How a K-pop star’s death reveals the truth about our society

Sulli poses during the K-Beauty Close-Up event in Seoul on Sept. 30, 2015. (Jang Se-Young/AP)
Sulli poses during the K-Beauty Close-Up event in Seoul on Sept. 30, 2015. (Jang Se-Young/AP)

Haeryun Kang is a freelance journalist in Seoul and a videographer at media start-up videocusIN.

To a culture used to the likes of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” K-pop star Sulli’s public persona might have seemed bland and boring. After all, her “controversies” included wearing shirts without a bra, getting drunk on social media, calling older male actors by their first names and openly supporting South Korea’s recently revised abortion law.

But as an actress and former member of K-pop idol group f(x), Sulli — whose real name was Choi Jin-ri — belonged to a culture where celebrities are generally expected to be respectful and reserved. Among many things, that means showing deference to elders, not talking about politics and being extra discreet about sex and sexuality — especially if you’re a woman.AD

On Monday, 25-year-old Sulli was found dead in her home in Seongnam, a city close to Seoul. The exact causes aren’t known, but police say suicide is likely. According to media reports, Sulli’s manager told police she had been suffering from depression. Her tragic death sends a sobering signal to millions of young women hoping to break away from conservative norms — and reveals a great deal about Korean society in the process.

Sulli was known for not holding herself back. Even after her “no-bra scandal” incited public anger, inviting unimaginably crude insults and online trolling about her and her family, she seemed invincible. The then-22-year-old seemed cool and proud, laughing at the haters in a now-deleted Instagram post. She continued to post braless pictures.

A major Korean outlet once called her the “Kim Kardashian of South Korea,” somewhat misleadingly. Kardashian enjoys considerably more freedom to show her body off in a variety of ways. Her world isn’t governed as strictly by the expectations of purity and chastity restraining a Korean female celebrity — and the public vitriol that comes with shattering these norms.AD

Sulli, who debuted at age 11 in 2005, has spoken of how the rumors and public expectations constrained her life. “When I met people in the past, even before saying hello, I felt like I should explain myself: This isn’t who I am! The rumors aren’t true!” she said recently on a TV show, “The Night of Hate Comments,” on which she was one of the hosts. Hair dyed pink, Sulli read hate comments about herself on the show, in a format reminiscent of Jimmy Kimmel’s “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets.” She often giggled and acted nonchalant as she read the obnoxious posts.

After news of her death emerged, many have focused on the potential role of online harassment. But whatever the complex reasons that led to Sulli’s death, it’s superficial to focus just on cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is only a symptom of a society that is intolerant of people who dare to be different from the mold.

Sulli’s death matters because it’s a brutal wake-up call. Her death reminds Koreans of the still-pervasive misogyny directed at “unconventional” women, who are brave enough to be irreverent, show the outline of their nipples through their shirts and value their own minds above being liked. “There’s no woman who wouldn’t be saddened by this,” a commenter tweeted a few hours after news broke of Sulli’s death. “Even if you weren’t speaking publicly, you were thankful for Sulli. You were supporting her.”AD

The conservative expectations in South Korean celebrity culture are slowly changing — as evidenced by “bad girls” like Lee Hyori, Ha:tfelt and, until recently, Sulli — but the consequences of acting “abnormal” are still brutal for most female stars.

This is exacerbated by the lack of support they often receive from management companies and agents. “We cannot believe the situation now and we are just filled with grief,” wrote SM Entertainment, one of South Korea’s largest entertainment companies and the agency that managed Sulli. It’s not yet clear how aware the agency was of Sulli’s depression and what support it offered, if any. But in the cutthroat world of K-pop, less than two years after megastar and fellow SM entertainer Jonghyun committed suicide, these are questions that must be asked.

What made Sulli’s death so shocking was the great gap between her colorful Instagram and reality. On social media, she seemed quirky and fun. She had just released her first single album as a solo artist. Two days before dying, she Instagrammed a box of purses she’d received from a sponsor.AD

But behind the laughter and cool facade, there were plenty of warning signals. “My life is actually empty, so I feel like I’m lying to everyone by pretending to be happy on the outside,” she said in “The Night of Hate Comments,” where she was labeled as “the nuclear bomb of hate comments.”

Recently on the show, a fellow host asked how she wanted to be viewed by others. She answered, “When I first posted pictures of me braless, there were so many different reactions. I could have been frightened and hide, but I didn’t. I wanted people’s prejudices to disappear.”

“I wish people would look at me and think, ‘Well, someone like that exists!’ Accept the difference,” she said. If only more people had done so while she was alive.

Read more:

Haeryun Kang: The K-pop sex scandal is just the beginning

Sue Mi Terry and Lisa Collins: South Korea is in the middle of its own #MeToo movement

Gloria Steinem and Christine Ahn: Women marched for Korean reconciliation. Washington is in our way.

Kaori Shoji: Why the #MeToo movement is running into trouble in Japan

6ix9ine’s Ex-Manager Shotti Threatened To Kill Rapper’s Baby Mama & Child: Report

More leaked audio of Tekashi69’s former manager.

Even after the trial against Tekashi 6ix9ine‘s alleged kidnappers has ended, we’re still being provided tons of information pertaining to the complicated case. Both Harv and Mack have been sentenced and we’re currently waiting to find out the fate of 6ix9ine himself but before then, we’re busy dissecting all the leaked phone calls and videos that have surfaced in recent months. Complex has been vigilant in reporting the trial and, on their Snapchat page, they reportedly unearthed a brand new wiretap of Tekashi’s former manager Kifano “Shotti” Jordan threatening to fire shots at the rapper’s family.

Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty Images

In the audio clips making their way around the internet, Shotti can be heard on the phone, speaking about the Nine Trey situation and how Tekashi 6ix9ine is “maturing.” He tries to convince somebody that the rapper isn’t “changing” but that he’ll need to be careful in the streets because you “can’t be the King of New York if you’re dead.” He then goes on to speak about the star’s family, noting that he’ll do the deed himself if times get tough.

“Sara [Molina]’s been moving around in cars. I will fucking, I will shoot Sara, n***a,” says Shotti about the mother of 69’s daughter in the leaked audio. “I’m the one who raised Harv, n***a. We don’t give a fuck about women, children, kids.”

For what it’s worth, DJ Akademiks has noted that Shotti is NOT actually threatening to shoot anybody and that he’s actually sticking up for 6ix9ine here. How do you interpret the message? Listen below.


The Jonas Brothers Call Their Career a ‘Full Circle Redemption’ on ‘Ellen’

Trio also pranked fans, performed their song “Only Human”

The Jonas Brothers appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show on Tuesday to discuss their reunion as a band and their new tour— all the while receiving some light jabs from the talk show host and comedian for not coming back on the show more often.

“I am responsible for your entire career,” she quipped, showing a photo of her posing with the then-teenage trio as they received their first platinum record.

The three brothers discussed the reasons for their breakup in 2013 and how they decided to come back together following successful solo careers. Nick Jonas noted that he was both the one to suggest a breakup and the first to suggest a reunion, creating a “full circle redemption.”

“I think all families go through their own version of our story,” he said, referencing the Amazon Prime documentary Chasing Happiness, which follows the brothers’ breakup and reunion. “And if not, then you’re the lucky ones. But you’ve got to find your dynamic as siblings within your adult relationships when you compound the fact that we were working together every single day. In theory, it was a business. It was a full operating machine. And we were just trying to remain close as family amidst that.”

Later, Degeneres aired a segment in which the Jonas Brothers surprised a few lucky fans, and the band performed their song “Only Human.”

Busbee, songwriter behind country and pop hits, dead at 43

Busbee: 10 Great Songs Written or Produced by Pop-Country’s Quiet Innovator

Maren Morris’ “My Church,” Keith Urban’s “The Fighter,” Pink’s “Try” and more


News of Michael Busbee’s death at 43 on Sunday resonated throughout Nashville and the music community at large. A respected songwriter and producer, he was a creative partner to Nashville artists like Maren MorrisKeith Urban, and Lady Antebellum, deftly bringing a pop sensibility to country music. And for good reason: he got his start writing and producing pop acts like Shakira and Christina Aguilera. Here are 10 songs, either written or produced (or both), by Busbee that highlight his strong yet unshowy approach in the studio and the writing room.

“The Fighter,” Keith Urban featuring Carrie Underwood
Two of country music’s biggest names — Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood — came together for this crossover smash, which appealed to the adult contemporary audience as much as it did to country fans. But star power alone can’t make a hit. Credit Busbee’s nimble production for putting it over the top. With a hypnotic rhythm and a melody that bobs and weaves, “The Fighter” (co-written by Busbee, to boot) was a knockout both on country radio and in the dance clubs, and proved that country can benefit from mad beats when done right.

“Every Little Thing,” Carly Pearce
The first song that Carly Pearce ever wrote with Busbee, her longtime collaborator and producer, ended up becoming the singer’s biggest solo hit of her career. Busbee, who co-wrote “Every Little Thing” with Pearce and Emily Shackelton, shaped much of the musical structure and sparse arrangement of Pearce’s stately torch ballad, which became a Number One at country radio. “It’s almost uncomfortable stripped-down and I think in those moments, you’re left with the silence,” said Pearce.

Busbee, Producer for Maren Morris and Lady Antebellum, Dead at 43
How Busbee Went From Jazz Scholar to Country Innovator

“Try,” Pink
Perseverance was a recurrent theme in Busbee’s songs (see Keith Urban’s “The Fighter”), and nowhere was that more evident than in “Try,” the 2013 song he co-wrote with Ben West for Pink’s The Truth About Love album. A cathartic primal scream about holding tight during a shattered relationship, the thumping anthem posed difficult yet relatable questions like “Why do we fall in love so easy, even when it’s not right?” Even if it was a query he couldn’t answer, Busbee reminded us that we have to soldier on.

“You Look Good,” Lady Antebellum
Lady Antebellum returned from hiatus with a freshened sound on 2017’s Heart Break, thanks in no small part to the album’s lead single “You Look Good.” Busbee produced the recording and co-wrote the song with Hillary Lindsey and Ryan Hurd, adding a funky, bass-heavy rhythm and some humid brass lines that accentuated the vocal interplay between Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott. It’s one of the odd entries in the Lady A catalog that wasn’t written by at least one member of the group, as well as a risk that ultimately worked: it was the country trio’s highest-charting single in three years.

“My Church,” Maren Morris
As a songwriter, Busbee had a knack for fleshing out his co-writer’s ideas, a skill that he put to great use on Maren Morris’ breakthrough 2016 hit. “She came to my studio and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got this title ‘My Church’…When I’m in the car driving and listen to music…I feel like that’s kind of my version of church,’” Busbee, the song’s co-producer and co-writer, said in 2016. “It literally just hit me, and I go, ‘Can I get a hallelujah?’ We just started writing the chorus. An hour and half later, it was done.”

“Dark Side,” Kelly Clarkson
Following in the wake of the monster title track from Kelly Clarkson’s 2012 album Stronger, the single “Dark Side” didn’t experience quite the same amount of commercial attention. Even so, “Dark Side,” which was penned by Busbee with Alexander Geringas, is a lovely showcase for the dynamic vocals of Clarkson, who brings a touch of vulnerability to the song about loving someone flaws and all. Melodically, it angles for pretty over pure power, even recalling the elongated and otherworldly minor-chord melodies of Bends-era Radiohead at times.

“Summer Nights,” Rascal Flatts
Busbee’s earliest entry on the country charts came nearly a decade ago, with Rascal Flatts’ buoyant hit “Summer Nights.” The second single from the vocal trio’s album Unstoppable and a Number Two airplay hit, the tune was penned by Busbee with Flatts singer Gary LeVox and trusted Music Row hitmaker Brett James. With a syncopated guitar riff that veered close to the band’s cover of Tom Cochrane’s “Life Is a Highway,” “Summer Nights” comes off as a breezy slice of country-pop party fare: “Let that Igloo cooler mark your piece of paradise,” sings LeVox in the chorus, praising the season’s usual proliferation of beers and bikinis.

“H.O.L.Y.,” Florida Georgia Line
Florida Georgia Line can chalk up much of the success of their 2016 blockbuster hit to Busbee, who came up with the song’s gospel-pop melodic hook the instant co-writer Nate Cyphert brought him the idea for the “high on loving you” acronym song title. “As soon as he said that,” Busbee, one of the song’s three co-writers, told Billboard in 2016, “I was super-in, and I literally just sat down on the piano and started playing.” Initially pitched to Justin Bieber, “H.O.L.Y” ended up becoming the biggest-selling country hit of 2016.

“Storm Warning,” Hunter Hayes
Busbee had a knack for coming up with just the right song for an artist’s first single. He did it with Maren Morris, with Carly Pearce, and, in 2011, with Hunter Hayes. Co-written by Busbee with Hayes and Gordie Sampson, “Storm Warning” is chock full of hurricane metaphors, painting a picture of a pretty crush who blows into town and takes the narrator’s breath away. Released a full five years before Luke Combs’ burly “Hurricane,” it was, by comparison, a country-pop breeze and the perfect vehicle to announce Hayes as Nashville’s newest boy next door.

“Don’t Stop,” 5 Seconds of Summer
Busbee often demonstrated his fluency with a variety of pop-music styles, as was the case with the Australian pop-punk group 5 Seconds of Summer’s second single “Don’t Stop.” An ebullient collision of spiky guitar riffage in the key of Blink-182 and classic pop melodicism, its lyrics tackle the push and pull of youthful love. “Everybody wants to take you home tonight/But I’m gonna find a way to make you mine,” sings Luke Hemmings, who, along with bandmate Calum Hood, co-wrote the song with Busbee and Steve Robson. It went on to become a hit in their native Australia along with Ireland and New Zealand.

Jimmy Spicer, Hip-Hop Pioneer, Dead at 61

Image result for jimmy spicer

The “Adventures of Super Rhyme” MC had been suffering from brain and lung cancer

Jimmy Spicer, the pioneering MC who released influential early hip-hop songs in the late ’70s and early ’80s, has died, The New York Times reports. At the time of his death, Spicer had been suffering from brain and lung cancer. His family had been crowdsourcing funds to pay for his treatment. He was 61 years old.

Spicer was one of the first artists signed to Russell Simmons’ Rush Management, but stopped making music in the early ’80s. His most lasting legacy is likely “Adventures of Super Rhyme,” a nearly 15-minute rap marathon with no hook that showcased Spicer’s innovative rhyming style. His 1982 single “The Bubble Bunch” is recognized as legendary freestyle producer “Jellybean” Benitez’s first remix, and 1983’s “Money (Dolla Bill Y’all)” pioneered the phrase famously used in the Wu Tang Clan’s ode to capital “C.R.E.A.M.

Rappers such as Snoop Dogg and DMX have named Spicer among their favorite MCs, with the former crediting “Adventures of Super Rhyme” with inspiring him to start rapping. Spicer’s final recording was 2010’s “$ Can’t Buy U Love.”


Image: WE tv

If there’s one person who some of Hip-Hop’s most legendary MCs would trust with their secrets stories to the game, it’d 100% be Angie Martinez. That’s why it comes as no surprise that the first episode of her new WE tv series Untold Stories Of Hip Hop would give us more than a few crazy quotables, particularly from Snoop Dogg’s segment where he broke down 2Pac’s close encounter with Nas at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards.

Taking us back to a tough era where East Coast/West Coast beef was at its peak, Snoop gives a powerful breakdown of the whole ordeal from an interesting point of view. He speaks on what it felt like being in the uneasy place of showing support for his West Coast fam while still keeping cool with the East Coast homies that were friends before things turned for the worse.

It starts with Angie reminiscing on her classic interview with 2Pac from 1996, where she only was able to air 12 minutes of a two-hour interview. She tries to find Pac backstage during the VMAs to apologize and from there the run-in commences. Snoop fills in with the first-person view, giving a word-by-word description of how the conversation went. It’s definitely worth the full watch, but in short Snoop remembers 2Pac discussing a diss record aimed at Jay-Z, Biggie, Nas and other New York rappers, and Nas just brushing it off as friendly competition and daps him up before parting ways. Due to his non-violent response, Pac sees it as him “punking” Esco. Snoop on the other hand sees it as him giving them a pass since his entourage outnumbered theirs both in people and, well, other things. It’s a tough topic for Angie, too — her interview at the time was the moment that soured Snoop’s relationship with Pac and Suge due to his on-air verbal support for the East Coast.

Here’s one quote that sums things up the best from the interview, via WE tv:

“We all used to hang out. I love Biggie and I love Pac — and both of them love me. So, how I look saying [expletive] Biggie because I’m with Pac? We was on the same s**t! They rapping the same s**t we rapping; we got the same struggle and same hustle. Why the f**k we can’t get along? Why we can’t like these n****s?”

— Snoop Dogg, on East Coast West Coast beef

He goes on to show his praise for New York rappers of the time, referring to them as “the Mecca of Hip-Hop.” He explains further that, because his love for them was deeper than whatever was going on at the time, he shouldn’t have been made to choose between sides. Honestly, we agree.

Watch the entire first episode of Angie Martinez’s Untold Stories of Hip Hop over on



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Tekashi 6ix9ine plans to do something very un-snitch-like — after all the snitching he just did — and that’s to reject the witness protection program as soon as he’s a free man again.

The federal trial that saw the rapper sing like a canary for 3 days wraps up Thursday as prosecutors and defense attorneys give closing arguments. Tekashi pointed fingers and named names of his old gang members (and other celebs too), but sources close to him tell us he will forgo any participation in witness protection — and will instead opt for a life of fame.

That might sound like a death wish, considering how many people he rolled over on during his testimony — but we’re told Tekashi’s still itching to make new music, and believes he can pick up where he left off.

Tekashi realizes the Nine Trey Bloods could be gunning for him, and possibly others who are pissed he turned rat for the feds — but we’re told his safety plan is simply round-the-clock security. It’s, essentially, the hide-in-plain-sight approach.

Elizabeth Williams

As for how he’ll foot the bill for 24/7 bodyguards — we’re told Tekashi still has some cash left from before his arrest … plus, he’s planning on his music career taking off again, once he’s out.

It won’t be cheap. As we reported, Tekashi also has family members who fear for their lives — so expenses could add up fast if he’s protecting them too. We reached out to his attorney, Dawn Florio … but she had no comment.

Tekashi testified he believes he’ll be out as early as next year, which would mean the feds cut him one helluva deal. He was facing a minimum sentence of 47 years before agreeing to fully cooperate with prosecutors.

Bottom line, Tekashi isn’t following in the footsteps of famed mafia snitch, Henry Hill, who survived under witness protection for just under a decade.

Apologies to Sinatra, but 6ix9ine’s gonna do it his way.

Cardi B. Responds To Tekashi 6ix9ine’s Mention Of Her Alleged Gang Affiliation

Cardi B.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

According to reports, in a since deleted tweet, Cardi B. responded to a fan that inquired about whether or not Tekashi 6ix9ine’s mention of her was true.

Over the week, Brooklyn artist Tekashi 6ix9ine testified three days in a row dishing out information about the Nine Trey Blood gang, and other Hip Hop artists who are allegedly a part of the same movement.

Throughout his testimonies, 6ix9ine made mention of Casanova, Jim Jones, and Cardi B. and it looks like Cardi B. is refuting those rumors.

In response to the fan’s question on Twitter, Cardi stated: “You just said it yourself… Brim not 9 Treys. I never been 9 Trey or associated with them,”

Keep in mind Cardi B. also took to Instagram with the infamous KeKe Palmer meme that goes on to say: ‘I don’t know who that man is.’

Patriots cut Antonio Brown after latest allegations

After the latest allegations against Antonio Brown – he contacted a woman who made an anonymous allegation of sexual impropriety against him in a Sports Illustrated story – the New England Patriots have released him.

Brown effectively broke the news himself on Twitter, writing, “Thanks for the opportunity @Patriots #GoWinIt”.

A couple of minutes later, NFL Network confirmed the move.

The Patriots released a brief statement:

“The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown. We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time.”

Earlier Friday when he met with media, Patriots coach and de facto general manager Bill Belichick walked off the podium after around three minutes when he was peppered with only questions about Brown.

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In his one game with New England, last Sunday in Miami, he recorded four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown.

NBC Sports Boston reported on Friday morning that the there was a Monday deadline for the Patriots to pay Brown the final $5 million of his $9 million signing bonus.

On Thursday night, Sports Illustrated reporter Robert Klemko posted a story that he’d been contacted by an attorney for the artist who alleges that Brown made sexual advances toward her in 2017, including approaching her fully naked and with only a small towel covering his penis as she painted a mural in his Pittsburgh-area home.

In group text messages that include the woman, some Brown associates and his lawyer, Darren Heitner, Brown posts pictures of the woman’s children and her Instagram account, telling the lackeys, “let’s look up her background history see how broke this girl is.”

The woman has not sought money from Brown, and in a letter to the NFL, her attorney Lisa J. Banks said she has no intention of seeking money from Brown for his sexual misconduct.

The lawyer wrote to the league on her client’s behalf hoping to put an end to the text messages, “which are clearly intended to threaten and intimidate her.”

The NFL responded to Banks’ letter within an hour of receiving it, arranging for a call between league investigators and the artist’s attorney.

Brown had become acquainted with the woman because she painted a portrait of him that was part of a charity auction; Brown, who agreed to take part in the auction and softball game benefitting National Youth Foundation, a Pennsylvania-based group, had topped the winning bidder in order to get the portrait of himself.

Then with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Brown approached the woman about painting a mural in his home; they agreed on a fee of $1,000 a day, and Brown sent a bus to New York City to bring her and some of his associates to Pittsburgh.

The woman said Brown began flirting with her on the first day she was there, but on the second day she turned around to find Brown standing behind her, naked save for the small hand towel.

Brown did pay her for two days’ work but then “ghosted” her, ceasing further contact.

The National Youth Foundation said Brown has not paid the $700 he bid for the portrait of him at the auction two years ago.

On September 10, a woman who had worked with Brown as a personal trainer filed a lawsuit against him in federal court, alleging that he forcibly raped her after two other incidents of sexual assault. The trainer stopped working with Brown after the first two incidents of assault, but after several months he apologized and asked to work with her again; it was after that point he allegedly raped her.