Category Archives: uncategorized

Watch: Hodgy, Domo Genesis and Tyler, the Creator “Rella” [Video]

Words cannot describe this visual masterpiece directed by Wolf Haley.

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VIBE Ambition Goes Digital

The VIBE interns remixed their mother publication to bring 2011’s most ambitious in one issue. Check the Letter from the Editor and the cover story! 😉

Flip through here: http://issuu.com/vibeambition/docs/theambitionissue

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Hit Or Miss: Taking Care of Drake’s Sophomore Album

As Entertainment Editor emeritus at my school St. John’s University newspaper, the Torch (Red Storm, stand up!), I still dabble in a little student-run publication work here and there. Here’s my take on Drizzy’s careful album.

Take Care is exactly what the world anticipated and then some. The same delight that Drake’s debut Thank Me Later was but a more brutally honest, melodic account from the Toronto native on love, his family, career and expensive habits.

Approaching the album with as much care as possible, Drizzy called on the best to feature in his sophomore effort with contributions from Nicki Minaj, fellow T-Dot singer The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross and Rihanna, just to name a few. But it’s Drake himself who shines from start to finish.

It’s not the generic romantic R&B, nor is it straight street hip-hop. Take Care is a culmination of both sounds that paints a picture of a 25-year-old coping with the consequences of his decisions, both past and present. “Over My Dead Body” opens the album, a soothing reflective track over a simple piano melody that sets the mood for the rest of the ride. The song looks back on Drake’s career since his mixtapes were released combined with an ode to the future: “Second album, I’m back paving the way/ The backpackers are back on the bandwagon/ Like this was my comeback season back, back in the day.”

Love stories come in varied forms on the album, and elicit experiences from Drizzy that he frequently and intimately delves into. With songs like “Shot For Me” and “The Real Her,” many of the female listeners can agree that the Young Money mascot sings all the words most men would not dare to say out loud.

Even the title track on Take Care, featuring Rihanna, deserves recognition as a “We Found Love” spin-off, given the history between the two stars. Drake’s collaboration with Stevie Wonder called “Doing It Wrong” will stir up some emotion as well, along with the popular “Marvin’s Room.”

The heavy hitters on the album are the Chase N. Cashe-produced “Look What You’ve Done” and “Lord Knows,” equipped with a spiritual choir in the background and a tough verse from Maybach Music leader Rick Ross.

Drake drops a few lines that summarize his attempt at longevity in the business: “In the same place my brother Wayne at forever, I’m a descendent of either Marley or Hendrix/ I haven’t figured it out ‘cause my story is far from finished.” Listeners will also realize how much time has passed once “Practice” comes on. In a solid revival, Drizzy takes the 13-year-old Juvenile classic “Back That Thang Up” and signs off the 90s hook as an R&B song, a feat only he is capable of executing.

Drake also brings the good times with “The Motto” with his boss Lil’ Wayne, who appears on three tracks. The club-bangers are sparse on this album but the DJs have made do with the carrier hits “Headlines” and “Make Me Proud.”

The album was originally slated for an Oct. 24 release and was pushed back until Nov. 15 because of sample clearance. Although the album leaked Nov. 7, Drake responded via Twitter in good spirits: “Listen, enjoy it, buy it if you like it…and take care until next time.” October’s Very Own may have been slightly late in its delivery, but Take Care is an album worth downloading and purchasing. It may not be regarded as “Hip-Hop Album of the Year” but many will continue to support it well after 2011 is over.

Daps to: The Torch

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Ryan Leslie Talks To VIBE About Delivering The Unexpected On ‘Les Is More’

I recently caught up with hit-maker Ryan Leslie for VIBE.com to talk about his forth solo project and first visual album Les Is More

Much can be said about an artist who has a reputation that precedes him.

Ryan Leslie was a Harvard graduate by the age of 19 and then went on to become a beatmaker for everyone from Britney Spears, Fabolous and Kanye West. He’s also a master of strategic social media, responsible for Cassie’s popularity on MySpace and the subject of over 43 million views on YouTube. And now the multi-talented artist has created a new album done entirely his own way.
 
After recently dropping his second video, “Beautiful Lie,” out of a 10-part series for the album, Leslie caught up with VIBE.com to explain why he took a different approach in delivering his upcoming project.“I decided to do a visual album because I believe we’re at a time where technology affords an artist to be more expressive,” Leslie said. He returned to the viral vehicle (YouTube) that allowed him to connect with the world musically. “I really had to ramp up that distribution channel to make an album that you could not only listen to, but an album you can watch.”
Les Is More  will be Leslie’s fourth album to date. He says this project contains more rapping to go along wiht his black-and-white visuals. In his recent “Beautiful Lie” video, Ryan (along with model girlfriend Kenza Fourati) is seen rapping about the good life in Paris, but taking the common term and elevating its meaning into ‘having something to believe in.”
Originally, the video was lost when Leslie and his production team came back to New York and even though the second filming cost triple the amount of what it probably should have, Leslie didn’t want to rob his fans of the video. “Evan Rogers, my cinematographer, said ‘Look man, are you ready to fly back to Paris and do this all over again?’ And I’ve never been a quitter.”
 
The DC native’s work ethic speaks for itself. Although his past releases didn’t translate into numbers that record labels equated with success, the now independent artist always acted on his passion.
 
“One of the best pieces of advice that I ever got from a mentor was take everyone’s opinion, listen to everyone’s opinion, but only really take advice from people who are in a position that you want to be in,” Leslie said.
 
He looks to Kanye West as the “benchmark” when it comes to being respected as an artist overall. West, who also started his music career primarily as a producer, is not only a peer but a fan of Leslie’s.
 
“I was making records and when he sent me back an e-mail with an emphatic, ‘Yo man, I love your raps,’ that basically trumped anyone else’s opinion.”
 
Now with his new album, Ryan does what comes natural once again: the unexpected. “Whatever you were accustomed to hearing before, this album is more.”
 
He also reintroduces the rap talents that fans have heard on previous tracks, such as “Christian Dior Denim Flow.” The song, which included Leslie, West, Kid Cudi, Pusha T, Lloyd Banks, Cyhi Da Prynce and John Legend, received positive praise from listeners. Leslie originally held down eight bars on the G.O.O.D. Friday track, but boasted 12 on the re-released version. He deemed the rapper-heavy joint “one of the great moments in and of itself in Ryan rap history” And a good indicator that he was on the right path.
 
“It’s my goal with this record to raise the bar for what we expect an artist to do,” Leslie said, not just posing a challenge to himself but to evolve as an artist. The extreme example of a one-man band, he handles all aspects of his work from thinking up the concept, constructing the beat and laying down the vocals. In fact, he was also is hands on with executing the video and editing it on Final Cut Pro. Not many can do the same.
 
In terms of collaborations, Leslie said Mr. Hudson appears on the track “Breathe.” However, he emphasizes that Les Is More is a solo project that chronicles his life, journey, travels and relationships. Another record “Swiss Francs,” includes French rapper Booba and showcases Leslie’s bilingual flow, incorporating some French into his wordplay.
 
Leslie also partners with style heavyweights John Galliano, Balmain and Lanvin to depict a luxurious rap lifestyle in his videos. However, he has not forgotten his humble beginnings and still recalls the whirring sound of his mother’s sewing machine on the first days before school. “My mother used to take fabrics and she would literally sew our clothes for us (he and his sister),” Leslie said, citing it as his first fascination with creating a quality garment. Since then, his mama-made attire has now evolved into custom-made suits in Italy.
 
Another person you can expect to see plenty of on Les Is More is his girlfriend. Fourati, who has been featured in “Beautiful Lie,” also stars in the upcoming “Good Girls,” set to drop before New Year’s. The song contains self-explanatory lyrics written by the rapper to his own: “Same time next year, I’ll be hopin’ that you’re still here/ But a little better than we did this year because baby you’re my good girl.”

Leslie constantly shifts the focus to his music, no matter what he may be facing in his personal life. As seen in concerts and online videos, his live performances emit an electricity that seems effortless. With that much energy on-stage, VIBE.com was curious to know how he preps beforehand.

“To be completely honest with you, I probably have the most inexpensive rider list of all time – all I need is a bottle of water,” Leslie said, admitting that his entourage often complains that he never touches anything in the dressing room. Although the list is nowhere near as lengthy as Drake’s, it has slightly grown to include peanut M&Ms, chicken wings and other tiny amenities, but his only prerequisites remain water and a couple of towels before rocking a show. “I’m there to work.”

Despite the record label setbacks and opinions from naysayers, it’s that disciplined mentality that has allowed Leslie to be an artist of all trades. With Les Is More, fans can expect to see and hear him as they never had before. —Adelle Platon

Daps to: VIBE.com

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Herman Cain Quits The Campaign Train

In the midst of accusations for sexual misconduct, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain dropped his White House bid Saturday.

“I am not going to be silenced and I am not going away,” the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza place said with his wife Gloria beside him.

“As of today, with a lot of prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign.”

At a rally that was originally supposed to be the grand opening for his national campaign headquarters in Atlanta, Cain continued, “I am suspending my presidential campaign because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt caused on me and my family. Not because we are not fighters.”

The announcement came five days after one of his accusers Ginger White came forward, alleging she had a 13-year sexual affair with Cain. After the presidential candidate called them “false accusations,” White’s attorney released a statement claiming he should apologize for disparaging his client.

Although he will be suspending his campaign, Cain’s team announced the formation of TheCainSolutions.com, an effort to bring the government back to the people.

Daps to: NY Times

 

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Vevo Premieres Beyonce “Live At Roseland” Concert Series

Beyonce continues to shed light into her personal life with visuals from her “Live At Roseland” concert DVD due tomorrow.

Vevo premiered this hour-long video that begins with a glimpse into Bey’s mind the first thing she wakes up:

My life goes by so fast. I was so busy thinking about the next shoot, the next video, the next single, the next tour that I couldn’t really reflect on the impact I was having on other human beings. My idea of success has completely changed. Whatever I do, it has to be something that is going to teach me about myself and something about life.

As a silhoutted Hov pulls back the curtains, the show and the tale of how Beyonce came to be begins. It was 1990 in Houston, Texas…

P.S. The 4 singer was MIA from the American Music Awards this evening but bagged the award for Best Soul/R&B Female Artist. Congrats to the hard-working mommy-to-be!

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Lil Wayne & Cash Money Dish Out Turkeys in New Orleans

Wayne spreads Thanksgiving spirit in his city, New Orleans

With the turkey holiday less than a week away, Lil Wayne, Birdman and Slim handed out poultry after returning to the city that raised ’em in New Orleans. Weezy and Cash Money Records hosted the city’s 16th annual turkey giveaway Friday.

After his first time back in the Big Easy in 15 years,  Wayne said the gesture itself felt different. “”Those times I did it (handing out turkeys) years ago, I was just a kid and I was just doing it because Baby and Slim, we were giving away turkeys at a park and that’s what we were doin’,” the rapper said. “Now it’s a totally different feeling, because I can actually give you that and say, ‘Here, happy Thanksgiving.’ I can do that, and I can provide that for you. That’s a different feeling in general, and it’s a beautiful feeling overall.”

As you say your grace at Thanksgiving dinner, give thanks to Weezy.

Daps to: MTV RapFix

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That’s What She Wore: Nicki Minaj Necklace

The Nicki Minaj “A$$” chain as designed by Melody Eh$ani. 

Daps to: Melody’s Blog

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The “XY” Movement

From VIBE.com:

Pushing limitations comes with the job description of being an artist in the spotlight.

But this just might set a new standard. Dphill Spanglishman is the innovator behind the “XY” movement, a new breed of straight male artists who rock lipstick and tight, colorful clothing to blur gender lines. They aim to challenge what is considered normal for menswear.

The provocative form of self-expression is not just a gender-bending strategy to amass more listeners. In April, rapper Lil B did when he released his album titled I’m Gay as a way to express his joy in making music as opposed to professing his orientation.

Prince and Boy George are also throwback examples of male performers who used their feminine side to stick out as artists.

The 19-year-old rapper, first featured in the October issue of S magazine, is now leading a younger generation to do the same.

“I had to just break down those barriers in my mind to where I was just confident to do it,” he recently told local news station CW33 in Dallas, wearing floral leggings, bright pink lipstick and Jordans.

Not only does it take an extreme sense of self-comfort, but his girlfriend also supports him. “It’s fine. I wear lipstick, he wears lipstick, we share lipstick,” Joy Nguyn said.

The “XY” leader, whose real name is Darryll Phillips II, has also turned to social media, finding male followers on Twitter who also wear lipstick in support of the movement. However, not everyone approves the statement Dphill is trying to make.YouTube users “TheNikbagtvZone” and “TheBloodprint” have publicly called him gay after his story generated a buzz on World Star Hip Hop.

Even if his girlfriend gets negative reactions as well, there’s no changing this guy’s fashion sense anytime soon.

“A lot of people feel like a lot of colors and tight clothes is homosexual,” Phillips said, “ I feel like that it’s more of an expression to me.” — Adelle Platon

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