The Keys to Success


She’s done it again.


Alicia Keys tops the Billboard 200 chart for the fifth time in her career, as her latest album “Girl On Fire” debuts at No. 1 with 159,000 sold according to Nielsen SoundScan.


Keys previously led the list with her first four albums (three studio sets and a live release). Her last album, 2009?s “The Element of Freedom,” entered at No. 2 with 417,000. Its hefty sales were buoyed by its week-before Christmas release date (Dec. 15). However, it was blocked from No. 1 by Susan Boyle’s “I Dreamed a Dream,” which was in its fourth week at No. 1 (with 661,000).


“Girl On Fire’s” launch is the smallest of any Keys album — falling lower than that of her 2005 “Unplugged” set (196,000). That said, “Girl On Fire’s” start, according to Billboard, is what industry sources had forecasted a week ago, when insiders suggested it would bow with about 145,000 to 170,000.



Wiz First Class Pushes 145K


With a baby on board, Wiz Khalifa has big plans. Though he’s excited for his new son, he ran across the idea with Funkmaster Flex about having a second child. 

“It’s a boy,” he shared during an interview.


The topic then shifted into the idea of having a second child, which he seemed to be cool with.

“Yeah, he’s gotta have a buddy, right? Can’t be trying to take up all my time [laughing].”


Khalifa also shared information about the origin of his Rap name, saying he got it from his grandfather.


“My granddad is Muslim. So the Khalifa means successor, leader, and shining light. At a young age, he kinda seen that in me. He gave me that name,” Wiz explained. “The Wiz part comes from being wise beyond my years.”


The Pittsburgh rapper got more good news recently when his new O.N.I.F.C. (Only N**** In First Class) pushed out impressive opening week numbers with estimates up to 145,000 sold copies.


Beyoncé’ Before the Super Bowl


Beyonce’s producer The-Dream says that the singer will “definitely” have new music on the streets before her performance in the Super Bowl.


After co-writing five songs on Beyonce’s 2011 album “4,” The-Dream (real name: Terius Nash) says he’s “involved in every part of the process” for her forthcoming fifth solo album.


When asked whether or not Beyonce will unveil any new tracks prior to Super Bowl kickoff, The-Dream says, “Definitely. She’s got her stuff going. She took the summer to start recording, and now she’s in a place where she’s ready to start gearing up to reveal her plan.”


Bey’s Super Bowl halftime show will taking place at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Feb. 3, 2013.


LL Cool J Drops 13


Rap icon LL Cool J gets straight to the point with the title of his upcoming 13th studio album, Authentic Hip-Hop.

 “It’s real natural and true, and it’s really me being myself,” LL Cool J told Rolling Stone of the album – his first since 2008’s Exit 13 – during rehearsals for tonight’s CBS’ Grammy Nominations Concert Live, which he’s co-hosting with Taylor Swift. “It’s mature. I’m not pandering to chase teenagers. They’re welcome to listen to it, but it’s really a record for their parents . . . But it’s for their parents who know the words to ‘Rapper’s Delight,’ know the words to ‘The Message,’ know my songs, know my music.”


Luckily for fans of the rapper’s old school, irreverent rhymes, relating to an audience that’s his own age doesn’t mean he’s dropping his trademark jocularity. 


Continuing a 16-year partnership, LL tapped longtime collaborators the Trackmasters (R. Kelly, Mary J. Blige, Nas, Mariah Carey) to co-produce Authentic Hip-Hop, which features guest appearances from Joe, Monica and up-and-comer Range.


Though LL Cool J has hosted the Grammy nominations every year since the event’s 2008 inception, he says he’s still getting used to the gig. “I wish I could feel like Billy Crystal,” he jokes. “You know, that’s another talent level. But I feel good about what I’m doing.”


Toni Spenda Buck


Toni Braxton used to be popular because of her music, topping charts, selling lots of albums and raking in the big bucks.


But somehow, she ended up broke.


At the height of her career, she generated $170 million from album sales, but only took home $1,972.


Toni explained in an exclusive interview on 20/20 how the twisted fate of an artist might result in fame and debt.

“What happens is they will give you an advance million on the next record and the next record so you kind of stay in debt in a sense,” said Braxton about her record label.


By 1998, she filed for bankruptcy for the first time.


While she wasn’t even making enough to sustain herself and a mortgage, the singer developed an obsessive home décor habit.


“I love dishes and house things so I kind of lost it a little bit on the house ware. One-thousand thread-count sheets, that’s what I indulged in,” admits Braxton.


Then she filed for bankruptcy a second time in 2010, and had to cancel her self-financed “Toni Braxton: Revealed” Las Vegas show due to a medical scare.


After being diagnosed with lupus, doctors recommended she chill out from performing and limit her time on stage to one or two songs.


“The Message”


For the first time in its existence, music magazine giant Rolling Stone recently compiled a list of the Top 50 songs that have influenced Hip-Hop history.


Their selection (based on the opinions of a Rolling Stone staff panel and Hip-Hop “experts” such as Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots) for the top song ever in the less than 40-year-old Rap genre was Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message”.


According to Rolling Stone, the 1982 hit single by the South Bronx collective was able “to tell, with hip hop’s rhythmic and vocal force, the truth about modern inner-city life in America.”


With its stern “Don’t push me/’cause I’m close to the edge…” warning, “The Message” depicted impoverished life in American ghettos in a way that had not been heard before among the fledgling Hip-Hop tracks of the time.