From eight MCs to one. By popular vote, KRS-One is the greatest emcee of the Yo! MTV Raps era. Of the eight lyricists selected for Bracket Madness, it all boiled down to two greats in the end: KRS-One vs. Rakim. Both legends in their own right, KRS-One takes the crown as being the No. 1 dude from the golden era of hip-hop. In a close call, KRS-One was victorious over his opponent by 20%. Here’s our theory as to why KRS-One won.
Rakim’s influence on cats like Biggie, Nas and Jay-Z is undeniable. And while Rakim mastered the art form of rap, popularizing the hustle element of East Coast rap, Rakim never blew up on a mainstream scale. He remained fairly under the radar, which affects ones popularity. KRS-One, bred of the same time period as Rakim, with just as much influence, had more of a presence. He reached a larger audience with his group Boogie Down Productions and battle raps with rappers like MC Shan and Roxanne Shante. His rhymes were also more controversial. Any song like “Sound of Da Police” in which a rapper takes shots at the 5-o is guaranteed to bring attention your way (and a group of admirers). KRS-One introduced reggae, bridging rap, battle and boasting into the genre. There’s no denying the ways in which he rapped ended up helping to shape what hip-hop is today. When two dope MCs with the stature of KRS-One and Rakim go toe-to-toe for a title, there is no real loser because this is hip-hop at its finest. But only one can wear the crown. Well deserved, KRS-One!
Over the last year and change, we’ve been all too happy to see Lil’ Kim doing interviews again and making new music. And the new club banger “Countin’ Money”, off the I.R.S. South mixtape Tax Season, doesn’t disappoint. It’s reminiscent of the hardcore flow she killed the game with in the 90s. She’s back to street lyrics, and the Queen Bee wants you to know she’s the “realest b—- up in the industry.” She’s coming for blood.
Lil’ Kim’s Paypal released mixtape Black Friday (we’ll act like that never happened) was not the smash hit we were hoping for. But with her BET Rip the Runway performance, forthcoming documentary and Return of the Queen tour beginning May 11, Kim seems to be back on the fast track to making hits (it also doesn’t hurt that her long simmering beef with Nicki Minaj is helping her in the headline department). “Countin’ Money” resembles the NOTORIOUS K.I.M. sound her fans love. Raw, real and hungry. Very befitting of a Queen in hip-hop.
It pays off after all to drop an X-rated song for the ladies, if your name is Brian McKnight that is. TMZ is reporting McKnight has been asked to perform “If You’re Ready to Learn” at Adult Video News’ (AVN) porn adult industry award show. Hi, haters. And other companies are placing bids on purchasing license rights for the songs use on its websites, according to TMZ.
McKnight quickly became a trending topic on Twitter after debuting his “If You’re Ready to Learn” song from his potential upcoming adult mixtape. Critics attacked the R&B singer who is known for subtle love songs that typically don’t suggest “let me show you how your p—- works.” Typing that with a straight face was quite the challenge. As hilarious as the entire debacle is, the song doesn’t sound half bad. Perhaps McKnight will receive offers to become a spokesperson for one of the large XXX brands. It’s all about the Benjamins, baby. Well, maybe not for Brian McKnight. He told TMZ he has no interest in performing the song. “I don’t know what specifically I will do with this track in the future . . . and I don’t even see myself ever performing it live,” said McKnight. “I am flattered that people have embraced it and are having as much fun with it as I am.” That’s not a definitive no. Sounds like he may be open to the possibility.
Who doesn’t love blue jeans? Both the ones you wear and the “Blue Jeans” tune by Lana Del Rey you turn on when drowning your sorrows over a love lost. In the umpteenth (who’s counting anyway?) remix, Azealia Banks jumps on the track adding her “212” flavor in an uptempo dance track. Indie pop band members of Foster the People, Mark Foster and Isom Innis, released the remix as a part of their DJ project Smims& Belle. It’s a stark difference between the original that has the power to make you feel the lyrics. Imagine the night Samantha from Sex and the City went to the club and popped an ecstasy pill. We could totally hear this version of “Blue Jeans” playing in a club under similar circumstances.
Banks’ speed raps about being a bad girl and liking a bad boy. How gangster. There’s a certain type of party one could zone out to while grooving to this electro-pop. But for those of us who don’t go to raves (hey, no judgment), we’d love to hear this pair on a track that sounds a little like the soulful Lana Del Rey we’ve become accustomed to. Just a little. Read more…
Not everyone thought Tupac’s hologram performance at Coachella was brilliant. And it was inevitable that one holds no barred person was going to publicly state something to the effect of letting the dead rest in peace, blah blah blah. But who would’ve guessed Waka Flocka would be the one to dismiss Dr. Dre’s revered idea of digitally bringing Tupac on stage to VIBE.com? Whoa Flocka. Pump those breaks, buddy.
The ATL bred rapper known for club anthems like “No Hands” and “Round of Applause” didn’t hesitate to answer when the reporter asked him what he thought of the hologram. “I hated it,” he responded almost before the question was finished. “That s— whack.” His criticism didn’t stop there though. “I don’t think they should be doing that. ‘Cause they getting paid off a dead man’s body.” The interviewer pries a bit more telling him Tupac’s mom got over it, but Flocka was not moved. “You don’t know what a dead man be wanting to do…You gotta let that man rest in peace. He’s a great.”
Well, there you have it. Although we thought the hologram was amazing, we can appreciate when artists say what they feel. Being politically correct is so overrated. Read more…
A pleasant surprise in the form of Alicia Keys graced the stage at MTV’s annual Upfront in NYC on Thursday night at the Beacon Theater. The 14-time GRAMMY award winning singer debuted a new ballad, “Not Even the King,” in which she belted out a soft melody over the piano about people that “can’t afford what we got, not even the King.”
Since Keys and hubby super producer Swizz Beats had baby Egypt Daoud Dean in October 2010, Keys has (mostly) been basking in mommyhood. Its been almost three years since her last album The Element of Freedom dropped, and Keys’ last performance was an emotion-filled tribute at the funeral of her friend Whitney Houston. Many criticized her voice for being off key that day (no pun intended), but her performance last night proves she’s still got the chops. We’re unsure if “Not Even the King” is from her forthcoming album, but either way, it looks like she might be ready to get back into the studio. Read more…
In Round 2, KRS-One won over his West Coast opponent Ice Cube, while Rakim annihilatedMC Lyte (we still love you Lyte!) with a huge victory. Now it has come down to two heavyweight emcees known for their hip-hop legacies. Will it be the philosophizing battle rapper KRS-One or the lyrical mastermind Rakim?
For your enjoyment we’ve included two videos of the emcees in their heyday. We admire the imagination, creativity and simplicity of the videos in the pre-bling and booty generation. Reminisce on KRS-One’s “My Philosophy” vs. Rakim’s “In The Ghetto.” Then, vote for your favorite emcee of the Yo! MTV Raps era. Voting ends Monday, 04/30 at 11 a.m. ET/PT.
Nas is never afraid to go there with his emotions on real life topics. Lately he’s dropped a couple of monster tracks like “Nasty” and “The Don” from his Life is Good album (set to be released July 17). Over on Stereogum.com, we caught wind of the third single “Daughters” produced by No I.D. It’s a grown man record showcasing the realities of having a teenage daughter. As a 38-year-old father of two, Nas goes there with what it’s like knowing his daughter is dating someone he doesn’t approve of. He courageously raps about his not-so-proud moment of Destiny tweeting a picture of her box of condoms on the nightstand.
Transparent and real. We wouldn’t expect anything else from the guy whose first album debuted 18 years ago. As a divorcee, father of two that’s overcome terrible hardships, it’s refreshing to hear a deviation from the bravado of hip-hop. Very reminiscent of a 60s or 70s oldies hit that hypnotizes you with the instrumentals.
Like a school girl geeking out over the boy band heartthrobs Immature of the 90s, I’m having a moment with the premiere of Brandy’s “Put It Down” featuring Chris Brown. Written by Sean Garrett and produced by Bandgladesh, on the first single from her forthcoming album Two Eleven, Brandy has all the ingredients necessary for a hot song — a booming beat, her deep distinctive voice, sexy lyrics and a guest feature from one of the biggest male pop singers. Don’t call it a comeback, call it a reminder. Brandy is showing folks why she’s been in the game for over 15 years. After the song dropped Brandy tweeted to her fans:
Both artists traditionally known for singing are giving rappers a run for their money in Brandy’s hot new record. At the beginning of her second verse, Bran tries her hand at rapping, again (we haven’t forgotten about that rapping alter ego), but only briefly, “I hope the chivalry ain’t dead to you boy ’cause I’m grown. Like to pull up in that, come up with that, when I see what I want,” she raps before jumping right back into her soulful signature sound. And Chris’ rhymes aren’t too shabby either. One of our favorite lines: “I’m sipping on that Brandy, this liquor comes in handy.” Simple, yes, but using her name as a double entendre was a nice touch.
In last night’s Behind the Music, Brandy’s brother said she is finally listening to her inner voice and doing what she wants. If this is any indication of where her album is going, all we can say is, Brandy’s back!
Everything about the Rakim vs. MC Lyte match up for Bracket Madness is so hip-hop. Legendary rappers who’ve been around since hip-hop’s nascence? Check. Male and female? Check. And lyrics that cannot be denied? Check. As it stands now, MC Lyte is trailing behind Rakim, but we have a feeling her fans won’t let her go down without a fight. Anything can happen between now and Friday, April 27 at 11 a.m. ET/PT when the votes are closed.
Being the hip-hop enthusiasts you are, we know we don’t need to remind you of the fire both rappers have spit in their prime. But we will anyway. Listen to MC Lyte’s master storytelling in “I Cram to Understand U (Sam)” : “‘Cause to me, oh my gosh, he was one in a million. I shoulda knew the consequences right from the start. That he’d use me for my money, and then break my heart. But like a fool in love I fell for his game. But I got mine, so I show no shame.”
Now, if Rakim & Eric B’s“Paid in Full” doesn’t remind you of a time rappers told a vivid picture with lyrical poetry, we don’t know what will: “A pen and a paper, a stereo, a tape/ of Me and Eric B, and a nice big plate of fish, which is my favorite dish/But without no money it’s still a wish/’Cuz I don’t like to dream about gettin’ paid/So I dig into the books of the rhymes that I made/So now to test to see if I got pull/Hit the studio, ‘cuz I’m paid in full.”
You decide. Voting for this round ends on Friday, April 27 at 11 a.m. ET/PT.