Tha Rap Critic

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Pharrell to Team With Voltron

3dvoltron.jpg

Neptunes producer, Pharrell Williams, is getting a chance to put his beats where his passion is as the producer of the soundtrack to the big-screen version of the 1980's cartoon hit Voltron.

Williams, an executive producer on the film, will also score "Voltron: Defender of the Universe," according to The Hollywood Reporter. The movie is being produced by Mark Gordon ("The Day After Tomorrow," "Saving Private Ryan"), based on a story about five maverick pilots who have to travel to the planet Arus to learn how to operate the massive Voltron, which is made up of five smaller robots. The giant robot is Earth's last hope in the fight against the Drule Empire.

"Voltron" is not the only '80s robot flick on the roster. Steven Spielberg is executive producing a live-action version of "Transformers," which will be directed by Michael Bay ("The Island," "Armageddon"). That movie is slated for release on July 4, 2007.

Snoop Youth League Coming Soon

snoopUSC.jpg

The Snoop Youth Football League will kick its season with a match between the Rowland Heights Raiders, Snoop's team, and the Long Beach Patriots.

Snoop, who has coached his eldest son's teams for a few years, will now coach his younger son, but that's hardly where his involvement ends. After witnessing inner-city families struggle to afford the costs of other youth football leagues, Snoop is launching his own league, for which he will serve as commissioner.

To fund the league, Snoop is hosting a benefit concert August 25 at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ice Cube and others will also perform.

To participate in the league, which more than 800 kids will get a chance to play in, players must keep their GPA above a 2.0. "And that goes for anyone," the commissioner declared.

The Snoop Youth Football League is launching in the Los Angeles area, but Snoop has plans to go nationwide soon. "There's other rappers that want to bring it to their areas," Snoop said. "I just wanted to kick it off in my area so I can show others how it's done."

Monday, July 25, 2005

Nas Baits 50 Cent on New Track

NAS.jpg

You knew it was going come, Nas' response to getting called out on 50 Cent's "Piggy Bank." A new track labeled "MC Burial" just hit Internet, and on it God's Son rips a hole in 50 and few other unnamed MC's that have been talking wrecklessly. It somewhat reminds you of the Stillmatic single that baited Jigga before Nas released Ether. It's raw, but it's just a jab, not a knock out blow.

"N---as don't want beef, they vegetarians," Nas insists on the opening verse. And while he doesn't mention 50 by name, it's more than obvious who he's going at in the second and third verses.

"They say Jada defeated them, Joe's too street for him/ What's next? I guess it's time for Nas to ether him.

"You's a sucker for death if I'm a sucker for love," he continues. "Scared of me so you talk about family members like I can't point out your grandma, n---a."

Nas has been telling everyone that his next LP is going to be called The NASDAQ Dow Jones, however his label said there's no official title yet. Nas is well into the recording process and his LP should be out this year.

Payola Gets Exposed

sonybmg.jpg

New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, announced a settlement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment, which has agreed to cease its "pay for play" policy.

The label group was the subject of a yearlong investigation that revealed it was paying and providing expensive gifts — otherwise known as "payola" — to radio stations and their employees in return for airplay, in a violation of state and federal law. The payola took the form of outright bribes as well as fictitious contest giveaways for listeners, which actually went to station employees.

Radio stations that participated in the payola schemes include WQHT-FM in New York (Hot 97); WWPR-FM in New York (Power 105); KHTS-FM in San Diego (Channel 933); WRHT-FM in Greenville, North Carolina; WFLY-FM in Albany, New York (Fly 92.3), WWHT-FM in Syracuse, New York (Hot 107.9); and WSSP-FM in Milwaukee (The Beat), among others.

The label group agreed to companywide reforms to detect and prevent future abuses and is making a $10 million donation to local charities to fund programs aimed at music education and appreciation. Meanwhile, Spitzer's office said it is still investigating payola practices at other companies.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hustle and Flow In Theatres

HowardTerrence.jpg

Terrance Howard's plays DJay, a pimp who clearly is smarter than his chosen vocation. But he's no pimp with a heart of gold. He has a ferocious temper and sells drugs on the side. But he evolves into a sympathetic if ambiguous character when we see his decency and sense his conflicted state.

DJay has hit a critical point in his life. He can simply continue being a two-bit pimp (his beater car doesn't even have air conditioning), or he can go after his dream of being a rapper. Even though DJay is a well-rounded character, there is a formulaic quality to the ragtag group of musical associates he assembles: Anthony Anderson plays the henpecked husband of a woman who thinks he should reserve his talents for religious music, and DJ Qualls is the skinny white dude who wishes he were black.

Taraji P. Henson plays Shug, one of the ladies of the night who work for DJay, and her performance also is top-notch. Ludacris, who had a memorable role in Crash as well, has a key part as Skinny Black, a Memphis-born music star whom DJay hopes will provide his entrée into the world of hip-h

Notorious B.I.G Life Story to be Told

Biggie.jpg

Fox Searchlight pictures announced Wednesday [July 20] that it has bought the right to make a film about B.I.G.'s life, and added that the film will be produced by the rapper's mother, Voletta Wallace, and his former managers, Wayne Barrow and Mark Sitts, according to Reuters. Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day," "King Arthur," "Tears of the Sun") is currently in negotiations to direct the film. Cheo Hodari Coker, a former journalist and reportedly the last person to interview the rapper before his death, will write the screenplay.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Harry Potter Works Magic Again

harry.potter.jpg

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the penultimate chapter in J.K. Rowling's epic fantasy series that went on sale around the globe at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, sold an astonishing 6.9 million copies its first day in bookstores in the U.S. alone.

The sales numbers for the 672-page hardcover book easily smashed the record set by the previous installment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which raked in a whopping 5 million copies two years ago.

Most booksellers offered Half-Blood Prince, which retails for $29.99, at steep 40 percent discounts to spur the record sales.

Amazon.com, for example, peddled the book for $17.99; advanced orders have kept it at the top of the best-seller list with 1.5 million copies ordered before Saturday, making it the online retailer's largest new product release ever.

Thanks to Half-Blood Prince, Rowling was able to make a Gringott-sized deposit. The author, already the richest woman in Great Britain with a net worth estimated at $1 billion, made $36 million in royalties on Saturday--not a bad day's work. (That includes U.K. sales figures, which are hovering in the 2 million-copy range, according to Nielsen BookScan.)

Hit Series Entourage is Coming Back to HBO

hbo.jpg

The "Entourage" crew is coming back for more adventures in celebrity-dom next year.

The Emmy-nominated comedy, which stars Adrian Grenier as a young movie star and Jeremy Piven as his shark-ish agent, has been renewed for a third season to debut next year.

The renewal of "Entourage" topped a state-of-HBO address delivered by Chris Albrecht, HBO's CEO, that included updates on such shows as "The Sopranos" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," as well as news of a formal green light for the long-gestating "John Adams" miniseries.

Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are scheduled to produce a miniseries about World War II battles in the Pacific theater. The World War II miniseries and "Adams" together will cost HBO about $300 million, according to Albrecht.

Ja Rule Involved in Federal Probe

ja-rule.jpg

Federal prosecutors are focusing on multi-platinum rapper Ja Rule in their ongoing investigation of record label The Inc. and the company’s alleged ties to Queens, New York drug dealer Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff.

Ja Rule and two bodyguards face possible federal charges including “conspiracy to commit murder,” after a shooting in December of 2004 left one man dead and another injured.

The charges stem from a December 27, 2004 incident at a club in New York where Ja Rule was celebrating a post-Christmas party.

Ja Rule denied involvement in the shooting previously and his lawyer, Murray Richman also denied that his client was involved.

Alchemist Ready to Return As Eminem's DJ

alchemist.jpg

Alchemist says he thought he was going to die last week when his tour bus overturned in Missouri. While he saw that his bus was going to collide with a big rig, it happened so fast that there was nothing he or anyone else could do to avoid the accident.

"We started screaming when he swerved 'cause the bus went on two wheels," Al continued. "Then he spun the wheel the other way and the bus went back on the other two wheels. At that point the bus was out of control. It was two semis in front of us, and the bus clipped the back of one of the semis. ... We spun backward one time and we flipped."

Alchemist says he was relieved once the bus stopped spinning: although he was hurt, he was still alive. Stat Quo was the first person he saw, but then relief quickly turned back to horror when he couldn't see his brother, as the wreckage left the back of the bus barricaded. With his lung injured, Alchemist had difficulty breathing and was rushed to the hospital, still not knowing what happened to Neil. Finally, upon arriving to a local hospital, Neil sent word to Alchemist through a doctor that he was OK, and the brothers were later reunited.

Once Alchemist is ready, he will have his spot back as Eminem's DJ.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Chocolate Factory a Big Hit

willy wonka.jpg

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" enjoyed a tasty $55.4 million opening atop the North American box office during its first weekend in theaters, its distributor Warner Bros. Pictures said on Sunday.

This was in line with expectations, which had ranged from the high $40 million range to $60 million, and compares favorably with other recent No. 1 films, such as last weekend's champ "Fantastic Four" with $56.1 million, and "Batman Begins" with $48.8 million.

Its major competition came not from another film, but from the release of the keenly anticipated "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." Bookstores around the world started selling the book to millions of excited young fans just after midnight on Saturday.

But Warner Bros., which also has film rights to the "Potter" series, said it could not yet tell how ticket sales for "Charlie" were affected.

The $150 million film stars Johnny Depp as creepy chocolate magnate Willy Wonka. Based on the children's book by British writer Roald Dahl, it was directed by Tim Burton, who previously worked with Depp on such films as "Edward Scissorhands" and "Ed Wood."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Notorious B.I.G. Civil Suit Declared Mistrial

Biggie.jpg

The federal wrongful-death case of Christopher "Notorious B.I.G." Wallace abruptly halted Wednesday.

The lawsuit, filed by Wallace's family's, seeks to lay blame for the New York rapper's death in the collective hands of the city of Los Angeles; the suit sought unspecified damages against the municipality.

No new trial date has been set. Last month the case was put on hold after it turned up that the lawyer for the Wallace family had not received a substantial amount of evidence from the LAPD. In the short amount of time the Biggie trial had been in session, several startling revelations came about, including a former FBI agent and a prison inmate linking Biggie's death to Death Row Records.

Lil Kim to Face Jail Time

lil_kim.jpg

Rapper Lil' Kim was sentenced to a year and a day in prison by Judge Gerard Lynch at Manhattan's U.S. District Court Wednesday afternoon. The rapper was also fined $50,000 and will serve three years' probation after her sentence. She must turn herself in to authorities on September 19.

The judge lambasted her for being dishonest, saying her lies were an insult to him and to the court. "[Providing] false testimony under oath undermines our system of justice," said Lynch, who described Kim's actions as "blatant perjury," with "clear" intent. "It's a serious offense ... and the crimes you covered up were serious, indeed."

The rapper issued a statement two hours after learning her fate: "I would like to thank all of my supporters who have stood by my side throughout this entire ordeal. The many prayers and hundreds of letters of support, e-mails and kind words that have poured in have been overwhelming and critical in helping my family, loved ones and myself stay strong during this time of need. Today was a very difficult day for me, but I am no stranger to adversity and will do whatever I need to do so that I can continue to work hard and give back to my family, amazing fans and community."