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Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige Headlining Essence Fest 2018

*buys ticket to NOLA*

Janet Jackson and newly minted Academy Award nominee Mary J. Blige are among the headliners announced for the 2018 Essence Festival. The festival returns to the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans July 5-8.

The initial performance lineup also includes a headline set featuring Erykah Badu and Jill Scott with Snoop Dogg and other guests in a special curation by The Roots. Rounding out the first wave of announced headliners are Miguel, Fantasia and Xscape. Also scheduled to perform: Daniel Caesar, H.E.R., Kelela, Ro James, DVSN, 112, Mali Music, Kevin Ross, Marsha Ambrosius  and Teddy Riley’s New Jack Swing Experience featuring Wreckx-n-Effect, BlackStreet and Guy.

More than 40 acts will appear between the Mainstage and the four Superlounges stationed inside the Superdome. Additional acts will be announced in the coming weeks. The Mainstage host is Roy Wood Jr.

For the first time, the Essence Festival will present a DJ-curated experience featuring sets by actor/DJ Idris Elba, MC Lyte and more. In another first, podcast The Read’s Kid Fury and Crissle will host an interactive music experience.

“In 2018 women are at the forefront of a seismic shift reverberating across the cultural landscape,” said Essence Communications president Michelle Ebanks in a press release announcing the lineup. “This movement comes to life for our community at the Essence Festival.”The 2018 Essence Festival is presented by Coca-Cola; State Farm is a major sponsor.

The talent lineup thus far, ticket information and additional festival news are available at EssenceFestival.com.

This article was originally published on Billboard.

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Jay Z Is Allegedly In Talks To Sell Tidal

TIDAL could be shopping around for a new owner.

Square Inc., the mobile payment app led by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, might end up acquiring TIDAL, according to Bloomberg. Dorsey and Jay Z have reportedly discussed a possible sale, but it is unclear if the alleged negotiations will actually result in an acquisition.

The rumored sale may have something to do with why Jay put his discography back to Spotify for his  50th birthday last year.

Hov acquired TIDAL for $56 million from Norwegian company, Aspiro, in 2015. The subscription-based music streaming company has been touted as a better option for artists in that it offers higher royalties than competitors like Spotify and Apple Music.

The company has however been accused of not paying artists, and settled an $84 million class action lawsuit last year amid claims of “fraudulently” persuading customers to subscribe by claiming that Kanye West’s Life of Pablo album was an exclusive release.

Despite a star-studded 2015 launch event attended by West, Beyoncé, J. Cole, Usher, Rihanna, Madonna, Nicki Minaj and more, TIDAL has had a rocky few years — especially when it comes to corporate leadership. The company went through four CEO’s in two years, the most recent of which, Richard Sanders, was appointed to run TIDAL in 2017.

That year, Sprint purchased a 33% stake in TIDAL for $200 million.

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Ashanti And Keyshia Cole Sign On For Verzuz Battle

Season 2 of Verzuz is already off to a good start. Ashanti and Keyshia Cole are next in line for a Verzuz battle, it was confirmed on Friday (Dec. 4).

The R&B stars will go up against each other for a “celebration of women empowerment” next Saturday, Dec. 12. The “Legendary Ladies Night” will be streamed on IG Live and Apple Music.

Yeah, it’s official! The paperwork is IN 🚨🚨 It’s a legendary Ladies Night on Saturday, December 12th with @Ashanti and @KeyshiaCole.

Which Libra you got?!

Saturday, December 12th, 5PM PT / 8PM ET. Watch on our IG or in HD on @AppleMusic.

Drinks by @Ciroc Merch by @NTWRKLIVE pic.twitter.com/UCWJvaEl0y

— Verzuz (@verzuzonline) December 4, 2020

Both multi-platinum selling singers have impressive stats. Ashanti’s catalog of solo hits include “Foolish,” “Rock wit U,” “Rain On Me,” “Happy,” and “Baby.” On the collaborative tip, the Grammy winner joined Ja Rule on singles like, “What’s Love?” and “Always on Time.”

She was also featured on Lloyd’s debut single “Southside,” “Into You” by Fabolous, and “Body on Me” with Nelly. And she of course wrote songs for Jennifer Lopez and more.

Cole’s breakout single, “I Changed My Mind,” dropped in 2004 and her career took off from there. The Oakland native boasts a slew of classic R&B singles like “(I Just Want It) To Be Over,” “I Should Have Cheated,” “Let It Go,” “I Remember,” “Heaven Sent,” “Love,” and “Trust.” As a featured artist, Cole appeared on Sean Paul’s “(When You Gonna) Give It Up to Me,” Young Jeezy’s “Dreaming,” and Diddy’s 2006 single “Last Night,” to name a few.

Although they’re technically going up against each other for Verzuz, there’s no beef between the two artists who previously collaborated for the title track off Cole’s 2012 album, Woman to Woman.

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Casanova Wanted By FBI In Connection With Racketeering Case

Rapper Casanova is wanted by federal investigators in connection with a sweeping indictment charging 18 alleged members of the Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation Gang with various racketeering, murder, drugs, guns, and fraud offenses, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday (Dec. 1).

The FBI New York tweeted a photo of Casanova and encouraged anyone with information on his whereabouts to contact the bureau. “We are still looking for Caswell Senior, aka Casanova, in connection with this case.”

The 34-year-old rapper is named in the indictment which was unsealed in a White Plains federal court Tuesday. Casanova is the only one out of 18 defendants who has yet to be arrested, the indictment states.

He faces single cont of conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

“As alleged in the Indictment, members of Gorilla Stone committed terrible acts of violence, trafficked in narcotics, and even engaged in brazen fraud by exploiting benefits programs meant to provide assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said. “Because of that, communities across the Southern District – from Poughkeepsie to Peekskill to New York City – suffered.”

“Most shocking, as alleged in the indictment, a minor was murdered in furtherance of the gang’s activities,” continued Strauss. “Because of the extraordinary work of our law enforcement partners, the defendants now face federal charges for their crimes.”

The indictment outlines a string of crimes that took place between Jan. 2018 and Sept. 2020.

Alleged gang member Brandon “Stacks” Soto has been charged in connection with the murder of a 15-year-old victim in Poughkeepsie, New York, in September.

In July, Stephen “Chino” Hugh allegedly shot at rival gang members in New Rochelle to allegedly “maintain and increase his position” in the gang’s “racketeering enterprise.” A month earlier, suspects Naya “Baby”Austin, Dezon “Blakk” Washington, and Jordan “Flow” Ingram committed armed robbery of a rival drug dealer, the indictment alleges.

Austin and another suspect, Shanay “Easy” Outlaw, were also charged with filing fraudulent documents to receive COVID-19 related unemployment benefits

The indictment goes on to allege that Brinae “Luxury” Thornton shot a rival gang member in Brooklyn in 2018 in an attempt to “maintain and increase her position” in the gang. That year, another alleged gang member, Robert “Blakk Rob” Woods, supposedly slashed a victim in the face.

Also named in the indictment were Dwight “Dick Wolf” Reid, Christopher “Beagle” Erskine, Walter “Shells” Luster, Deshawn “Don” Thomas, Brandon “Untouchable Dot” Nieves, Ahmed “Ammo” Walker, Isaiah “Zay” Santos, and Robert “Trouble” Sligh, all of whom have been arrested and accused of being members of Gorilla Stone.

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