Daily Archives: May 1, 2017

Fyre Festival Organizers Sued in $100 Million Fraud, Breach of Contract Suit

One of the survivors of the disastrous Fyre Festival in the Bahamas has filed a $100 million class action lawsuit against co-founders Billy McFarland and Ja Rule (real name Jeffrey Atkins), accusing the duo of subjecting festivalgoers to “dangerous conditions” at a luxury festival that organizers allegedly knew was doomed.

In a legal complaint obtained by Rolling Stone, the suit claims that “this outrageous failure to prepare, coupled with Defendants’ deliberate falsehoods in promoting the island ‘experience,’ demonstrates that the Fyre Festival was nothing more than a get-rich-quick scam from the very beginning.”

“Defendants intended to fleece attendees for hundreds of millions of dollars by inducing them to fly to a remote island without food, shelter or water — and without regard to what might happen to them after that,” the suit adds.

In the lawsuit, filed by lawyer Mark Geragos on behalf of attendee Daniel Jung, the many shortcomings of the festival are mapped out via eyewitness reports and social media postings, providing a tableaux of just how poorly conceived and planned the festival was.

“The festival’s lack of adequate food, water, shelter, and medical care created a dangerous and panicked situation among attendees — suddenly finding themselves stranded on a remote island without basic provisions — that was closer to The Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies than Coachella,” the lawsuit states.

“Festival-goers survived on bare rations, little more than bread and a slice of cheese, and tried to escape the elements in the only shelter provided by Defendants: small clusters of ‘FEMA tents,’ exposed on a sand bar, that were soaked and battered by wind and rain.”

“We have been deluged with calls from people with horror stories,” Geragos tells Rolling Stone. “We will be expanding the scope of our case dramatically and we are pursuing other remedies as well.”

The lawsuit alleges fraud and breach of contract against the organizers, levying claims that McFarland and Atkins knowingly lied about the festival’s promised location – it was not an island privately owned by Pablo Escobar as promised, but rather a gravelly site near a Sandals in the Bahamas strewn with garbage.

Because the festival was “cashless” – organizers recommended attendees deposit funds into the Fyre wristband – many attendees did not have the necessary money to ensure transportation back to the Bahamas airport as the festival collapsed Friday.

The lawsuit also alleges that McFarland and Ja Rule knew that the festival was troubled but proceeded anyway, putting festivalgoers in danger.

“Shockingly, Defendants had been aware for months that their festival was dangerously under-equipped and posed a serious danger to anyone in attendance,” the lawsuit added.

“More troublingly, Mr. McFarland and Mr. Atkins began personally reaching out to performers and celebrities in advance of the festival and warned them not to attend — acknowledging the fact that the festival was outrageously underequipped and potentially dangerous for anyone in attendance.”

“We are in the process of helping all Fyre Festival guests apply for refunds,” a member of the festival’s management team tells Rolling Stone. “All guests who purchased tickets have been sent the appropriate form to start the refund procedure. The Fyre Festival is a dream and vision that we regrettably did not see come to life how we’d imagined in 2017, but our main priority now is rectifying the situation and helping all affected guests.

“Once the refund application process is complete, we will start sharing news on plans for Fyre Festival 2018,” he adds. “Currently 81% of guests who have filled out the refund application have said they would like to attend Fyre Festival 2018. We are so thankful for their support and excitement as we strive to make this right.”

Speaking to Rolling Stone, McFarland acknowledged that the first-time festival organizers were “a little naive” and quickly became overwhelmed under the circumstances, but added that the Fyre Festival would return in 2018 at a stateside venue.

“We were overwhelmed and just didn’t have the foresight to solve all these problems,” McFarland said. “We thought we were making timeframes that were correct. We were a little naïve in thinking for the first time we could do this ourselves. Next year, we will definitely start earlier. The reality is, we weren’t experienced enough to keep up.”

“I’m heartbroken at this moment,” Ja Rule told Rolling Stone last week. “My partners and I wanted this to be an amazing event, it was NOT A SCAM as everyone is reporting. I don’t know how everything went so left but I’m working to make it right by making sure everyone is refunded … I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT … but I’m taking responsibility. I’m deeply sorry to everyone who was inconvenienced by this.”

Fyre Festival Lawsuit by mendle44 on Scribd

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The Last Word: Sheryl Crow on Keith Richards, Motherhood, Trump Fears

Sheryl Crow still lives in Nashville, but she’s way over her flirtation with that town’s reigning genre, which lasted for all of one album. The process of promoting 2013’s Feels Like Home – which she refers to as her “mega-country” record – soured her on the country biz, and led her back to her actual musical home: the rootsy, tuneful crunch of her early albums. For the just-released Be Myself, she re-enlisted longtime co-writer Jeff Trott and mixer/engineer Tchad Blake, and got herself back into her Nineties mindset: “We’re gonna make something we love, and then whatever happens with it, happens with it.” In a Last Word interview, Crow shared some wisdom on fear in the age of Trump, the lessons of bar bands and more.

You’ve had health crises over the years, including breast cancer and a benign brain tumor. How have those affected the way you see day-to-day life?
I don’t think about it anymore. I don’t think about whether my cancer’s coming back or if my brain tumor’s growing or anything like that. I’m busy with my kids – my objective is to be here as long as I can for them and to enjoy every second of it. But I would say that my life was really changed when I got diagnosed. It gave me the freedom to just say, “Hey, let’s get on with life. If you wanna have kids, either adopt or go have one, get some sperm, whatever.” I also learned how to let myself off the hook, and it really made my life a lot better. I like to blame my lack of memories on having a brain tumor, but unfortunately I can’t, ’cause it doesn’t have any side effects [laughs].

How has having kids changed you?
Everything revolves around what’s good for them. I quit touring [temporarily] a couple of years ago. My nine-year-old cried. He was like, “We’re not going on the tour bus?” But the main thing really is that my work, my so-called inspiration, has been relegated to school hours. I made a record I love between school drop-off and dinnertime. Not many rock stars can say that.

In “Heartbeat Away,” on your new album, a president launches nukes. Do you have apocalyptic fears?
My sleep has been disturbed. My insides are ridden with unease. I wrote that song before Trump got the nomination – it already felt apocalyptic that people were entertaining the idea of making a man like that the most powerful person in the world. I had to go into deep meditation and find a way to have compassion for the people of this country that are hurting and believe he cares about them. I’m worried, but my meditation teacher said something fascinating. Her phrase was, “This is the way forward.”

You have a pretty serious meditation practice – what does that do for you?
I meditate 20 to 25 minutes in the morning, then 20 minutes in between tucking the boys in and going to bed. It’s compassion-based – the idea is to live life from an extremely compassionate place and be mindful.

Who are your heroes?
Gandhi, and then after that I would say Keith Richards. George Harrison, for a number of reasons. Stevie Nicks. Bob Dylan.

You don’t often hear Gandhi and Keith in the same breath.
For a curious human being who is always looking to navigate life with passion, you know, Gandhi’s it. For someone who’s also curious and who is so playful about music and loves the people that he has loved, that’s Keith. I mean, I’m pretty sure that Keith had a nice, long cry the other day when Chuck Berry died. And that’s what I love about my work – it’s work – but it’s a life force, and that’s what I look at with him.

“I didn’t want to be great. I wanted to be important.”

You recorded and never released a debut before Tuesday Night Music Club. How do you see that album now?
It just wound up being a really soft-rock-sounding record. And I am never soft rock. And I just felt like, if I turn this in and this is my introduction, I did not stand a chance. You always have one introduction. You get one first impression.

Did learning cover songs in bar bands as you were coming up inform your songwriting?
I tell every kid, get in a cover band. It teaches you chops, it literally teaches you why some songs are classics, and it teaches you how to navigate a working band. With songwriting, there’s something to that idea of stealing from the best. You’re only as good as your references. And I pride myself on my references. I have tried to emulate the greatest rock stars and songwriters in the world. I try not to steal verbatim, but if they’ve influenced my work at all, I take a sense of pride in that.

The classic-rockers embraced you right away. Was there any downside to that?
There’s absolutely no downside to that. My idea for music was that I didn’t want to be great. I wanted to be important. I wanted to write important music, and so, when you start having a music career and you’re certainly not one of the cool kids, but you’re embraced by the older class – I was just like, “Wow, I can’t believe these people know me.” As hokey as it might sound, I still feel really humbled by that.

Finally, if it makes you happy, can it be that bad?
As great a hook as that might be, that is a conundrum.My struggle in life is accepting the idea of choosing to be happy. Happiness isnot something where you wake up that way. You decide you’re gonna be happy. Andit took me a long time to figure that out. I definitely consciously do it withmy children, because they define themselves by your mood and how it relates tothem. As a parent and as a person, life can be so happy, but you have to decidethat that’s the life you’re gonna lead.

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Eminem's 'Lose Yourself' Lawsuit With New Zealand Political Party Begins

Nearly three years after Eminem sued a New Zealand political party for unauthorized use of the rapper’s “Lose Yourself” in a campaign ad, the trial over the lawsuit began Monday.

The 2014 ad for National Party candidate Steven Joyce used an unlicensed instrumental rendition of Eminem’s 8 Mile hit without permission; the music in the commercial even had the copyright-baiting title “Eminem-esque.”

According to the New Zealand Herald, in National Party emails revealed during the trial, one party member wrote, “I guess the question we’re asking, if everyone thinks it’s Eminem, and it’s listed as ‘Eminem-esque,’ how can we be confident that Eminem doesn’t say we’re ripping him off?”

When Eminem’s publishers found out about the ad – “[Eminem-esque] was found quickly because the track has ‘Eminem’ in the title,” the rapper’s lawyer Gary Williams told the court – they promptly filed a copyright infringement lawsuit, resulting in today’s proceedings.

“The song ‘Lose Yourself,’ is without doubt the jewel in the crown of Eminem’s musical work. Not only did the song win an Academy Award for Best Original Song in a movie, it also won two Grammy Awards,” Williams said in his opening remarks.

“In short, ‘Lose Yourself’ is an extremely valuable song. The licensing of the song has been extremely carefully controlled. Despite many requests, it has only rarely been licensed for advertising purposes. When licensed, it can command in the millions of dollars. That’s how valuable it is.”

Eminem spokesman Joel Martin told the Associated Press outside the courthouse that the rapper’s publishers were surprised the National Party didn’t settle the case before it went to trial, as is typically customary when politicians face legal action for using artists’ work without permission.

“The bottom line is we would never have permitted the use of the song in any political advertisement,” Martin said, adding that the National Party’s conservative platform had nothing to do with the lawsuit. “We are Americans and we don’t know about politics in New Zealand.”

The “Lose Yourself” trial is expected to last one week.

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Kendrick Lamar's 'Damn.': Inside the Making of the Number One LP

When it came to a new Kendrick Lamar track called “Lust,” producer DJ Dahi thought work had been wrapped. After all, he’d heard an early incarnation built around BadBadNotGood, the Canadian jazz-fusion band, and then watched as the track went through change after change over two months. “It’s a little unorthodox in the way it flows and changes,” says Dahi (a.k.a. Dacoury Natche), the L.A. producer whose work was showcased on Lamar’s “Money Trees” in 2012. “When you first hear it, you don’t know why it’s this or that, but it’s really musical. That was the standard – to have the other records have a taste of that.”

But when Lamar’s Damn. dropped on April 14th, Dahi finally heard the finished take – and was surprised again. “I hadn’t even heard the third verse,” he says. “And I was in there almost every day. With Kendrick, nothing is done until it’s done. He waits until the last minute when the album has to be turned in.”

Based on conversations with some of the many contributors to Damn., Dahi’s story isn’t the exception. One of the year’s most lauded and analyzed albums – currently sitting atop the Billboard chart for the second week in a row – with a range of musical, political and emotional textures that will leave fans peeling back its layers for months to come, Damn. features a huge cast: guest artists Bono, Rihanna, James Blake, Kid Capri and bassist Thundercat, along with a wide-ranging list of co-producers (from Lamar regulars like Sounwave and Dahi to Greg Kurstin, best known for Adele’s “Hello”). Given all those contributors, not to mention the pressure of following up 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly, Damn. was constantly morphing and changing. As Dahi says, “If you missed a day, you missed a whole new idea.”

Inspiration arrived from many sources. During a trip to New York last August, Lamar and some of his creative posse spent a day listening almost exclusively to Frank Ocean’s Blonde, which had just dropped on iTunes. A jam session led by Sounwave and Dahi followed, eventually resulting in the slinky “Yah.” Lamar and Bono had been talking about collaborating in one form or another for a while, but finally Bono sent in a slew of song ideas and vocals that Lamar and some of his producers picked apart until they found just the right moments, then built a track around it.

Lamar, his label A&R man and some of the producers would regularly trade intensive texts about revising songs, especially if they played one for friends or tastemakers who weren’t feeling it. Some cuts, like “Pride,” were in the works for over a year. “Element” went through as many as 25 different versions. “It was one of the most important songs on the album,” says Dahi. “It was a statement of his place in the game.” Typical for this project, Blake’s piano part on that song arrived late in the process, subtly altering the song’s tone.

Even the contributors didn’t always know if or what they would be contributing. Take R&B singer-songwriter Zacari Pacaldo, known simply as Zacari, who was invited to play some of his own upcoming album for Lamar. Last fall, Zacari visited the home-base studio in Santa Monica where Lamar was working and found Lamar recording vocals on a couch, microphones at the ready. “It was really comfortable,” Zacari says. “You never got a ‘not welcoming’ vibe from his camp.”

As a way to exchange ideas, Lamar played Zacari “DNA” along with a few tracks that didn’t make Damn. “I thought, ‘Oh, my God, he’s going crazy,'” revels Zacari. “He would record the beat and then redo the whole beat multiple times.” (Like others, Zacari declines comment on whether he had to sign a non-disclosure agreement while visiting the studio.)

“I went in there not knowing what would happen,” Zacari says. “I knew I wanted to play him some of my music and hear what he thought.” During one track, Lamar quieted down, listened intently, and said, “Yo, send me that.”

The track was “Love,” inspired by a turbulent relationship in Zacari’s life. Returning to the studio later, just weeks before Damn. dropped, Lamar played Zacari a surprise: the new incarnation of “Love,” with Zacari’s beats and hook supplemented by added Lamar production and his own singing and rhyming replacing Zacari’s parts in the verses. “He filled in the spaces perfectly,” Zacari says. “He sang over the hook, so it’s almost a call-and-response between us. It was an unusual process for sure, but I love what he did with it.” As for why Lamar chose that track, Zacari can only guess. “He’s really in love [Lamar is engaged to Whitney Alford], so it could be nothing more than that.”

“It was really comfortable. You never got a ‘not welcoming’ vibe from his camp.” –Zacari

That newly emotional side of Lamar also came through when he reached out to Anna Wise, the Brooklyn-based pop artist featured on two earlier Lamar cuts, “These Walls” and “Real.” Wise recently released two enchanting records, The Feminine: Act I and The Feminine: Act II, but her contribution to “Pride” on Damn. emerged when she and producer Stave Lacy laid down a vocal part – “Maybe I wasn’t there, maybe I wasn’t there” – that Lacy then played for Lamar. “He reached out super-excited about it and wanted to understand my point of view in the lyric,” Wise says.

As with DJ Dahi, Wise didn’t experience the final results of her input until Damn. was made public and she finally heard “Pride.” “It’s going to sound corny, but I started crying,” she says. “He’s singing my harmonies. I’m proud of him sounding so damn beautiful on that track, hearing him be so emotional.” Wise thinks it isn’t accidental that Lamar opened up more on his album: “The songs are upfront and more accessible. He must have known, somewhere in his brain that it was the right idea to go a little less out [there] on this record.”

Although Damn. is less than three weeks old, the work for Lamar continues. Dahi says he and Lamar were in touch again after Lamar appeared at a certain brand-name festival. “We got on text and I said, ‘Great show at Coachella,'” Dahi says, “and he wrote back, ‘What’s next?'” 

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