In celebration of A Tribe Called Quest’s VH1 Rock Doc Beats, Rhymes & Life hitting VH1 air tomorrow night at 10p ET, we’re unearthing VH1 Album-Versaries: our tribute to the group’s Low End Theory album turning 20 in 2011. In the pages below, revisit commentary from Sway and Nelson George and immerse yourself in Tribe’s first joint-interview in 14 years – one that was conducted just as the Michael Rapaport doc was hitting theaters.
Pharrell and Busta Rhymes cooked up a strip club/club banger for the summer with “Twerk It,” the lead single from Busta’s upcoming 10th album. There’s not many successful rappers who can mesh rap-reggae into something that goes hard, but Busta delivered. Read more…
On the eve of Nas‘ Life Is Good release, he celebrated like any Don would–with champagne, cigars and friends. Nas had a busy night with a performance of “Daughters” on the Late Show with David Letterman, an interview with Hot 97’s Funkmaster Flex and his album release party at Bagatelle in NYC. When you’re a legend of Nas’ status there’s bound to be a lot of love in the room from peers. Throughout the night he shared laughs with Swizz Beatz, Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z, Q-tip and Jermaine Dupri. Also in attendance were Beyonce, Angie Martinez, Tyson Beckford and others.
Its been four years since Nasty Nas’ last solo album, the controversial Untitled. Early reviews are already pegging Life Is Good as one of the best in his catalog, and potentially one of the best albums of the year. His road to the happy space he’s in of living his best life (word to Oprah) has been one of overcoming many trials and tribulations. But the glow in his eyes at last night’s release is the look of a man that has triumphed. The look of success and longevity. Check out our gallery of a few pictures from last night’s celebration.
Long gone are the days everyone waited for an official statement from celebrities’ publicists. With social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, celebrities can use 140 characters to instantly send a message for anyone to see. Today, the death of Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys is a tremendous loss to music. With the impact MCA made in music, it was inevitable celebrities would tweet their condolences as they, too, mourn with the rest of the world. Celebrities who honored Yauch via Twitter ran the gamut of everyone from Jonah Hill to Q-Tip to Cypress Hill. Judging by his peers, MCA was a well respected musician, father, husband and human being. We’re happy these stars decided to share.
Are you excited yet about Round One of Bracket Madness featuring your favorite emcees of the Yo! MTV Raps era? In this corner, we have the pioneers of this rap thing: Chuck D vs. KRS-One. With their well respected contributions to hip-hop its kind of hard to choose between the two. Both bred in the ghettos of New York in the 60s and 70s, their lyrics reflected the awareness of the world they saw around them. But one would be highly mistaken if they attributed the consciousness in their rhymes for weakness. Each one of their flows are undeniably raw. So who do you vote for? Here’s three reasons to vote for either one.
1. Two words: Public Enemy.
Dude was a member of Public Enemy. Need we say more? A rap group like that doesn’t come around twice in a lifetime. “Public Enemy #1″ was a classic track from their debut album Yo! Bum Rush the Show in 1987. From 1988-1991, the dynamic group released three platinum albums. The same group gifted the world with “Fight the Power.” This song is better than some cats’ entire catalog. I’m just sayin’. Public Enemy went on to sell four million albums throughout their career. Plus, anyone that could put up with the clock rocking Flavor Flav, has to be one hell of a guy.
2. Distinctive sound.
No one in hip-hop has a voice like Chuck. It’s so distinctive it couldn’t even be duplicated. He raps, you listen. From the flow to the tone to the speed, Chuck D has a full command of his sound.
With an impressive dossier full of production credits compiled over the years, Q-Tip is a behind-the-scenes force on his own. Just this morning, however, Def Jam released a press release announcing that, through Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint, the A Tribe Called Quest co-founding rapper/producer has been added to the label’s esteemed hip-hop family, reuniting him with chairman and CEO of Universal Republic and Island Def Jam, Barry Weiss, whom Tip knows from his days at Jive in the early 90s.
Joining the already-robust G.O.O.D. Music roster alongside Big Sean, John Legend, Pusha T, Kid Cudi, and others, Q-Tip will be able to flex his creative muscle amongst other hungry artists – veterans and up-and-comers alike – all while consulting and collaborating with head honcho, Kanyeezy. In friendship and in business, the rapping producers clearly see eye to eye; back in December, we saw Kanye and Tip palling around together backstage at Florence + The Machine’s MTV Unplugged taping with some tall ladies in tow, and overheard them discussing plans to hit the studio that night. It seems that our in-that-moment daydreaming wish for a fresh collaboration from the pair (beyond Watch The Throne’s “That’s My Bitch” and others of the past) seems to have morphed into a bigger partnership – one which further solidifies G.O.O.D. Music’s crew-cred within a hip-hop ecosystem that’s slowly becoming more and more about who’s on which team: MMG. YMCMB/OVOXO. Grand Hustle. ASAP Mob.
Finally liberated at midnight on iTunes last night, I didn’t even bother to give the album that’s projected to sell 400-500K copies a listen. Like any “grower” project, Watch The Throne deserves more attention than a few hours on a Sunday night before bed, and is one whose layers need to be peeled away over time. Unfortunately, the worldwide web and the social media news cycle don’t really allow for that kind of preciousness, so whether anyone is taking an interest in the sea of quick-trigger opinions or not, we’re all lured into engaging in text message/blog post/140-character word-vomit assessments.
All for starting a dialogue on the topic of music, sitting here trying to write a comprehensive critique for this still-warm and super-dense album is challenging, especially since there has been so much hype swirling around it for months. “H.A.M.” dropped too early, release dates got pushed back, exclusive listening sessions were embargoed (but still tweeted about and sprung audio leaks), and Hov learned from his wife’s troubles, never allowing his baby with Kanye to be born premature. Digital files now in hand before friday’s physical release date, is the album all that we wanted it to be?
Brooklyn rap fans were abuzz before Q-Tip‘s headlining set at the 2011 Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival on Saturday. After all, “Q-Tip + Friends” couldn’t just refer to the supporting sets by Random Axe, M.O.P. and others, right? Rumor had it that A Tribe Called Quest would reunite?which makes a sort of sense, since Ali Shaheed Muhammad was also on the bill and Beats, Rhymes, and Life is in theaters. What the crowd wasn’t expecting was that Q-Tip’s “friends” would include Kanye West. After performing “Dark Fantasy” and “All of the Lights,” Kanye backed Q-Tip on ATCQ classic “Award Tour” (something Kanye knows a little bit about). Watch the performance above!
Kanye wasn’t the only high-profile guest during Q-Tip’s set. Black Thought of The Roots performed with Q-Tip on a number of songs. And while Phife Dawg did not appear to complete a Tribe reunion, Busta Rhymes did, to perform his verse on “Scenario.” Watch below: