Back in the late '80s, before they dropped their classic debut album Straight Outta Compton, N.W.A. was still waiting in the wings. They had yet to make an impact similar to Run D.M.C. and Big Daddy Kane, the big names of the day.
During this time, N.W.A. was invited to what Ice Cube remembers as a “new music seminar” at NYC's famed Apollo Theater. On our latest episode of What Had Happened Was, he tells us what happened next, and it wasn't good. The West Coasters and their jheri curls were booed offstage, but just as they were ready to write the whole thing off as a wash, a chance meeting with Run D.M.C. in the elevator changed their minds. A few years later, Ice Cube returned to the Apollo and got a very different reception. Watch the new episode above, and look out for more stories every Wednesday by subscribing to P&P on YouTube.
On Sunday night, Ice Cube’s new Big3 basketball league made a stop at Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia for a slate of games. And in the days leading up to the event, the Big3 used Allen Iverson—who is a player/coach for the league’s 3’s Company team—to get Philly fans excited about the league coming to their town. It was to be a homecoming of sorts for AI, who spent a decade playing for the 76ers at the start of his NBA career and officially retired as a Sixer in 2013.
AI tried to temper expectations on Saturday by telling fans in Philly not to expect the 25-year-old AI to take the court in front of them. But while talking with Philly.com and other publications in the area, he strongly suggested that he would be playing during his team’s game, which was scheduled to be the fourth and final game on Sunday.
“I’m not going to go out there and be the 25-year-old Allen Iverson—you’re going to see a 42-year-old man out there,” he said. “But to be able to do that, for my fans, I thought that would be cool, just to get back out there again…for my fans to get that flashback.”
Plenty of fans in Philly bought into the hype and reportedly crowded into Wells Fargo Arena on Sunday. They came to see AI play in Philly one last time.
But just hours before his team was set to play, AI took to his Instagram account and posted a video to announce that he would not be playing in the Big3 game. He didn’t really give a reason for why he would be sitting out of his team’s game, but he did say that, despite not playing, he would still be there to coach and interact with those fans in attendance.
“To all my fans out there, based on advice from my doctor, I will not be playing in the game tonight for the Big3,” he said. “I will be there to coach my team and beat Dr. J’s team. I will be interacting with all my fans, and we’ll have a great time and see some great basketball. I love you fans for supporting me all of the years up to date, and I’ll see you when I get there.”
The Big3 posted the video on their Twitter page as well:
The problem with that was that, while AI may have had a legitimate excuse for skipping the game, the Big3 made the announcement about him sitting out so late in the game—both literally and figuratively—that it immediately looked like the Big3 had used the idea of AI playing in Philly as a PR stunt to sell tickets before pulling the rug out from fans. As For The Win reported, there were a lot of fans who showed up at the event to see AI play only to find out that he wouldn’t be playing while they were already in their seats. And there were a lot of people at home who ripped the Big3 for the way they handled AI’s absence from the game:
feel like this is a fraud. He's barley played then to pump up his home coming just to sit it out. Guess they think we're stupid.
And the backlash was so strong that, early Monday morning, Ice Cube was forced to address the criticism of the way the league handled AI sitting out of the game on Twitter. Cube said he was just as disappointed as everyone else about AI sitting out of the game. Cube also said AI was disappointed about it, and he told the fans in Philly that he owes them one the next time the Big3 is in town:
A.I. not playing was disappointing to everybody, including myself. Doctors told him not to get out of bed and he came anyway. Sad but true.
At the end of the day, the people who showed up at Wells Fargo Center on Sunday to see AI play basketball probably didn’t miss much. AI is obviously one of the most beloved athletes in the history of the city and will always have a special place in the hearts of Sixers fans, so it would have been nice for those fans to see him take the court. But AI has struggled in limited action in the Big3 so far this season, and he is clearly just a shell of his former self. So he probably wasn’t going to go off for 30—or hell, even 10—in the game last night.
That being said, this might be one of the many challenges the Big3 faces as it moves forward. It’s smart of them to use specific players to promote events and put fans in the seats. But if those players end up being forced to sit out due to injury, illness, or something else, then the Big 3's promotions are going to start to feel like PR stunts, and people are going to stop showing up for games. It will be part of the league’s growing pains, but it’s a problem they’ll have to address from now on whenever they decide to lean on former NBA stars to promote their product.
Over the past few years, Mike Will has become one of music's most sought-after producers. His list of hits is endless, but there's one song that stands head and shoulders above all else: Beyoncé's “Formation.”
In our inaugural episode of What Had Happened Was, Mike Will sat down with us to share the story of how “Formation” came to be. “The process was like gumbo,” he said—a gumbo that started with voice notes and Rae Sremmurd, and ended up including LeBron James, Jay-Z, and the Super Bowl. Watch the first episode above, and look out for more stories from Ice Cube, Joey Badass, and more every Wednesday on P&P's YouTube.
This will be a historic night for Jay Z and the world of hip hop.
On Thursday night, Hov will become the first rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. But before the induction ceremony kicked off, he made sure to give a shout out to all the artists who have inspired him over the years.
Jay shared a list of names in a series of tweets, showing love to everyone from Chuck D and Ice Cube to Drake and Meek Mill to Future and Lil Wayne. It was a varied bunch that included rap godfathers like Grandmaster Caz and Melle Mel; Golden Age icons such as Rakim, Queen Latifah, and Kool G. Rap (not for nothing did Hov once declare, “Hearing me rap is like hearing G. Rap in his prime”); former mentors Jaz-O and Big Daddy Kane; his contemporaries like Scarface, Redman, Pharoahe Monch, Black Thought, Andre 3000, and the late great Big L; and more, including many new artists who will undoubtedly be thrilled at their inclusion.
And showing that he was in a particularly welcoming mood, Jay even included some people he had beefed with over the years: Jaz-O, Cam'ron, Nas, and Joe Budden. He also makes reference to dimly remembered, long-ago battles against GZA and Busta Rhymes, well before anyone involved was famous.
You can check out the full list in the posts below.
Thank you to all the people that have inspired me . Rakim KANE KRS chuck cube Jaz Em Andre Nas big PAC cole kendrick chance jayE ..wait,
In the speech, Obama called Jay “a friend of mine.” “I'd like to think Mr. Carter and I understand each other. Nobody who met us as younger men would have expected us to be where we are today… We know what it's like not to come from much… And so we try to prop open those doors of opportunities so it's a little easier for those who come up behind us… Jay and I are also fools for our daughters, although he's going to have me beat once those two twins show up. And, let's face it, we both have wives who are significantly more popular than we are.”
Obama then talked about how he was a longtime fan of Jay's work, and got in a slight dig at his successor: “I'm pretty sure I'm still the only president to listen to Jay Z's music in the Oval Office,” he said.
Even after the release of the induction speech, Jay kept the names coming.
Wait . Slick fucking Rick . Pimp C and bun . Wow . I just realized how many fresh people the culture has . Big Sean . Sauce money .
Capturing the look and essence of ‘90s hip-hop style can be challenging—especially when it’s for a movie like All Eyez on Me, the film about Tupac Shakur. But Kenya Ware, the costume designer for All Eyez on Me (out in theatres on June 16), was there and lived through it. She even styled Tupac himself before he was killed in 1996.
Ware, an L.A. native, married and started a family with Tha Dogg Pound member and Snoop Dogg’s cousin, Daz Dillinger, in 1991. Helping in any way that she knew how, she began to shop for Death Row Records’ artists, including Snoop, Tha Dogg Pound, The Lady of Rage, Nate Dogg, often hand-delivering wardrobe to the set of music video shoots and TV appearances. From there, she became Death Row’s West Coast marketing representative.
She credits Suge Knight for supporting her passion for styling. “Suge always told me that beauty was only temporary, but your intelligence is forever,” she says. “He inspired me to get my own. He wanted me to succeed and that’s stayed with me to this day.”
In this exclusive interview, Ware talks about what it was like working with Tupac, what she wanted to accomplish with the wardrobe for All Eyez on Me, and why Tupac’s style will always be imitated.
How did you meet the guys from Death Row?
The first person I met was N.W.A. member MC Ren backstage at a 1989 New Edition concert. N.W.A.’s bodyguard approached me and said one of the members wanted to talk to me. I was frightened because I had heard they were gangbangers. Ren asked me for my number and on the first date I almost got kicked out of my house because he walked into my Baldwin Hills estate with a black trench coat, khakis, and Crip slippers. My mother went ballistic!
From there, I was invited to several N.W.A. concerts where I met Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and the rest of the gang. Years later, when Death Row was forming, I met Suge Knight and Snoop Dogg.
How did you meet Tupac?
[My ex-husband] Daz [Dillinger] would always write letters to the Clinton Correctional Facility to try to keep Tupac's spirit up while he was in jail on the rape case. Once he got out and signed with Death Row, I threw him a party at our place. We invited Method Man, Redman, Rage, Snoop, Kurupt, and a few other people to celebrate Tupac being released from jail and also signing with Death Row Records.
What was it like shopping for Tha Dogg Pound?
Shopping for Tha Dogg Pound and Snoop was always fun because I got to create something different than gangster wear. They were in love with Guess shirts but still wanted the baggy Karl Kani jeans. It was a slow process to get them away from the Dickies uniform. I had to make sure that whatever I bought for them was oversized and was in either blue or grey, which were Tha Dogg Pounds’ and the Crips’ colors.
Did you shop for Tupac?
‘Pac had his own style. He wasn't interested in clothing right away. He said the only thing he wanted to do was stay at the studio and make as much music as possible. I often pulled boxes of Karl Kani clothing for the boys and let them pick out what they wanted to wear for events.
What did you buy for Tupac? What was he into at the time?
I tagged along with Suge Knight and ‘Pac during the [boxing] fights in Las Vegas. Shopping at Caesar's Palace during the fights was the best. It was kind of like a status quo. That's where you got to showcase how much money you really had because all the ballers were watching. Tupac wasn't that into fashion but at that point, in the ‘90s, you had to dress to impress. He slowly transitioned away from the gangster clothes to Versace. Suge was about to hire me as ‘Pac’s personal stylist, but then ‘Pac got killed.
Speaking of Versace, Tupac walked in a runway show with Kidada Jones for the Italian fashion house in 1996. How did that happen? Whose decision was it to have a bodyguard walk with them?
During those days, if you were an artist on Death Row Records the rule was you had to always wear your bulletproof vest and keep a bodyguard at all times. The bodyguard was definitely Suge Knight’s call.
What did you want to accomplish with the wardrobe for All Eyez on Me?
This film needed to have Karl Kani and Walker Wear to be authentic because those were two designers that Tupac wore religiously. I wanted to make sure that all of the replicas were right. Sometimes getting information from third parties or Google aren’t that accurate, so[All Eyez on Me producer] L.T. Hutton figured it would be better to hire a person who actually knew Tupac and was around him a lot.
How would you describe Tupac's style?
A revolutionary gangster. He set the tone for the durag on your head, the body tattoos, and the oversized baggy jeans.
Are there any specific Tupac looks you tried to copy for the movie?
Yes. Tupac did an advertisement for Karl Kani and we remade that look. The actor who plays Tupac, Demetrius Shipp, went to Karl Kani's studio and we made sure that he looked and wore the clothes just like Tupac. We also copied the Black Panther Party look because his mom was a Black Panther.
What do you think of Demetrius Shipp Jr.?
Ironically, Demetrius' father used to work with Death Row back in the days, so it was like working with family. It's just amazing that his son looks just like Tupac. Demetrius Shipp was the best choice [for the role]. It’s funny because before he started acting he worked at Walmart.
Did he stay in character on set?
He had Tupac's demeanor down to a T.
What was the vibe like on set? Did any celebrities stop by?
I did most of the shopping in Los Angeles but the few times I did visit the set in Atlanta and saw Demetrius it was like seeing Tupac reincarnated. I think every celebrity in Atlanta stopped by the set in hopes of getting a cameo. Snoop’s dad, Vernell [Varnado], and Daz were on set during the entire time.
Where did you source the wardrobe from?
Since I grew up in L.A. in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the shopping came naturally. One of the stores I went to is called Greenspan in South Gate. If you really need gangster clothes, this is the one-stop shop for your ‘80s and ‘90s looks.
Why did All Eyez on Me take so long?
It was a couple things. Tupac's estate and a lot of the people they wanted to do the movie held it up. There were also issues with clearing the music since Death Row’s catalog was sold.
What's your favorite Tupac look?
I love the Versace blue and gold shirt he wore. I actually have a picture of me and him in that shirt at Suge Knight’s daughter's third birthday party.
Do you remember where you were when you heard Tupac was killed? Walk us through that moment.
I was actually in Vegas with Tupac and Suge when he was killed. I was with Tupac downstairs at the Luxor Hotel after they got into a big fight at MGM Grand. I spoke to him right before he took that car ride to Club 662. I made the first call to [Suge’s ex-wife] Sharitha Knight and Daz and let them know what had just happened. One minute I was walking into Club 662 wondering why it was taking Tupac so long to get there and next thing you know we were told that something had happened to him. I drove like 100 miles an hour trying to get to the crime scene. It was the craziest night of my life.
Why do you think Tupac's style was copied so much in the years after his death? What do you think he would've thought of that?
Tupac was a pioneer of rap, period. This man created history and set a tone in just 24 years of life. He will forever be copied because his style was genuine. If he were alive today, at age 45, he'd probably teach the youth to be original and create their own style.
By now, you’ve probably heard that LaVar Ball cost his son Lonzo a sneaker deal after meeting with several large shoe companies like Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour in April. He got roasted—and we do mean roasted—on social media for doing it. But do you know just how much LaVar cost Lonzo?
It’s hard to put an exact dollar amount on it, since its all speculation at this point. But on Tuesday, ESPN reporter Darren Rovell appeared on The Dan Patrick Show and revealed that he heard LaVar and Lonzo walked away from a sneaker deal worth at least $10 million over five years from one of the big sneaker companies. And now that it sounds like Lonzo will probably end up being drafted by the Lakers with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, there’s a chance that deal could have ended up being worth twice as much as that. So in essence, LaVar may have cost Lonzo $20 million by botching the negotiations with Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour by insisting that one of the companies license the Ball family’s Big Baller Brand.
If we know LaVar—and at this point, doesn’t it feel like we all know LaVar?—he’s not going to be all that broken up by this report. He was looking for a billion-dollar deal, not a million-dollar deal, when he first started talking with the sneaker companies, so $10 million is basically, like, $10 to him. But Rovell also reported that the Balls are only going to end up making about $200 on every pair of $495 Big Baller Brand sneakers that they sell, which means they’re going to have to sell a lot of pairs if they want to make up the $10 to $20 million they’ve lost.
In other LaVar news, he’s also currently trying to score some free BBB sneakers for his AAU team—the AAU team that got destroyed by more than 50 points the other day—by making a bet with Ice Cube. Cube recently challenged LaVar to try and hit one of the 4-point shots that will be allowed in the new Big 3 league Cube has started. And LaVar responded by challenging him right back and saying that he’ll take part in a shootout with Cube if Cube agrees to buy his whole AAU team BBB sneakers if he loses to LaVar:
That question came under heavy debate on Tuesday night after someone dug up an old tweet that Ball put up listing his top five rappers of all time. Ball posted his list back in May 2016. It featured Lil Wayne, Future, DMX, 50 Cent, and 2Pac on it.
Now, everyone is entitled to their own top 5 list. It’s part of what makes all the debates that take place over top 5 lists so much fun. But pretty much everything Ball says and does at this point creates some level of controversy, so of course, there were plenty of people who were outraged with his list.
For what it’s worth, Ball is, at the very least, consistent with his top 5 list. In March, he made an appearance on Chris Broussard’s In the Zone podcast and provided the same exact list when he was asked to name his top 5 rappers of all time. You can hear him talk about it at the 2-minute mark here:
Ball also released his list of his top 5 rappers “rn” one day before dropping his top 5 rappers of all time list. You can check that out here:
Top 5 rn in this order…
After three weeks of going at each other’s necks on Complex’s “Everyday Struggle,” DJ Akademiks and Joe Buddeninvited Lil Yachty as the morning show’s highly anticipated first guest on Tuesday. Budden has been critical of the Atlanta rapper on past episodes—he’s questioned his credibility and labeled him a rap troll—making their long-awaited face-off impassioned, if not productive. But the heated convo came to a record-screeching halt once the topic of recording contracts came up.
Joe asked Yachty whether he’d signed a 360 deal—an agreement that entitles a record label to portions of an artist’s every revenue stream—and, to paraphrase the great Doughboy, it seemed as if the Quality Control/Capitol artist don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care about the terms of his contract. A perplexed Lil Boat said he’s “heard about” 360 deals, but doesn’t know if he agreed to one. “I know I have an amazing deal,” he said, pointing out that he recouped a signing advance of more than $1 million. “I have an amazing attorney.”
The interaction got a bit awkward, especially after Yachty had been boasting about how his business game is sharper than that of his musical peers. But his unfamiliarity isn’t without precedent. (In fact, a 2016 Fader profile of Yachty raised questions about who controlled his publishing rights; however, Yachty tweeted earlier today that he does own his publishing.) There’s a long history of hip-hop artists who haven’t been well versed in the deals that determine how their money pie is sliced—situations that notoriously play out in favor of the label.
Perhaps the most notable example is N.W.A. The World’s Most Dangerous Group began its dissolution when Ice Cube departed in 1989 due to a dispute with manager Jerry Heller over royalty payments that he deemed unreasonable (they settled out of court). Dr. Dre, who co-founded Ruthless Records with Eazy-E, left the group in 1992, feeling he wasn’t being fairly compensated for his music and that he should’ve receive additional profits for his role as a label head. “[Eazy] took advantage of me not knowing the record business back in the day,” Dre said in Ben Westhoff’s 2016 book Original Gangstas: The Untold Story of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and the Birth of West Coast Rap, suggesting that Eazy and Heller were in cahoots.
In 1985, Salt-N-Pepa—on the verge of becoming one of hip-hop’s marquee acts—signed a contract with Next Plateau Records that granted their manager Herby Luv Bug half of a $5 million check for production costs, while the group’s three members split the remainder. Herby was initially receiving 100 percent of the group’s royalties until they renegotiated years later. A decade later, TLC infamously filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy—just after the release of 1994’s diamond-certified classic CrazySexyCool—due to a shitty 360 deal they signed with LaFace Records and the production/management company Pebbitone. New York Times broke down the specifics in a 1996 article:
TLC's contract with Pebbitone gives the group 7 percent of the revenues from the sale of the first 500,000 copies of the debut and second albums. That increases to 8 percent on sales over a million copies—a “platinum” seller. Even if the group stays hot long enough to justify an eighth album—a rarity in the genre—the members' percentage increases to just 9.5 percent on sales of more than a million copies. The royalty range in the industry varies from TLC's rate at the low end to up to 13 percent at the high end.
To be fair, it’s unclear whether Yachty is locked into an unfavorable contract. But it was alarming to witness the extent to which he seems uninformed about the particulars, especially given all of the historical hazard signs. Q-Tip told us “record company people are shady” on ATCQ’s “Check the Rhime” way back in 1991. The Lox’s We Are The Streets (2000) and Jadakiss’ Kiss Tha Game Goodbye (2001) both parody the reportedly unscrupulous contracts they signed with Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy Records, explicitly warning: “No matter how hard you try, after you sign, you cannot escape the rape.” Macklemore is woke, too. “Rather be a starving artist than succeed at getting fucked,” he rhymes on 2012’s record label takedown “Jimmy Iovine.”
The difference between today’s music industry and the wack deals of yesteryear is that the internet has allowed—and in some cases, forced—artists to be much more hands-on in their career’s management. At just 19 years old, Lil Yachty has done a great job of honing his sound and image. And it seems to have gone a long way, given his endorsement deals with Target and Sprite, and creative director role at Nautica. Hopefully, for his sake, the dividends will pay off fairly, and he’ll be fully informed next time he scribbles “Lil Boat” on a dotted line.