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Bill Withers: The Soul Man Who Walked Away In 1970 the singer was a guy in his thirties with a job and a lunch pail. Then he wrote ‘Ain’t No Sunshine,’ and things got complicated

n a clear day, you can see the Staples Center from Bill Withers’ house, which sits high in the hills above West Hollywood. Today, in about two hours, the Los Angeles basketball arena will host the Grammy Awards; every once in a while, a limo will rush through Withers’ neighborhood, on its way to the event. But the 76-year-old Withers could not be less interested. He’s padding around his home wearing Adidas track pants, an old T-shirt with a drawing of a bus on it, and athletic sandals with blue socks. On the mantel in a hallway, there is a Best R&B Song award, for 1980′s “Just the Two of Us,” from the last time he attended the show, three decades ago; it sits next to two other Grammys, for 1971′s “Ain’t No Sunshine” and 1972′s “Lean on Me.” A few years after “Two of Us,” Withers became one of the few stars in pop-music history to truly walk away from a lucrative career, entirely of his own volition, and never look back. “These days,” he says, “I wouldn’t know a pop chart from a Pop-Tart.”



Bill Withers



As the Grammy telecast begins, and AC/DC kick off the show, Withers jumps into his Lexus SUV and heads down to his favorite restaurant, Le Petit Four; he has a hankering for liver and onions but settles for the blackened catfish. The hostess knows him by name, but otherwise he blends into the crowd. “I grew up in the age of Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson,” he says, still musing on the Grammys. “It was a time where a fat, ugly broad that could sing had value. Now everything is about image. It’s not poetry. This just isn’t my time.”

Withers has been out of the spotlight for so many years that some people think he passed away. “Sometimes I wake up and I wonder myself,” he says with a hearty chuckle. “A very famous minister actually called me to find out whether I was dead or not. I said to him, ‘Let me check.’ ”

Others don’t believe he is who he says: “One Sunday morning I was at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. These church ladies were sitting in the booth next to mine. They were talking about this Bill Withers song they sang in church that morning. I got up on my elbow, leaned into their booth and said, ‘Ladies, it’s odd you should mention that because I’m Bill Withers.’ This lady said, ‘You ain’t no Bill Withers. You’re too light-skinned to be Bill Withers!’ ”

His career lasted eight years by his own count; in that time, he wrote and recorded some of the most loved, most covered songs of all time, particularly “Lean on Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” — tunes that feature dead-simple, soulful instrumentation and pure melodies that haven’t aged a second. “He’s the last African-American Everyman,” says Questlove. “Jordan’s vertical jump has to be higher than everyone. Michael Jackson has to defy gravity. On the other side of the coin, we’re often viewed as primitive animals. We rarely land in the middle. Bill Withers is the closest thing black people have to a Bruce Springsteen.”

Withers was stunned when he learned he had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. “I see it as an award of attrition,” he says. “What few songs I wrote during my brief career, there ain’t a genre that somebody didn’t record them in. I’m not a virtuoso, but I was able to write songs that people could identify with. I don’t think I’ve done bad for a guy from Slab Fork, West Virginia.”

Withers’ hometown is in a poor rural area in one of the poorest states in the Union. His father, who worked in the coal mines, died when Bill was 13. “We lived right on the border of the black and white neighborhood,” he says. “I heard guys playing country music, and in church I heard gospel. There was music everywhere.”

The youngest of six children, Withers was born with a stutter and had a hard time fitting in. “When you stutter, people have a tendency to disregard you,” he says. That was compounded by the unvarnished Jim Crow racism that was a way of life in his youth. “One of the first things I learned, when I was around four, was that if you make a mistake and go into a white women’s bathroom, they’re going to kill your father.” He was a teenager when Emmett Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago who allegedly whistled at a white woman while visiting relatives in Mississippi, was beaten to death by two men who were cleared of all charges by an all-white jury. “[Till] was right around my age,” says Withers. “I thought, ‘Didn’t he know better?’ ”

Desperate to get out of Slab Fork, he enlisted in the Navy right after graduating from high school in 1956. Harry Truman had desegregated the armed forces eight years earlier, but Withers quickly discovered that didn’t mean much at his first naval base, in Pensacola, Florida. “My first goal was, I didn’t want to be a cook or a steward,” he says. “So I went to aircraft-mechanic school. I still had to prove to people that thought I was genetically inferior that I wasn’t too stupid to drain the oil out of an airplane.”

By the time he was transferred to California in the mid-1960s, he realized he’d never have the courage to quit the Navy if he couldn’t rid himself of his stutter. “I couldn’t get out a word,” he says. “I realized it wasn’t physical. I figured out that my stutter — and this isn’t the case for everyone — was caused by fear of the perception of the listener. I had a much higher opinion of everyone else than I did of myself. I started doing things like imagining everybody naked — all kinds of tricks I used on myself.”

Against all conventional wisdom, it worked (though he still trips over the occasional word), and in 1965 he quit the Navy and became “the first black milkman in Santa Clara County, California.” He eventually took a job at an aircraft parts factory. As a Navy aircraft mechanic, he was ridiculously overqualified, but “it was all about survival.”

One night around that time, he visited a club in Oakland where Lou Rawls was playing. “He was late, and the manager was pacing back and forth,” says Withers. “I remember him saying, ‘I’m paying this guy $2,000 a week and he can’t show up on time.’ I was making $3 an hour, looking for friendly women, but nobody found me interesting. Then Rawls walked in, and all these women are talking to him.”

Withers was in his late twenties. His music-business experience consisted of sitting in a couple of times with a bar band while stationed in Guam in the Navy. He’d never played the guitar, but he headed to a pawn shop, bought a cheap one and began teaching himself to play. Between shifts at the factory, he began writing his own tunes. “I figured out that you didn’t need to be a virtuoso to accompany yourself,” he says.

He began saving from each paycheck until he had enough to record a crude demo. Withers shopped it around to major labels, which weren’t interested, but then he got a meeting with Clarence Avant, a black music executive who had recently founded the indie label Sussex and had just signed the songwriter Rodriguez (of Searching for Sugar Man fame). “[Withers'] songs were unbelievable,” Avant remembers. “You just had to listen to his lyrics. I gave him a deal and set him up with Booker T. Jones to produce his album.”


Bill Withers
Bill Withers in a recording studio circa 1972. MIchael Ochs Archives/Getty


Jones, the famous Stax keyboardist, went through his Rolodex and hired the cream of the Los Angeles scene: drummer Jim Keltner, MGs bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn, Stephen Stills on guitar. “Bill came right from the factory and showed up in his old brogans and his old clunk of a car with a notebook full of songs,” says Jones. “When he saw everyone in the studio, he asked to speak to me privately and said, ‘Booker, who is going to sing these songs?’ I said, ‘You are, Bill.’ He was expecting some other vocalist to show up.”

Withers was extremely uneasy until Graham Nash walked into the studio. “He sat down in front of me and said, ‘You don’t know how good you are,’ ” Withers says. “I’ll never forget it.” They laid down the basic tracks for what became 1971′s Just As I Am in a few days. (One of the songs was inspired by the 1962 Jack Lemmon-Lee Remick movie Days of Wine and Roses; Withers was watching it on TV, and the doomed relationship at the film’s center brought to mind a phrase: “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.”)

The album’s cover photo was taken during Withers’ lunch break at the factory; you can see him holding his lunch pail. “My co-workers were making fun of me,” he says. “They thought it was a joke.” Still unconvinced that music would pay off, he held on to his day job until he was laid off in the months before the album’s release. Then, one day, “two letters came in the mail. One was asking me to come back to my job. The other was inviting me on to Johnny Carson.” The Tonight Show appearance, in November 1971, helped propel “Ain’t No Sunshine” into the Top 10, and the follow-up, “Grandma’s Hands,” reached Number 42.

By then, Withers was 32; he still marvels at the fact that he was able to come out of nowhere at that relatively advanced age. “Imagine 40,000 people at a stadium watching a football game,” he says. “About 10,000 of them think they can play quarterback. Three of them probably could. I guess I was one of those three.”

He took some earnings, bought a piano and, again, with no training, began fiddling around. One of the first things he came up with was a simple chord progression: “I didn’t change fingers. I just went one, two, three, four, up and down the piano. It was the first thing I learned to play. Even a tiny child can play that.”

Tired of love songs, he wrote a simple ode to friendship called “Lean on Me.” Withers didn’t think much of it. “But the guys at the record company thought it was a single,” he says. It became the centerpiece of his second album, 1972′s Still Bill. The song rocketed to Number One and was inescapable for the entire year.

Withers was now a hot commodity, appearing on Soul Train and the BBC, and headlining a show at Carnegie Hall that was released as a live album. But he refused to hire a manager, insisting on overseeing every aspect of his career, from producing his own songs to writing the liner notes to designing his album covers. “He was so opinionated,” says Avant. “I was the closest thing he had to a manager. Everybody was scared of him.”

“Early on, I had a manager for a couple of months, and it felt like getting a gasoline enema,” says Withers. “Nobody had my interest at heart. I felt like a pawn. I like being my own man.”

In 1973, Withers married Denise Nicholas, a star of the TV show Room 222. It was a rocky relationship from the start. “Their wedding day was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen,” Avant says. “I remember her semi-crying. She said, ‘He doesn’t love me.’ I said, ‘Bill, what are you doing getting married?’ He said, ‘I want everyone back home to know I’m marrying one of these Hollywood actresses.’ ” Withers and Nicholas had terrible fights, which soon began getting coverage in magazines like Jet; the couple split after little more than a year. Withers poured all of his pain from the breakup into his 1974 LP +’Justments. ”It was like a diary,” says Questlove. “That album was a pre-reality-show look at his life. Keep in mind this was years before Marvin Gaye did it with Here, My Dear.

Withers was also unhappy on the road. Despite having enormous radio hits, he found himself opening up for incongruous acts like Jethro Tull and making less money than he felt he deserved. Things got worse when Sussex went bankrupt in 1975, and Withers signed a five-record deal with Columbia. “I met my A&R guy, and the first thing he said to me was, ‘I don’t like your music or any black music, period,’ ” says Withers. “I am proud of myself because I did not hit him. I met another executive who was looking at a photo of the Four Tops in a magazine. He actually said to me, ‘Look at these ugly niggers.’ ”

At Sussex, he had complete creative control over his music, but at Columbia he found himself in the middle of a large corporation that was second-guessing his moves. As he relives this part of his past, he gets teary. “There were no black executives,” he says. “They’d say shit to me like, ‘Why are there no horns on the song?’ ‘Why is this intro so long?’ . . . This one guy at Columbia, Mickey Eichner, was a huge pain in the ass,” he adds. “He told me to cover Elvis Presley’s ‘In the Ghetto.’ I’m a songwriter! That would be like buying a bartender a drink.”

Eichner, who was the head of Columbia’s A&R department, says he’s “hurt” by Withers’ words, and he has a different recollection of events. “He submitted a rec-ord, and we didn’t hear a single,” he says. “I suggested he maybe do an Elvis cover. He’s very stubborn. I believe that a manager would have understood what I was trying to do, but he didn’t have one, so there was nobody I could reason with.” As far as racism at Columbia, Eichner says he doesn’t recall “hearing or seeing anything.”

With the exception of 1977′s Menagerie (which contains the funky classic “Lovely Day”), none of the Columbia albums reached the Top 40. Withers’ 1980 hit “Just the Two of Us” was a duet with Grover Washington Jr. on Elektra – “That was a ‘kiss my ass’ song to Columbia,” says Withers. The low point came during the sessions for his last album, 1985′s Watching You Watching Me. ”They made me record that album at some guy’s home studio,” he says. “This stark-naked five-year-old girl was running around the house, and they said to her, ‘We’re busy. Go play with Bill.’ Now, I’m this big black guy and they’re sending a little naked white girl over to play with me! I said, ‘I gotta get out of here. I can’t take this shit!’ ”

Withers hasn’t released a note of music since then, aside from a guest spot on a 2004 Jimmy Buffett song; he has not performed publicly in concert in nearly 25 years. Right now he’s sitting at his kitchen table reading a political blog on his iPad, as CNN runs quietly on a nearby TV. He watches a lot of television, and he especially loves Mike & Molly, The Big Bang Theory and the MSNBC prison documentary series Lockup. ”I really have no idea what he does all day,” says his wife, Marcia. “But he does a lot on his iPad. He always knows exactly what’s going on in the world. Whenever I mention anything, he says, ‘Oh, that’s old news.’ ”

Marcia, who met Withers in 1976, runs his publishing company from a tiny office on Sunset Boulevard. “We’re a mom-and-pop shop,” he says. “She’s my only overseer. I’m lucky I married a woman with an MBA.” Since Withers was the sole writer of most of his material, he gets half of every dollar his catalog generates – and “Lean on Me” alone has appeared in innumerable TV shows, movies and commercials. Any licensee that wants to use Withers’ master version of one of his songs needs his approval. “If it’s for a scene in a show where somebody is killed or something, we will turn them down,” says Marcia. “We don’t want people to associate, say, ‘Lean on Me’ with violence.” Technically, it’s possible to license a cover of one of his songs without his consent. “But that’s never happened,” he says. “They don’t want to piss me off.”

Bill and Marcia have invested wisely in L.A. real estate. For the past 17 years, they’ve lived in their 5,000-square-foot house, which has three stories and an elevator and is furnished with pricey-looking African art; they bought the home for $700,000 in 1998, and it’s now worth many times that. It’s crammed with books and mementos from Withers’ career, including a 1974 photo of him with Muhammad Ali. There’s an exercise room on the third floor with several machines, which all look brand-new.

Their children, Todd and Kori, are both in their thirties and live nearby. Bill was an active father after he left the music biz, and he’s very close to them. “We’d have James Brown dance parties in our pajamas,” says Kori, “and take cross-country road trips, blasting Chuck Berry songs the whole time.” Withers also occupied himself with construction projects at his investment properties. (“When I moved to New York for college, he built a wall in the middle of my apartment with a door on it,” says Kori. “He’s always building something.”)


Kori Withers and Bill Withers
Kori Withers and Bill Withers perform at the 36th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in 2005. L. Busacca/Getty


The Withers house also has a recording studio, but Bill has little interest in making new music. “I need a motivator or something to goose me up,” he says. “They need to come out with a Viagra-like pill for folks my age to regenerate that need to show off. But back where I’m from, people sit on their porch all day.”

He’s turned down more offers for comeback tours than he can count. “What else do I need to buy?” he says. “I’m just so fortunate. I’ve got a nice wife, man, who treats me like gold. I don’t deserve her. My wife dotes on me. I’m very pleased with my life how it is. This business came to me in my thirties. I was socialized as a regular guy. I never felt like I owned it or it owned me.”

He hasn’t ruled out a performance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in April, though. “There are things that will decide that for me,” he says, mysteriously. Says Marcia, “I know he doesn’t like how older people sound when they sing. I don’t push him. People say that I enable him, but he’s just over it. ”

In the meantime, Questlove is determined to get him back to work. “I started my campaign to produce a Bill Withers album back in 2004,” he says. “My first audition was to produce an Al Green album. I figured Bill would see it, love it and agree to record with me. He said, ‘Nope, I’m fine. I don’t want to sing.’ So I made an album with his friend Booker T. Jones, but same thing. Finally I recorded Withers’ ‘I Can’t Write Left Handed’ with John Legend. He still said, ‘Nope.’ ”

The Legend-Roots album with “Left Handed” won three Grammys, but Withers was unimpressed. “I won’t give up,” says Questlove. “He’s my hero.”

From The Archives Issue 1231: March 26, 2015

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Bobby Brown’s lawyer: Bobbi Kristina Brown has opened eyes

ATLANTA — Bobby Brown’s lawyer issued a statement Monday saying the singer’s daughter has “opened her eyes” nearly three months after being found unresponsive in a bathtub in her Georgia home.

Attorney Christopher Brown said he issued the statement to clarify comments the singer made during a concert over the weekend about his daughter’s condition. The statement goes on to say that “there has been improvement” in her condition.

However, it also adds that Bobbi Kristina Brown is just now beginning rehabilitation “and the quality of her life will not be known for years to come.”

Bobbi-Kristina-Brown-Turns-20-4207307575428578871 photo

Bobbi Kristina Brown is the only child of Bobby Brown and the late Whitney Houston.

Houston was found face-down and unresponsive in about a foot of water in a bathtub in a Beverly Hills hotel room Feb. 11, 2012, just before the Grammys. She later died, and authorities concluded she had accidentally drowned. Investigators found a dozen prescription-drug bottles in the suite and listed heart disease and cocaine use as contributors to her death.

On Saturday night, an emotional Bobby Brown told concertgoers that Bobbi Kristina was “awake” and “she is watching me.”

Bobby Brown’s wife, Alicia Etheredge-Brown, added in the statement that during the concert, Brown “made an attempt to correct the negative comments he must endure on a daily basis from both family and the public regarding his daughter’s medical condition.”

“He is encouraged by the steps that Bobbi Kristina has made since her hospitalization on January 31, 2015,” Etheredge-Brown said. “She has made it out of ICU, opened her eyes, and started a rehabilitation that will be long and hard.”

Björk recently said “sound is the n***er of the world.” She should know better, but what comes next is important, too.

When Björk told Vanessa Grigoriadis in the Spring 2015 issue of The Gentlewoman that “sound is the nigger of the world,” it wasn’t the first time she had used either the word or the piss-poor analogy. About 14 years ago, she used a similar turn of phrase in a Spin profile: “audio is the nigger of the world,” she said then, too, in an idiotic attempt at explaining that visuals are more readily valued than sound. The phrase is a reference to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Woman Is The Nigger Of The World,” but it was wrong when they said it in 1972, and it’s even more wrong now. For all of its faults, the internet has made it so that geography is hardly an excuse for not knowing what is and is not deeply wounding language. Forty years later, Björk should be well aware of the insidious, sustained effects of casual racism.

I first saw the most recent offense on a friend’s Instagram, and was both surprised and disappointed—in Björk for her remark and in the publication for not challenging, or at least interrogating, her on it. But mostly I wanted to know where the reaction was; in an age in which a random communications executive could be fired for a tone-deaf joke, why was no one upset at Björk, our heretofore liberal Icelandic angel?

A couple of weeks ago, Trevor Noah was named new host of The Daily Show, and old tweets of his were dug up, some of them with punchlines interpreted as sexist, transphobic, and anti-semitic. Language leads to a bit more of a protracted debate in comedy, but the backlash was swift and deep. Comedy Central stood by him in the face of calls that he be dropped, but the objections were loud. Similarly, in December, DIIV’s bassist, Devin Reuben Perez, was discovered to have posted misogynistic, racist, homophobic, and otherwise offensive comments on 4chan. In response, de facto band leader Zachary Cole Smith blasted Perez pretty unequivocally on Twitter, and the band released an official apologydescribing Perez’s language as unacceptable regardless of context.

There are dozens of similar instances, all with different contexts and resolutions. But as the social web continues to be the dominant form through which culture is filtered, it feels inevitable that everyone you admire will eventually disappoint you with a hurtful tweet or an offensive comment in an interview. Things that you might have missed in previous eras, like Björk’s 2001 interview, are now impossible to ignore, thanks to the speed and intensity with which the public and the press seize upon them. Strangely, though, the kinds of publications that otherwise report on the Björk’s every move didn’t cover this latest incident; instead, it was gossip blogs like Perez Hilton and ONTD that acknowledged it at all.

After a couple of days of being generally confused by her choice of words and the attendant silence, I posted a picture of the quote in question on Twitter. Since then, I’ve received a few dozen replies. I’ve also, perhaps foolishly, read through a 4chan thread about it. Reactions have been mixed: some fans tried to either justify or deny Björk’s use of the phrase, while others were upset, some of them vowing not to attend her ongoing MoMA retrospective or support Vulnicura, the album she’s currently promoting. In general, though, it’s been quiet. No one really cares, it feels like. Perhaps it’s because these kinds of things happen every day or maybe because we don’t want to confront the reality that yet another of our faves is problematic.

We tend to hold the people of whom we are fans to the same moral standards we hold friends, often expecting them to echo our politics or sensibilities in the same way that their art, whatever it may be, speaks to us. By definition, fame requires those on the outside looking in to rely on imagination to prop up celebrity narratives; the public’s glimpses into the lives and personalities of the famous are so mediated that though we think we know, we have no idea. Fame encourages us to fill in the blank spaces around these people with what we want to see, with what reaffirms our pre-existing assumptions. It’s no surprise, then, that when it comes to art we like, and to the artists who make it, we expect to see reflections of ourselves in them, even on the simplest of levels.

Ultimately, I’m fairly that confident Björk is not a hateful person. But, as a longtime fan, it’s the privilege that empowers her to prioritize her commentary about sound over the lives of black people, past and present, that stings most. By resorting to racist language for the sake of making a point, she, intentionally or not, reinforces the kind of structures that centuries of racism have been predicated on. Similarly, when Pharrell described himself as a “new black” and effectively blamed black people for state racism, it felt like a betrayal of the implicit transactional relationship that exists between artist and fandom.

So what’s a fan to do when you discover that someone you’re into has disappointed you? The mods of Your Fave Is Problematic, a Tumblr that has been consistently cataloguing “problematic shit your favorite celebrities have done,” reach a reasonable conclusion: “You can like and consume their work without liking them as a person. You can even like them as a person, so long as you recognize that they do have problematic issues,” they write. Because it’s instinct to not want to support people whose words or actions are objectionable, there’s space for genuine apologies and admissions of wrongdoing to wind up being more impactful than the original offense. I’m not ready to give up entirely on Björk or Pharrell or Trevor Noah or any number of people whose cultural value I appreciate, but I am ready for my problematic faves to finally begin owning up to their offenses. If to err is human and to forgive, divine, then to apologize is essential.

Google’s Smartwatches Now Let You Leave Your Phone at Home

AS HE SPEAKS, Jeff Chang surveys his kingdom. Android Wear’s product manager, the man most directly responsible for the progress of Google’s wearable platform, is seated at a large conference-room table in Google’s San Francisco office that is fully half-filled with Android Wear devices. No two are alike: seven different models, countless colors and bands. Every color of Sony Smartwatch 3 here, a dozen Moto 360s there. He’s wearing an LG Watch Urbane, and there are two others on the table. There’s a particularly gaudy Huawei Watch, which I can’t stop touching during our meeting. And all this, he says, gesturing around, is just the beginning.

It’s been a year since Google launched Android Wear to the public, and as hardware partners have jumped on board, Chang and his team have been working steadily to improve the platform. Today, they’re announcing some of its biggest changes yet. The biggest by far, the one that will quickly change how people use their smartwatches, is the watch’s ability to work even when it’s far away from your phone.

Chang says people hated that as soon as they walked outside, or even three rooms away, their watch stopped working. Google’s solution is a clever hack: Your watch can now connect to your phone via Wi-Fi (many models already have a Wi-Fi chip, it’s just been dormant until now, and the watch copies passwords and logins from your phone). As long as your phone is on and online, and your watch is connected to a Wi-Fi network, they can communicate from anywhere. Your phone’s still in charge of most processing and information, though. Chang says connecting a watch directly to the internet, convenient and obvious as it may be, would require re-architecting everything about Android Wear. But he smiles as he says it, and I start wondering where the team already working on it sits. Either way, the upshot is powerful: your phone can be across the room or across the world, and your watch will still work.

Apps come front and center

There’s lots more, but let’s talk about the most fun part first. With the new Android Wear update, you can send emoji to your friends by drawing them with your finger on your watch. Pick a contact and select “draw emoji,” then scribble your best thumbs-up, sushi, poop, or smiley face with a winky eye and tongue out, and your watch will guess which emoji you want to send. You’re essentially playing Emoji Pictionary with your watch at all times, which is incredibly strange and fun. It’s a clever, cross-app and cross-platform way of making it easy to communicate from a watch, but doesn’t require the other person to have one too. You can always dictate longer messages, but if a picture says a thousand words, an emoji says at least like 17.


You can draw an emoji on your watch, and then send it via any app.Click to Open Overlay Gallery
You can draw an emoji on your watch, and then send it via any app. GOOGLE

A few of the other new Android Wear features feel like Google’s guesses as to how people might use their watches differently when their phone’s not just in their pocket. And, just as much, to give you more stuff to do: Chang is intent on proving that Android Wear isn’t “just about notifications.” Apps can now access Android Wear’s “ambient mode,” for one thing. They’ll run in a reduced-power state, but force the app to stay open and the screen to stay on. That way, you don’t have to go find your shopping list or directions every time you look at your wrist.


If your hands are full, a quick flick of your wrist will flip through the column of cards. Or swipe in from the right side of the screen, and you’ll see a list of your apps, the ones you used most recently at the top. Swipe over again, and you get a list of contacts. Both were buried deep in Android Wear’s menus before—you were just supposed to use your voice to launch apps or message someone. Google apparently learned that people like tapping and swiping, though, so now there’s more to tap and swipe.

A more powerful smartwatch

It’s a big shift for Android Wear, which has a head start on the Apple Watch simply by virtue of coming out first, but still hasn’t found a lot of user traction. Chang and his team seem to be developing a vision as they go, sussing out what people want and delivering it. The plan seems to run directly counter to Apple’s vision for the Watch, which is meant to be used quickly to do one thing, and then reset every time you put your wrist down. The Apple Watch wants to be quick, simple, and unobtrusive; Google wants Android Wear to be powerful, useful, and self-sufficient. You still need a phone, technically, but you don’t need it nearby anymore.

Google I/O is coming up at the end next month, and there will almost certainly be more watches and more apps at the company’s annual developer extravaganza. Apps are more present and more accessible than ever on Android Wear, which Google hopes will get more developers to build apps for wearable devices. Oh, and I’m pretty sure Chang’s itching to fill the other half of that table with smartwatches.

Migos Drug Bust And Then There Was One … Held Without Bail

Migos’ latest performance was in front of a judge Monday morning — and while 2 members of the rap trio can now be sprung … another will stay behind bars after their weekend drug bust.

Quavo, Takeoff, and Offset were in a Georgia courtroom for their bail hearing. The judge set Quavo and Takeoff’s bond at $10,000 each … although neither has posted the amount yet.

Offset is a convicted felon, and the judge denied his release due to his prior issues.

TMZ broke the story … cops yanked Migos off stage during their performance at Georgia Southern University Saturday night. All 3 were booked for felony drug possesion, felony possession of loaded guns, and misdemeanor marijuana possession.

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Kanye West On The Cover Of PAPER Magazine

Kanye West On The Cover Of PAPER Magazine

Rapper Kanye West appears on the cover of PAPER Magazine’s April 2015 issue.

I think it’s so important for me, as an artist, to give Drake as much information as I can, A$AP, Kendrick, Taylor Swift, any of these younger artists as much information as I can to make better music in the future. We should all be trying to make something that’s better.

I paid my dues when I had to wear a kilt in Chicago, and friends would say, “What’s your boy got on?” But there are warriors that have killed people in kilts in the past. Who gets to decide what’s hard and what’s not hard?

I loved music. I loved it more than I love it now. But I think that can happen with anything. You can live in New York for 10 years and say, “I now want to move to San Francisco.” It’s just harder for me to do music now, period. It’s easier for people who focus on it all day and who are younger in their concept of what they want to do with it.

I’m tired of people pinpointing musicians as the Illuminati. That’s ridiculous. We don’t run anything; we’re celebrities. We’re the face of brands. We have to compromise what we say in lyrics so we don’t lose money on a contract.

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