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John Blackwell Jr., Prince's Former Drummer, Dies at 43

Rest well.

John Blackwell Jr., best known for his work as a drummer for Prince, has died. He was 43.

Blackwell's wife, Yaritza, announced his death on her husband's Instagram account, where she shared a photo of them holding hands.

"My husband incredible drummer John Blackwell Jr. passed the way peacefully in my company today," she wrote. "Thanks God for his life and thanks everyone for their support."

Four days prior to announcing Blackwell's death, she shared an update on his health:

"One year ago, my husband, incredible drummer John Blackwell Jr. was diagnosed with brain tumors while in Japan playing at the Blue Note Tokyo in a featuring with top bassist Nik West. This whole year has been very challenging not only for John, but for me also, that have to provide the care he needs, and with the help of God, you as donors, and his doctors, nurses and therapists he is still fighting hard to get better."

"I pray God for John every day, every hour... and thank you for your prayers, donations and for the good thoughts for John," she added. A GoFundMe donation page was created to help pay for his medical expenses soon after his diagnosis.

Blackwell performed with Prince for over a decade and also played on two of his releases, 2003's instrumental N.E.W.S. album and the Live at the Aladdin Las Vegas DVD.

Prior to meeting Prince, he was a drummer for Patti LaBelle for three years and appeared her 1998 Live! One Night Only album.

In addition to playing with a long list of other musicians throughout his career, he notably toured with Justin Timberlake in 2006, in support of FutureSex/LoveSounds.

This article was originally published on Billboard.

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Erykah Badu Denies Producers Contacted Her For 'Surviving R. Kelly'

Erykah Badu is hitting back against dream hampton after she claimed that producers of Surviving R. Kelly contacted the singer to appear in the Lifetime docuseries. Badu claims that she was never contacted, and would like hampton to provide the receipts or apologize.

It all started when a fan pointed out that Badu and R. Kelly worked with one another years ago, which is why she allegedly chose not to be apart of the docuseries. Erykah rejected that comment, stating that she had never worked with him on music or declined to appear in the documentary.

Hampton stepped in by claiming that a producer attempted to contact Badu, but did not receive a response. "I asked Producer T. Farris to contact @fatbellybella to be in doc because I wanted clarity on two things: 1) a quote attributed to her, 'No one has done more for Black people than R. Kelly' & 2) what she was thinking when she called him her "brother" at Soul Train Awards," dream tweeted.

Badu quickly responded: No ma’am. I WAS NOT EVER contacted by anyone to be in [email protected] You know that’s not true. I wasn’t a necessary component. You had all the right people, the ones close to the situation...But for now, produce this “producer’s” request or... APOLOGIZE. It’s simple."

Badu and hampton's latest back and forth comes only days after the neo-soul artist was criticized for seemingly defending R. Kelly amid his sexual abuse allegations at a concert in Chicago. She later clarified her remarks about the disgraced singer, saying that she did not approve of his actions, but believed he was deserving of love and assistance.

Check out Badu and hampton's exchange below.

I asked Producer T. Farris to contact @fatbellybella to be in doc because I wanted clarity on two things: 1) a quote attributed to her, "No one has done more for Black people than R. Kelly" & 2) what she was thinking when she called him her "brother" at Soul Train Awards. https://t.co/yYBvP8bBIj

— dream hampton (@dreamhampton) January 22, 2019

No ma’am. I WAS NOT EVER contacted by anyone to be in [email protected] You know that’s not true. I wasn’t a necessary component. You had all the right people, the ones close to the situation...But for now, produce this “producer’s” request or... APOLOGIZE. It’s simple. https://t.co/cgBcpPePMI

— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) January 23, 2019

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Judge Removes Tekashi 6ix9ine's Lawyer From Racketeering Case

Tekashi 6ix9ine is in need of new legal representation. A judge has reportedly removed one of 6ix9ine's lawyers from his racketeering case ahead of his trial, XXL reports. The decision was made during a pre-trial conference on Tuesday (Jan. 22).

The presiding Judge Paul A. Engelmayer ruled that the 6ix9ine's lawyer, Lance Lazarro, would have to be removed from the case due to a potential conflict of interest. Lazarro reportedly represented Tekashi's co-defendants, Faheem "Crippy" Walter and Kifano "Shotti" Jordan before representing 6ix9ine in his racketeering case.

During the conference, Engelmayer stated that he was upset that Lazarro had not disclosed his relationship with the co-defendants previously. Lazarro reportedly represented Walter for a gang assault charge in Oct. 2018 and Jordan for numerous charges in 2009 and 2015. He explained that he didn't think the matter was important to mention.  Judge Engelmayer responded by noting that it wasn't the attorney's place to determine whether his previous work was significant.

Lazzaro will not be able to act as Tekashi's lawyer until he sends letters detailing the extent of his relationships with Walter and Jordan. If the judge finds no conflict of interest, Lazarro will be able to return as an acting attorney for Tekashi. Dawn Florio will continue as part of Tekashi's legal team.

As previously reported, the "Stoopid" artist, Walter, and Jordan are awaiting trial for a racketeering case. Tekashi pleaded not guilty to the federal charges in Nov. 2018. If convicted, he could face a life sentence in prison. His trial date is slated to begin on Sept. 4.

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Drake And Odell Backham Jr. Sued For Orchestrating Violent Attack On Man

Drake and NFL wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. are reportedly being sued for allegedly orchestrating a violent attack on a man in a West Hollywood club, TMZ reports. According to court docs obtained by the celeb site, Bennett Sipes is accusing Drake and Beckham of telling their entourage to beat him up after a brief confrontation.

Sipes claims the incident occurred in the VIP section of the Delilah nightclub after he began to argue with Drizzy, Beckham, Kourtney Kardashian's ex-boyfriend Younes Benjima, and the rest of their crew. A source close to the incident claims Sipes was "talking smack" at the time. When he attempted to exit the area, Sipes alleges that Drake gave him the "cut throat" gesture.

When the victim entered the bathroom, he was attack by Benjima and Drake and Beckham's friends. The whole fight was caught on video, showing Benjima throwing the first punch at Sipes. Drake and OBJ are also seen on camera watching from a distance.

Sipes reportedly filed a police report following the incident, but dropped it shortly after. He is suing OBJ, Drake, Delilah and others other for an undisclosed amount.

Check out footage from the attack below.

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