Nas and Jr. Gong Finish What They Started

In hip-hop these days, it seems like artists great and not-so-great can't avoid the urge to try a Best Of Both Worlds-type offering. There's the trend-starting Jay-Z and R. Kelly, lopsided Weezy and Birdman, forever-too-young Bow Wow and Omarion, and then Nas and Damian Marley, an Africa-minded doublet that creates perhaps the most divergent sound styling of all. It's most evident as this full version of "As We Enter," an uptempo, mic-sharing number originally leaked to the web as a one-minute snippet in summer '09, hits the web in its still-unquenching, nearly-three-minute entirety. What's new, here? Nas handles the spit-fire hook--fortified with cash register pulses and shouted refrains--followed by Jr. Gong trading conversational, cobweb-thin bars with his Queens-bred collaborator. They're not quite "like two Obamas," as Esco audaciously boasts, but when Distant Relatives drops in April, these two partners-in-rhyme will surely bring a change we can all believe in. --John Kennedy

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BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI

Maryland Judge Overturns Jury's Decision To Award Korryn Gaines Family $37 Million

A Maryland judge has overturned a jury's decision to award the surviving family of Korryn Gaines $37 million. The 23-year-old was shot twice, along with her 5-year-old son Kodi, during an hour-long standoff in August 2016. The child survived Gaines did not.

According to CNN, Baltimore County Circuit Court Associate Judge Mickey J. Norman stated in an opinion Cpl Royce Ruby's conduct was "entitled to qualified immunity," which translates as Ruby was well within his rights as a member of law enforcement and is "shielded from liability for civil damages."

Norman's opinion states Ruby acted within the margins of the law. "This court has found that Corporal Ruby is entitled to qualified immunity and therefore, his shooting of Gaines was not unlawful."

However, Norman states the damages Gaines' surviving family was seeking were "excessive and shocks the conscience."

The jury awarded $32.85 million to Gaines' son Kodi, $23, 542 for his medical bills and $4.53 million to Gaines' daughter Karsyn Courtney. The jury also found it fit to award Gaines' mother Rhanda Dormeus $307,000 and $300,000 to her father Ryan Gaines.

Judge Norman said the court would grant a new civil trial on account of this new opinion.

J. Wyndal Gordon, Gaines' family lawyer said the family is disappointed but not "defeated nor deterred from doing what must be done now."

"We have great appellate issues and an excellent opportunity to have reviewed not just the recent decision but some of the earlier decisions in the case that were disfavorable," Gordon said. "Nobody told us the road would be easy. I don't believe God brought us this far to leave us. This case is by no means over. We will fight to the finish to preserve the jury's verdict and restore justice to the family."

Baltimore County police spokesperson confirmed that Cpl Royce Ruby is still a member of the department.

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Broward's Sheriff's office

YNW Melly's "Murder On Mind" Number 1 On Apple Music Amid Murder Charges

YNW Melly's career may finally be taking off as his song "Murder On My Mind" has hit number one on Apple Music. However, the 19-year-old, real name Jamell Demons, won't be enjoying the fruits of his labor as a judge denied him bond after being charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

According to a tweet from  Chart Data, Melly's 2017 track has earned prime real estate on Apple Music, with some believing the song is a confessional providing clues to the murder he and Cortlen Henry are accused of. Unfortunately, the song was released prior to the double homicide.

[email protected]'s "Murder On My Mind" has reached #1 on US Apple Music.

— chart data (@chartdata) February 16, 2019

According to the Sun-Sentinel, Demons, and Henry reportedly staged the murder of Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr to appear like a drive-by shooting. Williams and Thomas were friends of Demons and lived as roommates in Broward County.

Williams and Thomas suffered multiple gunshot wounds and were pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Demons took to Instagram and denied the accusations before turning himself over to police.

“To all my fans and supporters no I did not get locked up in Washington, but I am turning myself in today I want you guys to know I love you and appreciate every single one of y’all,” he wrote. “A couple months ago I lost my two brothers by violence and now the system want to find justice.

“Unfortunately a lot of rumors and lies are being said but no worries god is with me and my brother @ynw.bortlen and we want y’all to remember it’s a ynw Family I love you @ynwsakchaser1 and @ynwjuvy #freeus.”

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Alberto E. Rodriguez

Jussie Smollett's Attorneys Deny Actor Paid $3,500 To Orchestrate Attack

Sources close to the Jussie Smollett investigation have spoken with several media outlets and allege new evidence shows the Empire actor may have orchestrated the attack, and even paid men $3,500 to go through with it.

The two men who are brothers were arrested Wednesday and released Friday (Feb. 15) without charges. Both men are cooperating fully with Chicago police, and authorities found records they purchased a rope at a local hardware store, which was used during the attack.

Smollett's attorneys, Todd S. Pugh, and Victor P. Henderson, quickly denied the claim made by authorities.

"As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with," the statement read. "He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."

On Jan. 29, Smollett was leaving a Subway fast-food restaurant when the actor alleges to have been attacked by two men who beat him, poured bleach on him and tried to hang a rope around his neck. The 35-year-old entertainer, who identifies as gay, said one of the men shouted "This is MAGA country" as well as other racial and homophobic slurs.

Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said one of the men appeared on Empire and have past affiliation with Smollett.

During his interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America Thursday (Feb. 14), Smollett expressed frustration about not being believed. Sunday morning (Feb. 17) the hashtag 'JussieSmollettHoax' trended on Twitter. The Internet was split with many offering a digital "I told you so" due to the reports, while others, particularly members of the black LGBTQ community, questioning why many were quick to believe the word of law enforcement.

Us straight men waiting on the LGBT community to apologize after Jussie lied pic.twitter.com/0PDmNX4ykZ

— Flickens McCray (@Mickens__) February 17, 2019

https://twitter.com/angryblkhoemo/status/1096967004517515266

No idea what actually happened w/ Jussie Smollett. But do know that 4 years ago, Chicago PD spent 13 months justifying Laquan McDonald’s murder before releasing dashcam video showing he was walking away before being shot at 16x by an officer. Why are we just accepting their word?

— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) February 17, 2019

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