In the news
A$AP Rocky returned to the U.S. last week, calling his past month in Swedish custody “a very difficult and humbling experience.” A Swedish judge released the rapper pending a verdict after a three-day trial in which Rocky said that the man he and two bodyguards are accused of assaulting, 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari, had been following and threatening him, and that he acted in self-defense. A verdict is expected Aug. 14, and Rocky was allowed to return to the U.S. to await it. President Trump cheered the rapper’s release, which came after his administration warned that Rocky’s continued incarceration would cause “negative consequences” for U.S.-Swedish relations. Rocky isn’t expected to return to Sweden, whatever the verdict is.
One of Katy Perry’s biggest hits, “Dark Horse,” is a rip-off, a Los Angeles jury ruled last week. The pop star was ordered to pay $550,000 in damages, with her collaborators and record label responsible for another $2.3 million. The Christian rapper Flame and his two co-writers had accused Perry of stealing the beat from their 2009 song “Joyful Noise” for 2013’s “Dark Horse,” which spent four weeks at No. 1. Perry, 34, testified she’d never heard Flame’s song, and her attorney accused the plaintiffs of “trying to own basic building blocks of music.” Flame, meanwhile, said “Dark Horse” was damaging because it promoted “anti-Christian witchcraft, paganism, black magic, and Illuminati imagery.”
The Fast and the Furious co-stars Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, and Jason Statham may play chiseled tough guys on screen, but they have fragile egos, The Wall Street Journal reported last week. The three macho men are touchy about how often they are shown getting hit in fight scenes: Statham negotiated an agreement with the studio that limits how badly he can get beat up on screen, Diesel has his younger sister—a producer on the blockbuster franchise—count and limit how many punches he takes, and Johnson has a similar arrangement with editors and fight-scene coordinators. Diesel once proposed assigning numerical values to head butts, body slams, and roundhouse kicks to ensure he was always depicted winning, but the system was deemed too elaborate.
Amit Lennon/Camera Press/Redux, Getty, Newscom ■