Idris Elba Music Career to Start

July 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Hip Hop/R&B, Movies, R&B/Hip Hop

Idris Elba

Idris Elba

He’s not starring the movie version of ‘Mama, I Want to Sing’ but Idris Elba is doing just that.  In the August issue of Essence magazine, ‘The Wire’ hunk talks about his music plans.  “A lot of people are just getting over the fact that I’m not playing gangsters and now I’m singing. This is a new side of me I’m offering,” he said.  During the 2009 Essence Music Festival, the East London native deejayed the “Lincoln After Dark” soiree, presented by Ford Motors, at The Contemporary Arts Center.  The gift bags included a sampler of Elba’s music – under the moniker Driis — which included a reggae inflected, hip-hop fused romp ‘Please Be True,’ produced by Pete Rock. The ‘Obsessed’ star plans for a full length recording later this year, tentatively titled ‘King Amongst Kings.’

Bury the Never Ending Myth of Jackson as Child Molester

July 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Guest Opinion, Hip Hop/R&B, US

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Websites, blogs and chatrooms pulsed with garish cracks about it. Legions of commentators and news reporters snuck it in every chance they got. More than a few of Michael Jackson’s fervent admirers and supporters made a dismissive reference to it. Even President Barack Obama in a cautious acknowledgement of Jackson’s towering contributions to American music and artistry still made reference to the “tragedy” in Jackson’s life which was a subtle nod to it. And New York Congressman Pete King skipped the niceties and flatly said it.

The “it” is the never ending myth of Jackson the child molester. It still hangs as a damning indictment that feeds the gossip mills and gives an arsenal of ammunition to Jackson detractors. This is not a small point. In the coming weeks, there will be a push to bestow official commemorative monuments, honors on and a national stamp for Jackson. The taint of scandal could doom these efforts to permanently memorialize Jackson.

The child molester myth doesn’t rest on Jackson’s trial and clean acquittal on multiple child abuse charges in a Santa Maria courthouse in June 2005. Only the most rabid Jackson loathers still finger point to that to taint Jackson. The myth of Jackson as child abuser rests squarely on the charge by a 13 year old boy a decade before the trial and the multi-million dollar settlement out of court. The settlement, then and now, feeds the suspicion that Jackson must have done something unsavory and probably criminal, or else why settle?

16 years later, though, the facts remain unchanged. The charge that Jackson molested the boy was brought by the boy’s father. In interviews the boy repeatedly denied the charges. This changed only after he was administered sodium amytal, an invasive, mind altering drug that medical experts have frowned on and courts have disregarded in witness testimony. Prosecutors, police departments and investigators in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara spent millions of dollars, convened two grand juries and probed nearly 200 witnesses that included 30 children, who knew Jackson to try to substantiate the charge. Not a single corroborating witness was found. Nonetheless, a motley group of disgruntled Jackson’s former housekeepers, attendants and bodyguards still peddled the story to any media outlet willing to shell out the cash that Jackson had engaged in child sexual wrongdoing. Not one of the charges was confirmed. Typical was this exchange between one of Jackson’s attorneys and one of the accusing bodyguards under oath:

“So you don’t know anything about Mr. Jackson and [the boy], do you?”

“All I know is from the sworn documents that other people have sworn to.”

“But other than what someone else may have said, you have no firsthand knowledge about Mr. Jackson and [the boy], do you?”

“That’s correct.”

“Have you spoken to a child who has ever told you that Mr. Jackson did anything improper with the child?”


“Where did you get your impressions about Jackson’s behavior?”

“Just what I’ve been hearing in the media and what I’ve experienced with my own eyes.”

“Okay. That’s the point. You experienced nothing with your own eyes, did you?”

“That’s right, nothing.”

When asked at the time about the charges against Jackson, child behavior experts and psychiatrists nearly all agreed that he did not fit the profile of a pedophile. They agreed that the disorder is progressive and there are generally not one but a trail of victims.

The myth of Jackson as child molester never hinged on evidence or testimony to substantiate it, but solely on the settlement. Why then did Jackson agree to it?

No charge stirs more disgust, revulsion, and pricks more emotional hot buttons than the charge of child molestation. The accusation stamps the Scarlet letter of doubt, suspicion, shame and guilt on the accused. The accused can never fully expunge it. There is simply no defense against it. Under the hyper intense media glare and spotlight that Jackson remained under, the allegation no mater how bogus would have been endless fodder for the public gossip mill. This would have wreaked irreparable damage on Jackson’s ever shifting musical career and personal life.

A trial in Los Angeles in the racially charged backdrop of the Rodney King beating, the L.A. riots, and pulsating racial tensions in the mid-1990s would have been risky business. A trial in staid, upscale, and majority white, Santa Barbara County would have been even more risky.

Jackson and his attorneys knew that when it came to the charge of child molestation the presumption of innocence, or even actual innocence, is tossed out the window. Though Jackson did nothing wrong, a trial would have left him, his reputation and his career in shambles. The settlement was the only pragmatic, logical and legal way to end the sordid issue.

The settlement under extreme duress must not sully his name and place as an honored American icon. The myth of Jackson as child molester must finally be buried.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard on weekly in Los Angeles on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and nationally on

Janet Jackson Speaks for Family at BET Awards 2009

June 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Hip Hop/R&B, R&B/Hip Hop, World

Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson Speaks for Family on behalf of Michael at BET Awards 2009

Janet Jackson at BET Awards

click link above

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Janet Jackson has taken the stage at the BET Awards to speak on behalf of her grieving family and thank fans for their love and support.

It was Janet Jackson’s first public appearance since her brother died last Thursday. With a deep sadness on her face, she strolled to the microphone and began to speak.

She said: “My entire family wanted to be here tonight, but it was just too painful, so they elected me to be here.”

She noted that the King of Pop was an icon to all in attendance, but that to the Jacksons, “he was family.”

After her brief comments, Ne-Yo and host Jamie Foxx took the stage and sang a poignant “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5.


Chris Brown – Settlement reached in Chris Brown’s alleged beating of Rihanna

June 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Entertainment, Hip Hop/R&B, R&B/Hip Hop

Chris Brown and Rihanna

Chris Brown and Rihanna

2:09 PM | June 22, 2009

A plea deal has been reached between Los Angeles prosecutors and pop star Chris Brown, who is accused of assaulting singer Rihanna before the Grammy Awards.

Brown will plead guilty to a felony and receive six months in jail or community labor — such as graffiti removal or trash pickup — and five years’ formal probation. He will also undergo domestic violence counseling. Judge Patricia Schnegg said he will be allowed to complete counseling, community labor and probation in his native Virginia, but is to be treated there like any other offender.

[Updated at 2:15 p.m.: Schnegg says she plans to issue “a stay-away” order barring Chris Brown from having contact with Rihanna. But an attorney for Rihanna said she doesn’t want the order. Sources told The Times that Brown’s camp initially rejected the plea agreement and had been mulling the settlement for several days.]

[Updated at 2:26 p.m.: “I think it is comendable you took responsibility for your conduct,” Schnegg told Brown.

After Chris Brown left with his entourage, Rihanna was brought into the courtroom and informed of the stay-away order by the judge. “Thank you,” she told the judge and then left through a back door of the courtroom.]

Brown, 20, was arrested in February for allegedly beating and threatening Rihanna during an argument in a rented Lamborghini.

The alleged altercation occurred as the couple drove home from a pre-Grammy party. The news that Rihanna was injured and that Brown was wanted by police surfaced the next day as scores of celebrity reporters awaited the couple’s arrival on the red carpet.

If convicted of felony assault and criminal threats, Brown would have faced a maximum of five years in prison.

— Harriet Ryan and Richard Winton


Live courthouse reports from the Chris Brown-Rihanna preliminary hearing

Rappers Tone Down Sparkle But Not Swagger

June 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Hip Hop/R&B

Associated Press Writer

Rappers who have continued to flaunt their riches have received criticism. Fans bristled earlier this year after West unveiled a line of $400-plus sneakers he crafted with Louis Vuitton.

ATLANTA (AP) — The hip-hop world is a less bling-bling place these days.

The music genre has been defined as much by diamond-encrusted watches and platinum chains as its gritty urban lyrics. But in the last couple of years, it has scaled down its flash, a trend insiders say has become more pronounced during the recent recession.

Make no mistake: The industry that made an urban household name out of New York’s Jacob “Jacob the Jeweler” Arabov me isn’t entirely reversing course. (Case in point – Lil Wayne’s “A Milli,” one of last year’s biggest songs, which had the rapper bragging wildly about being a “young millionaire.”)

But “the day of conspicuous consumption is gone,” says Tamara Connor, an Atlanta-based stylist who has created looks for chart-topping rappers, including Lil Wayne.

“We’re still going to see some bling, but it’s just not going to be as much,” Connor says. “Instead of four diamond necklaces, it might just be a diamond bracelet – and it’s a piece the celebrity wears all the time. They’re not changing their jewelry out everyday.”

Photo shoots, for example, are being done with fewer of the specialized medallions considered a calling card for the likes of Rick Ross, whose chain with a likeness of his head – complete with black diamond beard – has an estimated value of $30,000.

Instead you might see a rapper in an off-the-shelf diamond cross or wearing lower-quality stones. “You can save $3,000 a carat if you do non-ring quality diamonds for studs (earrings),” Connor notes.

Ben Baller, head of Los Angeles-based jeweler I.F. & Co., says the shift is most pronounced among up-and-coming rappers, for whom a steady income is seeming like less of a sure thing. Rap sales have declined along with the rest of the music industry.

Before, a new artist might spend $25,000 of a $30,000 advance on a chain, according to Baller, who counts Fat Joe as a client.

“Now they would rather try to spend $5,000 and $6,000,” he says, adding, “they’re willing to talk about options by using sapphires, using very, very low quality gold.

“Some people (are) even wanting to mix diamonds with cubics (cubic zirconia) so it would not be completely ungenuine.”

Cost cutting is major for the industry in which the carat-weight of one’s ring could carry more cache than record sales. Ostentatious fashion has been in hip-hop’s DNA since Slick Rick donned layers of opulent gold chains in the ’80s.

The flash reflected the music style born of the streets of New York, its stars often hard-knock kids who christened their new success with thick rope chains and designer sweatsuits.

While over-the-top bling didn’t represent all of rap fashion – gritty gang looks, Afrocentric garb and even preppy styles have all been adopted and embraced as part of rap style at some point – in the late 1990s and the early part of this decade, bling seemed to have reached its apex, complete with gold and diamond pimp cups and diamond grills for the teeth. (In fact, its around that time the term bling was born.)

“It was about creating a signature,” according to Memsor Kamarake, fashion director of Vibe magazine.

But in recent years, rap kings like Jay-Z and Diddy have displayed their swagger with looks that were more boardroom than bling, with button-down shirts and designer suits.

Though Young Jeezy may still sport a huge chain at times, flashy jewelry is not integral to his image.

“He’ll wear a scarf and no jewelry, maybe a bracelet, with a baseball hat, a T-shirt and a pair of jeans – that’s not a lot of bling,” says Connor, who has also styled the Georgia artist.

Rappers aren’t giving up glamour altogether, they’re just not wearing it 24-7. In the past, several chains were de rigueur for a grocery-store run, now they’re reserved for a show or nightclub, says Baller, who also is seeing more artists trading in old chains instead of buying new ones.

And rapper T.I. has the A.K.O.O. clothing line, which features military-inspired woven shirts, polos and denim, with most items ranging from $44 to about $200. Ralph Reynolds, who is A.K.O.O.’s creative director, said the clothing label reflects a more price-conscious customer in hip-hop.

“Some of those same people who would reach and stretch and do everything they could to get that Louis (Vuitton) will now say, ‘I already have these two bags, let me pay the rent,'” Reynolds says.

Even Kimora Lee Simmons, the Baby Phat designer known for her extravagant lifestyle, toned down the glitter in her most recent collection.

“Fabulosity is not – the girls are seeing – that $5,000 pair of shoes,” she says.

Chris Brown Pleads Not Guilty

June 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Entertainment, Hip Hop/R&B

Chris Brown with Attorney

Chris Brown with Attorney

The case of the People versus Chris Brown continues. The musician pleaded not guilty in a Los Angeles courtroom Monday to two felony counts – assault and making criminal threats – in the alleged Feb. 8 beating of his girlfriend Rihanna