#DXCLUSIVE: V Don Recruits 38 Spesh & ElCamino For ‘Since 16’ Single

HipHopDX Premeire – As V Don preps his forthcoming album Black Mass, the Harlem-based producer has shared a sliver of the project in the form of “Since 16” featuring ElCamino and 38 Spesh.

Black Mass is entirely produced by V Don and — in addition to ElCamino and 38 Spesh — boasts appearances from Dave East, Eto, Smoke DZA, Willie The Kid, Rigz and Dark Lo. “Since 16” serves as the project’s second single, following the title track that was released earlier this week.

The 12-track effort is expected to arrive on February 7. Check out “Since 16′ above and the album details below.

#DXCLUSIVE: V Don Recruits 38 Spesh & ElCamino For 'Since 16' Single
  1. Judas f. Adonis
  2. Forefathers f. Dark Lo
  3. Engraved f. Rigz
  4. Boomerang f. Smoke DZA
  5. Black Mass f. Eto
  6. Asolos f. Sauce Heist
  7. Get Back f. Dave East
  8. Weather Of March f. D. Polo
  9. Since 16 f. ElCamino & 38 Spesh
  10. Whitey Bulge f. Da$h
  11. Baked Alaska f. Willie The Kid
  12. Borrowed Time f. Kadeem

Fender Fined $6M Over Illegal Price Fixing Scheme in UK

Fender has been fined 4.5 million pounds ($6 million) in the UK for admitting to price-fixing. The move breaks competition laws and prevents retailers from discounting instruments.

Fender engaged in price-fixing between 2013 and 2018 in Britain, according to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The price-fixing scheme led to the largest fine yet imposed on a company for engaging in the practice.

“It is absolutely essential that companies do not prevent people from being able to shop around to buy their products at the best possible price,” a CMA executive stated.

Fender cooperated with the CMA’s investigation and made changes to its requirements for retailers. “As a result of the investigation, we have taken additional steps to enhance our compliance procedures,” a Fender spokesperson said. “Our new EMEA executive team will continue to rigorously monitor the business’ adherence to antitrust and competition laws.”

Fender may be shooting itself in the foot with this one. The rate of new guitar players is on the decline – likely partly because new guitars are expensive. Fender CEO Andy Mooney admitted that 45% of new guitars sold go to new players.

“[There are] a million new entrants in English speaking countries alone every year; only 100,000 of them commit,” he said in an interview. Fender wants to reduce abandonment by 10% to keep new players as lifetime customers. Somehow, Fender thought price fixing is the answer.

But these kinds of price-fixing schemes are counter-intuitive for instrument companies. When a new player hears that Fender is artificially inflating the cost of its guitars; suddenly, come into the picture.

Fender Musical Instrument’s line-up extends beyond just its iconic Fender brand. It also includes Squier, Gretsch, Jackson, Charvel, and EVH. Price fixing across so many brands drives more customers away than you keep. If Fender’s goal is new player retention ⁠— it should do more to make the entry to the hobby as affordable as possible.

Baillie Gifford Becomes Spotify’s Largest Stakeholder

Scottish investment management company Baillie Gifford is officially Spotify’s largest stakeholder with an 11.82% share.

In a disclosure submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Baillie Gifford revealed that its total Spotify ownership has increased by 2.6 million shares since September 2019, from 19.1 million to 21.7 million; the latter represents 11.82% of Spotify. Spotify co-founder Martin Lorentzon, now the second-largest stakeholder, owns 11.59% of the music streaming platform’s stock. 

Following the announcement, Spotify’s per-share price largely stayed the same, having opened at $148 and closed at $149.15—an increase of .7%. However, the stock has posted a solid recovery during the last four months. From a low of about $112 per share in September 2019, Spotify touched $158 earlier this month, its largest value since October 2018. 

Spotify currently boasts 248 million monthly active users, 113 million of whom subscribe to Premium (at least at last count). Even so, the company has been the target of criticism both from investors and from artists—the former for not being profitable enough, and the latter for paying inadequate royalties. 

A profitability’ pipe dream’.

While plenty of analysts remain bullish on Spotify, others are becoming sour. Just recently, Bernstein’s Todd Juenger giving Spotify an underperform rating. Shortly thereafter, an analyst from Evercore downgraded the stock to underperform based on long-term profitability concerns. “For Spotify, material margin expansion likely remains a pipe dream, as rivals operate streaming music services at a loss to the benefit of broader ecosystems and labels act as an oligopoly,” Evercore’s Benjamin Black remarked.

Meanwhile, this game is getting less interesting for major record labels Warner Music Group (WMG), Sony Music Entertainment (SME), and Universal Music Group (UMG), as well as independent label Merlin Records, thanks to a vast selloff of Spotify shares following the platform’s public offering.

T.I., Gucci Mane, DJ Pauly D Announced For Drai’s “Big Game Weekend” In Vegas

There will be no shortage parties during the weekend Super Bowl LIV, but none bigger than what Drai’s Nightclub has in store. The popular nightclub at The Cromwell in Las Vegas has announced a weekend-long party in celebration The Big Game, featuring performances by T.I., Gucci Mane and DJ Pauly D from Friday, January 31st to Sunday, February 2nd.

Pauly D, the Jersey Shore legend and resident DJ at The Drai’s, will kickf “Big Game Weekend” on the 31st, followed by a performance from T.I. on Saturday, February 1st. The festivities will conclude on the day the big game, February 2nd, with Gucci Mane performing live at Drai’s.

Drai’s Nightclub fers a multi-level rotop club with more than 75 luxurious bottle service tables, and access to the world’s most celebrated DJs and chart-topping resident performers. Drai’s Nightclub opens at 10:30 p.m. from Friday to Sunday. Admission pricing for the events during “Big Game Weekend” starts at $40 for women and $60 for men. More information is available at https://draisgroup.com/las-vegas/tickets/.

The U.S. Government Intensifies Its Radio Payola Probe

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly is now directly sending his payola questions to the major labels.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is doubling down on its payola probe.

In September of 2019, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly sent a letter to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which represents the big three major labels, requesting additional information about payola — i.e., illegal payments for radio plays.

O’Rielly was decidedly unimpressed with the tepid response he received from the RIAA, which claimed that its represented labels hadn’t engaged in illegal or below-board conduct, and that individual inquiries should be forwarded to the labels themselves. The Commissioner’s Twitter response included a copy of the letter sent back by RIAA and indicated that he would in fact “seek out answers directly from record labels.”

Of course, the RIAA is funded by the majors to deal with situations exactly like this one — and diplomatically diffuse them — instead of sending one-page brush-offs.

And apparently, the FCC higher-up wasn’t bluffing.

On January 16th, O’Rielly sent multiple leading record companies a two-page letter describing what payola is, why the U.S. Government believes it harms competition, and why the inquiry was intensifying. Additionally, O’Rielly disclosed six multi-part questions and “respectfully” asked that answers be returned by the end of February.

The questions pertain to record companies’ agreements with radio stations, which practices the record companies believe constitute payola, how the record companies aim to prevent payola, known instances of payola, and more. Suffice it to say that the sensitive nature of the questions and the immense reach of the FCC will prompt the record labels to have their attorneys compose answers before the specified deadline.

And they can’t kick this one back to the RIAA.

It’s unclear at this point just how far the FCC and O’Rielly will proceed with the probe—that is, whether they intend to send a message (and possibly reduce the prevalence of payola) or dedicate ample time and resources to launching a full-scale investigation. What we do know, however, is that the matter isn’t being swept under the rug.

More as this develops.

Juice WRLD Cause of Death: Massive Oxycodone and Codeine Overdose

Juice WRLD, aka Jarad Higgins, died from a massive overdose of oxycodone and codeine, according to an autopsy report from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.   The rapper stuffed a large amount of pills down his throat during an FBI raid.

Juice WRLD died suddenly on December 8th on the tarmac of Chicago’s Midway Airport in his private jet.  The jet was after a tip from the pilot of the plane.

In a panic, Juice WRLD, aka Jarad Higgins, ingested a massive amount of pills and other drugs to hide them from authorities.  The raid was originally aimed at busting members of Higgins’ security detail, who were reportedly carrying guns.  Those weapons turned out to be registered and initial charges were dropped.

The cause of death was confirmed by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office in a statement shared earlier.

“The Medical Examiner’s Office has determined the cause and manner of death of 21-year-old Jarad A. Higgins. Higgins died as a result of oxycodone and codeine toxicity,” the statement read.

“The manner of death is accident.”

Whether Juice WRLD’s death is properly viewed as an ‘accident’ is debatable.  The rapper knowingly ingested a massive stash of drugs, which is completely different than a truly accidental death.

The situation leading up to Juice WRLD’s death started when the rapper’s plane was en route to Chicago.  It was then that the plane’s pilot noticed that some of the people on the flight were carrying weapons, and he notified the FAA. Because of this, the plane was met on the ground by both FAA and FBI agents, who were there to search for both the guns and the people carrying them.

Meanwhile, surviving family members are now battling a from members of the early-2000s band Yellowcard.

The band alleges that Juice WRLD’s smash hit, ‘Lucid Dreams,’ copied Yellowcard’s “Holly Wood Died.”  The lawsuit was filed prior to the rapper’s shocking death, though the band decided to continue with the action.  Proceedings will continue in February; so far, no members of Juice WRLD’s family have responded to the legal complaint.

 

 

#DXCLUSIVE: Myke Bogan Debuts ‘Backwoods’ Video

Myke Bogan has released a new video for his song “Backwoods” track off last year’s Cult Beauty album. The visual’s arrival coincides with the announcement of his Owls Casket Kush weed strain bred by Bula Buds, which has its farm featured in the video.

“An owl represents the deep connection that you share with wisdom, good judgment and knowledge,” Bogan tells DX. “But I say death to all that! Smoke this shit and live your best fuckin life.”

Watch Bogan’s “Backwoods” video above and cop merch from his Cult Beauty LP here.

Grammy Awards Ex-CEO Files Sexual Harassment, Discrimination Claim

In the wake of her abrupt ouster last week, former Recording Academy president and CEO Deborah Dugan is filing a formal discrimination and ual harassment complaint. The Grammy Awards are just five days away.

Last week, the Grammy Awards fired their recently-hired CEO, Deborah Dugan, on .  This week, Dugan is firing back with a ual harassment and discrimination suit of her own.

“The complaint that we filed today against the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the Grammys) highlights tactics reminiscent of those deployed by individuals defending Harvey Weinstein,” Dugan’s legal team asserted.

“As we allege, the attempt by the Recording Academy to impugn the character of Deborah Dugan is a transparent effort to shift the focus away from its own unlawful activity.  This blatant form of retaliation in corporate America is all too common, even post #MeToo, and we will utilize all lawful means necessary to ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions.”

The hard-hitting complaint also attacks another ex-CEO, Neil Portnow.

Portnow exited the organization after publicly urging women to ‘step up’ if they wanted to win more awards.  That cost him his job, though Dugan’s attorneys allege far more egregious behavior.  The complaint states that Portnow “allegedly raped a female recording artist, which was, upon information and belief, the real reason his contract was not renewed.”

Dugan also alleges that she was asked to offer Portnow a $750,000 contract with the Recording Academy, despite his dismissal.

Beyond that, Dugan’s complaint references “egregious conflicts of interest, improper self-dealing by Board members and voting irregularities with respect to nominations for Grammy Awards, all made possible by the ‘boys’ club’ mentality and approach to governance at the Academy.”

So far, the Recording Academy has not responded.  But just moments ago, interim CEO Harvey Mason, Jr. accused Dugan of for millions of dollars.

The Grammy Awards are airing in five days.

More as this develops.

 

Prince Harry Breaks Silence Following Royal Split Announcement

While speaking at a dinner in Central London, hosted by his Sentebale charity, Prince Harry addressed his split from the royal family, marking the first time that he’s spoken publicly about the subject he and his wife Meghan Markle announced their decision to do so. 

“It was so many months talks after so many years challenges,” revealed the Duke Sus. “And I know I haven’t always gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option. What I want to make clear is we’re not walking away, and we certainly aren’t walking away from you.” 

View this post on Instagram

at tonight’s dinner for supporters Sentebale in London Video © SusRoyal

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess Sus (@susroyal) on

He went on to confirm that the resolution he and the Duchess sought was to continue to serve the Queen “without public funding.” However, the compromise was not met.

Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible,” he said. “I’ve accepted this, knowing that it doesn’t change who I am or how committed I am.”

Harry’s words arrived just one day after Buckingham Palace ficially announced that Harry and Meghan would be losing their royal titles “His Royal Highness” and “Her Royal Highness.”

“I will always have the utmost respect for my grandmother, my commander in chief, and I am incredibly grateful to her and the rest my family, for the support they have shown Meghan and I over the last few months,” Harry added. “I will continue to be the same man who holds his country dear and dedicates his life to supporting the causes, charities and military communities that are so important to me.” 

Kawhi Leonard’s New Balance OMN1S Revealed In "Black History Month" Design

New Balance is celebrating Black History Month this year with a limited edition collection sneakers, including a brand new colorway Kawhi Leonard’s New Balance OMN1S sneaker.

As shown below, each the kicks comes equipped with a navy, grey and red color scheme, hihglighted by gold accents. Kawhi’s New Balance OMN1S also includes the word “INSPIRE” stamped on the mid-foot strap.

Kawhi Leonard's New Balance OMN1S Revealed In "Black History Month" Design

New Balance OMN1S ‘BHM’/New Balance

According to New Balance, the name OMN1S is derived from the Latin omnis, a word meaning “ everything”. New Balance’s debut basketball shoe was made for the modern day positionless player, featuring the brand’s “FitWeave” upper and a full-length FuelCell midsole.

“As the game has changed, there is a versatility to the player on the court now that there has never been before. The OMN1S was built for a player like Kawhi Leonard that can do it all. It’s designed to represent what we want New Balance to represent on and f the court. Game speaks for itself,” said Jonathan Grondin, Creative Design Manager at New Balance.

In addition to the “BHM” OMN1S, New Balance will also be releasing similarly styled versions the 574, 850, and 997S. Scroll down for a look at each upcoming colorways and look for the full collection to launch on January 30.

Kawhi Leonard's New Balance OMN1S Revealed In "Black History Month" Design

New Balance 574 BHM/New Balance

Kawhi Leonard's New Balance OMN1S Revealed In "Black History Month" Design

New Balance 850 BHM/New Balance

Kawhi Leonard's New Balance OMN1S Revealed In "Black History Month" Design

New Balance 997S BHM/New Balance

Chinese Audio Platform Lizhi Goes Public on Wall Street

A leading Chinese podcasting and audio content app called Lizhi has gone public on Nasdaq.

Trading under the ticker symbol LIZI, Lizhi is a competitor of Ximalaya and Dragonfly. They are currently offering investors more than 4 million shares at an $11 IPO price.

Lizhi provides not only podcasts but also audiobooks and livestreasms. Unlike its competitors, if further offers user-generated content, and the app includes various recording tools to help make this happen.

Among those who have invested in Lizhi are:

  • Xiaomi
  • TPG
  • Matrix Partners China
  • Morningside Venture Capital
  • Orchid Asia

According to the company, as of the third quarter of last year, the app had 46.6 million monthly active users. Nearly 6 million of these actively create content for the platform.

Lizhi employs a unique model for monetizing podcasts.

While most podcasters monetize their content through sponsorships or user subscriptions, podcasters on Lizhi monetize their content through virtual gifts.

Recently, Marco Lai, who is the CEO of Lizhi, told TechCrunch that the company hopes to use the proceeds from their U.S. IPO to invest in product development. This includes developing their AI technology.

Lizhi reportedly uses AI in a number of different ways. First, it uses the technology to help it distribute its podcasts. It says that, by doing so, it has achieved a 31% click-through rate on its content. It also uses AI for the following purposes:

  • to monitor content
  • to give creators user engagement data
  • to provide features that lets it fine-tune recordings, reduce noise and create 3D audio

There seems to be plenty of room for the app to grow. According to the company, less than half of mobile users in China listened to online audio content back in 2018. This is expected to increase greatly in the coming years, especially as the market for smart speakers continues to grow in the country.

In support of this, the company has partnered with Baidu on its Xiaodu smart speakers.

Israel Adesanya’s Opponent For UFC 248 Revealed

Israel Adesanya has been one the best up and coming fighters in the UFC and as right now, he holds the Middleweight title. He has an 18-0 record in MMA and is currently 7-0 in the UFC. His unique style fighting has made him a fan favorite and he is well on his way to becoming the sports’ next big superstar. After winning his last fight, there have been a whole plethora UFC fighters who want their shot at the Stylebender. However, when you’re a big star like Adesanya, you’re able to pick some your own battles.

Having said that, it has been revealed that Adesanya will be defending his title against Yoel Romero at UFC 248 on March 7th. The fight will go down at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and will surely be an entertaining spectacle.

Israel Adesanya's Opponent For UFC 248 Revealed

Dylan Buell/Getty s

Adesanya has expressed interest in a fight with Romero for a while now so this latest piece news shouldn’t come as too much a surprise. Romero has a 9-3 record in the UFC and when he wins, he usually does so in impressive fashion. A fight against Adesanya would be wildly entertaining for the fans and we can’t wait to see it.

Who do you think is going to win?

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#DXCLUSIVE: Che Noir Enlists Planet Asia & Street Justice For ‘Crown’ Single

Buffalo’s Che Noir has linked up with Planet Asia and Street Justice for a collaborative track titled “Crown.” The 38 Spesh-produced song serves as the first single off her Juno album, which is due out later this year.

“When I first heard the beat, I wrote the verse in like an hour,” Che tells HipHopDX. “Spesh put Planet Asia on it and after I heard his verse, I said I wanted Street Justice on it too. I went through some clips and found the intro clip and thought it would fit perfect.”

Stream Che Noir’s “Crown” featuring Planet Asia and Street Justice above.

Major Radio Broadcasters Lambaste the DOJ for Siding with Irving Azoff

In response to the Department of Justice (DOJ) an amicus brief in support of Irving Azoff and his long-standing with the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC), the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has a motion to issue their own amicus brief, which criticizes the DOJ’s brief.

The dispute goes back to 2016, when the RMLC sued Azoff’s Global Music Rights (GMR), which is a small performing rights organization that represents some big stars. This includes:

  • Drake
  • Pharrell Williams
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Eddie Vedder

In their lawsuit, the RMLC accused the GMR of setting licensing rates that were akin to extortion. The GMR responded by filing their own suit against the RMLC, claiming that the organization was illegally capping licensing fees.

While this battle has continued, the two parties have been operating on an interim agreement.

In its December brief with the Western Division of the U.S. District Court’s Central District of California, the DOJ argued that the RMLC was essentially acting as a buyer’s cartel, and it called on the court to decide in favor of the GMR.

The NAB brief provides a full-throated counterargument to this.

They state that the DOJ has historically been supportive of enforcing antitrust laws against performing rights organizations such as the GMR. They further called the department’s change in views in this particular case “unjustified and unwarranted.”

The brief goes on to say that the DOJ has long held the belief that the RMLC had a right to function as what it termed a “buying collaboration.” It even once called the organization “pro-competitive.”

Dan Petrocelli of the law firm O’Melveny & Myers, which is representing the GMR in the dispute, issued a statement in response to NAB’s brief. They told Billboard that “the NAB’s position that the RMLC should be permitted to fix prices is dead wrong.”

The case is scheduled to go to trial this November.

Bose Closing All Retail Stores in North America, Europe, Japan, & Australia

Bose will close all of its retail stores in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia. Online sales played a significant part in Bose making the decision.

The company says its headphones, speakers, and other products are usually purchased online. As a result, hundreds of employees will be laid off in the coming months.

The first retail store from opened in 1993, with many locations scattered across the US. Bose used the retail stores to showcase the company’s line-up and offer demo units to prospective customers.

Bose is based in Framingham, Massachusetts, and is a privately owned company. They are not revealing how many employees will be impacted by this decision to dump retail.

Colette Burke, Bose’s Vice President of Global Sales, says the have outlived their usefulness.

“Originally, our retail stores gave people a way to experience, test, and talk about home entertainment systems,” she said in a statement. “At the time, it was a radical idea, but we focused on what our customers needed, and where they needed it ⁠— and we’re doing the same thing now.”

Bose stores in all four countries will begin closing over the next few months. A spokesperson has confirmed at least 119 stores are impacted by the closing. Bose will keep stores in South Korea, China, and India open for now.

The company also says it is offering outplacement assistance and severance to affected employees. Details about those programs will remain private. Bose products can still be bought from other retail stores like Best Buy, Target, Amazon, and Apple Stores across the country.

Window shopping at Best Buy is always going to be more attractive to the average consumer than a niche store. The move for Bose probably makes sense, since commercial real estate seems on the verge of imploding.