Young Thug Sends Audio Message From Jail at Hot 97 Summer Jam, Encourages Fans to Sign ‘Protect Black Art’ Petition

While Young Thug was unable to perform at Hot 97 Summer Jam in New Jersey on Sunday (June 12) due to his recent arrest, the rapper was still present through an audio message that played toward the end of the night.

Hot 97 broadcasted a video on the MetLife Stadium screens showing stars like DJ Khaled, Polo G, and G Herbo voicing their support for both Young Thug and Gunna, who are both currently in custody. “Hey how y’all doin? This is Thug,” Young Thug himself is heard saying in an audio message at the end of the video. “I just want to say thank you to all my friends and my family for coming out and supporting us. You know, your support during this time means a lot to us. You know, this isn’t just about me or YSL. I always use my music as a form of artistic expression, and now I see that Black artists and rappers don’t have that freedom.”

Thug went on to encourage everyone who was present at the show to sign the “Protect Black Art” petition launched by music executives Kevin Liles and Julie Greenwald. The petition demands that lyrics are not used as criminal evidence. When Atlanta prosecutors indicted Young Thug and dozens of others in a sweeping criminal case in May, they cited heavily from the rapper’s own music – a controversial tactic that activists across the country are trying to rein in.

“This practice isn’t just a violation of First Amendment protections for speech and creative expression,” the petition’s description reads. “It punishes already marginalized communities and silences their stories of family, struggle, survival, and triumph.”

“Keep praying for us,” Young Thug ended his audio message. “I love you all.”

Young Thug is currently accused of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and participation in criminal street gang activity.

In his indictment, Young Thug is alleged to be one of three founders of the Young Slime Life, “a criminal street gang that started in late 2012” in Atlanta. Charges include “Preserving, protecting and enhancing the reputation, power and territory of the enterprise through acts of racketeering activity including murder, assault and threats of violence.” He was subsequently charged with seven more felonies on May 11, including possession of drugs and illegal firearms, based on items found at his home during his arrest earlier in the week. On May 12, a Fulton County judge denied the rapper bond based on that second round of charges brought after the indictment.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the RICO act charge comes from an alleged offense from January 2013, while the gang activity charge allegedly happened in a May 2018 incident.

Here Are All the Recipients of BET’s Lifetime Achievement Award

BET believes in giving artists their flowers while they’re still here to enjoy them. They gave lifetime achievement awards to Whitney Houston and Prince in 2001 and 2010, respectively — and good thing too, because both artists died not too many years later (in 2012 and 2016, respectively).

They also seem to like to give lifetime achievement awards to artists who haven’t gotten that level of recognition elsewhere. Sean “Diddy” Combs, who will receive the honor at the 2022 BET Awards on June 26, has yet to win a Grammy lifetime achievement award, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or a Kennedy Center Honor, to cite three of the most prestigious lifetime career awards.

Combs will be the 21st artist to receive a BET lifetime achievement award. Only one of the previous recipients, Smokey Robinson, had received all three of those other awards by the time he got the BET honor. Two – James Brown and Al Green – had received two of the three. Six had received just one of the other awards. Twelve, including each of the last six recipients, hadn’t received any of them.

There is some evidence that receiving a BET lifetime achievement award helps to shine a light on R&B legends, who then go on to receive these other awards. Earth, Wind & Fire and Diana Ross had each just received one of those three other accolades – induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – at the time of their BET Award. They have now received all three.

Lionel Richie hadn’t received any of the other three awards when he got the call from BET. Since receiving the BET Award, he has received two of the others.

The most surprising name on the roster of BET’s lifetime achievement award winners is actor Samuel L. Jackson, who won the award in 2016. The BET Awards have categories for films and acting in addition to music, so his choice wasn’t totally out of left-field. Also, that was a good year to honor a non-musician because the BET Awards had five separate performance segments in memory of Prince, who had died a little more than two months earlier (on April 21, 2016). What music star would want to have his lifetime achievement award segment compete with a flurry of salutes to Prince?

Hosted by Taraji P. Henson for the second year in a row, BET Awards will air live Sunday, June 26, on BET at 8 p.m. ET/PT from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

Here’s a look at each of the 21 recipients of BET’s lifetime achievement award, followed by when (if at all) they received these three other honors.

Selena Gomez Recalls Meeting Demi Lovato at ‘Barney’ Audition: ‘I’ll Never Forget It’

Selena Gomez sat down with The Hollywood Reporter‘s Awards Chatter podcast on Monday (June 13) to look back on Wizards of Waverly Place, her friendship with Demi Lovato and more.

During the interview, the pop star also recalled her first audition for Barney, where she sat in an open call with 1,400 other kids. “Out of all those kids, they picked seven, and I happened to be one of them,” she remembered.

Another of the seven young hopefuls was none other than Lovato, who would go on to become, at turns, Gomez’s best friend, rival and Disney Channel co-star. “The wildest part of that story is that she was actually the girl standing in front of me,” Gomez continued. “I remember she had a red bow on, I’ll never forget it…I just thought the world of her. And we both ended up, after we got the part, we didn’t know if the other one did. And we just had this, like, mini reunion when we saw each other.”

Eventually, Gomez went on to star in her own Disney Channel original series, Wizards of Waverly Place, after guest appearances on Hannah Montana and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and a few other failed pilots. At the same time, she began dipping her toe into music with her band Selena Gomez and The Scene.

Of course, that chapter eventually led to the former child star breaking out on her own with solo albums like 2013’s Stars Dance, 2015’s Revival and 2020’s Rare, as well as her current role as Mabel on Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building opposite Steve Martin and Martin Short.

However, Gomez still has even higher Hollywood ambitions in her sights, saying, “I want to work with a David Fincher or a David O. Russell, who will push me to the edge to go and fight for something. That’s the kind of acting that I crave to do more than anything.”

Listen to Gomez’s full interview on Awards Chatter below.

Sony Opens Applications for Second $1M Round of Nonprofit Grants

Sony is renewing its nonprofit Create Action grant program for a second year as part of the company’s $100 million global social justice fund first established in June 2020. Since Thursday, the program has been open for applications from all qualifying organizations in the U.S. and Canada, excluding Quebec.

Create Action is a $1 million grant program established to support people in underserved communities by funding and supporting local, community-based nonprofit organizations. In its first year, the initiative funded a total of 10 organizations in the areas of literacy, financial education, STEM education and career development and creative fields.

Sony will select another 10 organizations to receive Create Action grants this year, with one new grant being announced every month between June 2022 and March 2023. Winners will receive a $50,000 cash grant, $50,000 in Sony Electronics products and a custom short film promoting the organization’s efforts, produced with Sony-affiliated creators.

To qualify for Create Action, nonprofits must hold 501(c)(3) status within the 50 U.S. States and D.C. (excluding territories) or be a Canadian-registered charity. They cannot have received more than $500,00 in annual donations per year for 2020 and 2021 and must have a plan to address or contribute to STEAM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics), academic enrichment, workforce development and/or community and civic engagement.

Nonprofits funded in the first year included Totem Star, a Seattle-based nonprofit that helps young music artists build communication and critical thinking skills. In a statement, Totem Star co-founder and executive director Daniel Pak said Sony’s support helped the organization “pair youth with impactful mentors.” Sony also provided gear for the organization’s recording studio inside Seattle’s King Street Station.

The other nonprofits to receive grants in the first year include Heart and Soul Design Center in Los Angeles; Josephine Herrick Project in New York City; New Era Creative Space in Peekskill, New York; Pockets Change in Brooklyn; Reading Quest in Santa Fe, New Mexico; The Alliance98 in Chicago; The Firehouse Dream in Maywood, Illinois; and Youth Beat in Oakland, California.

All Sony companies can take part in the $100 million social justice fund, which was set up in the wake of worldwide Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. In November, it was announced that the fund had connected with/funded nearly 400 community partners across the globe since launch.

Applications are open now through March 31, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. PT. Following submission, applications will be considered throughout the entire grant program participation period.

Fleet Foxes Score First Hot 100 Hit, Thanks to Post Malone Collab ‘Love/Hate Letter to Alcohol’

Fleet Foxes already boast numerous Billboard chart achievements, dating to the group’s first appearance in 2008, but the folk-rock group’s members can now officially call themselves Billboard Hot 100 hitmakers.

The band, which formed in Seattle in 2006, appears on the Hot 100 for the first time, on the chart dated June 18, thanks to its featured credit on Post Malone’s “Love/Hate Letter to Alcohol,” which debuts at No. 70. The song starts with 7.6 million U.S. streams and 1,100 downloads in the June 3-9 tracking week, according to Luminate.

The track appears on Post Malone’s fourth studio effort Twelve Carat Toothache, which arrives at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with 121,000 equivalent album units earned in its first week.

Fleet Foxes first appeared on a Billboard chart in April 2008 when their second EP Sun Giant debuted on Heatseekers Albums. That summer, the group followed with its debut self-titled studio set, which reached No. 36 on the Billboard 200 and No. 9 on Top Alternative Albums in February 2009.

The band has sent all four of its studio albums onto the Billboard 200: following Fleet Foxes, it charted with Helplessness Blues (No. 4, May 2011), Crack-Up (No. 9, July 2017) and Shore (No. 28, April 2021). (Plus, Sun Giant hit No. 170 on the survey in April 2009.)

The group’s sophomore LP Helplessness Blues hit No. 1 on Billboard‘s Americana/Folk Albums and Vinyl Albums charts in May 2011, marking its first No. 1 on any rankings. The band returned to No. 1 on Vinyl Albums with Crack-Up in July 2017 and on Americana/Folk Albums with Shore in April 2021.

Song-wise, Fleet Foxes have maintained a familiar presence on Adult Alternative Airplay, notching five entries, including three in 2021. The act first charted at the format with “Mykonos” in 2009 (No. 30 peak), followed by “Third of May/Odaigahara” (No. 26, 2017), “Can I Believe You” (No. 3, 2021), “Sunblind” (No. 28, 2021) and in a featured role, with Anais Mitchell, on Big Red Machine’s “Phoenix” (No. 33 in 2021).

“Can I Believe You” also earned the group its first entry on the all rock-format Rock & Alternative Airplay chart, reaching No. 37.

Fleet Foxes leader Robin Pecknold performed “Love/Hate Letter to Alcohol” alongside Post Malone on NBC’s Saturday Night Live on May 14. It was his first performance on the SNL stage since 2009, when the band performed “Mykonos” and “Blue Ridge Mountains.”

Fleet Foxes comprise Pecknold, Morgan Henderson, Skyler Skjelset, Christian Wargo and Casey Wescott.

Latin Pride 2022: Spanish Artist PtaZeta on Normalizing Same-Sex Lyrics in Rap Music

PtaZeta is celebrating Pride Month by revamping one of her personal favorite tracks, “A Quien Le Importa” by Alaska y Dinarama. An Amazon Original, released Friday, PtaZeta’s new take is a bona fide EDM version without compromising the song’s message: “Who cares what I do?/ Who cares what I say?/ I’m like this and I’m never going to change.”

Inspired by artists such as Alaska, the rising Spanish rapper hopes to empower fans through her unapologetic lyrics, which for the most part, reflect her queer and open-minded penmanship. “I want to normalize a woman singing to another woman and what that means to the community,” the artist tells Billboard.

The 23-year-old, born Zuleima del Pino Gonzalez, is from Las Palmas Canary Islands and has gained fans by fusing trap, reggaeton and dembow music on her own terms. She’s collaborated with artists such as Nicki Nicole and Farina and with Bizarrap for his “BZRP Music Sessions #45,” to name a few. Last month, she signed a record deal with Interscope Records and is set to release her debut single under the label titled “Ponte Pal Sex” soon.

PtaZeta is this week’s Latin Pride artist, part of our series featuring queer Latin artists who are helping reshape their genre. Learn more about her below:

How have you helped create tolerance in your genre?

As every queer artist should, by accepting my own style, my own likings, and using the pronouns I like so that I can show the huge spectrum that I embrace. Also, by not worryomg about what other people say because, for me, it’s always more important to be myself. Most importantly, I want to normalize a woman singing to another woman and what that means to the community.

As a queer artist, how have you helped reshape your genre?

There is not a lot of representation of the LGBTTQIA+ community in my genre, or in urban music in general. As a queer artist, I am reshaping that by being my true self and singing to the people I love. I think it’s really important to show visibility to open-minded artists like myself so that we can begin to see an improvement in the music industry,

How did accepting your queer identity impact your craft?

I understand that a lot of people have a hard time finding themselves, but for me, it’s natural to sing to people of my same-sex. That’s just who I am, if not I would be lying. Thankfully I’ve always had it clear and now I feel proud representing a huge part of the community, whom I’ll always be grateful for having my back and supporting my music career.

What’s your all-time favorite Pride anthem?

One of my all-time favorite Pride anthems is “A quien le importa” by Alaska, which I had the opportunity to cover this year, and it turned out really cool!

This year I’ll be celebrating Pride by …

Showing always who I am and being proud of it!