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.
When you first heard Jay-Z‘s “Glory,” did you imagine Jay-Z penning the track as Beyoncé pushed and groaned, tiny baby Blue screaming as she emerged from the womb? Or did you imagine the little bundle of joy, peacefully sleeping in the nook of her glowing father’s arm as he whispered lyrics to her? Whatever fantasy you had, forget it, because “Glory” collaborator Pharrell Williams has just dropped a truth bomb, revealing that Jay-Z was working on the track before baby Blue was even born. Pharrell said, “[Jay-Z and Beyoncé], they live a different lifestyle, and it was important for him to stop everything that he had going on and just sort of make statement to his baby and his wife.” He added that when they wrote the song, they had Stevie Wonder‘s “Isn’t She Lovely” in mind, and that Jay-Z underwent a similar process for his first son, but that he’s “more quiet and private about his life”. We don’t think the dream need be entirely shattered though — now we’re imagining Hova in the evening, maybe by a fireplace, resting his head on Bey’s full belly while he jots down words about the bundle of joy inside.
Jay-Z’s Daddy Track ‘Glory’ Was Planned, Says Pharrell [Spin]
[Photos: Getty Images; HelloBlueIvyCarter]
On tonight’s episode of T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle, Tip and Tiny spend some quality time with T-Swizzle (aka Taylor Swift) at the Atlanta stop of her Speak Now tour, which culminates in the two duetting on a killer version of “Live Your Life.” Well, that isn’t T.I.’s only duet of the night; we’re excited to be premiering the video for “Here Ye, Hear Ye,” which T.I. cut with Sk8brd (who is also known as Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes).
“Here Ye, Hear Ye” was one of the first songs that Tip recorded after he got sprung from the Big House back in October, and it’s a real window into T.I.’s state of mind during the 11 months that he spent incarcerated in the federal prison system (“Still baffled how my life unraveled / In the meantime time just traveled.”) As for how it came together, Pharrell told Hot 97’s Funkmaster Flex back in October that “My man came home and I just sent him something. And he got to it. You know what it is? He just got home. He’s in training. He’s getting ready. These are pull-ups, push-ups for Tip.”