New York City police are investigating a nightclub brawl early Thursday that reportedly involved hip-hop stars Chris Brown and Drake and that left four people injured, according to an NYPD spokeswoman.
Police released no names, stating only that “four people sustained minor injuries, they were transported to area hospitals for treatment and the investigation is ongoing.” No arrests have been made. The Associated Press reported that neither Drake nor Brown was present when police arrived.
Speculation quickly arose that the blow-up may have involved Brown’s former girlfriend Rihanna, with whom Drake has been seen recently.
News reports say the skirmish involved Brown’s camp and Drake’s entourage and left Brown with a bloody lip. Brown reportedly tweeted a photo of his injury shortly after the incident, then removed it from his Twitter site. He also reportedly tweeted, then removed, a note chastising unnamed combatants for “throwing bottles like girls? #shameonya!”
TMZ’s website carried photos of a glass-strewn floor of the W.I.P. club in Greenwich Village after the fracas.
In 2009, Brown assaulted Rihanna shortly before both were scheduled to appear at the Grammy Awards ceremony. He was sentenced to five years' probation and 1,400 hours of “labor-oriented service” for the assault.
Rihanna grabbed more headlines earlier this year with the release of a duet with Brown, “Birthday Cake,” a sexually charged single that prompted considerable speculation that the couple had reunited.
Herb Reed of the Platters, who died Monday in Boston at age 83, was the last surviving original member of the great '50s R&B and doo-wop group known for its soaring operatic hits “The Great Pretender,” “Only You,” “Twilight Time,” “My Prayer” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.”
Reed’s glorious bass voice anchored the group’s sound, keeping the music rooted to the earth as tenor Tony Williams took those songs and dozens of others upward into the musical stratosphere.
To the casual pop music fan, it’s easy to lump the Platters with the Coasters, the Drifters, the Penguins, the Clovers and other early R&B and doo-wop groups of the '50s. That's partly because, for so many of these vocal groups, their identity began and ended with the name -- they weren't differentiated into superstar guitarists or drummers or even lead singers, but made their living by harmonizing together. Clyde McPhatter left the Drifters to chart a solo career that gave him an individual identity, but for the most part, it was the collective that fans knew and loved.
Reed and Williams first got together with tenor David Lynch, soprano Zola Taylor and baritone Paul Robi here in Los Angeles in the early '50s, and it's usually Williams’ voice that one heard first in their mix. But “My Prayer” provides a great example of what Reed contributed time and again.
After Williams sings the opening line, a cappella, “When the twilight is gone,” the other Platters answer and support him with an elongated “gone” in which Reed's oaky bass is not only heard but also palpably felt.
That's historically the role the bass voice serves in gospel, pop and classical music: It’s the soul, reaching to the deepest parts of the human heart.
It’s appropriate to reference classical music when discussing the Platters because their signature sound tapped much the same sweep and grandeur of great operatic arias.
The group’s manager, producer and sometimes songwriter Buck Ram, who had shepherded the career of the Ink Spots a decade earlier, had a great ear for what would appeal to more than just the African American listeners who still bought the majority of R&B records in the early '50s when the Platters came around.
Ram sweetened their records with strings, and he got the five singers to apply their vibrant harmonies to many songs that had previously been hits in the '20s, '30s and '40s, giving them an air of familiarity to a broad swath of music fans.
“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” had been a No. 1 hit in 1934 for the great bandleader Paul Whiteman, Glenn Miller had reached No. 2 with “My Prayer” in 1939, and “Twilight Time” had been a top 10 hit in 1944 for the Three Suns. Here's a video of the Platters' version of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes":
The Platters brought a new pulse and sensuality to the material, but also elegance and sophistication that were more transcendent and ethereal than the gritty sexuality of the likes of Ruth Brown and Etta James. The Platters created a blueprint for towering pop music that would later be exploited magnificently by Roy Orbison and Del Shannon and even can be heard in the sweeping pop-R&B balladry of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera.
Ringo Starr tipped his hat to the group with his version of “Only You” on his second post-Beatles solo album, “Goodnight Vienna,” in 1974.
Although the Platters suffered the fate of many '50s R&B groups over time with spurious versions of the act cropping up in far-flung lounges and casinos, Reed did his best to keep the Platters legacy intact, touring until last year, when health issues prompted him to retire.
This post has been corrected. Please see note at bottom for details.
After Maxwell released the critically acclaimed "BLACKsummers'night” in 2009 -- his first album in eight years -- he scooped up two Grammys and went on a mega-successful co-headlining tour with R&B songstress Jill Scott.
Then he disappeared again.
"BLACKsummers'night” was supposed to be the first of a trilogy of albums, so fans have been left waiting for new music since then. Now, the suave crooner is throwing himself back into the limelight with a limited engagement of two-night stands in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Newark, N.J., in which he'll be performing his entire discography.
The tour kicks off in L.A. at Staples Center on July 20.
On the first night in each city, Maxwell will perform “Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite” and its follow-up, “Embrya.” On the second night, he will perform “Now” and “BLACKsummers'night.” The singer will be backed by an 11-piece band.
Maxwell’s limited engagement will also have a political angle, as custom Obama-Biden 2012 merchandise will be available at select stops of the tour. All proceeds will go toward President Obama’s re-election campaign.
Tickets for the L.A. dates go on sale April 28 at 10 a.m., with a presale set for Friday.
[For the Record,1:45 p.m. April 17: Live Nation have annouced the tour itenary released earlier was incorrect. The tour kicks off in L.A. on July 20, and not June 20 as announced this morning. The new dates are listed below. Ticket sale information is the same.]
With Burger King undergoing a massive makeover that includes new décor, delivery options (?!) and health-conscious menu offerings such as garden salads, snack wraps and real fruit smoothies, the burger house needed a little bit of star power to get folks to take notice.
For one of BK's new ads, the chain tapped R&B diva Mary J. Blige to peddle its new chicken snack wraps — through song, naturally. To the tune of Blige’s “Don’t Mind,” from her latest disc, "My Life II ... The Journey Continues (Act 1)," she belts lyrics promoting the wrap’s “crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses, ranch dressing, wrapped up in a tasty flour tortilla.”
The jingle isn’t nearly as catchy as McDonald’s iconic Big Mac jingle and just might be so cringe-worthy that it could land Blige on lists of the most embarrassing celebrity commercials of all time. But she will be in good company: the chain also recruited David Beckham, Jay Leno and Steven Tyler, and actresses Salma Hayek and Sofia Vergara for Spanish-market ads.
Maybe knowing that music bloggers would use a slow news day like this to riff on the ad, Burger King disabled embedding. But you can check out the ad here.
For those who keep score in the fast food wars, the Florida-based Burger King was bumped out of second place last month by Wendy's, according to our Money & Co. blog. That’s even after the company dethroned its creepy monarch mascot. The makeover happening now is Burger King’s most ambitious marketing initiative in its 58 years.
Grammy-winning R&B crooner El DeBarge was arrested in Encino on suspicion of drug possession with intent to sell, LAPD officials told our sister blog L.A. Now on Wednesday.
According to reports, undercover narcotics officers were conducting an investigation near the 101 Freeway on Monday when they spotted the singer and another male acting suspiciously. Officers recovered narcotics from an area where DeBarge had been, and the singer was booked on suspicion of possession of drugs for sale.
The arrest is a major blow to DeBarge, who had tried desperately to clean up his act. In the last year and a half he had showed the true power of public redemption with a high-profile comeback -- 2010’s Grammy-nominated, “Second Chance,” his first album in nearly two decades.
In the nearly nine years since Ruben Studdard beat out Clay Aiken for the “American Idol” title on the show's second season, his career has mostly avoided the seeming “Idol” curse that has plagued some of the show’s biggest voices.
The charming singer -- whose Luther Vandross-inflected vocals and cuddly size earned him the moniker of the "Velvet Teddy Bear" -- has steadily released a slew of gold- and platinum-selling discs and dabbled in acting, starring in the musicals "Ain't Misbehavin'" and “Heaven I Need a Hug.”
The 33-year-old hasn’t been immune to the pitfalls of fame itself, however, with his personal life garnering more than its fair share of ink. In November, he filed for divorce from his wife of three years, he’s shifted labels a few times, and at the moment his alleged troubles with the IRS have received more press coverage than his new album. Despite the scuffs, Studdard remains the same affable and humble Alabama-bred boy who used his gospel-rooted baritone to charm 24 million Americans into crowning him the “Idol” champ back in 2003.
The singer has chronicled the ups and downs of his not-so-private life on his fifth album, "Letters from Birmingham," which was released on Tuesday. The revealing disc serves as his debut for indie imprint Shanachie Records.
Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Studdard takes the concept record approach by tracing a whirlwind relationship from its early beginnings of courtship, marriage and its eventual dissolution -- interspersing spoken-word love letters in between.
“Birmingham,” though largely grounded in 1970s and '80s soul balladry and up-tempo R&B, offers a few surprises including a deft cover of Bobby Brown’s “Rock Wit’cha.” On Studdard's divorce anthem, “June 28th (I'm Single)” -– the title pulled from his wedding date -- he reinterprets the “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” standard “Pure Imagination,” effortlessly transforming it into a quiet storm bedroom romp.
Studdard spoke with Pop & Hiss about getting personal (on record) and longevity long after “Idol.”
Brandy and Monica team for new duet "It All Belongs to Me” nearly 14 years after their Grammy Award-winning chart-topper “The Boy Is Mine.”
Nearly 14 years after the success of their chart-topping duet “The Boy Is Mine,” R&B divas Brandy and Monica have reunited for another duet that is set to appear on their upcoming albums.
Fans of the two have been calling for a follow-up for years and speculation of an impending reunion was fueled when Brandy inked a new deal with RCA Records, making the two longtime friends label-mates. But a series of tweets featuring photos of them in the studio alongside hit songwriter-producer Rico Love (Kelly Rowland, Mary J. Blige, Usher, Beyonce, Chris Brown) set their fans abuzz last week.
The new single, "It All Belongs to Me,” will debut Feb. 6, their label announced Tuesday. The track, written and produced by Love, will appear on Monica's upcoming disc, “New Life,” set for release March 6, and Brandy's yet-to-be titled RCA debut album, which the singer said will hit stores in the spring.
Early on in Common's "The Dreamer/The Believer," the Chicago-bred rapper goes after those he believes are "too soft" on "Sweet," targeting those he sees as putting too much of an emphasis on singing rather than rapping. Yet two tracks later, Common goes all "808s & Heartbreak" himself with "Lovin' I Lost," a Curtis Mayfield-referencing slow-jam.
"Is this our new forever?" Common asks throughout the track, wondering whether he'll be permanently alone. If Common doesn't quite sing on the dusty, soul-inspired song, he does get awfully reflective. As he reminisces about a dead relationship, he asks, "How could someone you could talk to, each and every day, that you about to marry, be on their merry way?"
"That song is like a blues song," Common said when asked about the track earlier this month. The song was one of the last written for "The Dreamer/The Believer," and Common admitted he bared his soul for it.
“Look at me, I sing soul music and I look like this,” Allen Stone jokes early on in our conversation. He’s the first to make light about his appearance and how deceiving it is for those used to one particular mold of soul crooners.
Instead of slick tailored suits and perfectly coiffed hair, Stone’s long curly blond hair, thick-rimmed eyeglasses and homely attire have some publications remarking that he is a “crunchy white guy.” But Stone’s dress-for-comfort approach hardly diminishes his unique brand of soul.
The 24-year-old singer-songwriter from tiny Chewelah, Wash., is generating buzz with his self-released eponymous sophomore album, which came out in October, and his late-night television debut on “Conan.”
Jazmine Bailey doesn’t have her sights set on conquering the Los Angeles indie music scene, despite being a native. The R&B singer-songwriter, who goes by Jazzy, is actually feeling the itch to escape.
“A lot of people I talk to say, 'Don’t leave, you’re in the heart of it all.' But I think New York is a better market for shows. Every show that I’ve done [recently], there hasn’t been one in L.A.,” she says while lounging inside a bohemian-chic-decorated recording studio in North Hollywood. “I’ve done Philly, Baltimore, New York, Boston. It’s more for that independent grind.”
Previously signed to Jamie Foxx’s Foxx/King Entertainment and well-regarded locally as one-half of songwriting team the Write Chix (with longtime collaborator Bobbie-Cheri Gobert), the 25-year-old Bailey started working L.A.’s indie R&B scene with her first self-released project, “Oh Jazzy” in 2005.
She then went on the road as Melanie Fiona’s backup vocalist during the European leg of Kanye West’s Glow in the Dark tour and continued collaborating with Gobert before releasing last year’s “Beauty and the Beat.”