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.
Yesterday, we brought you the first installment of our two-part VH1 Album-Versaries: The Low End Theory at 20, reflecting on A Tribe Called Quest?s ground-breaking second album, The Low End Theory. After assembling all four group-members in a joint-interview for the first time in almost fourteen years, we were able to share exclusive stories from their recording sessions at Battery Studios and, with help from hip hop expert Sway, cultural critic extraordinaire Nelson George, and international journalist Boss Lady, lauded the album’s effortless ability to resonate with the masses. In today?s Part II, we delve further into The Low End Theory?s sonic framework, the roles of MC Phife Dawg and Q-Tip, and come full circle to set the group?s highly-speculated relationship issues straight.
THE HIP HOP BEATLES
?Coming off the first album, the question was ?well, what does HE do??? recalls Phife, hyper-aware of what listeners thought of his seemingly-small contribution on the group?s debut project. Often referred to as his lyrical coming out party, The Low End Theory truly did give Phife the platform to hunker down and fully transition from (what Jarobi would describe as) being ?young and crazy? to a focused, rhyme-writing, studio-attending MC. His high-pitched, witty lyrics complimented Q-Tip?s smooth vocal delivery, and Phife wound up on 9 of the album?s 14 tracks, a drastic and well-deserved upgrade from the four he appeared on with People?s Instinctive Travels?.
There’s more! Follow along to read the conclusion of VH1 Album-Versaries: The Low End Theory at 20.
A Tribe Called Quest dropped their second full-length album, The Low End Theory, in late September of 1991. Widely recognized as a ground-breaking work today because of the manner in which it experimentally weaved layers of sampled jazz elements into its sound-bed, the album earned a spot in Time?s All-Time 100 Albums List, was named the #154 album of all-time by Rolling Stone and was celebrated at 2007′s VH1 Hip Hop Honors. The group recalls that early chapter of their career vividly, and last week, for A Tribe Called Quest’s first joint-interview since 1998, all four members of the group spoke exclusively to VH1 to mark the 20th anniversary of The Low End Theory?s release.
For Questers, music fans and students of hip hop culture, Beats, Rhymes and Life is a must-see, but the effect it had on the lives of everyone involved in the project and the press frenzy that lingers might still be a bit misleading to the outside world. In order to help contextualize this landmark album’s impact, we spoke with MTV’s in-house hip hop expert Sway, cultural critic extraordinaire Nelson George, and international journalist Boss Lady about the resonance that this LP had then, and also now, 20 years later. And while A Tribe Called Quest appears to still be somewhat re-acquainting themselves with each other after dissolving in 1998 and wrestling with the last few years? shell-shocking chain of events, it was clear from the time we spent with them that Kamaal ?Q-Tip? Ibn John Fareed, Malik ?Phife Dawg? Taylor, Ali Shaheed Muhammed and, yes, even Jarobi White are still very much an unbreakable Tribe of brothers.
VH1′s latest entry in The Greatest series is one that’s sure to stir up plenty of debate! Counting down The 100 Greatest Songs of the ’00s, host Pete Wentz (whose own “Sugar, We’re Going Down” comes in at #40 on the list!) and a murderer’s row of your favorite comedians and musicians provide their expert analysis (and a few jokes along the way) on songs that made the aughts such a memorable decade, musically speaking. Read more…