DJ Khaled surprised Epic Records boss at award show. DJ Khaled went to great lengths to surprise Epic Records president Sylvia Rhone at the Culture Creator Awards at the Beverly Hilton. "He was escorted through a side door and then through the kitchen before hitting the stage," a spy told us. Epic artist Khaled gave Rhone regal recognition. "He kept saying, 'She is the queen. You hear me? The queen!' at least 12 times," a source said. Rhone received the Icon Award, while Jemele Hill, Jana Fleishman and Fatima Robinson were also honored. (PageSix)
When Michael Ray released his debut album in 2015, he says, he was trying hard to be "the cool guy." "You know what I mean?" Ray, 30, tells PEOPLE. "You gotta be 'the dude.'" Inside, though, he was still the guy who grew up in a double-wide trailer in small-town Florida, still the guy who learned about the Grand Ole Opry from his grandpa, and still the guy who has suffered his share of heartbreak, grief and troubles. But three years of meeting fans, he says, taught him "it's cool to be vulnerable as a man." Hearing people share their lives and stories, he says, helped him discover "it was okay to be really real, to be real open -- and I realized that's what we're here for." Now, he's channeled these revelations into his recently debuted second album, and its sense of authenticity begins with the title: Amos. It's the first name of his beloved grandfather, who died just two months before Ray made his Opry debut in 2015. A Florida phone company worker who spent weekends playing in a family country band, Amos Roach had a "passion for music that was unbelievable his whole life," Ray says. "He passed that passion and love down to my dad's generation ... And then here comes us, our generation of the family." Ray remembers being on stage, a toy Kermit the Frog guitar in hand, by the time he turned 3; his grandfather and uncle taught him to play a real guitar when he was 9, and he quickly became a full-fledged member of the band. When the time came to name the album, Ray says, someone at his label mentioned how much his grandfather is "a part of my story ... so why don't we name it that?" Ray says he didn't think twice: "Yeah, absolutely." Though his grandfather isn't the subject of any song, the name sets the tone for an album that Ray says is far more revealing and intimate than his first. For instance, two songs -- current single "Get to You" and "Her World or Mine" -- offer a glimpse of what Ray felt during his breakup last year with his longtime girlfriend. The heartbreak expressed in "Her World or Mine," Ray says, "is the reason I got into country music." The inspiring "Dancing Forever" put him in touch with his supportive relationship with his younger sister. "We all need to know that we've got that one person ... [who is] always going to have our back," he says. The energy of "Fan Girl" offers a vicarious experience of his live shows, he says. And "Drink One For Me" brings back memories of his hometown of Eustis, Florida, and all the buddies who went their separate ways, many into the military. In total, Ray sees the album as a reflection of the personal and professional growth he has experienced in the last couple of years -- and he's done a lot of growing. He's purchased his first home. He's learned the responsibility of being a touring artist who must lead a band and crew. More recently, he's had to endure watching his father undergo a second open-heart surgery. That health crisis last December, Ray says, helped him put into perspective his brush with the law only days before. The singer was arrested in Eustis for driving under the influence (a charge later reduced to reckless driving) and for felony possession of cannabis oil, both first offenses. Last week, a Florida court accepted Ray's pleas of no contest to the driving charge and guilty to the felony possession. For the first charge, he was fined $250, plus court costs; for the second charge, he must obey several court-ordered conditions, including abiding by the law, performing 50 hours of community service and submitting to possible spot checks for drug and alcohol abuse. If he follows the conditions for 18 months, prosecution will be permanently deferred. Because Ray is still under court supervision, he can't comment on the outcome of his case. But he does say the episode has made him even more grateful for the blessings in his life. When he found himself, days after the arrest, sitting in the hospital waiting room through his dad's surgery, he was reminded of his grandfather's words: "If you think you've got something wrong, there's somebody that would trade their left arm to be in your position." With his father now healed, Ray says, "everything else is good. God's got everything handled with all that other stuff." (People)
Panic! At The Disco's 'Pray For The Wicked' Leads U.K Midweek Chart. No need to panic. Panic! At The Disco's latest LP holds a respectable advantage over The Greatest Showman (Atlantic) in the race for the U.K. albums chart title. Pray For The Wicked (DCD2/Fueled By Ramen), the sixth Panic! studio set, is No. 1 on Update with a lead of 5,500 combined chart sales over its nearest rival, the Greatest Showman (Atlantic) motion picture cast recording, according to the OCC. Should Pray sit tight when the weekly survey is published this Friday, it will be the first Panic! No. 1 in the U.K., eclipsing 2008's No. 2-peaking Pretty Odd. Pray is also on racing to No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Other sets targeting top 10 debuts on the next Official U.K. Albums Chart include Jane McDonald's Cruising With (Channel 5), Kamasi Washington's Heaven & Earth(Young Turks Recordings) and Nine Inch Nails' Bad Witch (Null Corporation). Meanwhile, excitement around the Cure's career-spanning set at the Robert Smith-curated Meltdown Festival this week in London could vault the influential band's Mixed Up (Polydor/UMC) record back into the top tier. It's at No. 9 on the midweek chart. Following his untimely death on June 18, XXXTentacion's two albums are likely to return to the survey. At the halfway stage of the chart cycle, Question Mark (Virgin) is at No. 6 and 17 (Bad Vibes Forever) is at No. 14. On the midweek singles chart, George Ezra is firing up with "Shotgun" (Columbia), which improves 2-1 and bumps Clean Bandit featuring Demi Lovato's "Solo" (Atlantic) into second place. The British singer-songwriter has never managed better than No. 2 on the Official U.K. Singles Chart. (Billboard)
Wayne Newton Teaches the Men How to Serenade With 'Danke Schoen' on 'The Bachelorette'. Wayne Newton brought some Vegas magic to ABC's The Bachelorette on Monday night. The nine constants paid a visit to the veteran entertainer, known to his fans as Mr. Las Vegas, and his wife, for some advice on wooing the ladies with song. Newton, in mentor mode, challenged the men to write new lyrics for his signature song "Danke Schoen," with a simple twist: they had to perform it for Bachelorette Becca Kufrin. Wayne took the guys -- who he nicknamed the Bachelorette Rat Pack -- to the Aria Resort and Casino where they tried to weave their own musical spell. (Billboard)
Nu'Est W Experience 'Dejavu' in New Music Video. Korean boy band Nu'Est W returned with a new single on Monday (June 25), the sleek "Dejavu." "Dejavu" features a strong, funky bass line and atypical drops that propel the track between verses and choruses, creating an atmospheric, Latin pop-inspired dance track. With rhythmic beats, groovy strings, and tropical leanings, it's a pleasant return for the group, who last released new music in December. Both Baekho and JR had a hand in creating the song. The song leads their new EP, Who, You. Nu'est W is the four-member variant of Korean boy band Nu'est sans member Minhyun, who is currently part of temporary group Wanna One. The boy band, which gained popularity following its debut in 2012 with the anti-bullying track "Face," has undergone a renaissance since several members appeared on the popular Korean competition series Produce 101 last year, through which Minhyun became part of Wanna One. "Dejavu" is Nu'Est W's second single, following last year's "Where You At." The cinematic music video for "Dejavu" is full of mysterious imagery, including a goat, a young princess, video cameras and a compass that changed the directional markers with the quartet's initials, and also several throwbacks, or deja vus, to earlier Nu'Est video content: Baekho donned traditional clothing and a sword much like he had in his introductory video back in 2012, and there is an appearance of a bathtub, which was featured in the group's "Hello" video back in 2013. The video also features smooth choreography from the members as they both come together as a group and perform individual dances separately but interspersed with one another. Nu'Est has seen two albums, Q Is. and Canvas, appear on the World Albums chart. (Billboard)
Travis Scott Perform a Medley at 2018 NBA Awards. Travis Scott entered the land of the giants Monday night (June 25) when he performed at the second annual NBA Awards in Santa Monica. The hip-hop star bounced up to the stage for a medley of hits, including "Watch," "Goosebumps" & "Butterfly Effect," backed by some dizzying graphics. Travis' effort comes just a few weeks after he threw at assist to James Harden, the Houston Rockets guard and freshly-minted league MVP, at the Governors Ball in NYC. Meanwhile, the leading ballers in the game were on hand for the ceremony, which recognized the best plays and players from the 2017-18 season. Winners included Philadelphia 76ers star Australian-born guard Ben Simmons (rookie of the year), L.A. Clipper Lou Williams (sixth man) and Utah Jazz' French-born center Rudy Gobert (defensive player). Also, triple-double machine Oscar Robertson, aka "The Big O," accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award and Dikembe Mutombo, the towering defensive specialist, received the Sager Strong Award, presented to "an individual who has been a trailblazer while exemplifying courage, faith, compassion and grace." (Billboard)
DJ Paul's convinced -- today's young rappers are going to drive the genre right into the ground -- and he says it's all because they lack any originality. We talked to the Three 6 Mafia co-founder after he fired off a series of tweets directing his frustration at rappers for being straight-up lazy. Paul didn't name any names but, as you know, there have been PLENTY of artists whose songs have piggybacked off Three 6 Mafia family beats -- Rae Sremmurd's "Powerglide," J. Cole's "No Role Modelz," Cardi B's "Bickenhead" and G-Eazy's "No Limit" ... just to name a few. The Memphis rapper doesn't mince words ... he says this is the worst state hip-hop's been in since he can remember. But, check it out ... he does tip his hat to 1 particular rapper. (TMZ)