Six years ago Nas‘ conviction on the state of hip-hop–he believed it was dead–left several of his peers disgruntled and defensive. Ticking rap heads off aside, Hip Hop Is Dead charted at No. 1. How’s that for a non-response to the critics? On the day of his 10th album release for Life Is Good, VH1 talked with the master storyteller to find out what he thought about hip-hop today. Obviously the backlash years ago didn’t phase him because he said if he felt the genre was in trouble again, he’d say it. Again. Although he doesn’t think it’s dead right now, he thinks it has died many deaths. Read more…
Upon first glance at the title alone, “Bitch Bad,” it’s easy to dismiss Lupe Fiasco’s second single from Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album PT.1 as just another misogynistic rap song calling women “bitches.” Of course with an artist like Lupe nothing is as simple as it seems on the surface. Within the first line of the song– “I say bitch bad, woman good, lady better”–it’s clear Lupe is going to satirize the concept of “bad bitches” telling the story from how derogatory and damaging the reference can be. Read more…
Ice-T wants rap to be respected as an art form. As director of the documentary Something From Nothing: Art of Rap, Ice-T interviewed 52 rappers and had 35 more in queue. It seems that rap’s global influence is undeniable, but that doesn’t mean the genre is respected in the way jazz or Rock is. As Ice-T put it, people think rapping is easy and anyone can do it. Through the Art of Rap Ice-T uses a legion of rappers to showcase the intricacies, complexities and technique of the music that formed in the late 70s. Read more…
Summer is fast approaching and we’re ready to bring on the BBQs, rooftop parties and most of all the concerts. What’s summer without indulging in live performances of the artists you love? Two of the biggest hip-hop concerts this summer, Summer Jam and Rock the Bells, have some acts lined up that are going to be bananas! Not that you’d go wrong attending either, but because they’re as different as night and day, we’ve broken down why one of these concerts rules as the must-see concert of the summer.
1. The headliners tell you everything you need to know about a show.
One of the biggest names in hip-hop, Nicki Minaj, is headlining Summer Jam along with Rick Ross, Waka Flocka and Young Jeezy. As far as mainstream rap, Summer Jam has it covered. With Nicki you’ll get a bit of hip-pop, Waka will make everyone dance and Rick Ross and Jeezy offer the trap anthems to make even the most suburban girl get hype.
Where do we even begin with the headliners for Rock the Bells? Its very big name acts run the gamut of the likes of Nas, Kid Cudi, Wiz Khalifa, Missy Elliott & Timbaland and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. It doesn’t get more versatile than Nas, one of hip-hop’s legends, and the fairly newbie Wiz Khalifa rocking the stage at the same festival. And Missy Elliott & Timbaland…together! That’s some epic 90s skeez right there. We’re singing, “Supa dupa fly, supa dupa fly” just thinking about it.
2. Whose lineup has the most artists hot in the streets right now? Read more…
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…
There’s been a great deal of incessant chatter about rap newcomer Iggy Azalea. While some question the 21-year-old Australian rapper’s authenticity, others know all the words to her latest single “Murda Bizness.” Iggy first made a few splashes on the Internet after the release of her video “Pu$$y.” To date, “Pu$$y” has over 835,000 YouTube visits. In September 2011 Ignorant Art dropped as her first official mixtape. “My World” directed by Alex/2Tone was the next video released that garnered Iggy the much needed attention to get the ball rolling on her career. Her high fashion look and undetectable accent was captivating. People wanted to know who the latest white female rapper to hit scene was. She wasn’t anything like Kreayshawn. Her southern influence, apparent in her sound, set her apart from the competition–if there ever was any. People quickly wondered if she had the chops to break through the genre dominated by black males.
This year, Iggy’s career hit big. In January, she was signed to Interscope Records by none other than Jimmy Iovine himself. According to Iggy, she restructured her deal so she could sign with Grand Hustle, T.I.’s label, having the best of both worlds. In April, XXL featured her on their Freshman Class list. With a nod from the self-proclaimed King of the South, coupled with XXL’s stamp of approval, Iggy seems to be on her way to a skyrocketing career. But what about longevity? Does she have what it takes to weather the ever-evolving world of hip-hop?
Tonight, legendary emcee Nas joins this season’s Behind the Music alumni of artists like Aaliyah, Nelly, T-Pain, Game and Akon. In the program, the Queens rapper —who entered the hip hop game back in 1994 with the classic Illmatic— opens up about life, love, loss and beef.
Speaking of the latter, Nas’ 2001 rivalry with Jay-Z was, without question, one of hip-hop’s all-time biggest beefs. In this exclusive clip, Nas talks about his reconciliation with one of the game’s biggest luminaries. After the diss records and the hype had dwindled, Nas remembers L.A. Reid asking if he’d be willing to talk to Jay. He went to the studio where Jay was, and like two true New Yorkers whose hearts beat hip-hop, the two dapped each other while laughing. When Nas signed to Def Jam in 2006, Jay-Z said, “You can’t sign an artist of Nas stature. You can only partner with him.”
Watch Behind the Music: Nas tonight at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
If we were in a relationship with Jay-Z and Kanye West, we’d need to have a serious sit-down regarding mixed signals. We got some arguably underwhelming “H.A.M.” back in January, and next they came with haircut symbol of album completion in May. Then, two weeks ago, we got confirmation that they were quietly pushing the Watch The Throne back. Considering the LP is due out digitally on August 1st (physically on August 5th), the suspense was thickening, and we were starting to get antsy about their level of commitment.
Like most men, however, this pair just need space to come around when they’re good and ready. Virtuous patience paid off; last night, Jay and ‘Ye finally showed us some love and released “Otis,” and, just like that, our relationship is repaired. After first being played on New York City’s Hot 97 via FunkMaster Flex, the track that samples Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness” was officially liberated for consumption.
Proud and pompous verses ricochet back and forth between the two emcees on the song, invoking nostalgia for past collaborations like “Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)” and “Never Let Me Down.” And even though the intoxicating sample is sprinking pixie dust in our eyes, this may not be the powerful single and Song of The Summer that we’ve been waiting for. That said, the gang is intact, and they definitely haven’t let us down.
He calls him self a “sexual gorilla”? and explains the erotic particulars of a “human banana split” – on his new record, Ray J reminds us that he’s not only a VIP and celebreality star, he’s also a red-blooded dude with an eye for the ladies.
For The Love of Ray J (The Soundtrack) boasts that famous Ray J hush, a vocal style that makes it seem like he’s whispering in your ear. A handful of pals help out on various tracks: Warren G, Shorty Mack, Slim Thug, and Sheek Louch all show up for a bit.
“Sex in the Rain” and “Dirty Samantha” are items of interest. But those who are glued to VH1 on Monday nights are going to have to hear what the CD’s title cut says about each of the women on his hit show – yes, including Danger. Get the entire track listing and an X-Rated Ray J photo gallery after the jump.
“Don’t know if you got a man or not/if god put me in ya plans or not/I’m tripping, this drink got me saying a lot…”
It’s not the drink that’s got Kanye West gabbing – he’s always got something to say. This Saturday night, his subject of choice is his rather incredible songs and the tales behind their creation. His latest CD, 808s & Heartbreak, is all about love lost. Expect lots of vivid explanations.
The Kanye West edition of our Storytellers show is one of the most exciting we’ve ever had. What’s the set list include? We’ll tell you the show’s songs right here. Put hip-hop in your plans on Saturday night at 9/8c.? Come back to VH1.com after the show for some extra, online-exclusive, performances.