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The Second Coming of Dr. Dre

Let’s face it, sometimes the past should stay dead. But when an awesome musical artist fades from popularity, their fans later wonder, “Where are they now?”  You may not know it, but many artists you loved in the past are still hard at work writing new albums or preparing to tour once more.  Fortunately, you now have Second Coming to reintroduce you to 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: Gangsta rap pioneer André Young (a.k.a. Dr. Dre) was born to teenage musician parents in 1965. He grew up to be a staple in the music scene of south central Los Angeles, deejaying at as many clubs and parties as would hire him. Along with his group N.W.A. (for whom he was also producer), Dre was at the forefront of the gangsta rap movement until 1992, when he went solo and founded Death Row Records with Suge Knight. His debut record, The Chronic, went triple platinum within a year, solidifying Dre’s status as a full-fledged rap heavyweight. He spent the following few years focusing on producing and mentoring new, up-and-coming artists, sitting behind the board for artists like Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z and 50 Cent. Dre also released a sophomore solo album, 2001, which went sextuple platinum. In 2004, he began work on a third album, Detox, but after pushing back work for other projects and losing his son to a heroin overdose, the album was never completed. Continue reading ‘The Second Coming of Dr. Dre’

Soundcheck: ‘Careless’ Moves Hold Up Tyga’s Album Release

It’s been a busy few weeks for the Young Money crew, with Weezy’s arrest rumors, Nicki’s GRAMMY performance and, now, Tyga’s album recall.

Tyga’s Careless World: Rise of The Last King was scheduled to hit stores on February 21, but was pulled off the shelves due to copyright infringement.  It seems Tyga used an uncleared sampling of a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the intro to his album, which caused the King estate to demand the recall.

Best Buy and Amazon were the first retailers to send out recall notices to fans who preordered the album, simply stating the album could not be sold. According to the “Rack City” rapper, he learned of the hold up through Twitpics sent from fans that found recall notes on store shelves where the album should have been.  Despite the seriousness of the recall, he seemed to downplay the issue during a radio interview with V 103’s Greg Street, saying:
Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: ‘Careless’ Moves Hold Up Tyga’s Album Release’

Soundcheck: Did Nicki’s Grammys Performance Go Too Far?

Ever since her controversial GRAMMY performance last week, tongues have been wagging about Nicki Minaj.  Critics say she crossed the line with her Exorcist-themed theatrics, while others commend the hip-hop hybrid for her creativity and the guts to pull it off.

Lil Kim had some choice words for Nicki, and used the performance to rekindle their feud.  During an appearance on Bravo’s Watch What Happens: Live, Kim bashed the Young Money maven, calling her music’s most overrated artist.

“If you have to make a song called ‘Stupid Hoe,’ you must be the stupid hoe,” she said in reference to Minaj’s current record-breaking single.  She went on to compare Minaj to “Fire Marshall Bill” a character from the hit ’90s television show, In Living Color.

But Kim isn’t the only one firing shots at Nicki.  Last week, the Catholic League’s President, Bill Donahue, released the following statement:

“Nicki Minaj, fresh off looking like a fool with Madonna at the Super Bowl, showed up last night (February 12) on the red carpet at the GRAMMYs with a guy dressed like the pope. This was just a prelude of what was to come. Minaj’s performance began on stage with a mock confessional skit. This was followed by a taped video depicting a mock exorcism. With stained glass in the background, she appeared on stage again with choirboys and monks dancing. Perhaps the most vulgar part was the sexual statement that showed a scantily clad female dancer stretching backwards while an altar boy knelt between her legs in prayer. Finally, “Come All Ye Faithful” was sung while a man posing as a bishop walked on stage; Minaj was shown levitating.”

His sentiments echoed any voices across the country who called Minaj’s performance “disrespectful, demonic, and over the top” prompting her to defend herself and her motives. She told the Associated Press, “I don’t know what is the big issue?”

Minaj has made no secret of her passion for acting, and she explained the display as a segment of a larger project for the future. “You know how people write plays and movies? That’s what I did,” she said. “I wrote that and I gave the world a tiny little preview of what was to come. And so I have to perform it on the set in which it would be in the movie, right?”

Of course, when Lady Gaga hit the stage covered in blood and hanging from the ceiling, apparently dead; no one batted an eyelash.  However, Minaj’s portrayal of an onstage exorcism apparently sent people over the edge.

While I can understand how the Catholic League may take offense to a large-scale portrayal of priests and choirboys on the GRAMMY stage; I’m puzzled by the reaction of Minaj’s fans. Anyone who has followed her career, or listened to her albums shouldn’t be surprised by the exorcism/ multiple personalities concept.  She has been gearing up for this kind of roll out since she started doing press.  She has referred to “Roman Zolanski” numerous times, as the devilish little boy who says what she can’t—who surfaces when provoked.  The character of his British mother, “Martha” has also made numerous appearances; constantly pleading with Roman to behave, as she did in the stage performance.  Minaj has also made no secret that her sophomore album will be centered around Roman’s character; making this kind of teaser completely appropriate and relevant.  If anything, it was characteristically Nicki.

Although her detractors have been flooding the Internet with their criticism, others have come to Minaj’s defense.  Her label mate, Lil Twist, told XXL, “”I love Nicki’s whole swagger. She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. That’s what I really love about my sister and how she goes about herself. That performance was Nicki. That’s all I can, say—it was so Nicki.”

Now, Minaj is gearing up for her NBA All-Star game appearance.  She will perform a medley of her hits while the players are introduced during the big game.  She’ll also be joined by some other heavy-hitters including Mary J. Blige, who will perform the National Anthem, as well as Ne-Yo, and Pitbull who will take over the half-time show. We’ll see how this next performance compares to the GRAMMY’s.

 

The Second Coming of Lil’ Kim

Let’s face it, sometimes the past should stay dead. But when an awesome musical artist fades from popularity, their fans later wonder, “Where are they now?”  You may not know it, but many artists you loved in the past are still hard at work writing new albums or preparing to tour once more.  Fortunately, you now have “Second Coming” to reintroduce you to 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: A protégé of the late Notorious B.I.G., Lil’ Kim made her debut as a member of rap group Junior M.A.F.I.A in 1995. A year later, she reintroduced herself to the world as a solo artist by dropping her own album, Hard Core, and appearing on tracks by Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliott in 1997. The album, which was very accurately described as “gangsta porno rap” by US politician C. Delores Tucker, raised more than a few eyebrows. Kim’s sophomore album, The Notorious K.I.M. (see what she did there?), reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 200 charts. The same year, she contributed to the anthemic “Lady Marmalade” cover sung by Christina Aguilera, Missy Elliott, P!nk and Mya for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. She saw additional success with her duets with 50 Cent (“Magic Stick”) and X-Tina again (“Can’t Hold Us Down”), but her fourth album, The Naked Truth, didn’t do so well, commercially. In 2005, she served  a year-long prison sentence for perjury. Four years later, Kim returned to the spotlight when she appeared on Dancing With The Stars and finished in fifth place.

NOW: Though she hasn’t released an official album, Kim has been in music news lately, thanks to her ongoing rap feud with Nicki Minaj. Soon after accusing Minaj of stealing her style, Kim became the subject of Minaj’s biting, diss-laden track “Roman’s Revenge,” which featured Eminem. Kim responded with a mixtape titled Black Friday, taking multiple shots at Minaj’s album Pink Friday. The rap battle rages on, as Nicki has seen recent success with her Kim-targeted single “Stupid Hoe,” and has named her sophomore album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded after Roman, her angry male alter-ego who loves to hate on Kim.

But, feuds aside, Kim’s gearing up for a big year in 2012, including the release of her new album. She enlisted the help of rap heavyweights 50 Cent and Dr. Dre for the record, which has not yet been titled. Kim has also written a book, titled The Price of Loyalty, which is set to be released simultaneously with the album, as well been the subject of a documentary. According to ThisBeatGoes.com, Kim said the following about her book: “When I did my book deal they were basically like ‘we want the Kim life story.’ But my lawyers were like ‘no, no, that’s like four different checks. ‘Cause [my story is] to be continued, to be continued, to be continued.”

It’s everyone’s favorite stripper quartet! Check out Lil’ Kim’s appearance in the video for “Lady Marmalade” below:

Chris Brown to Be Featured in Rihanna’s New Song?

Word has been going around that Rihanna is ready to release a remix of “Birthday Cake,” from her album Talk That Talk. Normally, this wouldn’t cause much of a stir, but the Internet is buzzing with gossip that the track will feature Rihanna’s abusive ex-boyfriend, Chris Brown. Rumors have been circulating about a possible collaboration between the two after Brown was reportedly seen at RiRi’s birthday party.

We recently featured an article about Brown, asking readers if his comeback was a slap in the face of women. Our question now, however, is whether or not you think Rihanna is doing just as much damage by collaborating with him. Is she setting a bad example for women everywhere? Or do you think that if she can move on, then so can we?

Soundcheck: Re-Introducing: Keith Robinson

“The eyes are more skeptical, but the eyes are looking.”

For Keith Robinson, fame is a gift and a curse.  For most actors, a big role in an even bigger film is the Holy Grail.  In 2005, Robinson co-starred in the mega musical, Dreamgirls alongside then newbie, Jennifer Hudson, Beyoncé, Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy. Hudson scored a Best Supporting Actress win at the Oscars for her portrayal of Effie White and Keith delivered a powerful performance as her piano-playing brother, C.C.. Since then, he has starred in a string of successful films like Dear John and This Christmas.

“People ask me if I was lip-synching in Dreamgirls,” he says, unable to mask the insult such a question undoubtedly hurls.  “It’s not that I’m frustrated, just more eager to establish myself in this realm,” he says.  “When I step onstage, half the people in the audience know I’m about to sing, and half have no idea that I can.  It’s a blessing to have two platforms, but it’s just ironic,” he says. “I’m a singer.  I’ve always been a singer.  Acting was an accident. I came to LA for music.”

In fact, his first acting class was just an attempt to improve his stage presence after he and his group, State of Mind was signed to Motown Records. An instructor took notice of the natural talent and suggested he audition for a little show called Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Keith was cast as the “Green Power Ranger”, and was instantly thrown into the other “business”.  Eventually, Keith’s acting became a priority, and he landed roles in major films like Fat Albert and eventually, Dreamgirls.

Now, the singer-turned-actor faces an ironic fete; convincing the world that he’s an authentic vocalist.  “I still feel like a starving artist,” he says.  “My mindset hasn’t changed at all in that way.  It’s about proving to people that don’t know me that this music thing is not a gimmick.  They see me one way, and it’s hard for [the public] to see me in another way.”

His latest film, My Dysfunctional Friends, hits select AMC theatres on Friday and stars Megan Good, Terrell Owens, Stacy Dash and Persia White.  Aside from starring in the indie film, Keith oversaw all the music in the movie through his scoring company, TKtitle. The film’s title track, “Same Rules” will serve as the first single for his full-length project, due out later this year.

“I’m excited and relieved. I’m anxious to see how it is received, “ he admits.  If the single is any indication, Keith’s got nothing to worry about.  The smooth crooning of a bonafide hottie isn’t hard to hear. And the fact that Robinson’s R&B roots and writing style are a throwback of sorts is a refreshing retreat from the status quo.

“I think there’s a timeless quality to my music,” he says.  “I came up on the cusp of real singing and auto-tune.  I bridge the gap. “ Heavily influenced by classic crooners like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Sade and Babyface, Keith hopes to create songs people can truly connect to.  “I’m a real music fan,” he says.  “Music is supposed to be sincere and heartfelt.  It should evoke emotion and make people relate to where it’s coming from, and what they’re going through.  It becomes the soundtrack to people’s lives.” 

The yet-to-be titled project is pointed toward relationships and how men and women relate to each other.  “It’s my point of view as a man.  An honest explanation of the vulnerability and strength that comes along with an earnest search for love.”

Like all aspiring artists, he has at times been discouraged by the many pitfalls of the industry. Being determined to release his first full-length project himself has got Keith feeling the same pressure that so many up and comers experience.

“The grind is constant, tedious and time-consuming.  To truly be an independent artist, you still have to be dependent on someone for money.  The reality is it costs a lot of money to break an artist.”

According to Keith, his next single, “Just Kissed My Baby”, totally defines who he is  as an artist.  “As far as sound goes, I love the heavy 808s, strings and a beautiful chorus,” he says.

“I love performing and I love recording,” he says.   “It’s the funnest part of the process.  I love incorporating live instruments like strings, drums and piano.  Soul is the through line.”

Next up for Keith will be the release of his movie, Divorce Invitation, out this fall.  In the meantime, Keith will be releasing new material, touring, and hopes to direct a film in the future.  Despite the occasional frustrations that come from “the crossover” it doesn’t seem he has any plans of slowing down his double-life.

“I’m an actor and a singer.  I do it every day. Love me or leave me. “

I’m gonna go with love.

 

Win $1000 By Judging In The Artists On The Rise Competition!

Right now, at this very moment, some of OurStage’s best hip hop and R&B acts are competing in the “Artists on the Rise” Competition—presented by NBC’s The Voice— vying for their chance to land an exclusive mentoring session with R&B legend Monica. They need all the help they can get from their fans to land the coveted Grand Prize. Here’s where you come in. Judge in the competition by noon on February 2, 2012, and you could walk away with $1,000 cold, hard cash. It’s simple really, all you have to do is help the best undiscovered talent make it to the top and you’re in. For a little taste of what’s to come, check out the playlist included below.

Nicki M To Go BIG At Super Bowl?

Despite the recently announced delay, Nicki Minaj may be poised for a perfect 2012. Already gearing up for a world tour, Nicki has been dropping bombs on fans for weeks now—first by releasing dates and cities for her international tour, which includes stops in London, Paris and Tokyo.  The Harajuku Barbie also announced she would take the stage next month at the 2012 GRAMMY Awards and is fueling rumors of a Super Bowl showdown with Madonna.

Last week, Minaj debuted the video for “Stupid Hoe” the first single from her highly anticipated sophomore album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. The Hype Williams-directed video features Nicki in over-the-top hair and make-up, and Williams’ signature stampede of vibrant colors and visuals, like Nicki in a cage, eye-to-eye with a leopard, and as a shrunk down doll.  The song’s lyrics hold no punches, with biting lines like “I’m Angelina and you Jennifer/ C’mon bitch, you see where Brad at…” The song also hints at a Super Bowl stint, with her spitting “2012, I’m at the Super Bowl.” Additionally, in another video frame, there’s a bright sign that reads: “2012 Superbowl”, which furthers my suspicions that Minaj will take the halftime stage alongside Madonna. This would be huge, considering the fact that the Super Bowl halftime show has been a snoozefest ever since Janet Jackson showed us her goodies in 2004.  The idea that the NFL would book a black woman as controversial and racy as Nicki would be quite shocking, considering the fall-out from Nipple-gate.  Her possible appearance may be a reason why her boss, Birdman has been so vocal about betting $5 million on the big game.

The “Stupid Hoe” video was enough to ease the pain of Nicki’s album delay announcement, which she confirmed after the video’s debut on January 20. She tweeted, “”New Album Date: April 3rd. Pink Friday: ROMAN RELOADED…But have no fear. Tons of surprises before then ;). Love Always, HB.” Within the first twenty-four hours of it’s release, “Stupid Hoe” was viewed over 4.8 million times, breaking VEVO’s record.

Now, fans are gearing up for the album’s second single, “Roman In Moscow”, which she calls, a teaser. “When I say it’s a teaser, it’s like a trailer to the movie, it’s like setting the stage, and I just wanted to touch the surface. It’s the wackest thing on Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.

Nicki will also be featured on Tyga’s upcoming release, Careless World: Rise Of The Last Kings, due out February 21. While he was a little tight-lipped on the details, he still divulged enough to pique my interest. Last week, he told XXL Magazine, “The song for Nicki is called ‘Muthafucka Up,’” he said. “I don’t know what they gonna call it on the radio. Maybe they might call it “Up”. That one is one of them going in type songs. Like how Wayne had ‘A Milli’ One of those Young Money records that people love. We got a crazy visual for that one, too. I don’t wanna give it away. I’ve been doing a lot of features for everyone.”

With a slew of tour dates, a groundbreaking video, some major appearances and an album on the way, Nicki may be gearing up for her best year yet.

Rappers Behaving Like Rock Stars Behaving Badly

At this point you’ve probably heard something about Scott Mescudi’s (aka rapper Kid Cudi) upcoming sideproject WZRD, his “rock” collaboration with producer Dot Da Genius. Cudi’s been hyping the release for a few months now and there have been a few scraps and snippets leaked from the new record, like the edited chunk of “Teleport 2 Me” that Cudi shared with fans through  Twitter.

It might not exactly be “punk rock” as Mescudi himself refers to it, but it’s still recognizably a product of the same mind that brought the world “Day ‘n’ Nite”, “Pursuit of Happiness” and “Marijuana”. Since the music is Cudi’s first material since 2010, fans and Kid Cudi himself are pretty excited. So it was a pretty big deal when Cudi was scheduled to perform some of his unreleased WZRD material at the Heatwave Music Festival in Melbourne, Australia. Now, what happens then when a star of Kid Cudi’s standing gets his set cut short? Well, he tears the stage up a bit in rock star fashion, of course.

Though his band dutifully keeps playing after his departure in the video, shortly after Cudi leaves the stage, the venue goes dark and the show is over, much to the dismay of the kids in attendance. Alright, he didn’t quite trash the stage as much as turn over a few lights, but still! Cudi would later take to his tumblr to defend his actions, stating that, “If my set is EVER cut short at any show, im trashing the stage. Not out of anger, it takes a lot to get me furious nowadays, but out of principle. The fans always deserve a full set at all shows, especially when they spend their hard earned money on expensive tickets.” It’s hard to argue with his line of thinking, considering the astronomic prices of a lot of music festival tickets.

While the reason for Cudi’s set being cut short was never really made clear, there are often legitimate reasons behind these decisions. Kanye West experienced something similiar early last week when  weather issues and technical malfunctions pushed back the start of his set by forty-five minutes. Since West was the co-headliner for that weekend of the festival, the fans and some of the other artists on the bill weren’t too pleased with how things played out. While chants from the crowd of “bullshit” are bad enough, how does that compare to the ire of Soundgardern frontman Chris Cornell? “Sounds like there’s children playing music there, retarded children, retarded as in held back. There’s no other word for it,” Cornell said, seemingly in reference to West soundcheck going on during Soundgarden’s set. But, a few hours later Cornell took to Twitter to clarify his comments. “Kanye had nothing to do with it! We love him,” Cornell tweeted, stating that his anger was directed at the festival promoters and not the rapper. All of this without comment from the usually outspoken Kanye West.

Of course, Cudder isn’t the only rapper to be tearing stuff apart on stage lately. Odd Future ringleader Tyler, the Creator is no stranger to controversy and mayhem, but he seemed to land himself in some hot water when he was arrested after a show at the Roxy in Los Angeles on charges of vandalism. Video soon surfaced of the young rapper arguing with the sound guy and subsequently thrashing some recording equipment and microphones.

Tyler was bailed out soon afterwards, and like Cudi, made a pretty compelling argument for his reaction. While trying to assist two female attendees who had gotten hurt in the crowd Tyler approached both security and the sound engineer to try to alert the venue to the situation. When neither took any action, Tyler subsequently lost his patience, hence, the “vandalism”. Tyler would go onto say that after spending time in jail he, “didn’t understand why rappers talk about jail like it’s cool.” So if there’s anything to gain from these rapper’s episodes, it’s this: it’s okay to start a little bit of ruckus, just as long as you don’t get yourself arrested. That’s just no fun.

Vs: Best Of The Best

For our last installment of Vs, we’re doing something a little different. Instead of comparing an OurStage artist to an artist in the mainstream, we’ll be taking a look at OurStage’s Best Of The Best Charts. Specifically, we’re taking a look at the Number 1 artist in four categories, Pop, Rock, Urban and Country, and examining what makes them great along with what makes them standout from their peers on OurStage.

 

Pop – Austin Renfroe

Austin Renfroe seems to have become a fan favorite here at OurStage. Between winning competitions left and right, he was also a finalist in The OurStage Panel Finale. While most modern pop music is becoming more electronic and Autotuned, Renfroe stands out by making music that is natural and organic sounding yet incredibly catchy. The multitalented singer-songwriter plays both the guitar and piano, but his biggest strength is his voice. His distinctive soulful style also possesses an incredible range—Renfroe often switches between a low register and a silky sweet falsetto in the same song. His song “Taking Me Under” showcases all of his vocal skills, using falsetto and vocal embellishments to create a killer hook in the chorus. Renfroe is also a gifted songwriter, blending elements of pop, folk, soul and rock into his songs. Between “Honesty,” a more upbeat pop/rock track, and “Can’t Bring Us Down,” a stripped down acoustic song, it’s clear that he has the versatility and talent to stick around for awhile.

Rock – Chasing Eden

Chasing Eden have been making waves for awhile, having been on OurStage’s Best Of The Best Chart for over seventy-five weeks and racking up a whopping fifteen Top 10s and ten Top 40s. This hard rock band forms the basis of their sound around heavy, chugging guitar riffs. However, unlike most other bands in their genre, Chasing Eden utilize a female lead singer. Andrea Brink’s voice is smooth and sweet, which contrasts with the rest of the band’s heavy riffing. However, if you listen to songs like “All I’m Asking” or “Remember Me,” you can hear that this contrast actually works really well, and it is one of the main reasons that Chasing Eden have remained a mainstay at the top of our charts.

Urban – Greg Banks

We covered Greg Banks, one of the many talented young artists who are revitalizing R&B, on Vs. before. Banks is not only a supremely talented singer, but also a gifted songwriter who writes all of his own music. Banks creates his unique sound by using real instruments in his compositions to create a warm sound in a genre that, ironically, can sometimes lack soul. His song “Selfish” shows off his songwriting skills as well as his vocal prowess. This song begins with a riff that is finger picked on an acoustic guitar, which becomes the focal point of the song. Other instruments like violin and keyboard are added to the mix to flesh out the song. Banks’ voice is also impressive here, using his range to hit high notes that most other singers wouldn’t be able to hit.

Country – Allen Layman

Allen Layman is a journeyman, the perfect archetype for country music. He’s played in various bands in all parts of the country, which gives him plenty of lyrical inspiration. Layman plays a more traditional brand of country, eschewing the pop-infused sound of most modern country. Layman sings in a smooth, deep baritone, recounting tales of heartbreak and homesickness. It’s the kind of voice that sounds like it’s been through years of hardship, spending late nights in smoke-filled bars. Songs like “Reason To Live” and “If I Can Make You Love Me” not only showcase Layman’s fantastic voice, but also his great twangy guitar skills.

But what do YOU think of these artists? Do you think another artist should be at the top of the charts? Let us know in the comments!

 


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