The World’s 20 Top-Earning Hip-Hop Stars (Full List)

Kanye West becomes No. 1 earner for the first time in his career.JAMES DEVANEY/GC IMAGES, NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP/GETTY IMAGES, JOHN PHILLIPS/GETTY IMAGES, JENNIFER GRAYLOCK/GETTY IMAGES, TAYLOR HILL/WIREIMAGE. DESIGN: NICK DESANTIS/FORBES

 

For the first time in his life, American rapper and fashion designer, Kanye West has been named the highest-paid hip-hop act in the world.

According to the latest Forbes World’s 20 Top-Earning Hip-Hop Stars List, Kanye who is also a designer earned 50 million dollars in a year.

Kanye pushed down the ladder, Mogul JAY-Z who earned 81 million dollars and Drake who made 71 million dollars, leaving them in second and third place respectively.

In recent years the top spot have been coveted by JAY-Z who in 2007 got an ode from Kanye when the rapper released a song called “Big Brother”.

Those who made the top ten include Eminem, DJ Khaled, Kendrick Lamar, Migos, and Childish Gambino. The only female artists who made it into the top 20 are Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, who came in at number 12 and 13 slots respectively.

Nicki Minaj made 29 million dollars earnings, and Cardi B, the youngest to make the list at 26, raked in 28 million dollars in earnings.

READ ALSO: Tubaba Celebrates His Birthday With Big Brother Housemates

Below is the Full List of the World’s 20 Top-Earning Hip-Hop Stars

20. Pitbull ($18 million)

19. Wiz Khalifa ($18.5 million)

18. Nas ($19 million)

17. Future ($19.5 million)

16. Birdman ($20 million)

15. Meek Mill ($21 million)

14. Swizz Beatz ($23 million)

13. Cardi B ($28 million)

12. Nicki Minaj ($29 million)

11. J. Cole ($31 million)

10. Childish Gambino ($35 million)

9. Migos ($36 million)

8. Kendrick Lamar ($38.5 million)

7. DJ Khaled ($40 million)

6. Eminem ($50 million)

5. Travis Scott ($58 million)

4. Diddy ($70 million)

3. Drake ($75 million)

2. Jay-Z ($81 million)

1. Kanye West ($150 million)

Jay-Z, John Fogerty Drop Out Of Embattled Woodstock 50 Fest

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 12, 2017 Jay-Z performs in concert on the first day of week two of the Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park on October 13, 2017 in Austin, Texas.
SUZANNE CORDEIRO / AFP

 

Rap mogul Jay-Z has pulled out of an August bash commemorating Woodstock’s 50th anniversary, a source said Friday, the latest blow to hit organizers after months of setbacks.

Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity a source close to the matter said Jay-Z, arguably the top act, would no longer bring down the curtain on the festival that reportedly will now be held in Maryland on a smaller scale, instead of upstate New York where the 1969 blow-out took place.

Rocker John Fogerty — who played the original weekend of peace, love and music with his band Creedence Clearwater Revival — said he would be returning there to mark the anniversary but would not perform at the Maryland commemoration.

This is despite his having appeared alongside promoter Michael Lang in March to announce the Woodstock 50 line-up, where he was featured.

“John Fogerty knows where he will be for the anniversary weekend of Woodstock. At only one site… At the original one — the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts,” the artist’s team said in a statement obtained by AFP.

The August 16-18 Bethel Woods celebration — marking the original festival that saw hundreds of thousands descend on a dairy farm to see Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and other icons in the pouring rain — will feature sets from Ringo Starr, Santana and Fogerty.

Just weeks after Lang — who was behind the original weekend — unveiled the Woodstock 50 line-up, the festival’s lead financier announced its cancellation, citing production difficulties.

Festival organizers insisted the show would go on, but hit hurdle after hurdle, including the withdrawal of the planned venue at Watkins Glen, New York. The artists’ contracts were linked to that original venue.

Other towns in upstate New York denied permit applications for the event, until Thursday when The New York Times and Bloomberg reported that the fest, also slated for August 16-18, would be held at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland.

Organizers have not responded to AFP requests for comment regarding the new location, which has a capacity of just 19,000, a far cry from the 100,000 people Woodstock 50 had once anticipated to descend over the three-day weekend.

Rapper Jay-Z Joins Cannabis Business

Hip Hop Rapper Jay-Z and Beyonce

 

Rapper Jay-Z has become the latest celebrity to enter the weed business, signing on to be the chief brand strategist for a California-based cannabis company.

The rapper said he reached out to the company Caliva after a wide search for a suitable partner in the booming industry.

“Anything I do, I want to do correctly and at the highest level,” he said in a statement posted on Caliva’s website. “With all the potential in the cannabis industry, Caliva’s expertise and ethos make them the best partners for this endeavor.

“We want to create something amazing, have fun in the process, do good and bring people along the way.”

READ ALSO: Cancellation Of Nicki Minaj’s Saudi Concert Stirs Online Outcry

Caliva said as chief strategist, Jay-Z would help the company with its creative decisions as well as outreach efforts and strategy for the brand.

He will also focus on efforts to increase the participation in the legal cannabis business of people who have served time in prison and have been shut out of the fast-growing sector.

“Together, we hope to shape the conversation surrounding cannabis, foster equality and fairness in the development of the industry, promote awareness for the many uses and benefits of cannabis and empower consumers to feel free to use cannabis how, when, and where they want,” Caliva said in a statement.

The 49-year-old rapper, born Shawn Carter and married to popstar Beyonce, is the latest celebrity to get into the cannabis business which is spreading fast in the United States as more and more states legalize it for recreational purposes.

Rapper Snoop Dogg has established his own brand of marijuana and actress Whoopi Goldberg launched a line of medical marijuana products for women in 2016.

Jay-Z, who grew up in one of Brooklyn’s most notorious housing projects, was recently named by Forbes magazine as hip hop’s first billionaire thanks to investments in champagne, cognac, the ride-sharing service Uber and his Roc Nation entertainment company.

AFP

Jay-Z To Headline Woodstock’s 50th Anniversary Festival

Jay-Z performs in concert on the first day of week two of the Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park on October 13, 2017 in Austin, Texas. SUZANNE CORDEIRO / AFP

 

Contemporary heavyweights including Jay-Z and Chance the Rapper will headline this year’s Woodstock festival marking the 50th anniversary of the legendary concert weekend, organizers announced Tuesday.

Veteran acts that played the 1969 festival in upstate New York — considered a definitive moment in pop culture history — are also on the lineup set for August 16-18, including Santana, John Fogerty, Country Joe McDonald and Canned Heat.

The 2019 edition of peace, love and music will span the genres, in a bid to appeal to fans of the original weekend — where icons including Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin jammed in the pouring rain — as well as today’s young concert-goers.

Michael Lang — a promoter who co-created the 1969 show — had promised an “eclectic bill,” telling Rolling Stone that Woodstock 50 aimed to be “multi-generational.”

READ ALSO: Koffi Olomide Handed Suspended Sentence For Raping 15-Year-Old Girl

This three-day event to be held in Watkins Glen, New York is separate from one slated for the same weekend at the first festival’s site, about 115 miles (185 kilometers) away.

With a lineup that includes everything from hip hop to country with more than 80 artists, Woodstock 50 lives up to vows of widespread appeal, featuring a diverse billing of artists including rapper Common, rockers The Black Keys, pop futurist Janelle Monae and folk-rock troubadour Brandi Carlile.

“See ya in Aug! Performing on Friday, so I have all weekend to party!” tweeted pop star Miley Cyrus.

The 73-year-old Fogerty, frontman of the legendary rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival, also tweeted his delight: “Come join me on my 50 Year Trip at Woodstock 50!”

“I was there 50 years ago in 1969 and I’m back to celebrate 3 days of Peace, Love, & Music.”

AFP

Jay-Z’s Lawyer Takes On Immigration Case Of Rapper 21 Savage

Rapper 21 Savage performs on stage during Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest / EA SPORTS BOWL at State Farm Arena on January 31, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

A lawyer who has represented rap mogul Jay-Z is defending 21 Savage, the young rapper facing deportation after US immigration agents arrested him on the grounds he is stateside illegally.

The 26-year old chart-topper — real name Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph — was detained in the southern city of Atlanta over the weekend by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents who said the British citizen’s visa expired in 2006.

New York lawyer Alex Spiro, who has represented a number of entertainment figures, took on the case at Jay-Z’s request.

The attorney told AFP that the Grammy-nominated 21 Savage was incarcerated in a detention centre near Atlanta and called for his release on bail.

Spiro said 21 Savage had a pending visa application that is backlogged but would secure the artist’s immigration status.

READ ALSO: 21 Savage Faces Deportation After Shock Arrest

“The arrest and detention of 21 Savage is an absolute travesty, his U visa petition has been pending for 4 years,” Jay-Z posted on Facebook.

The U visa is for victims of crimes who have faced mental or physical abuse. His team earlier had said it was filed due to his experience as a “victim of a deadly shooting in 2013.”

ICE has said the artist was convicted of felony drug charges in October 2014 — but Spiro said it was a marijuana conviction that was vacated.

The rapper’s legal team said earlier that he arrived in the US at age seven, staying there continually for almost 20 years except for a brief trip to Britain in 2005.

The statement said 21 Savage — long considered a local act from Atlanta, the capital of hip hop — arrived in the country at age seven and had been in the US continually for almost 20 years, save for a brief trip to Britain in 2005.

He has three children who are American citizens, which his lawyers say make him eligible for deportation relief.

“In addition to being a successful recording artist, 21 deserves to be reunited with his children immediately,” Jay-Z said.

AFP

Rappers Meek Mill And Jay-Z Launch Criminal Justice Group

 

Rappers Jay-Z and Meek Mill announced Wednesday they are launching a new criminal justice reform organization aimed at “dramatically” reducing the number of people in the US prison system.

The group’s creation comes less than a year after Mill, 31, was released from jail after his harsh sentence for a parole violation sparked protests against racial biases in US probation laws.

REFORM Alliance is putting an initial $50 million toward “disabling the revolving door of probation and parole,” by “changing the laws, policies, and practices that perpetuate injustice,” according to its mission statement.

Along with Mill and Jay-Z, founding partners of the group include CNN commentator and justice advocate Van Jones, who will serve as the organization’s CEO.

The owner of the National Football League’s New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, along with National Basketball Association team co-owners Clara Wu Tsai (Brooklyn Nets) and Michael Rubin (Philadelphia 76ers) have also put their weight behind the cause.

“I’m here to speak for all the people who don’t have a voice,” said Mill, who was born Robert Rihmeek Williams and raised in North Philadelphia, an area notorious for drug violence, by a single mother after his father was killed.

Well before he ascended to rap stardom Mill was jailed on drug and possession charges in 2008 — and re-imprisoned in 2017 after a Philadelphia judge handed down a term of two to four years for a parole violation.

His incarceration triggered a public outcry, and Mill’s case became a flashpoint in the national conversation over the US criminal justice system’s treatment of black people.

His celebrity backers included activist and football player Colin Kaepernick and Jay-Z, who penned an op-ed in The New York Times on his fellow rapper’s behalf.

“Being from the environment I’m from, I don’t even think it’s possible for you to be an angel,” Mill said at the unveiling of REFORM. “You grow up around murder on a daily basis, you grow up in drug-infested neighborhoods on a daily basis.”

“I got caught up in the system, and every time I started to further my life with the music industry,” he said, “every year or two there was always something that brought me back to ground zero.”

REFORM’s current goal is to free one million people from the system in the next five years, with an initial focus on parole and probation.

There are some 6.6 million people in the US criminal justice system, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics — 4.5 million of them on parole or probation

Beyonce To Lead South Africa Anti-Poverty Festival For Mandela

FILE PHOTO: Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Field. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES / AFP

 

Beyonce and Jay-Z will lead an A-list lineup to mark 100 years since Nelson Mandela’s birth in a Johannesburg festival by the Global Citizen movement to eradicate poverty.

The December 2 event, which will be internationally broadcast, will celebrate the late anti-apartheid icon and draw a number of leaders in an attempt to throw a spotlight on fledging efforts to eradicate the world’s worst poverty, Global Citizen announced Monday.

Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z will headline the music at the FNB Stadium alongside several other stars: Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder, hit pop producer Pharrell Williams and R&B chart-topper Usher.

The festival will also feature some of the continent’s most popular musicians including South African hip-hop producer Cassper Nyovest and Nigerian artists Wizkid, D’banj and Femi Kuti, who is the son of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti.

Global Citizen said it hoped that the run-up to the festival would raise commitments of $1 billion to help the world’s poorest, with half of the amount aimed at women and girls.

Global Citizen has held festivals since 2012 in New York’s Central Park on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly to rally support, especially among young people, in the fight against poverty. The group has since branched out overseas with seminars and music in India, Germany and elsewhere.

Hugh Evans, the founder and CEO of the movement, said he expected the Johannesburg festival to be the biggest Global Citizen festival ever in terms of reach, symbolism and lineup.

“On every way that we measure outcomes — the number of citizens engaged, the number of policy outcomes that are achieved, the number of lives that are affected as a result of those policy outcomes — we believe it has the potential to be the most significant campaign we’ve ever been part of,” Evans told AFP.

Unlike traditional benefit concerts, Global Citizen distributes tickets for free to supporters who pledge to take actions such as writing their governments to support international development assistance.

For the Johannesburg edition, Global Citizen will also hand out tickets to people who are taking direct action for good including community health workers who conduct HIV tests or who instruct mothers on child nutrition as well as teachers and South Africans who recycle plastics.

Mandela as inspiration

Evans said that Mandela offered a model for the Global Citizen movement through his magnanimous efforts at racial reconciliation and democracy as well as through his focus on tackling poverty and global health.

Beyonce previously performed in South Africa in 2003 at a concert hosted by Mandela to raise awareness on HIV and AIDS. Two years later Mandela delivered a landmark speech in London’s Trafalgar Square urging concerted efforts to “make poverty history.”

But Evans said that the world was falling behind on the UN Sustainable Development Goals which include ending hunger and ensuring educational opportunities to all children, regardless of gender, by 2030.

While Britain, Germany and Nordic countries are meeting the UN-backed goal of devoting 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product to international aid, other major countries are lagging behind.

In the United States, President Donald Trump has called for slashing foreign assistance by one-third, although Congress has largely resisted his “America First” push on aid.

“The truth is the world is not on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals unless there is greater political will,” Evans said.

Global Citizen said that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, as well as the leaders of Norway and Ghana, plan to attend the December 2 festival in honour of Mandela, who was born on July 18, 1918.

AFP

Beyonce, Jay-Z Celebrate Marriage, Black Identity In Surprise Album

FILE PHOTO: Beyonce (L) and Jay-Z introduce Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during a Get Out the Vote (GOTV) performance in support of her at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio. PHOTO: Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

Music’s most famous couple Beyonce and Jay-Z pulled a surprise by releasing a joint album, a long-rumoured collaboration that celebrates their marital passion and black identity.

The pop diva and hip-hop superstar announced the album, “Everything is Love,” from the stage in London as they wrapped up the British leg that opened a global tour.

The album came out late Saturday exclusively on Jay-Z’s fledgeling Tidal streaming service and is not available on Spotify — a far larger platform, which Beyonce disses on the album in a string of F-bombs.

The couple also put out an elaborately choreographed video that takes place inside the Louvre museum in Paris for a song off the album, “Apeshit.”

The video opens with the couple standing regally in front of the “Mona Lisa” — Jay-Z in a light green double-breasted suit, Beyonce in a lavender pantsuit — and features a squad of scantily clad dancers moving sensually in front of Jacques Louis David’s “The Coronation of Napoleon.”

Driven by warm, sultry soul with a largely hip-hop cadence, “Everything is Love” marries the styles of the two artists but is more consistent with the recent direction of Jay-Z.

The album shatters any lingering innocence from the early days of Beyonce, with the singer of “Say My Name” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” generous in the details of her sex life with Jay-Z.

An even more public marriage

The two stars have recorded together previously, notably on the Beyonce-led single “Drunk in Love,” but the album comes after an especially public window into their marriage.

Beyonce on her last solo album “Lemonade” in 2016 revealed infidelity on the part of Jay-Z, who a year later asked forgiveness on his own album “4:44.”

This year, as the title of “Everything is Love” implies, their relationship is apparently swelling. On her very first lyrics, Beyonce beckons to her husband, “Let’s make love in the summertime.”

On the final track, the joyously brassy “Lovehappy,” the two acknowledge past pain but also their efforts to reconcile.

“We’re flawed / But we’re still perfect for each other,” Beyonce sings.

As two of the most prominent African Americans in pop culture, Jay-Z and Beyonce have played increasingly visible political roles, from campaigning for former president Barack Obama to championing the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Everything is Love” offers a paean to African American identity in “Black Effect,” which opens in Beyonce fashion with a monologue about self-love before a haunting soul sample.

Jay-Z on the song name-checks Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old African American shot dead in 2012 by a neighbourhood watchman in a Florida gated community, and raps, in a twist on performers’ rote calls for crowd gesticulation, “Get your hands up high like a false arrest.”

Saying no to Super Bowl

Elsewhere on the album, Jay-Z appears to confirm a report that he turned down an offer by the National Football League to perform at this year’s Super Bowl, the most-watched event on US television, with Justin Timberlake, ultimately playing American football’s title match.

Jay-Z is an outspoken supporter of Colin Kaepernick, the now-unemployed quarterback whose kneeling protest against racial injustice during the national anthem has triggered angry denunciations by President Donald Trump.

“I said no to the Super Bowl / You need me, I don’t need you,” Jay-Z raps.

“Every night we in the endzone / Tell the NFL we in stadiums, too,” he raps, likely referring to the racial dynamics in American football where almost entirely white owners employ mostly African American players.

The rapper, also known by the nickname Hov, takes aim more directly at Trump on “Salud!”, a song with Beyonce that inexplicably did not make the nine-track album but was released simultaneously.

Making no apologies for his success, Jay-Z raps, “Your president tweeting about Hov like he knows us / My road to the top was to take what you owe us.

AFP

Judge Orders Jay-Z To Testify In Rocawear Brand Investigation

In this file photo taken on September 15, 2017, JAY-Z performs onstage during the Meadows Music And Arts Festival – Day 1 at Citi Field in New York City. PHOTO: Nicholas Hunt / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

A US judge has ordered hip-hop megastar Jay-Z to testify in an investigation into the sale of his Rocawear apparel brand after he repeatedly refused to show up for questioning.

US market regulators are investigating possible securities law violations by the Iconix Brand Group, which markets apparel brands including Joe Boxer and London Fog.

Iconix paid Jay-Z more than $200 million for Rocawear assets. But in March 2016, the company announced a $169 million write-down of Rocawear, followed by a $34 million write-down this March, the Securities and Exchange Commission said.

Paul Gardephe, a federal judge in Manhattan, signed a written order requiring Jay-Z, real name Shawn Carter, to appear for testimony on May 15 at 9:00 am at a mutually agreed location.

“The court expects the parties to proceed in good faith, and that all reasonable efforts will be made to complete respondent’s testimony in a single day,” Gardephe said in the written order, dated Tuesday.

The SEC asked a federal judge to intervene last week, saying the repeat Grammy winner should be compelled to testify in the investigation after he ignored subpoenas in November and again in February after he hired new lawyers.

In a statement issued through Jay-Z’s attorneys last week, a representative said the star “had no role” in Iconix’s actions as a public company, and was “a private citizen who should not be involved in this matter.”

The SEC says it is seeking Jay-Z’s testimony about his joint ventures with Iconix among other matters. There is no indication he has violated securities laws.

AFP

Grammys Vow To Tackle Gender Bias Amid Resignation Calls

Recording artists Beyonce, Jay Z and daughter Blue Ivy Carter attend the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City. PHOTO:
Christopher Polk / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

The chief of the body that hands out the Grammys vowed Thursday to do more to tackle gender bias as he faced calls to resign over his contentious explanation on why more women weren’t winning.

The Recording Academy, which is comprised of 13,000 music professionals who vote on the industry’s most prestigious prizes, said it was setting up an independent task force to address gender issues.

The task force will “review every aspect of what we do as an organization and identify where we can do more to overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community,” the Academy’s president and CEO, Neil Portnow, said in a statement.

“We will also place ourselves under a microscope and tackle whatever truths are revealed,” he said.

Portnow, a music producer and label executive who has headed the Recording Academy since 2002, caused a furor on Sunday in a customary press appearance at the close of the awards.

Portnow said that the music industry needed to show a “welcome mat” to women and increase mentorship to new professionals — and he raised eyebrows as he explained how female artists could win more awards.

“I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and their souls who want to be musicians… to step up, because I think they would be welcome,” Portnow told reporters at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

‘Time’s up’

Pop singers Katy Perry and P!nk were among the prominent women who took Portnow to task for his remarks.

Just as Portnow was announcing the task force, nearly two dozen women executives in music called on him to resign.

Using the language of the growing movement against gender discrimination and harassment, they wrote in their open letter, “Time’s up, Neil.”
His remarks at the Grammys “do not constitute recognition of women’s achievements, but rather a call for men to take action to ‘welcome’ women,” they wrote.

“We do not await your welcome into the fraternity. We do not have to sing louder, jump higher or be nicer to prove ourselves.”

Signatories included Carla Sacks, the founder of the prominent public relations firm Sacks and Co., and pop star Pharrell Williams’ manager Caron Veazey.

They cited a recent University of Southern California study that found that men accounted for more than 90 percent of Grammy nominees — who include not only performers but songwriters, engineers and others in the business — between 2013 and 2018.

‘Poor choice of words’

Portnow, revisiting his remarks in his latest statement, said “I understand the hurt” caused by “my poor choice of words.”

“I also now realize that it’s about more than just my words. Because those words, while not reflective of my beliefs, echo the real experience of too many women,” he said.

Only one woman, Lorde, was nominated for the most prestigious Grammy of Album of the Year at the latest awards and none were in the running for Record of the Year, which recognizes best song.

Funk revivalist Bruno Mars won in both categories.

The Grammys rallied behind the #MeToo movement through an intense performance by Kesha, who sang her autobiographical song “Praying” about her alleged rape by her producer.

But “Praying” lost out for Best Pop Solo Performance to the only man among the five nominees in the category — Ed Sheeran for “Shape of You” about a drunken hook-up with a woman he meets in a bar.

The year, however, was not entirely representative. Adele won Album of the Year in 2017 and Taylor Swift took the top prize the year before.

Swift’s latest album came out too late for eligibility while Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, major forces in past years, enjoyed less acclaim with their most recent works.

Jay Z For President? Top Quotes From Grammys Night

Recording artists Beyonce, Jay Z and daughter Blue Ivy Carter attend the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City. PHOTO:
Christopher Polk / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

R&B crooner Bruno Mars was the surprise big winner Sunday at the 60th Grammy Awards, the music industry’s biggest night of the year, with six awards overall.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar had the second largest haul of the night with five Grammys.

Here are some memorable quotes from the gala, hosted by late-night funnyman James Corden at Madison Square Garden in New York:

– Time’s up –

“Let’s work together, women and men, as a united music industry committed to creating more safe work environments, equal pay, and access for all women.”

— Singer Janelle Monae, introducing Kesha, who delivered a searing performance of “Praying,” her song about her drawn-out legal battle with producer Dr Luke

– Stronger –

“Oh, but after everything you’ve done / I can thank you for how strong I have become.”

— Kesha, performing the song about Dr Luke, who she says sexually, physically and mentally abused her, claims he denies

– Forget Oprah. What about Jay-Z? –

“Jay for president.”

— Kendrick Lamar, hailing his fellow nominee Jay-Z and hinting the rap mogul — a longtime critic of President Donald Trump — should consider an outside run in 2020

– New career for Hillary? –

“The Grammy is in the bag.”

— Hillary Clinton to Grammys host James Corden, after she trolled Trump by reading an excerpt of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” in a fake audition for the spoken word version of the explosive book. Cher and Snoop Dogg were also part of the taped comedy sketch.

– 24K praise –

“You are the reasons I’m in the studio pulling my hair out because I know you will only come with the top-shelf artistry and music, and thank you for blessing the world with your music. I mean that.

— Bruno Mars, the big winner of the night, praising fellow nominees Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Lorde and Childish Gambino as he accepted the Album of the Year prize

– Dreamers –

“Tonight, in this room full of music’s dreamers, we remember that this country was built by dreamers, for dreamers, chasing the American dream. (…) just like dreams, these kids can’t be forgotten and are worth fighting for.”

— Singer Camila Cabello, herself a Cuban-Mexican immigrant born in Havana, delivering a message to Trump and Congress on immigration reform and the fate of the so-called “Dreamers” who came to the United States as children

– No more speeches in the shower –

“I’ve been pretend-winning Grammys since I was a kid in my shower. (…) You are the reason I don’t have to win Grammys in my shower any more.”

— Canadian singer-songwriter Alessia Cara, thanking her fans as she accepted the Grammy for Best New Artist

– Shoutout to strong women –

“Stand tall and crush all predators under the weight of your heart that is full of the love they will never take away from you.”

— Rapper Logic, making a statement in the middle of suicide prevention anthem “1-800-273-8255,” which he performed with Alessia Cara and Khalid.

 

AFP

 

Music Industry Hails Jay-Z Before Grammys

JAY-Z performs onstage during Day 1 of The Meadows Music & Arts Festival at Citi Field in New York City. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS

Jay-Z, who once boycotted the Grammys as biased against hip-hop, was hailed Saturday by the music industry’s power brokers ahead of the latest awards where he leads nominations.

The rapper who rose from a broken home to become a hip-hop multimillionaire was contrite over his previous attacks on the Grammys when he accepted a prize as an “industry icon” at a pre-award gala thrown by veteran music executive Clive Davis.

Jay-Z refused to attend the Grammys in 1999 because the Recording Academy which administers the awards snubbed fellow rapper DMX.

He stayed away, upset at the lack of recognition for hip-hop, until coming in 2004 with wife-to-be Beyonce, who joined him on Saturday.

“I realize like, man, art is super subjective and everybody is doing their best and the Academy, they are human like we are,” Jay-Z told the packed ballroom in New York’s Times Square.

“We can pretend we don’t care, but we really care,” he said of Grammy recognition. “We care because we see the most incredible artists stand on that stage and we aspire to be there.”

A who’s who of top artists performed in Jay-Z’s honor, with soul legend Gladys Knight singing her classic “Midnight Train to Georgia” and Luis Fonsi dancing through his viral hit “Despacito.”

Alicia Keys weaved Jay-Z’s songs from “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” to their collaboration “Empire State of Mind” into a piano medley, in which she raised her hands and led a chant of the rapper’s nickname Hov.

 Breakthrough year for rap 

Jay-Z is in the running for eight awards at Sunday’s Grammys including Album of the Year for “4:44,” a strikingly introspective work in which the rapper apologizes for infidelity to Beyonce and supports his mother as she comes out as lesbian.

The music industry’s premier awards gala — which has returned to New York after 15 years in Los Angeles — is shaping up to be a big night for hip-hop, which for the first time makes up a majority of nominations in the top categories.

Jay-Z is already one of the most accoladed artists in Grammy history with 21 awards. But until this year he had always been passed over for the main categories.

Jay-Z grew up fatherless in Brooklyn and became a small-time drug dealer.

He is now worth an estimated $1 billion with Beyonce after amassing a business empire that includes fashion, entertainment and the Tidal streaming service.

In an interview aired Saturday on CNN for a new show of Van Jones, the community activist and former aide to president Barack Obama, Jay-Z urged African American entrepreneurship.

“Until we come to the table with our own… power base, nothing will change,” he said.

Jay-Z is nominated for Record of the Year, which recognizes the top song, for “The Story of O.J.,” which explores the persistence of racism with his own success as a backdrop.

 Tough competition 

While Jay-Z is ahead for Sunday, music industry prognosticators see fewer clear-cut favorites compared with previous years.

West Coast rapper Kendrick Lamar closely trails Jay-Z with seven nominations amid acclaim for his album “DAMN.,” a return to a classic hip-hop sound by an artist known for his experimentation.

Lamar’s previous album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” offered an unofficial musical soundtrack for the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality — but, to the disappointment of many music industry watchers, was denied Album of the Year two years ago.

Album of the Year contenders also include two high-selling pop albums — “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars, who has revived fun-loving retro funk, and “Melodrama” by Lorde, the 21-year-old pop prodigy from New Zealand.

A dark horse in the category is “‘Awaken, My Love!’,” the psychedelic, R&B-infused album of Childish Gambino, the rap alter ego of actor and comedian Donald Glover.

Lorde is the only woman nominated in one of the two top categories — despite the growing attention to gender discrimination in the entertainment industry following revelations of sexual misconduct by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

In a show of support for the #MeToo movement, performers selected for the televised Grammy show include Kesha, who has taken on sexism in the industry after accusing her producer of raping her.

A group set up by female entertainment executives plans to hand out white roses as a show of solidarity with women fighting abuse.

AFP