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Rapper Azealia Banks Tweet Freaks: Quits Twitter, Maybe The Rap Game?

19-year-old Harlem, NY-based rapper Azealia Banks is not known for her subtlety or nuance. No, the spunky female MC has made a name for herself with tracks like “212,” a song which is as lyrically dense as it is lyrically explicit. Banks has also been fairly outspoken over her Twitter account, like many other rappers. But Banks took it to another level this past Friday. After it was revealed that Banks had ended her professional relationship with manager Troy Carter - with whom she had signed just two months prior - the rapper went on the offensive over Twitter.

“Guess what?: I’m still not going to let you manage me again. I’ve dealt with enough cyber bullying to see right thru this.”

“I will definitely be working BY MYSELF and saving MY 20% On management commissions while I avoid you sharks in the water….”

Banks went on to say that she would only work with a female manager or “a really gay man” in the future. Shortly after her tweet tirade, Banks deleted her account.

Banks later took to her Tumblr, posting that she was “NO LONGER WISHING TO BE A RAPPER.” This statement was later amended in a follow up post, with Banks saying that she would continue to rap, only that she did not “want the label and all the other crap that comes with the ‘rap game’.” Banks also stated that she would be communicating with her fans exclusively through her Tumblr going forward.

Carter, who notably manages Lady Gaga, had released a statement on the 7th, stating that he and Banks had ended their professional relationship “on very amicable terms.”


Sound and Vision: Why Judging a TV Star Search Is More Valuable Than Winning One

The votes were counted and Phillip Phillips was crowned the 11th American Idol on May 23. So what’s next?

If this is going to be just another case of recent history repeating, a first blush of modest success (his Idol winner’s single “Home” entered Billboard’s Hot 100 at No. 10, with 278,000 downloads), maybe even a platinum post-Idol album (like his predecessor, Scotty McCreery), then… nothing much. Unlike American Idol‘s early seasons, which made durable stars out of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, taking the grand prize no longer comes with guaranteed gold or platinum (if only for one album).

Even Adam Lambert, Idol‘s eighth runner-up and the show’s lone international star launch in the past several seasons, is in the throes of a sophomore slump. Although Trespassing, his second studio album, released on May 15, entered Billboard’s Top 200 album chart at No. 1, it did so with only 77,000 copies sold its first week. That’s 120,000 less than his 2009 debut, For Your Entertainment, and the lowest one-week total for a No. 1 album since last August, when Adele’s 21 sold 76,000 copies in its 12th non-consecutive week at No. 1. Continue reading ‘Sound and Vision: Why Judging a TV Star Search Is More Valuable Than Winning One’

The Killers Debut Trailer For New Album ‘Battleborn’

The Killers teased fans by releasing a trailer for their upcoming album Battleborn today. Battleborn, slated for a release some time this fall, will be The Killers’ fourth album and their first since 2008′s Day & Age.

The trailer doesn’t really say a lot about the new record. To be fair, it’s only a minute and a half long. But it does hint at what we should expect from The Killers’ next offering. We see the band giving a lot of serious stares out into the distance and shots of a bonfire in the desert. The real action, though, is in the sonic accompaniment. Whatever song is playing over the trailer is heavy on the dreamy synths and features some Springsteen-inspired guitar riffage. In other words, it sounds like the best elements of Sam’s Town wedded to Day & Age‘s songwriting.

The Killers began recording Battleborn in May of 2011, working with producers including Brendan O’Brien (Bruce Springsteen, The Fray), Steve Lillywhite (Dave Matthews Band, U2), and Damian Taylor (Bjork). When asked about the title of the record, frontman Brandon Flowers said, “In a sense, all Americans are battle born. Our ancestors came here for something better.” It should be noted that the band’s personal recording studio also carries the name Battle Born.

Check out the trailer for Battleborn below.

EDM Receives a $1 Billion Investment

Media mogul Robert F.X. Silverman is banking on the future popularity of electronic music in the US. Sillerman has personally reshaped the music industry in the past; his company SFX Broadcasting, founded in 1992, would eventually grow into the concert promotion giant Live Nation, Inc. Yesterday The New York Times reported that Sillerman was returning to the concert business after an absence with the re-establishment of the SFX Entertainment brand and an attempt to break into the world of EDM.

Sillerman’s business strategy for SFX Entertainment aims to bring electronic event producers under the SFX umbrella. Sillerman also stressed that he would want business as usual to continue to with any companies that become part of the SFX Entertainment family. With Disco Productions in Louisiana becoming the first company to sign on with the new venture, Sillerman claims to have up to 50 other arrangements in the works, with a planned $1 billion in acquisitions during SFX’s first year of business.

The news helps to cement EDM’s place in the pop music landscape. Dance music has grown more popular in the US at an unbelievably fast rate. The global EDM industry is now generating $4 billion in revenue annually and EDM was the largest growing mainstream genre in terms of album sales in the US for 2011.

Riffs, Rants and Rumors: The Sufis Serve Up Some Southern Psych

You don’t have to be stoned to be psychedelic. Sure, people tend to tag psychedelia as “trippy,” but that appellation has as much to do with the transporting quality of the best psychedelic music as it does with anything Timothy Leary ever espoused. After all, even Jimi Hendrix himself famously described the titular satori-like state described in “Are You Experienced?” as being “not necessarily stoned, but beautiful.” But if you’re after a more modern example, turn toward The Sufis, a young Nashville-based trio of psychedelic rockers whose driving force, Calvin LaPorte, observes, “Bands who say they’re psychedelic but don’t really sound like they are, we encounter them all the time, and it’s pretty much guys who just smoke a lot of weed, and the music sounds better when you’re stoned. I think that’s what that kind of ‘psychedelic’ is, but we wanted to hone in more on the arrangement of psychedelic music.”

Together with guitarist Jay Smith and drummer Evan Smith, multi-instrumentalist LaPorte pays homage to the swirling psych-pop sounds of the ‘60s on The Sufis’ self-titled debut album. And while his primary influences were making records before he was born, LaPorte comes by his inspirations naturally. He was first bitten by the paisley-patterned bug as a child, via his father’s record collection. “I’ve been listening to that kind of stuff since I was six or seven,” he recalls, “The Beatles, I heard [Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett-fronted 1967 single] ‘See Emily Play’ really early on, seven or eight. And he [LaPorte's father] had a lot of Beach Boys, that’s definitely one of the big influences.” Continue reading ‘Riffs, Rants and Rumors: The Sufis Serve Up Some Southern Psych’

Is 2012 Already Diplo’s Biggest Year Yet?

It wouldn’t be fair to say that the 33-year-old Florida native Diplo, real name Thomas Westley Pentz, has defined the cultural zeitgeist. Which is too bad, because what a fun zeitgeist it would be if he did. A butt-shaking, lame-shaming, all-inclusive zeitgeist. But it’s looking like Diplo’s contributions to the world of music might reach a qualitative and quantitative peak in 2012.

Diplo is our generation’s closest parallel to David Bowie. Both took disparate sounds and styles and made them their own. Both Bowie and Pentz exist with one foot planted in the commercial world and the other in a more experimental realm. Bowie had a bit of an advantage in his day though as it was far easier to be a total freak and still sell records. Both are also pretty skinny. And both are shameless self-promoters, performers that are completely in control of their image and branding. If this sounds like hero worship, it’s because it is.

Diplo has had a busy year so far and it doesn’t look like his schedule is going to be clearing up any time soon. He’s probably the hardest working man in show business at the moment. There’s Diplo the CEO/master chief of Mad Decent—an imprint with an active artist roster including the likes of Rusko, Riff Raff SODMG, and Zeds Dead, and the label responsible for introducing disparate dance genres like baile funk and moombahaton to North American audiences. Then there’s Diplo the producer. Pentz first hit big in 2007 with “Paper Planes”, the single that propelled Sri Lankan rapper (and former love interest) M.I.A. into the national spotlight. Diplo hit the ground running with that release and hasn’t slowed down since.

But the flurry of activity that Pentz has been involved in for the past few months has truly been dizzying. Pentz seems to move at the speed of broadband. Hints and glimpses into his life can be gleaned from Twitter feeds and soundbites from blog posts, but the average RSS feed can’t keep up. In the first half of 2012, Diplo has been attached to Usher (‘Climax’), the comeback record for No Doubt (working alongside Switch, his cohort in Major Lazer), Snoop Dogg, Azealia Banks, and Sleigh Bells, amongst others. In the midst of all this work, he still managed to plan a tour via train with Pretty Lights and Skrillex and release a new EP, Express Yourself, in June. And is that wasn’t enough, the world traveler—who is known to tweet pics of panoramas from the tops of Mayan temples and rachets riding dinosaurs under champagne waterfalls in Las Vegas—has a side gig as a spokesperson for Blackberry.

But has Diplo peaked? For an artist so thoroughly ingratiated with the underground its impressive how deeply he’s infiltrated the mainstream. While there is no limit anymore to how popular a producer can become at this point—Skrillex popularized a hairstyle and Calvin Harris parlayed modest clout in the UK into stateside (charting Top 40 hits with Rihanna and Ne-Yo)—no one else can boast equal amounts of love from the underground and from the corporate world. Except for Deadmau5, and he can be a bit cranky.

Maintaining credibility is one thing. But, more importantly, how can Thomas Wesley Pentz possibly keep up this pace? ? It’s a mystery. Maybe he has a twin brother who he sends to events in his place. Or maybe its because Diplo is one of the most down-to-earth figures in EDM, hip-hop, or pop. He’ll work with ANYBODY, doesn’t matter if you’re a legacy artist or a young bisexual teen from Harlem who can’t stop swearing. Not only that but Diplo’s sound, a synthesis of cultures and touchstones across hemispheres is uniquely his own and defiantly populist at the same time. The New York Times wasn’t far off when they called him a translator and an intermediary. But that implies more delivery then generation. Diplo is re-contextualizing and composing mini banger masterpieces. Who knew that a lanky, gawky, country bumpkin from Florida would become one of the most vital and engaging voices in music today?

It’s hard to talk about legacies in real time, especially in the digital age we live in. The flurry of activity that people find themselves in every day can leave you rattled and addled. But if Diplo manages to maintain the batting average in the last six months of 2012 that he was able to in the first six months, then he’ll establish a nice place in music industry for himself. Ironic how his percolating, stuttering beats might cement him a place in history. Until then, you can check out the slightly NSFW video for “Express Yourself” below. And put your back into it.

Brian McKnight Releases Porn Site Anthem

R&B singer Brian McKnight, probably best known for his 1999 hit “Back At One,” has made some unorthodox if intriguing career choices lately. Case in point: McKnight’s most recent single, “You – Anthem,” is a send up of porn video site YouPorn, replete with fittingly explicit lyrics and lurid verses.

McKnight first made waves with his newfound penchant for envelope-pushing lyrics when he released “iFUrReady2Learn (C.A.T.S.).” The NSFW song is ostensibly about sex education and was written as a joke while McKnight was stuck at home recovering from an ankle injury. McKnight wisely capitalized on the publicity by releasing an equally NSFW video of the track through humor site Funny Or Die. However, the inspiration for “You – Anthem” came from a different place. After the release of “iFUrReady2Learn,” McKnight noted that a spike in sales occurred after adult video site YouPorn promoted the track through their site. And when YouPorn asked McKnight to write a song about them in thanks, he was only too happy to oblige. Since the release, McKnight has taken to his Twitter to address fan concerns with the track. This most recent release appears to mark a change in style for McKnight, whose new material is decidedly less K-Ci & JoJo, more 2 Live Crew.

Listen to the NSFW “You – Anthem” here.

Sound and Vision: Jennifer Lopez–The Most Powerful Woman in Pop?

Every superstar worth his or her weight in durability (See: Cher, all-time queen of the comeback) has been up, has been down, has seen fire, has seen rain, has had one of those full-circle careers that’s come around and around again and again. Professional fluctuations is a part of Hollywood life, and those who can weather those particular storms, come out in a better place, because as Kelly Clarkson sang on her recent No. 1 hit, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stronger.

And just how stronger is current comeback queen Jennifer Lopez these days? She may not be quite the tabloid draw she was a decade ago, but if you’ve watched American Idol during the past two seasons, or heard her 2011 hit “On the Floor” on the radio, on TV, on YouTube or, well, on the floor, you know that she’s flexing again.

Forbes magazine just ranked her atop its 2012 Celebrity 100 (up from No. 50 in 2011), which lists the most powerful people in entertainment. With an estimated income of $52 million in the last year, Lopez came in ahead of last year’s champ Lady Gaga (No. 5), Oprah Winfrey (No. 2) and Adele (No. 24).

Forbes‘s criteria for its 2012 appointment: being hotter than the rest (23,000 press mentions, 46 major magazine covers) and most sought after by fans (530 million YouTube views for “On the Floor,” 12 million Facebook “likes” and more than 6 million “followers” on Twitter). Not bad for someone who was so over—or so everybody thought—just a few years ago.

Continue reading ‘Sound and Vision: Jennifer Lopez–The Most Powerful Woman in Pop?’

Exclusive Q and A: Grace Potter Talks Music, Kenny Chesney and Teenage Dreams

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsThere’s little doubt that Grace Potter, front woman of the Vermont-born Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, is the favorite cousin of the country world.

Ever since her duet with Kenny Chesney on the Metraca Berg and Deana Carter song “You and Tequila”—that resulted in two nominations for GRAMMY Awards—Potter has been a constant presence on all kinds of high-profile events including the Academy of Country Music Awards show, the Academy of Country Music Awards show and everything in between. Some of her appearances have included joining with Chesney to sing “You and Tequila,” which he included on his 2010 album Hemingway’s Whiskey, and others have been solo. Whatever the event, though, it seems that Potter is constantly in the public eye. At least to onlookers.

Potter said she remains somewhat unaware of her turn in the spotlight. Perhaps that’s because she and her band, which formed a decade ago, have been hard at work on their June release The Lion The Beast The Beat, an 11-track indie rock powerhouse that includes four bonus tracks, including one where she duets with Chesney and another where she sings with Willie Nelson.

Potter took time out of her schedule to talk with OurStage about her latest album, Chesney and more.

OS: Tell us about making the new album.

GP: There was a moment when we were set up to make the whole record and I pulled the plug.  There were a lot of moments of doubt—not to do with country/Americana vs. singer-songwriter—but I wanted this album to make a statement. It became a very long and arduous process, a labor of love. Of hate really.  You can hear the struggle and the glory that comes with it.

Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q and A: Grace Potter Talks Music, Kenny Chesney and Teenage Dreams’

15 Of The Funniest Examples Of The Gotye Meme

Hard to imagine that just a few months ago singer-songwriter Gotye was a complete unknown outside of his native Australia. But thanks to the popularity of his smash hit “Somebody That I Used To Know” (we don’t need to link it here, right?) – which continues to sit atop of the Billboard Hot 100 chart this week – the Aussie performer has achieved considerable fame. In fact, Gotye’s ubiquity is so great that he has crossed over from normal-level fame to become, yes, an internet meme. (For those unfamiliar with the term, a meme is essentially an Internet-spawned concept or joke.) In this case, it’s the lyrics and the video from “Somebody That I Used To Know” that have been reinterpreted into something new… and really, really funny. As such, we decided to pull together the best that the Gotye meme has to offer. So please enjoy the following .jpgs and videos as much as we have.

Continue reading ’15 Of The Funniest Examples Of The Gotye Meme’


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