50 Surprising Facts In Black Music History

James Brown’s dance moves don’t mean what you think they mean.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

1. Prince reportedly sent Weird Al Yankovic a telegram back in 1986, commanding the comedian to avoid eye contact with him during the entirety of the American Music Awards show.

2. Though little was known about eating disorders in his heyday, Louis Armstrong showed signs of bulimia. He binged and purged with the help of laxatives; he was often pictured with his laxative of choice, Swiss Kriss, and recommended it to his friends with the catchphrase “Satch says: Leave it all behind ya!

3. As a teen, Gil Scott-Heron wrote a number of short detective stories in the vein of Agatha Christie.

4. Snoop Dogg reportedly sold weed to Cameron Diaz back when the two attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School.

5. Lil Wayne‘s debut album The Block Is Hot, released when the rapper was only 17 years old, is nearly profanity-free because of his mother’s wishes.

6. Nas almost had Jesus in a headlock on the cover for his 1994 album Illmatic.

7. B.B. King named every guitar he owned Lucille after an incident at one of his performances. Two men had a physical altercation over a woman named Lucille; during the scuffle, they knocked over a barrel of kerosene that heated the venue and subsequently set the venue on fire. All persons inside were evacuated, but King ran back into the burning building to rescue his $30 Gibson guitar. The guitar thus became known as Lucille, as a reminder to King never to run into burning buildings or fight over women.

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

8. At the height of McCarthyism in the ’50s, Lena Horne was blacklisted as a Communist over her participation in the Civil Rights Movement and her friendships with fellow activists Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois.

9. Getting fired from Office Depot inspired Janelle Monae to write “Letting Go,” the song that would reach the ears of OutKast‘s Big Boi and launch her career.

10. When a drunken emcee announced The Sledge Sisters as “Sister Sledge” on stage, the quartet rolled with it and went on to use the error professionally.

11. James Brown‘s famous dance moves were coded directions for his stage band; every hand movement meant Brown had noticed a bum note or had seen a pair of unshined shoes.

12. Jimi Hendrix often switched up the frequently misheard lyrics to “Purple Haze” in his live performances; he swapped out “kiss the sky” for “fuck the sky” during a Seattle rainstorm, and for “kiss this guy” during another performance as he pointed to drummer Mitch Mitchell.

13. Using a modified board with elevated squares, Ray Charles frequently played chess with friends and band members. In 2002, Charles faced off against (and lost to) chess grandmaster Larry Evans.

14. Chuck Berry supplemented his musician’s income by working as a trained beautician.

LaFace

LaFace

 

15. Billie Holiday was inspired to write “God Bless the Child” after she and her mother had an argument over money.

16. Marvin Gaye once shaved his head in protest of boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter’s wrongful murder conviction.

17. In The Last Days of Left Eye, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of TLC voiced her objection to the glorification of revenge-cheating in the group’s hit single “Creep.” Left Eye threatened to wear pieces of black tape over her mouth during the filming of the music video, but she let her resentment creep away.

18. Stevie Wonder led the campaign to have Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday designated as a national holiday.

19. Mary J. Blige‘s debut album title What’s the 411? was a shout-out to her former job as a directory assistance operator.

20. Despite his lyrics to “In Da Club” and “P.I.M.P.,” 50 Cent abstains from alcohol and drugs, citing a “bad experience” with alcohol and an outsider’s view of what drugs can do to a person.

21. Remember that video of a fresh-faced Nicki Minaj acting out a monologue? Before her rap career blew up, Nicki Minaj pursued acting and was cast in the off-Broadway play In Case You Forget.

Sal Idriss / Redferns

Sal Idriss / Redferns

 

22. Gloria Gaynor won the first and only Grammy for Best Disco Recording with “I Will Survive”; the recording academy discontinued the category after disco fell out of public favor.

23. UPenn graduate John Legend turned down admission offers from Harvard and Georgetown at the tender age of 16.

24. Aretha Franklin‘s fear of flying kept her from attending her Rock And Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

25. In spite of his fame and wealth, Ludacris drove his ‘93 Acura Legend for over a decade, racking up over 244,000 miles on the vehicle.

26. Biggie Smalls learned that another rapper had trademarked the name “Biggy Smalls” years earlier, so he changed his moniker to The Notorious B.I.G.

27. When presented with the instrumentals for eventual hits “Are You That Somebody?” and “Try Again,” Aaliyah initially didn’t like them, but recorded the songs.

28. Ol’ Dirty Bastard once saved a 4-year-old girl who was trapped under a car that hit her; Dirty and his friends lifted the car off the girl, who was then rushed to the hospital for her injuries.

Sebastien Bozon / AFP / Getty Images

29. Smokey Robinson got his stage name from his childhood nickname Smokey Joe, a “cowboy” nickname bestowed upon him by his uncle.

30. Miles Davis performed with his back to the audience; it made it easier for him to give his band signals.

31. Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav can play 15 instruments, from French horn to oboe to xylophone.

32. Kanye West was ~internationally famous~ before The College Dropout hit store shelves. He lived in China for a year as a child — his mother Donda was a visiting professor.

33. Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton recorded “Hound Dog” and “Ball ‘n Chain” long before Elvis or Janis Joplin did.

34. Frank Ocean credited his Bernese mountain dog Everest as the executive producer of his critically acclaimed album Channel Orange.

35. Missy Elliott accidentally filmed “Work It” while drunk; director Dave Meyers forgot to replace the wine glass in the restaurant scene with water. After the shot had been filmed seven times, Missy was thoroughly inebriated.

AFP / Getty Images

36. As a student at the Baltimore School of Arts, Tupac Shakur took ballet classes.

37. Jazz legends Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, and Illinois Jacquet were all arrested for gambling in a racially motivated sting set up by the vice squad of Houston’s police department.

38. Salt-N-Pepa‘s “Push It” began as a joke. Producer Hurby Azor came up with the synth line: Salt-N-Pepa’s Cheryl James and Sandra Denton found it “corny” and added the now iconic “Ooh, baby, baby” to mock it.

39. Michael Jackson‘s groundbreaking music video for “Billie Jean” was the first music video by a black artist to appear on MTV.

40. Janet Jackson initially balked at the idea of collaborating with brother Michael, citing a desire for her own fame separate from the Jackson name, but eventually caved in. Thankfully she changed her mind; the siblings went on to give us “Scream.”

41. Dizzy Gillespie‘s signature cheek pouches, caused by his blowing techniques, are now considered a medical condition.

42. Beyoncé, who is now recognized as a style icon for her red carpet looks, was a staunch tomboy who refused to wear dresses as a child.

RB / Redferns

RB / Redferns

 

43. As a high school sophomore, Lauryn Hill appeared on daytime soap As the World Turns as Kira, a troubled teen.

44. Erykah Badu was fined $500 and charged with a misdemeanor for public nudity during the filming of her music video for “Window Seat.” Badu intended her nudity to be a statement of liberation against groupthink.

45. At the height of its popularity, Chubby Checker‘s “The Twist” was explicitly forbidden in New York City Catholic schools because of the song’s “un-Christian” nature.

46. Mariah Carey‘s high school nickname was “Mirage,” thanks to her many absences.

47. Nat King Cole was the first black American to have his own television show. The Nat King Cole Show ran without national sponsors on a network-supported basis, and was eventually done in by a lack of financial support.

48. Contrary to popular belief, Jay Z‘s stage name does not come from the J and Z lines that run by his childhood home in Brooklyn’s Marcy Projects. Jay Z had been known as Jazzy, but he adopted his current moniker after Jazzy became too “glittery.”

49. The phone number in Alicia Keys’ “Diary” was her old phone number, which led to a number of headaches for Georgia resident J.D. Turner, who had Keys’ old number (albeit a different area code.)

50. Whitney Houston nearly became a member of the Huxtable clan. She auditioned for the role of Sondra Huxtable, the eldest daughter on The Cosby Show, but lost the role to Sabrina LeBeauf.

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/moniquemelendez/50-surprising-facts-in-black-music-history

This Is What Goes On Inside One Of The Biggest #Oscars Parties In…

Actually watching the Academy Awards at a huge Hollywood viewing party is easier said than done.

Inside the party. Not pictured: me. Jamie Mccarthy / Getty

An Oscars viewing party is only as good as the people you’re watching with. Do they know when to be snarky and when to keep silent? (Julianne Moore is speaking. That means you are not.) Do they get appropriately emotional at the right moments? (When David Oyelowo cries, you cry too.) Have they seen most of the nominated films, or are they at least willing to withhold judgment based on a single clip? (I sat through The Judge, and I have earned your respect.)

Which is to say, a lot can go wrong. After all, there’s a reason I’ve taken to hosting a viewing party for one where the only mandatory attire is sweats and the only distraction is my own tweeting. Nevertheless, this year, I ventured out into the world outside my apartment for a chance to check out Elton John’s annual Oscars viewing party, a fundraiser for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and an excuse to rent a decent tux.

First things first, the Elton John AIDS Foundation does amazing work, having raised more than $45 million, according to a publicist. That’s not really surprising given the fact that the viewing party is punctuated by stars like Alec Baldwin and Sharon Osbourne asking attendees to dig a little deeper into their pockets. Guests’ pledges are also projected onto a large screen, which adds incentive to make a big donation. (I know exactly how much you gave, Chris Colfer, and I’m proud of you.)

I acknowledge the great cause, because regardless of my personal experience at the Elton John viewing party, I’m glad that it happens every year. But since you asked, my personal experience was actually rather uncomfortable. When I first arrived, I milled about trying to go against my better judgment and make conversation with strangers. I did engage Lisa Rinna for a few seconds before realizing I had nothing particularly interesting to say, aside from complimenting her dress. And I managed to sneak a peek at Aaron Paul’s ballot, but only after I’d turned mine in.

Eventually, we were escorted into the dining room where the dinner and viewing party would take place. And that’s when things took a turn. I quickly realized my table was chatty. Listen, I am not an antisocial monster. I think it’s nice when the people around me want to know my name and what I do for a living and where I got my tux. (Men’s Wearhouse, thank you very much.) But this is the Oscars. This is the one night of the year I actually care about watching TV live and sharing my opinions with the internet, because I’m a millennial. The people at my table were more interested in loudly talking about how they hadn’t seen the vast majority of nominated films. Ida is streaming on Netflix, people! Come on.

A table inside the party. (Not my table. If I were sitting with Gigi Hadid, don’t you think I would have mentioned that?) Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty

I tried to focus on the show, but it was increasingly difficult to hear. (With each drink, the woman next to me was becoming drunker and drunker and louder and louder, which might have had something to do with that.) I took note of the fact that Gillian Anderson and JC Chasez were sitting at a table together, and I desperately looked for reasons to join them. Can you imagine how well-timed and expertly delivered Gillian Anderson’s barbs are? I can just see JC Chasez throwing his head back with laughter.

I continued to live-tweet the drunken exploits of my neighbor and tried to mentally will Sir Elton John to turn up the audio so I could actually hear the broadcast. Things reached their nadir at my table when John Legend and Common performed “Glory” — which was, to be clear, the highlight of the Academy Awards themselves — as another woman at the table rolled her eyes, accused people of fake crying, and loudly lamented the public conversation about racism in Hollywood that Selma‘s snubs had inspired.

I wish I could say I handled this all better than I did. I asked her what her issue was with “Glory,” and she claimed she didn’t have one, just that it had to win the Oscar for Best Original Song because people were so angry about the film not getting other nominations. And when it did win, she kept repeating “no surprises here,” before muttering something to her friend about having to give the blacks something. “I’m not going to sit here with a racist,” I said to no one in particular, before getting up and walking away. (I am a man of honor, but one who is also terrified of confrontation.) I never returned to my table, watching the rest of the broadcast from the cocktail area. My biggest regret is that I didn’t actually try to engage with that woman over her racism, and my second biggest regret is that I left the table before dessert was served.

That uncomfortableness at my table was luck of the draw: I happened to be at a viewing party with the wrong people. (And to be clear, not everyone at my table was terrible! But as with any family gathering, the drunkest and the most racist attendees always get the most attention.)

Once the show was over, I quickly discovered that the Elton John Oscars viewing party is a lot more fun once the actual viewing portion ends. As is the case with any Hollywood party, I spent most of my time walking around, silently acknowledging the presence of various actors (it was basically a shit ton of TV people, who are often considered to be less important than movie stars; but I happen to watch more TV than movies, so nyah), and wondering how long the valet line would be (it ended up being not so bad. I stood next to Dance Moms star Abby Lee Miller, who is always a hoot, bless her heart).

Ultimately, I feel very lucky that I was able to experience a glamorous Hollywood night, but I was also comforted by the fact that my sweats were waiting for me at home.

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/louispeitzman/what-its-like-inside-elton-johns-annual-oscars-viewing-party

SYTYCD Top 4 Jeanine Mason and Evan Kasprzak in a Sonya Tayeh Jazz “Heartbreaker”

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Jeanine Mason and Evan Kasprzak, Jazz “Heartbreaker”—MSTRKRFT featuring John Legend | Choreography by Sonya Tayeh