Saturday, January 25, 2014

This Day in Black History: Jan. 25, 1938

Etta James was born in Los Angeles.

Posted: 01/25/2014 12:00 AM EST

Gospel prodigy and musical icon Etta James was born Jamesetta Hawkis on Jan, 25, 1938, in Los Angeles. Her mother was only 14 years old. Despite her own youth and inexperience, she gave her daughter some sage advice: "Even if a song has been done a thousand times, you can still bring something of our own to it."

By the time she was five, James was singing on the radio. At 12, she formed her own band and at 16, moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles to record her first record and changed her name to Etta James. In 1995, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Exclusive HIP HOP LEGENDS Rock All-Star Weekend

James is perhaps best known for the ballad "At Last," which she first recorded in 1960. Interestingly, music fans of a certain generation may more often than not link the tune to Beyoncé, who played James and sang her own unique cover of the song in the film Cadillac Records in 2008.

NEWS Love Wins Twitter Trial

Beyoncé also pushed "At Last" once again into the national spotlight when she performed it at President Obama's first dance with First Lady Michelle Obama at his inaugural ball in 2009. Although James publicly supported Cadillac Records, she reportedly was extremely miffed by the younger artist's inauguration performance.


Beyoncé "had no business," James said, "singing my song that I've been singing forever."


Follow Joyce Jones on Twitter: @BETpolitichick

Trina, Twista & Hip-Hop Legend Heat Up NBA All-Star Weekend Festivities

Rap stars Trina, Twista and Big Daddy Kane are reportedly going to receive some shine next month courtesy of the first-ever All Star Music Experience three-day celebration.

According to reports, the festivities will go down in Louisiana and showcase a slew of notable hip-hop acts including Drumma Boy and Kid Capri.


The first ever "All Star Music Experience," produced by and, kicks off Friday, Feb. 14th through Sunday, Feb. 16th during All Star weekend in New Orleans, Louisiana. The unprecedented 3-day event will honor Trina, Twista and Big Daddy Kane with Lifetime Achievement Awards, and feature All Star industry panels including multi-platinum producers and celebrity DJs the likes of Drumma Boy, Erick Sermon, Young Chop, Luney Tunez, Play-N-Skillz, The Legendary Kid Capri, Bigga Rankin (Cool Running DJs), DJ Demp (Core DJs), DJ Krunch One (Street Connect DJs), and DJ Mars. Radio personalities confirmed to attend include SiriusXM's Nina 9, K Foxx, DJ Bay Bay (Dallas' KKDA K104), Wild Wayne (New Orleans' Q93) and DJ OO Kee (Columbus, Georgia's Foxie 105) and representatives from Atlantic, Def Jam, Columbia, Universal/Republic and RCA Records will be in attendance, for an unbelievable networking event. (Press Release)
Along with honoring the three hip-hop veterans, the multi-day event will also unite the industry's finest behind-the-scenes personalities.

EXCLUSIVE Justin Bieber
This once in a lifetime event will bring together the best in the music industry, connecting producers, DJs, artists, radio personalities and label executives from across the country, for a much needed revitalization experience during one of the entertainment and sports industry's most popular weekends. The All Star Music Experience is for everyone - all artists, producers, songwriters, and record label executives, are invited to attend, whether signed to a major label or independent. (Press Release)
Last year, The Clipse's Pusha T credited Big Daddy's "Wrath of Kane" as being the deciding factor in ranking him the best rapper.

"First of all, I came to the conclusion that Big Daddy Kane was my favorite rapper just recently when I was creating Wrath of Caine. 'Wrath of Kane' is the record that he did that made me be like, 'You know what? He wins.' Big Daddy Kane is probably one of the flyest, most influential rappers. The Wrath of Caine was based off Big Daddy Kane's record, 'The Wrath of Kane.' That was probably the record that made me say that he was my favorite rapper, of all time, like the best, better than Rakim, which is a debate I've been going through my whole life as a youth and hip-hop addict." ("Nardwuar")
In early 2013, Big Daddy spoke on his admiration toward seeing his protégé Jay-Z turn into a rap god.

UPDATE: Beverly Hills Jumper
"I'm happy for him. I've always thought that dude was a good rapper and always wanted to see him achieve the best and he has," Kane said in an interview. "[Nets in Brooklyn?] That's beautiful. I love when big things happen for Brooklyn. I used to love the Nets back when Jayson Williams was playing for them. I hope they get it together and are able to contend for a championship. Even if they don't win, I'd love to see them in the playoffs and the Finals." (Complex)

Courtney Love Wins Twitter Defamation Trial

After eight days of testimony, the singer prevails in a trailblazing case.

Courtney Love - P 2013On Friday, a California jury decided that Courtney Love shouldn't be held liable for a tweet directed at her former attorney Rhonda Holmes.
The case is believed to be the first trial in a U.S. courtroom involving allegations of defamation on Twitter. Holmes was hired by Love to handle a fraud case against those managing the estate of Kurt Cobain, but in 2009, the relationship between the colorful rock star and her ex-attorney went south, and Love composed a tweet that read in part, "I was f***ing devestated [sic] when Rhonda J. Holmes esq. of san diego was bought off."

Holmes sued, claiming the tweet had hurt her reputation.

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Because the attorney was deemed to be a limited-purpose public figure as a result of her connection to a celebrity, Holmes needed to demonstrate that Love acted with malice. Love defended herself by saying she meant the tweet to be a private direct message, and when she learned it had been sent to the public accidentally, quickly deleted it.

Love also testified that she believed her message to be true when she sent it. That might have been the prevailing defense. The jury answered no to the question, "Did Rhonda Holmes prove by clear and convincing evidence that Courtney Love knew it was false or doubted the truth of it?"
Love wasn't present for the reading of the verdict. She reportedly showed up late to court.

HOLLYWOOD: Suicide Jumper Beverly Hills

The trial took eight days and featured the testimony of many who knew Love. There were also social media experts who took the witness stand including one hired by Love who said there was no evidence that Love's "bought off" tweet had ever been retweeted. Love herself testified to the jury and expressed disappointment in Holmes after the attorney had once stood by her side when nobody believed that a conspiracy had been perpetuated on Cobain's estate.

Ultimately, the jury determined that Holmes had not made a case for defamation, meaning it will be up to another jury in some future case to figure out how to assess damages in the age of social media. In fact, it might involve Love herself as she's facing yet another defamation trial in a lawsuit brought by fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir. This one addresses what Love had to say on Pinterest.


Twitter: @eriqgardner

SoundCloud Raises New Funding

SoundCloud Raises New Funding
Streaming audio company SoundCloud has closed a Series D funding round led by Institutional Venture Partners with participation by the Chernin Group, the investment firm founded by former News Corp. president Peter Chernin. The Berlin-based company provides a popular way for musicians to store, stream and share their music on the web and on mobile devices.

Although the company has not disclosed the amount of the funding, the Wall Street Journal reported SoundCloud raised more than $60 million at a valuation of roughly $700 million.

A SoundCloud spokesperson says the funding will be used "to grow more rapidly in product, personnel and expansion in mobile efforts." The company has more than 200 employees and offices in Berlin, New York, San Francisco, London and Sofia, Bulgaria.


IVP was attracted to SoundCloud's role as a leading digital platform in the growing streaming audio market. In a blog post, the firm calls SoundCloud "the Youtube of audio" and recognized its business is scaling quickly. SoundCloud is used in more than 200 countries. Its users upload 12 hours of audio every minute, and 90% of those tracks are played on the day they're posted.

"We believe that this global reach, combined with very strong networks effects, will continue to expand and solidify SoundCloud’s position in online audio," explained IVP.


The economics of SoundCloud are undoubtedly attractive to investors. Unlike Pandora and Spotify, which pay royalties for the use of recorded music, SoundCloud does not pay royalties to artists, songwriters, record labels or music publishers. A typical streaming service licenses recordings and generates revenue from advertising or subscription fees. That royalty burden ranges from 50% and 70% of revenue for SoundCloud's competitors.

SoundCloud provides free streams to listeners and offers its users basic storage accounts and charges extra for additional storage space and features. When SoundCloud users upload audio, they grant the company a "worldwide, royalty-free, fully paid up" license that allows for royalty-free streaming.


The team behind SoundCloud also attracted IVP. The company's previous investors include Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, GGV Capital and Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures. SoundCloud has raised more than $123 million, according to CrunchBase.

Investors have recognized streaming, while financially challenging, has the potential to disrupt traditional media. Last year Billboard tracked nine investments in streaming audio or video companies worth $839 million.


The largest financing event was $393 million raised by Internet radio company Pandora from its secondary stock offering. The company currently has a market value of $6.5 billion. Spotify, the on-demand music subscription service, raised $250 million at a reported $4 billion valuation.


Both companies are leaders in their respective fields but not yet profitable.


Jeezy Arrested on Obstruction Charge

A verbal altercation with police leads to rapper's second visit to jail this month.

Posted: 01/21/2014 08:03 PM EST

JeezyJeezy was arrested on Tuesday just outside of Atlanta, TMZ reports. The rapper was reportedly uncooperative with officers who were responding to an alarm going off at his girlfriend's home.
TOP Story: Music Distribution
Though it's not clear who or what set off the alarm, Jeezy allegedly cursed at the officers who came by and refused to identify himself, telling the cop, "F--k you, I ain't telling you." He also attempted to pull away from the officers as they were handcuffing him.


This is the second time this month that Jeezy faced arrest. He previously turned himself in for a domestic dispute with his son that involved alleged battery and "terroristic threats."

It's not clear how long the rapper, who was booked at Fulton County Jail, will remain behind bars. is your #1 source for Black celebrity news, photos, exclusive videos and all the latest in the world of hip hop and R&B music.

After Publicized Arrest, Justin Bieber Compares Himself To King Of Pop

Pop singer Justin Bieber has some people scratching their heads this weekend after posting up a photo of himself and late music icon Michael Jackson following a publicized arrest in Florida.

The Biebs posted up a Jackson-inspired photo onto his Instagram page heading into the weekend.

Justin Bieber is feeling like the King of Pop. The teen superstar has compared himself to his idol Michael Jackson in a split black-and-white photo on Instagram. The Biebs posted a pic of himself waving to fans from atop his chauffeured car after being released from jail alongside a 2004 photo of Jackson, who stood on top of an SUV outside court after pleading not guilty to child molestation charges. "What more can they say ?," wrote Biebs, along with a crown symbol. (Rap-Up)
Photos of Bieber leaving his Miami home last night after posting bail have emerged.

It's been a tough week for Justin Bieber. But the troubled teenager seemed happy enough on Friday night as he was pictured grinning when he left a rented Miami mansion. The self-styled King of Pop was in good spirits, signing autographs for fans while surrounded by bodyguards. Also with him was his 38-year-old father Jeremy, amid fears that the star's life may be spiraling out of control, and who some have accused of being a bad influence on Justin. (New York Daily News)
The 19-year-old singer found himself in handcuffs for drag racing and a driving under the influence charge earlier in the week.

Justin Bieber was arrested for DUI ... TMZ has learned. Law enforcement tells us ... Bieber was busted in Miami Beach and it didn't end with DUI ... he was also busted for drag racing. The arrest occurred early Thursday morning. Bieber is now in custody and is at the police department where he is being tested -- presumably to more precisely measure his blood alcohol level. Our law enforcement sources say Justin was given a field sobriety test at the scene ... and failed. (TMZ)
A few weeks ago, one of JB's reps issued a formal statement on retirement buzz he sparked courtesy of Twitter.

HISTORY: TODAY 25th of January

Allison Kaye
, GM of Scooter Braun Projects, released this statement: "Regarding his recent tweeting about his 'retirement' Justin felt that this was the best way to respond to the latest in a long line of inaccurate or wildly exaggerated media reports about him. He chose to channel his frustration into playing along with this baseless rumor and even used 'beloved' to tip off his core fans that it wasn't real. But within 20 minutes, Justin realized that fans were confused by the media reports and clarified that he was kidding. This wasn't a planned stunt, it was just another day in the life of living under the microscope. Justin loves his fans and understands that this scrutiny comes along with his success and the interest in him from fans and media." (RumorFix)

Beverly Hills Suicide Jumper Was Facelift Patient of Surgeon to Stars (Exclusive)

Suicide Crime Scene Sources say the still-unidentified woman had been convalescing under the care of the staff of Dr. Brian Novack after undergoing a procedure the day before. 

THR has learned that the office of A-list Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Brian Novack – well regarded in Hollywood’s nip-and-tuck realm for what’s whispered to be his stellar but high-priced work on Demi Moore and other forever-young clients – is at the center of the Golden Triangle suicide tragedy that transpired on Wednesday morning.

Multiple sources in the local medical community say the 53-year-old woman, who jumped to her death from the top of a 15-story office building at about 10 a.m., had been staying overnight under the supervision of Novack's staff after having undergone a facelift the day before. (She was to be discharged to an after-care facility for further convalescence later that day.) The Beverly Hills Police Department and the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office have yet to release her name.

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The building at 414 N. Camden Dr. is mostly filled with aesthetics-oriented doctors who specialize in everything from restorative dentistry to hair implants.

EXCLUSIVE: Music Distribution

Early Wednesday morning, the woman became agitated and aggressive, revealed a source who works in the building, pulling at her hair and pulling off her gown before escaping Novack’s 10th-floor office suite to the roof, where she sat naked for several hours, with her legs dramatically dangling off the edge. Police crisis negotiators unsuccessfully attempted to talk her down from the ledge as nearby streets were shut down. The Los Angeles Fire Department sent an engine and paramedic company to cover a Beverly Hills fire station during this period since the entirety of the city’s fire force was assigned to the incident.

An eyewitness who was watching the incident from a nearby office window told THR: "She sat on the ledge naked, then got up and walked around the edge of the building as if on a tightrope. She sat back down again before getting up and jumping off." This witness described the woman as a blonde Caucasian. "It was very traumatic to watch, especially as I was with my 11-year-old daughter and she saw it all."

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Reached for comment about the death, a man in Novack’s office who did not identify himself would say only "we are not giving out any information about the incident that happened at our building." A medical staffer who works for another doctor in the building said that she witnessed Novack grieving in the lobby after the woman’s body had been taken away. "He looked demolished," she said.

By Thursday evening, one orange Beverly Hills traffic cone in front of the building – which sits just a few feet from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Vanderpump’s Villa Blanca restaurant – had become a makeshift memorial. Passersby adorned it with flowers, lighting votives next to it and trading stories of the day before.


Eminem, Diddy, Ice Cube Among Legendary Hip-Hop Line-Up Playing Tonight's Beats Music Launch Party

Eminem, Diddy, Ice Cube Among Legendary Hip-Hop Line-Up Playing Tonight's Beats Music Launch Party

Hip-Hop Line-Up Playing Tonight's Beats Music Launch

Billboard and THR have learned that Eminem will be performing at tonight's Beats Music launch party along with a constellation of primarily old school hip-hop luminaries that includes, Ice Cube, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Geto Boys, Method Man and Red Man, Bone, Thugs & Harmony, members of Pharcyde, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Teddy Riley & Blackstreet, Busta Rhymes, Ma$e, Souls of Mischief and DJ Irie.

Despite Beats Music's release only this past Sunday (Jan. 20), its launch party during Grammy week carries a hip-hop line-up that could be the run-of-show at an arena or even a stadium performance. And its a clear statement of just how much the music streaming service is invested in promoting itself right out of the gate. 

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The Santa Monica company spun out of headphones maker Beats Electronics after it snagged a $60 million investment last March from Warner Music Group owner Len Blavatnik's holding company Access Industries. It is spending heavily to promote its service, placing television ads during the NFL playoffs and another scheduled to run during the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 at a cost of $4 million for each 30-second slot.

Tonight's party at LA's Belasco Theater, which has a capacity of 2,500, is being hosted by Beats' top executives: Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre, Ian Rogers and Luke Wood as well as Access' Marc Rowan and Blavatnik. It's also co-sponsored by Target and AT&T, the exclusive carrier of Beats Music which is currently offering customers a 7-day free trial of the service. 

Beats' promotional relationship with Eminem goes back to at least last August when the company and the hip-hop superstar partnered on a commercial that aired during the MTV Video Music Awards to announce his latest album "The Marshall Mathers LP 2." 


Eminem's manager Paul Rosenberg explained the relationship in an interview with Billboard. "The partnership with Beats is the relationship with Em, Dre and Jimmy from the beginning of time," he said. "That’s really where that comes from. When we were discussing who the potential partners were going to be for this record, it was the first time that Beats was able to come in and say “'Hey, we’re the right partner for you, because there’s obvious natural synergy, and by the way, we’re a really big company now and we can do this.'”