Public Enemy Sacks Flavor Flav

Flavor Flav and Public Enemy have parted ways.

It’s not entirely clear when or why the relationship deteriorated, but there’s no doubt who is calling the shots. The Hall of Famers issued a brief statement Sunday (March 1) to announce Public Enemy and Public Enemy Radio will be “moving forward” without their hype man. “We thank him for his years of service and wish him well.”

And that’s about it.

The diminutive rapper has played a massive role in shaping hip-hop culture. In 1980s New York City, Flav (real name William Drayton) joined forces with Chuck D, Terminator X and Professor Griff to launch Public Enemy, a take-no-crap hip-hop act that inspired countless others to fuse politics with fiery wordplay.

Public Enemy lit the blue touch paper with their 1988 album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, which was entered by the Recording Academy into its Grammy Hall of Fame.

In its first year of eligibility, Public Enemy were inducted into the Rock Hall in 2013, becoming just the fourth hip-hop act to get the nod, following Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys.

Flav has been on the outer and his relationship with his bandmates took a legal turn when his reps issued a cease and desist letter to Bernie Sanders’ campaign following news that Chuck D would perform at the Democratic candidate’s rally Sunday in Los Angeles.

“We have become aware that Flavor’s bandmate and Public Enemy co-creator, Chuck D, has endorsed Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for President and plans to perform at an upcoming Sanders Rally,” reads an open letter written by attorney Matthew H. Friedman of Nevada law firm Ford & Friedman that was sent to Billboard on Friday (Feb. 28). “While Chuck is certainly free to express his political views as he sees fit – his voice alone does not speak for Public Enemy. The planned performance will only be Chuck D of Public Enemy, it will not be a performance by Public Enemy. Those who truly know what Public Enemy stands for know what time it is, there is no Public Enemy without Flavor Flav.”

In a statement to Rolling Stone, Chuck D said of Flav, “Flavor chooses to dance for his money and no do benevolent work like this. He has a year to get his act together and get himself straight of he’s out.”

Chuck D, who also played with the recently disbanded Prophets of Rage, also went on the attack with a string of tweets. “I don’t attack FLAV on what he don’t know,” reads one message. “I gotta leave him at the crib so y’all trying to fill his persona with some political aplomb is absolutely stupid.”

Time’s already up, judging by the 125-word statement issued late Sunday on behalf of Public Enemy and Public Enemy Radio.

The message continues, “Public Enemy Radio, made up of Chuck D, DJ Lord, Jahi and the S1Ws taking it back to hip hop’s original DJ-and-turntablist foundation, will be performing today at the Bernie Sanders rally in Los Angeles. The free event is being held at the Los Angeles Convention Center beginning at 4:00pm PT with the group taking the stage at 6:00pm PT. It can be viewed via livestream HERE. Public Enemy Radio will be releasing a new album in April, ‘Loud is Not Enough.’”

Megan Thee Stallion Vents About Record Label Drama: ‘It’s a Greedy Game’

Megan Thee Stallion may be in the middle of a complicated situation regarding her contract with her label and the release of her new album, but it all boils down to a simple hashtag: #FREEMEG.

The rapper shared on Sunday (March 1) that she’s running into an issue with 1501 Entertainment as she attempts to release new music off her forthcoming album, Suga. In a live Instagram video, Megan explained her side of the story: when she signed a management deal with Roc Nation, they brought certain details to her attention about the initial deal she signed with 1501 when she first started out.

“I was like 20, and I didn’t know everything that was in that contract,” she said. “So when I got with Roc Nation, I got management — real management — and real lawyers. They were like, ‘Do you know that this is in your contract?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, damn, that’s crazy — no, I didn’t know.'”

She goes on to clarify that she wasn’t mad at 1501 (and didn’t disclose which aspects of the contract were problematic), and wasn’t looking to leave the label — at first. “I wasn’t upset,” she said. “I’m thinking in my head, ‘everybody cool, we all cool, we family, it’s cool, it’s nice.'” That apparently changed when she asked to renegotiate her contract. “Soon as I said, ‘I want to renegotiate my contract,’ everything went left. It all went bad. It all went left. So now they tellin’ a b—h she can’t drop no music. It’s really just, like, a greedy game.” (Billboard has reached out to representatives for both Megan Thee Stallion and 1501 Entertainment.)

“I’m not a greedy person,” she continued. “I’m not a person that likes confrontation. I’m not a person that’s a b—h. I work with everybody, and I’m nice, and I’m real family-oriented… I see the s–t that camp be saying about me, and I be like, ‘Damn — since you got so much to say, why you just won’t tell ‘em why you mad? You mad because I don’t want to roll over and bow down like a little b–tch and you don’t want to renegotiate my contract.”

Following her explanation of the situation on Instagram (and the drop of the #FREEMEG and #FREETHESTALLION hashtags on Twitter), she further elaborated why she wanted to revisit her initial contract: “I didn’t understand some of the the verbiage at the time and now that I do I just wanted it corrected.”

As for 1501 Entertainment, CEO and founder Carl Crawford didn’t address the conflict directly on Instagram — but he did have some choice words about “loyalty” to share.

“At a time when loyalty is at an all time low it’s nice to be link with @jprincerespect who is steady teaching me how to move in this cutthroat industry,” he wrote. “And I know that terrifies some especially the ones who double cross me.”

CLC Land Two Belated Top 10 Hits on World Digital Song Sales Chart

Despite a delayed release to digital platforms, CLC’s two latest singles have still made their way to the charts.

The K-pop girl group’s singles “Me” and “Devil” both land on Billboard’s World Digital Song Sales chart, landing at Nos. 5 and 7 respectively this week. Both “Me,” which was released in May 2019, as well as “Devil,” then released in September, sell about 1,000 copies in the U.S. this week.

While it wasn’t clear why, both “Me” and “Devil” were available for streaming in the U.S. but not on U.S. digital platforms until the past week. Fans quickly showed their support for the songs with “Me,” which became the second-best-selling K-pop song this past week in America (only behind BTS’ “Black Swan”).

After the release of these songs, the septet now boast five Top 10 singles on World Digital Song Sales. They first hit the chart in 2017 with “Hobgoblin,” which hit No. 4 and represents their peak position. Both “Hobgoblin” and their 2019 single “No” both hit No. 4. CLC’s best-selling song in the U.S. is “Hobgoblin” with 9,000 sold to date.

Take it back to CLC’s past singles with the music videos of “Me” and “Devil” below:

Michael Theanne, Longtime International Manager of Steve Aoki & More, Dead at 45

Michael Theanne, the longtime manager for Steve Aoki, Cheat Codes and Deorro, passed away on Saturday (Feb. 29) after collapsing near his home in Los Angeles. He was 45.

As Aoki’s manager in the United Kingdom and other international territories since 2008, Theanne shepherded Aoki’s international career. He helped establish Aoki as a leading global EDM artist by securing him headlining slots at major European festivals, such as Tomorrowland, and booking his Ibiza residencies, including this summers’ run at Amnesia. Theanne received a 2016 Grammy nomination for his work on the Steve Aoki documentary, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead.

Theanne was also the global manager for Cheat Codes and Deorro, although he parted ways with the latter artist just last month. “This man could move mountains for me,” Deorro wrote on Sunday (March 1) on Instagram. “For nearly a decade this man made the biggest difference in my life. Thank you for everything, thank you for being my manager, my brother, thank you for believing in me and everything we wanted to do.”

Theanne collapsed when returning home from a hike with his dogs. A coroner’s report is pending. He is survived by his wife Elena and baby daughter Luna.

“Michael’s incredibly warm, loving and generous spirit impacted all around him,” his family said in a statement. “We know that many of you will join us as we continue to carry Michael in our hearts forever. At this time, our family asks that we be allowed to process this devastating and sudden loss in private. Information regarding a funeral and memorial will be forthcoming.”

Japan’s HYDE Teases New ‘Believing In Myself’ Video With Live Footage: Watch

Japan’s HYDE digitally dropped a new song called “BELIEVING IN MYSELF” on Wednesday (Feb. 26) and shared a snippet of the music video on YouTube.

The L’Arc-en-Ciel frontman is kicking off the second chapter of his solo endeavors, which he relaunched in 2018.

The teaser sees the visual-kei veteran playing a troubled version of himself, looking over a sprawling night city that speeds by at a much faster rate than his own existence. He leans forward as if about to jump off the edge of the skyscraper and walks through a sea of headlights rushing past. Watch below:

The visuals also capture the singer performing in front of a massive crowd onstage and being engulfed in a sea of people. The live concert segments are from the first day of his HYDE LIVE 2019 ANTI FINAL concerts in December at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan.

“BELIEVING IN MYSELF” is the official image song of the Tokyo Marathon 2020, which took place Sunday (March 1).

Hinatazaka46 Debuts at No. 1 as Official HIGE DANdism Leads Streaming on Japan Hot 100

Hinatazaka46’s fourth single, “Sonnakotonaiyo,” debuts at No. 1 on the latest Billboard Japan Hot 100, dated Feb. 17 to 23, selling 556,724 copies in its first week.

The J-pop girl group leads physical sales and look-ups, while also faring relatively well in the digital metrics of the chart’s methodology: No. 4 for downloads, No. 8 for Twitter mentions, No. 14 for radio airplay, No. 49 for streaming, and No. 73 video views.

Official HIGE DANdism’s “I LOVE…” drops to No. 2 after leading the tally for two consecutive weeks. Figure-wise, the pop ballad slowed down slightly in downloads (from 36,897 to 35,081 units; No. 1 for the metric), while increasing in streaming (from 7,023,425 to 7,088,189 streams; No. 1) and video views (from 4,621,488 to 5,627,248 plays; No. 3), resulting in 3,500 more total points from the week before, but not enough to hold the No. 1 position against Hinatazaka46’s single that sold more than 550,000 copies.

While many of the songs strong on the digital front were pushed back by the single with strong physical sales this week, LiSA’s “Gurenge” holds steady at No. 4. The Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba opener continues to rise in downloads, streaming and video views, and is set to join HIGE DAN’s “Pretender” and King Gnu’s “Hakujitsu” as one of the long-running fixtures in the upper ranks of the Japan Hot 100.

The Billboard Japan Hot 100 combines physical and digital sales, radio airplay, Twitter mentions, YouTube and GYAO! video views, Gracenote look-ups, audio streams from Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, AWA, Google Play Music, KKBOX, LINE MUSIC, Rakuten Music, RecMusic provided by Gfk Japan, dHits, Uta Pass and Spotify, plus karaoke data from Daiichikosho and XING.

Billboard Japan Hot 100 Top 10 (dated Feb. 17 to 23)

  1. [-] Sonnakotonaiyo / Hinatazaka46 (556,724 copies / 16,808 downloads / 973,855 streams)
  2. [1] I LOVE… / Official HIGE DANdism (5,174 copies / 35,081 downloads / 7,088,189 streams)
  3. [2] Pretender / Official HIGE DANdism (none / 13,713 downloads / 6,035,092 streams)
  4. [4] Gurenge / LiSA (2,831 copies / 27,640 downloads / 4,965,496 streams)
  5. [3] Hakujitsu / King Gnu (none / 13,205 downloads / 6,304,199 streams)
  6. [52] FIESTA / IZ*ONE (none / 4,095 downloads / 2,227,763 streams)
  7. [7] D.D. / Snow Man (13,856 copies / none / none)
  8. [6] Doron / King Gnu (none / 10,071 downloads / 3,826,857 streams)
  9. [13] Imitation Rain / SixTONES (7,625 copies / none / none)
  10. [9] Shukumei / Official HIGE DANdism (none / 5,974 downloads / 3,744,421 streams) 

Ozuna Seizes His Moment to Close Out Vibrant Week at Viña del Mar 2020

Reggaeton star Ozuna headlined the sixth and final night of the annual Viña del Mar music festival on Friday night (Feb. 28), performing for nearly two hours for an adoring, sold out crowd of 15,000. A visibly ecstatic Ozuna, who was playing the legendary Quinta Vergara for the first time (the outdoor venue’s exacting audience is known as el monstruo — the monster), seemed to enjoy his moment on that stage to its fullest, walking through the crowd, taking selfies, and, at the end, kissing the stage floor.

It was an uplifting ending to a successful, but stressful week. The festival, which was celebrating its 61st consecutive year, was celebrated despite protests, the result of the “social explosion” that has dominated conversations in Chile since anti-government marches began last October 18 asking for fundamental constitutional change.

In the seaside resort city of Viña, there were protests on the opening night of the festival, with groups burning cars and throwing tear gas in front of the historic O’Higgins Hotel, which is seen as a symbol of the festival and which for years hosted its VIP guests.

Damage from the protests led to the closure of the hotel, one of the many casualties of the current social unrest, including a drop in tourism and cancelation of concerts and festivals. But Viña, the longest-running and biggest Latin American music festival, forged on. All six days offered performances from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., and all were televised to a continent-wide audience of 250 million. At least three of those nights — the first featuring Ricky Martin, the fifth with Maroon 5 and the last with Ozuna — were sell-outs. Here are the highlights of the week.

The grand finale

Ozuna delivered a show big on hits and high on musical quality. Performing with a full band, the Puerto Rican star underscored, yet again, that he is not merely an urban act, but an outstanding singer with a versatile, nuanced voice up to par with the top pop stars. Ozuna has also upped his show, adding a group of dancers which were decidedly a cut above from most urban acts and which he used sparingly, another bonus point for him. Instead, he continues to impress us with the singing, the musicianship and the way he thoroughly dominates the stage.

If this is the future of urban music, it bodes well. As far as politics go, Ozuna was, as ever, diplomatic.

“Thank you God, thank you Chile,” he said at one point. “I know nothing of politics. But I do know you have to listen to the people. Chile, I’m with you. Everything can be done with peace. I love you.”

The competition winners

The heart of Viña del Mar is its competition component, which has existed since the festival first launched six decades ago. This year, over 4,000 contestants from around the world submitted submissions for the folk and international categories. Six competed in each.

In the early hours of Saturday morning Argentina’s Nahuel Pennisi, a blind singer-songwriter who plays the guitar in a horizontal position and has an otherworldly voice, was the unanimously chosen winner for songwriter and performer in the folk category with the song “Avanzar,” a beautiful, haunting ballad. Pennisi is now signed to Sony Music.

The winning song in the international category was “Chillán,” an ode to a small Chilean city written and performed by Chilean singer/songwriter Vicente Cifuentes. The lilting bachata was fresh and distinctive. Ecuador’s Johann Vera, who also competed in La Banda on Univision, won best performance for his son “Perdón.” (Disclosure: the author of this article was a member of the jury at this year’s Viña del Mar festival.)

The politics

Politics were an inescapable part of this year’s festival. On the one hand, there was a concerted effort by a small, but vocal group of protesters calling for the festival to be canceled. Security inside and outside the venue was beefed up and there was a noticeable presence of national police forces in the city. On opening night, sources say stones were thrown at one of the vans carrying Ricky Martin’s staff, and artists and festival jury were transported with security detail.

In the end, every night of the festival went off without a hitch, and the 15,000 people who went every night to Quinta Vergara were able to enjoy each evening without incident. But it was a very politically vocal crowd. On Day 2, in particular, when Mon Laferte performed, the night was full of anti-government slogans and chants. Political commentary and jokes also dominated the nightly stand-up comedy routines, a festival signature. And of course, there was Laferte’s performance, a political showdown on its own.

The first-timers

Beyond the headliners, typically the closing acts at Viña are rising stars who have already made an important mark and who will likely return to the festival as headliners in future years (as was the case with Laferte). This year, closing slots included Pedro Capó on opening night, who, in the midst of the success of his hit “Calma,” delivered a show full of good vibes and rich, tropical beats.

Argentina’s Luciano Pereyra, a fan favorite in Chile who plays a mix of pop and folk music, delivered a beautiful, emotional set to a huge ovation. The closing night went to Chilean rising star Denise Rosenthal, an actress, singer and composer with a very unique show and approach. Throughout the week, Rosenthal — who was also part of the jury — made female empowerment her rallying cry, wearing a t-shirt with the different face of a Chilean female icon every evening. On Friday, she performed with an all-female band and a group of all-female dancers, delivering the kind of coherent, excellent and empowering message we wish we could see more often in Latin music.