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by (@unclegrambo)

Last Lap: Lil Wayne Threatens To Kidnap Beyonce, Inception Star Covers Nirvana, And More

LIL WAYNE SPRINGS A LEAK, THREATENS TO KIDNAP BEYONCÉ
Where’s the beef? On Lil Wayne’s just-leaked Tha Carter IV, that’s where! According to Blackbook, Weezy’s new track “It’s Good” features this bar directed towards Jay-Z: “Talkin? ?bout baby money, I got your baby money/Kidnap your b****, Get that ?how much you love your lady?” This is apparently in retaliation to a verse that Jay sung on “H.A.M.” that dissed Young Money. First Game disses Jay, now Wayne? Sh*t’s about to get real, son! [Blackbook]

JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT PAYS HOMAGE TO KURT COBAIN
The 20th anniversary of Nevermind is just around the corner, so Nirvana-mania is clearly in bloom (drum roll). At a concert in Seattle last night, the Inception star played a cover of “Lithium,” which he punctuated with this off-the-cuff dedication: “You know it seems like everytime people bring up Nirvana, people wanna talk about how Kurt Cobain killed himself. But I gotta say, it doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t matter that he’s dead, it doesn’t matter how he died, his songs are f***ing awesome, that’s what matters.” [Everybody Loves Our Town]

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by (@Lacezilla)

Unsubstantiated Rumor Alert: Did Rihanna and J. Cole Make A Sex Tape Together?

Remember when Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty was an innocent girl standing underneath an umbrella, before she was hollering at a “Rude Boy” to join her in some “S&M” on her “California King Bed”? Yeah, our memories of those days are getting fuzzier, too, especially if the rumors of a new Rihanna/J. Cole sex tape are true!

“We have seen it and we do not know what we are going to do with it yet,” said a rep from the Hustler empire told Radar Online. Odd J. Cole didn’t mention it when he played us his album last week, but the 26-year-old protege of Jay-Z will certainly benefit from this tabloid circus since Cole World: The Sideline Story drops next month.

Rihanna is, unfortunately, no stranger to scandal, accustomed to fending off rumors of secretly dating mentor Jay-Z and canoodling with Drake, not to mention having to endure the embarrassment caused when naked photos she sent to then-boyfriend Chris Brown were leaked. Like many stars in the public eye, the Barbadian pop star wears a target on her back for this kind of negative attention, and her music, as we jokingly alluded to in the beginning of this post, might make it easier to assume that the sex tape exists. But in all fairness, just because her songs can be boldly sexual in nature doesn’t mean we should jump to conclusions, even when taking into account that the Roc Nation-managed artists have toured together and are known to be friendly. Developing!

Hustler Insist They Have a Rihanna and J-Cole Sex Tape [Radar]

by (@Lacezilla)

85-Year-Old Tony Bennett To Intro Amy Winehouse VMA Tribute

The 2011 VMAs are airing live from Los Angeles on Sunday night, and the latest addition to the evening’s already-stellar lineup is Tony Bennett. The 85 year-old (!) will captain what’s sure to be an emotional tribute to recently-deceased singer Amy Winehouse. Introducing a slew of performers who are currently being kept confidential by the folks in MTV’s ivory tower, we’re excited to see that Bennett, who had recently collaborated with Winehouse on a duet due this fall, “Body and Soul,” will make an appearance on the notoriously youthful VMA stage. While the majority of the MTV audience’s demographic was not yet even a twinkle in their parents’ eyes when Bennett took home his first Grammy in 1963, this certainly isn’t the first time an elder statesman has been booked on MTV’s annual celebration of the year’s best music videos. Want to see what we mean? Check out our list of the Top 5 Oldest People To Appear On-Camera at The VMAS!

5) George Clinton, 52 Years-Old (1993): George Clinton presented the Best R&B Video award alongside West Coasters Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre in ’93. Then 52 years-old, the funk innovator and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee must have been pretty psyched to hand Moonmen over to the lovely ladies of En Vogue. And the Funky Divas were most likely equally as pleased!

4) Lou Reed, 54 Years-Old (1996): Making a cameo with house band(leader) Jack White of Raconteurs, Lou Reed of The Velvet Underground was well into his fifth decade at the ’96 Video Music Awards. Hosted by Dennis Leary, big winners that night included Coolio, Alanis Morrisette, and Smashing Pumpkins.

3) Diana Ross, 55 Years-Old (1999): Who could forget the jiggle heard ’round the world? When Mary J. Blige accompanied Lil’ Kim, Lil’ Kim’s breast, and Motown sensation Diana Ross to present the award for Best Hip-Hop in ’99, all hell broke loose! The then-55-year-old Rosstook it upon herself to, on live television, cup and jiggle Kim’s pasty-covered, partially-exposed boobie.

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Adele’s Vice When She’s On The Road? Basketball Wives, Of Course

It’s not like we needed another reason to love Adele, but she gave us one anyway. During a recent show in Las Vegas, Adele revealed that her post-show routine involves watching Basketball Wives in her hotel room. We can totally get on board with that!

While bantering during a show at The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan in Vegas, the singer told her fans “My band was out all night getting drunk, while I stayed in my room like a true rock star and watched Basketball Wives.” And for good reason — it was hard to pull away from that season three reunion, wasn’t it? We wonder if she plans to tune into Basketball Wives LA, too?

Adele Turns To Basketball Wives In Lieu Of Rock-Star Partying [LA Times Blog]

[Photos: Getty Images/VH1]

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Going Digital: 31 Years Of Format Changes In The Music Industry

Somehow we missed this chart when Digital Music News posted it last week, but luckily Fast Company‘s Co.Design blog noticed, and shared it today. As Co.Design’s Cliff Kuang put it, “It doesn’t happen too often, but once in a blue moon a hideous chart contains such a novel conceit that we have to post it.”

So what are we looking at? Not “the music industry’s death,” as the Co.Design headline proclaims. In fact, this animation contains no information about total sales. Digital Music News simply took screenshots of the pie charts with which the Recording Industry Association of America represents its data (see this slide). This explains why the size of the pie fluctuates despite no corresponding data point (and why the occasional data point is out of frame).

Despite these interpretation-hindrances, we are sort of fascinated by the way in which the chart models the formats through which consumers purchase music: the cassette’s rise to plurality (and, briefly, slight majority) and very slow recession from market share; the CD’s complete domination (95.5% of the market share in 2002!) and swift downfall; the intransigence of the LP in the last twenty years; the rise not only of digital downloads, but also of other ways of monetizing music in the digital age (such as subscription services, which may get a bump in 2011 thanks to the launch of Spotify and other developments); and the comparative popularity of the paid single download vs. any physical single format (from 1980 onwards, physical singles commanded less than 8% of the market, but in the six years that digital downloads have been widely available for sale, they have grown to command 20% of the market). All that, and a somewhat effective use of a pie chart!
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by (@Lacezilla)

The Muppets Recruit OK Go For Wacky “Theme Song” Video

By now, OK Go’s creative video aptitude has likely made its way to your world in one way or another. Be it through your TV screen via their 2006 VMA reinactment of the attention-grabbing treadmill dance from “Here It Goes Again,” or more recently, through your inbox via either of the one-shot versions of “This Too Shall Pass,” pooch-friendly “White Knuckles,”or kaleidoscope-esque “All Is Not Lost,” it’s becoming clear that the visuals they cook up seem to continuously out-do the last. So naturally, when we got word that they’d be collaborating with The Muppets, we didn’t know what kind of madness to expect.

Muppets: The Green Album hit stores today, and besides OK Go, also features artists like Weezer, The Fray and My Morning Jacket, all covering Muppet classics that we know and love. Batting first, OK Go kick-off the album with the “Muppet Show Theme Song” and synchronized with the album’s release, liberated a video for the lively collaboration earlier today. Piggy-backing on throwback visuals from the band’s previous viral hits, the colorful clip shows some (adorable) intermingling with the entire cast of characters, and reeks of childhood-awakening, make-you-smile potential. Go ahead: press play and don’t act like you forgot about the most sen-sational, in-spir-ational, celeb-rational, Muppet-ational show that life has to offer.

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by (@unclegrambo)

Quakin’ – Songs To Help You Cope With Today’s Eastern Seaboard Earthquake

If you were anywhere on the Eastern seaboard in the last hour or so, you no doubt felt the effect of an earthquake that registered 5.9 on the Richter Scale. Here in Times Square at VH1 HQ, we felt the building sway and bounce uncomfortably for a good five or six seconds. Everyone seems to be okay, if a bit freaked out.

In order to help you (and us!) calm down on this hectic afternoon, we just created the following playlist of earthquake-themed songs for all you Spotify users out there:
Quakin’ – Songs To Help You Cope With The 2011 New York City Earthquake

(If you’re not on Spotify, this room on Turntable.fm also just cropped up: Earthquake 2K11.)

Full playlist for you after the jump:

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Tuned In: Joe Jonas Rocks The Ed Sullivan Theatre For “Live On Letterman”

The late-night music showcases have gone relatively quiet, with most of the shows in reruns for the back half of August. In fact, only The Late Show with David Letterman is new this week, which might be why they chose this week to reprise their Drum Solo week. (Last’s night’s solo was courtesy Tony Royster Jr., who’s played with the likes of En Vogue and Jay-Z.) Yesterday Letterman sweetened the pot, though, with a 30-minute Joe Jonas concert broadcast live from the Ed Sullivan Theatre at 9pm ET?and luckily for fans of both dance-pop and La La’s Full Court Life, which aired on VH1 at the same time, the whole set?including new songs “I’m Sorry” and “Kleptomaniac”?is streaming, above and at the “Live on Letterman” website. If his fanbase at large is anywhere near as enthusiastic as the mostly female crowd (who knew all the words to “When You Look Me In the Eyes” and single “See No More”), Jonas’s solo outing could have some real legs, and given the strength of some of the songs, that success won’t be undeserved.

Set list:

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Legendary R&B Songwriter Nickolas Ashford Dies at 70

We’d only just begun to mourn the loss of songwriter Jerry Leiber when we got word that Nickolas Ashford, half of the songwriting and performing duo Ashford & Simpson, had also passed away at 70 after a battle with throat cancer. If Leiber and Stoller soundtracked the R&B of the pre-Beatles era, Ashford & Simpson were, alongside Holland/Dozier/Holland, their spiritual successors. Nick Ashford had a hand in writing “You’re All I Need To Get By” and many more Motown hits, not just for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell but also a slew of other artists, notably Diana Ross. With Ashford & Simpson producing, Ross scored a number of solo hits with both older Ashford & Simpson compositions like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and new ones like “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand).”

Even as they wrote and produced hit after hit for Motown, they notoriously butted heads with its founder, Berry Gordy, insisting on retaining the rights to their compositions and productions. Their often-bitter struggle paved the way for songwriters of all stripes to protect their intellectual property.

All of this is not to mention the duo’s illustrious career as a performing duo, scoring R&B hits throughout the 1970s and 1980s, crossing over to the pop charts most successfully with “Solid” in 1984. They have continued to perform and record together. Above, watch the duo perform “Gimme Something Real” in New York City in 2006.
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Last Lap: Monday’s Odds And Ends In Music News

Rest In Peace, Jerry Leiber
Jerry Leiber, one half of the songwriting team Leiber and Stoller, passed away today of heart failure. He was 78. With Mike Stoller, he wrote six top ten hits for the Coasters, three top tens for the Drifters, three #1 and four other top 20 Elvis Presley singles, and “Stand By Me”; we could go on for some time about the duo’s indispensable contributions to pre-Beatles rock and R&B, their other Billboard chart appearances (the total is over 100, for the record), their production credits (e.g. Stealers Wheel‘s “Stuck In The Middle With You”), their jukebox musical (Smokey Joe’s Cafe), their American Idol theme episode this season, and more, but sadly we can’t offer the tribute Leiber deserves. For more, check out Michaelangelo Matos‘s brisk, informative, and YouTube-embed-packed eulogy at Sound of the City, or seek out the second episode of the 1995 PBS documentary Rock & Roll.

My Morning Jacket Help Neko Case Cover Stevie Nicks
At a tornado relief benefit show in Tuscaloosa on Friday night, Neko Case, backed by My Morning Jacket, took on Stevie Nicks‘s “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” (with MMJ frontman Jim James providing the Tom Petty vocals). Hear it at TwentyFourBit.com. [via Spin]
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