Showing posts with label concerts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label concerts. Show all posts

Friday, August 25, 2023

Lauryn Hill Marks Album Milestone with Global Tour, Joined by The Fugees

Global music sensation Lauryn Hill is set to embark on a highly anticipated international tour alongside The Fugees, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of her groundbreaking solo album, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill."

In a press release issued on Tuesday, it was announced that Hill will take the stage, treating audiences to performances of her seminal album that encapsulate the musical brilliance and nostalgic magic of an era.

Starting on September 8 in Minneapolis, the tour will include a notable highlight at the Global Citizen Festival in New York City later in the month. Hill's musical journey will span continents, encompassing Australia, Canada, and several cities across the United States, culminating with a finale in Seattle in November.

The Fugees, the iconic hip-hop group, will reunite with Lauryn Hill for the US leg in October and November, adding an extra layer of excitement for fans who hold a special place for the trio.

Reflecting on the profound impact of her album, Hill shared, "‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ is and was a love song to my parents, my family, my people, my musical and cultural forebears, my teachers, my loves, my Creator." She emphasized that the album provided a platform to share wisdom and perspectives through music, challenging stereotypes, and championing the idea that diverse expressions and people have a rightful place anywhere, driven by imagination, creativity and love.

Released on August 25, 1998, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" remains a cornerstone of hip-hop and R&B history, featuring enduring tracks like "Doo Wop (That Thing)," "To Zion," and "Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You." The album secured Hill five Grammy Awards, including the coveted Album of the Year and Best New Artist. Importantly, Hill made history as the first woman to clinch five or more Grammys in a single night, and the album marked the first hip-hop record to earn the Album of the Year honor.

The Fugees, comprising Hill, Wyclef Jean, and Pras Michel, recently reunited in June, gracing the stage at the Roots Picnic in Philadelphia. The trio had initially announced a reunion tour in 2021 to honor the 25th anniversary of their iconic album "The Score." However, the tour faced cancellation due to challenges stemming from the ongoing pandemic.

Notably, member Pras Michel was recently found guilty of 10 criminal counts in federal court for his involvement in a plot to assist China in influencing U.S. government officials. These counts encompass conspiracy to defraud the US, witness tampering, and acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government. He faces a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Tickets for Lauryn Hill's highly anticipated tour will go on sale to the general public on Friday at 10 a.m. local time. A pivotal moment on the tour is the performance at Newark's Prudential Center on October 17, underscoring the celebratory journey of both Hill and The Fugees.

Lauryn Hill Tour Dates:
September 8 – Minneapolis, MN – Mystic Lake
September 23 – New York, NY – Global Citizen Festival
October 1 – Gold Coast, AUS – Promiseland Festival
October 3 – Melbourne, AUS – Rod Laver Arena (with Koffee)
October 5 – Sydney, AUS – Kudos Banks Arena (with Koffee)
October 7 – Auckland, NZ – Eden Festival
October 17 – Newark, NJ – Prudential Center (with Fugees)
October 19 – Brooklyn, NY – Barclays (with Fugees)
October 21 – Washington, DC – Capital One Arena (with Fugees)
October 23 – Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Arena (with Fugees)
October 26 – Toronto, ON – Scotia (with Fugees)
October 28 – Chicago, IL – United Center (with Fugees)
October 30 – Fort Worth, TX – Dickies Arena (with Fugees)
November 2 – Denver, CO – Ball Arena (with Fugees)
November 5 – Los Angeles, CA – Kia Forum (with Fugees)
November 7 – Oakland, CA – Oakland Arena (with Fugees)
November 9 – Seattle, WA – Climate Pledge Arena (with Fugees)

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Watch: Rock the Bells Festival Announces 2023 Lineup With Epic Trailer

The Rock the Bells Festival announced its lineup for 2023 on Thursday, and it features some of the most iconic and trailblazing performers in the hip-hop industry.

Queen Latifah, Ludacris, De La Soul, Method Man & Redman, Swizz Beatz, Salt-n-Pepa, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim and Fabolous are just a smattering of the rap icons that will be on hand to perform at the event, which also promises to offer an immersive experience for hip-hop enthusiasts, highlighting the genre's impact on fashion, art and food.

"We've made it a priority to honor hip-hop culture! This is a celebration for artists who paved the way and the legions of fans around the world throughout hip-hop's 50th-anniversary year," James Cuthbert, President of Rock The Bells, said. "The stage is set for the overdue acknowledgment and celebration of our culture and the fans who live and breathe it! This lineup represents icons and artists from various decades, cities, and styles, ensuring fans have the best hip-hop experience possible."

Along with the musical performances, the festival will also include a range of experiences, such as a tribute to the late Sean Price by Rock & Bernadette Price and a showcase of hip-hop pioneers' debut albums and hit singles, including the 35th anniversary of The Great Adventures of Slick Rick.

The festival takes place on August 11 at Forest Hills Stadium in New York City, marking the 50th anniversary of the birth of hip-hop. Fans can purchase presale VIP packages and general and reserved tickets for the festival through the festival's website.

To announce the lineup, Rock the Bells released a promotional trailer on Thursday featuring LL COOL J, Mike Epps, Salt-N-Pepa, Slick Rick, and Yo-Yo. The trailer is based on the seminal hip-hop-heist movie Set It Off and provides a sneak peek of what fans can expect from the festival.

Watch the full trailer below:

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

LL Cool J Announces First Arena Tour in 30 Years With All-Star Lineup

Call it a comeback: LL Cool J is headlining his first arena tour in 30 years, and he's bringing some of hip-hop's biggest and brightest stars with him.

The tour backed by Live Nation and dubbed The F.O.R.C.E Live (Frequencies of Real Creative Energy) will boast a rotating cast of some of hip-hop's most historic figures and groups.

Salt-N-Pepa, Queen Latifah, Rakim, Common, Method Man & Redman, Big Boi, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Ice T, Juvenile, Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, De La Soul, Goodie Mob, Jadakiss and Rick Ross, are just some of the acts expected to take the stage where they will be backed by iconic hip-hop group The Roots and legendary DJs Z-Trip and Jazzy Jeff.

The tour kicks off on June 25 at TD Garden in Boston, MA and will roll through arenas across the continent before closing out on September 3 in Los Angeles, CA at Kia Forum.

Fans can purchase tickets through the Live Nation presale, Ticketmaster presale, or local venue and radio presales on Thursday. General sales begin Friday. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets.

The F.O.R.C.E Live tour dates are as follows:
6/25 - Boston, MA - TD Garden
6/27 - Brooklyn, NY - Barclays Center
6/28 - Newark, NJ - Prudential Center
6/29 - Toronto, ON - Scotiabank Arena
7/1 - Baltimore, MD - CFG Bank Arena
7/2 - Washington, DC - Capital One Arena
7/4 - Atlanta, GA - State Farm Arena
7/6 - Hollywood, FL - Hard Rock Live
7/8 - Raleigh, NC - PNC Arena
7/9 - Charlotte, NC - Spectrum Center
8/12 - Cleveland, OH - Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse
8/13 - Chicago, IL - United Center
8/18 - Detroit, MI - Little Caesars Arena
8/19 - St. Louis, MO - Enterprise Center
8/20 - Indianapolis, IN - Gainbridge Fieldhouse
8/22 - Memphis, TN - FedEx Forum
8/23 - New Orleans, LA - Smoothie King Center
8/24 - Ft. Worth, TX - Dickies Arena
8/25 - Houston, TX - Toyota Center
8/27 - Albuquerque, NM - Sandia Casino Amphitheater
8/29 - Denver, CO - Ball Arena
9/1 - San Francisco, CA - Chase Center
9/2 - Las Vegas, NV - MGM Grand Garden Arena
9/3 - Los Angeles, CA - Kia Forum

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Janet Jackson's 2023 'Together Again' Tour Captured in Upcoming Documentary

Janet Jackson's self-titled documentary, released in 2022, garnered 21 million viewers and became the highest-rated documentary of the year on cable television. Now, Lifetime and A&E have approved a follow-up to the story called "Janet Jackson: Family First."

The upcoming documentary will follow Janet Jackson on her 2023 "Together Again" tour and her collaboration with brother Randy Jackson to reunite the family band 40 years after its last performance.

“I was touched by the love and support from the wonderful fans who enjoyed the documentary last year," Janet, who served as executive producer for the project along with Randy, said in a statement. "I am excited to continue to share my story and welcome fans into my life and the 'Together Again' tour. Thank you for your never-ending support, and I hope you enjoy the next chapter."

Randy added, "In this next chapter in the documentary, Janet and I are thrilled to welcome viewers on the road with us as we embark on the 'Together Again' tour, celebrating the milestone of 50 years of Janet's career with fans across the country. We look forward to the continued partnership with Lifetime and A&E and to sharing our family with viewers."

According to a press release from the networks, the project — directed by Ben Hirsch and produced by Workerbee — will provide an exclusive, intimate, and honest look into the life, family, and legendary artistry of the five-time Grammy Award-winning artist, songwriter, producer, author, actor, philanthropist, and global icon, whose record sales have exceeded 180 million copies worldwide.

Apart from following the "Together Again" tour, "Janet Jackson: Family First" will also celebrate the 25th and 30th anniversaries of two of Jackson's critically acclaimed albums, "The Velvet Rope" and "Janet," respectively.

"Janet Jackson: Family First" is currently in production and will be broadcast simultaneously on Lifetime and A&E. The release date will be announced soon.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Chris Rock Chosen to be First Live Performer on Netflix

Chris Rock

Chris Rock is going where no comedian has gone before — live on Netflix.

The streaming giant made the announcement Thursday on Twitter.

"Chris Rock is about to make history as the first artist to perform LIVE on Netflix!" the network posted on its official account, alongside a picture of Rock with a goat. "The legendary comedian, writer, director, and actor’s newest comedy special will premiere live — globally — in early 2023 on Netflix!"

Netflix’s vice president of stand-up and comedy formats, Robbie Praw, elaborated on why Rock — who is currently on the road for his Ego Death World Tour — was chosen for the honor in a statement released by the company.

"Chris Rock is one of the most iconic and important comedic voices of our generation,” Praw said. “We’re thrilled the entire world will be able to experience a live Chris Rock comedy event and be a part of Netflix history. This will be an unforgettable moment and we’re so honored that Chris is carrying this torch.”

The appearance will mark the second time Rock has done a stand-up special for the network. In 2018, he made his Netflix debut with “Chris Rock: Tamborine."

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Travis Scott's Road to Redemption Goes Through Las Vegas

Frank SchwichtenbergCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rapper Announces ‘Road to Utopia’ Residency at Las Vegas

The Travis Scott comeback tour gained significant momentum on Monday when the much-maligned rapper announced he had secured a Las Vegas residency.

"Road to Utopia" is touted as a "mind-bending, first-of-its-kind nightclub residency experience" by Resorts World Las Vegas. Housed at the resort's Zouk Nightclub, it kicks off on Sept. 17 and will span seven shows.

Resort World Las Vegas' chief marketing officer, Ronn Nicolli called Scott a "one-of-a-kind, multi-talented artist" in a statement and added, "His residency will bring a new level of energy to Resorts World Las Vegas and add to the property's diverse list of entertainment and nightlife offerings."

For the 31-year-old musician, the gig is a major milestone in his continued return to the limelight following the tragedy at the Astroworld Festival less than a year ago.

Scott's signature annual hometown concert ended in a crowd stampede that left ten people dead and hundreds more injured last November.

In the wake of the disaster, the multi-platinum artist was dropped as a headliner from several major music festivals. Ultimately, he took a six-month break from performing.

He returned to the stage at the Billboard Music Awards in May. Since then, he has done a guest set at Rolling Loud, a nightclub appearance, and performances at parties during Coachella and the Oscars.

The shows at Zouk will be all about Scott, featuring the "Sicko Mode" singer performing his hits in a state-of-the-art facility. A possibility of Scott previewing upcoming tracks during the residency was also teased in the announcement.

"His electric performances will pair perfectly with our immersive atmosphere, bringing our guests an unmatched show unlike anything else they can find in Las Vegas," Andrew Li, CEO of Zouk Group, said. "We can't wait to kick off his residency and continue to amplify our talent lineup."

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Wu-Tang Clan, Nas Announce North American Tour

Courtesy Live Nation 

Hip-hop belongs to the world now, but there is no denying that its ancestral home is New York.

On Tuesday, rap legends Wu-Tang Clan and Nas announced they’re co-headlining a tour guaranteed to remind those who may have forgotten the state’s importance to the art form.

RZA, GZA, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Raekwon, Masta Killa, and Cappadonna — who emerged from the slums of Shaolin (New York’s Staten Island) like the Voltron lions to form the rap supergroup Wu-Tang Clan — and Brooklyn-born, Queensbridge bred (raised in Queens, New York’s infamous Queensbridge Houses public housing development) Nas, NY State of Mind tour is slated to launch late in the summer.

The 25-city tour begins Aug. 30 in St. Louis, Missouri, before making stops across North America including Atlanta, Toronto and Houston before wrapping up Oct. 4 in Los Angeles.

The first official tour featuring the two icons, however, will not include any shows in their native New York.

Both acts began their careers with genre-defining albums in the 1990s. Wu-Tang Clan’s kung-fu crossed with hardcore hip-hop-inspired debut "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)" dropped in November 1993, and Nas’ “Illmatic” hit the airwaves six months later.

Courtesy Live Nation 

"Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” ranks 27th on Rolling Stone's updated list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, while Billboard wrote in 2015 that “'Illmatic' is widely seen as the best hip-hop album ever.” It was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" in 2020, and last week it was announced that “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” would be receiving the same honor.

Nas, who earned his first-ever Grammy Award for best rap album in March for his twelfth solo studio album, King's Disease, has appeared as a featured artist on several tracks by members of Wu-Tang Clan as well as with the whole group on a song titled "Let My N—- Live" off Wu-Tang Clan's 2000 album The W. He also appeared as himself in the 2019 Showtime documentary series Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men to speak about his time working with the group.

Tue Aug 30 – St. Louis, MO – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre*
Thu Sep 01 – Noblesville, IN – Ruoff Music Center*
Fri Sep 02 – Tinley Park, IL – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre*
Sat Sep 03 – Clarkston, MI – Pine Knob Music Theatre^
Sun Sep 04 – Toronto, ON – Budweiser Stage^
Wed Sep 07 – Cuyahoga Falls, OH – Blossom Music Center*
Thu Sep 08 – Camden, NJ – Waterfront Music Pavilion*
Fri Sep 09 – Hartford, CT – XFINITY Theatre*
Sat Sep 10 – Mansfield, MA – Xfinity Center*
Tue Sep 13 – Newark, NJ – Prudential Center^
Wed Sep 14 – Virginia Beach, VA – Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach*
Fri Sep 16 – Bristow, VA – Jiffy Lube Live*
Sat Sep 17 – Raleigh, NC – Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek*
Sun Sep 18 – Charlotte, NC – PNC Music Pavilion*
Tue Sep 20 – West Palm Beach, FL – iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre*
Wed Sep 21 – Tampa, FL – MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre*
Thu Sep 22 – Atlanta, GA – Lakewood Amphitheatre*
Sat Sep 24 – Houston, TX – Toyota Center^
Sun Sep 25 – Austin, TX – Germania Insurance Amphitheater^
Mon Sep 26 – Dallas, TX – Dos Equis Pavilion*
Thu Sep 29 – Phoenix, AZ – Ak-Chin Pavilion*
Fri Sep 30 – Irvine, CA – FivePoint Amphitheatre*
Sat Oct 01 – Oakland, CA – Oakland Arena^
Sun Oct 02 – Wheatland, CA – Toyota Amphitheatre*
Tue Oct 04 – Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Bowl*
TICKETS: Tickets go on sale starting Tuesday, April 26th at 10am local at

Friday, January 21, 2022

Covid Concerns Lead to Cancellation of Fugees Reunion Tour

Photo Credit B+
The Fugees much anticipated reunion tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of their 1996 opus, "The Score," has been called off.

“We anticipate and understand disappointment but our anniversary tour will not be able to happen,” the group wrote in an Instagram post. “The continued Covid pandemic has made touring conditions difficult, and we want to make sure we keep our fans and ourselves healthy and safe. An idea sparked to honor and celebrate this 25th anniversary of ‘The Score’ but we see now it may not currently be our time for revisiting this past work. We’re grateful for the special night we did get to share with some of you in New York, with that rare live moment. If opportunity, public safety, and scheduling allow, we hope to be able to revisit this again sometime soon. Thank you for all of your love and support throughout the years.”

Originally announced in September right before the group came together for the first time in 15 years to take the stage at Pier 17 in New York, the concert was scheduled to kick off Nov. 2 at United Center in Chicago and traverse the U.S. and Europe before concluding in Africa

“As I celebrate 25 years with the Fugees, my first memory was that we vowed, from the gate, we would not just do music we would be a movement," Wyclef Jean, who along with Pras Michel and Lauryn Hill comprise the band, said at the time in a statement. "We would be a voice for the unheard, and in these challenging times, I am grateful once again, that God has brought us together.”

Unfortunately for fans the Sept. 22 concert in New York, where the trio arrived nearly four hours late but still earned accolades for a show featuring just seven songs and a cavalcade of support musicians, will have to hold them through the foreseeable future.

The trio's second album "The Score" shot them to superstardom in 1996. Hit singles "Killing Me Softly" and "Ready or Not" helped propel it to the top of the Billboard charts. The Fugees went on to become the first hip-hop group ever to be nominated for Album of the Year at the 1997 Grammy's, where "The Score" took home awards for Best Rap Album and Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group ("Killing Me Softly").


Thursday, January 20, 2022

Watch: Hip-Hop Legends Come Together in Epic Super Bowl Halftime Trailer

Last year we reported that Dr. Dre had assembled some of hip-hop's greatest talents to headline the 2022 Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

Today, with the game closer on the horizon, the rapper and producer dropped a hype video for the event that has expectations soaring for the halftime experience at the first Super Bowl in Los Angeles since 1993.

In the nearly four-minute clip directed by F. Gary Gray, who had the same role on "Straight Outta Compton," the biographical movie about Dre's former group N.W.A. released in 2015, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar answer "The Call" from Dre and unite to head to the stadium together in their own unique ways.

Eminem opens the video battle-rapping his alter ego Slim Shady before getting the nod and jumping on his private plane. Snoop Dogg cruises the California streets to his frequent partner in rhyme in his custom lowrider. Blige announces she's back in a high-fashion photoshoot before jumping in her own slick ride, and Lamar wrestles with his own verses and smoking pen in an empty room before jumping on his custom bike to heed the call.

The soundtrack, scored by Adam Blackstone, transitions into Tupac Shakur's 1999 hit "California Love" as they come together and approach the stadium. It is in an homage to the deceased star who was a pivotal part of Death Row along with Dre and Snoop and the city in which the game will be played.

"The opportunity to perform at the Super Bowl Halftime show, and to do it in my own backyard, will be one of the biggest thrills of my career," Dr. Dre said in a statement when the lineup was originally announced.

"It will be an "unforgettable cultural moment," he added.

Whether or not that is true remains to be seen but the hype video has certainly made some fans believers. Watch the entire clip below:

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Congress Opens Investigation Into Astroworld Promoter Live Nation

Live Nation, the promoter of the Astroworld music festival, is under investigation by a congressional committee for its role in the tragic event that saw 10 people killed by a deadly crowd surge while headliner Travis Scott performed.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee sent a letter Wednesday to Live Nation Entertainment Inc. President and CEO Michael Rapino requesting information on preparation and safety measures for the Nov. 5 event.

“We are writing to request information regarding the tragic events on November 5, 2021, when a stampede crushed concertgoers, killing ten people and injuring hundreds more during Astroworld Music Festival. Those who died ranged in age from 9 to 27 years old. Concert attendees have provided firsthand accounts of being crushed within the crowd as it surged towards the stage,” the letter reads in part.

The letter, issued by committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, D-New York, and Ranking Member James Comer, R-Kentucky, went on to note its concerns about the company and its practices and provide examples of negligence it would be investigating.

“Recent reports raise serious concerns about whether your company took adequate steps to ensure the safety of the 50,000 concertgoers who attended Astroworld Festival,” the letter, which was also signed by U.S. Reps. Al Green, D-Houston, and Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, continues. “For instance, reports indicate that security and medical staff were inexperienced or ill-equipped to deal with mass injuries,” they wrote. “Some attendees stated that the placement of barricades made it difficult to escape. Experts have stated that Astroworld Festival organizers failed to heed warning signs.”

It also called out the company's conduct following the festival, noting its concern over reports that “Live Nation and its subsidiary reportedly have withheld pay until part-time employees who worked the festival have signed a revised employment contract, correcting the original version signed prior to the festival that was dated 2018. The revision makes it clear that the contract, which includes a broad provision releasing Live Nation from liability, applies to the 2021 festival.”

The committee has requested documentation from Live Nation by Jan. 7, 2022, and asked it to provide a closed-door briefing to the members of the committee by Jan. 12.

Live Nation responded with a statement saying that it is “assisting local authorities in their investigation and will of course share information with the Committee as well.”

“Safety is core to live events and Live Nation engages in detailed security planning in coordination with local stakeholders including law enforcement, fire and EMT professionals,” the company said.

According to an investigation by the Houston Chroniclethe company and its subsidiary Live Nation Worldwide have been linked to at least 750 injuries and around 200 deaths at its events in seven countries since 2006.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Astroworld Victims Suffocated While Being Crushed to Death

All 10 people who died because of the deadly crowd surge at Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival last month, which occurred while Scott was on stage, suffocated.

The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office announced its conclusion on Thursday that the victims died of "compression asphyxia." One of the deceased, Danish Baig, had cocaine, methamphetamine and ethanol in his system, but the drugs were contributory and not the main cause of death.

The conclusion by the medical examiner that the victims were essentially crushed to death came one day after crews finally started disassembling the Astroworld Festival stage, which stood as a grim reminder of the deadly concert 40 days later, and on the day Scott announced that he would be working with the United States Conference of Mayors to ensure a similar tragedy does not happen in the future.

“This mass tragedy reinforced the serious issue of festival safety and security,” read an agreement obtained by Variety about the partnership with the organization. “As festivals with large crowd sizes continue to enjoy popularity, organizers, city officials and other stakeholders must have a clear understanding about best practices, current vulnerabilities, and access to the most innovative technology to ensure every festival is as safe as possible.”

For the Astroworld victims who died and the 300 or so other people that were injured in the crowd of 50,000 that attended the event, the announcement from Scott did not do much to ease their grief or assuage their anger.

Following the announcement that the victim's deaths were ruled to be accidental, the family of Bharti Shahani issued this scathing statement through their attorney:

"The medical examiner's findings confirm Bharti's family's worst fears," James Lassiter said. "Their beloved daughter's last living moments were surely marked with suffering, panic, and terror. It's a horrific, inescapable image that no parent should have to endure. But that is the sad reality for the Shahanis and the nine other families that received this terrible news."

Along with 27-year-old Baig and Bharti (22), the other victims were Rodolfo Pena (23), Madison Dubiski (23), Axel Avila (21), Franco Patino (21), Jacob Jurinek (20), Brianna Rodriguez (16), John Hilgert (14) and Ezra Blount (9).

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Travis Scott Finally Opens up About Astroworld Festival Tragedy

Over a month after a deadly crowd surge at his hometown Astroworld music festival in Houston on Nov. 5 left 10 people dead and hundreds injured, rapper Travis Scott set down with radio and television personality Charlamagne Tha God Thursday to talk about the mass casualty incident.

In his first interview since the tragic events unfolded the 30-year-old, born Jacques Bermon Webster II, said he had no idea of the carnage that ensued while he was on stage.

“I didn’t know the exact details until minutes before the press conference [after my set],” he said. “And even at that moment, you’re like, ‘Wait, what?’

Scott went on to say that he would have stopped the show if he had heard signs of distress in the crowd.

“It’s so crazy because I’m that artist too — anytime you can hear something like that, you want to stop the show,” he said. “You want to make sure fans get the proper attention they need. Anytime I could see anything like that, I did. I stopped it a couple of times to just make sure everybody was OK. And I really just go off the fans’ energy as a collective — call and response. I just didn’t hear that.”

The "Sicko Mode" artist, who is currently facing more than 140 lawsuits and a mass litigation suit by 1,500 show attendees against himself, Live Nation, Apple Music, and Drake amongst others —added that the band, lights, pyrotechnics and other elements of the performance obscured his vantage point from the stage.

“You can only help what you can see and whatever you’re told, whenever they tell you to stop, you stop,” he said," noting how difficult it would be to perceive the difference between fans in danger versus enjoying the show.

Asked by Charlamagne if he did all he could to make the event safe Scott, choking back his emotions, said, “Everything I physically [could], sure, yes. And, if knowing what was going on … you just wish you could have done something better. But, standing there, 1,000 percent.”

Watch the entire interview below:

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Kanye West and Drake Team With Amazon to Stream Free Larry Hoover Benefit Concert

Photo Credit @Ye Instagram

Christmas is coming early for hip-hop fans, at least those with an Amazon Prime account.

The world’s largest online retailer announced on Tuesday, the Free Larry Hoover Benefit Concert, headlined by Kanye West and featuring a guest appearance from Drake will be streamed globally on its platform.

The news was applauded by fans of both rap icons, as ticket prices for the Dec. 9 concert, which will take place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, have soared since its announcement — with some going as high as $7,500, not including taxes and fees, on Ticketmaster.
While the prices might seem outrageous, they were not unexpected. In addition to this being the first time West, who recently changed his name to Ye, is headlining a show in five years, it also will be the first time the two rappers have worked together in years.

In fact, the long-running beef between Drake and West, which the latter first called for an end to in an interview with N.O.R.E. on Drink Champs early in November, following the Astroworld disaster, will be “put to rest” at the concert according to West.

The concert will stream live Thursday (Dec. 8) at 11 p.m. EST/8 p.m. PST on Amazon Prime Video, Twitch and the Amazon Music app in more than 240 countries and territories across the world. In addition to being available through Amazon’s services, the concert will be live-streamed in IMAX theaters across the U.S. for a one-night-only event. Tickets are now available for purchase on IMAX’s official website. The concert will also be available to view on-demand through Prime Video following the live event.

“We’re extremely proud to be working with Kanye and Drake on this historic concert in support of a cause they are both so passionate about and to collaborate across Amazon for this epic entertainment event,” Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke said of the collaboration in a statement.

“Kanye and Drake have spent their careers pushing boundaries and defining culture, and we’re excited to give fans around the world a front-row seat to this concert,” added Tim Hinshaw, head of hip-hop and R&B for Amazon Music. “We have made Amazon Music and Prime Video destinations where artists can make their most ambitious ideas a reality — his concert is just the latest example.”

The concert is intended to raise awareness of Larry Hoover’s incarceration and fight for freedom after decades behind bars. The co-founder of the Gangster Disciples, Hoover was found guilty of murder, extortion and money laundering among other charges in 1997 and is currently serving six life sentences. Additionally, it will benefit advocacy groups including Hustle 2.0, Ex-Cons For Community And Social Change and Uptown People’s Law Center.

West has been working to free Hoover, whose sentencing has sparked controversy and calls for sentence reform, for several years. In 2018 he asked Donald Trump, whom he avidly supported during his presidency, to grant him clemency, but the request was not granted.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Chaka Khan and Stephanie Mills to go Head-to-Head in 'A Night for the Queens' Verzuz Battle

Two heavyweights of 80s R&B music are about to get into the virtual ring and duke it out for vocal superiority. 

On Nov. 18, Chaka Khan and Stephanie Mills will go head-to-head a special holiday edition of Verzuz.

The entertainment series created by Swizz Beats and Timbaland during the heart of the pandemic pits some of today and yesteryear's best artists against each other in a battle-rap format. 

The duo, who are friends off the stage, first pitched the idea for a showdown with each other last year. 

"Chaka was interested. We were willing to do it. The Verzuz people weren’t interested. Yeah, they weren’t interested.” Mills said during an interview with The Breakfast Club in June.

Mills wasn't sure why the battle didn't come together then, but the star, who rose to fame as Dorothy in the Broadway run of the musical "The Wiz," posted “It’s about to go down!” on Twitter following the announcement. 

The singer, a Grammy winner for "Never Knew Love Like This Before," faces a tough opponent in Khan —  who has 10 Grammys and is known as the "Queen of Funk."

Read the entire announcement below:

9-year-old Boy Wounded at Astroworld Fest Dies

Photo Courtesy of Blount Family 

Over a week after a deadly crowd surge turned Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival into a tragedy, the death toll continues to climb for the Houston concert.

Late Sunday the family of Ezra Blount, a nine-year-old who was in a coma after being trampled during the event, announced that he passed away.

"The Blount family tonight is grieving the incomprehensible loss of their precious young son," their lawyer Ben Crump said in a statement. "This should not have been the outcome of taking their son to a concert, what should have been a joyful celebration. Ezra's death is absolutely heartbreaking. We are committed to seeking answers and justice for the Blount family. But we stand in solidarity with the family, in grief, and in prayer." 

Blount, from Dallas, was on his father Treston's shoulders during the Nov. 5, concert at NRG Park. When the killer crowd surge began shortly after 9 p.m., his father lost consciousness and Blount was trampled. The youth was on life-support for days before his passing, which made him the youngest victim of the melee to lose his life as well as moved the total death toll of the concert to 10.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who has insisted that no stone will be left unturned in the search for what caused the "mass casualty incident," took to the internet to share in the family's grief and promise support from the city.

"I am saddened to learn of Ezra’s death this evening," Turner posted. "Our city tonight prays for his mom, dad, grandparents, other family members and classmates at this time. They will need all of our support in the months and years to come. May God give them strength." 

The Blount family has filed a lawsuit accusing the organizers of negligence. It is one of the more than 100 Travis Scott, Drake, Live Nation and other entities associated with the event are facing from the families of those that have died and some of the 300 reported fans that were injured. 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Astroworld Death Toll at Nine, 22-year-old Bharti Shahani Dies After Five Days in ICU

Bharti Shahani (Photo Credit GoFundMe)

Nearly a week after rapper Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival in Houston devolved into a "mass casualty event" that left eight dead and hundreds injured, the death toll continues to climb.

Bharti Shahani, a 22-year-old Texas A&M student, who had previously been declared brain dead after being injured in a deadly crowd surge that began while the singer was on stage, passed away Wednesday according to her family who spoke at a press conference earlier today. 

“She was like an angel to us,” Shahani’s father, Bhagu “Sunny” Shahani, said. “She was the head of the family, she was a very nice girl. Always calm, always listened. She had a bright future. Only thing I’ll request, to the Houstonians, to please, please make sure that she gets justice. And I don’t want somebody else’s daughter to go like this.”

Shahani attended the concert with her sister and cousin, but the trio was separated when waves of fans began surging toward the main stage. Her sister Namrata and cousin Mohit Bellani lost their phones during the event and were not able to locate Shahani, who was rushed to Houston Methodist Hospital while receiving CPR and suffered multiple heart attacks according to her family. 

Bellani told Houston's ABC affiliate that “people started toppling like dominos" during the surge.

"It was like a sinkhole. People were falling on top of each other. There were like layers of bodies on the ground, like two people thick," he said.  "We were fighting to come up to the top and breathe to stay alive.”  

According to Bellani, Shahani lost oxygen for several minutes and because of that, her brain stem got swollen to almost 90 percent.  She was given little chance to live by doctors, as she showed no sign of brain activity and had been placed on a ventilator.

GoFundMe was set up to cover medical and other expenses for Shahani, who would have graduated in the spring with a degree in electronics systems engineering. She joins John Hilgert (14), Brianna Rodriguez (16), Jacob Jurinek (21),  Franco Patiño (21), Axel Acosta (21), Rudy Peña (23), Madison Dubiski (23) and Danish Baig (27) as those who paid the ultimate price when chaos broke out amongst the estimated crowd of more than 50,000 people that attended the concert.

She may not be the last, however. Nine-year-old Ezra Blout, who was trampled in the melee, is reportedly fighting for his life.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Astroworld Festival Mayhem Leaves 9-Year-Old in Coma

Photo Courtesy of Blount Family 
The investigation is still ongoing into what sparked the tragedy at Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival Friday, where eight people died in what authorities are calling a "mass casualty incident." It seems with each passing day, however, the repercussions continue to grow from Scott's annual hometown concert. 

Hours after Harris County authorities officially released the names of the eight victims, ranging in age from 14-27, it was revealed that a 9-year-old boy was fighting for his life after attending the event with his father. 
According to reporting from Houston's ABC13 the victim's grandfather, Ezra Blount was on his father’s shoulders watching the concert when the two got trapped in the crowd surge. Ezra’s father collapsed, and both were trampled when the crowd surged toward the main stage.

Stefania Okolie, who broke the story for ABC13, reported that the boy was initially taken to the hospital as a John Doe separate from his father. By the time family members were able to locate him they were faced with the fact the young child was in a coma after suffering major organ damage and is in a "weakened state" with swelling of the brain. 

"How could this happen in the city of Houston?" Ezra's grandfather told Okolie. "You know, when we go to concerts and different events we expect safety and security." 

It was just the latest bit of bad news for Scott, a Houston native who has tied the concert to various charitable ventures since he launched it in 2018. The singer said he was "devastated" by what happened. He issued an apology on social media, vowing to work with authorities to get to the bottom of what happened, in addition to offering to pay the funeral costs for the deceased. 

"I'm honestly just devastated and I could never imagine anything like this happening. I'm going to do everything I can to keep you guys updated and keep you guys informed of what's going on. Love you all," the "Sicko Mode" artist said in an Instagram clip the day following the disaster. He is already facing several lawsuits along with the company behind the production, Live Nation, as well as his special guest for the event, rap superstar Drake.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Eight People Killed at Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival

In a still-developing situation, the triumphant return of Travis Scott's amusement park-themed Astroworld Festival following a one-year hiatus for Covid-19, turned into a tragedy Friday night in Houston when the crowd — estimated to have been 50,000 strong —rushed the stage at NRG Park when chaos erupted leaving eight people dead and 300 injured.

At a press conference on Friday night, Houston Fire Department Chief Samuel Peña said the trouble began at around 9 or 9:15 p.m. local time when "the crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage and that caused some panic and it started causing some injuries. People began to fall out, become unconscious and it created additional panic." 

According to Peña, that initial rush had transformed into a "mass casualty" event by 9:38 p.m. local time at and the concert's medical tent and staff was "quickly overwhelmed" by its scale. HFD dispatched 50 units and along with Harris County Emergency Services initially transported 17 people to hospitals, 11 of which were in cardiac arrest.

"I’ve been doing this for 27 years and I have never seen something like this,” Peña added Saturday after telling reporters at a follow-up press conference that authorities still don't know what caused the initial surge of the crowd up toward the stage, but the Houston Police Department is looking at video that was taken from cameras that were present there for security purposes and other reasons.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner confirmed that 25 people were hospitalized in total following the incident and that the ages of seven victims ranged in age between 14 and 27, while one victim's age still remains to be determined.

What happened at Astroworld Festival was a tragedy," Turner, who also called for a detailed briefing from all stakeholders, including Live Nation, said in a statement. "An estimated 50,000 people attended the event Friday night, expecting to enjoy a music concert with friends and return home safely. I extend my condolences to the families of the eight people who died and the approximately 17 people who were injured at the event. 


Live Nation made the call to "essentially pull the plug" on the event on Friday according to Peña, "when the situation started to escalate.” Saturday's events were also canceled by Live Nation, which posted on Twitter that it was, "Heartbroken for those lost and impacted at Astroworld last night. We will continue working to provide as much information and assistance as possible to the local authorities as they investigate the situation."

Scott, who launched the Astroworld Festival in 2018 with the intent to “bring back the beloved spirit and nostalgia of [iconic Houston theme park] AstroWorld, making a childhood dream of Travis’ come true," was "devastated" by Friday's outcome.

My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival,” Scott wrote on Twitter. “Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the tragic loss of life.