Actor Michael K. Williams — best known for his role on ‘The Wire’ — was reportedly found dead in his Brooklyn apartment earlier today. The news was broken by the New York Post, which reports that drug paraphernalia was found in the Emmy nominee’s apartment.

No official cause of death has been declared, but authorities do not suspect any foul play.

Today in 1981, a star was born. Scratch that, an absolute LEGEND was born.

Back in ‘97, when we first met Beyoncé as the lead singer of Destiny’s Child, there were no real indicators of the level of talent we were witnessing — and in a way, that’s what makes her journey so special. Yes, she was always a great singer, but in the 24 years since “No, No, No” dropped, we have watched Bey grow from just another great singer to a vocal powerhouse.

And don’t get me started on the live performances.

For much of popular music history, we have always been made to choose between big vocals a la Aretha, Whitney and Mariah, and impressive showmanship à la Janet and Madonna. We have rarely seen artists who can give us both, and better yet, give us both at the same damn time. When it comes to live performances, Beyoncé is simply in a class of her own.

It feels like blasphemy to make the comparison, but as far as star power is concerned, Beyoncé is the closest thing to Michael Jackson we have seen. Through the years — even when the media tried to tell us Lady Gaga was coming to replace her (ha) — the demand for Beyoncé has remained high, and much of that can be credited to the brilliance with with she has managed her personal brand. She is always prepared, always in formation, and is rarely ever caught slipping — even when her baby sister is going upside her husband’s head. And on the rare occasion where she is quite literally caught slipping, she handles it like a pro.

Beyoncé is your superstar’s superstar and one of the greatest entertainers we will ever see.

In celebration of her 40 years of life, I have picked four iconic live performances from Queen Bey’s illustrious career.

“Crazy in Love”/“Baby Boy” (featuring Jay-Z) [Live at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards]

“Purple Rain”/“Baby I’m a Star”/“Let’s Go Crazy” (with Prince) [Live at the 2004 Grammy Awards]

2013 Super Bowl Performance

2016 Super Bowl Performance

Yesterday, August 25, 2021, marked 20 years since we lost one of the most beloved R&B stars of the ‘90s, Aaliyah. She died in a plane crash in the Bahamas, where she had just shot the last scenes for a music video for her next single, “Rock the Boat.”

Before a video for “Rock the Boat” was shot, Aaliyah’s record label had planned to released “More Than a Woman” as the second single from her self-titled third album, and she was already performing it live during promotional appearances. However, fans were responding to “Rock the Boat” so favorably that it had become a radio hit despite being an album cut. The label insisted on sticking with its original plans, but after pushback from Aaliyah, they decided to go with “Rock the Boat.”

For many, myself included, this video — which fits the sexy summertime energy of the song perfectly — evokes feelings of sadness because of the knowledge that some of these scenes show the final hours of Aaliyah’s life.

Even though she was only 22 when she passed away, Aaliyah already had a seven-year career and had accomplished more than most would in a lifetime. And as big of a star she already was, she hadn’t quite peaked yet, which makes her passing that much more painful.

Unfortunately, we’ll never know what the rest of Aaliyah’s career would’ve looked like, but may we all find solace in the timeless music left behind.

The Pfizer COVID vaccine becomes the first one to receive full approval from the FDA. Until now, all of the vaccines in use had only received emergency authorization.

The approval is only covers administration to people aged 16 and over. The vaccine is still under emergency use authorization for children aged 12-15.

The vaccine will be marketed under the brand name Comirnaty.

Snoop Dogg’s “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None)” is basically all the things Boomers whine about when they say hip-hop is too vulgar. Featuring Nate Dogg, Warren G and Kurupt, this one song basically checks all the boxes when it comes to indecency, and listening with 2021 ears, it is objectively problematic in more ways than one. That being said, it is such a fucking CHUNE.

“Ain’t No Fun” is special because — even though he is credited as a featured artist — it is a song where Nate Dogg takes center stage, providing the opening verse as well as the chorus, and taking up more record time than even the “lead” artist, Snoop Dogg. Nate had songs of his own, but the crooner earned the nickname “King of Hooks” because he was known for delivering iconic hooks as a supporting act to rap stars. “Ain’t No Fun,” despite officially being a Snoop song, feels very much like a Nate Dogg song.

Before we go any further, I’d just like to say that I have always had an issue with artists being credited as “featured” acts on songs where they sing the hooks because — more often than not — the hook accounts for the majority of the song. You know what I mean? Ashanti should have received lead billing on “Always on Time” and “What’s Luv?”; and Rihanna should have received lead billing on “Live Your Life” (where she not only sung the hook but provided a bridge). And don’t even get me started on “Mo Money Mo Problems,” where Kelly Price is uncredited altogether despite having more record time than the Notorious B.I.G., Diddy and Mase.

Any, back to Nate Dogg.

Most album cuts are forgotten, and even when an album cut is considered a highlight on an album, few are popular even among casual fans — “Ain’t No Fun” is among that exalted few. The lyrics of the song — in particular, the chorus — are so well-known and so often-quoted that you’d think it was a radio hit, and I can’t help but credit Nate Dogg’s delivery for making so many people love for this nasty-ass song.

On what would’ve been Nate Dogg’s 52nd birthday, I welcome you to press play and crank the volume all the way up.

OnlyFans just announced that — starting in October — it will no longer allow sexually explicit content. Nude photos and videos will be allowed as long as no sexual acts are taking place.

Basically, the porn industry just got a big wide opening. No…pun intended? Anyway…

According to Bloomberg, this new policy is in response to difficulties the company has faced in raising money from investors, who are generally shying away from OF’s NSFW brand.

OnlyFans generated $2 billion in revenue last year and is on pace to double that this year.

Nothing says “I’m serious about being successful in the US” like throwing Justin Bieber on the remix of your latest single.

If the Billboard Hot 100 was scored based on the number of times a song is used on Instagram stories, WizKid’s “Essence” (featuring Tems) would probably be No. 1 right now. For the last two to three months, it has been almost impossible to open that app without hearing that song, and these days, social media popularity is oftentimes a precursor to “real life” chart success.

After many weeks of social media popularity, “Essence” finally cracked the Billboard Hot 100 a month ago and has risen steadily since its arrival, currently sitting at No. 54.

With a new version of the song featuring one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, we could argue that “Essence” is just getting started. Not only has Justin Bieber proven his ability to make a remix go POP in the past, he actually adds a verse worth listening to. In other words, Justin Bieber is bringing more than star power to the table — and his pidgin isn’t half-bad.

Lizzo comes out swinging on her new single, “Rumors,” which features Cardi B. The song is one big clap back against all of the people talking shit about her weight, who she’s sleeping with, her outfits, and every other new issue people find with Lizzo each week.

“Rumors” is R&B yet pop yet hip-hop yet rock — basically, it’s peak Lizzo. If you liked the up-tempos on Cuz I Love You, you’re definitely gonna like this one. Click play.

Canadian singer Tamia has had an interesting career. She has an amazing voice, conventional good looks, and a catalog full of solid songs. However, she was never the major star that one would’ve expected her to be, which demonstrates once again that the music industry — and quite frankly, life itself — is a bit of a game of luck. Despite all the great things she had going for her, one could argue that she was generally overlooked, and as a result, a lot of good music has been overlooked.

If you ask anyone to hum the first song that comes to mind when they think of Tamia, it will probably be “So Into You,” and for good reason — it is undoubtedly her signature hit. However, anyone who is even remotely familiar with Tamia’s catalog would probably highlight her lead single from her third album, More, as one of her shining moments.

Released in September of 2003, “Officially Missing You” is a guitar-driven ballad sung from the perspective of a forlorn ex-lover who wants that old thang back. The song was written and produced by Marcus Vest — better known as 7 Aurelius — who made a name for himself after producing multiple hits in the heydays of Murder Inc., including “Always on Time,” “Foolish” and the remixes to “I’m Real” and “Ain’t It Funny.”

Because life isn’t fair, “Officially Missing You” only managed to peak at No. 83 on the Billboard Hot 100, but that says absolutely nothing about the song’s quality. If this is your introduction to this song, thank me later.

The Weeknd is back with new music but the Canadian is sticking with the old formula, and we can’t blame him.

With the final single from his last album, After Hours, still in the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, The Weeknd’s new era is coming so soon that it feels very much like an addendum to the last one. And with the ’80s pop style of “Take My Breath,” it sounds like the singer is sticking with the sound that gave him record-breaking success.

The “Take My Breath” video takes place at party that gives the kind of sexy, druggy, rock-n-roll-y energy we’ve come to expect from Abel. It, of course, ends with a dominatrix type trying to, err, take the singer’s breath.

Would it be a Weeknd video if death wasn’t a theme? Click play.