest Album

Lauryn Hill's seminal 1998 debut, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill," has been crowned the greatest album of all time by Apple Music, solidifying its place in music history. The announcement marks the pinnacle of Apple Music's 100 Best Albums list, a celebration of the most influential records ever made.

In a statement to Apple Music, Hill reflected on the album's depth and collaborative spirit: "This is my award, but it's a rich, deep narrative, and involves so many people, and so much sacrifice, and so much time, and so much collective love."

To mark this momentous occasion, Apple Music convened a special roundtable discussion featuring legendary producer Nile Rodgers, Grammy-nominated artist Maggie Rogers, and hosts Zane Lowe and Ebro Darden. They explored the significance of the top albums, with Hill's groundbreaking debut taking center stage.

Released in 1998, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" was a seismic event in the music world. The album blends R&B, hip-hop, and soul, addressing themes of love, identity, and social justice with profound lyrical skill and emotional depth. Despite being Hill's only solo studio release, it remains a towering influence in music.

"This album doesn't just resonate with the people who were around when it came out. It has not dated, not even a fraction," Lowe said during the roundtable. "In fact, it feels more fresh and more relevant the more you listen to it."

Ebro Darden emphasized the album's holistic impact: "It exemplifies and captures popular music of the last 25 years. It’s R&B, it’s hip-hop, it’s independent women, strong women, it’s topical, it’s sampling… I think that’s why it got voted number one."

Nile Rodgers praised Hill's artistry and the album's enduring legacy. "She’s amazing. This record is amazing," he stated, capturing the reverence Hill commands in the music industry.

Apple Music has also produced 100 audio vignettes that narrate the significance of each album. These are available on Apple Podcasts, offering fans an intimate look at the records that have defined generations.

For a look at the complete list click here

Top 10 Albums from Apple Music's 100 Best Albums List:
"The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" – Lauryn Hill
"Thriller" – Michael Jackson
"Abbey Road" – The Beatles
"Purple Rain" – Prince & The Revolution
"Blonde" – Frank Ocean
"Songs in the Key of Life" – Stevie Wonder
"good kid, m.A.A.d city" – Kendrick Lamar
"Back to Black" – Amy Winehouse
"Nevermind" – Nirvana
"Lemonade" – Beyoncรฉ