12 dead in Paris after ‘terror attack’ on magazine


UPDATED: 12:20 a.m. EST / 6:22 p.m. CETTwelve people are dead following what France’s president is calling a “terror attack” on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Wednesday. A massive manhunt is underway for the gunmen, who are still at large.

The masked gunmen shouted “Allahu akbar!” as they stormed the building

The masked gunmen shouted “Allahu akbar!” as they stormed the building, killing 10 journalists and two police officers, security officials confirmed. The magazine staff was in an editorial meeting, around lunchtime in Paris, when at least two gunmen opened fire. Eleven others were wounded, four of those injuries are serious.

Witnesses said the gunmen spoke perfect French.

Charlie Hebdo has frequently drawn condemnation from Muslims. In 2011, the magazine was attacked after it ran a cartoon depicting Muḥammad. The artist was reportedly killed in Wednesday’s attack. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, and was condemned by world leaders as an attack on freedom of expression, but praised by supporters of the militant Islamic State group.

French President Francois Hollande said “several terrorist attacks were thwarted in recent weeks” but this is of exceptional barbarity. In response, France has raised its alert to the highest level, reinforcing security at houses of worship, stores, media offices and public transportation.

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As Streams Increase, Rap Album Sales Took A Huge Hit In 2014

Words By Emanuel Vinson

Last year, Hip-Hop/R&B album sales experienced a 25% decline, the biggest fall industry-wide across the different genres. In a year where race and class rose to the forefront of hip-hop’s discussion topics, it asks us to take a deeper look at the culture and what we expect out of it.

J Cole’s unassuming, hungry 2014 Forest Hill Drive had the highest first week sales in hip-hop in 2014. It handily dispatched its nearest competitor, Nicki Minaj’s The Pinkprint by about 100k.

The difference between the two album launches looked considerable: Cole stayed quiet all summer and his announcement for 2014FHD came less than three weeks before the album reached the fans. Minaj, a certified pop star, hovered around the mainstream for months releasing singles upon singles and freestyle after freestyle without really making the mark.

Nicki’s most rewarding surprise was her last: imbuing the album with the kind of universal vulnerability that Cole has been exhibiting his entire career. But even as Cole’s straight-forward “realness” triumphed, his genre remained the dark horse in a crucial time of transition.

Months after the killing of Mike Brown, Azealia Banks gave a furious, fantastic interview with Hot 97 where she called out Iggy Azalea’s pop dominance as a direct result of black erasure. Iggy played it off, but numbers don’t lie. By that point Taylor Swift’s 1989 became the top selling album of the year. That album’s big singles, “Shake It Off” and “Blank Page” both prominently feature rhyming spoken word and drum machines.

Billboard’s highest selling songs from 2013 and 2014 (“Blurred Lines” and Pharrell’s “Happy”) classified as R&B/Hip-Hop songs. And as far as Billboard’s “Song of the Year” bracket went, Beyoncé and Jays “Drunk in Love” bested Disclosure’s “Latch” in a soulful finals showdown. But what if it hadn’t?

As 2015 begins, what we do expect from the industry? Do we really expect the artists we love to be able to eat? Do we always expect Iggy to outsell Azealia or for Nicki to drop the same song as Taylor Swift and get a fraction of the attention for it? Is the music enough?

As 2015 begins, use of streaming services is still on the rise, especially with rap audiences. “R&B and hip hop are popular on streaming sites,” Billboard states, “And streamed tracks increased 54 percent last year.” Reportedly, Cole’s project was streamed a whopping 16 million times in its debut week, breaking One Direction’s record and contributing greatly to Cole’s overall sales count, given the recent changes to the format for counting streams towards sales. Obviously, streaming isn’t killing the music industry but those streams translate to very little in the form of compensation.

Black artists and artforms are running the industry but still getting the least amount of compensation and credit. And the artists aren’t staying quiet about it anymore. If you don’t know, now you know: Kanye, Drake, and Kendrick can’t do it alone in 2015.

Google Launches Google Cast for Audio


Introducing Google Cast for audio. With this update to the Google Cast SDK, you’ll soon be able to cast your favorite audio entertainment from your mobile device to your speakers. Go to http://g.co/castaudio to see what’s possible with Google Cast for audio.

The Next MacBook Air Will Be A 12-Inch Beauty With An Edge-To-Edge Keyboard


Apple’s 12-inch MacBook Air has been rumored for a while now, but the computer is very real, according to a new report from 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman. The resourceful and consistently accurate site has revealed specs and renders of a 12-inch MacBook (which is pegged for release anytime between the near future and mid-2015) that pushes the limits in terms of thickness, input and output ports, and overall design.

The 12-inch notebook is almost twice as thin as the existing 11-inch model of the same computer. It has only a very slight taper from its thinnest point to its thickest, unlike the versions shipping now, and it manages to occupy a footprint similar to the current 11-inch Apple notebook, despite the larger display, thanks to the use of a nearly edge-to-edge chiclet-style keyboard, as well as smaller bezels surrounding the 12-inch Air’s screen on all sides.

Apple’s boldest decision with this computer might be that it is apparently dropping almost all physical input and output ports from the computer, save for one 3.5mm audio jack and a single, USB-C connector. The USB-C standard offers a reversible design like the Lightning connector, making it possible to insert compatible cables in any orientation, but more importantly the spec also allows for transfer of power, as well as high-bandwith video transmission and data up and down. That means that it can act as a single cable solution for docks and hubs that would let MacBook Air owners plug in far more accessories and devices via a single port.

If these reports are accurate (and it’s certain that they are legitimate representations of Apple’s designs at least at this stage of their process, TechCrunch has confirmed), Apple is taking a gamble in that it bets consumers will value extreme portability and minimal design over a bevy of easily accessible ports and I/O. Things are generally handled via wireless in many instances these days, so the minimal port approach doesn’t scare me all that much, especially given what USB-C is capable of, but we’ll have to wait and see if this carries through to an actual shipping computer later this year.

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