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Jay-Z, Beyonce release surprise album 'Everything Is Love'

Jay-Z and Beyonce are keeping up a family tradition, dropping a surprise album before anyone knew it was coming.

The couple released a joint album that touches on the rapper's disgust at this year's Grammy Awards and features a shout out from their daughter Blue Ivy to her siblings.

The nine-track album "Everything Is Love" dropped Saturday on the Tidal music streaming service that Jay-Z partially owns.

The album features Beyonce rapping on songs more than she has done on previous releases.

One song that has a profanity in its title includes Jay-Z lashing out at the Grammys. He was the top nominee at February's awards show, but left empty-handed.

The rapper also says he turned down the NFL Super Bowl halftime show, rapping that the league needs him more than he needs them.

Blue Ivy ends the song "BOSS" with a shout-out to her 1-year-old brother and sister, Rumi and Sir.

In 2013, Beyonce released the self-titled album "Beyonce" without any notice.

Neil shines like a Diamond at Songwriters Hall of Fame gala

Neil Diamond may have retired from touring due to Parkinson's disease, but the singer didn't let that stop him from giving a cheery and memorable performance at the 2018 Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony.

Diamond, who was officially inducted into the Hall in 1984, earned the Johnny Mercer Award on Thursday and closed the multi-hour event in New York City with a rousing rendition of "Sweet Caroline."

He was happy and excited onstage, performing an extended version of the iconic song, backed by a band and the audience of songwriters and music industry players who sang along.

The 77-year-old, who announced he was diagnosed with Parkinson's in January and canceled planned concerts, barely spoke at the event, where John Mellencamp, Alan Jackson, Kool and the Gang and Jermaine Dupri were inducted as the Hall's 2018 class.

Allee Willis — who co-wrote the Broadway musical "The Color Purple" and Earth, Wind & Fire's "September" — was the first inductee of the night. She won over the audience with stories about her father who told her to "stay away from black culture" and her friend whose frisky behavior helped her connect her songs to singers.

"Her sex life was unbelievable for my career," she said to laughs.

Willis, the only female to be inducted this year, used her speech to honor women who have not received their credit as songwriters and producers.

"I really started thinking about how, at the time, mentally painful it was that the girls were not getting the chances the boys were. So I just want to say, 'We're here. We've always been here. And we're no longer the little wilting flowers that we were when it comes to equality.' So wipe off the seats because here we come."

Others speeches throughout the night struck with similar emotion.

Inductee and Grammy-nominated country songwriter Steve Dorff wiped the tears from his eyes when he was onstage; his son, actor Stephen Dorff, was also teary-eyed when he spoke about his father during the induction.

Usher was passionate when he inducted Dupri, who has co-written a number of the R&B star's hits, including "Nice & Slow," ''U Got It Bad," ''Burn" and "Confessions Part II."

"I love you J.D. You're like the big brother I never had and also the motivator who pushed me when I was at my lowest," he said.

Mariah Carey, who has collaborated on hits like "We Belong Together" and "Always Be My Baby" with Dupri, made a surprise appearance and received a warm applause from the crowd. The pop diva, who has co-written 17 of her 18 No. 1 hits, was nominated for the Songwriters Hall but didn't make the final cut.

"Although I am not being inducted this evening — I'll shed a tear and move on — honestly there's no one I'd rather see this get accolade than Jermaine Dupri," she said.

Dupri is the second hip-hop act to be inducted into the organization following Jay-Z's induction last year.

Inductee and country songwriter Bill Anderson choked up at the end of his speech, quoting lyrics from his song when he spoke about God: "I held the pencil but he wrote the songs, and I firmly believe that."

The members of Kool & the Gang — Robert "Kool" Bell, Ronald Bell, George Brown and James "JT" Taylor — were also inducted and gave a memorable and upbeat performance with "Celebration," which got audience members out of their seats.

Lucian Grainge, the CEO and chairman of Universal Music Group, earned the Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award and was honored by The Weeknd, who spoke, and Ariana Grande, who sang "Be Alright." Grammy and Tony nominee Sara Bareilles received the Johnny Mercer Award and wowed with her performance onstage.

Mellencamp sang "Jack and Diane" and "Longest Days" after getting inducted; R&B singer Fantasia won over the crowd when she sang in honor of Dorff; and Broadway star Brandon Victor Dixon was impressive when he performed for Willis.

Jackson, who has had 26 singles top Billboard's country charts, said he ran into Clive Davis backstage at the event and recalled a story about how he tried to pitch a song for Whitney Houston.

"And I called Clive and said, 'I wrote this song and I think ole Whitney could sing this thing. And he listened to it and called me back and said, 'That's a sweet song.' And there was a line in there about doing something with the washing machine, and (Clive) said, 'I'll be honest with you Alan — I don't think Whitney's seen a washing machine in 15 years,'" Jackson said.,

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Online:

http://www.songhall.org

Jermaine Dupri looks back at legacy on eve of latest honor

When Jermaine Dupri gets inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, he will be only the second hip-hop creator honored after Jay-Z. It's not something he takes lightly.

"No matter what you want to say about my records that I created, no matter what you want to say about the artists that I've put out, I'm going into the Hall of Fame, and you can't do nothing about it," Dupri said.

Besides his induction on Thursday, Dupri has collected some other accolades this year, including The Music Innovation Award at the 26th Bounce Trumpet Awards, the Breaking Barriers Award at the 2018 Global Spin Awards and the Trailblazer Award at the 2018 Legendary Awards.

Throughout his career, the Grammy-winner has worked with a wide range of artists in different genres. He was one of the songwriters on Mariah Carey's hit, "We Belong Together," which earned a Grammy for best R&B song. As for his proudest moment, he mentions the "Confessions" album with Usher, or more notably the song "Confessions Part II."

"I think that I can catch that magic with all the artists I work with long as I go into the project with the right mindset. And the right mindset is me understanding what my role is, and them understanding what their role is," he said.

Earlier this week, he released a curated playlist commemorating the 25th anniversary of his So So Def Recordings label that features Jay-Z, Xscape, Aaliyah, Bow Wow, Anthony Hamilton, Jagged Edge, Ghost Town DJ, Da Brat and more. It's currently available on Apple Music and Spotify. The digital album will be available on June 29.

Legacy was on his mind on the eve of his induction and he was asked about his thoughts on R. Kelly. Last month Spotify said it would remove from its playlists music from R. Kelly, who has been accused of sexual abuse. The music service has since backpedaled but Dupri doesn't agree with the way it was initially handled.

"At this point I believe it's all hearsay, right? It's somebody's word against somebody else's. So, I can't say if this industry is correcting itself. I don't know," he said.

He worries that punishing artists by removing their music from these streaming services can hurt the industry, especially when it's only based on allegations. He wants people to "consider the bigger picture," but that doesn't mean he condones their behavior. "There should be some kind of consequences to doing wrong," Dupri said.

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Follow John Carucci at http://www.twitter.com/jacarucci

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