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Author: "Cortney Wills"

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Hip-Hop Hits MTV VMA’s

The MTV Video Music Awards were held last week in Los Angeles where some of hip-hop’s biggest names turned up to celebrate the year in videos. The annual event would not be complete without mind-blowing performances, some big surprises, big-named no-shows, and OMG moments.

First off, the VMA’s is becoming quite the spot to flaunt an unexpected baby bump, and this year’s debut came from Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose, who told Sway they already knew the sex of their little bundle of joy.

Calvin Harris was the house DJ for the night, and he seems to have a strict affinity for—himself, spinning only his songs all evening. Continue reading ‘Hip-Hop Hits MTV VMA’s’

Soundcheck: Is Missy Making a Comeback?

Missy Elliott is making a comeback.  Maybe.

Rumors have been swirling that the hip-hop icon was staging a return to glory ever since she joined longtime friend and collaborator, Timbaland onstage at the ‘Z104 Shaggfest 2012’ in Virginia.  While she reneged on her previously scheduled Rock The Bells appearances, and will not be working on the upcoming post-humus Aaliyah album; Timbaland says she new music coming as soon as next week.  According to a Twitter post, Missy will be dropping two singles, “ 9th Inning” and “ Triple Threat” over Labor Day weekend. Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: Is Missy Making a Comeback?’

Soundcheck: Hip-Hop Gets Political

With the 2012 presidential campaign well underway, hip-hop heavyweights are weighing in on the Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney battle. While the celebrity circuit has been relatively quiet compared to the last election, some stars are stepping up to lend their support to Obama, while others are just encouraging young people to vote.

Last week, legendary rapper Immortal Technique voiced his support for President Obama, and doubted he would be ousted come November.

“I don’t think [Romney will] be elected. I’m not saying there’s no chance. I just think the chips are going to fall with Obama. I think a lot of people are very invested in that, and the infrastructure of America especially finishing these wars and going through economic change rare to see them oust a president that way. Although, Romney does have a huge, huge cash influx, which makes him able to put all these ads out. It’ll just be up to the swing states. New York is always going to be Democrat for the most part,” he told Vlad TV.

He also took some time to compare the two candidates, noting Romney’s new focus on personality. Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: Hip-Hop Gets Political’

Soundcheck: Rock The Bells Recap

Guerilla Union kicked off their 9th Annual ‘Rock The Bells’ Festival in San Bernardino, Calif.  The two-day event attracted thousands of hip-hop fans to three stages featuring an eclectic mix of headliners, up-and-comers, and old-school favorites.  The blistering heat was no match for the scorching set-list that included Kendrick Lamar, Tyga, Nas, Ice Cube, and Common among others.

Photo by: Ashton Bowles

The first day of the festival was a real scorcher, with temperatures reaching 101 degrees, leaving fans clamoring for shade between sets. Still, 2Chainz’ mid-day performance on the 36 Chambers stage was packed.  Fresh off his No. 1 album debut last week, he treated the crowd to dance lessons during his high-energy set; where he performed hits like “Mercy, “Beez In The Trap”, and “No Lie”.
Yelawolf was the next emcee to grace the stage and was backed up by Psycho White collaborator, Travis Barker on the drums.  The Detroit-based rapper rocked an American flag under his hat and waved middle fingers to the crowd throughout his 30-minute set.
Tyga rocked his noticeably young crowd with a medley of radio hits; showing off his tattoo collection to throngs of screaming girls.  Across the lot, Common delivered a power-packed performance of classic hits including, “I Used To Love Her,” “Testify,” and “Be”.  Dressed casually in shorts and a T-shirt, his subdued set was a welcomed relief from the more eccentric offerings of the day.

Soundcheck: Who Is Hit Boy?

Pharell tried it.  Timbaland took a stab too.  Kanye perfected it.  Hit Boy will continue the trend.  The transition from super-producer toartist is no easy trek.

Chauncey Hollis, the man behind the beats, is ready to leave the boards behind and embark on his own journey toward rap superstardom. Fresh off his über-successful hit, “Niggas In Paris” Hit Boy made it clear he was ready to show the world he can rap too.

Last week, he dropped his free debut offering, HITstory, from his new label home on his House Of Hits website.

The producer-turned rapper signed to Kanye’s label, G.O.O.D. Music in May. “I’m just making music with them, so stuff will end up where it is supposed to,” he told MTV News. “That’s family and they’re the best in the world in my opinion, so I can’t lose. Being able to get advice from those guys is priceless.”

The 11-track EP features collaboration with label-mates, Big Sean and John Legend as well as Bun B, among others. His first single, “Jay-Z Interview” dropped in June and let fans know he wasn’t fooling around. “Yeah, the sh– I spit like/ ‘What the f— has gotten into you?’/ I got ‘em tuned in like a Jay-Z interview.”

On the album, he displays a broad range of content and creativity; depicting a life of big dreams, big disappointments, and bigger determination. “I knew what I wanted before I had it/ but I always had it I was an addict/ And this room is feelin’ just like an attic/making 10 beats a day and going at it… God damn I was just home/ now I’m number 3 on The Throne/ I had so many emotions, that I had to make it into a song,” he rhymes.  Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: Who Is Hit Boy?’

Soundcheck: Nas Gets Nasty…Again

Nas is back on top with his latest offering.

Life Is Good, his tenth studio album is full of examples of why Nas is regarded as one of the greatest emcees of all time.  His unrivaled knack for storytelling paints pictures in the way that only he can, making the Queensborough native an essential and integral piece of hip-hop’s fabric.  Honest portrayals of his own life force fans to examine their own outlooks, and fills in holes left by the two decades of tabloid snippets he’s endured as a rap superstar.

A bitter divorce from Kelis in 2009 and an ongoing tax problem with the IRS left fans fearing he had fallen off for good.  Luckily, Nas has rebounded in a big way with his latest release; and managed to clear up some controversy in the meantime.  Even the album’s cover tackles his most trying momentshead on; as he appears in a white suit with his ex-wife’s wedding dress strewn across his lap.

Debuting at No. 1, Life Is Good sold 149,000 copies in its first week, which surpassed its initial projections.  Fans and critics have applauded the 58-minute album as one of his best; and acknowledge the raw, revealing lyricism that permeates the project have been sorely missed during his four-year hiatus.

Right away, it’s obvious that Nas is going there. And he does. “The tales you hear is the truth on me/Who wasn’t the most faithful husband/Reveal my life, you’ll forgive me/You will love me, hate me, judge me, relate to me.”

Singles like “Daughters” and “Bye Baby” tug at the heartstrings with introspective lyrics on fatherhood, love, and heartbreak. With equal conviction, tracks like “No Introduction” and “The Don” (produced by the late Heavy D) remind us that even at 40, Nas ain’t no punk.

He seems to have found his sweet spot when it comes to production on this album.  Aside from a few cameos by the likes of Swizz Beatz and Rick Ross, the sound is much more classic, controlled, and appropriate for the heavy lines contained by smooth beats from veterans like No I.D., Saleem Reed, and Large Professor. While there aren’t too many collaborations on this album, he did make room for the track “Cherry Wine”, which features fallen favorite Amy Winehouse .

In his twenty-year career, Nas has managed to stay relevant and real, no easy fete in the world of hip-hop.  He has delivered an album as powerful as his groundbreaking, 1994 debut, Illmatic; and as impactful as his 2008 offering, Untitled.

Now that he has reclaimed his rightful spot on top of the rap charts, there’s no telling what’s next for Nas.

Soundcheck: White Rappers Making Waves

The road has been rough for Southern rapper, Yelawolf, whose Interscope debut, Radioactive delivered less than stellar sales and prompted his label to drastically diminish its promotional support. Health problems plagued the emcee as well, with a ruptured spleen delaying both his sophomore album and a much-needed promotional tour. To make matters worse, he’s currently not very happy with his label situation.

“I don’t fuckin’ know anybody up there, not no one. I’ve never fuckin’ walked up in the building. The couple of people that I do know are friends of mine and that’s it,” he told HipHopDX.

“They obviously can’t have their hands on everything—there’s a lot of fuckin’ artists under the wings of a big label like that, so when you become part of a label or a situation that fuckin’ massive, you have to just really be smart about how you handle your business and make that your team in on-point with everything single thing and you’re paying attention to every single detail. If you lose that, then sometimes you get caught up.”

Despite the difficult circumstances, the Alabama native has released two mix tapes; The Slumdon Bridge and Heart of Dixie. If all goes accordingto plan, he’ll do another mix tape with Travis Barker and Big K.R.I.T. He’s also set to drop his sophomore album, Love Story along with a sequel of sorts, Trunk Muzik Returns. He has had to take his business into his hands, but it’s been a reluctant transition.

“I just don’t want to fuckin’ do business, man, what the fuck. I’m a rapper, I’m an artist. I pay my manager to handle all that shit. I don’t even like talking like this, I feel like a nerd to even be bothered with the business of it,” he said. “I want to be creative. I don’t want to worry with this shit. I want to fuckin’ make my music and tour and do what I do. Unfortunately, you have to pay attention to it, and that’s kinda like what I’ve been forced into this past couple years. All of that like, pent-up, ‘What the fuck is going on?!’ type of shit is gonna be coming out in my music and everything that I do. Even with the bad, it’s really fueling everything that I’m doing in a positive way because it’s only making me hungrier.”

Machine Gun Kelly is ready to release his debut album, Lace Up in August. Last week, he revealed his thoughts on the first LP he’ll release from the house that Diddy built, and promised some serious support from collaborators like DMX, Bun B, and Tech N9ne among others.

“I got legends on there. DMX. Me, Tech N9ne, and Twista on one track, the song everybody wanted to hear. Fuckin’ Eminem, I’m just playing. That would have been certified platinum…Bun B. Everyone’s really like legends,” he told VladTV

“Lace Up is a lifestyle. Everything I stand for, it’s everything my fans stand for.  It’s tattooed on our bodies for life. It’s something I will never explain to the general public because it’s something beautiful that you have to discover for yourself. You have to find your own meaning in it,” he said. “But the album is definitely one of the best albums of the decade and will be a problem at The Grammy’s 100 percent. Regardless if my singles haven’t taken off the way that we wanted them to it’s all a part of the journey because I believe that because I never caught that quick-winded hype I’ll be around for a long, long time.”

Once pitted against each other as competitors, it seems these two emcees have more in common than their skin color and affinity for rhyming.  Yelawolf and Machine Gun Kelly will be wowing crowds with new music at Guerrilla Union’s ‘Rock The Bells’ Music Festival in August.

Soundcheck: Return Of The Female Emcee?

Last week, the music industry lost a female veteran when Ms. Melodie of Boogie Down Productions died on Wednesday. Her 1989 release Diva made her one of the first emcees to spit alongside the heavy-hitting male rappers of the day, like ex-husband KRS-One.

The loss made me reflect on today’s female rappers, and the position they hold in the hip-hop world. Aside from Nicki Minaj, it seems that female rappers have all but disappeared from the mainstream landscape over the past few years.

But times may be changing. The days of Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown may be over, but a slew of new spitters have been staging some serious attacks, and a few familiar faces are poised to return, ready to make a big impact on the rap game.

Eve recently announced plans to release her oft-delayed project Lip Lock this fall. It will be her first album since Eve-Olution hit the streets 10 years ago. If things go her way, the former Ruff Ryder will be rocking radio waves again, showcasing her sick rhyming skills and ever-present ability to get a party started with her sexy but scathing style. She recently made her first-ever appearance at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans and received a warm welcome from legions of loyal fans who can’t wait for her return to the mic.  Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: Return Of The Female Emcee?’

Frank Ocean Drops Def Jam Debut

One week after his groundbreaking admission that he is gay, Frank Ocean is making headlines for a different reason. HDD predicts he’ll move more than 125,000 copies of his Def Jam debut in its first week out based on digital album sales alone.  Thealbum, Channel Orange hits stores (sans Target) today.

Jermaine Dupri posted an open letter on his website last week,  “When I saw the # that Frank Ocean is suppose to hit next week, I got extremely Happy, I said I need to get in my car and and listen to this album, by the time I got to “Sweet Life” I was even more happy, finally!! a RnB album that’s hip, without having the same 5 rappers on every song… I actually hope he hits 200k, for the sake of RnB, it’s in the worst position it’s ever been since I started making music, The Record company’s don’t believe in it, Radio won’t play it if it don’t have a rapper, and a majority of the artist that are labeled RnB, are confused and lost, so I repeat, I hope Ocean sells more than the 125k that he’s on pace for, maybe these executives u’ll wake the fuck up, or at least try to copy what he’s doing, like they always do, by the way, the end of “Pyramids” jammin like a mufucka.”

Continue reading ‘Frank Ocean Drops Def Jam Debut’

Hip Hop Gets Real: Frank Ocean Comes Out

Last week, Frank Ocean told the world he was gay in an open letter posted on his Tumblr account.

“Whoever you are, wherever you are… I’m starting to think we’re a lot alike,” he writes. He goes on to describe details of his first love, which he reveals, was a man.

“We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide…Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and his silence…until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him…By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love, it changed my life.”

“I reminisced about the sentimental songs I enjoyed when I was a teenager…the ones I played when I experienced a girlfriend for the first time. I realized they were written in a language I did not speak…I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore,” he wrote.

For fans wondering what his Odd Future crew members think about his recent revelations, particularly Tyler The Creator, who has been publically chastised for making homophobic remarks and gestures numerous times; he made it clear he was onboard with Ocean’s decision.

Tyler tweeted, “My big brother finally f—ing did that. Proud of that n—a cause I know that sh– is difficult or whatever. Anyway. I’m a toilet,” he quipped.

Continue reading ‘Hip Hop Gets Real: Frank Ocean Comes Out’

 


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