Music News: Neil 'step up' Portnow stepping down from Grammys

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Neil Portnow, head of the Recording Academy, at the Grammys.
Neil Portnow, head of the Recording Academy, speaks at the Grammys on Jan. 28, 2018. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

Neil Portnow has announced plans to leave his position as head of the Recording Academy — the industry organization that runs the Grammys. While Portnow was widely credited for helping the organization recover from scandals that engulfed his predecessor, he was even more widely criticized after a post-Grammys interview where he suggested that women needed to "step up" to advance their careers in the music industry. Portnow, who has said he regretted his choice of words but never outright apologized for the comments, will hand over the reins when his contract expires in July 2019. (New York Times)

Drake vs. Pusha-T

Colorful beefs have always been part of hip-hop, but a faceoff between megastar Drake and veteran MC Pusha-T has taken on larger stakes with the use of an image depicting Drake in blackface. The image was used as cover art for Pusha-T's dis track "The Story of Adidon," and Drake subsequently explained that it came from "2007, a time in my life where I was an actor and I was working on a project that was about young black actors struggling to get roles, being stereotyped and type cast." (New York Times)

Pusha-T's use of the image was seemingly linked to his critique of Drake for failing to use his fame to address racial inequality. "You are silent on all black issues, Drake," said Pusha-T in a radio interview after Drake explained the photo. "You don't stand for nothing, you don't say nothing about nothing. You have all the platform in the world. You were so passionate back then? No you weren't. That's number one. That's what I know." (Rolling Stone)

That's not the only Pusha-T cover image that's been attracting controversy. The cover of Daytona, the recent album that sparked the Drake beef, is a photograph of Whitney Houston’s bathroom counter strewn with drugs. Kanye West, the album's producer, reportedly paid $85,000 to license the image.

Houston's estate issued a statement saying it was "extremely disappointed" in the use of the image, and Houston's ex-husband Bobby Brown said about West, "He needs somebody to slap him up or something. And I'm just the person to do it." (Rolling Stone)

Flaming Lips continue to explore bodily fluids

Miley Cyrus may have left her more outrageous years behind, but not if the Flaming Lips have their way. The alt-rockers, who have previously released vinyl records containing beer and blood, say the next frontier is urine.

"The next record we were talking about releasing was the Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz record," says frontman Wayne Coyne about his band's 2015 collaboration with Cyrus. "We'd get a good amount of Miley's pee and mix it with some glitter and put that in. I think that would up the ante. Don't you?" (Consequence of Sound)

Damon Albarn turned Prince down over cigarettes

In a recent interview, London's Radio X asked Damon Albarn why his potential collaboration with Prince never happened. "Yeah I didn't go. I'd done a gig in Minneapolis and I was invited to go and play with Prince so to speak," he said. Why didn't he? Because he was told there's no smoking at Paisley Park. "If I've invited someone, they're my guest and there aren't any conditions like that," said Albarn.

Meanwhile, Albarn's cartoon band Gorillaz released a new video for their single "Humility," with Jack Black making a cameo as a busker. Their new album The Now Now comes out on June 29.

Mick Jagger is such a dad

Mick Jagger uses emoji? Oh yes he does, in the very dad-like comments he's been leaving on Instagram photos posted by his son Lucas Jagger. (Billboard)


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