Last week, this blog's top headline focused on a shocking Los Angeles Times article that linked hip-hop mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs to a 1994 attack on his onetime East Coast/West Coast adversary, Tupac Shakur.
And a few weeks ago, a suspicious Black Crowes record review in Maxim, which was allegedly penned by a writer who'd not even heard the Crowes' album, was a top That's Really Week story as well.
Well, it seems the more things change, the more they stay the time. Because the topics of Diddy, the L.A. Times, and ill-informed music journalism once again top this week's news...but this time, it's even more serious.
Following Diddy's vehement assertion last week that the L.A. Times' controversial Tupac story, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Chuck Philips, was "beyond ridiculous and completely false," it came to light this week (via TheSmokingGun.com) that Philips was indeed tricked by doctored documents--which had been supplied to him by an anonymous prison inmate.
Los Angeles Times editor Russ Stanton quickly issued an apology for this grievous error, stating: "The bottom line is that the documents we relied on should not have been used. We apologize both to our readers and to those referenced in the documents...and in the story." Philips also admitted: "I now believe the truth here is I got duped."
It remains to be seen if the L.A. Times' readers--a record one million of whom clicked on the online story--will pardon the paper for falling for this hoax. But it's clear that members of the Diddy camp aren't quite ready to forgive and forget.
"The Los Angeles Times' apology is, at best, a first step," said Diddy's attorney, Howard Weitzman. "But it doesn't undo the false and defamatory nature of the story, or the suspicion and innuendo that Mr. Combs has had to endure due to these untruthful allegations and the irresponsible conduct of this particular reporter. We have nothing further to say at this time."
And Marc Lichtman, lawyer for Diddy associate James Rosemond (who was also implicated in Philips' report), added: "I would suggest to Mr. Philips and his editors that they immediately print an apology and take out their checkbooks--or brace themselves for an epic lawsuit."
Man, to quote Diddy's old slain comrade: Looks like it's mo' money, mo' problems for the L.A. Times, indeed. This snafu must make Stanton and Philips long for simpler times not too long ago, back when the worst thing a music writer could be accused of was prematurely guestimating the mediocrity of an unreleased Black Crowes album.
Speaking of unreleased albums, Guns N' Roses' decade-in-the-making Chinese Democracy isn't out yet. That, of course, is hardly news. But this week's GNR news story, while seemingly a hoax of Diddy-ish proportions, is in fact true: The manufacturers of Dr Pepper soda have offered to give every single American citizen a free soft drink if the long-delayed GNR album comes out any time in 2008. This just may be the best instance of soda/pop synergy since "I'd Like To Buy The World A Coke," or at least since Suicidal Tendencies begged for "just a Pepsi" in the punk classic "Institutionalized."
But fans of either Guns N' Roses and Dr Pepper shouldn't break out their stereos and/or straws just yet...because, it should be noted, Axl Rose and his many interchangeable hired Guns have been working on various versions of Chinese Democracy since 1994. So if you're really thirsty for a free Pepper, it's probably best to hit the unlimited-refill drink counter at your local fast-food joint instead. And if you're hungering for some GNR, just satisfy your appetite with, well, Appetite For Destruction.
Meanwhile, Axl's '80s-metal peers were also in the news this week, albeit for less amusing reasons. First Richie Sambora made headlines for getting a DUI, just nine months after checking into rehab. Pretty ironic, considering that his band Bon Jovi's most recent album was titled Lost Highway. (If only he'd stuck to just drinking Dr Pepper!) Then, even more distressingly, Poison drummer Rikki Rocket was taken into custody in Los Angeles on a rape warrant.
And Rikki and Richie weren't the only law-breaking headline-makers this week, either. Rapper T.I. pleaded guilty to federal weapons possession charges, and now faces a possible prison sentence. Meanwhile another hip-hop star, Remy Ma, was convicted of shooting a woman outside a nightclub and now may be locked up for as long as 25 years.
(By the way, as of this writing, all four of the stories in the preceding two paragraphs appear to be true, not hoaxes. Just FYI.)
And finally, we wish these two stories were hoaxes, but they are in fact true: Neil Aspinall (a Fab Four friend and one of many men to assume the "Fifth Beatle" title at one point in music history) died from lung cancer this week at age 66, and Corinne Bailey Rae's 31-year-old husband Jason was found dead of a suspected drug overdose. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Rae and Aspinall clans at this difficult time.
And on that bummer note, thus concludes another wild, weird, and woeful week. Do come back next Friday, and until then...goodnight, and good music.
THIS WEEK'S TOP 10 STORIES:
1) Diddy Didn't Do It - Turns out last week's L.A. Times Diddy/Tupac article was a hoax.
2) A Rae Of Light Dims - Corinne Bailey Rae's husband, Jason Rae, is found dead at age 31.
3) Sweet Pepper O' Mine - The makers of Dr Pepper try to bribe Axl Rose with free soda.
4) T.I. Pleads Guilty - The Trap Muzik rapper may soon be trapped in a jail cell.
5) Evans Engaged - One year after her bitter divorce, country queen Sara Evans bounces back with a new fiancé.
6) Wake Him Up Before He Go-Goes...On Tour - George Michael announces his first North American concert tour in 17 years.
7) Slippery When Drunk - The supposedly rehabbed Richie Sambora is arrested on DUI charges.
8) Another Beatles Legend Dies - Fab Four associate Neil Aspinall succumbs to cancer at age 66.
9) Remy Ma Convicted On Assault Charges - The "Outside Looking In" hip-hopper might be locked inside a prison for up to 25 years.
10) Look What The Cops Dragged In - Poison drummer Rikki Rocket is taken into custody on a rape warrant.