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Rapper’s Delight: The Next Episode

Well it’s been quite a journey, friends, but here we are—the last chapter of Rapper’s Delight and I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. As the wise and luminous Lupe Fiasco puts it, though, “the show goes on.” On second thought, maybe he’s not really all that wise but he definitely has a way with words. I know you’re probably broken up and thinking “how on earth will I find out about OurStage hip hop, random themed playlists and upcoming album releases now?” Well I’ve got you covered! Here’s the skinny on some things to keep an eye on for the rest of 2011:

Rock The Bells: Headlined by Wu-Tang in its debut year, this West Coast festival has become a hip hop staple. In 2006, fortunately, the festival expanded to include cities outside of So Cal and even hit five international stops in 2008. This year’s lineup has a few names you might recognize: Nas, Common, Raekwon, Ghostface, Black Star, DOOM, Immortal Technique and many, many more. If you live near California, New York City or Boston, find a way to get to this festival.

Watch The Throne: This mysterious collaborative album between Kanye West and Jay-Z was rumored (again) to be released last week through Def Jam, but July 4th came and went. HOV tore himself away from the Yankees on July 8th to play the album in full for a handful of reporters. Initials reviews are in the duos favor. According to MTV, Kanye described it as “very dark and sexy,” “real dirty, fucked up, hardcore stuff’” and also “luxe and definitely high class.” Regardless of your feelings on Kanye and Jay-Z, you have to admit it’s intriguing. Let’s just hope the rest of the album is better than “H.A.M.”

Blackout! 3: Not a lot needs to be said about this one. Given the solid delivery in Blackout! and Blackout! 2, any Meth or Redman fan is going to want to check this out. And if you’re not sold on this legendary duo’s musical collaborations, maybe another viewing of How High is in order instead.

Tha Carter IV: Originally announced to released with Rebirth as a double disc album, Tha Carter IV is getting its own release this August. Unless, of course, it gets pushed back yet again. As Lil Wayne so eloquently puts it, “Tha Carter IV deserves Tha Carter IV.” While Lil Wayne can certainly be hit or miss, we’re just as excited about the guest rappers on the album as we are for Weezy himself: Tech N9ne, Rick Ross, Kanye West and Corey Gunz for example. Plus, the single “6 Foot 7 Foot” is pretty damn good.

Legendary Weapons: This came out of left field, but the Wu-Tang Clan is releasing a new “compilation” album on the 26th. We’re not really sure how it’s a compilation, since all of the tracks are new, but we’re pretty excited anyway. While Chamber Music wasn’t our favorite Wu production, it still delivered that old Wu sound and old Wu mindset. Legendary Weapons looks like it’s of the same vein and is being released through E1 Music as well. Outside of Wu-Tang’s crew, there’ll be some guest appearances from Sean Price, Killa Sin, M.O.P. and more. We’re just bummed that GZA and Masta Killa are still missing from the equation.

Last but not least, we’ve got a couple of recent OurStage releases to help hold you over. Yung Khan’s Mortal Khan-Bat mixtape dropped in May—and you can download it for free here on DatPiff. Also check out E-Dubble’s new single “Changed My Mind” below, as well as Young Duece’s new video for “Impossible.”

Jenna Bryson Wins Mentoring Session With Don Ienner

Don Ienner is a name synonymous with success in the music business. He’s helped further the careers of legends like Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Pink Floyd, and guided the passage of talents such as Beyoncé, Nas, Alice In Chains and many more.

He’ll now be lending his time and expertise to one lucky OurStage Premium Member. Who might you ask? None other than Jenna Bryson, Grand Prize winner of the June “Artist Access” Competition. By submitting her song “Happy”, this So-Cal songbird has won a mentoring session with one of the music business’s most sought after and highly respected resources.

Join us in congratulating Jenna on her win, and stay tuned for her upcoming interview. For more info and music, check out Jenna’s OurStage profile. You’ll soon find that she’s as gifted and humble as they come.

 

Help One Lucky Artist Win A Mentoring Session With Don Ienner

When it comes to the music business, Don Ienner is a name synonymous with success. His priceless advice and guidance has furthered the careers of legends like Billy Joel and Pink Floyd and guided the passage of modern stars such as The Dixie Chicks, Franz Ferdinand, Nas and Lauren Hill.

In this month’s “Artist Access” Premium Member Competition, OurStage is giving Premium Members the chance to win a mentoring session with Ienner—only you can help them get there. Judge in the “Artist Access” Competition by June 30, 2011 and help make a big difference in one artist’s career. For some top tracks from the competition, listen to the playlist below.

 

Rapper’s Delight: The Fine Line

For aspiring hip hop artists, releasing a debut album can be a scary moment. If the album flops, it can damage more than just your reputation—it can also make you doubt yourself, your talent and the very music you poured your heart into. But, on the flip side, what if a first album is too good? What if an artist drops a landmark album and spends the rest of his/her career living in its shadow? Many rappers who are defined by their first release (or single) leave fans vexed by years of comparably lukewarm releases afterwards.

Take Vanilla Ice, for example. When To The Extreme dropped in 1990, it was the fastest selling hip hop album of all time and won him both Favorite Pop/Rock New Artist and Favorite Rap/Hip Hop New Artist at the 1991 American Music Awards. And, of course, the monumental track “Ice, Ice Baby”—one of the first hip hop singles to top the Billboard charts—is credited with making hip hop popular with white people. Whether you love it or hate it, you have to admit it’s remarkably catchy. But how could he possibly keep pace with such a stirring debut? Especially because, and let’s be honest here, his well of musical ability isn’t really all that deep. After five more studio releases (soon to be six), he’s still barely more than a faint and mildly amusing memory to most.

Another prime example is Nelly. Since the success of Country Grammar in 2000, Nelly has never regained the same level of sensation. Granted, he’s had his share of hits: “Hot in Herre,” “Dilemma,” “Air Force Ones” and “Pimp Juice” for starters. But none of his four later albums match the 8.4 million US copies sold of Country Grammar and, besides, “Country Grammar” and “Ride wit Me” will always have a special place in our hearts. And we could go on and on: Chingy. Chamillionaire. Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Not that Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch were necessarily destined for greatness, but the smashing success of Music For The People set the bar a little high. It didn’t help, of course, that their follow up album was rushed out in a year and lacked a healthy chart-topping single. But that’s enough about Marky Mark.

Don’t be too disconcerted, though. There are just as many artists out there who have had illustrious and enduring careers despite their industry shattering debut albums. Take the Wu Tang Clan, for example, with Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). While virtually impossible to top, this hip hop benchmark paved the way for a legendary career without killing its longevity. Of course there’s also the Beastie Boy’s Licensed to Ill, NasIllmatic, Biggie’s Ready To Die and Dr. Dre’s The Chronic—none of these artist have exactly fallen off the face of the earth either. It’s a phenomenon worth thinking about though; the line between a positive first release and a destructive one may not be as simple as just tallying album sales.

 

Rapper’s Delight: Bub Luv

New Jersey has been taking a lot of heat since the Jersey Shore craze swept the nation but we can’t let this bad rap overshadow the amount of awesome hip hop that the Garden State has produced: Redman, Ice T, Biz Markie, The Fugees, Akon and Naughty By Nature, not to mention the originators of hip hop itself: the Sugarhill Gang. And now, budding OurStage artist, and Trenton’s own, Bub Luv is emerging on the scene. Born Jabbar Weir, Bub Luv picked up his name from his childhood nickname, Bubbie, and his reputation as a ladies’ man. His potent way with words developed and led to rapping by the age of eighteen. Once this seed had been planted, it grew fast and manifested in a career as a talented emcee.

Bub’s first big move was starting a company, along with two friends, called Mad Lights. Bub, his manager CJ Burnett, and their business savvy friend “Nuck” Gittens created this diverse company with the intention to sell music, clothes and put out films—there’s even a sports section on their site with skate videos. They’ve since released a mixtape, called All I See Is Mad Lights, played a handful shows and scored a spot in the Trentonian Newspaper.

Needless to say, we’re excited to have Bub on OurStage. He’s made an impact on both our Alternative Hip Hop Channel and Best of Urban charts. More importantly, he finished fifth in our Hip Hop Channel in March and he’s doing exceptionally well in our Coors Light Search for the Coldest: North Channel right now. No easy feat since there are over a thousand entries in hip hop and nearly five thousand submissions in Coors North. Bub’s lyrical style emulates Nas and Jay Z, with a bit of Big Pun mixed in. That’s a pretty deadly mix. His beats aren’t lacking either, with catchy riffs and an inherent rhythm that forces you to bob your head whether you want to or not.

We posted some of his impressive tracks below. Don’t miss out on this rising star!

New Year, New Music: What to Expect From Dre, Kanye, Minaj, Hudson, Drake, Rowland and J. Cole

As 2010 draws to a close, the new year is looking ripe for new music.

While we can expect big things from Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and hip hop’s newest “it” girl Nicki Minaj—whose debut, Pink Friday— is packed with future number ones, there are even more musical mitzvahs on the horizon. Some late December, early January rap releases are sure to get some heavy radio rotation including Yo Gotti’s Live From The Kitchen and Jeezy’s, TM 103.

Things are looking up in the R&B department now that R. Kelly has released his guaranteed panty-dropper, Love Letter in the same month that Avant dropped, The Letter and Tank debuts Now Or Never.  We’re guessing Jamie Foxx’s Best Night Of My Life will be heating up the airwaves if his single, “Fall For Your Type” featuring Drake is any indication.  The crooning will continue through the winter, with Lloyd’s, King Of Hearts set to drop on Valentine’s Day and Bobby Valentino’s, Fly On The Wall expected to drop before the snow melts.

The ladies aren’t lagging either, with Keyshia Cole and Ciara releasing highly-anticipated albums, lead by already- hot singles, “I Ain’t Thru” and “Ride It” to close out the year. We can expect Kandi Koated, (the currently under-the-radar release from Kandi Burress) to gain some traction this year with singles “Me And You” and “Haven’t Loved Right” being too good to stay under wraps for long.

Still no release dates for Kelly Rowland’s Motown release, Kelly Rowland or Jennifer Hudson’s yet-to-be-titled sophomore album, but we’re thinking both divas will deliver some praise-worthy hits.

We’re still waiting for Nas to drop The Lost Tapes: Volume 2, but it looks like 2011 might be the year of the comebacks with highly anticipated releases coming from some of hip hop’s most prolific stars.  Dr. Dre’s Detox should hit shelves in February followed by some stiff competition from fellow West Coaster, Snoop Dogg when he releases Doggystyle 2: The Doggumentary in March.  Weezy’s Carter IV is expected to drop the same month, along with his collaboration album with Birdman, Like Father, Like Son 2. Hot on their heels will be newcomer, J. Cole, with his yet-to-be-titled debut going head to head with Lupe Fiasco’s Lasers. Another highly-anticipated comeback will come from Pusha T of The Clipse, when he releases his solo album on Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music label this year.

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.

New Kids On The Block: Willow Smith and Diggy Simmons

Move over Bieber…there’s a new batch of fresh-faced, super-kids coming for your crown, and they’re packing some serious street cred.

In addition to breakout internet stars like The Astronomical Kid (14-year-old Brooklynite Brian Bradley), two other youngsters are taking the music industry by storm: Willow Smith (the 9-year-old daughter of Will and Jada Smith) and Daniel “Diggy” Simmons (the 15-year-old son of Rev Run).  Though it’s hard to ignore the argument of nepotism with regard to Willow and Diggy’s meteoric rise to fame, there’s no question they are capitalizing on their genetic gifts and tenacious talent to launch their solo careers at an age when most kids are still thinking about a driver’s permit, or in Willow’s case, riding the big rides.

While young starlets are not a new trend—(think Miley Cyrus, Lindsay Lohan, Hilary Duff, Selena Gomez) both Willow and Diggy have bypassed the typical Disney-tinged, tween idol approach and gone straight to the big leagues. Neither of their singles, Diggy’s “Oh Yeah” with labelmate Lupe Fiasco and Pharrell or Willow’s “Whip My Hair” scream “teeny bopper kid” pop. Instead, both hold court with the hottest hits on the pop charts, giving their older counterparts a run for their money (and likely an award or two).

Diggy signed with Atlantic Records in March of this year after his debut mixtape, The First Flight, hit his blog in December 2009, garnering critical acclaim most notably for freestyling over Nas’ track ”Made You Look.”

@diggy_simmons

He also inked a deal to rep AT&T in a national TV ad campaign, proving his star power is strong enough to hawk expensive PDA’s to adults rather than lunchboxes and notebooks to kids. Diggy’s latest mixtape, Airborne, released through Atlantic in September seems to serve as a tasty teaser while he continues working on his debut full length album.

But Diggy was well known to the American public before his recent success. The budding rapper, designer, blogger and entrepreneur first arrived in our living rooms at tender age of 10 when his family’s hit reality show, Run’s House, aired on MTV in 2005. It’s not a stretch to see the musical prodigy (progeny) exploring a career in music considering his dad is legendary DJ, Rev. Run of Run DMC and his uncle Russell, heads up Def Jam—though Diggy claims no help from his dad or uncle in getting the deal with Atlantic.  Diggy’s siblings including brother Jo Jo and older sisters, Angela and Vanes (from Rev. Run’s first marriage to Valerie Vaughn) also carved their own careers from the success of the show—launching, in Jo Jo’s case, a music career, while the sisters opted to start a shoe line, acting roles and star in their own MTV spin-off, Daddy’s Girls.

Willow Smith, on the other hand has been in the public eye seemingly from infancy, both as a style icon and as the daughter of  one of the most compelling couples in Hollywood. Willow began her acting career at age 8 alongside mom, Jada Pinkett-Smith in Madagascar 2 before showing off her musical talents with her simultaneously kid-friendly and adult smash single, “Whip My Hair.”  Shortly after the single was leaked online in September, Willow signed with Roc Nation where label President, Jay-Z compared her to a young Michael Jackson.  The single has been so successful legions of young fans (and adults too) began making their own videos to the addictive tune. Willow’s official video for the track, which was directed by Ray Kay (Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga) and debuted on BET earlier this week, features some serious moves, guest appearances and one messy paint fight.

Rumors of a duet between Diggy and Willow seem inevitable. For the moment, we’ll just have to enjoy their musical (and marketing) genius individually.

Willow Smith\’s \”Whip My Hair\”

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.

Smokeout Festival 2010: Music, Politics, Higher Learning

The San Bernardino hills were alive with the sound of music (and the smell of some serious ganja) for the eleventh annual Cypress Hill Smokeout Festival, presented by Guerilla Union, this past Saturday. Forty thousand fans turned out for a day of food, music and of course—marijuana. This marked the first year that certified medical marijuana users were able to consume pot at the show in designated smoking areas. The festival featured a Medical Marijuana Expo that included voter registration booths, product samples and speaking panels on related issues like cultivation, Prop 19 and other relevant issues.

Authors Shirley Halperin and Steve Bloom led a discussion of their new book, Reefer Movie Madness, and hosted a day of stoner movies including Dazed and Confused, Friday and Pulp Fiction. Jeff Dowd, the real-life “The Dude” himself was on-hand to introduce The Big Lebowski.

Despite all the Prop 19 propaganda, the real attraction of the day was the music. Over 26 acts performed on three stages including MGMT, Los Rakas, Slightly Stoopid, Paul Oakenfold and Living Legends.

Nas showed no signs of stress from his current label feud when he joined Damian Marley for a high-energy performance on the main stage, looking and sounding better than he has in years. Damian’s floor-length dreads swung behind as he commanded the crowd to light up during his set, yelling, “I heard this was a smokeout…Everybody SMOKE-OUT!!”

Legendary hip hop group, and the festival’s hosts, Cypress Hill hit the stage with Travis Barker on the drums, delivering a power-packed set of their hits “I Wanna Get High” and “Stoned Is The Way. ” B-Real and Sen Dog sounded as good as they did when the group burst onto the scene almost 20 years ago. After a beat battle between Barker and DJ Muggz, the crowd went wild for a rendition of their classic, “Insane In The Brain.”

New Amerykah, Pt. 2: Return of the Ankh

The real showstopper of the evening was Erykah Badu. The crowd waited with baited breath as Badu hit the stage in a blonde wig and plaid poncho that covered her from neck to knees, later revealing a seventies style shift dress. She opened her stellar set with her 2008 hit “The Healer”, emphasizing the politically peppered evening with a raised fist and animated delivery. After introducing her band, “The Cannabinoids”, she followed up with her throwback hit, “On And On” before performing mostly new material sprinkled with fan favorites like “Tyrone”.

By the end of the night, throngs of mellow music lovers gathered at the main stage to watch Incubus end their 18-month hiatus. Despite a lack of fresh material, save for the track “Surface To Air,” they wowed the crowd with classics like “Drive” and “Stellar” to close out the night on a high note.

As the first festival to formally blend fans’ love of music with their love of marijuana, only ten arrests were made (all misdemeanors such as public intoxication). Show sponsors and artists begged the question: Can pot smokers be united and assemble peacefully? Furthermore, is there a chance in hell Prop 19 supporters could see success on the November ballot? The answer, written across signs and t-shirts throughout the festival, was a resounding: “Yes We Cannabis.”

See fan video of Incubus, MGMT, Slightly Stoopid and Deadmau5 performances from Smokeout 2010 here.

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

Ellen starts music label, signs Greyson Chance

Greyson Chance on Ellen

OK, remember last week when we made up that big lie about wunderkind Greyson Chance being signed to Interscope? Kidding! Yeah, looks like that was just one of those Internet rumors. Sahhrrry. Chance was actually signed by Ellen DeGeneres — he’ll be the first artist on her brand new label, Eleven Eleven Records. We’re not sure if Eleven Eleven is actually an imprint of Interscope or an indie, and until we’re sure, we’re not saying a word.

Ludacris builds playground for Atlanta school kids

Ludacris

That Luda, bless his heart. When he’s not going door-to-door reminding people to fill out their Census forms, he’s providing for the children. This past weekend the rapper joined volunteers to help construct a playground for Venetian Hills Elementary School in Atlanta. The charity event was a collaboration between KaBoom — a national nonprofit that provides play areas to underserved areas —The Ludacris Foundation, United Healthcare’s “Do Good. Live Well” campaign and EIF’s iParticipate program. Look, we knew how low he could go, we just never knew he was such do-gooder to boot . Hats off to you, Mr. Bridges.

The Bad

Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato break up

Sniff. Sad. Moving on …

Lady Gaga tested for Lupus

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga revealed to the London Times this week that she underwent testing for Lupus after collapsing from exhaustion and cancelling shows in March. But when it comes to the results of those tests, she’s keeping her lips sealed. “I don’t want anyone to be worried,” she explains. The singer lost an aunt to the disease, which is genetic and causes the body’s immune system to attack itself. Lucky for all of us little monsters, Lady Gaga is superhuman and immortal. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

The Ugly

Liza Minnelli sings “Single Ladies” for SATC2

Liza Minnelli

Looks like Liza Minnelli will be croaking out Beyoncé’s hit in the new Sex and the City movie. According to SATC2 promos, the 64-year-old performer tackles the number during a wedding scene. And, since Minnelli has a brand new replacement knee, maybe she’ll even attempt to do the choreography, too. That would be infinitely better than watching the chicken dance.

Key of Awesome spoof Owl City in “Electronic Wuss”

Ugly for Owl City, but hilarious for the rest of us.  Musical parody group, Key of Awesome,  delivered a sonic smackdown to the maudlin vomit that is “Fireflies” with their spoof, “Electronic Wuss.” Enjoy.

Miscellany

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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