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Odd Couple: Uncle Luke Has Erykah Badu's Back

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks for Erykah Badu. The singer-songwriter’s latest album, New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh, debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Pop chart, selling 110,000 copies. But people are still clammering about her statement-making "Window Seat" video, in which she strips down to her bare essentials.

Badu has defended the video as pure artistic expression about society’s lack of individuality. Some critics charged that it was disrespectful to the memory of JFK. And Dallas authorities agreed on the latter, charging her with disorderly conduct—which carries a $500 fine.

Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell, the influential Godfather of Miami rap and bass/booty shake music, tells VIBE that he more than identifies with Badu’s struggle.

“I know what she’s going through... People have a tendency of separating what’s art and what’s not,” says Luke. “I hope she doesn’t lay down. I want her to fight for her rights, for her artistic value. Because when you have an individual like [Badu] and she feels a certain way, what makes it art is the value of the work. Her song, 'Window Seat' was making a statement and she decided to shoot a video. Whether she was nude or not, it’s still art.”

As the leader of the infamous group, 2 Live Crew, Luke found himself at the center of a battle over free speech in 1990 after members of the controversial rap act were arrested on charges of public obscenity for performing material onstage from their classic album, As Nasty As They Wanna Be.

Soon after, record retailers who sold 2 Live Crew albums were being locked up as District Court Judge Jose Gonzalez ruled that Nasty violated local "community standards" of decency without possessing any “mitigating artistic merit.” The game-changing ruling was overturned in 1992 at the 11 Circuit Court of Appeals—the Supreme Court declined to reconsider it.

Luke still sees his landmark win as a victory for all future artists.

“You have nude art galleries that go around the country and famous nude sculptures like David by Michelangelo,” he says of the double standard that Badu faces. “Those are very high-end art pieces that are sitting up in places where individuals are nude, where all their genitals are out. So I can’t say what she did was wrong. If Badu just walked around the street naked and had no artistic value and was just doing it for shock value, then that’s one thing. But she was walking down the street where Kennedy was assassinated and making a statement about how people character assassinate. She may not of expressed herself in a way that some people can relate. It’s a debatable topic. But it’s still art.”

These days Luke has been known more for his role as a family man than his raunchy stage shows and records. The legendary entertainment mogul, who enjoyed a 2008 hit reality show, Luke’s Parental Advisory on VH1, is now working on an album project and an upcoming television show.

“It’s going to be a talk-show,” he says. “We did the reality show thing already. This time we want to switch it up.”—Keith Murphy

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Wendy Williams' Estranged Husband Reportedly Fired As Executive Producer From Talk Show

Wendy Williams’ estranged husband, Kevin Hunter, was reportedly fired as an executive producer on her eponymous talk show, Deadline reports. The news follows a tumultuous time for the host, who allegedly filed for divorce due to Hunter’s reported infidelity.

Since 2011, Hunter served as an executive producer of The Wendy Williams Show. Nationally syndicated and distributed by Debmar-Mercury, the company issued a statement on Hunter’s departure. “Kevin Hunter is no longer an Executive Producer on The Wendy Williams Show. Debmar-Mercury wishes him well in his future endeavors,” a spokesperson for the company told Deadline.

Williams tearfully admitted on her show in March that she relapsed and was living in a sober house. Prior to that, she embarked on a brief hiatus from the show due to health concerns as she was recovering from a fractured shoulder. The show then took another hiatus because of her bout with Graves disease.

Hunter recently spoke out publicly about the divorce and has expressed remorse for what he did to their marriage. “I am not proud of my recent actions and take full accountability and apologize to my wife, my family and her amazing fans,” Hunter told PEOPLE. “I am going through a time of self-reflection and am trying to right some wrongs.”

“Twenty-eight years ago I met an amazing woman: Wendy Williams. At the time, I didn’t realize that she would not only become my wife, but would also change the face of entertainment and the world," he said. "I have dedicated most of our lives to the business empire that is Wendy Williams Hunter, a person that I truly love and respect unconditionally."

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Hennessy To Allocate $10 Million To Thurgood Marshall College Fund

Herald as the first “corporate HBCU graduate program,” Hennessy announced its plan to allocate $10 million to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF). Over the span of the next 10 years, the donation will benefit graduate students seeking to continue their studies at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the “corporate, social and economic systems.”

Giles Woodyer, Hennessy US’ senior vice president, said the goal of the "Hennessy Fellows" initiative aims to establish “a pipeline of highly qualified talent over the next 10 years and help prepare these future leaders for success.” Only 10 students will be selected. Those chosen will be notified in June and be able to put their resources to use in Fall 2019. Per each academic year, grad candidates will receive a $20,000 scholarship, a chance to enter a competition for a $10,000 grant that’ll benefit the community, and access to tools that'll further their career through networking and training outlets.

Dr. Harry L. Williams, president and CEO of TMCF, said this decision is more than a "financial" gift.  "When such a tremendously successful global brand like Hennessy invests in a higher education non-profit like ours, it tells the world that HBCUs and PBIs have value and are worth investing in, and TMCF is the best steward to carry out such a monumental investment," Dr. Williams said. "This is major, and it can't be overlooked as just a financial contribution, it is a real partnership that is a game changer for the students and our community."

A portal for applications is now open here.

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Report: Ariana Grande Got Paid Twice As Much As Beyoncé For Coachella

Update: 12:42 pm ET (April 19, 2019) - There are conflicting reports regarding the earnings that Beyonce obtained for her Coachella performance. According to The Blast's sources, the singer received approximately the same amount as Ariana Grande.

This story is developing.

Original story below...

As fans continue to marvel at Beyonce's historical Coachella performance in the Netflix documentary, Homecoming, a new report about the pay discrepancy amongst the festival's headliners is also grabbing people's attention. According to Variety, Ariana Grande got paid double of what Bey earned for her performance.

Grande reportedly made $8 million from the festival, while Beyoncé only took home an estimated $3 to $4 million.

This certainly seems a little odd to fans due to a handful of reasons. For one, Beyoncé is a much more seasoned artist. Additionally, her headlining show, also known as BeyChella, was a historical moment that drew millions of viewers.

Grande also made history this year as the youngest artist to ever headline the three-day event, but the U.S. pay gap may have more to do with the huge difference between their paychecks. Black women make approximately 65 cents to every dollar earned by their white male counterparts. By contrast, white women earn 83 cents to every dollar earned by white men, according to the Pew Research Center.

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