Diana Ross will be given a Lifetime Achievement honor at the 45th annual American Music Awards, and also perform during the broadcast, which airs Nov. 19 on ABC from Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater. Ross has history with the AMAs, having attended her first ceremony in 1974 and serving as host in 1986 and 1987. She has seven AMA wins under her belt and has performed many times on the show, which is produced by Dick Clark Productions.
“I have endless memories of all the years that I have appeared on the American Music Awards,” Ross said in a Wednesday release about honor. “It started with Dick Clark and The Caravan of Stars and American Bandstand. It was Dick Clark who said, ‘Music is the soundtrack of our lives.’ So true. I am so excited to be receiving this honorable award.”
The American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement, given to those who’ve had significant contributions to the music industry, has previously honored Sting, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Gloria Estefan and Prince. Nominations for the 2017 AMAs were announced last week, with BrunoMars leading with eight and followed by Ed Sheeran, The Chainsmokers, Drake, Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd, each with five.
Thirty years after becoming rap’s first sex symbol, LL Cool J will be the first hip-hop artist to receive Kennedy Center Honors in its 40-year history.
The rapper-turned-actor born James Todd Smith will be inducted with a prestigious 2017 class — including pop stars Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan, television icon Norman Lear and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade – on Sunday, Dec. 3 at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C.
The honorees will be saluted by performers while seated alongside President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. While Kennedy Center Honors acknowledge the lifetime achievements of contributors to American culture, the list has traditionally been limited in scope. But the inclusion of LL, born James Todd Smith, in this year’s honoree list further expands the center’s growing embrace of hip-hop culture.
Earlier this year the center appointed Simone Eccleston as its first director of Hip-Hop Culture after naming A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip as artistic director of Hip-Hop Culture in 2016. Historic performances by Kendrick Lamar and Commonhave also underlined the center’s investment, and more programming for the 2017-18 season is expected to be announced in the coming months.
At 49, LL will be the Kennedy Center’s youngest honoree since Stevie Wonder. It’s a long way from home for the St. Albans, Queens native who made his first record, “I Need A Beat,” at 16, after his demo tape made it to the ears of producer and Def Jam founder Rick Rubin. As rap’s first bona fide solo star, LL was larger than life in the 1980s, the first to embody the street-corner swagger and sex appeal that would become a blueprint for future hip-hop icons ranging from Big Daddy Kane to Biggie.
Before an artist like Drake could legitimately mix hip-hop lyricism with R&B vulnerability, LL turned out the first hit rap ballad with 1987’s “I Need Love.” And the ladies loved him for it. Best known today for his starring roles in TV and film, he received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last year. But after a career spanning 30-plus years and 13 albums, he’s yet to leave rap alone — he’s rumored to be in the studio recording with Dr. Dre.
Kanye West is reportedly the first artist in history to have an album at No. 1 solely on music streams from major outlets. His latest project The Life of Pablo,was distributed and consumed by the masses through some paid downloads from his personal G.O.O.D / Def Jam page, but most of the revenue (a nice 90k), came from music streaming services like Apple Music and Tidal, according to HITS Daily Double.
Reports state that this strategy was created by Ye’s new management team: Scooter Braun, Steve Bartels and Def Jam. You can also catch Kanye at the top of the iTunes chart along with Drake in their collaboration on “Pop Style.”
This comes as no surprise to us as it was reported last month that TLOP was streamed over 250 million times since its release.
MIAMI, FL – Drake and Rihanna made a Make-A-Wish Foundation cancer patient named Megan’s wish come true while they were in Florida for Rihanna’s “ANTI World Tour” stop in Miami on Tuesday (March 15).
“BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!,” Megan’s Instagram video of herself and Drake captioned. “I MET THE LOML (Love of my life). He was so sweet & down to earth. Gave me and my family some OVO clothing. BEST DAY EVER. NO LIE. @champagnepapi LOVE YOU!”
Social media posts document Drake and Rihanna sharing the moment with Megan at the hospital. Instagram pictures and a Snapchat video show the 6 God hanging out with her as well.
“This is the best snapchat I’ve ever done before,” the Views from the 6 rapper says in the Snapchat video with Megan. Drizzy performed “Work” with the Bajan singer at Miami’s American Airlines arena that evening.
“Work” has spent four weeks at the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts. The ANTIsinger is the only artist with #1 Hot 100 singles from seven consecutive studio albums and the third artist with the most #1 singles, totaling 14, surpassing Michael Jackson’s record of 13.
Drizzy’s forthcoming album Views from the 6 is scheduled to be released April 16.
Actress, author and producer La La Anthony, and Grammy-winning producer Timbaland (Empire) are teaming with Leftfield Pictures (Pawn Stars) to develop a hip-hop docuseries.
The project will focus on Jeff Janvier and Session Cruz’s Face Time Agency, the industry’s premiere casting agency for booking music video and hip-hop fashion models, with clients including Drake, Kanye West and Robin Thicke. Set inside the New York City nightlife scene – where clubs have become the new boardrooms – the series exposes the cutthroat entrepreneurial side of hip-hop, with models, DJs and social media stars “hustling” to break through as fashion, music and media moguls.
“La La and Timbaland are perfect examples of what can be achieved when talent, determination and creativity collide with entrepreneurship,” said Leftfield Entertainment CEO David George. “We’re thrilled to be in business with these two entertainment innovators to create a series that uncovers a unique, rarified faction of hip hop and provides a true soundtrack for the unpredictable journey toward fame and fortune.”
Anthony will executive produce the project, with Timbaland serving as executive music producer. “I’m thrilled to be executive producing a project that offers a true insider’s look into the business side of hip hop, especially one that explores the lives of fascinating women who have used hip hop as their platform to become successful entrepreneurs in fashion, music and more,” said Anthony.
On TV talk shows, the host introduces a guest, then music plays while the guest emerges from backstage. On podcasts, the etiquette is still being worked out. The host often launches into an introduction while the guest sits quietly in the same sound booth. A couple of years ago, the co-hosts of a podcast called “Alias Smith and LeRoi” began this way, speaking about their guest, the comedian Leslie Jones, as if she were not there.
“This is gonna be kind of a hot one,” Ali LeRoi said.
“I’ve been waiting to sit her ass down for a minute,” Owen Smith said. “One of the funniest women in the game.”
“Funniest comedian in the game,” Jones interrupted. “Not just woman. I hate that shit.” End of introduction.
Comedians are combatants: they “kill,” they “bomb,” they “destroy.” Such bluster can mask insecurity, and Jones had good reason to feel defensive. She was forty-six, and had been a standup comedian for more than a quarter century; her peers respected her, but that respect rarely translated into high-paying gigs. “I remember some nights where I was, like, ‘All right, this comedy shit just ain’t working out,’ ” she told me recently. “And not just when I was twenty-five. Like, when I was forty-five.” She was a woman in a field dominated by men, and an African-American in an industry that remained disturbingly segregated.
Although she had opened for Katt Williams and Dave Chappelle, acted in movies alongside Ice Cube and Martin Lawrence, recorded a standup special for Showtime, and made several appearances on HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam” and BET’s “ComicView,” she worried that the gatekeepers of mainstream comedy—bookers for the “Tonight Show,” casting directors of big-budget films—had never heard her name. “Every black comedian in the country knew what I could do,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean everyone else is paying attention.” Chris Rock, who met Jones when they were both road comics in the late eighties, told me, “Black women have the hardest gig in show business. You hear Jennifer Lawrence complaining about getting paid less because she’s a woman—if she was black, she’d really have something to complain about.”
Jones spent much of her career performing in what she calls “shitty chitlin-circuit-ass rooms, where you’re just hoping the promoter pays you.” She told me that, around 2010, “I stopped only doing black clubs. I stopped doing what I call ‘nigger nights’—the Chocolate Sundays, the Mo’ Better Mondays. I knew how to relate to that audience, and I was winning where I was, but I wasn’t moving forward.” She lived in Los Angeles at the time, and she began asking for spots at the Comedy Store, where David Letterman and Robin Williams got their starts. A comedian named Erik Marino, who befriended her there, said, “She felt very strongly that she was being pigeonholed as a black comic—a BET comic.”
For a while, Jones performed at the Store at odd hours. Then, she said, “I went to the booker and I threw the race card at him. ‘Why you won’t let me go up at ten on a Friday? ’Cause I’m black?’ ” The booker gave her a prime-time slot. “She destroyed, obviously,” Marino said. “Bookers are the ones who care about black rooms versus white rooms. To us comedians, it’s, like, if you know what you’re doing and you can connect with an audience, they’re gonna laugh.”
Rock saw Jones perform at the Store in 2012. After her set, he told her, “You were always funny, but you’re at a new level now.”
“You’re right,” she responded. “But I’m not gonna really make it unless someone like you puts me on.” Rock took out his iPhone and added her name to a list labelled “Funny people.”
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 Drake, John 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 Mars, Ed Sheeran, The Weeknd, and Swift.
The scene backstage last November at the American Music Awards, that annual gathering of pop perennials and idiosyncratic arrivistes, was carnivalesque: Niall and Liam of One Direction toddled about trying to snap a picture with a selfie stick, while Zayn, their bandmate at the time, smoked coolly out of frame; Ne-Yo was there in a leopard-print blazer two sizes too small; Lil Wayne was wandering around, alone, wearing absurd shoes. In the middle of it all, Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, remained calm, slow motion to everyone else’s warp speed.
Allergic to these sorts of scrums, he found his way to his trailer to hang with his friends, five or so fellow Canadians, all of them art-goth chic, wearing expensive sneakers and draped in luxurious, flowing black. Tesfaye, 25, was dressed down by comparison, in a black corduroy jacket and paint-splattered jeans (Versace, but still). He stands 5-foot-7, plus a few more inches with his hair, an elaborate tangle of dreadlocks that he has been growing out for years, more or less letting it go where it wants. It spills out at the sides of his head and shoots up over it, like a cresting wave. Casually, Tesfaye did some vocal warm-ups and sat indifferently as his underutilized makeup artist dabbed foundation under his eyes and balm on his lips.
He’d just had his first flash of true pop success: ‘‘Love Me Harder,’’ his duet with Ariana Grande, the childlike pop star with the grown-up voice, cracked the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. He was scheduled to make a surprise cameo here at the end of a Grande medley. Until that song and, in a sense, that moment, Tesfaye had been a no-hit wonder: a cult act with millions of devotees and almost no mainstream profile.
When Tesfaye came out from the shadows midway through Grande’s performance, the crowd screamed. For two minutes, the singers traded vocal riffs and unflinching eye contact, Grande playing the naïf and Tesfaye the aggressor. The performance was quick and sweaty, and seconds after it was over, Tesfaye was already speeding for the exit, stopping only for a quick embrace from Kendall and Kylie Jenner. When he reached the parking lot, a yappy talent wrangler for an entertainment-news show sensed an opportunity and asked for an interview. Tesfaye gave him an amused half-smile and kept walking. ‘‘Hey!’’ the guy shouted in desperation, fumbling for a name before landing on the wrong one: ‘‘A$AP Rocky!’’ Tesfaye turned his head and said, ‘‘C’mon, man,’’ arching an eyebrow, then picked up the pace.
Even though he had just performed for an audience of millions, Tesfaye was still, to many of them, a total stranger. When he began releasing music in 2010 — murky Dalí-esque R.&B., sung in an astrally sweet voice, vivid with details of life at the sexual and pharmacological extremes — Tesfaye chose to be a cipher. The only photos of him in circulation were deliberately obscured; he didn’t do interviews. His reticence was an asset — fans devoured the music without being distracted by a personality. Their loyalty was to the songs and, in a way, to the idea of the Weeknd. He was happy to stay out of the way.
The students at Strawberry Mansion High School, once considered one of the most dangerous schools in the country, have started using the school’s brand new recording studio donated by rapper Drake after a music teacher was finally hired.
Located in a poor Philadelphia neighborhood with a high crime rate, Strawberry Mansion is a school plagued by violence. It once spent six years on the state of Pennsylvania’s “Persistently Dangerous Schools” list.
In a special ABC News “Hidden America” report on the school that first aired in May 2013, Diane Sawyer and ABC News producers followed the daily lives of the school’s students and faculty, including its then-new principal, during the 2012-2013 school year. ABC News then went back in September 2013 to follow Strawberry Mansion at the start of the new 2013-2014 school year for a second special that aired in December 2013.
Grammy award-winning hip-hop artist Drake was so moved by the ABC News specials, especially after learning that budget cuts had left the school without a music teacher, that he donated $75,000 to Strawberry Mansion for a new recording studio.
But even though members of Drake’s crew finished the studio last summer, Principal Linda Cliatt-Wayman told ABC News that budget issues and the school’s violent history made it hard to find a music instructor.
So the studio, which included new keyboards and other equipment, as well as sound booths, sat unused for months.
Finally, Ben Diamond arrived in February to take on the role as a part-time music teacher who would teach studio production, but even then, Wayman said student interest was low at first.
It wasn’t until she used the school’s PA system to broadcast the first student-produced song to come out of the new recording studio that Wayman said students became interested. Now 91 students have signed up for the studio production class, she said.
“Music has a way of bringing people together,” Wayman told ABC News via email. “That is what I want the music to do for my kids, bring them all together to find the special gifts that lay dormant inside of them. I want them to get distracted on their positive attributes to help them create within and around them. They all love music. That is the one thing they all have in common.
“For me, the opening of the studio is more than about music,” Wayman added. “It is about making and keeping a promise to students who are constantly disappointed, pleasing them, making them happy and getting them to see that they must finish what they start [and] work hard to bring dreams into reality.”
In addition to Drake, other ABC News viewers donated money to Strawberry Mansion after the 2013 specials aired. Their generosity helped provide school uniforms, jackets for the school’s first football team, warm-up suits for the basketball team, school trips, PSAT and ACT prep classes, as well as scholarships for seniors heading off to college. Viewer donations also helped provide basic necessities that were missing at Strawberry Mansion, including books, notebooks and calculators.
Dr. Dre tops Forbes list of highest-paid hip-hop acts with a total of $620 million earned this year. This is the most money ANY entertainer that has been evaluated by the magazine has earned in one calendar year.
What makes this even more incredible is that Dr. Dre alone made more than all 24 of the people combined on the 2014 list. Two second-place entries, both tied at $60 million, made 10% of what Andre “Dr. Dre” Young did. But, with that total, Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter and Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs won’t be cashing any unemployment checks any time soon.
Cash Money claims a large stake in the money game as well, with Drake in fourth place at $33 million, Birdman (Co-CEO of Cash Money) at No. 7 with $24 million, Lil Wayne a hair behind him with $23 million and Nicki Minaj, the only female artist on the list, at No. 11, with $14 million.