by (@fdot415)

EXCLUSIVE: Usher Says Confessions ‘Redefined The R&B Ballad’ 10 Years Later

USHERgalleryfeature

Ten years ago this week everyone’s fantasy boyfriend Usher released his diamond-selling juggernaut Confessions spawning five Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 hits, four of which reached No. 1, solidifying his reputation as a definitive worldwide R&B badass. We’ve already been celebrating the milestone of the record breaking hit, but our commemoration wouldn’t let be complete without a few words from the man himself. We hounded Usher for fifty-eleven days and um-teen hours until he graciously found time in between his busy schedule of shooting The Voice and recording a new album to answer our questions about the anniversary via email (yaaaaasssss!).

Read more…

by

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Jermaine Dupri Has A Few Words About Whether The Grammys Shows Enough Love To Hip-Hop And R&B

jd

Jermaine Dupri‘s been making hits and superstars since the early 90s when you couldn’t escape hearing his voice on a record dropping the infamous “So So Def” tag. When the music mogul talks you listen. After sitting down with him here in New York City yesterday, we learned how his feelings on how the Grammys recognize hip-hop and R&B are too (un)politically correct for Twitter. Read more…

by

Kris Kross Will Make You Jump, Jump For An Upcoming Performance At So So Def’s 20th Anniversary Concert

The best news we’ve heard all day is Kris Kross is getting back together, at least for one night. Let the 90s nostalgia begin! The boy duo who captured our attention two decades ago with their clothes purposely turned backward are reuniting during all-star weekend in February for the 20th anniversary concert honoring So So Def. And for one night we’ll jump up and down screaming along with the guys on our TV screen rapping, “Some of them try to rhyme but they can’t rhyme like this.” Read more…

by

Whitney Houston Inspires Even In Death With Unreleased “Never Give Up”

Whitney's "Never Give Up" Inspires

Nine months later and this writer, on occasion, still gets a little misty eyed when hearing Whitney Houston‘s voice. Not to be dramatic as if any of us actually knew her, but through her music we felt like we did.

Time has passed since the unfortunate day in February when Whitney left the world with her angelic voice to hold onto. One thing time hasn’t changed is the unique marker that sets Whitney in a class of her own. Despite the rough patches, Whitney still had it. “Never Give Up” proves that. Produced by Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox, the unreleased song is the last track on the November 13th greatest hits album I Will Always Love You – The Best of Whitney Houston. Whitney delivers an inspiring message meant to encourage us all with lyrics like, “Never, never give up/Never, never give up/No matter how many times somebody tells you it ain’t working.” A message we’ve all needed to hear at some point. Read more…

by

Nas Celebrates Release Of Life Is Good With Champagne And Celeb Friends

Nas' Album Release Party

On the eve of NasLife Is Good release, he celebrated like any Don would–with champagne, cigars and friends. Nas had a busy night with a performance of “Daughters” on the Late Show with David Letterman, an interview with Hot 97′s Funkmaster Flex and his album release party at Bagatelle in NYC. When you’re a legend of Nas’ status there’s bound to be a lot of love in the room from peers. Throughout the night he shared laughs with Swizz Beatz, Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z, Q-tip and Jermaine Dupri. Also in attendance were Beyonce, Angie Martinez, Tyson Beckford and others.

Its been four years since Nasty Nas’ last solo album, the controversial Untitled. Early reviews are already pegging Life Is Good as one of the best in his catalog, and potentially one of the best albums of the year. His road to the happy space he’s in of living his best life (word to Oprah) has been one of overcoming many trials and tribulations. But the glow in his eyes at last night’s release is the look of a man that has triumphed. The look of success and longevity. Check out our gallery of a few pictures from last night’s celebration.

View Photo Gallery

by (@unclegrambo)

CONCERT REVIEW: Leah LaBelle Turns Up The Heat For Pharrell, Jermaine Dupri And LA Reid At Sweltering Showcase

LA Reid, Jermaine Dupri, Leah LaBelle and Pharrell Williams

Whatever you do, don’t call Leah LaBelle an overnight success. While it’s true that she walked into an audition for LA Reid last year and was given a deal with Epic Records on the spot, she’s been putting in work to become an artist for the better part of the last 10 years. A former Berklee College of Music student, LaBelle was a contestant on the third season of American Idol back in 2004, but even with the support of Paula Abdul, wasn’t able to advance past the semifinal round. She kept grinding, though, posting covers of artists like Beyoncé (“Sweet Dreams”) and Frank Ocean (“Thinking About You”) on her MissLabelle1 YouTube Channel, eventually catching the eye of superproducers Pharrell Williams and Jermaine Dupri.

The trio of music industry heavyweights — LA, JD and Pharrell — have been working on material for Leah LaBelle’s debut album (release date still TBD) for close to a year now, and the stunning LaBelle decided to give the new songs a live trial-run during a 6-song showcase in front of 200 or so sweaty onlookers at New York City’s Tribeca Grand Hotel last night. Before she took the stage, each one of these gents took some time to explain what they see in LaBelle, where LA explained that “She has soul. She has real soul, like real, real bonafide singer soul, like you don’t hear. And you especially don’t hear this from girls that are so cute.”

You would expect that kind of praise from a born promoter like LA, but once LaBelle hit the stage, she more than delivered on that promise, both in the voice and looks department. There’s no use tiptoeing around the fact that LaBelle is gorgeous —the moment she hit the stage, we witnessed a hundred or so jaws simultaneously dropping to the floor— but to LA’s point, her vocal chops are legit, and she’s got that charismatic “it” factor as a performer. Truth be told, she kind of reminds us a bit of a female Robin Thicke, in that her sound is perfectly suited for the urban market in a way that feels both wholly authentic and completely organic.

View Photo Gallery

Read more…

by

How We Listened After September 11

It’s easy to think about the months following September 11, 2001 as a rude awakening from an imagined bliss (doubly fictitious, in that the peace only ever appeared to exist, and that it wasn’t that blissful to begin with). Nevertheless, the events of that day had a dramatic?and traumatic?effect on Americans, not least through our consumption of popular culture. But before the slew of original compositions responding directly to the event (of which Sound of the City has compiled what, in their estimation, were the nine worst), many listeners were already looking to music for comfort, guidance, or other emotional needs, while rejecting other music that flew in the face of those needs. Here’s what people especially did?and did not?want to hear.

Lee Greenwood “God Bless The U.S.A.” and Whitney Houston “The Star-Spangled Banner”

In the second full chart week after 9/11, Houston’s 1991 rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” re-entered the Hot 100 at #50, and Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” debuted at #16 (in 1984, the song had hit the country charts but never crossed over). In a pattern that would be reversed once digital sales became common, the songs had two chart peaks?the first when radio’s support was strongest, and the second when physical singles were re-released. Sales of “God Bless the USA” were strong enough to keep it on the chart, but not to match its debut. “The Star-Spangled Banner,” on the other hand, hit #6 on the strength of sales (and continuing radio support).
Read more…