2018 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival - Day 3
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Snoop Dogg, Faith Evans And More Ask Trump To Commute Loon's 11-Year Prison Sentence

Free Loon. 

Over a dozen celebrities are asking President Donald Trump to grant clemency to former rapper Loon, who is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for a minor role in a non-violent drug offense.

The letter, which was sent to Trump this month (June 13), was signed by Snoop Dogg, former NBA champion Kevin Garnett, music industry executive Jason Flom, movie producer Scott Budnick (The Hangover), Grammy-winners Faith Evans and Stevie J, Roc Nation rapper Freeway, Baby Bash, fashion model Jeremy Meeks, and recent clemency recipient Alice Johnson, whose sentence was commuted by Trump after a widely circulated campaign by Kim Kardashian West.

Addressed to Trump, former record producer turned criminal justice advocate Weldon Angelos, questioned Loon's (born Chauncey Lamont Hawkins, now Amir Junaid Muhadith) lengthy sentence and pointed out Muhadith's adjusted lifestyle after the offense happened.  

"We strongly urge you to grant him [Loon] a presidential commutation of sentence without delay,” he wrote. "It’s ridiculous that this talented individual was given such a long sentence for merely making an introduction. What purpose is served by keeping him in prison? He completely changed his life around years before he was indicted. This is just another example of a wasteful and destructive criminal justice system.”

Muhadith was originally sentenced to 14 years on charges of conspiring with intent to distribute one or more kilos of heroin in 2011. The former rapper, who was signed to Puff Daddy's Bad Boy Records, explained the nature of his case. BET reported he declined a trial due to his prior felony convictions but maintained his innocence throughout the ordeal. In 2008, Muhadith claimed he took a call from someone who presented him with an opportunity "totally away from the lifestyle he was living," but because he "made an introduction," he was named an accessory in the drug case.  

That same year, Muhadith converted to Islam after a tour stop in Abu Dhabi. He also ended his solid music career which included the release of hits like Diddy's "I Need A Girl Part 2," and collaborations with the likes of Kelis, Toni Braxton, and 3LW. 

In a statement to VIBEMuhadith thanked his supporters and discussed the importance of dismantling stigmas that are linked to "a broken and unjust system."

“It is only through the overwhelming push by this administration to change the state of our criminal justice system that real progress is finally being made," he said. "Alongside an extraordinary group of individuals such as Weldon Angelos, Jason Flom, Faith Evans, Kevin Garnett, Jessica Jackson Sloan at #cut50 and so many others who are not only advocating on my behalf but seek to support broader change for a broken and unjust system. It is through my own desire for change and the support of so many that I return back to society as an asset to my community, a loving husband and father, and an advocate in our battle for real criminal justice reform.”

The push to free Muhadith stems from Angelos, the founder of The Weldon Project. The organization is dedicated to raising awareness and social equity in the cannabis industry as well as helping with financial aid for those currently serving prison sentences for non-violent cannabis offenses.

"Loon’s [Muhadith's] case is a prime example of a criminal justice system that simply warehouses inmates and does not make us any safer," Angelos tells VIBE. "Prisons should be reserved for those who pose a risk to public safety. What purpose is served by keeping him in prison any longer? Loon reformed himself years before he was even arrested. And his sentence for a minor role in a nonviolent drug offense is longer than what the federal guidelines recommend for rape and kidnapping. It’s ridiculous."

"But I’m confident that the president will carefully consider his petition and the views of those who are asking him to commute it. We had an amazing show of support by those in the entertainment industry who signed onto Loon’s letter and who also care about criminal justice issues, and I look forward to building a bridge between this group of signers and the White House to see where we can work together to achieve additional reforms."

Muhadith is scheduled for release in November 2021. Learn more about The Weldon Project here.

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Letitia Wright Responds To Backlash After Post Questioning COVID-19 Vaccine

After catching backlash for tweeting a YouTube video questioning the ingredients of a COVID-19 vaccine, Letitia Wright went back to social media on Friday (Dec. 4) to explain her reasoning.

“My intention was not to hurt anyone, my ONLY intension of posting this video was it raised my concerns with what the vaccine contains and what we are putting in our bodies. Nothing else,” wrote the Black Panther star.

my intention was not to hurt anyone, my ONLY intention of posting the video was it raised my concerns with what the vaccine contains and what we are putting in our bodies.

Nothing else.

— Letitia Wright (@letitiawright) December 4, 2020

if you don’t conform to popular opinions. but ask questions and think for yourself....you get cancelled 😂

— Letitia Wright (@letitiawright) December 4, 2020

The criticism started after Wright shared a video titled, COVID-19 Vaccine Should We Take It?, on Thursday (Dec. 3). As the post began circulating social media Wright tweeted, “If you don’t conform to popular opinions but ask questions and think for yourself…you get cancelled.”

Wright also liked a tweet reading “Cancel Black Panther 2 immediately,” and another tweet calling for her character to be recast.

Wright, 27,  isn’t alone in being skeptical of COVID-19 vaccines. According to a Pew Research survey conducted in September, only 32% of Black Americans surveyed said that they would take the vaccine. Some of the distrust dates stems from the 1932 Tuskegee Experiment where hundreds of Black men were unknowingly infected with syphilis.

The U.K. is expected to become one of the first countries to get Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine. The region has received 800,000 doses and will begin mass vaccinations next week. A U.S. vaccine could be released by the end of  December.

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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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Watch The Trailer For Lifetime’s Wendy Williams Biopic

Wendy Williams is putting it all out there for her Lifetime biopic. The trailer Wendy Williams: The Movie, arrived on Thursday (Dec. 3) showcasing the New Jersey native’s rise from radio shock jock to daytime talk show host, plus her marriage troubles and drug addiction.

William's infamous fainting spell during a live Halloween show in 2017 is also featured in the teaser.

Ciera Payton stars as Williams, and Morocco Omari portrays her ex-husband, Kevin Hunter, in the film, which is produced by Front Street for Lifetime and executive produced by Williams.

Darren Grant directed the film. The script was penned by Leigh Davenport and Scarlett Lacey.

Lifetime will air a documentary special titled, The Wendy Williams Story…What A Mess, directly after the biopic. Wendy Williams: The Movie airs on Lifetime on Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. EST.

Watch the trailer below.

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