by (@unclegrambo)

VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul Adds Anita Baker, Mavis Staples And More To The List Of Performers

We’ve been counting down the days to VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul as part of our 12 Days Of DIVAS retrospective; if you’re playing along at home, today’s magic number is 10! This year’s extravaganza will be airing on VH1 on Monday, December 19 at 9 p.m. ET/8 CT, and will feature performances from superstars like Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Jill Scott, Florence + The Machine, Kelly Clarkson, Jessie J and more.

As awesome as this lineup is going to be, we’ve got even better news to share with you this morning: Motown legend Anita Baker, Windy City native Mavis Staples, Queen of Rockabilly Wanda Jackson and jazzy vocalist supreme Ledisi have been added the list of this year’s oustanding stable of talent. We’ve also made some announcements regarding this year’s presenters, which you can read as part of this press release that just hit the wires…

VH1 DIVAS CELEBRATES SOUL ADDS ANITA BAKER, MAVIS STAPLES, WANDA JACKSON AND LEDISI AS PERFORMERS AND DOLLY PARTON, QUEEN LATIFAH, TERRENCE HOWARD, NAS, COMMON AND LA LA ANTHONY AS PRESENTERS

Red Carpet to be Livestreamed on VH1.com on Sunday, December 18

VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul Pays Tribute to the Great Cities of Soul Music Including Chicago, Detroit, London, Memphis and Philadelphia

Special will air Monday, December 19 at 9 PM/8c on VH1

To Tweet This Release: http://on.vh1.com/divaspr3

NEW YORK – December 8, 2011 – VH1’s beloved, popular franchise, VH1 DIVAS, announced today additional performers to join this year’s tribute to soul music including: Anita Baker, Mavis Staples, Wanda Jackson and Ledisi. In addition, Dolly Parton, Queen Latifah, Terrence Howard, Nas, Common and La La Anthony will participate as presenters in paying homage to these cities and soul music’s timeless classics at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom. VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul premieres Monday, December 19 at 9 PM/8c on VH1.

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by (@katespencer)

Common Calls Kanye A Genius, Wants To Work With Mumford And Sons

Talking to Common is like being sucked into a sexy, soulful vortex filled with sensitive, meaningful eye contact and Miles Davis shout outs. Really, this man is a creative god with out of this world good looks and a voice so deep it could hold all the creatures of the ocean inside it. Er, we’re not sure what that means either. It’s late. We hung out at the Grammy Nominations Concert all night. We talked to Common. Can you blame us for having a melty brain?

Gushing aside, Common’s an underground icon in the hip-hop community who performed “The Message” last night in a tribute to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. We wanted to know which nominated artists got under his skin and into his iPod. He name checked some of our faves – calling his pal Kanye West a “genius” and confessing that he’d like to collaborate with British folk hipsters Mumford & Sons. They’re featured on his new AMC show Hell On Wheels and he’s now a big fan. Common’s got an album coming out later this year – maybe there’s still time to get them on board?

by (@unclegrambo)

VH1’s 40 Most Shocking Hip Hop Moments [COMPLETE LIST]

VH1 debuted the latest countdown in our long-running The Greatest series, the 40 Most Shocking Hip Hop Moments, this evening. If you missed it, don’t worry; it will rerun tomorrow night, Monday, September 19, at midnight. If you’re looking for the complete list, look no further. Here are the 40 Most Shocking Hip Hop Moments … so far!

40) Nicki Minaj gets butt slapped by Regis Philbin
39) Wyclef runs for president of Haiti
38) 50 Cent shockingly thin Twitter pics
37) Lil Wayne goes to prison and gets grillz removed
36) Redman?s shocking Cribs episode [WATCH]
35) Cam?ron?s anti-snitching 60 Minutes interview
34) Dr. Dre?s shocking transformation at VMAs
33) Sir Mix-A-Lot?s raunchy ?Put ?Em on the Glass? video
32) Lil Mama crashes stage during Jay-Z and Alicia Keys VMA performance
31) Suge Knight knocked out

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Hip-Hop For Your Holiday Weekend

We were pretty disappointed to report that Watch the Throne won’t be released on Monday, so we thought, since you might feel the same way, we’d offer a few listening alternatives:

“I Hate Myself” by Lil B

The false rumors had it that Watch the Throne would have a surprise digital release, which actually isn’t a bad strategy, as far as avoiding leaks is concerned. In fact, Lil B did exactly that two days ago; his new album I’m Gay showed up for sale on iTunes late Wednesday night. “I Hate Myself,” the album’s eighth track, samples a monster hit from a 1998 soundtrack. See if you can guess it without clicking. (Hint: the song holds the record for most weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart.)

For more thoughts on Lil B, click over to The Awl, where Dave Bry used “three makes a trendpiece” logic to talk about how young rappers like Lil B, Tyler the Creator, and Drake are referencing Marvin Gaye in order to permit themselves to talk about their feelings (while punning on the Motown legend’s last name). Or check the rave review penned by Lupe Fiasco, whose video for “Out of My Head,” featuring Trey Songz, premiered yesterday on MTV.

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by (@Lacezilla)

Kanye Showcases His G.O.O.D Music Team and New Tunes in NYC

Before officially catching the wild wave of success that he continues to ride to this day, Kanye West was on a mission to prove his own talent and worth to the world. During that time, hip hop vet Jay-Z was the big brother, the mentor, and the boss man, letting Kanye audition tracks for placement on Roc-A-Fella Records artists’ albums. Fast-forward twelve years, and it’s Kanye who is now on the verge of building an empire, and his one-stop-shopping label, management, and production hybrid G.O.O.D Music could be his ticket out from under the giant-sized shadow of Jigga Man. Things move pretty fast in hip hop, but whether you know it or not, you may already be familiar with some artists Kanye’s signed to his squad, including Common, John Legend, “Day N Night” breakout artist Kid Cudi, and Pusha T: one half of brotherly rap duo Clipse, and the artist who performed with ‘Ye on last year’s VMAs. Other members of the G.O.O.D Music team (acronym for Getting Out Our Dreams), however, are either newer to the music world, or still taking time to build a tangible buzz. Either way,?they might be worth getting familiar with before it’s too late!

Last Thursday night, in front of a ravenous Brooklyn crowd and with the help of Heineken’s summer concert series Red Star Access, Kanye unleashed a G.O.O.D Music showcase on the masses. Performing solo hits and giving his crop of artists their own short sets to shine, Yeezy would go back and forth appearing on stage, and at times, joined his proteges for songs they’ve collaborated on together. A good example and important collabo to note, freshly leaked “Marvin Gaye and Chardonnay” is a song that will be included on G.O.O.D/Def Jam rapper Big Sean’s debut album Finally Famous, out June 28th. At the album’s exclusive listening party held (also in NYC) on Tuesday of last week, Kanye compared the young, up-and-coming rapper to Beyonce, saying he had the potential to be what she is to R&B, but in hip hop. Hell of an introduction, wouldn’t you say? Certainly no pressure to Sean, who luckily? already has a? healthy following off of mixtapes released over the past four years. And speaking of Beyonce, there’s a rumor brewing? that Kanye and his team of G.O.O.D. Music hooligans (including Pusha, CyHi Da Prynce, Kid Cudi and Big Sean) will guest-star on a yet-to-be-released remix for “Party,” the song that we’re keeping on eye on for Song of the Summer.?

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Nas Controversy Fizzes Up

nas-n-word.jpgThe controversy over Nas‘ forthcoming ablum, Nigger, is growing more intense with news that one of its songs subverts the old Dr. Pepper jingle by replacing the word “Pepper” with the N-word:

“I’m a nigger, he’s a nigger,
she’s a nigger, we’re a nigger
Wouldn’t you like to be a nigger too?”
– From Nas’ “Be A Nigger Too” (Listen here)

Before this latest shocker, a lot had been written about who is in support of Nas’ album title (Jay-Z, Common, Alicia Keys, Don Imus) and who isn’t (NAACP, Jesse Jackson, 50 Cent). 50 Cent, among others, says Nas is going for “shock value.” The fact that rappers have embraced the word and rendered it less hurtful and more banal through overuse for at least two decades may lend some credence to his claim. Maybe this is why Nas’ earlier statement seemed kind of weak:

“I wanna make the word easy on muthaf***ers’ ears. You see how white boys ain’t mad at ‘cracker’ ’cause it don’t have the same [sting] as ‘nigger’? I want ‘nigger’ to have less meaning [than] ‘cracker.'”

But Nas’ new song could pull more people into his corner and back up Jay-Z’s earlier statement: “I know he’s very intelligent and there’s a reason behind what he’s doing.” Pairing a once-omnipresent commercial song that is childlike in its simplicity with one of the most incendiary words in the English language raises so many questions that it could make heads explode. Could Nas be commenting on how big business packages and sells just about anything to kids — from soft drinks to gangsta rap? Could he be attempting to hit back at the very commercialization that has damaged hip-hop as an art form? Could he be doing all of the above and stirring up controversy to sell albums, too?

Nas’ intentions may not yet be totally clear, but we’re all waiting to hear more. — Matt Muro

[Photo: Getty Images]

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Grammy Predictions: Who Will Win What?

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Each year the act of predicting which artists will take home a Grammy becomes one of pop music’s great guessing games. Someone picks a category, and everyone becomes a pundit. That includes us. We want your comments, too. Do you think our choices are right? Watch the show with us this Sunday night, and join our LIVE BLOG commentary right here at 8 pm.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

Beyonce: ?Irreplaceable?
This screed about how the value of self-important men begins with a set of instructions: ?To the left, to the left/ Everything you own in a box to the left.? Wonder how Jay-Z took that line?

Foo Fighters: ?The Pretender?
Moderate rock, Dave Grohl-style: loud, passionate, dynamic, classic, and prog. Don?t forget the mildly rousing refrain of ?Who are you?? But, sorry, it?s still boring.

Rihanna: ?Umbrella?
Barbados? answer to Madonna returned with a Jerry Bruckheimer-sized blockbuster of a disc, and this song, which stuck in our heads for the entire summer, was the centerpiece.

Justin Timberlake: ?What Goes Around . . . Comes Around?
When coupled with Timbaland?s production, Justin?s soft-pop R&B added up to a great big rock opera.

Amy Winehouse: ?Rehab?
They tried to make her go to rehab; she said no, no, no. Then she said yes, got some help in London, was denied a U.S. entry visa, and can?t perform at the Grammys. Too bad, since the song so thoroughly sums up the problems of 2007.

SHOULD WIN: ?Rehab?
WILL WIN: ?Umbrella?

BEST HIP-HOP ALBUM

Common: Finding Forever
Half hard, half hippie. Working the poetic tip, he keeps his political and philosophical ideas up front. Kanye’s production, even when it?s florid, does a great job of selling ?em.

Nas: Hip-Hop Is Dead
Big indictment from the Queens MC, but Nas is nothing if not a provocateur. Though it?s not a home run, it?s gripping. And that flow of his can still make your jaw drop.

Jay-Z: Kingdom Come
Jigga bounced back, and there were lots of sharp moments, but it also felt like the true glory days of this mic fiend are gone. The American Gangster soundtrack is way stronger.

TI: T.I. vs T.I.P.
Yep, Mr. Split Personality may have been at war with himself, but that tension provided for revealing glimpse into the king of Dirty South?s psyche.

Kanye West: Graduation
Haughty is as haughty does. Hip-hop?s most reliable MC hasn?t given up on positioning himself as hip-hop?s most successful MC. But his bluster has oodles of creativity behind it, no question.

SHOULD WIN: Graduation
WILL WIN: Graduation

“Best New Artist” category after the jump.

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by (@katespencer)

Will.i.am & Scarlett Belt One Out for Obama

Will.i.am (of Black Eyed Peas fame) has wrangled a bunch of celebs, including Scarlett Johansson, Nick Cannon and Common, to sing it loud and proud in his new video supporting Barack Obama‘s presidential campaign. The senator’s famous “Yes We Can” speech has been put to music and celebs sing along as video of Obama plays beside them. It’s so pretty and powerful that a nation might find it in its heart to forgive “My Humps.” Stars making appearances in the piece include: Jesse Dylan, Tatyana Ali, John Legend, Herbie Hancock, Kate Walsh, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Aisha Tyler,and Nicole Scherzinger.

Super Tuesday is less than 24 hours away! Looking to vote and get involved? Find out about the issues, and click here to register and learn more.

by (@katespencer)

Kanye West & Common Go Viral

We love this hilarious video featuring hip hop “hit maker” Lil Royce on his quest to persuade Common and Kanye West to collaborate with him on his new album. The only problem – the tracks are all skits of him getting shot by major stars. As he explains in the video, “Lil Royce has collaborated with over 500 rappers since the mid 1980s. On many rap albums, rappers have “skits” where they shoot someone to prove how tough they are. He’s the guy they shoot.”

Check out the above clip to see if he succeeds at getting the emcees to go to town on him with a loaded gun. Be warned – there’s lots of NSFW language in this piece. But what do you expect – Lil Royce is gangsta! [FunnyorDie]

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by (@katespencer)

The Weekly Wrap Up: Mya Drops, Amy Flops, Common Gives Props

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