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T-Pain Kickstarts A Comeback With “Up Down”

In the last decade of hip-hop, few artists have had as many ups and downs as T-Pain. Having come up during the heyday of vocoder/autotune, the Florida-bred emcee has struggled to find radio hits in recent years. Still, his tours sold out and offers to collaborate continued to roll in. T-Pain kept quiet, working on major singles as opportunities arose, and now it seems he’s finally set for a comeback with his new single, “Up Down.”

Time can change a person in many ways, but those worried T-Pain would abandon his love of vocoder can rest easy knowing the rapper’s signature robotic voice is still completely intact on his new material. “Up Down” pairs Pain with Atlanta kingpin B.o.B. for a track about the girls at clubs that make you want to spend all of your money. It’s catchy, simple, and complete with a great hook. You can view the song’s official lyric video below.

T-Pain has certainly taken a major risk by refusing to change his vocal approach over the years, but “Up Downs” is proof enough he still knows how to craft a radio/club-ready hit. This track might be forgotten in a year, but it will certainly help T-Pain regain his credibility in the urban music scene. Comment below and let us know your thoughts on the performance. Continue reading ‘T-Pain Kickstarts A Comeback With “Up Down”’

The Best Social Media Sites You Might Not Be On Yet

Since you’re reading this post in a publication that is distributed through a music discovery Web site, there’s a good chance that you’re pretty familiar with the ins and out of the Internet. You’re on Facebook, maybe you’ve tweeted and there’s a good chance you’ve checked in on Foursquare. So, that’s it for social media, right?

Wrong. You can’t really think it’s OK to keep active with just the big players, the major social media platforms that everyone online is already familiar with.  These days, you can’t just be on Facebook or Twitter or MySpace (even though your band hasn’t been logged into for years). The reason is that the game is changing  every day. It seems every week there is some new social media or Web site that you need to get involved with. Since it can be daunting to peruse through all the different sites and understand both what they offer and what they can do for your band,  we’re going to highlight some of the more useful blogging tools that musicians like you need now.

Tumblr has been around for a while nowfounded on 2007, it’s a twentysomething in Internet years. But it really just began to come into its own in 2011, and now is as good a time as any to get into it. Why? There’s a few reasons. Tumblr’s simplified platform is easy enough for anyone to use and the various themes users allow anybody to make a clean, attractive blog. The ask and reply system allows for straightforward correspondence between users. But the most impressive aspect of the Tumblr experience? It’s personal. Facebook allows for mass communication, Twitter allows for mass broadcasts but Tumblr is far more intimate. The artists that do it right, like indie band Toro Y Moi or the Beastie Boys, combine little glimpses into who they are, from their interests to their lives. For more ideas and inspiration, check out the tumblrs for Tom Waits, Childish Gambino and OurStage’s own Bethesda.

Yes, you’ve heard of Google and chances are you’ve heard of (but maybe not used) Google+. Fair enough, you’re not alone if you’ve tried and not kept up with the search giant’s attempt to break into the social media game. However, it may just be the time to give it another look. A number of major name artists are beginning to make use of the burgeoning social media platform. Big names like Britney Spears, T-Pain, Mark Hoppus and Trent Reznor are all users. Google+ has already had it’s fair share of breakout stars, like OurStager Daria Musk. Daria has mastered the medium and became a sensation on Google+ overnight, with over 200,000 people tuning into her last livestreamed show. Check out footage from the Daria’s first Google Hangout concert below.

Finally, you would be forgiven if you’ve come across Pinterest and not thought anything about it with regards to your musical career. Pinterest is like an online cork board; users share images on their pinboards and can browse the pinboards of others for inspiration. At least at this early stage, Pinterest is like Tumblr but with a more human element, or Facebook without all the excess noise. While the number of musicians on Pinterest as of right now is limitedthe Backstreet Boys appear to have the the biggest presencethe service is still very young and growing fast. In fact, the invitation-only site has seen explosive growth in the past six months, growing from 2 million to 11 million weekly visitors between September to December of 2011. So while there’s no obvious strategy for musicians on Pinterestself-promotion is frowned upon and the service is image based for nowit would be good to get in on the ground floor of the wildly popular service.

Soundcheck: Hot Ticket Tours

With the new year comes new talent, new music and new must-see shows from some of our favorite artists. While more hot ticket tours are sure to be announced as the months go by, here’s a few we’re already gearing up for in 2012.

Rick Ross: Although he’s been relatively quiet since last year’s numerous health scares, it seems Ross is ready to get back on the scene with a year full of features, releases and live gigs. On January 13, he will be at LA’s Nokia Theatre with Busta Rhymes, Y.G. and Eric B; following up with a show two weeks later at Webster Bank Arena in Connecticut.  In February, he’ll hit the stage for “The Maybach Massacre” featuring Waka Flocka Flame at Uno Lakefront Arena in New Orleans. This year is looking good for Mr. Ross, who began production last week on the video for his single, “Rich Forever” from his upcoming mixtape of the same title.  The video reportedly features Meek Mills, Drake, DJ Khaled and French Montana.

Bow Wow: The Young Money artist took to Twitter to confirm that he would be embarking on a world tour in 2012 in to promote his album, Underrated. He’s planning to hit North America, Europe, Africa, Australia, Japan and South America, but no official confirmation has surfaced.  Only time will tell if Bow Wows global bounce back comes to fruition, or is just wishful thinking.

Lil Wayne & Eminem: Though no dates have been confirmed, Eminem and Lil Wayne are rumored to be coordinating an international tour together for 2012.  Weezy first announced the news in November on his Facebook account, posting “Headed to Fiji, Australia, then S. Africa…on tour with Slim Shady…a blessing…thx to those who supported C4! 2x platinum! Love y’all” With his album, The Carter 4 going double platinum, and Eminem being the show-stopping performer he is, there’s no doubt this tour will be the hottest ticket in town.  The two already have numerous successful singles under their belts, including “ No Love”, “Drop The World” and ‘Forever”.

Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: Hot Ticket Tours’

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Ri-Ri and Brit-Brit steam it up in new videos

The sex is most definitely on fire in Britney Spears’s new video for “Criminal” and Rihanna’s for “We Found Love.” Watch the femme fatale and S&M dominatrix put a lip lock on their love interests—Britney’s real life boyfriend Jason Trawick and Irish model Dudley O’Shaughnessy, respectively. Then take a cold shower, you perv.

Nicki Minaj spoofs Tunechi

Nicki Minaj is buds with Lil Wayne, so it’s cool for her to lampoon his PSA video from last week. What’s not cool are those dreadlocks, but hey, if you’re imitating a stoner, you gotta go method. Watch the female Weezy have her fun below.

The Bad

Rick Ross hospitalized for seizures

Rick Ross was flying to a gig in Memphis when he suffered a seizure and was rushed to a hospital after his plane made an emergency landing in Fort Lauderdale. After being released from the hospital to continue onto Memphis, the rapper suffered a second seizure on his new flight and forced the plane to make an emergency landing in Alabama. No details have been released about what has caused the Teflon Don’s seizures, but we hope whatever it is knocks it off.

Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon split

Indie rock’s ultimate power couple, Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon, have separated after twenty-seven years of marriage. The announcement came from the band’s label, Matador Records, who said that Sonic Youth will play its South American tour dates in November, after which all future plans are undecided. Total bummer.

The Ugly

Adam Levine lashes out at Fox News

When Adam Levine tweeted for Fox News to stop playing his music on its “evil f**king channel” he effectively threw down the gauntlet, which Fox News correspondents Andy Levy and Greg Gutlfeld were all to happy to take up with a series of totally juvenile tweets. Exhibit A: “Fun joke: Why did Maroon 5 cross the road? Because crappy music is legal there!” Come on dudes, surely you can do better than that. Then again, maybe not.

Usher splits his pants for Bill Clinton’s birthday

Speaking of immature, we are can’t help but snicker over the fact that Usher split his pants during his performance at Bill Clinton’s birthday concert. The wardrobe malfunction prompted the singer to quip, “I work hard.” Lady Gaga followed up that excitement by changing they lyrics to “Bad Romance” to “Bill Romance” and channeling Marilyn Monroe while singing, “Happy Birthday” to the former president. Still not as entertaining as a pants split, but at least she tried.


Soundcheck: Beach Cruisin’ With Glasses Malone

It’s been a long road for Glasses Malone, the Watts, California native who began work on his debut album, Beach Cruiser in 2006. Now, the almost five-year-in-the-making, project has finally hit the streets.

Featuring verses from the likes of Akon, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne and Lupe Fiasco, the album is a gangster rap throwback that remi

nds us what made hip hop great.   Malone is a story-teller, and on Beach Cruiser, he depicts the gangster life to a T with his signature “ganster-soul” style. His single, “Sun Come Up” features Rick Ross, Birdman and T-Pain and is already heating up the airwaves.  An admitted former Crip, Malone is not as aggressive as hislyrics may suggest.  On the contrary, his demeanor is pleasant and friendly.

“It’s been such a journey and I am so blessed,” he says.  “‘Feel Good Music’ is my favorite song on the album.  It sums up my mood.”   The track he’s referring to closes out thealbum on an oldies-inspired high-note; a testament to the almost five-year journey it took for him to get here.

Back in 2005, he hit the scene with his Crack Mixtape release and followed up with White Lightning…Sticks in 2005. That year, he signed a $1.7 million deal with Sony, but was released when the label dismantled its urban division in 2007. After a label jump to Cash Money Records, and Mack 10’s HooBangin’ imprint, the album was pushed back to April 2008.  He released two singles that year, “Certified” featuring Akon and “ Haterz” featuring Birdman and Lil Wayne.  Despite the strength of the first singles, they failed to gain traction on radio and the album continued to be pushed back…and back.  In the meantime, Malone joined Slaughterhouse and Tech N9ne for their K.O.D. Tour in 2009, and made numerous guest appearances on other albums in 2010.

Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: Beach Cruisin’ With Glasses Malone’

An Open Letter To Pop Music From China

From the desk of the Cultural Authorities at the Ministry of Culture

To the Citizens of the People’s Republic of China:

Addressing the immense quantities of vulgar media assaulting our Internets, we, your Cultural Authority, have taken to protect you, the People, with a nationwide ban of an additional 100 songs to our already existing list. The outrageous influx of western popular “artists” into our Internets is absolutely unacceptable. Western “Pop Music” no longer represents beauty: it has come to stand for excess, for irreverence; it strives to shock, disturb and break taboos. Is this the moral compass that the youths of nations are supposed to be following? This art form has become soulless, sterile, and focuses on the egoism of the individual.

In our original treatise, we exposed our reasoning on the decision. Unfortunately, it seems that our release wasn’t presented in a simple enough format for the mass divulgence of our message. Therefore, we present here an abridged list to the reasons by which we believe this music is undermining our national culture:

American Role Models

- By limiting both illegal and legal material (as we have said before, the content “[doesn't] necessarily contain illegal content”), there will no longer be a  general lack of supervision and regulation over market behavior. We can’t have people not doing what we tell them to!

- Considering the wealth of music in our country, we don’t see the need to listen to the same forty songs, eight times a day.

- The formulaic nature of the imported songs isn’t enough to keep our attention for long enough. Sorry, please try again.

- We see no reason to feature T-Pain in every song.

- You will no longer catch our attention only by being brash and outrageous: been there, done that.

Western pop music has become utilitarian: it only has a value if it has a use. The audience craves nothing but a quick dose of perceived happiness and satisfaction, only due to the comfortable safety given by familiarity and association. How many of these songs would you describe as “beautiful”?

Until pop music gets its act together and stops sucking, we’ll be enforcing the country-wide ban.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Sadly, this is only a fictionalized account of why the Chinese government decided to ban 100 songs. If only these were the actual reasons. . .

T-Pain Sues The Creators of AutoTune… Wait That’s A Joke Right!?

Love it or hate it, AutoTune has been a key ingredient of countless chart topping hits in recent memory. For those of you less familiar with Top 40 radio, AutoTune is a vocal manipulation software that can correct the pitch of a singer and manipulate the singer’s voice, sometimes making it sound almost robotic. One of the artist’s at the forefront of the AutoTune movement has been singer and producer T-Pain. While most artists wouldn’t be so keen as to let the entire world know that their voice needs manipulating, T-Pain embraced AutoTune with open arms. He’s endorsed AutoTune in advertisements, he’s released his own iPhone app that let’s you AutoTune your own voice and he’s even poked fun at himself and his AutoTune use in one of the greatest parody videos ever.

T-Pain: Singer, Producer, Boat Enthusiast

It’s safe to say that AutoTune is largely responsible for T-Pain’s success, and in turn T-Pain is largely responsible for the popularity of AutoTune. They need each other like Lennon needed McCartney; like Jordan needed Pippen; like Bonnie needed Clyde. So when word got out that T-Pain was suing Antares Technologies, the creators of AutoTune, for $1 million, I thought it was a joke. Was he really suing the company that helped make him one of the most successful artists in the industry? This had to be a joke.

Except no one was laughing. Turns out that back in June, T-Pain announced that he would no longer be using AutoTune and ended his partnership with Antares. What most of us didn’t realize was that instead of just singing the old fashioned way, T-Pain had partnered with a new company, Izotope, to create his own pitch manipulation software called “The T-Pain Effect.” His suit against Antares claims that the company has continued using his image and likeness in advertising without his permission, and that it could cause confusion in the marketplace and hurt sales of his product. This just seems like the biggest slap in the face to Antares. He ditches the company, partners with a new company to make his own version of what is essentially the same product and to top it all off sues the company he just ditched. Really T-Pain? A cease and desist would have sufficed. It’s obviously going to take more than a month to remove all of the T-Pain related AutoTune products from the marketplace; a million dollar lawsuit just seems unnecessary. And considering T-Pain just released a product that’s really similar to AutoTune, Antares could easily hit him back with a countersuit. The whole thing is playing out like a messy divorce. I guess even the most fruitful relationships have to end eventually.

Vocal Points: Auto-Tuned Out

The fact that there now exists technology which is not only capable of altering the way a person’s voice sounds after it has been recorded, but also the way it sounds live, is incredible. Today, tools like Melodyne and Auto-Tune are shaping the music industry by doing things which were once unimaginable. And it has become easy for virtually any singer to utilize pitch correction in their music, whenever needed. These tools are capable of changing a bad note the second it comes out of a singers mouth. So, does this mean that it is no longer necessary for “singers” to know how to sing?

The answer is no. Pitch-correction has certainly changed the things a singer is able to do in the studio, and continues to be widely used, but it is not a replacement for a great voice and recognizable talent. Great voices are distinctive, auto-tune is not. And while there are certainly singers who use the software to compensate for a lack of talent, it is often very obvious. For example, despite Ke$ha‘s success, her blatant use of auto-tune doesn’t fool anyone into thinking she can actually sing. Same goes for T-Pain, who has used auto-tune as an effect, making his voice sound mechanical and robotic. T-Pain never claims to actually be able to sing, and his use of auto-tune is so prominent, that it is funny and it works well for him.

Continue reading ‘Vocal Points: Auto-Tuned Out’

This Week On

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

Fat Joe Talks ‘Dark Side’; Says Drake ‘Will Outlast 50 Cent’

In case you couldn’t tell from his hard-knocking first single, “Slow Down (Ha Ha),” featuring Young JeezyFat Joe is returning to his street basics on his upcoming album, The Dark Side. According to Joe, the project, due June 29, is one of his toughest in a long time. Continue reading on…

COVER: Trey Just Did It

The above statement might raise the eyebrows of the gutter-minded, but it’s true. The kid Trey Songz leaped from R&B’s crowded median to the top of the game. And now, fittingly, he’s on the front of VIBE’s April/May 2010 issue, the second since the mag’s relaunch. Take a good gander at Trey’s anatomy, and check back tomorrow (March 31) for behind-the-scene video from the singer’s steamy shoot. Continue reading on…

VIBE x AT&T Present: The Greatest Producer of All Time!

As hip-hop’s advanced from looped beat breaks to crisp samples and drum machines, the producer has laid the foundation for a constantly evolving hip-hop genre. Now, you have the chance to decide once and for all who’s the best behind the boards. Just like VIBE’s Best Rapper Alive and Best Rapper of All Time bracket tournaments, The Greatest Hip-Hop Producer of All Time competition allows you to determine who advances, who gets beat out, and ultimately, which producer will claim the title of best hip-hop producer alive. Check out more right here…

Poptarts: Go Periscope

OSBlog02_PopTarts_MASTER_01Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of months you’ve probably noticed the “latest craze” in pop music. The harmonizing boy bands and sugary pop stars bound to go bad of the’90s and solo acts, like Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé, of the early ’00s need to make way for today’s electro-pop wonders with their club-worthy beats and robotic, auto-tuned vocals. Now, Jay-Z may have declared death to auto-tune, but let’s face it, it’s here to stay. With bands like Owl City and Cobra Starship topping the charts, and T-Pain’s auto-tune iPhone app that puts the power of the voice-altering device in the palm of your hand, there is no way to escape the buzz. And we all know resistance is futile so maybe the best way to deal with it is to embrace it. Go Periscope is a perfect example of a group that has embraced it, and expanded it to include soaring melodies, catchy hooks and a mix of both organic and synthesized sounds.
Read more about pop wonders Go Periscope


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