Issa Rae Says That She’ll Never Listen to R. Kelly Again

In anticipation of her new Complex cover, Insecure creator and star Issa Rae visited the Complex office in New York City to sit down with DJ Akademiks and Joe Budden for Everyday Struggle. This conversation happened the same week that the world learned about R. Kelly's “cult,” and Issa didn't mince words when it came to her feelings about R. Kelly now.

“I mean, I was a fan,” Issa began, “but when I heard the first reports and starting reading a bunch of the articles, I was off it, I was kind of disgusted. I just don't have a tolerance for that kind of behavior, and I can't separate from the music, especially when the music is about the behavior.”

Rae continued, “I took the music off my iTunes, and if there's a song that plays elsewhere, I just don't listen. I'm extreme, I guess, just because I was disgusted by it. This doesn't really surprise me, it hasn't change my opinion of him. It's remained the same. I did the same thing for Woody Allen.” Strong words from Issa, but totally understandable.

For more on Issa Rae ahead of the season 2 premiere of Insecure on Sunday, July 23 only on HBO, check out our cover story and the full episode of Everyday Struggle.

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Remember What Happened the Last Time Conor McGregor Got ‘Knocked Out’ While Training?

So Conor McGregor got knocked out by his sparring partner while training for his Aug. 26 fight against Floyd Mayweather. Or he didn’t. It really all depends on whether or not you believe the story boxer Jessie Vargas told during an interview over the weekend:

Those choosing to believe the story are already using it as proof to show that McGregor stands no chance in the ring against Mayweather. If McGregor can’t defend himself against some guy that most people have never heard of (for the record, Vargas claimed McGregor’s sparring partner was Bradley Wheeler), then how is he going to defend himself and hold his own in the ring with one of the best boxers of all time?

For what it’s worth, Mayweather has already come out and said that he’s not necessarily buying the story Vargas is selling. He actually has a working relationship with Vargas and revealed that he’s been talking to him lately about doing some kind of deal with Mayweather Promotions. But despite that, he isn’t quite ready to buy into the hype surrounding McGregor’s alleged KO:

“If I ain’t seen no footage, I don’t believe it,” Mayweather told Fight Hype on Monday night. “Me and Jessie Vargas are in communication. We’re talking about working together with Mayweather Promotions…But I can’t—everything is rumors until I see it. I’m the type of person, I have to visually see it with my own eyes.”

There are other people who are skeptical about Vargas’ story, too:

And we think it’s worth mentioning that this is not the first time McGregor has been forced to deal with a rumor like this. In fact, less than a year ago, he went through the same exact thing—and we want to remind you about what happened when everyone started doubting him in that instance.

Back in early October 2016, McGregor was in the middle of training for his UFC 205 fight against Eddie Alvarez when a report emerged about how he had supposedly been “knocked out cold” while sparring at Straight Blast Gym in Ireland. MMA insider Dizz—@TalkMMA on Twitter—sent out a since-deleted tweet about what he heard with regards to the knockout. “I was told by someone close to SBG, McGregor was allegedly knocked out cold in sparring today,” he wrote, “possible broken nose, shaky to his feet.”

Dizz also added that the alleged knockout could play a role in McGregor’s ability to prepare for the Alvarez fight:

Just like with the Vargas story, it didn’t take long for fans to start reacting to that story, either. Within just hours, there were quite a few people wondering how McGregor was going to be able to keep up with Alvarez in the Octagon if he couldn’t even keep up with some random sparring partner:

But in that case, it didn’t take long for McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh to respond to the knockout allegations. He fired back at Dizz’s report with this:

He also responded to a fan who commented on the report by saying this:

And he even went as far as to post this:

Eventually, Dizz responded to him and argued that he was simply reporting what he had been told by a source at McGregor’s gym:

McGregor himself didn’t really address the knockout rumor. He was actually dealing with a $150,000 fine he received from the Nevada Athletic Commission at the time in the aftermath of his wild UFC 202 press conference with Nate Diaz. That story broke on the same day as the knockout story did:

But he seemed to subliminally respond to the knockout story by posting this on Instagram the following day:

 

I'm so fresh and so driven.

A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on Oct 11, 2016 at 11:25am PDT

Kavanagh also continued to downplay the report about the alleged knockout. In late October, he did an interview and said that he and McGregor laughed off the report when they first heard about it.

“He swung by the gym that evening and I said to him, 'That’s a rough day—$150,000 fine and you got knocked out in training,'” Kavanagh said. “We kind of had a giggle about it. I think it turned out to be some fan, as a joke, messaged a US-based—I think 'reporter' would be a strong word—tweeter. All these guys just have Twitter accounts and they put out tweets. Your man swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. It just picked up steam very, very quickly, and within minutes, I’m getting my mother ringing me saying, 'What the hell is…happening to Conor?'”

The MMA world may have been wondering what was going on with McGregor, but he clearly didn’t let the speculation surrounding his supposed knockout bother him. If anything, he likely used it for motivation, and on Nov. 12, he made UFC history when he beat Alvarez easily at UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden in New York City to become the first fighter in UFC history to hold two title belts at one time. He beat Alvarez by TKO in the second round to take control of the featherweight belt and the lightweight belt—and he did it in spite of those pesky knockout rumors that plagued him in the weeks leading up to the fight.

 

The champ champ

A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on Nov 13, 2016 at 2:42am PST

So what can we learn from that whole situation? Well, for one, we can learn that McGregor probably isn’t all that upset about the rumors Vargas started by sharing his story. We can’t say that for sure since McGregor has, so far, stayed silent and refused to respond to it directly. But he did share this photo on Instagram on Monday night along with the caption, “Sparring today,” which seems to suggest he has, at least, heard about the Vargas report:

 

Sparring today.

A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on Jul 17, 2017 at 7:14pm PDT

We can also learn that it’s silly to completely write off McGregor simply because of the most recent knockout story. There were plenty of people who wrote him off back in October, too, when the story about him getting his nose broken first emerged, and that turned out to be a bad idea. Those who thought McGregor wouldn’t be able to throw punches with Alvarez turned out to be very wrong.

And of course, we can learn—for what feels like the millionth time—that you probably shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet, especially when it comes to McGregor. Maybe he got knocked out during a sparring session. Maybe he didn’t. But don’t let that be the deciding factor for whether or not you think he stands a real chance against Mayweather.

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Sports Radio Listener Calls Chris Christie a “Fata**” During Heated On-Air Exchange

A week after he was photographed sunning himself on a public beach that was closed due to a government shutdown, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie got called out by a man known only as “Mike in Montclair,” while auditioning to take Mike Francesca's seat at New York City sports radio station WFAN on Monday.

“Governor, next time you want to sit on a beach that is closed to the entire world except you, you put your fat ass in a car and go to one that’s open to all your constituents,” Mike suggested.

“Interesting, Mike,” Christie responded. “You know Mike, I love getting calls from communists in Montclair.”

From there Mike called Christie “a bully,” and said that he “doesn't like bullies.”

“Listen, I’m not the guy who came on the air, swore on the air … You’re swearing on the air, Mike. You’re a bum,” Christie responded. After a few more seconds of jawing back and forth (which is captured in its entirety by that @SportsFunhouse tweet up top) Christie hung up. Seems like a missed opportunity.

If there wasn't a sitting governor involved then, frankly, this would be pretty par for the course for sports radio. However there was a sitting governor involved, so check it out above. Christie, whose approval rating is hovering at an incredibly low 15%, will be filling in for Francesa for the rest of the week. 

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Kevin Hart Breaks Down His Second Nike Sneaker

Last summer, Kevin Hart released his very own Nike training sneaker, which was dubbed the Nike Hustle Hart. He showed the sneaker off for the first time during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in January before releasing them a few months later. And now, fresh off the success of his first sneaker, Hart has released a second Nike sneaker that is specifically designed for those who like to train as much as Hart does.

Hart turned 38 on Thursday, and to mark the occasion, he teamed up with Nike again to release two versions of his second Nike sneaker—the Nike Free Train Virtue Hustle Hart Day, which features a Cool Grey/Sport Red/White colorway, and the Nike Free Train Virtue Hustle Hart Night, which comes in a Black/Sport Red/White/Metallic Gold colorway. Both sneakers are available for $130 through Nike right now.

Complex News caught up with Hart behind-the-scenes at the shoot for the sneaker’s campaign at Equinox in New York City, and he explained the role he played in the sneaker’s creation this time around.

“How involved was I? I mean, very much,” he said. “Being a part of it, meeting with the design team, telling them what I would love to see. With anything, you want to progress and not digress. So with the development of the Hustle Hart 2s, you wanted them to be better, and that’s what this is. It’s a shoe that fits me and puts me in a position to perform at the highest level, and that’s what I like about it.”

We also asked Hart if he feels a sense of competition with Drake since he has his own sneaker through Jordan Brand. Hart joked about how he doesn’t plan to send Drake a pair of his sneakers and also revealed that he doesn’t feel like he’s involved in a sneaker rivalry with the rapper.

“No, I’m not sending him a pair, and no, there isn’t a competition because his sneakers stink,” Hart said. “You can only compete with things that are good and his sneakers aren’t good. They’re stupid because Drake is a part of it. Now if Drake wasn’t a part of it and somebody else was a part of it, then it would be cool. But because it’s Drake, it’s stupid.”

You can check out our behind-the-scenes interview with Hart above, and some photos of the Nike Free Train Virtue Hustle Hart Day and Night sneakers below.

Kevin Hart Day 1.
Image via Publicist
Kevin Hart Day 2.
Image via Publicist
Kevin Hart Day 3.
Image via Publicist
Kevin Hart Day 4.
Image via Publicist
Kevin Hart Day 5.
Image via Publicist
Kevin Hart Day 6.
Image via Publicist
Kevin Hart Night 1.
Image via Publicist
Kevin Hart Night 2.
Image via Publicist
Kevin Hart Night 3.
Image via Publicist
Kevin Hart Night 4.
Image via Publicist
Kevin Hart Night 5.
Image via Publicist
Kevin Hart Night 6.
Image via Publicist

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Sneaker Shopping With Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs

Sean “Diddy” Combs and Bad Boy Records changed the hip-hop world, and his documentary, Can't Stop Won't Stop: The Bad Boy Story, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the label that has been a powerhouse for over 20 years. For the latest episode of Complex's Sneaker Shopping, the hip-hop mogul met up with Joe La Puma at Stadium Goods in New York City to talk about the heyday of Bad Boy, a potential Biggie sneaker collaboration, and the sneakers he wore in his iconic music videos.

In the episode, Diddy reminisces on the Air Force 1s he wore in the famous “Mo Money Mo Problems” music video and says that he picked out the sneakers to give East Coast hip-hop a definitive look. He also talked about him and the Notorious B.I.G. buying 20 pairs of sneakers at a time to look fresh on tour. Diddy goes on to reveal in the episode that he's been approached by Jordan Brand and Gucci to make sneakers for Biggie and hints that there might be projects on the way. In the end, Diddy spends over $4,000 on Jordans, Nike SB Dunks, and Chuck Taylors.

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Were New Yorkers Ready for Jay-Z’s ‘4:44’?

At long last, Jay-Z's 4:44 has arrived. It's an excellent return to form for one of rap's greatest, full of imaginative storytelling and top-tier wordplay. Still, we'd be remiss to ignore one that had its fair share of doubters. Some people thought Jay-Z had lost a step after all these years. Those people were wrong. 

But back before Jay-Z reasserted his excellence, P&P's Angelito took to the streets of New York City to see if anyone was excited for an album from Jay-Z in 2017. By and large, the city still had Jay's back—watch what happened in the video above. 

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7 Things You Probably Missed on Your First Listen of Jay Z’s ‘4:44’

You know the routine: Jay Z releases a 10-track opus called 4:44 and music lovers are scrambling to get their opinions out there. The problem is, this happens at midnight, during the summer, so people are more than likely already drunk or are getting there, and are unable to pick up the subtleties of a record this lyrically dense. Sure, we know when everyone from Eric Benét to Kanye are being dissed, or how the title track is a response to Lemonade, and even the samples that were used throughout the No I.D.-produced album. There's a lot to dissect, and one can't be tasked with picking up the leftovers, right?

Well, this one was. It's partly my own fault; I've had the album on repeat since it dropped, and being armed with knowledge of Jay's history, from actual stabbings to legendary friendships, there are some moments on 4:44 that might be getting overlooked. Or, at the very least, haven't been highlighted by many as of yet. In an effort to make those who might not have ran this one back a number of times, here's a look at some things you might have missed on your first listen through Jay Z's 4:44.

Jay recalling the stabbing of Lance “Un” Rivera

On the opening track, “Kill Jay Z,” Jay touched on his issues with Kanye West and also brought up the time he stabbed Lance “Un” Rivera at the Kit Kat Klub in New York City in December of 1999 over allegations that Rivera had been bootlegging Vol. 3.

You got a knot in your chest, imagine how a knife hurts
You stabbed Un over some records
Your excuse was “He was talkin' too reckless!”

Jay ultimately plead guilty to the assault charges he was facing, and received three years probation, but to hear Cam'ron tell it, the incident wasn't over bootlegging music: it was over Undeas Entertainment's Charlie Baltimore, to whom Jay is said to have had a thing for.

Revealing that his mother is a lesbian

For what appears to be the first time in history, Jay Z rapped about his mother's sexuality on “Smile,” which also features a spoken word outro from his mother, Gloria Carter.

Mama had four kids, but she's a lesbian
Had to pretend so long that she's a thespian
Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate
Society shame and the pain was too much to take
Cried tears of joy when you fell in love
Don't matter to me if it's a him or her
I just wanna see you smile through all the hate

This isn't the first time Jay has supported the LGBTQ community; he applauded his friend President Obama's stance on same-sex marriage back in 2012

Subtly referencing his past issues with Funkmaster Flex

Also on “Smile” was the following line that could be looked at as a reference to Hot 97's own Funkmaster Flex: “This is Hov, no flex zone, nigga, who lied to you?” While many of us will remember how hard Flex has ridden for Hov over the years, back in 2015 their relationship hit a speed bump when Flex started calling Jay's Life+Times blog “trash.” This was due to Flex's feelings about the Life+Times app, which he says was essentially taken from information he gave to them about the Flex app that apparently ended up in their app.

The radio rant sparked the now-infamous and alleged “This is HOV” text to Flex, which Flex then posted on Instagram.

A month later, Flex said if Jay was past the beef, he would be past the beef, but this is also Jay's first album since Flex went on that rant. Maybe he was just saving up one line until he was good and ready to address it.

Sending shots at Al Sharpton's gym selfies

Most Jay Z theorists assume that he'd been working on what became 4:44 since late 2016, but judging by this pair of lines on “Family Feud,” he must have been working on it down to the wire, as he found a way to include Al Sharpton's viral gym selfies that hit a little over a week ago (week ago).

Al Sharpton in the mirror takin' selfies
How is him or Pill Cosby s'posed to help me?

You read that right; Hov also found a way to throw some shade at Bill Cosby by calling him “Pill,” which is a reference to the sexual assault allegations Cosby's been dealing with.

Sticking up for his friend Prince

On the Frank Ocean-assisted “Caught Their Eyes,” Jay took most of the second verse to speak out against Londell McMillain, the lawyer who was formerly handling Prince's estate.

I sat down with Prince, eye to eye
He told me his wishes before he died
Now, Londell McMillan, he must be color blind
They only see green from them purple eyes

These bars were more than likely a result of the lawsuit that Prince's estate filed against Tidal in November of 2016 over the streaming rights to Prince's music. Jay wasn't done there, though.

This guy had 'Slave' on his face
You think he wanted the masters with his masters?
You greedy bastards sold tickets to walk through his house
I'm surprised you ain't auction off the casket

Hov was not only referring to Prince's historic battle for his masters from Warner Bros. (who released a deluxe edition of Purple Rain with the blessing of Prince's estate just last week) and the actual tours people can buy tickets for through Prince's private estate, Paisley Park.

​The-Dream closes out “Marcy Me”

To the tune of Marvin Gaye's “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” The-Dream closed out “Marcy Me,” which was Hov's “nostalgic walk” through the Marcy projects.

Oh Marcy, Marcy me
Just the way I am always gonna be
I ain't gonna change, no
Marcy, Marcy me, just the way I am

Possibly hinting at the future addition of 4:44 to Apple Music

One of 4:44's standouts is “The Story of O.J.,” which finds Hov questioning the value of a dollar, especially to artists, people of color, and anyone growing up in the hood. Essentially, Hov ties up his role in the music business right now: “I'm tryin' to give you a million dollars worth of game for $9.99.” Now, sure, a Tidal subscription goes for a cool $9.99, but so does one of Tidal's competitors, Apple Music. Was this Hov slyly informing the world that 4:44 would be hitting non-Tidal services in the future?

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Lucky Couple Becomes First to Ever Get Married at Taco Bell Chapel in Las Vegas

For decades, the vast and often overwhelming Taco Bell menu has been missing one crucial item of consumption: marriages. This past weekend, that all changed. Dan Ryckert and Bianca Monda of New York City became the first couple to get married at the Taco Bell Cantina in Las Vegas, KTNV-TV reported.

Ryckert and Monda were the lucky victors of the drunk food connoisseurs' Love and Tacos contest, which launched on Valentine's Day and resulted in a truly remarkable ceremony Sunday. Seriously! Look at this shit:

Ryckert and Monda, who first met online in San Francisco, quickly bonded over a mutual fondness for food of the Taco Bell variety. Ryckert is described as a full-on “Taco Bell aficionado” and has tried every single item on the menu. Speaking with Mashable about the ceremony Tuesday, Ryckert described it as “appropriately surreal.”

​​Taco Bell's Vegas wedding services will be available to the general public starting Aug. 7. To procure a tasty matrimony, a couple simply has to grab a marriage license before hitting the flagship Taco Bell in Vegas. At the counter, couples can order a goddamn wedding straight from the menu for $600.

wedding shit
Image via Taco Bell

The package (which somehow isn't called the 5 Buck Box: Special $600 Marriage Edition) gets you a ceremony, an ordained officiant, a private reception area inside the restaurant for you and 15 guests, a garter and bow tie made of sauce packets, “Just Married” T-shirts, Taco Bell champagne flutes, and—perhaps most important of all—a 12 pack stuffed with tacos and a Cinnabon Delights cake. 

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Sneaker Shopping With Ric Flair

Ric Flair has always been the flashiest guy in professional wrestling and his over-the-top personality has been an inspiration to the hip-hop world for years. The 68-year-old living legend still has a lavish lifestyle to this day, and he met up with Joe La Puma at Stadium Goods in New York City to be the latest guest on Complex's Sneaker Shopping.

Living in Charlotte, Flair has spent time hanging out with Michael Jordan, and the episode he talks about partying with MJ. During his wrestling career, Flair was known for cutting outrageous promos where he'd brag about his expensive clothes and possessions, and he talked about how he would stay out all night partying before he'd record his skits. Many consider Jordan the Greatest Basketball Player of All Time, but in the episode Flair says that LeBron James is greatest athlete ever, no matter what sport he chooses to play. In the episode Flair also talks about buying over 40 pairs of custom handmade shoes at $2,000 a piece, says that he's not a fan of how LaVar Ball is marketing himself through his sons, and shares a tale of partying with Charles Barkley. In the end, he spends over $1,500 on Jordans and LeBrons.

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The Surprising Strategy Behind Jay Z’s Business Moves

“I'm not a businessman—I'm a business, man,” goes one of Jay Z's most famous punchlines. And it's certainly true that Hov's business acumen has been a cornerstone of his public persona for many, many years, arguably dating back to the mafioso-rap days of Reasonable Doubt

But a closer look at many of Jay's business maneuvers, particularly his endorsement deals, shows a strange pattern. Almost without exception, Jay will align himself with the company that is number two or three in the marketplace, and rarely the leader. 

Once you notice this trend, you begin to see it all over the place. Jay's early-aughts sneaker deal was with Reebok, not Nike. When he teamed with a search engine for the release of Decoded, it was Microsoft's Bing, not Google. When he bought 1/15th of one percent of an NBA team in New York City, it was the Nets and not the Knicks (yes, he's from Brooklyn, but still). When he hooked up smartphone users with his new album, it was Samsung holders and not people with iPhones. When he wanted to increase awareness of The Blueprint 3 via a subscription-based music service, it was Rhapsody (remember them?) and not Spotify or Pandora. When he invested in a video-sharing app in 2012, it was the now-all-but-deceased Viddy, as opposed to Instagram.

Almost without exception, Jay will align himself with the company that is number two or three in the marketplace, and rarely the leader. 

In fact, arguably the only leading companies Hov has joined forces with are Hewlett-Packard, who have been running neck-and-neck with Lenovo for first place in global market share in personal computers for the past several years; and Duracell.  

For someone as careful and calculating as Jay Z to consistently behave like this, there must be a good reason. While we can't be certain about the motives behind Jay's moves (Hov, if you're reading this, call us), there are some huge advantages to his behavior.

Zack O'Malley Greenburg, Senior Entertainment Editor at Forbes, is the author of Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner to Corner Office, a business biography of the rap titan. He pointed out that Jay's strategy is a win-win for both rapper and what Greenburg euphemistically refers to as “underdog brands.”

“Jay Z often does deals with underdog brands because they have more ground to gain from a connection with him,” he told Complex. “And in some cases, there may not be a deal on the table with the industry leader.”

“I don't know that he could have gotten necessarily a stake in the Knicks, or at least couldn't have done it as easily or on as favorable terms as he did with the Nets,” he continued. “I would think the same thing goes for some of the other deals when you look at it down the line. I think it speaks to the goal, which is to use his cool points and employ them to boost a brand that could use some boosting.”

Those “cool points” are often directly translatable into dollar signs. In the Nets deal, for example, he was able to turn a $1 million investment into a 135 percent return, and to garner a heavy association with the Nets and their Barclays Center arena, thereby gaining incalculable free advertising. Hov opened up the arena with a string of concerts in 2012, and continues to be associated with the venue, even though he has long since sold his stake of one-fifth of one percent. 

And being associated with second-tier companies has not proven to saddle Jay with any long-term negative associations. 

“Even if he associates with a second-tier brand, it doesn't tarnish his image so much as it gets people saying, 'Oh, there's Jay, he got a good deal. There he is making savvy business moves again,'” Greenburg explained. “In some ways, because of that business focus that he's always had throughout his career and that he's done a very good job of publicizing, he's seen more as a dealmaker than a sellout.”

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