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Young Jeezy Releases #ItsThaWorld Mixtape

After weeks of teasing, Young Jeezy has made good on his promise to deliver a new mixtape before the end of May.

#ItsThaWorld is the first official release from Jeezy to surface in 2013. Though it is only presented as an EP, the song is bursting with energy, fun, and Jeezy’s signature aggression to the point it feels like a more complete release than the short track list may initially lead you to believe. You can find a stream and download link for #ItsThaWorld at the end of this post.

Having followed Young Jeezy for the majority of his career, it’s refreshing to see a seasoned emcee who still pushes himself in new directions. #ItsThaWorld isn’t exactly outside the norm for Jeezy, but it does offer a handful of fresh that, when paired with his general approach to the game, amazes like fireworks. Comment below and let us know your thoughts on this release. Continue reading ‘Young Jeezy Releases #ItsThaWorld Mixtape’

50 Cent Releases “Major Distribution” Video Featuring Snoop Dogg and Young Jeezy

Taking a moment to reflect, it’s a little hard to imagine that a decade has come and gone since 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ exploded onto the hip hop scene. That releases would go on to sell more than seven million copies worldwide and launch 50 Cent into superstardom, but with every great triumph comes and even greater need to do better next time around. 50 kept rapping throughout the 2000s, but he never found the same level of success that he did with his debut. This of course lead some to say he fell off, but after the clip you’re about to see I think it’s evident nothing could be further from the truth.

Marking the first single and video to surface from his forthcoming 2013 full length release, “Major Distribution” was unleashed earlier today to instant praise from fans and critics alike. The track features assistance from heavyhitters Young Jeezy and Snoop Dogg (or Snoop Lion, if you’re weird), but the true star of the show remains 50 with each listen. His charisma feels new again, and it’s unlikely any other single would have had a similar impact. You can experience the song below: Continue reading ’50 Cent Releases “Major Distribution” Video Featuring Snoop Dogg and Young Jeezy’

Mixtape Mondays: Young Jeezy, NoTiQ, Red Cafe, King L

Hello hip hop fiends! I know Christmas is only a week away, but the past week has been so good to us genre fans that we might as well start saying thanks now. There were only a couple of releases to highlight last week, and this time around the problem was actually having too many! Don’t worry though, I’ve gathered the best of the best and brought them to you.

This week on Mixtape Monday I will be highlight four releases, including one from an OurStage artist, that should go a long way towards keeping you occupied in the days leading up to Santa’s arrival. If you’re an aspiring urban artist, submit your OS profile and most recent mixture to jshotwell@ourstage.com with the subject “Mixtape Mondays.”

Now, onto the music… Continue reading ‘Mixtape Mondays: Young Jeezy, NoTiQ, Red Cafe, King L’

Post-Election Songs: From Hopeful To Head-Scratching

Given that President Barack Obama had the hip-hop vote pretty securely in the bag, it’s only fitting that the day after his re-election is awash in a wave of celebratory tracks from artists big and small. Here are three notable songs paying tribute to Obama’s second term that range from the inspiring to the incomprehensible.

 

Young Jeezy“We Done It Again”

The newly minted Senior Vice President of A&R at Atlantic Records manages to cram Trayvon Martin, Hurricane Katrina, and the trillion-dollar deficit into a mere two and a half minutes. In the spiritual successor to his 2008 track “My President Is Black,” Jeezy sends out his message to “every ghetto in the world / Every little boy and little girl.” Though the new track is more cautiously optimistic this time around (“Waiting on a savior, maybe Barack”), it still a clear show of the rapper’s full support of the president.

Continue reading ‘Post-Election Songs: From Hopeful To Head-Scratching’

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.

Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: Hip Hop Speaks Out On Trayvon Martin Murder’

Sound And Vision: How Mainstream And Cutting-Edge Learned To Co-Exist In Pop Harmony

A few weeks ago, Melbourne hosted the TV WEEK Logie Awards, which is like Australia’s Emmys, only with more reality TV, more cooking shows and music. Katy Perry and Maroon 5 represented American pop, and then there was rising UK star Jessie J, representing… well, I’m still not 100 percent sure. As she stalked the stage, decked out in glam-Goth basic black, performing her No. 1 UK hit “Price Tag,” my friend peeled his eyes away from the television, turned to me and announced, “Her look is cool and alternative, but her music is so lame and poppy. They don’t match at all!”

It’s a discordancy that’s starting to take over. Pop and rock and hip hop used to hang out on different sides of the playground, barely acknowledging each other, with the rare, revolutionary exception (think Run-D.M.C.‘s 1985 smash cover of Aerosmith‘s “Walk this Way,” featuring the vintage rock band on vocals and in the song’s video). If your music was too mainstream, strictly middle-of-the-road (a condition that afflicted neither Run-D.M.C.’s nor Aerosmith’s tunes at the time, which perhaps is why the hit sounded so effortless), there was no changing lanes. You could dress as wild as ’80s fashion would let you, but you would always be a pop star. Chart-toppers had little chance of drumming up street cred or working with artists whose tunes dangled from the cutting edge. Why do you think Duran Duran, one of the most influential bands of the Reagan era, still hasn’t been nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and is only now, more than two decades past its prime, publicly earning the respect of well-respected men like David Lynch, who directed the band’s recent American Express online concert?

Suddenly its cool to be alternative and pop. We’ve got Katy Perry mingling with Snoop Dogg and Kanye West on record and with bad-boy British comic Russell Brand in holy matrimony, and Ke$ha singing some of the poppiest songs on the charts and casting James van der Beek, one of Hollywood’s most white-bread actors, in her video but tarting it up just enough to come across as one of the coolest girls in school. (Ever the trendsetter, in the ’80s, Madonna had the good sense to tousle her image by marrying bad boy Sean Penn.) Meanwhile, Rihanna—a pop princess if ever there was one—holds court with Eminem and sings about how she’s “Hard” (as Young Jeezy raps in her defense).

Lady Gaga dresses like a freak and breaks every sartorial rule while singing what is basically the rave music of every ’90s teenage dream. Her former video costar Beyoncé alternates between straight-up pop (“Halo,” “Sweet Dreams”) and darker hip hop (“Diva” and current single “Run the World [Girls]“), while A Rocket to the Moon and Wilco singer Jeff Tweedy are among those who have covered “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” Try This (her 2003 flop that, in my opinion, is her best album) aside, Pink‘s ultra-commercial music has never mirrored her rock-chick attitude. Even Coldplay, one of the biggest rock bands on the planet, second perhaps only to U2, collaborated with, of all people, Kylie Minogue on the 2008 World AID’s Day charity single “Lhuna.”

As with so many recent musical trends, the current shift toward the mainstream and the cutting edge making strange bedfellows began with hip hop. If a roguish rapper like Eminem could rhyme alongside pop singers (first Dido on “Stan,” then Elton John at the 2001 GRAMMYs, and most recently, Pink and Rihanna on Recovery), couldn’t all musicians, regardless of genre, get along? Sure they can, but the commercial results have been mixed. There’ve been huge hits—the Katy Perry singles “California Gurls” and “E.T.” returned her rapper costars, Snoop Dogg and Kanye West, respectively, to No. 1 for the first time in eons—but when Alicia Keys met Jack White for “Another Way to Die,” the theme for the last James Bond flick, 2008′s Quantum of Solace, it was a one-week wonder on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 81.

Perhaps Keys’ R&B and pop fans and White’s alternative ones didn’t know what to do with the meeting of their musical minds, which was nonethess one of the best singles of 2008. Of course, there are artists who resist, too. Remember when Ryan Adams used to go off on fans who requested Bryan Adams‘ “Summer of ’69″ because he was fed up with being compared to the ’80s and ’90s pop superstar with the almost-identical name? (He once had a fan tossed out of a Nashville concert for daring to do the unthinkable!)

Kanye West vs. Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards probably was as much about the cutting edge (hip hop) vs. the mainstream (country-pop) as it was about the visual supremacy of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” video. In February, I read a Billboard.com interview where empress of ’80s cool Chrissie Hynde talked about her upcoming Super Bowl weekend performance on CMT Crossroads with country diva Faith Hill, and she said she was unfamiliar with Hill’s music and admitted, “I don’t know much about country music, period.” Then there’s Kings of Leon, best known in the US for the Top 5 hit “Use Somebody”. Although the band would hardly be considered alternative in its recent hit-making incarnation, the guys  nonetheless refused to allow Glee to use “Somebody.” (I bet South Park or Dexter or Weeds would have gotten their blessing.)

But if Jay-Z can let the Glee kids turn “Empire State of Mind” into a show tune, if Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler can sit beside Jennifer Lopez at the American Idol judges table, if “F–k You” singer Cee Lo Green can go from collaborating with Danger Mouse (in Gnarls Barkley) to being one of Christina Aguilera‘s fellow judges on The Voice, then we might yet live to hear an Eminem track featuring Britney Spears.

 

Soundcheck: Snoop Unleashes The Doggumentary

As promised, Snoop Dogg has delivered The Doggumentary, an eighteen-track album that I would call a tribute album for true Snoop fans. In it, he seems to travel through the sounds of his career, treating fans to songs reminisent of his G-funk hits that launched him into super-stardom. Memories of Doggystyle come rushing back. The next minute, he’s fast forwarding to his R&G days, reminding us that although he certainly has a signature style; his sound is more dynamic than he’s credited for. He manages to bring us up to date with new sounding songs like “Wet” and “Eyez Closed”, proving that at forty years old with eleven albums under his belt, Snoop is still top dog. Here are some highlights from the Dogg’s latest release:

“Toys N Da Hood”  features Bootsy Collins in an old school funk track that kicks off the record’s “blast from the past” pace. It’s not my favorite track, but it sets the tone for the album, which is classically west coast.

“The Way Life Used To Be”  Samples Diana Ross and The Supremes’ hit of the same title. Snoop’s version of “Back In The Day”…wishing he was back in his hey day; telling stories of stirring up trouble with friends as a teen in Long Beach.

“My Own Way”  Features a cameo from Mr. Porter and stars a distinctly tougher sounding Snoop paired up with the soulful singer, Mr. Porter for this laid-back track, where the Dogfather reminisces about his days on the grind.

“Wonder What I Do”  Another old-school sounding joint features Uncle Chucc whose voice I originally mistook for John Legend. It’s the kind of track I’msure my dad would play at a family BBQ, a perfect summer jam suitable for the whole family. John Legend does appear later in the album, alongside Kanye West in one of the project’s strongest tracks, “Eyez Closed”

“My Fuc’n House”  Young Jeezy & E-40 heat up this banger, which is much harder than the rest of the album. Jeezy kicks it off with his angry, intense flow and E-40 delivers in his characteristic, charismatic style. Snoop follows up by flexing his muscles; warning his enemies not to underestimate the dog. We expect the video, which has already wrapped shooting, to flood airwaves this week.

“Boom”  The second official single features T-Pain and is produced by Scott Storch, who sampled the hit, “Situation” by Yazoo. This one’s already heating up airwaves, on the heels of the album’s first single. “Wet” which Snoop crafted for Prince William’s bachelor party. The song has quickly become the anthem for spring breakers everywhere.

“The Weed Iz Mine” No Snoop album would be complete without an ode to Mary Jane. This one features his latest partner in crime, Wiz Khalifa, who has proven to be quite the cannabis affecianado.

Overall, Snoop has given fans another reason to keep him on top. The Dogg has proven time and again that he can adapt with the times while consistently delivering his own unique flavor to anything he does. Next up, Snoop will continue his cross-country tour, and plans to release his recent work with Charlie Sheen this month. Talk about crazy collabos.

FROM THE CMJ RELAY ARCHIVES: OURSTAGE PICKS VOL. 15

cmjdotcom_webWelcome to our fifteenth installment featuring CMJ’s OurStage Staff Picks from the CMJ Relay Blog. CMJ is well known for their industry leading New Music Report magazine, which contains music reviews, artist news and interviews with the best artists being played on college radio.

Sicarus

“Changing Faces”
Hard Rock
The strength of Sicarus’s “Changing Faces” lies not in its blistering guitar solos or insane bass pedal pumping, but in contrasting them with a powerful opening (and recurring) vocal riff.
RIYL: Mastodon, Rise Against, Saosin

Yung Papi

“Crown Me”
Hip-hop
Sampling the opening riff of Beethoven’s Edgemont Overture is an educated and compelling move that will go over most heads, but works brilliantly in this boisterous young rapper’s favor.
RIYL: Lil’ Wayne, Kanye West, Jay Electronica

Nicolay

“Grand Theft Auto (GTA)”
Hip-hop
The title says it all. This track is pulsing with a beat that generates enough adrenaline to take on the street racing, police helicopter evasion, gang wars, and girls described in the lyrics. Let’s see the 5.0 try and keep up with this!
RIYL: The Game, Young Jeezy, Lloyd Banks

 


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