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Photo Recap Of The Scene At Afropunk Fest

Photo: SPIN/Matt Ellis

There must have been some pretty heavy rain fall early in the spring. How else do you explain the bumper crop of festivals that have sprung up this year in late August? In the past two weeks alone there have been three great hip-hop festivals; the venerable Rock The Bells Festival in New Jersey, the inaugural Made In America Festival in Philadelphia, and the eighth annual Afropunk Fest in Brooklyn.

Photo: wagz2it

The two former fests might have had some bigger names clogging up the lineups, sure. But this year’s Afropunk Fest really saw the event come into its own. With performances from big names Erykah Badu, TV On The RadioDas Racist, and Janelle Monáe, to local favorites like Ninjasonik, Body Language, Phony Ppl, and featuring an art wall, a skate park, and breakdancing (!), Afropunk Fest definitely wins for coolest and (dare I say it) hippest outing.

Check out some exclusive images documenting the Afropunk festival weekend experience after the jump.

Continue reading ‘Photo Recap Of The Scene At Afropunk Fest’

Chart Catfight!: Look Who’s Hot on Carly Rae Jepsen’s Tail in the Battle of the Pop Divas!

Carly Rae Jepsen is in luck. It looks like she won’t have to ensure the continuation of her celebrity run after “Call Me Maybe” falls from its current summit by relying on the hoopla generated by her own Nipplegate—nude photos that ended up being someone else’s.

Thanks to a call from Adam Young, the one-man band behind Owl City, Jepsen is about to relight the fire under her rising star the old-fashioned way: with a new hit. “Good Time,” her duet with Owl City, just debuted at No. 18 on Billboard’s Hot 100, which means that her breakout No. 1 single won’t forever be alone on her hit list.

It’s pop symbiosis at its most effective: He saves her from that pop purgatory known as one-hit wonderdom, where he had been languishing since 2009, when the Owl City single “Fireflies” hit No. 1 on the Hot 100, and she helps get him out of it. Sure Katy Perry could have accomplished the same thing in the middle of a dead sleep, but that hardly would have been a meeting of near-equals.

Continue reading ‘Chart Catfight!: Look Who’s Hot on Carly Rae Jepsen’s Tail in the Battle of the Pop Divas!’

Riffs, Rants and Rumors: Is fun. Having Fun Yet?

First things first—while the official spelling of the band’s name is fun., with a lowercase “f” and a period at the end, the New York trio can not be held entirely accountable for the highly stylized nature of their moniker. According to multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost, it was a decision born of pragmatism, not petulance. “We thought of the name ‘Ice Cream,’ but we all hated it,” he says of the name’s origin. “However, we liked what it made us think of, which was ‘fun.’ The period was added after another band called ‘fun’ asked us to distinguish ourselves from them in some way.”

But their name isn’t the only thing that might lead to misconceptions about fun.—there’s also their label, Fueled By Ramen, which is best known for bringing the world an avalanche of emo, with a roster encompassing Panic! at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Yellowcard, et al. But aside from a predilection for wearing their hearts on their sleeves, fun. possesses few of the musical traits one commonly associates with the emosphere. In fact, the group seems to stand apart from most of the pack when it comes to the current crop of high-profile indie-pop acts in general. Continue reading ‘Riffs, Rants and Rumors: Is fun. Having Fun Yet?’

Sound and Vision: The Fall of R&B: How Pop Is Selling Its Soul for a Dance Beat

Remember the days when R&B and hip hop was the sound of pop? From the ‘90s to the mid ‘00s, music’s most dependable hitmakersMariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Boyz II Men, R. Kelly, Usher, Brandy, Monica, Alicia Keys, Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé, among themspecialized in “crossover” soul, climbing both the R&B charts and the Hot 100 in tandem.

But lately, something strange has been happening on Billboard’s R&B /Hip-Hop Songs chart: A hit is no longer necessarily a hit. Just because a song is big in the R&B sphere doesn’t mean it’s big anywhere else. For the week ending April 7, 2012, only one song in the R&B/Hip-Hop Top 10Tyga’s “Rack City”had managed a comparable placing on the Hot 100.

The song at No. 1, Beyoncé’s “Love on Top,” which had been there for multiple weeks, was way down at No. 54 on the Hot 100. (It briefly entered the Top 40 last September, debuting and peaking at No. 20 after Beyoncé performed it at the MTV Video Music Awards.) Meanwhile, there wasn’t a single R&B diva in the Top 40 aside from Janelle Monae, who got there by guest-singing on rock band fun.’s No. 1 hit “We Are Young.”

What happened to pop’s soul? There’s a disconnect between the pop and R&B charts that hasn’t been so pronounced since the days when Michael Jackson’s label, CBS Records, threatened to pull all of its artists from MTV if the then-fledgling network didn’t play Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video.

Continue reading ‘Sound and Vision: The Fall of R&B: How Pop Is Selling Its Soul for a Dance Beat’

B.o.B.’s Big Year

Born Bobby Ray Simmons Jr., B.o.B. is the latest young rapper taking the pop world by storm.  You could say the rock-loving rapper is on a roll of sorts and showing no signs of slowing down. His singles turned to summer anthems overnight and earned him five VMA nominations, as well as nods for BET and Teen Choice Awards. B.o.B. performed to packed crowds from the main stage at Coachella and Lollapalooza, and caught the attention of more than just hip hop fans.

Photo by Wuz Good Courtesy of Atlantic Records

He just watched his third consecutive single, “Magic,” soar to the top ten charts and score him an Adidas commercial featuring the song.  B.o.B. received his first BMI Urban Music Award in September, where President and CEO, Del Bryant, called him “the future of music.” The Southern sensation opened the show to an industry-packed crowd with his hits, “Nothin’ On You” and “Airplanes,” accompanied by nothing but his guitar.  A couple days later, he took the stage alongside Paramore front-woman, Hayley Williams for a show-stopping performance of “Airplanes” at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards.  His debut album, B.o.B. presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray was released earlier this year by TI’s Atlantic imprint, Grand Hustle Records and features cameos by an eclectic bunch including Eminem, Janelle Monae, Lupe Fiasco, and Weezer front-man, Rivers Cuomo.  The album shot to Number 1 on the Billboard Top 200 in its first week, making B.o.B the thirteenth male solo artist to achieve such success with a debut release.  His unique, clever delivery coupled with his unusual affection for instruments and artistry makes him a welcomed rarity to the sometimes stagnant style of pop-rap.  This fall, B.o.B. will hit the road with Paramore when he joins them for their UK tour before gearing up for his own cross-country caravan, The Shootin’ For The Stars Tour.

By Cortney Wills

Cortney Wills is a pop culture journalist born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has lived in LA, Chicago and NYC and enjoys all things entertainment.

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Prince and Smashing Pumpkins go pro-bono

Prince's 20TEN

Claiming “the internet is completely dead,” Prince announced he will release his new album, 20TEN, for free in the Saturday edition of the U.K.’s Daily Mirror. Two things: Does this mean he hasn’t been getting the e-cards we’ve been sending him? Also: WTF Europe?!? No fair! Luckily we who live stateside have another song from Smashing Pumpkins to soothe our ruffled feathers. This week the band released “Freak,” the fifth free download from their 44-song project Teargarden by Kaleidyscope. Download it on the band’s website. Yeah, that’s right Prince, on the INTERNET.

The Bad

Liz Phair + Rap + Bollywood = Exile in Blahville

Liz Phair

While the rest of us were eating burgers and watermelon, Liz Phair was busy debuting her first album in 5 years. It’s called FUNSTYLE and it was released on Saturday, meaning she must have created the album art late Friday night. The first track is called “Bollywood” and consists of Phair rapping about being signed to a major label over tablas. Considering that she released a wildly unpopular pop record, Somebody’s Miracle in 2005, FUNSTYLE seems like a desperate attempt to reclaim her long-lost edginess. Avant-garde or just plain dumb —you be the judge.

Justin Bieber not going to tour North Korea

This is pretty funny— apparently a spoof site called Faxo.com held a contest letting Bieber fans vote on where the teenage pop phenom should play. Mischievous imps got wind of it and gamed the site, voting North Korea into the Number 1 spot. Alas, our little Biebekins will not be headed over to the Communist nation for a concert. Sorry, Kim Jong-il. Maybe next tour.

The Ugly

George Michael crashes SUV into one-hour photo shop

George Michael

George Michael was arrested and released after he drove his Range Rover into a one-hour photo store in London on Sunday. British police say the 47-year-old singer was clearly under the influence at the time. Maybe he should go back to performing under the name WHAM! Folks.

This Week on VIBE.com

Check it! Every Friday on the OurStage Blog, we will be featuring exclusive content from the one-and-only VIBE.com. Stay tuned for weekly photos, music, news and reviews coming straight from the source that’s redefining hip hop.

Russell Brand Says Diddy Is Funnier Than Him In ‘Get Him To The Greek’

British funnyman Russell Brand knows a thing or two about comedy. The former stand-up comedian and star of the riotous romp Get Him To The Greek (due out in theaters June 4) has been getting early raves for his wildly un-PC portrayal as Aldous Snow, the drug-abusing, womanizing, and eccentric rocker who must play a comeback show at The Greek Theater to save his shattered career. Continue reading on VIBE.com…

No ID: Common’s ‘Pushing The Envelope Further’ With ‘The Believer’

While Common’s Universal Mind Control LP may have gained him some new pop-locking party people as fans, the MC isn’t standing around on the same old dance floor. “With this record we’re trying to push the envelope a little farther,” says legendary Chicago producer No ID, who’s sharing production duties with Kanye West for Common’s upcoming The Believer album. Continue reading on VIBE.com…

Blogger’s Circle: Who’s The Hottest Producer Of ALL TIME?!

As VIBE’s Greatest Producer Of All Time Tournament draws to a close, we’re finally down to the Final Four. Creme de la creme, homie:Kanye West (Soul Sample) Vs. Dr. Dre (Homegrown) and The Neptunes (Mass Appeal) Vs. DJ Premier (Boom-Bap). Continue reading on VIBE.com…

This Week on VIBE.com

Check it! Every Friday on the OurStage Blog, we will be featuring exclusive content from the one-and-only VIBE.com. Stay tuned for weekly photos, music, news and reviews coming straight from the source that’s redefining hip hop.

Jailhouse Rock: 5 Reasons Lil Wayne Needed An iPod In Prison

He might be in jail right now—serving a one-year sentence for a 2007 felony gun possession charge—but Lil Wayne still knows how to make headlines. Yesterday, the New Orleans rapper was found to be in possession of “unauthorized contraband” after authorities searched his cell on Rikers Island. Continue reading on VIBE.com…

A Long Convo With… Nas

>Nas doesn’t take himself too seriously. Phoning in to VIBE the day after Malcolm X’s convicted assassin was released, the Brooklyn-born, Queensbridge-bred MC constructs elaborate theories about the Mayan prophecies of 2012, stacking on facts like a deliberate construction worker. Continue reading on VIBE.com…

7 Teen Rappers Diggy Simmons Should Study

With the recent signing of teen rapper Diggy Simmons to Atlantic Records, we can’t say we were surprised. After all, the 15-year-old son of hip hop legend Run of the iconic group Run DMC, has some serious rhyme firepower and vision. Continue reading on VIBE.com…

 


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