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Jay-Z and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE join forces in the Champagne industry, confirming the alliance between the world of hip-hop and luxury as the Covid-19 pandemic reduced sales of the festive wine world-wide.

LVMH has a 50% stake in the high-end brand Armand de Brignac, which Jay-Z owns. The brand, known for its expensive metallic bottles, is the youngest in the famed sparkling wine region.

LVMH and Jay-Z said that the investment is intended to expand Armand de Brignac through the global distribution networks of LVMH while drawing on the vast resources of the conglomerate within the Champagne wine country. It comes at a tough time for Champagne since the pandemic has canceled weddings, soirees, and other occasions were popping the cork is known, with wine sales declining by about 20% last year.

During an interview, Jay-Z said, “We were working really hard to maintain a brand that was growing faster than the staff we had and bigger than some of the expertise we had.” He explained, “We’d been in this 15 years, not a hundred.”

The collaboration highlights how European luxury labels are now adopting black music artists and hip-hop culture to cater to a younger, more diverse clientele. Streetwear has become a luxury lifestyle staple; for example, Fenty Beauty, a cosmetic line unveiled by Rihanna and LVMH, rapper Gucci Mane and the Italian fashion house Gucci have collaborated on a line, and Dior, a brand of LVMH, has used rapper A$AP Rocky in many menswear collections as a featured model.

“I think that people have come to accept that these two worlds are a natural fit,” Jay-Z said. “In the beginning, it wasn’t a natural fit.”

Rappers have since referenced name brands like Dior, Louis Vuitton, Dom Pérignon, and other labels in their lyrics. But until recently, the luxury industry kept its hip-hop followers at a distance. Jay-Z was pushed by one such perceived snub to invest in Armand de Brignac.

The Brooklyn-born rapper had been a devotee of Cristal since emerging as a star in the 1990s, repetitively name-dropping the high-end Champagne brand in his rhymes. That changed when an executive at the parent company of Cristal was asked in The Economist in 2006 if its association with rap would harm the brand. “That’s a good question, but what can we do?” he replied. Shortly after, Jay-z organized a boycott of Cristal.

Later in 2006, he promoted a new brand: Armand de Brignac, which called itself ‘Ace of Spades’ In the video for the single ‘Show Me What You Got,’ and was released earlier that year in the Champagne town of Chigny-les-Roses. The brand immediately released a press release highlighting the reference.

Jay-Z was one of Armand de Brignac’s earlier investors, and in 2014 he bought out his partner, Sovereign Brands, a spirits business.

The deal emerged from negotiations between Jay-Z and Alexandre Arnault, the 28-year-old son of Bernard Arnault, French billionaire, and the chief executive and controlling shareholder of LVMH. Jay-Z said he first met Alexandre on a trip with Kanye West in Paris. After Bernard and Alexandre, and Mr. Schaus met with Jay-Z several times at his Los Angeles home, the deal progressed further.

Jay-Z said that he plans to work with LVMH on other projects. For rappers, he said, the allure of luxury derives from the need to rejoice after overcoming the inner city’s poverty.

“If you put yourself in the shoes of people who come from these neighborhoods, you can understand why someone who — five of their six friends have passed away — would want to celebrate life,” Jay-Z said. “We’re connecting with things that are well made and things that survive.”

 

 




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Former NFL Player Kellen Winslow II Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison

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Former NFL football player Kellen Winslow II was sentenced to 14 years in prison under a plea deal on Wednesday. He was convicted for multiple rapes and sexual offenses against five Southern California women. 

According to the New York Post, Winslow, 37, was convicted on charges of forcible rape, rape of an unconscious person, assault with intent to commit rape, indecent exposure, and lewd conduct in public. He will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. 

He appeared in court virtually at the hearing in San Diego Superior Court in Vista, California. At the advice of his attorneys, Winslow did not speak before his sentencing.

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Blaine Bowman said Winslow could only be described with “two words, and that is sexual predator,” according to the outlet, and called his crimes “brazen.” Bowman also said that he preyed on vulnerable women, saying, “The vulnerability of the victims was no accident.”

The son of former San Diego Chargers Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow exposed himself to his 57-year-old-neighbor, who was gardening. He also performed a lewd act in front of a 77-year-old woman at a gym while concealing his ankle bracelet with a towel. 

The forcible rape involved a homeless Encinitas woman who was one of the four women who gave victim impact statements on Wednesday.

“It’s affecting my life every day and every night,” she said. “I don’t ever feel safe inside or outside. You brought so much damage to my life.”

All of the women who spoke described the emotional trauma they experienced due to the attacks and how it has impacted their lives.

But that jury failed to agree on other charges, including the alleged 2018 rape of a 54-year-old hitchhiker and the 2003 rape of an unconscious 17-year-old high school senior who went to a party with him when he was 19, according to The Post. Before he was retried on those charges, he pleaded guilty to raping the teen and to the sexual battery of the hitchhiker.

Last month, both sides agreed to drop the sexual battery charge down to assault with intent to commit rape. In doing so, the maximum sentence was reduced to 14 years from the 18 years Winslow initially faced.

At one point in his career, Winslow was one of the highest-paid tight ends in the NFL. A first-round pick, he played for the Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, and the New York Jets. His last season playing football was in 2013.




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Rapper Bun B Calls Texas Governor ‘Bat Sh*t Crazy’ for Lifting Mask Mandate

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Legendary rapper Bun B called out Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott for reopening the entire state and lifting mask mandates.

Gov. Abbott sparked outrage on Tuesday when he announced he was ending Covid-19 restrictions and lifting the mask mandate.

Abbott said all businesses in the state will reopen fully by March 10.

Many praised the governor for his courage and bravery, but Bun B and others expressed outrage and fear that the Covid-19 death rate would escalate despite the availability of Covid-19 mRNA vaccines.

Bun B wrote on Instagram: “This is bat sh*t crazy @govabbott and you know it. As if you didn’t already have enough blood on your hands. SMFH.”

The rapper referred to Gov. Abbott’s response to the recent winter storms that knocked out power to millions of residents and resulted in dozens of deaths.

Bun B took a disrespectful tone, stating Gov. Abbott is “not even Worried bout the people….. He Gotta Get Up Out Of Office… @governorabbott.”

Meanwhile, Joe Biden criticized Abbott and other governors who chose to reopen their states and lift mask mandates. Biden called the decision “Neanderthal thinking.”

Gov. Abbott struck back on Twitter by accusing the president of “recklessly releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants who have COVID into Texas communities.”

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Tags: Bun B, COVID-19, Gov. Gregg Abbott, mask hysteria, Texas news


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A Pack Of Dogs Mauled A Woman To Death After Escaping From Neighbor’s Yard

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A woman was killed by a pack of dogs that allegedly escaped from a neighbor’s yard. 

According to Newsweek, a pack of “vicious” dogs attacked a woman identified as Deann Stephenson last month, and now her family is pursuing legal action. On February 15 in the afternoon, Stephenson was walking to a corner store in Porter, Texas, when four dogs attacked her, KPRC-TV reports. 

Newsweek reports that dogs seemed to have escaped from a neighbor’s front yard. The woman died after she was taken to Montgomery County’s Kingwood Hospital. Stephenson and her family had just moved to the area about a year before the incident. Stephenson leaves behind her husband, who is disabled, and one son. 

No details about the woman’s injuries or the breed of the dogs have been clarified. The family has hired Patrick O’Hara in their legal suit. “No criminal charges have been filed against the dog owner. This is horrific, these dogs should have been put down years ago and I believe that blood is on the hands of Montgomery County,” O’Hara told KPRC-TV on March 1. 

According to interviews from the victim’s neighbors, the same dogs have also attacked other residents in the community, one of which was a child. O’Hara, who facilitated the interviews, said he would be filing a lawsuit this week. No defendant has been confirmed. Stephenson’s son and relatives believe the owners should be held responsible. 

“I believe my mom deserves justice. She always took care of me. I think she would want me to fight for her,” said Keaton Clark.




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