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Spotify Now Allows You to #MuteRKelly… and Others

The new feature from Spotify means you will no longer have to listen to any songs from the selected artist in any playlists or radio stations.

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We’ve all had the uncomfortable experience happen when we’re jamming out to a great playlist on Spotify but suddenly a song comes on that just doesn’t agree with us. Maybe it’s music that we just can’t stand, it contains super offensive language, or it’s something that can’t be played in public. Whatever the situation, we’ve all been there.

Thanks to a new feature, Spotify is changing the game plan a little bit and allowing you to have greater control over what you listen to.

On the surface, this change sounds awesome, and in reality, it mostly is. Yet the timing of this update we’re about to discuss is rather uncanny due to the latest news coverage about artist R. Kelly and is prompting some music lovers to ask the question — is Spotify impressing their personal bias upon our listening experience?

Don’t Like It?  Spotify Thinks That’s Okay

For people who use Spotify on their smartphone, you may have noticed a new option when you touch the three dots on an artist page. Options including “Share” or “Go to radio” are still present, along with another selection called “Don’t play this artist.” If you make this choice, Spotify will no longer include any songs from this artist in any playlists or radio stations. While it doesn’t completely remove your access to their discography as a whole, they won’t be surprising you in the middle of a great groove session.

Spotify reports that any time you mark an artist with this option that it will directly sync your preferences when using the desktop version of the program. Initially, it seems as if this level of customization is just one more way that they’re making it easier to enjoy the music you love, although the #MuteRKelly hashtag has also made major waves recently, causing people to ask if there’s a connection.

Censorship at Its Finest

This isn’t the first time that Spotify has made it easy to remove R. Kelly’s music from your life, as a decision in May 2018 caused all of his work to be erased from the platform in an effort to adhere to a new hateful conduct policy. Later down the line, Spotify reversed this action and allowed his music back on, but for some, the damage was already done. While the organization stated that they don’t censor music due to an artist’s behavior in their professional or personal life, their editors do want to curate a selection that reflects their own values.

At the time of this publication, R. Kelly has not been convicted of a crime. Accusations of sexual misconduct have surrounded the artist for longer than most can even remember, and as documentaries, magazine features, and more certainly aren’t shy about pointing the finger at him, the adage of “innocent until proven guilty” is ringing in the ears of many. Still, it’s hard to not see any connection between the popular hashtag in circulation and the ability for Spotify customers to easily block the artist through this update.

As things progress it will become more clear if there really is a link between the streaming service’s actions and R. Kelly, or if this option is simply one more way to let users control who they hear. For now, just remember that you can mute anyone, not just R. Kelly.

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Music

Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Yachty Star in New ‘Sonic’ Music Video

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When you think of Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Yachty and Sueco the Child, what springs to mind? If your answer is Sonic the Hedgehog, you’re ahead of the curve.

The quartet has teamed up to record “Speed Me Up,” the lead song on the upcoming Sonic movie soundtrack. They appear in the just-released video as 8-bit avatars and sing about topics including Sonic’s pal Knuckles and the fast-moving world of their lives.

The video starts with Wiz blowing into a Sega Genesis game cartridge and, real talk, you’ll be hooked from there. He’s then transported to the pixelated world of Sonic the Hedgehog, teaming up with Sonic and his fellow rappers to collect rings, jam out in Sonic’s bedroom and take on the evil Dr. Robotnik, played by Jim Carrey.

The song is the first drop from the soundtrack by Atlantic Records.

Things haven’t been smooth sailing for the Sonic movie. The first trailer featured Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise, which felt really ill-fitting. The movie was scheduled for release in November 2019, but the initial rendering of everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog was met with less than positive feedback, leading to a design overhaul and a three-month delay on release. It’s now scheduled for release on February 14. Romantic!

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Legendary Guitarist Carlos Santana to Launch Premium Cannabis Brand

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Carlos Santana
PHOTO | Carlos Santana

Legendary guitarist and long-time cannabis advocate Carlos Santana is getting into the business, becoming the latest musician to partner with Left Coast Ventures.

The products will include premium cannabis and hemp CBD products specifically chosen to pay homage to Santana’s Latin heritage while leveraging the power of ancient therapies and enable consumers to uncover and “follow their light,” according to Left Coast Ventures.

According to a press release, the collab will “honor Santana’s heritage while incorporating his divine philosophies by identifying strains and products that promote the spiritual consciousness and wellness effects of cannabis.”

The cannabis line will include flower and pre-rolls and is expected for a summer 2020 launch in select Californian dispensaries.

The hemp CBD brand is looking at a fall launch and will include topicals with formulations inspired by Santana’s family.

“Cannabis is a window or a door to different awareness of consciousness,” said Santana in a statement. “It gives you the choice to perceive through a different filter of awakening and healing, the misperception of distance as an illusion, which keeps you from being centered in your essence-core. It helps you arrive at knowing, accepting and owning a quality of life that is being with joy!”

10-time Grammy winner, Woodstock veteran and Hall of Fame guitarist Santana is the latest musician to join Left Coast Ventures’ list of partners. The company has previously launched cannabis products with Mickey Hart, drummer of the Grateful Dead (Mind Your Head) and the Bob Marley estate (Marley Natural).

“We are excited to launch cannabis and hemp CBD brands that deeply respect Latin heritage and celebrate the unique light of every individual,” said Brett Cummings, CEO of Left Coast Ventures.

“It’s a true honor to work with a dynamic legendary musician like Santana who has influenced millions through his music and shares our values and passion to legitimize the future of cannabis.”

Carlos Santana is currently on a world tour. Find out if he’s playing near you.

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Music

Sharon Stone Sues Chanel West Coast Over “Sharon Stoned”

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Sharon Stoned

From shout-outs to disses, namedrops are nothing new in rap. But when does a shout-out become something more? That’s a question Sharon Stone is asking Chanel West Coast — through her lawyers.

The iconic actress is suing the rapper for using her name “for commercial purposes” in the track “Sharon Stoned” without Stone’s consent.

The suit notes that the 2018 track turns Stone’s name into a hook, with the music video that followed in April of this year recreating scenes from Stone’s movies, including the interrogation scene from Basic Instinct.

It alleges that Chanel West Coast, whose real name is Chelsea Chanel Dudley, is “an aspiring rap artist who has desperately sought to garner credibility and stature in the hip-hop community,” by “attempting to capitalize on the former’s “extraordinary level of popularity and fame,” and it was the rapper’s intention to “trade on the fame and publicity rights of Sharon Stone for commercial gain.”

The suit contains a detailed breakdown of Stone’s career, from her roles and philanthropic endeavors, which is why she “maintains strict control over the manner in which her name, likeness, image, identity and persona are used,” and claims that Dudley infringed upon Stone’s identity and used Stone’s name “as a celebrity endorser” by using Stone’s name with “mantra-like repetition” in the lyrics, as “Defendant Dudley gratuitously repeats the name ‘Sharon Stone’ thirty-three times and the name ‘Sharon’ ninety-nine times.”

Stone also has an issue with the accompanying music video that uses her likeness as “celebrity endorser to promote the sale of cannabis paraphernalia without her permission or consent,” due to the product placement for Shine Papers.

The suit claims that the song and video show a “disregard of Sharon Stone’s right of privacy and publicity, and of her exclusive right to control the use and exploitation of her name, likeness, image, identity and persona,” and seeks punitive damages and any profits Dudley may have made from the song and video.

The suit contains quotes from Dudley in which she discusses wanting to “redo some classic, iconic Sharon Stone movie scenes” in the music video.

Dudley said in a statement that she was “surprised and disappointed” and claimed Stone was fully aware of the song, being set to appear in the music video, but “[Sharon] pulled out of participating in the music video the day of the shoot after months of conversations, in-person meetings with myself and the director, two dance rehearsals and even had her own ideas that she shared with myself and my team for the collaborative on the video.”

“To be frank, the entire production team and myself were surprised when she walked off,” said Dudley.

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