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Biggie Smalls Gets His Street, Jay Z first rapper Worth a Billion [What’s The 411 Quick Takes]

VIDEO DISCUSSION: Serena Williams first female athlete on Forbes' list of Richest Self-Made Women; Odd couple AOC and Ted Cruz collaborate on legislation

In this episode of What’s The 411’s Quick Takes, award-winning journalist, Kizzy Cox, and comedian, Onika McLean, are talking about:

Jordyn Woods:

The reality TV personality, Jordyn Woods, seems to be bouncing back very nicely since the Tristan Thompson debacle. Woods is set to guest-star on Season 2 of Freeform’s television series grown-ish. One door closes another one opens.

Lamar Odom

Former NBA basketball player, Lamar Odom, who used to be married to Khloe Kardashian, has had some dark times in his life, and his tell-all book, Darkness to Light is causing an uproar and making Khloe very uncomfortable because he’s telling secrets.

Amazon’s Alexa is a Babysitter?

A recent survey by ASecureLife.com found that one in five parents said they would trust their children with Amazon's virtual assistant, Alexa, in their absence.

Magid Magid

Britain’s coolest mayor is now a Member of the European Parliament. Magid Magid, who was born in Somalia and came to Britain at age 5, was the youngest Lord Mayor of Sheffield in Britain.

Unbeknownst to most Americans, Magid is not a fan of Donald Trump and has branded him a “Wasteman.” Magid has also stood in solidarity with Mexicans in his town of Sheffield, and similar to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in style, Magid is now looking to turn the tide of history in the European Parliament.

The Notorious B.I.G Gets His Street

Biggie, Biggie, Biggie! The Notorious B.I.G., whose birth name is Christopher Wallace, has a huge mural on the side of a building in Brooklyn and now he will finally get a street named after him. St. James Place between Fulton Street and Gates Avenue in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn will be named, "Christopher Wallace Way” at a ceremony on June 10.

Jay-Z, the Billionaire

Rapper and entrepreneur, Jay Z, is the first hip-hop artist to make it to billionaire status.

Serena Williams Makes a Forbes List

Congratulations to Serena Williams! Legendary tennis star and new mother, Serena Williams, is the first female athlete on Forbes' list of Richest Self-Made Women

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ted Cruz

Who would have thought that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) would ever agree to work together? Well, Senator Cruz reached out to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter to gauge her interest on co-sponsoring legislation to create a lifetime ban on Members of Congress serving as paid lobbyists once they have left office. When Ocasio-Cortez realized Cruz was serious, she agreed to work with him on the legislation.

How digital music streaming has helped and hurt new album releases

Digital Album Streaming: a beautiful boost or plummeting pitfall? Well it depends on how you use it

The first half of 2018 has seen album releases from the likes of J. Cole, Nipsey Hussle, Tory Lanez, Nas, Kanye West, Beyoncé, and Jay-Z; all with various rollout plans to the lack thereof. Nicki Minaj announced her album, Queen, in May for a June release. Beyoncé and Jay-Z released Everything is Love seemingly out of nowhere, and then there were albums that dropped under an executive producer who didn't seem to give much notification to the artists themselves, cough. (I'm talking about... yes, you guessed it! Kanye West.)

Digital streaming of music has given both the artist and consumer a one-stop shop. Artists no longer need to advertise on billboards, bus signs or conjure up elaborate marketing plans. Music executives no longer have to announce albums and songs months in advanced and retail stores are not stocked to capacity with copies of physical CDs needed to match shopper consumption. Depending on the caliber of artist that you are, you don't even need to bait your audience into wanting your album with pre-released singles. All you have to do is make sure it's available on all streaming platforms on the day that you say it will be. Or, you don't even need to say a day.

I'm guilty of crediting Queen Bey for bringing the art of the hasty release into the genre of R&B and Hip Hop. Many people, like me, forget that it was actually her husband, Sean Carter, who started the trend. Released on July 4, 2013, Magna Carta Holy Grail took to listeners ears after only being announced two weeks prior in a subtle commercial for Samsung that premiered during the NBA Finals.

VIDEO featuring Jay-Z promoting Magna Carta Holy Grail

"All these other things have been introduced to the world -- the internet and all this technology, and all these things. How do we operate within all that? We don't have any rules; everyone's trying to figure it out... that's why the internet's like the wild, Wild West. We need to write the new rules for what's going on right now... The one thing I wanted to do was have that fireplace or radio moment... I wanted everyone to hear the album at one time."

Unfortunately, Samsung lost out on the ordeal when the app they paid for to stream Jay's album crashed and the project was almost instantaneously available on other digital streaming platforms. Nonetheless, the attempt was seen.

What we'd call an L, Beyoncé followed suit with and turned into a W, a surprise release of her self-titled visual album that took the world by complete force. Beyoncé was exclusively available on iTunes for its first week, was accompanied by visuals for each track, earning Yonce' over 80,000 copies sold in the first three hours and ultimately a number one album debut. (Queen Bey also saw similar success with her release of Lemonade, accompanied by a full-length film where Hov's, iced tea, 4:44, debuted at number one with various short films to accompany each track. The most successful of which, "The Story of O.J.", reached over 70 million views.

But the ability of Beyonce and Jay-Z to make us look is due largely to the equity and caliber of artistry they've come to be known for, not just in the exclusivity of their work alone. As listeners and consumers, we have a solid expectation of the quality of work they'll deliver and therefore have no problem rushing to whatever medium they decide to release from.

However, many artists are not so privileged. Even prior to Beyonce's self-titled visual album release, Kanye West tested the waters with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy's 34-minute film, Runaway, amassing over 22 million views to this date, and decided to take that same triumphant energy and innovation into his February 14, 2016, release of The Life of Pablo. The result was not so great. The rollout of the album was plagued by constant title changes, routine Kanye twitter rants, and revised track lists. The only thing that seemed to be happening right was that West had a Yeezy Season 3 fashion show planned at Madison Square Garden where he would premiere the project for all those in attendance, right? Wrong. The album premiered three days later on Tidal, with alterations unheard of by the crowd in attendance at Madison Square Garden. Even months after the release, the album was still undergoing changes with its finalized version coming on April 1, 2016.

And now here we are. The Carters’ surprise release, Everything is Love, and Kanye West announcing and embarking on his executive delivery of five albums in five weeks. The results have been everywhere from successful to... not so much. Pusha T's Daytona soared in the midst of rap beef between himself and Drake. Ye was welcomed by a lukewarm reception, but still managing to debut at number one, while Kids See Ghosts featuring Ye and Kid Cudi was quietly released and debuted at number two while NASIR featuring Nas peaked at number five.

However, the rockiest rollout yet was Teyana Taylor's K.T.S.E. The singer took to Big Boy's Neighborhood on Power 106 to explain that the album will be re-released due to label miscommunication and samples not being cleared in time. Acknowledging that songs on the album were literally cut short, as well as the label's mistake in setting a release date and listening experience all before the album samples were even cleared.

VIDEO: Teyana Taylor on Big Boy’s Neighborhood

Teyana has taken the public misstep like a champ, acknowledging the helpful critiques she's received from those who have listened thus far. A similar attitude is now generally required of artists in the digital age of album streaming, its boundless limits should remind artists to propel themselves into a new realm of creativity and innovation. Ultimately instilling in them the ability to embrace the body of work that they have while remembering, it’s not fully what you do but how you do it.

 

- Jadriena "Jade" Solomon

@24Jaded

  • Published in Music

Here's something for Hip-Hop to ponder

"Hip Hop's Year of Dangerous Living Put the Accused on the Charts", was the title that graced the critic's notebook section of The New York Times' website on January 5, 2018. The article kicked off the year by acknowledging the previous one that awarded rap musicians with high accolades despite their less than decent deeds; calling all professionals of the music industry to make better decisions in their free time and vying for fans to become more morally conscious of the artists they support.

And maybe rightfully so, Hip-Hop's 2017 brought immense success to the troublesome likes of rappers Kodak Black, 6ix9ine, YoungBoy Never Broke Again, and the late XXXTentacion, rewarding all with either lucrative record deals or singles that graced the Billboard Hot 100's Top 50 despite their very public bad behavior. Ultimately laying a welcome mat for a tumultuous 2018 (see: 6ix9ine versus Chief Keef, Rich The Kid versus Lil Uzi Vert.)

But perhaps the biggest feud to come of all this is the question of music versus morality, seen most recently after the tragic shooting of XXXTentacion. As fans, fellow rappers, and social media reacted to the news, this was the question that plagued conversation and sparked major uproar from social media users to various radio and podcast platforms and personalities. Joe Budden took to his very well-known podcast, The Joe Budden Podcast and explained his disappointment with Hot 97's Peter Rosenberg who announced XXXtentacion's death on talk radio and proceeded to introduce him as a figure that was "no angel." He also cited figures like Complex's DJ Akademiks for instigating the poor behavior of rappers and commodifying it on social media, to which Akademiks shortly after responded.

VIDEO: RIP XXXTentacion | The Joe Budden Podcast 

 

The reactions are split. Yes, in the event of death it truly is insensitive to chalk up a person's life to their actions, especially when it was cut short by violent tragedy. But, it sparks a question that is worth to be pondered. In life, can we separate the personal actions of artists from their musical accolades and musicianship? And if we choose not to, are we doing an uncivil disservice to humanity?

 

VIDEO: RIP XXXTentacion: How Will He Be Remembered?

 

To properly ponder this question we have to acknowledge many facets, one being the open door policy that the genre of Hip-Hop has always employed, and why it has come to be. Why I call it an open door policy is because it has always been welcoming of all, regardless of an individual's background, moral compass or lack thereof (R. Kelly was and is still repeatedly accused of sexual misconduct, Bobby Shmurda rose to fame and a number 1 single with a murder confession - don't tell me it's not, let's just call a spade a spade.).

So, why is the Hip-Hop genre so accepting of violence? It didn’t start out this way. However, in simplistic terms, it is because as hip-hop evolved, many of its constituents came from and still come from a place of systematic disadvantage. The art form of Hip-Hop and the culture grew as an outlet for residents of the inner city. Those whose neighborhoods were plagued with poverty, infested with drug trafficking, and a hyperactive gang and police presence. The cycle of mistrust and injustice birthed street entrepreneurs, those who hustled to make a better living despite their disadvantaged circumstances and carried that same mentality into the world and profession of Hip-Hop (Jay Z, Notorious B.I.G., etc.)

And that's not to mitigate the action of violence, repeated domestic violence, and the selling of drugs, it's to speak to the fact that the genre of Hip-Hop is comprised of individuals shaped by the absences, and disadvantages of their environments.

Gangsta rap made folk heroes out of men and women who risked their safety to bend the rules and prosper as outlaws.

The greats presented crime as a political act, a means of leveling a playing field that always operated on a severe tilt.

They gave voice to the struggles of the disadvantaged and illuminated a way out for the daring.

- Craig Jenkins

Because of such, the home of Hip-Hop is a zone of limited chastisement to be enjoyed "free of moralizing." We dismiss those with open murder, sexual misconduct, battery cases and more, with simple statements like "you've got to separate the art from the artist." We become selective in memory, prioritizing their accolades over their conscious pitfalls, abandoning the duty of accountability.

But at what cost, and at what detriment? Are there really any at all?

- Jadriena "Jade" Solomon

@24Jaded

  • Published in Music

Cardi B, Lorde, Fabolous, Vivica Fox, Blue Ivy | What’s The 411 | Ep. 124

Manuel A. Mendez is Blue Ivy’s personal stylist; backlash to Roseanne Barr’s joke about Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat still continues; and more

In this episode of What's The 411, journalist Kizzy Cox, and comedian Onika McLean are talking about Chrissy Teigen's response to a track on Cardi B's new album; the less than tepid response to Iggy Azalea's new album, the feud between Vivica Fox and Kenya Moore continues; the news that Jay-Z and Beyonce's daughter, Blue Ivy has a personal stylist; the uneven way that ABC treats Roseann and Black-ish; the perils of butt injections and butt lifts, interviews with Dion Clarke, the founder of the Harlem Fine Arts Show and some of the guests at the Harlem Fine Arts show, and
more.

 

Facebook, Jay-Z, Diddy, Mary J. Blige, Black Panther, March for Our Lives | Ep. 123

Facebook has come under fire from the business community and some politicians for allowing access to users’ information without informed consent

This episode of What’s The 411 consists of QUICK TAKES of topical news and discussions about British supermodel Naomi Campbell, Mary J. Blige, Amber Rose, 21 Savage, Alicia Keys, and Black Panther becoming the highest domestic-grossing superhero film of all time.

Journalist, Kizzy Cox, and comedian Onika McLean had fuller discussions about:

  • Facebook coming under fire from the business community and some politicians for allowing companies to gain access to its subscribers’ personal data without informing their subscribers about how their data will be used, not allowing subscribers to opt-out and confirming that the data was used properly.
  • Diddy and Jay-Z starting an uproar with the announcement of their collaboration to develop a “Buy Black App”.
  • The proliferation of “No Manspreading” advertisements on subways and buses in New York City and elsewhere. The new regulation has sparked a debate on social media.
  • The student-organized March for Our Lives march in Washington, DC, which featured younger than high school aged students Yolanda Renee King, the grand-daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and 11-year-old Naomi Wadler who had everyone talking in the days following the march.
  • Business moguls P-Diddy and Jay-Z teaming up to develop a "Buy Black" app

Photo of the Week:

Our Photo of the Week is a photo of a man taking “manspreading” to an exaggerated level.

Motivational Quote of the Week:

Our Quote of the Week comes from the award-winning actress, Angela Bassett:

“Old enough to know better. Young enough not to care. Experienced enough to do it right.”

Jay-Z to Receive a 2018 Grammy Salute To Industry Icons Award | Ep. 118

Video: Conversation about Tyrese; Star Jones’ ex-husband, Al Reynolds; 50 Cent; OJ; Wendy Williams; Paris Jackson; Tamar Braxton and more

In this episode, What's The 411 hosts, Kizzy Cox, and Onika McLean are talking about Jay-Z, Tyrese, 50 Cent, OJ, Wendy Williams, Paris Jackson, Tamar Braxton, and more.

  • Published in Episodes

Kaepernick, Wendy Williams, John Legend, Tyrese, and more | Ep. 117

Ava Duvernay, Issa Rae, Jay-Z are up for an NAACP’s Entertainer of the Year Image Award

In this episode of What's The 411 hosts Kizzy Cox, and Onika McLean are talking about Wendy Williams; Cynthia Bailey and Peter Thomas' business venture; John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, the NFL, Colin Kaepernick, Morgan Freeman, Diana Ross, Ava DuVernay, Issa Rae, Jay-Z, Tank, The Rock, Tyrese, and much more.

  • Published in Episodes

QUICK TAKES: Jay-Z, Blue Ivy, Khloe Kardashian, Ava DuVernay, and more

VIDEO: Kendall and Kylie Jenner had to backtrack on their Biggie and Tupac T-Shirt Venture; Chrissy Teigen is sick of John Legend look-alike baby pictures

What's The 411's Quick Takes recorded on July 11, 2017, are:

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay will explore the subject of social and criminal injustice through Central Park Five, a five-part miniseries that will debut on Netflix in 2019.

Chrissy Teigen is sick of people sending her baby pictures that look like John Legend

Be on the lookout for RYSE TV. What started out as a magazine is growing into a VOD streaming entertainment platform and mobile app.

When the world heard Jay-Z and Beyonce's five-year-old daughter Blue Ivy's Boom Shakalaka freestyle, let’s just say that the little rumble you heard was the Internet breaking yet again with people signing up for #IvyLeague!

Pictures of Khloe Kardashian, North West, and Tristan Thompson surfaced online and the Tristan Thompson haters did not hold back.

The lawsuits keep piling up for Kylie and Kendall Jenner over their T-shirts infused with pictures of themselves and iconic rappers Tupac and Biggie.

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