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Tag: Hip-Hop/Rap (11-20 of 949)

Hear club-rap innovator Spank Rock's new single '12 O'Clock Boys'

Dance music and rap hybrids are pretty much inescapable at this point, but mixing the two was still a daring concept when rapper/producer/party-starter Naeem Juwan (a.k.a. Spank Rock) first hit the scene nearly a decade ago. “I think maybe I was ahead of the curve because I’m okay taking risks,” he says. “A lot of people don’t like to take risks. People like to do things that are easy. I feel like maybe I’m a bit different.”

While it’s taken a while for the dance-rap movement Juwan helped lay the foundation for to fully bloom, his skills are still as sharp as they were when he first started blowing up clubs. Two months ago he released the fiery track “Assassin” with fellow club-rap vet Amanda Blank, which will appear on his new The Upside EP, out Dec. 9 on his own Bad Blood Records.

Its latest single is “12 O’Clock Boys” (produced by Philly beat maker Noah Breakfast), inspired by Juwan’s Baltimore roots and the documentary of the same name about the city’s unique motorcycle culture. “It has the feeling of a Baltimore club break,” he says. “I always think about Baltimore when I sit down to write. It’s such a wild, crazy place. I just kinda wanted to think about some of the friends I lost back home and think about youth culture in Baltimore and try to write something that was—I don’t know. I just wanted to write something about that.”


Killer Mike writes op-ed against use of rap lyrics in court

After a few brushes with the Top 40 in the early aughts followed by a long period playing almost exclusively to the type of rap obsessive who can spend hours debating the merits of various artists who’ve been in Outkast’s orbit, Killer Mike entered into a fecund second act of his career with 2012’s R.A.P. Music and his ongoing collaboration with rapper/producer El-P, Run the Jewels. At the same time he’s used the growing attention coming his way to speak out about social and political issues, especially ones that affect young people of color, becoming the most persuasive pundit to emerge out of hip-hop culture since Chuck D. READ FULL STORY

On Chicago's West Side, this is how the kids bop

Chicago bop music is a solvent antidote to the blues. As a rule, bop—the smiley, youthful subgenre of hip-hop conceived on city’s West Side in late 2012—is non-confrontational and easily digestible, a fiesta bowl of sunkissed synths, Caribbean steel drums, yodeled ad-libs and ginger, and Auto Tuned melodies. Bop MCs are creatures of the nightlife. Their implied objective is not to educate, but to keep the “fefe,” or party (short for “fiesta”), medicated with Patrón, Rémy Martin, and Xanax.

But strip away bop’s sparkly trimmings and you’re left with a DIY take on protest folk born out of abject circumstances. Earlier this decade, Chicago’s national image was compromised by a volcanic rash of gun deaths, the bulk of which were concentrated in resourceless, hypersegregated neighborhoods. Even as the rest of the city beautified, many West and South Side communities stayed stuck in a quagmire of entrenched poverty, social unhappiness and civic dishevelment.


Internet rap sensation Kitty made a playlist for your Thanksgiving travel

The rapper Kitty (formerly known as Kitty Pryde), gets called an “Internet rapper” a lot because she got her first break when the video for her song “Okay Cupid”–a cotton-candy-light slice of stoner rap showcasing a real if nontraditional flow–went viral amongst hipsters, hip-hop heads, and music critics, and because she has the standard online presence of a 21-year-old in this day and age.

But she has an offline life too, and it’s involved a good amount of travel between gigs. So before the biggest day of the year for traveling, she’s sharing a playlist designed for it.

“This playlist is 4 flying in airplanes or driving in cars when you feel weird,” she emails, “and basically every time I spend on a long flight or long car ride I’m either feeling weird or trying to forget that I’m sad.”


Pusha T drops Kanye West-produced 'Lunch Money'


It’s a testament to Pusha T’s magnetism that he can rap about exactly one topic and still get people going crazy every time he drops a track. He just unveiled his latest, the Kanye West-produced “Lunch Money,” and like every single other King Push song ever, it’s about the craziness of being a former cocaine dealer turned international rap superstar, and like an almost unbelievably large percentage of them, it’s completely bananas and worth rewinding at least two or three times on the first spin.

West’s beat hints at where he’s headed post-Yeezus, trading in the impenetrably dark industrial minimalism he’s been on for burbling prog rock synthesizers and funky stomping drums. The track hit the Internets without any explanation about whether or not it’s part of a new release, but if Pusha’s got a sequel to My Name Is My Name up his sleeve, fans of clanging beats and a seemingly limitless series of cocaine metaphors could have reason to celebrate.


Up-and-coming rapper Pell explains where he's going and what he's listening to


The rapper Pell hails from New Orleans, but his style has little in common with the syrup-swilling sound that most rap fans associate with the city. His new album Floating While Dreaming mixes the ongoing cloud rap trend with a heavy shot of organic Native Tongues vibes and more than a few hints at the young MC’s affection for indie rock, including a single that features indie crooner Dent May on the hook.

“The style is just 100 percent me,” he tells EW. “I like to think in some capacities I’m ahead of the curve. I can make something classic and timeless but still catch the ears of the youth and the people who are looking for a hit single. Something that’s relatable right now. A lot of people out right now are trying to talk about something different from what they’re doing, and it’s easily transparent to the listeners. Nine times out of 10, the ones that are respected for these braggadocious lyrics are talking about lives that aren’t even theirs.”


Jeezy, the most motivational man in the rap game, opens up about what motivates him

The title of Jeezy’s 2005 major label debut, Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101, succinctly sums up what he was about and what he’s been about since then—converting stories about his struggles on and off the streets into potently inspiring music. Lots of rappers drop knowledge on their records, but few lace their rhymes with so much motivational wisdom.

Jeezy’s guru-like status in hip-hop is half the reason he’s been able to keep his career going strong for over a decade. The other half is that he keeps putting out amazing records. Last year he released one of his biggest singles, the club-friendly, DJ Mustard-produced “R.I.P.” Back in September he released Seen It All: The Autobiography, which abandons crossover ambition to focus solely on the kind of unforgivingly hard music most rappers keep confined to their mixtapes. The kind of stuff he specializes in.

His latest single, “Holy Ghost,” an emotionally raw meditation on loyalty and betrayal set in the back seat of a Rolls-Royce, is one of the most powerful songs he’s ever recorded. Just listening to it can make you feel bulletproof. It may not have budged the mainstream’s needle, but it’s huge on the streets, which is where it was aiming for in the first place.

While Jeezy was in New York City for a show, EW had the chance to sit down with him and find out why he thinks his music’s so motivating—and what motivates him.


Azealia Banks drops long-delayed debut album by surprise

When Harlem rapper Azealia Banks first announced the impending release of her debut album Broke With Expensive Taste, all the way back in early 2012, the world was a different place. Her addictive single “212” was making the Rap Internet go bananas, her nemesis (or at least one of them) Iggy Azalea was just another newcomer with one hot song, and Universal was willing to gamble big that she was going to become the first female rap superstar of the new decade.

Since then she’s seen first Nicki Minaj and then Iggy take the spots she seemed destined for, she’s burned through most of the goodwill she’d acquired with a seemingly interminable series of poorly judged Twitter beefs, and Universal’s dropped her. But as of today, the multiply-delayed BWET is actually available for purchase.

Earlier today Spotify posted a placeholder for the album, and Banks has since released the album through iTunes on her own Azealia Banks Records imprint. Many of the 16 tracks have been previously released, including “212,” “Yung Rapunxel,” and “Heavy Metal and Reflective.”


The Dirty Heads' Jared 'Dirty J' Watson on the hit 'My Sweet Summer' and his current rider obsession

The fall chill is in full effect for the parts of the United States that actually experience seasons, but for anybody wanting to hang onto the spirit of beach weather, the Dirty Heads have a pretty excellent balm. It’s called “My Sweet Summer,” and it has been a steady performer on the rock charts since the album it came from, Sound of Change, dropped in July.

“We knew coming out in the summer time it would work, and it turns out it works when it’s cold too,” explains frontman Jared “Dirty J” Watson. “It’s got legs.” According to Watson, the song was initially something he was going to give away. “I heard Kenny Chesney liked our music, so I wrote the hook and was going to send it to him just to see if he’d like it,” he says. “But [producer] Niles [Hollowell-Dhar] said, ‘This is a hit, you’ve got to release this first.’ We ended up finishing it in about a day.”

The song is an excellent bridge track for the Dirty Heads, who made their bones as a reggae-blessed beach-ska hybrid since their inception. “My Sweet Summer” has a lot of that vibe to it, but it also hints at what’s on the rest of Sound of Change, which is much more heavily invested in bringing in hip-hop elements. READ FULL STORY

It's not too late to fall in love with Sharaya J's Missy Elliott-directed 'Takin' It No More'/'Shut It Down' video


Missy Elliott hasn’t released an album in nearly a decade. As a fan, that can be hard to deal with, especially as other rap and R&B stars of the early ’00s have mounted comebacks over the past few years. But as frustrating as the lack of a new Elliott LP has been, it’s hard to argue with the admittedly well-deserved semi-retirement she’s been enjoying, casually jumping on tracks for old friends, releasing the occasional hot new thing whenever the mood strikes her, and not really sweating career stuff.

Recently she’s taken on Jersey artist Sharaya J as a protege, performing with her at the afterparty for an Alexander Wang runway show and even making a video for her. Back at the end of September, Sharaya J released a diptych video for her songs “Takin’ It No More” and “Shut It Down,” which Elliott co-directed and executive produced. It’s Elliott’s first time directing, as she admitted last night on Twitter, but she’s obviously learned a lot from starring in videos, and the results of her debut effort are way more impressive than the average novice. It helps that Sharaya J is a superstar just waiting to happen, with intense vocal and dance skills matched by a charisma that blasts out of the screen with an almost palpable force.

She also seems to have inherited Elliott’s frenetically experimental streak—there aren’t many artists out there who have the skills or even the inclination to pull off choreography that incorporates real-time sign language translations into their dance moves.

The “Takin’ It No More”/”Shut It Down” video has been out for over a month now, and so far it’s only racked up a little over 100 thousand views, which is only a tiny fraction of what it deserves. A month may seem like a million years in today’s hyperkinetic pop landscape, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to fall in love with it.


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