BET Amplified Goes Global With Sampa the Great

BET Amplified, ViacomCBS-owned BET’s stamp of approval highlighting “the next big thing in music,” is going global.

BET and BET International on Tuesday announced Zambia-born, Botswana-raised rapper Sampa The Great as the first-ever BET Amplified global artist.

The network brand said it was kicking off a month-long “effort to build awareness around Sampa to [its] core audiences globally and will highlight her work in a multitude of ways, including linear and digital programming across BET Jams, BET Her, BET Soul and BET International channels,” including in Africa, the U.K., France and South Korea.

“This marks the first BET Amplified artist for BET International [which] will continue to spotlight international artists each month with BET Amplified International,” the network said.

BET Amplified launched in the U.S. in January as a “multifaceted campaign that identifies and elevates stars on the rise.” Spearheaded by the BET music programming team under the leadership of Connie Orlando, the recently appointed executive vp of specials, music programming & music strategy, its goal is “to engage in specialized social and digital activations, giving artists full-frame promo spots across all BET channels and creating unique opportunities for them to engage with audiences across BET’s platform of over 90 million households around the world.”

Artists are selected based on such criteria as their “unique sound,” social media presence, and projected impact on the music and entertainment industry. “With the first BET Amplified” global artist, the BET team sought to identify a groundbreaking artist with transcontinental appeal and expand to reach audiences around the world,” the company said.

“We launched BET Amplified with the goal of highlighting emerging artists within the States, and we’re so grateful to see the program continuously expand since its inception, now reaching our network of channels around the world,” said Orlando. “BET has been a launching pad for emerging talent since the networks inception 40 years ago. With the rapid changes of the new digital age, I’m thrilled to usher in new ways to work collaboratively with artists and the music industry as we continue to build on that long-standing history and find new ways to continue to introduce new talent to our audiences.”

Sampa The Great, who is now based in Melbourne after studying audio engineering in the U.S. , blends hip-hop, soul, R&B and spoken word. Co-signed by Kendrick Lamar and Ms. Lauryn Hill, Sampa won the Australian Music Prize twice – in 2017 for her mixtape Birds And The BEE9, and in 2019 for her debut album The Return.

“I’m so excited to be the BET Amplified artist for September,” said Sampa. “Representing Zambia on the global stage, the best way I know how – through my music!”

“We’re thrilled to honor Sampa The Great, an outstanding talent, and celebrate her on a global level,” said Monde Twala, senior vp & general manager of ViacomCBS Networks Africa and BET International. “Identifying and elevating Black talent to a global audience is one of our highest priorities as a brand and it’s our duty to use our massive footprint to amplify emerging artists. In doing so, we’re not only shining a light on incredible artists, but also connecting music lovers to the culture across the world.”

BET Amplified previously put the spotlight on such artists as Pink Sweat$, Masego, Snoh Aalegra, Rema, Lonr. and Chika.

This article originally appeared in

Lawsuit Seeks to Ban Kanye West From Arizona Ballot

An Arizona resident has asked a judge to bar Kanye West from appearing on the state’s Nov. 3 ballot, accusing the hip-hop artist of serving as an election spoiler and arguing that a law prohibits him from running in the state as an independent presidential candidate.

West’s lawyer on Wednesday (Sept. 2) reported filing just under 58,000 signatures, well over the roughly 39,000 required for independent candidates to make the ballot.

Lawyers for resident Rasean Clayton said in a lawsuit filed Monday that independent presidential candidates can appear on Arizona’s ballot if they aren’t registered with a recognized political party and gather enough voter signatures to nominate them. But Clayton’s lawyers say West, who paid top dollar to dozens of workers gathering petition signatures in Arizona, isn’t qualified to be on the ballot because he’s a registered Republican.

Even if West is found to have submitted enough signatures, the lawsuit said the hip-hop artist’s late-in-the-game candidacy would make no difference to his chances of winning the race.

“West will not be able to qualify for the ballot in enough states to muster enough electoral votes to prevail,” Clayton’s lawyers wrote. “West’s minimal interest in playing a spoiler candidate on Arizona’s ballot is not enough to outweigh the factors favoring emergency relief.”

West has already qualified to appear on the ballot in several states, including Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Tennessee and Utah.

The rapper and music producer announced his intention to run for president on July 4.

A Maricopa County judge is scheduled to hear arguments in the legal challenge on Thursday afternoon.

Attorney Tim LaSota, who represents West in the Arizona challenge, described the lawsuit as a “last-ditch effort on the eve of the (signature filing deadline) to deprive voters of a choice.”

LaSota brushed aside criticism that West is trying to be a spoiler aimed at hurting Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s chances in Arizona. “That’s just political hyperbole,” LaSota said. “I don’t want to get into the politics of it. But obviously I think there is a lot to be achieved by someone else running for president.”

Clayton’s attorneys said the lawsuit must be resolved quickly because the deadline for Arizona’s ballots to be printed is on Sept. 8 and 9.

In a statement, Clayton described himself as a Navy veteran who cares about the November election.

“I filed this case because I don’t want people to get confused voting on ballots that have disqualified people listed with everyone else who followed the law,” Clayton said.

It’s unclear if Clayton has any connections to the Arizona Democratic Party, which didn’t return a call Wednesday seeking comment.

Dwayne Johnson Says Whole Family Tested Positive for COVID-19

Dwayne Johnson, his wife and two daughters have tested positive for COVID-19.

The actor took to Instagram Wednesday (Sept. 2) to reveal that he and his wife, Lauren and their daughters Jasmine, 4, and Tiana, 2, contracted the virus after being around family friends. Though they have been sick, they are feeling better after almost three weeks.

“I wanted to give you guys a little helpful update on things that have been going on on my end for the past two-and-a-half to three weeks now. So the update is this: my wife Lauren as well as my two baby girls and myself, we have all tested positive for COVID-19,” the actor said in a video message posted on his Instagram. “I could tell you that this has been one of the most challenging and difficult things we have ever had to endure as a family, and for me, too, personally as well,” he said, adding that he’s “gone through some doozies in the past.”

He went on to explain that testing positive for the virus is “much different than overcoming nasty injuries,” “being evicted” or “being broke,” which he says he has faced “more than a few times.”

He explained that battling the virus has been more personal because his priority is “to always protect my family. And protect my children, my loved ones.”

“I wish it was only me who tested positive, but it wasn’t, it was my entire family, so this one was a real kick in the gut,” he said. “But I am happy to tell you guys that we as a family are good. We’re on the other end of it, we’re on the other side. We’re no longer contagious, and we are — thank God — we are healthy.”

“We’ve gotten through COVID-19 stronger and healthier,” he added.

This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.

Blackpink & Selena Gomez’s ‘Ice Cream’ vs. BTS’ ‘IONIQ: I’m On It’: Which Video Is Your Favorite? Vote!

The biggest K-pop stars rid this week’s hump day of its usual pressure when BTS and Blackpink dropped two brand new videos Wednesday (Sept. 2).

BTS kicked things into high gear, thanks to the boy band’s partnership with South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai, with their “IONIQ: I’m On It” music video. The boys head out in their own lanes and even defy gravity in the sleek scenic visual that feels like anything but a car commercial shoot, according to them.

“We had a lot of fun filming this video,” BTS said in a statement. “It’s been a while since a music video style ad has come out like this. It didn’t feel like a commercial shoot. It felt like an actual music video shoot.”

Likewise, Blackpink and Selena Gomez’s latest visual wasn’t a traditional music video but an animated dance performance clip for their joint confection “Ice Cream.” Selpink reunited virtually to serve up some more sweetness by using Zepeto, an app from the South Korean online platform Naver that allows users to create 3-D avatars and interact with each other. This time around, gravity-defying ice cream cones made for a lip-smacking finale.

So if you had to pick between the two high-energy videos, which one is your favorite? Vote below!

The Mavericks Debut at No. 1 on Latin Pop Albums Chart with ‘En Español’: ‘This is Beyond Us’

The Mavericks debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Latin Pop Albums chart (dated Sept. 5) with En Español. The band concurrently earns its first top 10 on the all-genre Top Latin Albums chart, where the set bows at No. 8. The new album marks the first visit to the Latin album charts by the group, which has notched five top 10 efforts on the Top Country Albums chart dating back to 1994.

“This is an amazing feeling,” Raul Malo, The Mavericks’ lead singer, tells Billboard. “To wake up and receive a text from our manager that we have a No. 1 record. That’s not in the cards, this is beyond us. But you feel good about the work because you’ve put a lot of effort, a lot of love and time into it, so you make sure that you do everything in your power to propel it.” 

En Español bows with 5,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Aug. 27, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. Most of the set’s opening sum is attributed to album sales.

En Español was released Aug. 21 via Mono Mundo/Thirty Tigers and marks the neotraditional country/ Tex-Mex band’s first entirely Spanish-language full-length record in its 30-year existence. While maintaining its rockabilly essence, the 12-track effort plunges into Latin pop, tropical and regional Mexican-tinged textures.

“We recorded some songs in Spanish in the past,” Malo adds. “They weren’t super commercially successful but really fun to make. Those tracks kind of set me on this path. Here we are kind of full circle.”

En Español concurrently debuts at No. 8 on the Top Latin Albums chart, which marks the band’s first visit to the all-Latin genre list.

“The fans of this band, the people who have followed us and watched us live, know this is a natural evolution for the band, something that’s been coming for a long time,” Malo continues. “I wanted to make a record that wasn’t exclusively one subgenre in the Latin world. The songs were selected purposefully, the arrangements were selected over time. This is just a natural step in what we’ve been doing in the last 15 years.”

Elsewhere on the Billboard charts, En Español opens at No. 6 on Americana/Folk Albums, as the set becomes the first ever to appear in the top 10 of both that chart and Top Latin Albums.

“We tailormade the arrangements to the band,” Malo adds. “We’ve always been trying to find that thread that crosses all music, all boundaries, and genres. Whether in English, Spanish or any language you record in, you always have to find the right key, the right sentiments, the right arrangements. The band is always willing to go there and that’s what I love about this band. We are still making music that matter to the people.”

The Mavericks’ album chart history dates back to 1994 when the No. 6 peak What a Crying Game, the band’s third studio album, arrived on the Top Country Albums chart. 26 years later, En Español arrives at No. 32 there.

BTS Explodes With Excitement Over Their First No. 1 Hit on the Billboard Hot 100: ‘We’ll Take It to This Grave’

BTS blew up the Billboard Hot 100 this week when their English-language single “Dynamite” hit No. 1 (chart dated Sept. 5). And in an exclusive interview with Billboard, the boys couldn’t contain their excitement.

RM yells, “This is my tombstone! We’ll take it to this grave!” as J-Hope screams and shows off their top Hot 100 spot from his phone. Considering it’s also the first time a Korean group has ever topped the chart, Jin assures they’re not feeling pressured to outperform their explosive song.

“Of course, we’re very excited if our songs and albums do well, but that’s not necessarily a goal that we set,” he says. “What’s most important to us is that our fans listen to and enjoy our music. That alone makes us happy enough.”

With the disco-pop flare behind “Dynamite,” Jimin teased their next album will blend a variety of genres. “I think we can safely say that the next album will contain a lot of songs that will satisfy the varying tastes of our fans,” he tells Billboard. “Please look forward to it. There are a lot of great tracks.”

But Jungkook was in for an extra treat this week after celebrating his 23rd birthday Tuesday (Sept. 1), a day after the news of BTS’ career-first No. 1 song broke.

“I’ve had the best birthday. It’s unbelievable,” the belated-birthday boy exclaims. “I’ve heard such great news and had amazing support from our fans on exactly September 1st. I had events, fireworks, there was also one involving a train. … Hearing news like that, I’ve had a really enjoyable day enjoying a glass of champagne each with our members, having a great day.”

The slick-footed septet brought their own fireworks for their 2020 MTV Video Music Awards debut performance of “Dynamite” on Sunday (Aug. 30). And with various NYC backdrops making them feel and look closer to the central action of the awards show, Suga revealed how the heavy rainfall in Korea made them change plans on the fly.

“We were actually unable to go ahead with our initial stage plans due to a lot of rain here in Korea. So we changed things and proceeded with an alternative option, but luckily we were still able to adhere to our initial ideas of connecting Seoul and New York. I think it turned out great,” he said.

Watch BTS’ whole interview with Billboard above.

Kanye West, Ariana Grande & More Musicians Crowned Forbes’ 100 Highest-Paid Celebrities of 2020

Forbes announced the world’s 100 highest-paid celebrities of 2020 on Wednesday (Sept. 2), and a pair from the Kardashian-Jenner family scored the No. 1 and No. 2 spots.

Kylie Jenner and brother-in-law Kanye West rule the throne by bringing in $590 million and $170 million, respectively. Jenner’s major $600 million sale of Kylie Cosmetics to Coty, Inc. back in January sealed the deal, while West’s Yeezy sneakers deal with Adidas secured most of his earnings. In April, Forbes finally gave ‘Ye the billionaire title he’s been yearning for. Jenner’s big sister and West’s wife, Kim Kardashian, clocks in at No. 48 with $49.5 million, with her cosmetics and fragrance line KKW Beauty making up the bulk of her earnings after generating $100 million in sales last year. Additionally, her latest Skims shapewear collection gave Kardashian a lift after it raised $5 million from VC firm Imaginary Ventures.

Elton John (No. 14, $81 million), Ariana Grande (No. 17, $72 million) and the Jonas Brothers (No. 20, $68.5 million) also made it in the top 10 this year, but next year will experience a serious hit from the coronavirus pandemic since live shows account for a large percentage of the top celebrities’ wealth. But tours from 2019 gave John and the JoBros a big jump. The British hitmaker’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour grossed $212 million last year, the second-highest tally in the music business. It follows Ed Sheeran’s Divide Tour from 2017-19 that grossed $775 million, which beat out U2’s 360° Tour from 2009-11 to officially become the highest-grossing concert tour of all time. Sheeran comes out at No. 23 on the list with $64 million.

The trio’s Happiness Begins reunion tour helped them come back to Forbes’ coveted list for the first time in a decade. Kevin, Nick and Joe Jonas ranked No. 40 back in 2010.

Grande is the highest-paid female musician on the 2020 Celebrity 100 list. Swift, who hit No. 1 on this very tally last year, lands at No. 25 with $63.5 million, thanks to her new record deal with Universal’s Republic Records and the first album she released under the label last summer, Lover. Billie Eilish makes her Celebrity 100 debut at No. 43 with $53 million, which officially crowns her as the list’s youngest member at age 18. The Apple documentary about her life and career accounted for $25 million alone.

Billionaire Mark Cuban applauded The Chainsmokers (No. 21, $68 million) for their business acumen, writing, “[They] have an amazing handle on pop culture and are all about running a successful business.” Aside from their recent World War Joy Tour, the EDM duo comprised of Alexander “Alex” Pall and Andrew “Drew” Taggart are the biggest non-founding stakeholders in JaJa Tequila.

Other musicians who made the list include: Post Malone (No. 28, $60 million); The Rolling Stones (No. 32, $59 million); Marshmello (No. 35, $56 million); Diddy (No. 37, $55 million); Shawn Mendes (No. 39, $54.5 million); Jay-Z (No. 42, $53.5 million); BTS (No. 47, $50 million); Drake (No. 49, $49 million); Jennifer Lopez (No. 56, $47.5 million); P!nk (No. 57, $47 million); Rihanna (No. 60, $46 million); Luke Bryan and Lin-Manuel Miranda (tied at No. 62, $45.5 million); Backstreet Boys (No. 64, $45 million); Phil Collins (No. 64, $45 million); Will Smith (No. 69, $44.5 million); Blake Shelton (No. 70, $43.5 million); Celine Dion (No. 73, $42 million); The Eagles (No. 75, $41 million); Metallica (No. 78, $40.5 million); Travis Scott (No. 82, $39.5 million); Katy Perry (No. 86, $38.5 million); Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi and U2 (tied at No. 87, $38 million); Paul McCartney (No. 91, $37 million); and DJ Khaled and KISS (tied at No. 95, $36.5 million).

In total, the 100 celebrities racked in a total of $6.1 billion in pretax earnings, which took a $200 million dip from last year after the pandemic halted — or rather redirected — lots of business models.