UPDATE: An attorney for Sony Music has released a statement denying that there was an admission to the use of a Jackson impersonator.


As has long been suspected, a lot of the posthumous Michael Jackson releases include songs that were not actually sung by MJ. Back in 2014, a fan named Vera Serova felt so strongly about this that she filed a class action lawsuit against Sony Music, John Branca (executor of the Jackson estate), MJJ Productions, James Porte (a supposed co-writer of a lot of Michael’s posthumous music), Eddie Cascio (a supposed longtime friend of Michael’s), and Angelikson Productions (Cascio’s production company). She enlisted the help of forensic audiologist George Papcun, who was able to conclude that it was very likely that three of the tracks — “Breaking News,” “Keep Your Head Up” and “Monster” — on MJ’s 2010 album, Michael, were sung by someone else. The impersonator is said to be a singer named Jason Malachi, but he denied involvement when suspicions first arose.

Sony initially dismissed the suit as frivolous, but in court earlier this week, the label finally admitted to its fraudulent-ass ways (HipHop-N-More has the 41-page court document detailing what went down). It is unclear what the repercussions would be for Sony and the other defendants, but I’m hoping they’re steep. I would actually like to see Eddie Cascio in jail if that is at all possible. He and his brother are said to have been friends with Michael since the ’80s; that kind of disloyalty deserves punishment.

It just blows my mind that even in death — and just mere months after the fact — people were looking to exploit Michael Jackson in this way. And while these people are all terrible, I feel like this is just another example of Michael not being the best judge of character. It seems there wasn’t anyone in his inner circle who truly had his best interest in their heart, and that is ultimately what killed him.

This news comes just weeks after John Branca sold MJ’s stake in EMI Music Publishing to Sony Music. Branca is slowing getting rid of all of the publishing rights Michael owned; I’m not sure what the motive is and I’m not knowledgeable enough to definitively classify this as bad, but I am very wary.

PS: I am of the belief that there are many more songs that were sung by impersonators, but this is a start. “Hollywood Tonight,” also on Michael, is insultingly obvious; and as I mentioned at the time of its release, I don’t trust the MJ-assisted “Don’t Matter to Me” (from Drake’s Scorpion).

When it comes to rap, I can’t say no to quick, clever lyrics over a danceable beat, and Positive K’s “I Got a Man” gives you just that. Released in 1992, this classic is about an overly aggressive dude who takes “I’m good luv, enjoy” as an invitation to try again — in other words, something of a creep. There has been conversation about whether or not the scenario in this song amounts to street harassment, but that’s not why we’re here today.

“I Got a Man” samples a number of songs that have sampled other songs — its Wikipedia page doesn’t quite list all of the borrowed melodies and beats — but the end-result is pure magic. The song peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold over 500,000 copies. Check it out below.

PS: The woman on the track is actually Positive K’s voice raised higher with studio technology.

PPS: Aretha Franklin loved this song so much that she flew Positive K out to perform it at her birthday party.

What’s the hook, then? Chance the Rapper provides an assist on Reeseynem’s “What’s the Hook,” a feel-good song about escaping jail time. The video features a whole bunch of dancing-ass niggas and I love it more than I could tell you. This song came about two months too late because my summer could’ve used this chune, but it’s okay; I’ma ride it out for this last month of the season. Watch the video below.

This 2018 MTV Video Music Awards went down last night and it was meh at best. Nothing was spectacular and a lot of it was downright trash, with Madonna’s non-tribute to Aretha Franklin taking first place.

Madge, who was there to present the award for Video of the Year, gave a long speech about the early days of career, which included an anecdote about how she supposedly sang Aretha’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at an audition, which is a goddamn lie. Other than that and maybe one other sentence, the entire thing was about Madonna, and the internet was not happy. I think the speech was probably supposed to mark her 60th birthday (which coincided with Aretha’s passing), and the VMA producers thought to merge the two — a terrible idea that could have very easily been avoided if there were any black people in decision-making positions.

Anyway, Camila Cabello took home the awards for Video of the Year (for “Havana”) and Artist of the Year, and I was ready to run up on MTV headquarters until I remembered that VMA winners are now chosen by online voters. Cardi B won for Best New Artist and Best Collaboration (with Jennifer Lopez and DJ Khaled), and Nicki Minaj won for Best Hip-Hop. For a full list of winners, click here.

My pick for performance of the night is a tie between Lauv and Jessie Reyez, who both got the sideshow treatment because neither have broken through quite yet. Watch their performances below.

Lauv – “I Like Me Better”

Jessie Reyez – “Apple Juice”

J-Lo, who was this year’s recipient of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award, could’ve easily been the performer of the night if she just stuck to the pre-2004 hits, but she wanted to sell us her entire catalog in a 10-minute performance. The best thing about it was a cameo from Ja Rule.

Ariana Grande, who won for Best Pop, also gets an honorary mention. She did her best imitation of Beyoncé at the 2017 Grammys for a performance of “God Is a Woman.” Check it out below.

Whenever I think of iconic VMA performances, this one comes to mind first. Still a fledgling solo artist at the time, the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards was the first time Beyoncé got to show the world what she was working with; there had been great performances before this one, but this was the first time she had done something of this scale and with this large of an audience. It was her declaration of being one of the greats, and for me, my official induction into her fan base. Watch this piece of popular music history below.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m never in a hurry to do album reviews, but I like what I had heard so far and the album is only 48 minutes long, so I said, “what the heck,” and did a review for Ariana Grande’s fourth album, Sweetener.

The album opens with a “Raindrops (an Angel Cried),” a 37-second interlude sung in acapella. The message is clear: “I’ve got pipes and don’t you ever get it twisted.”

The first full song is “Blazed,” which was written and produced by Pharrell Williams, who is also featured on the track. It’s a vibey mid-tempo that kinda sounds like something off Justin Timberlake’s solo debut, Justified. It’s not a bad song by any means, but it feels a little incomplete — almost like a demo they never got around to tweaking.

The next two tracks are the Nicki-Minaj-assisted “The Light Is Coming,” which I am still not sold on, and “R.E.M,” a song that had originally recorded been by Beyoncé for her self-titled fifth album (but didn’t make the final cut). Ariana’s take on the song is really good, but I think Bey’s version is a little punchier. The track has a bouncy quality that will make you think it’s a Jermaine Dupri creation, but it’s actually another Williams production.

“R.E.M” is followed by “God Is a Woman” (a song that I’ve grown to love) and the album’s title track, which is part-ballad, part-trap; and somehow, it works. The song could probably do without Pharrell’s ad libs in the background, but overall, I like it.

“Successful” is yet another Pharrell Williams production and I cannot be convinced that this track wasn’t made from a demo from the Justified sessions — it has that classic Neptunes sound.  The track has Ariana rubbing her beauty, youth, money and fame in our raggedy faces. I had to pause for a second to think about my life. Smh…anyway, decent song but nothing special.

Ariana sings about returning to the same guy on “Everytime.” Produced by Ilya and Max Martin, the track was the first to really jump at me on the first listen. I’ll be surprised if this isn’t one of the album’s singles.

Ariana keeps the momentum on “Breathin,” another Ilya production that sounds more “pop” than most of the album. If you like a song with big vocals and lots of melody, this is your track; also, if you like the beat on Drake’s “Hold on, We’re Going Home,” you’ll like the beat on “Breathin” because they are almost identical.

“Breathin” is followed by the album’s first single, “No Tears Left to Cry,” which is another one that took a while to grow on me. “Cry” is followed by Williams-produced “Borderline,” which features Missy Elliott. I had high hopes, but the song just doesn’t curl all the way over.

Ariana slows it down on the Hit-Boy-produced “Better Off,” where sings about fucking on the roof and doing a host of other freaky shit. There’s more sex on “Goodnight n Go,” which has this electro R&B sound that’ll remind you of Rihanna’s Loud album.

The next track is “Pete Davidson.” Let me start by saying that Ariana’s engagement with Pete Davidson feels like a disaster waiting to happen, but in any case, her dedication to her man is decent. At only 1 minute 14 seconds, I would classify it as an interlude.

The album ends with “Get Well Soon,” which would probably take more than one listen to get into. The track is about Ariana getting better after suffering PTSD as a result of the bombing at her concert in Manchester last year; it is also dedicated to the victims of the tragic incident. While I love the message of the song, I’m not sure why it is sung over “baby-making” instrumentals, but I guess a more sober ballad would’ve been too obvious.

Sweetener is a solid body of work and Ariana’s most adult project yet — she was definitely going for grown and sexy vibes throughout. There are no real duds on the album, but half of it can be classified as lukewarm. The album would’ve benefited from a ballad or two (and perhaps one club banger).

Album rating: 7.5 out of 10.

:::::::::::::::: CHUNE ALERT ::::::::::::::::

If you know me, you know I love Janet Jackson for real, and it gives me great pleasure to tell you that her new song, “Made for Now,” is her best in years. The track — a duet with Daddy Yankee and presumably the lead single from her next album — has strong Reggaeton and Afropop influences (more of the latter than the former). If you’re familiar with Afropop, you’ll probably get some Fuse ODG vibes from this track.

In keeping with the African influences, the video features all type of Ankara — fashioned in a bohemian kind of way that might remind you of the “Together Again” video. I love it all. Peep the clip below.