It’s hard to believe that just a short couple years ago people were talking about Pharrell in the past tense—especially when his post-“Get Lucky” comeback is threatening to actually overshadow the first half of his career. This morning, he added a boost of momentum to the unbelievable roll he’s been on with the release of a video for “Gust of Wind,” the Daft Punk-featuring latest single from his G I R L album. Directed by Edgar Wright, the visual complements the song’s airy, string-laden arrangement with choreography and costumes that nod heavily toward wuxia kung fu films and a pair of giant stone Daft Punk helmets floating around the autumnal scenery like it’s no big thing.
Tag: Hip-Hop/Rap (11-20 of 929)
Pop in your grills and give a pitch-dropped “unh,” because A$AP Rocky’s back.
Thursday at midnight, the Harlem rapper released “Multiply,” his first new recording in the nearly two years since his debut album LONG.LIVE.A$AP. Although Juicy J gets a feature credit, the former Three 6 Mafia member’s role is limited to a spoken-word intro and outro, and providing the inspiration for a brief reference to “Stay Fly.” Flacko spends the rest of the track big-upping Houston rap legend Pimp C, sh– talking over trendy streetwear labels, and revealing his interest in going all New Jack City by making Jeeps a thing again—all over a beat by emerging producer Curtis Heron, which takes Rocky’s signature icy, slow motion psychedelia to trippy new levels. READ FULL STORY
In 1994, a relatively unknown hip-hop artist named Nas released his debut album Illmatic to mediocre sales. Over the next seven years, the album rode a surge of critical acclaim to platinum status in 2001—cementing itself as a landmark in East Coast hip-hop. Twenty years later, Nas is telling fans old and new the story of his creative roots in the documentary Nas: Time is Illmatic, out this week.
Today, the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival opener is in limited release in New York City and Los Angeles. The doc, directed by One9, is described as “a thrilling account of Nas’ evolution from a young street poet to a visionary MC.” The 71-minute film offers an intimate narrative of the forces in Nas’ early life that shaped him as a music artist—from his childhood in Queensbridge N.Y. to his young adult years on the ’80s hip-hop scene—as well as firsthand insight into the time and place that bore Illmatic. “We knew we couldn’t tell the story of Illmatic without telling the culture around it,” One9 explained to Vice.
Time is Illmatic features interviews with Nas’ biggest influencers, including his brother, the father who left his family, and the producers on Illmatic: Large Professor, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, L.E.S., and DJ Premier. The filmmakers (mostly Nas’ friends) also spoke with the people that now count Nas as a profound influencer, like Alicia Keys and Pharrell Williams. Time is Illmatic will screen tomorrow night only in a number of other cities. It will be available for download on iTunes/OnDemand on Friday Oct. 3.
The André Benjamin drought is over. After a long break from the spotlight, the man also known as Andre 3000 not only launched a headline-making reunion tour with his formative rap duo this summer but also stars in the excellent Hendrix biopic Jimi: All Is by My Side, written and directed by Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley. Thoughtful and forthcoming, Benjamin, 39, spoke via phone from his home in Atlanta about the evolution of Jimi and what takes to be true to the parts he plays both on stage and off.
EW: You’ve been trying to play Jimi Hendrix for a while. What drew you into this script?
André Benjamin: The take that John Ridley devised. I’ve been kind of close to or attached to a few different Hendrix projects over the years. 15 years ago, I started hearing the Hendrix calls from different directors and producers. I’ve read about four or five different scripts—great scripts, at that—but for some reason or another they just didn’t get made. When John Ridley came with this take, years later I’m like, “Wow, I’m pretty old at this point, but if you still feel like it can work…” And John was really, really into it. The first thing he said was, “I’m going to make this movie, and I want you to be in it.” I was just going off of John’s energy. READ FULL STORY
Twenty-one-year-old Hyde Park native Alex Wiley is an increasingly important player of a movement of Chicago hip-hop artists–with Chance the Rapper at the forefront–who are uniting the city’s history of smart, bohemian backpacker rap with cunning pop sensibilities that have helped earn them a far broader audience than their biting social commentary and emotionally raw personal narratives might suggest. “When I was younger I had a turning point in my life,” Wiley writes in an email. “It made me what I am right now, set that in motion. I guess now, I’m trying to make music that that kid who was going through a lot of shit would have wanted to hear, and would have helped him get through his day.”
Back in June, he released his Village Party mixtape that drew more attention from outside of his city than anything else he’s released. His first song since then is “Sexual Dolphin,” a far deeper and heavier song than the title would suggest, produced by Odd Couple and Carter Lang. “With this,” he writes, “I’m trying to pick up where I left off from Village Party and take people to the next place. I’m really excited to drop it. It’s my first song with two verses. It’s a new sound for me, but I think it still feels relatable, it still feels like me.”
“I’m trying to make rock music,” he writes. “I don’t want rock n’ roll to die. I think Kanye said it best: Rappers are the rock stars right now.”
Scandinavia has had a strong presence on the pop charts this year, first with Norwegian duo Nico & Vinz’s out-of-nowhere smash “Am I Wrong,” followed by Tove Lo‘s “Habits (Stay High),” which spent the summer steadily climbing the Hot 100. Next up is Nabiha, a Danish artist who splits the difference between hip-hop, R&B, dance music, and straight-up pop. Considering how closely this combination of genres resembles the makeup of the American pop charts these days, it seems likely that she might be able to find more success here with her newly released EP Mind the Gap than her 2011 track “Never Played the Bass,” which made it to No. 37 on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart despite the fact that it wasn’t officially promoted as a single.
Mind‘s second single could be the break she’s been looking for. “Animals” is a beast of a turn-up anthem, alternating between noisily minimal rap verses that sound like the hybrid offspring of Yeezus and Major Lazer’s “Pon Di Floor” and a sweeping, jumbo-sized melodic hook that probably has Rihanna biting her fist with envy. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself listening to it on repeat.
Two years after blasting his way into the pop zeitgeist via Kanye’s remix of “I Don’t Like,” Chief Keef remains the poster boy for Chicago’s drill scene, despite the fact that he’s been moving away from that style’s blueprint for nearly as long. Earlier this year, he released the single “All I Care About” from his Bang 3 mixtape that split the difference between drill and the blues, mixing a twitchy beat made out of drill’s signature chattering hi-hats and funereal tolling bells with a yowling Auto-Tuned vocal part and a hypnotically circular melody, resulting in six minutes of heavy strangeness that doesn’t fit comfortably in any one established genre. (“Computerized gangster soul” might work.)
Last night he proved that his weird streak’s not only continuing, but intensifying when he posted a new single on YouTube. “Wait,” which Keef produced himself, is a strange mishmash of odd noises that shares some rhythmic qualities with rap but overall is more sonically similar to the experimental electronic music that back in the ’90s was called IDM, or “intelligent dance music”—in particular in its glitchy hi-hats and the unexpectedly gentle synth lead that sounds like something Aphex Twin might have made back in the Richard D. James Album era.
Back in July, EW visited the Greenpoint, Brooklyn location where Detroit rapper Danny Brown was shooting a video for the Old track “Smokin’ & Drinkin’.” Wednesday, the final product hit the Internet in all its hedonistic glory.
Director Alan Del Rio Ortiz described the clip’s theme as “like a house party, but in a dream,” and to that end, he dropped Brown (clad in a leather jacket and Dead Boys tee) into a group of pretty young people going bananas in a psychedelically lit apartment. There’s a lot of dancing, a lot of glitter, a lot of 40’s being chugged, and since it’s a rap video, a generous number of attractive women just chilling in a shower.
Big Sean surprised fans Friday afternoon with a batch of new music posted to his SoundCloud. The “Marvin & Chardonnay” rapper unveiled four new songs, including one that unites two of the most successful producers of the past few years for the first time. “I Don’t F– With You” was produced by his G.O.O.D. Music boss Kanye West and Hot-100-dominating newcomer DJ Mustard, finding an interesting middle ground between the former’s proggy sonic envelope-pushing and the latter’s bare-bones electro boom. (It also features yet another in a very long line of on-point verses by Bay Area rap legend E-40.)
Sean’s already having a pretty big week, with Thursday’s announcement that he’s joined the Roc Nation management roster and Saturday’s release of his tropical-themed collaboration with Adidas.
When Melisa Young, aka Kid Sister, released her breakthrough single “Pro Nails” back in 2007, hip-hop, pop, and dance music all still existed pretty much in their own lanes, and blending them together the way she did was still a largely unexplored idea. The song obviously didn’t take itself too seriously— it’s about getting your nails did, obviously — but it was revolutionary in its own low-key way, and after Kanye jumped on a remix, it became a smash hit in the club scene where a new generation of rappers and dance DJs were just starting to mingle.
“Pro Nails” led to Young being signed to Downtown Records, but despite the backing of a big label, production work by future EDM superstars like A-Trak, Rusko, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso, and a plethora of hooks, her 2009 debut album Ultraviolet failed to live up to its high expectations. As the hybrid style she’d developed spread from the underground to the Hot 100, Young herself faded from the public eye.
At the end of August, nearly five years after Ultraviolet dropped, Young released DUSK2DAWN- The Diary of Jane Jupiter, a mixtape that finds her going harder than she’s ever gone before, with a new sound with a noisier edge and a newfound interest in writing on topics far deeper than manicures. EW got her on the phone to talk about the transition.
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