Dr. Dre to Donate $10 Million for Compton High School’s New Performing Arts Center

(photo via latimes.com)

by Gerrick Kennedy via latimes.com

Dr. Dre has pledged to donate $10 million to help build a performing arts complex at the new Compton High School, the Compton Unified School District. “My goal is to provide kids with the kind of tools and learning they deserve,” Dre said in a statement. “The performing arts center will be a place for young people to be creative in a way that will help further their education and positively define their future.”

The complex will provide students with state-of-the-art equipment and technology, including digital media production facilities and a 1,200-seat theater. The performing arts center will also be a resource for the Compton community at large, officials say. The hip-hop mogul and Compton native will be directly involved in raising the remaining funds needed to complete the center, which is expected to break ground by 2020.

“The support that Dre has shown to Compton over the years is unwavering and we are so excited that we will now be home to one of the greatest performing arts centers in the country,” said Satra Zurita, president of Compton Unified’s governing board of trustees. Micah Ali, vice chairman of the district’s board of education, said the new high school will be the most modern public school complex ever built.

To read more, go to: Dr. Dre to donate $10 million for Compton High School’s new performing arts center – LA Times

Ice Cube Honored with Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Ice Cube (photo via vibe.com)

by Jessica McKinney via vibe.com

It’s hard to think that after roughly 30 years in the music industry and blessing the culture with hits like “F**k the Police” and both the Barbershop and Friday series’, that Ice Cube hasn’t already gotten a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But in reality, he actually hasn’t. That is, until today (June 12), when the hip hop icon was honored with his very own star on Hollywood Boulevard.

Director of Boyz in the Hood, John Singleton, was one of  people who spoke at Ice Cube’s star ceremony Monday afternoon. “The mark of a true man is how many people he influences in his lifetime,” Singleton said. “That’s how I see Cube.” Dr. Dre was also in attendance to watch his longtime friend and former N.W.A partner be honored. While the multi-faceted artist has definitely influenced many, he suggested the honor was still somewhat surprising.

“When you coming up doing music, movies, just trying to be creative, you never figure you’ll be on the Hollywood Walk of Fame one day,” he said.Ice Cube’s Walk of Fame ceremony comes only three days after the release of the 25th anniversary edition of the rapper’s politically-charged album, Death Certificate. Coincidentally, it is only three days before his 48th birthday.

To read more, go to: Clap For Him: Ice Cube Finally Honored With Hollywood Star

R.I.P. Parliament-Funkadelic Co-Founder and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bernie Worrell

Bernie Worrell: Parliament-Funkadelic Co-Founder Dies

Parliament-Funkadelic Co-Founder Bernie Worrell (GREGORY PACE/BEI/BEI/SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Andrew Barker via Variety.com

Bernie Worrell, the keyboardist, songwriter and synthesizer pioneer who served as co-founder of Parliament-Funkadelic with George Clinton, and was also a key Talking Heads collaborator, died on Friday after a battle with cancer, according to his Facebook page. He was 72.

Diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in January, Worrell was the guest of honor at a massive benefit concert last April, with the likes of George Clinton, Questlove, David Byrne and Meryl Streep performing and paying tribute. In mid-June, however, his wife Judie Worrell announced his health had taken a turn, writing, “Bernie is now heading ‘Home.’”

As a member of Parliament-Funkadelic, Worrell’s synth playing provided the funk innovators with some of their most distinctive and immediately recognizable elements, which subsequently became signature sounds of the more futuristic strains of R&B, and the bedrock of hip-hop’s West Coast “g-funk” wave, with Dr. Dre in particular sampling Worrell’s music continuously.

From the gurgling, staccato Minimoog bassline of “Flash Light” to the whiny, minor-key synth lines on “P. Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up),” Worrell introduced a wealth of completely new elements into pop music’s sonic vocabulary. Former bandmate Bootsy Collins described Worrell as “the Jimi Hendrix of the keyboards,” while Talking Heads frontman Byrne once noted, “Bernie changed the way I think about music, and the way I think about life.”

Born George Bernard Worrell in New Jersey, Worrell began playing piano at age three, and performed with the Washington Symphony Orchestra at age 10. He attended Julliard and the New England Conservatory of Music, and met up with fellow New Jersey native George Clinton while playing in bar bands. He followed Clinton to Detroit, where Funkadelic rewrote the rules of black popular music several times over throughout the 1970s.

Worrell only appeared on a single track of Funkadelic’s 1970 self-titled debut, but he featured heavily on follow-up “Free Your Mind…And Your Ass Will Follow,” and by the time of 1971’s psych-rock freak-out masterpiece “Maggot Brain,” he was firmly ensconced in the lineup, even singing lead on single “Hit It and Quit It.”

Worrell’s role as a keyboardist, songwriter and arranger grew throughout the decade as Funkadelic and Parliament – during the ‘70s, the two groups consisted of the same core members – evolved into a more radio-friendly, dance-oriented outfit, alongside former James Brown bassist Collins, who arrived in 1972. Thanks to his grasp of classical music composition, as well as his ceaseless curiosity in exploring state-of-the-art synthesizer technology, Worrell was essential in imposing structure and melodic order onto the group’s more freewheeling experimentations.

Parliament’s “Mothership Connection” elevated the collective’s profile substantially in 1975, reaching No. 4 on the R&B album chart and becoming the first P-Funk album to go platinum. The group’s popularity peaked with Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under a Groove,” which topped the R&B chart for six straight weeks in 1978, while Parliament’s “Motor Booty Affair” and Funkadelic’s “Uncle Jam Wants You” both reached No. 2 in the months that followed. The P-Funk staples co-written by Worrell in this period include “Mothership Connection (Star Child),” “Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadaloop)” and “Flash Light,” which still stands as perhaps the group’s most widely played and influential single track.

Worrell recorded a solo album in 1978 – “All the Woo in the World,” produced by Clinton – and recorded with Collins for his splinter group Bootsy’s Rubber Band, whose 1977 album “Ahh…the Name is Bootsy, Baby!” is a particularly essential funk collection. But as loose and sprawling as the P-Funk universe could be, the spine of the group began to splinter at the end of the ‘70s, and Worrell officially left in 1981.

Shortly after his departure, Worrell was recruited by Jerry Harrison, guitarist for the art-rock/New Wave group Talking Heads, whom Worrell had never heard. Though he found their earlier music “stiff,” Worrell joined the group as a session musician, contributing synthesizers to 1983 album “Speaking in Tongues,” which would go on to become the Heads’ highest-charting release. He toured with the group for years, and his importance to their live sound is made abundantly clear in the Jonathan Demme-directed 1984 concert film, “Stop Making Sense.”

During the ‘80s, Worrell also recorded with Keith Richards, Fela Kuti, and Jack Bruce, and after the breakup of Talking Heads, he released a spate of solo albums in the early-‘90s. (1991’s “Funk of Ages” is the clear standout.) He continued to record and tour throughout the following decades, with groups the Bernie Worrell Orchestra and Bernie Worrell’s Woo Warriors, and as part of the supergroup Black Jack Johnson alongside rapper Mos Def. Worrell was the subject of Philip Di Fiore’s 2005 documentary, “Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth,” and he had a role as a member of Meryl Streep’s bar band in Demme’s 2015 feature “Ricki and the Flash.”

Worrell was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Parliament-Funkadelic in 1997, and performed with the reunited Talking Heads during the group’s induction in 2002. Earlier this year, he was given an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the New England Conservatory of Music.

Kendrick Lamar Leads Grammy Nominations With 11

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The Recording Academy announced the Grammy Award nominations this morning. Kendrick Lamar leads the field with 11 nods. The Weeknd and Taylor Swift both received seven Grammy nominations. Other top nominees include DrakeJohn Legend, and Kanye West.

The Academy is committed to celebrating a diverse blend of talented entertainers, musicians, and producers, and this commitment is evident in the nominees for the Album of the Year category.  According to Grammy.com. Lamar has been nominated for his “jazz-infused rap,” Alabama Shakes for their “alternative and soulful rock,” Swift for her pop, Chris Stapleton for his “classic country sounds,” and The Weeknd for his “genre-bending R&B style.”

D’Angelo and The Vanguard are nominated for Record of the Year, along with Mark Ronson featuring Bruno MarsEd Sheeran, The Weeknd, and Swift.

The Grammy ceremony will be held Feburary 15, 2016 in Los Angeles. A list of nominees follows below: Continue reading

“Straight Outta Compton” Debuts to Scorching $56.1 Million to Top Weekend’s Box Office

Straight Outta Compton

PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL

Straight Outta Compton” may take place more than two decades ago, but its themes of racial tension, poverty and police brutality still speak to moviegoers living in a post-Ferguson world.

The biopic about rap group N.W.A. debuted to a blistering $56.1 million this weekend in 2,757 theaters, surpassing “American Pie 2” to become the biggest-ever August debut for an R-rated movie. It’s the kind of opening usually reserved for so-called tentpole movies that trade in costumed heroes and special effects, not urban violence.

“The movie tapped into something in our culture and that made it more of a must-see,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.

Its debut nearly doubles “Straight Outta Compton’s” budget of $29 million in a single weekend, meaning the film could be among the most profitable releases of the summer. N.W.A members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre helped produce the film about the early days of gansta rap and were integral to its marketing campaign.

Universal, the studio behind the music biopic, has been having a year for the ages, as a steady stream of hits such as “Jurassic World,” “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Pitch Perfect 2,”  “Furious 7” and “Minions” have pushed its grosses to record heights. Legendary Pictures co-financed “Straight Outta Compton.”

“Straight Outta Compton’s” success overshadowed the weekend’s other new release, Warner Bros.’ “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” The stylish action-adventure wilted at the megaplexes, bringing in an etiolated $13.5 million from 3,638 theaters. That’s a particularly rough start considering that “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” cost a sizable $75 million to produce.

Universal domestic distribution chief Nick Carpou labeled “Straight Outta Compton” as a “labor of love” that benefited from being dramatically different from the kind of films flooding cinemas in recent months.

“The public was ready for something with a bit more substance that they could identify with,” he said.

The film’s opening weekend crowd was 52% female, 51% under the age of 30, 46% African-American, 23% Caucasian, 21% Hispanic and 4% Asian. It did not play in Imax or 3D, but did score in premium large format locations, where it grossed $5.1 million, representing 9% of the film’s weekend receipts.

In second place, Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” continued to get a lift from strong word-of-mouth, picking up $17 million in its third weekend. That brings the fifth film in the spy franchise’s North American haul to $138.1 million.

Fox’s “Fantastic Four” dropped steeply in its second weekend, falling nearly 70% from its debut and mustering a paltry $8 million. The film ranks as one of the biggest comicbook movie flops in history, having earned a meagre $42 million Stateside.

STX Entertainment’s “The Gift” rounded out the top five, earning $6.5 million this weekend and pushing its domestic total to $23.6 million.

Final numbers are still being tallied, but it looks as though “Straight Outta Compton” will bolster ticket sales over the year-ago period when “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” were drawing the biggest crowds.

article by Brett Lang via Variety.com

“Straight Outta Compton” Heading to $40 Million-Plus Opening This Weekend

Photo via slashfilm.com

Photo via slashfilm.com

The reviews so far have been great, Dr. Dre has already dropped his well-received companion album,  and  Variety.com predicts the F. Gary Gray-directed “Straight Outta Compton” is will open to over $40 million on box office receipts this weekend.  Made on a $29 million budget, “Compton” is already looking like the sleeper hit of the summer.

According to thegrio.com, director Gray (“Friday”, “Set It Off”, “The Italian Job”) teamed up with remaining members of the historic west coast rap group, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, Dre and MC Ren, (Eazy-E died in 1995) to tell the ups and downs of their incredible story.  The film, named for the title track on N.W.A.’s 1988 debut album, stars Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube), as well as Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E), Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre), Neil Brown Jr. (DJ Yella) and Aldis Hodge (MC Ren).

A large part of the appeal of the film that is reaching beyond the built-in fanbase of N.W.A. is the timeliness of the subject and subject matter in the wake of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and continued revelations and exposés of nationwide police brutality and racism.  While “F**k The Police” stirred controversy when initially released, today it can be heard as prescient protest.

When asked how N.W.A. would respond to the social commentary of today, Gray thinks the revolutionary rap group would respond to #BlackLivesMatter similarly to how they reacted to what they were experiencing nearly 30 years ago. “Probably the same way they did back then. They were pretty frustrated. They spoke their mind,” he said.  “They were honest about it, and I think they would respond the same way. ‘Hey listen it’s time to change. It’s time for a change.’”

When it comes to hip-hop artists today, Gary, as well as Ice Cube, DJ Yella and O’Shea Jackson Jr., feel fellow Compton native Kendrick Lamar is truly influential and follows closely in the big footsteps that N.W.A. created.

“It’s hard to duplicate N.W.A., but I like what Kendrick Lamar is doing,” said Gary. “I like what J. Cole is doing. These guys are conscious, and at least I know Kendrick is from the streets of Compton and stuff like that, so they’re authentic. And I think a lot of that comes from the N.W.A. or at least era.”

Straight Outta Compton opens in theaters this Friday, August 14. Check out the trailer below:

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Dr. Dre to Donate 100 Percent of Royalties from New Album to Build Performing Arts Facility for Compton Youth

Dr. Dre (Getty Images)

Dr. Dre (Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Dr. Dre says he will donate royalties from his new album to the city of Compton for a new performing arts facility.

In an interview with Zane Lowe on Beats 1 Radio, Dre said he spoke to Compton Mayor Aja Brown about ways to give back to the city with the release of his first album in 16 years.

The rapper, whose real name is Andre Young, said Thursday he “decided to donate all of my artist royalties from the sale of this album to help fund a new performing arts and entertainment facility for the kids in Compton.”

“Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre,” inspired by the N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton” which opens Aug. 14, will be released Friday. Dre said he hopes “everybody appreciates all the hard work I put into this album.”

“I’m honored that Mr. Young has decided to make a significant investment in his community,” Brown said in a statement. “He clearly has a heart for Compton, especially our youth. I believe this performing arts center will provide a pathway for creative expression, exposure and training to the myriad of industries that support arts, entertainment and technology — while providing a much-needed safe haven for our youth.”

Brown added that the center would be a therapeutic outlet for youth suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Compton” can be streamed exclusively on Apple Music starting Friday. Dre called the album his “grand finale.”

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press via thegrio.com