Producer Claims Future Filed Copyright Claim Over Desiigner’s “Panda” (UPDATE)

UPDATED 6/20/17 10:30 a.m. ET: Mike Dean has sent in the following statement to XXL:

“The kid lost the stems to the beat. It had some samples in the original from a film. I recreated some of the stems enough to patch up the beat and remove the samples. I was gonna recreate the whole beat then I found a way to keep it. Major labels don’t play with samples not being cleared The song would never have come out or cleared legal at Def Jam. If that’s nothing, then he’s right.

“He should have better file management skills if he works at an electronics repair shop.

“He should get facts straight before he speaks on my name. I let the claim go because I have better shit to do than fight with people over BS. Hope he enjoys the bread and appreciates what I did to help him make $$. That’s about it. Menace, put some respek on my name.

“And thank god Mike Dean removed your samples, youngin. Should throw me a few points from his pocket my way, but I am doing ok with or without the “Panda” bread.

“P.S. He should also thank Plain Pat (the best A&R in the world and my favorite co-producer) who made us (G.O.O.D. Music) all aware of “Panda” in the first place.”

Original story is below.

Desiigner’s 2015 debut single “Panda” catapulted the rapper into hip-hop stardom. The track dominated the airwaves, earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance, topped the Billboard charts, and was sampled by Kanye West. It was the kind of introduction many rappers dream of; however, the mastermind behind the “Panda” beat hasn’t received the same success. In fact, he claims he’s still waiting on payment.

In a recent interview with DJBooth, 23-year-old Menace said he hasn’t been fully compensated for producing “Panda” due to a legal claim filed by Future.

“There was a situation with Future putting [an infringement] claim in because apparently, he said that ‘Panda’ sounded like ‘Fuck Up Some Commas.’ So we were just about to see the checks but there’s been a lot of delays so we won’t see anything until next year anyway,” Menace said. “Not only [Future], Mike Dean, Kanye West’s producer, he put a claim in as well saying that he did something to the beat and he never did. I don’t think we’ll see a check until probably next year. Right now, it’s just going through negotiations. The problem is that once someone puts a claim in, it just stops everything.”  A representative for Future denied Menace's claims, saying that they are “not true.”

People have been comparing Desiigner to Future for some time now, pointing to similarities in their rap styles. During a 2016 interview with Complex, Desiigner shared his thoughts about the comparisons, insisting he had no beef with Atlanta rapper.  

“God gave him a blessing, but he gave me a blessing too. I ain't gonna doubt the man's music. He make beautiful music too. Music is made every day,” he said. “Big ups to him, big ups to Future. I actually like Future’s music. I like his music, you feel me. I’m not a hater or a critic on him, you know, I do me. God bless him, God bless me.”

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Joe Budden and DJ Akademiks Discuss Tinashe Controversy and Kehlani Cussing Out Heckler on ‘Everyday Struggle’

On today's Everyday Struggle, Joe Budden, DJ Akademiks, and Nadeska discuss XXL's Freshmen class list and break down any snubs or wrong choices. They also tackle Kehlani throwing a fan out of a concert for heckling her about Kyrie Irving, and Tinashe's comments that she feels excluded from the black community. In a bit of a sports twist, the guys also debate LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan and who would win the Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor fight.

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Inside the Beef That Lead to XXXTentacion Getting Knocked Out

During the San Diego stop on his Revenge Tour, 19-year-old Florida-based rapper XXXTentacion got knocked out mid-song while performing at The Observatory. The assailant, who's identity has not been confirmed, is said to be an associate of Rob Stone, a 22-year-old rapper from San Diego who made some noise with a song “Chill Bill” but has been connected to XXXTentacion through a beef that's been stirring since April of this year.

With XXXTentacion's name being in the news circuit for most of 2017, and a flurry of theories regarding what happened in this altercation (which someone who may or may not have been the person who attacked XXXTentacion being stabbed), the question on everyone's lips is “what the hell happened?”

Let's walk back to the beginning of the beef, which reportedly features everything from grabbing mics, more violent attacks, and a rapper named Ski Mask The Slump God. Here's a look at Rob Stone and XXXTentacion's beef.

April 9, 2017: Ski Mask the Slump God escorted off stage during Rob Stone performance

To understand how XXXTentacion and Rob Stone started beefing, you have to understand Stone's beef with Ski Mask the Slump God, another Florida-based rapper who is down with XXXTentacion. According to reports, Ski Mask was escorted off the stage at a show at The Observatory on a San Diego date for Desiigner's Outlet Tour.

As the story goes, Ski Mask tried getting on the mic as Rob Stone was getting on stage to start his performance. Ski Mask got frustrated over the ordeal and decided to not leave the stage. Footage shows that he ended up getting walked off the stage by a number of unidentified men.

When word got to XXXTentacion about what happened at the show to Ski Mask, he took to Twitter to vent. The tweet, which has since been deleted, said, “Let them know whoever the fuck that is getting fucked in they mouth when I go on tour for putting their peasant hands on my brother.” Rob Stone wasn't here for it, and let it be known in his own tweet.

To which Ski Mask sent his own tweet, insinuating that there was more to the growing friction between himself and Rob Stone.

April 10, 2017: Ski Mask gets jumped

The very next night on Desiigner's Outlet Tour found Ski Mask and Rob Stone getting into it at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles. At the start of Ski Mask the Slump God's set, a pair of individuals are jumped him from behind, causing the three of them to fall into the crowd. Ski Mask is said to have then jumped back on stage, and was chased by a whole squad of people.

April 11, 2017: Two sides of the same story

In two separate conversations with XXL, both Rob and Ski Mask laid out their sides of what happened in Los Angeles. Stone likened Ski Mask's set in L.A. to being the “third strike” of disrespect. Strike one was said to have been an incident where Ski Mask ran out during Rob's set in Seattle to interact with fans mid-song. Stone says, “The nigga was ruining my spot. So that was the first strike and I told the nigga, ‘Don’t do that. If you’re gonna run on my set, come on ‘Chill Bill’ at the end.’ So he was like, ‘Aight, cool’ and it was straight.” Stone said strike two was at the San Diego show. According to him, Ski Mask's lateness forced set times to be pushed back, with Ski Mask being told he's go on at 9 p.m. Around 9:25, Stone says Ski Mask finally showed up, and took to the stage as Rob Stone was about to go on. When Stone's DJ wouldn't hand Ski Mask the mic, he got aggy and stood his ground.

Stone said that after the back-and-forth with XXXTentacion and Ski Mask on Twitter, as well as seeing XXX on Instagram Live “talking about Ski Mask gonna slap the shit outta me,” Stone decided he'd approach Ski Mask at the L.A. show, but Ski Mask showed up and hopped right on stage. “I wasn’t even trying to run onstage and do bro like that. I was supposed to get at bro behind the scenes, but he wanna run onstage and not holla at me like a real nigga, so I run onstage and take the mic from blood and then we beat his ass from the stage to the street. And that’s how it goes. And I left his ass out in the street with his ass out and his underwear. And that’s exactly what happened, from beginning to end.”

Ski Mask saw things differently, saying that AEG (who was putting on the Outlet Tour) was trying to get Rob Stone off of the tour. “Statistically, I shouldn’t even perform before him. Looking at numbers, I shouldn’t have to perform before him because it doesn’t make sense. My numbers are way higher than his in general. Then performance wise, this nigga is ass. He doesn’t do good in general in performance. So they were trying to throw him off [the tour] and he was angry as fuck.” Ski Mask also stated that the San Diego date was supposed to be his last date on the tour, but he says he might not have been getting paid.

Now, even though he says he wasn't going to perform if he wasn't going to get paid, he did indicate that he would be telling his fans “'on the mic that I'm not performing.' Because they're gonna think I didn't even pull up and they're gonna be mad.” According to Ski Mask, that's when the footage starts, where he's on the stage not being given a mic, but not wanting to get off the stage.

In the case of the Los Angeles tour date, Ski Mask said he only went there because he “didn't want to seem pussy,” indicating that he “didn’t think, even if he was gonna jump me, he was gonna do it like that, by jumping me on the stage and not even give me the heads up that he’s about to jump me or wait until I’m done performing.” As you can see in the above video, that wasn't the case. Ski Mask also alleges that around eight people attacked him, and at some point, knives were drawn and his friend was stabbed.

They both indicated to XXL that they were no longer a part of Desiigner's Outlet Tour.

May 1, 2017: Rob Stone replaced by Ski Mask the Slump God at Rolling Loud Festival

After their very public scuffles on the Outlet Tour, Ski Mask and Rob Stone would spend time clapping back and forth at each other, but the next real issue was Stone's claims that he was removed from the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami. According to a tweet of his on May 1, Stone says he was paid in full in advance “not to show up at the festival,” saying that “the promoter is their boy.”

The “their” is in reference to XXXTentacion and Ski Mask the Slump God; XXX was already on the bill, and its said that Ski Mask ended up taking Rob Stone's slot. Stone later spoke out on the situation, reiterating that he was paid not to go “for 'safety & security,'” and spoke on how his issues with XXXTentacion was the cause of him being let go.

 

#robstone says he was paid NOT to attend #rollingloud because of issues with #xxxtentacion (part 1)

A post shared by DJ Akademiks (@akadmiks) on May 8, 2017 at 6:26pm PDT

 

#robstone says he was paid NOT to attend #rollingloud because of issues with #xxxtentacion (part 2)

A post shared by DJ Akademiks (@akadmiks) on May 8, 2017 at 6:30pm PDT

June 7, 2017: XXXTentacion gets suckerpunched

It's hard to tell if XXXTentacion was worrying about any flack from his shared beef with Rob Stone when hitting The Observatory during his Revenge Tour, but knowing what has gone down between Ski Mask and Rob Stone, it's hard to be surprised. During his set, someone ran onstage and knocked XXX out with a blow. The individual was immediately bumrushed by security, with a major scuffle ensuing both on stage and behind-the-scenes.

It appears that many in the building started screaming “Fuck Rob Stone.” After the incident, when XXX came to, he hit Twitter to not only say he was set up, but to throw a threat for the next time someone attacks him.

Fox 5 San Diego reports that at some point during the incident on stage, a 19-year-old was stabbed. They also indicated that, at the time, there were no reported arrests.

At the time of this writing, there's been no comment on social media from Rob Stone, though the Slump God did share a couple of tweets.

Sadly, this doesn't seem like it's going to be over any time soon. Maybe Rolling Loud had the right idea; the heat between these factions is too great to have them near each other. If someone doesn't step up to mediate the situation, this could go from bad to worse very quickly.

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Kodak Black Has Been Released From Jail

Kodak Black has been released from Broward County Jail. Sun Sentinel reporter Brett Clarkson shared an automated message he received regarding Kodak Black's release, noting that the release had not yet been confirmed.

XXL has since confirmed the rapper's release through a representative at the Broward County Sheriff's Office. Complex has reached out to a rep for Black and will update when available.

The Painting Pictures artist was apparently quick to jump on Instagram Live following his release:

kodak
Image via Instagram

In May, Kodak Black was sentenced for violating the terms of his house arrest. Black violated his house arrest terms by attending a boxing match, visiting a Miami-Dade strip club, and “other places” without prior authorization of a probation officer. Though he was sentenced to jail time for the violation, he was also given the opportunity to be released within 30 days upon successful completion of a life skills course. Prior to the sentencing, Black fired two of his attorneys.

In a separate case, Kodak Black is accused of sexual battery against a woman in a Florence, South Carolina hotel room following a show. In the arrest warrant, Black (Dieuson Octave) is accused of forcing the victim “onto the bed in the room and then onto the floor of the room.” Black is also accused of biting the woman. A sexual assault kit, the Sun Sentinel reported in November, confirmed the victim's injuries.

Black was removed from Future's Nobody Safe Tour in April.

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Post Malone Gets Into Verbal Feud With Starlito and Don Trip Over “White Iverson”

 

FINALLYYYYYYYYYDMRNEJSOFBRVRI

A post shared by Posty (@postmalone) on May 26, 2017 at 8:54am PDT

One need not look much further than Katy Perry’s recent SNL performance or Miley Cyrus’ recent about face regarding misogyny in hip-hop to see cultural appropriation is a sensitive topic. The subject came up again recently as Post Malone, Starlito and Don Trip got into a heated exchange on Twitter. The matter was sparked by a recent HipHopDX interview with Lito and Don Trip, as DX’s Editor-In-Chief, Trent Clark, asked Don Trip about any correlation between Trip’s “Allen Iverson” and Post Malone’s “White Iverson.” While Don Trip said he was unfamiliar with Posty’s single, Starlito had some sharp criticism. Video of the interview is posted below, and Lito’s remarks begin at the 45:50 mark.

“I thought it was a little bit exploitive,” Lito told DX. “On a lot of cultural levels. That’s what I thought and felt. I had an opinion about that record. I had just met the Sauce Twinz and they were the only people in the world that I had heard use [saucin’].” Lito also called it “bigotry-laden” and said his first impression of Post Malone’s track was “some blackface type shit.” 

Saturday, things escalated when Starlito re-tweeted a picture of Post Malone with the eponymous inspiration for his song’s title, former NBA MVP, Allen Iverson.

“Plot Twist: Bubba Chuck snuffed him & will be wired $3M Tuesday a.m. when banks re-open,” Starlito tweeted, while adding the hashtags #extortion #reappropriation.

What followed was an exchange with Lito doubling down on accusations Post Malone stole the “saucin’” phrase from Houston’s Sauce Twinz and Posty calling Starlito ignorant.

Both Post Malone and Starlito are slated for upcoming interviews with XXL, so the debate over the line of demarcation between paying homage to a culture versus appropriating one could turn into a teachable moment. As it stands now, there are merely accusations flying in both directions.

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Before ‘Teenage Emotions’: How Lil Yachty Got Here

Lil Yachty takes a huge step forward in his career with the release of his debut studio album Teenage Emotions. But what got us to this point? How did Lil Yachty become the phenomenon that everybody's talking about? Here are some of the high points of his journey to stardom.

January 2014: Yachty shares his first IG post

Yachty is nothing if not a master of social media. He currently has nearly three million Instagram followers, and gained much of his following via IG and other social media platforms. But it all started on Jan. 8, 2014 (175 weeks ago, in Instagram terms), when he posted this BRE (Before the Red hair Era) photo. 

 

trapaholics nigga I shoulda been had onna deez

A post shared by KING BOAT #fortheyouth (@lilyachty) on Jan 8, 2014 at 1:56pm PST

As the son of a prominent hip-hop photographer who was a veteran in front of the camera by the age of four, Lil Boat was a natural fit for Instagram. 

August 2014: He drops his first song on SoundCloud

Yachty didn't really break through until late 2015 (more on that later), but he had plenty of music before then. While some argue that his debut track was “Bitter Sweet,” the very first track he posted on SoundCloud on Aug. 10, 2014 was the confusingly-spelled “I Got the Baag.” Check it below.

Summer 2015: Yachty moves to NYC

In the summer of 2015, not long after adopting his nickname and nautical-themed style, the teenager formerly known as Miles McCollum moved to New York City with one simple plan: meet famous people. As someone with an eye on the fashion and streetwear worlds, Yachty wanted to meet and impress people like “fashion influencer” Luka Sabbat. “They're the cool kids all the kids listen to,” Yachty told Rolling Stone. “It was strategic. They helped my name build.” 

August 2015: Busted for credit card fraud

While back in Georgia that same summer, Yachty and a 21-year-old friend named Clarence Logan were busted at a mall with over three dozen fake credit cards between them. They were charged with forgery, fraud, and counterfeiting, and Yachty was let go on $11,000 bail.

December 2015: “One Night” used in popular comedy video 

Yachty's first big break arguably came at the very end of 2015, when his song “One Night” was used in a comedy video by Caleon Fox called “When Bae Hits You With That 'So What Are We?'” Almost immediately, YouTube commenters started asking what the song used in the skit was.

February 2016: Yachty models at Yeezy Season 3 show

By early 2016, Yachty had become close with the controversial tastemaker Ian Connor, who last year was accused of rape by multiple women. Connor played some of Yachty's tunes for Kanye West, which led to Yachty being invited to model for Kanye's Yeezy Season 3/album release show at Madison Square Garden.

March 2016: He drops his debut mixtape 'Lil Boat'

Yachty released his debut mixtape Lil Boat in the weeks after the Kanye show. The project proved the teenage rapper had a unique style that went beyond his social media presence.

April 2016: Collaborates with D.R.A.M. on “Broccoli”

April 6 was the release date for the hit collaboration with D.R.A.M., “Broccoli.”

May 2016: Works on Chance the Rapper's 'Coloring Book'

Chance the Rapper's Coloring Book featured Yachty alongside Young Thug on the track “Mixtape.”

June 2016: Yachty Spits a Hot 97 Freestyle

That June, Lil Yachty appeared on NYC radio station Hot 97 with Ebro Darden. When asked if he was a rapper, he said, “No. I don't know.” And then, as if to prove his point, he wiped out during a freestyle

The back-and-forth with Darden and Hot 97 continued, with Yachty releasing a song aimed at them in July. He then joined Ebro again on the latter's Beats 1 show in November for something resembling a reconciliation.

June 2016: Signs With Quality Control and Capitol

June was a huge month for Yachty. In addition to the Hot 97 appearance, he revealed he was signing to Atlanta powerhouse Quality Control. That was quickly followed by the announcement of a joint venture between Capitol and QC for Yachty's next project. Also that month? Yachty made the XXL Freshmen list

July 2016: 'Summer Songs 2' Drops

Yachty keeps the music coming in July with the release of Summer Songs 2 and an accompanying short film called Keep Sailing.

August, 2016: Yachty disses Biggie, Pt. 1

In an interview with Billboard, Yachty says he “honestly couldn't name five songs” by either 2Pac or the Notorious B.I.G. Outrage follows.

October 2016: Want a Sprite?

Yachty teams up with LeBron James for a Sprite ad featuring Yachty's hit “Minnesota.”

November 2016: Expands into fashion

Yachty's nautical fascination finally pays off when he's asked to model a collaboration between Urban Outfitters and Nautica.

November 2016: Yachty disses Biggie, Pt. 2

During an appearance on Pitchfork's “Over/Under” series, Yachty refers to Biggie as “overrated.” He quickly apologizes.

December 2016: Links with Kyle for “iSpy”

Towards the end of 2016, Yachty teams up with Kyle to release “iSpy.”

February 2017: Getting that Target money

Yachty has never been one to shy away from endorsements (“endorsement money is huge,” he noted in a 2016 New York Times profile). So it was no surprise that he did an ad for Target. What was a surprise was a) it was a collaboration with Carly Rae Jepsen and b) it featured a remake of Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock's 1988 classic “It Takes Two.” 

March 2017: Named one of Forbes' 'Cash Princes'

Yachty's newfound commercial and financial success is celebrated by Forbes, who names him one of the magazine's Cash Princes alongside Desiigner, D.R.A.M., Noname, and others. That same month, he teams with Nautica for a second collection.

It will be interesting to see where Lil Yachty takes his career from here. Man cannot live on controversy and cool hair alone, so we'll be looking forward to seeing what happens when he becomes a little more established and no longer has to defend his every move against criticism from rap purists. What will Lil Yachty be like in a world where he's not constantly battling for acceptance—a world where, perhaps, there may even be a teenager or two rebelling against him? Whatever happens, we'll be listening.

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Travis Scott Fans Jump From Balcony During Wild Show in NYC

Travis Scott, the current undisputed champ of shows that are punk as all fuck, brought his Birds Eye View Tour to New York City Sunday night. As social media footage of the Terminal 5 performance shows, the set—which also included a surprise appearance from Playboi Carti—was a truly energetic affair.

In one clip, Scott is heard assuring a fan that those in the pit will catch him if he makes the move from balcony to floor. After crawling most of the way down, this individual ultimately made the leap:

Additional video from Scott's birthday Birds Eye View performance in NYC shows other fans also boldly relocating from the balcony to the floor:

There's also footage floating around alleging to show a fan who jumped from the third floor of the venue and injured himself. However, reports of injuries have not been confirmed:

 

Kid who jumped from 3rd Floor … CRAZY! 📹: @d.coronaaa

A post shared by LA FLAME (@travyscott) on May 1, 2017 at 12:12am PDT

Scott is seen in another clip giving his ring to a fan:

 

SEEN THIS SHIT WITH MY OWN EYES!!!!!! HE JUMPED FROM THE 3rd FLOOR!!!!!

A post shared by LA FLAME (@travyscott) on Apr 30, 2017 at 8:40pm PDT

In an interview with XXL back in January, Scott expressed his excitement to bring Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight on the road. “I feel like I pop out more,” Scott said. “I'm seeing , like, real reactions and it's crazy. You know, I've always been on those tours, The Weeknd and Rihanna. It's kinda like a mix of fans. So, when I finally did my own tour, it's finally seeing these kids fuck with me. It's kind of dope.”

Scott, who recently appeared in SZA's new Nabil-directed video for “Love Galore,” next brings his Birds Eye View experience to Stage AE in Pittsburgh Tuesday. Get the full dates here.

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5 Classic Rap Songs That Sample Prince

It's been one year since the world lost Prince, but his legacy lives on in the countless musicians he influenced. And one of the beautiful things about hip-hop is that producers and rappers wear their influences on their sleeves. You can tell what a beatmaker is listening to by the artists they choose to sample, and looking at the many occasions that Prince's work has found its way into hip-hop tracks, it's clear that many of your favorite rappers and producers fucked with The Purple One heavy.

Today, in remembering what Prince meant to the world, we take a glance at some of the classic rap tracks that sample him. From a signature guitar wail to one sung word, his material has been a treasure trove of funk, hits, and style that helped ignite some of the illest rappers to show up and show out. Rest in beats, Prince.

2Pac – “To Live And Die In L.A.”

Prince Song Used: “Do Me, Baby”

'Pac is said to have been a huge Prince fan; E.D.I. told XXL that “A lot of people don't know that 'Pac was a big Prince fan. He fucked with Prince. If you listened to a lot of 'Pac's shit, he sampled Prince in different ways.” “To Live And Die In L.A.,” from Pac's Makaveli album The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, contains an interpolation of Prince's “Do Me, Baby,” from his fourth album Controversy, sped up and replayed with live guitar and drums. Prince is the perfect funky backdrop for a true Los Angeles anthem.

Arrested Development – “Tennessee”

Prince Song Used: “Alphabet St.”

Arrested Development's smash hit “Tennessee” features a tiny sample of Prince singing “Tennessee” on Lovesexy's “Alphabet St.” It's small, but it's used throughout the song, and was reportedly not cleared at the time. As the story goes, Prince decided to charge Arrested Development a one-time payment of $100,000 for the use of his voice after “Tennessee” blew up, instead of getting a songwriting credit. Speech, the lead rhymer of Arrested Development, told Atlanta that Prince essentially cut them a huge break. “In those days, when you had a [hit] throughout the nation, we made way more than that, so we paid it. But he waited for the very moment it went down the charts, and only once it went down, did we get the call. I think that was a testimony to his savvy and how he thought. Nonetheless, when we did meet up, he was a fan, and had respected what we had done.”

MC Lyte – “Paper Thin”

Prince Song Used: “17 Days”

If you listen to these two songs back to back carefully, you can hear that the distorted guitar loop in the beginning of “17 Days” is slowed down and roughed up for Lyte's classic single “Paper Thin.” It's also a testament to how hip-hop tracks were spliced together back in the day, as the Prince loop was used along with samples of Al Green, Earth, Wind & Fire, and even a hint of Ray Charles. The Prince sample adds a level of aggression that's perfect for the venom Lyte spit on the mic, though.

Public Enemy – “Brothers Gonna Work It Out”

Prince Song Used: “Let's Go Crazy”

Public Enemy and their production team The Bomb Squad were known for creating a chaotic wall of sound that borrowed from a number of samples and sources. On Fear of a Black Planet's iconic single “Brothers Gonna Work It Out,” mixed in with a litany of samples from Roy Ayers, Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown, and George Clinton (among many others), is a snippet of Prince's iconic guitar solo from Purple Rain's “Let's Go Crazy.” Prince's intense guitar workout adds to the overall mania of the track.

Jay Z ft. Pharrell – “Excuse Me Miss”

Prince Song Used: “Walk Don't Walk”

With Hov talking about wanting to get grown and sexy on the Pharrell-assisted “Excuse Me Miss,” it made sense that they borrowed a percussive drum loop from Prince's “Walk Don't Walk,” taken from the vainglorious Diamonds & Pearls album. It was a Neptunes production, and the duo didn't just let that foundation linger on its own: There are all kinds of signature Chad & Pharrell keyboards over it. But when you play the intros to the two tracks side-by-side? The similarities are there, and so is the magic.

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Fan Theory Suggests Kendrick Lamar Will Drop Another Album on Easter

Kendrick Lamar's new album Damn isn't even a day old yet, but it's never too early for a conspiracy theory involving both The Matrix and an alleged resurrection. Thanks to a few Sounwave tweets and some Damn interpretations, a theory has emerged that another new Kendrick album is coming this weekend.

The leading theory, which was being heavily discussed on Reddit before making its way to XXL, begins with the events of Damn opener “Blood.” The track seemingly depicts Lamar being killed, which is where the possible resurrection theme comes in. The official release date of Damn. is April 14, i.e. Good Friday. For those not into Jesus stuff, Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday. On Easter Sunday, the resurrection of Jesus is celebrated.

But what does The Matrix have to do with any of this? Well, in Sounwave's tweeted photo of Laurence Fishburne​ as Morpheus, a reflection in his glasses shows the infamous blue and red pills at the center of the Matrix story. In last month's “The Heart Part 4,” Lamar rapped “With TOC, you see the flames.” According to the Easter x Matrix theory, “TOC” is an acronym for “the other color.” Given the prominent use of red on the Damn album cover, theorists have posited that a second album (resurrection!) will be arriving soon with the color blue featured just as prominently on the cover.

Fans have continued to gather evidence, with some theorizing that Damn would be followed by an album entitled Nation.

But does all of this really mean anything? If you believe in the theory, guess you'll find out Sunday, which also happens to be the day Kendrick is headlining Coachella.

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Inside XXXTentacion’s Complicated Legal Situation

Late last week Florida rapper XXXTentacion—whose real name is Jahseh Onfroy—was released from jail in his home state after pleading no contest to charges of home invasion and aggravated battery with a firearm. These charges stem from a November 2015 incident in which he allegedly entered the home of Che Thomas and robbed him at gunpoint. The deal to withhold adjudication of the charges essentially means that the disposition of the crimes he is charged with committing will be suspended, provided he successfully completes a six-year probationary period under court mandated conditions. Among a series of requirements, the probation order states that Onfroy will not violate any law, possess a firearm or weapon, associate with any persons engaged in criminal activity, or visit places where drugs are used. If he manages to complete this strict probation, the charges will effectively disappear and Onfroy’s record will be clear.

This status is what many judges view as a logical compromise to keep young, sometimes first-time defendants out of jail and give them an opportunity to restore their behavior. At 19, however, Onfroy’s future may already have been decided on another set of pending charges that will land him back in court in just a few weeks. He’s set to begin trial on May 1 for charges stemming from an October 6, 2016 incident in which Onfroy allegedly strangled and battered his pregnant ex-girlfriend to the point where “both eyes became shut and the victim could not see.”

The prosecution appears to have ample evidence, including multiple affidavits of witnesses, 51 pages of medical records which presumably support the victim’s claims, and incriminating audio recordings of the defendant.

In an interview from prison with XXL earlier this year, Onfroy stated there was “no evidence in both cases,” and that the victim is “lying and scamming the fuck out of everybody.” The prosecution, however, appears to have ample evidence, including multiple affidavits of witnesses, 51 pages of medical records which presumably support the victim’s claims, and incriminating audio recordings of the defendant. Pitchfork reported in February that the records also include images of injuries allegedly perpetrated by Onfroy. In a recording of a phone call he made from jail, Onfroy claims that the girl was “jumped,” and that she she was never pregnant.  

Nevertheless, the detail of her disputed pregnancy is not germane to the case and the evidence appears to suggest a pattern of abuse beyond the October incident. Moreover, the mere fact that this case has gotten this far is likely a testament to the strength of the evidence in that regard. Many, if not most, domestic violence charges dissipate before trial. Factors such as the sensitive relationship between the perpetrator and the victim and/or witnesses, and sometimes lack of nonverbal evidence often hamstring prosecutors. Even some of the cases with detailed evidence fail to reach trial, as plea bargains are an overwhelmingly preferred compromise in the face of a high risk trial.  

At trial, Onfroy faces a minimum of 21 months and a max of 15 years in prison if convicted of aggravated battery. If he is found guilty of all other charges, he faces up to 30 years in total. Although it is unlikely that he will serve all of this time, given the breadth of evidence at play and his fairly well-documented reputation for violence, he will have a tough time convincing a jury he is not guilty. And even if he does, he still faces six years in which he will have to keep his record exceptionally clean; truly a tough bar for any 19 year old.

Among the most striking features of Onfroy’s public approach to the ordeal is his casual approach to violence and his constant denigration of his ex-girlfriend on social media. This has incited aggression within his followers; she continues to be publicly harassed on Twitter by fans and his Reddit community harbors discussions highlighting the misogynistic undertones of this case. Women victims in domestic violence situations face an excruciating uphill battle in being believed and protected from further consequences. Regardless of the details of any case, domestic violence allegations, particularly ones like these, should be taken incredibly seriously. A victim has little to gain by following through with the harrowing judicial process; she obtains no monetary damages and the process risks unmasking of intimate personal details and forces her to relive her trauma regularly. Fans are often willing to excuse behavior by their idols—but the costs of doing so in this case and in similar domestic violence cases are indisputable.   

While awaiting trial, Onfroy may already already be feeling some of the fallout of his reputation. Last week, rumors circulated that Onfroy had signed to Atlantic, but they were quickly shot down by his management. It wouldn’t be surprising if he was receiving major label interest at this stage; with over 665,000 followers on SoundCloud, he already has surpassed the attention that many major label acts drum up in the first few months. Atlantic is already home to Kodak Black, another young Florida rapper who, with Atlantic’s legal and moral support was initially offered a deal to “withhold adjudication” and is now awaiting trial on domestic violence charges. Perhaps labels are waiting to see how his trial plays out, or perhaps they aren’t yet truly interested. As Migos’ Offset put it earlier this week, commenting on XXXTentacion’s allegations that Drake bit his flow, “We ain’t even heard of you, shorty. Get your ass out of jail.”

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