Monthly Archives: June 2017

Fyre Festival Head Billy McFarland Arrested for Wire Fraud

Billy McFarland, the beleaguered entrepreneur who co-organized the Fyre Festival debacle earlier this year, now faces a federal charge of wire fraud. The New York Times reports he was arrested on Friday and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, though, if convicted, the penalty would likely be less severe.

“As alleged, William McFarland promised a ‘life-changing’ music festival but in actuality delivered a disaster,” Joon Kim, the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a Department of Justice statement. “McFarland allegedly presented fake documents to induce investors to put over a million dollars into his company and the fiasco called the Fyre Festival. Thanks to the investigative efforts of the FBI, McFarland will now have to answer for his crimes.”

McFarland and his Fyre Festival partner, rapper Ja Rule (real name Jeffrey Atkins) are also defendants in more than a dozen other lawsuits, according to the paper. Some suits allege that the pair sent potential investors phony financial info with the hope of getting their money.

Atkins was not arrested on Friday, with his attorney, Stacey Richman, telling the Times that she did not “perceive him to be a subject of this investigation.”

Friday’s charges claimed that McFarland induced multiple people to invest roughly $1.2 million in his Fyre Media and another venture using trumped-up numbers in 2016 and this year. The would-be entrepreneur had claimed to have made millions from artist bookings, though the Justice Department statement claims Fyre Media had actually made less than $60,000 in that time.

The festival was originally scheduled to take place in the Bahamas this past April. Blink-182 and Major Lazer were to perform to a jet-set audience of high rollers, some of whom could have purchased luxury packages priced at $400,000. Those who made it to the island, however, discovered a disaster, including ramshackle tents and picnic food where they had been promised chichi accommodations and gourmet food options. The event was promptly canceled.

“We thought we were making timeframes that were correct,” McFarland said in an interview with Rolling Stone in April about how the fest was conceived. “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.”

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'4:44' Producer No I.D. Talks Pushing Jay-Z, Creating '500 Ideas'

No I.D. may not have been a household name before becoming the sole producer credited on Jay-Z‘s new 4:44 album. But the 46-year-old has built an extraordinary resume in hip-hop, crafting essential singles for Kanye West (“Heartless,” “Black Skinhead”), Common (“I Used to Love H.E.R.”), and Drake (“Find Your Love”), helping to launch the careers of Vince Staples and Jhené Aiko and serving as both the President of West’s G.O.O.D. Music label and Executive Vice President of A&R for Def Jam. 

Despite these accomplishments, the producer, whose real name is Ernest Dion Wilson, is relentlessly modest, and when Jay-Z initially approached him about working together, the producer passed. He already had credits on Jay-Z’s American Gangster and singles like “D.O.A. (Death of Autotune),” but he attributed those successes to being in the right place at the right time during sessions helmed by Jermaine Dupri and West, respectively. 

“At this point in my life, I want to do incredible things with the intention of accomplishing something different and new,” No I.D. tells Rolling Stone. “It’s not a pursuit of money; it’s a pursuit of raising the bar in a cultural sense.” And when Jay-Z initially asked him to work, he was feeling uninspired. “I didn’t think I really had anything at the time,” No I.D. remembers. 

But he eventually returned to the rapper and the result of their collaboration, 4:44, came out on Thursday night (it’s the first time Jay-Z has worked with one producer on an album). Rolling Stone caught up with No I.D. to talk about his role in the album’s creation.

How did you first start working on 4:44?
Maybe a year ago I saw Jay-Z at a restaurant. He goes, “You got any music for me?” And I go, “Nope.” He goes, “What are you working on?” I said, “Getting better.”

The thing that made me want to get better was I heard a quote by Quincy Jones where they asked him, “What do you think about music nowadays?” He said, “four-bar loops.” It really affected me. I said, “Wait a minute, that’s not what I want to be a part of.” So I went and did some studying with the intention of growing.

“You’re with Beyoncé, but what is that really like? What’s the pressure? What’s the responsibility?”

A little after that, I decided to just do 500 ideas in a short amount of time. It’s like shooting free throws in the gym. I’m going to do this until I have something new. When I got up in the hundreds, I thought I had something new. The first person I actually went to see was J. Cole. I played him them and said, “Who do you think I should give this to?” I wanted a different perspective. We discussed some things, and it led to me hitting Jay-Z up.

My actual email was: “I got some things that I think are Blueprint-level, [Jay-Z’s widely acclaimed 2001 album]. I know that’s a lot to say, but we need to do this.” And from there, I literally probably gave him three to five new ideas every day for a nice amount of time.

At what point in the improvement process did you feel like you were ready to take the music to Jay-Z?
I humbly studied and read. I went to people from my friend Adrian Younge to Puff [Daddy] and Dr. Dre. The thing that was holding me was reading a lot of Quincy Jones’ story and his words. He was an incredible producer and musician for so many years but people didn’t really give him full credit because he was in jazz. I understand that feeling. At a certain point, I remember reading that he took some years in his forties to go out and get better. That resonated at this point in my career.

When you and Jay-Z started working on this, was it clear that it was going to be an album and just you two working on it? He’s never made an album with just one producer.
I don’t think we discussed anything. Another part of the beauty was: I saw that he, from our initial conversation, wanted to say more and wanted to say some things that he hadn’t said. Part of my growth as a producer was not just about making beats but also helping in the process of inspiring the song and making the song the center. This album is about Shawn Carter, Jay-Z, opening up, and me scoring that. It only came about me doing the whole album because the scoring part of the story started getting so specific that no one else knew how to do the music that fit what was going on. That just happened by default. Half of this album we credited him as co-producer on. At a point, I said, “Man, make me a playlist of songs you like. Where’s your taste at right now?” And there’s a value in a one-producer album. Most of the greatest albums in the history of music are one producer. It’s just a fact. Or one collective.

So that playlist you asked him to make gave you a sense of what he wanted to say?
That came from conversation. I would go by his house with my laptop. Once I showed him I had enough ideas, then it became about conversation. We would sit and talk for hours about life and different things. That would allow him to unlock these ideas and truths that he wanted to share but maybe didn’t get to talk ’em out. A lot of it was talking early on at his house. We created some music at his house. After a while, I think B[eyoncé] wanted to use the room they use as a studio so that led to him coming by my place. But at this point, we had discussed no business. We were just creating music.

It was literally a labor of love and us becoming friends in the process. It wasn’t about, “I want to produce your whole album.” It was more like, a lot of people want to hear you say more. I know you made it, I know you got everything you want and everyone else [knows that]. Let’s talk about the rest now.

So you gently pushed him towards the personal parts of the record?
I knew he wanted to [say those things]. I don’t want to take credit for what he wanted to do in the first place. I helped push him by saying, “Hey, this is what you said, this is what we know. And I don’t think people need to hear it. I think people need to hear what they don’t know.” Meaning: You wanted a Picasso, but why? You’re with Beyoncé, but what is that really like? What’s the pressure? What’s the responsibility? What’s the ups and downs? I wanted him to not be over people’s heads.

“This album is about Shawn Carter, Jay-Z, opening up, and me scoring that.”

I knew as a human being we all have these things and we never really want to tell the truth because we’re supermen – in our own eyes – to the people we want to love us. It was just a nudge. “Hey man, I’m going to push you to say it.”

Even the song “4:44,” Guru [longtime Jay-Z associate Gimel “Young Guru” Keaton recorded most of 4:44] had told me [Jay-Z] had the idea of writing a song like that. So I went and made a piece of music that would box him in to telling that story. I remember [Jay-Z] just looking at me, sighing. “O.K., I’m going home.” True story, at 4:44 he wakes up in the morning and writes that song. He hits me a little bit after. It’s literally the way a producer and an artist should work – nudging and pushing, creating boundaries and allowing him to be the center.

So you dug up that Hannah Williams & The Affirmations sample, which is also about infidelity, on purpose to Jay-Z to push further?
Oh yeah. That whole piece of music was created with me knowing: I’m going to make you say it on this song, and this song will be the only song you need to say it on so it wouldn’t turn into a full Lemonade response album. I boxed all of those parts in and said, here, what are you going do with this?

Was there any fear on your part that you would push too far into his life?
No, no, no, no. By this time, we had established the relationship of trust and knowing that what we both were doing was a labor of love. It was at a pure point. He knew what I was saying by playing it. And I knew that it would help him as a human to say it and get it over with and get it out of your system.

What was it like to hear him record that song? No one’s ever heard Jay-Z in that way before.
He recorded it at his house with nobody around – on [Beyoncé’s] mic. I’ll let him tell the rest of the story. But I remember Guru brings it back and he does this little thing, walks in the room and doesn’t say anything. He stops everything, presses play, and walks out the room. I go, let me go find my wife and give her a hug. Walk down the street and hold hands. It’s a lot.

This album is so sample-heavy at a time when so much of rap has moved away from that sound. Did you two speak on the album’s sonic direction?
That was part of my 500-idea regimen. In the process, I realized that the business half of samples is a bad thing, but [samples are] an instrument. I began to play the samples like I would play an instrument. At some point I knew that was my strength. I had stepped away from my strength sometimes because the business makes you think you can’t do it. I’m like, I can do it. And I can create new art. That allowed me to be myself and put my personality in the music.

There are a couple of Nina Simone samples – were those from Jay-Z’s playlist?
Yes, that was definitely him. He put both of those on there. That’s the score to his life. That’s the core reason for using them. There’s a million things to sample that could sound good.

This is where switching up the process helped me. Maybe before I go, “We can’t use two Nina Simones! We can’t use Steve Wonder!” But that’s what he wanted. I left it up to him to do the rest of the business. It freed me up to just be creative and be told, “this is what I want.” It’s challenging as well.

“I held up classic albums and said, ‘What were the good parts and what were the mistakes?'”

At what point did it become clear that this was going to be an album and it was actually going to come out?
We got heavy into it by accident. The first time it happened, I sent him the “Kill Jay-Z” record, and he called Guru, who happened to be in town, and that was the first record. But then the holidays happened. We both went away for the holidays. He had already asked me to work on Vic Mensa’s album. I was juggling working on both of them. When we came back in January, we get deep in. Then I had to go for Chicago for a month because my dad had a spill at home and he was in the hospital. We took a good month off there. In March, I got back and we got back into the full stride. We had intended on dropping it on 4/4. That was the plan. Unfortunate circumstances slowed it down.

But it helped us in the sense that it gave us more time to make some really important records. A lot of the thought process was, I held up classic albums and said, “What were the good parts and what were the mistakes?” Sometimes these classics, the continuity is what makes them classic, and then you have these examples of reaching for the single or the radio record. Albums I was pointing to were like Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Confessions by Usher, [Jay-Z’s] The Blueprint, [Nas’] Illmatic, [Kanye West’s] My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I analyzed the mistakes and tried not to make those mistakes. We wanted 10 really good songs where at no point are you like, “I know what you’re trying to do, you could’ve kept that one.” Sometimes you look back 10 years later and you go, “I see why you did it then, but ‘No, thanks’ today.” By March, we were into that [process].

So the concise 10-song length was important for that purpose?
Yes. There’s three more songs that are coming out as bonuses. James Blake came in and joined into the process. There’s more coming shortly that’s equally as revealing.

Tell me about the first time you heard it in public.
We listened to it last night for the first time in a social environment that wasn’t the studio. It really played well back to back. It felt like a beginning and an ending and an arc and a story. It gets deep, it gets painful, it lifts you up, it make you dance a little but it’s not overly [danceable]. This is the best music I’ve ever created, to be honest. The simplicity of it, the personal nature of it, the timing of where music is – it’s a great piece of art for me.

Was it nerve-wracking to air it in a public setting for the first time?
I’m a veteran now. There’s zero fear. I’ve won; I’ve lost. I’m at the point where I do what I believe in, and win or lose believe in what I do. There’s times that I know I’m doing what I’m born to do. [Jay-Z and I] also joke, he’s like, I can’t believe, all those years we weren’t really connecting. He cracks it like, “You were so rude to me for 18 years!” But you know what? It was meant to be. 

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Adele Cancels Remainder of Tour After Damaging Vocal Cords

Adele has canceled the remaining two dates of her massive world tour – a pair of shows this weekend at London’s Wembley Stadium – after damaging her vocal cords.

“To say I’m heartbroken would be a complete understatement,” Adele wrote in a Twitter statement Friday.

“I’m already maxed out on steroids and aids for my voice. I’ve considered doing Saturday night’s show but it’s highly unlikely I’d even make it through the set and I simply can’t crumble in front of you all and walk out on you in that way.”

The singer’s 123-date tour in support of her 2015 LP 25 was set to conclude with a four-night stand at Wembley Stadium. However, following the first two shows – which Adele called “the biggest and best shows of my life” – the singer “struggled vocally” and had to “push a lot harder than I normally do.”

Adele visited a throat doctor who found damage to her vocal cords; “on medical advice,” the singer was told not to perform this weekend, although she “even considered miming” in order to keep her obligations.

“I have changed my life drastically in every way to make sure I got through this tour that started at the beginning of last year,” Adele wrote. “To not be able to finish it, is something I’m really struggling to come to terms with.”

Adele, who previously underwent vocal cord surgery in October 2011, added that she hopes to reschedule the two shows in the future, but if she can’t, refunds will be available.

The cancelled Wembley dates come just a day after Adele hinted that she may not tour again following the 25 jaunt.

Read Adele’s entire note to fans below:

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Hear Liam Gallagher's Tender New Solo Song 'Chinatown'

Liam Gallagher has shared his tender new song “Chinatown,” the second single off the former Oasis singer’s upcoming solo debut As You Were.

A mellow compliment to Gallagher’s raucous first single “Wall of Glass,” the atmospheric “Chinatown” finds the vocalist in “Wonderwall” mode as he sings gentle acoustic guitars and a simple backbeat.

“Well the cops have taken over / When everyone’s at yoga / ‘Cause happiness is a warm gun,” Gallagher sings, referencing the Beatles’ “White Album” classic.

Gallagher said of his upcoming LP in a statement, “I didn’t want to be reinventing anything or going off on a space jazz odyssey. It’s the Lennon ‘Cold Turkey’ vibe, The Stones, the classics. But done my way, now.”

Gallagher recorded four As You Were songs – “Wall of Glass,” “Paper Crown,” “Come Back To Me” and bonus track “Doesn’t Have to Be That Way” – in Los Angeles with Adele producer Greg Kurstin. The remainder of the LP was recorded at London’s Snap! Studios under the guidance of producer Dan Grech-Marguerat.

In addition to “Chinatown,” Gallagher also unveiled the 12-song track list (plus three bonus cuts) for As You Were, which arrives October 6th. Fans who pre-order the album will receive instant downloads of “Wall of Glass” and “Chinatown.”

As You Were Track List

1. “Wall Of Glass”
2. “Bold”
3. “Greedy Soul”
4. “Paper Crown”
5. “For What It’s Worth”
6. “When I’m In Need”
7. “You Better Run”
8. “I Get By”
9. “Chinatown”
10. “Come Back To Me”
11. “Universal Gleam”
12. “I’ve All I Need”

Bonus tracks on deluxe album editions:

13. “Doesn’t Have To Be That Way”
14. “All My People / All Mankind”
15. “I Never Wanna Be Like You”

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Jay-Z, Beyonce Name Their Twins Rumi and Sir: Report

Welcome to the world, Rumi and Sir Carter, Beyoncé and Jay-Z‘s newborn twins who were born in mid-June. The twins join their other sibling, five-year-old sister Blue Ivy, in the expanding Carter family.

Although the Carters haven’t formally announced the twins’ names – or even confirmed that Beyoncé had given birth – People reports that the names were uncovered in trademark documents filed to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. 

TMZ also confirmed that the trademark documents had been filed, noting that the same company filed similar papers on behalf of Blue Ivy earlier in the year. Rumi is the name of a noted 13th century Persian poet. 

In the final track of Jay-Z’s just-released album, 4:44, titled “Legacy,” he features Blue Ivy asking, “Daddy, what’s a will?” He then ends the song on an upbeat note, urging her and the twins to “fund ideas from people who look like we.”

The Carters first announced they were expecting twins via Instagram in February. Beyoncé also unveiled a series of gorgeous underwater pregnancy photos on her website. Beyoncé followed the reveal with an elegant performance at the Grammys, which was her first public appearance following the announcement, and while she canceled her Coachella headlining slot, she remained publicly active on social media and beyond.

In April, she announced her “Formations Scholars” program, which will provide scholarships to select women who are studying creative arts, music, literature or African-American studies at four universities. She also recently announced How to Make Lemonade, a collector’s edition box set that’s due this summer.

Meanwhile, Jay-Z announced 4:44, his Tidal-exclusive album, which was unveiled on Thursday at midnight, and he has several festival appearances scheduled, including at his own Made in America Festival, where his sister-in-law Solange will also perform.

As the due date grew closer,however, the pair has kept to themselves, and the secrecy following the birthof their twins has prompted a lot of speculation, from guessing baby names andgender to other humorous musings. But on Friday, the world seems to have finally figured out theirchildren’s identities, which coincided with the release of Jay-Z’s 4:44, his firstrecord since 2013’s Magna Carta HolyGrail.

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