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Pre-GRAMMY Gala and GRAMMY Salute to Industry Icons Honoring Sean “Diddy” Combs

“I’m being honored by the industry that I love, the family that I love, but there’s an elephant in the room and it’s not just about the Grammys,” Combs said well into a lengthy speech at the end of the party. “There’s discrimination and injustice everywhere.”

“Truth be told, hip-hop has never been respected by the Grammys,” he continued. “Black music has never been respected by the Grammys to the point that it should be.” He said the current situation isn’t a revelation, nor is it an issue just in music.

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Sean “Diddy” Combs, winner of the Industry Icon award at the Clive Davis pre-Grammy Gala, challenged the industry to get its act together in the next year when it comes to diversity.

“I’m being honored by the industry that I love, the family that I love, but there’s an elephant in the room and it’s not just about the Grammys,” Combs said well into a lengthy speech at the end of the party. “There’s discrimination and injustice everywhere.”

“Truth be told, hip-hop has never been respected by the Grammys,” he continued. “Black music has never been respected by the Grammys to the point that it should be.” He said the current situation isn’t a revelation, nor is it an issue just in music.

“For years we’ve allowed institutions that have never had our best interests at heart to judge us and that stops right now,” he said to thunderous applause.

He continued: “We need the artists to take back the control. We need transparency. We need diversity. This is the room that has the power to make the change that needs to be made. They have to make the changes for us.”

Combs clarified he’s not intending to simply bash the Recording Academy – but that he’s here to help make a difference and a positive outcome.

He dedicated his award to Michael Jackson for “Off the Wall,” Prince for “1999,” Beyoncé for “Lemonade,” Missy Elliott for “Da Real World,” Snoop Dogg for “Doggystyle,” Kanye West for “Gradation” and Nas for “Illmatic.”

During his speech, Diddy also thanked a swath of people, including Jay-Z and Beyoncé (he calls her “King Beyoncé”), Swiss Beatz, Nas and Quincy Jones.

Combs’ remarks about the Grammys come on the heels of other drama facing the Academy: Ousted Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan recently said she has “evidence” that the Grammy Awards process is “ripe with corruption.”

With only days until the award show, Dugan filed an explosive discrimination complaint against the academy Tuesday alleging unlawful gender discrimination, sexual harassment, unlawful retaliation and unequal pay.

The Recording Academy stated Dugan’s allegations about the voting processes are “utterly untrue,” adding the academy has “rigorous and well-publicized” protocols for ensuring fair voting.

Diddy also took time to acknowledge his family and his former girlfriend, actress and model Kim Porter, who died in November 2018 of pneumonia. “I met Kim Porter ’cause Kim was the receptionist at Uptown. So that’s how far back we go,” Diddy said.

Diddy has regularly opened up about her sudden death.

Just this week, he posted a picture of Porter on Instagram with a powerful caption. “If you got a good woman please let her know,” the caption reads. “Tell her as soon as you can. Make sure she knows.”

While Combs’ speech took a (necessarily) serious turn, the night wasn’t without its stunning musical moments. For example: Cyndi Lauper, barefoot, dueted with Brandi Carlisle on “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,”; Broadway star Adrienne Warren’s “Simply the Best,” was just that, as was Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo’s homage to (in the audience!) Janet Jackson; and Faith Evans, Li’l Kim and Combs’ son Christian “King” Combs helped pay tribute to Diddy himself.

Davis – a man with a penchant for giving shout-outs to those who attend his annual event – called out returning guest Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Cardi B and Offset and Lana Del Ray, among (many, many) others.

As for other celebrity sightings: Among the crowd, Avril Lavigne and Paula Abdul chatted and embraced, Trevor Noah and Billy Porter posed for a photo and Broadway’s Darren Criss and Warren hugged. On the red carpet before the show, Jessie J and Channing Tatum held hands.

Buzzy Grammy nominees not in attendance included Lizzo, Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X (though his “Old Town Road” duet partner Billy Ray Cyrus was there).

Contributing: Maria Puente, Andrea Mandell and Sara Moniuszko, USA TODAY; Associated Press

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Celebs

Kanye West Now Worth Estimated $6.6B Thanks to Lucrative Gap, Adidas Deals

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Kanye West is now worth a staggering $6.6 billion, as revealed in a new Bloomberg report and confirmed by a rep to Billboard.

According to a private document obtained by the outlet, Yeezy – West’s sneaker and apparel business with both Adidas and Gap – has been valued at between $3.2 billion to $4.7 billion by the Swiss investment bank UBS Group. As much as $970 million of that total is tied to West’s new clothing line for Gap (under the Yeezy Gap label) that the retailer has slated for release by July, part of a 10-year agreement the parties signed in June of last year.

The document further reveals that Gap, an ailing brand whose partnership with West represents a play for younger consumers, expects its Yeezy line to break $150 million in sales in its first full year in 2022 and envisions it surpassing a billion dollars in revenue within eight years, or even as soon as 2023 on the upside. West stands to profit handsomely in any event, as he retains sole ownership and creative control of the Yeezy brand and earns royalties on sales under the deal, with the rate increasing as the business grows. He’ll also receive stock warrants when the collection hits sales targets, with the highest set at $700 million, according to a securities filing.

West’s longstanding deal with Adidas has been the most lucrative part of his business endeavors to date, with Yeezy sneakers continuing to fly off of shelves; according to the documents, the brand grew 31% to nearly $1.7 billion in annual revenue last year, netting Yeezy royalties of $191 million. West has been in business with the company since 2013, with their current deal running through 2026.

An unaudited balance sheet of West’s finances, provided to Bloomberg by his lawyer, shows an additional $122 million in cash and stock and more than $1.7 billion in other assets, including an investment in his wife Kim Kardashian’s underwear label Skims (Kardashian filed for divorce in February).

West’s music catalog is worth another $110.5 million, according to a 2020 valuation by Valentiam Group cited by Bloomberg.

The numbers revealed today represent a decidedly sharp turnaround for West, who in 2016 claimed to be $53 million in debt; at the time, he also took to Twitter to implore Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to invest $1 billion in his work. That was before West himself was named a billionaire by Forbes, which estimated his net worth at $1.3 billion in April 2020.

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Celebs

The Weeknd Still Pissed Over Grammy Snub

“I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.”

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The Grammys are coming this weekend, and it looks like it’s still bothering The Weeknd.

If you recall, The Weeknd was this years’ biggest snubbed artist. His song Blinding Lights has broken many records, such as longest Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 run. The songs success and album success also landed him the Super Bowl half time show last month.

From the Grammy Committee stand point…..they weren’t “wrong” in what happened. Although it was one of the biggest songs of the year, it was a tough field. Lets start off with the facts. Fact is, they tried to initially submit the song in the R&B genre, which would have given him a bigger chance of winning because R&B acts lately haven’t been as big as him. The committee rerouted him to the POP category, because the song is a POP song. In those categories, he is up against POP Stars like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Dua Lipa, and new comer Doja Cat. They all had pretty big years, and in the POP world, The Weeknd isn’t really the biggest guy out there.

Moving on. A lot of Blinding Lights’ chart success was due to multiple factors, one being a pandemic and another being that he had a lot of radio play. While streams and sales were solid, they weren’t enough to keep him in the Top 10. I looked at a random week in July 2020 and he wasn’t even in Spotify’s Top 10.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, The Weeknd stated he would boycott the awards from now on. “Because of the secret committees,” the Weeknd said, “I will no longer allow my label to submit my music to the Grammys.

Some would see this statement as him standing up to a long standing, flawed system. For me, he is throwing a temper tantrum. He’s in the music industry to express his creativity and bring his art to life. The awards and accolades are merely bonus. To have this much attitude over a predominately white award show is an example of him feeling as if he was entitled to the awards. Crazy thing about it, he didn’t mention his displeasure for also being snubbed at the NAACP Image Awards.

At the end of the day, you win some, you lose some…but you live to fight another day.

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Movies

Is DaBaby having a “Yellowbone” baby?

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The folks are talking and its leaning towards “Yes”. “Yellowbone” singer, DaniLeigh, was spotted out and about sporting a baby bumb over the weekend.

Now the two had a very social media present relationship, that seemed to have ended not too long ago. The fact that she just popped out with this baby bump afterwards is a little….different. All that attention she was seeking on social media, and to not give a proper announcement is a little off brand. But it’s whatever. Congrats to the couple, praying for a healthy baby.

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