Entertainment Year in Review: Houstonians, Hollywood, Instagram Hits
Jay-Z and Beyonce. Photo by Mason Poole/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock.

For some, 2021 seemed to come and go as quick as a snap of a finger. COVID-19 restrictions continued to impact the entertainment industry, but 2021 also introduced positive news, shocking revelations and inspiring moments in films, television and music. The Defender takes a look at the major moments of entertainment in 2021. 

FILE – In this Jan. 12, 2020, file photo, Eddie Murphy accepts the lifetime achievement award at the 25th annual Critics’ Choice Awards in Santa Monica, Calif. Murphy will be inducted into the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame this month. The NAACP announced Thursday, March 11, 2021, that Murphy will be inducted during the March 27 ceremony, which will air on CBS. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

“Coming 2 America” returns after 30 years

 If you are a fan of the 1988 comedy classic “Coming to America,” then you were in for a treat with “Coming 2 America,” the sequel. The movie premiered on Amazon Prime starring Eddie Murphy as the newly crowned King Akeem and his trusted confidante Semmi (Arsenio Hall) embarking on a globe-trotting adventure from his home in Zamunda to Queens, N.Y. to find his long lost son. The movie was family-oriented and introduced a list of new characters, including those played by Kiki Layne, Teyana Taylor, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, Wesley Snipes, and Murphy’s daughter Bella. Social media had some mixed reviews on the movie living up to the original, but it was nostalgic.

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex

Prince Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview

The world was glued to television screens as more than 50 million viewers witnessed Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, interview with Oprah Winfrey, and their experience in the royal palace. The couple’s claims of racism and lack of family support, and ill-treatment by the British press became another example of a Black woman’s experience being denied and disregarded. As soon as the interview aired, many were quick to deny Meghan’s allegations. This was the main reason why the couple stepped away from their royal duties and moved to North America to start a new life.

FILE – Kanye West, left, and Kim Kardashian attend Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation Angel Ball cancer research benefit on Oct. 22, 2012, in New York. Kim Kardashian West filed for divorce Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, from Kanye West after 6 1/2 years of marriage. Sources familiar with the filing but not authorized to speak publicly confirmed that Kardashian filed for divorce in Los Angeles Superior Court. The filing was not immediately available. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File

Kim and Kanye file for divorce

After six and a half years of marriage, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West called it quits. Kardashian sought joint custody of their four children along with reviewing their prenuptial agreement that determined how their assets would be divided. Their breakup was legally cited as irreconcilable differences. The beginning of the end of their marriage comes after the announcement of the end of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” after 14 years. It was West’s first marriage and Kardashian’s third marriage. Their relationship outlasted the predictions of doubters who thought their oversized personalities wouldn’t last that long.

DMX, center, accepts the R&B Album Artist of the Year during the 1999 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, on Dec. 8, 1999. The family of rapper DMX says he has died at age 50 after a career in which he delivered iconic hip-hop songs such as “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem.” A statement from the family says the Grammy-nominated rapper died at a hospital in White Plains, New York, “with his family by his side” after being placed on life support for the past few days. He was rushed to a New York hospital from his home April 2. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch, File)

Death of Rapper DMX

Artists in the hip-hop community and beyond were shocked at the loss of revered rapper DMX, who died after suffering a heart attack and severe brain damage at age 50. DMX was admitted to a New York hospital where he was unresponsive and in a coma. The Grammy-nominated star burst onto the rap scene in 1998 with his smash hit “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot” selling 251,000 copies within its first week of release. He has since left a legacy in hip-hop throughout the late ’90s and early 2000s. The following year he released his best-selling album, “… And Then There Was X,” including the hit single “Party Up (Up in Here).” DMX had an acting career that included several films, including “Romeo Must Die,” “Cradle 2 The Grave” and “Exit Wounds.”

DaBaby arrives at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Los Angeles. Photo: Jordan Strauss | Invision/AP

DaBaby booted from lineups after homophobic comments

Rapper DaBaby has been in the hot seat this year, especially being cut from a slew of performances including Lollapalooza following what were perceived as crude and homophobic remarks he made at a Miami-area music festival. The Grammy-nominated artist called out members of the LGBTQ community and people with HIV and AIDS. He asked attendees who weren’t gay men or people affected by HIV or AIDS to raise their cellphones flashlights, incorrectly saying the disease would “make you die in two or three weeks.” Immediately after the incident, DaBaby took to Instagram to clarify his statements but it did more harm than good. Conversations about DaBaby being canceled have since spawned opinion about cancel culture.

Rihanna Fenty joins the billionaire’s club

Rihanna’s Fenty ventures bring billion-dollar status

Rihanna reached a rare economic status. She joined the billionaire’s club thanks to the birth of her successful business ventures Fenty Beauty and Savage x Fenty. Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty in 2017 with the goal to create cosmetics that made “women everywhere (feel) included.” Savage x Fenty provided an additional $270 million to her earnings. Forbes estimated that Rihanna is worth $1.7 billion. That would make her the wealthiest female musician in the world. Her personal valuation places her second only to Oprah Winfrey when it comes to a top-level well-to-do female entertainer.

Beyoncé and JAY-Z for the Tiffany & Co. fall 2021 ABOUT LOVE campaign, shot by Mason Poole.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z make more history 

When Beyoncé and Jay-Z collaborate, can they ever go wrong? The power couple captivated social media starring in Tiffany’s latest advertising campaign celebrating modern love. Tiffany’s debut of “About Love” shows Beyoncé wearing the iconic 128-carat Tiffany Diamond which the company purchased in 1878. She became the first African American woman to wear the diamond which had previously been worn by Audrey Hepburn. The couple posed in front of a Jean-Michel Basquait “Equals Pi” painting, a 40-year-old piece from a private collection never displayed in public before. 

R.Kelly convicted in sex trafficking trail

R. Kelly convicted of sex trafficking

R. Kelly was in the spotlight yet again for being convicted in a sex trafficking trial after decades of avoiding criminal responsibility for allegations of misconduct with young women and children. A jury found Kelly guilty of all nine counts including racketeering. He faces the possibility of decades in prison including violating anti-sex trafficking laws. Kelly had been tried once before, in Chicago in a child pornography case, but was acquitted in 2008.

In this Oct. 27, 2019, file photo, Dave Chappelle arrives at Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the 22nd Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor presented to Dave Chappelle, in Washington. Chappelle tested positive for the coronavirus just before his comedy show scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 21, forcing his upcoming appearances to be canceled, a spokeswoman said. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP, File)

Dave Chappelle faces backlash over Netflix special

Cancel culture returned once again and all eyes were on Dave Chappelle and he wasn’t backing down. The standup comedian known for his in-your-face outspoken jokes pushed the envelope in his latest Netflix comedy special “The Closer,” cracking transphobic jokes which angered many critics and advocacy organizations. Netflix’s transgender employees made good on their promise to walk out of the office over Chappelle’s remarks saying executives dismissing their concerns over the controversial comments could lead to violence against the trans community. Netflix fully backed the comedian and refused to sever the relationship. This led to a wider conversation around comedy and cancel culture and Chappelle said, “If this is what being canceled is like, I love it.”

Young Dolph performs at The Parking Lot Concert in Atlanta on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. Officials say rapper Young Dolph has been fatally shot at a cookie shop in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, and a search is underway for the shooter. (Photo by Paul R. Giunta/Invision/AP, File)

Rapper Young Dolph killed at Tennessee cookie shop 

In November, Memphis rapper Young Dolph was shot and killed inside a popular local cookie shop in his hometown. The tragic shooting served as another reminder of the pain that gun violence brings to the Black community. Young Dolph entered the music business as an independent artist just like Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle who was killed by gun violence in 2019. Two masked suspects are seen getting out of a white, two-door Mercedes Benz armed with guns and wearing sweatshirts as they approached the rapper and shot him several times before fleeing. Young Dolph released three albums that reached the top 10 in the Billboard 200, including his latest solo work, “Rich Slave,” which was released in 2020. “Rich Slave” became his highest-charting project, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard 200.

50 Cent

50 Cent moves to Houston

In May, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson made an announcement on Twitter about his move to the Bayou City. 

The Queens, NY native took a photo with himself wearing an Astros cap in from of the Astrodome. Jackson also gave his fans an update to his new Discovery+ anthology series “Confessions of a Crime Queen.” 

The show is a blend of documentary and scripted drama focusing on the true story of a queenpin who created a criminal dynasty before her work became the reason for her destruction. The series is arranged to air sometime in 2022. 

50 Cent didn’t get into much detail about why he made the move or whether it would be permanent, but speculation led back to an Instagram post in Oct 2020, when Jackson shared a screenshot of a news broadcast stating President Biden wanted to raise taxes in NYC by 62% for people making over $400,000 and Jackson wasn’t having that. 

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...