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Soundcheck: Exclusive — Baby Bash On Moving Forward and Giving Back

Chances are, Baby Bash is responsible for one of your favorite songs, you just may not know it.  The thirty-six-year-old California native has been turning out hits since 2003, and he shows no sign of slowing down.  His latest hit, “Go Girl” featuring E-40 was another radio hit and he released his fourth studio album, Bashtown last month on his newly formed label of the same name.

In 2010 I created Bashtown Recordings and I took control of my own destiny.  I ended up finding out I can work my own project better than the label.  I can go straight to the radio and depend on myself and not worry about anyone else,“ he says. “Now I get to keep my own money and I get to promote the way I want, talk how I want, talk for myself and it’s just easier for me,” he says.   “When you’re on a major [label] you gotta worry about seven or eight people signing off.  They don’t know about music because they’re robots and they play a numbers game.  I only worry about music.”  Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: Exclusive — Baby Bash On Moving Forward and Giving Back’

The Second Coming of DMX

Let’s face it, sometimes the past should stay dead. But when an awesome artist fades from popularity,  fans later wonder, “Where are they now?”  You may not know it, but many artists you’ve loved in the past are still hard at work writing new albums or preparing to tour again. Fortunately, you now have “Second Coming” to reintroduce some of your favorite acts of the last few decades and give you the scoop on what you can expect from them in the future.

THEN: DMX (a.k.a. Earl Simmons) didn’t have a typical childhood. As a kid living in Yonkers, New York, he learned to steal money from drug dealers—a hobby that quickly landed him in group homes and juvenile detention. When he was off the streets, he turned to rapping and beatboxing to pass the time. After he was written about in a column about unsigned hip hop artists, DMX was signed to Columbia Records. The signing led to the young rapper scoring a few guest spots on the albums of hip hop heavyweights like LL Cool J, Mase and The LOX. When it came time to drop a single of his own in 1998, DMX did not disappoint. “Get At Me Dog” was certified Gold and the classic “Ruff Ryders Anthem” from debut It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot is still heralded as one of the best hip hop songs of all time. Later that same year, he released a second album, Flesh of My Flesh and Blood of My Blood, which followed Dark to a No. 1 Billboard debut, a feat only accomplished before by Tupac. After all this success, it was X’s third album, …And Then There Was X, that truly catapulted the rapper to star status. The single “Party Up (Up In Here)” has become an iconic anthem for every frat party and dance club rave since its release. Unfortunately, X’s following two albums couldn’t seem to match the sales or the commercial success of his third record. His last album was released in 2006.
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Soundcheck: Hip-Hop Hits Festival Season– Paid Dues, Coachella & Lollapalooza

It was 10:45 Sunday night when Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg hit the main stage to close out the three-day music festival at Coachella. When the lights went low, the infamous West Coast duo resurrected some old hits and old friends for their highly anticipated, headlining set. 50 Cent, Tony Yayo and Eminem all came out to perform famous collaborations with the prolific pair; leaving lots of room for long breaks for Dre.  An elaborate hologram of the late Tupac Shakur appeared alongside the duo onstage to deliver his verses from “Two Of America’s Most Wanted” and “Hail Mary” from beyond the grave.  The tribute was interesting; but a bit morbid as well and the crowd seemed a bit puzzled to say the least.  Overall, the ninety-minute headlining set was nostalgic at best; and while it was enjoyable; Dre’s contribution didn’t suggest the comeback he has been promising for years now.  Backstage fans included Rihanna, Fergie, Will.I.Am and the Fire Marshall shut down the area for capacity reasons, leaving stars like Paris Hilton scrambling from the side stage.

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Soundcheck: The Clipse IS Back, Minus The Malice

Last year, Virginia’s own Pusha T hit the MTV VMA stage and signed to Kanye’s label, G.O.O.D. Music, and quickly started dropping singles sans his brother and former partner in crime, Malice.  It seemed that The Clipse was no more, since Malice was focused on promoting his book, Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind, and Naked while Pusha T was set to start his stellar solo career.

Now, it seems the duo have had a change of heart in more ways than one. Malice has undergone a religious transformation, and changed his name to No Malice. “I’m not a malicious person, and I don’t really like answering to that. I know that people that follow The Clipse or follow my music, they know Malice, so I understand that, I get that. But you don’t want to be under any moniker that’s of evil intent, that’s not you. I come to more believe that there’s so much power in the tongue. The power of the tongue is life and death, so I believe if you are what you fall under whether it’s in your subconscious or not,” he said last month.

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Soundcheck: Hip Hop Speaks Out On Trayvon Martin Murder

In the five weeks since the tragic killing of seventeen-year-old Florida teen Trayvon Martin, the hip hop community is stepping up to call for justice and action.

Tons of hip hop heavyweights—including David Banner, E-40, Frank Ocean, Big Boi, Diddy and countless others—have spoken out on the tragedy.  Many of them have created viral videos in which they don hoodies to support the slain adolescent, who was killed at the hands of a neighborhood watch volunteer that said the teen, “looked suspicious.”

On February 26, George Zimmerman (a twenty-eight-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer) called the police after he noticed Trayvon entering a market (to buy Skittles and Iced Tea for his younger brother). After ignoring police instructions to remain in his vehicle, Zimmerman allegedly accosted the unarmed teenager and shot him to death. When police arrived on the scene, Zimmerman claimed he acted in self- defense, and has therefore avoided an arrest since the incident.

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Soundcheck: Nicki Readies ‘Roman Reloaded’ For April 3 Release

Nicki Minaj is finally ready to release her highly anticipated sophomore album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.  The twenty-one-track album features verses from Nas, Drake, Rick Ross and Cam’Ron among others. Last month she told Complex she intended to sell 5 million copies of the album and tour the whole world.  From the looks of it, she’s getting awfully close to her goal. The Harajuku Barbie is already busy promoting the record, and she’s wasting no time hitting the road. Minaj will kick off her European tour at Stockholm, Sweden’s Annexet on June 8th. Other destinations include Belgium, London, Brussels and Paris before the tour wraps up at the UK’s annual V Festival 2012 on August 18th.

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SK8R BOI

Billa Camp

Like Lupe Fiasco, Billa Camp hails from Chi-Town, loves skateboard culture and is an exemplar of alternative hip hop. And here’s another similarity—both appeared in the video for Fiasco’s song “Kick, Push.” Still, Camp’s got his own thing going on, like an encyclopedic knowledge of rock, for starters. On “Grateful Dread,” the rapper name checks dozens of artists, starting with Sublime, Radiohead and Nirvana before moving onto Talking Heads, MC5 and Flaming Lips. Even Phish gets a shout-out on the hypnotic track, which combines lashes of cymbals and droning textures that sound like a deviant version of Aphex Twin’s “Windowlicker.” Stylistically, Camp’s music runs the gamut—from surf guitars on “California” to a crackling samples of the 1950s hit “Why Don’t You Believe Me” on “Show Time” to the banging “Beat Street” with its hefty dose of “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa. You don’t know where you’re going when you put on a Billa Camp track, but you can be sure you’re gonna have a good time.

 

Soundcheck: Killer Collabos

It’s time to review another round of hot collaborations from some of hip hop’s most famous faces.  This list features some unlikelypairings and some unstoppable up-and-comers as well as some old favorites with some new tricks.

The Cataracs featuring Waka Flocka Flame: “All You”

This up-tempo single is a guilty pleasure with a contagious new age sound and a techno-enhanced baseline that is hard not to dance to.   The Cataracs don’t disappoint with their complex production, and Waka’s signature hollering is equal parts offensive and harmless; with an undeniably appealing result.

Melanie Fiona featuring Snoop Dogg: “Gone (La Dada Di)”

A single from her debut album, The MF Life, (out today) features Fiona’s intense vocal delivery and powerful lyrics of loss and longing for her man.  Her smooth, soulful style is sure to stick around for a while; and her knack for story telling gives me the feeling this album is a winner. Snoop’s verse lends a familiar touch to the unusual offering; rounding out this delightful surprise.

David Banner featuring Big K.R.I.T.: “Believe It”

A single from Banner’s upcoming EP Sex, Drugs & Video Games, the album will be free to download with an option to donate to charity.  The hook sounds like its sung by a gospel choir; although the subject matter is a bit too risky for a Sunday morning.  Still, the song is hot— if not a bit aggressive— but what else would we expect from this mash-up of Southern gentlemen?

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Soundcheck: New Music Previews: Diggy, Wiz, Cudi, Tech & More

Spring has almost sprung and with it comes a fresh crop of new music from the likes of Kid Cudi, Wiz Khalifa, Diggy Simmons and Tech N9ne among others.

Cudi’s latest project first caused a stir when the rapper complained his label under shipped the rock-heavy EP, WZRD. In it’s first week, the album took the No. 1 spot on iTunes and sold over 70,000 copies.  Cudi’s current single is heating up radio charts as well, setting him up for a stellar rock tour this summer.

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Soundcheck: RiRi & Chris: What Were They Thinking?

Just three years after the brutal beating that left Rihanna bruised and bloody in the street; we are supposed to forgive, forget and get ready to party?  I think not.

After releasing two collaborations last week, Chris Brown and Rihanna are back in the headlines, and back to confusing their fans.

Given the sexually suggestive lyrics of “Birthday Cake” these two weren’t too worried about sending the wrong message. “Girl I wanna f*%$ you right now (right now)/Been a long time, I’ve been missing your body/Let me-let me turn the lights down/ When I go down it’s a private party…”

My disappointment falls squarely in Rihanna’s court. Up until now, I’ve given Chris a hard time, feeling like he wasn’t remorseful enough. Thinking that his expectations of forgiveness were too presumptive; that he seemed to feel a bit too entitled for someone who almost killed one of my other favorite artists. The music, of course, has remained strong throughout the turmoil, and his album, F.A.M.E., was easily one of the best of 2011.

But now, my attention is shifted to Rihanna. She’s a rock star. She’s the victim. She’s the one holding all the cards. It’s no wonder that Chris has been less than concerned about receiving forgiveness from the public; when he has clearly already received it from the one who matters most. She gave him a pass. She said it was OK. That he should be successful and popular and celebrated, even after he almost killed her…even after he tore up a dressing room at Good Morning America…even after he allegedly tore a phone away from a female fan that snapped a picture, just last week…we’re not supposed to care about any of that, because she doesn’t.

Rihanna has gone on record that she is not a role model. She has stated, repeatedly, that she resents the responsibility thrust on young stars to be social trendsetters. Here’s the thing; they are. Rihanna knew that when she signed up for fame. She utilized it when influential hits like “Umbrella” spawned thousands of “Rihanna haircuts” and helped her sell out stadiums. Only when its inconvenient does she resent all the hype, all the eyes and all the influence.

I will concede that, despite my personal opinions about domestic violence, it’s ultimately a deeply private matter. The way in which a battered woman is able to piece her life back together is her business. Despite the fame, Robyn Fenty is a private citizen. What she does behind closed doors and with whom is none of my business.

Rihanna, however, is a public figure and her music is absolutely my business. The messages she sends in her music are absolutely her fans’ business. She brought her private business into her music business, and now she is asking us to pay for it. She’s asking us to consume material that accepts violence. She’s giving power to the legions of misguided girls wearing T-shirts saying, “You Can Beat Me Up”.

She’s trying to turn us on with the visual of her in bed with Chris.  Unfortunately, the only visual in my mind is that swollen faced, black-eyed girl with bite marks on her arms and finger impressions across her throat.

They remember too. The young fans who think Rihanna is the strongest, most beautiful, most confident woman they have ever seen. They remember what she went through, and they’re watching her say it’s “not that serious.” If the man is cute enough, or talented enough, or sexy enough when he “blows out your candles” it’s worth being slapped around a little. If it’s good enough for Rihanna, it’s good enough for them. That’s the crime in the release of these singles. That’s the crime of these two famous young adults.

The one and only collaboration that should have ever seen the light of day is a public service announcement on the gravity of domestic violence. Short of that, I’m not buying a thing these two are selling. How about you?

 


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