American Idol’ winner Ruben Studdard weds in Ala

June 30, 2008 at 10:18 pm | Posted in Ruben Studdard | Leave a comment
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Former “American Idol” Ruben Studdard has married Surata Zuri McCants at a church in a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama. But there was no singing during the 30-minute ceremony — just an exchange of vows, prayers and music provided by a string ensemble. A reporter from The Birmingham News attended the ceremony.

The groom, nicknamed the “Velvet Teddy Bear” on “Idol” for his big frame and sonorous voice, wore a black tuxedo with white bow tie for Saturday’s ceremony. His bride wore a white and ivory wedding gown.

Alabama will be their home as the 29-year-old-singer gets set to release a new album later this year.

Rapper Young Jeezy charged with DUI in Atlanta

June 19, 2008 at 10:07 am | Posted in usher, Young Jeezy | Leave a comment
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Rapper Young Jeezy was charged with driving under the influence and speeding after he was pulled over on an Atlanta highway early Wednesday.

The multi-platinum-selling artist, whose real name is Jay Jenkins, was driving a Corvette when he was stopped about 2:30 a.m. on Interstate 85, police department spokesman Officer James Polite said.

The arresting officer noticed the vehicle did not have a license plate, but Polite could not say how fast Jenkins was driving.

Jenkins was charged with speeding, driving with no proof of insurance or license plate, having an open container, reckless driving and driving impaired by alcohol or drugs.

He was released from the Atlanta City Detention Center a few hours later on a $4,100 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court July 17.

His attorney, Scott E. Leemon, said in a news release that Jenkins was arrested after leaving a recording studio, where he was working on his new album.

“A court date has been scheduled and Jeezy looks forward to getting the matter resolved,” Leemon said. Jenkins is due in court on July 17.

Jenkins’ collaboration, “Love in This Club,” with R&B star Usher is currently sixth on Billboard’s Hot 100 list.

The Story Behind Kanye’s “Flashing Lights”

May 28, 2008 at 8:45 am | Posted in kanye west | Leave a comment
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In an up-coming interview with HHNLive.com, “Flashing Lights” producer Eric Hudson tells the story behind Kanye’s monster hit and who the beat was originally intended for. Eric Hudson on how the collaboration went down:

“I was in one studio and he was in another one [close by], and we had an initial respect for each and a good relationship from some of the other joints that I had produced. I heard he was in the other studio so I just went by to say what’s up. You hear Kanye’s in the studio and you’re going to go say something! So we was in the room and he was like, “yo, you got a joint? My album’s closed, but if you can give me that one banger I’ll put it on there if it’s crazy.” So I start wonder, do I got CDs on me? And by the grace of God I had that beat man. He came into the other room and I played it for him. He listened to the beat for about ten seconds man…the beat didn’t even drop totally. He took it, put it in Pro Tools and did the song right then and there…He wrote it right there. He freestyled it and then next I’m hearing he went and put the “flashin’…lights, lights,” he put that on there…”

Eric Hudson on who the “Flashing Lights” beat was originally intended for:

“Yo, I had originally did that beat for Beanie Sigel. To me it could have been an R&B joint or a rap joint, but I had intended for it to be a rap joint.”

At local stops, hip-hop just flops

May 27, 2008 at 3:34 pm | Posted in Alicia Keys, beyonce, jay z, kanye west, Mary J. Blige | 2 Comments
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Kanye West was snubbed here twice. Beyonce played to more empty seats than occupied ones. And now Alicia Keys has joined the Cold Shoulder Club.

It’s sad but true: Tampa Bay is a brutal market for major R&B and hip-hop concerts. West, Beyonce and Keys are multiplatinum superstars that have fans of all ages, genders and races. I want them to come back. But do you?

On Saturday, the 27-year-old Keys — who’s had four consecutive No. 1 albums — played to 7,201 people in the St. Pete Times Forum, a Tampa venue that can seat about three times as many. The show was a dazzler, but it would have been better with a full house cheering her on. Tickets started at $39.50, a relatively good deal these days.

You could blame the recession, the price of gas, the price of life. But other major tours are doing great in the Tampa Bay area (Radiohead, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen). Plus this is a trend that tracks well before 2008.

In July, Beyonce played to a smattering of fans in the Times Forum, probably no more than 4,000. Final figures were never released, no surprise there. Minutes before the show — in a move I’ve never seen before — people in the upper levels were invited down to grab a seat in the lower level. Even more amazing? There weren’t enough people in the pricier seats to complain.

The last two times rapper West set up shop in Tampa Bay, a widespread case of couldn’t-care-less broke out. In October 2005, as he was selling out consecutive nights in Madison Square Garden, West drew a measly 3,572 in the USF Sun Dome, which has a capacity of about 10,000.

A few weeks ago, West came to Ford Amphitheatre with a hit-making supporting cast of Rihanna, Lupe Fiasco and N.E.R.D. They drew just 9,200, or about half of the venue’s capacity.

The very next night, at Miami’s American Airlines Arena, which holds 19,600, Kanye & Co. performed for a sold-out crowd, according to the Miami Herald.

Granted, we’re not Miami, and we’re definitely not New York. But something’s going on here.

DJ Trauma, an on-air personality at Wild 98.7, one of the few local stations that play West and Keys, says there are two major reasons why R&B and hip-hop shows are tanking. First of all, “They don’t have the proper promotions behind them,” he says. “They don’t know how to get the word out to the right people.” Much has been made of Tampa Bay’s dearth of urban radio choices, which could also be part of the problem.

But DJ Trauma also points to the success of Wild’s two annual hip-hop festivals: Wild Splash and the Last Damn Show, multiact events that cost about $20 and routinely draw huge crowds.

But “all these people around here don’t have $40 to spend on a concert,” he says. “There’s a lot of money in Miami and Dallas. This is different here.”

A few R&B and hip-hop acts do well here: Mariah Carey drew 16,493 fans to her 2006 Times Forum show. Gwen Stefani, whose biggest hits are hip-hop collaborations, drew 16,500 at the amphitheater last year. Not as good, but not awful, were crowds for a double-bill of Eminem and 50 Cent (13,593, Times Forum, 2005), and R&B belter Christina Aguilera (11,538, Times Forum, 2007).

Overall, Tampa Bay is considered a good, if unreliable, concert market. Country acts always fill the seats. Veteran performers (a la Neil Diamond, coming Oct. 24) are slam-dunks. And ’80s acts (such as Cheap Trick, Heart and Journey, a triple-bill coming July 30) are money in the bank, too. Those sales numbers are reflected in the local abundance of country and classic-rock radio stations.

But hip-hop shows? Not so much. And that’s too bad, especially since West, Keys and many more have made hip-hop the most creatively daring genre in popular music.

According to Billboard magazine, one of 2008’s hottest tours is the tandem of rapper Jay-Z and “queen of hip-hop soul” Mary J. Blige. Tickets start in the $30s, and nightly grosses in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Oakland have topped $1-million. There are no plans for Jay and Mary to come to Tampa. With our attendance records, why would they?

Knowles To Replace Winehouse For Bond Track?

May 26, 2008 at 2:57 pm | Posted in amy winehouse, beyonce, jay z | Leave a comment
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R&B star Beyonce Knowles has reportedly been approached to replace Amy Winehouse and record the theme song for the forthcoming Bond movie, Quantum of Solace.

Rehab hitmaker Winehouse was rumoured to have been dropped as the film’s official musical muse after DJ Mark Ronson told reporters he had scrapped his 007 collaboration with the singer, because she was not “ready” to work on music after a recent return to her erratic ways. But on Saturday, Winehouse confirmed that she has, in fact, completed the song – although she is unsure whether movie bosses will choose to green-light the track for use in the latest superspy offering.

Now industry insiders claim Knowles has become the favorite to record the title track – although her representatives have yet to comment on the rumors.

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