Monthly Archives: January 2012

Drake Calls Common’s Diss “A Ploy For Attention,” Clarifies Kobe Bryant Lyrics

Common was on one when he fired direct shots at Drake. In an interview with Nah Right on the set of his latest video “The Zone” with T-Dot brethren The Weeknd, Drizzy finally addresses the sweet and schemy Comm raps.

So people want to know: will you respond to Common?
No. Because despite how it’s been worded by him that situation is not a “hip hop moment” or a “battle for the sake of musical integrity”…it’s a ploy for attention around the release of an album. More than anything it was just disappointing cause what kid isn’t a fan of what Common has done for our genre. A guy who made such an incredible career for himself based off expressing genuine feelings about life and love is now targeting me for sharing my story.

The Young Money mascot also elaborated on his verse from “Stay Schemin,” where he makes a subtle reference to Kobe Bryant’s recent divorce.

That line came from a conversation about being this young and making this much money and the fear of losing it all. I just used his potential situation to address my own life. I never intended to offend Vanessa or anyone else. That line had everything to do with me and what goes on in my head as a 25 year old man with this much income flowing in. Kobe is and always will be a friend and an icon to me.

He also cleared up last year’s rumors about giving the ax to his management team.

No my team is stronger than ever and ready for 2012. I’m excited for what this year will bring.

Read the full interview here.

 

Daps to: Nah Right

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WATCH: Busta Rhymes feat. Chris Brown “Why Stop Now”

Recent Cash Money signee Busta Rhymes teams up with Chris Brown a second time for their latest collaboration “Why Stop Now.” The brick walls, dark tones and mind-boggling visuals sync with Busta Buss’ racy flow and Breezy’s fluid dance moves. The former Flip Mode squadron pulled out all the stops for this one.

Daps to: Idolator

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WATCH: Rising Icons – Big Sean

Rising Icons put the spotlight on G.O.O.D. Music rap star Big Sean for its third season in partnership with Grey Goose. While recording his second album in Los Angeles, the Detroit native flew to New York last year for an exclusive performance, attended by the likes of Ryan Leslie, NFL player Darrelle Revis and Def Jam executive Steve Bartels.

“I can’t complain, this time last year, I was probably in my mom’s house…wishin, prayin for all this stuff to take off,” the Finally Famous emcee tells Rising Icons.

Watch Sean’s rise to fame in the 3-part series as he performs the hits from his debut below.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Daps to: Island Def Jam Records and XXL

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Watch: Azealia Banks Performs “212” for Karl Lagerfeld, Lagerfeld’s Self-Interview

Harlem femcee Azealia Banks performed her area code anthem “212” at Karl Lagerfeld’s home in Paris during an exclusive dinner launch party for his new line “Karl” with fashion boutique Net-A-Porter. The Chanel creative director presented guests with dessert in the form of iPads with his silhouette imprinted on them. Before the performance, the garment god also gifted Banks with a Lagerfeld-silhouette sweater, mimicking her Mickey Mouse piece from the song’s video.

Watch Banks bring down the Haus of Lagerfield below.

Also check Karl Lagerfeld give himself an interview on Net-A-Porter.

Daps to: Pitchfork and HuffPost

 

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Elle Varner Speaks To VIBE About Her Coat Check Discovery, Conversational Lush and Conscious Body Image

After dropping the J. Cole-assisted “Only Wanna Give It To You,” music fans were asking for a refill of the funky soul singer Elle Varner. I got to speak with the Conversational Lushtress for VIBE.com just in time for her latest mixtape release.

Elle Varner stepped onto the music scene in rainbow bright pumps and a head full of voluminous curls but it’s her classy jazzy vocals that held the world’s ears hostage. After being raised by musical parents and receiving her diploma from New York University’s esteemed Clive Davis program, the Los Angeles native has enough cred to revive the R&B genre. The 22-year-old recently spoke to VIBE.com about being discovered while working the coat check at a New York club, what her male fans tweet her and how she still struggles with her appearance. She also told us exclusively about her new mixtape Conversational Lush and her perfectly imperfect debut album set for spring. 2012 is bound to be year of the Varner.VIBE: Your parents were songwriters so you were basically born into music. How did you get your start?

Well professionally it kinda started when I was in school (college), making connections with people and being out here in New York and hanging out in studios but really, it started from working in coat checks. Someone discovered me there and brought me up to MBK. And next thing you know I was with J Records. Kind of a crazy story but as far as developing my skills, I’ve been singing my whole life. My parents taught me everything.

You were discovered in coat check? How exactly did that happen?

It was like a slow night and I was standing around, singing at coat check downstairs in a basement at club Santos and someone heard me and was like, “Hey, I want to refer you to this person.” Next thing you know I was at J. Like the following week.What was your earliest music memory, like what do you remember singing as a young girl?

As a young girl, I remember singing CeCe Penniston’s “Don’t Walk Away.” It was like my jam.What age did you start singing?

As soon as I could speak, I was singing. Before I could even speak full words, I would make up ones to sing and I have it on tape too.Did you ever take formal lessons or was it just something that came naturally?

Singing, no, actually. That’s the funny thing. I took lessons for about everything you could imagine – gymnastics to karate to flute and piano. My mom always definitely kept me in some kind of class or program but for guitar, I kinda gave up on then kinda just taught myself. Same thing with piano. I’ve never been good with following lessons. *laughs*
Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?
One of my biggest musical influences is definitely Ella Fitzgerald as a vocalist. I just would always listen to her voice and say “Oh my God, how does she do it?” You know it’s like she has this enchanting, beautiful voice and I’m very enthused by her.
Is there anybody else besides her, like currently?
I would say in the last 20 years which was when I was growing up I would say definitely Lauryn Hill. I just recognized and understood that her talent was beyond comprehension at a young age and I appreciate her for that. She is definitely one. Prince is one as the full artist. He’s someone I strive to be like. Sade. Those are just a couple.
So your recent single “Only Wanna Give It To You” features J. Cole. Tell me how that collaboration came about.
We were actually friends before either one of us got signed, randomly knew each other in college and I didn’t know that he rapped, he didn’t know that I sang. We bumped into each other at the Sony building and I was like, “What are you doing here?” He was like, “What are you doing here?” Then we both got signed and so at the time, we were like, “Yo, we need a verse on there” and we were throwing out all these names. Then it was like, “J. Cole. That would be perfect!” It really was and especially for the video because it made me so comfortable in my first video, working with someone that I already knew instead of just meeting some stranger and like having to all of a sudden bond on-camera somehow. It was just kinda perfect in that way. You could see the relatableness in the video.
So now your next single is “Refill,” an interesting song. Did you write it under the influence?
No, I didn’t. Well… *laughs* I actually came up with the hook when my girlfriends and I were in Miami. We were about to go out to the club and we were pregaming at the house and I was like, “Can I get a refill?,” sang it out of nowhere and then weeks or months later, I don’t even remember, I ended up getting that track from Pop Wansell, I somehow tied the two together and the song came about so it’s really one of my favorite tracks on the album, hands down.
You have really strong songwriting skills. Where do you find inspiration – random moments or everyday situations?
I take a lot from my own life experiences and I also take a lot from watching. I’m very attentive to what’s going around, who’s doing what and I’ll pick up on little things or maybe I’ll embellish on something I saw or something I felt and I have a very vivid, wild imagination so that comes into play a lot of times where I just write a song from the most basic idea and then build this whole thing around it, like “Only Wanna Give It To You” and all the references to shoes. It just comes as this elaborate thing of imagination in my songs.
And with your song “So Fly,” you talk about self-esteem. Where did that come from?
That’s probably one of the most personal…the song’s really personal. At the time I wrote it, I was a little heavier. I was very frustrated with always being overlooked by every guy because I didn’t look a certain way and it’s funny because after I wrote the song, I kinda changed my attitude. I found that it really wasn’t as bad as I was making it in my own mind. Like when I stopped thinking, “I don’t look this way, I don’t look that way,” I was so confident and confidence is so attractive. So the song’s close to home because people would say how could you sing thyis song, because I looked different but I still go through the same insecurities, issues, the same battles regardless of my weight or my look or anything. So it’s an important song for people in general not to judge women, not to criticize women, everybody.
It’s hard to imagine that you struggle with your appearance now.
Oh let me tell you! You have no idea. I’ve seen the change and the kind of attention you get and how it’s kinda difficult to deal with for a while because it’s weird. You went from being completely overlooked, nobody’s checkin on you and now ahhh! It’s all fairly new to me so I’m taking it all in.
Do the guys who overlooked you reach out to you now, regretting it?
Yes! The actual guy that I wrote that song in response to is like you know hitting me up.
And you totally didn’t give him the time of day did you?
Absolutely not!
So what is Elle Varner’s definition of a perfect guy?
My definition of a perfect guy is someone who is really secure with himself and who he is and his manhood and all of that, and is able to really treat me, a woman like a woman, and is thoughtful, attentive, respectful. Respectful is number one. A lot of these guys out here, they don’t even try, like seriously? You gotta sweep me off my feet. I’m tough in that sense. I don’t make it easy.
Well said. And now your upcoming album is called Perfectly Imperfect. What was the meaning behind the title?
The meaning behind the title has double meanings. One for literal music on the album. There’s like so many points on the album where maybe there was a mistake in the vocal or the track or in the mix and it was kept because it was part of the sound or the vibe and the other meaning is just really the place that I came to when I was really ready for this and I said, “Ok, I have my album. This is it. This is me. Who I am. I’m perfectly imperfect.” Just how I’ve come to accept myself and something that I want to share with other people because it’s such a powerful message, a powerful thought to say, “Hey, I’m perfectly imperfect the way I am.” I thought it tied in everything together nicely and it’s introducing me, “I’m Elle Varner. I’m perfectly imperfect. How’s it goin’?” *laughs*
When can we expect this album to drop?
I will say definitely looking the spring but the most important thing is to not put it out too soon because everything is starting to grow and the buzz is getting so much bigger and bigger.
How is the mixtape different?
This is a project that I had a lot of fun with, that I was able to take a total different approach to making music because an album is a big epic thing but with a mixtape, you have fun, you sample things, you redo songs, it’s kinda like whatever you want. There’s no rule. I have some very hilarious songs on there. I have some, literally intimate songs in terms of you’re getting a real intimate look into my life and what I’m going through. And it’s just great songs, a lot of uptempo, I don’t even think there’s a ballad on there.
So it’s like the fun side of Elle Varner.
Yeah, it’s the fun side of Elle Varner, it’s the uninhibited, kind of the wild side I guess.
Now there’s a line in “Only Wanna Give It To You” where you sing about the digital ocean that I feel like everybody is being swept by these days. Are you a fan of Twitter and social media?
I am and I’m not. I think it’s crazy how it’s become a part of daily life. It’s like the phone. Everything is like Twitter, Twitter, Twitter. I think it’s kind of difficult because you have to be, well you don’t have to be, responsible for the things you say and people just say whatever comes to their head without really thinking about the implications.
Has a fan ever tweeted you something extremely crazy?
Oh my god, yes. I have to try to remember. I get a lot of like weird marriage proposals and just like, like I said, I have to think about the things I say. For example, if I say “I’m so sleepy” and then some guy will be like, “Oh, I’ll come put you to bed.” So it gets kinda weird. I’m like really careful.
I also read that you graduated from NYU’s Clive Davis Department. How did it feel and was finishing your education an important goal before fully embarking on a music career?
I’m very proud of myself for pushing through because like a lot of artists and musicians, it’s tough to finish and I’m happy that I did. I’m happy that I got a chance to grow up before I was under the spotlight because if I had gone straight into the music industry from high school, I would’ve been exposed to this whole crazy world without really going through all the stuff you go through in college and traveling so I’m grateful that I did it. It’s allowed me to have a leg up in the industry from the business side, from the musical side, understanding production and engineering and all those things. And I recommend it to everybody. Honestly I don’t recommend going to college because it’s safe to go, because if you don’t really wanna go and you don’t have any passion or anything you wanna get out of it, then it’s a waste of your time and money so if you know what you wanna do, if you wanna be an architect, if you wanna be a doctor, if you wanna be a lawyer, then definitely go.
Did you have a fallback plan in case music didn’t work out?
Nope! *laughs* I guess songwriting. If I wasn’t an artist, I would be a songwriter, but I think I would have to be in the music industry somehow.
Listen to Elle Varner’s Conversational Lush here and get a refill below.
Daps to: VIBE.com
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LISTEN: John Legend feat. Ludacris “Tonight (Best You Ever Had)”

The recently engaged John Legend boasts his skills in the bedroom with a new single “Tonight (Best You Ever Had).” The Phatboi-produced track, which also features rapper Ludacris, will appear on his forthcoming solo effort and the soundtrack for the star-studded Steve Harvey book-turned-film Think Like A Man.

All I can say is lucky lucky Chrissy Teigen!

Listen to John Legend’s best night ever here.

Daps to: Rap-Up

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Rockie Fresh Talks To VIBE about Alternative Cosigns, Rap Beginnings and Driving 88

I spoke to one of Chicago’s leading up-and-comers Rockie Fresh for VIBE.com just in time for his latest mixtape release. Get yourselves acquainted ’cause this 20-year-old is sure to be a problem.

Rockie Fresh is the next best thing out of Chi-Town. The 20-year-old already has co-signs from up-and-coming favorites (Lil B, Casey Veggies), alternative rockers (Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, Good Charlotte’s Benji and Joel Madden) and even Asher Roth. With a new mixtape Driving 88 dropping today (Jan. 23), Fresh’s career is accelerating at high speeds and he has no intention of slowing down. Fresh recently spoke to VIBE.com about his parents’ initial reaction to his rap career, his diverse range of musical influences and his upcoming project.

At 17, a young Fresh was studying to mainstream rap records and alternative hits at Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School in Chicago but as a member of the debate team, he was set on another occupation.

“When I was in high school, I was on the debate team and I was really trying to set up my life to become a lawyer. It was something I had a passion for but the problem with that is that I really didn’t like school itself,” says Rockie. “I definitely understood school but the whole time I was there, I knew it wasn’t for me.”

It was a rap battle victory in his school’s parking lot that made him consider a music career.

“In the last semester of my senior year, I had a rap battle with this kid in the parking lot and I won, which was lame, I would probably never do anything like that again. It kinda got people in tune with me that I was a rapper. And from there I just started slowly trying to deal with the idea of me becoming a real artist.”

The rapper’s name was born from a combination of childhood idols including Rocky from 3 Ninjas and the red Power Ranger of the same name–mixed with his modern sense of style. But when it comes to his records, make no mistake that Rockie’s not just another artist to file under his Chicago predecessors Kanye West, Common and Lupe Fiasco. He’s different and his diverse tastes in music are evidence to that.

“I went to a very mixed high school and…got introduced to different types of music and instead of blocking out or you know being afraid of it, I really embraced it and some of these alternative songs have the best kind of lyrics and if you can get through the singing, there’s a message in there,” Rockie tells VIBE. “I just made it one of my guilty pleasures. You know I listen to Paramore, Avril Lavigne and Good Charlotte and Fall Out Boy just as much as any other alternative fan but I also still listen to rap music like crazy, too.”

However, few can say that the bands they grew up listening to are fans of their music as well. Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump and Joel and Benji Madden of Good Charlotte have touredith Fresh, as well appeared on his mixtapes.  “My fan base is all over the place because of my tour history and the different artists that I work with but it’s cool because Benji and Joel from Good Charlotte and Patrick, they’re fans. They don’t dislike rap music but it’s just not around them and so a lot of times, I’m their first introduction to rap and it’s coming from a vouch from an artist that they know and love to death and like for me to have those types of vouches and fans to give me a chance, to become fans of the music, it becomes a real beautiful situation.”

Fresh also brings this eclectic flavor on his new mixtape, Driving 88, inspired by the DeLorean from the classic film Back To The Future. In the Michael J. Fox classic, the car is required to hit the speed of 88mph in order to reach its destination. The project, which features the Good Charlotte Brothers, Phil Ade, Casey Veggies and Skrillex samples, gave Fresh the opportunity to create a record for everyone, painting a picture of various human emotions that people can relate to.

“I kinda want people to take from the project that it’s based off of real life and that also even if you don’t click with a record, you know at some point in your situation, maybe later on, that record may be instrumental to you because it was written for that purpose.”

Race to the future and listen to Driving 88 here.

Daps to: VIBE.com

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Diddy To Launch Music Channel By End of the Year

Diddy is about to dabble in some more dirty money with a new business venture. Sources are reporting that the Bad Boy businessman will launch his own music channel called Revolt by the end of this year.

In an attempt to recreate MTV of the old days targeting an urban African American audience, Sean Combs is said to be partnering with MTV’s former programming chief Andy Schuon, who previously headed music channel International Music Feed (IMF).

The music mogul has been in talks with Time Warner and Comcast to discuss distribution but Diddy’s reps have yet to confirm.

Daps to: Rap-Up

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WATCH: Nicki Minaj “Stupid Hoe”

Nicki Minaj goes stupid with this vibrant Hype Williams-directed visual for “Stupid Hoe” off her sophomore effort Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. Minaj also announced via Twitter Friday night that she will be pushing back the release of her second album.

New Album Date: April 3rd. Pink Friday: ROMAN RELOADED. But have no fear. Tons of surprises before then ;). Love Always, HB

With Grammy season around the corner, the delay may be a strategic move for the Young Money maven.

The video also hints at a possible 2012 Super Bowl performance, which could mean sharing the stage with Madonna, who lip locked the pinkstress on her birthday in December.

Regardless, this should hold Lil Kim‘s Barbz’ attention for now.

Daps to: MTV

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President Obama Sings Al Green “Let’s Stay Together”

Who knew the Prez could carry a tune?

President Obama serenaded the audience at a campaign fundraiser in Harlem’s Apollo Theater Thursday night with a snippet of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”

Turns out the song’s original artist himself was pleased with the president’s performance.

“I was thrilled that the President mentioned my name and that if he can get the economy going and do all that he wants to do, then we will ALL be together,” Green told Billboard.com.

Watch the POTUS hit a high note with the crowd below.

Daps to: ABC World News Now and Billboard

 

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