Quitting Twitter only to return days later is the new publicity stunt for celebrities —no matter how big or small— looking to make blog headlines. Harlem-bred Azealia Banks is easily one of our favorite upcoming artists of any genre. Her dance sound, reminiscent of garage music, is refreshing, yet her raw lyrics are the epitome of “real” hip-hop. The fast eccentric flow on “212″ is unlike anything any other artist — male OR female — is currently doing in hip-hop. As odd as the sound seemed upon first listen, we have been hypnotized by the 21-year-old woman that rapped, “What you gone do when I appear? When I premiere?” Apparently we weren’t the only ones intrigued by what she had to offer. To date, over 19 million people on YouTube have watched the “212″ video, and that’s with her still being a somewhat underground artist.
Buzz has continued to grow around Banks’ music career, as many are hoping that she will eventually become the female rapper to give Nicki Minaj a healthy dose of competition. However, just as the excitement about her music began to burgeon, so has the controversy. Since Banks is not quite mainstream, there are few interviews or TV appearances that fans can turn to for perspective on her personality or who she is as an artist. Therefore, Twitter became the platform where she seemed the most comfortable expressing herself. Fans connected with her there, and onlookers were able to gauge the burning question, “Who is Azealia Banks?” Although her tweets would never be able to define all of who she is, it did reveal some disturbing traits that would turn out to become consistent patterns. Read more…
Get Rich or Die Trying, right? 50 Cent came up with that motto, and it’s clear to us that he abides by it to this day. Last night, the G-Unit head popped over to home shopping network QVC to hawk his SMS headphones. According to his pitch, the headphones sound “absolutely extraordinary,” and work wirelessly from up to 50 feet away. They are, he says, “an extension of his pasion for music.” And at a steep $249.95 —or 5 easy payments of $49.95!— and with the help of the nice host and a very excited woman, they are sold out.
The first thing 50 did was sell himself. Referring to himself as “his favorite rap artist” and joking that “every now and then he comes out with something that’s pretty good” while “21 Questions” plays. He is his number one product, after all.
The second thing he did was knock a pair a pair of headphones off their display stand. By our count, he does this at least twice in this seven-minute clip. But, like he says, they are durable!
With five studio albums, four EPs and two live albums under their belt, Gossip is not new to the game. Since 2001, longtime lovers of the genre-twisting, dance-punk band have been savvy to frontwoman Beth Ditto‘s brazen stage presence and witnessed how thoroughly guitarist Brace Paine and drummer Hannah Blilie enhances the trinity’s high-powered sound.
Passion for Gossip is more of a slow burn in the U.S., while in Europe, especially Germany, the Portland-based band is virtually Hasselhoffian in their appeal. According to Ditto, they’re perfectly okay with that, because if all else fails, beauty school is an option. But it looks like with their first album in three years, A Joyful Noise, this best-kept secret may not fly under the radar for too much longer. So Ditto may have to shelve her shears for a while with critics like Idolator labeling their second major-label effort as “the best album of 2012 … so far.” Gossip even has a celebrity super fan in Sacha Baron Cohen. Read more…
When 25-year-old British singer Emeli Sandé visited the VH1 offices a few months back, her performance left several employees in tears. Her live performance of “Clown” at Williamsburg Music Hall moved me to tears as well. Her poignant voice coupled with the mastery she possesses of writing beautiful songs is why she’s our June You Oughta Know artist. Her debut album, Our Version of Events, may be new to the U.S. audiences, but it has already topped the UK Album Charts at number one. Within the first two weeks of release in the UK the album sold 300,000 copies, and has already reached platinum status according to the British Phonographic Industry. Her official U.S. first single, “Next to Me,” is an ode to her boyfriend. Sandé wrote the song because she wanted a radio hit that uplifted good men, which she says there isn’t enough of. Read more…
Hot 97 DJ Peter Rosenberg stirred up the biggest hip hop controversy of the last few months when he put Nicki Minaj on blast during the pre-game tailgate before the powerhouse radio station’s annual Summer Jam concert two Sundays ago. “I know there are some chicks here waiting to sing ‘Starships’ later,” he said to the crowd. “I’m not talking to y’all right now. F*** that bullsh*t. I’m here to talk about real hip-hop sh*t.” Word of this hardcore dis quickly made its way to Young Money head honcho Lil Wayne, who reacted by pulling Minaj from her headlining spot on the show just hours before she was supposed to hit the stage.
Minaj later called into Funkmaster Flex’s program on Hot 97 to defend herself, but she has yet to bury the hatchet with Rosenberg. However, Rosenberg himself seems ready to put the whole situation behind him, as he and his fellow Hot 97 compadre Angie Martinez showed up at Caroline’s Comedy Club in Midtown Manhattan the other night and showed this “surveillance camera footage” of what “really” happens when Rosenberg and his crew go off the air (please note the use of scare quotes). You guessed it, Rosenberg puts on a pink wig and dances around the studio lip syncing “Starships”!
Zac Efron (pictured above) has famously inked the motto to his wrist, and kids are adopting it as a clever excuse. Your mom probably knows what it means. And Drake can hardly believe it. “It’s like an epidemic,” he said, suggesting that “Y.O.L.O.” — the acronym he uses for “You Only Live Once” on the hook of “The Motto” — has taken on a life of its own. And he doesn’t seem upset that you all like it so much, but he has begun to wonder if he can still use it as a title for that collaborative mixtape he and Rick Ross have been teasing for some time now.
But worry not: as Y.O.L.O. or otherwise, the tape will probably still happen. “A Drake and Ross project I think would be amazing,” he says, adding that, “That’s something even I would want to listen to.”
Lil’ Kim‘ probably didn’t imagine that, when she rapped “no matter where you from, put your lighters up” in “Lighters Up,” a young troubador from England would eventually take heed. But, here we have it: Ed Sheeran, putting his lighter up, so to speak, during a set last night at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. In town to celebrate the stateside release of his debut album +, the 21-year-old You Oughta Know artist who hails from Halifax, England skillfully wove a cover of the Queen Bee’s ode to Brooklyn into his own “Grade 8.” And, of course, the crowd went wild.
In the above video, Keernan sets up with a little beat boxing and then transitions into his half-rapped “Grade 8,” at one point dropping in (at around 2:40) a few lines borrowed from Kim. “It’s the land of trouble / Brooklyn home of the greatest rappers / Big comes first then the queen comes after,” he rhymes, leaving —at least for now— himself out of it.
Powerful and sultry, Dion’s cover is at once faithful to the Grammy-sweeping original and worthy of its place in Dion’s hugely successful Vegas show. According to the Las Vegas Sun, the cover takes the place of that the Michael Jackson medley she did in runs past. It may also show up on her upcoming album, Water and Flame, which will include covers, some new material, and a duet with Ne-Yo.
“I love Adele so much. She’s amazing,” Celine professed to the approving Sin City crowd. So do we, Celine. So do we.
Waka Flocka’s first album may be a nod to the late poetic Tupac, but Flocka, lyrically, is no Pac. And he knows it. His sophomore album Triple F Life: Friends, Fans, Family drops today, but the southern rapper, better known for club bangers than lyrical content, wants listeners to know if they’re expecting lyricism they will be disappointed. In an interview with Billboard.com the rapper said, “If you’re looking for lyrics, throw it out the window. Go throw on Watch the Throne.” We’re not sure if that’s a great marketing tactic, but at least he’s honest. That’s got to count for something. Read more…