ALBUM REVIEW: Go! Pop! Bang! Is Rye Rye’s Energetic Ode To Baltimore

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Rye Rye Boom Boom Video

When other high schoolers were sneaking on the phone at the wee hours of the morning to talk to their crush, Rye Rye was touring with M.I.A. After DJ Blaqstarr discovered the young rapper at the age of 15, they collaborated on “Shake It To The Ground,” a youthful dance track that caught the attention of M.I.A. only months later. Now, 21, the Baltimore, MD rapper has released her debut album Go! Pop! Bang! that was four years in the making. To appreciate Rye Rye’s music one must understand the oftentimes disparate state of her hometown. Then one must consider the city’s definitive musical sound unique to that place and its natives. The arts was a way for the young funky teen to express herself outside of the confines of the housing projects she grew up in. As much as Rye Rye is a rapper, she’s a dancer. And the latter inspires the sound of Go! Pop! Bang! more than the expected hardened environment she grew up in.

Her first single, “Boom Boom” (video below), is a perfect indication of what to expect from the album. It’s about partying, boys and having a bloody good time. The whole point is not to take herself too seriously. Over the video game beat, Rye Rye raps in her semi-fast, edgy tone about wanting a guy in her room. Tracks like “DNA” featuring Porcelain Black, “New Thing,” “Dance” and “Hardcore Girls” are where her Baltimore club influence is most dominant — a mix of house, D.C. go-go and techno-electro. On “Crazy Bitch,” she teamed up with Akon in a more concept driven track where the beat is slightly slower than the usual uptempo beat. With the help of Akon she pokes fun at being considered the “crazy bitch” in the relationship. “Sunshine” and “Bang” both feature M.I.A. and have the bombastic drum beat M.I.A. tends to love on her own tracks. Both records offer that distinctive voice that only an M.I.A. feature can add. Her rhymes in “Bang” slow the listener down from the natural inclination to dance to actually listen to her rhymes. “Never Will Be Mine” featuring Robyn is one of the slower tracks on the record but still manages to keep the light fun mood of the rest of the album. Read more…

R. Kelly’s “Feelin’ Single” Is A Proper Introduction To Summer

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R. Kelly's "Feelin' Single"

Just when R&B seemed to be dying an unfortunate death, leave it to R. Kelly to resuscitate the genre in a blink of an eye. Soulful and gentle, “Feelin’ Single” incites the urge to dance coolly across the floor. Like “Step In the Name of Love,” “Feelin’ Single” has an infectious softness about it that makes one forget all their worries. His voice is flawless on every note executing perfect harmonies on the hook. Light, fun and disco infused, the self-proclaimed King of R&B does the classic sultry combination like no other.

The timing for the track is perfect as cuffing season (when people find a winter beau to stay warm) ends, and summer fast approaches. Warm weather breeds the yearning for the benefits of being single. Well, for some. Feeling played by his girl the Pied Piper has a solution to deal with her late night hours– “hit the club and take somebody home with me.” This is the second single from his upcoming album Write Me Back, a follow-up to 2010′s Love Letter. A master of evoking something, anything within the listener, this track channels a bit of what makes Stevie Wonder great. It makes you feel the music. “Feelin’ Single” never felt so good.

[Photo: Getty Images]

Putting A ‘Hit’ On Mob Wives

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Way back when, in late 2010, we were tasked with music supervising a brand new series set to premiere in January, 2011. The series was called Mob Wives, and to be honest, we were a little afraid. Ok, a lot afraid. But we knew it was going to be good, as the characters were undeniably compelling. The women’s rich histories, blended with their tough-as-nails personalities, all set against the NYC backdrop was going to produce nothing less than riveting television.

One afternoon, when we were sitting in a listening session for the new Raphael Saadiq record (and his song “Good Man” specifically), it struck us. This was the type of music that would define and help edify the story lines in this brand new series. Retro Soul/Blues were genres coming back with a vengeance and Raphael was the first of many great artists we would find to create the defining soundtrack to the series. Plan B, Charles Bradley, Fitz and the Tantrums, Mayer Hawthorne, Pauline, Eliza Doolittle, Sola Rosa, Aloe Blacc, Graffiti 6, Maverick Sabre, Lee Fields and the Expressions, Gary Clark, Jr. , and of course the theme song, “The Big Bang” by Rock Mafia, were just few of the artists we placed throughout the first two seasons of Mob Wives.
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Russell Simmons Wants People To “Get Off Rihanna’s D*ck,” Writes A Letter Defending Her

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Russell Simmons Defends Rihanna In Blog Post

Rihanna has probably ran out of Fs to give about anyone having an opinion regarding her personal life. That didn’t keep hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons from coming to her defense on his website GlobalGrind.com. Our favorite bad girl has kept quiet thus far about the alleged shade Chris Brown threw her way in his freestyle over Kanye’s “Way Too Cold.” Shortly after 2Chainz’s “No Lie” featuring Drake dropped there was speculation on whether or not Drake was dissing the pop star when he rapped, “Then I f*cked her once and never f*cked again / She could have a Grammy, I still treat that ass like a nominee / Just need to know what that p*ssy like so one time, it’s fine with me.” Annoyed with the alleged attacks on Rihanna, on Mother’s Day Simmons tweeted, “Everyone needs to get off @rihanna’s d*ck…” with the link to a two paragraph post he wrote of the same title. In the letter Simmons calls out the double standard of rappers being able to sleep with a bunch of women without being called a h*, but a woman is scrutinized for her sexual liberation. Uncle Rush has a point, but this is all so…soap opera like. Read more…

Jaden Smith Has Bars In “Give It To Em” Video

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He’s Will Smith’s son, son! Of course Jaden Smith would be nice on the mic, but we didn’t imagine he’d have lyrical punchlines that put some of his peers twice his senior to shame. One can hear the adolescence in the pitch of his 13-year-old voice in the short video to “Give It To Em.” But what he lacks in baritone he makes up for in rhymes. When he raps, “Young, black with accessories, and I’m doing well never seen a penitentiary. ‘Cause they can’t sentence the greatest emcee they’ve ever seen. No I’m not but if you gon’ battle me you better be,” all of his youthfulness becomes a distant thought. Read more…

Kris Allen Teams Up With The VH1 Save The Music Foundation

by (@unclegrambo)

Arkansas native Kris Allen went from being a virtually unknown musician to a household name in the span of just four short months back in 2009 when he won the eighth season of American Idol. Despite selling over 1.7 million copies of his chart-topping single “Live Like We’re Dying,” Allen has managed to stay incredibly humble and down to earth, as evidenced by his participation in Starburst’s Music With The Masters series. Recently, he spent the day at hanging out with sixth, seventh and eighth grade students at Robert Frost Middle School in Los Angeles, where he performed a show in that school’s auditorium that benefited the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. In addition to his biggest hit to date, “Live Like You’re Dying,” he performed “The Vision Of Love,” the first single off his new album, Thank You Camellia, which will be released later this month.

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That Metal Debate: That Metal Show‘s Top 5 Black Sabbath Riffs

by (@_bobina)

This week on That Metal Show, we welcomed The Cult’s Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy, as well as German metal vocalist DORO Pesch. We rocked out with TMS alum Frank Hannon, who returned as our guest musician for the second week in a row. We also asked Tom Morello to stop by our TMS Top 5 segment and help us come up with the Top 5 Black Sabbath riffs of all time.

Over the past 40 years, the legendary Tony Iommi has given us such a magnitude of amazing riffs that it’s nearly impossible to cut the list down to a mere five. How do you choose from the iconic “Heaven and Hell” riff (which fans sing along to in stadiums), the punishingly heavy, haunting riff of “Black Sabbath,” and the “Iron Man” riff, which is arguably the most recognizable of all time? After much debate, the boys were able to narrow down the TMS TOP 5 Sabbath Riffs. Here’s what they came up with: Read more…

Jay-Z To Curate And Headline Philadelphia’s “Made In America” Festival

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No one but Jay-Z can host a press conference with the mayor of a major city standing next to Freeway and have people in the audience yelling, “Hova, Hova, Hova.” Today, the Brooklyn bred rapper, introduced by Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, announced in a press conference that he would not only headline Budweiser’s “Made In America” two day concert in Philadelphia, but that he’s also curating the event.

As the curator, Jay-Z will select all of the musical acts, which puts the power in his own hands for presenting the type of show he’d want to see if he was an attendee. As someone who has been in the music industry for over 15 years and collaborated with artists that reach all across the spectrum, the choices are limitless. On September 1 and September 2, the festival will take place in Fairmount Park and will include other musical acts that haven’t been announced. Tight lipped as usual, Jay would only say that 70% of the musical guests have been confirmed. According to the New York Times, the “concert will assemble an eclectic lineup of rock, hip-hop, R&B, Latin and dance musicians, according to a news release from its organizers.” Read more…

Tuned In: Usher Makes The SNL Audience “Scream”, Then “Climax”

by (@unclegrambo)

Usher‘s new album, Looking For Myself, isn’t set to be released until June 12, but he’s already pulling out all the stops to make sure his fans know that he’s got a new collection of his patented sexytime jams on the way. Two weeks ago, he collaborated with the cast of Fuerza Bruta for a special, one-night only multimedia spectacle, and this weekend, he appeared on Saturday Night Live to perform the first two singles from the record, “Scream” (video above) and “Climax.”

“Got no drink in my hand but I’m wasted/Getting drunk on the thought of you naked,” Usher declares early on his newest club banger, “Scream.” This energetic track seems poised to join the likes of Usher’s previous smash singles like “Yeah!” and “OMG” as huge summer radio hits, while his slow-burning, Diplo-collab “Climax” —which has been out for a few months now— is currently sitting at #1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Is this going to be the Summer of Usher? We have yet to hit Memorial Day, but at this point, it sure looks like it. Read more…

Nicki Minaj Gives The “Old Nicki” Hip-Hop Vibe At Wango Tango

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Nicki Minaj smiling at Wango Tango

When Nicki Minaj performs one never knows whether to expect Roman, Martha, just Nicki or all three. Usually all three make an appearance at some point, which makes for a thrilling and versatile set. Over the weekend Minaj performed at Wango Tango, the 15th annual all-day concert hosted by LA’s KIIS FM. A white long tutu clad Minaj performed “Did It On ‘Em,” “Beez In The Trap,” “Right By My Side,” “Roman’s Holiday” and a remix of Big Sean’s “Dance (A$$).” So far this year Minaj’s performances have been somewhat of a doozy. Remember the creepy exorcism at the GRAMMY awards? Well, for this performance Minaj channeled Roman, but also brought the element of hip-hop that we’d love to see more of. Read more…