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adminJune 19, 2018
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2min3


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adminJune 19, 2018
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10min4


For several years, Kanye West has mastered the dark art of publicity and prestige. He fancies himself hip-hop’s dark, bizarro Beyoncé—a grand marshal of popular culture, a one-man showstopper. In music, Kanye’s grand design played out as a proud bureaucratization of his albums; his songs sounded bigger, if not always better, and the albums grew convoluted. So, too, did the rollouts. Two years ago, Kanye released The Life of Pablo—an overstaffed and overloaded hour of music backed by a guerrilla publicity campaign that exhausted fans, critics, and even the most tangential Hollywood players, such as Wiz Khalifa, Amber Rose, and Kanye’s serial antagonist, Taylor Swift, who ultimately begged “to be excluded from this narrative.” The rollout was a calamity. Worse yet, the album was a clunker—a streaming music “experiment” that sounds not only imperfect but also, by the artist’s own admission, unfinished. Kanye was successful in one, crucial regard—getting everyone to speak excitedly about Kanye West, for better or worse, for months on end.

Kanye designed his record label’s latest album rollout to accommodate a party of five. For each weekend of the past month, GOOD Music has scheduled the release of new albums from Pusha-T, Kanye, Kid Cudi, Nas, and Teyana Taylor. The albums would each be seven songs, and a few of them would premiere at listening parties, streamed live from Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Los Angeles; and Queensbridge, New York. The celebrations have turned sour as Kanye suffers prolonged backlash to his recent flirtations with right-wing politics and Nas dodges public scrutiny in light of the allegation that he inflicted “mental and physical abuse” on his ex-wife, Kelis. Thus, the GOOD Music rollout has proved grotesque. Granted, Kanye wouldn’t have it any other way. The seven-songs constraint, the weekly album releases, the prime-time listening parties, the grand ethical reckonings, and the goddamned tweets—in Kanye’s design, this would all amount to a historical event.

On May 25, Pusha-T dropped first, and his Daytona seemed to flatter Kanye’s outlook for this particular album cycle. Kanye provided seven artisanal beats, Pusha narrowed his focus to Drake and cocaine, and the logistical pressures produced a nice little gem in Pusha-T’s discography. Kanye’s shtick worked. Pusha and Kanye have worked together for more than a decade now—officially since 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy recording sessions—and Daytona is the fulfilling culmination of their partnership. In retrospect, Pusha-T was the first and only rapper to flatter Kanye’s outlook. Kanye’s own solo album, Ye, buckled under its own deadline and hype. Reportedly, Kanye scrapped an earlier version of the album that predated the infamous TMZ hit where he described American chattel slavery as “a choice” that black slaves made for themselves. The late-stage rewrite seemed to suggest that Ye would arrive with all the unwelcome urgency of a hot take. Shockingly, the album proved even less sophisticated than that—Ye arrived as a demo tape that may well have been written and recorded within hours of its commercial release. Kanye’s subsequent duets album with Kid Cudi, titled Kids See Ghosts, sounds far less rushed, but no more substantial than Ye. In any case, Kids See Ghosts certainly suffers from its incorporation into the larger tumult that marginalizes its minor musical successes; a tumult of Kanye’s own design.

If the Pusha-T album idealized Kanye’s overall approach, then the Nas album, Nasir, released Friday, proved its fundamental folly once and for all. Nasir is the very worst album of a cherished rapper’s career. For two decades straight, Nas critics—and even Nas fans—have hectored the rapper for his odd, off-trend production, which has supposedly sabotaged his career at every turn. So, Kanye West crafting a Nas album should sound like the last laugh—except the flagging rapper happens to have caught the flagging producer just as he’s downshifted from innovation to pure churn. Alternatively, Nas has never sounded less excited to rap, and less interested in music, than he does here, thudding from one rhyme to the next with a feeble demeanor—Nasir is like hearing one of the rapper’s notoriously forgetful performances rendered as a studio album. Kanye’s beats swallow Nas whole. There’s no greater testament to their faulty, inappropriate design than the fact Kanye spends two songs sounding like the better rapper. Ultimately, Nasir is a Kanye West album—a sample showcase in which any rapping you happen to hear is awkward and marginal, if not irrelevant.

Once upon a time, Kanye’s musical stylings were a reactionary repudiation of emergent Southern hip-hop production styles; but they also formed an idealistic prediction of how grand and luxurious hip-hop might become—bigger and more profitable than even Puffy imagined. Currently, hip-hop is American music’s biggest genre, a growth industry that has, in the decade since 808s & Heartbreak, come to sound rather at odds with Kanye’s bougie outlook. In 2018, trap music is bleak, sparse, and seductively monotonous. The personas are bold, and their voices are loud and dynamic, but the sounds are minimal, and the rappers themselves are very nearly civilians. For The Life of Pablo, Kanye recruited millennial trap acts such as Young Thug, Desiigner, and Post Malone into the mix, their contributions designed to anchor Kanye in contemporary hip-hop’s present tense. Finally, Kanye made a song (“Champions”) with Gucci Mane, the Atlanta godfather of a new generation. But Kanye had undeniably begun to lose his grip on the genre’s pulse—“Panda” went no. 1, while “Pt. 2” of “Father Stretch My Hands” peaked at no. 54. On the GOOD Music releases, including Ye, Kanye casts off the anchors and drifts irretrievably into nostalgia. The Slick Rick samples fall upon exhausted ears.

Less than a day after Nas dropped his album, Beyoncé and Jay-Z trumped his release with a surprise duets album that includes far more youthful and exciting ideas about contemporary hip-hop despite Jay’s advanced age. Drake is dropping later this month. June has rewarded mainstream rap fans with a glut of A-list music releases. Despite his ambitious design, and his own hype, Kanye’s music has mattered the least of all, despite his doing the absolute most.

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adminJune 19, 2018
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7min7


The storm around a lack of cross-play on PS4 has not abated in the wake of the news out of E3 that not only can you not play with Xbox or Switch players if you have a PS4-linked Fortnite account, but that you cannot use that account at all on either of those platforms.

Sony has issued a statement that somehow manages to boast about its sales numbers while dodging the account-locking part of the problem entirely. Epic has now thrown up error messages throwing indirect shade at Sony for the problem, but don’t seem to be interested in picking a fight other than simply saying “we wish this could happen.”

But now someone else is making news. That would be John Smedley, the former head of Sony Online Entertainment (and current head of Amazon Game Studios), who seems like he’d have some pretty good insight into the situation. And it appears he does.

After calling for “pressure” on Sony to make the issue go away, Smedley went on to explain via Twitter the reason that Sony gave for why they don’t want cross-play:

“btw when I was at Sony, the stated reason internally for this was money. They didn’t like someone buying something on an Xbox and it being used on a Playstation. simple as that. dumb reason, but there it is.”

This is, of course, what many people assume is happening, despite statements like the one below, given by then head of PlayStation global sales and marketing, Jim Ryan after E3 2017 when it was Minecraft cross-play being debated:

“We have a contract with the people who go online with us, that we look after them and they are within the PlayStation curated universe,” said Ryan. “Exposing what in many cases are children to external influences we have no ability to manage or look after, it’s something we have to think about very carefully.”

No one really took this seriously at the time, and “we’re doing it for the children” practically became a meme afterward. But combined with the statement from the former president of SOE, this really does not look great for Sony.

I get it, it’s a business, Sony wants money and wants everyone to own games on PlayStation and buy all their games on PlayStation. And yet clearly that’s not what fans want and where the industry is moving as a whole. Sure, Microsoft may be able to embrace the whole cross-play thing because they’re behind in sales, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t pro-consumer all the same. Sony, after years of besting Microsoft at almost every turn this generation, is clearly on the wrong side of the issue here, and now with Nintendo getting involved, a market leader itself with seemingly no qualms about cross-play, it makes them look even worse.

I have to imagine that there are frantic discussions behind the scenes here between Epic, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo to try and work this out, and yet as has been pointed out, if Sony caves for Fortnite, they’ll have to cave for all games that want cross-play, and it’s very clear they do not want to open those floodgates. At this point, I’d put more money on them trying to ride out the storm than actually changing anything, but clearly this is not going to be the last time this issue comes up.

Follow me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pre-order my new sci-fi novel Herokiller, and read my first series, The Earthborn Trilogy, which is also on audiobook.

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adminJune 19, 2018
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6min3


Mike Hoffman was traded to the Florida Panthers by the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, about two hours after being acquired by the Sharks from the Ottawa Senators.

Hoffman went to the Panthers along with a seventh-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, with the Sharks receiving fourth- and fifth-round picks in 2018 and a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

San Jose had acquired Hoffman from the Senators, along with defenseman prospect Cody Donaghey and a fifth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, for forward Mikkel Boedker, defenseman prospect Julius Bergman and a sixth-round pick in 2020.

Hoffman, 28, had 56 points (22 goals, 34 assists) for the Senators this season. Selected by Ottawa in the fifth round (No. 130) of the 2009 NHL Draft, he has 230 points (107 goals, 123 assists) in 342 NHL games in seven seasons, all with the Senators.

[RELATED: 2018-19 NHL Trade Tracker]

“Mike is a skilled, consistent and hard-working player who has proven himself to be a talented goal scorer in the NHL,” Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said. “His speed, experience and offensive abilities will bolster our top-six group.”

Sharks GM Doug Wilson said: “This series of trades has allowed us to accomplish several organizational goals. We have witnessed some tremendous growth in our younger forwards over the past season and we feel that we have another group of players that are ready to challenge for additional ice time. … These transactions have also allowed us to add to our pool of draft selections, as well as free up a substantial amount of cap space for internal and external player options in the coming months.”

Hoffman has two years remaining on a four-year, $20.75 million contract (average annual value $5.1875 million) he signed with the Senators on July 26, 2016.

“Today’s trade showcases our determination to strengthen the future of the team by improving chemistry, leadership and character in the locker room and on the ice,” Senators GM Pierre Dorion said. “We are confident it is a step in the right direction for the long-term success of this organization.”

“Mikkel Boedker is a competitive, versatile, two-way forward who can play both wings. He has a track record of playing his best hockey in the most important games, including the playoffs and internationally. His skill set, in particular his speed, along with his veteran leadership fits with our vision for the team.”

Boedker, 28, had 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) in 74 games with the Sharks this season. He was the No. 8 selection by the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2008 NHL Draft. He has 288 points (109 goals, 179 assists) in 618 career NHL games with the Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche and Sharks. He was traded to Colorado by Arizona for Alex Tanguay, Connor Bleackley and Kyle Wood on Feb. 29, 2016, and signed a four-year contract with the Sharks as a free agent on July 1, 2016.

Donaghey and Bergman have yet to play in the NHL.

On June 12, the Senators said they were investigating a report by the Ottawa Citizen that claimed Melinda Karlsson, the wife of Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, had filed an application for a peace bond against Hoffman’s girlfriend, Monika Caryk, alleging harassment and cyberbullying that occurred this season and continued after the Karlssons’ son, Axel, was stillborn.

Hoffman has denied the allegations.

“We are investigating this matter in cooperation with the NHL and will take whatever steps are necessary to protect the safety and privacy of our players and their families,” the Senators said in a statement.

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adminJune 19, 2018
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2min6


Please enable cookies on your web browser in order to continue.

The new European data protection law requires us to inform you of the following before you use our website:

We use cookies and other technologies to customize your experience, perform analytics and deliver personalized advertising on our sites, apps and newsletters and across the Internet based on your interests. By clicking “I agree” below, you consent to the use by us and our third-party partners of cookies and data gathered from your use of our platforms. See our Privacy Policy and Third Party Partners to learn more about the use of data and your rights. You also agree to our Terms of Service.

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adminJune 19, 2018
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5min8


Police are searching for two suspects after Monday’s fatal shooting of rapper XXXTentacion outside a motorcycle dealership in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

The 20-year-old rapper, whose real name is Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy, was pronounced dead Monday evening at a Fort Lauderdale-area hospital, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office told USA TODAY.

Stephanie Martinez, a 29-year-old mother who lives in the neighborhood, told the Associated Press that she was coming back from the pool with her kids when she heard three shots. She drove to the end of the street and saw the rapper’s body in the black luxury vehicle in which he was killed.

“He has his mouth open and his hand out. Two people went over and checked his pulse,” said Martinez, who also saw blood. “It’s just weird because he should’ve had security and stuff with him.”

More: Rapper XXXTentacion shot and killed in South Florida; no arrests or motive yet

Police told the Associated Press that the shooting happened during an apparent robbery attempt at RIVA Motorsports. XXXTentacion was approached by two armed suspects and at least one of them fired, before both suspects fled the scene in a dark SUV. No immediate arrests were made.

Meanwhile, the rappers Soldier Kidd and Soldier Jojo are denying their involvement in the shooting after social media speculation linked them to the incident. 

According to a 911 dispatch call obtained by TMZ, XXXTentacion’s shooter allegedly wore a red mask during the shooting. Fans noticed an Instagram post from Soldier Kidd showing him and Soldier Jojo in a car together, posing with a red mask, taken the day of the shooting.

Both rappers responded in respective Instagram posts, claiming they had no part in XXXTentacion’s death.

“I’ve been seeing a lot of comments, I’ve been seeing a lot of things going on social media saying that I had something to do with XXXtentacion’s passing,” said Soldier Kidd, denying he was involved. “My condolences go to the man’s family.”

“Y’all got me (expletive) up, saying we did the (shooting)” Soldier Jojo said in his post. “We respect everyone… I respect that man for who he is, so RIP to that man.”

XXXtentacion’s death was mourned by the music community, with Kanye West tweeting, “I never told you how much you inspired me when you were here thank you for existing.”

Yet the rapper, who first attracted fans on SoundCloud before achieving mainstream music success with his March album “?” debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, was also a controversial figure with a history of domestic abuse. 

At the time of his death, he was awaiting trial on charges including domestic battery, aggravated battery and false imprisonment against his pregnant girlfriend stemming from 2016. Depositions from his ex Geneva Ayala “detail a pattern of regular, torturous abuse (with) daily verbal attacks and physical incidents every three or four days,” per a report from the Miami New Times.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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adminJune 19, 2018
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1min5


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adminJune 19, 2018
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6min11


Photo courtesy of Farah Liz Pallaro

Fashion consultant turned author Farah Liz Pallaro

A new book written by fashion consultant Farah Liz Pallaro is equipping students and industry professionals with the tools to safeguard their mental health. Fashion. Business. Spirituality. is a unique guidebook, part memoir and part self-help, taking you from choosing a fashion school, to finding a job, to managing the pace of the industry and beyond.

Its timing couldn’t be more appropriate. In the wake of the tragic suicides of both Kate Spade and a student at the Royal academy of Fine Arts earlier this year, not to mention the well-known mental health issues that plagued Lee McQueen and John Galliano, the fashion world is starting to ask serious questions about the toxic environments and work cultures it has created.

The book is autobiographical, reflecting on Farah’s experiences studying fashion in Madrid and London before working in-house and freelance as a designer for numerous brands including Dolce & Gabbana. She went on to work as a trend researcher at WGSN before moving into consulting, of which she has run her own consultancy business since 2009. Her client list includes Yoox, Polimoda, Bottega Veneta and Luisa Via Roma as well as speaking at several international fashion schools. Her wide-ranging experience has helped to create an honest portrayal that many will identify with.   

This isn’t just a survival manual though, it’s also a call to arms for the people who embrace the ideas in her book to be the ones to bring about change. In the final chapter she addresses the strapline of her book, “a call to the light workers of the fashion industry”, a term used to mean those creating positive impact, in which she says, “I think the time for healing and improvement has arrived for the fashion industry.”

What led you to write the book?

Farah Liz Pallaro: Around three years ago I started thinking that companies should add spirituality and self-development and a more holistic approach in their environment and I also think we need to start doing that in schools. So, it was an idea that started growing in my head and as I started writing the first chapter of this book, life pulled me in front of the situation of meeting people in the editorial industry. I never planned to write a book so I just let myself go with the flow and I started writing it. It’s been a beautiful process because I decided to put myself out there in a very honest way because I wanted to create empathy with someone that is reading and is finding him or herself in the same situation. My goal with this book is really to help people overcome the same struggles that I had by applying spirituality, self-development, self-awareness, however we want to call it. I thought that the good thing is allowing a very simple way of saying things. I’m very happy because the book is having huge success and I didn’t expect it. People love that, people love that you’re not writing things from the place of other gurus. I’m not a guru. I’m someone like you.

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adminJune 19, 2018
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3min12


Duchess Meghan made her debut Tuesday at the Royal Ascot, a series of hose races equivalent to the Kentucky Derby.

But while the Derby has plenty of froufrou dresses and hats, what it doesn’t have is the royal family parading by in carriages.

And where sister-in-law Duchess Kate has continued to wear outfits from her wedding dress designer, Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, Meghan is showing continued allegiance to hers, wearing her third white Givenchy ensemble by Clare Waight Keller — this time a long-sleeve, shirtdress with embroidery, belt and handkerchief hemline  — paired with a black-and-white hat from Philip Treacy, the preferred milliner of British high society. Her black clutch with jeweled clasp was also said to be from Givenchy. 

Meghan wasn’t the only Royal Ascot newbie; Sophie, Duchess of Wessex and the wife of the queen’s youngest son Edward, also made her debut. 

If you’re waiting to see what Duchess Kate wore, don’t hold your breath — Prince William had a conflicting event in Liverpool, so they skipped this year. (Revisit her look from last year, which put her legs on full display in a creamy lace McQueen dress.)

A rare misstep?:  Duchess Meghan is mocked for wearing baggy dress to wedding

More: Duchess Meghan’s first solo trip with queen begins with unprecedented ride on Royal Train

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adminJune 19, 2018
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4min14


A week after Mike Hoffman’s fiancée was accused of harassing Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson’s wife, he was traded twice in the same day.

The Senators traded proven scorer Hoffman to the San Jose Sharks for Mikkel Boedker in a deal that also sent defenseman Cody Donaghey and a fifth-round 2020 draft pick to San Jose. The Senators also received defenseman Julius Bergman and a sixth-round pick in 2020.

The Sharks then traded Hoffman and a seventh-round pick to the Florida Panthers for a second-, fourth- and fifth-round pick.

The Sharks essentially served as the intermediary in the trade, and ended up with multiple picks in exchange for Boedker. The Senators wanted a player for their lineup, not draft picks.

Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion said the move with the Sharks was made with the intent of “improving chemistry, leadership and character in the locker room and on the ice.”

“We are confident it is a step in the right direction for the long-term success of this organization,” Dorion said in a statement.

Hoffman, with two years left on his contract paying him an average of $5.25 million, has been the subject of trade rumors since the middle of last season.

Melinda Karlsson, the wife of Senators star Erik, has sought a protection order against Monika Caryk, Hoffman’s fiancée, amid allegations that Caryk “uttered numerous statements wishing my unborn child dead,” according to The Ottawa Citizen. 

The Karlssons’ first child, a son named Axel, was stillborn in March and after that occurred derogatory comments about Melissa were still being posted through social media.

Hoffman subsequently denied the allegations in a statement to the newspaper, and the Senators released a statement saying that they would investigate the matter in conjunction with the NHL.

A spokesperson for the Ottawa Police Department told USA TODAY Sports last week that the department “does not confirm or deny investigations about named persons” unless charges are filed.

Dorian was in a poor bargaining position because everyone in the NHL knew he had to deal Hoffman to help clean up any residual dressing room issue. Teams were less interested in Hoffman after this issue recently was revealed.

It’s also possible that Karlsson will soon be traded because the Senators are unlikely to be able to re-sign him next summer when his contract expires. The return on Karlsson will be strong, because Karlsson is the league’s most dominant puck-moving defenseman.

Contact Tom Schad at tschad@usatoday.com or on Twitter @Tom_Schad. 

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