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Murphy’s Law: The Greatest Live Hip-Hop Act Of All-Time Is Not Jay-Z

Last night’s memorable Jay-Z show at Madison Square Garden made a few points abundantly clear: Jay has made the most impressive evolution of any MC as a serious, all-around concert figure since his days of lumbering through performances in a bulletproof vest while opening up for Puff Daddy’s No Way Out tour back in 1997. Trey Songz is literally on the verge of superstardom. And never invite a jail-bound rap superstar to your gig unless you want to be upstaged (I still say Lil Wayne’s  “accidental” courthouse fire was a complex, ingenious scheme to steal Jigga’s thunder during Young Jeezy’s set. We see you, Baby.)

But more than anything, the Blueprint 3 Tour displayed overwhelming proof that hip hop has grown mightily as a live art form from the days when rappers spent most of the show screaming, “Yo, turn my mic up!” Still, over the years, there have been a few rap acts that have excelled on the concert stage—from Doug E. Fresh, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, and De La Soul to MC Hammer, Black Moon, Lauryn Hill and Eminem. But the Top-5 all-time live hip hop acts? Well…

5. Kanye West

Show me a more earnest, leave-it-all-on-the-stage live performer in hip hop than the self-proclaimed “international asshole.” While you attempt to do just that, here’s something to consider. West’s 2008 critically-acclaimed, $30 million grossing Glow In The Dark tour was a brave collision of Broadway showmanship, avant-garde vision and over-the-top hubris. Sure there were mammoth LED screens, spacey desert landscapes, a wired female alien figure and futuristic meteor showers. But at the heart of it all was West, who is just as comfortable in a hole in a wall club in Chicago than he is opening up for the Rolling Stones.

 

4. KRS-One

The Blastmaster doesn’t need much to rock a crowd. Just give him a mic and get the hell out the way. Seriously, there is only one other MC that possesses more unearthly breath control than KRS-One and he’s ahead on this list. Twenty plus years in the game, Kris is still among the genre’s most gifted live rhyme free-stylists. Besides, “The Bridge Is Over” still knocks live.

 

 

3. Jay-Z

At this point, Jigga is re-writing the book on just how big a hip hop tour can be. The man has been consistently headlining sold-out shows since 1998’s Hard Knock Life gigs and now he has found that rare perfect mix of a live band (his three-piece horn section soars on the new Blueprint 3 material) and the traditional DJ. When he’s onstage, Jay-Z’s charisma fills up an entire arena like no other MC. He’s literally Jim Jones without the Kool-Aid. How consistent of a concert draw has he become? Jay now headlines alternative rock festivals like Glastonbury and Coachella when he’s not on his own sold-out treks. Live Nation, didn’t sign him up to a multi-million dollar deal for nothing.

 

2. The Roots

To paraphrase a hot line, Philadelphia’s own are truly rap’s Grateful Dead. Drummer/bandleader Questlove and crew have been known to play a grueling 220 dates a year. And while there have been various changes to the lineup since their Do You Want More days in the mid ‘90s (yes, that’s a tuba player rocking it out during one of their infamous three-hour marathon shows) there is one constant: the ridiculously underrated Black Thought, whose breath control is unparallel. If you’ve never been to a Root’s show, check out their annual Picnic festival in Philly on June 5 to see what all the hype is about.

 

1. Run DMC

The first hip hop act to headline a national arena tour. The first hip hop act to sellout the Garden. The first hip hop act to make rap a respectable live draw. Quite simply the greatest live hip hop act to ever do it. Jay-Z stands on the shoulders of Run, DMC, and the late Jam Master Jay. The onstage chemistry between Run and D was a thing of beauty and impeccable timing. And never has a set of turntables sounded so…big. The video of the Kings of Queens taking over Live Aid in 1985 says it all. —Keith Murphy


 

With all apologies due to Mick Jagger, Keith “Murph” Murphy may not be a man of immense wealth, but he does have taste. For over a decade, the Chicago-born journalist has sparred with brazen hip hop moguls (Jay-Z); Hollywood royalty (Quentin Tarantino); political powerbrokers (Rev. Al Shaprton); redemption-seeking pugilists (Mike Tyson); R&B divas (Mary J. Blige); and lyrically great white hopes (Eminem). His work has appeared in such publications and sites as VIBE, Essence, The Root, and KING, and he is a frequent commentator on CNN, Fox News, VH1, and A&E Biography. 

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Richard Levine

Report: Jehovah's Witness Community Kept Secret List Of Child Molesters

The Jehovah's Witness community is reportedly being investigated for allegedly keeping a secret database that listed thousands of "undocumented" child molesters within the community, The Atlantic reports.

According to the latest report, the information was obtained after the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which serves as the head of the Jehovah's Witness organization, sent a survey to its 10,883 U.S. Kingdom Halls seeking information about members of the community accused of sexual abuse in 1997. The survey was reportedly comprised of 12 questions, including how the community viewed the alleged abusers, whether the abuse was a one-time occurrence, and more.

The responses were then mailed back to the Watchtower in a blue envelope and scanned into a Microsoft SharePoint. It was never shared with the police, however.

In 2014, a man filed a lawsuit against the Watchtower, claiming he was molested by a Jehovah's Witness leader in 1986. During that case, the Watchtower disclosed that its U.S. headquarters had received 775 blue envelopes from 1997 to 2001.

In 2012, Candace Conti, a former member of the community, was awarded $28 million by a jury after claiming a man she worked with for a community service project sexually abused her when she was nine and group leaders ignored her because of the  "two-witness rule."

According to The Atlantic, the organization's "two-witness rule" requests that two people bare witness to the crime being alleged. "Barring a confession, no member of the organization can be officially accused of committing a sin without two credible eyewitnesses who are willing to corroborate the accusation," the rule states. Critics have said that the rule makes it easier for child molesters to abuse kids.  

According to estimates, the number of accused Jehovah's Witness child molesters listed in the secret database could range from 18,000 to 23,000. It's unclear how police are proceeding in light of the new report.

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Ethan Miller

Report: Streaming Services Account For 93 Percent Of Latin Music's Revenue

A new report by the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) found that streaming is now making up 93 percent of Latin music’s total revenue in the U.S., Billboard reports. This amount is in comparison to the 75 percent made of all other genres in total in the U.S. by the various streaming platforms available. It’s estimated that now Latin music currently accounts for 4.2 percent of the total $9.8 billion dollars of the music business in the U.S. The figure has increased since last year, which stood at 4 percent.

"Latin music’s transformation from a physical-based business to a streaming driven one is even faster than the overall U.S. music market’s turnaround," reads the 2018 Latin music revenue report. Most of the revenue comes from paid subscriptions, which make up a total of 58 percent of the genre’s revenue.

These paid subscriptions all come from music/content streaming services like Amazon Unlimited, Spotify Premium, Apple Music, which all grew 48 percent year by year. Ultimately, the growth generated a cool $239 million. Revenue from other ad-driven platforms like YouTube and Vevo garnered a total of 34 percent, which made $93 million. The sub-category made Latin music 24 percent in revenue, which is three times larger than the average eight percent made off the U.S. general market.

The artists whom helped push forward the genre digitally within the last year have been: Ozuna, Daddy Yankee, J.Balvin and Karol G, among others. "Overall, the Latin music market is showing signs of strength again," the report stated. "We are excited for the next chapter of this comeback story."

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Matt Winkelmeyer

Tone Loc Detained After Confronting Family Over Confederate Flag Hat

West Coast rapper Tone Loc was reportedly detained at the Midland International Air & Space Port in Texas on Sunday (Mar. 24). He was reportedly handcuffed by airport security after aggressively confronting the parents of a teenage boy who was wearing a Confederate flag hat, CBS7 reports.

The incident reportedly started when the 53-year-old– born Anthony Terrell Smith– confronted a teenager who was wearing the controversial hat at baggage claim.

"How are you going to wear that in front of a black man?" Loc asked the boy, according to witnesses.

The teenage boy's parents reportedly stepped in and reprimanded the rapper for talking to their son in such an aggressive tone. The rapper apologized but continued to state that the boy should not be wearing the hat.

The argument didn't stop there though. The family and Loc continued the heated altercation outside. In a video obtained by an NBC affiliate, the "Wild Thing" artist could be heard shouting: "F**k all that Confederate sh*t."

Authorities were later called to the scene where they separated both parties and detained Loc. Once the situation de-escalated, the handcuffs were removed, and Loc was permitted to leave. No criminal charges were filed.

Watch a clip of the incident below.

 

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