|THURSDAY 18 AUGUST 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The latest R Kelly trial kicked off in Chicago yesterday, with the star this time battling charges relating to images of child abuse and conspiracy to obstruct justice. And while there will be plenty of parallels between these proceedings and the trial that took place in New York a year ago, yesterday's opening statements confirmed that there will be even stronger links to a much earlier trial involving the musician... [READ MORE]|
Opening statements delivered in R Kelly's Chicago trial
Last year Kelly was found guilty in New York State of setting up and running a criminal enterprise in order to access and abuse women and teenagers, a conviction that resulted in a 30 year jail sentence. But when the musician was first charged with sexually abusing a minor back in the 2000s, he was acquitted. This trial will review the incident at the heart of that 2000s trial, and the alleged efforts by Kelly and his team to hide evidence and silence witnesses as that case was being investigated and heard.
The 2000s case - which ultimately ended up in court in Chicago in 2008 - was sparked by the leaking of a video that Kelly had seemingly recorded in the late 1990s in which he could allegedly be seen sexually abusing a teenage girl.
The prosecution's case first time around was greatly hindered by the victim - believed to be fourteen years old when the video was made - declining to testify, with the defence seeking to throw doubt on whether it was, in fact, Kelly and the victim who appeared in the video.
However, this time around the victim - referred to simply as Jane - is expected to testify. According to CNN, Assistant US Attorney Jason Julien told the court during his opening statement yesterday: "Jane's going to testify. Jane's going to tell you that it's her on the videos. That it's Kelly on the videos having sex with her".
The prosecution will also go to some lengths to explain why Jane and her family declined to work with prosecutors back in the 2000s, while also setting out evidence that Kelly and two of his former allies - who are co-defendants in this trial - staged a big cover up during that earlier criminal investigation.
Kelly first met Jane in the mid-1990s when she was twelve or thirteen years old, the prosecution explained at yesterday's hearing. He had connections with her family members, having signed her aunt to a record deal and hired her father to play guitar on several of his records. He eventually became Jane's godfather.
But "Kelly never became Jane's godfather in a religious sense", Julien told the court, instead "being Jane's 'godfather' provided cover for spending time with her". And that allowed him to sexually abuse the girl, the abuse beginning when she was thirteen or fourteen, and he was around 31. "Kelly taught Jane what to do to please Kelly sexually", Julien continued. "Kelly told Jane how to position her body during sex… what he wanted Jane to say to him during sex".
When it emerged that videos of the abuse had leaked, it's claimed, Kelly's team instigated a campaign to silence the victim's family and recover any tapes that had not yet got into the hands of the media or the police. When the authorities began investigating one of the tapes in the early 2000s, Julien added, Kelly sent Jane and her family on a month-long trip out of the country and - when they got back - they lied to the authorities about the tape at Kelly's behest.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Julien explained that - by that time - Jane's family had become financially dependent on Kelly - not least because of the work he was providing to her father - and that dependency only increased in the following years.
Meanwhile, Kelly got his co-defendants - Derrel McDavid and Milton 'June' Brown - to find and buy back any other incriminating tapes that had leaked.
Noting that - while Jane's testimony is likely to be key, she is by no means Kelly's only victim - Julien also stated: "The defendant Robert Kelly had sex with multiple children. He made videotapes of himself having sex with young children. And these two defendants Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown knew about it. Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown helped Kelly cover it up and keep it a secret".
For their part, both McDavid and Brown claim they were relatively small cogs in the big machine that was built around the R Kelly brand, especially in Brown's case, simply undertaking tasks at the request of lawyers and other advisors working for the star.
Both also insist that, at the time, Kelly was saying the tapes were illegitimate and had been doctored. Therefore, the two men's respective defence lawyers said in their opening remarks yesterday, they didn't knowingly obstruct justice by acquiring the videos for their boss, because at the time they believed he was being unfairly blackmailed.
As for Kelly's defence, he has different representation than at last year's trial in New York. His new lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, urged jurors to ignore attempts by government prosecutors to present her client as "monster".
"It is true that Mr Kelly is imperfect", she said. "It is true that on his journey from poverty to stardom that he stumbled along the way. It is important when the government wants to paint him as a monster that you remember we are talking about a human being. We implore you to keep those emotions in check".
Elsewhere in her opening statement, Bonjean said that the prosecution would make various claims regarding the creation, leaking and return of those crucial video tapes in the 2000s, but that those claims "hinge on the testimony of liars, extortionists [and] people who engaged in the business of trafficking pornography".
As for Jane's testimony, Bonjean said: "For the last 22 years she has adamantly denied that it was her in that video. Before there was any criminal investigation, she denied it. She denied it repeatedly to prosecutors, she denied it to social workers to police officers. She denied it under oath to a grand jury".
So why is she now prepared to testify the opposite? Obviously the prosecution expected that line of argument and - in addition to setting out, in their opening statement, the power Kelly had over her family in the 2000s - their first witness was on hand to explain how victims of child abuse often delay reporting that abuse for years.
That witness was psychologist Darrel Turner, who has worked with child sex abuse victims and offenders. According to the Chicago Tribune, "Turner said it is extremely common for victims of underage sexual abuse to delay reporting that abuse for years. And victims who have been 'groomed' frequently report feelings of love and protectiveness toward their abusers".
Meanwhile, "false allegations are extremely rare and usually come up in the context of divorce or custody proceedings".
With opening statements delivered and the first witnesses called, the second R Kelly trial in a year is now fully underway. It's expected that the proceedings will run for about four weeks.
A$AP Rocky pleads not guilty to firearms charges
The rapper - real name Rakim Mayers - was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport in April this year in connection with an alleged shooting. Details of that criminal case were not previously made public. However, Ephron identified himself as the alleged victim of the shooting earlier this month when he launched his own civil lawsuit.
Mayers was officially charged with specific firearms offences earlier this week, with Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón saying in a statement: "Discharging a gun in a public place is a serious offence that could have ended with tragic consequences not only for the person targeted but also for innocent bystanders visiting Hollywood".
"My office conducted a thorough review of the evidence in this case", he went on, "and determined that the addition of a special firearm allegation was warranted".
Mayers is accused of shooting twice at Ephron during their altercation, which Ephron's lawsuit says left him with a minor injury to his left hand and subsequently resulted in "multiple death threats and irreparable harm to his career in the entertainment industry".
According to reports, Mayers only spoke in court yesterday to confirm his name and that he had been read his rights.
Former ATC brand partnerships chief launches new agency Simpatico
Having previously worked at ad agencies like Ogilvy and Havas, while at ATC Cohen oversaw a stack of artist/brand collaborations, initially between brands and artists represented by the management firm, and subsequently with a wider range of music-makers. The brands included Sonos, Burberry, W Hotels, Bella Freud, Flannels and Matchesfashion, and among the artists were Johnny Marr, Benjamin Clementine, Mark Ronson, Little Simz, AJ Tracey and Mahalia.
Talking up his new business - in which ATC is a stakeholder - Cohen says: "These days, most artists operate as autonomous, self-sustained businesses. They call their own shots, and their managers understand the value of collaborating with a brand with whom the artist has a strong personal or creative affinity. Done right, these kinds of partnerships can be hugely beneficial to both parties".
"Simpatico has deep-seated relationships with managers for the world's leading artists", he goes on, "which means we can help brands take a truly agnostic approach to selecting artists rather than be limited by just one roster via an agent or label. I also find working directly with the artist and their core team brings multiple benefits for the brand, including quicker response times, greater availability of fan data and increased engagement".
"For a long time the music industry has been too transactional in its approach to working with brands", he concludes. "We are breaking those chains by becoming strategic partners rather than just talent providers, and through our management background we can provide brands with unique insights into effectively engaging the music fan. By turning the traditional model on its head, I believe Simpatico can unlock immense value by creating genuinely authentic and long-term partnerships".
Southbank Centre teams up with Ninja Tune and Big Dada on education programme
The programme will include a week-long foundational course and then eight monthly sessions, with participants getting to meet and hear from artists, promoters and label people, among others. Participants will also be paid for the time they spend with the programme at London living wage. A particular aim is to support aspiring music people from under-represented backgrounds.
Says Mark Ball, Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre: "The Emerging Music Professionals programme will provide an incredible opportunity for young people who are looking to make their creative mark in the music industry but perhaps don't see themselves represented in it".
"The expansive course, generously supported by Elevate, is testament to the incredible work of our creative learning and contemporary music programming teams", he adds, "and, of course, the commitment to diversifying the talent pipeline by our industry partners, Ninja Dune and Big Dada".
Kid Cudi says it will take a "miracle" for him and Kanye West to be friends again
They fell out again earlier this year, seemingly because Cudi is friends with Pete Davidson, who began dating West's estranged wife Kim Kardashian after they split up. This resulted in West removing all of Cudi's contributions to his 'Donda 2' album and - more recently - he took another dig at his former collaborator after Davidson and Kardashian split up.
Now Cudi says that there has always been an imbalance in their professional relationship, explaining in an interview with Esquire: "I've been on every one of that man's albums. He's only been on two of mine. That should tell you something. And don't think I didn't ask".
But while they've previously had creative differences, Cudi says that this falling out is different.
"Do you know how it feels to wake up one day, look at your social media, and you're trending because somebody's talking some shit about you?" he asks. "And then you got this person's trolls sending you messages on Instagram and Twitter? All in your comments? That shit pissed me off. That he had the power to fuck with me that week. That he used his power to fuck with me. That pissed me off. You fucking with my mental health now, bro".
"I'm not one of your kids, I'm not Kim", he adds. "It don't matter if I'm friends with Pete or not friends with Pete. None of this shit had anything to do with me. If you can't be a grown man and deal with the fact that you lost your woman? That's not my fucking problem. You need to own up to your shit like every man in this life has. I've lost women, too. And I've had to own up to it. I don't need that in my life. I don't need it".
"The twisted thing is that I love him, but I love you so much that I can kick you the fuck out of my life and be done with your ass", he concludes. "Cos you are not good for me".
So, right now, things do seem pretty final for their friendship. Moving on to West's many other feuds - and the tendency of people to overlook things he's said and rekindle friendships or start collaborating again - well, Kudi reckons people should be less tolerant in this domain.
"I'm at a place in my life where I have zero tolerance for the wrong energies", he says. "I've watched so many people throughout the years that are close to him be burned by him doing some fucked-up shit. And then they turn around and forgive him. And there's no repercussions. You're back cool with this man. He does it over and over".
Specifically, the rapper highlights Drake, who West has previously taken exception to but has now seemingly buried the hatchet with.
"With all due respect, I'm not Drake, who's about to take a picture with him next week and be friends again, and their beef is squashed", says Cudi. "That's not me. What I say, I mean. I will be done with you. It's gonna take a motherfucking miracle for me and that man to be friends again. I don't see it happening. He gonna have to become a monk".
To be fair, looking at West's history, it's not completely unimaginable that he would become a monk at some point. So maybe there is still hope that we'll hear him and Cudi working together again in the future.
Suede release short film ahead of new album
'Autofiction: A Short Film' features album opener 'She Still Leads Me On' and new single 'Fifteen Again', and was directed by Katie Lambert of MrMr Films.
"With the 'Autofiction' short film we didn't want to make a normal performance video", says bassist Mat Osman. "Instead we wanted to make a short film that overlapped at a Suede gig, with the band as just a minor part of the film, rather than at the centre".
"MrMr then came up with the idea of taking a crossroad in a couple's life and playing with it in odd ways - moving backwards and forwards in time, seeing it through different sets of eyes, seeing their hopes and fears and memories all jumbled up too", he goes on.
"'Autofiction: A Short Film' takes some of the themes of the album - youth and ageing, love and loss, fear and joy - [and] sees them play out in the story of Chris and Hannah", he adds.
Lambert herself says: "'Autofiction: A Short Film' is about that moment in a relationship when it's crunch time. The moment when you're at a certain age and forever feels incredibly close. When you're not sure if you're with the one, or if you could find another one, or if that's a crap societal construction anyway".
"We loved the idea of creating a film which centres around a real-time night, and a gig - but that actually explores past, present and future all at once", she continues.
"Which is a mush and a mess of feelings; because isn't that the memory soup we're constantly swimming in anyway? This film felt like a true collaboration. Hannah and Chris have so much of both of us in them, this film stands as an autofiction not just of Suede's beautiful new music, but also of MrMr".
The album is out on 16 Sep. Watch the film here.
Sentric-owned Black Rock has signed a deal to administer Adesso Music's new publishing operation, Adesso Music Publishing. "Starting Adesso Music Publishing was the next logical step for us once we had the label up and running", says AMP boss Geoff Muncey. "We see ourselves as a family of like-minded individuals and that's exactly how we saw what Mark [Lawrence] had successfully built with Black Rock".
Distributor Proper Music Group has signed a deal with Mascot Label Group to handle its physical product sales and distribution across the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. "We're THRILLED to be entering a new relationship with Proper and we're excited about how we can all grow the Mascot Label Group family in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, together", says Mascot CEO Ed Van Zijl. "We have a number of iconic names and upcoming young artists in our catalogue to come and feel we can do some special things together".
Sony Music Publishing has opened a new office in Lagos, Nigeria, appointing Godwin Tom as Managing Director. "I am honoured and humbled by the opportunity to work for the number one music publisher in the world", he says. "Africa has so much talent, culture and uniqueness to share with the rest of the world and I am excited to be a part of the incredible global network of teams that will help build a home for Africa's best songwriters".
Coldplay have released the video for 'Humankind' from their 'Music Of The Spheres' album.
Bastille have released new single 'Revolution', taken from the upcoming expanded edition of their 'Give Me The Future' album. "The chorus is about the intimacy of human connection in the context of some science fiction, space-centred imagery", says frontman Dan Smith. "But it's also about the idea of those amazingly thoughtful people who spend their lives trying to change the world in a positive way".
The Wombats have released new single 'Is This What It Feels Like To Feel Like This?', the title track of a new EP, which will be out on 18 Nov. "I remember driving past an extremely rundown hotel and wondering what the hell could be going on in there, and that's where this song was born", says frontman Matthew Murphy. "It's about catching someone in a compromising situation that's very unusual for their specific character and is far more fitting for your own".
Gogol Bordello have released new single 'Take Only What You Can Carry', featuring Ukrainian band Kazka and with lyrics penned by Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan. "It's something that I've never done before; use someone else's poetry for lyrics", says frontman Eugene Hutz. "But here, the idea was to bring three diverse Ukrainian artists together into a knuckle for a continuous morale boost to the fighters and refugees". New album, 'Solidaritine', is out on 16 Sep.
Andrew Broder has announced new album 'The Show Original Soundtrack', an extension of his work on Alan Moore's film 'The Show'. "Over the last few years, I have grown into a phase of my work with a greater focus on physicality - I want to get beat up by music and create sound that the body responds to - less precious, more confident", he says. "Meeting and jamming with techno artists like Boys Noize and Dustin Zahn unlocked something for me about the therapeutic and collective nature of dance music". Here's first single 'Herbert'.
Autopsy have released 'Skin By Skin', the first single from their new album 'Morbidity Triumphant', which is out on 30 Sep. "Here's one to crawl under your skin and rot you from the inside out", say the band. "[Guitarist] Eric Cutler has a knack for writing riffs that creep even us, the band, out and this song is a perfect example of that. Get ready to feel uncomfortable, foam at the mouth and bang your fiendish head at the same time!"
The Soft Pink Truth - aka Drew Daniel of Matmos - has released a cover of Coil's 'The Anal Staircase', ahead of the release of new EP 'Was It Ever Real?' tomorrow. New album, 'Is It Going To Get Any Deeper Than This?', is out on 21 Oct.
FEMM have released new EP 'The Six', and posted the video for the title track.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Mattel sues over Nicki Minaj's Barbie-Que snacks
Minaj - who refers to herself as Barbie and her fanbase as The Barbz - launched the snack in June via a partnership with Rap Snacks. At the time, CEO James Lindsay insisted that this was "the beginning of a legendary partnership". Although, presumably, he wasn't hoping that the legend would mainly be the story about that time they were sued by a massive toy brand.
In its legal action, Mattel is claiming that - when launching the Minaj endorsed crisps - Rap Snacks "made the deliberate and calculated choice to launch a new product line using Mattel's famous Barbie trademark".
Indeed, the typography on the Barbie-Que snack packs is similar - arguable identical - to that in the official Barbie logo. Mattel says that "Rap Snacks never requested or received any such permission [and] proceeded to launch its product line anyway using the packaging".
The toy company says that it has previously contacted Rap Snacks demanding that it cease using the Barbie trademark and issue "corrective advertising", but neither has come to fruition. As a result, it says in its legal filing, it is bringing "this lawsuit as a last resort to protect its rights and prevent further consumer confusion".
Minaj herself is not named on the lawsuit. Mattel is asking the court to force Rap Snacks to stop using its trademark, and also award it some damages for good measure too. Lots of money presumably. Or maybe lots and lots and lots of crisps.
At the time of writing, Rap Snacks appears to have pulled all mention of Minaj's crisps from its website. There are, however, still snacks aplenty to be had bearing the faces of rappers such as Snoop Dogg, Lil Baby, Lil Durk, Rick Ross and Master P.