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Jelly Roll Headlines CRS’s Lively New Faces Show



You certainly can’t blame even the most confident of artists for feeling a little nervous when performing before hundreds of radio programmers who can control their fate. 

So it was completely understandable that many of the developing acts playing at the 2023 New Faces show, which closed out Country Radio Seminar in Nashville Wednesday night (March 15), expressed jitters. 

“I’ll be honest with y’all, I always get a little nervous before a show, but I’m f—ing trembling tonight,” said Stony Creek/BBR act Jelly Roll, who closed the show. This sentiment came from a man who recently sold out Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. “It’s not often you get to play for the people that changed your life,” he added, expressing largely the same words as his fellow Class of 2023 members.

Like Jelly Roll, Arista’s Nate Smith has already scored a No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, but he admitted to butterflies as well. “I’m shaking… I guess I’m alive,” he said. “Thank you country radio for letting me do this for a job.”

Hosted by Nights With Elaina syndicated radio host Elaina Smith, the evening opened with a tribute to Charlie Monk, co-founder of CRS and a 40-time host of the New Faces show, before Stoney Creek/BBR artist Frank Ray took the stage.

The smooth-voiced crooner started with “Country’d Look Good on You,” which the former cop took to No. 17 on Country Airplay in 2022. He multitasked on the next song, the beachy “Tequila Mockingbird,” breaking into Redbone’s 1974 hit “Come and Get Your Love” halfway through, while taking a shot of tequila from the audience. The energetic Ray followed with his new single, out March 20, the kiss-off song “Somebody Else’s Whiskey.” Next came party ode, “Y’all Showed Up,” before he concluded with “Streetlights,” which showed off his Latin roots, as he incorporated salsa dancers on stage and switched from English to Spanish, while adding bits of Luis Fonsi/Justin Bieber’s smash “Despacito” into the lyrics.

Big Machine’s Jackson Dean, who is on the road with Blake Shelton, followed Ray with his own brand of intense, brooding country rock, opening with an extended version of the thumping “Wings,” before segueing into unreleased track “Heavens to Betsy,” which he declared, “this is a damn good one.” His set included current single, “Fearless,” a mid-tempo love ballad (or as close as Dean gets to a love song).  “Y’all have changed my life and the life of my band up here,” he said, thanking the radio programmers in the room. “Thank you for changing my life,” he said before he and his tight band broke into his swampy, driving No. 3 Country Airplay hit, “Don’t Come Lookin’”

Mercury/UMG Nashville act Priscilla Block, who is opening for Shania Twain on her spring tour, kicked off her set with “My Bar,” her feisty tune about not letting her ex run her off from her favorite watering hole, which reached No. 26 on the Country Airplay chart. She kept the drinking songs coming with stomping “Off the Deep End.” Discovering her glittery blue guitar was unplugged, she got a big laugh when she told the audience, “If this thing wasn’t a little bit of a shit show, y’all would probably be disappointed.” She found her stride on mid-tempo, twangy “Me Pt. 2,” written after she saw her ex boyfriend with his new girlfriend. She followed with “Just About Over You,” the TikTok viral song that helped her land her major label deal after it soared to No. 1 on iTunes Country Chart in June 2020. “I’ve always believed in myself, I was just waiting for other people to start believing in me,” she said before thanking Mike Dungan, outgoing CEO/chairman of UMG Nashville, for signing her. She finished by shot gunning a beer and throwing the can into the audience.

Smith’s rock leanings showed even before he hit the stage through his opening video that included Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle,” Skrillex’s “Bangarang” and AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” The leather jacket-clad Arista/Sony Nashville artist  took the stage with up-tempo track, “Name Stores After,” a tune off his self-titled debut coming April 28. Segueing into an impassioned performance of ballad “Wreckage,” Smith confessed his nerves, but it certainly showed no affect on his vocals, as he launched into the moving “Better Boy,” a recently-released track from the upcoming set before he powered through his recent two-week Country Airplay No. 1 “Whiskey on You,” showing off his considerable vocal power. 

The evening ended with Jelly Roll, who took the audience to church with his songs of sin and redemption, storming onto stage screaming, “What’s up, mother f—ers?”

He raised  the energy level in the room with the pulsating, “Halfway to Hell,” before moving into his current single, the rocking “Need a Favor,” which includes the trenchant line “I only pray when I ain’t got a prayer.” His January chart-topper “Son of A Sinner,” inspired one of the few singalongs of the night as radio programmers raised their phones in unison to film Jelly Roll, who jumped into the crowd to kiss Tracy Lawrence, who has received the Tom Rivers Humanitarian Award only moments before. 

The Stoney Creek artist brought out Brantley Gilbert and Struggle Jennings for the intense-mid tempo propulsive hypnotic “Behind Bars” — as in “most of my friends are behind bars” — one of two songs on his June 2 debut, Whitsett Chapel, with guest features. He closed with “Save Me,” a song that he released a few years ago, but will get a new life on the new album. Singing in his upper register, Jelly Roll, who kicks off a 44-city headlining arena/amphitheater tour in July, pled for someone to save him from himself on the emotional power ballad. His raw authenticity gained him a well-deserved, standing ovation. 

The New Faces acts, who are voted on by full-time employees involved in the programming, promotion and distribution of country music, must meet eligibility requirements, which include charting one, but no more than five, top 25 singles on any Mediabase or Luminate country chart. 

Past New Faces artists include George Strait, Kathy Mattea, Travis Tritt, LeAnn Rimes, Brad Paisley, Zac Brown Band, Miranda Lambert, Florida Georgia Line, Sam Hunt, Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Combs, Brothers Osborne, Jimmie Allen and Lainey Wilson.

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Lindsay Lohan, Lil Yachty, Jake Paul Among Celebrities Hit With SEC Charges for Touting Crypto



Lindsay Lohan, Jake Paul, Ne-Yo and rapper Lil Yachty are among the eight notable names who have been hit with Securities and Exchange Commission charges for violating securities laws in touting crypto currencies.

The SEC on Wednesday disclosed that charges were filed against eight celebrities in connection with the broader investigation of crypto entrepreneur Justin Sun and three of his companies: Tron Foundation Limited, BitTorrent Foundation Ltd., and Rainberry Inc., which marketed crypto asset securities under the brand names Tronix (TRX) and BitTorrent (BTT).

The eight boldface names were charged with “illegally touting TRX and/or BTT without disclosing that they were compensated for doing so and the amount of their compensation,” according to the SEC.

The list also includes rapper Soulja Boy, singers Austin Mahone and Akon and adult film star Kendra Lust. All but Mahone and Soulja Boy (aka DeAndre Cortez Way) have reached settlements with the SEC that involve “more than $400,000 in disgorgement, interest, and penalties to settle the charges, without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings,” per the SEC.

“This case demonstrates again the high risk investors face when crypto asset securities are offered and sold without proper disclosure,” said SEC chair Gary Gensler. “As alleged, Sun and his companies not only targeted U.S. investors in their unregistered offers and sales, generating millions in illegal proceeds at the expense of investors, but they also coordinated wash trading on an unregistered trading platform to create the misleading appearance of active trading in TRX. Sun further induced investors to purchase TRX and BTT by orchestrating a promotional campaign in which he and his celebrity promoters hid the fact that the celebrities were paid for their tweets.”

The SEC complaint, filed in New York’s Southern District federal court, accuses Sun of instructing the eight celebrities to not disclose that they were being paid to tout TRX and BTT assets on social media platforms.

A representative for Lohan said the actor was unaware of any disclosure obligations.

“Lindsay was contacted in March 2022 and was unaware of the disclosure requirement. She agreed to pay a fine to resolve the matter,” said spokeswoman Leslie Sloane.

Sun is accused of taking numerous steps to manipulate the market for those currencies through “wash trading,” which is explained by the SEC as a process that “involves the simultaneous or near-simultaneous purchase and sale of a security to make it appear actively traded without an actual change in beneficial ownership.” From April 2018 to February 2019, Sun engaged “allegedly directed his employees to engage in more than 600,000 wash trades of TRX between two crypto asset trading platform accounts he controlled,” according to the SEC. Sun also generated $31 million in proceeds through secondary market sales of illegal and unregistered sales of the token, per the SEC.

“While we’re neutral about the technologies at issue, we’re anything but neutral when it comes to investor protection,” said Gurbir S. Grewal, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “As alleged in the complaint, Sun and others used an age-old playbook to mislead and harm investors by first offering securities without complying with registration and disclosure requirements and then manipulating the market for those very securities. At the same time, Sun paid celebrities with millions of social media followers to tout the unregistered offerings, while specifically directing that they not disclose their compensation. This is the very conduct that the federal securities laws were designed to protect against regardless of the labels Sun and others used.”

(Pictured: Lindsay Lohan, Jake Paul and Lil Yachty)

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Offset Previews New Song With Posthumous Takeoff Verse



Migos fans should be pleased to know that Offset has a new record with Icewear Vezzo and his late bandmate/cousin Takeoff potentially on the way.

Earlier this week, Set teased the trunk-rattling track on his Instagram Stories, which drew elation from fans on social media. The 56-second snippet finds Vezzo and Takeoff exchanging bars before Offset bursts through the song with fiery lines of his own.

The path to Set’s sophomore album has been arduous. Last August, he sued his former label Quality Control to reclaim ownership of his solo material. Then, in November, he lost his cousin Takeoff, who was shot and killed in Houston, further delaying the album. He was also involved in a fistful of skirmishes, including a verbal spat online with J. Prince and allegedly feuding with his Migos bandmate Quavo at this year’s Grammy Awards. 

Musically, Offset has released several one-off singles to keep fans intrigued. Last August, he released “5 4 3 2 1” before following up with “CODE” featuring MoneyBagg Yo. Offset’s 2019 debut album Father of 4 netted a top-five entry on the Billboard 200 with 89,000 album-equivalent units. The offering also spawned his triple-platinum single “Clout” featuring his wife, Cardi B.

On the posthumous side, this is the latest offering from Takeoff after fans first heard The Last Rocket MC on Metro Boomin’s Heroes and Villians standout “Feel the Fiyaaaah” featuring him and A$AP Rocky.

Listen to the snippet featuring Offset, Takeoff and Vezzo below. 

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Tekashi 6ix9ine Hospitalized After Attack at Florida Gym



Tekashi 6ix9ine was hospitalized after being ambushed by a group of attackers in the bathroom of a gym in South Florida on Tuesday, Variety has confirmed.

The 26-year-old rapper, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, sustained injuries to his face and bruises, according to his attorney, Lance Lazzaro.

Lazzaro said the rapper was attacked in and outside the LA Fitness gym sauna by three or four men who beat him up, though he tried fighting back. “He had cuts to his face and bruises,” Lazzaro said. The attorney said that the perpetrators fled after employees heard the disturbance.

Police in South Florida were called, and Hernandez was transported via ambulance to a local hospital, according to Lazzaro. As of now, it is unclear if the rapper remains hospitalized.

Lazzaro told TMZ he plans to ensure Hernandez gets some protection, since he was released from federal prison in April 2020. Hernandez was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison in 2019 on nine charges, including racketeering, drug trafficking and firearm offenses in relation to his involvement with the Nine Trey Bloods gang. Hernandez received a shortened prison sentence after he cooperated with federal officials to imprison his associates. He was released early due to COVID-19 concerns, after a judge called the rapper a “model prisoner.”

In a video leaked on Twitter, one of Hernandez’s assailants is heard saying, “Take a picture. I’m gonna be famous now.” Another video captured a bloodied Hernandez walking out of the gym.

According to several media reports, Hernandez was ejected from a Miami baseball stadium Friday for being intoxicated and disturbing fans.

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