Jordin Sparks has come a long way from belting out Celine Dion‘s “Because You Love Me” in her audition for American Idol at 16. At 17, she won that very season. Five years later the big voiced singer has landed the role of a lifetime as Sparkle Williams in the 1976 remake of Sparkle and her duet with Whitney Houston,”Celebrate,” is the lead single from the upcoming film. And in her wildest dreams she never imagined working with the indelible Houston who plays her mother Emma. Although Whitney’s time may have been cut short from us here on earth, we talked to Jordin Sparks about the invaluable lessons she learned from the woman often referred to as The Voice. Read more…
On America’s Independence Day, Frank Ocean finally got free. He took to his personal Tumblr to clear up the chatter started by an UK journalist’s speculations that songs on his album referenced the pronoun “he” as it relates to love. He wrote a beautiful note, originally intended for the liner notes of his major label debut channel ORANGE, that candidly and masterfully told the story of his first love—a man—who was too afraid to love him back. The shockwaves from this announcement were immediate; thankfully, instead of enduring a tidal wave of negativity, an outpouring of support flooded onto social networks from fans and celebrities (such as Jay-Z, Beyonce, 50 Cent and Rita Ora) alike. His courageous admission was the first time a young, black male R&B singer had openly admitted to loving someone of the same sex.
Given the troubled history that hip-hop, and the community that creates it, has had with homophobia, many are asking whether or not Frank’s revelation points to the genre’s growing acceptance of homosexuality, bisexuality and, ultimately, individuality.
Well, in the decades before Frank Ocean became a rising star, hip-hop prided itself on hyper-masculinity, and proving one’s manhood, which unfortunately meant disassociating yourself from anything that could be perceived as “gay.” To wit, calling a rapper “gay” was the worst insult you could hurl their way. Even as the culture-at-large became more PC, this stance did not change much in the hip-hop community; petty catchphrases like “no homo” are still used to this day as to tell the world “Hey, I’m not gay. And saying no homo puts me in the clear.” Literally countless rappers have used offensive homophobic slurs in their lyrics, hence the attention being paid to Frank Ocean’s confession.
No one could’ve predicted the massive support Frank Ocean ended up receiving from the hip-hop community. As an R&B artist (not hip-hop artist as he is oftentimes conveniently labeled), his transparency had the potential to end his budding career. Ten years ago, it almost certainly would have. Luckily for Frank, people and the genre are headed in the direction of progression. But I wouldn’t jump the gun to proclaim it’s a new day that left behind the rotten stench of homophobia in rap.
Accepting Frank is one thing. It’s quite another to talk about how homosexuality is/was/will be addressed by rappers in the future. Supporting the channel ORANGE singer does not mean that the F word —the six letter one, not the four— will not be used in rap records. It also doesn’t mean that mindsets have completely changed. If artists publicly root for Frank, but covertly wouldn’t have a close gay friend because of fear of turning gay (as if there’s a such thing), or still say no homo, or still rap lyrics laced with derogatory remarks about gay people, then is the acceptance really a facade?
Hip-hop as a genre has changed; hip-hop as a culture has changed too. In an interview with MTV.com, Juicy magazine Editor-in-Chief Paula T. Renfroe said, “Hip-hop also has grown, society as a whole has grown and that’s the beauty of hip-hop, it reflects our culture and our society.” The fact that there is room for a male singer to sing about loving another man without backlash is an example of a huge stride both genres—R&B and hip-hop—have made.
Maybe Ocean’s bravery is huge step toward the right direction, or perhaps behind closed doors (which is likely) the hip-hop community’s feelings toward the LGBTQ community doesn’t mirror the hurtful ugly slurs. Whether hip-hop is forever changed by such a historic moment is unknown. But it is worth the question: Where do we go from here?
Florence and the Machine‘s Florence Welch had us worried when she, complaining of vocal injury, cancelled a handful of scheduled appearances. Artists like Adele and John Mayer past have sidelined for far too long by similar injuries, and we didn’t want to see our dear VH1 Diva Flo suffer the same fate. So she skipped the Benicassim Festival in Spain and the Optimus Festival in Portugal and rested her voice. And then this morning, just a week later, she showed up on the Good Morning America and out of her mouth came a voice as beautiful and earth shaking as ever. We are not worried anymore.
“It’s almost like being an athlete, you strain a muscle and I just couldn’t really speak,” she explained after she wowed the crowed with harp-and-all performances of “Spectrum” and “Shake It Off.” “It seems to still work,” she laughed. And good thing, Florence and the Machines kick off their North American tour this weekend in British Columbia.
It looks like rapper and producer Swizz Beatz might not not be off the hook for that Megaupload business, after all. When the once dominant file sharing site was shuttered back in January, Mr. Alicia Keys was revealed to be a “CEO without citation”. Beatz’s lawyers adamantly denied his involvement, and he was left out of early indictments. Megaupload has since claimed that, being a foreign company with no offices or agents on U.S. soil, they were functioning outside of the U.S.’s jurisdiction. In order to build a case otherwise, U.S. attorneys have dragged Beatz back into the case, listing him as an U.S. representative to the site in their most recent filings. Uh oh, that doesn’t bode well for Beatz, who has so far been both uncooperative with the feds. As for those of you who liked those “I Like Megaupload” videos, the ones that starred Beatz’s A-List friends like Kanye West and Will.i.am, you might have more fun propaganda to look forward to.
It will be interesting to see how Beatz, a high-profile producer dragged to the center of a high-profile anti-piracy case, explains his involvement in the site if he ends up summoned. As he and some of his also very successful musician friends have argued, file sharing sites like Megaupload are not just havens to piracy, they are also a means for artists to share and collaborate. In an interview with The Fader, Beatz suggested that “in due time everybody will understand everything.” Well, it might be that time, and it could very well also be Beatz’s chance to help shape music’s future on the internet.
Ponder on this: Brandy was 15-years-old when her debut self-titled album Brandy dropped. At 33 the R&B songstress still has the powerful voice beautiful enough to put goosebumps on your arms. At 93.9 WKYS’s free concert held at the Howard Theatre in D.C., Brandy performed Put It Down in a royal blue romper. Brandy is back like she never left! Along with a couple backup dancers, B puts the ‘umph’ in every choreographed move hitting each gyration flawlessly. Similar to her BET Awards tribute to Whitney Houston, it’s obvious Brandy is here to win. The vocals? My god. Like every time Brandy opens her mouth (remember her singing Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” in her bathroom acapella?), even performing a song about putting it down between the sheets, she reminds you why she’s a true vocalist to the core. Read more…
Drake is not exactly a baron of good taste. Rather, he’s more the type of guy who is not too ashamed to spend that new, big pile of money on whatever he wishes. And so it’s no surprise that his latest investment, a new home in the Hidden Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, is a haven to all that is excessive and cheesy.
The seven bedroom, nine bathroom and 7,444 square foot mansion comes complete with all the amenities a bachelor like himself might want. There is a tennis court for his friend Serena, a home theater for Ice Age 4 screenings and Degrassi marathons, a mechanical bull (why not?), a wine cellar worthy of a wine fanatic like he, and a grotto that puts Hugh Hefner’s to shame. Because, well, Drake has long been into that sort of thing. His new, nearby neighbors include the likes of the Osbournes, the Kardashians, and Sinbad. And all that for less that $8 mil? That’s what you call dreams money can buy.
Yes, P!nk is known for her feisty personality as the person that says what everyone else is thinking. Take for instance her throwing shade on Twitter about Chris Brown‘s lip-syncing performance at the Billboard Awards, or the “Stupid Girls” song dedicated to, well, stupid girls. But it’s the hits she churns out consistently that she’s best known for. “Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” the first single from the forthcoming The Truth About Love, rose 49 positions making it the No. 9 song on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. And that No. 9 position gives her more top 10 hits than Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. Considering her 12 year career there’s no surprise there. Read more…
It’s with great sadness we report sources close to Urban Daily have confirmed the death of Ramona “Ms. Melodie” Parker of Boogie Down Productions. Ms. Melodie is the ex-wife to hip-hop pioneer KRS-One. The Brooklyn, NY native is survived by two sons.
“Hype According to Ms. Melodie” was her first single released in 1988. She is best known for her video to “Live on Stage.” In 1989 she released her first album Diva through Jive Records. One of the shining moments of her career was her performance in “Self Destruction.” And as one of the few female emcees during her time, she made a cameo on Queen Latifah‘s “Ladies First.” Read more…
Here’s something to make Frank Ocean fans a little jealous. Hey, we figured we shouldn’t be alone in our jealousy of everyone who attended Frank Ocean’s Wiltern performance in LA last night. For his hour long set he performed “Pyramids,” “Sweet Thing,” and “Super Rich Kids,” with a surprise cameo of Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt. Ocean also covered Prince‘s “When You Were Mine” for a crowd of screaming fans. When’s the last time someone did a cover to the genius that is Prince? Although OC Weekly critiqued Ocean’s stage presence for not being “lively” enough, the deafening screams of attendees paint another picture. Read more…
A young, pop singer past, JoJo has begun edging herself back into the spotlight with adept covers and sexy singles that have her sounding ever more like a grown R&B star. “Demonstrate,” her brand new single that is produced by Drake‘s partner in crime, Noah “40” Shebib, is no exception. Now 21-years-old, JoJo offers to demonstrate that which she can’t say. “I can let my body explain, I know I can demonstrate,” she sings after a tinny guitar intro. She moves capably from a near-whisper to an almost whistle-register and back without overwhelming the patently patient and self-conscious 40 beat, much like she did with his “Marvin’s Room.”
If it’s got her doing like this, we hope she keeps letting that “freaky sh**” run her mind. If she can keep this up, and if R&B continues to get weirder and darker like it has, she’ll prove a real force when her third studio album, Jumping Trains, comes out later this year.