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Erykah Badu: June/July Cover Story [Pg 2]

BEFORE SHE WAS Erykah Badu, Erica Abi Wright was always intent on bringing forth her artistry. She dropped out of Grambling State University with her mother’s approval to pursue her music. In the mid ‘90s, with a complete independently recorded album, she crossed paths with music industry executive Kedar Massenburg. Their plan was simple: take who Badu organically was, present it to the world and hope people “got it.”

“I knew she was beautiful and her sound and tone; what she was singing about made her unique,” says Massenburg. “When I first met her she was Erykah Free, a singer and rapper. When she said she was going to wear a head wrap I said, ‘Do it.’ I wanted to bring pride back to Black women. The thing about her that I loved is that she always had a vision for herself.”

The union resulted in Badu signing to Motown Records under Massenburg’s Kedar Entertainment imprint and the release of her debut album Baduizm, which sold three million albums. While he is no longer involved in her career outside of sharing publishing rights, Massenburg still has an attachment and deep respect for Badu.

“Her, D’Angelo and Maxwell, they’ll always stick ‘cause when they came out they were respected as real artists.” Massenburg recalls the early days of her career when they were preparing to drop Baduizm. “I would say we have a deadline and Erykah would say, ‘I’m not on a timeline or deadline. I’m on a lifeline.’”

Friend and singer Bilal agrees that the way Badu works is unconventional. “She’ll chill on something for a while until it completely materializes in her head. She won’t crank out a bunch of songs for quantity sake. She takes her time.” He recalls the time they spent in the studio working on Mama’s Gun. “There would be times I’m thinking she was writing lyrics and she was drawing pictures. She works like a painter.”

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 “Her, D’Angelo and Maxwell, they’ll always stick ‘cause when they came out they were respected as real artists.” -- Kedar Massenburg

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IT’S SNACK TIME for Mars, Badu’ 15-month-old daughter with rapper Jay Electronica. Mom scoops up the fussy toddler from the floor, places her in her lap and prepares to breast-feed.

“We all good in here,” says Badu to the on-looking reporter as she frees a breast from the cup of her bra. She doesn’t shy away or cover up. Badu has breastfed all three of her children. She also home schools them until the second grade. As for those 8-months a year she spends touring, her son Seven, 12, daughters Puma, 5 and Mars, along with members of her family-turned-staff, are right alongside her.

“Seeing Erykah as a mother, it’s amazing to me,” says Jay Electronica. “Her number one is them at all times. She’s a mother in the true sense of the word. They are safe and they feel that way because of her mothering.”

While she will reiterate that she doesn’t make any real money off her albums, she admits that it’s the income from her live shows that allows her to afford her lifestyle, a lifestyle that centers on being able to be a present mother. “I make Seven’s lunch everyday for school.”

Badu beams when she talks about her children. She also likes the fact that her eldest son attends a Black private school in her hometown. She recalls her own time as a young schoolgirl.

“I had a teacher in the 6th grade, Ms. Jackson, who Andre [3000] was probably talking about in ‘Ms. Jackson.’ He wasn’t talking about us,” says Badu. “They called my mom up to the school to discuss my work in class. [con’t on page TK]

She showed my mom some class work that I drew on the back of. My mom didn’t get mad. She was like, ‘This is good. Have you seen this?’” Badu laughs.

Erykah’s mom, Kolleen “Queenie” Wright, remembers that parent-teacher conference vividly. “I think they thought the work was dark. As any mother you know your child. They wanted to know why or how. The lady was really shocked that I supported [Erykah].” Queenie knew her eldest child was going to be everything that she is today. “I saw early on what this person was gonna be. I saw the future. It had nothing to do with fame or fortune or money. I envisioned her as someone who wanted to live out her dream. When dealing with a gifted child, you have to get in the boat and ride with them.”

In her driveway sits four cars, the one she uses the most: a Nissan minivan with 22-inch rims. For now, she feels as though her family is complete but is open to fulfilling her wish of having seven children. “I may just keep going to offend people,” she laughs. “‘Here they come with all this noise and veggie cookies!’”

 

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French Authorities Reportedly Investigating Rape Claim Against Chris Brown

French authorities are reportedly investigating Chris Brown after a woman allegedly accused the R&B singer of rape. According to the French tabloid, Closer, a 24-year-old woman claims that Brown raped her in his hotel room.

The unidentified woman alleges that she met Brown at a Parisian night club in rue de Ponthieu, near the Champs-Elysées, on the night of Jan. 15 into Jan. 16, before heading back to his room at the La Mandarin Oriental. The woman also accused Brown’s bodyguard of abuse, Closer reports.

Brown was recently spotted taking in the festivities of Paris Fashion Week, and smooching rumored flame, Ammika Harris. The “Undecided” singer shared video from dance rehearsal in the French city over the weekend. He has not commented on the reported rape allegation.

Brown is currently embroiled in a separate civil lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by Brown's friend, Lowell Grissom, during a party at the Grammy winner's home last year. Brown requested that the lawsuit be dismissed.

“For the last 10 years anybody who comes at him should know they're going to meet the full force of my firm,” the Virginia native's lawyer, Mark Geragos, warned in an interview last year.

The woman has since filed court documents on Jan. 7, asking a judge to block Brown’s request that she give up phone and text records citing privacy concerns. According to The Blast, the woman asserts that she already turned over hundreds of documents, including text messages, emails and medical records.

 

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Spotify Testing Feature That Allows Users To Mute Certain Artists

Spotify users will be able to mute certain artists, for their listening pleasure. The streaming company introduced a “don’t play this artist feature” as apart of a new IOS app update, according to Thurrott, which got its hands on an early version of the feature.

The block button allows listeners to banish specific artists from their personal music libraries, and stops them from popping up in automatically curated playlists, and other pages on the music streaming app. In order to utilize the mute feature, users clicks on the menu above an artists’s page and selects the “don’t play” option. The feature doesn’t work for songs that the artist may be featured on, the Verge reports.

The update could be a middle ground for Spotify as it faces increased pressure in wake of the #MuteRKelly movement, and Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly  documentary. A Change.org petition calling for Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube to remove R. Kelly’s music from its services is close to garnering 150,000 signatures.

Last year, Spotify briefly removed Kelly, XXXTentacion and T-Kay (a Texas rapper convicted of murder) from featured playlists due to the company's hateful conduct policy. “We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, but we want our editorial decisions -- what we choose to program -- to reflect our values,” the company explained in statement to Billboard last May. “When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful, it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator."

Spotify abandoned the plan after pushback from fans of the artists singled out, and industry heavyweights like Top Dawg Entertainment founder Anthony Tiffith, whose label imprint is home to Kendrick Lamar, SZA, ScHoolBoy Q and more.

Tiffith reached out to Troy Carter, Spotify’s global head of creator services, and threatened to remove his artists’ music from the streaming service. “I don't think it's right for artists to be censored, especially in our culture,” Tiffith told Billboard. “How did they just pick those [artists] out? How come they didn't pick out any others from any other genres or any other different cultures? There [are] so many other artists that have different things going on, and they could've picked anybody. But it seems to me that they're constantly picking on hip-hop culture."

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The Internet Reacts To Carmelo Anthony Being Traded To The Chicago Bulls

According to a tweet sent out by ESPN's Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Houston Rockets have agreed to trade Carmelo Anthony and cash considerations to the Chicago Bulls. However, he will likely not play any games.

"Anthony won't play a game for the Bulls, league source tells ESPN. He will be released and become a free agent if he clears waivers," tweeted Wojnarowski. "...it is possible that franchise holds off on waiving him until the trade deadline, league sources tell ESPN. Bulls could include him in a one-for-one trade, but can't aggregate his contract in another deal."

Since today is a national holiday (Jan. 21), the official word will reportedly be held off until tomorrow. Wojnarowski reports that his "best bet" would be to wait it out until the trade deadline (Feb. 7) to find another opportunity with another team.

The Houston Rockets have agreed to trade Carmelo Anthony and cash to the Chicago Bulls, league sources tell ESPN.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019

The NBA office will not execute the trade today because it's a holiday, league sources tell ESPN. To clear the way for Kenneth Faried to sign and play tonight in Philadelphia, Rockets had to waive to James Nunnally. Trade call on 'Melo will likely be Tuesday. https://t.co/Oo2IA0nsJP

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019

Anthony won't play a game for the Bulls, league source tells ESPN. He will be released and become a free agent if he clears waivers. https://t.co/Oo2IA0nsJP

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019

Social media caught wind of the news, and reacted with shock and of course with laughs via some hot takes.

"Melo is revolutionizing the 'farewell season' by signing a contract with each NBA team before he retires, truly ahead of his time," one tweet read, while another said "Melo is being held hostage by teams. Hopefully this means Liam Neeson will have a movie saving him come out around the trade deadline."

Check out some tweets below.

Melo is being held hostage by teams. Hopefully this means Liam Neeson will have a movie saving him come out around the trade deadline.

— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) January 21, 2019

Melo stans: THE BUUUUUUULLS? pic.twitter.com/Y9nYBgNFuX

— #RingerNBA (@ringernba) January 21, 2019

[email protected] fans looking at GM Lebron when Melo becomes free agent. pic.twitter.com/wJy3ujSAIH

— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) January 21, 2019

Carmelo Anthony will not play a game for the Bulls, but it is possible that franchise holds off on waiving him until the trade deadline, league sources tell ESPN. Bulls could include him in a one-for-one trade, but can't aggregate his contract in another deal.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019

For Anthony, his best bet is waiting until the Feb. 7 trade deadline to find his next team. He can wait for roster spots to open, trades to happen, etc, that'll create the best opportunity for him. Anthony wants to find a place to contribute. https://t.co/cRgbMalvTl

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019

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