Jazz great George Duke died Monday in Los Angeles at age 67. He had been battling chronic lymphocytic leukemia, according to his label Concord Music Group, which also confirmed his passing.
Jennifer Lopez attacked for singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Turkmenistan leader Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow (gur-BAHN-goo-lee bair-dee-mukh-ha-MAY-doff), who has been criticized for his oppressive rule. The singer’s publicist issued a statement saying if she had known there were human rights issues in his country, she wouldn’t have performed at all.
The publicist’s statement also said her performance was for the China National Petroleum Corp. and it wasn’t a political event. The event was reportedly vetted by Jennifer Lopez’s representatives. That begs the question, were her representatives given a list of attendees, since they are maintaining that the request to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Berdimuhamedow was at the last minute?
Singer Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, best known for hits such as “Turn on Your Love Light” and “Further on up the Road,” died Sunday at age 83. Bland’s son Rodd said his father died at about 5:30 p.m. Sunday at his Memphis home. He reportedly died from complications from an ongoing illness.
Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. RIP Mr. Bland!
Our deepest condolences go out to Hip-Hop musician Andree 3000 over the death of his mother, Sharon Benjamin-Hodo. Billboard reports the cause of death has not been confirmed, but it is believed Mrs. Benjamin-Hodo, 62, died of natural causes.
Sharon Benjamin-Hodo was a regular fixture in metro-Atlanta. She started the Starlight Camp for underprivileged children.
She was found dead in her Atlanta home on the same day as Andre 3000’s 38th birthday. Andre 3000, whose real name is Andre Benjamin is one half of the group Outkast and had hit song “He Ya.”
Jennifer Lopez, also known as J. Lo, is under fire in the UK after a raunchy performance on “Britain’s Got Talent.” Dressed in thigh-high boots and a skintight bodysuit, JLo performed her hit single “Live It Up” but the performance didn’t sit well with some viewers.
The UK equivalent of the FCC, Ofcom, confirmed to E! News it has “received complaints, which we are currently assessing but not investigating at the moment.”
“If we consider the potential that the broadcasting code wasn’t abided by, there is potential we would investigate,” a spokesman for the organization said. “But it’s too early to speculate.”
As much I admire J. Lo for her longevity in the business, at some point she should realize that raunchiness is so unbecoming of a lady.
Singer Miguel hurt a female fan, Khyati, during Sunday night’s Billboard Music Awards when he attempted to jump from the stage to the catwalk. Um, that didn’t go as planned. He landed into the back of a female fan’s head, genitals and all, slamming her face onto the stage.
got caught up in the moment, thank goodness Khyati is okay
— Miguel (@MiguelUnlimited) May 20, 2013
Jay-Z is hitting back at the critics, specifically the Republicans, who questioned his and Beyonce’s trip to Cuba, in a new rap track, mocking their anger. Florida Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, as well as Sen. Marco Rubio, have been attacking the couple and the Obama Administration over the trip, claiming it violated U.S. sanctions against Cuba.
“I done turned Havana into Atlanta,” Jay-Z raps in “Open Letter,” which he released Thursday. “[…] Boy from the hood, I got White House clearance… Politicians never did s—- for me except lie to me, distort history… They wanna give me jail time and a fine. Fine, let me commit a real crime.”
He later raps: “Hear the freedom in my speech… Obama said, ‘Chill you gonna get me impeached. You don’t need this s—- anyway, chill with me on the beach.’”
“I’m in Cuba, I love Cubans. This communist talk is so confusing,” Jay-Z raps on the track, which is produced by Timbaland and Swizz Beatz and goes on to reference the Bob Dylan song “Idiot Wind.” “[…] ‘Idiot Wind,’ the Bob Dylan of rap music. You’re an idiot, baby, you should’ve become a student. Oh, you gonna learn today.” Source
Personally, I don’t care about Jay-Z and Beyonce going to Cuba, but the right wing freak-out highlights their hypocrisy. I can’t recall hearing a similar freak-out over people going to China. Still, Jay-Z is thumbing his nose at his critics over the trip, but why bring President Obama into this dogfight? It’s childish.
White House press secretary Jay Carney dissed Jay-Z, saying:
JAY CARNEY: I guess nothing rhymes with Treasury, because Treasury offers and gives licenses for travel, as you know, and the White House has nothing to do with it.
SLACK: So are you saying that he did not, the president, did not have a conversation with Jay-Z?
JAY CARNEY: I am absolutely saying that the White House, from the president on down, had nothing to do with anybody’s personal — anybody’s travel to Cuba. That is something that Treasury handles.
… it’s a song, Donovan. The president did not communicate with Jay-Z over this trip.
Republican lawmakers Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart are calling for an investigation into Jay-Z and Beyonce’s trip to Cuba. Ros-Lehtinen wrote in a letter to Adam Szubi, director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, saying “despite the clear prohibition against tourism in Cuba, numerous press reports described the couple’s trip as tourism and the Castro regime touted it as such in its propaganda.”
The letter also said, “The restrictions on tourism travel are common-sense measures meant to prevent U.S. dollars from supporting a murderous regime that opposes U.S. security interests at every turn and which ruthlessly suppresses the most basic liberties of speech, assembly, and belief.” Adding, “We support the Cuban people by refusing to sustain their jailers.” The letter also noted that Jay-Z and Beyonce connected with “a community of many who have been deeply and personally harmed by the Castro regime’s atrocities, including former political prisoners and the families of murdered innocents.”
Cuban-Americans aren’t too pleased with the Carters for their five-year wedding anniversary trip to the communist country either. Jay-Z and Beyonce proved they are oblivious or ignorant to the racism being endured by many in Cuba. They partied and enjoyed the best Havana had to give them, while ignoring the repressive regime’s record on human rights. It’s curious and troubling at the same time that they could ignore the fact that blacks are treated as second class citizens in Cuba. This should be a flashback to the scourge of racism in this country, but money talks, right? On the flip side, thousands of Americans visit China every year and I don’t hear the outrage from the right wing. In fact, we are up to our necks in debt to a Communist country, so go figure.
The hitch to their trip is that though the Obama Administration lifter some of the restrictions on travel to Cuba, a “people-to-people” travel program specifically requires a strict itinerary for vacationers: “Each traveler must have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba.” Gee, I wonder how Beyonce and Jay-Z plan on explaining all this? Um, now would be a good time for Beyonce to put on her “Can I live” T-shirt. Seems like Beyonce is becoming a real thorn in President Obama’s side. First she lip-synced the national anthem at his inauguration and now the blowback from their Cuban vacation. Wonder how they got permission to visit Havana?
Here’s the letter formally challenging Jay-Z and Beyonce’s trip to Cuba in its entirety:
The Honorable Adam J. Szubin
Office of Foreign Assets Control
Department of Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220
Dear Director Szubin:
We write to express concern and to request information regarding the highly publicized trip by U.S. musicians Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (Beyoncé) and Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) to Cuba. We would like to respectfully request, within all applicable rules and guidelines, information regarding the type of license that Beyoncé and Jay-Z received, for what purpose, and who approved such travel.
As you know, U.S. law expressly prohibits the licensing of financial transactions for “tourist activities” in Cuba (Section 910(b)(1) of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act). If these individuals were given people-to-people licenses, we would like to bring to your attention the Cuba Travel Advisory issued by OFAC on July 25, 2011 which states, “OFAC only licenses People-to-People Groups that certify that all participants will have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba.” These restrictions are in place because the Cuban dictatorship is one of four U.S.-designated state sponsors of terrorism with one of the world’s most egregious human rights records. Cuba’s tourism industry is wholly state-controlled; therefore, U.S. dollars spent on Cuban tourism directly fund the machinery of oppression that brutally represses the Cuban people.
Despite the clear prohibition against tourism in Cuba, numerous press reports described the couple’s trip as tourism, and the Castro regime touted it as such in its propaganda. We represent a community of many who have been deeply and personally harmed by the Castro regime’s atrocities, including former political prisoners and the families of murdered innocents. The restrictions on tourism travel are common-sense measures meant to prevent U.S. dollars from supporting a murderous regime that opposes U.S. security interests at every turn and which ruthlessly suppresses the most basic liberties of speech, assembly, and belief. We support the Cuban people by refusing to sustain their jailers.
Thank you very much for your assistance in this important matter and look forward to your response.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Mario Diaz-Balart
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Watch footage of Jay-Z and Beyonce’s trip to Cuba:
RIP Harry J: 1970s top reggae producer Harry Johnson died Wednesday at the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital in Westmoreland, Jamaica, from complications to diabetes. He was 68.
Johnson, popularly known as Harry J, launched his record label Harry J label in 1966 and had several big hits including, “Young, Gifted and Black,” sang by Bob Andy and Marcia Griffiths.
“The Liquidator,” by the Harry J All Stars was another of his hits. The opening guitar riff was the inspiration behind the Staples Singers’ hit “I’ll Take You There.” Harry Johnson also produced Lorna Bennett’s “Breakfast in Bed.”
Bob Marley and the Wailers recorded their first four Island Records studio albums at the Harry J studios in Kingston. Harry Johnson is survived by his four children and three grandchildren.
As a top reggae producer Harry Johnson left an imprint on reggae music as we know it today. He was a pioneer in his own rights. Rest in peace!
Lorna Bennett’s ‘Breakfast in Bed:”