Fat Joe Called Biz Markie's wife every week ... For Year Before Death

Biz Markie had a partner in rhyme pulling for him and his family up to the very end -- it was none other than Fat Joe, who provided emotional support like you wouldn't believe ... TMZ has learned.

The recently deceased MC's wife, Tara Hall, tells us that out of all the scores of people who reached out while Biz was ill ... Joe was the one who was always there, from the moment Biz entered the hospital last June due to complications from diabetes.

Tara says as soon as Joe heard the news, he was on the phone every single week with her -- checking in on Biz, on Tara and the rest of their loved ones to see if they needed anything, and to let them know he was there for them ... financially or otherwise.

She tells us Joe was literally willing to open his own wallet to whatever Biz's family needed during his hospital stay -- one which was fairly isolated due to COVID-19 regulations that really only allowed Tara to be by her husband's side, day in and day out.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Even now, after his death, Tara says Joe has offered to cover memorial or funeral costs -- however, she's politely turned him down each time, saying they don't need the dough ... but that she appreciates the gesture.

Joe's admiration for and dedication to Biz and his family are a sign of how beloved and respected he was in NYC's hip-hop community -- and while he's one of the few who went above and beyond, we're told several others were keeping tabs on the sitch.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Tara says other icons like Doug E. Fresh, Big Daddy Kane and Treach similarly checked in on their friend.

As we first reported ... Biz Markie died last week at the age of 57, and it's clear his family's eternally grateful for the love and support so many showed.

Aaliyah Normani's Alleged Sample Has Uncle's Blessing ... She Would Be 'Supportive'

Normani's "Wild Side" has delighted and surprised fans with its homage to Aaliyah ... and the late singer's uncle says she would have been totally cool with it too.

If ya missed it, Normani released her first new track in a couple years, and along with featuring Cardi B ... many music folks believe it contains a sample of Aaliyah's "One in a Million."

That raised some eyebrows, because Aaliyah's music is rarely sampled and isn't even available on streaming services, but according to a very close member of her family ... it's all good.

Barry Hankerson -- Aaliyah's uncle and manager of her catalog -- tells TMZ ... his niece "always encouraged young women pursuing their musical and entertainment careers, to achieve their dreams."

Hankerson is the founder of Blackground Records and says he owns all of Aaliyah's masters, and he says it's clear Normani has been inspired by her music. He adds ... "I believe that Aaliyah would be very supportive of a young Black woman that chose to emulate her music and style."

Barry did add that it would have been "more honorable" if the singer sought approval to sample "One in a Million" first, but ultimately, he does seem to give his seal of approval.

He says ... "I will not stand in the way of something that brings to light the incredible staying power of Aaliyah. So in that light, wishing Normani well with the song and overall career. God bless. I think Aaliyah would be pleased."

TIMBO APPROVED

An attorney for Blackground confirmed with us that the Aaliyah sample was never officially cleared for use, HOWEVER ... Normani's team insists that "Wild Side" doesn't actually use a direct sample.

That might be up for debate, but Normani herself seemingly confirmed a sample was used when she replied to a tweet about Timbaland -- the producer of "One in a Million" -- vibing to her new track, saying, "I must've died when I seen this."

Nicki Minaj Connects with Zara Security Guard ... He's Loving the Vibes!!!

"NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED"
TMZ.com

Nicki Minaj is hooking up the mall cop who let one of her fans rap in a Zara, and it sounds like his 15 minutes of fame comes with an added bonus ... some social media clout with the Barbz!!!

We got the security guard, Michael, out Monday in NYC after he'd gone viral for letting one of Nicki's barbz, Zha Chanel, perform a cover of the new track, "Whole Lotta Money" ... on which Minaj features.

ON THE HUNT
@nickiminaj / Instagram

Michael was actually with Zha when he told us what went down when Nicki let her followers know she was looking for him to give him a gift for looking the other way during Zha's impromptu gig.

Sounds like Zha -- along with Michael's store manager -- went out of their way to get him connected to Nicki, and he says he couldn't believe it.

After Nicki got proof it was really him, she told Michael she was going to like one of his Instagram pics to get the likes rolling in ... and he says his phone's been blowing up ever since.

Even better -- she also tagged him in one of her IG stories ... so now his follower count's skyrocketing too!

Michael says he's enjoying the ride, and he's not sure if he's going to get in any trouble for letting Zha do her thing, but he doesn't care if he does -- he's just happy to support Black artists, and get some positive vibes in return.

Michael adds that Nicki's supposed to send him another gift, and while he's not sure what it is ... he's already feeling blessed.

ex-'idol' contestant ron bultongez arrested in texas ... Alleged Sex with Minor

Ron Bultongez -- a former 'American Idol' contestant who made it pretty far during his 2018 season -- is facing multiple counts of sex with a minor in his home state.

Law enforcement sources tell TMZ ... the singer and one-time 'Idol' sensation was arrested in Grapevine, TX when he turned himself in on July 15.

We're still gathering details of the allegations, but according to the Tarrant County D.A.'s charging documents, Bultongez is charged with 4 counts of sexual penetration of a minor under the age of 17 on 4 occasions.

In the docs, obtained by TMZ, prosecutors say the alleged incidents occurred between December 2020 and February 2021.

Bultongez was released from custody a couple days after his arrest ... once he posted a $50,000 bond. We're told he has not made his initial court appearance yet to face the charges.

We've reached out to him for comment ... but so far, no word back.

Britney Spears BF Rear-ends Driver with Jeep ... Admits Fault

FENDER BENDER
TMZ.com

2:44 PM PT -- Sam isn't mincing words about what happened in the accident, or who was at fault -- the guy just copped to it being his bad ... but he says there are more important things to remember in times like these.

Check out the video he just posted to social media, giving fans an update to his fender bender. He says it hasn't been more than a few weeks that he's had the whip that was involved, but more importantly ... he admits it was he who's to blame for the run-in.

STAYIN' POSITIVE
@samasghari / Instagram

Sam doesn't get into the nitty-gritty on the how, but he does provide this useful piece of info ... the other driver is OK, and he seems to be alright as well. Which, really, is the best news one could hope for after something like this. He also thinks this might've been a sign.

On that note, it appears Brit's BF is a bit superstitious ... perhaps stunningly so. He says putting an egg underneath your tire and rolling over it backwards prevents bad luck -- something he apparently gets set to do right before the video cuts out.

Never heard of that one before, but do what you gotta do, bud ... be safe out there!

While Britney Spears is confidently taking on family members and haters, her BF's week is off to a rough start ... after getting into an accident near the singer's house.

Law enforcement sources tell TMZ ... Sam Asghari had what amounts to a fender bender Monday with a woman driving a Saturn about 10 minutes away from Britney's home in Thousand Oaks, CA.

It's unclear what exactly led to the crash, but we're told Sam's Jeep struck the other driver's car, there were no injuries and nobody was cited. You can see in the video we obtained police talking to Sam about it.

The driver of the Saturn appeared to be sitting in her backseat while cops spoke to Sam ... who drives a Jeep Rubicon.

The crash comes after Britney's weekend of blasting haters who criticized her for posting her home dance videos. She basically told 'em, love it or leave it -- "I'm not gonna be performing on any stages anytime soon with my dad handling what I wear, say, do, or think!!!!"

She also took aim at her sister, Jamie Lynn, for having performed a medley of Britney tunes during a 2017 award show.

That newly public family battle comes as Brit and her new attorney, Mathew Rosengart, continue her battle to remove her father as a conservator.

Originally Published -- 2:00 PM PT

Richard Sherman Crash Report ... Cops Say NFL Star Collided With Barrier After Failing To Handle Turn

TMZ Sports has obtained the crash report from Richard Sherman's car accident last week ... and it looks like the NFL star just barely avoided a head-on collision with a barrier.

In the docs, police produced a diagram of how they say Sherman wrecked his 2014 Mercedes on a highway in Washington at around 1:24 AM on July 14 ... and it appears to be more evidence the 33-year-old is fortunate to be alive today.

According to cops, it appears Sherman didn't see a right turn coming, and instead of navigating around the bend -- he crashed the left side of his car into a barrier.

The picture shows just how close Sherman was to a head-on collision ... which could have been potentially life-threatening, given that officials have accused Sherman of driving drunk at the time of the wreck.

In the docs, cops say Sherman -- despite the collision -- continued to drive into a parking lot before he ditched the ride due to the severe damage to the car.

As we previously reported, law enforcement says Sherman then eventually made his way to his in-laws' home in Redmond, Wash. ... where they say he attempted to break in his wife's parents' front door.

7/14/21
"COME THROUGH, B****!"

Cops say when they arrived on the scene ... Sherman fought them, and claim the football player was so aggressive, they needed K9 help to take him down.

Sherman was arrested and eventually charged with five misdemeanors over the incident -- including driving while under the influence and reckless endangerment of roadway workers.

Sherman pled not guilty to the charges at a hearing on Friday. He's due back in court in early August.

Kim Kardashian West Files for 'SKKN' Trademark ... KKW Beauty's New Look???

Kim Kardashian West could be signaling a new identity for KKW Beauty ... because it looks like she's getting ready to launch a new beauty line with a new name.

Kim’s company filed trademark docs to lock up the rights to “SKKN” — which looks like a new beauty line she presumably plans to launch. The "KK" in the middle is likely a reference to Kim's initials.

According to the docs, obtained by TMZ, KK wants to slap the name on products for hair care, makeup, skin care, nails and other products in the beauty world. We're told the trademark wasn't just filed in the US, but globally as well.

What's more -- we've learned SKKN.com and @SKKN social media handles were all locked down by Kim's team in December 2020 -- so clearly, the project has been in the works for a long time.

As we reported ... Kim recently announced her KKW Beauty brand would be getting a major facelift, and the "SKKN" trademark appears to be the brand's next step. There was speculation Kim was dropping the KKW name to distance herself from Kanye West, but we're told she's not changing her legal name ... and Kanye actually assisted with the rebranding and the new packaging that'll come with it.

As we first told you back in April, Kim filed docs to lock up the rights to "SKKN BY KIM" ... so this latest filing makes it look like Kim and her team want to trim the branding down to just “SKKN."

Kim's shapewear line SKIMS has been incredibly successful, without having to include her full name in the branding, so the transition to SKKN makes a lot of sense.

Kim hasn't announced a date for the new launch, but we're sure fans of her brand are waiting anxiously to click and buy. That's how she became a billionaire, after all.

Sheree Whitfield Sights Set on 'RHOA' Return ... But ONLY If She's Full-Time

Sheree Whitfield's in talks to rejoin the cast of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" after a few seasons away, but only if she's guaranteed lotsa screen time ... TMZ has learned.

Sources close to production tell us she's been communicating with 'RHOA' producers over the past several weeks about coming back, but reports that she's 100 percent confirmed to return are inaccurate.

We're told it's looking good, but she only wants to be part of Season 14 if she's cast as a regular housewife again ... and won't sign on the dotted line unless producers are on board with that.

You might recall, Sheree was a full-time housewife during seasons 1 through 4, but returned in season 8 as a "friend of the show." She regained full-time status for seasons 9 and 10 before leaving once again.

As we first told you ... Sheree got back together with her old BF, Tyrone Gilliams, earlier this year after he was released from prison. Our sources say her relationship with him will be a major storyline if Sheree returns, and that she wouldn't have even considered coming back if he was cut out of the picture.

Tyrone was sentenced to 10 years in 2013 for wire fraud, but got sprung early due to COVID. He's still on home confinement in Philadelphia, so he'd only be featured when Sheree's visiting.

Sorry, Tyrone ... 'Real Housewives of Philly' ain't a thing. Not yet.

UCLA Hoops Star Johnny Juzang Gunning For Sponsorships ... 'Cars, Clothing, Shoes!!!'

OPTIONS ARE ENDLESS
TMZSports.com

"Cars, clothing, shoes" -- that's the type of sponsorships UCLA hoops star Johnny Juzang wants after the new NCAA rule change ... telling TMZ Sports, he's excited to make some deals!

The NCAA announced earlier this summer that athletes can now make money off their name, image and likeness ... and when we got Juzang out at Ocean Prime in Beverly Hills this week, he told us he's ready to start negotiating.

Juzang told us he wants to rep things that he aligns with ... which, of course, includes vehicles and swag!!

"I love cars, clothing, shoes -- all that type of stuff," the 20-year-old said. "Should be some cool opportunities."

The 6-foot-6 guard tells us he's also interested in food brands -- specifically healthy ones.

"I eat healthy," Juzang said. "So, different brands that’ll align with that -- it’ll be interesting, man."

He added, "It’ll be a cool way to share a little bit about myself. It’s going to be exciting, man."

Juzang -- who averaged 16 points per game last season -- became a star after leading the Bruins to the 2021 Final Four -- their first appearance there in 13 years.

JJ declared for the 2021 NBA Draft shortly after, but he withdrew before the deadline and is now back in Westwood for his junior season.

And, he says he's hoping the Bruins can make another strong run for the title in 2022!

"We’re going for it," Juzang said. "We’re going for it."

Curtis Young Dr. Dre's Son Lands First Movie Role ... Following Dad's Footsteps

Dr. Dre's son, Curtis Young, is ready to step out from his father's shadow and make a name for himself in Hollywood ... and he's doing it by landing a starring role in a feature film.

Curtis tells TMZ ... he's not only starring in the new film, "Charge It to the Game," but also composing original music for the movie.

MAKIN' MY OWN VOICE
TMZ.com

The film is a coming-of-age story about 4 best friends finding their way through adolescence and navigating obstacles along the way ... and Curtis says he's playing the role of Kong, one of the friends' older brothers.

It's pretty cool ... Curtis says his character's younger brother is being played by Snoop Dogg's son, Julian Broadus ... and Swizz Beat's son, Nasir Dean, is playing one of the 4 best friends.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Curtis, who says he's always wanted to get into acting because art's in his blood, will score the film with Nasir.

His big break's been a long time coming ... Curtis had auditioned to play his father in "Straight Out of Compton," but didn't get the part, even though he felt he had a good shot.

Speaking of his pops, Curtis gives us an update on Dre's recovery from the brain aneurysm he suffered earlier this year.

Jenn Harley Checks Into Rehab Following Latest Arrest

Jenn Harley's looking to turn her life around following her recent domestic violence arrest ...  and it all starts with getting sober.

Jenn's rep, Gina Rodriguez, tells TMZ, "Jenn Harley has decided to check into a Las Vegas rehab facility to seek treatment for her alcohol dependency. She made the decision to get help because she wants to be the best parent she can be for her children."

We're told it was Jenn's idea to go, because she wants to get her life together and be a better mom for Ariana, her 3-year-old daughter she shares with ex, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro. Rodriguez says she's entered a 28-day program which started Saturday morning.

As for Jenn's arrest -- she allegedly pointed a gun last month at a new boyfriend and threatened to shoot him. Not shockingly, we're told they've broken up.

Jenn's facing charges of domestic battery and assault with a deadly weapon, but her rep says she's still looking forward to a fresh start once she finishes the rehab program.

Popeyes Ramping Up for Nuggets Craze ... Lessons Learned from Sandwich Madness

Popeyes is gearing up for the release of its chicken nuggets in more ways than one ... because it desperately wants to avoid the violence that came with its sandwich chaos.

Who can forget the nationwide madness in fall 2019 when folks were scrambling, kicking and even punching to get the restaurant's new chicken sandwich. Long lines were the least of their troubles, as multiple fights got out of hand ... and there was even a fatal stabbing.

11/4/19
POPEYES PANDEMONIUM
@sorem12

Nearly 2 years later, a rep for Popeyes tells TMZ ... the sandwich release problems are still fresh in their minds, and "across the system, franchisees have worked to increase staffing to better meet the demand for Popeyes new Chicken Nuggets."

We're told corporate execs are visiting locations all over the U.S. in person to "identify ways first-hand the brand can quickly meet the excitement and interest from our guests of our new product."

Likewise, Amin Dhanani -- President of Popeyes Operations for Dhanani Group -- tells TMZ it's staffing up at all of its roughly 300 franchises and insists employees will be ready for the high demand for nuggets.

He says everyone was caught off guard by the 2019 sandwich craze, but now they know what to expect and will be more properly equipped to handle it. Dhanani is a bit concerned about running out of supply when the nuggets roll out July 27, but Popeyes is reportedly already stockpiling ... just in case.

Other Popeyes sources tell us franchise managers have been assured that if things get too crazy like last time ... security will be increased where demand is particularly high to keep everyone safe.

Daymond John To Kris Moutinho Offers Fighter Financial Advice ... After $75K Bonus Check

Daymond John is offering up financial advice to new UFC star Kris Moutinho ... after the crazy tough fighter admitted to TMZ Sports he has no clue what to do with his $75K bonus check.

The Shark Tank star and business mogul joined "TMZ Live" for his weekly "Follow The Money" segment ... and laid out exactly how Moutinho should allot the cash.

Pay your manager, start a corporation, write-off expenses, and open an account to save money are just a few of the tips John recommended Kris follow.

I GOT YOU!!!
TMZSports.com

Remember, "Suga" Sean O'Malley peppered Kris with 230 significant strikes during their UFC 264 matchup ... but WOULD NOT QUIT. Moutinho ultimately lost, but Dana White gave him the $75K Fight of the Night bonus ... money KM admitted he had no idea to manage.

JUST GETTING STARTED
TMZSports.com

And, get this, Daymond -- who's an extremely busy guy -- actually offered to work with Kris one-on-one ... and help Moutinho get his finances together.

"This young man is gonna be getting a lot of checks. He's my new favorite, and if he wants to call me, I'm gonna help him put that money in the right place, stay protected, and grow that money," Daymond says.

"And, I have a lot of good friends who would love to help him financially and show him what to do, cause he was smart enough to know he did not know what to do with that type of money, and many of us need to act like that when we get money."

Kris, give Daymond a call!!!

'Songland' Winner Greg Scott Upset Jonas Bros.' Olympics Anthem Taking His Spotlight

LEFT IN THE DARK
TMZ.com

"Songland" winner Greg Scott is baffled and justifiably upset the Jonas Brothers' new track is replacing his song as NBC's Olympics anthem ... but even worse, he says he's heard nothing but crickets from the Peacock.

We got the season 2 "Songland" winner Friday outside Mastro's in Bev Hills, and wanted to get some clarification on why his song "Miracle" -- the track that won NBC's songwriting competition show -- got shelved in favor of the Jo Bros.' "Remember This."

In short, Greg's confused about the ordeal and adds nobody at NBC has reached out to clear it up. In fact, he says he found out about the 'ol switcheroo on Twitter. Oof.

ICYMI ... "Miracle" was selected by Bebe Rexha as the winner of the series back in April 2020. Bebe said she would cover the track and it would then be used to promote the summer Olympics on the network. It should be noted, the episode was taped before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the 2020 Games to be postponed.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Clearly, Greg was under the impression the song would still be used to promote the Games in 2021, and NBC suggested as much when "Miracle" was used in a commercial confirming the games were pushed to 2021.

Fast forward to now ... Greg says he's bummed because the promotion could have been a life-changing achievement.

We asked if he thinks it's a coincidence the J Bros. track emerged as the chosen anthem last month ... and one month after NBC announced a new competition series featuring the brothers.

Greg has strong feelings about that, and while he isn't shading the Jonases -- he does wish the network stuck to what he'd been told.

We've reached out to NBC, but, so far no word back.

DeAndre Hopkins I Want To Expand Charity Work In AZ

LET'S RECONSIDER THE RULES
TMZSports.com

The end of the pandemic means no masks and a return to normalcy for some ... but for DeAndre Hopkins -- he tells TMZ Sports it's an opportunity to help thousands in his new hometown.

The NFL superstar couldn't do as much charity work in Arizona after being traded to the Cardinals in 2020 due to the coronavirus ... but he says he's hopeful that'll all change as we enter a post-COVID world.

"My mom and I, we're about to get into the community," Hopkins said out at LAX. "You know, it was COVID, so we really couldn't do much."

It's spectacular news for Arizonians ... 'cause, if you're unfamiliar, Hopkins and his mom, Sabrina Greenlee, have an amazing charity called S.M.O.O.O.T.H.

It was established to help women who have been affected by domestic violence.

Hopkins has been very active when it comes to raising funds for it all ... he even helped create a line of breakfast cereal this year to try to get more cash flow into the company.

Hopkins clearly wants to see it thrive in the desert, telling us, "We're in Houston right now, but trying to touch the Arizona market."

"But, just trying to weigh out and see what we can do right now."

Gilbert Burns Down To Fight Leon Edwards, Masvidal But I Really Want Usman!!!

"I WANT TO FIGHT EVERYBODY!"
TMZSports.com

Gilbert Burns wants to be UFC champion and he's willing to fight Leon Edwards and Jorge Masvidal -- 2 of the baddest dudes in the welterweight division -- all in order to earn a rematch with 170 lb.-king, Kamaru Usman.

TMZ Sports talked to 34-year-old Burns fresh off a convincing, unanimous decision win over Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson at UFC 264 ... and "Durinho" is open to scrapping with any of the high-ranked welterweights.

"I want the one that will get me a clear way to the title. If that’s Leon Edwards, that’s the one I want. If I need two more fights, give me Masvidal now then give me Leon Edwards later."

Remember, Burns and Usman -- who used to be training partners in Florida -- fought in February 2021 ... and Usman won via 3rd round TKO.

At the end of the day, who Gilbert fights first ain't all that important ... 'cause he says he ultimately wants smoke with all the best guys in the division.

"Every top opponent I want to face. I still have a dream battle against Colby [Covington]. I still want a rematch with Kamaru. I want to beat Masvidal. I want to beat Nate Diaz. I want to beat Leon Edwards. I want to beat every single guy, especially a tough one in that division."

FYI, Burns is the #2 ranked welterweight. Edwards is #3 and Masvidal -- who's coming off a loss to Usman -- is ranked 7th ... but is one of the UFC's biggest stars.

BURNS' BEATS BURNOUT
TMZSports.com

Burns isn't only making moves inside the Octagon ... we also talked to him about his partnership with Kill Cliff energy drinks -- and the UFC star explains why he signed with the company.

Old news is old news!
Be First!

Get TMZ breaking news sent right to your browser!