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Don Cheadle Talks Role in Kendrick Lamar's 'DNA' Video, Favorite Rap Album & Best Rappers Turned Actors

Don Cheadle says he was worried about making a fool of himself in Kung Fu Kenny's video.

After setting the Internet ablaze with his new album DAMN., Kendrick Lamar upped the ante late Tuesday night (April 18) with his new video "DNA."

Instead of crafting a traditional video, Lamar flipped the script on the music industry by reeling in prolific actor, Don Cheadle. Known for his prowess on the big screen (Crash, Hotel Rwanda, Ocean Eleven, Iron Man 2), Cheadle nailed his role as a police investigator, even delivering an intense rendition of Lamar's hard-hitting rhymes in the Nabil and the Little Homies-directed video for "DNA."

Though Cheadle's appearance in "DNA." may have been a surprise to the Internet, he and Lamar have been plotting a sneak-attack on hip-hop for years. With a bond centered around creativity, Lamar and Cheadle forged a relationship several years ago out of mutual admiration for each other's talents. To his surprise, Cheadle recently found out that his Rush Hour 2, Kenny, was the inspiration behind Lamar's moniker Ku-Fung Kenny (the rapper even debuted a kung-fu flick at his headlining Coachella set this past weekend dedicated to his martial artist alter-ego).

In an interview with Billboard, The Don speaks on his relationship with Kendrick Lamar, how his role in "DNA" came about, if K.Dot is in his Top 5 rappers of all time and other rappers who forged a successful acting career.

You teamed up with Kendrick Lamar for the "DNA." video. How did you get involved in the process?
It's been a couple of years since we been communicating about different things. I've been trying to figure out casting opportunities for him and put him in things that I'm involved in. He was somebody that I thought could play Junior in Miles Ahead, but he was busy working on To Pimp a Butterfly, which turned out great for everybody, right? Because he got to create that album and we got Keith Stanfield [for Junior]. So, everybody was happy.

Since then, we just stayed in touch. I'd hit him every once in awhile and he'll hit me up like, "Hey, what's up big bro?" and we'll just rap for a second. Weeks would go by and I'd just hit him like "Where you at?" So we've just been keeping in touch for a couple of years like that. Then he just hit me out the blue and said, "Hey, I'm doing this thing. I got this video. You wanna come through and maybe do it?" I was like, "Yeah. For sure. I don't even know what it is, but of course." He sent me the rap and said, "Can you get this down?' I was like, 'Are you f**king crazy?'" [Laughs] Do you know how you rap?" But he said, "You just have to get this part of it down and then it'll go into a different thing." So, I only had two days to cram but that's kind of how it came about.

How were you able to retain his lyrics so quickly, especially since his flow and delivery are complex?
He gave me [the rap] and I was really sweating because I was worried about making a fool out of myself. [Laughs.] With Mark directing and Bill did great with some really good editing, they worked around the slippery parts for me. The best thing, really, about it for me was that I had no idea what the setup was. They told me to bring a suit and that I was gonna be a cop. That's all they really told me. I showed up and saw the whole thing. When we were trading back and forth, we just started improv-ing. That was just us messing around. That was the fun part for me because I was like, "Oh, so you want to act a little bit?" So we just did it like that.

Where do you think Kendrick Lamar stands as a top-tier rapper all-time in your eyes?
He's in there. He's a game changer.

Where does he fall in your top rappers list?
I could argue about him being top 5 just because of his innovation and the way he has impacted [the genre]. You have to make an incredible impact to move up that list and he has done that. It's like you can name them. We can go through them and say, "Oh, Rakim? He changed it." People were like, "Oh, we gotta do that." When Nas came out, he changed it. So, you know, there's several people like that, that come out and everyone is like, "Oh damn." He's definitely one of those dudes. It's a tough scale, but he's definitely in the top 5 for me.

Last year, you were on Lip Sync Battle and performed The Notorious B.I.G.'s 'Mo' Money, Mo' Problems.' If you could do a three song-set of your all-time favorite rap songs, which three would you choose and why?
Oh my God. That I couldn't even do because they change all the time. It depends what I'm listening to. There's some Slum Village tracks and those are deep cuts that aren't the popular ones that are dope. But, man, I don't even know. Mos [Def] to me has so much stuff that I love. I couldn't pick the three that I would want to do. I would be too intimidated to try any of them. I just want to see them do it.

What are some of your favorite albums that you still play to this day?
I kind of like go in when I get something that I love and I'll listen to it for a year. [Laughs.] I'm serious. Like, To Pimp a Butterfly came out and that was all I listened to and D'Angelo's Black Messiah. Those were the only two I listened to, and I listened to all my old Miles [Davis] stuff. That's kind of all I listen to really.

You worked with T.I. on season three of House of Lies. Tell me about his growth as an actor and some of your favorite memories that you shared with him during the filming of the show.
Oh, we had a great time. I actually directed his introduction into the show, the debut on the show, which was cool. He was just a consummate professional and showed up. Sometimes, you don't know what you're gonna get. [Laughs] You're gonna hire a hip-hop dude and you're like, "Ok, there's stories. I know that this can go a certain way." But, he came in and was really dedicated, and was always ready to go. He fully wanted to be a member of this thing and not the only dude that needed things to bend to his will. He was great. It was just a great experience.

You appeared on an episode on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1990. Back then, Will Smith was transitioning from a rapper to an actor. Does his growth and transition into an iconic actor surprise you today?
No. I mean, you can see it then. It's another situation where he was somebody that by the time he had done that show, he was already world famous, and was already a professional, and knew how to work. He was really serious about what he was trying to do. I wasn't surprised that it kind of took off for him because you could see it early that he was very serious about his, you know? He was on his way somewhere.

If you can choose you Top 5 rappers-turned-actors, who would make the list?
Best rappers/actors? Man, I don't know if I can think of five. Will [Smith], for sure. Obviously, he's in there.

You could throw Ice Cube in there.
I guess 50 [Cent] is an actor now.

A lot of people have been going with Drake, as well.
Oh yeah. I think Drake showed another color of his on Saturday Night Live. I didn't know how funny he was. He was hilarious.

You can also throw Queen Latifah.
Oh yeah. Latifah, for sure. Definitely, she was big for the women.

She's not a rapper, but would you consider throwing Beyonce in there?
Beyonce is a good actress. It's hard because you need to see more of them and see them do more things. It's like a one movie, one thing. Will has done 28 movies. He has a lot of range. It's hard when you see someone just do one thing to determine whether they can act or not.

You transformed into Miles Davis for his biopic Miles Ahead. Talk about the preparation and what it took to enter a musician's mindset.
I don't know to whatever degree I was successful or not, as far as getting into his mindset or not. I really wanted to get into what he did and become a musician. I learned how to play. I wrote music for it. I really studied it and spent a lot of time with his family. I just kind of wanted to get more than just an imitation for him. I was trying to understand and experience him and kind of try to walk in his shoes. That's what I tried to do. I guess that's something we all try to do as actors when you're trying to find your entry point. He was a trickier one, but I'm such a fan of music and happened to be for most of my life. I came up as a musician. I played sax all through school and I almost went through with that as my profession so jazz wasn't far away from me.

A lot of biopics have been coming out based on music. Which would you say was your personal favorite biopic based on a musician's life?
I think Round Midnight was really good, and it wasn't really about Dexter Gordon. He basically played himself in it, but it wasn't specifically about his life. He kind of played a version of himself. I thought that was really good. The genre tends to kind of irk me a little bit because it feels like it's kind of locked into a format and that was something I was kind of trying to break out of in mine [with Miles Ahead]. I think Round Midnight was my favorite.

What's interesting is that you were up against Jamie Foxx's performance in Ray in 2005 for best actor at the Oscars when you did Hotel Rwanda.
Yeah, I was, but that was a forgone conclusion.

It could have been a toss-up.
I thought so, too, but I knew it was gonna be Jamie, because you kind of just have a feeling how it starts to go and who's gonna get it, and who the Academy is gonna give it to. It's like, I saw Leonardo DiCaprio [last year] and he walked by like, "Man. I'm really nervous." I was like, "Man, you don't have anything to be nervous about. You're fine. Have a drink. You'll be cool." [Laughs]

This article was originally published on Billboard.

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Noname Apologizes For J. Cole Response Track "Song 33"

Last week, Noname and J. Cole squared off in a lyrical tic-for-tac over the issues of accountability during the recent deaths of many African Americans at the hands of police brutality. After launching her track "Song 33," Noname went on Twitter over the weekend and apologized for engaging in a battle of the words with Cole. 

"i've been thinking a lot about it and i am not proud of myself for responding with song 33," she tweeted regarding her Madlib-produced track. "i tried to use it as a moment to draw attention back to the issues i care about but i didn't have to respond. my ego got the best of me. i apologize for any further distraction this caused."  

She later added: "madlib killed that beat and i see there's a lot of people that resonate with the words so i'm leaving it up but i'll be donating my portion of the songs earnings to various mutual aid funds. black radical unity."

The initial skirmish between Cole and Noname occurred last month when the Chicago lyricist subliminally called out high profiled rappers for not being vocal during the protests for George Floyd. Fans pointed the fingers to Cole, and Kendrick Lamar for fitting Noname's description, and the former took offense, releasing his controversial track "Snow on the Bluff." Subsequently, Cole spoke on the song's creative process on Twitter and said he had no ill feelings towards Noname.

"Morning. I stand behind every word of the song that dropped last night," he began. "Right or wrong I can't say, but I can say it was honest. Some assume to know who the song is about. That's fine with me, it's not my job to tell anybody what to think or feel about the work. I accept all conversation and criticisms. But Let me use this moment to say this Follow @noname. I love and honor her as a leader in these times. She has done and is doing the reading and the listening and the learning on the path that she truly believes is the correct one for our people. Meanwhile a n---a like me just be rapping."

In return, Noname stormed back with her searing rebuttal "Song 33," questioning Cole's decision to speak on her tweet rather than the larger issues at hand. 

Check out Noname's tweets below.

i’ve been thinking a lot about it and i am not proud of myself for responding with song 33. i tried to use it as a moment to draw attention back to the issues i care about but i didn’t have to respond. my ego got the best of me. i apologize for any further distraction this caused

— Noname (@noname) June 21, 2020

madlib killed that beat and i see there’s a lot of people that resonate with the words so i’m leaving it up but i’ll be donating my portion of the songs earnings to various mutual aid funds. black radical unity ✊🏾

— Noname (@noname) June 21, 2020

This article originally appeared on Billboard.

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Coachella 2020 Has Officially Been Canceled

Update: 12:00 AM EST (June 11, 2020) —  Goldenvoice is assuring ticket holders that passes for the 2020 Coachella and Stagecoach festivals will be honored in 2021.

The company confirmed that next year’s Coachella festival will take place over two consecutive weekend beginning April 9-11 2021. Stagecoach kicks off the following weekend after Coachella ends.

Ticket holders will receive an email on Monday (June 15) “with further instructions to request a refund or to roll over to next year.”

— Coachella (@coachella) June 11, 2020

Original story below...

After initially being postponed until October, the 2020 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival has officially been canceled. Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser decided to cancel Coachella and Stagecoach Music Festival amid concerns that COVID-19 could get worse in the fall.

“Given the projected circumstances and potential, I would not be comfortable moving forward,” Kaiser said in a statement on Wednesday (June 10). “These decisions are not taken lightly with the knowledge that many people will be impacted. My first priority is the heat of the community.”

Officials in Riverside County consulted with Goldenvoice, the company behind the annual festivals, before making a final decision. Coachella and its country music counterpart, Stagecoach, are both expected to return to Indio, Calif. next year but with updated health precautions in place.

Coachella and Stagecoach aren’t the only major music festivals to get canceled this year. The 2020 Lollapalooza festival was also axed because of the pandemic. “We wish we could bring Lollapalooza to [Chicago’s] Grant Park again this year, but we understand why things can’t move forward as planned,” reads a message on the festival website. “The health and safety of our fans, artists, partners, staff and community is our highest priority.”

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Tekashi 6ix9ine And Nicki Minaj Announce “Trollz” Collaboration

Update: 12:15 A.M. EST (June 11,2020) — As promised, Tekashi 6ix9ine and Nicki Minaj unleashed their new single “Trollz.”

Watch the music video below.

Original story below...

Tekashi 6ix9ine and Nicki Minaj are teaming back up for the new single, “Trollz,” the rap duo announced on social media on Wednesday (June 11).

The “Trollz” music video drops at midnight on Friday (June 12). A percentage of the single's proceeds will go to The Bail Project Inc.

“The fund provides free bail assistance to low-income individuals who cannot afford to pay bail,” Minaj tweeted, along with a Black Lives Matter hashtag.


A portion of the proceeds from #Trollz including merch items, will be going directly to The Bail Project Inc. The fund provides free bail assistance to low-income individuals who can’t afford to pay bail. #BlackLivesMatter #TrollzVIDEO tmrw @ midnight

— Mrs. Petty (@NICKIMINAJ) June 10, 2020


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A post shared by TROLLZ (@6ix9ine) on Jun 10, 2020 at 10:00am PDT

“Trollz” marks the second single from Tekashi since being released from prison early, and his latest collaboration with Minaj after “Fefe.” Last month, Minaj teamed with Doja Cat for the “Say So” remix, which scored the Queens native her first No. 1 hit on the Billboard singles chart.

Minaj isn’t the only artist to link up with the 23-year-old rapper as of late. Akon jumped in the studio with Tekashi to work on an apparent follow-up to his 2003 single, “Locked Up.”


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A post shared by TROLLZ (@6ix9ine) on Jun 7, 2020 at 10:16am PDT

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