yandy yandy

Q&A: Yandy Smith Talks New Label, Dealing With Mendeecees Being Locked Up And Jim Jones

Named one of Billboard Magazine’s Top 30 Executives under 30, there isn’t much Yandy Smith hasn’t achieved in her career. She has worked alongside some of the greats including LL Cool J, Missy Elliott and 50 Cent during her tenure in the music biz and is now about to embark on a new record label venture with fellow Love and Hip Hop NY cast member Rich Dollaz named Lenox Avenue Records.

The mother/ mogul started as one of the producers of Love and Hip Hop but joined the cast in season two as Jim Jones’ manager. The two have since parted ways after a fallout by the season's end. After the season four premiere of LHHNY made waves on Monday (Oct. 28), Yandy faces a new set of challenges: dealing with her fiancé Mendeecees Harris being held in custody under conspiracy charges and raising Mendeecees’ son Mendeecees Jr and their new baby Omere. VIBE caught up with her at the official screening to get the low-down on her burgeoning label, baby daddy issues and more.—Megan Saad

VIBE: You and Rich Dollaz are starting your own record label. Was this something that had been in the pipeline for a long time or was it a spur of the moment thing?
Yandy: Well I’ve been wanting to do a label for a very long time. When I had a baby I realized that the whole sitting in the studio, or going to the club getting DJs to play my records just wasn’t going to be my thing. I knew that was Rich's thing. He can find a great record, goes to the clubs and promotes music. Rich can knock on the DJs’ doors because he knows all of them; he’s done radio for years. So Rich has become the ying to my yang with this label. I can sit in an office and I can close the deals. I can make sure our bottom lines and our income is being generated. I’m great at that, so I think it was the perfect combination.

Last season everyone was shocked when Mendeecees was taken into custody straight after your engagement and new baby. What has been the hardest part about him being away for so long?
I think the hardest thing is him missing everything. He’s missing Omere’s birthday, he missed little Mendeecee’s birthday; even him seeing little steps that the kids are taking. But then also, I just miss my best friend. I speak to him on the phone all the time, I see him every other week but actually having him there to go through raising the boys and just doing the things we like to do.

In this episode we saw that little Mendeecees overheard you guys talking about his dad being in jail. How do you plan to break it to Omere when the time comes?
Hopefully I won’t have to break it to Omere. Hopefully his dad will be home before that even happens.

A lot of women wouldn’t stick around if they found out their man was about to get twenty years in jail. Are you prepared to stay in that worst case scenario?
The thing is when I said that, I was kind of speaking out of place. That was something that I was reading and listening to the blogs and trying to do research to find out conspiracy charges, you know, what are the time frames? But that’s absolutely not the case. I’ve gotten a lot more information now and hopefully he’ll be home soon.

Are you still in contact with Jim Jones?
No. I’m not, not at all.

Photo Credit: Getty

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Jussie Smollett attends the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's 60th Anniversary Opening Night Gala Benefit at New York City Center on November 28, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

'Empire' Camp Says Jussie Smollett Never Complained About Salary

The accusations made towards Jussie Smollett in the alleged staged assault has those close to the actor-musician scratching their heads–including his Empire family.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter Thursday (Feb. 21), sources close Empire were surprised to hear a salary increase was the motive behind the actor's reported staged attack in January. The Illinois state prosecutor stated in a press conference Smollett paid two brothers to orchestrate a homophobic racist attack in an effort to get his star rising and his pockets heavier. But those close to the Empire set believe that can't be the case since as he was most recently paid $125,000 per episode.

"I don't think it's true that he was unhappy with what he was being paid," the source told THR. "His representatives never once called and there was no effort to renegotiate. He's never expressed any dissatisfaction."

Created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, Smollett's base pay was in the $40,000 to $50,000 region but after setting record-breaking ratings in the first season, the main characters received a big increase with Smollett receiving $125,000 per episode and esteemed actors Taraji P. Henson and Terrance Howard moving from $110,000-$120,000 per-episode to the  $225,000-$250,000 range. Aside from season one, there are 18 episodes from season two to season five.

The actor has officially been cut from the last two episodes of the fifth season to avoid "disruption on set."

"While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out, a statement from Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer reads. "We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of Jamal from the final two episodes of the season."

Smollett has also maintained his innocence throughout the entire case. Alternative motives have pointed to a boost to his music career but the actor also seemed to be pleased with that as well.

Speaking to VIBE just after the release of his debut album Sum of My Music, the actor was pleased with his journey outside of Empire.

"Here’s the thing, I’m not ashamed of Empire songs. I wrote a lot of them," he said. Empire's soundtrack was a hit with fans as it climbed to the top of the Billboard charts in 2015.  "I’m proud of the work I’ve done with Empire. I just can’t be only Empire, that’s not all I am."

His project moved 7,000 units and views on his YouTube channel views have been modest with "Catch Your Eye" feature Swizz Beatz reaching 620,000 views and audio of "F.U.W." reaching 1.1 million spins. His most popular song on Spotify isn't an Empire-related track, it's "Ha Ha (I Love You)" from Sum of My Music.

As the case might to go trial, one can only hope the full truth will be revealed.

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Kevin Winter

Big Boi To Play Motown Founder Berry Gordy In DeBarge Biopic

Big Boi has reportedly been cast as Motown's legendary founder Berry Gordy in the upcoming biopic about Bobby DeBarge. The rapper confirmed the news on Instagram on Thursday (Feb. 21).

"Just finished playing Berry Gordy in the Debarge movie. Coming Soon," Big Boi announced on Instagram. The photo showed an acting chair with his name and Gordy's printed on the backrest.

Bobby DeBarge was the lead singer of R&B group Switch, an act signed to Gordy’s Motown Records imprint Gordy Records. Known for his  impressive falsetto, DeBarge quickly shot up to stardom during the late 70s. He later co-produced for his siblings' band, also named DeBarge, before joining the group himself.

Amidst his success in music, he struggled with substance abuse and legal issues. He died in Aug. 1995 of AIDS complications at the age of 39.

The Bobby DeBarge Story is slated to premiere on TV One sometime this year.

 

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Just finished playing Berry Gordy in the “ Debarge “ movie @swirlfilmsig 🎬🎥🔥 coming Soon ! 🆙

A post shared by Big Boi (@bigboi) on Feb 21, 2019 at 8:21pm PST

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Welcome To The Jam: 'Space Jam 2' Gets 2021 Release Date

It looks like we've got a real jam going down, and it will all happen in a few short years. According to Springhill Entertainment's Twitter page, the official release date for Space Jam 2 will be on July 16, 2021.

The follow-up to the 1996 Looney Tunes-heavy film starring Michael Jordan will star LeBron James this time around. Black Panther’s Ryan Coogler will produce it, and Terence Nance is directing, which were revealed in summer 2018 with a pretty cute promotional photo.

Filming will reportedly begin this summer, and we're certain we'll find out more high-profile cast members within the next year. James' production partner discussed the possibility of Michael Jordan appearing in the second film, but only time will tell.

"Michael Jordan is Michael F**kin' Jordan," said Maverick Carter. "It doesn't matter [if James] calls him, he's gonna do whatever the hell he wants, which he has earned that right to do."

The first film features basketball stars Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Larry Bird and more, and features a pretty memorable cameo by Bill Murray. Danny DeVito voices Swackhammer, the owner of outer space theme park Moron Mountain. He and his tiny group of aliens steal the talent of NBA players to win a basketball game against the Looney Tunes, which could determine the cartoons' fate.

July 16, 2021 🎥🏀🥕 #SaveTheDate pic.twitter.com/qV1Tnxuksd

— SpringHill Ent. (@SpringHillEnt) February 22, 2019

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