Inmate claims responsibility for rapper's slaying
A man has admitted to the non-fatal 1994 shooting of Tupac Shakur, claiming he was paid $2,500 to rob the rapper at Manhattan's Quad studio. Dexter Isaac, currently serving a life sentence on unrelated charges, said he was hired by hip-hop manager Jimmy "Henchman" Rosemond to ambush and mug Shakur, setting off three years of reprisals that left Shakur and Notorious BIG dead.
"Jimmy, I say to you: I have kept your secrets for years," Isaac told AllHiphop. "I have stayed silent in prison for the past 13 years, doing a life sentence like a real soldier should, when you and everybody have turned your backs on me ... Now I would like to clear up a few things, because the statute of limitations is over, and no one can be charged, and I'm just plain tired of listening to your lies. In 1994, James Rosemond hired me to rob 2Pac Shakur at the Quad studio. He gave me $2,500, plus all the jewellery I took, except for one ring, which he wanted for himself."
Isaac has spent the past decade behind bars, serving time on a 1998 indictment for murder, robbery, fraud and witness intimidation. He and Rosemond have long been linked with Shakur's robbery, though neither man was ever charged. In 2008, the LA Times published – and later retracted – an article contending that Rosemond and other associates of Sean Combs (AKA Diddy) arranged the attack as payback for Shakur's rejection of Combs's record label. The LA Times ultimately admitted their allegations were based on fabricated FBI reports. But Shakur himself had made these claims before his death. "Promised [to] pay back Jimmy Henchman in due time," he rapped on Against All Odds. "Heard the guns bust, but your tricks never shut me up ... All out warfare, eye for eye."
Now a manager for stars including Sean Kingston and the Game, Rosemond is allegedly on the run. He disappeared in May, amid federal drugs charges, complaining that events had "caught [him] off guard" in a letter to XXL magazine. "I came up from nothing and made some mistakes early in my life, of which I have already served time," he wrote. "Since then I have worked hard to establish my career in the music industry only to be targeted by these opportunistic prosecutors with a personal vendetta against me." Rosemond asserted he was being smeared by scurrilous informants, including Isaac.
Isaac now says it was this allegation that prompted him to come forward about the events of 30 November 1994. "I have never been a rat for anybody," Isaac replied. Instead he alleges that Rosemond himself is a "turncoat rat". "If I was an informant like you, I would've been home years ago with my family," Isaac wrote.
Isaac did not admit to the September 1996 murder of Shakur, and also refused to comment on the March 1997 slaying of his "friend" Notorious BIG. Both these crimes remain unsolved. "But I would like to give their mothers some closure," he wrote. "It's about time that someone did, and I will do so at a different time. Jimmy, you and Puffy like to come off all innocent-like, but as the saying goes: you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time."
Three new songs debuted on BBC radio show
Multi-platinum Adam Young is back with his second album
The music industry continues to crumble, yet Adam Young continues to thwart it.
Young is a one-man band that goes by the name Owl City, with his albums recorded all by himself in the basement – yet he has become an international phenomenon that the New York Times has called “a textbook illustration of how the music business needs new and old forms of media to make an artist a star.”
The only child of a teacher and a mechanic, Young lives in a tiny town an hour south of Minneapolis yet grew up pretty unmusical. It was boredom at his loading-dock job and a fascination with technology that got him composing songs with an electronic bent.
With his savvy and wry use of the Internet (a recent Tweet: “Nothing says "USED CARS" like a wacky-waving-inflatable-arm-flailing-tube-man”), his songs got out to the world. His 2009 debut, “Ocean Eyes,” brought his music to all corners of the earth without him setting foot out the door.
“Suddenly I’m boarding a plane to Hong Kong to a room full of kids who know every word to every song,” he said with awe on the phone from his home in Owatonna, Minn.
On June 14 the next chapter happens, with the release of “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” an uplifting album that’s a worthy successor to “Ocean Eyes.” Young talked about it before getting ready to tour the world.
MSN: You grew up so close to Minneapolis yet I don’t hear Prince, The Replacements or any other bands from that area in your music.
Young: “Music to me was always foreign. But in terms of inspiration later on, my habitat definitely found its way into the lyrics, into the overall esthetic of the project. Owatonna is this shire in middle earth, it’s this little place.”
Even your serious songs like “Plant Life” have an optimism to them, in an era of so much negativity. In the ‘70s there were wars and recessions yet the music seemed uplifting. There’s not so much optimism today.
“It’s certainly my overall outlook. For me as both artist as well as listener, just being a fan of all kinds of music, I’ve always been most moved by optimism. If I stumble across a very uplifting song or piece of music, I’ve felt the best about myself - just feeling so encouraged or heartened is so inspiring to me as a creator. If I have a message to send…that would be my main thing to connect the dots, this optimistic thing. The whole trick in life …is there’s so much beauty around me that I fail to see because of this haunted house sort of a world. The trick really is to open your eyes and see the beauty you’re missing. … to me that’s the most uplifting thing and fuels the fire to make music.”
You have deep spiritual beliefs but they’re not overt in your music. You float spiritual ideas in your songs without hitting people over the head with it.
“For me it’s really been an interesting kind of chapter that’s always unfolding. Like you said, pushing the idea instead of cramming a message down your throat. To me that’s always been the way to go I’ve never wanted to be a preacher about my own beliefs. But if I were to disconnect that part of who I am …if I were to leave that out in my image, via blog or music itself, that would be a disservice, painting a picture of someone other than who I really am. But again, never do I want to get too pushy or too overtly …to me the songs write themselves in the lyrical overtones with my faith and spirituality on their own. I’ve always been very confident in that way.”
You got to write these new songs after seeing the world for the first time. I take it that was a real eye-opener?
“Oh certainly, yes. The inspiration for this record was standing on the beach in Honolulu or the Great Wall of China, all these places I’d always imagined and some I’d actually written about from my imagination… I’m the farthest thing from the ocean so the ocean was an inspiring thing for me…. It has been surreal.”
So many musicians have trouble navigating the new landscape and getting their music heard, yet you’ve made it look effortless.
“It’s honestly been a little bit scary for me, being this introverted quirky guy from a small town. It’s a little scary actually getting out of the house (laughs) and touring and learning to be this social person. But for me, things have always been very online, a very digital world. I’m a younger person so the whole YouTube and Facebook caught on pretty well for me. There are things I can conduct in the privacy of my basement, so I can continue to be this introverted, shy evil genius in his basement (laughs) making records. Once this stuff started to connect with people and suddenly labels are calling to fly me out to New York… I said OK, I gotta get a band and memorize all my lyrics, which is something I’d never done before because I’d just written them for the record, recorded them and moved on. Things like that are a bit tricky. But having that big dose of butterflies standing backstage every night, I go ‘What am I doing here?’ It’s very, very humbling. Two years ago I was working in a Coca-Cola warehouse loading trucks.”
So as an introvert do you enjoy touring?
“At the moment it’s still very fresh and still very new. This confidence thing for me, since day 1 I’ve gone out on stage shaking – can I go out there and sing for an hour and a half for these people? I feel if those butterflies ever went away it would stop feeling fun. It would feel like working or something like that. It’s still fresh, it’s still new, and I’m still shy. But it’s so fulfilling, the moment I step offstage after a good show is the highest, most wonderful feeling. That may be the answer if this thing does carry on and I’m allowed to do this….it’s my high.
How extensive is this tour?
“The plan is to hit it pretty hard on the road, till Christmas more or less. It’s a big loop of North America, then home for a week, then Australia, New Zealand, then Europe and the U.K. I’m sure those few precious breaks will fill up. One opportunity I’ve pined after is to write music for films. If circumstances allow I can do it from the tour bus on my laptop, just writing little themes and cues. But the big thing is just playing, just touring.”
What do you want fans to take away from this?
“The main message goes back to the idea of somebody learning to see that much more optimism, that much more hope around them, even on the dark days. The first track on the record, ‘The Real World,’ is tongue in cheek pointing in that direction. There’s a line that says ‘reality is a lovely place but I wouldn’t want to live there.’ The way I envision the world in my head… is something so surreal, an escapism thing. It makes me want to be a better person. That world I envision is so ideal. That’s what I want people to connect with. If this record does well I’ll be a happy camper, and if it totally bombs and nobody likes it, it’s still a great chapter two for my story.”
James Franco has another new thing
Kalup and Franco is the duo of Kalup Linzy, a video/performance artist who frequently performs in drag, and James Franco, an Oscar-nominated movie star (127 Hours, Spider-Man) who has quickly become one of Hollywood's biggest weirdos. The partnership formed after Franco invited Linzy to perform on "General Hospital" during Franco's stint on the soap opera, and they've since become a performance duo and a musical act. On July 12, they'll release their debut EP Turn It Up on Dutty Artz, the label co-founded by the globe-trotting, genre-mashing theorist DJ /rupture.
The EP will be available as a digital download and as a limited-edition 7". It features two songs, "Rising (Both Sides Now)" and "Turn It Up (So We Can Turn It Out)", co-produced by DJ /rupture and his Nettle bandmate Brent Arnold, and "Rising" also features production from /rupture's Dutty Artz partner Matt Shadetek. Linzy produced a third track, "Fly Away". The duo intends to make music videos for each of those three songs, which will feature "surprise guest cameos."
Below, check out a live video of Kalup and Franco performing a drag-heavy version of "Proud Mary", with Franco limiting his participation to singing backing vocals and looking pretty.
In other /rupture news, we previously reported that he'd launched a Kickstartercampaign for "Beyond Digital", a project that would send him to Morocco to do research, make videos, host workshops, and perform. The project reached its fundraising goal, and /rupture is currently in Morocco with Fader photo editor John Francis Peters. He's written a bit about his trip on the Fader website; check that outhere.
And as The New York Press reports, Dutty Artz is also collaborating with Gold Coast Trading on Tropical Systems, a new clothing line. Check out the Tropical Systems lookbook here.
Still-untitled new album due in the fall
The album isn't even titled yet, much less released, but Coldplayput out the first track from it today, a guitar-rocker called "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall." Yes, Coldplay has done a lot of guitar-based work in the past, but one is hard-pressed here to hear singer/songwriter Chris Martin's piano in the mix at all -- quite a departure from keyboard-heavy songs such as "Clocks." It's available through iTunes right now, with a full album tentatively slated for a release later this year. "The Oracle" on Coldplay's official website says there is a set released date, but teasingly won't release the info yet, and the band is still touring everywhere from Europe to Australia, the U.S. to Japan, throughout the summer. Still, you can hear the track below and get a taste of what's in store.
Musicares DVD finally makes it to stores
Anytime you get other artists covering Neil Young songs it can get interesting, be it the ancient out-of-print tribute album “The Bridge” ($100 new, $2 used) or the newly released “Musicares Tribute to Neil Young” DVD, in stores now.
Musicares honors artists for their philanthropy, and Young’s Bridge Benefit Concerts certainly fall in that category. Over the years - this fall will be the 25th anniversary - he has gotten the top names in music to perform to raise funds to help disabled children.
The new Musicares DVD, filmed at a separate tribute show last year, opens with a montage of performance footage from the Bridge Concerts, dating back to the first one in 1986 and culminating with a tribute to the late, great Ben Keith, Young’s longtime sideman who died in 2010.
And then the DVD basically turns into its own mini Bridge Concert, with many of the acts that have graced those shows turning up here – Dave Matthews, James Taylor, Wilco, Jackson Browne, T Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello and plenty more.
John Fogerty and Keith Urban, who teamed up on Crossroads for CMT several years ago, reunite here for a thrashing take on “Rockin’ in the Free World.”
Most artists go for the hits – Taylor’s reading of “Heart of Gold” is close to the original that he sang on decades ago, and honestly, Matthews’ live cover of “Cortez the Killer” from an earlier live release with his full band blows away his straight-up take on “The Needle & the Damage Done.” Josh Groban’s voice is pure overkill on the delicate “Harvest Moon,” one of the rare missteps on this disc.
Accompanied only by Stephen Stills’ acoustic guitar, Crosby, Stills and Nash sing the original arrangement and lyric of “Human Highway” from the aborted 1974 CSNY album of the same name (Young finally released his own slightly revised version of "Human Highway" a few years later on “Comes a Time”).
Shawn Colvin and Jason Mraz perform the late Nicolette Larson’s version of “Lotta Love” (and a muffed lyric shows that this truly was a one-shot live performance).
Wilco proves to be one of the most adventurous bands of the evening, taking on Buffalo Springfield’s “Broken Arrow,” a mini-suite of songs that starts off with a dash of the Springfield hit “Mr. Soul.” Wilco is outdone in the obscurities only by Everest, which tackles Young’s epic “Revolution Blues” and Costello’s reading of “(When You’re On) The Losing End.”
That’s not enough new Neil for you? There’s more coming. “A Treasure” is due out June 14, featuring countrified versions of Young’s songs with the International Harvesters, ranging from oldies like “Flying on the Ground Is Wrong” to never-released gems like the closing “Grey Riders.”
And long overlooked on iTunes are dozens of cuts from the Bridge concerts over the years. Highly recommended, as is the new Musicares DVD.
Groundbreaking artist dead at 62
NEW YORK (AP) -- Musician Gil Scott-Heron, who helped lay the groundwork for rap by fusing minimalistic percussion, political expression and spoken-word poetry on songs such as "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," died Friday at age 62.
A friend, Doris C. Nolan, who answered the telephone listed for his Manhattan recording company, said he died in the afternoon at St. Luke's Hospital after becoming sick upon returning from a European trip.
"We're all sort of shattered," she said.
Scott-Heron's influence on rap was such that he sometimes was referred to as the Godfather of Rap, a title he rejected.
He referred to his signature mix of percussion, politics and performed poetry as bluesology or Third World music. But then he said it was simply "black music or black American music.""If there was any individual initiative that I was responsible for it might have been that there was music in certain poems of mine, with complete progression and repeating `hooks,' which made them more like songs than just recitations with percussion," he wrote in the introduction to his 1990 collection of poems, "Now and Then."
"Because Black Americans are now a tremendously diverse essence of all the places we've come from and the music and rhythms we brought with us," he wrote.
Nevertheless, his influence on generations of rappers has been demonstrated through sampling of his recordings by artists, including Kanye West.
Scott-Heron recorded the song that would make him famous, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," which critiqued mass media, for the album "125th and Lenox" in Harlem in the 1970s. He followed up that recording with more than a dozen albums, initially collaborating with musician Brian Jackson. His most recent album was "I'm New Here," which he began recording in 2007 and was released in 2010.
Scott-Heron was born in Chicago on April 1, 1949. He was raised in Jackson, Tenn., and in New York before attending college at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
Throughout his musical career, he took on political issues of his time, including apartheid in South Africa and nuclear arms. He had been shaped by the politics of the 1960s and the black literature, especially of the Harlem Renaissance.
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