Music News: Arrested Development's Baba Oje dies at 87


Baba Oje on stage with Arrested Development in 2007.
Baba Oje on stage with Arrested Development in 2007. (Paul McConnell/Getty Images)
Ava DuVernay to helm Prince documentary
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Baba Oje of Arrested Development has died of leukemia at age 87. Oje was a singular figure as a non-performing "spiritual elder" in the hip-hop collective, which landed three top ten hits off its 1992 debut album and has released nearly a dozen more records since.

"Baba was the oldest member of any hip-hop collective," wrote Speech, the group's leader, "and his mere presence in rap spoke volumes for the genre and for a generation looking for symbolic wisdom and answers. He was an activist for the homeless, a military veteran, a world traveler, spiritual advisor to the group, strict vegan, dancer, vocalist and avid roller skater." (Billboard)

Louis Armstrong House gets a big grant

New York City has allocated $1.9 million to the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens. The money will go to renovate a next-door property known as Selma's House. It belonged to Selma Heraldo, a close friend of the Armstrongs, who donated her house to the museum when she died in 2011. The house will serve as office and storage space for the museum, with a kitchen that can be used for catering. The Armstrongs' house opened as a museum in 2003, and Heraldo often attended events to share her memories of the trumpeter and his family. (New York Times)

Pharrell tells the president to stop using "Happy"

Pharrell Williams has asked President Trump to stop playing his song "Happy" during political events. It's not unusual for music artists to ask Trump and other politicians to quit using their music at rallies, but Pharrell's cease-and-desist described the artist's disagreement in particularly pointed terms.

"On the day of the mass murder of 11 human beings at the hands of a deranged 'nationalist,' you played his song 'Happy' to a crowd at a political event in Indiana," wrote Williams's lawyer in a letter to Trump. "There was nothing 'happy' about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose." (CNN)

Lin-Manuel Miranda's getting the (improv hip-hop) band back together

After college and before finding massive fame as a Broadway composer, Lin-Manuel Miranda was in an improv hip-hop crew called Freestyle Love Supreme. He's now getting the band back together for a string of shows running from Jan. 30 to March 2 at the Greenwich House Theater in New York.

"It is as addictive as Twitter once you realize you can get in front of an audience and make up a hip-hop show in real time," said Miranda, who's producing the shows but isn't promising to be onstage for every performance. "I am going to jump in for as much as my life allows. But the show will not be dependent on me being there," he told the New York Times.

Meanwhile, the Hamilton composer is hitting the big screen as chimney sweep Bert in the new movie Mary Poppins Returns, to be released on Dec. 19.

Today's movie news: Prince and George Michael

Director Ava DuVernay (A Wrinkle in Time) is confirmed to be helming an upcoming Prince documentary for Netflix. "Prince was a genius and a joy and a jolt to the senses," the director told Deadline. "He shattered every preconceived notion, smashed every boundary, shared everything in his heart through his music. The only way I know how to make this film is with love. And with great care."

The film has been in progress for several months, with the Prince estate providing "interviews, archival footage, photos and more for the multi-part documentary," notes Rolling Stone.

Meanwhile, a fictional film inspired by the Wham! classic "Last Christmas" is slated to hit movie theaters in November 2019, with a cast including Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, and Emma Thompson — who's also co-writing the screenplay. Michael helped come up with the movie's concept, and now Billboard reports that previously unreleased Michael music will appear in the movie. One big question that remains open: will the film have a queer narrative in addition to the central hetero-cis love story?

Ellen DeGeneres recreates the Nicki-Cardi shoe incident with kids

Ellen DeGeneres has an annual segment where she dresses kids in high-concept costume. This year, a kindergartner walked out dressed as Nicki Minaj. To help complete her costume, Ellen affixed her with "the shoe Cardi B threw at you" in the feuding pair's infamous party spat. Another little girl became A Star Is Born in the most literal way. (Billboard)

Songs sampled in podcast
Jahzzar: "Comedie" (CC BY 4.0)
BoxCat Games: "Against the Wall" (CC BY 3.0)
Arrested Development: "Blues Happy"
Freestyle Love Supreme: "Mixtape"
Wham!: "Last Christmas"

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