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R. Kelly’s Sex Trafficking Trial Is Set For April

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R. Kelly Mugshot

Source: Cook County Department of Corrections / Cook County Department of Corrections

R. Kelly will finally have the chance to legally clear his name. A judge has scheduled his trial for early 2021.

As spotted on Page Six the disgraced singer’s battle for freedom is set for April. On Thursday, November 19 a judge scheduled his sex trafficking and racketeering case to commence next year.

According to the article jury selection will start April 7, by the order by District Judge Judge Ann Donnelly. This jury is set to be anonymous and partially sequestered. “The government has established that empaneling an anonymous and partially sequestered jury is warranted,” wrote Donnelly. She also noted that United States Marshals would escort the panel in and outside of the courthouse in order to minimize any contact with outside parties.

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The move is said to be in response to the Pied Piper’s alleged negative influence on the jurors who served on his 2008 child pornography trial in Chicago. It is speculated that Kelly’s people threatened some of them and even offered money to individuals to change their vote. The proceedings resulted in an acquittal. So much so that three of his associates were arrested for bribing and intimating.

R. Kelly has maintained his innocent. The “I Believe I Can Fly” singer will remain jailed until trial.

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Photo: Cook County Department of Corrections



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AFRICAN AMERICAN (E)

R&B Singer Jeremih Transferred From ICU As COVID-19 Battle Improves

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ASCAP 2017 Rhythm & Soul Music Awards - Inside

Source: Earl Gibson III / Getty

There’s good news in Jeremih‘s battle with COVID-19. The 33-year-old singer has been transferred out of the intensive care unit according to TMZ and has been placed in a regular hospital room — without the need for a ventilator.

The R&B singer’s family told the outlet that they’re thankful for the prayers during his fight with COVID and is thankful the likes of 50 Cent, Hitmaka, Big Sean, Chance the Rapper and more uplifted him.

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Jeremih’s battle with COVID-19 first became public last Saturday (November 14) when musicians began asking for prayers for the “All The Time” rapper. 50 was the first to publicly comment and say that Jeremih was battling COVID and that “sh*t was serious.”

On Thursday (November 19), Jeremih’s agent reported to Variety that although the singer was no longer on a ventilator, he was still in critical condition.

It is currently unknown how long Jeremih has had COVID or when he contracted the virus. Him undergoing normal treatment is a welcome sign in a tumultuous week for him.

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (E)

Bobby Brown Jr.’s Final Tweets Reveal He Was In Love As Girlfriend Breaks Her Silence

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Bobby Brown Jr.‘s social media activity in the days before he was found dead this week has provided a glimpse into his mindstate as officials in California work to determine the cause of his death.

In particular, a series of tweets centered on his girlfriend suggest he was deeply in love with a woman he affectionately referred to as “wifey” in one tweet he pinned to the top of his Twitter timeline just its past Sunday.

The relationship he shared with a woman identified as Anna Reed was coming into focus after she broke her silence following his death on Wednesday when he was found dead in his home in Los Angeles.

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Earlier that same day, Brown tweeted about his dedication to Reed, suggesting he was monogamous and loyal to her.

Three days earlier, he tweeted three photos of the two of them and captioned the social media post with two words: “Wifey Alert.”

That was on the same day that Brown tweeted at Reed to declare, “I LOVE YOU.”

The feeling was obviously mutual as Reed took to Twitter on Thursday to mourn Brown’s death in a tweet that described him in part as “an angel” and her “soul mate.”

Reed also tweeted a provocative photo of the two of them on Saturday.

Earlier that day, Reed suggested in a tweet that her relationship with Brown prompted “all his ex’s” to “keep hating.”

That seemed to be what Brown was referring to in a tweet he posted the next day that was accompanied by the hashtag, “happilytaken.”

Brown, a budding singer whose namesake father became and R&B superstar in the 1980s, was found dead by emergency medical technicians responding to a call Wednesday afternoon. It was unclear who notified the authorities. Los Angeles Police Department public information officer Jeff Lee told USA Today it didn’t appear that there was any evidence of foul play. TMZ reported Bobby Brown’s death first Wednesday evening.

He was apparently in the process of trying to launch his own successful singing career. Posts from his Instagram show he was prepping a music video for a song called “Say Something” back in September.

His music on streaming services dates back to 2018.

Madame Noire noted that “Bobby Brown Jr. was featured on the short-lived Bravo reality series Being Bobby Brown.”

Bobby Brown Jr. prompted recollections of the tragic deaths of his half-sister Bobbi Kristina Brown and her mother — his former step-mother — Whitney Houston. Bobbi Kristina was just 22 years old when she died. Their untimely deaths about three years apart were both caused by accidental drownings because of drug use.

Nick Gordon, the former fiancé of Bobbi Kristina, was ultimately found responsible for her death and ordered to pay $36 million to her estate. However, Gordon was found dead after overdosing on heroin earlier this year. He was only 30 years old.

Bobby Brown Jr. was very protective of Bobbi Kristina and wasn’t thrilled about all the attention he was receiving in the wake of his sister’s death. Back in 2015, he expressed his frustrations and grief over his sister’s death in a series of since-deleted tweets.

“People really dont give a fuck about you unless your relevant, and they don’t love you till your famous or gone. I don’t want these follows,” one tweet said.“This is real life for me, this is my life, my sister. Not a fucking trending topic,” he wrote in another tweet.

He ultimately apologized for the tweets and explained in further detail his feelings behind the reaction to his sister’s death.

“My frustration wasn’t towards people giving me their condolences, it was the fact my followers increased a lot, I find it very morbid,” he tweeted before deleting that post, as well.

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (E)

Will Smith And Janet Hubert Squash Their ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Beef

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The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Source: NBC / Getty

One of Black Hollywood’s most infamous squabbles has been finally put to rest. Will Smith and Janet Hubert have put aside their problems.

This week the cast of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunited to celebrate the show’s 30th anniversary. While the crew has enjoyed great relationships with each other almost three decades since the finale one original member wasn’t so lucky. After the second season the original Aunt Vivian mysteriously exited the show and was replaced by the second Vivian Banks, Daphne Maxwell Reid. While NBC did not issue any reasoning regarding her departure the show continued to blossom without her.

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Over the years Hubert has expressed her frustration and called out Will on social media claiming he was partly the reason for her termination. Surprisingly she made an appearance on the reunion special and spoke to Will about what happened. During the sit down she revealed she was actually in an abusive relationship. “I was no longer laughing, smiling, joking because there were things that were going on that nobody knew about,” she explained. “The cast had no idea what was going on.” Will then admitted how now see how was complicit in her exit. “I can see how I made the set very difficult for Janet,” he said.

Hubert also touched on the rumors that she was labeled difficult to work with. “I lost everything. Reputation. Everything. Everything. And I understand you were able to move forward but you know those words calling a Black woman ‘difficult’ in Hollywood is the kiss of death,” she explained. “It’s the kiss of death and it’s hard enough being a dark-skinned Black woman in this business.”

You can see a clip of the exchange below:

 

 

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (E)

Jeremih In ‘Critical Condition’ In ICU Battling COVID-19, Agent Says

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ASCAP 2017 Rhythm & Soul Music Awards - Show

Source: Paras Griffin / Getty

Jeremih‘s battle with COVID-19 has taken a bleak turn.

According to the singer’s agent, he’s currently in an intensive care unit in critical condition.

“J was just pulled off the ventilator,” his agent said in a statement to Variety. “He’s still in ICU in critical condition. Please keep him in your prayers.”

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The 33-year-old singer had been privately battling the virus in his hometown of Chicago when musicians and peers took to social media to ask for prayers on his behalf. 50 Cent was the first to relay that the “All The Time” singer was battling COVID-19.

“Pray for my boy Jeremih. He’s not doing good. This COVID shit is real. He’s in the ICU in Chicago,” he wrote.

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (E)

Netflix Announces Release For “Malcolm & Marie” Ahead Of Awards Season

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Malcom & Marie official photo

Source: Courtesy Netflix / Netflix

Netflix announces release date for Euphoria creator Sam Levinson’s new cinematic romance drama Malcolm & Marie starring Zendaya and John David Washington premiering on February 5, 2021.

The film tells a Hollywood story of a director, played by Washington, and his girlfriend, played by Zendaya, whose relationship is tested after returning home from the premiere of his latest project.

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Ahead of Friday’s SAG Awards submission deadline, a decision was made to release the film into the awards season. Netflix plans to wage a full-fledged Oscar campaign on its behalf. After a screening of select footage in September, the streaming company acquired the black-and-white film for $30 million after a bidding war between several distributors.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, usual moviegoers are subject to watching the latest films at home on their personal television screens. Since then, studios and streamers have been working tirelessly to get their hands on any films out there, and the Sam Levinson produced independent film Malcolm and Marie, ended up being one of the hottest commodities on the market. According to Deadline, this feature was drawing attention from the likes of Amazon, Apple, HBO, Searchlight, MGM, A24, and Focus Features. Obviously, Netflix outbid the others as one of the leading streaming networks acquiring the motion picture for $30 million.

The filming for Malcolm and Marie quickly started on June 17 and was completed by July 2. Zendaya, who won an Emmy for Best Actress in Drama series and most recently graced Essence’s 50th Anniversary cover, was cast in the black and white motion picture, and joining her will be Tenet star John David Washington.

Shooting for the film took place at the Caterpillar House, which is an environmentally conscious glass architectural marvel in Carmel, CA, all falling in line with WGA, DGA and SAG-AFTRA, and extensive COVID-19 safety protocols reports mentioned from Deadline. The entire film was shot in 35 mm with strict guidelines to ensure the crew and cast was safe throughout production.

Levinson, known for creating the HBO series Euphoria, wrote the script and produced the picture in addition to directing it. Alongside Levinson, Zendaya and Washington are also executive producers for the film and they tapped in with rapper Kid Cudi and Yariv Milchan, son of Oscar-nominated producer Arnon Milchan. Levinson and Zendaya have history previously working on HBO’s latest teen drama, Euphoria which led to Zendaya’s Emmy for best actress in a drama series.

Levinson and Washington come from members of revered Hollywood families. Levinson is the son of Oscar winner Barry Levinson and Washington is the son of Oscar winner Denzel Washington. It’s a family affair as Sam Levinson’s wife, Ashley Levinson is one of the producers for the upcoming film and Washington’s sister, Katia Washington is one of the other executive producers.

Sam Levinson said at the time of the sale, “I am so grateful to this cast and crew, many of whom are my ‘Euphoria’ family, for coming together during such uncertain times. We felt privileged to be able to make this film together and we did so with a lot of love. We are all thrilled that it has ended up with Netflix which is unparalleled in allowing filmmakers the freedom to tell their stories that reach audiences all over the world.”

Get ready for the well sought out film Malcolm & Marie to premiere exclusively on Netflix on February 5, 2021.

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (E)

Bobby Brown’s Son, Bobby Jr., Passes Away At 28

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2017 BET Awards - Arrivals

Source: Jason LaVeris / Getty

Bobby Brown Jr., (pictured far right), one of Bobby Brown’s oldest children, has passed away. He was 28.

TMZ is reporting that Bobby Jr. was found dead in his Los Angeles area home on Wednesday (November 18). According to officers, there’s not a belief foul play was involved.

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Bobby Jr. was the half-brother of Bobby’s daughter with Whitney HoustonBobbi Kristina.

Bobbi Kristina passed in 2015 when she was 22 years old. She died 6 months after being found unresponsive in a bathtub. Her death wrecked Bobby, who blamed her boyfriend Nick Gordon for her death. Gordon died on New Years Eve in 2019 of an overdose. He was 30.

The namesake of the New Edition singer was among one of his seven children.

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (E)

Tory Lanez Pleads Not Guilty in Megan Thee Stallion Shooting

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Megan Thee Stallion & Tory Lanez

Source: (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows) / (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rapper Tory Lanez pleaded not guilty through his attorney Wednesday to felony assault charges in the July shooting of hip-hop star Megan Thee Stallion.

Lawyer Shawn Chapman Holley entered the plea in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom to counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle on behalf of Lanez, 28, who was not at the hearing.

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In a criminal complaint, prosecutors said Lanez, whose legal name is Daystar Peterson, fired on a victim identified as “Megan P.” after she got out of an SUV during an argument in the Hollywood Hills on July 12, and “inflicted great bodily injury” on her. Megan Thee Stallion’s legal name is Megan Pete. If convicted, Lanez faces a maximum sentence of roughly 23 years.

The Canadian rapper was charged in October after months of speculation and publicity surrounding the incident. At first, Los Angeles police reported the incident only as shots fired, a woman with foot injuries, and a man arrested on a weapons allegation.

Megan Thee Stallion, whose legal name is Megan Pete, revealed a few days later that her foot injuries came from gunshots, and more than a month later said in an Instagram video that it was Lanez who fired them. She slowly revealed more via social media in subsequent weeks.

“The way people have publicly questioned and debated whether I played a role in my own violent assault proves that my fears about discussing what happened were, unfortunately, warranted,” she wrote.

The day after he was charged, Lanez tweeted “the truth will come to the light,” and “a charge is not a conviction.”

Lanez has not reached the stardom that Megan the Stallion has, but his album “Daystar,” released in September after the shooting but before he was charged, reached the top 10 on the Billboard album chart, and he has had a successful run of mixtapes and major-label records since his career began in 2009.

Megan Thee Stallion was already a major up-and-coming star at the time of the shooting, and since then, her guest stint on the Cardi B song “WAP” helped turn the track — and music video — into a huge cultural phenomenon, and she appeared on the season premiere of “Saturday Night Live.”

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (E)

Looters Vandalize Nipsey Hussle’s Marathon Clothing Store In Los Angeles

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A Music Collaboration Unveiling Event

Source: Prince Williams / Getty

Nipsey Hussle‘s popular retail shop The Marathon Clothing Store was reportedly vandalized in South Central. Per The Blast, a group of people smashed all of the store’s windows, looted the items within the store and tagged graffiti on the walls and parking lot.

A video of the incident has been circulating on social media and shows the aftermath of the vandalism and destruction of the store. The person filming the incident is visibly upset and vows revenge on those who committed the crime.

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“If I ever find out who did this, it’s ugly for them,” the man says while documenting the aftermath of the crime. “I swear to God, you can hurt somebody for this.”

 

 

Other stores near The Marathon Clothing Store were vandalized and damaged. Owners of shops inside of the popular shopping plaza begun cleaning up the mess in an attempt to quickly move past the vandalism and return back to a somewhat normal life.

The location has become a monument for hip-hop fans visiting Los Angeles and those who were fans of Neighborhood Nip. The Crenshaw rapper was shot and killed outside of the store on March 31, 2019. Within hours, the venue turned into a memorial for him. After he founded the store in 2017 and became a symbol of his perseverance and business acumen, Nipsey saw a profit from the store whenever he released new merchandise, albums and more. In May 2019, it was reported the store had earned over $10 million since his passing.

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AFRICAN AMERICAN (E)

‘MasterChef Junior’s’ Ben Watkins Dies Of Rare Cancer

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FOX's "MasterChef Junior" - Season Six

Source: FOX / Getty

Beloved MasterChef Junior contestant Ben Watkins died at 14 years old. According to reports from Chicago Tribune, Ben died on Monday, Nov. 16 after suffering from Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma. This type of cancer is an extremely rare soft tissue tumor that occurs in only a small number of children and young adults. The young teen suffered immense tragedy losing both of his parents to a domestic violence incident just three years before his battle with cancer.

Ben’s uncle Anthony Edwards and grandmother Donna Edwards cared for him thereafter. In a statement issued Monday, Ben’s uncle and grandmother said that he had gone “home to be with his mother.”

“After losing both his parents in September 2017, we have marveled at Ben’s strength, courage and love for life,” the statement, shared on a GoFundMe campaign page, said. “He never, ever complained. Ben was and will always be the strongest person we know.”

Watkins appeared on the sixth season of Fox’s “MasterChef Junior” when he was only 11 years old. He placed in the top 18 after first making the cut to be in the top 24. Between filming the show in the first half of 2017 and its airdate a year later, Ben lost both of his parents to a murder-homicide, according to the Chicago Tribune.

FOX's "MasterChef Junior" - Season Six

Source: FOX / Getty

The season aired the following year. Across the country, people fell in love with then-11-year-old Ben and helped raise $30,000 as a trust fund for him. MasterChef Junior host Gordon Ramsay remembers “incredibly talented home cook” Ben Watkins in a tweet earlier today (Nov. 17).https://twitter.com/GordonRamsay/status/1328829531424174082?s=20

Through one traumatic experience after the next, Ben still saw the brightest side to life. His uncle and grandmother recall him being full of joy.

“When Ben’s rare illness was shared with the world, he was so heartened by the outpouring of love he received from every corner of the globe — especially here in his hometown of Gary, Indiana. We cannot thank this community enough for holding our family up in prayer and for all that you’ve done,” the statement continued.Ben became a hometown hero at the tender age of 14 years old for persevering with a smile on his face.

“Ben suffered more than his share in his fourteen years on this Earth but we take solace in that his suffering is finally over and in that, in the end, Ben knew he was loved by so many,” the statement concluded.

Ben was treated at the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Ben’s uncle Anthony Edwards told the Chicago Tribune that a golf-ball sized tumor had grown into a grapefruit-sized mass in his nephew’s neck and that Ben had been undergoing chemotherapy for tumors on his lungs, spine and shoulder as well.

“We were praying for a different outcome,” Edwards said. “But Ben’s lungs could no longer give him the air he needed to breathe. It’s been devastating.”

Ben is remembered by his family and supporters as a “superhero” for his never-ending optimism and selflessness. The Chicago Tribune reported that Ben would ask his nurses to be sure his uncle had enough water and encouraged a doctor, who was writing a paper on his condition, to use his name so that other kids wouldn’t have to experience the same pain he was.Family friend Trent McCain told the Chicago Tribune that Ben was an “inspiration” to “so many people.” The community continues to share their condolences with the family as they heal through their loss.

McCain told the Chicago Tribune that “Ben will always be remembered as a sweet, tender soul.”

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