The mouthful of sparkle told you exactly how Lil Waynewas feeling. Flashing his bling-crusted grin from ear to ear, the rapper (and, let’s face it, rock star) was fired up and in charge at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Wednesday night.
“This is my first time on a stage in over a year,’’ he told the shrieking sold-out crowd on the first stop of his new tour. “I swear to God, I was in a place a few months ago I couldn’t even imagine this [expletive]. But now that I’m here, it’s better than I ever could have imagined.’’
Waynewas referring to his newfound freedom after serving eight months of jail time on a weapons charge. He was an inmate at Rikers Island as recently as early November, but on Wednesday he was back to selling out arenas with a performance that was assured, steady, and oftentimes blistering.
It was hard to tell who was happier that Waynewas back: the performer or his fans. They roared as Wayne, backed by a tight band, sprayed his rhymes like machine-gun fire on “A Milli,’’ “Bill Gates,’’ and “6 Foot 7 Foot.’’
After an intense half-hour, Wayne ceded the stage toNicki Minaj, whose set was as much about the music as her cartoonish theatrics. With a blond fright wig towering on her head and five female back-up dancers swirling around her, the rapper-singer revved up with “Roman’s Revenge.’’
While eminently amusing,Minajcame rather close to sinking her own performance with an extended set of sugary ballads (“Right Thru Me,’’ “Fly,’’ and “Save Me’’). When Wayne reappeared for a second set,Minaj rebounded nicely on “Roger That,’’ a rap-off with Wayne that proved their chemistry was sincere, their respect mutual.
Earlier in the night, Miami rapperRick Rosswas larger than life: big presence, big beard, and big beats. Meanwhile, Travis Barkerheld court for 30 stealth minutes drumming in synch with a DJ and posed the age-old question: “Can a drummer get some?’’
Three years away from the rap game is a potentially career killing lifetime for most rappers. For Prodigy, one half of the legendary New York mainstays Mobb Deep, the time off from rap has not been entirely fruitless as he’s been officialy released from Mid-State Correctional Facility after serving a three-year prison stint.
In October 2006, Albert “Prodigy” Johnson was driving his SUV in New York City with longtime producer and friend Alan “The Alchemist” Maman and after making an illegal U-turn, his vehicle was searched by police. After finding a small pistol in a compartment, the pair were arrested and subsequently released on bond with pending charges.
Prodigy, already convicted of previous gun charges, feigned ignorance about the gun but later struck a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty and dropping his mandatory charge of 15 years to just three for the gun possession. He was sentenced to three and a half years on October 8, 2007.
While out on bond, Prodigy feverishly recorded a bulk of music and shot several videos in order to keep his music out on the street and his name relevant in the increasingly fast moving rap industry. The last album released from the rapper was 2008’s Product Of The 80s.
Prodigy will be released tomorrow (March 7) from the Mid-State Correctional facility in New Jersey, no doubt to much fanfare from his longtime Mobb Deep partner Havoc and to the many fans of the gruff voiced rapper responsible for the street classic “Keep It Thoro,” along many other notable tracks in his nearly 20-year career. The rapper is also releasing an autobiography detailing his rise to rap royalty and also his time behind bars via publishing giant Simon & Schuster.
Boston, Celtics’ Center Shaquille O’Neal claims that had he been with Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace on the night he was shot four times in the chest, the rapper might be with us today.
Christopher Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls, was gunned down on March 9th, 1997 in Los Angeles, California, just after a party held at the Peterson Auto Museum for the Soul Train Music Awards in 1997.
Shaq, who celebrated his 39th birthday on Sunday (March 6th), said that the day is bitter-sweet, due to his friendship and fond memories of the late rapper.
During an interview with “Outside the Lines” on ESPN, Shaq revealed that he met Sean “Diddy” Combs and Biggie around 1993, after B.I.G. agreed to record on the basketball star’s record “You Can’t Stop The Rain.”
The pair developed a close kinship that lasted up until the night of B.I.G.’s death.
Shaq said he saw B.I.G. at a tattoo parlor on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, just two days before he was gunned down. B.I.G. invited Shaq to the infamous after party, where the rapper would lose his life.
According to Shaq, he was supposed to meet B.I.G. at the after-party, but he fell asleep in his condo while waiting for his head of security, Uncle “Jerome” Crawford, who could not get past the front desk.
“I was in my condo. I had on a cold white suit, white hat and all that,” Shaq told Outside the Lines. “I was on my way. I was dressed. Usually Uncle Jerome will just come up, but I guess he tried to call and the front desk wouldn’t let him through. I just fell asleep. I woke up about 4 o’clock from a call from my mother.”
The news Shaq’s mom Mrs. Lucille O’Neal delivered was shocking. Her son’s friend had been gunned down just hours earlier, by unknown assailants.
“She said ‘Did you go to the party?’ I’m like, ‘No, what’re you talking about?’ She said, ‘You know, your friend was shot and killed.’ And I was like, ‘What?’ So then I hung up with her and called some people and they told me what had happened,” Shaq told Outside the Lines.
Shaq addressed the murder in his 2001 autobiography Shaq Talks Back, when he wrote: “If I would have been standing by his truck, would the killer still have shot? I’ve always asked myself that question.”
Junior M.A.F.I.A.’sLil Cease also believes if Shaq had came to the party that evening, B.I.G. might still be alive.
“One dude in the car by his self,” Lil Cease revealed. “He just didn’t say nothing. He rolled up on the car, pulled his hand out the window and started firing the gun into the car, into biggie’s door. Big was just slumped over with this shocked look on his face, like he couldn’t believe what just happened.”
“I think that may would have changed things,” Lil Cease told ESPN’s Outside the Lines. “If Shaq would have said ‘you know what, I’ma come with y’all.’ I’m sure him and B.I.G. would have rolled together, because that’s the type of person B.I.G. was…I’m sure Shaq would have had security and I’m sure B.I.G. would have had enough security to come with him that day to make sure Shaq was alright. So I definitely think if Shaq would have been there, it definitely would have changed, definitely would have changed.”
While B.I.G.’s murder has never been solved, new hope has arisen in the pursuit for justice.
Hundreds of new documents were recently unsealed by the L.A.P.D. linking two former officers to the 1997 murder.
According to the new evidence, former L.A.P.D. officers-turned-criminals Rafael Perez and David Mack were involved with the murder of B.I.G., along with a man named Amir Muhammad, at the orders of Marion “Suge” Knight.
None of the men implicated in the rapper’s murder have ever been charged.
“I am fortunate enough to say that I knew him. Fortunate enough to say that he blessed me with 32-bars on my album and I’m blessed enough to say he knew me and I knew him. So I don’t really think about the bad times, I just good times, and he is the greatest rapper.”
On Wednesday (March 9th), B.I.G. will be honored by Junior M.A.F.I.A. and other close friends during a celebration of his life.
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Christopher Wallace Foundation, to directly benefit the Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation, and their unwavering efforts to make a difference in the lives of the youth.
C.W.M.F. representative Jan Jackson will be on site during the event, and will be scheduling interviews upon request.
Also in honor of Biggie’s memory, the tribute celebration will feature artists who were inspired by Biggie’s music, and who will pay homage to him through live performances.
Raekwon has been added to the lineup, which also includes Easy Mo Bee, DJ Premiere, Esquire, 50 Grand, Pharoahe Monch and Lady Luck.
The music video for Kanye West’s single Monster has been banned by MTV. The television network made the decision to pull the video in response to an outcry over the way women are being portrayed in the footage.
At the forefront of the outrage are two activists Sharon Haywood and Melinda Tankard Reist, who created a petition asking MTV and Universal Music Group to stop promoting the video, and in the process managed to get over 1,600 signatures.
“The mainstreaming of videos like this increases desensitized and callous attitudes toward violence against women,” said Reist, one of the campaign’s originators. “Young people are seeing images and absorbing harmful messages which glamorize misogyny and brutalize women.”
Adding, “Women are reduced to sex-doll like playthings. So great is the level of desensitization that the barbaric treatment of women and girls is seen as normal and to be expected. We decided to run this campaign because we wanted to challenge the status quo.”
Their work isn’t completely done though, pointed out Reist, who said that they are determined to continue their campaign until Universal Music Group responds to the petition.
Monster collaborators Jay-Z, Rick Ross, and Nicki Minaj appear in the video alongside West.
Marion “Suge” Knight has formally dropped his appeal in a lawsuit he filed against Kanye West stemming from a 2005 shooting at a pre-VMA party in Miami, FL.
The former CEO of Death Row Records blamed the Louis Vuitton Don because he was shot in the leg by an unknown individual. Knight holds the rapper and his partners responsible because the suspect was able to sneak a gun into the pre-VMA party past Kanye’s security.
It seems that Suge has finally decided to end the long time battle with Kanye. According to the Associated Press, Suge’s attorney filed the dismissal in February 2011 in a Miami federal court. The dismissal comes after Knight previously appealed the decision in December 2010 because the judge granted a summary judgment for West in November of that year. Suge initially sought millions of dollars in damages from the Watch The Throne artist in the lawsuit.
During the incident, Knight was shot in the upper right leg and his bone was shattered in the process. He claimed to have had months of physical therapy, suffered mental anguish and loss of income. Both parties have reportedly settled out of court and reached a confidential agreement. The case remains unsolved until this day.