Elton John condemns DaBaby for fuelling “stigma” around HIV

Elton John has responded to comments made by DaBaby during his set at Rolling Loud Miami over the weekend.

The North Carolina rapper (real name Jonathan Kirk) drew criticism for controversial comments he made surrounding homosexuality and HIV/AIDS onstage at the festival on Sunday (July 25).

“If you didn’t show up today with HIV, AIDS, any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that’ll make you die in two or three weeks, put your cellphone light up.,” he could be heard saying in footage from his set.

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He added: “Ladies, if your pussy smell like water, put your cellphone light up. Fellas, if you ain’t sucking dick in the parking lot, put your cellphone light up.”

DaBaby also claimed HIV will “make you die in two or three weeks”.

John – who founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation charity in 1992 – took to Instagram earlier today (July 28) to share his thoughts on the rapper’s comments and to offer some facts and figures relating to HIV.

“We’ve been shocked to read about the HIV misinformation and homophobic statements made at a recent DaBaby show,” John wrote. “This fuels stigma and discrimination and is the opposite of what our world needs to fight the AIDS epidemic.”

The singer then shared a few key facts and statistics:

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“HIV has affected over 70 million people globally: men, women, children and the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“In America, a gay black man has a 50% lifetime chance of contracting HIV. Stigma and shame around HIV and homosexuality is a huge driver of this vulnerability. We need to break down the myths and judgements and not fuel these.

“You can live a long and healthy life with HIV. Treatment is so advanced that with one pill a day, HIV can become undetectable in your body so you can’t pass it onto other people.”

John concluded his post by pointing out that “a musician’s job is to bring people together”, therefore there is no place in our society and industry for “homophobic and HIV mistruths”.

“As musicians, we must spread compassion and love for the most marginalised people in our communities,” he added.

Dua Lipa – whose 2020 ‘Levitating’ remix features a verse from DaBaby – has said she is “surprised and horrified” by the rapper’s comments.

“I really don’t recognise this as the person I worked with,” she said in a post to her Instagram Story. “I know my fans know where my heart lies and that I stand 100 per cent with the LGTBQ community. We need to come together to fight the stigma and ignorance around HIV/AIDS.”

DaBaby has since taken to Twitter to offer an apology for his remarks. “What I said was insensitive,” he said, “Even though I have no intentions on offending anybody. So my apologies.”

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Martin Shkreli’s $2million Wu-Tang Clan album has been sold by the US government

The US government have found a new owner for the only known copy of Wu-Tang Clan’s 2015 album ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’, after seizing it from controversial ‘pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli upon his incarceration in 2018.

According to a press release issued by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the album has been sold to an undisclosed buyer for an undisclosed price. The sale’s contract reportedly “contains a confidentiality provision that protects information relating to the buyer and price.”

Proceeds are being used to settle Shkreli’s $7.4million debt with the US government. Per documents released by the court, the album’s sale fully quashes that debt.

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“Through the diligent and persistent efforts of this Office and its law enforcement partners, Shkreli has been held accountable and paid the price for lying and stealing from investors to enrich himself,” Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement. “With today’s sale of this one-of-a-kind album, his payment of the forfeiture is now complete.”

Recorded in secret between 2007 and 2013, ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’ became the most expensive record ever sold when it was auctioned off in December of 2015. Shkreli – best known as the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, with whom he raised the price of AIDS drug Daraprim from £9.70 ($13.50) per pill to £540 ($750) – paid a total of £1.44million ($2million) for the two-disc CD.

However, 2017 saw Shkreli charged with two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiring to commit securities fraud, and was eventually sentenced to seven years in federal prison and up to £5.33million ($7.4million) in fines. As part of his sentencing, Shkreli was ordered to forfeit his copy of the Wu-Tang album.

‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’

‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’ was a controversial record even without Shkreli in the picture. In 2018, it was reported Wu-Tang Clan were being sued for $1million by the photographer behind its cover art. The photographer, Warren Patterson, claimed he spent 80 hours between 2013 and 2014 shooting photos of the silver case with the Wu-Tang logo on it.

The album, said to feature collaborations with the likes of Cher, was stored in a vault in Morocco until its sale – much to the dismay of Wu-Tang member Method Man, who was not made aware of the group’s release plans in advance.

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“I’m tired of this shit and I know everybody else is tired of it, too,” he told XXL. “Fuck that album, if that’s what they are doing…Give it to the people, if they want to hear the shit, let them have it. Give it away free. I don’t give a fuck; that ain’t making nobody rich or poor. Give the fucking music out. Stop playing with the public, man.”

Shortly after Shkreli’s incarceration, RZA said he had attempted to reclaim the CD copy. “I’ve actually tried to get it back, but the paperwork and the contract stops me from getting it back,” he told Rolling Stone in March of 2018. “When [Shkreli] put it on eBay, the first thing I did was call my lawyer, and I was like, ‘Yo, let’s go.’ And they said, ‘Alright, check your contract.’ And it’s no, you can’t do it. Ain’t that a bitch?”

Though ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’ was never released to the public, Shkreli did play clips of it during a livestream in 2017, during which he discussed the intricacies of his fraud conviction. One of the stipulations Shkreli was bound to when he purchased the album was that he couldn’t reproduce it for at least 88 years, per copyright law.

After Ghostface Killah publicly branded Shkreli a “shithead” and criticised his decision to raise the price of Daraprim, Shkreli threatened to erase Ghostface’s parts on the album.

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Young Thug premieres tracks from forthcoming punk album during Tiny Desk Concert

Young Thug is the latest act to perform for NPR’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert series, where he premiered a number of new tracks from his forthcoming punk album.

The concert was filmed in the gardens of the Houdini Estate in Los Angeles. The setlist included four new songs – ‘Die Slow’, ‘Droppin’ Jewels’, ‘Hate The Game’, ‘Tick Tock’ – and a reworked version of ‘Ski’, where the rapper was joined by blink-182 drummer Travis Barker.

Watch the performance below:

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According to the video’s description – as well as the back of Young Thug’s shirt – ‘Punk’ is due out October 15. It follows on from his 2019 solo album ‘So Much Fun’.

“Thug is using his Tiny Desk debut to usher in his next era, one that’s meant to represent ‘authenticity, consciousness and overall purity’,” Tiny Desk producer Sidney Madden wrote.

“The Grammy winner’s rhymes slither along smoothly no matter how rough the music, taking fans on a journey of energy and emotion.”

Young Thug has mentioned releasing a punk album as far as 2019, when he discussed the project with The FADER.

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“It’s most definitely touching music,” he said. “It’s music that the world is going to embrace.

“[‘Punk’] means brave, not self-centered; conscious. Very, very neglected; very misunderstood. Very patient; very authentic.”

The rapper also previewed ‘Tick Tock’ during his performance at Rolling Loud Miami over the weekend.

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Wizkid announces one-off London O2 Arena show for 2021

Wizkid has announced a one-off show at London’s O2 Arena – see all the details below.

The Nigerian artist, who released his latest album ‘Made In Lagos’ last October, will take to the stage at the 20,000-capacity venue on Sunday, November 28.

Tickets go on general sale here at 10am BST on August 6, with a pre-sale due to take place at the same time the previous day (sign up here).

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Announcing the gig on Twitter today (July 26), Wizkid wrote: “This one’s special.” You can see that post below.

The O2 Arena performance will follow a string of US dates throughout September and October 2021 – see the full schedule here.

Back in April, Wizkid shared the official for ‘Essence’, his collaboration with Nigerian singer-songwriter Tems. The song appears on ‘Made In Lagos’, which also features collaborations with Damian Marley, Skepta and more.

Reviewing the 14-track record upon its release, NME wrote: “While each of WizKid’s previous projects excited and shook listeners with energy, ‘Made In Lagos’ sadly lacks a certain panache, despite its author’s vitality.”

Earlier this year, Wizkid joined other Nigerian stars including Burna Boy in condemning police brutality in Nigeria, perpetrated by the country’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

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WizKid was seen leading protests against SARS in London last October. “For Nigerians youths, don’t let anyone tell you you don’t have a voice,” he told the crowd at the protest, speaking after the country’s Inspector General of Police announced that SARS would be dissolved.

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HIV charity hit back at DaBaby for “spreading misinformation”

DaBaby has received backlash following comments he made over the weekend about gay men and people with HIV.

Appearing at Rolling Loud Miami over the weekend, the North Carolina rapper could be heard saying in footage from his set: “If you didn’t show up today with HIV, AIDS, any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that’ll make you die in two or three weeks, put your cellphone light up.

“Ladies, if your pussy smell like water, put your cellphone light up. Fellas, if you ain’t sucking dick in the parking lot, put your cellphone light up.”

He also claimed HIV will “make you die in two or three weeks”.

After many criticised the rapper’s statements as homophobic, he doubled down on his opinion on his Instagram stories with a lengthy 19 video response.

“What I do at a live show is for the audience at the live show. It’ll never translate correctly to somebody looking at a little five, six-second clip from their goddamn crib on their phone. It just don’t work like that,” the rapper said.

“Because, regardless of what y’all motherfuckers are talking about and how the internet twisted up my motherfucking words, me and all my fans at the show, the gay ones and the straight ones, we turned the fuck up.”

DaBaby
DaBaby. CREDIT: Press

The UK’s leading HIV and Aids charity, Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), has responded to DaBaby’s comments, stating that they “perpetuate HIV-related stigma and discrimination, as well as spreading misinformation about HIV.”

“It’s wrong for people living with HIV to be made to feel lesser or excluded because of their diagnosis – it should be unacceptable in the music industry and in society at large,” said Richard Angell, THT’s campaigns director.

“Comments like DaBaby’s perpetuate HIV-related stigma and discrimination, as well as spreading misinformation about HIV,” he continued. “You can now live a long, healthy life with HIV thanks to medical progress when you’re diagnosed and accessing treatment.”

Medication that helps manage and stop the spread of HIV has been available since 1996.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEp) was first introduced in 2012, which can be taken by people who do not have HIV to prevent catching it, has helped to reduce infection numbers.

In September 2020, the government announced the PrEP grant determination for 2020-21, which meant councils in England could finally provide uncapped access to the game-changing HIV prevention drug.

Those who have HIV and are on treatment can be undetectable – meaning their blood carries such low amounts of the virus that they are unable to pass it on to others.

T.I.
T.I. CREDIT: Getty Images

Meanwhile, T.I. has used Lil Nas X to make a bizarre defence of DaBaby’s homophobic comments, equating them to the ‘Montero’ rapper‘s openness about his sexuality in his music.

“For instance, the Lil Nas X shit. The performances and video, man I got a lot of respect for bruh because he had the courage to live his truth, but that shit ain’t for me… Just can’t look at it… And I don’t want my children seeing it, either,” he said.

He expanded on that comment later on in the video, saying, “If you have a Lil Nas X video, and him living his truth, you gone damn sure have people like DaBaby who are going to speak they truth. There ain’t nothing wrong with none of that. It ain’t got to be no hate, it’s all honesty.”

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