His voice is immaculate, he’s humble and has a vulnerability that’s just damn precious. It’s no secret why we worship Sam Smith. During last night’s You Oughta Know Concert, we all caught ourselves getting teary-eyed watching him in performances that were nothing short of perfection. Did we mention he met the Queen of Funk Chaka Khan and even took the well-deserving title of You Oughta Know Artist of the Year? Lucky for you, we documented all of the magic.
Think about what your grandparents look like and now look at the grandparents that we found in music. You are not going to believe your eyes…
Beside’s Kevin Hart’s hilarious set Saturday night, there were some pretty LOL-worthy instances at Essence Music Festival in New Orleans this past weekend, and even though it was impossible to be everywhere and see everything, we put together a short list of our Top 5 Most Entertaining Moments for you all to experience vicariously.
1. LisaRaye McCoy Makes A Ca$h Out Joke
If you haven’t heard Ca$h Out’s “Cashin’ Out,” you’re missing out. Luckily for us, LisaRaye is hipper than most and made a delightful joke to VH1 News’ Janell Snowden on Friday morning, that went something like this:
Janell: I wish I had all the men that you do, LisaRaye.
LisaRaye: Shoot, I do too. We all need to be “smokin’ on that Keisha.”
If you don’t watch Single Ladies, this may not seem funny, but I assure you, it was. LisaRaye plays a Keisha Green on the show, and in real life, can pun on the character by referencing one of the most ratchet tunes of the summer; adding to the growing list of reasons that she’s a true she-ro of mine.
After an already action-packed weekend of Superlounge performances, empowerment panels, and headline-grabbing mainstage sets, Essence Music Festival came to a close last night in New Orleans. Like many other festivals, Essence is notorious for headlining sets extending late into the early morning of the next day, but when the artists performing are esteemed members of music’s nobility, you stay put!
Kirk Franklin kicked off the festival’s third and final night, handing the mic off to VH1 star Fantasia before soulful crooner Anthony Hamilton and his phenomenal back-up vocalists transformed the Mercedes Benz Superdome into a refreshing gospel experience. The big-ticket performers – Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and Queen of Funk Chaka Khan – would soon follow.
As the first woman inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Aretha Franklin has free reign to pretty much do whatever she wants on stage, and did just that. She’d open her mouth, and magic would pour out; graciously bestowing gifts like “(Your Love has Lifted me) Higher and Higher,” “Natural Woman,” “Think,” and “Something He Can Feel,” the 18-time Grammy winner who sang at President Obama’s inauguration was met with a respectful, hyper-attentive audience that contrasted the normal bustling-in-and-out-of-their-seats EMF crowd. Despite the fact that she would at times meander into telling stories and jokes, appropriating an audience-member’s fedora, complaining about the venue’s sound, and acknowledging friends of hers that were in the crowd by asking them to stand, Franklin’s lengthy 90-minute set was any music fan’s dream even that late in the evening.
While Franklin changed her wardrobe from an orange gown to a green and gold frock mid-performance, a presentation was held in her honor, giving Queen of Soul a key to the city of New Orleans by its mayor Mitch Landrieu, a state award by Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, and the Essence Power Award from Essence Communications President, Michelle Ebanks. Representing “entertainment, empowerment and elegance,” Franklin was clearly the ideal choice for this year’s awards, and once the Queen of Soul returned to the EMF stage, she performed crowd favorite “Chain of Fools,” sang from what she called “the book of Simon and Garfunkel,” performing a cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and even found time to pay tribute to the late and legendary Whitney Houston. “She was beautiful, she was warm, she was real,” recounted Franklin of her beloved “Christian sister” as she took to the piano to execute a rendition of Houston’s heart-wrenching “I Will Always Love You.”
For the fifth time in as many years, Mary J. Blige graced the Essence Music Festival stage last night in New Orleans. Galvanizing her legion of ravenous fans during a set that followed main-stage performances from Tank, Mary Mary, Ledisi and comedian Kevin Hart, even the ushers were two-stepping unapologetically; in between performing a number of hits that spanned her entire twenty-year career, Blige also made time to unleash covers of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” and Charlie Wilson’s “Outstanding” for the Mercedes Benz Superdome crowd.
When the beat dropped for songs like “Real Love,” “Family Affair,” “Just Fine,” and “Not Gon’ Cry,” audience members took to their feet and assisted the sequin-clad star with lyrics and adlibs alike, creating an energetic exchange with their heroine that was, on more than one occasion, acknowledged by a grateful, “so pleased” Mary J. Blige. Read more…
Yes, the royal couple of hip-hop and R&B were at last night’s BET Awards, front and center. Beyonce and Jay-Z were the second and third most nominated artists (respectively) of the night, only behind their play brother Kanye West. Although the Carters didn’t perform it was a great night for both hip-hop and R&B. Usher, Chris Brown, Melanie Fiona, Maybach Music Group crew, Nicki Minaj and countless others brought their A game. As hard as it was to choose only three, here are our top three performances from BET Awards 2012.
3. G.O.O.D. Music swerved on everybody.
Nothing gets a crowd hype like dropping the beat to one of the hottest songs of the summer. Big Sean emerges on top of a neon lit Lamborghini to the beat of “Mercy.” Pusha T delivers his verse followed by 2 Chainz. The crowd explodes when 2 Chainz hits the stage. It’s safe to say 2 Chainz is the latest rap phenomenon. Being Kanye he skips his “Mercy” verse and appears as the beat changes to “Way Too Cold.” When he finishes his first verse, he raps an acapella freestyle before dropping the mic. It doesn’t get much better than that for an opener. Read more…
Within the last 10 years there hasn’t been a music success story quite like the one of Kanye West. He managed to transform himself from a well respected but not yet household name producer to a global rapper. He began producing in the late 90s for heavy hitting acts and became known for his soulful beats. It wasn’t until 2001 when he got his big break from Jay-Z’s “Izzo (H.O.V.A.).” From there he continued producing but began vocalizing his interest in rapping. Admittedly, no one one believed he could rap, thus labels weren’t willing to take the risk on signing him. Finally he signed to Dame Dash and Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella record label and debuted College Dropout in 2004. Kanye had proved everyone wrong, not only showing that he could rap, but that he could be great while doing it (College Dropout debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts).
That was eight years ago when Kanye was a hungry 27-year-old trying to turn his dreams into reality. Today he’s 35 with five albums under his belt, one collaboration album, countless producer credits, a fashion line and his own G.O.O.D. Music record label. Publicly, he’s been scrutinized for his crass statements on live TV. His public missteps and ego aside, Ye continues to be one of the greatest music talents that has emerged in the last decade. To honor his 35th birthday, check out our list of his 35 greatest songs (which we have also turned into a Spotify playlist). Feel free to disagree with our list and add your own in the comment section below.
35. “Who Gon Stop Me”
The production is insane, Kanye and Jay’s verses are a mere bonus.
34. “Hell of A Life”
Yeezy’s darkest moment has him falling in love with a porn star. Naturally, it doesn’t end well.
For the dream chasers out there, “I wonder/if you know/what it means/ to find your dreams.”
32. “All Falls Down”
We can’t help but think of Stacey Dash every time we hear this one.
31. “Gotta Have It”
Outside of the tambourine in the opening, there’s a whole lot of flossing in this one track. Read more…
PHEW! We’re just now catching our breath after the enthralling conclusion to tonight’s premiere of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul, which saw the funky disco pop legend Chaka Khan and the Queen of Hip Hop Soul Mary J. Blige fuse their powers together, Voltron style, for an unbelievable rendition of Chaka’s 1983 smash “Ain’t Nobody.” The song hit #1 on the R&B charts back when Ronald Reagan was still in the White House, but it’s most memorably known for being the soundtrack to one of the finest montages of early eighties cinema in Breakin. Or, should we say, “formerly most memorable,” because Mary J and Chaka’s duet tonight instantly became THE defining version of the song the second the song wrapped.
VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul is set to premiere on Monday, December 19 at 9 p.m. ET/ 8 CT, and will feature performances by legends like Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Jill Scott, Florence + The Machine, Kelly Clarkson and Jessie J. This morning, though, we got some incredible news! In addition to the already outstanding roster of talent we have previously announced, we’re psyched to annouce that Chaka Khan, Erykah Badu, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Boyz II Men, Estelle, Marsha Ambrosius and Travie McCoy have also agreed to pay tribute to soul music hubs we’ll be celebrating that night: Chicago, Detroit, London, Memphis and Philadelphia.
We’ve got the full press release for you below.
VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul Adds Chaka Khan, Erykah Badu, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Boyz II Men, Estelle, Marsha Ambrosius and Travie McCoy as Performers
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
NEW YORK – November 21, 2011 – VH1′s beloved, popular franchise, VH1 DIVAS, announced today additional performers to join this year’s tribute to soul music. Chaka Khan, Erykah Badu, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Boyz II Men, Estelle, Marsha Ambrosius and Travie McCoy will join VH1′s “divas” 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 p.m. ET/8 CT on VH1.
The nominees for the 2012 Class of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame were announced earlier today. The group is, as it has been for the last few years, an eclectic bunch made up of artists from a wide variety of musical genres: New nominees this year include The Cure, Eric B. & Rakim, Guns N’ Roses, Heart, Freddie King, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rufus and Chaka Khan, the Small Faces, the Spinners, and War, while holdovers that failed to get inducted last year are Beastie Boys, Donna Summer, Donovan, and Laura Nyro.
The RRHOF’s induction process is mysterious and secretive, so you don’t see the same kind of public campaigning by nominees for induction that you see in, say, the sports world. However, that doesn’t mean that the committee who makes the decisions of who gets honored and who gets snubbed isn’t reading this blog post. So, with that in mind, vote for the act that you feel is most deserving of the honor in our poll below, and maybe, just maybe, Jann Wenner and his band of choosy cronies will pay heed!