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It’s Going Down With Brandy, Maxwell, Jill Scott, LL Cool At This Year’s Essence Music Festival

The dead of winter hasn’t hit NYC yet but the lineup for the Essence Music Festival has us dreaming of warmer weather and beignets. Every year the EMF is held in New Orleans on Fourth of July weekend to celebrate black music and culture. Brandy, Jill Scott, Maxwell and Keyshia Cole are scheduled to hit the stage for the 19th annual event that takes over the city for four days.

Eight stages will rock with a myriad of artists including LL Cool J, New Edition and Charlie Wilson; and crowds will gather around smaller stages for Mint Condition, Blackstreet, Big Daddy Kane and others. Essence Music Festival is a big deal–”one of the most important forums for non-hip-hop black music and culture” according to the New York Times.

Last summer VH1 flew to New Orleans for the food, music and culture of the city and event. One of The Top 5 Most Entertaining Moments was Dru Hill reuniting on stage! How’s that for a trip down memory lane? Summer, we miss you. Come again soon.

Jill Scott, Keyshia Cole and Brandy to Headline 2013 Essence Festival [New York Times]

[Photo: Getty Images]

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Yo: The Story Of Yo! MTV Raps Sneak Peek: Saying Goodbye With A Big Ol’ Freestyle Session

It was a sad day when Yo! MTV Raps ended after a remarkable seven year run. Tonight we’re indulging in a healthy dose of nostalgia by watching the debut of Yo: The Story of Yo! MTV Raps, which includes Tupac’s unforgettable “thug life” rant against the Hughes brothers and Mike Tyson punching host Ed Lover. And what would a look at the story behind Yo! MTV Raps be without a classic freestyle farewell from countless emcees? It’s only right that the likes of Salt-N-Pepa, Rakim, KRS-One, Redman, Method Man, Flavor Flav and others send off the show properly. Read more…

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Ice-T’s Favorite Part In Art Of Rap Documentary Is Rev Run’s Story Of Sitting In The Bathtub While Syrup Dripped In

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…

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Summer Jam Vs. Rock The Bells: Who Runs It? (POLL)

Hot 97 Summer Jam vs. Rock The Bells

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…

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MTV Memories: How YO! MTV Raps First Made Hip Hop Mainstream

With MTV officially celebrating its 30th birthday today, music nostalgia is in the air. But for each music fan, the initial introduction to MTV’s music programming was unique and personal, and likely rouses up flashbulb memories to this very day. Speaking only for myself, that initiation process started with YO! MTV Raps.

After being on the air for almost seven years, MTV first aired YO! in April of 1988. While other television outlets like BET were showcasing African-American culture at the time, MTV, quite frankly, wasn’t really in the business of having black artists’ videos on the channel. And hip hop, specifically, was certainly not yet used as a vehicle of pop culture; if it wasn’t an indisputable, mainstream force like Michael Jackson, you probably wouldn’t see African-American artists on-air besides an occasional crossover video from Run DMC and Jazzy Jeff. Unless you witnessed hip hop music and culture bubbling within New York City’s five boroughs or other domestic regional pockets first hand (or watched Video Music Box), the genre probably hadn’t really made its way into your world yet.

From it’s inception, YO! MTV Raps curated an balance of hip hop via in-the-moment self-exploration. Since hosts Fab 5 Freddy, Doctor Dr? and Ed Lover didn’t have quite enough content to populate the show’s segments at first, videos from other genres like reggae, funk, R&B and soul were peppered-in to help hip hop’s still-developing definition expand its scope. From that fundamental, harmonious and educational coexistence came more of the same, and soon light-hearted videos like Digital Underground’s “Doowutchalike” and “Humpty Dance” were seamlessly airing beside Public Enemy’s political anthem “Fight The Power” and sonically dynamic “Passin’ Me By” from The Pharcyde, and the South’s sexually-charged posse 2 Live Crew were showcased just as much as funky artists from Queens like A Tribe Called Quest. Additionally, lyrically savvy Juice Crew member Big Daddy Kane would spin alongside the West Coast’s gangster juggernaut N.W.A., and strong female voices like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte and Roxanne Shant?: all women who didn’t need to sell sex to survive.

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