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V Exclusive! Rocko Talks New Projects, Working With T.I. & Future’s Success [PG.2]

You’re also working on a book entitled Gift of Gab as well, what’s the idea behind that project?
 I consider myself to multi-faceted. I’ve never been content with just doing one thing. If there was something I thought about that I wanted to do, I always tried to do it just to say I did it. For the most part, I’ve been fortunate enough that everything I’ve tried, I’ve been successful at it. I started my label and within the first year, I had a major record deal. I started rapping; I got my home solo record deal off of me just having fun. So I’ve realized when I apply myself, I try things and do it. I’m not trying to be religious, but in the book, it says you take one step, and then you take two. I’ve always stepped out on faith with everything that I’ve done. I just told myself, I’m going to write book. So I did, and that’s how it happened. When I tell myself I’m going to do something, I do it. So the Gift of Gab will be the perfect title. It was gift. It was nothing that I did. It was something that was given to me. I hope that my people, my fans, and even people that don’t know me and never heard of me, get a whiff of what’s going on and take the initiative to check it out.

When can we expect the book to drop?
I don’t have it set in stone as a set date as of right now, but it’s coming soon. It’s coming very soon.

Aside from your book, you have two new music projects on the way. First, what can fans expect to hear from your upcoming mixtape Seeing is Believing?
Seeing is Believing is the warm-up. I’m dropping that first to warm-up the fans prior to the release of the album. My album, I’m scheduling that for August of this year, One of One. As far as the mixtape, I’m working with T.I., Jeezy, Future, Meek Millz, and Gucci for the most part. That’s pretty much who’s on Seeing is Believing.

Self Made was heavily influenced production-wise by Drumma Boy, who are you working with this time around for One of One?
As far as One of One, Drumma and I haven’t been locking in like we used to, but he’s definitely going to be on there. His brother Insane’s going to be on there, also Cool & Dre, and for the most part a lot of up and coming producers. There are a couple of people I took a liking to and wanted to make magic with.

Any collaborations in the works?
Who I know is going to be on the album as of right now is Future. I’ve done collaborations with people, but as I keep working on the album, the direction changes, the vibe changes, and I just want it to flow smoothly.

Speaking of Future, he’s been doing his thing right now as the breakout star on A1 Recordings. How does it feel to witness and be a part of Future’s success thus far?
It’s an incredible feeling. I’ve always believed in him. I saw, and I knew that it was possible. That’s why I took the initiative to sign him and invest my money in him. It’s hard to find somebody who you want to invest your hard earn money into. Future said me, “All you have to do believe in me and invest in me and I’m going to go hard!” I took his word for it, and not only did he bring his talent to the table, he went above and beyond that every day to achieve his goals. It’s not a situation where I have to tell him what to do, he wants it. I used to be in situations with artists where I wanted it more than they did. Future understands it and gets it. He’s going to be the megastar we talked about five or six years ago.

As a businessman, artist, and a father, how do you stay grounded?
To sum it up in one word, it’s work. When people see you on TV, out and about, kicking it, driving your car, they see that and say, “I want to do that.” But, what they don’t realize is it takes a lot of work. It’s all about balance. I’m not saying I’m perfect in any arena because I know I could be a better father, businessman, artist, but I just work harder and harder everything, doing the best I can in all of the different arenas. 

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Black Texas Teen Barred From Graduation Because Of His Dreadlocks

A black Texas teen was suspended and is barred from graduation because of his dreadlocks, NBC News reports. DeAndre Arnold, a senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, has to cut his hair if he wants to walk the graduation stage.

DeAndre, whose family hales from Trinidad, has had locks for several years, gets A’s and B’s in school, and wears his hair in compliance with the school’s dress code, his mother, Sandy Arnold, told Houston’s NBC affiliate KPRC. “The dress code is [hair] off the shoulders above the earlobes and out of the eyes,” she explained.

The school district allegedly changed the dress code around Christmas of last year. According to the latest Barbers Hill Student Handbook, hair must be “clean and well groomed.” Students are not allowed to cover their heads, dye their hair, or wear “geometric or unusual patterns (such as Mohawks and Faux hawks) shaved or cut in the hair.” For male students, hair can’t fall below the eyebrows or earlobes and must not extend “below the top of a T-shirt collar.”Beards, goatees and mustaches are also not allowed.

DeAndre’s mother said that she reached out to board members and the superintendent to rectify the issue but with no luck.

“They say that even [when] my hair is up if it were down it would be not in compliance with the dress code. However, I don’t take it down in school,” said DeAndre.

The teen proudly rock his dreadlocks because the hairstyle connects him to Trinidadian culture. “I really like that part of Trinidadian culture. I really embrace that.”

Barbers Hill Independent School District released a statement noting that the district enforces a “community supported hair length policy” that has been in place “for decades.” The statement adds, “Barber Hill is a state leader with high expectations in all areas!”

The teenager's story is similar to that of a 6-year-old boy in Texas whose school also wanted him to cut off his dreadlocks. DeAndre's mother said her son won’t be getting a hair cut. “This is a pat of who he is. So [we're] absolutely not going to cut his hair.”

See more in the video above.

 

 

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Former Recording Academy Boss Says The Grammy Awards Are Rigged

Former Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan is accusing the Recording Academy of gender discrimination and sexual harassment, days before the 62nd annual Grammy Awards.

The 46-page complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Tuesday (Jan. 21), claims that the Recording Academy abides by a “boy’s club mentality”  and manipulates the Grammys voting process, among other allegations.

In the documents, Dugan accuses the Recording Academy of attempting to smear her reputation for speaking out against the alleged harassment, gender discrimination, unequal pay, and unlawful retaliation, that she claims to have endured. Dugan, who was recently ousted from her position, also accuses music lawyer Joel Katz of sexual harassment.

Katz “categorically” denied Dugan’s allegations in a statement through his attorney.

Dugan, the Recording Academy’s first female CEO, says she took over after former CEO Neil Portnow resigned “in disgrace after being caught making misogynistic remarks about women recording artists.” Dungan claims that her salary was significantly lower than her two male predecessors, and that she was later told to hire Portnow as a consultant for a $750,000 fee. The documents goes on to claim  Portnow's consultant contract was severed because he was accused of raping a female recording artist.

Portnow denied the rape claim which he called, “ludicrous and untrue.”

Dugan filed a HR complaint in December of 2019. She was put on administrative leave three weeks later. However, the Recording Academy claims Dugan was placed on leave over a bullying complaint from Portnow’s executive assistant. Dugan alleges that the Recording Academy attempted to work out a settlement with her before backing out at the last minute and giving her one hour to agree to a new deal. She later informed the company of her intent to sue.

Dugan's complaint outlines how women and minority groups have been “historically underrepresented” at the Grammys and within the Academy. For example, the docs note that only 10 black artists have won the coveted Album of the Year honor and that R&B artist are typically excluded from top awards in favor of country, rock and pop music. The docs point out some of the criticisms the the Grammys has received, including failing to honor black artists and a lack of diversity among winners. Eminem for instances, won Best Rap Album seven times despite the category being dominated by black artists. Also mentioned in the documents are Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who beat out Kendrick Lamar, Drake and Kanye West for Best Rap Album in 2014. Dugan used Drake and pop star Dua Lipa to support her claim that the show cuts acceptance speeches short if the artist criticizes the Academy.

Further in the docs, Dugan exposes the Grammys nominations process as allegedly being “ripe with corruption.” Submissions are voted on by 12,000 Recording Academy members all around the country. The selections are narrowed down to the Top 20 entries, which are then reviewed by “secret committees.” Dugan asserts that board members on the committees have relationships with recording artists, thus furthering an artist's chance of getting nominated.

“The Board also manipulates the nominations process to ensure that certain songs or albums are nominated when the producer of the Grammys (Ken Ehrlich) wants a particular song performed during the show,” the documents claim.

Click here to read Dungan's full complaint.

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‘Red Table Talk’ Inks 3-Year Deal With Facebook Watch

The Emmy-nominated Red Table Talk, hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter Willow Smith and mother, Adrienne Banfield Norris, has inked a three-year deal with Facebook Watch that extends through 2022.

In addition to a new contract, Westbrook Studios (owned by Pinkett Smith and Will Smith) is expanding the Red Table Talk brand with a spinoff series starring Gloria Estefan.

Red Table Talk: The Estefans, will be produced by Pinkett-Smith, Westbrook Studios and Estefan, with Ellen Rakieten and Miguel Melendez serving as executive producers. The series features the music icon along with her daughter and rising musician, Emily Estefan, and her niece Emmy winner, Lili Estefan. The new show will be based in Miami, where Estefan lives, and will showcase three generations of women having candid conversations about timely topics, social and personal issues with family, in addition to celebrity guests and experts.

“I’m incredibly proud of ‘Red Table Talk,’ and thrilled to build upon this franchise with my family and with Gloria, Emily and Lili,” Pinkett Smith said in a statement. “‘Red Table Talk’ has created a space to have open, honest and healing conversations around social and topical issues, and what’s most powerful for me is hearing people’s stories and engaging with our fans in such a tangible way on the Facebook Watch platform.  I’m excited to see the Estefans put their spin on the franchise and take it to new places.”

Estefan added that she’s “incredibly excited” to carry on the “'Red Table Talk' torch” with her family.

“Jada and I have spoken about this a lot and feel my daughter, niece and I can tackle issues important to us and our fans with a new and fresh voice,” said Estefan. “Jada has done this incredibly and continues to do with her family in their candid, intimate, and groundbreaking conversations at the iconic Red Table.”

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