Janelle Monae to Join Belgian Star Stromae at Madison Square Garden

Janelle Monáe will join Belgian dance-pop star Stromae at his headlining gig at Madison Square Garden in New York City on October 1st.

Stromae is the first French-language artist to headline the hallowed arena. The concert will conclude Stromae's North American tour, which kicks off September 12th at the James L. Knight Center in Miami. Save for that gig, Stromae will be supported by Jidenna, the first artist Monáe announced from her revamped Epic Records imprint, Wondaland Records. A complete list of Stromae's fall dates is available here.

Stromae remains on the road in support of his massively successful 2013 LP, Racine Carrée. The LP's first single, "Papaoutai," reached Number One on iTunes in 18 countries, while his music has garnered praise from Madonna, Diplo, Sam Smith, Lorde — who featured him on the Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 soundtrack — and Kanye West, who joined him on stage at Coachella in April.

As for Monáe, the singer has been busy with her Wondaland label, which will release Wondaland Presents: The Eephus on August 14th. The five-track EP boasts Monáe and Jidenna's collaboration, "Yoga," as well as Jidenna's single, "Classic Man." The compilation also includes songs from other Wondaland acts, St. Beauty, Deep Cotton and Roman GianArthur.

The Eephus marks Wondaland's first project after striking a deal with L.A. Reid and Epic Records earlier this year after being courted by numerous major labels, as Billboard reported. "It's not just one type of artist, but there's a connective tissue," Mikael Moore — Monae's manager and official head of Wondaland — said of the tight-knit group. "It's about the collective rather than individuals — Janelle is the proprietor, but they're partners with her."

Merle Haggard: ‘Prison Is the Biggest Business in America’

Merle Haggard has changed his stance on pot smoking since his "Okie From Muskogee" days. The former anti-hippy and right wing hero is now putting the bake back in Bakersfield with Willie Nelson on their recent collaboration, "It's All Gone to Pot."

"At the time I wrote 'Okie From Muskogee,' I didn't smoke,” Haggard tells Men’s Journal. "It was '68. I had been brainwashed like most of America about what marijuana would and wouldn't do. I thought it was responsible for the flower children walking around with their mouths open. It was not so. But if a guy doesn't learn anything in 50 years, there's something wrong with him. I've learned a lot about it, and America has, too."

It wasn't drugs but attempted robbery that landed the California native behind bars in 1957. It was in San Quentin Prison where he would eventually hear Johnny Cash perform, partly inspiring his decision to join the prison band and turn his life around to pursue a music career. 

It's reasonable to assume if Haggard had been smoking weed instead of breaking into diners, his songwriting wouldn't have been so informed, (or realized at all). 

"I believe that if you break the law and get caught, you should go to jail," reasons the 78-year-old country icon. "But we're in a hard time in America now, with all the trouble with police in the cities. Prison is the biggest business in America. Bigger than marijuana! You got the money, you can build a prison out in Nevada and it'll be filled before you finish building it. That's a fact, and that's a shame."

Between Haggard's stance on prison reform and his new appreciation of marijuana, it sounds like country music’s legendary badass has some new songwriting territory to explore. His most recent album, Django and Jimmie, with longtime pal Willie Nelson, debuted at Number One on the country charts.

Pharrell Braces for Protests During South African Tour

Pharrell Williams will face protests during his South African tour next months from a pro-Palestinian group that opposes his partnership with Woolworths, a major retailer in the country that has trade ties with Israel, Reuters reports.

The South African branch of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel (BDS) — a movement opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestine — is upset about Pharrell's involvement in Woolworths' "Are You With Us" campaign. The musician will act as style director on several projects, including a fashion line and fundraising for education, all of which are centered around promoting sustainability.

A representative for Williams could not make the singer immediately available for comment. Representatives for Woolworths and BDS did not immediately reply to requests for comments.

The City of Cape Town has already responded to the potential action by denying BDS an application to stage a protest the night of Pharrell's first concert, September 21st. The venue, Grand West Casino, has also said they will not allow any protests on their property. 

Still, Braam Hanekom, a BDS South Africa board member, said protestors could block roads to the venues on concert nights, delay proceedings or even gather within the venue. 

"He is about to face the biggest backlash any artist has faced in South Africa in over 30 years, since the days of apartheid," Hanekom said. "He is walking into a very angry, unhappy environment because he has chosen to walk with Woolworths."

In a previously released statement, Woolworths said that it did not source produce from Palestinian territories occupied by Israel, and that less than 0.1 percent of its food came from Israel. Still, the BDS protests are expected to draw large numbers, especially in Cape Town, where a large Muslim community resides.

Pharrell is not the first musician to be targeted by BDS, and the movement's previous campaigns have been successful. In May, Lauryn Hill canceled a concert in Tel Aviv, Israel at the behest of BDS and other Palestine solidarity organizations; and last year Sinead O'Connor withdrew from her show in Israel under similar circumstances. Other musicians, including Thurston Moore and Roger Waters, have spoken against the Israeli occupation and refused to perform in the country, as well, citing their support of BDS.

Flashback: Jimmy Page Forms Short-Lived Supergroup With Members of Yes

The very early 1980s was a scary and confusing times for many rock gods of the previous decade. This new thing called MTV was turning oddball British acts like Kajagoogoo, Adam Ant, Culture Club and Haircut 100 into overnight stars, and 1970s stadium rock giants like the Who, the Eagles, Wings, Emerson, Lane and Palmer, Led Zeppelin and Yes were breaking up with stunning regularity. What do you do when you're in your early thirties and all of a sudden your band is gone and nobody wants a 10-minute drum solo?

Few rockers was more flummoxed by these changes than Jimmy Page. Led Zeppelin was the culmination of his life's work, and it ended the moment that John Bonham was pronounced dead after downing 40 shots of vodka in a single night. The guitarist wasn't about to recruit three unknowns and start a new band from scratch. He was playing to places like the Pontiac Silverdome in 1977, and there was no way he was going back to dusty nightclubs. 

The guys in Yes faced a similar dilemma. They tried to carry on with Buggles lead singer Trevor Horn after Jon Anderson left in 1979, but fans weren't ready to embrace Yes with a new frontman and the group split up in 1980. Bassist Chris Squire and Alan White wanted to keep working together, and they lived pretty close to Jimmy Page in Surrey, England. The three of them came together and began jamming with keyboardist Dave Lawson.

"I had great respect for the music of Yes, how precise it was," Page told Rolling Stone in 2012. "We got together; they had some interesting stuff. It was challenging for me, but I got there. I had some material I brought to them. It was good synchronicity. . . Chris had this wonderful name for it: XYZ, because it was ex-Yes and ex-Zeppelin. Then it was clear that the person who was mediating was approaching Robert [Plant] as to whether he would like to come down and have a listen. Of course, he wasn't interested at all."

Plant did show up for a single session on February 25th, 1981, but the music was a little too proggy for his tastes and Bonham's death was still too recent and painful. He passed on the project, though the others decided to forge ahead with Chris Squire on lead vocals. They cut a series of demos before deciding it wasn't going to work. "The material was good," Page said. "I have the multi-tracks. I hope they see the light of day."

Somehow, the tapes leaked to bootleggers long ago. For years they circulated amongst hardcore Yes and Zeppelin fans, but due to the magic of YouTube you can stream them above. Here are the songs "Mind Drive" and "Fortune Hunter." (The former was reworked on the 1997 Yes album Keys to Ascension 2 and the latter was used on The Firm's 1986 LP Mean Business.)

Noel Gallagher Compares Apple Music to George Orwell

Noel Gallagher bemoaned the state of the album in the age of streaming and blasted Apple Music's 24/7 Internet radio, Beats 1, during an interview on the Varvet International podcast, saying, "Apple Music, world radio, is that some sort of George Orwell shit going on?

"How can you be so arrogant that you can say, 'We now fucking own world radio,'" Gallagher continued. "It came up on my phone, it's there. What would I listen to? It's not playing the Kinks. Unless there's a fucking section that says 'Noel Gallagher's music collection' then I won't be listening to it."

Gallagher also took umbrage with the service's other feature, "Connect," which allows fans to follow particular artists. Noting how not knowing every detail about the Smiths never affected his excitement for a new album, the musician went on to quip, "Who cares what fucking Thom Yorke is up to? Seriously, who gives a shit? I'd find it creepy if everyone wanted to know what I was up to."

But beyond the specter of Big Brother, Gallagher suggested that Apple Music's heavily curated playlists, which give someone else the power of music selection for a monthly fee, are having a detrimental effect on the way fans engage with music and albums in particular.

"If you tell me now that the record-buying era is over, that makes me sad; that the culture of buying and believing in a record is over," Gallagher said. "That era is over and the belief is that music is for hire and for rent; the money that you pay lets you access everybody's music but own none of it. I think that's a sad day. I understand that it’s the future, but it's a sad day."

Gallagher has been vocal about streaming services in the past, taking Jay Z's Tidal venture to task in a recent interview with Rolling Stone. The former Oasis rocker sardonically compared the horde of all-star musicians who helped launch the streaming service to the Avengers, adding: "They were like, 'We're going to fuckin' save the music business.' And I'm just sitting there, thinking [imitates smoking weed] you might want to write a decent chorus for a fuckin' start. Never mind fuckin' royalties and the 'power of music.' Write a tune. Fuckin' start with that."

Paul Stanley Is Now a Singer in a Soul Music Cover Band

This fall, Kiss singer-guitarist Paul Stanley will begin a surprising new gig: soul singer. His new side group, Soul Station, which plays a mix of Sixties and Seventies soul classics, will perform its first-ever concert at Los Angeles' Roxy Theatre on September 11th. "I don't play guitar in the band and we don't do a single Kiss song," Stanley said in a statement. "That's not what this is about."

The Kiss vocalist's nine-person Soul Station backing band consists of musicians who have played with artists ranging from Christina Aguilera to Bobby Brown. Its drummer, Eric Singer, also plays with Stanley in Kiss. The group will play a mix of songs by the Stylistics, Dramatics, Temptations, Smokey and the Miracles and Blue Magic, among others.

"We're living in a time of being fed canned pre-programmed backing tracks and lip syncing in place of the electricity and passion of real live R&B," Stanley said. "When I was a boy, before I ever saw the Who or Led Zeppelin, I saw Solomon Burke and Otis Redding. I saw the Temptations and all that music is part of the foundation of the music I've made. Soul Station is my chance to celebrate it for a night that's real, live and faithfully recreates the sound with the respect it deserves.... These songs, arrangements and sound just blow you away."

In the meantime, Kiss remain as active as ever. After Stanley's Soul Station gig, the band will play a run of shows in Australia and New Zealand in October.

In other Kiss news, the group recently partnered with the makers of Scooby-Doo for a new feature-length cartoon, and the band was honored by songwriting-royalties organization ASCAP with a "Founders Award" at a gala where Dave Grohl called them his childhood superheroes. The band's singer-bassist, Gene Simmons, has also launched a film venture with WWE studios, which will make "elevated horror movies."

Hear FKA Twigs’ Sparse, Melodic New Song, ‘Figure 8′

FKA Twigs unveiled "Figure 8," another new track from her upcoming EP, on Zane Lowe's Beats 1 radio show Monday. The LP1 singer also spoke about what inspired the darkly sparse yet melodic "Figure 8" as well as her plans for new music.

"I wrote 'Figure 8' after I finished LP1, maybe four or five months later," Twigs said. "It's called 'Figure 8' because obviously eight represents eternity and I was just feeling actually quite sad and feeling a bit lost, because after you release a record you get thrown into this weird world and it's difficult to keep hold of who you are and what you want to do." The relentless touring behind LP1 also left Twigs without anything to hold onto, but she reveals she found solace in vogue dancing – where every hand movement makes a figure 8 – and that inspired the new track.

As for when fans can expect new music, Twigs told Lowe, "I actually finished this EP around November, but it's just taking me awhile to complete the videos and get my headspace together. I just believe in doing things right." Now that Twigs' recent tour concluded this weekend in Chicago – where she was named one of Rolling Stone's 40 Best Things We Saw at Lollapalooza – the singer says she'll head back to England, work on the "Figure 8" video and start work on the follow-up to LP1. However, no release date has been announced for her upcoming EP other than a promise that it will arrive later his year.

In March, Twigs unveiled the music video for "Glass & Patron," another cut off her upcoming EP.

Luke Bryan to Stream Live New York Show

This Friday, August 7th, country superstar Luke Bryan will celebrate the release of his fifth full-length album, Kill the Lights with a live-streamed performance and party at New York City's Irving Plaza.
Tickets are on sale Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. ET to Citi cardholders. For fans unable to attend, the exclusive concert will stream live at 9:00 p.m. ET on Yahoo's Live Nation Channel. Fans can also stream the concert through the Yahoo Screen App on mobile devices.

Kill the Lights is the follow up to Bryan's most successful project to date, Crash My Party. The reigning Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year has placed 12 singles at Number One and sold 7.5 million albums with 30 million digital tracks downloaded. His current Kick the Dust Up tour will continue through October, and is also the title of the first single from the new album.

"'Kick the Dust Up' isn't indicative of everything on [Kill the Lights]," Bryan told Rolling Stone Country earlier this summer. "The main thing is 'Kick the Dust Up' gets it goin', gets it rockin'. It's a big, fun, summer, outdoorsy anthem."

In that case, Irving Plaza will offer an appropriate setting for the album release show, in a spirited but slightly more intimate way than, say, the seven arenas lined up on the rest of the tour. "I am so excited to be getting this new music out to my fans and cannot wait to be on stage and enjoy the album release night with them!" Bryan writes in a statement.

Cee Lo Green Speaks on ‘Highly Irresponsible’ Rape Tweets

Cee Lo Green has apologized for controversial tweets regarding rape that the singer made in August 2014 after he pleaded no contest to drug charges. "I do realize in retrospect that it was highly sensitive, what I tweeted – highly irresponsible," Green said. "It did stem from emotion causing some involuntary action, and I do believe that, maybe just possibly, we could all give each other a margin for human error."

Speaking to The Sunday Times (via NME), Green said of his tweets, "In those instances I do realize I'm an artist, that I'm flawed; and sometimes, you know, you don't think. I was most certainly not thinking, not considering whom I might offend. And to those many people, however many or however few, I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize again."

Green pleaded no contest in August 2014 to one felony count of furnishing a controlled substance stemming from the July 2012 incident where a woman accused him of slipping ecstasy into her drink. As part of his plea deal, Green admitted that he "shared" the drug with woman but did not "slip" it. Green was ordered to complete 360 hours of community service alongside 52 Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

Green was not charged with rape after prosecutors found the sex to be consensual, and soon after pleading no contest, the singer defended himself on Twitter, where he implied that it's not rape if the person is "passed out." "If someone is passed out they're not even WITH you consciously, so WITH implies consent," Green tweeted. "People who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!"

Green soon removed the tweets, apologized ("I'd never condone the harm of any women") and briefly deleted his Twitter account entirely.

Green was so regretful about what he tweeted and how people now perceived him that he wanted to name his new album Girl Power before he ultimately settled on the title Heart Blanche. "At one point it was called Girl Power, because it is all about the adornment, the upliftment, the exaltment and the appreciation of all things woman," Green said, describing women as "our most miraculous muse - an enchantment that encourages all art."

Heart Blanche is due out November 13th. The singer has already shared his interactive Google search-fueled lyric video for "Robin Williams."

Drake Roasts Meek Mill, Brings Out Kanye, Pharrell at OVO Festival Set

Drake escalated his ongoing beef with Meek Mill Monday night, closing out Toronto's OVO Fest with a performance highlighted by guests – including Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Future and Travi$ Scott – and memes making fun of his rap rival.

The Toronto native opened his set by performing his two Meek Mill diss tracks, "Back to Back" and "Charged Up," as Meek-bashing memes flashed behind him on massive screens. (One noteworthy, unwanted accolade: A "Participation Award" certificate for Meek Mill's response track, "Wanna Know.") 

The battle began, though, even before the show, as Drake showed up to his OVO rehearsal wearing a "Free Meek Mill" T-shirt. Drake previously wore the shirt during a 2014 tour, though with a completely different intent – in support for Meek, who was incarcerated at the time because of a revoked parole connected to a 2008 conviction of drug dealing and gun possession.

For Monday's OVO set, Drake brought out a parade of high-profile guests during his viral-friendly performance. After a surprise spot from Future, Kanye West performed his own 12-song mini-set, including new tracks "Wolves" and "All Day" and two collaborations with Travi$ Scott. West also united with Drake on "Blessings," their recent collaboration with Big Sean.

After a brief solo performance, highlighted by the live debut of his track "Hotline Bling," Drake was joined by Pharrell to perform Daft Punk's "Get Lucky." Drake ended the set with a variety of solo tracks, concluding with his Meek Mill collaboration, "R.I.C.O." During his set, the rapper teased his rumored third Meek Mill diss track "3 Peat," but the song has yet to materialize.

The Drake/Meek Mill drama started in late July, when Meek accused the rapper of using a ghostwriter, Quentin Miller (who was openly credited on Drake's 2015 LP, If You're Reading This It's Too Late). "Stop comparing Drake to me too," Meek tweeted. "He don't write his own raps! That's why he ain't tweet my album because we found out!"

Both Miller and Drake's longtime producer Noah "40" Shebib denied that Drake used the services of a "ghostwriter." ("I am not and never will be a 'ghostwriter' for Drake," Miller wrote on his Tumblr.)

Drake first responded with the mellow diss track "Charged Up," – which Meek called "baby lotion soft" – then delivered a grittier K.O. punch three days later with "Back to Back." Meek fired back with his own diss, "Wanna Know," but the court of public opinion has ruled thus far on Drake's side: The track was roundly criticized, with corporations, politicians and NBA stars like Kevin Durant and Isaiah Thomas showing support for the Toronto native.