Kanye West Plays New Album in D.C. Declares He's a Christian Convert

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HERE TO SPREAD THE GOSPEL
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Kanye West gave Washington D.C. a taste of his new album -- and also took the opportunity to declare definitively he's a man of God now ... specifically, a converted Christian.

Ye was all over D.C. Saturday with his fam, first stopping off at HBCU Howard University to do his traditional Sunday Service ... then heading over to George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium later in the day for a listening party -- much like in Detroit.

Check out this video TMZ obtained from inside the session ... Kanye was talking to the audience in between tracks -- which sound amazing, BTW -- and said it flat-out at one point ... he's a recent convert to Christianity. Ye got a round of applause for the news.

He also went on to invoke Jay-Z's name during his speech, saying that unlike a line that he attributed to Jay -- from his song "Can't Knock the Hustle" -- Ye isn't here for entertainment anymore ... he's just here to spread the Gospel. How 'bout that?!

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The signs have been there for a while now that Ye's fully embraced his faith -- he's been holding Sunday Services for well over a year, and Kim just had the kids baptized in Armenia.

Oh, and if you're wondering what Kanye's gonna rap about from now on and what his music's gonna sound like -- at least for this round -- you get a snippet of that here too. Still no official word on when this thing's gonna drop -- but hopefully soon.

Anyway, bring on the Kenny G features and Chick-fil-A lyrics, baby!!!

Elton John Michael Jackson Was 'Mentally Ill' ... Claims in His New Book

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Elton John says Michael Jackson came off as "genuinely mentally ill" late in life -- which left the Rocket Man himself believing the King of Pop had gone off the deep end.

The singer makes some pretty big claims about MJ in his new memoir, "Me," which is coming out Tuesday. Certain outlets have obtained an advanced copy of the book -- and one excerpt about Michael is making the rounds ... in which Elton discusses his mental state.

Per reports, Elton writes ... "I’d known Michael since he was 13 or 14 ... He was just the most adorable kid you could imagine. But at some point in the intervening years, he started sequestering himself away from the world, and away from reality the way Elvis Presley did."

He goes on to say, "God knows what was going on in his head, and God knows what prescription drugs he was being pumped full of, but every time I saw him in his later years I came away thinking the poor guy had totally lost his marbles."

Then comes the big allegation, with Elton writing ... "I don’t mean that in the light-hearted way. He was genuinely mentally ill, a disturbing person to be around."

Elton continues by describing a time he invited MJ to a party of his, claiming that the guy had wandered off at one point and was found playing with Elton's housekeeper's son. He says, "For whatever reason, he couldn’t seem to cope with adult company at all."

Michael died in 2009. He's been dragged back into the news with claims of sexual abuse by Wade Robson and James Safechuck, detailed in HBO's "Leaving Neverland."

Taylor Swift Staples Banner Getting Shunned L.A. Kings Fans Hate It

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Taylor Swift won't be showing her face banner anymore when the Los Angeles Kings are in town -- 'cause the fans don't wanna see it ... and the team is obliging.

L.A.'s pro hockey team made the announcement over the weekend ... saying that, going forward, the Kings will be covering up Taylor's banner during their home games at STAPLES Center. It's hanging in the rafters next to Lakers banners and retired jerseys.

A marketing rep for the Kings told Arash Markazi of the L.A. Times that fans just weren't digging it, so the team wants to show 'em they're listening. Michael Altieri says, "The connection to our fans is our highest priority and through our engagement they have made it clear that the banner shouldn’t be part of their Kings game experience."

He added, "We didn’t see an issue in covering it for our games and in fact see it as an opportunity to show our fans that we hear them."

IT'S OFFICIAL
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Apparently, the fan base's disdain for the Swift banner is embedded in some superstition too. Besides being an "eyesore," per the Times, the banner has also ushered in years of bad luck for the franchise ... not having won a playoff series since it went up in 2015.

Of course, Taylor's banner night got a special cameo by none other than Kobe Bryant himself. She'd sold out STAPLES for 16 straight shows, and received it as a gift.

The Lakers have no plans to cover the Swift banner -- and as it turns out, the Clippers had already been doing it when they play in the building. Hey, to each their own 🤷🏽‍♂️

Tinashe 6ix9ine on a Record Deal??? Uh, AAABSOLUTELY!!!

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THAT'S JUST BUSINESS
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Tinashe has no doubt that Tekashi 6ix9ine will get a record deal somewhere when he gets released from prison --and the reason is simple ... he's a polarizing cash cow.

We got the R&B singer Saturday night while she was leaving TAO in Hollywood, and picked her brain about Tekashi's chances at reviving his music career after this snitching saga is over. Tinashe makes no bones about it ... dude will absolutely be back in the studio.

She poses an interesting question to our camera guy -- asking if he knows anything about the industry, and then answering herself ... saying they're all about $$$$.

Elizabeth Williams

As far as Tekashi's concerned, Tinashe feels like the guy can pull fans and haters alike to listen to anything new he might drop -- which she believes record execs know ... and will NOT ignore as he eases back into his public life if/when he's released.

Of course, we've been told Tekashi has already inked a deal that's supposed to be worth more than $10 mil. Tinashe has her doubts about the exact figure but is sure he'll get paid.

When it comes to working with him, though -- that's a different sitch entirely. Don't hold your breath.

Pope Francis God Bless Our New #Saints ... Wait, Who Dat???

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2:45 PM PT -- The Saints would like to give thanks where thanks is due -- they just gave Pope Francis a plug for sending them good vibes and prayers ahead of the game.

The official Saints Twitter account tweeted after the game -- which they won 13-6, BTW -- with a cheeky shout out, saying ... "Couldn't lose after this. #Blessed and highly favored."

The Catholic Church has blessed the New Orleans Saints ... or so it would seem by what the pontiff himself wrote hours before their game this weekend.

Pope Francis tweeted out a strange message in the wee hours of Sunday, which appeared to be a vote of confidence for Teddy Bridgewater and co. as they were set to face the Jaguars in Jacksonville. It was actually an honest mistake ... but a hilarious one nonetheless.

The big hatted one wrote, "Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new #Saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession."

By writing in the hashtag, Francis actually invoked the Saints logo too ... and didn't seem to realize it. In all likelihood, PF was probably referring to the five new saints that had just been indoctrinated into the church ... and not NOLA's pride and joy.

The Who Dat? crowd was quick to notice though -- and seemed pretty down to receive the holy sacrament of papal support ... self-deprecating as their jokes might've been.

More importantly ... the Saints themselves seem to have taken notice -- or at least one of their players did, anyway. Linebacker Alex Anzalone tweeted out his surprise by the Pope's sudden backing. He wrote, "Wow, are we blessed or what?!??"

Time will tell if Francis' shout out will help 'em in the end ... the Saints are up 6-3 right now in the 3rd quarter. And, some intercessions interceptions have already gone in their favor.

Bless up 👏🏽

Originally Published -- 12:00 PM PT

Eddie Van Halen Throat Cancer Treatment in Germany ... It All Started with Metal Guitar Pick

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Eddie Van Halen has been flying between the United States and Germany to get treatment for throat cancer ... and we've learned he's been doing it very quietly for years.

As for how Eddie developed the cancer ... we're told he believes it's from a metal guitar pick he used more than 20 years ago. Seems Eddie would cradle the pick in his mouth, and he's been told that could well have been the source of the cancer, despite the fact he was a heavy smoker. Back in 2000, shortly after he was diagnosed, doctors removed around 1/3 of his tongue.

Eddie was diagnosed nearly 20 years ago. Sources with direct knowledge tell us ... over the years there were times some of the cancer cells migrated down to his throat, and doctors would scrape them out.

Our sources say ... Eddie has flown to Germany for 5 years to get radiation treatment, and for the most part it's worked to keep the disease in check.

As for his current condition ... there are lots of rumors, but people who know him say he's seems to be doing okay -- at least on the surface.

Travis Scott Falls During Rolling Loud Festival ... Injures Knee

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THE SHOW MUST GO ON
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Travis Scott took a nasty fall Saturday night during his performance at the Rolling Loud festival ... a fall that messed up his knee something bad.

Travis was performing "BUTTERFLY EFFECT" at Citi Field in Queens when he jumped up and landed wrong on his right knee ... then tumbled to the ground.

Kylie's ex was clearly injured and could barely move around the stage. He ended up staying in the same spot, as members of his crew jumped on stage to check on him.

Travis told the crowd he thought he broke his knee, but nonetheless the show went on. He told the crowd, "Nothing can ever stop this show."

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Travis completed his whole set while standing in one spot on stage for the rest of the concert. So far, no word on the extent of his injury.

Kendall Jenner Check Out My Non-Date, Date

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Kendall Jenner got back on the horse Saturday night ... it appears she was out on a date with a new dude.

Kendall was out with fellow model Fai Khadra in Santa Monica at the Bungalow. They kept their distance from one another as they left.

Now, here's the thing ... Kendall brought Fai to Justin and Hailey Bieber's wedding a couple weeks ago, and she posted, "We don't date he's just my date."

So, maybe this is a non-date date, or a date date. Either way, she's been spending time with the dude.

Kendall broke up with Ben Simmons in May after a year of dating.

DMX Checks Himself Into Rehab ... Concerts Canceled

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DMX has canceled shows because his addiction struggles have forced him back into rehab.

DMX's team says, "In his ongoing commitment to putting family and sobriety first, DMX has checked himself into a rehab facility. He apologizes for his cancelled shows and thanks his fans for their continued support."

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The New York-born rapper was scheduled to perform Saturday at the reunion concert for Three 6 Mafia in Memphis and Day 2 of Rolling Loud in New York on Sunday. Both appearances have been canceled. The Ying Yang Twins replaced X Saturday night.

DMX has had a long, difficult struggle with addiction. He's been jailed numerous times in the past over drug-related offenses and has spent time throughout the years in rehab.

X was released from prison in January after serving time for tax evasion. Just before his release, he talked about how badly he wanted to see his youngest son, 3-year-old Exodus Simmons, who at the time had serious health problems. X has 15 kids.

He also said he was getting offers from movie producers for a biopic.

Madonna Wraps Up Madame X Tour in New York ... With Possible Dancer/Boyfriend

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Madonna wrapped up her Madame X Tour in New York Saturday night, and by the looks of things, she's back in the game.

Madge left the Howard Gilman Opera House at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in NYC with Ahlamalik Williams, a 25-year-old dancer and choreographer. He was also featured in Madonna's music video she released last June which shined a light on gun violence in America.

Malik was also a dancer in the Cirque Du Soleil's Michael Jackson ONE show back in 2014. Before that, he was a street performer on the Vegas strip. He's been on tour with Madonna since 2015.

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Madonna posted a video in June of dancing on Malik to celebrate "Madame X" reaching number one around the world.

The two have been spotted together several times over the past month in Brooklyn, but there's been a buzz about the 2 hooking up since June.

BTW ... her tour heads to Europe in January.

Dana White I Want Israel Adesanya To Fight Paulo Costa!!!

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THAT'D BE A FUN ONE
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Seems obvious, but now it's official ... Dana White tells TMZ Sports Israel Adesanya's next opponent will be Paulo Costa.

Of course, Costa was sitting Octagon-side when Izzy knocked out Robert Whittaker last weekend at UFC 243 in Australia ... and the two talked trash to each other after the fight.

So, when we spoke with White this week he told us the two fighters are on a collision course ... and if Israel emerges victorious, then we can start talking about Izzy vs. Jon Jones.

"The next fight is Paulo Costa. That's the fight to make next and if a Jon Jones fight is possible down the line, I like it!"

Israel and Jones traded shots on TMZ over the past few months -- Israel said he's a G.O.A.T. killer and Jon replied, "I'll make you call me daddy!"

APRIL 2019
ISRAEL ON jON JONES ...
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There's more ... we also spoke with White about Justin Gaethje -- who's been trying to draw out Conor McGregor for the past 7 months.

Dana tells TMZ Sports ... Conor is currently laser-focused on a rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov, which leaves Justin in wait-and-see mode.

"I think what needs to happen now is Khabib is gonna fight Tony Ferguson and we'll see how that plays out and where that leaves Justin Gaethje."

White added that if Conor wants the Gaethje fight ... "then I'm in!"

Erica Mena Buys Push Present for Safaree ... First-Time 'Daddy' Deserves it!!!

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Erica Mena is turning tradition on its head by buying the father of her upcoming child a lavish gift for the pregnancy ... though you gotta expect Safaree will return the favor.

Sources close to the 'Love & Hip Hop' newlyweds tell TMZ ... Erica dropped nearly $50k on a 14-carat rose gold, diamond Cuban chain for her new husband. The chain's encrusted with 36.65-carat diamonds ... and appropriately comes with a white gold "Daddy" lock.

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We're told Erica gave Safaree the "push present" this week because he's on his way to becoming a dad for the first time ... so she wanted him to have something special.

Erica has a son from a previous relationship, but the couple confirmed they're expecting their first child together last month As we told you ... they also tied the knot Monday at the Legacy Castle in New Jersey.

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The bride AND groom wore white, and they were blinged out with matching wedding bands.

The "Daddy" necklace goes great with the rings, and now that Erica's raised the bar -- Safaree's really gonna have to step up for the REAL push present.

No pressure.

Sacha Baron Cohen Good Genes or Good Docs?

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Sacha Baron Cohen is looking very nice!

Here is a 30-year-old version of the English actor, known for his famed characters like Ali G and Borat, looking scruffy at an event back in 2001 (left).

And, 18 years later ... the now 48-year-old comedian and husband to actress Isla Fischer -- who is celebrating his birthday Sunday -- showing off his slicked-back hair and good looks after the great success of his television series "Who Is America?" at a Press Conference for "The Spy" in Beverly Hills back in August (right).

Woah, Woah, Wee Wah!

The question is ...

Sacha Baron Cohen ...

Mick Foley Shows Off Famous Missing Ear ... Still Not Repaired!!!

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EAR-Y SITUATION
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You know the ear that Vader famously ripped off of Mick Foley's head in a wrestling match 25 years ago??

Yeah, Foley just showed it to TMZ Sports -- and it's still not fully repaired ... AND IT'S STILL GROSS AS HELL!!!

We spoke with the wrestling legend out in NYC earlier this week and asked him for a little injury story time ... and that's when he retold us the famous tale of him losing a piece of his ear in 1994.

If you've never heard it before, it's a good one -- Foley says back in '94 he was wrestling with Leon White -- aka Vader -- in Germany ... when he got his head caught in the ropes.

"I wedged my way out," Foley says. "And, my ear did not make the journey with me."

It's truly an epic story ... and when we did a little digging -- we actually found the video of it all!!

As for how the thing looks today ... Foley showed it to us -- and there's clearly been zero plastic surgery done to the thing over the years.

"Had to give up my dream of becoming a carpenter because I couldn’t put the pencil behind it," Foley joked. "It’s like my little magic trick!"

And, in case you're wondering ... we asked who's got the worst ear these days -- Evander Holyfield or him??

Can ya guess who Mick picked?!??!

Paris Jackson Busted for Speeding ... Almost Hit the Century Mark!!!

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Paris Jackson was hauling ass near Universal Studios Hollywood -- according to cops, anyway -- and ended up with a ticket in hand, but not for the amusement park.

Law enforcement sources tell TMZ ... Michael's daughter was busted on the 101 freeway last month by the California Highway Patrol for going well over 90 MPH in a 65 MPH zone.

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We're told she was driving in her 2017 Jeep Wrangler around 1:00 AM when the cop pulled her over, and she was cited for speeding.

It's unclear if there was anyone else in the ride with her at the time.

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We know Paris has been focused on her music career this year -- playing gigs around L.A. from time to time -- and seems like she's got the right stuff to be the next Danica Patrick.

Seriously though ... speeding is bad. Don't do it.

NFL Workouts Play Hard ... Train Harder!!!

Talk about keeping your head in the game, these NFL athletes are still workin' on their days off!

Rest assure these players have put in the work and are always ready to take on the field! With fit photos like this, there is no denying that the fellas here are not messin' around when it comes to getting ready for game day!

See who's prepped for Sunday Night Football by getting a glimpse into life off the field ... Scroll through our gallery of NFL Workouts and get a good look at all the athletes posting their fitspo!

In it to win it!