Steve Aoki is a well-traveled individual and yes, he’s known to throw a cake or three during his live performances. But that doesn’t necessarily qualify him as a human Yelp when it comes to finding a good piece of cake in the city.

“I don’t know. I don’t know all the bakers here,” the DJ told me when I jokingly asked him if he could recommend a spot. Aoki chatted with me in his green room ahead of performing downtown as a part of the AOL BUILD Series, a live set that was also streamed on Yahoo Music. “I get the cake delivered to the stage.”

No, Aoki isn’t running to bakeries across the globe picking up cakes. But that doesn’t mean the whole “caking” process is one that he takes lightly; there’s a six-page tour rider specifically for the confection. And in 2015, Aoki said that he would limit throwing cakes in people’s faces to his headlining shows as opposed to festivals due to shoulder strain.

He did make an exception this past March at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, and it was quite the toss.

Perhaps the California-native felt a little stronger this past year after clearing parts of his massive touring schedule to work on his new album, “Kolony.” The album marks a departure for Aoki as he changes his process to focus more on the vocalist and less on his music, thus Kolony’s full-fledged venture in to hip-hop.

“I’m not necessarily trying to make EDM records that hip-hop artists can fit on but just make great songs that really give the lead to the vocalist,” he explained. “I’m influenced by everything. When I’m (in New York), I listen to a lot of hip-hop. When I’m traveling overseas I listen to a lot of music from those countries where I go.”

Aoki’s goal was to work “in the now” and throw out the rule book so that first and foremost, he could change the game for himself. Staying present forced the producer at times to meet an artist in their studio or invite one to his, although inevitably some of the collaborations occurred remotely. However in one instance, Aoki reached back in to the vault and dusted off an unreleased acapella.

“With Mase, I mean I had that acapella for years,” Aoki revealed while talking about the track “$4,000,000.” “I’ve been working on that song for years. Luckily, I had ‘Kolony’ to give me a deadline.”

Now that it’s out, the DJ will hit the road, or rather the air again. Aoki spends most of the next month touring Europe, save a quick stop to Kazakhstan. It’ll be his first time performing in the Central Asian country.

Hopefully, somebody knows a good baker in town.

It was quite appropriate that before I made my third trip back to Niagara Falls, New York in six weeks (yes that’s every-other-weekend for those keeping score at home), I ran a 5K.

Of course, the reason I returned home is for my Mother’s church’s picnic, which I attend annually. The 5K, held inside Yankee Stadium, benefitted Damon Runyon for cancer research. For those unaware, my Mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor.

So after a late night at work and only about an hour or so of sleep, I woke up and chugged a coffee before wrapping myself in Yankees Dri-Fit paraphernalia and hopping in an Uber. I made it up to the Bronx in near-record time thanks to the lack-of-traffic on the Westside Highway. The heat I signed up for was 9:50 am.

Overall, the event was fantastic. This was my second Runyon 5K but the feeling of stepping on to the hallowed field of Yankee Stadium was just as exciting as the first time. What made this year’s installment even cooler was that the route brought you around the warning track twice; in 2014 you only were able to run one lap on the field.

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Not as cool: the two trips you make up the steps at Yankee Stadium, from the Great Hall to the 300 level, but we don’t need to dwell on that.

As I ran through the opening in center field and on to the dirt, I began to feel like a little kid agian. I wasn’t trying to hit a certain finish time (although I still finished sub-30 minutes) so I took it all in: the grass, the dugouts, the view from the infield. I stopped to take selfies, posed behind home plate and even “robbed a home-run” out in right field.


Some participate as a part of a team while others raise money individually. I decided not to tell anyone about my decision to run or solicit donations ahead of time for a couple of reasons. First, with the quick turnaround time, I wanted to make sure that I made the race! Second, there are a lot of people and organizations that are constantly trying to raise funds, and I just didn’t feel comfortable asking for any money.

With that said, I still felt that it was important to participate and share my experience. Events like these are critical to nonprofit organizations, and hopefully this can serve as an example that not donating or raising money isn’t an excuse to sit on the sidelines.

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Or perhaps better stated for this story, in the dugout.

Lisa Lampanelli stopped by the studio on Friday to talk about “Stuffed,” her off-Broadway show that kicks off October 5 at Westside Theatre. Tickets are on-sale now here.

The insult comic also talked about her alma mater (hint: it’s also mine – Go Orange!), her time on “Celebrity Apprentice” with Donald Trump and much more.

Not only is Rita Ora in a good place, it sounds like her peers are as well.

“Everyone’s just being really nice to each other and it feels really good,” the “Your Song” singer said in an interview that aired on my show Monday. “Everyone just shows so much support. It feels like we have a little community going on, which I like.”

The comments were a response to my observation of watching Ora’s interaction with Vanessa Hudgens and Drake backstage at the Billboard Music Awards in May. There were no cameras around as the entertainers exchanged pleasantries.

“I mean I’ve known some people in this industry since I was like 18, so it’s nice to just see people do their ‘thang,’” Ora continued. “My mom always taught me to be nice, to be respectful, and then you’ll get it back.

“And if not, then we can take it outside!” the 26 year-old joked.

With the way in which tabloids cover the London-native across the pond, it’s inevitable that Ora sometimes finds her name linked to stories that aren’t so respectful. That does not seem to have affected her disposition negatively; but she’s clearly cognizant of the coverage. This was evident in Ora’s reaction when I mentioned that she spent last summer filming “America’s Next Top Model” down the street from me.

“So I was annoying you then basically,” she retorted, semi-kidding I think. “There were loads of paparazzi. You must have been so angry at me.”

For the record, I wasn’t inconvenienced at all; however the same can’t be said for the people who lived next door to the models’ townhouse. Regardless of its downfalls, Ora is still thankful that she gets to do what she loves.

“I’m an entertainer, yunno?” she responded when I asked about her venture in to TV hosting. She’s currently the host of ABC’s competition “Boy Band.” “I think every time I’ve done a TV (show) it’s been the right timing; like the opportunity came the same time as my music coming out and I just felt like it was perfect to be visible on multiple platforms.”

Ora’s new single, co-written by Ed Sheeran, is called “Your Song” and is available now. Her new album is slated for a fall release. She revealed that the LP is “kind of done” and is in the mastering and mixing phase.

Dave Grohl was in the parking lot of a studio he was using to record the new Foo Fighters record when he ran into a familiar face: Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman.

But besides the fact that Stockman is a part of a group who has sold over 60 million albums worldwide, there was another reason why Grohl recognized the Philadelphia-native.

“I met him before, at a really rock-and-roll spot,” Stockman told me, before dropping the punch line. “The flower shop.”

At the time, both men were buying flowers for their significant others. They’ve crossed paths a few times since, but it was the latest run-in that yielded a musical collaboration.

“(Grohl) said, ‘Hey man, I’m doing a song and it’d be great if you could put some vocals on it,’” recalled Stockman. “It was cool.”

The final product is the title track from the Foo’s forthcoming LP “Concrete and Gold,” due out this September. Stockman, along with Nathan and Wanya Morris, will be touring in Africa that month. Before then, the trio will wrap up its run on “The Total Package Tour” with New Kids On The Block and Paula Abdul then return to Las Vegas to continue its residency at The Mirage.

I caught up with the GRAMMY Award winners in their dressing room at Mohegan Sun Arena before the group took the stage in front of a sold-out crowd. The interview, produced for Mohegan Sun’s Facebook page, included a segment where Nathan drew a card and the three artists had to answer the question on it. Asked, “Which celebrity would make you starstruck?” Stockman responded by referencing another big-name collaboration.

“Mine was Michael Jackson; we actually got to work with him,” he said. “We did some vocals on his ‘HIStory’ album.”

“He turned them down really low though,” Nathan quipped. The guys laughed, and agreed.

“We ended up being really cool (with him),” Stockman continued. “I could actually say that we were friends with Michael Jackson.”

And Stockman may go down as the only artist to work with both the King of Pop and the Foo Fighters front man. Ironically, Grohl was once asked by Lenny Kravitz to play on a Jackson track released posthumously, however his drum line wasn’t used in the final recording.

Kesha just ended a five-year musical hiatus by releasing her new single, “Praying,” although the time in between her albums has been the complete opposite of uneventful.

Over that span, Kesha was constantly in the headlines. She entered and exited rehab for an eating disorder, performed live, served as a judge on a reality TV competition (remember ABC’s “Rising Star”?) collaborated with Zedd and most notably, sued producer Dr. Luke. Kesha alleged physical and emotional abuse along with employment discrimination; the producer countersued for breach of contract and defamation.

As the series of lawsuits between Luke (born Gottwald) and Kesha (nee Sebert) played out in court, the singer claimed that if the court wouldn’t allow her to break her contract with Kemosabe Records, she wouldn’t be able to release new material. The court disagreed and technically with her new single and announcement of a forthcoming album, the court was correct.

But it should be noted that in April, Sony severed ties with Gottwald, who is no longer the CEO of Kemosabe Records. Despite this, a representative for the producer issued a statement to Billboard following the song’s release that said there were no changes to Kesha’s contractual recording obligations.

“As legally required all along, the album was released with Dr. Luke’s approval by Kemosabe which is a joint venture label of Dr. Luke and Sony,” it claimed in part.

Just a few weeks ago, a defamation lawsuit in a Tennessee court that Gottwald levied against Kesha’s mother, Pebe Sebert was dismissed. A joint statement from both parties said Ms. Sebert “admits she has no firsthand personal knowledge of the events occurring on the night of the alleged rape.”

While the separate legal battle in New York continues, it will not hold up Kesha’s return. “Praying” is an earth-scorching ballad that according to the artist, channels her feelings of “severe hopelessness and depression.”

“This song is about me finding peace in the fact that I can’t control everything — because trying to control everyone was killing me,” she wrote on Lena Dunham’s website Lenny. “It’s about learning to let go and realize that the universe is in control of my fate, not me.”

Ryan Lewis, who is best known for his work with rapper Macklemore, co-wrote the single. “Rainbow,” Kesha’s new LP, drops August 11.

From February 2017: GRAMMY Producer Of The Year nominee Ricky Reed talks about working in-studio with Kesha.

I’m just wrapping up a rare six day, summer vacation back home in Niagara Falls. It is unusual that I’m home for six days, period and especially so before the middle of July. But, it’s not every year that I not only have the opportunity to stand in a wedding, but serve as the best man. I had the pleasure of doing just that on Saturday, as my best friend Anthony married his fiancé Vincenza.
Especially lately, it seems that every time I return home I am just showered with well-wishes. I can’t really put in to words how much this means to me. From longtime friends and family to friends of family and complete strangers – I’m constantly approached by people who offer words of congratulations and encouragement. To be honest, it’s a little awkward for me at times because I really don’t allow myself to think that I’ve accomplished anything, and there are still so many feats I want to tackle in my career. Regardless, I am certainly in the process of living out my dream in the world’s greatest city, and I am so appreciative of the support I receive from back home. I am proud to be a Niagara Falls, New York native and I will never forget where I came from.

Back to this past week – certainly the wedding provided a number of unforgettable moments. I wrote a little note about it on Facebook, which you can read below. A big congrats to my big bro Anth, and welcome to the family Vincenza!

A new lawsuit from journalist Kevin Powell claims that the creators of the Tupac Shakur biopic “All Eyez On Me” used portions of various interviews and stories he wrote about Shakur for VIBE Magazine without properly credit. Attorney Jill Stanley is covering the story and called in to the show to break down details of the claim, along with offering some insight as to how things might play out in court and in theaters.

Hear our conversation below and read Stanley’s thoughts here.

Jason Derulo and I go way back. His first appearance on my show was in 2009 before “Whatcha Say” was on anyone’s radar. The hitmaker has been a consistent presence on the program since, whether he was calling in, stopping by the studio or saying hello at an awards show.

It was great to catch up with him last month in Las Vegas at the Billboard Music Awards; Derulo joined Nicki Minaj, David Guetta and Lil Wayne to open the broadcast, contributing a performance of his Minaj-assisted single “Swalla.”

But there was another part of our conversation that I kept thinking about, besides exchanging pleasantries and talking about his forthcoming TV appearance.

“Soon man, we’ll be celebrating 100 million sold,” he revealed to me. “It’s a really, really exciting time.”

He offered up the stat as we took a trip down memory lane; I had brought up “In My Head” – the single that shed his potential “one hit wonder” label and helped solidify his status as a pop radio mainstay. Coincidentally, it was Minaj that had jumped on a remix of the track and assisted in it gaining airplay on rhythmic and urban radio.

But besides his discography coming full-circle with Minaj, I was curious as to what Derulo thought of when he looked back on that period in his career.

“I remember not quite being myself a lot of the times,” he candidly offered. “I remember being excited as sh—about everything that was happening in my life man.

“It all just kind of came crashing in a moment. When you’ve been working your whole life for something and it finally comes to fruition it’s crazy.”

Derulo couldn’t have imagined what would follow: more hit singles, tours, a near-death experience, TV gigs and the occasional tabloid fodder. And at only 27, surely he doesn’t know what’s to come.

Jason Derulo’s Top 5 Singles (Ranked by peak-Billboard Hot 100 position)

5.) “Wiggle” (featuring Snoop Dogg)

4.) “Want To Want Me”

3.) “In My Head”

2.) “Talk Dirty” (featuring 2 Chainz)

1.) “Whatcha Say”

Honorable mention: the original version of “Ridin’ Solo.”

Perhaps you’ve seen the ads, including the large one sprawled across Hotel Pennsylvania on 7th Avenue, but in case you haven’t: Starz’s hit drama “Power” is back. I recently screened the first four episodes of season four ahead of the show’s New York press junket. I have to admit, I was hooked from the jump. The storylines are compelling, the acting is fantastic and you can jump in at season four and feel caught up (although I plan to get back to those first three seasons at some point).

On assignment for my friend Shaina’s website The Knockturnal, I had a chance to chat with almost all of the main players in the production: Omari Hardwick (“Ghost”), Lela Loren (“Angela”), Joseph Sikora (“Tommy”), Naturi Naughton (“Tasha”), Rotimi Akinosho (“Dre”) and La La Anthony (“LaKeisha”). We sat down at Langham Place in Midtown East earlier this month, before last weekend’s season four premiere. The cast members talked about working with 50 Cent (he’s on the show and its executive producer), the season four and five renewal of the program and the growing conflict within the show’s various storylines.

I also asked Hardwick, who is the show’s main character, about promoting the new season following the death of Charlie Murphy. The Brooklyn-born comedian passed away in April after a bout with Leukemia; he was cast as a prison guard for the latest installment of the drama.

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The full interviews along with the features I wrote are below. New episodes of “Power” air Sundays at 12:01 am via the Starz app.