Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Phil Ramone and Pharrell Williams: Keynote Session At The International MEIEA Conference

Phil Ramone and Pharrell Williams Keynote Session at the 2010 International MEIEA Conference hosted by the University of Miami and held in Coral Gables, Florida, on Friday March 26th, 2010.

Phil Ramone and Pharrell Williams

Dr. Dre And Jay-Z In Studio Pic

According to Nah Right, the picture was taken February 21, 2010 in Miami, the day after BP3 tour kicked off in Florida.

Erykah Badu Album Release Party Secret Show In Los Angeles, CA Recap

Reported by Gerrick D. Kennedy / Los Angeles Times

“Had three babies by three different dudes, ran in the nude in Dallas,” Erykah Badu sang amid loud cheers from fans that packed into her not-so-secret show at the El Rey Theatre on Tuesday (March 30) evening.

It would be the only time that Badu would make reference to the controversy she is facing surrounding her latest video, “Window Seat.” In the clip, which has gone viral, she is seen walking the streets of Dallas near the site where JFK was assassinated, slowly stripping; the moment after she takes off her last piece of clothing, the singer is shot by an unseen assassin.

On Monday, Badu took to her Twitter page to advertise the release party/concert celebrating the unveiling of her fifth album, “New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh),” tweeting, “secret show in los angeles at 9 pm 3/30/2010 shhh...” It might not have been much notice, but judging by the line stretching down Wilshire Boulevard, word had got out.

Fans waited patiently while she spent time greeting the crowd and posing for pics. She hit the stage at close to midnight.

Taking the stage in a tan trench coat and beaded braids that flowed down her back (a throwback to the late funk singer Rick James?), Badu offered no apologies or explanation for the delay before launching into “20 Feet Tall,” the lead track from her new album.

“Then you, you built a wall, a 20-foot wall so I couldn’t see… If I get off my knees, I might recall I’m 20 feet tall,” she sang behind a hushed groove.

Flanked by a band that included a harp and flute, which blended seamlessly with the funk-filled sounds of the keyboard and drums, Badu transformed the packed house into a religious service -- albeit one where the pastor allows marijuana -- as fans testified and sang along to songs that included tackling the government, personal liberation and, of course, love, her pitch-perfect vocals encouraging plenty of chants.

“New Amerykah Part Two” is filled with the nostalgic soul that Badu is known for, and her live offering was no different. While fans might have had their endurance tested with the wait at the standing-room-only show, her lush harmonies made up for the delay, and she commanded the audience for her hour-plus show. She didn’t offer many songs from her new album, instead treating fans to classic tracks from her catalog, turning hits such as “On & On,” “Love of My Life” and “The Healer” into jam sessions.

Badu might have tested our patience before the show began, but once her voice filled the theater, no one seemed to mind; fans just wanted to get their own “Window Seat” into the world of Badu.

Rap-Up's review of the show here:
Erykah Badu LA Album Release Party

more fan shot video footage below.

(video courtesy of msway30ish & DJ Booth)

Usher 'Raymond V Raymond' Projected To Sell 330-350k First Week

According to Hits Daily Double based on first day sales and the digital round up, Usher 'Raymond V Raymond' is on track to sell between 330-350k first full week of release. The Hits Daily Double numbers will become more firmer a day prior (on Tuesday, April 6) to the Nielsen/Soundscan (the industry standard) numbers as we will see next Wednesday, April 7.

Who, What, Where Weekly Photo Links 3/31

Record executive Kawan "KP" Prather & newly signed Interscope artist Yelawolf at Adesina Dowers' Birthday Party on Monday March 29, in New York City.

This and many more photo links from the week past below.

Tuesday, March 30

J. Cole concert in NYC:
See coverage here

Usher performing on ABC's 'Good Morning America' in NYC:
Getty Images
Film Magic
Wire Image
Corbis Images
PR Photos
Globe Photos
Star Traks Photo
WENN Photo

Dru Hill's 'InDRUpendence Day' album listening session in NYC:
Wire Image

Alicia Keys 'Freedom' tour in Atlanta, GA:
Wire Image

Monday, March 29

Black Eyed Peas concert and after party in Los Angeles, CA:
Getty Images
Wire Image 1
Wire Image 2
Rex Features 1
Rex Features 2
Rex Features 3
Star Traks Photo 1
Star Traks Photo 2
Star Traks Photo 3

Music publicity girl Adesina Dowers' Birthday party with John Legend, record executive Kawan "KP" Prather, Yelawolf and others in NYC:
Wire Image

Erykah Badu on BET's 106 & Park in NYC:
Getty Images
Corbis Images
Wire Image

Alicia Keys 'Freedom' concert at St. Pete Times Forum in Miami, FL:
Rex Features

ASCAP's EMI Urban Songwriters event with Black Buddafly, Omar Grant, Krucial Keys, Big Jon Platt and more in NYC:
Wire Image

Corrine Bailey Rae performs in Scotland:
WENN Photo

Sunday, March 28

Bamboozle 2010 Festival with Iyaz, Orranthi and others in Anaheim, CA:
Corbis Images

Akon performs in South Africa:
Wire Image

Kelly Rowland at 'I Heart My Girlfriends' event in Miami Beach, FL:
Getty Images
Film Magic
Star Traks Photo
WENN Photo

Winter Music Conference P. Diddy party with Questlove, DJ Khaled, Kid Capri, Ne-Yo and others in Miami, FL:
Rex Features
Star Traks Photo

Saturday, March 27

Nickelodeon's 23rd Annual Kids' Choice Awards with Rihanna, Snoop, Swizz Beatz and others in Los Angeles, CA:
PR Photos
Rex Features
Daily Celeb
Globe Photos

Perez Hilton's Birthday party with Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Leona Lewis, Eve and others in Los Angeles, CA:
Rex Features
Film Magic
WENN Photo
WENN Photo 2

Lil Jon at Harrah's in Atlantic City, NJ:
Film Magic

Alicia Keys 'Freedom' concert with Anthony Hamilton in Miami, FL:
Getty Images
Corbis Images 1
Corbis Images 2
PR Photos

Mya at Rock Media Fashion Week in Miami, FL:
Wire Image

50 Cent 'Before I Self Destruct' tour in Spain:
Getty Images
Wire Image

Akon at in-store signing in South Africa:
Wire Image

Black Eyed Peas after party in Denver, CO:
Wire Image

Estelle and Rye Rye at the Winter Music Conference in Miami, FL:
See coverage here

Chrisette Michele & Laura Izibor in concert San Francisco, CA:
Getty Images

Jay-Z BP3 concert at The Pearl At The Palms Las Vegas, NV:
See coverage here

Friday, March 26

Jay-Z BP3 concert at the Staples Center LA, CA:
See coverage here

Nas, DJ Tony Touch and others at the launch of Hennessy Black "DJ Mixmasters" program in Miami, FL:
Wire Image

Hitz Committee artist K Michelle's 'Fallen' video shoot in NYC:
Wire Images

Sean Garrett video shoot for 'Get It All' in Florida:
Rex Features
Star Traks Photo

Estelle & Travis McCoy at WMC in Miami, FL:
Star Traks Photo

Diplo, Mary J Blige and others at the Interscope party WMC in Miami, FL:
Star Traks Photo

Rick Rubin photo session for Los Angeles Times in Malibu, CA:
Getty Images

Thursday, March 25

Alicia Keys 'Freedom' concert in Baltimore, MD:
See coverage here

50 Cent 'Before I Self Destruct' tour in Manchester, UK:
Getty Images
PR Photos
WENN Photo

Rapper Cassidy in NYC:
Wire Image

R&B artist Sleepy Brown in Hollywood, CA:
WENN Photo

Mya, David Guetta and others at the Winter Music Conference and Awards Show in Miami, FL:
Wire Image 1
Wire Image 2
Star Traks Photo

More scenes with Kelis, Jimmy Iovine, Macy Gray, Mary J. Blige, Rye Rye and others at the Winter Music Conference in Miami, FL:
Rex Features 1
Rex Features 2
Star Traks Photo

Macy Gray performs while guests Lil Jon, Steve Aoki, Carl Cox and others party at Belvedere Music Lounge at W South Beach, Miami, FL:
Rex Features

Alicia Keys on the 'Freedom' tour in Washington DC:
WENN Photo

Cypress Hill on FUSE TV:
Getty Images

Wednesday, March 24

The Black Eyed Peas concert with Ludacris in Kansas City, MO:
Wire Image

Usher on BET's 106 & Park:
See coverage here

Last week's
Who, what, Where Weekly Photo Links 3/24

Janelle Monae - 'Tightrope' Ft. Big Boi (video)

Janelle Monae The ArchAndroid on Wondaland Arts Society/Bad Boy/Atlantic Records arrives May 18.

J. Cole Live At S.O.B.'s NYC Concert Recap

via Showing Out

Last night at New York City venue SOB’s, the Roc was definitely in the building. Performing to a sold-out crowd, Roc Nation’s own J. Cole ripped through cuts off his seminal mixtape The Warm Up and threw in a few surprises during his hourlong set, including guest appearances from Young Chris, Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek to help out on a few of their collaborations with the freshman emcee. With a crowd packed into the venue tighter than a shrunken pair of skinny jeans, the show was a taste of bigger things to come for the rapper, who’s readying his Roc Nation debut for release later this year.

With industry figures like Statik Selektah, Sha Money XL and Pill watching from V.I.P., J. Cole made his grand entrance to the stage at around 10:30 P.M., kicking off the show with a rendition of “Dollar & A Dream II” where the North Carolina emcee spit acapella before the DJ kicked the instrumental. Cole followed with “World is Empty” before addressing the crowd, reflecting on how he arrived to NYC seven years prior and caught a relatively unknown Kanye West play at the very same venue. Cue “Last Call,” which Cole destroyed before segueing into his “Dead Presidents II” freestyle, the centerpiece of his Warm Up tape.

Cole next brought out Young Chris as his first guest of the evening, bringing the on-wax magic of their collabo “Still the Hottest” alive on stage. “I Get Up” and “Losing My Balance” followed, with Cole pandering to the crowd by bigging up Queens and Brooklyn. “Dreams” and “Lights Please” came next, with the latter seeing the rapper spit over a naked keyboard melody before the beat crashed in and kicked the joint into full gear.

Once the beat for Talib Kweli’s “Get By” began booming through the speakers, Cole spit his verse from his freestyle before inviting Talib Kweli and DJ Hi-Tek on stage to do the original track, rocking the beat before performing their collaboration “Just Begun” off Reflection Eternal’s forthcoming sophomore album Revolutions Per Minute. But the highlight of the evening? Cole played some new shit for a song called “Who Dat,” a joint that began with an instrumental that sampled the same beat as Beanie Sigel’s song of the same name, with the instro cutting out to let Cole spit it acapella. The up-and-comer shut down the set with his verse from Wale’s “Beautiful Day” and “Grown Simba,” and by the end, the star that had only recently been born had truly begun to shine.

Photo link:
Wire Image

Check out more J. Cole SOB's live reviews here:
New York Times
Entertainment Weekly
Hip Hop Update
Hip Hop DX

A nice video montage recaping the show from 2 dope boyz below.

more fan shot footage below.

(video courtesy of LaceZilla, akirshba, 2 dope boyz, HenritoLuvsTRL, Young CTV & Hip Hop & BS)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rye Rye And Estelle At Winter Music Conference Giant Step Showcase Miami, FL

Winter Music Conference 2010 Giant Step showcase with Rye Rye & Estelle at Sunset Soiree at the Delano in Miami, FL Saturday, March 27.

Photo link:
Star Traks Photo

(video courtesy of Arcade 44)

Music Producer Needlz And Manager Delaney 'Music Jones' Douglas Interview

I Do Music interviews music producer Needlez and music producer manager Delaney 'Music Jones' Douglas on how to make it as a producer and the key elements on how to be successful at it.

Indie Rock And Hip Hop Collide As Stalley Performs With Ava Luna

Recorded at New York City’s famed Chelsea Hotel, Stalley drops some mercurial bombs with uber cool indie rock band Ava Luna, as heard on Stalley's MadStalley: The Autobiography (mixtape).

Little Brother Launches New Website

Little Brother launches their new website. Keep track of Big Pooh, Phonte and Little Brother's latest activities on their new website here:
Little Brother website

Little Brother Leftback on Hall of Justus arrives April 20.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cypress Hill – 'Rise Up' Ft. Tom Morello (video)

Cypress Hill Rise Up on Priority/EMI arrives April 20.

Makeba Riddick: The Songwriter Behind Rihanna's Number 1 Hit 'Rude Boy'

via US Magazine How did you get your industry start?

Makeba Riddick: When I finished Berklee, I moved to New York and I was interning for Columbia Records and Def Jam and working with every producer in the tri-state area because I always wrote songs just as a hobby. My demo got to Francesca Spiro, the head of publishing at Bad Boy at the time, and I signed my first deal when I was 21. I had my first No. 1 record when I was 22 -- Jennifer Lopez and LL Cool J’s "All I Have." And the following year Sean Combs signed me for his Bad Boy publishing through EMI and then from there it's just been off to the races.

Us: Do you have a favorite song/album that you have worked on?

MR: 'Live your Life' was probably my favorite. It was No. 1 in 2009 with T.I. and Rihanna off of T.I.'s Paper Trail album. We recorded the record in Italy so I got to go to Milan and Venice and we had a blast recording it. T.I. is one of my favorite artists so to be able to work with him was also a plus. That song is my biggest record that I've co-written to date -- it was No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart for 10 weeks.

Us: You have worked on all four of Rihanna's albums. What is it like working with her?

MR: I was there from the beginning from the week she got signed before she even had a record deal. I was one of the first people she went into the studio with. It is always a wild adventure with her. Rihanna travels a lot and she loves to have her people with her. We listen to music, we watch videos, we drink champagne, it's literally a party in the studio with her all of the time and it's fun.

Us: So you party inside and outside of the studio?

MR: We go to different clubs in different countries and cities and then in the studio our whole team will be there and we just we have a ball. We listen to music, we watch videos, we drink champagne, it's literally a party in the studio with her all of the time and it's fun.

Us: Rihanna seems to have a great sense of humor.

MR: She's very witty and definitely an easy person to work with. Although she's an international superstar, we've had a relationship for so many years now that it's like going in the studio with a cousin. It doesn't feel like work at all.

Us: Do you have a couple of fun anecdotes from working with her that stand out to you?

MR: We were in Hawaii last year and we were on these paddle-boards. Everyone we were with was falling into the water and it was hilarious, but Rihanna was the only one that was able to keep her balance. We're all soaking wet, drenched with water, hair all over the place and that really stood out to me because that was so much fun. Another time we were in London working on the Rated R album and there was a sushi spot we love that they shut down for us. Jay-Z and all his Rock Nation people were there and we turned that place into a club. It always just feels like family with her and her people.

Us: What's the inspiration behind the song "Rude Boy"?

MR: Rihanna and I both work with Stargate a lot -- the production duo from Norway -- and they had the track and started the idea with another writer Esther Dean. She actually came up with that concept but the song wasn’t done and there were things Rihanna wanted to change, so they brought it to me to finish. I was listening to the words and me and Ri and we were just laughing and talking about so many situations that have happened in the past and that happen to women everywhere. By the time we were done of course, we were laughing and giggling about the lyrics -- surprisingly everybody went nuts over the song.

Us: Where were you when you found out the song had hit No. 1?

MR: It’s always a very surreal feeling to have a No. 1 record. I have been there five times before, but it never gets old and it’s very exciting to know that everybody in the world is listening to your song. I found out about it on Twitter believe it or not. I had just come in from dinner and of course I’m on Twitter all of the time. I saw all these "Makeba congrats on your No. 1 record" Tweets. I knew "Rude Boy" was out and it was going to the top of the charts, but it jumped from No. 4 to No. 1 and I hadn't even seen the charts yet. Rihanna hit me up and was like "We're No. 1 today all over the world, congratulations." So it’s always, it's a real very surreal feeling.

Us: That’s so funny that you found out about it on Twitter.

MR: Yeah, Twitter is like the new CNN or something!

Fat Joe Signs With E1; Preps 'The Darkside' New Album

via the press release

NEW YORK, NY -- 03/29/10 -- E1 Music is thrilled to announce the addition of hip hop icon Fat Joe to its burgeoning roster of artists.

Fat Joe will release a new album, titled "The Dark Side," on June 28th, 2010. The first single, "Slow Down" features Young Jeezy and was just serviced to urban radio.

Fat Joe states, "It's been a long time coming. I have a long history with Alan Grunblatt and everyone at E1. Although it's a small label, they have the best marketing and promotion staff in the hip hop game and I'm looking forward to working with them on my new album, 'The Dark Side.'"

Alan Grunblatt, President of E1 Music, adds, "I originally signed Fat Joe to his first record deal and was blown away by the new material Joe played me. Fate has brought us back together; trust me when I tell you he's got bangers for days!"

Joseph "Fat Joe" Cartagena has sold over 2.5 millions album as a solo artist and has taken the hip hop world by storm since his 1993 debut album "Represent." He followed this impressive debut with success after success. His album Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E.) was a critically-acclaimed, platinum selling album that spawned the hits "What's Luve" and "We Thuggin."

In addition to being a highly successful solo artist, he is also the founder and current C.E.O. of the collective Terror Squad. Joe also had a monster hit with Terror Squad, "Lean Back," which became a summertime anthem when it was released.

Kelis - 'Acapella' (video)

Kelis Flesh Tone on Music Group/Interscope arriving soon!

News You Should Know About 3/29

All the hip hop news and news link tidbits from the days past.

Cleveland Plain Dealer - Rapper Flesh-N-Bone of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony arrested Sunday night during concert at House of Blues in Cleveland

Independent - Missy Elliott Added To UK's Wireless Festival At Hyde Park, London

Hip Hop DX - Non-Phixion Affiliate "Uncle Howie" Tenenbaum Dies

Newsweek - Erykah Badu's Maverick R&B

Ballerstatus - Kelis Shows Off Her Cooking Skills For Private Dinner/Album Listening Session

Barbados Advocate - No show: Vybz Kartel, Mavado concert cancelled

Roger Friedman's Showbiz 411 - Sony Music Bloodbath: Beyonce and the Boss’s Peeps Are Purged - Stakes Are High as Labels, Broadcasters Lobby Over Performance Royalties

Spinner - Live Nation Introduces 'Digital Wristbands' to Replace Paper Tickets

All Hip Hop - Talib, Hi-Tek, Sha Money Talk Reflection Eternal's 'RPM'

Canoe Jam - K’Naan added to Juno (Canadian Music awards) lineup

New York Times - Gang Colors in the Set, Part of a Rapper’s Scheme (Nipsey Hussle SOB show review)

Ballerstatus - Paul Wall, Chamillionaire Discuss Moving Past Beef & Jealousy Over Each Other's Success

PSFK New York Conference - Brands Who Became Agencies: Decon Creative Group interview with co-founder Peter Bittenbender

South Coast Today - Mos Def proves easy-going, erudite subject (during photo shoot) - Lower CD Prices (Universal Music Group) Could Provide a Shot in the Arm

Business Week - Universal Music Group spent $660K lobbying (in Washington DC) in 4(th) (Quarter)

Singersroom - Bei Major Inks Deal With Jive Records

Billboard biz - Eve Signs With CAA For Representation

CNET - Will DJs trade laptops for iPads?

Clipse Live At The University Of Houston Concert Recap

via XXL

The fact that Virginia-bred duo the Clipse has a fanatical, cult-like following couldn’t have been more apparent than at the University of Houston’s Frontier Fiesta last Friday (March 26).

“We have a good fan base that follows us wherever we go,” Pusha T said. “It’s always a select bunch of Clipsters that come out to our shows.”

Clipse started their set with the chord organ-laced “Momma, I’m So Sorry,” before segueing into “What Happened to That Boy,” sans Birdman. Re-Up Gang member Ab-Liva then rotated into the cipher to bless “Cot Damn” with his 16 before fading back into the woodwork.

Malice and Pusha kept it moving with selections from their We Got It 4 Cheap mixtape series, riding the hard-hitting collection of jacked beats with their trademark vivid and witty rhymes.

The brothers Thornton then dug deep into their back catalog of hits, including the unhinged, percussion-driven “Grindin’” and “Mr. Me Too.” The crowd of students recited every word like it was hip-hop karaoke night.

Not surprisingly, the self-proclaimed pioneers of coke-rap closed the show with “Kinda Like a Big Deal,” “I’m Good” and “Popular Demand (Popeyes)” from their latest LP, ‘Til The Casket Drops.

Photos and full show report here:
XXL - Clipse “Kinda like a Big Deal” at University of Houston

(video courtesy of hdashkane)

Big Boi Talks New Def Jam Deal And 'Sir Luscious Left Foot, Son Of Chico Dusty'

Big Boi Sir Luscious Left Foot, Son Of Chico Dusty on Island/Def Jam coming soon!

via Hip Hop DX

With OutKast's Big Boi finally inking a deal with Def Jam last week to release his Sir Luscious Left Foot solo album, the rapper sat down with Gyant Unplugged to discuss his past and present label situations, as well as future endeavors.

"It was a lot of behind the scenes, label politics, basically." said Big Boi in the video interview. "A lot of people don't know, we started at LaFace Records with LA Reid, a very creative mind. He definitely gave us an avenue to make the music we wanted to make."

Big Boi went on to explain LaFace's acquisition by another company with whom he didn't have a personal relationship. However, Jive finally allowed Big Boi to make a move to Def Jam. "Just recently, as of maybe three weeks ago, they gave me the opportunity to take the album elsewhere. I called my big brother LA Reid, he said, 'Meet me in Miami.' The next day, we flew to Miami, played him the music, he said, 'Let's do it,' [and the] deal
is done."

Describing himself "Happy as hell," Big Boi allayed any ideas that he may be concerned with Def Jam's perceived lack of present-day marquee artists. "I'm not even concerned with nothing but me. People might say [Def Jam] doesn't have any hot artists, but he got the number one record with Ludacris' last week...My album is a musical nuclear bomb, and we finna drop it."

(video courtesy of Gyant Unplugged)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hip Hop and R&B New Releases 3/30

The following physical and digital new releases are available from Amazon, iTunes and your local retailer.

March 30, 2010

Usher - Raymond V. Raymond

Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part 2: Return of the Ankh

Meth, Ghost and Rae - Wu Massacre
(Island/Def Jam)

E-40 - Revenue Retrievin’: Day Shift
E-40 - Revenue Retrievin’: Night Shift
(Heavy On The Grind Ent./EMI)

Also available:

Big Tuck - Hell on Em 2
(Music Access Inc.)

Army of The Pharaohs - Holy Terror
(ihiphop/Enemy Soil)

Jackson 5 - J Is For Jackson 5

The full Hip Hop & R&B release schedule here:
Urban New Release Schedule updated 3/15

Jay-Z: Las Vegas The Pearl At The Palms BP3 Close Out Concert Review

Jay-Z Las Vegas, NV The Pearl At The Palms concert closes out the 2nd leg of the BP3 Tour.

As reported by Jason Bracelin / Las Vegas Review-Journal

He fancies himself hip-hop's pre-eminent huckster, three-card monte personified, a used car salesman with beats instead of beaters.

"I sell ice in the winter, I sell fire in hell," Jay-Z informed a sold-out Pearl at the Palms on Saturday night (Saturday, March 27). "I am a hustler, baby, I'll sell water to a well."

The song was "U Don't Know," a shout-along banger with shotgun-blast percussion where the emcee in question testifies to his marketing prowess, which lies somewhere between the calculating number crunching of a one-man ad agency and the smooth-talking savvy of a street urchin with a bunch of gold watches for sale inside his trenchcoat.

"Put me anywhere of God's green Earth, I'll triple my worth," he announced matter-of-factly, with little aplomb.

"I. Will. Not. Lose," he continued, each utterance doubling as its own declarative sentence.

And true to his words, Jay-Z is a master salesman, saving his best work for his toughest charge: himself.

Hip-hop, like professional sports, is an unforgiving vocation: Rhymers age like dogs, one year may as well be seven.

Just look at 50 Cent's shelf-life: Dairy products tend to last longer. It's the rare rapper who can continually reinvent himself and even unimpeachable greats like Nas, the Wu-Tang Clan, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and dozens of others eventually seem to lose a measure of their vitality, not to mention their commercial luster.

In rock 'n' roll, nostalgia is often embraced and celebrated, as cherished as some ragged old concert T-shirt that reminds its wearers of their youth.

But in hip-hop, the past is mostly significant only as a prelude to the present. You don't see pioneering veteran acts such as Run-DMC or Public Enemy still packing arenas the way that, say, even the Journeys of the world do.

And this is one of hip-hop's best attributes and greatest strengths.

Nevertheless, Jay-Z's been consistently topping the charts for almost 15 years now, throwing off rap's evolutionary bell curve like maybe only Tupac Shakur or Biggie Smalls might have done had they lived long enough to attempt as much.

He's done it all by never putting on any airs about himself as he's gone from small-scale drug dealer –– at least that's how he tells it –– to big-time record seller and entrepreneur with his own clothing line and sneaker endorsements.

For a lot of rappers, "keeping it real" means continually revisiting the street-level exploits that form the preface to many of their careers.

For Jay-Z, it just means being forthcoming about where he's at in his life at a given moment, and so he doesn't try to relate to his audience so much as give them a behind-the-curtains peek at his own celebrity.

Hence, his latter-day catalog is a bit like the "Robb Report" set to a beat.

"If you grew up with holes in your zapatos, you'd celebrate the minute you was having dough," he explained during the chest-pounding bravado of "99 Problems," a line that encapsulates much of Jay-Z's recent repertoire.

That song segued into "Show Me What You Got," a pop trifle that was the inverse of the tune that preceded it, with images of yachts and girls in bikinis flashing across the video screens at the back of the stage.

It's this balance of grit and glamour, skewed to the latter nowadays, that forms the basis of Jay-Z's appeal.

On the mic, he's an incredible technician, swinging between a cool nonchalance and an overheated spray of boasts.

"I'm so far ahead of my time, I'm 'bout to start another life. Look behind you, I'm 'bout to pass you twice," he rhymed acapella during "Hovi Baby," his 10-piece backing group momentarily silenced as his words packed just as much thunder as his band's substantial percussive might.

A cool, cocksure presence, Jay-Z donned a smile as wide as his vocabulary through it all, commanding the stage with a loose-shouldered, easygoing gait, bouncing on the back of his heels the way some prizefighters do just before springing into action.

He fired off his songs one right after the other with barely a pause. Perhaps the show's only dull moment over close to two hours was when Jay-Z ceded the stage for a brief interlude by run-of-the-mill gangsta Young Jeezy, who possesses abundant energy, but little else.

And then the man of the night ambled back on stage.

This was the last stop of his "Blueprint 3 Tour," and he ended his set by drinking champagne with his tourmates and pointing out crowd members individually by what they were wearing and thanking them for showing up.

A multimillionaire superstar, Jay-Z's no longer a man of the people, but for a night at least, he seemed happy enough to be among them. He took off his shades, doffed his hat, and stopped selling himself just long enough to be himself.

Show photo links:
Corbis Images
Wire Image

After party photo links:
Wire Image - Jay-Z
Wire Image - Trey Songz

Jay-Z concert appearances are as follows:

Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival appearance.
Apr 16 Indio, CA - Empire Polo Club

Jay-Z European Tour Dates:

Jun 4 Rock am Ring, Germany
Jun 5 Rock im Park, Germany
Jun 6 Paris Bercy, France
Jun 7 Manchester, UK - Manchester Evening News Arena
Jun 9 Birmingham, UK - LG Arena
Jun 11 Isle of Wright, UK - Seaclose Park
Jul 2 Eurockeennes Belfort, France
Jul 4 London, UK - Hyde Park - Wireless Festival
Jul 9 Oxygen, Ireland
Jul 10 Frauenfeld, Switzerland - Openair Frauenfeld
Jul 11 T in the Park, Scotland

Saturday, March 27, 2010

More Ice Cube & Jeezy At Staples Center Los Angeles, CA BP3 Show

Ice Cube Joins Jeezy At BP3 Staples Center Los Angeles, CA Show

Jay-Z BP3 Staples Center Los Angeles, CA Concert Review

As reported by Jeff Weiss / Los Angeles Times

During the recording of “The Blueprint 3,” Jay-Z’s latest chart-topping full-length, the Brooklyn-born rapper gleaned something from frequent collaborator Kanye West: how to transform album tracks into arena-sized epics. In front of a sold-out Staples Center crowd on Friday night (Friday, March 26) and backed by a 10-piece-band -- a three-member horn section, two guitarists, keyboardists and two drummers, along with backup emcee Memphis Bleek – the lyricist born Shawn Carter proved he could deliver a similar punch in a live setting. Drawing maximum response from the audience, he playfully asked them to throw their diamonds in the sky and repeatedly thanked them for their support. He even sang “Happy Birthday” to a fan holding a “Birthday Girl” sign.

Jay-Z, the hustler turned rapper turned brand name as big as the borough itself, owned the sold-out Staples Center. “This is Sinatra at the opera, bring a blond,” he rapped on “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune).” And if the spectacle wasn’t exactly Wagner’s “Ring Cycle,” at times it felt like an egalitarian equivalent. A wide demographic mix of the infamously fractionalized Los Angeles was drawn to the 40-year-old rapper who has almost single-handedly spawned the genre “classic rap.”

Many arrived dressed for a Friday night, as though they were gunning for a cameo on “Entourage.” Models clutching Gucci handbags stood among tabloid fodder, Chris Rock, Christina Aguilera, actors in Affliction tees tailed by Barbie blonds and B-boys in baggy pants. A duo donned outfits honoring the 15th anniversary of N.W.A. founder Eazy-E’s death (Compton caps and Eazy T-shirts) -- a milestone Jay-Z neglected to mention when he shouted out, “R.I.P. 2Pac, the Notorious B.I.G., Big Pun, Big L and Pimp C,” following an electrifying a capella denouement to “Big Pimpin’.”

“I can sell ice in the winter, I can sell fire in hell. I’m a hustler.”

Although he has boasted of his entrepreneurial beginnings on the street earning seed money by “flipping a record company from a half a [kilo],” Jay-Z’s renegade independent days are in the past. “I used to duck shots/but now I eat quail/I’ll probably never see jail,” he raps on "Real as It Gets." He’s the mega-star who two years ago inked a reported $150-million partnership with Live Nation Entertainment to advance his Jay-Z brand.

It’s a business that strives to be as ubiquitous as Coca-Cola or Nike. Before the show, big screens solicited the audience to “text BP3” and join the “Jay-Z movement.” Outside along L.A. Live's shrill fluorescent walkways, people signed up to win merchandise made by one of his companies, Roc Nation.

Dovetailing with his corporate successes as the former chief executive of Def Jam Recordings is Jay-Z’s consummate professionalism. One can scoff at the disconnect between his hood tales and his current stature, but there’s no denying his style, or his hits, as impressive a body of work as any rapper ever. From “Ain’t No” to “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem),” “I Just Wanna’ Love U (Give it 2 Me)” to “Empire State of Mind,” Jay-Z can fill a two-hour set with a keen, razor-sharp lyrical catalog memorized by 20,000 people. And that’s what he did, with his band teasing out the arrangements out to fulfill Carter’s orchestral, “Avatar” sized aspirations.

“I’m on to the Next One.”

Friday’s show presented the latest incarnation of Jay-Z. If his recent work hasn’t been as critically or commercially successful as his early output, it has been his grandest in scope. Other rappers have played Staples, but none with Jay-Z’s worldwide stature. Many have achieved mass appeal, but none have sustained it as long. He eggs the adoring crowd on, “I have 11 No. 1 albums.” But everyone already knows this, which is why they forked over half-a-week’s paycheck for tickets.

His only real misstep of the night was ceding the stage to Young Jeezy for a 30-minute interlude. The Atlanta emcee gamely attempted to fill the void, but in the process illustrated how difficult it is to command such a large crowd. Thankfully, a brief Ice Cube cameo to perform “Check Yo’ Self” appeased the restless.

“I’m from where the hammer’s rung, where the news cameras never come…where the grams is slung.”

The evening’s most poignant moment, a rare respite from the avalanche of explosive lights and flashing LED screens, arrived when Jay-Z delved into his back catalog, performing “Can I Live” and “Where I’m From.” The two tracks served as a reminder that despite his evolution, here was the same Jay-Z who won over first the doubters and then the masses since the summer of ’96. But as great as the original version was, it never could have sold out the Staples Center, or validated the words of “Encore,” the final song of the night, with the line, “I came, I saw, I conquered, from record sales, to sold out concerts.”

Photo links:
Getty Images
Wire Image

more fan shot footage below.

(video courtesy of Rap-Up, thehand99. & ZayNova)

Jay-Z's BP3 2010 Tour dates:

Mar 27 Las Vegas, NV - The Pearl

Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival appearance:
Apr 16 Indio, CA - Empire Polo Club

Jay-Z European Tour Dates:

Jun 4 Rock am Ring, Germany
Jun 5 Rock im Park, Germany
Jun 6 Paris Bercy, France
Jun 7 Manchester, UK - Manchester Evening News Arena
Jun 9 Birmingham, UK - LG Arena
Jun 11 Isle of Wright, UK - Seaclose Park
Jul 2 Eurockeennes Belfort, France
Jul 4 London, UK - Hyde Park - Wireless Festival
Jul 9 Oxygen, Ireland
Jul 10 Frauenfeld, Switzerland - Openair Frauenfeld
Jul 11 T in the Park, Scotland

Alicia Keys Plays The KEYtar At 'Freedom' Tour Stop In Baltimore + Concert Recap

As reported by Sam Sessa / Baltimore Sun

Alicia Keys came uncaged (Wednesday, March 24) at 1st Mariner Arena.

With images of barbed wire fences flashing on the big digital screens around her, Keys was wheeled out in a rectangular cage for the opening number, "Love is Blind."

Keys sang most of the song inside her personal prison, before dramatically bending back the bars and stepping out to freedom.

In case concertgoers didn't get the point, Keys would spend the next hour dropping inspirational lines between songs while the screens displayed words like "Rise Up" and "Fight."

"I don't want anybody to hold you back," said Keys, her legs shimmering in tight silver sequined pants. "Everything you need is right here inside of you." ...

Might as well add "motivational speaker," to her resume, which already includes armfuls of Grammys and millions upon millions of albums sold. Still, all the uplifting messages got old quick. We get it, Alicia -- love ourselves and break free of the chains that bind us. You don't need to beat us over the head with it.

It was a relief when, in the last third of her 90-minute set, Keys put an end to all the positive messages and let the music speak for itself.

"You Don't Know My Name" was a synth-driven high-stepper, and the James Bond theme "Another Way to Die" was built on singeing guitar riffs. But the show's most poignant moments came when Keys sat down at her black Yamaha baby grand and tickled the ivories. She's got a diva's talents without the attitude, and last night, she had a few toys, too.

During "Fallin'," she played what looked like some kind of electronic auto harp, and for "Go Head," she strapped on a silver, key-shaped keytar (how awesome is that?) and traded solos with her guitarist (the guitarist won). Even the piano was tricked out with a wrap-around digital screen, which said "PLAY ME," and when she did, it read "THANK YOU." Heh.

Keys' accomplished six-piece band and a well-paced set list helped the 19-song show fly by. The harmonies of her three backup singers were air tight; Monte Gill showed and proved on "Diary" and one of the female backup singers surprised the audience with an impressive rendition of "Feeling Good" while Keys slipped into a white evening gown backstage.

The show ended on a strong note, with "If I Ain't Got You," a modern classic, and the 2007 mega hit "No One." The encore was "Empire State of Mind (Part II)," a spine-tingling ode to the Big Apple.

In an age when radio is saturated with Auto-tuned anthems and outrageous outfits, it was such a treat to sit down with an undeniably talented singer and songwriter for an evening of liberating R&B, gospel and pop.

Photo links:
Rex Features

Set List:

1. Love is Blind
2. You Don't Know My Name
3. Fallin'
4. Another Way to Die
5. Karma
6. Like the Sea
7. I Need You
8. Pray For Forgiveness
9. Diary
10. Like You'll Never See Me Again
11. Wait Til You See My Smile
12. Go Ahead
13. Put It in a Love Song
14. Unthinkable (I'm Ready)
15. Feeling Good
16. Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart
17. Superwoman
18. If I Ain't Got You
19. No One


Empire State of Mind (Part II)

more fan shot footage below.

Alicia Keys 2010 Element of Freedom Tour Dates:

3/27 - Miami, FL - American Airlines Arena
3/28 - Tampa, FL - St. Pete Times-Forum
3/30 - Atlanta, GA - Philips Arena
4/2 - Dallas, TX - Nokia Theater (Grand Prairie)
4/3 - Houston, TX - Toyota Center
4/6 - Los Angeles, CA - Staples Center
4/7 - Santa Barbara, CA - Santa Barbara Bowl
4/9 - Las Vegas, NV - Mandalay Bay
4/10 - Oakland, CA - Oracle Coliseum
4/29 - Lisbon, Portugal - Pavilhao Atlantico
5/1 - Ischgl, Austria - Ski Resort
5/2 - Verona, Italy - Arena
5/4 - Marseille, France - Le Dome
5/7 - Berlin, Germany - O2 Arena
5/8 - Arnhem, Netherlands - Gelredome
5/9 - Frankfurt, Germany - Festhalle - Messe Frankfurt
5/12 - Hamburg, Germany - Color Line Arena
5/13 - Oberhausen, Germany - Konig - Pilsener Arena
5/15 - Merksem, Belgium - Sportpaleis Antwerpen
5/17 - Zurich, Switzerland - Hallenstadion Zurich
5/19 - Birmingham, UK - The NIA
5/21 - Dublin, Ireland - The O2 Dublin
5/23 - Glasgow, UK - S.E.C.C.
5/25 - London, UK - The O2 - London
5/26 - London, UK - The O2 - London
5/29 - Manchester, UK - Manchester Evening News Arena
5/31 - Paris, France - Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy
6/2 - Barcelona, Spain - Palau Sant Jordi
6/4 - Lyon, France - Halle Tony Garnier

(video courtesy of kbaby82)

Capone-N-Noreaga Talk About Their Original 1997 Album 'The War Report'

Prepping for The War Report II, Capone-N-Noreaga talk about the times and the era when the original The War Report was released on Penalty Records back in 1997 at a recent press event on a rooftop somewhere in New York City.

Capone-N-Noreaga The War Report II on Ice H20 arriving soon!

(video courtesy of QButta)

B.o.B. Lights Up The Crowd Performing 'Satellite' At Purdue University

A press clipping from the Journal Courier from this particular show at Purdue University's Elliott Hall Friday March 26, as B.o.B. opened for Kid Cudi.

Snapshot concert review below:

B.o.B. delivered a content-rich set that went from bass-heavy southern rap to power rock halfway through.

The Atlanta native started off strong with such popular songs as the aggressive "Bet I Bust" featuring Playboy Tre, and the chart-topper "Nothing on You."

B.o.B. then switched gears by strapping on guitars, one electric and one acoustic.

One of the set's most memorable moments featured B.o.B. serenading one lucky female fan with the playful "Lovelier Than You," a song that blends singing and rapping with acoustic guitar.

Check out the photo link from the show here:
Kid Cudi, B.o.B. concert at Purdue University's Elliott Hall (photos)

Ice Cube Joins Jeezy At BP3 Staples Center Los Angeles, CA Show

From last night's (Friday, March 26) BP3 tour stop at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, Jeezy performs "Check Yo Self" with surprise guest Ice Cube .

(video courtesy of Rap-Up)

Usher Interview On ABC's Nightline

via ABC News

In anticipation of his new studio album, "Raymond v. Raymond," five-time Grammy winner Usher sat down with "Nightline" to share personal reminiscences and talk about musical influences.

And for the first time, Usher opened up about how hard it was emotionally to sing at Michael Jackson's funeral.

Usher will perform in front of a live audience on "Good Morning America" on Tuesday, March 30, the same day his new album is released. CLICK HERE to find out how you can attend!

Here are some thoughts he had about his life.

Lloyd Banks - 'Big Bully' (video directed by 50 Cent)

While Lloyd Banks and 50 Cent were in the UK on the 'Before I Self Destruct' Tour, 50 had an opportunity to use his newly purchased Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera (as seen here) & personally shoot Lloyd's new music video 'Big Bully.'

Lloyd Banks new album Hunger For More 2 will be arriving this Summer.

Friday, March 26, 2010

R.Kelly - 'Echo' (video)

R. Kelly untitled on Jive/Zomba in stores now.

Kon & Amir On Amoeba's What's In My Bag

Also, Kon & Amir have a new collection coming April 27 called Kon & Amir Present: Off Track Vol. III: Brooklyn on Studio !K7. A 2 disc collection chock full of deep cuts and obscure funk & disco classics. The boys do not disappoint.

Remembering Eazy E

It's been 15 years since the passing of Eric Wright better know to the world as Eazy E. Time to reflect on the life & legacy of Eazy E.

Articles found on the web:

Rolling Stone - Flashback: Remembering Eazy-E

MTV - Eazy-E 'Paved The Way,' MTV's Sway Calloway Says

Phoenix New Times - Eazy-E: What Happened After N.W.A. and the Posse?

ROC4Life - Remember the Rhyme? RIP Eazy E

XXL - Eazy-E Tribute: Alan Grunblatt, Business Never Personal

XXL - Dear Dad - Lil Eazy’s Letter to Eric Wright

XXL - Eazy-E Tribute: Tomica Wright, A Gangsta & a Gentleman

MTV - Eazy-E Remembered, 15 Years Later

Choppas On Deck blog - Eazy E-Howard Stern Interview(1993)[Audio]