Kanye, Bill Cosby, R. Kelly: when it all falls down
Celeb culture is and always has been insane, but this week is just surreal
6:02 PMThe good ol’ U.S.A. loves itself some celebrity drama because we’re the country that places so much value on it. And now we living in a society that never goes dark. Tweets, updates, IG captions, investigative reports, social videos, headlines, notifications, group chat gifs pop through our screens so relentlessly … very few stories even get shelf lives. Tristan Thompson’s recent cheating fiasco? Already old news and the Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t even made it out the first round. But some weeks? Like this one? You just want to delete every social app from your phone and go back to the days of dial-up internet and printing out MapQuest directions. It’s truly confounding.
Bill Cosby — He was found guilty today on all three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee whom he’d mentored. When I asked my grandma how she felt about the allegations against Cosby over a year ago and her logic was simple, “Ain’t nobody gonna say the same thing about you 50 times over multiple decades and it not be some element of truth behind it.” With each count carrying up to 10 years in prison, the likelihood is that Cosby—an American icon via his transcendent The Cosby Show, and later A Different World—will spend his remaining days behind bars. There’s a possibility the sentences could be served concurrently, but regardless the sentence is the coup de grace in one of the most public downfalls for one of the world’s most well-known entertainers—and more importantly perhaps a moment of closure for the women who accused him of similar acts of nonconsensual aggression. This is a week though, that “Bill Cosby is going to die in jail” might not even be the wildest of the week.
Bill Cosby accuser Lili Bernard reacts to the news that the comedian has been found guilty on all three counts of sexual assault at his retrial: “It is a victory for all sexual assault survivors, female and male.” pic.twitter.com/42Fh6zEJ68
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) April 26, 2018
Nas — The legendary rapper faces accusations from his ex-wife singer, rapper and Cooking Channel host Kelis who said the MC was both physically and emotionally violent during their marriage in an interview with Hollywood Unlocked. The former couple have been engaged in a custody battle for years, but aside from that and Nas’ 2012 Life Is Good, very little has been revealed about their five-year marriage.
The notoriously private Kelis said the leaked pictures of Rihanna (following the 2009 assault by ex-boyfriend Chris Brown) prompted her to end the marriage. This is the second time the Illmatic rapper has been accused of physical abuse in an intimate relationship. Carmen Bryan, most famously remembered as the woman between Jay-Z and Nas during their long ago beef, also alleged the latter was abusive when asked about the affair. Nas has an album set to drop June 15, and it’s unclear how this news will will impact the rollout of his first new project in six years. The project was, of course, recently announced by and is being produced by Kanye West. Which brings us to…
Kanye West — I’m tired of hearing about Kanye West, but here I am writing about him. The thing that irks me about his gluttony of tweets is how they’re manipulated—by him and the powers around him. Chance The Rapper tweeting that black people don’t have to be Democrats in defense of Kanye’s pro-Trump tweets is true.
Talked to him two days ago. He’s in a great space and not affected by folk tryna question his mental or physical health. Same Ye from the Vmas, same Ye from the telethon. https://t.co/2zY3KpllV2
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) April 25, 2018
Black people don’t have to be democrats.
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) April 25, 2018
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 25, 2018
And Kanye putting a stress on “free thinking” is important, too. Groupthink is an epidemic in our society. But here’s where the tweets become a problem. Kanye rocking a Make America Great Again hat and praising Trump only enables 45 and the energy around him. Look at how quick Trump was to retweet West thanking him for his support (while he remains quiet on an American hero). Or notice how Donald Trump Jr. now retweets Kim Kardashian.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) April 25, 2018
This isn’t the promotion of free thinking as Kanye says, just cynical manipulation of what he’s saying.
R. Kelly — Where we are: Legendary radio jock Tom Joyner has vowed to never again play R. Kelly’s music on his radio show. Kelley’s publicist, assistant and lawyer all peace’d out on him following new sexual misconduct allegations in BBC Three’s new documentary R. Kelly: Sex, Girls and Videotapes.
There are also allegations that he is the leader of a sex cult in which women are being held against their will. All of these things happened this month. It seems he has used his music and the influence that comes with celebrity to manipulate young women and their families for years. There is no separation between the two. None.
Diamond & Silk — I know very little about Diamond and Silk, real names Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, who fashion themselves President Donald Trump’s most outspoken and loyal supporters. I do know they’re blasphemous for giving a bad name to both Lisa Raye’s character in The Players Club and to the R&B group that gave us “Meeting In My Bedroom.” I also know they’re “famous” (strong emphasis on the quotation marks) because they’re two black women who are strong pro-Trump supporters. Somehow they found their way to Capitol Hill to testify before the House Judiciary Committee with regard to supposed filtering practices by social media platforms. They were, of course, subsequently caught lying under oath.
Please. Put this week in rice.
Meek Mill’s first post-prison public appearance could be Sixers-Heat Game 5
Sixers owner says via Instagram that he’s en route to pick up Mill
4:32 PMWith the breaking news that Meek Mill is a free man, after the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania overruled Judge Genece Brinkley’s controversial sentence, comes the question: What’s next? Meek outlines his plans in the below tweet thread, but what happens tonight? Philadelphia 76ers owner Michael G. Rubin, who befriended Meek years ago and has become one of the rapper’s most vocal supporters, announced he was en route to pick Meek up from prison.
I’d like to thank God, my family, and all my public advocates for their love, support and encouragement during this difficult time. While the past five months have been a nightmare, the prayers, visits, calls, letters and rallies have helped me stay positive.
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) April 24, 2018
To the Philly District Attorney’s office, I’m grateful for your commitment to justice. I understand that many people of color across the country don’t have that luxury and I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues.
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) April 24, 2018
In the meantime, I plan to work closely with my legal team to overturn this unwarranted conviction and look forward to reuniting with my family and resuming my music career.
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) April 24, 2018
Whether Meek actually shows up courtside tonight as his hometown Sixers attempt to complete a first-round series victory over the Miami Heat is up in the air.
It is, however, hard to imagine a scene when he doesn’t. If Meek waltzes in as Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons warm up and they all dap and hug, we’re looking at one of the loudest ovations we’ve heard in a basketball arena in a long time. Philly could potentially be looking at a courtside trio of Meek, Allen Iverson and Kevin Hart. That type of cultural star power doesn’t happen every night. Brotherly love for real.
Robert Downey Jr. at ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ premiere: ‘Wakanda forever! I can say that as an honorary black man’
In a crowd including Chadwick Boseman, Zoe Saldana and even coach David Fizdale, Iron Man pledges allegiance to the ‘Black Panther’ phenomenon
8:28 AMNearly 40 Marvel superheroes gathered on the stage at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre on Monday night. For 10 years, the studio has been making films that bring comic book stories to life — breaking box-office standards and often introducing the next big thing along the way.
So the actors — Robert Downey Jr., Chadwick Boseman, Zoe Saldana and Scarlett Johansson among them — stood there prepped for the opening of Avengers: Infinity War on Friday. According to Fandango, it’s already sold out more than 1,000 screens and has a chance to top the biggest opening of all time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which collected $248 million on its big night in 2015. Marvel is already celebrating unprecedented success of its February release, Black Panther, which has to date earned more than $680 million domestically and is still growing.
But on Monday night, when Downey Jr., who began his Marvel journey with 2008’s Iron Man, was given the microphone by studio president Kevin Feige, he made his allegiance very clear: “Wakanda forever,” he said as he looked behind him to see Boseman. “I can say that as an honorary black man.”
The crowd, which included Angela Bassett, Courtney B. Vance and Laurence Fishburne, broke out into laughter, reminded of the actor’s controversial turn in 2008’s Tropic Thunder — his character undergoes skin surgery so that he can actually become a black man for a role. Infinity Wars screened at just under three hours — and judging by the oohs, aahs, laughter and audible shock reverberating through the space, Marvel has another darling on its hands.
Immediately after the premiere, lucky golden wristband holders were ushered to a rooftop for an after-party where guests feasted on vegan falafel, Thai chicken meatballs, beef meatballs tossed in marinara sauce and an assortment of salads, cheese platters and mini desserts. The crowd was huge and eclectic; the last few Marvel premiere parties (such as the one for Black Panther) have been more intimate. Guests jumped into and out of photo booths, received mini Marvel puppets and sipped champagne.
The night was soundtracked with tunes from George Michael, Janet Jackson, Prince, Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z and Michael Jackson, and industry insiders mingled with cast members such as Saldana, Winston Duke, Josh Brolin and even former Memphis Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale.
The party started closing out shortly after midnight, with straggling well-wishers issuing kudos to film producers for pulling off what likely will be another box-office blockbuster. Fans will have to wait until next year for the film’s second part — a year too long.
Donovan Mitchell is becoming a legend in Utah
Rookie sets playoff scoring mark as team closes in on second round
8:05 AMDonovan Mitchell was about to be interviewed after leading the Utah Jazz to one win away from the second round of the NBA playoffs when the home crowd gave him a roaring standing ovation. Mitchell had just surpassed Hall of Famer Karl Malone to score a Jazz rookie playoff-record 33 points in a 113-96 victory in Game 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.
A touched Mitchell was at a loss for words. He threw his hands in the air in appreciation and turned away to hug teammate Derrick Favors. And while the 21-year-old’s scoring and dunking have spoken volumes during his rookie campaign, he learned on this night that winning is what makes you a legend in Utah.
The crowd left Donovan Mitchell speechless. 🤐 pic.twitter.com/ZmQxC9Wb19
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 24, 2018
“To be honest, a lot of this is surreal,” Mitchell told reporters. “I’m just taking it game by game and not really getting caught up in the big picture. Just focusing game by game.”
Mitchell was a superstar during NBA summer league after being selected 13th overall in the 2017 NBA draft. The former University of Louisville star averaged a rookie-best 20.5 points per game this season while making the highlight reels with his athletic drives, high-flying slams and nailed 3-pointers. The four-time Western Conference Rookie of the Month set the Jazz rookie scoring record and also won the 2018 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
Malone and Darrell Griffith were great rookies for the Jazz, but truth be told, they have been surpassed by Mitchell. And while Mitchell showed his youth and had fun engaging in a Rookie of the Year battle of words with Philadelphia forward Ben Simmons, Mitchell’s focus has changed solely to winning in the postseason.
“I am just focused on the task at hand,” Mitchell said. “The biggest thing with me is if I start thinking about the individual stuff and all the stuff that really matters to the team, that’s when you kind of lose your head.
“You’ve got to give your all for your teammates. I’m just trying to give my all any way I can. It’s definitely an honor.”
Said Jazz coach Quin Snyder: “I don’t think he’s trying to do anything special. He’s playing.”
The NBA playoffs are a different level, and the expectation was that this rookie would crawl at first. Reality is nothing has changed, as Mitchell has been the best player on the floor in this first-round series against a Thunder team with three future Hall of Famers in 2017 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook, five-time All-Star Paul George and 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony.
Mitchell joined Hall of Famers Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Lou Hudson as the only rookies to score more than 100 points in their first four playoff games.
While the Jazz’s young star seems to be setting a new scoring mark each game, the number Mitchell is most interested in is a series-ending fourth win.
“We have one more game, so I’m focused on that,” Mitchell said.
Said Favors: “He has been doing it all year for us. Making plays. Making shots. He has been huge for us all year, and hopefully he can keep it up and we can keep it up as a team the rest of the series.”
Why a Jack Johnson pardon would be easier for Trump than Obama
The first black heavyweight champ went to prison for sex with white women
2:48 PMDon’t be surprised that Donald Trump is expressing enthusiasm about pardoning Jack Johnson while Barack Obama ignored it.
The first black heavyweight champion was wrongfully imprisoned a century ago by racist authorities who were outraged by his destruction of white boxers and his relationships with white women. In 2004, a group of people began seeking a pardon for Johnson, but they were rebuffed by then-Presidents George W. Bush and Obama.
Now, President Trump is tweeting that he’s considering the idea. Here’s why a pardon is easier for Trump than Obama:
Exonerating Johnson would have opened Obama up to racial repercussions unique to the first black president. The boxer enjoyed rubbing white America’s face in his profligate habits with sex, money, cars, clothes and jewelry. At a time when black men were lynched for even looking at white women, Johnson not only flaunted his Caucasian companions, he viciously beat at least one of them.
Johnson’s lifestyle was like “the hip-hop culture of its day, widely associated with black criminality and black masculine pathology,” wrote American University history professor Theresa Runstedtler in her book on Johnson. Obama pardoning Johnson would have appeared to some people like pardoning Tupac Shakur or Bobby Shmurda. Black Americans, meanwhile, are more uncomfortable than whites with interracial unions.
Even though Johnson deserves to have his record posthumously cleansed, Obama was focused on clemency for living victims of mass incarceration policies, which disproportionately affect the black community.
Trump, meanwhile, was elected despite multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. Pardoning a womanizer like Johnson doesn’t dent Trump’s image as much as it would have tarnished Obama’s (evidence that black folks still need to be twice as good to succeed).
Pardoning Johnson would send a valuable message to white America, which is Trump’s main constituency. “It helps us white people more than black people,” the filmmaker Ken Burns, who directed an illuminating Jack Johnson documentary, told me in 2016. “Black people don’t need this information [about racial injustice]. Black people know this already. It’s us white people who don’t know it.”
Finally, a pardon would provide Trump with an opportunity to do something, albeit symbolic, about racial injustice. Trump’s Justice Department is reviving the “tough on crime” policies that created the racially biased disaster of mass incarceration – the exact catastrophe that Obama tried to mitigate with both policy and his huge number of commuted sentences.
Overall, it’s a fitting irony that Trump is weighing a pardon Obama never chose to pursue.