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As politically active as Young Jeezy was last fall, it only made sense that last week, he felt right at home in what the pundits called, “The Ground Zero of the Presidential Election.”

“I appreciate Scranton for standing behind (President Obama),” Jeezy told me backstage at the first stop on the “America’s Most Wanted Music Festival.” Obama won both Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties. “We here now, we’re trying to make the world a better place.”

The Atlanta-rapper is both realistic and patient – he believes it’ll take President Obama two terms to fix the various big ticket issues our country faces. But he also recognizes the other half of the winning ticket.

“Joe Biden! What up homie!” he cheerfully shouted when I reminded him that Vice President Biden is from the Electric City.

The conversation quickly turned to music, as Jeezy is working on his fourth studio LP: Thug Motivation 103. No release date is set – and the rapper is rather evasive on details. Jeezy did tell me that fans can expect, “a little bit of everything,” referring to a conglomerate of material that people grew accustomed to between Thug Motivation 101 and The Recession.

“Everything still pretty much in the can right now,” Jeezy revealed. “It’s gonna be a very special album, but at the same time, the streets gonna love this, Scranton are gonna love this, people are gonna love this album.”

Still, Jeezy would not as much as divulge any type of timeline for the record’s release, simply stating that he’ll drop it once it’s finished. You would think that if it’s already in production, it’ll be released by the time fellow Atlanta rapper T.I. leaves jail. Young Jeezy told me that through their respective camps he keeps in touch with T.I.P.

“He’s gotta pay his debt to society and get back on it. We here for him though.”

Don’t necessarily call it a homecoming to hip-hop, but for MTV News reporter Sway Calloway, it sure felt good to cover the America’s Most Wanted Music Festival’s first date in Scranton, PA.

“I’ve been on the road doing a lot of stuff with MTV,” explained Calloway – mentioning the Michael Jackson memorial as well as numerous political events. “I really wanted to come back to the core of how I got in this game, and that’s through rap, hip-hop music.”

Producers and MTV News beat reporter Shaheem Reid joined Calloway to cover the event. The team from MTV arrived on Sunday and caught Lil Wayne’s dress rehearsal. By all accounts, it seemed as if the crowd at Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain would be in for a special show. But the event impressed Calloway on other levels as well.

“Especially in this time of economic crisis, people said you can’t put together a tour,” said Sway. “Young Money Records, Lil Wayne, stuck their neck out there and they got truly America’s most wanted.”

The lineup is something to marvel at – the front of the bill includes Jeremih (top 10 hit in “Birthday Sex”) and Pleasure P, formerly of Pretty Ricky. Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em takes the stage next, followed by Young Jeezy and Wayne – who brings his entire Young Mula crew for the ride. At least for now, that will be sans Drake, who reinjured an already torn ACL on Friday in Camden, NJ. The R&B singer returned to his home of Toronto, where he will undergo surgery this week.

But with a tour this deep, almost any hit to the card is sustainable, especially when you have one of your opening acts tossing out thousands of dollars to the crowd.

“I’ve seen that gimmick over the years a thousand times,” Sway noted of Soulja’s parting act. While performing “Turn My Swag On,” the 19 year-old reached in to his pocket and began tossing out Ben Franklin’s to the crowd as if he was shooting free throws in a gym. “Soulja Boy is the first person I’ve personally witnessed to throw out real, $100 bills, continuously for at least six minutes.”

The MTV reporter estimated that Soulja gave “at least $5,000” to the fans.

“I talked to people who walked away with a couple hundred dollars,” he said. “(Soulja Boy) paid them, to come see him.”

Certainly no one needed any more incentive to show up. Over 12,000 people entered Montage Mountain for the event – a solid figure in an area that has generally struggled to support hip-hop and rhythmic shows. Again, just another testament to the lineup put forth by Wayne. The “maturity” of the acts also impressed Calloway. While we spoke, Young Jeezy performed behind us, backed by a 9-piece band.

“Music is a universal communicator,” said Sway. “You see people right now, partying together, to one beat… and it’s a great venue.”

South Philly-born Amber Rose showed up at opening night of the America’s Most Wanted Music Festival. The model and former exotic dancer has appeared in videos and print campaigns with Young Jeezy and Kanye West, and has been romantically linked to West as well.


Rose recently appeared with West in a Louis Vuitton ad.

– It’s the first tour of any kind for newcomer Jeremih. The Chicago-native currently owns a Top 10 hit in “Birthday Sex.” Talk about being thrown in to the fire of a hectic schedule: while all of the other acts on the bill arrived in Scranton on Sunday, Jeremih touched down in Avoca around 4:30 on Monday. Less than two hours later, he kicked off the show with a quick set of songs from his self-titled, debut LP.

As per the suggestion of myself and Kidd Kraddick In The Morning producer Adam, he ended with the up-tempo version of “Birthday Sex.”

– National media descended again on Northeastern PA for the kickoff of Lil Wayne’s summer tour, and a familiar face showed up in the crowd. I had the pleasure of watching Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em’s set on stage left with not only Scranton’s DJ Woogie, but also MTV News reporter Sway Calloway. In March of 2008, I met Sway at Whistles in downtown Scranton, where he hosted an MTV Choose or Lose event with President Barack Obama.

In our interview, Calloway mentioned how impressed he was with the maturity of hip-hop (at the time, Young Jeezy performed behind us with a six piece band). He also acknowledged an on-stage stunt by Soulja Boy. Calloway has seen the “cash gimmick” many times (hip-hop artists throwing out money to the crowd), but he noted that usually the money is either dollar bills or fake. However, the “Crank That” rapper was tossing out genuine Benjamin Franklin’s in to the stands. Calloway estimated that in those short few minutes, Soulja easily tossed about $5,000 back to the fans.

– Speaking of Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em, his night ended on a bit of a down note. Soulja joined Pleasure P (formerly of Pretty Ricky), Sway, Jeezy, and Jeremih on the VIP Deck at stage left to watch Lil Wayne’s performance. During the show, Arab – who is one of the rappers in Soulja Boy’s “S.O.D.M.G.” stable of artists, accidentally spilled a drink on Soulja’s white jeans. When I hopped on board his tour bus, Soulja’s entourage was trying to figure out how they could get to a washing machine: the rapper wanted to wear the jeans to Cancun, where he will be celebrating his 19th birthday.

Despite the misfortunate clothing accident, Soulja was more than happy to speak with me. 97 BHT played “Kiss Me Thru The Phone” more times than any other radio station in Northeastern PA. And apparently, the rapper is keeping tabs on me.

“Ralphie man, I see you blowin’ up, you grindin’ here in Scranton huh?” said Soulja Boy immediately when I walked on to the bus. “I see you on Twitter sendin’ out links and sh**. That’s what’s up man.”

Apparently you never know who is reading what you write on the Internet. But, this didn’t come as a complete shock – since we first met last February, Soulja Boy has uploaded two of my interviews to his YouTube channel – with cumulative views over 200,000.

Soulja is currently working on two new LPs, another solo project with a November release date, and a S.O.D.M.G. album that will drop in December. He’s traveling with a second tour bus that is equipped with a recording studio, so he can finish the projects on the road.

– How tight was security backstage at Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain? I spoke with two venue employees, who each were there over 10 years. Both said that they’ve never seen the backstage area on lockdown as much as Monday night’s show.


97 BHT welcomes Lil Wayne and Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em back to NEPA, with special guests Young Jeezy and Drake!

Click here for more information!

All thanks to Live Nation and 97 BHT!

FULL COVERAGE OF LIL WAYNE’S LAST TRIP TO NEPA

FULL COVERAGE OF SOULJA BOY TELL ‘EM’S LAST TRIP TO NEPA


REVISED 12/30/2008
The following will appear this Wednesday in The Weekender.

Turns out that one of the most extravagant partiers that calls The Valley their residence, doesn’t even party within Northeastern PA.

He is 43 year-old Gregory Malia – but many in the area as well as the bar staffs he so generously tips simply know him as “Father Greg.”

That isn’t a nickname for his charitable contributions on bills – tipping as much as 60 percent on one tab, which brought the grand total to a staggering $45,000.

Nope, this big city, bottle-ordering patron is of the priesthood. Father Gregory Malia preaches at St. James, a summer-only Episcopal Church in Carbondale.

 
Credit the New York Daily News with breaking this story. Their reporter scored an interview with Fr. Greg, however a publicist for the company which Malia owns cut the conversation short. The pharmacy specializes in medicine dedicated to blood disorders – allegedly the source funding these spending sprees of up to $52,000… in one night.

You’re probably wondering, and the answer is no, Malia doesn’t see anything wrong with the situation.

“I work hard. I make good money. How I spend it – that’s my business,” the priest told a reporter for the Daily News, which ran the article in its Sunday edition.
Bishop Paul V. Marshall of the Diocese of Bethlehem cares to dissent. The diocesan head swiftly released a statement via the Internet the day that the article ran.

The allegations made in the article, if true, constitute a serious violation of ordination vows to be ‘a wholesome example’ to a priest’s people,” writes Bishop Marshall. “If true, they may also violate other canonical provisions and certainly portray an unacceptable idea of Christian stewardship,” Bishop Marshall wrote. The Bishop goes on to reveal that The Daily News did not reach out to him or his communications department for comment, and that Malia hadn’t returned an e-mail and a phone call.

Furthermore, the Bishop removed Malia as his vicar at St. James, prohibiting him from the exercise of priestly ministry.

The Daily News would not comment on the piece, noting that it is still a work in progress.

I shouldn’t and won’t pass judgment on Malia, however I will say that he could certainly teach a thing or two about tipping to most of the celebrities and athletes that roll through this area.

T.I. SHOW CANCELLED

Speaking of celebrities in the 570, T.I. will not be one of them, at least in 2008. E & R Entertainment’s Jingle Jam, which was to feature T.I.P. along with fellow Atlanta artist Young Jeezy, was canceled Monday.

The concert was slated for December 29. Ticket holders can receive a full refund at point-of-purchase. The promoter cited ticket sales as the reason for cancellation, although a reschedule date is still in the works – pending approval from the judge overseeing T.I.’s forthcoming jail sentence, which begins in March 2009.

Listen to Ralphie Aversa weekdays from 5-10p on 97 BHT.

The promoter told me yesterday morning that the show will be postponed to early next year. Ticket holders can keep their tickets for the future date or receive a full refund from the Arena box office.

Greetings from Niagara Falls – I first found out about this yesterday, however for some reason I couldn’t send the item to Blogger from my Blackberry.

I’ll have more on this, with possibly an exclusive word from the promoter, Monday afternoon on the show. Be listening around 5 PM.



Win tickets to E&R Entertainment’s “Jingle Jam 2008” featuring T.I. and Young Jeezy! Another big show in NEPA – and more free tickets from 97 BHT! T.I. and Jeezy take over the Wachovia Arena on Monday, December 29th.

Purchase tickets here.

97 BHT’s already given away THE PROMOTER’S FRONT ROW SEATS – starting Thursday at 5PM with Ralphie, you’ll have your chance to win 5th Row Seats – and we’ll count down to the front row every weekday after.

T.I. called in to The Ralphie Radio Show to talk about the big concert and his CD – check it out here.

And don’t forget, you heard about this show FIRST on 97 BHT!


12.17.08 : Flo Rida – Touch Me
Hot track…
12.16.08 : Star Six Nine – I Like You
Also dope… he’s opening for T.I./Young Jeezy…


T.I. and Young Jeezy will perform in Northeastern PA before the end of the year, a show officially announced last week and first heard of on The Ralphie Radio Show two weeks ago.

The Wachovia Arena plays host to the big show, scheduled for Monday, December 29. E&R Entertainment, the same promotions group behind the Lil’ Wayne show in October, is responsible for this event.

Apparently the “Rubber Band Man” and Jeezy won’t be the only big names taking the stage that night. In a Ralphie Radio Show exclusive, the promoter of the show revealed that a third name, only described as “another headliner”, is confirmed to appear. However, the artist’s name will not be revealed until the day of the show.

With many big hip-hop artists hailing from New York and Philadelphia – and possibly back in the Northeast for the holidays – the list of names that could show up is near endless.

The promoter did confirm that it will not be Fabolous – who still owes E&R a performance after backing out of the Lil Wayne show on the day of. To the delight of many, Jadakiss replaced him on the bill.

You could argue that what “The Blueprint” did for Jay-Z is what “Paper Trail” is doing for T.I. The LP moved over 1.2 million copies to date – and sports the uber-popular “Whatever You Like” and “Live Your Life” – the latter featuring Rihanna. The tracks are the top songs in the country, respectively one and two.

Fans looking to hear T.I. live might want to jump at this opportunity – the rapper, real name Clifford Harris, will head to jail in early 2009 on convictions stemming from illegal gun possession.

HINDER’S CHRISTMAS WISH

The fellas of Hinder sure live up to the “rock star persona” dubbed on most musicians. Yunno, the same stuff Nickelback sings about.

Some of the band members called up The Ralphie Radio Show just before Thanksgiving to chat about the LP, Take It To The Limit, as well as plans for the holidays. Hinder said it’d be nice to come home for the holiday. The rock group played a show only a few hours from their hometown of Oklahoma City, and did not perform the next day.

While some members of Hinder simply wished for continued success both in the studio and on the road – others were a tad more concise regarding their Christmas list.

“2 girls at the same time,” one band member chimed in.

I suppose you can’t expect anything different from a group that tours with headlining sponsors like Jägermeister. BTW, Hinder receives an unlimited supply of the liquor for the tour bus machine dispenser through the duration of the dates.

Listen to Ralphie Aversa weekdays from 5-10p on 97 BHT.