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A St. John's University Grad Reflects On J. Cole's ‘Dollar And A Dream' Tour


The flash flood warnings hit up every iPhone in New York without any sign of respect for the city’s plans Tuesday afternoon (July 15). Still, no child of Mother Nature was stopping J. Cole fans from wrapping around 16th Street and 9th Avenue for the second annual Dollar and a Dream tour in the rapper’s second home.

The show paid homage to Cole’s classic mixtape, The Warm Up, the 22-track opus responsible for cementing him a rap deal with Jay Z and a spot on the Roc Nation roster. A soaked crowd of teen-looking Stans, covered in Dreamville jerseys (signifying Cole’s label/ business venture with Interscope) piled into the Highline Ballroom, which would host two concerts that night (one at 7pm, the other at 10pm) because it was “small.” This coming from the guy who once headlined HOT97’S Who’s Next Series at S.O.B.’s (a venue three times as tiny) four years ago.


Rewind to 2007 when Jermaine Cole, a Fayetteville, North Carolina native, made the upward trek to New York to be a Communications major at St. John’s University. Cole (whose original rap name was Therapist) was just scratching the surface of his rap talents with his debut mixtape The Come Up, which included his first “Dead Presidents” freestyle and the baby cub to “Grown Simba”, simply titled “Simba.” In 2009, the SJU grad dropped The Warm Up, which served as audible proof that he was a wordsmith with potential to be a star.

In 2010, I was a sophomore at St. John’s and also entertainment editor for the university’s newspaper The Torch. When J. Cole headlined that year’s spring concert, he was like the Danny Zuko of the Queens campus (minus the leather threads, hip swivels and John Travolta’s slicked back hairstyle). Girls wanted to take selfies (before selfies were on trend) with him as familiar faces approached him and gave him daps. It was like Cole never graduated.

While seated outside Montgoris Hall, the dorms’ main dining area, I asked him what made him worthy of the attention.

He simply said, “I have a different story.”

Back at Highline, déjà vu is kicking in. Cole is still spitting on the mic with the same vigor as an unsigned rapper. The words he’s kicking through the speakers aren’t just his personal gospel (cheating on his girl, being broke, following his dreams), they’re his real-life stories preserved on wax. Even Cole's set hasn’t changed since his St. John’s homecoming: he’s performing “Grown Simba,” “Dead Presidents 2”, the close-to-home “Losing My Balance” and invites one of his female fans to sing the hook on “Dreams.” (Sidebar: where is Brandon Hines hiding these days?) Manager and Dreamville Prez Ibrahim "Ib" Hamad is also rocking along in the shadows like he and Cole are still undergrads. For the full story click here.

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SZA Calls For Peace While Receiving 'Rule Breaker' Award At Billboard Women In Music

SZA called for peace and understanding at Billboard's Women In Music event Thursday (Dec. 6).

During her speech for the Rule Breaker award, singer-songwriter recalled today's climate, asking her peers and those watching at home for a little bit of peace.

"I'm sorry for the state of the world honestly, for everybody in this room and I pray that all of us just get through it a little bit easier and just try not to lash out at each other," she said.

The recurring theme of unity among women was also heard on the carpet from artists like Tierra Whack. In addition to her message of love, the "Broken Clocks" singer also thanked her TDE family for rocking with her creative process.

"I'm just so thankful for everybody having patience with me, " she said. Shouting out the key members of her family in attendance, the TDE affiliate gave praise to her mother, father, and grandma. In this brief speech centered around the artist's growth Solána Imani Rowe, known more commonly as her stage name, Rowe everyone for their trust in her.

"I'm grateful for everybody taking the time to have the patience to watch someone grow, it is painful and sometimes exciting but mostly boring. And I am thankful for Top (Top Dawg Entertainment's Anthony Tiffith) for not dropping me from that label. For Peter, who I change my ideas every day and he be like okay I like this," she continued.

Thanking the likes of musical powerhouses like Alicia Keys and Whack, "The Weekend" singer offered her appreciation and condolences to Ariana Grande.

Watch SZA accept the Rule Breaker award above.

READ MORE: Anderson .Paak, Tierra Whack And More Praise Female Artists At 2018 Billboard Women In Music

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Beyoncé, Rihanna, And J. Lo Make Forbes’ Highest-Paid Women In Music List

As November comes to a close, many publications will be crafting their year-end lists for all things pop culture. Forbes released a ranking of the world's highest-paid women in music on Monday (Nov. 19), with Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, and Rihanna holding it down for women of color.

Beyoncé comes in at No. 3 on the list with an earning of $60 million as she made most of her money through her historical Coachella performance, the joint album with husband JAY-Z, Everything is Love, and the Carters' On The Run II Tour in support of its release.

Jennifer Lopez made No. 6 for earnings tallying of over $47 million thanks to her lucrative Las Vegas residency, endorsements, and shows including World of Dance where she serves as a judge.

Rihanna follows behind the "Love Don't Cost A Thing" diva at No. 7 with earnings of over $37.5 million. Although she hasn't toured since 2016—thanks to her cosmetics and lingerie lines, Fenty Beauty and Savage Lingerie—the Bajan pop star has been keeping herself busy.

Forbes' annual list (which factors in pretax earnings from June 1, 2017, through June 1, 2018) has placed Katy Perry at the top with over $83 million in profits due to her gig as an American Idol judge and her 80-date Witness: The Tour that brought in an estimated $1 million per night.

Scroll down to see Forbes' full list below.

Katy Perry ($83 million) Taylor Swift ($80 million) Beyoncé ($60 million) P!nk ($52 million) Lady Gaga ($50 million) Jennifer Lopez ($47 million) Rihanna ($37.5 million) Helene Fischer ($32 million) Celine Dion ($31 million) Britney Spears ($30 million)


READ MORE: Nas Makes Forbes’ List Of ‘Hip-Hop Cash Kings’ For The First Time

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Kelly Rowland Hops In Her Bag With New Single "Kelly"

Kelly Rowland has it all and isn't afraid to brag about it on her new single, "Kelly."

Released Thursday (Nov. 22), the singer goes the clubby, confident route while rightfully dropping her attributes like her relationship with God, smoldering looks (a.k.a the drip) among other things. With "Kelly" being the first single since her 2013's Talk a Good Game, the singer comes out swinging, reminding everyone of her power in the game.

The mother of one has promised that her new tunes will be edgier and most honest than her past work that included vulnerable tracks like "Dirty Laundry" and massive hits like "Motivation" and "Commander." Speaking with Vogue over the summer, Ms. Kelly disclosed a few details behind the album.

“It’s about love, loss, and gain and whether it’s professional or with family or whatever, it’s just honest," she said. "I had no choice but to be honest and authentic with this record: it’s about friendship and marriage.”

She also explained a drop in confidence caused her hiatus. “I was thinking about pulling back from recording, but I couldn’t help myself: I still wanted to record. I still felt like I was missing something. The third year just came and left so fast. The fourth year I said: ‘I have to get to work’ and now I’m ready to release some music! I felt like I wasted so much time, and it was my husband who actually called me out on it. He said: ‘Babe, as great as those records were, I think you were nervous, you got gun-shy’, and when he said that it was like boom, a gong went off.”

Glad to have you back, Ms. Kelly. Listen to the eponymous record up top.

READ MORE: Kelly Rowland Debuts Smoke x Mirrors Eyewear Collection At Barneys New York

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