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Tag: Hip-Hop/Rap (51-60 of 884)

SXSW Saturday: Phantogram, and the end of a very weird week

After a long few days of indie rock, mixtape rap, pop stars playing small, and smoked meat, it was time to put a bow on the annual South By Southwest festival.

The schedule for Saturday night was strange. In the past, Saturday night shows have always been the biggest, but this year, a number of bands had already left town, and with the likes of Lady Gaga, Coldplay, and Kendrick Lamar having wrapped their high-profile performances, it left a hodgepodge of mid-level indie and hip-hop to send everyone off.

Enter Phantogram, an excellent computer-pop combo whose new album Voices gently nudges their sound towards an even wider audience than the one that picked up on their first buzz-band moment several years ago. Like an overwhelming number of the acts booked at SXSW, they are big enough to get booked on late-night TV but not quite big enough to be played on pop radio or fill larger venues. For a band like Phantogram, a solid showing at SXSW could mean an elevation to that next level. READ FULL STORY

J.Lo's 'I Luh Ya Papi' turns the tables on rap videos: Watch it here

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Sick of all the under-dressed ladies that rappers like to have decorating their sets like sexy lawn ornaments? So is Jennifer Lopez.

That’s why she decided to put men in tiny bikini bottoms, slather them in oil and perch them around the pool. No, I’m not (just) describing her home life: It’s J. Lo’s new music video!

On American Idol Thursday night, Lopez unveiled her video for “I Luh Ya Papi” — a clip that turns the tables on rap video stereotypes. And it’s pretty glorious. At one point she’s on a yacht, pouring champagne in some guy’s Speedo. This isn’t exactly moving us past the sexual objectification of music videos, but it sure is fun to watch:

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Jay Z and Kanye West bring the throne to SXSW

Back in 2011 and 2012, super friends Jay Z and Kanye West took their epic Watch the Throne tour everywhere from Paris to Vancouver. Even New Jersey got a two-night stand. One place they skipped, though? Austin, Texas.

That changed last night, when Jay and ‘Ye took over the Austin Music Hall for Samsung’s big SXSW party. Needless to say, people were excited; even Tyler, the Creator, who had a showcase of his own to play later that night, could be seen wilding out in the middle of the young crowd and, inevitably, inspiring a flood of Samsung-sponsored selfies from the fans around him. (Sadly, Tyler’s scheduled 1 a.m. showcase at Mohawk would end up being marred by tragedy.)

So did the Throne live up to the hype? Without a doubt. Sure, the concept and set-list was more or less a facsimile of the official tour — the rappers dueled from atop opposing glowing cubes amid a spastic laser show, before eventually taking the actual stage together and tag-teaming in and out for solo mini-sets — but that didn’t stop everyone from losing themselves during the two-hour blowout. And both Jay and Kanye have put out a bunch of new music since they last convened onstage: Hova had his (also Samsung-aided) Magna Carta Holy Grail, while West had his Yeezus masterpiece, plus the Cruel Summer comp he released under the G.O.O.D. Music banner.

But since the notes on my phone are roughly 85% exclamation points, it might be best to break it down by the numbers: READ FULL STORY

Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q plant their flags at iTunes Festival at SXSW

It’s a testament to Kendrick Lamar’s industry power right now that Apple essentially gave him and his crew an entire evening to themselves on the second night of the inaugural iTunes Festival at SXSW.

Lamar’s crew/label conglomerate Top Dawg Entertainment filled ever nook of the evening’s festivities, from the three booked acts to the guest stars. Though not necessarily on the same scale, it conjured up memories of Kurt Cobain curating an entire main stage day at the 1992 Reading Festival—a huge cultural entity acknowledging the overwhelming impact of a single star.

Of course, Lamar wouldn’t have arrived at this point if he wasn’t a stellar live performer, and he brought the same kind of energy and execution in Austin that he brought during his run as one of the top festival stars of last summer. He did most of those shows with a band, but on Wednesday night he was backed only by a DJ, and the narrowing of the sound made his material feel more claustrophobic in some ways. He benefits from that kind of intensity though: READ FULL STORY

SXSW Music 2014: 20 acts to see

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The annual South By Southwest festival/conference/conventio-con is underway, with the music getting started in earnest on Tuesday and rolling headlong through Saturday night.

This year’s event has its share of big name visitors: Lady Gaga will be delivering the keynote address and performing, and the likes of Coldplay, Kendrick Lamar, Soundgarden, and Pitbull will be headlining a series of shows as part of the iTunes Festival.

But SXSW was originally designed as a showcase for new music, a place where baby bands could get their first big taste of exposure and where those artists who were about to break finally actually broke. EW will be on the ground covering acts both big and small, including these 20 on-the-cusp artists we’re going out of our way to check out.

Temples: Throwback psychedelia is hard to do, but this British quartet blends just the right amount of crushing beauty and off-kilter left turns.

Angel Olsen: In the grand tradition of PJ Harvey, Olsen marries muscular guitar with her delicate warble for blow-away blasts of folk-rock and power blues.

Perfect Pussy: Despite their censor-baiting name (and what honestly seems like a pretty standard-issue fuzz-punk sound), there’s a lot of buzz on this Syracuse foursome.

Sleepy Kitty: For fans of Sleigh Bells — but sub in post-grunge jangle for noisecore.

Cloud Nothings: Noisy Cleveland-based anarchists nearly made it big with their exceptional 2012 album Attack on Memory. Could the bigger, badder, forthcoming Here and Nowhere Else put them over the top?

Vertical Scratchers: Ultra-fuzzy indie jangle care of a pair of blissed out Californians.

SKATERS: Four New Yorkers who split the difference between driving punk surges and carefully-curated sonic tapestries, all wrapped in a whatever-man sneer.

ScHoolboy Q: Sure, he topped the charts with his latest album OxyMoron, but the top lieutenant in Kendrick Lamar’s army is ready to take the next step into household name-ness.

Chet Faker: The Australian’s downtempo bedroom R&B that would swerve dangerously into the cheese lane were it not for bearded mastermind Nick Murphy’s convincingly syrupy baritone.

You Blew It!: Don’t look now, but an emo revival is about to kick into gear, and this Orlando-based combo are the finest purveyors of the new pollution.

Oh Honey: Nothing but positive jams for this strummy, soulful Brooklyn duo. Like Matt & Kim with better production values.

READ FULL STORY

Cowboy Troy: Country's most brazen bro returns

What if all the country dudes singing about spring break, pickup trucks, and cheap beer fully embraced hip hop, and not just its swagger? On King of Clubs, out today, Cowboy Troy—the 43-year-old African-American singer-rapper born Troy Lee Coleman III—answers that question like a man shouting from the saddle of a bucking bronco.

It’s not his first time at the rodeo: Troy, a member of the MuzikMafia crew that includes modern-era rebels like Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson, has released four other audacious “hick-hop” albums since 2002. He never had a hit like Big & Rich’s “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” the 2004 country-rap classic, and maybe never will. “Drink Drank Drunk,” the first single off King of Clubs, features B&R and a white rapper named Big Smo (aren’t there any “lil” MCs in country?), but it never took off with the “mothertruckers” and “Southern belles” it urges to jump around. (It’s gotten less than 6,000 plays on Spotify since last fall.)

READ FULL STORY

Frank Ocean sued by Chipotle, releases song with Diplo and former Clash members [UPDATED]

Well, this might not be the Channel Orange followup we’ve been waiting for. On Friday, burrito emporium Chipotle sued Frank Ocean for backing out on a deal to deliver a song for an advertising campaign. The suit alleges that Chipotle paid Ocean $212,500 to record a new version of “Pure Imagination,” the song made famous in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, for an ad benefiting the restaurant chain’s sustainable farming program. (Several artists, including Willie Nelson, have contributed to the program in the past.) The track was due back in August, but on the day that Ocean was supposed to deliver the tune, he told Chipotle he would not be delivering. READ FULL STORY

Common, Daddy Yankee, Big Boi on 'Game of Thrones' Mixtape

According to the Wall Street Journal, HBO decided that their prize pony Game of Thrones might pull in more of an “urban” crowd if they could connect the show to rappers. Rappers totally sell stuff to “urbans,” right?

Yes, HBO’s analysts confirmed this for them. Game of Thrones has a viewership of 14.3 million, so there’s bound to be some hip-hop stars in there. Sure enough, Common, Big Boi, Daddy Yankee and a handful of other names agreed to make a mix tape of Game of Thrones-themed songs called Catch the Throne. (No word from HBO on how much this project is costing them.)

The 10-song compilation will be released online this Friday.  Good news for skeptical fans, all the songs will be free downloads. WSJ already gave a sample of Wale’s lyrics: “I’m tellin’ whoever messin’ with me/I can bring you that Khaleesi heat/Use my King, knack for words, as an actual sword/I can decapitate a rapper…” Ah, memories.

R. Kelly drops his 'White Panties'

R. Kelly — everyone’s favorite World Cup opening act (remember when that happened?) — revealed to V Magazine that he is planning a followup to Black Panties. It will be called White Panties. Because, of course.

But we can’t throw too much shade at Kells since Black Panties did debut at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 last year. Kelly said that this new album is going to be “a whole other level” and the sound will be in the vein of his early work: “Everyone has been asking me when I’m going to do another baby-making album, because that’s what started me out. I’ve been all around the world musically, in every genre. I can write ‘I Believe I Can Fly,’ and I can write ‘Bump ’N’ Grind.’ Now is the time to bring it back around.”

For those of you waiting with baited breath for more Trapped in the Closet, (I mean, cliffhanger. Is he still in there?) Kelly said what every fan was dying to hear: “One chapter led to another, and the next thing you know I have all of these chapters and now I have a leash on it. I can walk it wherever I want. I have a lot of characters. I have 57 more chapters that I haven’t released yet that are going to be released. This thing is forever.” So now you know.

On the scene: Earl Sweatshirt and Vince Staples stir up Odd Future fans in Brooklyn

“Y’all ’bout to cry with me, or what?” Earl Sweatshirt asked last night at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg. He was introducing “Chum,” a rumination on life with too many ugly temptations and no father, from his transfixing 2013 debut album, Doris. But when the crowd — rowdy fans of Odd Future, the rap collective for which the 19-year-old Earl provides the quick-witted conscience — loudly showed their support, he shot back, “You just cheer for that? You weak, dog!”

Earl, playing his second New York show of the week to end the East Coast leg of his tour, maintained a similarly haphazard balance of confrontation, self-awareness, and silliness for his entire hour on stage. “Chum” proved to be a highlight, with Earl delivering his most slippery and scrupulously honest lyrics at the edge of the stage, bathed in a cool blue light and gesturing precisely with his free arm.

Most of the night he teamed with the gregarious rapper Vince Staples, who served on Doris as a kind of friendly foil for Earl to step out from behind and deliver his intricate rhymes. Together they traded off opportunities to brandish their skills, rapping entire verses a cappella, and teasing everyone else. “I wanna see who’s a loser and who’s not a loser!” Staples told the sold-out crowd, who jammed the main floor and were eagerly stage diving, but weren’t always receptive to the dense songs, which the rappers doled out in fragments. “My n—- picked a love song to stage dive to,” Earl marveled when “Sunday,” a slowly uncoiling track he recorded with Frank Ocean, was interrupted.

But the messiness and small miscues gave the show an intimate feel — that coupling of weakness and strength that Earl thrives on. Lyrically, he impressed, delivering his rhymes with exactness and force. But some of his artfully produced music, played off of a MacBook Air, disintegrated into washes of overpowering bass. It was as if Earl and Staples, who roamed the stage dressed in baggy jeans and simple white T-shirts, had simply invited everyone into their basement. Schoolboy Q — a rising star whose highly anticipated new album, Oxymoron, comes out Tuesday — appeared near the end of the set to perform his mini-hit “Man of the Year.” But the show didn’t end with a big climax or an encore. Instead, Earl and Staples drifted into a crowd of friends at the end of the stage as “Praying for a Brick,” a deliberately dopey track by prankster rapper Lil B, played. When a roadie came out and closed the laptop, the music just stopped. It was, somehow, a perfect ending.

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