Hey Beyonce, Can Kelly Rowland "Run The World"?

Once Destiny Child called it quits in 2006, rumors have grown steadily about a riff between the group's two most noticeable singers, Beyoncé Knowles and Kelly Rowland. Some of Kelly’s biggest fans believe Beyoncé and her team consistently collude with major industry players in order to make sure Kelly never reaches the heights of superstardom they feel she deserves.

Even though Beyoncé and Kelly have never directly released an album in the same quarter, many have charged Beyoncé with overshadowing Kelly’s album press with her own media barrage. This year will mark the first time Kelly and Beyoncé will battle on the charts directly when Kelly releases her highly anticipated album, “Here I Am” on July 22nd.

Inflaming the speculation, Beyoncé’s recent satellite performance on the 2011 BET Awards from the Glastonbury Festival in the UK. Unfortunately, it looked like she was upstaging Kelly, who, according to most viewers, had the performance of the night.

The media loves feuds between popular artists because it fuels their engines. Still, the most tragic and infamous dispute between R&B band mates involved The Supremes' Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, both of whom were immortalized in the Broadway musical and subsequent motion picture, “Dreamgirls,” which starred Beyoncé as a fictionalized Diana Ross. That was just one drama-filled saga that happened over 40 years ago and was so compelling, the mainstream media is still eating off of it.

One of the biggest reasons the Bey vs. Kelly rumors persist is because of Beyoncé’s father, and former-manager, Matthew Knowles, who is known in industry circles as a shrewd businessman, especially when it comes to protecting the Knowles brand. After Kelly's split with Knowles’ management, rumors surfaced of a heated verbal spat between Kelly, Knowles, and Beyoncé, which reportedly led to bad blood between all parties involved.

Matthew Knowles' contemptuous stance towards former Destiny's Child members, Letoya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson, after they sought outside management—which led to their unceremonious replacement by Knowles— only intensifies the rumors that Knowles actively worked behind the scenes to sabotage Kelly’s career on behalf of his number one client at the time, his daughter Beyoncé.

Regardless if Knowles is a shady manager or not, the rumors would die quickly if Kelly didn’t have any talent. On the contrary, Kelly’s talent is on full display with every top ten record she puts out. From her 2002 number-one charting duet with Nelly to her international dance fame, Kelly lets everyone witness her artistic brilliance. What really gets under some of her fans’ skin is how hard it seems Kelly has to work to receive half the accolades Beyoncé garners seemingly effortlessly.

Case in point, Kelly’s popularity overseas. Anytime an American artist has to go across the pond to amass the success that they may have once had in the States, it will always look like she is working extra hard for money. Not to mention having to deny rumors that her Miami condo was in foreclosure, coupled with very few believing she split amicably with her record label, Columbia Records. What seemed like a downturn to many, more than likely, was a positive shift in priorities and towards her most lucrative market, England.

The fight to the top of pop culture’s royal throne has many more shades of gray than most media outlets would lead one to believe. Realistically, neither Bey nor Kelly have next-to-nothing to do with any major decisions concerning their strategic positioning within the R&B landscape. As far we can see and know, both are mere players.

This is not say that they have no say in industry politics in regards to their careers, respectively, but when it comes to Beyoncé specifically, there are entertainment executives of all kinds that have much more to gain from Beyoncé's reign than she does. At the top of the entertainment food chain, there are men--and women who think like men--that control the creation, production, and dissemination of what is heard and seen in popular music around the globe.

The bottom line is that men place Beyoncé in her position. Beyoncé is the most desirable woman in music, and this is not to say that her talent isn’t the main reason she able to reign, but when you play in the big leagues most of women at that level have tons of talent. So, when separating the superstars from stars, Beyoncé’s intangibles are what allow her to trump not only Kelly, but also every other woman in music.

In America, like it or not, there is a standard of beauty that is rigidly adhered to by marketers and entertainment executives. Beyoncé has what sells easily: She’s light skinned (yes I said it, please name a dark skinned woman, sans Lauryn Hill's one historic album, that has reached the consistent levels of Beyoncé, since arguably Aretha Franklin), has long hair, and chiseled "Roman" (i.e., somewhat European nose and facial bone structure) features. Now, there is no shortage of light skinned girls with "Roman" features, many whom are no where close to Beyoncé status, but there are a few. What separates Beyoncé from, say, Alicia Keys, however, is her femininity. Bey is the ultimate woman; she's the woman who wants to be put in her place by a “Soldier,” and then “Upgrade” him with her bank account, all the while she's “Catering” to her man after a hard day at work.

The gold stamp, though, came from her union with Jay-Z. The self-proclaimed “King of New York” is the man that every man wants to be. Jay-Z sets the cultural trends for black men, and their marriage gave her the powerful man that no other R&B megastar in history has had while in her prime.

Beyoncé doesn’t have to directly derail Kelly’s career, her mere presence on the charts and in the media puts insurmountable pressure on every singer in the game, including her former band mate and best friend Kelly. Don’t blame Beyoncé for playing and mastering the game, she is just playing the cards dealt, and like her superstar husband says so astutely Bey will not lose!

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Aaliyah during TNT Presents - A Gift of Song - New York - January 1, 1997 in New York City, New York, United States.
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Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.

Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.

 

Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/LxZfxcqRgF

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/BHlANZjCGZ

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/vLqLTVxqO9

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/ALDcT0ZQxR

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/zwk0AWMCoE

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/mM2GWEg1pe

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!pic.twitter.com/GfxBeJxUY1

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...

#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/iXNwssD3sY

— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/cGl269tuTr

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

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Singers Adrienne Bailon (L) and Kiely Williams of the 'Cheetah Girls' pose for photos around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held at Smashbox Studios on October 18, 2007 in Culver City, California.
Katy Winn/Getty Images for IMG

Kiely Williams Explains Fallout With Adrienne Bailon Houghton And Alleged Fight With Raven-Symonè

Our current isolated way of life has given some plenty of time for reflection like Kiely Williams of the former girl group 3LW and The Cheetah Girls (ask your kids). The tales of both successful groups have been told time after time by fans in YouTube documentaries and members of each collective but Williams has decided to share her side of the story.

Williams hopped on Live Monday (March 30) where she discussed her former friendship with The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton and the infamous chicken throwing fight with actress/singer Naturi Naughton. The mother of one didn't pinpoint exactly why she fell out with Houghton but did point out how she wouldn't be interested in appearing on her talk show.

"I don't think Adrienne wants to have live TV with me," Williams said. "'Cause she's gon' have to say, 'Yes Kiely, I did pretend to be your best friend. Now, I am not.' You were either lying then or you're lying now. You either were my best friend and now you're just not claiming me or you were pretending [to be my best friend."

The two remained friends after Naughton was kicked out of 3LW, the platinum-selling group known for 2000s pop hits like "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)" and "Playas Gon' Play." Williams and Houghton were eventually picked to be apart of The Cheetah Girls with then-Disney darling Raven-Symonè and dancer Sabrina Bryan.

Williams went on to discuss her fight with Naughton, which she denies had anything to do with her skin color. With her mother near, Williams claimed Naughton called her a b***h, leading to the fight. While she didn't clear up the chicken throwing, she stated how she was "going for her neck" and was holding food and her baby sister in the process.

Apologies aren't on the horizon either. “I don’t feel like I have anything to make amends for, especially as it relates to Adrienne,” Kiely said. “As far as Naturi goes, if there was ever a reason to apologize, all of that has kind of been overshadowed by the literal lies and really ugly stuff that she said about my mom and my sister. So, no. Not interested in that. I’m sorry.”

Moving onto The Cheetah Girls, Williams also denied claims she got into fights with Raven-Symonè on the set of The Cheetah Girls films and never outed her as a teen. The rumor about Symonè and Williams was reportedly started by Symonè's former co-star Orlando Brown.

Symonè has often shared positive memories about The Cheetah Girls and their reign but did imply during an episode of The View how co-star Lynn Whitfield kept her from losing her cool on set.

On a lighter note, Symonè, Houghton and Naughton have kept in contact with Naughton and Houghton putting their differences aside during an appearance on The Real. 

Symonè and Houghton also reunited at the Women's March in Los Angeles in January. During Bailon's performance at the event, the two briefly performed the Cheetah Girls' classic, "Together We Can."

Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

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Kelis Announces ‘Cooked With Cannabis’ Show Will Premiere On Netflix

Kelis is taking her chef talents to Netflix. The musician will host a food competition show titled Cooked With Cannabis that’ll premiere on the very-fitting April 20 (4/20). According to NME, the show will span six episodes and be co-hosted by chef Leather Storrs.

Describing the opportunity as a “dream come true” since she’s a major supporter of the streaming service, Kelis took to Instagram to share how cannabis and cooking is one of her many creative passions. “As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today’s society,” the mother-of-two writes. “In this country, many things have been used systemically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together.”

Each episode will place three chefs against each other as they craft three-course meals with cannabis as the central ingredient. Each episode’s winner takes home $10,000. Guests will play an integral role in who takes home the cash prize. Too $hort, and El-P are just a few of this season's guests.

 

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I'm really excited to announce my new show, Cooked with Cannabis on @Netflix!! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love my Netflix, so this is a dream come true. Interestingly, this was one of those things that I didn't go looking for, it kind of came to me. As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today's society. In this country, many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together. I hope you all will tune in, it's definitely going to be a good time! We launch on 4/20! XO, Kelis

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis) on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:57am PDT

In a previous Lenny Letter profile, Kelis shared she comes from a line of culinary influences beginning with her mother who owned a catering service. In 2008, the “Milkshake” singer sought to refine her cooking skills by enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu school. Receiving a certificate as a trained saucier, the New York native put her expertise to the test during pop-up restaurants in her native city, created a hot sauce line, and co-owns a sustainable farm in Quindio, Colombia.

“Food is revolutionary because it is the one and only international language. It’s the most human thing you can partake in,” she said in an interview with Bon Appetit. “We are the only species that cooks.”

This isn’t Kelis’ first foray into the reality-cooking television world. In 2014, she partnered with the Cooking Channel for Saucy and Sweet and published the "My Life on a Plate" cookbook a year later.

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