Each year in early July, the city of New Orleans welcomes fans of R and B, soul, and gospel music to flood its streets and enjoy three days of empowerment panels and concerts at Essence Music Festival. Listeners of all ages can take to the Mercedes Benz Superdome and find something they like, be it budding stars like yesterday’s blues-infused Gary Clark Jr. performing at one of the festival’s Superlounges, 70s and 80s family-trio The Pointer Sisters kicking off the main stage headliners, or Trey Songz, a radio-friendly artist who makes young girls and their mothers scream uncontrollably as he slowly disrobes on stage with each passing song in his set.
After The Pointer Sisters, last night’s main stage headliners shifted to Keyshia Cole and Trey, the former of which was likely booked to help promote her new BET reality show and upcoming album since she’s been on hiatus from making music while starting her family with husband, NBA player Daniel Gibson. Woman To Woman, Cole’s fifth studio record, is expected to be released in the Fall. Trey too has an upcoming album to promote; also his fifth LP, the August 21st release is aptly titled Chapter V. The highlight of the evening, however, was a set from neo-soul crooner D’Angelo.
Music is the best backdrop to our life experiences, and with the Summer solstice now a week or so behind us, it’s time to finalize those party/road-trip/gym playlists and ease into the season that puts sun on our skin and BBQ on our plates. I’m putting my money on the songs below to make it to the winner’s circle this year, but it’s still early, and only in time will the victors be revealed.
NOMINATION:Kanye West ft. Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz, “Mercy” EXPLANATION: If you don’t act a little bit foolish when this song comes on, I don’t think we can be friends. Kicking-off the G.O.O.D Music relay race, Big Sean hits his verbal stride first, and whether it’s his wordplay, Pusha T’s unique emphasis while using the word “ho,” Kanye’s obligatory “molly” reference, or 2 Chainz’ phenomenal lead-off grunt, this track has something special for everyone. Not only will we hear “Mercy” blasting out of car and house party windows all summer long, but it puts a stake in the ground for Kanye’s squad as they prep for their unified Cruel Summer project, allegedly coming soon.
While many musical historians look at the ’90s as the decade in which “alternative” and hip-hop music exploded from the underground into the mainstream, we here at VH1 haven’t forgotten that the decade was flush with a number of stone classic R&B tracks. In the latest installment of VH1′s long-running series The Greatest, The 40 Greatest R&B Songs Of The ’90s, we’re going deep into some of your favorite songs from that era.
With an impressive dossier full of production credits compiled over the years, Q-Tip is a behind-the-scenes force on his own. Just this morning, however, Def Jam released a press release announcing that, through Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint, the A Tribe Called Quest co-founding rapper/producer has been added to the label’s esteemed hip-hop family, reuniting him with chairman and CEO of Universal Republic and Island Def Jam, Barry Weiss, whom Tip knows from his days at Jive in the early 90s.
Joining the already-robust G.O.O.D. Music roster alongside Big Sean, John Legend, Pusha T, Kid Cudi, and others, Q-Tip will be able to flex his creative muscle amongst other hungry artists – veterans and up-and-comers alike – all while consulting and collaborating with head honcho, Kanyeezy. In friendship and in business, the rapping producers clearly see eye to eye; back in December, we saw Kanye and Tip palling around together backstage at Florence + The Machine’sMTV Unplugged taping with some tall ladies in tow, and overheard them discussing plans to hit the studio that night. It seems that our in-that-moment daydreaming wish for a fresh collaboration from the pair (beyond Watch The Throne’s “That’s My Bitch” and others of the past) seems to have morphed into a bigger partnership – one which further solidifies G.O.O.D. Music’s crew-cred within a hip-hop ecosystem that’s slowly becoming more and more about who’s on which team: MMG. YMCMB/OVOXO. Grand Hustle. ASAP Mob.
If you’re not already familiar with French Montana, you will be soon: the Moroccan-born, Bronx-repping rapper recently recruited one of your favorite VH1 stars for his next music video, which will shoot next week in New York City. Having not yet been introduced in person, Mob Wives’ star Drita D’avanzo has been tweeting back and forth with Montana for about a week, expressing her excitement to be involved in bringing the visual for his song “Everything’s A Go” to life, a potential single that she’s already partial to.
And why wouldn’t Drita be excited? After being courted by Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group and Kanye West’s GOOD Music imprint, French Montana chose to ride out with Diddy and the good folks at Bad Boy Records/Interscope, making his already growing street buzz even more audible. Earlier this week, we caught up with the recently signed “Coke Boy” rapper to find out how this incredible collaboration came to fruition.
Eager energy and chants for “D-M-X” filled the Tribeca nightclub S.O.B.’s Thursday night in anticipation of the Yonkers rapper’s first New York City show in years; it was dark, and the venue was beyond hot. Uncertain of what to expect from the artist who barks, growls and is known for his well-documented turbulent past, concert-goers were pleasantly surprised when the star, slated to appear on VH1′s new show Couples Therapy this spring, pulled off an almost two-hour long gig full of heartfelt sincerity and animation.
In addition to performing a few new tracks (including Machine Gun Kelly-featured single, “I Don’t Dance”), X took us back to his heyday in the late 90s and early 2000s, performing a number of fan favorites like “Party Up,” “How’s It Goin’ Down,” “It’s All Good,” and “Get At Me Dog.” Joining him on stage for hit “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem,” a song that DMX revealed he wasn’t initially on-board to record, was a towel-swinging Swizz Beatz who then showed allegiance to his longtime comrade by remaining front and center for the duration of the show. “I didn’t want to do the ‘Anthem,’” admitted X to the crowd, explaining that it was the now Megaupload-tied NY producer whose plea he submitted to during their gritty Ruff Ryder era.
Reminding us of his untamed personality and raw artistic chutzpa, X’s antics throughout the show were entertaining, but by no means out of control. Hyper-sexual comments about his nether regions —that led to him, shirtless and sweating profusely, getting wiped down by a female fan— fell between powerful a capella verses and call-and-response interaction with the audience; X would shout “Flesh of my flesh,” and his disciples would answer emphatically: “Blood of my blood!” Reiterating comments made earlier that morning regarding both Drake and MMG ringleader Rick Ross, The Dog touched upon today’s boastful themes in hip-hop and took time to explain how tacky and redundant he feels that kind of bragging over bars can be. Lacking the filter that many of today’s artist strategically craft, X’s honesty was refreshing without being too overbearing; his intention was not necessarily to insult, but rather to take contemporary hip-hop overall to task. Just like he did 10-plus years ago.
Last night, MTV2 debuted its first annual Sucker Free Awards. Taped in November at Sunday night hot spot LIV Fountainbleau Miami Beach, the 7-category award show’s party atmosphere was hosted by MTV’s Sway Calloway and featured interview packages of and appearances and performances by most of today’s hot hip hop artists.
Sometimes “movements are bigger than single records,” says Jay-Z in Young Jeezy’s new biographical film, A Hustlerz Ambition; a comment that can easily summarize the Snowman’s rise to fame. Last night, in two theaters at New York City’s Landmark Sunshine Cinema, the documentary tied to the release of Jeezy’s fourth album, Thug Motivation 103: A Hustlerz Ambition, was unveiled and screened for the very first time by Def Jam and the man of the hour himself. Chronicling the drug-slinging trap rapper’s evolution, the film documents both sides of Jeezy’s (real name: Jay Jenkins) personal and professional lives, focusing on painful, comedic and triumphant moments while on his path to becoming a bonafide player in the rap game.
Making the audience privy to many intimate details of his life, the film delves into Jeezy’s childhood, how his uncle “Bo” first gave him forty dollars to flip at age 11, the divorce of his military father and substance abusing-mother (who he later saw buy and be high on crack), living with his grandmother in Hawkinsville, Georgia and utilizing her stove to dominate the streets, fighting for paternity rights to his son, and battling severe health problems like Bell’s Palsy and polyps on his vocal cords. While the glimpse into his personal history is informative and helps to understand his overall story, the film, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and directed by Chris Robinson, is mostly geared toward shedding light on Jeezy’s relentless drive to achieve everything he wants in life, plus much more. Read more…
If you tuned in to our five-day 100 Greatest Songs of the 00′s countdown last week, you already know that pre-preggers Beyonc? took home the #1 spot with hubby-featured smash, “Crazy In Love.” Good for them, right? The collabo is over eight years old, and still carries with it a sense of sonic recognition that might one day be categorized as “timeless.”
If you could have your way with our list’s top 10 songs, which one would you have crowned ?The Greatest of the 00′s? Take our poll and leave us your thoughts in the comments section. Don’t worry, we’re thick-skinned!
Last week, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of A Tribe Called Quest’s seminal album, The Low End Theory, and after spending quality time with the LP, it became clear that many artists may have snagged sonic gems from the trendsetting hip-hop quartet over the years. If you’re a fan of rap music, you already know that sampling and re-working existing songs is commonplace in the creative process; similar to contemporary art’s idea of the “readymade,” producers will lift elements from one song and add them to a new canvas to re-envision their use. But what happens when the same thing is done with lyrics?
One little-known fact: Lil’ Wayne’s“A Milli” is a slowed-down sample of one of Phife’s lines from a remix of “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” off Tribe’s first album, 1990′s Peoples’ Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. Sometimes referred to as swagger-jacking, a rapper re-purposing the bars of artists before him or her can in other circumstances be seen as a salute-beckoning sign of respect. And in Tribe’s case, it should be! In addition to sitting down with ATCQ for their first joint interview since 1998, we also got to chat individually with in-and-out, behind-the-scenes group member Jarobi White to scoop his brains for memories on the group’s incredible second album. In honor of its Album-Versary, we present you with Jarobi’s exclusive interview clips, and the Top 5 Recycled Lines From The Low End Theory.