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Janelle Monae attends the 22nd Annual Hollywood Film Awards.
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Janelle Monae Discusses Creative Freedom, Her Relationship With Diddy In New 'Billboard' Interview

The Wondaland artist will receive the "Trailblazer Award" at tonight's Billboard Women In Music ceremony.

In a new interview with Billboard in anticipation for the publication's Women In Music ceremony, Janelle Monae sat down to discuss her beginnings as a musician and her transition into the ground-breaking, unapologetic artist we see today. The Wondaland artist will receive the "Trailblazer Award" at tonight's ceremony (Dec. 6).

When discussing her critically-acclaimed album Dirty Computer, Monae divulged that her intention when making the project was to ensure that many groups felt seen and heard. Two of the groups highlighted in the body of work were the LGBT community and black women, both of which Monae is a part of.

"I felt a big responsibility to create a community with this album, my concerts and my film [the “emotion picture” paired with the album]," she explained. "It felt like people I care about and groups I’m in — from the LGBT community to being a black woman to being from working-class parents — were being pushed to the margins of society. With songs like 'Django Jane' and 'Make Me Feel' and 'PYNK,' I wanted to be as bold as possible in making statements around agency, around women’s bodies and rights — us taking back the mic and letting you know that you don’t own us and we won’t be controlled."

Monae also explains that her desire to maintain "imagination in a world full of cynics"  is one of the keys to her success, stating that she never compromised her creativity to sell records.

"Even when I was an independent artist selling CDs out of my trunk and working for my cousin doing taxes or at Office Depot and Sam’s Club, I was still saying 'no,'" she details. "There were opportunities that even some of my closest family members and friends would look at me like, 'Girl, you are crazy. You need to get in that music video. Be an extra in this film. You need to become famous.' But I have always kept at my core the ability to have creative control."

Her creative freedom and independence have gained her fans and admirers the world over, including Diddy. Monae explains that the mogul was an early supporter, and although she could have been one of his protégées, she said he was respectful of her creative vision, and allowed her to fly on her own.

"I was scared to be partnering with a major label after a few years of being independent," she notes. "I met Puff at a time I had decided to live frugally. Like a lot of people, I thought, 'OK, he’s going to have a conversation around how he can groom me into being another sort of artist.' But when I spoke to him, his words were, 'I love what you and Wondaland are doing. I don’t want to be creatively involved. I just want people to know who you are and what you guys are doing. You guys are down here in this basement in Atlanta, and the rest of the world deserves to hear you.' It was so humbling and beautiful. We’re still close."

Read the entire feature here.

READ MORE: Janelle Monae To Be Honored With Trailblazer Award At Billboard's Women In Music

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A First Look At Will Smith's Genie In 'Aladdin' Live-Action Receives Mixed Reactions

As fans anxiously await the arrival of Disney's live-action film of Aladdin, Entertainment Weekly graciously revealed the first look of Will Smith as the beloved Genie. While Smith the actor may be a perfect fit for the comedic role, some fans aren't exactly sure about his costume and makeup.

Entertainment Weekly shared the first photos on the cover of their latest issue. Smith appears alongside Aladdin and Jasmine, played by Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott. But Smith isn't blue like the original character famously voiced by Robin Williams in 1992. He doesn't even appear to be altered by CGI technology.

Due to the drastic alterations from the original, Smith's look seemed to garner mixed reactions on Twitter. Some users weren't impressed, while others are still willing to give the movie a chance.

Not to worry though, Smith shared a photo from the EW shoot on Instagram and noted that he will be blue in the film. Even so, director Guy Ritchie hinted that he would be taking Genie and the live-action film in a different direction.

"The great thing about the role of the Genie is that it’s essentially a hyperbole for who that individual actor is, so it’s a wonderful platform and tapestry for an actor to fill his boots on," Ritchie told EW.

We can show you the world... of Disney’s live-action #Aladdin! Get a shining, shimmering, splendid first look at the reimagined classic in our magical First Look issue: https://t.co/Kwkcdfen5v pic.twitter.com/7NbyiRRcLH

— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) December 19, 2018

Okay, everyone can shut up now #Aladdin pic.twitter.com/Rxep7l5RLV

— 🍃 (@sheilaslalaland) December 19, 2018

Smith also stated that he had a tough time figuring out how to bring new energy to his character, especially after it had already been flawlessly executed by Robin Williams. "Whenever you’re doing things that are iconic, it’s always terrifying," Smith said. "The question is always: Where was there meat left on the bone? Robin didn’t leave a lot of meat on the bone with the character.[Williams] infused the character with a timeless version of himself."

The award-winning actor added: "I started to feel confident that I could deliver something that was an homage to Robin Williams but was musically different. Just the flavor of the character would be different enough and unique enough that it would be in a different lane, versus trying to compete."

Smith later suggested that his portrayal of Genie will be just as memorable and will come with a little "hip-hop flavor." "I think it'll stand out as unique even in the Disney world," he continued. "There hasn't been a lot of that hip-hop flavor in Disney history."

Disney's Aladdin hits theaters on May 24, 2019.Check out the first-look of the Genie above.

As a big fan of Disney animated movie I totally disapprove not having a blue, magical Genie, that's a shame! 😐

Will Smith is an actor I like but the movie shouldn't be about stardom!#Aladdin https://t.co/kgkAivprCf

— Ezereal 🌍 (@So_Ethereal) December 19, 2018

I'm not usually one to advocate for blueing people up (cough, Avatar, cough cough), but really Disney, you could have kept Will Smith as himself (live action) and gave him the hue of Robin Williams #Genie smh #Aladdin

— Tiffany Alice (@itsTiffanyAlice) December 19, 2018

will Smith’s genie isn’t blue and that hair....girl....2019 really isn’t gonna be any better will it

— Peter Williamson (@ptpwilliamson) December 19, 2018

I’m sorry but they need to make Will Smith’s genie a blue cloud dude this ain’t right

— DENNIS DEPRIMO (@DENNISDEPRIMO) December 19, 2018

Seeing the first look at Will Smith’s genie for the live action #Aladdin pic.twitter.com/uD30rt8yjd

— Joseph Estadt (@JosephEstadt) December 19, 2018

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Bill Pugliano

First-Ever Feature Film About Rosa Parks In The Works

A new biopic about Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks is reportedly in the works, Deadline reports. The first-ever feature film is tentatively entitled Rosa and will begin shooting in 2019.

The film will reportedly focus on the aftermath of Park's 1955 arrest, where she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on the Montgomery bus. Parks' actions launched the Montgomery bus boycott, which ultimately aided in the progression of the Civil Rights Movement.

Film executives are reportedly consulting with Jeanne Theoharis, author of the 2013 biography, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. Theoharis stated that she intends to show different facets of Parks that aren't taught in school.

"While most Americans have heard of Rosa Parks, the details of what happened that on the night she was arrested, and her lifetime of political courage and activism, are largely unknown," Theoharis told Deadline. "The real story of Rosa Parks is far different, and even more inspiring and relevant for our times than the tale most children learn in school."

Charlie Kessler will reportedly write the screenplay. "We are honored to be working alongside Professor Theoharis. Rosa Parks is an inspiration, and our goal is to be able to use this project to raise awareness for the Rosa and Raymond Park Institute for Self Development," Kessler said. "Ms. Parks did not have any children, so her institute is her legacy."

As previously stated, this is the first feature film chronicling Rosa Parks. CBS previously aired a TV movie entitled The Rosa Parks Story about the activist in 2002, starring Angela Bassett as Parks and Cicely Tyson as her mother.

Proceeds from the upcoming Rosa biopic will be donated to The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development.

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Earl Gibson III

T-Pain Accused Of Plagiarizing Popular Bollywood Song

T-Pain wanted to gift fans with a final tune before the year's end, but instead of praises, the singer was reportedly hit with allegations of plagiarism. According to various claims made on Twitter, T-Pain has been accused of copying a popular Bollywood song.

T-Pain reportedly shared his new single "That's Yo Money" on social media on Dec. 15. Shortly after the music dropped, fans began pointing out the similarities between his song and "Tum Hi Ho," a track that was originally featured in the 2013 Bollywood picture Aashiqui 2.

Dunno why but this seems familiar 🙈🙈🙈 #aashiqui2 #tumhiho @TPAIN https://t.co/69NJvAujsT . It’s a melody from Mithun’s song buddy @Mithoon11 @raiisonai @itsBhushanKumar

— Mohit Suri (@mohit11481) December 15, 2018

Sir, the melody that you have used in your new song is my original work for a previously released Hindi film..The Label is looking into this.#tumhiho #Aashiqui2 https://t.co/5fnDf4sfg7

— Mithoon (@Mithoon11) December 15, 2018

The allegations only grew stronger after the song's creator Mithoon called out the artist on Twitter. "Sir, the melody that you have used in your new song is my original work for a previously released Hindi film..The Label is looking into this. #tumhiho #Aashiqui2," Mithoon reacted.

Filmmaker Mohit Suri also joined the discussion, tweeting, "dunno why but this seems familiar," Suri reacted.

T-Pain has not explicitly commented on the incident, but the song has been taken down from his Twitter and YouTube account with the unavailable song link citing "a copyright claim by a third party" as the reason for its disappearance. You can still hear a snippet on Pain's Instagram account below.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

One more surprise before the year’s over 🙂 #ThatsYoMoney out now 💰 Still looking for 20 fans to #1UP and help out this holiday season..tag who you’re spending the holidays with and what’s on your wish list for a chance to win..picking winners by next Wednesday. Link in bio

A post shared by T-Pain (@tpain) on Dec 13, 2018 at 9:10pm PST

READ MORE: T-Pain's 'Everything Must Go Vol. 1' Mixtape: Stream Now

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