August 23, 2012

By JONATHAN ­LANDRUM Jr.

Associated Press

 

Rapper 2 Chainz took some major risks two years ago when he bolted from Ludacris’ Disturbing tha Peace record label, changed his stage name and left a group to pursue a solo career.

The Atlanta-based rapper, initially known as Tity Boi, scored big as a member of the rap duo Playaz Circle with the Lil Wayne-assisted 2007 hit “Duffle Bag Boy.” But the group's debut album barely sold 100,000 units, and their follow-up, 2009’s “Flight 360: The Takeoff,” debuted at No. 74 and didn’t launch any hits.

“I figured if I was going to do bad, I’d rather be bad all by myself,” 2 Chainz said in a recent interview. “Even when I had a deal, I was paying out of pocket ... I was already funding videos, doing my mixtapes. You rarely get money out of labels, except for when they open up a budget for a project. Other than that, it’s a do-or-die type thing. So, for me, I just had to do or die.”

Taking the risk to go solo is finally paying off.

A pair of successful mixtapes helped 2 Chainz consistently book concert shows and land guest appearances on hit songs, including Kanye West’s No. 1 rap smash “Mercy” and the Nicki Minaj single “Beez in the Trap.” He also joined Minaj on her U.S. summer tour.

Now the rapper is hoping to capture audiences on his own with his solo debut, “Based on a T.R.U. Story,” released this week. The first single, “No Lie,” features Drake and is currently No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart. The album features top acts like West, Minaj, Lil Wayne, John Legend, Scarface and The-Dream.

The Associated Press: You had a sliver of limelight in 2007, you fell into obscurity and now you’re rising — a rare sequence for a rapper’s career. What do you attribute to your revived image?

2 Chainz: I just worked harder than anyone else. There was no formula. I can't tell you a particular story or a contract I signed. My mind-set of just grinding it out, a lot of sleepless nights, thinking and praying a lot. The number of cities I was able to play in. The timing. Those combinations have helped get me to where I’m at today.

AP: You had a lot control as an independent rapper. Now, you’re signed to Def Jam Records. Why make the move when you were achieving so much independently?

2 Chainz: When I left DTP, I wanted to do things on my own. I wanted people to respect my mind. I wanted people to respect some of my ideas. The independent route was the best move for me. But I think I’ve maximized everything I could do independently. I’ve done everything out the mixtape market. I think getting the big machine behind you is the next stage when you’ve maximized the independent level.

AP: How did you end up collaborating with A-List acts like Kanye West, Drake and Nicki Minaj?

2 Chainz: I had already been communicating with them. I’ve known Drake for five years. Me and Drake were on tour with Lil Wayne when Drake was fresh off the TV show (“Degrassi: The Next Generation”). A lot of people don’t know that. I’ve known Lil Wayne for a decade. I’ve had respect with them and in the hip-hop community. I just had to figure out a way to connect the dots with them and the fans. With the community, I was cool. I was networking, hooked up with DJs. I was just being a people’s person.

AP: What’s it like working with Kanye West?

2 Chainz: He’s a great friend to me personally and has helped me musically. He’s helping me produce some of my best music.

AP: You’ve become known for your various guest appearances. What do you want to prove with your first solo project?

2 Chainz: When we did “Duffle Bag Boy” I knew it was big because of Lil Wayne. I took it for what it was. He’s a superstar, a megastar. We worked hard and he worked his (expletive) off to be who he is, so he gets the credit for that. He opened a lot of doors for me. I just want to work as hard.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 29, 2012

 

ARIES

  Use better judgment with regard to financial matters. Stop rationalizing. Money is important. Do something about the fact that you might find yourself broke more often than you wish. Continuing to deny it will delay doing something about it. Soul Affirmation: I find comfort in the familiar.

TAURUS

Move slowly concerning relationships this week. People are a little edgy and they don’t know exactly where you are coming from. Make full explanations. Don’t assume that they know what’s on your mind. Most of all, stay positive no matter what. Soul Affirmation: Clinging to the old will inhibit my growth this week.

GEMINI

You can’t be right all of time. Instead of always trying to be right, try to find the logic in other’s viewpoint whether you happen to agree or not. Endear yourself to a loved one real soon, by really listening to what they have to say. Don’t be so stubborn, that you deny yourself what you really want. Soul Affirmation: I celebrate will those around me.

CANCER

This week is a good week to dump any extra baggage that has been pulling you down. You have too much potential to throw away and waste your time on issues that will amount to nothing. Stay focused on your goals. Meet and spend time with people who will be able to help you reach them. Soul Affirmation: The word is in me. I bring it forth.

LEO

Your spiritual vibes will give you insight on a situation that’s been on your mind. Share your thoughts with someone close to you. Spend time with friends and family that will provide support and guidance when you make an important decision. Soul Affirmation: I enjoy looking at the road of life sweeping just in front of me.

VIRGO

Your careless ways with money are going to be apparent this week. Financial mistakes you’ve made in the past will be especially painful. Don’t conceal the pain from yourself. It is a warning that you should take steps to prevent future financial crisis.  Soul Affirmation: I let my friendships guide my way.

LIBRA

Take advantage of the great weather and spend time outdoors enjoying and relaxing with Mother Nature. Learn a new sport, and spend time with family and friends. Don’t take travel matters into your own hands. Seek a professional who will be able to plan a wonderful vacation for you without breaking your bank. Cook up some goodies for your loved ones. Soul Affirmation: I change who I am by changing where I am going.

SCORPIO

Stay positive, don’ t let negative people get inside your head. You know that things will work out well. Ease rapidly away from anyone who is a naysayer. During the week, things may seem hard at times but soon life will be filled with fun. Enjoy!  Soul Affirmation: The slowness of my week gives me time to refresh my energy.

SAGITTARIUS

The bond that you established with your spiritual side works well in your relationship with a special person. Speak of the reality of the intangible qualities of life. Your lover will understand. Keep attention on the financial matters you’ve been dealing with. Soul Affirmation: I obey the rules this week and avoid hassles.

CAPRICORN

The link that you’ve established with your spiritual self will be strengthened by the people who come into your life this week. This week is a week for seriousness about a relationship. Discuss your deepest thoughts with others. They’ll understand and thank you for sharing intimate parts of yourself. Soul Affirmation: Faith keeps me calm in the storms of life.

AQUARIUS

You’ve done some of your own love homework. Hopefully you’ve had an opportunity to learn a new way of seeing the world and in that way you’ve found a way of loving that is more natural for you. The combination of sexiness and joyful focus can create you a wonderful love experience. Soul Affirmation: I get joy from giving good things.

PISCES

Share in the glory of your friend who has been recognized for outstanding work. Plan a small get-together to celebrate the occasion. Your time will come, and you will be placed on the pedestal. Your intimacy radar is sensitive. Watch out for a new romance that might come along. Expect the unexpected! You will be pleasantly surprised! Soul Affirmation: Love is easier than breathing.

 

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 23, 2012

By RAQUEL MARIA DILLON Associated Press

 

LL Cool J plays a special agent on TV’s “NCIS: Los Angeles,” and now he’s caught an actual bad guy.

The 44-year-old rapper struggled with and subdued a suspected burglar early on the morning of Wednesday August 22 at his home in the Studio City area, police said. He was not hurt.

Los Angeles police Sgt. Frank Preciado said that police got a 911 call shortly before 1 a.m. from the performer’s daughter, who said an intruder was in their home and her father was holding him downstairs.

“A physical altercation occurred between the suspect and the victim, James Todd Smith, also known professionally as LL Cool J,” said Preciado. “My understanding is he just had him in custody with his physical strength.”

A 58-year-old suspect was taken to the hospital and was expected to be arrested on suspicion of burglary. His identity wasn’t released but there was no indication that he knew LL Cool J or had a personal vendetta, LAPD spokesman Richard French said.

French said the suspect appeared to be a homeless person.

Early police information said the man received minor bruises. However, the Los Angeles Times cited police sources it did not identify as saying the suspect received a broken nose and jaw in a “knock-down, drag-out” fight.

French said he had no details about the man’s injuries or how he may have gotten into the home, a walled and gated mansion in a wealthy hillside section of the San Fernando Valley that’s not far from major studios.

“LL Cool J, and his family, are safe and thank everyone for their thoughts and concern,” said a statement released by his publicist, Rhett Usry. “As a father, husband and citizen, he is committed to keeping his family safe and is cooperating with authorities on this private matter.”

LL Cool J has had musical hits such as “Mama Said Knock You Out” and “I’m Bad,” and has starred in films including “Any Given Sunday.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 23, 2012

By ANTHONY McCARTNEY  Associated Press

 

A judge appointed Michael Jackson's nephew on Wednesday August 22 to share guardianship responsibilities for the singer's three children, but not without a last-minute effort by some relatives to delay the decision.

Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff named TJ Jackson as the children's co-guardian who will now share responsibilities for raising the siblings, who range in ages from 10 to 15.

The judge made the ruling after considering a letter submitted by singer Diana Ross, who was named in Michael Jackson's will as a potential guardian, and a letter presented by cousins of the singer who sought a delay in the appointment.

Debra Jackson and her son Anthony urged Beckloff to delay his ruling, saying they were concerned that family matriarch Katherine Jackson was being coerced. The pair said they had been ostracized from the family and that the children may not be as excited about TJ Jackson's appointment as has been presented to the judge.

But Beckloff noted that all three children have said they consent to the co-guardianship, and that an independent investigation he ordered showed they "have a very strong, loving relationship with TJ Jackson."

He urged TJ Jackson to consider allowing the cousins to visit the family, but said there was no reason to delay. The appointment means that Katherine Jackson, 82, and TJ Jackson, 34, will share responsibilities for raising the children. If one of them is no longer able to serve, the other would become the children's sole guardian.

TJ Jackson smiled as he entered the courtroom wearing a dark suit and tie and spoke only briefly to exchange pleasantries with the judge at the start of the hearing. He appeared calm afterward, but was escorted in and out of the courthouse by deputies and did not speak with reporters.

Debra and Anthony Jackson also declined comment after the hearing, merely confirming their names and relationship to the family.

Their letter and one submitted by Diana Ross were not filed with the court and will not be made public, court officials said.

Katherine Jackson's attorney, Sandra Ribera, disputed their claims that her client is being improperly influenced.

"Mrs. Jackson is well informed," she said. "Mrs. Jackson is a strong woman who cannot be influenced by anyone when it comes to decisions about these children."

TJ Jackson was appointed a temporary guardian last month when Katherine Jackson was incommunicado during a stay at an Arizona spa with relatives.

Beckloff has said Katherine Jackson is doing a great job raising Prince, Paris and Blanket Jackson, but noted that having a co-guardian will allow for continuity in their lives if she is no longer able to serve.

TJ Jackson was a relative unknown to the public before the recent rift in the family. He performs in a band called 3T along with his brothers and was close to his uncle, Michael, before the pop star died in June 2009 at age 50.

TJ Jackson is a cousin of the children and has remained close to them in the years since the singer's death.

Wednesday's hearing had been expected to be a legal formality and although Beckloff made time to hear the cousins' grievances, the judge didn't waver in his view that the co-guardianship arrangement was appropriate. He noted that it is frequently employed in other cases.

The mother of the two eldest children, Deborah Rowe, has indicated she is comfortable with the arrangement. Michael Jackson's youngest son, Blanket, was born to a surrogate and the mother's identity has never been revealed.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 23, 2012

By MESFIN FEKADU

Associated Press

 

Nicki Minaj sings about “Starships,” but is she a star-maker? The singer-rapper could be joining the ranks of “American Idol” judges.

A person close to Minaj said on August 20 that the 29-year-old entertainer has been in talks to judge the Fox TV competition and that a deal is in the works. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because that person was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

The Fox network said it had no comment.

If Minaj signs on, she would join Mariah Carey as a new judge on “Idol,” which returns in January. Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez announced their exits from the show last month.

Minaj — known for her colorful hairstyles, wardrobe and antics — is best known for hits like “Super Bass,” “Starships” and “Turn Me On” with David Guetta.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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