Nas: Rap’s Self-Proclaimed “Most Mainstream Underground Artist” On What Makes His Life Good

An iced coffee with brown sugar is the only request of the legend who spent the previous night indulging in cigars and Moet filled champagne flutes at his release party for his 10th studio album. “You love brown sugar don’t you?” the director of Visual Media at Def Jam jokes, responding to his Starbucks request. “Damn right,” he says with a smile as everyone in the room erupts with laughter. That’s the side of Nas the public rarely gets to see.

Nasir Jones is exactly what you’d expect—no fuss, polite, no big entourage, mellow and somewhat quiet—that is until you get him going on something he actually gives a damn about. By mid-afternoon he arrives to the VH1 office still feeling nice from all of the bubbly consumed at NYC’s Bagatelle the night before. He’s dressed in a white and black t-shirt plastered with Mr. T’s face on it, white shorts and black Gucci sneakers. For a rapper his jewelry is modest. The two gold chains he rocks are far from gaudy, and his wrists are adorned with a gold watch and one bracelet. That’s it. At 38 he doesn’t look much older than he did on 2001’s album cover for Stillmatic. You start to wonder if he physically ages.

Bred in the largest housing projects in North America, the Queensbridge rapper dropped out of school in the ninth grade to pursue rap. Although he didn’t always know if it’d pay off, it did, in a big way.

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by (@zaragolden)

Last Lap: Green Day Wrote A Song About Amy Winehouse

The track will close their upcoming album ¡Dos! And appropriately so, according to Billie Joe Armstrong, who feels connected to the fallen star though they never met. “It’s interesting because if you think about ¡Dos!, it’s a party record, and so at the end of it ‘Amy’ kind of comes across as the consequences of the party,” he says. Intriguing! [NME] Read more…


A Year Since Amy Winehouse’s Death: Dad Says It’s Difficult To Listen To Back To Black

She was a young 27 when she passed away a year ago today. Amy Winehouse was the bluesy soulful British singer, songwriter who was already being considered a musical genius, or at least on her way to becoming one. Only two albums in she became a household name–one that rappers collaborated with and singers admired. Her second album Back to Black led to five Grammy awards making her the first British female singer to win that many. There were definitely some troubled days in Amy’s life as she battled with drugs and alcohol. However, in Spin’s rare behind the scenes footage of Amy during a photo shoot in 2007 shot by then-husband Blake Fielder-Civil, her troubled days seem to be washed away with nothing but remnants of happiness. Read more…


One More Posthumous Amy Winehouse Album? Yes, Please

This week’s release of Nas“Cherry Wine” featuring the late Amy Winehouse sparked a trip down memory lane on the greatness that was Amy. Fortunately, the magic that is her voice will forever live on record. In addition to dusting off our ancient CDs of her first two albums, her father, Mitch Winehouse, gave fans something to look forward to in the near future. Mr. Winehouse recently sat down with BBC Radio 6 Music News and revealed there should be at least one more album released of his daughter’s material. “I’m not sure that there is much more but I’m sure that we will get at least one other album out, if not two,” he said. Anywhere Amy’s voice is, we are there. Read more…

by (@zaragolden)

Nas and Amy Winehouse Connect Again On “Cherry Wine”

Mr. Nas Jones comes again with a second posthumous collaboration with his late and great friend Amy Winehouse. Last fall we got a haunting first listen to what the two could do together with “Like Smoke,” off of Winehouse’s posthumous album Lioness: Hidden Treasures. And today, we get a second go with “Cherry Wine,” off of Nas’s upcoming Life Is Good.

The six-minute track is a jazzy and somewhat melancholic affair. It opens with Winehouse singing longingly of the man of her dreams. “Where is he, the man who is just like me? I heard he is hiding somewhere where I can see,” she wallows, her voice as sweet and soulful as ever. Her Mr. Jones, too, is looking for the woman of his dreams, a someone who can “teach me how to life, she’s not afraid of life.” Even though Nas’s verses were recorded after Winehouse’s passing, there is chemistry between the two. Thanks for this is perhaps due to the song’s producer Salaam Remi, a longtime collaborator of both vocalists. It’s hard not to wonder what — as successful as their posthumous collaborations have been — the two might have accomplished together in Winehouse’s prime. But alas this will have to do, and it does well. “Everything is good, everything is fine, pour a little cherry wine,” Nas reminds at the end of his verse. “Life is good, no matter what, life is good.”

Listen to “Cherry Wine” [HHNM]


Who Made The Best Cameo On B.O.B.’s Strange Clouds?

B.o.B. Strange Clouds - Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Morgan Freeman

B.o.B. continues to think outside the box with his sophomore album, Strange Clouds. Elements of various musical genres —from hip-hop to jazz to country— can be heard throughout. The singer, songwriter, rapper and producer skyrocketed to success with his two monster smashes “Nothin’ On You” and “Airplanes”, both crossover tracks that featured somewhat unlikely artists singing the hook (Bruno Mars and Hayley Williams, respectively). Based on how commercially successful each of these songs were, it seems as if B.o.B. is eager to try replicate their success, as he’s recruited a number of collaborators for tracks on his new album. Whether they are household names like Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift, or newcomers like Lauriana Mae, the variety of artists on the album is quite impressive. We ranked each of the songs that feature other artists, and it’s not what you’d expect.

9. “Strange Clouds” feat. Lil Wayne – We don’t know what’s up with Weezy, but his flow hasn’t quite been the same since he got outta the joint. A song about partying, drinking and smoking all night has to have an element to it that makes the listener want to partake in the fun. We don’t know if it’s believable here.

8. “Out Of My Mind” feat. Nicki Minaj: We’re getting an outer space vibe on this one. And is it just us or did B.O.B. slightly sound like Ludacris? Either way, Nicki does what she does best on this track. She plays with different animated voices, she raps, she sings. Repeat. It’s fine, but it’s nothing transcendent.

7. “Arena” feat. Chris Brown and T.I.: It’s Chris Brown and T.I., folks! Not sure that much else needs to be written other than with this trio we’re certain it will be a fan favorite.

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by (@unclegrambo)

Kanye West, Skrillex Tied For Early Lead With Three Grammys Apiece

The 54th Annual Grammy Awards won’t be televised until 8 p.m. ET/PT tonight, but just because CBS hasn’t turned their cameras yet doesn’t mean that the festivities haven’t already gotten underway. A handful of awards have already been given away this evening at the Pre-Telecast Grammy ceremony, and the evening’s big winners so far include controversial rap genius Kanye West and the electronic dubstep artist Skrillex.

Ye has pocketed three Grammys thus far, winning Best Rap Album for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (where it topped his collaboration with Jay-Z, Watch The Throne) and Best Rap Collaboration and Best Rap Song for that album’s single “All of the Lights.” The ultra buzzy DJ Skrillex has taken home three awards, too (Best Dance/Electronica Album, Best Dance Recording, and Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical). This early trifecta of trophies bodes well for his chances to pull an upset in the Best New Artist category later tonight, and he just posted this inspirational tweet to his official @skrillex account.

Other winners so far tonight include Tony Bennett, Amy Winehouse, Foo Fighters and Betty White. (Yes, that Betty White.)

For live Grammy commentary all night, be sure and follow us on Twitter at @vh1music!

Skrillex, Kanye West, Foo Fighters Among Pre-Telecast Grammy Winners [Billboard]

[Photo: Getty Images]

by (@kat_george)

Last Lap: Listen To Katy Perry’s Country Turn In A Leaked Demo For “Bullet”

Listen To Katy Perry’s Country Turn In A Leaked Demo For “Bullet”
If you’ve ever wondered what Katy Perry would sound like doing country, then here you go; a demo has leaked of Katy Perry singing a song called “Bullet” she co-wrote for country star Jesse James‘ debut album in 2009. We hope Katy sticks to her pop roots, but we’re sort of loving this little lick of country. [Neon Limelight]

Rihanna Is Called Out For “Ripping Off” Photographer
The latest in A Big Celebrity Copied Me, Rihanna is being accused by blogger Bryan Derballa of “ripping off” the work of photographer Sandy Kim in her video for “We Found Love.” We see some similarities, but we’d only go as far to say “inspired by” and even then it’s tenuous, with so much recent “hipster” photography tending towards the aesthetic that “We Found Love” is going for. [Bryan Derballa]

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by (@kat_george)

The Top 10 Music Stories Of 2011: From Baby Bey-Z To Lana Del Rey

2011 has been a big year in music, and between the Grammys, new babies, viral artists and some great losses, the music world has been rocked over and over again. With only a few days left until we wave goodbye to 2011, we’re reflecting on the 10 biggest stories of the year…

1. Beyoncé’s Pregnancy
Forget actual music — who cares about music when the Queen Of Everything is pregnant? It seemed like all anyone was talking about in 2011 was Beyoncé‘s pregnancy, from the initial, dramatic reveal during her VMAs performance of “Love On Top,” to the controversy surrounding the realness of her baby bump. And now the world waits with baited breath for the chosen one to emerge from the most revered womb on earth.

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by (@unclegrambo)

VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul: Florence Welch’s Haunting, Otherworldly Take On Amy Winehouse’s “Back To Black”

Florence Welch, lead chanteuse of Florence + The Machine, is certainly one of the MVPs of VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul. She performed three songs tonight: “Shake It Out” (the new single off the band’s Ceremonials), “Back To Black” (as part of the evening’s Amy Winehouse tribute), and “Walking On Broken Glass” (which you can watch below).

Here, we put a spotlight on Florence’s haunting cover of the title track of album that turned Amy Winehouse into an international superstar back in 2007. She cut quite a figure with her floor length black dress, which was incredibly appropriate considering the circumstances. The music world lost an immense talent this year with Amy’s tragic passing, but thanks to powerful performances like Florence Welch’s tonight, Winehouse’s musical legacy is cemented in stone.

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Follow along for Florence’s jubilant take on Annie Lennox‘s “Walking On Broken Glass.”

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