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Quincy Jones Takes the Stand in Michael Jackson Royalties Trial

Jones is suing MJJ Productions, a company controlled by Michael Jackson's estate.

Quincy Jones has been in the music business for 70 years and he can't quite say exactly how many works he's composed or albums he's produced — but he does remember distinctly the moment he discovered his passion.

Wearing a grey suit, maroon shirt and black tie and vest, the 84-year-old producer told a jury that seeing a piano in an office he'd broken into with his friends changed his life. "I wanted to be a gangster until I was 11," Jones said. But, in that moment with his fellow "baby gangsters," he said every cell in his body told him music is what he'd do for the rest of his life.

Jones is suing MJJ Productions, a company controlled by Michael Jackson's estate. He says he's owed tens of millions, his share of posthumous profits resulting from the exploitation of songs he produced. The producer met the King of Pop while working on The Wiz, and went on two produce his first three solo albums, Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad.

He considered 800 songs for Thriller, he told his attorney Mike McKool in a crowded courtroom Thursday morning. After all, finding songs is a producer's number one job. "A great song can make the worst artist in the world a star," Jones said, adding that making music requires extreme love, respect and trust. "I've never in my life done a record for money or fame."

Peppered in the questions about his producer agreements with Jackson were colorful bits of music history. (Vincent Price recorded his "Thriller" monologue in just two takes.) There were also a surprising amount of jokes. When McKool asked if Jones could see Jackson's signature on one of the exhibits, the producer quipped "Ray Charles could see that."

The mood shifted when Jackson estate attorney Howard Weitzman began his cross-examination by asking whether Jones realized he's effectively suing the artist himself. "I'm not suing Michael," Jones said pointedly. "I'm suing y'all."

When the questioning turned to the specifics of the contracts, the tension grew. Jones' attorneys argue his written agreements with Jackson clearly state that he's entitled to a share of licensing revenue when the songs he produced are used in films and other projects, while attorneys for MJJ argue the contracts make it clear Jones is only entitled to a share of record sales and anything he was paid beyond that was an act of kindness by Jackson.

Jones admitted he doesn't like contracts, and leaves handling the "legalese" to his lawyers — often signing an agreement having only seen the signature page.Weitzman pressed Jones on the agreement, asking whether he feels entitled to a share of licensing even though MJJ's interpretation of the contracts means he's not legally entitled to it.

"Contract montract," said Jones. "If we made the record we deserve to get paid."

After discussion about how lucky the producer and artist were to work with each other, Weitzman turned to the music itself. He played Jackson's original demos of four songs, including "Billie Jean" and "Beat It," and then immediately followed with a clip of the final product.

Despite bobbing along to the music, Jones grew irritated.

"What's your point, Howard?" he asked. The point, although Weitzman didn't outright say it, was to show the jury the similarity between Jackson's pitch and the Jones-produced record in hopes that they'll attribute a larger percentage of the creation to the artist.

Jones says that Jackson "absolutely" did right by him creatively, but whether he did financially is open to debate. When asked why he didn't complain about his share of profits while the singer was alive Jones said, "I cared more about him as a human being than about the money."

Both sides rested Thursday afternoon following Jones' testimony. Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday morning.

This story originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.

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Jermaine Dupri Says Jay-Z Didn't Advise Him To Turn Down NFL Deal

After Bryan-Michael Cox and DJ Funkmaster Flex made separate claims that Jay-Z advised Jermaine Dupri to turn down a deal with the NFL, the record producer, songwriter, and rapper sat down with Big Tigger on Atlanta's V103 Wednesday (Aug. 21) to deny the claims.

Dupri said his deal with the league was to "curate a series of free shows held at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park" and the event would happen before the Super Bowl. In 2018, the rapper took to his Instagram with the official post.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Jan 26th lets go!!!!! @atlsuperbowl53

A post shared by Jermaine Dupri (@jermainedupri) on Oct 26, 2018 at 8:20am PDT

"He and I never had a conversation where he told me 'don't do what you're doing," the So So Def producer said. "What our conversation was, 'You know what side I'm on, I understand what you're doing.' That's what the conversation was."

Here's a quick timeline of the alleged rumors:

Cox joined a Twitter live stream with LoolaTV on Wednesday (Aug. 14) to make the claim that Jay-Z advised Dupri to turn down an NFL partnership. "We're also talking about a guy who single-handedly picked up the phone and called Jermaine to tell him not to do it ... not even a year ago."

I'm Live via https://t.co/KJikcZcXvl @LoolaTv https://t.co/8UBOZkVKnS

— Bryan-Michael Cox (@bryanmichaelcox) August 14, 2019

Hot 97 DJ Funkmaster Flex posted on Monday (Aug. 19) to confirm Cox's story:

I JUST GOT OFF THE PHONE WITH JERMAINE DUPRI... HE CONFIRMED THAT WHEN HE WAS WORKING WITH THE NFL LAST YEAR HE DID GET A CALL FROM JAYZ ASKING HIM.. “HOW DEEP ARE U IN WITH THE NFL?” EXPRESSING... “THAT MIGHT NOT BE A GOOD IDEA”

FUNKFLEX

— Funk Flex !!!!! (@funkflex) August 19, 2019

 

Watch Dupri's full interview below.

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ICONOLOGY: Missy Elliott Dropping Collection Of New Songs Tonight

Missy Elliott has had an incredible 2019.

The superstar is not only finally receiving the Video Vanguard Award at the 2019 MTV VMAs this coming Monday (Aug. 26), the Virginia native also became the first female rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame and received an honorary doctorate from Berklee College Of Music. She's celebrating her standout year with her longtime fans by releasing new music.

ICONOLOGY is a collection of new songs that are meant to make the listener throw it back to the times when music made us want to move. She revealed the news on social media.

"This year has been a tremendous year for me…I am humbled and grateful," she wrote on Instagram." THANK YOU for allowing me to smell the roses. You, my fans, and God are the reason I am here and have celebrated every milestone with me!... Let’s #ThrowItBack to a time when music just felt good and made us want to dance! Sincerely, Dr. Melissa “Missy” Elliott #Iconology."

We're hoping there are some eye-popping videos to accompany these new songs. Check out her post below.

 

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This year has been a tremendous year for me…I am humbled and grateful. THANK YOU for allowing me to smell the roses. You, my fans, and God are the reason I am here and have celebrated every milestone with me! So, I have a SURPRISE for you... let’s continue the celebration at midnight tonight…I’m dropping a collection of new songs! Let’s #ThrowItBack to a time when music just felt good and made us want to dance! Sincerely, Dr. Melissa “Missy” Elliott #Iconology

A post shared by Missy Elliott (@missymisdemeanorelliott) on Aug 22, 2019 at 11:00am PDT

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Baltimore Teen Sentenced To Life For Killing A Cop

A Baltimore teen hung his head and sobbed inside a courtroom Wednesday (Aug. 21) after a judge handed down a life sentence for the May 2018 death of an officer.

Dawnta Harris, 17, from West Baltimore, reportedly asked the judge for a second chance. Although he didn't speak in court, his defense attorney, Warren Brown, read the boy's six-page letter out loud.

“Show me mercy,” he begged

Harris, along with three other teens, reportedly were burglarizing homes in Perry Hall. Harris stole a Jeep Wrangler and was in the vehicle when officer Amy Caprio approached. Harris stepped on the gas and ran over the 29-year-old cop.

“I didn’t want to harm Officer Caprio at all; I just wanted to get away,” Harris wrote. “From the bottom of my heart, I thought she was going to move.”

Brown tried to convince Circuit Judge Jan Marshall Alexander to sentence the teen to 30 years for murdering Caprio, and asked he take into account his rough upbringing. However, speaking to reporters afterward he said he wasn't surprised by the ruling. “It wasn’t unexpected. The judge was under a lot of pressure.”

Caprio had been sent to investigate a suspicious Jeep when she spotted the teen. She blocked his way out with her patrol car, jumped out and ordered him to stop. As the jeep sped toward her, The Baltimore Sun reports Caprio drew her gun and yelled "Stop! Stop!"

Bodycam footage showed Dawnta stopped the jeep and opened the driver door slightly as if to surrender, only to get back inside, slam on the breaks and run over Caprio. Dawnta got rid of the jeep nearby and was found walking when he was arrested.

During a 14-hour interview with investigators, Dawnta admitted he panicked. “Once I saw the gun, I put my head down and closed my eyes," he told them. "It was like five seconds before I pushed on the gas."

Caprio died from broken ribs, and crushing injuries to her internal organs. She was found bleeding with tire marks on her legs.

Brown said he will appeal the ruling.

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