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…
Performing at Coachella for two consecutive weekends must be intense for artists. They understand that each show is different, as is each audience. Doing an exact repeat performance of a set that has already been viewed around the ‘net by thousands of fans could be career suicide. (Well, at least Coachella career suicide.) Frank Ocean, an artist whose reputation has been built up by the Internet, is definitely someone who recognizes this, so he made sure to switch things up a bit this weekend by covering Lauryn Hill’s beloved “Tell Him” right out of the gates. The minute the crowd recognized the words, they went crazy. Not just because they were familiar, though, but because of the way Frank took the slow steady route, singing smoothly over the mellow instrumentals.
Ocean also gave the crowd another treat with his new song, “Forrest Gump,” which he explained to the rabid crowd as being on “one of his new jams” from his upcoming LP.
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!
We don’t expect to see a full reunion of The Fugees anytime soon (as you may recall, the trio’s 2007 attempt to re-form fizzled), but we were excited to hear about, and disappointed to have missed, the re-teaming of two of the three members on Saturday at the New York City date of the Rock the Bells festival mini-tour. Lauryn Hill was the main-stage headliner, slated to perform The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill start-to-finish (though she only played ten of the album’s thirteen songs?the first nine and then “Everything Is Everything”).
Then Pras took the stage. If this was a planned surprise, it went off perfectly: no one knew beforehand that Pras would be making an appearance. Sowmya Krishnamurthy‘s Village Voice review suggests it may have been genuinely impromptu: “‘This is how Fugees do it. They just show up!’ Hill proclaimed, clearly not thrilled.” She and Pras have had their differences over the years, but under the circumstances, what could Hill do but oblige his request and perform “Ready Or Not” and “Killing Me Softly”? Hill may not have been thrilled, but everyone else on Governor’s Island seemed to be.
Guitarist Jay Gore, who played with Lauryn Hill on her 2007 European tour has stepped up his legal claims against the singer. After initially seeking $3590 in back pay in small claims court two weeks ago (as reported by TMZ), Gore has now claimed that the tour was a hostile work environment and is asking for more than $20,000.
According to a follow-up TMZ report, the new documents claim that “after shows, Hill would demand that the musicians and road support personnel attend meetings where she would engage in a person-by-person critique and berating.” Sounds a lot like the touring prime of James Brown (not that the resemblance excuses Hill or Brown).
Last month Lauryn Hill made her first late night appearance in years for Bob Marley Week on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and she must have had a great experience with the show, because she was back last night to play her classic single “Doo Wop (That Thing).” The very pregnant Hill showed no signs of flagging energy as she and her band (without any need of help from The Roots, even) blasted through a slightly sped-up version of the song. We don’t want to add more weight to the expectations many had (and still have) for Hill as an artist, but we can’t help but note that she remains an extraordinarily talented MC, and her band was right in the pocket.
The 2011 Coachella Festival is a wrap! Sadly, we didn’t go, but here are five reasons we wish we had:
Those who stuck it out through Cee Lo Green‘s transportation-delayed (and, by some accounts, uninspiring performance) on the main stage Friday were rewarded with a razor-sharp set from Lauryn Hill, who immediately followed. After the enormous success of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which struck a chord with millions?Adele called the album “life-defining” in last week’s Rolling Stone? Hill shrank from the spotlight, and her performances of late have been as sporadic in quality as they have in quantity. But Spinreports that she was in top form at Coachella, and we can’t doubt after watching set-closer “Doo Wop (That Thing)”:
If Lauryn Hill‘s most recent public behavior (remember this amazing interview?) left you worrying about her mental stability, you aren’t alone: Lauryn’s former Fugee cohort Wyclef Jean tells Rolling Stone that he thinks the diva could use some counseling. Bellows Clef:
“I felt sorry for her, because I think she needs psychiatric help. I felt like she’s bipolar. You can’t get angry with someone who’s sick…So I even called her mom, and I stressed to her, ‘Yo, you need to get her psychiatric help.’ But I think they all fear her to death. She wasn’t always like this – but if someone has the ego and you keep feeding the ego, it’s going to turn monstrous.“
While the third Fugee in the equation, Pras, has never been shy about telling the press exactly what he thinks is wrong with Lauryn, Wyclef has been at least slightly more discrete. Perhaps he’s finally given up on the dream of the Fugees reunion. Maybe he’s really concerned for his former bandmate. Or it could be that he’s just really desperate for attention, what with his new album sitting on shelves, and all. [New York Post]
Lauryn Hill delivers her best performance since the 1999 Grammy Awards (remember when she actually made good music?) in a video recently uploaded to YouTube, and she doesn’t sing a note. For almost 15 minutes Lauryn, who’s rocking a bag-lady-does-Oprah look, mugs (see above), uses the phrase “Western paradigm,” and rambles about her career and fame. She does this all in a borderline belligerent manner that totally reminds me of a pre-zonked Whitney Houston, Newport-nasty voice and all. Oh, and adding to the weirdness, the interviewer facilitating Lauryn’s chatter is none other than the sister of Technotronic rapper Ya Kid K. I know! Lauryn, it would seem, is at the tipping point and it’s freakin’ genius. It’s soooooo good to have her back.
Watch the video and read some of the best, most self-important quotes from it after the jump:
The Fugees‘ reunion finally has been put out of its misery. The regrouping of hip-hop’s one-time most-loved collective has been sputtering with infrequent appearances and half-hearted promises of a new record since Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Praskicked it off during the filming of Dave Chappelle‘s Block Party in September 2004. Pras has gone on record to officially slay the slow-moving and temperamental beast that the Fugees have become:
“We went in the studio and recorded a couple records that were incredible. But, to put it nicely, it’s dead. Me and Clef, we on the same page, but Lauryn is in her zone, and I’m fed up with that s***. Here she is, blessed with a gift, with the opportunity to rock and give and she’s running on some bulls***? I’m a fan of Lauryn’s but I can’t respect that.” [Billboard.com]
You might win some, but hip-hop just lost a big one.