Best New Artist: Chance The Rapper
It's hard to ignore the year that Lil Chano had in 2016, and it already looks like 2017 will have the same astounding effect. He boasts one of the strongest bodies of work last year (a mere mixtape, mind you), which may have helped to sway the Recording Academy into accepting streaming-only artists as eligible Grammy contenders. He also has the third highest number of nominations this year in his first year of eligibility. To NOT give him the W for "Best New Artist" would be incredibly disjointed. If not him, we wouldn't be upset if it went to either Anderson .Paak or country crooner Maren Morris. The Grammys love an artist who gives an old-school flair with a new school twist, something multi-instrumentalist .Paak does effortlessly. However, they also love a good songwriter (Morris) who has had some crossover experience (she performed with Alicia Keys for an episode of CMT Crossroads). —J'na Jefferson
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Chance The Rapper Continues Mission To Improve Chicago Schools After Disappointing Meeting With Illinois Governor

"I just want people to do their jobs."

Chance the Rapper is determined to improve schools in Chicago, and he won’t be deterred by the “vague answers” that he received from the Illinois governor, Bruce Rauner. The Grammy winner met with Rauner Friday (March 3) to discuss a funding increase for the nation’s third largest public school system.

“I’m here because I just want people to do their jobs,” the Windy City native told the press appearing disappointed following the closed-door meeting with Rauner.

Late last year, Rauner vetoed a bill that would have given Chicago Public Schools a one-time $215 million payment to help cover employee pensions.

“I did speak with the governor I asked him about funding CPS with that $215 million that we discussed in May of last year, and was vetoed last December,” Chance said. “The kids are on the table right now and we spoke for a second it sounded like we were going somewhere, but it sounds like it’s hinged on passing other bills.

“I’m not a politician, I’m here because I’m a dad,” explained the 23-year-old rapper. “I’m an after-school teacher, I care about the kids. “

The meeting however, wasn't as productive as Chance would've hoped. “He asked me where the $215 is going to come from. He gave me a lot of vague answers, so we’ll se what happens. He has my personal number.”

And Chance doesn't intend on backing down.

Rauner offered a more ambiguous recap of their exchange, noting that he has a “huge respect” for Chance’s passion for “improving school opportunity for the children of Chicago.”

“I share his passion,” stated the Republican governor. “That’s the reason I ran for governor. We focussed primarily on getting more money for Chicago and how to pay for that, we talked about the importance of getting more money for all school children in Illinois, especially low-income children.

“I hope we can come to some good solution,” added Rauner.

CPS is struggling to cover employee pensions, as payments are expected to increase from $676 million in the 2016 fiscal year to roughly $720 million, reports Reuters.

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Disturbing Footage From Aftermath Of Ahmaud Arbery’s Murder Released

Travis McMichael , the man who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery can be seen drenched in blood as he speaks with authorities in new body camera video obtained by the Glynn County police.

The footage, first reported by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution on Monday (Dec. 14), shows Travis McMichael recounting the deadly incident with authorities. His hands and forearms are covered in Arbery’s blood.

One police officer at the scene attempts to calm Travis McMichael before gently asking him if there’s anyone that he wants them to call on his behalf. She goes on to explain that he has to go to the police station as a formality, and asks if he sustained any injuries.

Travis McMichael paces around with his hands in his pockets, at times wiping blood of his arms and face, while blaming Arbery for his own murder. Arbery’s body lay on the ground and he was still breathing at one point in the video, according to USA Today.

While authorities investigate the shooting, Travis McMichael appears agitated and tells an officer, “I want it [the investigation] done right, because this doesn’t look good. I mean, I just shot a man. Last thing I’ve ever wanted to do in my life.”

Arbery, 25, was out for a jog before being chased in a pick-up truck, cornered and gunned down by Travis McMichael with his father, Greg McMichael, a retired investigator for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit D.A.’s office, by his side. Despite having no proof, father and son claim that they thought Arbery had been burglarizing the neighborhood.

Greg McMichael reportedly backed up his son’s account to police stating that his son “had no choice” but to kill Arbery. At least one  officer at the crime scene was familiar with Greg McMichael from his years in law enforcement and recent retirement.

In an additional recording, Greg McMichael says that he would have “shot him myself” and continues accusing Arbery of being the aggressor. “The guy turns and comes at him [Travis], and they start wrestling and Travis shoots him right in the damn chest,” he tells police. “The guy was trying to take the shotgun away from him [Travis].”

A third man, neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan filmed the incident on his cell phone and was later arrested for murder along with the McMichaels. Bryan has since questioned if they should have been following Arbery in the first place.

All three men remain jailed as they await trial on murder charges.

Click here to watch the body cam footage, but please be warned that the video is explicit.

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Bowie State And More HBCUs Receive Record-Breaking Donations From Billionaire

MacKenzie Scott is back at it! The billionaire venture philanthropist, novelist, and ex-wife of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, has donated tens of millions of dollars to several HBCUs in the last few days.

The week's isn't over yet, but so far, Scott has donated well over $100 million to historically Black colleges including Tougaloo College, which received $6 million on Wednesday (Dec. 16).

A day earlier, Scott gave a record $40 million each to Morgan State and Norfolk University, $25 million to Alcorn State University and Bowie State, $20 million to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore , and $15 million to Elizabeth City University.

Morgan State's $40 million gift is the largest single-party donation in the HBCU’s history, and the second-largest donation to a public Maryland university. 

“This monumental gift will change lives and shape futures,” Morgan State President David Wilson said in a statement. “I thank Ms. Scott for her due diligence and acknowledgement of the substantive value Morgan offers to so many throughout this nation and around the world, and entrusting that we will ensure the enduring impact of her generosity is truly transformational for many years to come.”

A majority of the donated funds will go to Morgan State’s newly established endowment fund. The remainder of the money will be used to continue the university’s efforts “essential to student success,” as well as advancing research and enhancing investments in other “mission-focused priorities and initiatives.”

Scott also donated millions to Howard University, Clark Atlanta and Delaware State University.

Her latest HBCU donation spree is a small portion of the $4 billion that she has given away over the last four months. The multi-billion dollar charitable windfall has been dispersed to 384 organizations and educational institutions in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.

And she’s still not done.

“Though I’m far from completing my pledge, this year of giving began with exposure to leaders from historically marginalized groups fighting inequities, and ended with exposure to thousands of organizations working to alleviate suffering for those hardest hit by the pandemic,” Scott wrote in a post on Medium.com. “Witnessing the determination, creativity, and compassion of people in a crisis has been inspiring.”

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Father And Son Who Brutally Murdered Ahmaud Arbery Denied Bail

Travis and Gregory McMichael, the father-son duo charged for the brutal murder of Ahmaud Arbery, were denied bail and must remain behind bars, a judge ruled on Friday (Nov. 13). Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, urged the judge to keep Travis, 34, and Gregory, 64, in custody.

“These men are proud of what they've done,” she said according to NBC News. “In their selfish minds, they think they're good guys.”

William “Roddie” Bryan, a neighbor to the McMichales', was denied bail over the summer.

Bryan recorded Arbery’s murder. All three men have been indicted on suspicion of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

Investigators found racist text messages and social media posts from Travis McMichael,  Cobb County prosecutors noted in court on Thursday. Bryan also told authorities that he heard Travis use the n-word after fatally shooting Arbery.

Arbery, 25, was out for a jog in late February when the men, approached, cornered, and shot him to death. The incident was recorded on Bryan’s cell phone.

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