Posts By Bené Viera

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Bracket Madness: The Choice Is Yours — MC Lyte Or Rakim?

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.

RELATED: BRACKET MADNESS: Does Ice Cube or KRS-One Have The Best Bars To Make It To The Finals?

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After The “Climax”, Usher’s Latest Single Will Make You “Scream”

Usher’s smash hit “Climax”, produced by Diplo, shot all the way to #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart shortly after it was released. It was a burning slow jam with electronic flourishes, but with his second single from his upcoming album Looking For Myself, Usher’s looking to switch things up a bit. No stranger to making songs that appeal to your inner dancer, “Scream” reminds us a bit of his past hits like “OMG”, “Hey Daddy” and “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love.” In other words, his latest will surely be a club banger.

Sonically, it’s closely similar to “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love” where Usher’s voice rides the uptempo beat. We can totally imagine people doing the Jersey fist pump when this comes on in the club. For a pop sounding dance track, it has all the essentials. And although his R&B ballads tickle our fancy a bit more than this, an Usher album isn’t complete without something to dance to in the mirror when you’re home alone. We can’t wait to hear the rest of the record.

New Song: Usher, ‘Scream’ [MTV Buzzworthy]

[Photo: Usherworld.com, Getty Images]

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BRACKET MADNESS: Does Ice Cube or KRS-One Have The Best Bars To Make It To The Finals?

Ice Cube and KRS-One are such different rappers that the only way to match up the two are literally comparing bar for bar. While Ice Cube’s catalog may ring more bells for most folks (because who doesn’t know “It Was a Good Day”), KRS-One’s “The Bridge Is Over” is a classic in its own right. Ultimately, whether KRS or Cube make it through to the next round of Bracket Madness to battle it out against either MC Lyte or Rakim for the best emcee of the Yo! MTV Raps era,  is up to you. Before you decide, check out three verses from each that emcee that get get the people going…because it’s provocative!
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BRACKET MADNESS: Ice Cube, KRS-One, Rakim and MC Lyte Advance to Round 2; Which One Will Be Named The Greatest MC Of The Yo! MTV Raps Era?

The results are in from the Round One match up of the best MCs of Yo! MTV Raps era. The king of battle rap KRS-One beat Chuck D by about 34%. Listen, that’s better than the landslide win Ice Cube had over Fresh Prince racking up 84% of the votes versus 14%. We still love the freshest prince of Bel-Air, and he could rap the theme song to “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” to us any day.

With only a six percent difference, it was a close call between LL Cool J and Rakim. Ultimately, one of the greatest emcees of all-time, Rakim, came out victorious. Queen Latifah lost to MC Lyte, which we think has everything to do with Lyte’s indelible first album that has been deemed a classic.

It’s getting down to the nitty gritty in round two with only four emcees left gunning for that #1 spot. East Coast word slayer KRS-One knuckles up on West Coast reformed gangster Ice Cube. Meanwhile, the street poetry spitting Rakim takes the raw female emcee MC Lyte.

What are you waiting for? Vote for the emcee you want to see advance to round three. Voting ends Friday, April 27 at 11 a.m. ET/PT.

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Celebrating The Life of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes 10 Years After Her Untimely Death

Ten years ago today, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was taken from the world far too soon in a tragic car accident in La Ceiba, Honduras. She lived a vibrant life in her short 30 years. Left Eye was the eclectic rapper in the influential trio TLC with members Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas and Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins. Selling over 50 million records worldwide, TLC is the second best selling American female girl group of all time. Outspoken and incredibly cool, the tattooed bad girl was captivating from the moment we laid eyes on her. She was among the new wave of female artists who determined for herself what identity she wanted in the industry. And we loved her for her unapologetic authenticity.

In 2002, Left Eye traveled to Honduras for a spiritual retreat away to take a break red carpets, media and her troubled relationship. Surrounded by close friends, Left Eye recorded the journey of what would be her last days. Lopes’ family granted VH1 her personal film archive, which was used to make the Last Days of Left Eye documentary in May 2007. For her musical contributions, accomplishments and fearlessness to be herself, we honor her. Gone too soon but never forgotten.

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[Photo: Getty Images]

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Bracket Madness: Are You Riding for the Ladies Man LL Cool J or Heavyweight Champ Rakim?

Is it really fair to put anyone against Rakim? If there is one consistent name that appears on lists of greatest MCs of all time, hands down, it’s Rakim. We think his contender LL Cool J is up for the challenge. LL may be acting more than rapping these days, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still have bars. I shudder just thinking of “Second Round KO” directed at Canibus or “To Da Break of Dawn” aiming shots at Kool Moe Dee, Ice-T and MC Hammer. He’s sold 7.5 million albums with five top 40 hits on the Billboard charts. He’s known for popular tracks like “I Need Love” that show a glimpse of his softer side, and “Mama Said Knock You Out” that solidifies his toughness. Do not get it twisted. LL will wax you on wax. Get it?

Rakim is a legendary emcee. Lyrically, he’s so amazing you don’t feel comfortable calling him a rapper — only emcee will suffice. Not only was his debut album with friend Eric B deemed a classic, Paid in Full was considered the greatest hip-hop album of all time by MTV. There’s no sense in even naming the rappers he’s influenced because it’s pretty much everyone worth their rap credentials. Steve Huey of Allmusic.com said, “Rakim is near-universally acknowledged as one of the greatest MCs —perhaps the greatest— of all-time within the hip-hop community.” That said, whereas LL became a household name, Rakim never reached massive mainstream success. With Eric B., he released four albums, only completing three solo projects. He took a 10 year hiatus between his second (The Master) and third (The Seventh Seal) album. He only sold two million records in his over 20 year career. But what Rakim lacked in commercial success he makes up in talent.

This one’s going to be juicy. Vote to advance your favorite Yo! MTV Raps era emcee to the next round. Voting closes on Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET. Read more…

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Bracket Madness: Why It’s So Hard To Choose Between MC Lyte And Queen Latifah

It’s always bitter sweet to see the ladies pegged against one another since so few female emcees break through the glass ceiling of hip-hop. Queen Latifah and MC Lyte proved that women had something to say, something worth listening to, and ultimately demanded the same respect as their male counterparts. That’s why precisely why they’ve been chosen for their fans to vote for the Greatest MC of the Yo! MTV Raps Era.

MC Lyte’s critically acclaimed first album, Lyte as a Rock, debuted in 1988, while Latifah’s All Hail the Queen was released a year later. “Ladies First” was one of the most popular songs from Latifah’s first project, and still gets crowds bumpin’ when it comes on in the clubs today. MC Lyte’s breakout singles include “I Cram to Understand U (Sam)” and “Paper Thin;” the latter topped the Billboard Rap charts at #1. Lyte made a name for herself with her uncensored lyrics, and we loved every minute of it. Both women continued to make records throughout the 90s, but by the mid 90s, Lil Kim and Foxy Brown had changed what it meant to be a female rapper with their explicit lyrics and barely there outfits.

You can’t mention female emcees without noting the contributions of both Latifah and Lyte. That said, whether it was the woman empowerment vibe Queen brought, or MC Lyte’s unapologetic no nonsense hardcore lyrics, you can only pick one. Vote for the femcee you want to advance to round two. Voting closes Wednesday, April 25 at 4 p.m. ET/PT!

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Bracket Madness: Three Reasons To Vote For Either Chuck D Or KRS-One

Are you excited yet about Round One of Bracket Madness featuring your favorite emcees of the Yo! MTV Raps era? In this corner, we have the pioneers of this rap thing: Chuck D vs. KRS-One. With their well respected contributions to hip-hop its kind of hard to choose between the two. Both bred in the ghettos of New York in the 60s and 70s, their lyrics reflected the awareness of the world they saw around them. But one would be highly mistaken if they attributed the consciousness in their rhymes for weakness. Each one of their flows are undeniably raw. So who do you vote for? Here’s three reasons to vote for either one.

CHUCK D
1. Two words: Public Enemy.
Dude was a member of Public Enemy. Need we say more? A rap group like that doesn’t come around twice in a lifetime. “Public Enemy #1″ was a classic track from their debut album Yo! Bum Rush the Show in 1987. From 1988-1991, the dynamic group released three platinum albums. The same group gifted the world with “Fight the Power.” This song is better than some cats’ entire catalog. I’m just sayin’. Public Enemy went on to sell four million albums throughout their career. Plus, anyone that could put up with the clock rocking Flavor Flav, has to be one hell of a guy.

2. Distinctive sound.
No one in hip-hop has a voice like Chuck. It’s so distinctive it couldn’t even be duplicated.  He raps, you listen. From the flow to the tone to the speed, Chuck D has a full command of his sound.

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Critics Won’t Stop Brian McKnight From Showing You How Your Vagina Works

It’s great that Brian McKnight wants to share his new creative ideas for his upcoming “adult mixtape,” an idea that surfaced after chatting with his fans on Twitter. But we were not expecting the R&B veteran known for hits like “Anytime” and “Back at One” to, err, sing about showing a woman what to do with her vajayjay. (Hey, we’re giving you the PG-13 version.)

In case you’re wondering, this video is not safe for work (NSFW). What starts off with McKnight sitting at the piano in his studio expressing his desire to tackle certain sexual topics ends with a shocking snippet of a new song. “If You’re Ready to Learn,” jumps right into it with some rather vulgar lyrics. “Let me show you how your p**** works. Since you didn’t bring it to me first. I have lots of things to show you if you’re ready to learn.” No, god no. Don’t ruin McKnight for me…for forever.

Apparently there has been a lot of public opinion (read: criticism) about what he’s now calling a parody video. Over on the TheYBF.com, they’re reporting McKnight got wind of the chatter and took to Twitter to say this:

I was just having some fun and look what happened…it’s for all those women who keep getting disappointed by their partners period it was a parody about that

It’s funny how we listen and let our kids listen to songs about killing people and selling drugs and calling women bitches…I wrote this song crude as it may be about satisfying all women and look what happened…I’m not being defensive it’s just sad to think that one parody could wipe out 25 years of work

He has a point. Lighten up, people. Geeez. Of course it was a little weird to hear the 42-year-old musician I grew up listening to sing about women’s private parts. But it’s funny! In the office its been said,”this is going to become a karaoke anthem.” Bring on the “Let me show you how your…” karaoke nights. We’re so ready. Read more…

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Azealia Banks Goes In On T.I., Calls Him A “Clown” And “Snitch”

The saga continues like a played out soap opera between Azealia Banks and T.I. In the latest episode of Azealia/Azalea gate, Bossip reports that T.I. stopped by Chicago’s Morning Riot to promote his new album Trouble Man, and once again he commented on the “beef” between his artist Iggy Azalea and Azealia Banks. In a non-politically correct move T.I. added his two cents. When asked about the girl drama T.I. responded with a rather interesting response:

“Now you see the thing is about that. Guess what. I didn’t even know nothing about it to just now. I ain’t even see it. Now I know they going through they thang. But the fact that she’s speaking upon me and mine. And I never, I ain’t even see it. That is what I consider and excuse my language, but that’s bitch sh*t. I’m a man. You ain’t got no business addressing me. You got a man, get him to address me and he and I can speak on it. But you and me – naw, keep dealing with that woman. Y’all handle that. Me and you we ain’t got nowhere to go with that. I do what men do.

Everyone needs to just breathe. Remember: “No comment” is a sufficient answer. Use it; it is your friend. Not one to stand by idly while being talked about, Banks took to Twitter and replied to T.I. directly. And she did not bite her tongue, calling T.I. both a clown and a snitch.

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