While defense attorneys argued that lyrics are forms of protected free speech and should be excluded from the upcoming trial, Atlanta prosecutors told the judge they were admissions of gang activity.
Judge rules rap lyrics as evidence in Young Thug’s racketeering trial
ATLANTA (CN) — Rap lyrics can be used as evidence by prosecutors in the upcoming racketeering trial against award winning hip-hop artist Young Thug and others, a judge ruled Nov. 9.
During an hours-long hearing on Wednesday, prosecutors argued that the lyrics were "admissions" of criminal activity committed by members of what they claim to be an Atlanta street gang called "Young Slime Life."
“The question is not rap lyrics. The question is gang lyrics,” said prosecutor Mike Carlson. “These are party admissions. They happen to come in the form of lyrics.”
Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, has been accused of being the co-founder and leader of YSL, although the artist claims that the acronym only applies to his record label, "Young Stoner Life."
The 32-year-old Grammy winning rapper has been in jail since May 2022 after being one of 28 people charged in the sweeping gang and racketeering indictment.
Prosecutors contend that certain lyrics and music video scenes glorified YSL’s alleged criminal activities, including fatal shootings of at least three rival gang members, selling drugs and violence against police.
Defense attorneys fought to have the lyrics excluded from evidence, arguing that the rap verses were protected forms of creative expression and subject to interpretation by the listener.
“Rap is the only fictional art form treated this way,” Doug Weinstein told the judge. The attorney represents defendant Demontre Kendrick, who performs under the stage name Yak Gotti. “No other musical genre, no other art is treated the same way.”
Weinstein said that the stage name his client uses represents a character he portrays on screen and in performances and argued that the lyrics such as "bodies on bodies" can have multiple meanings and interpretations.
"If you let it in, there is a high risk that the jury will misinterpret that," Weinstein said.
The attorney gave several examples of music artists from other genres, including Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, that never had their lyrics used against them in court.
But prosecutors argued that is because those artists were never charged with committing crimes expressed in their lyrics.
“We are aware that the Johnny Cash metaphor is here but no one’s ever come up with … proof that Johnny Cash was ever accused of murdering a man in Washoe County, Nevada,” Carlson, said, referring to the 1965 hit “Folsom Prison Blues.”
“Had that happened, his lyrics would, in all likelihood, be used against him.”
Despite the use of rap lyrics as evidence in court being largely criticized by First Amendment advocates as prejudicial, Carlson argued that free speech protections do not apply because the defendants are not being prosecuted for the lyrics. Instead, he said the lyrics refer to the criminal act or intent behind the charges.
One of the songs included in the state’s evidence is Young Thug’s 2018 track “Anybody” featuring Nicki Minaj, where he sings, “I never killed anybody, but I got something to do with that body,” and later refers to himself as “a general.”
During trial, prosecutors plan to argue that in the song, Williams is admitting to being the leader of the purpor- ted gang and ordering to have people killed.
Fulton County Chief Judge Ural Glanville said there were 17 sets of lyrics that he would preliminary admit as evidence, and that additional verses may also be admitted if prosecutors can “lay the foundation” and tie them directly to the crimes.
The trial against Williams and five others is set to begin Nov. 27 after a grueling 10 monthlong jury selection process. Some defendants also charged in the case reached plea deals or were separated to be tried later.
Judge dismisses woman's suit vs. Kevin Hart over leaked sex tape
VAN NUYS (CNS)—A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a woman who
accused Kevin Hart of secretly recording them having consensual sex in 2017 and using the video for commercial reasons.
Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Shirley K. Watkins issued the order June 22 during a final status conference in plaintiff Montia Sabbag's $60 million suit against the 43-year-old comedian, which alleged negligence and invasion of privacy. Neither Sabbag nor an attorney appeared on her behalf for the proceed- ing, but two lawyers made remote appearances for Hart.
The dismissal ruling was "without prejudice," meaning the case can be refiled.
Sabbag's suit was originally brought in federal court, where it was dismissed. She then filed suit in Superior Court in April 2020 and her last amended com- plaint was brought there in August 2021. Sabbag alleged Hart knew their sexual encounter in his hotel room at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in August 2017 was being recorded and that he used the publicity it generated to promote his "Irresponsible Tour" as well as to increase his overall pop culture status.
Last August, the judge dismissed all of Sabbag's claims, including negligence and invasion of privacy, against Hart's former friend, Jonathan "JT" Jackson.
Jackson was originally charged with trying to extort money from Hart, but the criminal case was dismissed in 2021.
Sabbag alleged Hart allowed Jackson access to the comedian's hotel room and that the two men conspired to record the sexual encounter. Hart has maintained that he had no idea that there was a camera taping his encounter with Sabbag and he urged the judge to dismiss the part of the case against him at the same time she did so with Jackson.
"I did not participate in any videotaping or recording of Sabbag, either while she and I were engaged in sexual relations or
at any other time, nor do I know who did," Hart said in a sworn declaration in which he also maintained he "did not conspire with anyone to record or videotape" the plaintiff.
But in her 2022 ruling rejecting dismissal at that time, Watkins said there was a triable issue as to whether defendant Hart knew there was a camera recording, based upon Sabbag's own sworn declaration in which the plaintiff said the comedian moved or adjusted the mirror in his bedroom prior to the intimate encounter.
Watkins further wrote that Sabbag additionally said in her declaration that the sex tape appears to show that the recording device was placed in front of the bed in Hart's bedroom and that it seemed to be reflecting off the same mirror Sabbag says she saw Hart move and adjust before their intimacy.
Rock & Roll Queen Tina Turner succumbs
LOS ANGELES (CNS)—The music and entertainment world is mourning the loss of dynamic singer/dancer/ actress Tina Turner, the undisputed Queen of Rock 'n Roll who died in Switzerland at age 83 following a long
"I'm so saddened by the passing of my wonderful friend Tina Turner," Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger wrote on his Twitter page. "She was truly an enormously talented performer and singer. She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous. She helped me so much when I was young and I will never forget her."
Jagger was said to have developed his energetic stage presence by watching Turner's high-octane performances.
Gloria Gaynor called Turner an "iconic legend who paved the way many women in rock music, Black and white."
"She did with great dignity and success what very few would even have dared to do in her time and in that genre of music," Gaynor said.
Turner was a two-time inductee into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, first as part of a duo with husband Ike Turner then later as a solo artist.
"Two-time inductee Tina Turner worked hard to reimagine the role of a Black woman in rock & roll—one that was firmly placed front and center," according to a statement from The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. "During her time in the duo Ike and Tina Turner (inducted in 1991), her electric onstage presence forever raised the bar for live performance.
"Their hits 'River Deep-Mountain High' and 'Proud Mary' endure to this day. But this Queen of Rock & Roll went on to make music history again with her solo career (for which she was inducted again in 2021) and with her bravery in sharing her life story as a book, film, and Broadway musical. There was nothing her deep, robust voice couldn't do, as displayed on her solo hits like 'What's Love Got to Do with It' and 'Private Dancer.'"
Musician Bryan Adams wrote on Twitter, "I'll be forever grateful for the time we spent together on tour, in the studio and as friends. Thank you for being the inspiration to millions of people around the world for speaking your truth and giving us the gift of your voice."
Singer Ciara wrote, "Heaven has gained an angel. Rest in Paradise, Tina Turner. Thank you for the inspiration you gave us all."
Laker legend Magic Johnson posted a photo with Turner on his Twitter page, noting that she gave "one of the best live shows I've ever seen."
"Tina [had] so much energy during her performances and was a true entertainer," Johnson said. "She created the blueprint for other great entertainers like Janet Jackson and Beyoncé, and her legacy will continue on through all high-energy performing artists. Cookie and I are praying for her husband, friends and family."
Flowers will be placed on Turner's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She received the star in front of the Capitol Records building in 1986.
In addition to her singing career, Turner occasionally showed up on the big screen, most notably portraying The Acid Queen in the 1975 film version of The Who's rock musical "Tommy." She also appeared in the Beatles musical "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," played a mayor in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film "Last Action Hero," and portrayed the leader of a post-apocalyptic wasteland city in "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome."
"The world lost a legend [...]," the SAG-AFTRA union said in a statement, noting that Turner was a member of the union since 1961. "Tina Turner was a genre-defying powerhouse singer, dancer, actress and author who
rightfully earned the title of rock 'n roll queen. She broke down barriers for generations of artists to come."
Jamie Foxx remains hospitalized in stable condition
HOLLYWOOD (MNS)—Nearly a week after collapsing in an undisclosed location in Atlanta, where he was filming Netflix's Back in Action, Jamie Foxx remains hospitalized, but reportedly in stable condition.
One new report suggests the actor is undergoing various tests to determine the cause of the "medical complication," according to CNN.
"They are running tests and still trying to figure out what exactly happened," a source affiliated with the actor told the news network. The spokesperson for the actor said the medical complication didn't occur on-set or while he was filming scenes, and that He wasn't taken to the
hospital in an ambulance, but by private vehicle instead.
The exact medical scare hasn't been revealed or reported on, and Foxx's state was first revealed through a family statement shared by his daughter Corinne.
"We wanted to share that my father, Jamie Foxx, experienced a medical complication yesterday," she wrote in a statement shared on Instagram. "Luckily, due to quick action and great care, he is already on his way to recovery. We know how beloved he is and appreciate your prayers. The family asks for privacy during this time."
In addition to Back in Action, Foxx has long been attached to Todd McFarlane's long-gestating Spawn reboot.
"I know that in all my conversations with Jamie, he's never wavered on being in this movie, actually, to the opposite, he leaves me messages all the time like 'Let's get going, man, come on man. The moments here we gotta strike. Let's go,'" Spawn creator Todd McFarlane told ComicBook.com in an interview last year. "We've been talking about this being a sophisticated movie, right? I mean, I've been up on stage going, I'm gonna write, produce, direct and here it is going to be. I've been pushing that on Jamie and he's sort of in that world."
"The writers want to do something different. Let's leave it at that, they don't want to repeat (what anyone has done)," McFarlane added.
Chadwick Boseman: Virtuoso, actor, movie star, culture hero
Film star Chadwick Aaron Boseman, known most prominently for his role as the superhero Black Panther in the 2018 Marvel Cinematic Universe film, which made him an international star, was tragically taken from this life Aug. 28, 2020.
Boseman was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, which eventually progressed to stage IV before 2020. He had never spoken publicly about his cancer diagnosis. During treatment, involving multiple surgeries and chemotherapy, he continued to work and completed production for several films, including Marshall, Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, and others.
Boseman died at his home as a result of complications related to colon cancer on Aug. 28, 2020, with his wife and family by his side.
Chadwick Boseman’s early life
Boseman was born and raised in Anderson, SC to Carolyn and Leroy Boseman. His mother was a nurse and his father worked at a textile factory, managing an upholstery business as well. According to Boseman, DNA testing indicated that some of his ancestors were Krio people from Sierra Leone, Yoruba people from Nigeria and Limba people from Sierra Leone.
Boseman graduated from T. L. Hanna High School in 1995, where, in his junior year, he wrote his first play, Crossroads, and staged it at the school after a classmate was shot and killed. Boseman attended college at Howard University in Washington, D.C., graduating in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in directing. One of his instructors was Phylicia Rashad, who became a mentor. She helped raise funds, notably from her friend and prominent actor Denzel Washington, so that Boseman and some classmates could attend the Oxford Mid-Summer Program of the British American Drama Academy in London, to which they had been accepted.
Boseman wanted to write and direct, and initially began studying acting to learn how to relate to actors. Returning to the US, he went on to graduate from New York City’s Digital Film Academy.
The entertainer lived in Brooklyn at the beginning of his career and worked as the drama instructor in the Schomburg Junior Scholars Program, housed at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York. In 2008, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.
Boseman got his first television role in 2003, in an episode of Third Watch. That same year, Boseman portrayed Reggie Montgomery in the daytime soap opera All My Children, but stated that he was fired after voicing concerns to producers about racist stereotypes in the script; the role was subsequently re-cast, with Boseman’s future Black Panther co-star Michael B. Jordan assuming the role. His early work included episodes of the series Law & Order, CSI: NY, and ER. He also continued to write plays, with his script for Deep Azure performed at the Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago; it was nominated for a 2006 Joseph Jefferson Award for New Work. In 2008, he played a recurring role on the television series Lincoln Heights and appeared in his first feature film,
The Express: The Ernie Davis Story. He landed a regular role in 2010 in another television series,
Boseman had his first starring role in the 2013 film 42, in which he portrayed baseball pioneer and star Jackie Robinson. He had been directing an off-Broadway play in East Village when he auditioned for the role, and was considering giving up acting and pursuing directing full-time at the time. About 25 other actors had been seriously considered for the role, but director Brian Helgeland liked Boseman’s bravery and cast him after he had auditioned twice. Robinson's widow, Rachel Robinson commented that Boseman’s performance was like seeing Jackie again.
In 2013, Boseman also starred in the Indie film The Kill Hole, which was released in theaters a few weeks before the film 42.
In 2014, Boseman appeared opposite Kevin Costner in Draft Day, in which he played an NFL draft prospect. Later that year, he starred as James Brown in Get on Up, doing some singing and all of his own dancing. In 2016, he starred as Thoth, a deity from Egyptian mythology, in Gods of Egypt.
In 2016, he began portraying the Marvel Comics character T'Challa / Black Panther, with Captain America: Civil War being his first film in a five-picture deal with Marvel. He headlined Black Panther in 2018, which focused on the character and his home country of Wakanda in Africa. The film opened to great anticipation, becoming one of the highest-grossing films of the year in the US. He reprised the role in both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, which were released in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Both films were the highest grossing of the year they were released, with Endgame going on to become the highest-grossing film of all time. Also in 2019, he starred in 21 Bridges, an American action thriller film directed by Brian Kirk, as an NYPD detective who shuts down the eponymous 21 bridges of Manhattan to find two suspected cop killers.
In 2019, it was announced that Boseman was cast in the Netflix war drama film Da 5 Bloods, directed by Spike Lee. The film was released on June 12, 2020. Lee, in choosing Boseman for the divine like character of “Stormin” Norman said, “This character is heroic; he’s a superhero. Who do we cast? We cast Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, and we cast T’Challa.”
According to film critic Owen Gleiberman in Variety, “Boseman was a virtuoso actor who had the rare ability to create a character from the outside in and the inside out [and he] knew how to fuse with a role, etching it in three dimensions [...] That’s what made him an artist, and a movie star, too. Yet in Black Panther, he also became that rare thing, a culture hero.” Similarly, reviewer Richard Brody in The New Yorker finds the originality of Boseman's formidable acting technique in his ability to empathize with the interior lives of his characters and render them on screen as fully and completely belonging to the character. The Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw wrote of the actor’s “beauty, his grace, his style, his presence [...] These made up Chadwick Boseman’s persona [and he became] the lost prince of American cinema[,] glorious and inspirational".
Boseman began dating singer Taylor Simone Ledward in 2015. The two reportedly got engaged by October 2019, and they later married in secret, as revealed by Boseman’s family in a statement announcing his death.
Boseman was raised a Christian and was baptized. He was part of a church choir and youth group and his former pastor said that he still kept his faith. Boseman had stated that he prayed to be the Black Panther before he was cast as the titular character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In his last tweet on Aug. 12, he congratulated Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris on her nomination.
Wikipedia contributed to this report.