Hip Hop/R&B Reigns Supreme For The First Time In Nielsen Music History

By Riley Wallace


Hip Hop emerged as an underdog. It was a voice for the voiceless and had the ability to affect positive change. Having grown from a grassroots cultural movement into a complex, multi-layered business that has birthed multi-millionaires (and almost a few billionaires) over the last 40 years, it’s interesting that it has just now (in 2017) become the dominant genre — edging out rock music for the first time in Nielsen Music history.

According to Forbes, Hip Hop and R&B (together) account for 25.1 percent of all music consumption in the U.S., while rock claims 23 percent. The combining of the two genres makes sense, as they intertwine to a degree that often makes them difficult to separate.

Rock still dominates tangible and digital album sales, and accounts for approximately 40 percent of all sales in the country, but that number is on a steady decline. Hip Hop and R&B account for 29 percent of all on-demand streams — a platform that is steadily growing. In fact, eight of the top 10 songs being streamed in the U.S. fall into the Hip Hop/R&B category.

These numbers offer similar insights as a Buzz Angle Music report. In contrast to Nielsen, Buzz Angle suggests Hip Hop/Rap (not R&B) is the dominant genre. While the numbers don’t exactly line up due to their different methods of collecting data, the bottom line results are clear — urban music reigns supreme.

Find a partial Nielsen mid-year report here.

Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington Commits Suicide

By Kyle Eustice


Lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, has reportedly committed suicide at the age of 41. Law enforcement sources confirmed the singer hanged himself at a private residence in Palos Verdes Estates in Los Angeles County. His body was discovered Thursday (July 20) just before 9 a.m.

Linkin Park was one of the first rock acts to experience crossover success in the Hip Hop realm, following in the footsteps of Aerosmith and Run-DMC. In 2001, the band linked up with the X-ecutioners for “It’s Goin’ Down,” which also featured the late Roc Raida.

Three years later, Linkin Park dropped a collaborative EP with JAY-Z titled Collision Course and in 2008 teamed up with Busta Rhymes on the track “We Made It.” They’ve also worked with Bun B, Rakim, Pusha T and a bevy of notable MCs over the years.

Bennington reportedly battled drug and alcohol addiction, and in past interviews, admitted he’d considered suicide because of the abuse he endured as a child by an older man.

Bennington was a close friend of Chris Cornell and godfather to one of Cornell’s children. The Soundgarden singer took his own life on May 17 in a similar fashion and Linkin Park dedicated a performance of “One More Light” to him during an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! July 20 marks what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday.

Chester was married and had six children with two different wives.

2 Live Crew’s Fresh Kid Ice Dead @ 53

By Kyle Eustice & Others

Miami, FL – Fresh Kid Ice — founding member of controversial Hip Hop group 2 Live Crew —  has reportedly passed away. According to the group’s manager, he died in a Miami hospital at 7:50 a.m. on Thursday (July 13) due to a medical condition. It’s unclear what that condition is at this time.

Formed in 1983, 2 Live Crew originally consisted of Kid Ice, DJ Mr. Mixx and Amazing Vee. Amazing Vee was replaced with Brother Marquis.  Luther Campbell, better known as Uncle Luke or Luke Skyywalker, didn’t join the group until after they were established as a California Hip Hop crew, but he was present on 2 Live Crew’s 1986 debut, The 2 Live Crew Is What We Are. 

Kid Ice, whose real name was Christopher Wong Won, was long considered a pioneer for Asian rappers. He would routinely go by the moniker “The Chinaman,” named after his 1992 debut solo album of the same name.

Campbell quickly took to Twitter to express his condolences.

“My condolence goes out to the family of Chris Wong Wong Fresh Kid Ice of the 2 Live Crew who just passed away,” he wrote. “We lost a legend.”

2 Live Crew gained notoriety due to its sexually explicit style of rap on classic albums like 1989’s As Nasty As They Want To Be, which became the first album declared legally obscene. Consequently, they dropped Banned In The U.S.A. in 1990.

In 1994, the writers of Roy Orbison’s 1965 hit “Oh, Pretty Woman” took 2 Live Crew to the Supreme Court after the group sampled the song for As Clean As They Want To Be. A judge ruled in the the crew’s favor and deemed its parody as fair use.

Kid Ice is the only member of 2 Live Crew to appear on all eight of their studio albums.

Several artists have taken to social media to remember Kid Ice, including Juicy J, Rick Ross and Jermaine Dupri.

Condolences goes out to Kid Ice’s family and friends.


JJ Fad Relieved Dr. Dre Finally Credits Their Contributions To Ruthless Records

By Kyle Eustice

When The Defiant Ones aired on Sunday (July 9), viewers of the four-episode docu-series about the lives of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine were privy to an inside look at the DNA of Ruthless Records. From the synthesis of N.W.A to the fallout with Ice Cube, episode two went into meticulous detail about everything going on during the label’s ascent — including the making of JJ Fad.

As the first female rap group signed to Ruthless Records, JJ Fad — MC J.B., Sassy C and Baby D — was a huge part of the imprint’s narrative, but were completely left out of the 2015 N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton. In fact, they were never even asked to participate.

“We were all a family and I felt slighted,” Sassy C “We have been left out of a lot of things in regards to the role we played — whether it’s been Ruthless Records or our contribution to rap as a whole.”

“We were a big part of the Ruthless family,” Baby D adds. “Even when they did Straight Outta Compton and snubbed us, if they would have actually just told the truth in that movie, we would have been ecstatic. I don’t get how they could skip over that part. That was hurtful. I was more hurt than anything, especially when friends and family were asking us what happened. You deal with it, but it really hurt us.”

What many people don’t realize is without JJ Fad’s Platinum-selling debut album, 1988’s Supersonic, Ruthless wouldn’t have had the funding to drop N.W.A’s seminal project, Straight Outta Compton, which was released later that same year.

“I was pissed [about the biopic],” J.B. admits. “Only because you can’t tell that story without mentioning us. Without us, there wouldn’t have been an N.W.A album. I mean, there might have been one, but it might not have come out that soon without the funding. Eric [Eazy-E] wanted a legitimate label, so he legitimized it by putting out our album first. That made it easier.”

So when Dre credited JJ Fad with paving the way for Ruthless’ eventual success during a segment in the The Defiant Ones, the three MCs heaved a collective sigh of relief. Finally, they thought, he told the full story.

“I was elated, relieved and excited that the world was going to finally hear the truth from someone as influential as Dr. Dre,” Sassy explains. “And also that he hadn’t forgotten.”

“When I walked in [the house], my daughter was watching it and I had no idea we were on there like that,” D says. “I was super excited, but the most important thing is we weren’t forgotten. Dre actually mentioned us and showed the truth.”

“It was great because it was right out of his mouth,” J.B. adds. “That made a huge impact on us.” 

Old studio footage of JJ Fad used in the episode showed them recording their verses for the classic Hip Hop track “Supersonic” and hanging out with pivotal players like Eazy-E, Arabian Prince, The D.O.C. and, of course, Dre. There’s even a scene where Eazy can’t get his verse right for the track “Radio,” which ultimately needed seemingly endless takes to finalize.

“[The video footage] absolutely, positively took me right back like it was 25 years ago,” D admits. “In the first episode, I’m standing behind Eazy and he couldn’t get his words down. If you look at my face, I’m thinking, ‘This boy. He can’t get it for nothing [laughs].’ Like, ‘Take 86, take 3,000.’ It took a long time. We were just cracking up.” 

J.B. also confesses a couple of them were dating at the time, but D knows better and jokes,”I was a minor. I don’t know nothing. I plead the 5th. I’ll get somebody thrown in jail. They finding stuff on Bill Cosby from 87 years ago [laughs].”

While Dre’s mention and footage of JJ Fad is a step in the right direction, they believe there’s still a long way to go.

“I wouldn’t say we were vindicated, but we’re definitely on the path to healing,” Sassy says. “We have not been acknowledged by our own community. BET has hosted numerous shows paying homage to female rappers and black women in general. We have not been recognized, nor have we even been extended an invitation to attend when we were the first female group nominated for a Grammy. We were also one of the first rap groups to go Platinum.”

It’s clear there’s more to story, but the ladies are holding out for a biopic of their own to hopefully fill in the blanks one day. For now, there’s a sense they’re simply happy to be a part of Hip Hop history.

“When we were in it that long ago, we didn’t realize what a blessing it was to be in that space right then and right there,” J.B. says. “We were having so much fun and we were so young, but when you get older and look back at the pivotal time and role we played at Ruthless, it makes you think like, ‘Wow, we didn’t realize we were that important at that time.’ We do now.”

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that JJ Fad was the only female group ever signed to Ruthless Records. There was also H.W.A. and Menajahtwa.

MC Shan Disses JAY-Z’s “Story Of O.J.” Advice & Says Hov Bit His Flow

By Trent Clark


Add MC Shan to the growing list of rappers who aren’t feeling JAY-Z’s “Y’all on the ‘Gram holding money to your ears/ There’s a disconnect, we don’t call that money over here” lyric from the MBA-certified “The Story of O.J.” off his latest album, 4:44.

“I don’t see this game as being a young man’s sport,” the former Juice Crew legend told the Murder Master Music Show as he proceeded to lay down some harsh criticism while admitting he hadn’t even heard the newly minted platinum album.

“I see this game that if there’s not people like me and [Kool G Rap] doing what we do, there’s a whole generation that don’t have shit to listen to — what the fuck? Are we gonna be forced to have to listen to this other stuff that is out here? I don’t think so. There is another slot for us out here don’t be greedy and take it all. I’m not agreeing with … I haven’t heard Jay’s album and I’m not running out to get Jay’s album. From what I hear, he has been saying the same shit that people has been saying for years. If you wanted to tell people to do something, tell them to pull their fuckin’ pants up! Don’t tell them to stop putting money to their ear! That’s what their fans expect from them. That’s their persona. People like them because they’re bold with they shit like that. Let the man put his money to his ear. And instead of throwing shots at muthafuckas, say they fuckin’ name! Say who you talking about. Don’t shade that shit. Don’t be a shady muthafucka! Be that nigga!”

Déjà Vu: Shan also threw shots at KRS-One’s latest blunder but that’s not a headline story in 2017.

At 51, MC Shan’s complaints weren’t (purely) an old head’s rant against The Power That Be. He currently has a new album out in the form of Bars Over Bullshit, which marks his first return to retail releases in over 27 years. But while the Queensbridge O.G. prophesied he’d make waves for having the audacity to speak out against Hip Hop’s Warren Buffett, there’s no denying there was a tad bit of shade being tossed from his direction. Just after his induction to the Songwriters Hall of Fame last month, Jigga named a slew of rappers who inspired him to land such a distinguished honor. Guess who wasn’t named?

“If you listen to a lot of albums where you take a lot of people’s lyrics and use the shit including my flow, I’m definitely not gonna run out and buy the fuckin’ Blueprint and The F Print or whatever the fuck,” he coldly continued. “Not being a hater. Man made his money — get your money and do what you do — but don’t act like your word is law like you some fuckin’ prophet and shit. Let niggas do what the fuck they do. And if you gonna throw fuckin’ shade, say the nigga’s name so it don’t have to be a mystery — ‘Is he talking about me?’ And I’m probably gonna hear about this shit … ‘Shan Throws Shots At JAY-Z on The Murder Mys…’ — I ain’t throwing shots but it’s just like … c’mon man. If you gonna tell somebody to do something … you telling niggas to buy property and all this shit … niggas ain’t got that kind of money. Niggas ain’t got Malibu Money to go just buy up every-fuckin-thing. Their money is dirty. And the minute they go and try buy that shit up, the Feds is coming to take that shit. So you giving fucked up advice any muthafuckin’ way.”

Future, Takeoff of Migos, Boosie Badazz and Duct Tape Entertainment CEO Big Bank Black are among the notables who have taken exception to the notion holding money up to your ear is for the misguided. No confirmation as of yet if the money is indeed, “dirty.”

Listen to MC Shan’s JAY-Z-bashing interview down below.

Former LA Sheriff’s Lieutenant & Son Federally Indicted for Reported Participation in LA-to-Memphis Drug Pipeline

Former Los Angeles Sheriff’s Lieutenant, and His Son, a Former Compton Cop, Indicted for Cross-Country Drug & Money Laundering Conspiracy

Last week twenty-two alleged members and associates of two street gangs, the Los Angeles-based Grape Street Crips, and the Memphis-based Peda Roll Mafia, were indicted by a federal grand jury for being part of a reported drug and money laundering pipeline that ran between Memphis, Tennessee, and Los Angeles.

According to acting US Attorney Lawrence Laurenzi, of the Western District of Tennessee, members of the Grape Street Crips supplied heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and various other pharmaceutical substances to members the Peda Roll Mafia, who then distributed the drugs throughout much of Tennessee.

News of this newly unsealed indictment would not normally be of great interest to most LA readers. Yet, it turns out that two of those indicted—Reginald Wright, Sr. and Reginald Wright, Jr.—are former members of Southern California law enforcement.

Reginald Wright, Sr, is a former lieutenant of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department who retired from the LASD on May 30, 2014. Prior to his time with the LA County Sheriffs, Wright, Sr. was a gang enforcement lieutenant on the Compton Police Department, until that agency was shut down in 2000 under a cloud of scandal.

Wright, Sr.’s son, Reginald Wright, Jr. has a somewhat more complicated past. Like his dad, Reggie Wright, Jr. worked for the Compton PD. But, in many circles, the younger Wright is better known as the former head of security for Suge Knight’s Death Row Records.  In relationship to his former position at Death Row, in the past decade, Wright Jr. has been the subject of rumors, accusations, and counter accusations having to do with the murders of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls.

Reginald Wright, Jr.

The names of both Wright, Sr. and Wright, Jr. have come up in some of the media stories about the two murders, and related issues. There is, for example, this 2001 PBS Frontline interview with Russell Poole, the late LAPD Robbery/Homicide detective who, after his retirement, became known for his private investigation into the death of Shakur and Small.
Then, in 2015, VICE Magazine did a story before Poole died about the detective’s conviction that Wright, Jr. had been involved in Tupac Shakur’s death. On the opposite side of the rumor and counter-rumor mill, in 2014, Reggie Wright, Jr. did a lengthy interview with the LA Weekly in which he explained how and why his accusers got it wrong.

Three-plus Year Investigation Began in 2013

According to US Attorney Laurenzi, the multi-agency federal investigation that resulted in the indictments against the Wrights and 20 others began in 2013, and led to the seizure of 11,950 grams of marijuana, 3,270 grams of cocaine, 2,880 grams of heroin, 3,260 grams of methamphetamine, and twenty-three pistols, including an AR-15.

If the start date for the California part of the investigation into the alleged drug sales and money laundering conspiracy also began in 2013, this would mean that Reggie Wright, Sr. would have still been working for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department when the feds began looking at reported wrongdoing among the alleged LA co-conspirators.

Reginald Wright, Sr.

As mentioned above, Wright, Sr. came to the LASD after the Compton Police Department, where he was a lieutenant working the department’s gang detail, was disbanded in July, 2000, by the Compton City Council.  The department was shut down, in part, because the city was plagued by violent crime, but reportedly also because of allegations made in a 95-page report by Compton PD’s internal affairs bureau that recounted tales of guns and large amounts of narcotics vanishing from the department’s evidence vault.  According to multiple accounts, the report was triggered after a Long Beach police officer, Bryant Watts, was shot by a gun that was later found to have been in the possession of the Compton police.

When the Compton PD was dissolved, the City Council voted to give the $12.3-million yearly contract for policing the city to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. LA County Sheriff Lee Baca attended the meeting during which the vote was taken, and pledged to offer employment to any eligible Compton police officer with the LASD.

Wright, Sr. was among those hired. According to LA Sheriff’s Department spokesperson, Nicole Nishida, he joined the department in September 2000.

The federal indictment alleges that both Reginald Wright, Sr., and Reginald Wright, Jr. are now members of the Grape Street Crips, and that two of their reported co-conspirators are associated with a Mexican Drug cartel.

Eric B. & Rakim Perform “Paid In Full” In Its Entirety

By Kyle Eustice


New York, New York – Hip Hop legends Eric B. and Rakim reunited for the first time in 20 years at The Apollo Theatre in New York City on Friday night (July 7) in honor of the 30th anniversary of its seminal album. Joined by a small army of people onstage, the duo performed its celebrated 1987 debut Paid In Full in its entirety, which included classics joints like “My Melody,” “I Know You Got Soul” and “I Ain’t No Joke.”

Throughout the evening, the duo brought out several special guests such as Ice-T, Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav, Ma$e, Fat Joe, EPMD, Main Source, Roxanne Shante and the godfather of Hip Hop — Kool Herc.

Ice-T told HipHopDX in a text message, the event was simply “crazy.”

Eric B. and Rakim’s social media accounts have been loaded with confusing information over the past year, but they did tease a reunion in October 2016. It’s a good sign that at least one show has materialized, but for now, there has been no word of any more shows that will follow.

The duo took to its Twitter account to express their gratitude for the many people who came out to support the show. “Thank you to everybody who showed love,” the post read. “EPMD, Ice T, Kool Herc, Slick Rick, Flavor Flav, Fate Joe,…” It was then linked to an Instagram account, but it’s unclear if it’s their official page.

Check out performances of “My Melody,” “I Ain’t No Joke” and “I Know You Got Soul” above.


Vinyl Sales Soar & Drake Is King Of Streams In 2017

By Riley Wallace


We’re already halfway through the year. So far, 2017 has brought with it some great music and huge milestones. Several major artists dropped projects that broke all types of records. For example, Drake racked up 89.9 million streams globally within the first 24 hours of More Life‘s release on Apple Music, setting a single-day record. This record was later broken by Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN., which averaged 2,406, 568 per song.

Speaking of K. Dot, the Compton MC was the first artist in Billboard chart history to hit the #1 through #9 spots on the On-Demand Streaming Songs chart. Also, we can’t forget that Future hit #1 on consecutive weeks with Future and HNDRX. Overall, it’s clear the growth in streaming music is continuing to build, which offsets the consistent drop in physical album sales.

Let’s explore that a little more. Below are some interesting insights from 2017.

Streaming Is Up

According to Buzz Angle Music, year-to-date numbers show that streaming services are soaring this year. In fact, they are up by 59 percent over 2016, with a total of 179.8 billion streams. The interesting thing is that subscription based streams are up 69 percent, while ad-supported streaming is up 28 percent. That 28 percent metric represents users who likely joined a service for streaming-only release, and chose not to commit to a premium account after the initial trial ended.

Album Sales Are Down

Streams are soaring, but physical and digital sales are dropping. And why not? Why commit to ownership when you can stream any album you’d like on a whim? The ability to save content for off-line listening, regardless of platform, also creates a faux sense of purchasing an album for some listeners. Interestingly, physical album sales still outweigh digital sales, with 53.4 percent of all sales being either CD or vinyl.

Song sales were down 23.8 percent over album sales, which shows that consumers are increasingly interested in full bodies of work.

Vinyl Is Popping

Vinyl, which you can now purchase in stores like Urban Outfitters, for example, is up 20 percent in sales when comparing Record Store Day 2016 to 2017. Record Store Day exclusives and limited vinyl releases of new albums have made collecting physical LPs appealing to a younger generation of “diggers” — evidently.

Back Catalogs Account For Half Of Streams

With a bevy of biopics and the ability to peruse full discographies easily on streaming platforms, stats show that 51 percent of music consumption is of back catalogs. This surge of streams on older music has helped a lot of artists finally achieve certifications as a result of RIAA certification update that allowed albums to go platinum based on album streams.

Drake Is Leading The Charge

At the end of the day, Drake is leading the industry in terms of song streams. With 3,727,473,977 streams, that puts him more than a million streams ahead of Future and Kendrick, who were #2 and #3 overall (respectively). Migos also ranked in the #5 behind British pop singer Ed Sheeran. It will be interesting to how Jay-Z’s 4:44 affects the charts next week.

For even more metrics, check out Buzz Angle Music’s full report here.

Atlanta Arena Accused Of Mistreating Migos, Kanye West & Other Black Artists

By Danielle Harling


Atlanta, GA – In a recently filed lawsuit, Sam Hayes — an Atlanta Hawks security manager who also ran security for other events at Atlanta’s Philips Arena — put the venue on blast over alleged discriminatory practices soon after he was fired.

According to TMZ, the former security manager behind the suit claims black artists were required to go through security while white artists’ requests to bypass metal detectors were granted.

A roster of talent, including Migos, Kanye West and 2 Chainz, were among the artists required to go through metal detectors at the arena, after they had asked to bypass the security measure.

On the contrary, white artists such as comedian/actress Amy Schumer, British singer Adele, rockers Bon Jovi, and pop princess Ariana Grande were allowed to bypass metal detectors when the same request was made.

When Hayes approached management about the alleged discrimination, he said he was told, “Hip Hop acts draw a different crowd and the white acts bring in more money.”

Despite Hayes’ claims, reps for the Atlanta Hawks have denied the allegations made. Hayes is demanding an unspecified amount in damages.

“[Samuel Hayes] was terminated for poor performance and his claims are baseless,” a spokesperson for the Hawks told TMZ. “We will defend vigorously.”

SoundCloud Laid Off 40% Of Its Employees To Make Way For “Independent Future”

By Cherise Johnson


New York, NY – In a move to stay in line with the competitiveness of Apple Music and Spotify, SoundCloud has cut 40% of its staff. The San Francisco and London offices will be shut down, Bloomberg reports.

On Thursday (July 6), SoundCloud informed their staff of 420 that 173 jobs would be eliminated. The streaming service is looking to have a “better financial footing to compete” with the other platforms.

“We need to ensure our path to long-term, independent success,” Alex Ljung, co-founder and chief executive officer of SoundCloud, wrote in a blog post on SoundCloud’s website. “And in order to do this, it requires cost cutting, continued growth of our existing advertising and subscription revenue streams, and a relentless focus on our unique competitive advantage — artists and creators.”

The majority of the music on SoundCloud is available free to its more than 175 million listeners. The company added a subscription tier last year, but it reportedly hasn’t done too well with SoundCloud users.

“We are extremely grateful for the contributions of each and every staff member who will be leaving SoundCloud, and we wish all of them the best,” Ljung continued in his note.  “Without them, we would not be where we are today.”