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

Friday, July 19, 2024

Hot Girl Meg Sparks Emergency Power Program for Elderly Amid Texas Outages

Megan Thee Stallion is launching an initiative to provide generators for senior citizens across her native Houston to prepare them for future natural disasters. After Hurricane Beryl recently left 2 million people without power, the rapper decided to take action.

The rapper, whose real name is Megan Pete, is partnering with Bread of Life, Inc. to launch the Emergency Power Program through her Pete and Thomas Foundation. The organizations will provide generators to elderly residents in Houston, granting them the ability to maintain electricity during natural disasters.

"It's been painful to watch the elderly population in Houston suffer without electricity during these devastating storms,” she said in a statement. “That's why we wanted to partner with Bread of Life to take a strategic approach to this problem and secure generators to help protect our senior citizens. We need to do our part to provide our elders with the best resources possible to withstand future emergencies.”

Earlier this week, more than 200,000 CenterPoint Energy customers were still without power, struggling with the heat one week after Hurricane Beryl swept through southeast Texas. CenterPoint Energy, the Houston-area utility, said it has restored power faster than in recent storms and expected full restoration by Friday.

Rudy Rasmus, Executive Director and Founder of Bread of Life, Inc., emphasized the urgency of the initiative.

"We want to expand our support of the most vulnerable people in the city, and Hurricane Beryl, the derecho, and other storms have highlighted that our seniors are in dire need of assistance," Rasmus said. "Through our partnership with Megan Thee Stallion and her Pete and Thomas Foundation, we hope to provide generators to senior personal care homes this hurricane season. Our goal is to provide generators to our most vulnerable seniors ahead of storms or other events that knock out power so there is no interruption in service."

The initiative is timely, as Hurricane Beryl left at least 18 people dead and millions without power for several days. Reliable backup power has become critical for Houston’s most vulnerable residents.

Megan Thee Stallion, a three-time Grammy Award winner, recently released her third album, "Megan," and performed at the BET Awards 2024. She established the Pete and Thomas Foundation in February 2022 to support women, children, senior citizens, and underserved communities.

Recognizing the increasing frequency of severe weather events in Houston, the Pete and Thomas Foundation and Bread of Life, Inc. established the Emergency Power Program to support senior citizens in the short term and provide a long-term solution to protect them from future emergencies and power outages.

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Missy Elliott Makes History as NASA Sends Her Hit to Venus

Hold onto your inflatable chairs and dust off your butterfly clips, because Missy Elliott just took "Supa Dupa Fly" to a whole new level: Venus. NASA beamed the iconic 1997 hit across 158 million miles of space on Friday, July 12, making it the first hip-hop track to ever reach another planet.

Missy's lyrics hitched a ride on NASA's Deep Space Network, traveling at the speed of light to give Venus a taste of that '90s hip-hop flavor. And where better to blast this female empowerment anthem than the planet named after the goddess of love and beauty herself?

"I still can't believe I'm going out of this world with NASA through the Deep Space Network when 'The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)' becomes the first-ever hip-hop song to transmit to space!" Elliott said in a statement. "I chose Venus because it symbolizes strength, beauty, and empowerment, and I am so humbled to have the opportunity to share my art and my message with the universe!"

The transmission, facilitated by the Deep Space Station 13 radio dish antenna in Barstow, California (aptly nicknamed "Venus"), took just 14 minutes to reach the planet.

Brittany Brown, director of Digital and Technology at NASA Headquarters, said the collaboration was a natural fit.
"Both space exploration and Missy Elliott's art have been about pushing boundaries," Brown said. "Missy has a track record of infusing space-centric storytelling and futuristic visuals in her music videos, so the opportunity to collaborate on something out of this world is truly fitting."

"The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" is only the second song ever transmitted into deep space, following the Beatles' "Across the Universe" in 2008.

The transmission comes ahead of two upcoming NASA missions to Venus, DAVINCI (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) and VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy), scheduled for launch in the late 2020s. The Deep Space Network, which has been operational since 1963, will be instrumental in receiving data from these missions.

NASA hopes the transmission of Elliott's music will inspire future generations of scientists and explorers, just as Missy's music has inspired generations of artists and fans on Earth. Perhaps, somewhere out there in the cosmos, extraterrestrial life forms are already grooving to the beat.

Friday, July 12, 2024

Court Dismisses Federal Gun Charge Against Boosie Badazz

TrillEntCMG, via Wikimedia Commons
Rapper Boosie Badazz, legally known as Torrence Hatch, had his federal gun charge dismissed on Friday by the United States District Court Southern District of California. The charge stemmed from his arrest last June in San Diego, where he was accused of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The dismissal marks a significant legal victory for the rapper, who has been entangled in multiple legal battles in recent years. Boosie's lawyer confirmed the court's decision, though specific details surrounding the dismissal remain unclear. The rapper was reportedly filming a music video in San Diego when police observed a firearm in his waistband during an Instagram Live session.

Court reporter Meghann Cuniff shared a photo on X, formerly known as Twitter, showing Boosie and his attorney Meghan Blanco outside the San Diego courtroom. During the hearing, Boosie grew emotional and expressed his intentions to take his family on vacation to celebrate.

"I'm at a loss for words right now, man," Boosie said in a video posted on his Instagram. "I'm gonna take me a trip cross country, bro. Go to about three different countries. God is good, boy. He'll make a way out of no way. That [expletive] love me, bro."


'Illmatic' Tops Billboard's List of Greatest Rap Albums, Nas Reacts

Nas has received the ultimate accolade for his debut album, "Illmatic," as Billboard names it the greatest rap album of all time. The legendary rapper expressed his gratitude and excitement on Instagram acknowledging the honor and the support from his fans: "Thank you to @billboard! N the people !!! We here #1 illmatic."

The album, which includes hits like "N.Y. State of Mind" and "The World Is Yours," has been widely regarded as one of the greatest albums in the genre's history.

In Billboard's ranking, "Illmatic" beat out other iconic albums such as Dr. Dre's "The Chronic," Lauryn Hill's "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill," OutKast's "Aquemini," and The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Life After Death."

The top 10 list also featured 2Pac's "All Eyez On Me," Snoop Dogg's "Doggystyle," Eric B. and Rakim's "Paid in Full," JAY-Z's "The Blueprint" and Slick Rick's "The Great Adventures of Slick Rick."

However, the list stirred some controversy with certain album placements. Billboard ranked Cardi B's "Invasion of Privacy" at No. 29, ahead of JAY-Z's "Reasonable Doubt," Kendrick Lamar's "good kid, m.A.A.d city" and Eminem's "The Marshall Mathers LP." Albums by Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, and Lil Uzi Vert were also ranked above OutKast's "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik," MF DOOM and Madlib's "Madvillainy" and Run-DMC's "Raising Hell," raising eyebrows among some hip-hop fans.

Nas reflected on his journey and the creation of "Illmatic" in a heartfelt Instagram post earlier this year. He recounted how he dreamed of working with his favorite producers and how he achieved that vision with the help of Large Professor, DJ Premier, Q-Tip, Pete Rock, and DJ LES. He expressed gratitude for their contributions and for the album's lasting impact.

In addition to Billboard's recognition, Nas and "Illmatic" were recently honored by the New York State Senate. Senator Jamaal T. Bailey highlighted Nas’ achievements, saying, “Nasir Jones, poetically known as Nas, was making the greatest Hip Hop album of all time, Illmatic. Nas has been a Hip Hop griot — the rapid response system for the streets, for lack of a better term.”
As 2024 marks the 30th anniversary of "Illmatic," Nas is planning to celebrate with special live performances. He is set to perform the album with the Las Vegas Philharmonic at the Encore Theater in Las Vegas, with shows scheduled for August 29, 31, and September 1. This event follows a previous symphonic performance of "Illmatic" with the National Symphony Orchestra in New York City in 2018.

"Illmatic" was groundbreaking for its innovative use of an all-star producer team and for Nas' extraordinary storytelling, capturing the struggles and dreams of life in New York City. Upon its release, the album entered the Billboard 200 at number 12 and peaked at number two on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It has since achieved Platinum status and sold over 2 million copies in the United States.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Notorious B.I.G.'s 'Ready to Die' Marks 30 Years With Reissue

The Notorious B.I.G.'s groundbreaking debut album, "Ready to Die," is set for a special 30th-anniversary reissue on September 13th. Rhino Records announced the reissue last Friday, months after the album's induction into the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry, solidifying its cultural impact.

The two-LP reissue will feature newly reimagined limited edition cover art and will be available in both black and color vinyl editions. The black vinyl version will be sold through and, while the color vinyl edition will be exclusive to select retailers.

Author and journalist Justin Tinsley, in his essay for the Library of Congress induction, described the album as a response to "American capitalism and just how deadly the pursuit of money could be and was for so many—in particular, young Black folks in America."

The 6x platinum-certified album, celebrated for hits like "Juicy" and "Big Poppa," each with over 1 billion streams, continues to be recognized as one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever, appearing on lists like Apple Music's 100 Best Albums of All Time and Rolling Stone's 200 Greatest Hip-Hop Albums of All Time.

The reissue comes 30 years to the day after the album's original release, marking a milestone for a record that shaped hip-hop's golden age and solidified The Notorious B.I.G.'s place as a rap legend.

Track Listing for Ready To Die (30th Anniversary)

LP One: Side One
"Things Done Changed"
"Gimme The Loot"
"Machine Gun Funk"

Side Two
6. "Ready To Die"
7. "One More Chance"
8. "F*$K Me"
9. "The What"
10. "Juicy"

LP Two: Side One
"Every Day Struggle"
"Me & My Bitch"
"Big Poppa"

Side Two
5. "Friend of Mine"
6. "Unbelievable"
7. "Suicidal Thoughts"
8. "Who Shot Ya"

Ye Says He's Out, But Will He Really Fade to Black?

Ye and Ty Dolla $ign's "Vultures 1" album topped the charts when it was released in February.
Hold onto your hypebeasts, folks! Ye — the artist formerly known as Kanye West — might be hanging up his microphone for good. Yes, that's right, the man who brought us "The College Dropout" and "Jesus Walks" (and, let's be honest, a whole lotta controversy) is hinting at a full-blown musical retirement.

Rich the Kid shared an alleged text message from Ye on Tuesday, July 9, in which the rapper explained his decision to walk away from professional music. "I am retiring from professional music. Not sure what else to do," West wrote in the message.

Rich the Kid tried to convince him otherwise: "Retire? Why? How? The people NEED you. The music you & Ty & we have made the BIGGEST STAMP in culture to this date in 2024. Drop Ye about mine & V2 and we do it all over again. The kids need you big bro for sure. Maybe some time to chill but retiring ain't it." The "New Freezer" rapper deleted the text message exchange featuring Ye's alleged retirement from his Instagram Story about a half-hour after originally posting it.

Ye and Ty Dolla $ign's "Vultures 1" album topped the charts when it was released in February, as did the album single "Carnival" featuring Playboi Carti and Rich the Kid. However, the second and third volumes the duo promised fans in March and April failed to drop. According to Ty Dolla $ign, all the songs for the second album are complete. However, no release date has been announced since it was last rumored to be dropping in May. Most recently, Ye and Ty announced a "Vultures" listening event to take place in Korea on Aug. 23.

Ye's career has been marked by dramatic announcements and sudden changes in direction, leaving fans and industry observers questioning whether this retirement declaration is final or another twist in his unpredictable journey. His influence on the music industry has been significant, from groundbreaking albums like "The College Dropout" and "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" to his ventures into fashion and other creative fields.

For now, fans and the music world wait to see if Ye's retirement will stick or if he will once again surprise everyone with a new chapter in his storied career.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Court Grants Extension for Prosecutors in Young Thug Judge Recusal Dispute

The trial of rapper Young Thug has been further delayed after prosecutors requested more time to respond to a defense motion to remove the presiding judge. The defense motion seeks to remove Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville from the case due to allegations of bias or misconduct.

The court has granted a 48-hour extension due to an unexpected medical emergency, pushing the deadline from 5 p.m. on Monday to 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
Last week, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Rachel Krause ordered the Fulton County District Attorney's Office to respond to the motion, halting the months-long trial. Before Judge Krause could issue a ruling, defendant Deamonte Kendrick filed a motion to disqualify all Fulton County Superior Court judges.

The trial saw a dramatic turn on June 7, when Kenneth Copeland, known as "Lil Woody," refused to testify, invoking his Fifth Amendment right, despite a plea bargain agreement. Copeland was subsequently found in contempt of court and detained over the weekend. The following Monday, a meeting was held in Judge Glanville's chambers to discuss the violation of the plea bargain, involving Copeland, the judge, and the prosecution.

Young Thug's attorney, Brian Steel, confronted Judge Glanville during a court break after learning about the private meeting. Steel, who did not disclose how he obtained this information, was also found in contempt of court. His sentence of 10 weekends in jail has been stayed by the Georgia Supreme Court pending appeal.
Judge Glanville has denied the recusal motion filed by Steel and co-counsel Keith Adams. However, Kendrick's attorney pursued relief from the Georgia Supreme Court, which dismissed the motion on procedural grounds, deciding that another judge should hear the recusal motions.

The trial remains stalled as these legal disputes continue to unfold. Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, faces racketeering charges along with several co-defendants. The high-profile case has seen numerous legal maneuvers and complications, with the latest delay further prolonging the proceedings.

Friday, July 5, 2024

Legal Woes Deepen for Combs as Sexual Assault Cases Reach Eight, 50 Cent Reacts

Sean "Diddy" Combs is facing his eighth sexual assault lawsuit since November 2023, as former porn star Adria English accuses him of grooming and coercing her into sexual activities at his parties.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges that between 2004 and 2009, the rapper and business mogul forced English to engage in sexual intercourse with party guests, consume alcohol, and take ecstasy. Combs has denied all allegations through his lawyer, Jonathan Davis.

"No matter how many lawsuits are filed, it won’t change the fact that Mr. Combs has never sexually assaulted or sex trafficked anyone. We live in a world where anyone can file a lawsuit for any reason and without any proof. Fortunately, a fair and impartial judicial process exists to find the truth, and Mr. Combs is confident he will prevail against these and other baseless claims in court,” Davis said in a statement.

English claims she was hired to attend Combs' "white parties" in 2004, initially without any expectations of sexual activities. However, by the third party, Combs, 54, she said he coerced her into having sex with guests, leveraging her past in adult entertainment.

This lawsuit follows a series of allegations against Combs, starting with R&B singer Cassie Ventura, who accused him of rape and physical abuse in November 2023. Though Combs settled that lawsuit the following day, leaked footage of him physically assaulting Ventura in 2016 sparked public outrage.

Subsequent lawsuits have been filed by other individuals, including former employees and women accusing him of sexual assault, abuse, drugging, and other acts of sexual misconduct. One woman even claimed that Combs "sex trafficked and gang raped" her as a 17-year-old in 2003. All claims have been denied by Combs, who is also named in a lawsuit involving his son, Christian "King" Combs.

Once celebrated for his successful music career and business ventures, including Bad Boy Records and Cîroc vodka, Combs has seen his reputation tarnished by these allegations. In recent weeks, New York Mayor Eric Adams demanded that Combs return the ceremonial key to the city awarded to him in September 2023. Additionally, Howard University rescinded Combs' honorary degree, discontinued a scholarship in his name, and returned a $1 million donation.

Rapper 50 Cent, real name Curtis Jackson, who has a long-standing feud with Combs, has publicly reacted to the latest lawsuit. Sharing a post from The Neighborhood Talk on Instagram, 50 Cent commented, "WHAT HAPPEN 👀 how much s*** was this fool doing? 😳LOL NAH I'm gonna need more episodes for this docu series." The post referred to his planned documentary on the allegations against Combs, developed through his G-Unit film and television company. The documentary, which has not yet announced a release date or platform, promises to delve into the numerous accusations against the music mogul.

English's lawsuit also claims that Combs forced her to have sex with celebrity jeweler Jacob Arabo, known as "Jacob the Jeweler." She alleges that besides her usual fee for attending the parties, she received an additional $1,000 after the "forced sexual intercourse" with Arabo, who is also named as a defendant.

List of Lawsuits Filed Against Sean "Diddy" Combs (November 2023 - June 2024)
  1. Cassie Ventura: (November 2023) - Allegations of rape and physical abuse. Settled out of court.
  2. Joi Dickerson-Neal: (December 2023) - Former chef alleging sexual harassment and wrongful termination.
  3. Rodney Jones Jr.: (January 2024) - Former driver alleging wrongful termination, unpaid wages, and emotional distress after witnessing alleged sexual misconduct.
  4. Jane Doe (1) vs. Christian Combs & Sean Combs: (April 2024) - Lawsuit against Diddy's son alleging sexual assault, with Diddy named as a co-defendant for alleged negligence.
  5. April Lampros: (May 2024) - Allegations of drugging and sexual assault dating back to the 1990s.
  6. Jane Doe (2): (May 2024) - Anonymous woman alleging Combs "sex trafficked and gang raped" her as a 17-year-old in 2003.
  7. Crystal McKinney: (June 2024) - Allegations of drugging and rape involving Combs and rapper French Montana.
  8. Adria English: (June 2024) - Former adult film actor alleging grooming and coercion into sexual activities at Combs' parties.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

B.G. Wins Court Battle: Free to Write Lyrics While Under Federal Supervision

A federal judge has rejected a request from prosecutors to prohibit rapper Christopher "B.G." Dorsey from promoting violence in his music while on supervised release, citing First Amendment concerns. However, U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan ruled that B.G. must submit copies of any new songs to the government for review before their release.

The ruling, issued Friday, is the latest development in a case that has sparked debate about an artist's right to free expression versus the government's responsibility to enforce the terms of supervised release. B.G., known for his 1990s hit "Bling Bling," came under scrutiny after performing with other rappers who have felony convictions and releasing lyrics that prosecutors said glorified violence.

In March, parole officers requested B.G.'s arrest for violating the terms of his supervised release, but he was later released on his own recognizance. Prosecutors asked Judge Morgan to impose restrictions on his lyrics, arguing they could undermine his rehabilitation.

B.G.'s attorneys argued that such restrictions would constitute an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech. Judge Morgan agreed, stating that the condition "may be an unconstitutional prior restraint."

However, Judge Morgan acknowledged the government's concerns and ordered B.G. to submit his lyrics for review before release or promotion. If deemed inconsistent with his rehabilitation, prosecutors could request modifications to his supervised release terms.
B.G., a member of the Hot Boys rap group, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2012 for illegal gun possession and other charges. He was released to a halfway house in fall 2023 and began a two-year period of federal supervision on Feb. 1.

The case has drawn attention from other prominent artists like Megan Thee Stallion and Jay-Z, who have condemned the use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal cases. B.G.'s attorneys expressed satisfaction with the ruling, emphasizing it allows him to continue his artistic work while addressing the terms of his supervision.

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Flavor Flav Flavors Up Red Lobster

Photo Credit: X/FlavorFlav

Seafood fans have a new reason to say, "Yeah boyee!"

Fans of the legendary Public Enemy hype man can enjoy Flavor Flav’s Faves, an exclusive off-menu meal at Red Lobster. The collaboration comes after Flav showed his love for Red Lobster by ordering the entire menu in an attempt to “save the Cheddar Bay Biscuits” when the chain faced financial difficulties earlier this year.
Red Lobster’s partnership with Flavor Flav, known for his larger-than-life personality and signature clock necklaces, has resulted in a meal featuring a handpicked selection of the chain’s seafood favorites. The meal is available at Red Lobsterrestaurants nationwide and includes Maine Lobster Tail, Snow Crab Legs, Garlic Shrimp Scampi, and Bacon Mac & Cheese, plus a choice of one side. To order, diners just need to ask their server for Flavor Flav’s Faves.

"As a long-time Red Lobster fan, I’m fired up to bring a little bit of my own flavor to fans with a meal featuring my seafood favorites," said Flavor Flav, known for hits like "Fight the Power" and "911 Is a Joke." "You gotta get to Red Lobster and give it a try because this signature meal is hype, boyee!"

Flavor Flav's Faves
Red Lobster’s Chief Experience Officer, Sara Bittorf, expressed enthusiasm about the collaboration. "When you have someone like Flavor Flav who shows their love for a brand by ordering the entire menu, you know there is a lot more fun to be had. Flavor Flav’s passion for Red Lobster is unmatched, and we’re excited to bring our guests a flavor experience unlike any other."

This collaboration comes just in time for Red Lobster’s Crabfest, featuring new dishes like Creamy Crab Carbonara, Crab & Lobster Duo, and Snow Crab & Crab-Topped Steak. Guests can also indulge in the Crab Your Way option, choosing from wild-caught Snow or Bairdi Crab, with flavor options including Cajun Butter, Roasted Garlic Butter, or Simply Steamed.

For more details on Red Lobster’s menu or to find a nearby location, visit the Red Lobster website.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Usher's Legacy Takes Center Stage at BET Awards

Photo By Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET 

The 2024 BET Awards celebrated Black excellence Sunday night, with a lineup of high-energy performances and a moving tribute to Usher, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Hosted by Taraji P. Henson at the Peacock Theatre, the event opened with an electrifying performance by Megan Thee Stallion, who emerged from an egg in a nod to her latest album artwork. She ignited the night with "Hiss," followed by "Boa" and "Where Them Girls At."

Drake led the nominations with seven, including album of the year for "For All The Dogs (Scary Hours Edition)." Nicki Minaj followed closely with six, including album of the year for "Pink Friday 2."

Usher's tribute was a standout moment. Introduced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Usher watched as a parade of artists honored his career. Childish Gambino opened with "U Don't Have to Call," followed by Keke Palmer's rendition of "U Make Me Wanna." Summer Walker, Coco Jones, Marsha Ambrosius, Chlöe, and Tinashe contributed with performances of Usher's hits.

L.A. Reid and Babyface, co-founders of Usher's label LaFace Records, presented the award. Overcoming technical difficulties during his acceptance speech, Usher expressed gratitude and humor about his journey and those who supported him, including Jermaine Dupri.

Lauryn Hill revisited tracks from her groundbreaking album "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill," bringing out her son YG Marley for "Survival" and "Praise Jah in the Moonlight." Hill closed her set with Fugees member Wyclef Jean performing "Fu-Gee-La."

The diverse lineup included Ice Spice previewing her upcoming album "Y2K," GloRilla descending from the ceiling for "Yeah Glo!" and "TGIF," and Tyla performing "Jump" with Skillibeng and Gunna.

Victoria Monét, who won video of the year for "On My Mama," performed her hits, while Sexy Redd, Tanner Adell, Doechii, and Shaboozey showcased their talents.

Usher and Victoria Monét emerged as the night's biggest winners. Usher received the Lifetime Achievement Award and best male R&B/pop artist. Monét won video of the year and captivated the audience with her performances.

For a complete list of winners click here

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Kanye West in Moscow: Concert Rumors Swirl, Putin Meeting Speculated

Kanye West arrived in Moscow today, fueling rumors of a potential concert and a meeting with President Vladimir Putin. The rapper's visit coincides with the birthday of Gosha Rubchinskiy, the new creative director of West's Yeezy brand.

Russian media outlets reported West's arrival, citing footage appearing to show him in the Moscow subway. While sources suggest the visit is primarily to celebrate Rubchinskiy's birthday, the possibility of a concert hasn't been definitively ruled out. There have been no official announcements from West's representatives or potential venues regarding a performance.
In December 2023, West appointed Rubchinskiy to lead the Yeezy design team. A statement from Yeezy at the time hailed the move as "a milestone in design history."
The 47-year-old rapper, known for past statements praising President Putin, was filmed walking with an entourage in Moscow, wearing baggy white trousers and a white hoodie. Videos circulating online show him shopping and interacting with fans.

West posted "Hello, Moscow" in Russian on VKontakte, the country's state-monitored social media platform, on Sunday. He was also seen in a Moscow underpass, a hotel lobby, the Gum mall, and Red Square.

Reports indicate West is staying at the Four Seasons Hotel near the Kremlin, where the Presidential Suite reportedly costs around £10,000 ($12,450 USD) per night.

West's visit to Russia has sparked controversy, as most Western celebrities have distanced themselves from the country following its invasion of Ukraine. However, West, who has faced criticism for various controversial statements and actions, remains an exception. His past praise for Putin raises questions about the nature of his visit and potential interactions with Russian officials.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Watch: Sisters With Voices Deliver Soul-Stirring Tiny Desk Set

Screengrab: YouTube
In a fitting conclusion to NPR's Black Music Month celebration, the iconic R&B group SWV delivered a captivating Tiny Desk concert. The trio, known for their harmonious vocals and enduring hits, performed at NPR's headquarters, showcasing their timeless appeal and musical prowess.

Formed in New York City, Sisters With Voices (SWV) rose to fame in the 1990s alongside popular girl groups like En Vogue, TLC and Xscape. Their unique blend of R&B, new jack swing, and hip-hop soul earned them multiple platinum records and a dedicated fanbase that remains strong today.

The Tiny Desk setlist was a nostalgic journey through SWV's biggest hits, starting with the crowd-pleasing "I'm So Into You." The audience's enthusiasm was evident, with many singing along even after the song ended. Other fan favorites like "Right Here," "You're the One," and their number-one hit "Weak" further showcased their musical prowess and enduring appeal.

Before performing "You're the One," Lelee Lyons reflected on the group's groundbreaking approach to music in the '90s, noting their willingness to push boundaries. This served as a reminder of SWV's significant impact on the music industry and their continued influence.

SWV is currently co-headlining the Queens of R&B Tour with fellow '90s hitmakers Xscape. The tour, which kicked off with a sold-out show in Concord, California, features a mix of solo and collaborative performances, offering fans a nostalgic and exciting concert experience.

Watch the entire performance below.

"I'm So Into You"
"Right Here (Human Nature Radio Mix)"
"You're the One"
"You're Always on My Mind"
"Anything (Old Skool Radio Version)"

Jewel Brown, Blues and Jazz Legend, Succumbs to Cancer at 86

Jewel Brown, the celebrated jazz singer from Houston who gained fame performing with Louis Armstrong,has died at age 86, her publicist confirmed Wednesday.

Born and raised in Houston's Third Ward, Brown was one of six children. She knew she wanted to sing from an early age, participating in local talent shows and earning her way to a regular gig in Galveston while still a teenager. Her talent soon led to recording singles for Liberty Records in the early 1960s, and she was drawn to Los Angeles to sing with keyboardist Earl Grant's band.

In 1961, while Louis Armstrong was touring in Sierra Leone with his All Stars, his longtime singer Velma Middleton died suddenly. Armstrong offered Brown the opportunity to take Middleton's place. This led to a nearly decade-long collaboration, with the two touring, recording, and performing together until Armstrong's retirement in 1969.

"He was the most fantastic person I've worked with my entire life," Brown said of Armstrong in a 2015 interview with the Houston Chronicle. "It was just a gift from heaven to be able to work with him."

Brown's career began at the tender age of 12, when she performed professionally for the first time at the Manhattan Club in Galveston, Texas. She later turned down an opportunity to tour Europe with Lionel Hampton's band to stay in school. Before joining Armstrong, she headlined at Jack Ruby's nightclub in Dallas, a period she rarely discussed in interviews.

Despite her success, Brown eventually chose to return to Houston in 1969 to care for her parents.
"Baby, I grew up on it all," she told the Houston Chronicle. "I've done country and western, ballads, torch songs, blues, and jazz. They call mea bluesy jazz singer and a jazzy blues singer. Give a song to me. If it's good, I'll do it."

After parting ways with Armstrong, Brown continued to sing but focused on performing locally. Health issues, including scoliosis, osteoporosis, and partial sight loss in one eye, limited her later career, but she remained active in the Houston music scene. In 2007, she was inducted into the Blues Smithsonian Hall of Fame, and in 2015, she was recognized by Congress for her contributions to the arts.

During her hiatus from performing, Brown managed a barbershop with her brother, sold insurance, and worked as a tailor. She eventually returned to performing locally and made a significant comeback, performing at events like the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Satchmo Fest.
In recent years, Brown recorded for Dynaflow Records in Austin. She had recently been treated for colon cancer before her death.

Brown’s family expressed their gratitude in a statement sent to ABC13: "It is a special but difficult time for us. We appreciate all the love, the calls, concerns, and acknowledgements that all of you have expressed. We know how much Jewel was loved by many across the globe, in Texas, in Houston, and especially her Third Ward community. We thank you all!"

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Watch: Flo Milli Debuts New 'Never Lose Me' Verse in Soulful Tiny Desk Set

Screengrab: YouTube
Known for her sharp lyrics and distinctive style, rapper Flo Milli took her talents to NPR's Tiny Desk concert series recently, marking her first performance with a full band. The set, released earlier today, is part of NPR's Black Music Month celebration showcasing the talent and diversity of Black women in music.

The rising star from Mobile, Alabama, opened with an energetic medley of "Conceited" and "Bed Time," setting the stage for an engaging performance. Backed by Atlanta's Band of Brothers and her backing vocalists, the Floettes, Milli showcased her versatility, transitioning smoothly into a soulful rendition of her breakout hit "Beef FloMix." The song, a fan favorite from her 2020 debut mixtape "Ho, Why Is You Here?", proved its enduring appeal in this new arrangement.

The highlight of the set came at the end, when Milli and her band switched to acoustic instruments for a stripped-down version of her single "Never Lose Me." In a special treat for the audience, she debuted a brand new verse exclusive to the Tiny Desk performance.

Milli's Tiny Desk appearance is a significant milestone in her career, which has been on a steady rise since the release of "Ho, Why Is You Here?" She followed up her debut with "You Still Here, Ho?" in 2022 and "Fine Ho, Stay" in 2023, earning a spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and critical acclaim, including recognition from Rolling Stone as "one of the most fun rappers alive."

This Tiny Desk concert, a celebrated platform for showcasing musical talent, underscores Flo Milli's growing influence in the music industry.

Watch the full performance below.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Will Smith's Redemption Song: Hip-Hop Icon Returns to the Mic at BET Awards Sunday

Will Smith, the Oscar-winning actor known for blockbuster films like "Men in Black" and chart-topping rap hits as one half of DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, is set to make a musical comeback. Smith will perform new material at the 2024 BET Awards, marking his first major musical appearance in several years.

Smith first rose to fame with DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, known for lighthearted hits like "Summertime" and "Parents Just Don't Understand," which earned them a Grammy Award for best rap performance. His transition to acting proved equally successful, with iconic roles in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and "Ali," earning him critical acclaim and box-office success.

Recently, Smith contributed "Light Em Up," a collaboration with reggae artist Sean Paul, to the "Bad Boys for Life" soundtrack. The track, released in early 2024, marks his first new music in nearly half a decade.

Smith's career has not been without controversy. His 2022 Oscars incident, in which he slapped comedian Chris Rock onstage, sparked a media firestorm and led to a temporary break from the spotlight. His return to the BET Awards stage signifies a new chapter, where he aims to reconnect with audiences through his music.

Connie Orlando, BET's executive vice president of specials, music programming and music strategy, said, "From his start as a rapper to 'The Fresh Prince' to being a box-office king, we are honored to welcome him back to grace the BET Awards stage."

The 2024 BET Awards will also feature performances from GloRilla, Ice Spice, Latto, Ms. Lauryn Hill and YG Marley, Muni Long, Sexyy Red, Shaboozey, Tyla and Victoria Monét. Usher will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, and Taraji P. Henson will host the event for the third time.

The BET Awards will air live on Sunday, June 30, at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times on BET.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Ambush Claims Life of Jacksonville Rapper Julio Foolio at Tampa Hotel

Charles Jones, also known as Jacksonville rapper Julio Foolio. (YouTube)
Florida rapper Julio Foolio was fatally shot early Sunday while celebrating his 26th birthday.

Julio Foolio, whose real name was Charles Jones, had told his 1 million Instagram followers he had "the best birthday ever," before the tragedy.

Jones had been hosting a pool party at a rented Airbnb in the Tampa area Saturday afternoon. The event grew so large that police responded, shutting it down and forcing the guests to leave. Jones and others later moved to a nearby Holiday Inn.

At approximately 4:40 a.m., gunfire erupted in the hotel's parking lot, killing Jones and wounding three other people, according to the Tampa Police Department. The injured victims are in stable condition. The medical examiner's office has not yet confirmed Jones' identity.

Jones' attorney, Lewis Fuso, described the incident as an ambush. "Mr. Jones was reportedly ambushed in the hotel's parking lot," Fuso said in a statement.

Jones was known for his association with the Jacksonville-based gang KTA and had survived previous attempts on his life, including a 2021 shooting in Jacksonville, after which he taunted his attackers on Instagram.

The investigation is ongoing, with Tampa police reviewing surveillance footage from the hotel. No suspects have been arrested as of Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

From Negro Leagues to Cooperstown: Willie Mays' Extraordinary Journey Ends at 93

White House (Pete Souza) / Maison Blanche (Pete Souza), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Willie Mays, the iconic Hall of Fame center fielder known as the greatest all-around baseball player of all time, died Tuesday, the San Francisco Giants announced. He was 93.

“It is with great sadness that we announce that San Francisco Giants Legend and Hall of Famer Willie Mays passed away peacefully this afternoon at the age of 93,” the Giants announced on X (formerly known as Twitter).

Mays, nicknamed “The Say Hey Kid,” had a professional baseball career that spanned four decades, beginning with the Negro Leagues in the late 1940s and ending with the New York Mets in 1973. He spent 21 years with the New York Giants, who would later move to San Francisco.

Born on May 6, 1931, in Westfield, Alabama, Mays was introduced to baseball by his father, Cat Mays, a semi-pro player on several local Black teams. By high school, Mays excelled in several sports and began his professional baseball career in 1948 with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues.

Mays signed with the Giants in 1950 after graduating high school and was called up to the majors in May 1951 after barely a year in the minors. He debuted on May 25, 1951, and hit his first home run against the Boston Braves in his fourth game. He won Rookie of the Year that season, the first of many accolades.

Mays was a true five-tool player, excelling in speed, throwing, fielding, hitting for average, and hitting for power. He had a career triple-slash line of .301/.384/.557, with 660 home runs, 525 doubles, and 338 stolen bases. He led the National League in stolen bases and home runs four times each. Over 24 seasons, he grounded into just 45 double plays.

In May 2021, 10 hits were added to Mays’ career total when Negro League stats were officially integrated into MLB’s historical record. His home run total was not adjusted due to the lack of box scores from those games.

Mays missed most of 1952 and all of 1953 due to military service during the Korean War but returned in 1954 to have the greatest season of his career, hitting .345/.411/.667 with 41 home runs. He won MVP and was selected to the All-Star Game. Mays finished in the top six of MVP voting from 1955 to 1966, winning MVP again in 1965 and coming in second twice. He was selected to the All-Star Game 20 times, winning All-Star MVP in 1963 and 1968, and also won 12 Gold Gloves.

Mays’ most iconic play came in the 1954 World Series, known simply as “The Catch.” In Game 1, he made a stunning over-the-shoulder catch off Vic Wertz's drive and prevented any runners from scoring with a quick throw to second base.

Mays began a slow decline in the late 1960s, though he still posted a National League-best .425 OBP in 1971. The Giants traded him to the Mets in May 1972, and he played his final season in 1973.

After retiring, Mays became the Mets hitting coach until 1979, when he terminated his baseball contract to become a greeter at an Atlantic City hotel and casino. Then-commissioner Bowie Kuhn banned Mays from baseball due to the gambling connection, but he was reinstated in 1985 by Peter Ueberroth, Kuhn’s successor.

The Giants, who retired Mays’ number in 1972, signed him to a lifetime contract in the 1990s, making him a permanent special assistant to the president. He spent years visiting the Giants’ minor-league teams, attending spring training, and making appearances on behalf of the club.

Mays is survived by his son, Michael. His wife, Mae Louise Allen Mays, died in 2013 following a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Mays was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1979, his first year of eligibility. Though he wasn’t a unanimous choice, he received 94.68% of the vote.

In 2015, Mays received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama.